|Home||Switchboard||Unix Administration||Red Hat||TCP/IP Networks||Neoliberalism||Toxic Managers|
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better
|News||Neoliberalism||Recommended Links||Neoliberalism Bookshelf||Classification of Corporate Psychopaths||Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists as Fifth Column of Financial Oligarchy|
|The Great Transformation||Neoliberalism as secular religion, "idolatry of money"||Techno-fundamentalism||Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure||Globalization of Financial Flows||Globalization of Corporatism|
|Greenspan as the Chairman of Financial Politburo||Friedman --founder of Chicago school of deification of market||Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism||Neoliberalism credibility trap||Greenspan humor||Etc|
She was a shitty writer who could sell books by giving a repressed Calvinism-inspired society permission to be dicks. Now that the little selfishness-orgy is coming to a close, we find ourselves feeling nauseated and sticky, while this woman's legacy is trying to convince us to keep pumping, instead of grabbing a shower and skulking away to do something productive in order to distract us from the shame.
"Rand + Greenspan = Bonnie + Clyde". All you closet Objectivists can now step up to the plate and have at it...
There is great irony here. Karl Marx envisioned Communism to deal with the abuses of Capitalism. But the Russian Immigrant Ayn Rand, fleeing the abuses of Communism, created an equally idealized scheme of Capitalism that became a part of Neoliberalism doctrine. And managed to take a part, by proxy via unforgettable Chairman Greenspan, in almost sinking the ship. Some recent Ayn Rand aficionados, like Mark Sanford, are simply fools. Alan Greenspan was not a fool. But he was an ideologue, and as such a very dangerous and destructive player. He genuinely thought our economy could tolerate the unregulated derivatives market, unregulated financial institutions, and practices that created huge, profitable financial bubbles. Those were ideology-driven “hunches” that went tragically wrong… Unlike Marx saying that the history repeats itself, first and tragedy, second as farce, the second time in this case was also a tragedy and countries ruined by neoliberalism and the lives destroyed are not difficult to count. So it not just a cult, it is a medieval cruel cult.
As Pope Francis noted "idolatry of money" is connected to the denial of primacy of human person (Evangelii Gaudium, Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis, 2013):
No to the new idolatry of money
55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.
56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.
It's interesting how close Ayn Rand teaching is both to national-socialism (via primitive assimilation of Nietzschean ideas and Bolshevism (both of her books are written in traditions and aesthetics of "Socialist realism"). It's interesting that like was the case with bolshevism she created a classic "cult of personality" environment typical for Bolsheviks leaders:
One of the closest to Rand was Nathaniel Branden, a young philosophy student who joined the Collective in the early days before Atlas Shrugged was published. In his autobiographical memoirs entitled Judgment Day (1989), Branden recalled: "There were implicit premises in our world to which everyone in our circle subscribed, and which we transmitted to our students at NBI." Incredibly, and here is where the philosophical movement became a cult, they came to believe that (pp. 255-256):
It is important to note that my critique of Rand and Objectivism as a cult is not original. Rand and her followers were, in their time, accused of being a cult which, of course, they denied. "My following is not a cult. I am not a cult figure," Rand once told an interviewer. Barbara Branden, in her biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand, recalls: "Although the Objectivist movement clearly had many of the trappings of a cult -- the aggrandizement of the person of Ayn Rand, the too ready acceptance of her personal opinions on a host of subjects, the incessant moralizing -- it is nevertheless significant that the fundamental attraction of Objectivism . . . was the precise opposite of religious worship" (p. 371). -[Bolsheviks would laugh at such an augmentation -- NNB]
- Ayn Rand is the greatest human being who has ever lived.
- Atlas Shrugged is the greatest human achievement in the history of the world.
- Ayn Rand, by virtue of her philosophical genius, is the supreme arbiter in any issue pertaining to what is rational, moral, or appropriate to man's life on earth.
- Once one is acquainted with Ayn Rand and/or her work, the measure of one's virtue is intrinsically tied to the position one takes regarding her and/or it.
- No one can be a good Objectivist who does not admire what Ayn Rand admires and condemn what Ayn Rand condemns.
- No one can be a fully consistent individualist who disagrees with Ayn Rand on any fundamental issue.
- Since Ayn Rand has designated Nathaniel Branden as her "intellectual heir," and has repeatedly proclaimed him to be an ideal exponent of her philosophy, he is to be accorded only marginally less reverence than Ayn Rand herself.
- But it is best not to say most of these things explicitly (excepting, perhaps, the first two items). One must always maintain that one arrives at one's beliefs solely by reason.
And Nathaniel Branden addressed the issue this way: "We were not a cult in the literal, dictionary sense of the word, but certainly there was a cultish aspect to our world . . . . We were a group organized around a charismatic leader, whose members judged one another's character chiefly by loyalty to that leader and to her ideas" (p. 256).
But if you leave the "religious" component out of the definition, thus broadening the word's usage, it becomes clear that Objectivism was (and is) a cult, as are many other, non-religious groups. In this context, then, a cult may be characterized by:
The ultimate statement of Rand's absolute morality heads the title page of Nathaniel Brandon's book. Says Rand:
- Veneration of the Leader: Excessive glorification to the point of virtual sainthood or divinity.
- Inerrancy of the Leader: Belief that he or she cannot be wrong.
- Omniscience of the Leader: Acceptance of beliefs and pronouncements on virtually all subjects, from the philosophical to the trivial.
- Persuasive Techniques: Methods used to recruit new followers and reinforce current beliefs.
- Hidden Agendas: Potential recruits and the public are not given a full disclosure of the true nature of the group's beliefs and plans.
- Deceit: Recruits and followers are not told everything about the leader and the group's inner circle, particularly flaws or potentially embarrassing events or circumstances.
- Financial and/or Sexual Exploitation: Recruits and followers are persuaded to invest in the group, and the leader may develop sexual relations with one or more of the followers.
- Absolute Truth: Belief that the leader and/or group has a method of discovering final knowledge on any number of subjects.
- Absolute Morality: Belief that the leader and/or the group have developed a system of right and wrong thought and action applicable to members and nonmembers alike. Those who strictly follow the moral code may become and remain members, those who do not are dismissed or punished.The precept: "Judge not, that ye be not judged" . . . is an abdication of moral responsibility: it is a moral blank check one gives to others in exchange for a moral blank check one expects for oneself.The absurd lengths to which such thinking can go is demonstrated by Rand's pronounced judgments on her followers of even the most trivial things. Rand had argued, for example, that musical taste could not be objectively defined, yet, as Barbara Branden observed, "if one of her young friends responded as she did to Rachmaninoff . . . she attached deep significance to their affinity." By contrast, if a friend did not respond as she did to a certain piece or composer, Rand "left no doubt that she considered that person morally and psychologically reprehensible." Branden recalled an evening when a friend of Rand's remarked that he enjoyed the music of Richard Strauss. "When he left at the end of the evening, Ayn said, in a reaction becoming increasingly typical, 'Now I understand why he and I can never be real soul mates. The distance in our sense of life is too great.' Often, she did not wait until a friend had left to make such remarks" (p. 268).
There is no escape from the fact that men have to make choices; so long as men have to make choices, there is no escape from moral values; so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible. To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.
The moral principle to adopt . . . is: "Judge, and be prepared to be judged."
With this set of criteria it becomes possible to see that a rational philosophy can become a cult when most or all of these are met. This is true not only for philosophical movements, but in some scientific schools of thought as well. Many founding scientists have become almost deified in their own time, to the point where apprentices dare not challenge the master. As Max Planck observed about science in general, only after the founders and elder statesmen of a discipline are dead and gone can real change occur and revolutionary new ideas be accepted.
In both Barbara's and Nathaniel Branden's assessment, then, we see all the characteristics of a cult. But what about deceit and sexual exploitation? In this case, "exploitation" may be too strong of a word, but the act was present nonetheless, and deceit was rampant. In what has become the most scandalous (and now oft-told) story in the brief history of the Objectivist movement, starting in 1953 and lasting until 1958 (and on and off for another decade after), Ayn Rand and her "intellectual heir" Nathaniel Branden, 25 years her junior, carried on a secret love affair known only to their respective spouses. The falling in love was not planned, but it was ultimately "reasonable" since the two of them were, de facto, the two greatest humans on the planet. "By the total logic of who we are--by the total logic of what love and sex mean--we had to love each other," Rand told Barbara Branden and her own husband, Frank O'Connor. It was a classic display of a brilliant mind intellectualizing a purely emotional response, and another example of reason carried to absurd heights. "Whatever the two of you may be feeling," Rand rationalized, "I know your intelligence, I know you recognize the rationality of what we feel for each other, and that you hold no value higher than reason" (B. Brandon, p. 258).
Unbelievably, both Barbara and Frank accepted the affair, and agreed to allow Ayn and Nathaniel an afternoon and evening of sex and love once a week. "And so," Barbara explained, "we all careened toward disaster." The "rational" justification and its consequences continued year after year, as the tale of interpersonal and group deceit grew broader and deeper. The disaster finally came in 1968 when it became known to Rand that Branden had fallen in love with yet another woman, and had begun an affair with her. Even though the affair between Rand and Branden had long since dwindled, the master of the absolutist moral double-standard would not tolerate such a breach of ethical conduct. "Get that bastard down here!," Rand screamed upon hearing the news, "or I'll drag him here myself!" Branden, according to Barbara, slunk into Rand's apartment to face the judgment day. "It's finished, your whole act!" she told him. "I'll tear down your facade as I built it up! I'll denounce you publicly, I'll destroy you as I created you! I don't even care what it does to me. You won't have the career I gave you, or the name, or the wealth, or the prestige. You'll have nothing . . . ." The barrage continued for several minutes until she pronounced her final curse: "If you have an ounce of morality left in you, an ounce of psychological health--you'll be impotent for the next twenty years!" (pp. 345-347).
Barry Ritholtz in his November 15, 2009 blog entry "Ayn Rand: The Boring Bitch is Back"
There is a substantial take-down of pedantic bore Ayn Rand in GQ. They tease it thusly:
2009’s most influential author is a mirthless Russian-American who loves money, hates God, and swings a gigantic dick. She died in 1982, but her spawn soldier on. And the Great Recession is all their fault.
I love that because it is both funny and touches upon so many subtle truths; Here is a longer, funnier excerpt:
“This is because there are boys and girls among us who have never overcome the Randian infection. The Galt speech continues to ring in their ears for years like a maddening tinnitus, turning each of them into what next year’s Physicians’ Desk Reference will (undoubtedly) term an Ayn Rand Asshole (ARA). They constitute a relatively small percentage of Rand readers, these ARAs. But they make their reading count. Thanks to them, the Rand Experience is no longer limited to those who have read the books. It’s metastasized. You, me, all of us, we’re living it. Because it’s the ARA Army of antigovernment-antiregulation puritans who have spent the past three decades gleefully pulling the cooling rods out of the American economy. For a while, it got very big and very hot. Then it popped. And now the rest of us have to spend the next decade scaling the slippery slopes of the huge suppurative crater that was left behind.
Feeling fisted by the Invisible Hand of the Market lo these past fifteen months? Lost a job lately? Or half the value of your 401(k)? Or a home? All three? Been wondering whence the too-long-ascendant political and economic ideas and forces behind Greenspanism, John Thainism, blind Wall Street plunder, bankruptcy, credit-default swaps, Bernie Madoff, and the ensuing Cannibalism in the Streets? Then you, sir, need to give thanks to Ayn Rand Assholes everywhere—as well as the steely loins from which they sprang.”
I haven’t read Rand’s work for decades, but I do recall two things: A) It was a giant pedantic bore; 2) Debating it with people in College was always a hoot. The thing that struck me most was the lack of rigor in the arguments — it was more religion than logic, more wishful thinking than reality based observations of how humans actually behave.
You can the concentration of ARAs in a certain groupings. These are the folks who blame the CRA for the collapse of the economy; ARAs tend to be hardcore ideologues; many are rabidly partisan. All too many are deeply uninformed. They breathe cognitive dissonance they most people breathe oxygen. When confronted with facts, data, reality that challenge their ideology, they make up new facts.
I imagine that Freud would bluntly use Randian logic to note they inhabit a guise of superiority in part to compensate for vast and deeply felt inferiorities and insecurities. That’s right, those of you who feel compelled to talk about how big your junk is are typically are sporting selections from the wee person’s aisle.
Malcolm Gladwell is a guy who knows how to write compellingly readable stories. The takeaway in his book Outliers The Story of Success is quite unRandian — it is that luck plays an enormous factor in out-sized success. That is a factor the Randians prefer to ignore.
What I find so weird about Rand is that there are more than a few people I respect who gobbled up her work. These are not ARAs — but are otherwise rational folks who never quite went full tilt into ARA-hood. But they have a huge respect for her work. Me? I prefer “lessers” like Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and John Maynard Keynes. I prefer John Stuart Mill’s Harm Principle of Liberty over Rand’s Objectivism.
Dangerous Minds contextualizes the pedantic bore portion of the Rand legend:
“It’s Rand’s dialogue that seals her reputation as an author you just can’t take seriously. To be fair, she was writing in her second language, but the problem with her books is that no one actually speaks to one another, they just make speeches at each other. Hectoring, long-winded speeches. It’s fine to read stuff like that as a teenager, but when I crack open one of her books today, I shake my head in disbelief at how bombastic and horrible her writing is.”
Bombastic and horrible? You are being too kind . . .
My actual problem with Rand — behind her blindingly horrific prose — is that she was pushing back against a totalitarian system in the Soviet Union, a corrupt and morally indefensible system she had every right to be infuriated by. But she applies that righteous fury and outrage to a Democracy, whose economy is Free Market based. Hence, rather than challenging the politburo, she challenges Unions. Cooperative behavior seems to be hard for her to grasp. One suspects she would have disliked Consumer Reports, or Zagats, or Amazon’s user ratings.
Worst of all, Rand’s Objectivism has become the rationale for all manner of morally repugnant behaviour. However, I did take one personal lesson from Atlas Shrugged to heart: Anytime I see a parked car with a John Galt bumper sticker, I like to knock off one of the sideview mirrors, and leave it on the hood. I include a note stating my selfish, random act made me feel good, and therefore should be a perfectly fine act in their world.
I assume the recipients miss the irony . . .
Feb 19, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
likbez , February 19, 2020 12:31 pm
Does not matter.
It looks like Bloomberg is finished. He just committed political suicide with his comments about farmers and metal workers.
BTW Bloomberg's plan is highly hypocritical -- like is Bloomberg himself.
During the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" was staged in the USA by "managerial elite" which like Soviet nomenklatura (which also staged a neoliberal coup d'état) changed sides and betrayed the working class.
So those neoliberal scoundrels reversed the class compromise embodied in the New Deal.
The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the neoliberal managerial class and financial oligarchy who got to power via the "Quiet Coup" was the global labor arbitrage in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations.
So all those "improving education" plans are, to a large extent, the smoke screen over the fact that the US workers now need to compete against highly qualified and lower cost immigrants and outsourced workforce.
The fact is that it is very difficult to find for US graduates in STEM disciplines a decent job, and this is by design.
Also, after the "Reagan neoliberal revolution" ( actually a coup d'état ), profits were maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of the immigrant workforce (the collapse of the USSR helped greatly ). They push down wages and compete for jobs with their domestic counterparts, including the recent graduates. So the situation since 1991 was never too bright for STEM graduates.
By canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, the neoliberal elite saws the seed of the current populist backlash. The "soft neoliberal" backbone of the Democratic Party (Clinton wing) were incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat -- the rejection of the establishment candidate by the US population and first of all by the working class. The result has been the neo-McCarthyism campaign and the attempt to derail Trump via color revolution spearheaded by Brennan-Obama factions in CIA and FBI.
See also recently published "The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite" by Michael Lind.
One of his quotes:
The American oligarchy spares no pains in promoting the belief that it does not exist, but the success of its disappearing act depends on equally strenuous efforts on the part of an American public anxious to believe in egalitarian fictions and unwilling to see what is hidden in plain sight.
Jan 09, 2020 | www.reddit.com
5 comments 100% Upvoted Log in or sign up to leave a comment log in sign up Sort by View discussions in 6 other communities level 1
Tiny_Pay 2 points · 5 hours agoIAmTeaBag4 2 points · 4 hours ago
What a weird tweet. level 1Tarlok888 1 point · 3 hours ago
Paul is probably just trying to get ahead of it. Possibly he was tipped off he was about to be busted? Just a thought. Nothing better than blaming Q in a leftist mind..
Edit: In the Alex Jones case they sent the child porn as an attachment to an email. This is straight up using his IP address. I'm no computer expert so I don't know if this can be done? Or how hard it would be to do. level 2nocoinerclub 1 point · 3 hours ago
If someone had a backdoor into his system, it's theoretically possible they could have done it by remote control. His description of it is completely ridiculous, though. Continue this thread
even though prison limits Internet usage, the good news is he'll be allowed to use a FAX MACHINE!
(FYI- Krugman's two famous predictions are 1) bitcoin is not worth its $100 price and will soon go to $0.. and 2) the Internet will fail and be nothing more than a glorified fax machine)
Dec 22, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Robert Valiant , December 21, 2019 at 10:49 am
Despite the handwringing otherwise, there are quite a few well-off people outside the coast who like decorating in gold and even being so tacky as to have cars that match.
At what point up the socio-economic ladder do these sorts of concerns become manifest? And how does one know? I'm an upper lower-class "coastal," and I'm mostly concerned with eating properly and keeping my dilapidated 50s rambler from leaking. Years ago, when my children were at home, and our family was solidly upper middle-class (at least that's what I thought), I still didn't consider what other people thought of my cars, nor did I think much about decorating colors.
Honestly, I think I find simple survival more interesting.
Wukchumni , December 21, 2019 at 10:56 am
All of my life, those with immense, some might claim obscene amounts of wealth have been celebrated in these United States, but you can sense a backlash is coming to them & showy displays that come with the territory.
ambrit , December 21, 2019 at 12:00 pm
To expand on your viticulture themed comments elsewhere; these people fit the description of "Teriorists." They have a penchant for "Le Grand Crude."
Carolinian , December 21, 2019 at 1:31 pm
Well there was that period–late 60s, early 70s–when people like Leonard Bernstein dressed in jeans and conspicuous wealth was very un-hip. Tom Wolfe wrote an article about it,
Then came Reagan–and Nancy.
Wukchumni , December 21, 2019 at 4:19 pm
I really think the turning point came around 1975 when the first pro athletes got million a year contracts, and you can just imagine the jealousy of Ivy League types on Wall*Street as the pros started making moon money.
By the time we got around to Reagan, high finance figured out how to hit the long ball via Milken, etc.
I mentioned a week or 2 ago in regards to a pitcher who inked a nearly 1/3rd of a Billion $ contract, contrast that with the $125k 1 year deal that Sandy Koufax signed in 1966.
Anon , December 21, 2019 at 10:10 pm
Well, the actual details are a bit different.
Koufax and Don Drysdale (1965 World Series heroes) asked, together, for a $1 million, 3 year deal. That equated to a yearly salary of $166,000 for each of them for 3 years. (The highest paid player in MLB at the time was Willie Mays at $105,000.) The Dodgers, with by far the highest game attendance in baseball, offered Koufax $120k and Drysdale $105k. I believe that was the salary that they accepted.
Much has changed since then. TV has made MLB a 7-8 $Billion a year enterprise. The LA Dodgers as a team are now worth billion$. Marvin Miller wrenched union power for the players. And remember, players have a very short earning window; Koufax retired at the age of 30 due to an elbow worn out from throwing curve balls. (Sandy was a condo neighbor of mine when I lived in Sun Valley, ID. A very special man.)
And pitching is everything in the big leagues.
Yves Smith Post author , December 21, 2019 at 9:42 pm
That sounds right.
I graduated from college in 1979. Women wore (depending on the season), T-shirts, sweatshirts, and jeans. Only the women from the the colleges that were seen as matrimonial in orientation (one was called "Pine Mattress") wore makeup.
2 years after that, I was part of the group that did campus recruiting. Just walking around, you could see a significant % of women wearing makeup, skirts, and hose, just to go to class. Gah.
Yves Smith Post author , December 21, 2019 at 4:15 pm
I think you are missing the point of my comment, that of all the things to get upset about re Trump, it's his taste? Really? IMHO this is another manifestation of the fact that a significant amount of the upset about him is his being so flagrantly nouveau riche and not caring.
And you managed to miss the status signaling from the bourgeois on up? Women who color their hair feel unkept if their roots grow in. Cars are huge status symbols, up and down the line. Try driving an early 2000s car, even if in fine shape, and watch the reactions if someone you've first met walks you to it. People look at the quality of leather in shoes, tailoring and fabric as other status markers. Being thin is another status marker, as are teeth ..
If you are really rich, the signals include flying on private jets, what charities you support, what art you collect, if you own a vineyard (or have your name on a hospital wing or building at a school .)
Bugs Bunny , December 21, 2019 at 4:44 pm
Exactly what Epstein understood and exploited. Codes of status.
Frankly the Clintons didn't fit in either but they were somehow more acceptable than Trump.
Nixon hated those people and who knows, maybe it contributed to his downfall.
I won't venture to speculate on what the wealthy thought of the Obamas. Perhaps Elizabeth Windsor could answer that.
Craig H. , December 21, 2019 at 10:08 pm
I read that Nixon acquired his hatred step by step and it was only really baked in after about the 20000th time he got snubbed. For a long time he wanted to be one of them and he could hardly believe it that it wasn't ever going to happen.
Check this out which completely blew my mind:
flora , December 21, 2019 at 7:26 pm
That was my take as well.
Snobbery is snobbery, and I thought Yves was pointing that out in a forceful manner, not criticizing R.V.'s comment.
In any event, I find R.V.'s comments a welcome point of view adding depth to the larger economic picture and its effects.
Massinissa , December 21, 2019 at 7:32 pm
"because the bourgeois flavor of this corner of the Internet just doesn't suit my proletariat tastes"
I think you completely misunderstood her point. She wasn't defending Trump's tastes in any way, but pointing out that ALL the wealthy share similar tastes and singling Trump out as some kind of singular aberration leaves out that this is standard of our ruling class.
None of us here support this kind status consumerism, and many of us likely share your 'proletarian tastes', its just that around here notions that Trump is some unique monster different from the rest of his class hold little water.
Wukchumni , December 21, 2019 at 7:38 pm
I can't relate to a world where what you wear, what you drive and what you drink and the conveyance which moves you around, really means anything.
That said, it's all part of the pecking order on high, and I get it. If Trump was seen in a 2007 Toyota Matrix with 136k miles, his world would come undone.
ambrit , December 22, 2019 at 12:19 am
Added to what the others have said; don't cut off your nose to spite your face. It takes a thick skin to comment anywhere on the internet.
Also, so what if this blog commenteriat skews a bit bourgeois? Do you want to lock yourself in an echo chamber? What good would that do for your understanding of the 'reality' on the ground? I and others admit to frequenting conservative blogs. It doesn't mean we fully agree with the reigning philosophies on those blogs, but we do tend to learn much of a substantive nature that is not displayed on the "standard" MSM 'news' sources.
The entire lesson of the internet is that "Knowledge Is Power." Control the 'knowledge' or it's accessibility, and you "rule" the society. Thus, a wide range of sources of information is required. Locking yourself away in the anarchist sphere of the internet is going to stunt your knowledge set, and limit your range of options for action. To effectively fight one's enemies, one must understand them. So, to discommode the bourgeois, you first must get to know them.
Finally, class has always been "..an unbridgeable chasm in western society." Else why all the revolts and movements on the part of the working classes?
Anyway, don't leave in a huff. You are better than that.
Darthbobber , December 21, 2019 at 4:44 pm
This particular line of attack on Trump is exactly the line that used to be taken by the old rich and New England rich against the new rich. (And the ethnic rich)
Dec 07, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
November 26, 2019
Meet the Leftish Economist With a New Story About Capitalism
Mariana Mazzucato wants liberals to talk less about the redistribution of wealth and more about its creation. Politicians around the world are listening.
By Katy Lederer
Mariana Mazzucato was freezing. Outside, it was a humid late-September day in Manhattan, but inside -- in a Columbia University conference space full of scientists, academics and businesspeople advising the United Nations on sustainability -- the air conditioning was on full blast.
For a room full of experts discussing the world's most urgent social and environmental problems, this was not just uncomfortable but off-message. Whatever their dress -- suit, sari, head scarf -- people looked huddled and hunkered down. At a break, Dr. Mazzucato dispatched an assistant to get the A.C. turned off. How will we change anything, she wondered aloud, "if we don't rebel in the everyday?"
Dr. Mazzucato, an economist based at University College London, is trying to change something fundamental: the way society thinks about economic value. While many of her colleagues have been scolding capitalism lately, she has been reimagining its basic premises. Where does growth come from? What is the source of innovation? How can the state and private sector work together to create the dynamic economies we want? She asks questions about capitalism we long ago stopped asking. Her answers might rise to the most difficult challenges of our time.
In two books of modern political economic theory -- "The Entrepreneurial State" (2013) and "The Value of Everything" (2018) -- Dr. Mazzucato argues against the long-accepted binary of an agile private sector and a lumbering, inefficient state. Citing markets and technologies like the internet, the iPhone and clean energy -- all of which were funded at crucial stages by public dollars -- she says the state has been an underappreciated driver of growth and innovation. "Personally, I think the left is losing around the world," she said in an interview, "because they focus too much on redistribution and not enough on the creation of wealth."
Her message has appealed to an array of American politicians. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts and a presidential contender, has incorporated Dr. Mazzucato's thinking into several policy rollouts, including one that would use "federal R & D to create domestic jobs and sustainable investments in the future" and another that would authorize the government to receive a return on its investments in the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Mazzucato has also consulted with Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democrat of New York, and her team on the ways a more active industrial policy might catalyze a Green New Deal.
Even Republicans have found something to like. In May, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida credited Dr. Mazzucato's work several times in "American Investment in the 21st Century," his proposal to jump-start economic growth. "We need to build an economy that can see past the pressure to understand value-creation in narrow and short-run financial terms," he wrote in the introduction, "and instead envision a future worth investing in for the long-term."
Formally, the United Nations event in September was a meeting of the leadership council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, or S.D.S.N. It's a body of about 90 experts who advise on topics like gender equality, poverty and global warming. Most of the attendees had specific technical expertise -- Dr. Mazzucato greeted a contact at one point with, "You're the ocean guy!" -- but she offers something both broad and scarce: a compelling new story about how to create a desirable future.
'Investor of first resort'
Originally from Italy -- her family left when she was 5 -- Dr. Mazzucato is the daughter of a Princeton nuclear physicist and a stay-at-home mother who couldn't speak English when she moved to the United States. She got her Ph.D. in 1999 from the New School for Social Research and began working on "The Entrepreneurial State" after the 2008 financial crisis. Governments across Europe began to institute austerity policies in the name of fostering innovation -- a rationale she found not only dubious but economically destructive.
"There's a whole neoliberal agenda," she said, referencing the received free-market wisdom that cutting public budgets spurs economic growth. "And then the way that traditional theory has fomented it or not contested it -- there's been kind of a strange symbiosis between mainstream economic thinking and stupid policies."
Dr. Mazzucato takes issue with many of the tenets of the neoclassical economic theory taught in most academic departments: its assumption that the forces of supply and demand lead to market equilibrium, its equation of price with value and -- perhaps most of all -- its relegation of the state to the investor of last resort, tasked with fixing market failure. She has originated and popularized the description of the state as an "investor of first resort," envisioning new markets and providing long-term, or "patient," capital at early stages of development.
In important ways, Dr. Mazzucato's work resembles that of a literary critic or rhetorician as much as an economist. She has written of waging what the historian Tony Judt called a "discursive battle," and scrutinizes descriptive terms -- words like "fix" or "spend" as opposed to "create" and "invest" -- that have been used to undermine the state's appeal as a dynamic economic actor. "If we continue to depict the state as only a facilitator and administrator, and tell it to stop dreaming," she writes, "in the end that is what we get."
As a charismatic figure in a contentious field that does not generate many stars -- she was recently profiled in Wired magazine's United Kingdom edition -- Dr. Mazzucato has her critics. She is a regular guest on nightly news shows in Britain, where she is pitted against proponents of Brexit or skeptics of a market-savvy state.
Alberto Mingardi, an adjunct scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute and director general of Istituto Bruno Leoni, a free-market think tank, has repeatedly criticized Dr. Mazzucato for, in his view, cherry-picking her case studies, underestimating economic trade-offs and defining industrial policy too broadly. In January, in an academic piece written with one of his Cato colleagues, Terence Kealey, he called her "the world's greatest exponent today of public prodigality."
Her ideas, though, are finding a receptive audience around the world. In the United Kingdom, Dr. Mazzucato's work has influenced Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, and Theresa May, a former Prime Minister, and she has counseled the Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon on designing and putting in place a national investment bank. She also advises government entities in Germany, South Africa and elsewhere. "In getting my hands dirty," she said, "I learn and I bring it back to the theory."
The 'Mission Muse'
During a break at the United Nations gathering, Dr. Mazzucato escaped the air conditioning to confer with two colleagues in Italian on a patio. Tall, with a muscular physique, she wore a brightly colored glass necklace that has become something of a trademark on the economics circuit. Having traveled to five countries in eight days, she was fighting off a cough.
"In theory, I'm the 'Mission Muse,'" she joked, lapsing into English. Her signature reference is to the original mission to the moon -- a state-spurred technological revolution consisting of hundreds of individual feeder projects, many of them collaborations between the public and private sectors. Some were successes, some failures, but the sum of them contributed to economic growth and explosive innovation.
Dr. Mazzucato's platform is more complex -- and for some, controversial -- than simply encouraging government investment, however. She has written that governments and state-backed investment entities should "socialize both the risks and rewards." She has suggested the state obtain a return on public investments through royalties or equity stakes, or by including conditions on reinvestment -- for example, a mandate to limit share buybacks.
Emphasizing to policymakers not only the importance of investment, but also the direction of that investment -- "What are we investing in?" she often asks -- Dr. Mazzucato has influenced the way American politicians speak about the state's potential as an economic engine. In her vision, governments would do what so many traditional economists have long told them to avoid: create and shape new markets, embrace uncertainty and take big risks.
Inside the conference, the news was uniformly bleak. Pavel Kabat, the chief scientist of the World Meteorological Organization, lamented the breaking of global temperature records and said that countries would have to triple their current Paris-accord commitments by 2030 to have any hope of staying below a critical warming threshold. A panel on land use and food waste noted that nine species account for two-thirds of the world's crop production, a dangerous lack of agricultural diversity. All the experts appeared dismayed by what Jeffrey Sachs, the S.D.S.N.'s director, described as the "crude nationalism" and "aggressive anti-globalization" ascendant around the world.
"We absolutely need to change both the narrative, but also the theory and the practice on the ground," Dr. Mazzucato told the crowd when she spoke on the final expert panel of the day. "What does it mean, actually, to create markets where you create the demand, and really start directing the investment and the innovation in ways that can help us achieve these goals?"
Earlier in the day, she pointed at an announcement on her laptop. She had been nominated for the first Not the Nobel Prize, a commendation intended to promote "fresh economic thinking." "Governments have woken up to the fact the mainstream way of thinking isn't helping them," she said, explaining her appeal to politicians and policymakers. A few days later, she won. Reply Thursday, November 28, 2019 at 12:05 PM
Nov 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Noirette , Nov 11 2019 16:16 utc | 125Quote: "A recent Global Times editorial ( .. ) the West was incapable of seeing and thus appreciating the critical role of the Communist Party of China in directing China's success since Western dogma says government's incapable of being dynamic or innovative -- that only the private sector is capable of being that and doing so. And thanks to the teaching of the false Neoliberal doctrine as truth in schools and universities, Western governments and their publics will continue to do the wrong thing by following a false path.." -- karlof1 @ 60
Quote: "If you read many who come and comment at MoA that supposedly are "educated" you will notice that they continue to think and write in terms of the conflict being between socialism and capitalism (...) China is 80% capitalistic as are other "socialistic" countries but what matters is what part of the social economy is socialism versus capitalism." -- psychohistorian @ 72
Even long-ago groups (1) set aside 'capital to invest' in the shape of making tools (costly in materials, expertise, time ), keeping seeds (ditto), training children/youth to hunt, build shelter, give warnings, etc. Accumulating one good or another for a reserve store in slim times, for transformation at a later date - commodities - (reeds,coverings, etc.) or for favorable exchange, or even for coercion. By necessity, all such societies were socialistic, in the sense that sharing and re-distribution played a vital part, without which all would have collapsed.
Rent seeking or monopolisitic capture existed in the sense of a powerful ppl claiming a stipend (rake-off?), leaders lived better / had more wives / more space / whatever because of decisionary power, status, built on 'skill' or 'success' or 'x', perhaps merely dynastic, (small tribe), or, later, because of supervision and control posts that were needed to enable larger societies to function (Priest administration which regulated stores, exchanges, contracts - Sumeria), often resting on an over-arching narrative like a religious one. Here too socialism was at the core: without re-distribution to the poor, perhaps for their work, care offered to women and children, and regular debt forgiveness (formalised in Sumeria but existing before of course, in the 'buddy no prob' style) the society would have broken down.
Capitalism and socialism are modern terms (18th, 19th? cent.) and are strands that exist in all human and maybe even some animal groups. Meme key-words (i.e. not needed when analysing how one society functions, any will be both in part) that serve today as a rallying cry:
"Sorry...but the conflict is between socialism and capitalism...between the rich and the working masses, especially those who work and still they remain poor....as has always been....who says otherwise is only trying to fool the masses " Sasha 76.
Yes, a class struggle between the working 'poor' and rentier domineering 'rich' is boiling over now.
1. upper paleolithic to early sumeria, snippets
flankerbandit , Nov 11 2019 17:25 utc | 136juliania , Nov 11 2019 18:26 utc | 141
Noirette...thanks for an interesting and informative comment...
Also for calling attention to Karlof's comment at 60...Utilization of the Entrepreneurial aspects of Capitalism that provide for dynamicism and innovation works as long as they're employed for the public's benefit...
This idea of the supposed 'innovation' inherent in 'entrepreneurial capitalism' is another one of those myths that are just taken for granted and assumed to be true...
It's not quite like that...if we think of innovation as being specific to advancements in science and technology [as opposed to say process innovation in social organization or resource management etc]...then this idea is certainly false...
The advancement of science rests on education...it's as simple as that...the more resources you devote to building up an academic and scientific infrastructure, the more scientific innovations will be forthcoming...
The alleged 'dynamicism' of private enterprise is failing miserably in this regard...the prime example being America's increasing lag in the most scientifically demanding endeavors, like spaceflight and advanced armaments...both of which are completely privatized...
It was only during the 1960s Apollo program where an intensive top-down government effort yielded impressive progress...that successful strategy was then promptly abandoned and top-flight science handed off to the profit-seeking private sector...with disastrous consequences...
Today, the US has been dependent on political rival Russia for human spaceflight for nearly a decade...as well as rocket engines for its critical national security rocket launches...[which it cannot manufacture itself]...
The gap in advanced armaments technology is just as startling...with Russia clearly opening a large lead in groundbreaking hypersonic technologies, scramjet engines etc...
For those who have had an inside view of the aerospace industry over the last decades, the gap in technical capability is truly startling...for instance, there would be no ISS if not for the Russian Mir space station technology on which the ISS is based...
When looking at why this state of affairs has come to be, it is helpful to have again an inside perspective on the absolutely huge academic and scientific infrastructure that was built up during the Soviet era...
In the meantime, the capitalist US is not the least concerned with building up such a national science capability...this is obvious...recent figures on STEM graduates...
We note that China produces nearly 10 times as many as the US, with only four times the population...Russia with half the US population produces as many...
In engineering it is even more pronounced...
We note that even Iran, with one quarter the US population [but with a decidedly socialist system] is near the US in both categories...
The US is becoming a third-rate power in science and technology...[and no iphones and other consumer gizmos don't really count for anything]...
The simple fact is that in order to truly innovate, you need to have a PLAN...crony capitalism like the US defense industry, or the privatization of space technology are really producing diddly squat...Thanks to all posters. The information about Bolivia is sobering but very helpful. I was struck also by karlof1's repost of his email to psychohistorian @ 60:William Gruff , Nov 11 2019 22:58 utc | 161
"...What the Chinese are doing as you noted is keeping the primary sink of Capital under public auspices such that all major public supporting infrastructures are publicly owned and operated. Even the Communist Party of China is publicly owned--which is what political parties within the West ought to be so they can't be captured like the P and R-parties to work against the public interest..."
So, I was thinking what does it mean in the US to have a publicly owned political party - something like publicly owned businesses? Only small donations permitted to the party coffers? Sort of like unions are structured? That seems a possible and interesting development. This country ought to be able to attempt this.
We might say the Green Party tries, but maybe the FDR model isn't the appropriate one to this day and age. I don't think younger folk (then me) are 'turned on' by FDR since the generational link is broken. And maybe too they are not turned on by 'isms' either.
I like the last words of your quote above, karlof1 - maybe a "Public Interest Party", PIP for short? I wish Grieved was posting, hope he/she is in good health. The input on China from Grieved's research in depth has been very helpful.
Public interest is very far reaching, and takes in models from Russia and China to Venezuela and Bolivia, with Syria and Ukraine right there in the mix as well. It's a far reaching concept that rises above the 'ism's'.flankerbandit @136 points out that capitalist entrepreneurial innovation is a farce, but I would like to add some points.flankerbandit , Nov 12 2019 1:15 utc | 169
Lots of really cool tech was developed in the US after WWII and up to the early 1980s. Much of this came from giant corporate research institutes (think Bell Labs, Palo Alto Research Center, IBM's Watson Works, etc). From the mid-1980s to the present these incredibly productive research institutes have all but vanished. The remnants of what remains of those corporate labs certainly don't produce very much of interest anymore.
Why did capitalism create these labs, and what happened to cause their decline?
The research institutes came into existence because AT&T used to be a monopoly.
Americans didn't have so much of a "business friendly" fetish back in the 1950s as they do now. As a result they were extremely suspicious of and hostile to AT&T for being a monopoly. Of course, it made sense to have a unified communications network across the nation, so AT&T as a monopoly could provide better service than dozens of smaller competing businesses. The capitalist propaganda against nationalization was intense, so the public settled for hardcore regulation of the monopoly instead. Part of this regulation was a requirement that AT&T spend a hefty chunk of their revenue on research and development.
The problem, from a capitalist perspective, was that the amount mandated be spent on R&D by the regulations was far more than AT&T management could come up with profit-bearing lines of research for. As a consequence they hired scientists and set them up in laboratories just to consume the required number of dollars. This is to say that as a result of heavy regulations AT&T began to pour money into pure research rather than the applied type of research that can be justified to bean counters. This resulted in mountains of science, much of which remains lost in old filing cabinets to this day.
Those who like to meta-study science itself will tell you that most pure research doesn't really yield anything worthwhile. At the same time, most of the really big advances come from pure research. The successes of this pure research led AT&T to branch out into a wide range of technologies beyond just telephones and telegraphs. This began to be a business threat to other big players in the tech industries like IBM, who then had to set up their own huge freewheeling research institutes in order to remain competitive. Due solely to AT&T being forced by the government to setting up extensive research labs, many other businesses across a multitude of sectors of the economy were likewise forced to heavily invest in R&D.
Of course, AT&T would rather have just given that money spent on R&D to their investors, so they lobbied to have the regulations removed. By the end of the 1970s the American public had been successfully brainwashed by capitalist mass media into feeling a need for "business-friendly" government, and deregulation was the order of the day (thank you Jimmy Carter for starting that!). Even as such, people of that time were not ready for an unregulated monopoly to control telecommunications, so AT&T was broken up into smaller units that could focus on just making the biggest profit possible. The "Baby Bells" rode on the momentum of their former success, neglecting research and running their infrastructure into the ground. America then went from having the best communications infrastructure in the world, literally decades ahead of everyone else on the planet, to barely staying above third world status.
With Bell Labs reduced to a joke, there was no longer a justification for others like IBM and Xerox to keep spending on pure research themselves. Pure research was rationalized away. That said, what is referred to as "pre-market" research is still done today, even if not in the giant corporate research institutes. This is now done in universities on the public dime. The "innovative entrepreneurial capitalist enterprises" circle the college campuses like vultures waiting for students and faculty to develop something they can make money off of and when they see it they swoop in and snatch it away for a tiny fragment of its cost and value.
The point here is that AT&T was so micromanaged by government regulators that it should have just been directly managed by those regulators. AT&T should have been nationalized rather than broken up. Capitalism had nothing whatsoever to do with AT&T's prodigious technological productivity. That "innovation" was 100% the result of government "interference" in the Market. Most of the heavy lifting for innovation today comes from "pre-market" research at universities and is funded by the public. Very little fundamental innovation in the world today is financed by private investors.
The take-away? You don't need capitalism for innovation. On the contrary, capitalism interferes with and holds back innovation.William G on capitalism and innovation...
Thanks for a very good case study...yes, for all intents and purposes AT&T might just as well be labeled under 'state owned enterprise' at the time...
And that was another era...I will add here that the 'golden' three decades or so after the war, life in the US for ordinary folks really was pretty good...
The shop floor worker took home a decent pay on which a family could live nicely without a second income...own a nice home and send the kids to college...most of the manufacturing jobs were considered 'semi-skilled' labor, but were in fact quite skilled by today's standards...
The company president took home maybe ten times that of the shop floor worker...the financialization of everything that wasn't nailed down had not yet even started...
I went to college in Michigan [quite far from home] in the 1980s and knew family friends there...the elder patriarch had worked at GM, starting as just a guy on the line, but moved up to foreman and was an incredible source of technical knowledge about manufacturing...the house they retired in, in Grosse Pointe was nothing to sneeze at...
This kind of fair deal and upward mobility for the ordinary worker is long gone now...with temp jobs, no benefits and working in an Amazon warehouse for 11 bucks an hour [under sweatshop conditions literally]...
[An entire series from this local paper on Amazon here...]
Of course this doesn't stop the government from showering King Bezos with billions of our tax dollars to come up with some grifter scheme involving supposed rocket engines and spacecraft...
So yes, those were much different times...and yes, capitalism does not lead to innovation...
Nov 07, 2019 | crookedtimber.org
Donald 11.07.19 at 4:37 am 64
" In a sense, the current NeoMcCartyism (Russophobia, Sinophobia) epidemic in the USA can partially be viewed as a yet another sign of the crisis of neoliberalism: a desperate attempt to patch the cracks in the neoliberal façade using scapegoating -- creation of an external enemy to project the problems of the neoliberal society.
I would add another, pretty subjective measure of failure: the degradation of the elite. When you look at Hillary, Trump, Biden, Warren, Harris, etc, you instantly understand what I am talking about. They all look like the second-rate, if not the third rate politicians. Also, the Epstein case was pretty symbolic."
I had decided to stay on the sidelines for the most part after making a few earlier comments, but I liked this summary, except I would give Warren more credit. She is flawed like most politicians, but she has made some of the right enemies within the Democratic Party.
On Trump and " the Deep State", there is no unified Deep State. There is a collection of Democratic and Republican politicians and think tanks funded by various corporations and governments and bureaucrats in the government agencies mostly all devoted to the Empire, but also willing to stab each other in the back to obtain power. They don't necessarily agree on policy details.
They don't oppose Trump because Trump is antiwar. Trump isn't antiwar. Or rather, he is antiwar for three minutes here and there and then he advocates for war crimes.
He is a fairly major war criminal based on his policies in Yemen. But they don't oppose him for that either or they would have been upset by Obama. They oppose Trump because he is incompetent, unpredictable and easily manipulated. And worst of all, he doesn't play the game right, where we pretend we intervene out of noble humanitarian motives. This idiot actually say he wants to keep Syrian oil fields and Syria's oil fields aren't significant to anyone outside Syria.
But yes, scapegoating is a big thing with liberals now. It's pathetic. Our policies are influenced in rather negative ways by various foreign countries, but would be embarrassed to go to the extremes one regularly sees from liberals talking about Russian influence .
For the most part, if we have a horrible political culture nearly all the blame for that is homegrown.
Donald 11.07.19 at 4:40 am (no link)Sigh. Various typos above. Here is one --
Our policies are influenced in rather negative ways by various foreign countries, but would be embarrassed to go to the extremes one regularly sees from liberals talking about Russian influence.
I meant to say I would be embarrassed to go to the extremes one regularly sees from liberals talking about Russian influence.
Dec 01, 1992 | www.moonofalabama.org
On the abandonment of Enlightenment intellectualism, and the emergence of a new form of Volksgeist.When hatred of culture becomes itself a part of culture, the life of the mind loses all meaning. -- Alain Finkielkraut, The Undoing of Thought
Today we are trying to spread knowledge everywhere. Who knows if in centuries to come there will not be universities for re-establishing our former ignorance? -- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799)
I n 1927, the French essayist Julien Benda published his famous attack on the intellectual corruption of the age, La Trahison des clercs. I said "famous," but perhaps "once famous" would have been more accurate. For today, in the United States anyway, only the title of the book, not its argument, enjoys much currency. "La trahison des clercs": it is one of those memorable phrases that bristles with hints and associations without stating anything definite. Benda tells us that he uses the term "clerc" in "the medieval sense," i.e., to mean "scribe," someone we would now call a member of the intelligentsia. Academics and journalists, pundits, moralists, and pontificators of all varieties are in this sense clercs . The English translation, The Treason of the Intellectuals , 1 sums it up neatly.
The "treason" in question was the betrayal by the "clerks" of their vocation as intellectuals. From the time of the pre-Socratics, intellectuals, considered in their role as intellectuals, had been a breed apart. In Benda's terms, they were understood to be "all those whose activity essentially is not the pursuit of practical aims, all those who seek their joy in the practice of an art or a science or a metaphysical speculation, in short in the possession of non-material advantages." Thanks to such men, Benda wrote, "humanity did evil for two thousand years, but honored good. This contradiction was an honor to the human species, and formed the rift whereby civilization slipped into the world."
According to Benda, however, this situation was changing. More and more, intellectuals were abandoning their attachment to the traditional panoply of philosophical and scholarly ideals. One clear sign of the change was the attack on the Enlightenment ideal of universal humanity and the concomitant glorification of various particularisms. The attack on the universal went forward in social and political life as well as in the refined precincts of epistemology and metaphysics: "Those who for centuries had exhorted men, at least theoretically, to deaden the feeling of their differences have now come to praise them, according to where the sermon is given, for their 'fidelity to the French soul,' 'the immutability of their German consciousness,' for the 'fervor of their Italian hearts.'" In short, intellectuals began to immerse themselves in the unsettlingly practical and material world of political passions: precisely those passions, Benda observed, "owing to which men rise up against other men, the chief of which are racial passions, class passions and national passions." The "rift" into which civilization had been wont to slip narrowed and threatened to close altogether.
Writing at a moment when ethnic and nationalistic hatreds were beginning to tear Europe asunder, Benda's diagnosis assumed the lineaments of a prophecy -- a prophecy that continues to have deep resonance today. "Our age is indeed the age of the intellectual organization of political hatreds ," he wrote near the beginning of the book. "It will be one of its chief claims to notice in the moral history of humanity." There was no need to add that its place in moral history would be as a cautionary tale. In little more than a decade, Benda's prediction that, because of the "great betrayal" of the intellectuals, humanity was "heading for the greatest and most perfect war ever seen in the world," would achieve a terrifying corroboration.
J ulien Benda was not so naïve as to believe that intellectuals as a class had ever entirely abstained from political involvement, or, indeed, from involvement in the realm of practical affairs. Nor did he believe that intellectuals, as citizens, necessarily should abstain from political commitment or practical affairs. The "treason" or betrayal he sought to publish concerned the way that intellectuals had lately allowed political commitment to insinuate itself into their understanding of the intellectual vocation as such. Increasingly, Benda claimed, politics was "mingled with their work as artists, as men of learning, as philosophers." The ideal of disinterestedness, the universality of truth: such guiding principles were contemptuously deployed as masks when they were not jettisoned altogether. It was in this sense that he castigated the " desire to abase the values of knowledge before the values of action ."
In its crassest but perhaps also most powerful form, this desire led to that familiar phenomenon Benda dubbed "the cult of success." It is summed up, he writes, in "the teaching that says that when a will is successful that fact alone gives it a moral value, whereas the will which fails is for that reason alone deserving of contempt." In itself, this idea is hardly novel, as history from the Greek sophists on down reminds us. In Plato's Gorgias , for instance, the sophist Callicles expresses his contempt for Socrates' devotion to philosophy: "I feel toward philosophers very much as I do toward those who lisp and play the child." Callicles taunts Socrates with the idea that "the more powerful, the better, and the stronger" are simply different words for the same thing. Successfully pursued, he insists, "luxury and intemperance are virtue and happiness, and all the rest is tinsel." How contemporary Callicles sounds!
In Benda's formula, this boils down to the conviction that "politics decides morality." To be sure, the cynicism that Callicles espoused is perennial: like the poor, it will be always with us. What Benda found novel was the accreditation of such cynicism by intellectuals. "It is true indeed that these new 'clerks' declare that they do not know what is meant by justice, truth, and other 'metaphysical fogs,' that for them the true is determined by the useful, the just by circumstances," he noted. "All these things were taught by Callicles, but with this difference; he revolted all the important thinkers of his time."
In other words, the real treason of the intellectuals was not that they countenanced Callicles but that they championed him. To appreciate the force of Benda's thesis one need only think of that most influential modern Callicles, Friedrich Nietzsche. His doctrine of "the will to power," his contempt for the "slave morality" of Christianity, his plea for an ethic "beyond good and evil," his infatuation with violence -- all epitomize the disastrous "pragmatism" that marks the intellectual's "treason." The real problem was not the unattainability but the disintegration of ideals, an event that Nietzsche hailed as the "transvaluation of all values." "Formerly," Benda observed, "leaders of States practiced realism, but did not honor it; With them morality was violated but moral notions remained intact, and that is why, in spite of all their violence, they did not disturb civilization ."
Benda understood that the stakes were high: the treason of the intellectuals signaled not simply the corruption of a bunch of scribblers but a fundamental betrayal of culture. By embracing the ethic of Callicles, intellectuals had, Benda reckoned, precipitated "one of the most remarkable turning points in the moral history of the human species. It is impossible," he continued,to exaggerate the importance of a movement whereby those who for twenty centuries taught Man that the criterion of the morality of an act is its disinterestedness, that good is a decree of his reason insofar as it is universal, that his will is only moral if it seeks its law outside its objects, should begin to teach him that the moral act is the act whereby he secures his existence against an environment which disputes it, that his will is moral insofar as it is a will "to power," that the part of his soul which determines what is good is its "will to live" wherein it is most "hostile to all reason," that the morality of an act is measured by its adaptation to its end, and that the only morality is the morality of circumstances. The educators of the human mind now take sides with Callicles against Socrates, a revolution which I dare to say seems to me more important than all political upheavals.
T he Treason of the Intellectuals is an energetic hodgepodge of a book. The philosopher Jean-François Revel recently described it as "one of the fussiest pleas on behalf of the necessary independence of intellectuals." Certainly it is rich, quirky, erudite, digressive, and polemical: more an exclamation than an analysis. Partisan in its claims for disinterestedness, it is ruthless in its defense of intellectual high-mindedness. Yet given the horrific events that unfolded in the decades following its publication, Benda's unremitting attack on the politicization of the intellect and ethnic separatism cannot but strike us as prescient. And given the continuing echo in our own time of the problems he anatomized, the relevance of his observations to our situation can hardly be doubted. From the savage flowering of ethnic hatreds in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to the mendacious demands for political correctness and multiculturalism on college campuses across America and Europe, the treason of the intellectuals continues to play out its unedifying drama. Benda spoke of "a cataclysm in the moral notions of those who educate the world." That cataclysm is erupting in every corner of cultural life today.
In 1988, the young French philosopher and cultural critic Alain Finkielkraut took up where Benda left off, producing a brief but searching inventory of our contemporary cataclysms. Entitled La Défaite de la pensée 2 ("The 'Defeat' or 'Undoing' of Thought"), his essay is in part an updated taxonomy of intellectual betrayals. In this sense, the book is a trahison des clercs for the post-Communist world, a world dominated as much by the leveling imperatives of pop culture as by resurgent nationalism and ethnic separatism. Beginning with Benda, Finkielkraut catalogues several prominent strategies that contemporary intellectuals have employed to retreat from the universal. A frequent point of reference is the eighteenth-century German Romantic philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder. "From the beginning, or to be more precise, from the time of Plato until that of Voltaire," he writes, "human diversity had come before the tribunal of universal values; with Herder the eternal values were condemned by the court of diversity."
Finkielkraut focuses especially on Herder's definitively anti-Enlightenment idea of the Volksgeist or "national spirit." Quoting the French historian Joseph Renan, he describes the idea as "the most dangerous explosive of modern times." "Nothing," he writes, "can stop a state that has become prey to the Volksgeist ." It is one of Finkielkraut's leitmotifs that today's multiculturalists are in many respects Herder's (generally unwitting) heirs.
True, Herder's emphasis on history and language did much to temper the tendency to abstraction that one finds in some expressions of the Enlightenment. Ernst Cassirer even remarked that "Herder's achievement is one of the greatest intellectual triumphs of the philosophy of the Enlightenment."
Nevertheless, the multiculturalists' obsession with "diversity" and ethnic origins is in many ways a contemporary redaction of Herder's elevation of racial particularism over the universalizing mandate of reason. Finkielkraut opposes this just as the mature Goethe once took issue with Herder's adoration of the Volksgeist. Finkielkraut concedes that we all "relate to a particular tradition" and are "shaped by our national identity." But, unlike the multiculturalists, he soberly insists that "this reality merit[s] some recognition, not idolatry."
In Goethe's words, "A generalized tolerance will be best achieved if we leave undisturbed whatever it is which constitutes the special character of particular individuals and peoples, whilst at the same time we retain the conviction that the distinctive worth of anything with true merit lies in its belonging to all humanity."
The Undoing of Thought resembles The Treason of the Intellectuals stylistically as well as thematically. Both books are sometimes breathless congeries of sources and aperçus. And Finkielkraut, like Benda (and, indeed, like Montaigne), tends to proceed more by collage than by demonstration. But he does not simply recapitulate Benda's argument.
The geography of intellectual betrayal has changed dramatically in the last sixty-odd years. In 1927, intellectuals still had something definite to betray. In today's "postmodernist" world, the terrain is far mushier: the claims of tradition are much attenuated and betrayal is often only a matter of acquiescence. Finkielkraut's distinctive contribution is to have taken the measure of the cultural swamp that surrounds us, to have delineated the links joining the politicization of the intellect and its current forms of debasement.
In the broadest terms, The Undoing of Thought is a brief for the principles of the Enlightenment. Among other things, this means that it is a brief for the idea that mankind is united by a common humanity that transcends ethnic, racial, and sexual divisions.
The humanizing "reason" that Enlightenment champions is a universal reason, sharable, in principle, by all. Such ideals have not fared well in the twentieth century: Herder's progeny have labored hard to discredit them. Granted, the belief that there is "Jewish thinking" or "Soviet science" or "Aryan art" is no longer as widespread as it once was. But the dispersal of these particular chimeras has provided no inoculation against kindred fabrications: "African knowledge," "female language," "Eurocentric science": these are among today's talismanic fetishes.
Then, too, one finds a stunning array of anti-Enlightenment phantasmagoria congregated under the banner of "anti-positivism." The idea that history is a "myth," that the truths of science are merely "fictions" dressed up in forbidding clothes, that reason and language are powerless to discover the truth -- more, that truth itself is a deceitful ideological construct: these and other absurdities are now part of the standard intellectual diet of Western intellectuals. The Frankfurt School Marxists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno gave an exemplary but by no means uncharacteristic demonstration of one strain of this brand of anti-rational animus in the mid-1940s.
Safely ensconced in Los Angeles, these refugees from Hitler's Reich published an influential essay on the concept of Enlightenment. Among much else, they assured readers that "Enlightenment is totalitarian." Never mind that at that very moment the Nazi war machine -- what one might be forgiven for calling real totalitarianism -- was busy liquidating millions of people in order to fulfill another set of anti-Enlightenment fantasies inspired by devotion to the Volksgeist .
The diatribe that Horkheimer and Adorno mounted against the concept of Enlightenment reminds us of an important peculiarity about the history of Enlightenment: namely, that it is a movement of thought that began as a reaction against tradition and has now emerged as one of tradition's most important safeguards. Historically, the Enlightenment arose as a deeply anti-clerical and, perforce, anti-traditional movement. Its goal, in Kant's famous phrase, was to release man from his "self-imposed immaturity."
The chief enemy of Enlightenment was "superstition," an omnibus term that included all manner of religious, philosophical, and moral ideas. But as the sociologist Edward Shils has noted, although the Enlightenment was in important respects "antithetical to tradition" in its origins, its success was due in large part "to the fact that it was promulgated and pursued in a society in which substantive traditions were rather strong." "It was successful against its enemies," Shils notes in his book Tradition (1981),because the enemies were strong enough to resist its complete victory over them. Living on a soil of substantive traditionality, the ideas of the Enlightenment advanced without undoing themselves. As long as respect for authority on the one side and self-confidence in those exercising authority on the other persisted, the Enlightenment's ideal of emancipation through the exercise of reason went forward. It did not ravage society as it would have done had society lost all legitimacy.
It is this mature form of Enlightenment, championing reason but respectful of tradition, that Finkielkraut holds up as an ideal.
W hat Finkielkraut calls "the undoing of thought" flows from the widespread disintegration of a faith. At the center of that faith is the assumption that the life of thought is "the higher life" and that culture -- what the Germans call Bildung -- is its end or goal.
The process of disintegration has lately become an explicit attack on culture. This is not simply to say that there are many anti-intellectual elements in society: that has always been the case. "Non-thought," in Finkielkraut's phrase, has always co-existed with the life of the mind. The innovation of contemporary culture is to have obliterated the distinction between the two. "It is," he writes, "the first time in European history that non-thought has donned the same label and enjoyed the same status as thought itself, and the first time that those who, in the name of 'high culture,' dare to call this non-thought by its name, are dismissed as racists and reactionaries." The attack is perpetrated not from outside, by uncomprehending barbarians, but chiefly from inside, by a new class of barbarians, the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia. This is the undoing of thought. This is the new "treason of the intellectuals."
There are many sides to this phenomenon. What Finkielkraut has given us is not a systematic dissection but a kind of pathologist's scrapbook. He reminds us, for example, that the multiculturalists' demand for "diversity" requires the eclipse of the individual in favor of the group . "Their most extraordinary feat," he observes, "is to have put forward as the ultimate individual liberty the unconditional primacy of the collective." Western rationalism and individualism are rejected in the name of a more "authentic" cult.
One example: Finkielkraut quotes a champion of multiculturalism who maintains that "to help immigrants means first of all respecting them for what they are, respecting whatever they aspire to in their national life, in their distinctive culture and in their attachment to their spiritual and religious roots." Would this, Finkielkraut asks, include "respecting" those religious codes which demanded that the barren woman be cast out and the adulteress be punished with death?
What about those cultures in which the testimony of one man counts for that of two women? In which female circumcision is practiced? In which slavery flourishes? In which mixed marriages are forbidden and polygamy encouraged? Multiculturalism, as Finkielkraut points out, requires that we respect such practices. To criticize them is to be dismissed as "racist" and "ethnocentric." In this secular age, "cultural identity" steps in where the transcendent once was: "Fanaticism is indefensible when it appeals to heaven, but beyond reproach when it is grounded in antiquity and cultural distinctiveness."
To a large extent, the abdication of reason demanded by multiculturalism has been the result of what we might call the subjection of culture to anthropology. Finkielkraut speaks in this context of a "cheerful confusion which raises everyday anthropological practices to the pinnacle of the human race's greatest achievements." This process began in the nineteenth century, but it has been greatly accelerated in our own age. One thinks, for example, of the tireless campaigning of that great anthropological leveler, Claude Lévi-Strauss. Lévi-Strauss is assuredly a brilliant writer, but he has also been an extraordinarily baneful influence. Already in the early 1950s, when he was pontificating for UNESCO , he was urging all and sundry to "fight against ranking cultural differences hierarchically." In La Pensée sauvage (1961), he warned against the "false antinomy between logical and prelogical mentality" and was careful in his descriptions of natives to refer to "so-called primitive thought." "So-called" indeed. In a famous article on race and history, Lévi-Strauss maintained that the barbarian was not the opposite of the civilized man but "first of all the man who believes there is such a thing as barbarism." That of course is good to know. It helps one to appreciate Lévi-Strauss's claim, in Tristes Tropiques (1955), that the "true purpose of civilization" is to produce "inertia." As one ruminates on the proposition that cultures should not be ranked hierarchically, it is also well to consider what Lévi-Strauss coyly refers to as "the positive forms of cannibalism." For Lévi-Strauss, cannibalism has been unfairly stigmatized in the "so-called" civilized West. In fact, he explains, cannibalism was "often observed with great discretion, the vital mouthful being made up of a small quantity of organic matter mixed, on occasion, with other forms of food." What, merely a "vital mouthful"? Not to worry! Only an ignoramus who believed that there were important distinctions, qualitative distinctions, between the barbarian and the civilized man could possibly think of objecting.
Of course, the attack on distinctions that Finkielkraut castigates takes place not only among cultures but also within a given culture. Here again, the anthropological imperative has played a major role. "Under the equalizing eye of social science," he writes,hierarchies are abolished, and all the criteria of taste are exposed as arbitrary. From now on no rigid division separates masterpieces from run-of-the mill works. The same fundamental structure, the same general and elemental traits are common to the "great" novels (whose excellence will henceforth be demystified by the accompanying quotation marks) and plebian types of narrative activity.
F or confirmation of this, one need only glance at the pronouncements of our critics. Whether working in the academy or other cultural institutions, they bring us the same news: there is "no such thing" as intrinsic merit, "quality" is an only ideological construction, aesthetic value is a distillation of social power, etc., etc.
In describing this process of leveling, Finkielkraut distinguishes between those who wish to obliterate distinctions in the name of politics and those who do so out of a kind of narcissism. The multiculturalists wave the standard of radical politics and say (in the words of a nineteenth-century Russian populist slogan that Finkielkraut quotes): "A pair of boots is worth more than Shakespeare."
Those whom Finkielkraut calls "postmodernists," waving the standard of radical chic, declare that Shakespeare is no better than the latest fashion -- no better, say, than the newest item offered by Calvin Klein. The litany that Finkielkraut recites is familiar:A comic which combines exciting intrigue and some pretty pictures is just as good as a Nabokov novel. What little Lolitas read is as good as Lolita . An effective publicity slogan counts for as much as a poem by Apollinaire or Francis Ponge . The footballer and the choreographer, the painter and the couturier, the writer and the ad-man, the musician and the rock-and-roller, are all the same: creators. We must scrap the prejudice which restricts that title to certain people and regards others as sub-cultural.
The upshot is not only that Shakespeare is downgraded, but also that the bootmaker is elevated. "It is not just that high culture must be demystified; sport, fashion and leisure now lay claim to high cultural status." A grotesque fantasy? Anyone who thinks so should take a moment to recall the major exhibition called "High & Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture" that the Museum of Modern Art mounted a few years ago: it might have been called "Krazy Kat Meets Picasso." Few events can have so consummately summed up the corrosive trivialization of culture now perpetrated by those entrusted with preserving it. Among other things, that exhibition demonstrated the extent to which the apotheosis of popular culture undermines the very possibility of appreciating high art on its own terms.
When the distinction between culture and entertainment is obliterated, high art is orphaned, exiled from the only context in which its distinctive meaning can manifest itself: Picasso becomes a kind of cartoon. This, more than any elitism or obscurity, is the real threat to culture today. As Hannah Arendt once observed, "there are many great authors of the past who have survived centuries of oblivion and neglect, but it is still an open question whether they will be able to survive an entertaining version of what they have to say."
And this brings us to the question of freedom. Finkielkraut notes that the rhetoric of postmodernism is in some ways similar to the rhetoric of Enlightenment. Both look forward to releasing man from his "self-imposed immaturity." But there is this difference: Enlightenment looks to culture as a repository of values that transcend the self, postmodernism looks to the fleeting desires of the isolated self as the only legitimate source of value.
For the postmodernist, then, "culture is no longer seen as a means of emancipation, but as one of the élitist obstacles to this." The products of culture are valuable only as a source of amusement or distraction. In order to realize the freedom that postmodernism promises, culture must be transformed into a field of arbitrary "options." "The post-modern individual," Finkielkraut writes, "is a free and easy bundle of fleeting and contingent appetites. He has forgotten that liberty involves more than the ability to change one's chains, and that culture itself is more than a satiated whim."
What Finkielkraut has understood with admirable clarity is that modern attacks on elitism represent not the extension but the destruction of culture. "Democracy," he writes, "once implied access to culture for everybody. From now on it is going to mean everyone's right to the culture of his choice." This may sound marvelous -- it is after all the slogan one hears shouted in academic and cultural institutions across the country -- but the result is precisely the opposite of what was intended.
"'All cultures are equally legitimate and everything is cultural,' is the common cry of affluent society's spoiled children and of the detractors of the West." The irony, alas, is that by removing standards and declaring that "anything goes," one does not get more culture, one gets more and more debased imitations of culture. This fraud is the dirty secret that our cultural commissars refuse to acknowledge.
There is another, perhaps even darker, result of the undoing of thought. The disintegration of faith in reason and common humanity leads not only to a destruction of standards, but also involves a crisis of courage. "A careless indifference to grand causes," Finkielkraut warns, "has its counterpart in abdication in the face of force." As the impassioned proponents of "diversity" meet the postmodern apostles of acquiescence, fanaticism mixes with apathy to challenge the commitment required to preserve freedom.
Communism may have been effectively discredited. But "what is dying along with it is not the totalitarian cast of mind, but the idea of a world common to all men."
Julien Benda took his epigraph for La Trahison des clercs from the nineteenth-century French philosopher Charles Renouvier: Le monde souffre du manque de foi en une vérité transcendante : "The world suffers from lack of faith in a transcendent truth." Without some such faith, we are powerless against the depredations of intellectuals who have embraced the nihilism of Callicles as their truth.
1 The Treason of the Intellectuals, by Julien Benda, translated by Richard Aldington, was first published in 1928. This translation is still in print from Norton.
2 La Défaite de la pensée , by Alain Finkielkraut; Gallimard, 162 pages, 72 FF . It is available in English, in a translation by Dennis O'Keeffe, as The Undoing of Thought (The Claridge Press [London], 133 pages, £6.95 paper).Roger Kimball is Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion and President and Publisher of Encounter Books. His latest book is The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine's Press)
Sep 23, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
likbez -> anne... , September 16, 2019 at 09:03 PMYes, under neoliberalism like under Bolshevism, your social position is not determined solely by the capital you own. It is also determined by the position you hold in the industry or government (and your earnings/wages are derivative of that).
So we see the reincarnation of the idea of Soviet Nomenklatura on a new level in a different social system. The term can still serve its purpose, and IMHO is better than "Homoploutia."
It is also interesting that older middle-class folk, who due to their private savings, 401K, Roth and ISA accounts, SS pension (say $6K-7K a month for a couple), and sometimes government or industry pension are formally millionaires (with some multimillionaires) are not generally viewed as belonging to the upper 10%. They are looked at as an aberration by the most sociologists.
That's because they are now retired and no longer hold any meaningful for the upper 10% level position in the industry or government. In other words, they do not belong to Nomenklatura. Or more correctly no longer belong to Nomenklatura (for those who retired from relatively high level positions)
And, correspondingly, often are treated as junk in the neoliberal society.
Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , September 15, 2019 at 11:33 AMhttps://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204669356740608anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 11:47 AM
Branko Milanovic @BrankoMilan
Homoploutia, a concept I introduce in "Capitalism, Alone". In today's liberal capitalism, it is common that the same people are rich *both* in terms of capital they own and earnings they receive. This was almost unheard of in classical capitalism where capitalists seldom doubled as wage workers.
4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204677611196416anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 11:49 AM
Branko Milanovic @BrankoMilan
So here, using @lisdata, you have a nice illustration of advanced capitalist countries where people in the top decile by capital and labor income increasing coincide (right end) and Brazil and Mexico where they do not.
4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204681184751617likbez -> anne... , September 16, 2019 at 09:03 PM
Branko Milanovic @BrankoMilan
Note the ambivalence * of homoploutia: in some sense it is desirable (and risk-reducing) that capitalists also work, or that high earners possess capital too. But in another way, it makes inequality-reducing policies more difficult.
4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019Yes, under neoliberalism like under Bolshevism, your social position is not determined solely by the capital you own. It is also determined by the position you hold in the industry or government (and your earnings/wages are derivative of that).
So we see the reincarnation of the idea of Soviet Nomenklatura on a new level in a different social system. The term can still serve its purpose, and IMHO is better than "Homoploutia."
It is also interesting that older middle-class folk, who due to their private savings, 401K, Roth and ISA accounts, SS pension (say $6K-7K a month for a couple), and sometimes government or industry pension are formally millionaires (with some multimillionaires) are not generally viewed as belonging to the upper 10%. They are looked at as an aberration by the most sociologists.
That's because they are now retired and no longer hold any meaningful for the upper 10% level position in the industry or government. In other words, they do not belong to Nomenklatura. Or more correctly no longer belong to Nomenklatura (for those who retired from high level positions)
And, correspondingly, often are treated as junk in the neoliberal society.
Sep 04, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.comTAC are no doubt familiar with the truism that "politics is downstream of culture." This maxim, which is undoubtedly true, should not, however, only be applied to social issues. In fact, culture shapes our public policy very broadly, far more than do dispassionate "policymakers" exercising careful reason and judgment. The nature of our governance tends to reflect the cultural and philosophical orientation of our elites, and this orientation is increasingly debauched.
When talking about politics, we should be careful not to define "debauched" too narrowly. While debauchery is typically associated with over-indulgence of the sensual pleasures, a more fitting political definition is a general loss of self-control.
All the great religious and philosophical traditions understood that there is a part of our nature that can get out of control and a divine part that can exert control. A culture thus becomes debauched when elites lose the sense that they need to rein themselves in, that "there is an immortal essence presiding like a king over" their appetites, as Walter Lippmann put it. In the political realm, debauchery is less characterized by the sensual vices than by an overzealous desire for power.
The ghost of Jeffrey Epstein is all one needs to see that many elites are very debauched as regards social mores. Yet how might a debauched culture be reflected in the realms of domestic and foreign policy?
Let's start with domestic policy. How would debauched elites govern a democracy at home? One might surmise, for example, that their lack of self-control might cause them to spend federal money as a means of keeping themselves in power. They might also attempt to bribe their constituents by promising a variety of domestic programs while also pledging that the programs will be funded out of the pockets of others. If they were really debauched, they might even borrow money from future generations to pay for these incumbency protection initiatives. They might run up staggering debt for the sake of their expedient political needs and promise that "the rich" can provide for it all. In short, the hallmark domestic policy of a debauched democracy is, and has always been, class warfare.
It should be pointed out that class warfare is not simply a creation of demagogues on the left. Class warfare tends to resonate most broadly when the wealthy become self-indulgent and unworthy, and dissolute plutocracies are oft times defended by "conservatives." In the terminal phase of a democracy, this can portend domestic revolution.
While most conservatives might agree about the dangers of class warfare, it is on the foreign policy front where they seem most debauched themselves. They remain stuck in a vortex of GOP clichés, with standard references to Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill, leaders who were closer in their time to the American Civil War than we are to them now. For many of these "conservatives," every contemporary authoritarian leader is the progeny of Hitler and any attempt to establish cordial relations is a rerun of Munich 1938.
As with domestic policy, the true sign of a debauched foreign policy is a loss of self-control and an excessive will to power reflected in attempts to exert dominion over others with no particular nexus to the national interest. A debauched foreign policy might just look like the decision to invade Iraq -- a war whose supporters offered numerous justifications, including alleged weapons of mass destruction, democracy promotion, and anti-terrorism. Yet in hindsight, its real cause seems to have been the simple desire by our leaders to impose their will. In a debauched democracy, class warfare is the paradigmatic domestic policy and profligate war making is the paradigmatic foreign policy.
Given that self-control and restraint are the hallmarks of a genuinely conservative foreign policy -- because they remain humble about what human nature can actually achieve -- one should receive the recent conference on national conservatism with some skepticism . The retinue of experts who spoke generally espoused a foreign policy that sought dominion over others -- in other words, a continuation of the belligerent interventionism that characterized the second Bush administration. This may be nationalism, but it seems not to be conservatism.
One hopes that the leaders of this new movement will re-consider their foreign policy orientation as they have increasingly formidable resources to draw upon. The creation of the Quincy Institute and the rise of an intellectually formidable network of foreign policy "restrainers" provide hope.
Given that culture is king, however, these intellectuals may want to keep top of mind that restraint is not simply a policy option but a character trait -- a virtue -- that needs to be developed in leaders who are then elevated. Prudent policies are no doubt essential but the most important challenge in politics is, and always will be, attracting and encouraging the best leaders to rule. Our system often does the opposite. This is at root a cultural problem.
William S. Smith is research fellow and managing director at the Center for the Study of Statesmanship at the Catholic University of America, and author of the new book Democracy and Imperialism .
Chris in Appalachia • 21 hours agoBelligerent intervention is not nationalism! It is Neocon Texas - Harvard Redneckism. The two opposing teams loathe each other.Wayne Lusvardi • 19 hours ago
Other than that, a good analysis.I'm not sure I agree with the author's thesis: that debauchery or gratuitous political leadership results in immoral foreign policy. Were the highly-disciplined and self-sacrificing Japanese militarists who bombed Pearl Harbor and aligned with the Axis (Hitler, Mussolini) guided by any more virtuous foreign policy than say, "debauched" Churchill and Roosevelt? I doubt it.tweets21 • 12 hours ago
Moreover, has the author never heard of the concept "reasons of state"?: a purely political reason for action on the part of a ruler or government, especially where a departure from openness, justice, or honesty is involved (e.g. "the king returned that he had reasons of state for all he did"). In an existential emergency, would the leader of a nation be justified in using amoral means to save his nation; but in all other circumstances should rely on conventional Christian morality as the default position? This is what Pres. Truman apparently did when he dropped a-bombs on two Japanese cities. What Dietrich Bonhoeffer was apparently involved with in the assassination attempt on Hitler. What Moses was embroiled with when he slayed 3,000 of his "debauched" followers in the Exodus from Egypt.
The article lacks specifics on how America's leaders are debauched and how this debauchery influences foreign policy, other than to say they are "unrestrained". But is non-restraint debauchery? Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was running a gratuitous non-profit institute to shake down foreign rulers in return for promising political favors if elected. She was going to sell the country out.
The opponent who beat her in the election promised the opposite and pretty much has delivered on his promises. Just how is the current administration "unrestrained" other than he has not fulfilled pacifist's fantasies of pulling out of every foreign country and conflict? Such pull outs have to be weighed on a case by case basis to determine the cost to human life and world order. If the current administration has a policy it is that our allies have to fight and fund their own wars and conflicts rather than rely on the U.S. to fight their wars for them.
The article is full of inflationary clichés ('politics is downstream of culture', 'class warfare', etc. And just how does the author connect the dots between pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who was elected to nothing and held no power over anyone, and our "debauched' foreign policy? Correlation is not causation but there isn't even a correlation there.The more one reads opinions of Intellectuals , and as anyone with half a brain knows, to never believe a Politician, I am always reminded, after considerable research why I personally choose Realism . Realism is certainly not new and has some varied forms. Realism re-surfaced leading up to and during WW 2.chris chuba • 11 hours agoTruthsRonin • 10 hours ago"...the true sign of a debauched foreign policy is a loss of self-control and an excessive will to power reflected in attempts to exert dominion over others"
I love this.
We stole Venezuela's assets in the U.S. and even denied their baseball players the ability to send money back to their families, we really love them. We have an oil embargo on Syria and we are the only reason the Saudis are able to starve Yemen. None of these countries have ever done anything to us but it feels good that we can do this and even get most of the world to support us.
This reminds me of a Nick Pemberton article when he wrote ..."We still play the victim. And amazingly we believe it ... We believe we can take whatever we want. We believe that this world does not contain differences to be negotiated, but foes to be defeated."
I could never get this out of my head.
It drives me crazy that devout Protestants in govt who believe that human nature is corrupt act as if they are standing in the gap while being belligerent and never questioning their own judgment.
Trump the adulterer was the one who decided against bombing because he did not have a taste for blood while the pious were eager for it."Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the Earth."Sid Finster • 10 hours ago
"Meek" is the wrong word/translation. In the original Greek, the word is "preais" and it does not mean docile and submissive. Rather the word means gentleness blended with restrained strength/power.
The passage should read, "Blessed are those who have swords and know how to use them but keep them sheathed: for they shall inherit the Earth."The problem is that we are led by sociopaths.fedupindian • 10 hours agoThere is a simpler explanation of what has happened to the US. When it comes to human beings, the only thing you need to remember is Lord Acton's dictum: power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.PAX • 9 hours ago
This current round of unprovoked aggression against small countries started when Clinton attacked Serbia even though he did not have authorization from the UN. He did it because he could -- Russia had collapsed by then so they were powerless to prevent NATO from attacking their ally. No one had the power to stop the hegemon so it was a short journey from the relative restraint of George W. Bush to going beserk all over the world (of course in the name of stopping genocide, ecocide, insecticide or whatever). Get absolute power, get corrupted.
The same thing is true domestically in the US. A small ethnic minority gave 50% and 25% of the money spent by the Democrats and Republicans in the last presidential election. That gives them huge influence over the foreign policy of the country. Best of all, no one else can question what is going on because classic tropes etc. Give a small group absolute power, get the swamp.I think people like Epstein are state sponsored to use the warped values of the elites to gain political advantage for their masters. Destroying historic value sets is part of this package.NotCatholic • 11 hours ago
The destruction of main core Christianity has not helped stem this tide (subtle Happy Holidays, CE, BCE, etc.) . Brave women and men must arise and sewerize (drain the swamp) this mob of miscreants defiling our belief system. .They have a right to exist but not dictate by subterfuge and fake news our values as they have been doing.I find it interesting the author is at Catholic u. I wonder how he feels about the Crusades or the Inquisition as an example of debauchery of power.Joe R. • 8 hours agoRemove the OP pic of the Marines NOW, and fix the rest of your whine later.LFC • 8 hours ago
This is America, we have no "betters" and our "gov't" has never, and will never, be comprised of anything other than our idiot ay-whole neighbors who needed a job, whose sole job it is to govern the machinations of gov't and not us, as an un-self-governed Society is otherwise un-governable.
And [due to human nature and physics (of which neither has or will change in the entire history of humanity)] sometimes you have to go to war at the slightest of hints of provocation in order to achieve "illimitably sustainable conflict" of "Society" [J.M. Thomas R., TERMS, 2012] not have to haphazardly fight minute to minute of every day.
“ If when Political objects are unimportant, motives weak, the excitement of forces small, a cautious commander tries in all kinds of ways, without great crises and bloody solutions, to twist himself skillfully into peace through the characteristic weakness of his enemy in the field and in the cabinet, we have no right to find fault with him, if the premise on which he acts are well founded and justified by success;
still we must require him to remember that he only travels on forbidden tracks, where the God of War may surprise him; that he ought always to keep his eye on the enemy, in order that he may not have to defend himself with a dress rapier if the enemy takes up a sharp sword ”.
(Clausewitz, “On War” pg. 137)
Loosely paraphrased: " peaceable resolution to conflict is only effective, and should only be sought and relied upon, when it is certain that the other party will never resort to arms, with the implication that that is never " [J.M.Thomas R., TERMS, 2012 Pg. 80]
Weakness is provocative don't provoke your enemies. Quit whining.Clyde Schechter • 6 hours agoLet’s start with domestic policy. How would debauched elites govern a democracy at home?
Let's see. They'd likely repeatedly cut taxes on the wealthiest and on corporations and skyrocket deficits. They'd likely increase military spending to insane levels to the benefit of the military industrial complex. They'd likely perform wide scale deregulation on polluting industries. They'd ignore all inconvenient science, especially that which didn't support the fossil fuel industry. They'd likely avoid meaningful action on a healthcare system that is more broken and expensive than any other OECD nation. Then they'd look for targets, the "others", to bash and attack in attempt to hide the real world consequences of what they were doing.
Why would they do this? They do it for campaign contributions, "a means of keeping themselves in power.""...in other words, a continuation of the belligerent interventionism that characterized the second Bush administration. "Stephen J. • 5 hours ago
And the Clinton administration before it, and the Obama and Trump administrations following it.I believe we are in the hands of:
The Demons of “Democracy”
The demons of “democracy” speak of “peace”
While their selling of weapons does not cease
Hypocrites from hell who posture on the world stage
When they should be in a gigantic prison cage
Evil reprobates in positions of power
Anything that’s good they devour
Destroying countries and families too
This is the satanic work they do
Fancy titles are given to their names
Such is the state of a system insane
Madness and filth has become “normal”
Nobody speaks or asks: “Is it moral”?
Principals and ethics, they are of them, devoid
Speaking of decency and truth has them annoyed
Pimping for war is their diabolical expertise
Killing and bombing is the forte of this demonic sleaze
Training and supporting terrorists, they do this as well
Will nobody arrest this treacherous crew from hell?
These people are devils and full of hypocrisy
We need to be freed from these, demons of “democracy”...
[much more info on this at link below]
Sep 02, 2019 | www.unz.com
The Jeffrey Epstein case is notable for the ups and downs in media coverage it's gotten over the years. Everybody, it seems, in New York society knew by 2000 that Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were corrupting teenage girls, but the press wouldn't cover it. Articles by New York in 2002 and Vanity Fair in 2003 alluded to it gently, while probing Epstein's finances more closely. In 2005, the Palm Beach police investigated. The county prosecutor, Democrat Barry Krischer, wouldn't prosecute for more than prostitution, so they went to the federal prosecutor, Republican Alexander Acosta, and got the FBI involved. Acosta's office prepared an indictment, but before it was filed, he made a deal: Epstein agreed to plead guilty to a state law felony and receive a prison term of 18 months. In exchange, the federal interstate sex trafficking charges would not be prosecuted by Acosta's office. Epstein was officially at the county jail for 13 months, where the county officials under Democratic Sheriff Ric Bradshaw gave him scandalously easy treatment , letting him spend his days outside, and letting him serve a year of probation in place of the last 5 months of his sentence. Acosta's office complained, but it was a county jail, not a federal jail, so he was powerless.
Epstein was released, and various lawsuits were filed against him and settled out of court, presumably in exchange for silence. The media was quiet or complimentary as Epstein worked his way back into high society. Two books were written about the affair, and fell flat. The FBI became interested again around 2011 ( a little known fact ) and maybe things were happening behind the scenes, but the next big event was in 2018 when the Miami Herald published a series of investigative articles rehashing what had happened.
In 2019 federal prosecutors indicted Epstein, he was put in jail, and he mysteriously died. Now, after much complaining in the press about how awful jails are and how many people commit suicide, things are quiet again, at least until the Justice Department and the State of Florida finish their investigation a few years from now. (For details and more links, see " Investigation: Jeffrey Epstein "at Medium.com and " Jeffrey Epstein " at Wikipedia .)
I'm an expert in the field of "game theory", strategic thinking. What would I do if I were Epstein? I'd try to get the President, the Attorney-General, or the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York to shut down the investigation before it went public. I'd have all my friends and all my money try to pressure them. If it failed and I were arrested, it would be time for the backup plan -- the Deal. I'd try to minimize my prison time, and, just as important, to be put in one of the nicer federal prisons where I could associate with financial wizards and drug lords instead of serial killers, black nationalists, and people with bad breath.
That's what Epstein would do. What about the powerful people Epstein would turn in to get his deal? They aren't as smart as Epstein, but they would know the Deal was coming -- that Epstein would be quite happy to sacrifice them in exchange for a prison with a slightly better golf course. What could they do? There's only one good option -- to kill Epstein, and do it quickly, before he could start giving information samples to the U. S. Attorney.
Trying to kill informers is absolutely routine in the mafia, or indeed, for gangs of any kind. The reason people call such talk "conspiracy theories" when it comes to Epstein is that his friends are WASPs and Jews, not Italians and Mexicans. But WASPs and Jews are human too. They want to protect themselves. Famous politicians, unlike gangsters, don't have full-time professional hit men on their staffs, but that's just common sense -- politicians rarely need hit men, so it makes more sense to hire them on a piecework basis than as full-time employees. How would they find hit men? You or I wouldn't know how to start, but it would be easy for them. Rich powerful people have bodyguards. Bodyguards are for defense, but the guys who do defense know guys who do offense. And Epstein's friends are professional networkers. One reporter said of Ghislaine Maxwell, "Her Rolodex would blow away almost anyone else's I can think of -- probably even Rupert Murdoch's." They know people who know people. Maybe I'm six degrees of separation from a mafia hit man, but not Ghislaine Maxwell. I bet she knows at least one mafioso personally who knows more than one hit man.
In light of this, it would be very surprising if someone with a spare $50 million to spend to solve the Epstein problem didn't give it a try. A lot of people can be bribed for $50 million. Thus, we should have expected to see bribery attempts. If none were detected, it must have been because prison workers are not reporting they'd been approached.
Some people say that government incompetence is always a better explanation than government malfeasance. That's obviously wrong -- when an undeserving business gets a contract, it's not always because the government official in charge was just not paying attention. I can well believe that prisons often take prisoners off of suicide watch too soon, have guards who go to sleep and falsify records, remove cellmates from prisoners at risk of suicide or murder, let the TV cameras watching their most important prisoners go on the blink, and so forth. But that cuts both ways.
Remember, in the case of Epstein, we'd expect a murder attempt whether the warden of the most important federal jail in the country is competent or not. If the warden is incompetent, we should expect that murder attempt to succeed. Murder becomes all the more more plausible. Instead of spending $50 million to bribe 20 guards and the warden, you just pay some thug $30,000 to walk in past the snoring guards, open the cell door, and strangle the sleeping prisoner, no fancy James Bond necessary. Or, if you can hire a New York Times reporter for $30,000 ( as Epstein famously did a couple of years ago), you can spend $200,000 on a competent hit man to make double sure. Government incompetence does not lend support to the suicide theory; quite the opposite.
Now to my questions.Why is nobody blaming the Florida and New York state prosecutors for not prosecuting Epstein and others for statutory rape?
Statutory rape is not a federal crime, so it is not something the Justice Dept. is supposed to investigate or prosecute. They are going after things like interstate sex trafficking. Interstate sex trafficking is generally much harder to prove than statutory rape, which is very easy if the victims will testify.
At any time from 2008 to the present, Florida and New York prosecutors could have gone after Epstein and easily convicted him. The federal nonprosecution agreement did not bind them. And, of course, it is not just Epstein who should have been prosecuted. Other culprits such as Prince Andrew are still at large.
Note that if even if the evidence is just the girl's word against Ghislaine Maxwell's or Prince Andrew's, it's still quite possible to get a jury to convict. After all, who would you believe, in a choice between Maxwell, Andrew, and Anyone Else in the World? For an example of what can be done if the government is eager to convict, instead of eager to protect important people, see the 2019 Cardinal Pell case in Australia. He was convicted by the secret testimony of a former choirboy, the only complainant, who claimed Pell had committed indecent acts during a chance encounter after Mass before Pell had even unrobed. Naturally, the only cardinal to be convicted of anything in the Catholic Church scandals is also the one who's done the most to fight corruption. Where there's a will, there's a way to prosecute. It's even easier to convict someone if he's actually guilty.Why isn't anybody but Ann Coulter talking about Barry Krischer and Ric Bradshaw, the Florida state prosecutor and sheriff who went easy on Epstein, or the New York City police who let him violate the sex offender regulations?
Krischer refused to use the evidence the Palm Beach police gave him except to file a no-jail-time prostitution charge (they eventually went to Acosta, the federal prosecutor, instead, who got a guilty plea with an 18-month sentence). Bradshaw let him spend his days at home instead of at jail.
In New York State, the county prosecutor, Cyrus Vance, fought to prevent Epstein from being classified as a Level III sex offender. Once he was, the police didn't enforce the rule that required him to check in every 90 days.How easy would it have been to prove in 2016 or 2019 that Epstein and his people were guilty of federal sex trafficking?
Not easy, I should think. It wouldn't be enough to prove that Epstein debauched teenagers. Trafficking is a federal offense, so it would have to involve commerce across state lines. It also must involve sale and profit, not just personal pleasure. The 2019 indictment is weak on this. The "interstate commerce" looks like it's limited to Epstein making phone calls between Florida and New York. This is why I am not completely skeptical when former U.S. Attorney Acosta says that the 2008 nonprosecution deal was reasonable. He had strong evidence the Epstein violated Florida state law -- but that wasn't relevant. He had to prove violations of federal law.Why didn't Epstein ask the Court, or the Justice Dept., for permission to have an unarmed guard share his cell with him?
Epstein had no chance at bail without bribing the judge, but this request would have been reasonable. That he didn't request a guard is, I think, the strongest evidence that he wanted to die. If he didn't commit suicide himself, he was sure making it easy for someone else to kill him.Could Epstein have used the safeguard of leaving a trove of photos with a friend or lawyer to be published if he died an unnatural death?
Well, think about it -- Epstein's lawyer was Alan Dershowitz. If he left photos with someone like Dershowitz, that someone could earn a lot more by using the photos for blackmail himself than by dutifully carrying out his perverted customer's instructions. The evidence is just too valuable, and Epstein was someone whose friends weren't the kind of people he could trust. Probably not even his brother.Who is in danger of dying next?
Prison workers from guard to warden should be told that if they took bribes, their lives are now in danger. Prison guards may not be bright enough to realize this. Anybody who knows anything important about Epstein should be advised to publicize their information immediately. That is the best way to stay alive.
This is not like a typical case where witnesses get killed so they won't testify. It's not like with gangsters. Here, the publicity and investigative lead is what is most important, because these are reputable and rich offenders for whom publicity is a bigger threat than losing in court. They have very good lawyers, and probably aren't guilty of federal crimes anyway, just state crimes, in corrupt states where they can use clout more effectively. Thus, killing potential informants before they tell the public is more important than killing informants to prevent their testimony at trial, a much more leisurely task.What happened to Epstein's body?
The Justice Dept. had better not have let Epstein's body be cremated. And they'd better give us convincing evidence that it's his body. If I had $100 million to get out of jail with, acquiring a corpse and bribing a few people to switch fingerprints and DNA wouldn't be hard. I find it worrying that the government has not released proof that Epstein is dead or a copy of the autopsy.Was Epstein's jail really full of mice?
The New York Times says,
"Beyond its isolation, the wing is infested with rodents and cockroaches, and inmates often have to navigate standing water -- as well as urine and fecal matter -- that spills from faulty plumbing, accounts from former inmates and lawyers said. One lawyer said mice often eat his clients' papers."
" Often have to navigate standing water"? "Mice often eat his clients' papers?" Really? I'm skeptical. What do the vermin eat -- do inmates leave Snickers bars open in their cells? Has anyone checked on what the prison conditions really like?Is it just a coincidence that Epstein made a new will two days before he died?
I can answer this one. Yes, it is coincidence, though it's not a coincidence that he rewrote the will shortly after being denied bail. The will leaves everything to a trust, and it is the trust document (which is confidential), not the will (which is public), that determines who gets the money. Probably the only thing that Epstein changed in his will was the listing of assets, and he probably changed that because he'd just updated his list of assets for the bail hearing anyway, so it was a convenient time to update the will.Did Epstein's veiled threat against DOJ officials in his bail filing backfire?
Epstein's lawyers wrote in his bail request,
"If the government is correct that the NPA does not, and never did, preclude a prosecution in this district, then the government will likely have to explain why it purposefully delayed a prosecution of someone like Mr. Epstein, who registered as a sex offender 10 years ago and was certainly no stranger to law enforcement. There is no legitimate explanation for the delay."
I see this as a veiled threat. The threat is that Epstein would subpoena people and documents from the Justice Department relevant to the question of why there was a ten-year delay before prosecution, to expose the illegitimate explanation for the delay. Somebody is to blame for that delay, and court-ordered disclosure is a bigger threat than an internal federal investigation.Who can we trust?
Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, is the only government official who is clearly trustworthy, because he could have stopped the 2019 Epstein indictment and he didn't. I don't think Attorney-General Barr could have blocked it, and I don't think President Trump could have except by firing Berman. I do trust Attorney-General Barr, however, from what I've heard of him and because he instantly and publicly said he would have not just the FBI but the Justice Dept. Inspector-General investigate Epstein's death, and he quickly fired the federal prison head honcho. The FBI is untrustworthy, but Inspector-Generals are often honorable.
Someone else who may be a hero in this is Senator Ben Sasse. Vicki Ward writes in the Daily Beast :Will President Trump Cover Up Epstein's Death in Exchange for Political Leverage?
"It was that heart-wrenching series that caught the attention of Congress. Ben Sasse, the Republican senator from Nebraska, joined with his Democratic colleagues and demanded to know how justice had been so miscarried.
Given the political sentiment, it's unsurprising that the FBI should feel newly emboldened to investigate Epstein -- basing some of their work on Brown's excellent reporting."
President Trump didn't have anything personally to fear from Epstein. He is too canny to have gotten involved with him, and the press has been eagerly at work to find the slightest connection between him and Epstein and have come up dry as far as anything but acquaintanceship. But we must worry about a cover-up anyway, because rich and important people would be willing to pay Trump a lot in money or, more likely, in political support, if he does a cover-up.Why did Judge Sweet order Epstein documents sealed in 2017. Did he die naturally in 2019?
Judge Robert Sweet in 2017 ordered all documents in an Epstein-related case sealed. He died in May 2019 at age 96, at home in Idaho. The sealing was completely illegal, as the appeals court politely but devastatingly noted in 2019, and the documents were released a day or two before Epstein died. Someone should check into Judge Sweet's finance and death. He was an ultra-Establishment figure -- a Yale man, alas, like me, and Taft School -- so he might just have been protecting what he considered good people, but his decision to seal the court records was grossly improper.Did Epstein have any dealings in sex, favors, or investments with any Republican except Wexner?
Dershowitz, Mitchell, Clinton, Richardson, Dubin, George Stephanopolous, Lawrence Krauss, Katie Couric, Mortimer Zuckerman, Chelsea Handler, Cyrus Vance, and Woody Allen, are all Democrats. Did Epstein ever make use of Republicans? Don't count Trump, who has not been implicated despite the media's best efforts and was probably not even a Republican back in the 90's. Don't count Ken Starr– he's just one of Epstein's lawyers. Don't count scientists who just took money gifts from him. (By the way, Epstein made very little in the way of political contributions , though that little went mostly to Democrats ( $139,000 vs. $18,000 . I bet he extracted more from politicians than he gave to them.What role did Israeli politician Ehud Barak play in all this?
Remember Marc Rich? He was a billionaire who fled the country to avoid a possible 300 years prison term, and was pardoned by Bill Clinton in 2001. Ehud Barak, one of Epstein's friends, was one of the people who asked for Rich to be pardoned . Epstein, his killers, and other rich people know that as a last resort they can flee the country and wait for someone like Clinton to come to office and pardon them.
Acosta said that Washington Bush Administration people told him to go easy on Epstein because he was an intelligence source. That is plausible. Epstein had info and blackmailing ability with people like Ehud Barak, leader of Israel's Labor Party. But "intelligence" is also the kind of excuse people make up so they don't have to say "political pressure."Why did nobody pay attention to the two 2016 books on Epstein?
James Patterson and John Connolly published Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal that Undid Him , and All the Justice that Money Can Buy: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein . Conchita Sarnoff published TrafficKing: The Jeffrey Epstein Case. I never heard of these before 2019. Did the media bury them?Which newspapers reported Epstein's death as "suicide" and which as "apparent suicide"?
More generally, which media outlets seem to be trying to brush Epstein's death under the rug? There seems to have been an orchestrated attempt to divert attention to the issue of suicides in prison. Subtle differences in phrasing might help reveal who's been paid off. National Review had an article, "The Conspiracy Theories about Jeffrey Epstein's Death Don't Make Much Sense." The article contains no evidence or argument to support the headline's assertion, just bluster about "madness" and "conspiracy theories". Who else publishes stuff like this?How much did Epstein corrupt the media from 2008 to 2019?
Even outlets that generally publish good articles must be suspected of corruption. Epstein made an effort to get good publicity. The New York Times wrote,
"The effort led to the publication of articles describing him as a selfless and forward-thinking philanthropist with an interest in science on websites like Forbes, National Review and HuffPost .
All three articles have been removed from their sites in recent days, after inquiries from The New York Times .
The National Review piece, from the same year, called him "a smart businessman" with a "passion for cutting-edge science."
Ms. Galbraith was also a publicist for Mr. Epstein, according to several news releases promoting Mr. Epstein's foundations In the article that appeared on the National Review site, she described him as having "given thoughtfully to countless organizations that help educate underprivileged children."
"We took down the piece, and regret publishing it," Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review since 1997, said in an email. He added that the publication had "had a process in place for a while now to weed out such commercially self-interested pieces from lobbyists and PR flacks.""
The New York Times was, to its credit, willing to embarrass other publications by 2019. But the Times itself had been part of the cover-up in previous years . Who else was?
Eric Rasmusen is an economist who has held an endowed chair at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business and visiting positions at Harvard Law School, Yale Law School, the Harvard Economics Department, Chicago's Booth School of Business, Nuffield College/Oxford, and the University of Tokyo Economics Department. He is best known for his book Games and Information. He has published extensively in law and economics, including recent articles on the burakumin outcastes in Japan, the use of game theory in jurisprudence, and quasi-concave functions. The views expressed here are his personal views and are not intended to represent the views of the Kelley School of Business or Indiana University. His vitae is at http://www.rasmusen.org/vita.htm .
Paul.Martin , says: September 2, 2019 at 3:54 am GMTNot one question involving Maurene Comey, then? She was one of the SDNY prosecutors assigned to this case, and her name has been significantly played down (if at all visible) in the reportage before or after Epstein's death. That she just "happened" to be on this case at all is quite an eyebrow raiser especially with her father under the ongoing "Spygate" investigationutu , says: September 2, 2019 at 4:43 am GMT
Apparently, there will always be many players on the field, and many ways to do damage control.Intelligent Dasein , says: Website September 2, 2019 at 4:44 am GMT
How easy would it have been to prove in 2016 or 2019 that Epstein and his people were guilty of federal sex trafficking?
It would be very easy for a motivated prosecutor.
Mann Act: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mann_Act The Mann Act was successfully used to prosecute several Christian preachers in 2008, 2010 and 2012.
So the problem was finding a motivated prosecutor in case of Jewish predator with very likely links to intelligence services of several countries. The motivation was obviously lacking.
Your "expertise" in game theory would be greatly improved if you let yourself consider the Jewish factor.As important as it is to go on asking questions about the life and death of Jeffrey Epstein, I have to admit that personally I'm just not interested. I've always found people of his social class to be vaguely repulsive even without the sordid sex allegations. Just their demanding personalities, just the thought of them hanging around in their terrycloth jogging suits, sneering at the world with their irrefrangible arrogance, is enough to make me shudder. I want nothing of their nightmare world; and when they die, I couldn't care less.utu , says: September 2, 2019 at 4:46 am GMTMark James , says: September 2, 2019 at 6:33 am GMT
More generally, which media outlets seem to be trying to brush Epstein's death under the rug?
Not the National Enquirer:
Jeffrey Epstein Murder Cover-up Exposed!
Death Scene Staged to Look Like Suicide
Billionaire's Screams Ignored by Guards!
Fatal Attack Caught on Jail Cameras!
Autopsy is Hiding the Truth!
National Enquirer, Sept 2. 2019
https://reader.magzter.com/preview/7l5c5vd5t28thcmigloxel3670370/367037I don't hold AG Barr in the high regard this piece does. While I'm not suggesting he had anything to do with Epstein's death I do think he's corrupt. I doubt he will do anything that leads to the truth. As for him relieving the warden of his duties, I would hope that was to be expected, wasn't it? I mean he only had two attempts on Epstein's life with the second being a success. Apparently the first didn't jolt the warden into some kind of action as it appears he was guilty of a number of sins including 'Sloth.'SafeNow , says: September 2, 2019 at 6:49 am GMT
As for the publications that don't like conspiracy theories –like the National Review -- they are a hoot. We are supposed to have faith in this rubbish? The cameras malfunctioned. He didn't have a cellmate. The guards were tired and forced to work overtime. There was no camera specifically in the cell with Epstein.
In the end I think Epstein probably was allowed to kill himself but I'm not confident in that scenario at all. And yes the media should pressure Barr to hav e a look in the cell and see exactly how a suicide attempt might have succeeded or if it was a long-shot at best, given the materiel and conditions.19. Why is the non-prosecution agreement ambiguous ("globally" binding), when it was written by the best lawyers in the country for a very wealthy client? Was the ambiguity bargained-for? If so, what are the implications?sally , says: September 2, 2019 at 7:32 am GMT
20. With "globally" still being unresolved (to the bail judge's first-paragraph astonishment), why commit suicide now?
21. The "it was malfeasance" components are specified. For mere malfeasance to have been the cause, all of the components would have to be true; it would be a multiplicative function of the several components. Is no one sufficiently quantitative to estimate the magnitude?
22. What is the best single takeaway phrase that emerges from all of this? My nomination is: "In your face." The brazen, shameless, unprecedented, turning-point, in-your-faceness of it.ER the answer is easy to you list of questions .. there is no law in the world when violations are not prosecuted and fair open for all to see trials are not held and judges do not deliver the appropriate penalties upon convictions. .. in cases involving the CIA prosecution it is unheard of that a open for all to see trial takes place.Anonymous  Disclaimer , says: Website September 2, 2019 at 7:33 am GMT
This is why we the governed masses need a parallel government..
such an oversight government would allow to pick out the negligent or wilful misconduct of persons in functional government and prosecute such persons in the independent people's court.. Without a second government to oversee the first government there is no democracy; democracy cannot stand and the governed masses will never see the light of a fair day .. unless the masses have oversight authority on what is to be made into law, and are given without prejudice to their standing in America the right to charge those associated to government with negligent or wilful misconduct.
mypointBrabantian , says: September 2, 2019 at 8:31 am GMT
https://www.youtube.com/embed/fMG8SVrqstg?feature=oembedThere are big questions this article is not asking eitherAnon  Disclaimer , says: September 2, 2019 at 8:34 am GMT
The words 'Mossad' seems not to appear above, and just a brief mention of 'Israel' with Ehud Barak
One tiny mention of Jewish magnate Les Wexner but no mention how he & the Bronfmans founded the 'Mega Group' of ultra-Zionist billionaires regularly meeting as to how they could prop up the Jewish state by any & all means, Wexner being the source of many Epstein millions, the original buyer of the NYC mansion he transferred to Epstein etc the excellent Epstein series by Whitney Webb on Mint Press covering all this
Was escape to freedom & Israe,l the ultimate payoff for Epstein's decades of work for Mossad, grooming and abusing young teens, filmed in flagrante delicto with prominent people for political blackmail?
Is it not likely this was a Mossad jailbreak covered by fake 'suicide', with Epstein alive now, with US gov now also in possession of the assumed Epstein sexual blackmail video tapes?
We have the Epstein 'death in jail' under the US Attorney General Bill Barr, a former CIA officer 1973-77, the CIA supporting him thru night law school, Bill Barr's later law firm Kirkland Ellis representing Epstein
Whose Jewish-born ex-OSS father Donald Barr had written a 'fantasy novel' on sex slavery with scenes of rape of underage teens, 'Space Relations', written whilst Don Barr was headmaster of the Dalton school, which gave Epstein his first job, teaching teens
So would a crypto-Jewish 'former' CIA officer who is now USA Attorney General, possibly help a Mossad political blackmailer escape to Israel after a fake 'jail suicide'?
An intriguing 4chan post a few hours after Epstein's 'body was discovered', says Epstein was put in a wheelchair and driven out of the jail in a van, accompanied by a man in a green military uniform – timestamp is USA Pacific on the screencap apparently, so about 10:44 NYC time Sat.10 Aug
FWIW, drone video of Epstein's Little St James island from Friday 30 August, shows a man who could be Epstein himself, on the left by one vehicle, talking to a black man sitting on a quad all-terrain unit
Close up of Epstein-like man between vehicles, from video note 'pale finger' match-up to archive photo Epstein
The thing that sticks out for me is that Epstein was caught, charged, and went to jail previously, but he didn't die . The second time, it appears he was murdered. I strongly suspect that the person who murdered Epstein was someone who only met Epstein after 2008, or was someone Epstein only procured for after 2008. Otherwise, this person would have killed Epstein back when Epstein was charged by the cops the first time.anonymous  Disclaimer , says: September 2, 2019 at 8:37 am GMT
Either that, or the killer is someone who is an opponent of Trump, and this person was genuinely terrified that Trump would pressure the Feds to avoid any deals and to squeeze all the important names out of Epstein and prosecute them, too.The author professes himself "expert in the field of "game theory", strategic thinking," but he doesn't say how his 18 questions were arrived at to the exclusion of hundreds of others. Instead, the column includes several casual assumptions and speculation. For example:Miro23 , says: September 2, 2019 at 9:45 am GMT
- "Probably the only thing that Epstein changed in his will was the listing of assets, and he probably changed that because he'd just updated his list of assets for the bail hearing anyway, so it was a convenient time to update the will."
- "President Trump didn't have anything personally to fear from Epstein."
- "I do trust Attorney-General Barr, however, from what I've heard of him and because he instantly and publicly said he would have not just the FBI but the Justice Dept. Inspector-General investigate Epstein's death, and he quickly fired the federal prison head honcho. The FBI is untrustworthy, but Inspector-Generals are often honorable."
As to this last, isn't "quickly [firing] the federal prison head honcho" consistent with a failure-to-prevent-suicide deflection strategy? And has Mr. Rasmusen not "heard" of the hiring of Mr. Epstein by Mr. Barr's father? Or of the father's own Establishment background?
I hope to be wrong, but my own hunch is that these investigations, like the parallel investigations of the RussiaGate hoax, will leave the elite unscathed. I also hope that in the meantime we see more rigorous columns here than this one.Sick of Orcs , says: September 2, 2019 at 9:45 am GMT
...Also, subsequently, it should have been a top priority to arrest Ghislaine Maxwell but the government, justice and media lack interest . Apparently, they don't know where she is, and they're not making any special efforts to find out.Epstein had no "dead man's switch" which would release what he knew to media? C'mon! This is basic Villainy 101.
Feb 01, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comPosted on January 30, 2017 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield
By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends most of her time in Asia researching a book about textile artisans. She also writes regularly about legal, political economy, and regulatory topics for various consulting clients and publications, as well as writes occasional travel pieces for The National .
Bloomberg recently reported in Retailers Chasing Fast Fashion Stumble Under Heavy Buyout Debts that ""Euro fast fashion," featuring trendy clothing that can move from catwalks to stores in mere weeks, has taken the U.S. by storm, and distressed specialty apparel retailers are among the biggest casualties."
That's an unfortunate development, since as I've posted before, in The High Hidden Costs of Fast Fashion :
The fashion industry conceals many dirty little secrets. Its labour practices have long been notorious, with many low-cost producers relying on sweatshop production and in some cases, child labor. These and other problems have only worsened with the rise of fast fashion– cheap, shoddy clothes intended not for the long haul, but to be worn for a short while, and then discarded in favour of the next new thing.
The reasons for fast fashion's out-performance in the US market are due in part to missteps by specialty retailers– especially the high levels of debt they've assumed. But there's no doubt that also due to fast fashion appeals to certain consumers, especially younger ones. According to Bloomberg:
Younger shoppers have gravitated to fast fashion brands not only because they're more affordable but also because they're able to quickly capture the latest looks and make them available in a fraction of the time traditional merchants need. Cheaper prices also mean customers of these brands, sometimes referred to as disposable fashion, have come to expect an ever-changing assortment.
And the fast fashion companies comply. A 2016 McKinsey article, Style that's sustainable: A new fast-fashion formula , notes that each year, Zara introduces 24 new clothing collections, compared to H&M's 12 to 16. When all European apparel companies are considered, the average number of clothing collections has more than doubled, from two each year in 2000 to approximately five each year in 2011.
Fast Fashion: Cheap at Whose Expense?
But this appeal brings with it considerable costs, two of which I'll discuss in this post. One necessary condition for the low cost of "fast fashion" production is the poor pay workers receive. Most often, it's people in developing countries who are paid low wages, and subject to appalling working conditions. Yet paltry wages in this sector are not just a problem for developing countries. A (UK) Channel 4's Dispatches program, Undercover: Britain's Cheap Clothes , broadcast earlier this month, revealed that UK fast fashion producers in Leicester were flouting minimum wage laws.
According to The Fashion Law :
Laborers in Britain responsible for making clothes for popular fast fashion retailers like River Island and New Look are being paid less than half the required minimum wage. An investigation by Britain's Channel 4 television has revealed that Leicester-based manufacturers, Fashion Square Ltd and United Creations Ltd, which supply garments and accessories to River Island, New Look, Boohoo, and Missguided, among other retailers, paid their employees between 3 pounds ($3.74) and 3.5 pounds ($4.36) per hour. The hourly rate for the national living wage in Britain is 7.20 pounds ($8.97) for workers 25 years and older.
Channel 4 caught one textile boss on a secret camera admitting that his company is competing directly with Bangladeshi and Chinese companies to fill orders, and so must rein in its costs accordingly:
We don't get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh. They can get it cheap there. How will they get it made cheaper here? If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss.
Burgeoning Environmental Costs
Another consequence of the rise of fast fashion is the considerable environmental costs it has imposed. Some of these occur at the production stage. Cotton– which McKinsey notes accounts for about 30 percent of all textile fiber consumption– typically requires copious amounts of water, pesticides, and fertilizer to produce. Synthetics require extraction and refining of oil– raising another set of concerns, according to Timeout for Fast Fashion , a 2016 Greenpeace report. That report also flags both the problematic use of hazardous chemicals in production processes (including dying) and high energy use (which in the countries with the largest textile sectors, typically comes from fossil fuels).
As I posted yesterday in Waste Not, Want Not: Right to Repair Laws on Agenda in Some States , one consequence of long sojourns spent outside the US is I've realized how wasteful so many basic American systems are. Perhaps I'll express the point somewhat differently here - I mean, how excessive so many basic American systems are, and that excess translates into unnecessary waste. Some obvious examples: the cars (or more often pickup trucks and SUVs) are HUUUGE compared to those in Europe, not to mention India and Asia (where I often find myself using three-wheeler auto rickshaws to get about-many of these powered by CNG or LPG). The food is over-packaged. I could go on.
One fact jumped out at me: the average fast fashion item is worn seven times, and is then either abandoned to the back of one's closet or discarded, according to a 2015 survey of women's buying habits conducted by the UK children's charity, Barnardo's . In my earlier post, I quoted some statistics from a Newsweek cover story, Fast Fashion is Creating an Environmental Crisis , "In less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans toss each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, or an astounding 80 pounds per person. "
I discuss some of these back-end environmental consequences at greater length in my earlier post . Much of this fashion waste ends up in landfills, 350,000 tonnes each year in the UK alone. Although there have been some efforts made to encourage recycling, this is both difficult and expensive to do at the fiber level (and the quality does not match that of virgin fiber, which is still preferred for quality production). Instead, recycling is done at the garment level, with the end product often being rags or insulation. But there's a limit to how many rags, or units of insulation, are necessary. What about sending garments to developing countries? Their leaders say: Enough! Many fast fashion products are shoddy and not hard-wearing. The volume available has overwhelmed demand, and further, destroyed domestic textile production, so much so that some East African states have called for a ban on second-hand clothing to protect domestic producers.
The environmental problems are only expected to worsen as more residents of developing countries join the middle class. According to McKinsey :
While sales growth has been robust around the world, emerging economies have seen especially large rises in clothing sales, as more people in them have joined the middle class. In five large developing countries-Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Russia-apparel sales grew eight times faster than in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States [over the 2000-2014 period].
Even after this increase, the average developing-country resident purchases a fraction of the clothing that his or her developed-world counterpart buys each year. Overall clothing sales could rise significantly if developing-country consumers choose to buy more clothing as their purchasing power increases.
Technology Fairy Rides to the Rescue?
There are some new specialty products specifically designed to address the textile waste disposal issue, such as a new Adidas shoe made of biodegradable artificial spider silk that will decompose in the sink once you're finished with it. As reported in a recent Treehugger piece, Adidas' new shoes will dissolve in your sink :
Adidas has invented a running shoe that will decompose in the sink. Once you've worn it out (the company recommends two years of use), you can immerse the shoes in water, add a digestion enzyme called proteinase, and let it work for 36 hours. It will cause the protein-based yarn to break down, and you'll be able to drain the liquefied shoes down the sink – everything except the foam sole, which will still require disposal.
Now as a recovering science geek– I was an MIT undergrad after all, and also the first kid on my block to have a chemistry set– on first reading of this article, I found the concept of self-dissolving running shoes to be pretty cool. But after further thought, I noticed that the article's a bit vague on how completely the shoes dissolve, and what, exactly, ends up going into your local sewer system once the "dissolving" is completed. Bottom line is that it doesn't look to me that massive ramping up of such a product– or its progeny– is going to offset the huge and growing environmental costs of fast fashion anytime soon.
So I return to my starting point: it's sad to see that fast fashion is flourishing in the US, and that in this as in so many other areas, we're hurtling away from thinking about what a sustainable system for textile production, sales, and disposal would look like– one that doesn't rely so heavily on cut-rate labor, nor impose such considerable front-end and back-end environmental costs. PlutoniumKun , January 30, 2017 at 1:48 pmPortia , January 30, 2017 at 2:22 pm
I know you've quoted this figure before:
"In less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans toss each year has doubled from 7 million to 14 million tons, or an astounding 80 pounds per person. "
If true – and I'm sure it is – it truly is astounding. A bit of googling gives the most common figure of 65 lbs per person, apparently based on EPA figures . I can't even imaging buying that many clothes in a year, but I guess i'm not much of a shopper.
One problem of course is the poverty paradox (I've heard it referred to as the poverty tax) – that buying long lasting quality things saves money in the long run – but to buy quality means you have to have available cash to buy it in the first place. So often, when short on money, the disposable fashion alternative is the only one affordable for many people.
For a few years now I've intended to invest in a really good pair of leather shoes – the type my father would have had, and kept for many years, even decades, regularly getting them fixed and resoled in the shoe repairers. But each time I try to find one I find they are very expensive, so I end up getting something that looks identical in the sales, costs about a quarter or less than the high quality ones, but I know from experience will fall apart in 2 years and is unrepairable. In terms of mens clothes, you can apply the same logic to a good jacket, good jeans, a good suit, etc. Quality last for years and pays for itself, but you need to have the money first to buy it.Watt4Bob , January 30, 2017 at 1:56 pm
consignment stores have excellent clothing (even shoes sometimes, I got a great pair of Sorel boots for $5).flora , January 30, 2017 at 2:11 pm
One more issue to address; Retailers have to dispose of unsold inventory at a loss. Doesn't fast-fashion mean faster accumulation of un-sellable stuff, so faster losses? What could go wrong?Renee , January 30, 2017 at 2:26 pm
"One fact jumped out at me: the average fast fashion item is worn seven times, and is then either abandoned to the back of one's closet or discarded, according to a 2015 survey of women's buying habits conducted by the UK children's charity, Barnardo's. "
That sounds more like short-term renting of clothing instead of ownership. So if I buy a cheap blouse, wear it seven times, discard it and buy another cheap blouse, what is the cost per each wearing of a cheap blouse? I buy, say, a $28 dollar blouse, wear it 7 times, costing $4 per wear. I buy, say, a $40 blouse, wear it 14 times, costing $2.85 per wear.
Fast fashion sounds much more expensive, in the long run, than buying a better quality at higher initial price from which I would get more use. Or maybe the problem isn't initial cost but the throw-away mentality.PKMKII , January 30, 2017 at 3:11 pm
For many, it is the notion of having far fewer items of clothing that one wears in more settings. In France, you have a far smaller closet, but it's way nicer. Same for children's clothing.crittermom , January 30, 2017 at 3:26 pm
Or maybe the problem isn't initial cost but the throw-away mentality.
More so, the "keeping up with the micro-season's fashion" mentality that the fashion industry is dependent upon. Whole industry would fall apart if there wasn't a large number of people out there who think the difference between this winter's and last winter's fashion is significant (I know he's popular to cite on here, so William Gibson's Zero History deals with this in length).Portia , January 30, 2017 at 2:20 pm
One of the issues I understood from the article is that the 'younger set' of customers, especially, would prefer to keep up with the very latest ('fast') fashion, so after wearing the blouse 7 times it doesn't matter to them that the more expensive (on the front end) blouse will last twice as long or more. It would be 'out of fashion' by then so they wouldn't wear it anymore, anyway.
Plus, as pointed out, it's the initial cost they consider, wanting to spend as little as possible to 'stay in style', with styles changing ever more quickly.
Vanity is playing a large part of the fast fashion.
As a now a 65 y/o woman I'm most comfortable in boot cut jeans & a top or shirt. However, I still remember a different mindset of my youth. Vanity seems to fade when gravity & stress have taken their toll, tho'.crittermom , January 30, 2017 at 3:44 pm
I have a lot of very good vintage designer clothes in my closet. I got them at consignment stores for $2 to $20. What does that make me, I wonder, these days? I have not shopped for new duds except for underwear and shoes and socks for about 20 years. I am a bad person.Renee , January 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm
Portia, consider me another who is 'bad to the bone', as I shop thrift stores.
While I often see some cheap 'fast fashion' in them, I've also scored some great upper-end clothing for almost nothing.
A neighbor, for whom money is no problem, dropped her jaw when I showed her a beautiful designer sweater I'd bought–for 50 cents. I'd even found a great pair of cords to match for another 50 cents, also of good quality.
Jeans can be the best find if you're lucky. Nicely broken in & not the $40-50 they now sell for.
Usually $4 or less & better quality.
As a gift, she'd surprised me with an inexpensive (Cosco) pair of suede/shearling snow boots. The side seam pulled out (not sure it was ever secured in the first place) after I'd worn them just 4 brief times.
Now wearing plastic bags in my 'fast fashion' snow boots to stay dry.Renee , January 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm
Here's a local group working to the other side.crittermom , January 30, 2017 at 3:53 pm
Whoops, here's the link: http://www.fibershed.comLambert Strether , January 30, 2017 at 2:24 pm
Wow. Thanks for that link.
A clothing designer friend is completely into sustainable clothing, currently using bamboo for her line.
She recently discovered that there was too much pollution in the processing of it from her former supplier, however, so has now found another that is not as harmful to the environment.
I'm passing this link along to her right now, so she can 'think outside the box' even a little more.
Thanks!PlutoniumKun , January 30, 2017 at 3:52 pm
Would high tariffs kill fast fashion?Waldenpond , January 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm
I think it would depend on the company and where they are sold. The Zara chain is well known for keeping very tight supply chains, with much of their products made as close as possible to their shops (in Europe anyway).
If you've ever seen the excellent Italian film Gomorrah , based on an investigative journalists book, it depicts how many 'Made in Italy' products are made in sweatshops entirely staffed with illegal Chinese immigrants. I suspect that tariffs would have the impact of creating an underground of dubious 'finishing' factories in the US, putting buttons on clothes made elsewhere.Ivy , January 30, 2017 at 3:19 pm
It's hard work to escape the US system. I rarely shop aisles and in the year without plastic, there were few goods to be had that aren't in plastic (some glass and cardboard), I'd hit the bulk bins with fabric bags, but that is for dry goods. There is typically only a small section of produce that is not in plastic.
It's difficult to find clothing, shoes etc made in the US. Could someone make their own? What's available for US raw goods?
The instruction to just buy basics is also a challenge. Basics are cheaply made. Thrift stores might be a better option for durables.
My pet peeve is corporations that destroy goods (will literally slice clothing) rather than allow the poor to get their hands on the clothing. We are a landfill society.PKMKII , January 30, 2017 at 3:20 pm
Adidas shoes dissolving in rainy climates? It may be a matter of time before their 'sink additive' goes native, to the detriment of many runners. Those in the PNW wear rain slickers, 60/40, GoreTex or similar outerwear to squeeze in that run even the most rainy days.
I know, catastrophizing, but somebody has to do it when there are too many Onion-like blurbs in the media.
Now as a recovering science geek– I was an MIT undergrad after all, and also the first kid on my block to have a chemistry set– on first reading of this article, I found the concept of self-dissolving running shoes to be pretty cool. But after further thought, I noticed that the article's a bit vague on how completely the shoes dissolve, and what, exactly, ends up going into your local sewer system once the "dissolving" is completed.
Sounds like they're trying to appeal to the crowd that thinks Tesla cars are going to save the world. Greenish sounding stuff to get the STEM lord money, most who will just dispose of them the same way as any other pair of shoes.
Aug 19, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Whoa Molly! , July 28, 2018 at 7:31 am
Maher comes across as literally unhinged. Insane.
As James Howard Kunstler said recently, " I think that the thinking class in the United States has literally lost its mind. Donald Trump's persona is so odious that it's just driven them mad and he's like a giant splinter in the eye of the thinking class ."
I don't get it. Either Maher is part of the thinking class that has lost it's mind, or he's a destructive, cynical (familyblog) who is deliberately inflaming his 'Liberal Goodthinking' audience and gaslighting Wilkerson.
The LIberal Goodthinkers have gone so crazy they are making Trump look good.
PS: Thanks for term "Liberal Goodthinkers". Pretty good.
juliania , July 28, 2018 at 10:35 am
It's the thinking class versus the deplorables. And the former is enabling the latter in no uncertain terms. This period of lunacy won't be forgotten come voting time. Whereas, had the dems gracefully accepted defeat and concentrated on real issues that concern us all, they might have had a shot at the midterm merrygoround. Instead, they chose to keep the failed slurs of the last campaign a topic of conversation all the way through, as in fact the term 'transition' on these boards does as well. Transition = transitory.
Something is making Trump a very viable stayer through these turbulent times, and the minefield that these people have turned being President into is a sad commentary on the state of our union. But like the sanctions that are unthinkingly dispersed hither and yon, the blowback can be supercharged, and I can't think of more worthy recipients.
Damson , July 29, 2018 at 10:43 am
The Chattering Class is the UK term.. 'Thinking' is rather too generous for the mind-drool exemplified by Maher and his ilk
NotTimothyGeithner , July 28, 2018 at 9:09 am
Maher was a long time libertarian, and with the rightward shift of Team Blue and medical Marijuana (after all we still need to arrest minorities), Bill became a "liberal" type. He's still the same POS he was in the 90's.
Ur-Blintz , July 28, 2018 at 10:03 am
Bingo! How he ever fooled anyone into thinking he was less than a narcissistic, libertarian. money grubbing sociopath is beyond me. First time I saw him, way back when, he was railing against Social Security and he is perhaps most responsible for making a celebrity out of Arianna Huffington, giving her a nationwide pulpit on his original show when she was repulsively right-wing.
Aug 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
This Is How Epstein Manipulated Vulnerable Young Girls (And How You Can Protect Your Children From Predators)
by Tyler Durden Fri, 08/16/2019 - 18:25 0 SHARES
Authored by Daisy Luther via The Organic Prepper blog,
This article contains content that some may find distressing.
Jeffrey Epstein "was" apparently a serial molester of children. He had manipulation down to an art form, as many molesters do. He seemed to be an expert at figuring out a girl's weak point, whether it was poverty, a deceased family member, or feeling alienated from her peers.
This is a common ploy. Many molesters seek out children or teens who have lost a parent and use this as a way to build a friendship. Then, because children don't think like adults, they are manipulated, coerced, or threatened into sexual activity.
The story below could be told a hundred thousand times with only tiny changes. The names and the faces would be different. The settings might not be a mansion in Manhattan or in Palm Beach but rather a quiet part of a church, a school, or some kind of activity for teens. The setting could be in the house next door to you, where someone with evil intent befriends a vulnerable young person with the stated goal of helping them, but an end result that couldn't be further from reality.How 14-year-old Jennifer Araoz met Jeffrey Epstein
Jennifer Araoz was 14 years old when she first met her future rapist, Jeffrey Epstein. She wrote about how she was manipulated, first by his recruiter, then by Epstein himself. There are many powerful lessons that we as parents can learn from her story.
During my freshman year, one of Epstein's recruiters, a stranger, approached me on the sidewalk outside my high school. Epstein never operated alone. He had a ring of enablers and surrounded himself with influential people. I was attending a performing arts school on the Upper East Side, studying musical theater. I wanted to be an actress and a singer. ( source )
Another report based on court documents says that the recruiter befriended Jennifer, took her out to eat after school a few times, and learned more about her, such as the fact that Jennifer's father had died from an AIDs-related illness and her family could barely scrape by financially.
The recruiter told me about a wealthy man she knew named Jeffrey Epstein. Meeting him would be beneficial, and he could introduce me to the right people for my career, she said. When I confided that I had recently lost my father and that my family was living on food stamps, she told me he was very caring and wanted to help us financially. ( source )
The recruiter finally got Jennifer to go with her to meet Epstein. Court documents say that they all three met together for the first month or so.
The visits during the first month felt benign, at least at the time. On my second visit, Epstein also gave me a digital camera as a gift. The visits were about one to two hours long and we would spend the time talking. After each visit, he or his secretary would hand me $300 in cash, supposedly to help my family. ( source )
Epstein claimed he was 'a big AIDS activist' which you can imagine would mean a lot to a 14-year-old whose father died of the disease.Soon the visits would take a dark turn.
By the second month of Jennifer's visits to the mansion, the recruiter no longer attended the visits., the manipulation began in earnest.
But within about a month, he started asking me for massages and instructed me to take my top off. He said he would need to see my body if he was going to help me break into modeling. I felt uncomfortable and intimidated, but I did as he said. The assault escalated when, during these massages, he would flip over and sexually gratify himself and touch me inappropriately. For a little over a year, I went to Epstein's home once or twice a week.
After that day, I never went back. I also quit the performing arts school -- the one I had auditioned for and had wanted so badly to attend. It was too close to his house, the scene of so many crimes. I was too scared I would see him or his recruiter. So I transferred to another school in Queens close to my home. Since I was no longer able to pursue my dream of performing arts I eventually lost interest and dropped out. ( source )
Sure, we can say that she knew things weren't right when he asked her to take her top off. By this point, she was 15 years old. Old enough to know right from wrong. But if she was getting $300 twice a week and helping her family with it, it's pretty easy to see how she would want to continue helping her family despite her discomfort. Epstein knew exactly what he was doing.
Epstein's wealth, power, and connections would have made going against him seem like an insurmountable feat for a vulnerable 15-year-old girl who had recently lost her father. Who would have believed her word against that of this presumed philanthropist?
A few days ago, Jennifer, now 32, filed a massive lawsuit against Epstein's estate, Ghislaine Maxwell, and 3 members of Epstein's household staff. The complaint alleges that Maxwell and the staff "conspired with each other to make possible and otherwise facilitate the sexual abuse and rape of Plaintiff."Some of Epstein's victims recruited new girls for him.
Epstein's indictment explains how he manipulated some of the girls he sexually abused to bring other girls to him.
Prosecutors say he lured underage girls, some as young as 14, to his residences, promising them a cash payment in exchange for giving him a massage. Instead, he would sexually abuse them -- groping them, making them touch him while he masturbated, and using sex toys on the minors. Then, he would allegedly ask them to recruit other girls. ( source )
A detailed report in the Miami Herald referred to it as a "sexual pyramid scheme." One of Epstein's accusers, Courtney Wild, reiterates the theme of the story told by Jennifer Boaz.
"Jeffrey preyed on girls who were in a bad way, girls who were basically homeless. He went after girls who he thought no one would listen to and he was right,'' said Courtney Wild, who was 14 when she met Epstein. ( source )
Courtney's time spent with Epstein nearly destroyed her.
Before she met Epstein, Courtney Wild was captain of the cheerleading squad, first trumpet in the band and an A-student at Lake Worth Middle School.
After she met Epstein, she was a stripper, a drug addict and an inmate at Gadsden Correctional Institution in Florida's Panhandle.
Wild still had braces on her teeth when she was introduced to him in 2002 at the age of 14.
She was fair, petite and slender, blonde and blue-eyed. ( source )
She began to recruit other girls for him in Palm Beach.Epstein had it down to an art form.
Wild said Epstein preferred girls who were white, appeared prepubescent and those who were easy to manipulate into going further each time
"By the time I was 16, I had probably brought him 70 to 80 girls who were all 14 and 15 years old. He was involved in my life for years," said Wild, who was released from prison in October after serving three years on drug charges.
The girls -- mostly 13 to 16 -- were lured to his pink waterfront mansion by Wild and other girls, who went to malls, house parties and other places where girls congregated, and told recruits that they could earn $200 to $300 to give a man -- Epstein -- a massage, according to an unredacted copy of the Palm Beach police investigation obtained by the Herald. ( source )
Palm Beach police detective Joseph Recarey explains how Epstein insinuated himself into the girls' lives.
"The common interview with a girl went like this: 'I was brought there by so and so. I didn't feel comfortable with what happened, but I got paid well, so I was told if I didn't feel comfortable, I could bring someone else and still get paid,' '' Recarey said.
During the massage sessions, Recarey said Epstein would molest the girls, paying them premiums for engaging in oral sex and intercourse, and offering them a further bounty to find him more girls
Epstein could be a generous benefactor, Recarey said, buying his favored girls gifts. He might rent a car for a young girl to make it more convenient for her to stop by and cater to him. Once, he sent a bucket of roses to the local high school after one of his girls starred in a stage production. The floral-delivery instructions and a report card for one of the girls were discovered in a search of his mansion and trash. Police also obtained receipts for the rental cars and gifts, Recarey said.
Epstein counseled the girls about their schooling, and told them he would help them get into college, modeling school, fashion design or acting. At least two of Epstein's victims told police that they were in love with him, according to the police report. ( source )
You may look at these stories and scorn the victims. After all, they kept going back, didn't they? They liked the money, didn't they?
But they were children. Many of them were isolated, vulnerable, and without support systems. Many of them felt ashamed but didn't know how to extricate themselves. They were confused and scared, and Epstein was a pro at taking advantage of these emotions and doubts.
The girls are not to blame here. The adults are.Epstein is not the only predator out there.
While this article focuses on how Epstein was able to lure so many victims, as Dagny Taggert recently wrote , there are many more people in power out there preying on children. Clergy, priests, teachers, neighbors, musicians, and random people on the internet are out there preying on and trafficking children.
Dagny wrote:How do you keep your children safe?
According to The National Center for Victims of Crime , the prevalence of child sexual abuse (CSA) is difficult to determine because it is often not reported. Experts agree that the incidence is far greater than what is reported to authorities.
Statistics below represent some of the research done on child sexual abuse.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau report Child Maltreatment 2010 found that 9.2% of victimized children were sexually assaulted (page 24).
Studies by David Finkelhor , Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center , show that:
- 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse;
- Self-report studies show that 20% of adult females and 5-10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident;
- During a one-year period in the U.S., 16% of youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
- Over the course of their lifetime, 28% of U.S. youth ages 14 to 17 had been sexually victimized;
- Children are most vulnerable to CSA between the ages of 7 and 13.
According to Darkness to Light , a non-profit committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse, only about one-third of child sexual abuse incidents are identified, and even fewer are reported .
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children operates the CyberTipline , a national mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report instances of suspected child sexual exploitation.
In 2018 the CyberTipline received more than 18.4 million reports, most of which related to:
- Apparent child sexual abuse images.
- Online enticement, including "sextortion."
- Child sex trafficking.
- Child sexual molestation.
Since its inception, the CyberTipline has received more than 48 million reports.
Those statistics are grim. ( source )
When my children's father passed away, it wasn't too long afterward that I left my corporate job. I volunteered when the company began layoffs and took a small payment and my retirement fund to start a new life writing freelance. It wasn't long after that when I started this website.
I wanted to be home when they got back from school every day. I didn't want them to seem like prey to those looking for children with weak support systems. My own daughters could so easily have had a story like the one Jennifer has told.
I know that what I did is not possible for every family that suffers a loss. I was pretty fortunate to be able to find work from home that paid enough to allow me to be there.
What you, as a parent, must understand are the things that make your child seem vulnerable.
- Social isolation and few, if any, friends
- Lack of a support system from parents and caregivers
- Spending too much time on their own
- Alienation from parents
Some signs that your child could be getting abused or groomed.
- Sudden secretiveness regarding their phone or computer (a lot of grooming happens online
- Spending a great deal of time alone with another adult
- Signs of increased anger or fear
- Lack of participation in things that used to bring them happiness
- Withdrawal from family and friends
Obviously, these lists are not comprehensive, nor are they sure signs of abuse. What teenager doesn't seem angry and withdrawn from time to time? But it's vital, no matter how hard they push you away, to stay involved, particularly after a traumatic event.
Here are some resources you may find helpful.
Teach your kids that some secrets should not be kept.
- Essential Self-Defense Tactics ANY Woman Can Learn
- Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane)
- The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence
- Child Safety resources from Gavin de Becker and Associates
- National Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors and their Loved Ones
- Darkness to Light – End Child Sexual Abuse
- National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
- Alliance to Rescue Victims of Trafficking
Predators manipulate children in all sorts of ways. One of the biggest ways is warning them to keep their "relationship" a secret or else.
Or else what?
- They'll hurt Mom or Dad
- They'll hurt the child's pet
- They'll hurt the child's siblings
- They'll cause extreme financial problems for the family
Predators often put a burden on a child where they feel as though they must stay silent to protect the people they love.
Kids need to know that if anyone threatens them if they tell a secret, then they absolutely must tell that secret. Mom and Dad will be safe and will protect them. People who ask children to keep their presence in their lives a secret are never to be trusted.
And finally, make sure your children know that whatever they tell you, you will believe them and you know it's not their fault.
Aug 15, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Sanders (D)(1): "Why the Rich Want to Bury Bernie, the Not-Really-Socialist" [Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report (CI)]. Really excellent.
"The reason the ruler's have decreed 'anybody but Bernie' is that Sanders' (and to a lesser perceived degree, Warren's) campaign proposals challenge the austerity regime that has been relentlessly erected since the 1970s precisely to set American workers and the whole capitalist world on a Race to the Bottom, in which each year brings lower living standards and more insecurity to the population at large.
The obscene increases in wealth inequality are the desired result and true essence of austerity."
There's much more, but this on local oligarchies is important: "the top one-tenth of one percent (.1%) of the population -- households making $2.757 million a year -- now number almost 200,000 families, a cohort big enough to create and inhabit a large and coherent social world of its own.
From their rich enclaves in every state of the country, this formidable "base" of truly wealthy folks effectively dictate the politics of their regions for the benefit of themselves and the oligarchs at the top of the pyramid. "
Aug 13, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com
anne , August 12, 2019 at 10:57 AMhttp://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/yet-another-new-york-times-column-gets-the-story-on-automation-and-inequality-completely-wronganne , August 12, 2019 at 11:01 AM
August 12, 2019
Yet Another New York Times Column Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
By Dean Baker
I am a big fan of expanding the welfare state but I am also a big fan of reality-based analysis. For this reason, it's hard not to be upset over yet another column * telling us that the robots are taking all the jobs and that this will lead to massive inequality.
The first part is more than a little annoying just because it is so completely and unambiguously at odds with reality. Productivity growth, which is the measure of the rate at which robots and other technologies are taking jobs, has been extremely slow in recent years. It has averaged just 1.3 percent annually since 2005. That compares to an annual rate of 3.0 percent from 1995 to 2005 and in the long Golden Age from 1947 to 1973.
In addition, all the official projections from places like the Congressional Budget Office and Social Security Administration assume that productivity growth will remain slow. That could prove wrong, but the people projecting a massive pick up of productivity growth are certainly against the tide here.
But the other part of the story is even more annoying. No, technology does not generate inequality. Our policy on technology generates inequality. We have rules (patent and copyright monopolies) that allow people to own technology.
Bill Gates is incredibly rich because the government will arrest anyone who mass produces copies of Microsoft software without his permission. If anyone could freely reproduce Windows and other software, without even sending a thank you note, Bill Gates would still be working for a living.
The same applies to prescription drugs, medical equipment, and other tech sectors where some people are getting very rich. In all of these cases, these items would be cheap without patent, copyrights, or related monopolies, and no one would be getting hugely rich.
At this point, there are undoubtedly people jumping up and down yelling "without patent and copyright monopolies people would have no incentive to innovate." This yelling is very helpful in making the point. If we have structured these incentives in ways that lead to great inequality and not very much innovation (as measured by productivity growth) then we should probably be looking to alter our structure of incentives. (Yes this is the topic of Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer - it's free. * )
In any case, this is the point. The inequality that results from technology is the result of our policies on technology, not the technology itself. Maybe one day the New York Times will allow a columnist to state this obvious truth in its opinion section.
Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer
By Dean Baker
The Old Technology and Inequality Scam: The Story of Patents and Copyrights
One of the amazing lines often repeated by people in policy debates is that, as a result of technology, we are seeing income redistributed from people who work for a living to the people who own the technology. While the redistribution part of the story may be mostly true, the problem is that the technology does not determine who "owns" the technology. The people who write the laws determine who owns the technology.
Specifically, patents and copyrights give their holders monopolies on technology or creative work for their duration. If we are concerned that money is going from ordinary workers to people who hold patents and copyrights, then one policy we may want to consider is shortening and weakening these monopolies. But policy has gone sharply in the opposite direction over the last four decades, as a wide variety of measures have been put into law that make these protections longer and stronger. Thus, the redistribution from people who work to people who own the technology should not be surprising -- that was the purpose of the policy.
If stronger rules on patents and copyrights produced economic dividends in the form of more innovation and more creative output, then this upward redistribution might be justified. But the evidence doesn't indicate there has been any noticeable growth dividend associated with this upward redistribution. In fact, stronger patent protection seems to be associated with slower growth.
Before directly considering the case, it is worth thinking for a minute about what the world might look like if we had alternative mechanisms to patents and copyrights, so that the items now subject to these monopolies could be sold in a free market just like paper cups and shovels.
The biggest impact would be in prescription drugs. The breakthrough drugs for cancer, hepatitis C, and other diseases, which now sell for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, would instead sell for a few hundred dollars. No one would have to struggle to get their insurer to pay for drugs or scrape together the money from friends and family. Almost every drug would be well within an affordable price range for a middle-class family, and covering the cost for poorer families could be easily managed by governments and aid agencies.
The same would be the case with various medical tests and treatments. Doctors would not have to struggle with a decision about whether to prescribe an expensive scan, which might be the best way to detect a cancerous growth or other health issue, or to rely on cheaper but less reliable technology. In the absence of patent protection even the most cutting edge scans would be reasonably priced.
Health care is not the only area that would be transformed by a free market in technology and creative work. Imagine that all the textbooks needed by college students could be downloaded at no cost over the web and printed out for the price of the paper. Suppose that a vast amount of new books, recorded music, and movies was freely available on the web.
People or companies who create and innovate deserve to be compensated, but there is little reason to believe that the current system of patent and copyright monopolies is the best way to support their work. It's not surprising that the people who benefit from the current system are reluctant to have the efficiency of patents and copyrights become a topic for public debate, but those who are serious about inequality have no choice. These forms of property claims have been important drivers of inequality in the last four decades.
The explicit assumption behind the steps over the last four decades to increase the strength and duration of patent and copyright protection is that the higher prices resulting from increased protection will be more than offset by an increased incentive for innovation and creative work. Patent and copyright protection should be understood as being like very large tariffs. These protections can often the raise the price of protected items by several multiples of the free market price, making them comparable to tariffs of several hundred or even several thousand percent. The resulting economic distortions are comparable to what they would be if we imposed tariffs of this magnitude.
The justification for granting these monopoly protections is that the increased innovation and creative work that is produced as a result of these incentives exceeds the economic costs from patent and copyright monopolies. However, there is remarkably little evidence to support this assumption. While the cost of patent and copyright protection in higher prices is apparent, even if not well-measured, there is little evidence of a substantial payoff in the form of a more rapid pace of innovation or more and better creative work....
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
Jul 29, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Chris Dakota -> Pairadimes Feb 19, 2017 5:54 PM
divingengineer -> Chris Dakota Feb 19, 2017 6:04 PM
and then kill them all, every damn one of them!
You better be tough to watch this, not for women unless you are like me who will watch it and spread it.
Warning: you can't unwatch this and will need to claim your space after and pray.
This IS John Podesta. This IS what I said was coming to him last summer/fall.
What did I say about this coming eclipse? It is in Pisces, water, water pourer, dams, leaks, secrets and film. Note the color purple which is the Pisces color.
People are saying this is John Podesta torturing a boy in a shower. I had to turn the sound off it was so horrific. This came from Weiners laptop, the cops must be leaking now Life insurance file.
John Podesta's voice a match!
Is this what Comey showed the Senate group this week when they came out looking like they were seasick?
Chris Dakota -> divingengineer Feb 19, 2017 6:13 PM
Yes and longtime NYPD said "as a father it was one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen."
because it is evil.
I am thinking it is MKULTRA stuff, designed with strobe light to split the personality. vulcanraven Pinto Currency Feb 19, 2017 1:47 PM I fucking hope so. I just wonder what the hell they are waiting for, but the more I think about it this is the best I can come up with:
If Pedogate is finally blown wide open, it is going to rip a hole through the fabric of reality for the unawashed sheeple. It will also destroy any and all faith in the US government, and full blown chaos will erupt everywhere.
So whoever is holding the goods on PG, also knows that reality hangs in the balance upon opening that can of worms. I also believe when the dam finally does break and people are getting led away in handcuffs on national TV, a large majority of the population will still be in full blown denial... finding any and every reason to somehow blame the scandal on Trump/Russia/The Flying Spaghetti Monster
Jul 28, 2019 | www.veteranstoday.com
Following the bread crumbs from Epstein has led to a fake charity and from there to General McMaster, former National Security Advisor to Donald Trump, who now heads a reputedly fake London based think tank secretly funded by money laundered through the repressive Bahraini royal family.
But there is more.
Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of Robert Maxwell and girlfriend and "Nazi guard" for Epstein"s child sex stable also ran a fake charity closed day ago called Terra Mar. The FBI is now investigating if the charity was used to pay off Epstein/Maxwell child rape victims.
The charity takes us further into Maxwell's den of Mossad partnerships. Most serious of all are those through her lifelong friend Calfo Platero, who ties Epstein and Maxwell to the highly disreputable London based Institute for Strategic Studies. The UK Guardian and Transparify.org list the think tank now run by General McMaster and tied to Platero, Maxwell and Epstein as invisibly funded and "deceptive." However, in 2016, the organization that McMaster joined when he left the Trump White House in 2018 admitted to taking secret funding from the rulers of Bahrain under an agreement that they would keep the funding secret.
Bahrain has been cited with numerous human rights abuses and an attempt to murder an American diplomat and blame it on Iran. Middle East Eye confirmed Bahrain's involvement, a major "revolving door" scandal for a high level Trump appointee.
Jul 26, 2019 | www.oftwominds.com
https://c.deployads.com/sync?f=html&s=2344&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.oftwominds.com%2Fblogjuly19%2Fcrisis-deep-state7-19.html Epstein and the Explosive Crisis of the Deep State
July 15, 2019
Since the battle is for the legitimacy of the state, it must be waged at least partially in the open.
Speculations by outsiders must give Deep State insiders many opportunities to chuckle, "if only they knew." We don't know, of course, and public leaks are engineered to misdirect our attention from what's actually going on or "frame" our understanding in a positive way.
Decades later, history reveals a very ordinary mix of great successes and horrific failure in secret operations , caused by errors of judgment, faulty intelligence, poor planning and so on. In other words, life isn't tidy, either inside or outside the Deep State.
Nonetheless we can postulate a few things with some certainty. One is that the Deep State-- the unelected, permanent government which includes not just the intelligence community but a vast array of agencies and institutions as well as the top-level structures of diplomacy, finance and geopolitics--is not monolithic. There are different views and competing camps, but the disagreements and bureaucratic wars are kept out of sight.
Two, we know that at critical junctures of history one camp wins the narrative battle and establishes the over-riding direction of state policy. Put another way, one camp's understanding of the era's most pressing problems becomes the consensus, and from then on disagreements are within the broad outlines of the dominant ideology.
The end of World War II was a critical juncture. The proper role of the U.S. in the postwar era was up for grabs, and over the course of a few years, the CIA and other intelligence agencies were established and the doctrine of containment of the Soviet Union became the dominant narrative, a narrative that held with remarkable consistency for four decades until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
This collapse was another critical juncture, and debates over America's role in this "unipolar era" were finally settled in favor of the geopolitical-activist ideology of neoconservatism (Neocons).
This globalist ideology led to a variety of policy disasters and is now discredited in many circles, and has been under attack within the Deep State for some time. This is the divided Deep State I've written about for the past five years.
Is the Deep State Fracturing into Disunity? (March 14, 2014)
Is the Deep State at War--With Itself? (December 14, 2016)
The failures of Neocon globalism have ushered in another critical juncture. What is America's proper role in a multi-polar world that is fracturing across multiple faultlines? This critical juncture is a manifestation of a broader profound political disunity in America and many other nations.
The corporate media has obligingly portrayed this profound political disunity as a contest between "good globalism" and "bad populism," a clear attempt to smear all those who see the dark side of globalism as a threat to the nation and indeed the world. This bias reflects the continued dominance of the Neocon-globalist camp.
But the cracks are now visible. The mainstream "influential" press has recently been publishing critiques admitting the failures of Neocon globalism and agonizing about how to "save" the globalist agenda despite its failures.
Globalization's Wrong Turn--And How It Hurt America (Foreign Affairs)
I have long held that there is a camp within the Deep State that grasps the end-game of Neocon globalism, and is busy assembling a competing nation-centric strategy. There is tremendous resistance to the abandonment of Neocon globalism, not just from those who see power slipping through their fingers but from all those firmly committed to the hubris of a magical faith in past success as the guarantor of future success.
Michael Grant described this complacent clinging to what's failed in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire , a short book I have been recommending since 2009:
There was no room at all, in these ways of thinking, for the novel, apocalyptic situation which had now arisen, a situation which needed solutions as radical as itself. (The Status Quo) attitude is a complacent acceptance of things as they are, without a single new idea.
This acceptance was accompanied by greatly excessive optimism about the present and future. Even when the end was only sixty years away, and the Empire was already crumbling fast, Rutilius continued to address the spirit of Rome with the same supreme assurance.
This blind adherence to the ideas of the past ranks high among the principal causes of the downfall of Rome. If you were sufficiently lulled by these traditional fictions, there was no call to take any practical first-aid measures at all.
The faction within the Deep State that no longer accepts traditional fictions is gaining ground, and now another fracture in the Deep State is coming to the fore: the traditionalists who accept the systemic corruption of self-serving elites and those who have finally awakened to the mortal danger to the nation posed by amoral self-serving elites.
The debauchery of morals undermines the legitimacy of the state and thus of the entire power structure. As I recently noted in Following in Rome's Footsteps: Moral Decay, Rising Inequality (June 29, 2019), America's current path of moral decay and soaring wealth/power inequality is tracking Rome's collapse step for step.
Enter the sordid case of Jeffrey Epstein, suddenly unearthed after a decade of corporate-media/elitist suppression. It's laughable to see the corporate media's pathetic attempts to glom onto the case now, after actively suppressing it for decades: Jeffrey Epstein Was a Sex Offender. The Powerful Welcomed Him Anyway. (New York Times) Where was the NYT a decade ago, or five years ago, or even a year ago?
Of all the questions that are arising, the signal one is simply: why now? There are many questions, now that the dead-and-buried case has been dug up: where did Epstein get his fortune? Why did he return to the U.S. from abroad, knowing he'd be arrested? Why was the Miami Herald suddenly able to publish numerous articles exposing the scandalous suppression of justice after 11 years of silence? Years later, victims recount impact of Jeffrey Epstein abuse .
Here's my outsider's take: the anti-Neocon camp within the Deep State observed the test case of Harvey Weinstein and saw an opportunity to apply what it learned. If we draw circles representing the anti-Neocon camp and the moralists who grasp the state's legitimacy is hanging by a thread after decades of amoral exploitation and self-aggrandizement by the ruling elites, we would find a large overlap.
But even die-hard Neocons are starting to awaken to the danger to their power posed by the moral collapse of the ruling elites. They are finally awakening to the lesson of history, that the fatal danger to empires arises not from external foes but from inside the center of power as elite corruption erodes the legitimacy of the state.
The upstarts in the Deep State have united to declare open war on the degenerates and their enablers, who are everywhere in the Deep State: the media, the intelligence community, and on and on.
Since the battle is for the legitimacy of the state, it must be waged at least partially in the open. This is a war for the hearts and minds of the public, whose belief in the legitimacy of the state and its ruling elites underpins the power of the Deep State.
If this wasn't a war over the legitimacy of the state, the housecleaning would have been discrete. Insiders would be shuffled off to a corporate boardroom or do-nothing/fancy title office, or they'd retire, or if necessary, they'd die of a sudden heart attack or in a tragic accident ( if only they knew ).
The cockroaches are scurrying, and the challenge now is to crush as many as possible before they find cover. Bullies are at heart cowards, and once the bullies who were untouchable due to powerful friends in powerful places are exposed to an accounting of their behavior, they will spill the beans on everyone in a craven attempt to lighten the consequences of their corruption and debauchery.
Power is a funny thing: when it dissipates suddenly, it dissipates completely.
All those who were confident they were untouchable might want to heed this sign: carefully fall into the cliff .
The hidden conflicts within the Deep State are emerging, and the resulting crisis will be explosive. Remember, the housecleaning must be public or the legitimacy of the state will go over the cliff. If the Deep State wants to retain its power, it must root out the corrupt degenerates before they bring down the entire rotten structure.
Jul 26, 2019 | www.oftwominds.com
https://acdn.adnxs.com/ib/static/usersync/v3/async_usersync.html The Nobility of the feudal era had some reciprocal obligation to its serfs; our New Nobility has no obligation to anyone but themselves. It is painfully obvious that there are two sets of laws in America: bankers can rip off billions and never serve time, and members of the Protected Class who sexually exploit children get a wrist-slap, if that.
Here's the sad reality: everybody in the Ruling Elites looked the other way: all the self-described "patriots" in the Intelligence services, all the technocrats in the Departments of Justice, State, etc., the Pentagon, and on and on. Everybody with any power knows the whole class of Ruling Elites is completely corrupt, by definition: to secure power in the U.S., you have to sell your soul to the Devil , one way or the other.
Like all Ruling Elites, America's Elites are absolutely confident in their power: this is hubris taken to new heights.
That the citizenry could finally have enough of their corrupt, self-serving Overlords does not seem in the realm of possibility to the Protected Few. There's always a way to lawyer-up and plea-bargain for a wrist-slap, a way to bend another "patriot" (barf), a way to offer a bribe cloaked as a plum position in a philanthro-capitalist NGO (non-governmental organization), and so on.
The possibility that moral outrage could spark a revolt seems improbable in such a distracted culture, but consider the chart below: even the most distracted, fragmented tribe of the peasantry eventually notices that they're not in the top 1%, or the top 0.1%, and that the Ruling Elites have overseen an unprecedented concentration of wealth and power into the hands of the few at the expense of the many:
Jul 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
alaff , Jul 23 2019 20:00 utc | 90The degradation of political elites is a universal phenomenon. Of course, first of all it is noticeable in relation to the Western elites (American, European), but this can also be found in the post-Soviet space (Georgia, Armenia, Moldova etc). Ukraine is generally a special case - real freaks and Nazis in power, the speaker of parliament with the mental retardation certificate, the Attorney General of the country (btw, previously convicted) without a legal education etc.
So I join and also express my condolences to the people of Great Britain.
O , Jul 23 2019 22:07 utc | 105Posted by: Ort | Jul 23 2019 21:42 utc | 99
The entire world political class and most of the commentariat of the political class indulges in kayfabe.
"In professional wrestling, kayfabe /ˈkeɪfeɪb/ (also called work or worked) is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as "real" or "true", specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or predetermined nature of any kind. The term kayfabe has evolved to also become a code word of sorts for maintaining this "reality" within the direct or indirect presence of the general public."
Jul 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
karlof1 , Jul 23 2019 16:50 utc | 52So, what options do the UK citizenry have until the next general election? IMO, Corbyn encapsulated it well in his two tweets :
"Boris Johnson has won the support of fewer than 100,000 unrepresentative Conservative Party members by promising tax cuts for the richest, presenting himself as the bankers' friend, and pushing for a damaging No Deal Brexit.
"But he hasn't won the support of our country."
"Johnson's No Deal Brexit would mean job cuts, higher prices in the shops, and risk our NHS being sold off to US corporations in a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump.
"The people of our country should decide who becomes the Prime Minister in a General Election."
George Galloway on BoJo :
"In this sense Boris Johnson is a throwback to former times – not quite to the 19th century like his aide-de-camp Jacob Rees-Mogg but at least to the middle of the 20th century. On the face of it, Harold MacMillan, the then British PM, was a straight-laced, slightly eccentric upper-class Englishman. That his wife was upstairs in bed, for years, with one of his parliamentary colleagues Sir Robert Boothby didn't seem to faze him. Or us, but then we weren't to know about it.
"In deference to the new age, Boris Johnson has skipped the straight-laced bit; he has cuckolded his colleagues, even leaving cuckoos in their nests, has left a trail of lurid love-life stories to make a thriller-writer blush, and will likely bed down in Downing Street on Wednesday night with his 31 year-old girlfriend. But the rest is just the same. Johnson is (or has fashioned himself) as an upper-class English eccentric and will be hoping the deference is not dead amongst 21st century Britons.
"To be fair it should be said that Johnson is as colourful as his predecessor Mrs May was bloodless. He is clever and quick-witted (you get what you pay for at Eton), is well read and is a good writer too (he should be, he is Britain's most expensive newspaper columnist). Like his hero Winston Churchill, he believes history will treat him kindly because HE intends to write it."
George will soon be on RT's InQuestionRT as per his tweet at 5pm BST.
O , Jul 23 2019 17:43 utc | 59The Anglo-Zionist have elevated another buffoon to entertain the masses. Trump was just the tip of the iceberg. It will not be long before President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho will soon be leading the global masses.Uncle Jon , Jul 23 2019 18:22 utc | 68
Didn't I hear something about Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson having presidential aspirations?b,
Boris Johnson's ascension to power in UK is just a clown act in a tragic circus. But a circus nonetheless. A none-story. A nothingburger.
I implore you to stay focused on Jeffery Epstein. That is the real story of our time. One that could bring down AIPAC/Israel and all of its' spies, the Clintons, Trump, and certain elements of the deep state once and for all, and free US from the shackles of Zionism.
Do not let this story die by way of side shows like the story above and etc.
By Phillip Giraldi from his article http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/israels-agents-of-influence/
"It's a big job to uncover Israeli subversion, but somebody needs to start doing it."
Let it be you. We trust your reporting and I hope you don't take your eyes off the ball. Forget about BoJo, Russiagate (it is really Israelgate) and Ukraine. Epstein is the story of the ages. One that could change the realm forever.
Jul 24, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
Thomas , Jul 23 2019 15:06 utc | 25It is starting to appear to be very much a contest of buffoons, which country has the more outrageous buffoon. At this point, it is a close race between the us and the uk but who is to judge.
The world's "leadership class" really is bereft of any level of competence or standing: trump, boris, macon, ursula (and remaining eucom and IMF "leaders"), pompeo, bolton, pence, nitenyahoo,et al. and on and on.
IMHO, Putin, lavrov, shoigu stand out head and shoulders above the aforementioned "leadership class."
jared , Jul 23 2019 15:24 utc | 30@ Thomas | Jul 23 2019 15:06 utc | 25Hoarsewhisperer , Jul 23 2019 15:33 utc | 34
That's because Putin and Xi (and some others) are in fact leaders, making rational decisions for the benefit of their nations.
Those others are just figureheads - ability is not so important as reliability and entertainment value.It'll be interesting to see if BoJo can fake solemnity and diplomacy as convincingly as Trump can when in the company of other national leaders. I'm confident that Zelenski, being an actor, will be able to make it look easy.Sad Canuck , Jul 23 2019 19:28 utc | 88
There's a sort of precedent for this switch to comedy-based leadership.
I half-remember that when Ronnie Raygun offered himself as a candidate for POTUS, he answered the critics of his lack of experience by asserting that he had played many leadership roles during his movie career - making him the superior candidate.
And the sheeple bought it!
It seems that this is the dawn of a new "Anything's Possible" era.@70 O
Always thought professional wrestling provided a good analogy for our current situation. Trump and BoJo (and the nations they represent) do indeed represent classic "heels". In particular the USA is clearly now a "closet champion" or the "term for a heel in possession of a title belt who consistently dodges top flight competition and attempts to back down from challenges". What a world we inhabit.
Jul 22, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org
somebody , Jul 22 2019 7:55 utc | 113Trumpism turns elitist .On the final night of this past week's National Conservatism Conference, Senator Josh Hawley -- a graduate of Stanford and Yale and a former instructor at an English private school -- warned the attendees gathered in the ballroom of the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Washington, D.C., about the threat of élite cosmopolitanism. "The politics of those left and right have been informed by a political consensus that reflects the interests not of the American middle but of a powerful upper class and their cosmopolitan priorities," he intoned. "This class lives in the United States, but they identify as citizens of the world. They run businesses or oversee universities here, but their primary loyalty is to the global community, and they subscribe to a set of values held by similar élites in other places." He went on to name those values: "The importance of global integration and the danger of national loyalties; the priority of social change over tradition, career over community and achievement and merit and progress. Call it the cosmopolitan consensus.""Let us be candid," she concluded. "Europe and the first world, to which the United States belongs, remain mostly white for now, and the third world, although mixed, contains a lot of nonwhite people. Embracing cultural-distance nationalism means, in effect, taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites. Well, that is the result, anyway. So, even if our immigration philosophy is grounded firmly in cultural concerns, it doesn't rely on race at all. And, no matter how many times we repeat the mantra that correlation is not causation, these racial dimensions are enough to spook conservatives."
Jul 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
johnwburns , 1 hour agocat2005 , 21 minutes ago
Have another look at Tony Podesta's art collection.
I never understood why people claimed Podesta had child abuse links until I read that article. It is enough to make even a hardened Podesta supporter cringe.
I need some mind bleach after reading that.
Jul 10, 2019 | www.unz.com
Originally from THE NEW YORK TIMES • JULY 9, 2019 • 17 COMMENTS
Powerful elites enabled the financier accused of trafficking underage girls
In 2003, the journalist Vicky Ward profiled Jeffrey Epstein , the financier indicted Monday on charges of sexually abusing and trafficking underage girls, for Vanity Fair. Her piece painted him as an enigmatic Jay Gatsby type, a boy from a middle-class family in Brooklyn who had scaled the rungs of the plutocracy, though no one could quite figure out how he made his money. It detailed dubious business dealings and mentioned that Epstein often had lots of beautiful young women around. But it left out Ward's most important finding.
Twelve years later, in The Daily Beast , Ward wrote about how, in the course of her reporting, two sisters allegedly preyed upon by Epstein, as well as their mother, had spoken to her on the record. But shortly before the story went to press, Ward wrote, the Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter cut that section, saying, of Epstein, "He's sensitive about the young women." ( In a statement on Monday , Carter said Ward's reporting hadn't been solid enough.)
Over the last couple of months, Ward told me, she's started going through transcripts of the interviews about Epstein she did more than 16 years ago. "What is so amazing to me is how his entire social circle knew about this and just blithely overlooked it," she said of his penchant for adolescents. While praising his charm, brilliance and generous donations to Harvard, those she spoke to, she said, "all mentioned the girls, as an aside."
On Saturday evening, more than a decade after receiving a sweetheart plea deal in an earlier sex crime case, Epstein was arrested after getting off a private flight from Paris. He has been accused of exploiting and abusing "dozens" of minor girls, some as young as 14, and conspiring with others to traffic them. Epstein's arrest was the rare event that gratified right and left alike, both because it seemed that justice might finally be done, and because each side has reason to believe that if Epstein goes down, he could bring some of its enemies with him.
Both sides are likely right. The Epstein case is first and foremost about the casual victimization of vulnerable girls. But it is also a political scandal, if not a partisan one. It reveals a deep corruption among mostly male elites across parties, and the way the very rich can often purchase impunity for even the most loathsome of crimes. If it were fiction, it would be both too sordid and too on-the-nose to be believable, like a season of "True Detective" penned by a doctrinaire Marxist.
Mungerite , says: July 9, 2019 at 8:50 pm GMTfoolisholdman , says: July 9, 2019 at 9:31 pm GMT
The funny thing about the Trump quote in the original NYMag article on Epstein is that it's probably the most honest description of the guy, with a none-too-subtle nod to the man's predilections.
http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/n_7912/George , says: July 9, 2019 at 10:29 pm GMT
"The Ultimate Symbol"? I beg leave to doubt it! I suspect that the plutocratic rot is very wide and very deep and "Kiddy fiddling" which is what Jeffrey Epstein seems to be accused of, is only a small (and not the worst) part of it. If he "sings" I think there is no telling how far it will go, but probably he won't and this whole evil mess will slink back into the shadows and silence, with the active help of the media.
Come to think about it, probably even if he does sing, that too will be supressed.Sean , says: July 10, 2019 at 2:07 am GMT
China feared CIA worked with Sheldon Adelson's Macau casinos to snare officials
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/22/china-cia-sheldon-adelson-macau-casinoskarlof1 , Jul 11 2019 5:28 utc | 130
Ward wrote about how, in the course of her reporting, two sisters allegedly preyed upon by Epstein, as well as their mother, had spoken to her on the record.
They said they were all over 18 in other words. He certainly had young women about but Michael Wolff said they ones he say on his plane were visibly late teens or twenty.
No way in hell would someone be trusted with billionaire's money who had ovbiously under age girls around him and was heading for a plea deal in which he might be under so much pressure he would reveal his clients' financial crimes . And it is hardly in keeping with the Gatsby image so important to him. I think he had the young but legal girls for show, no one saw the obvious children but him. He kept the criminal conduct away from visitors, especially ones he posed as a philanthropist to. Someone in his position could not afford to get a reputation for having criminal culpability in anything. He was tax scam artist, and secret sex offender.
On Saturday evening, more than a decade after receiving a sweetheart plea deal in an earlier sex crime case, Epstein was arrested after getting off a private flight from Paris. He has been accused of exploiting and abusing "dozens" of minor girls, some as young as 14, and conspiring with others to traffic them.
People with his money rarely plead guilty. He admitted guilt to get the deal. The new charges he is arrested on say he was the only customer or client , so "trafficking" is quite deceptive.
In the deal he never admitted having actual sex with any of the girls, and he insists he thought they were over 18, so basically all he has ever got a deal on was acts well short of sex with 16-18 years olds who were paid.
Some of them named in the old indictment are now saying they were 2 years younger and had sex with all these VIPs. Doubt it. Still, Epstein's previous admissions mean nobody will believe him if a girl says she was 14 not 18, and he is a tempting target tor civil suits which testifying in a criminal case are a basis for. I don't see him as being all that powerful because money makes you a continuing target of people wanting financial restitution from people down on their luck and no longer able to make money from their looks.
Getting a sweet plea deal for those things was just storing up trouble for the future for someone as rich as him.mrtmbrnmn @127Shyaku , Jul 11 2019 5:38 utc | 132
Cernovich and Dershowitz filed their suit on 19 JAN 2017, 10 days after Trump's inauguration. Obama's DoJ screwed up and the judge ruled in their favor 2.5 years later. Then Epstein's immediately arrested.
This RT article reminds us the Republicans tried to use Bill's links with Epstein during the 2016 election, while providing other details. Maybe the stories used in the Steele Dossier on Trump aren't from Russia at all but were collected through Epstein's operation?
Perhaps Trump is the target? Time will tell.Epstein, being richer, gets to act out Weiner's fantasy for approximately the same price as the fantasy. If Epstein was Mossad, then what is arch-zio Dershowitz doing in the trap?Krollchem , Jul 11 2019 5:46 utc | 133
- Shyaku"Jeffrey Epstein shipped a shredder from the U.S. Virgin Islands to his Palm Beach home in July 2008, shortly after reaching a non-prosecution agreement with then-U.S. Attorney Alex Acosta, maritime records show. Then, in March of this year, shortly after a Florida federal judge invalidated that agreement, Epstein shipped a tile and carpet extractor from the Virgin Islands to his Manhattan townhouse, the records show."anon , Jul 11 2019 7:19 utc | 135
Mobster jeffrey epstein's wealth didn't come from being a "financier" ( he is a dull wit w/o market knowledge), it came from his fellow co-mobster , steven hoffenberger , swindling over $650 million from gullible goys in Towers Financial.
I believe nearly all of these ((( "financiers" and "hedge fund managers" ))) are just money laundering for the massive Israhell mob. Most are operated from offshore banks, without auditing, I.e. soros' quantum fund.curious man , Jul 11 2019 8:52 utc | 138
Posted by: asdf | Jul 10 2019 18:13 utc | 1
Possible Mossad connection via Ghislaine Maxwell. https://www.unz.com/isteve/jeffrey-epstein-and-foreign-intelligence/
Spying for Israel Is Consequence Free
Jul 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
xbkrisback , 1 hour agosmacker , 1 hour ago
I think I figured this scam out. US gives Israel billions each year. Israel gives some of that money to Epstein for a hedge fund front. Epstein buys island, planes, mansions, power and influence. Hires attractive under age girls for sexual acts with elites. Tapes the sexual acts. Sends tapes back to Mossad. Blackmails elites for money and favors. Sends money and favors back to Mossad. Epstein keeps the vig. Elites just **** their pants. Elites suicide rate increases dramatically over the next six months.cayman , 46 minutes ago
Yes, the blackmailing would not just be for money but foreign policy actions too. And it isn't just the US, it's the UK too. Hence both suckers are trying to start a war with Iran.RoyalDraco , 17 minutes ago
CCI has the goods on a third of congress and the whole msm. It's why elections haven't mattered in decades. It's why congress can have a 9% approval rating and yet nothing changes. CIA has so many offshore sources of revenue now, it is sovereign now.HideTheWeenie , 1 hour ago
I am not holding my breath for your prediction xbkrisback. Appointing Comey's daughter as the chief prosecutor tells a sorry tale. And Comey and Mueller are best buds.
Epstein will not give up the big names. Bubba took 26 trips to Pedo Island on the Lolita Express to refresh his tan.
5 years at Club Fed and a list of names no one ever heard of. The power structure runs on pedophilia. And the horror of it is that pedophilia is just the tip of the iceberg regarding the abuse of children. Where is Carlos Danger's laptop with Huma's huge "life insurance" file on it? You know, the one that made grizzled NYPD detectives puke when they opened it.johnwburns , 1 hour ago
Epstein outdoes Berlusconi ... Takes bunga bunga parties to the next level - and on the road - in the air - island hopping
Coulter is right ... Nobody in financial circles ever bumped into Epstein. Nobody, nobody knows the guy outside of the teenage ***** connection.cat2005 , 21 minutes ago
Have another look at Tony Podesta's art collection. http://ibankcoin.com/zeropointnow/2016/11/26/sick-lets-revisit-the-podesta-penchant-for-pedophilic-cannibalistic-and-satanic-art/#sthash.6jj0GpQo.dpbsRayUSA , 1 hour ago
I never understood why people claimed Podesta had child abuse links until I read that article. It is enough to make even a hardened Podesta supporter cringe.
I need some mind bleach after reading that.herbivore , 2 hours ago
Obviously, the more powerful people that are involved, the less chance this has of going anywhere.
Coulter's take on this sounds very plausible, because there certainly was evidence gathering by Epstein.
There would be no reason for that unless it was going to be used in the future for black mail.
By the way, that was the favorite tactic of the old pervert that ran the FBI ... J. Edgar Hoover. He would gather evidence, then have a couple of his agents pay the offender a visit, warning them to be careful, while delivering the clear message that the Director has the goods on you.
If Epstein goes to prison (a real prison) for any length of time, that would negate the idea of state sponsorship, would it not? Conversely, if he gets another sweetheart deal, that would confirm it.
Jul 03, 2019 | theamericanconservative.com
Douglas K • 3 days ago • editedTo this day, Maher's response still leaves me dumbfounded: "I would say that's a secular religion." Before Douthat could ask what the hell a secular religion is, Maher changed the subject. The meaning of Maher's nonsensical statement was clear: everything Maher doesn't like is religion.
Maher was right. I've been saying for decades -- since Brezhnev was still alive -- that the Soviet Union was a functional theocracy. Sure, they didn't use God or angels or miracles in their rhetoric, but that's just surface trappings.
In practice, the USSR behaved exactly like a brutal totalitarian theocracy would. They had an impersonal god (the theory of history that would lead inevitably to heaven on Earth) which the government treated as the source of their authority and their justification for everything they did in the name of the Revolution.
They had a state church (the Communist Party -- no rivals allowed) that you needed to join to get anywhere in society. They had prophets (look what they did with Lenin after his death), saints (heroes of the Revolution), idols, sacred texts that could not be challenged, brutal suppression of other religions, witch hunts for heretics (anyone who opposed the Revolution).
So yes: the USSR turned "communism" into their de facto state religion. No, they didn't include personified invisible spirits in their ideology. But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ....
Jun 30, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org
... ... ...
Nietzsche, similar to Tocqueville, Mill, and Mathew Arnold, envisioned a future where people would be culturally, politically, emotionally, and, philosophically castrated. Nietzsche referred to such pitiful creatures as the "last men" or "men without chests".
Individuals purely concerned with their material well being, believing themselves to be perfectly happy in the historically diminished possibilities of their lives. These future beings would be the antithesis to the hero and would experience the current existence of such a person among them as "mad".
In the future there are no great deeds, only herd like obedience. Aldous Huxley wrote an entire book about them: Brave New World .
But what of our world? Are we too "last men" or are we, instead, preparing for the arrival of the overman (Übermensch)? For Nietzsche, man was something that was to be overcome. He was a "rope tied between beast and overman–a rope over an abyss".
... ... ...
Insofar as many of us are caught up in a lifestyle of consumption and the cultivation of daily, small pleasures, we cannot view ourselves as unduly heroic or value creating. On the other hand, technological advances are slowly holding out the promise of physical transformation, of a human being qualitatively different from the one now existing.
Even so, it will remain a question for some time yet whether or not those who are pursuing neoliberal dreams are the harbingers of the overman or the last instance of a neurotically self-preoccupied, overly self-satisfied, fantastically egoistic, petty, cowardly, morally small pipsqueak of a human whom Nietzsche assumed would eventually and permanently inherit the earth.
Dan Corjescu teaches Political Philosophy and Globalization at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Read other articles by Dan .
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
Asquith , 6 Mar 2012 01:05Ayn Rand and Friedrich Hayek, both worshipped by their Libertarian and conservative followers, and both massive hypocrites.KarenInSonoma , 6 Mar 2012 00:49
Rand used Medicare under her husband's name (to evade being found out), while Hayek took hypocrisy to a whole new level; he not only had state provided healthcare in his native Austria, but also used it in the USA, too, after Charles Koch (who paid Hayek to advocate the abolition of such welfare) urged him to. So, Hayek is a far bigger welfare sponger than the people the Right so loves to deionize. Again, like Rand he did this secretly, never acknowledging that he used the system which he wished to deny to others. That is obscene dishonesty and conceitedness.
Then there's Milton Friedman, who, in the documentary The 1% , declared, with a straight face, that the wealthy could not bribe politicians and thus that there was no corruption in politics!
In the face of such hypocrisy and stupidity one can only assume their followers are egotists who only hear what they want to hear.I can hardly write, I'm so angry! This disgusting, and digustingly influential, woman signed on for Medicare and Social Security? I wish my husband could! He has suffered two massive strokes and is so severely cognitively impaired that I am dreading his return home from the hospital (where he's entitled to be right now because I pay nearly $2,000 a month in "Cobra" healthcare insurance). At 59, he's too young for Medicare, and because we were saving out of modest incomes for our pension-less retirement, we have more than the pitiful $3,000 in the bank that Medicaid (Medi-Cal in California) allows. He needs to be watched 24 hours ALL the time. I won't go on; I feel guilty taking time out to read & comment.HolyInsurgent -> Lollywillowes , 5 Mar 2012 23:27Fascinating analysis. The fascist/dominatrix, messianic, and stereotype
(of people and the public and private sectors) in the writing dovetail into
a seemless motif. Quite a new perspective on niche-marketing. One can
see the market that the writing is being directed to and ultimately respected
by: people who demand simple solutions for complex problems.
There is the sense of her own triumphalist infallibility in the writing. Positively
creepy and eventually off-putting. Even Nietzsche had a sense of humour.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
iruka , 5 Mar 2012 22:26The popularity of Ayn Rand?
When less than half the eligible population votes, the most easily-led, easily-frightened, easily-lied-to segment of the population is an intrinsically much more valuable political asset.
The whole of North American right-wing thought is organised around this concrete, inescapable fact. It's become the solid framework around which an entire conservative culture, from media to religion to education policy, has crystallised.
This is why it really isn't always possible to make a great deal of sense of North American conservative culture -- a lot of it is simply redundant and empty, as inherently meaningless as a flag or national anthem shorn of all their ignoble associations.
The division of labour between leaders hungry to lead and followers desperate to be led is simply that well-entrenched. The meaning of texts and symbols -- arbitrarily and randomly seized upon and misrepresented by third rate intellects with enough of the psychopath in them to seem charismatic to suburban dullards and bigots -- is simply assumed ('x said it, so...'). Then meaning and context are left behind, while the tropes and images survive in the hearts of those for whom they're simply reassuring -- points of reference in a world they've been raised not to understand.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
Pangolinx , 6 Mar 2012 13:07Millions of copies of Atlas Shrugged are purchased but very few are read and virtually all of them become landfill after a single college semester. Like every other college student I purchased the book because it was required reading and like 98% of U.S. college students I ignored the book and cribbed my assignments out of Cliff Notes.Yevgeny , 6 Mar 2012 12:52
It's drivel. It's beyond moronic because even the most cursory examination provides examples of inherited wealth and advantage that are almost impossible to overcome by labor and talent alone.
Even the "great" Bill Gates had the almost unique position of access to computers in his teens that most graduate students of the time would have envied and two parents working for IBM that fed him the critical contract that made him rich.
The book, the philosophy, the author, and the followers are all frauds.She's not even original. Her novella anthem is a complete rip off of a much better book "We" by Zamyatin
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
Mendocino , 6 Mar 2012 13:01Could it be that Langley and Jina Haspey are admirers of Ayn Rand?tlsmith63 , 6 Mar 2012 12:19Ayn Rand's philosophy is sick. I would say that it is just as sick as fascism. We on the left must do everything we can to stop the spread of this vile philosophy.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
legalhigh , 6 Mar 2012 12:51People please realize that these are the views of the real ruling elite. Wonder why the world is so fucked up? Psychopaths are in charge.FarEasterner , 6 Mar 2012 12:31One has to admire Rand for stating what Western government and large corporations are mafia par excellence but never admit this in public - their philosophy, their creed.JoeStarlin , 6 Mar 2012 12:43
This mafia rules Western world through sham elections, putting copycat parties against each other on the ring while rooting out any viable alternatives. This mafia also wants to dominate the whole world via interventions, sanctions, threats. They diligently check voting track record of third world countries in UN and cruelly punish those who voted independently.
This plutocratic clique has monopolized media, controls largest social networks, through intelligence agencies organize bogus propaganda campaigns against dissidentsjessthecrip
6 March 2012 4:36PM
If Rand's ideas continue to spread I have little hope for the survival of the human race. Without co-operation our species will die out, probably taking many others with it.
Crap, Rand never proposed that people should not co-operate with each other. Only an absolute fool would say such a thing. Ayn Rand was many things, some of them very nasty indeed, but foolish was most certainly not one of them.
She claimed that people should do what they liked free from force as much as is practical, if that meant freely choosing to co-operate with others for mutual benefit, then so be it. I hope you can see that this is a completely different kettle of fish. Co-operation is indeed what actually happens far more then it does not, even more so when the government is not forcing people to do things by the use of the criminal law.
This must be the case otherwise mankind would have always lived in isolated chaos, the evidence for which has never been found.
Have you ever tried to have sex without co-operating with someone else?
Oh yes, I am sorry, of course you have. Well, try not to do it anywhere near as often, you may go blind, or gain more hairy palms.
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
Jaiysun44 , 6 Mar 2012 12:15Rand thought Kant to be "the most evil man in history".Hellzapoppin , 6 Mar 2012 12:12
Kant believed in the absolute wrongness of coercion and deception. Kant believed in never treating people as a means to your end. Kant believed reason and rationality to be the foundation of morality, and morality to apply to all people as rational agents.
What's so wrong with that?ChristianBenson , 6 Mar 2012 12:07
Kant's idea of obligation is important. Humans have an evolutionary tendency for selfishness; to compete. But that is not to say what is natural is moral.
There is also evidence for an evolutionary tendency to alturism. I'm not sure you need even get as far as Kant, much of what Rand's arguing seems fundamentally unscientific, let alone immoral.Should Rand have devoted any time/effort to the study of morality, she may have found the writings of Kant most useful; if not alternative .
Kant's idea of obligation is important. Humans have an evolutionary tendency for selfishness; to compete. But that is not to say what is natural is moral .
Kant argued that a moral act is one where the subject is obliged to do so - not where one does it for personal gain or enjoyment. This is not to say that morality should not be enjoyed per se but one should not solely act on the premise of enjoyment.
The prolific socialist and thinker, George Bernard Shaw, said An Englishman is only moral when he is uncomfortable'
There is some truth in this; Rand's idea that morality is selfishness, virtue is self interest and good is personal accumulation denies the collective nature of humanity.
Man is not an island.
Humanity has an obligation to others. The capitalist crowd purport that one is solely responsible for one's won gain. Not so. We live in a country that provides opportunity, those who succeed by that opportunity have not done so merely off their own back. They have done so in a particular society. You need look no further than the African continent to see that personal/material gain is not subject solely to the individual. The repressive and tyrannous society much of Africa plays down the effort of the individual, regardless of their admirable effort and determination.
I hope Kant may agree with me that Rand, the republicans and the ideological conservatives has an obligation to be quiet and sit down.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
sirmoonface , 6 Mar 2012 09:29...Ayn Rand was a bitter, unhappy and twisted individual. That so many follow her is testament only to the power of the propaganda machine controlled by the elite.
This says it all:-
"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. She had railed furiously against both programmes, as they represented everything she despised about the intrusive state. Her belief system was no match for the realities of age and ill health."
It would be hard to find a better metaphor for our banking system.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
GeorgeMonbiot, 6 Mar 2012 09:19One reason why Ayn Rand may be popular is that unfortunately to an increasing extent in Western philosophy today individualism is necessarily equated with selfishness. This is not axiomatic. Individualism would literally not exist and would be ineffectual in practice without the support of others, whether family and/or friends, education, technology, work and society and the state in general. Rand did not see the contadictions in her own life and not just at the end of it.epicurean27 , 6 Mar 2012 09:07
Although being Jewish and brought up in anti-Semitic Tsarist Russia (a prejudice not unknown in Bolshevik Russia to) she was allowed on the principle of all individuals have rights and was well off enough to go to university in what was then Petrograd.
Rand supported what was probably the most popular party in Russia, the Social Revolutionaries led by Alexander Kerensky.
If only he had been successful rather than Lenin the hard pressed Russian peoples may have been saved from all sorts of evils and the West too?
On emigrating to America she worked in Hollywood so benefiting from the new technology of film making, the climatic conditions that California provided so necessary for the industry's success, and capitalism that funded it. Capitalism cannot exist without myriad social interactions between individuals; even the self-employed need customers.
Rand as George Monbiot points out lacked subtely, irony and doubt that is essential for philosophical, political and social and economic analysis. Just like the Neo-Cons and their knee jerk opponents today.Her theories are based in her social class she never truly had to suffer it appears even in Russia. I do not call her a philosopher she is no true philosopher simply a rich person trying to work her views for the betterment of her social class.
I have read many of the Greek thinkers from Plato to Epicetius and no Greek thinker ever removed Ethics entirly from their systems. The Stoics for example taught Phyisics, Logic, and Ethics. Ethics is in fact a major part of Plato, Airstotle and the two other schools of Hellenstic times though the Skepics are an ouliner.
In my opinion Ryan had no true understanding of the point of philosophical debate or that a system is meant to have a practical effect on all Society I mean that is the entire point of Plato in his Republic is to build a Just Society.
I am a life long philosopher in training and I agree with Epicurus that a philosophy is truly worthless unless it heals your mind and your soul from misconceptions and false beliefs.
There was a essay I read at University that Rand makes me think about. It was titled Life Boat Ethics. It was an argument for the rich nations not supporting the poorer nations. The Argument was like this.
1st Principle Our world is limited in Resources.
Imagine all the world is made up of life boats. The rich have the best life boats in the seas of fate. They made them they protect them and improve them and attempt to keep them afloat through stopping infighting on board and keeping steady crew without over crowding.
While the poor nations have basic life rafts that are made of the lowest quality and are sinking and leaving their crews and the mercy of nature.
Because of their lack of strict work ethic and willingness to trade long term goas for short term enjoyments and constant infighting for anamialistic lusts they are unwilling to create better life boats like the rich nations and control their populations on broad.
Helping the poorer nations might seem face of it to be good but it is really fighting nature and that is truly wrong.
The wise course is to allow the poorer nations to sink in th ocean and give the richer and indeed superior peoples more room to sail these harsh seas. To found new boats and new lives for they are the people that matter anyways.
Rich nations out to have self interest as their drive for all things and ought to not care about those problems that do no directly effect their personal lives.
This essay I believe has become reality we here in Europe and accross the Sea in America are seeing this logic working out in real life and I believe the Left s no way to stop it at present but we better not stop or we will be the kids on a raft just wanting in a boat for simply a better life.
Philosophy as true power people ought to learn to resepect its force in our world I do.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
murielbelcher , 6 Mar 2012 08:36This is where Rand kicks in, I have no interest in your health and nor do I have a responsibility for it no matter what your chosen group of penny loafer-ed box checkers say
I have no interest in purchasing your latest nuclear weapons, defending your country, subsidising your royal family, bailing out your bankers, constructing and maintaining the pavements outside your house, lighting your street, subsidising your MPs, paying for your police call out when you've been burgled, sweeping your streets, subsidising the collection of your rubbish, oh and paying for that fire in your house to be extinguished no matter what your box checkers say. No interest whatsoever. This precisely is where Ayn Rand kicks in.
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
brackley1 , 6 Mar 2012 05:36Curious that the Ayn Rand's of this world are always very keen on a socialized police force and armed services. Presumably, they consider these services the first line of defense against the starving mob.
According to Ayn Rand, we are supposed to consider the rich and successful as supreme individualists who are simply the fittest to lead in a dog eat dog world.
However, looking at powerful individuals with their soft pudgy faces, their paunchy bodies and carefully groomed hair it is obvious that these people are not born to rule. Curiously, when they are threatened by an outside force, it is never them who serve but the useless poor who are expected to develop a sense of community, quaintly called patriotism, and defend them. Does anyone really imagine that in a true meritocracy these same people would survive and prosper.
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
ArchibaldLeach , 6 Mar 2012 02:39Rand is the Republican God...well, her and Jesus. They just love her love of selfishness. It's what the GOP thinks makes America great. They talk about individualism, freedom, and so on but it's really all about the rich getting to keep all their money. People who are drawn to Rand are drawn to her because they want to excuse their own selfishness as some sort of ideal.redshrink , 6 Mar 2012 02:35To describe Ayn Rand's ideas as philosophy really is gilding a turd. She may have called it "objectivism", but the -ism suggests an intellectual stringency, which it simply lacks. "Atlas Shrugged" is a work of badly written fiction, or propaganda rather, not a philosophical text, but that distinction is easily lost on a gullible American public. While it may now play the role of guiding text of the American right as opposed to Marx' writings for the left, Rand's preposterous ideology is more the intellectual and moral equivalent to "Mein Kampf" than to "Das Kapital". That such a nasty and amoral doctrine should find favour with a nation, which sees itself as "Christian", underlines how hollow that particular brand of Christianity has become.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
ohcomeoffit , 6 Mar 2012 08:36"Almost one third of Americans, according to a recent poll, have read Atlas Shrugged"
Subs: surely that should be "... have read about Atlas Shrugged". What are the chances that almost one third of Americans have read a book?
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
Aeschyluss48 , 6 Mar 2012 04:32Policies like this will produce 1 rich person and approximately 999,999,999 poor people-if put into effect, yet remarkably are popular! I can understand millionaires and billionaires liking this philosophy but what about the normal people, the middle-classes who flock to this?
Either they think they are richer than they are-in which case a wake-up call is coming! Or they think they themselves will never need society's safety-net-in which case for many a wake-up call is again coming! Or they think that if they pull with the system one day they too will be rich-sadly becoming rich in Western society (US/UK) is like winning the lottery-"it could be you!"-yes it COULD be you, it probably won't be you, in fact it will almost certainly not be you-but yes we can't rule out the statement "it COULD be you!"-hoping for a 1 in a million, million chance in effect.
Unrestrained selfishness is like allowing people in a room to slash each other's throats-eventually the room ends up full of dead people-forgive the sarcam but is this a fantastic outcome that we should all aspire to! Condemning the majority of society to misery so a very few can live the high-life is no way to run a world-yes it is true that we in the west do this all the time-today countless unseen millions live on less than 2 dollars per day-human life and pecious (literally once in a lifetime) human potential wasted-utterly wasted!
As for the quote that Rand went onto Medicare etc towards the end of her life-if true this is yet another example of something I've often considered to be true-that those of extreme political views (be it right-wing or left-wing) are invariably selfish, egocentric hypocrites-and when you come to see this it is an ugly world! The bank-bail-outs are a prime example-we are preached about "taking responsibility" by our leaders but this only applies to unemployed people and the poor (or "feckless" to use the common parlance)-when very rich bankers mess up as a result of their own poor decisions they are bailed out by the very same government they previously professed to despise-yes that it taking responsibility in action isn't it?, that is being morally virtuous?-pure and utter distilled hypocrisy in action! As for Rand coming from a rich family-is thre anybody of a right ing viewpoin that wasn't born into money-have any of them knon the poverty (at first hand) that they are so quick to describe in unflattering terms!
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
pretzelberg , 6 Mar 2012 07:49
Rand, Weiss argues, provides the unifying ideology which has "distilled vague anger and unhappiness into a sense of purpose".
And don't forget: resentment.
Nietzsche would have had a field day with the superficial likes of Rand.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
NIViking , 6 Mar 2012 12:05Although I find the basic Objectivist philosophy objectionable there is one part of Atlas Shrugged that has always puzzled me.
Rand praises her creative geniuses as men who always pay their workers well in order to attract into their employment the best workers in the industry. This idea seems reasonable so why don't the current Randian devotees within capitalist corporations do it?
Anyway, the difference between Rand's capitalism and what we have today is that all her genius's own their own companies whereas that can't be said for most of the CEO s in the modern world. Arguably the working class now includes the highest levels of the boardroom and the directors are as much in thrall to their bosses as are the company cleaners.
Modern capitalism's fatal flaw is the shareholder who, in many cases, doesn't even know which company their investment/pension fund has invested in. We, the public, are the owners of these companies and it is up to us whether we ask our investments to behave as ethical organisations or whether we continue to let them pressure the boards of directors of the world into producing greater and greater returns.
Unless you own no products based on shares then YOU are the new boss and arguably you are worse than the old boss.
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
wesg , 6 Mar 2012 07:19Ayn's ideas - imo - were just elitist sentiment that leaned toward fascism, clearly she was watching to many movies (even way back then).
Thats Chaplin in 'The Great dictator'.
"Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men - machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines, you are not cattle, you are men! You have the love of humanity in your hearts! You don't hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! " -Chaplin. (entire quote can be found here - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0032553/quotes )
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
inappropriate , 6 Mar 2012 07:32The central flaw of objectivism - a kind of wishful-thinking moral alchemy where base selfishness somehow turns into something better - isn't unique to the 'right' by any means. identity politics is riddled with it, although they call it 'empowerment'.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
Hellzapoppin , 6 Mar 2012 12:08Hellzapoppin , 6 Mar 2012 12:01
have no problem with Rand accepting social security payments, if she was legally entitled to them. That's what they are there for. But I wonder why she chose to do so under an assumed name, if that is correct. If she had wanted to make the point that she was taking back some of her own money, surely that point would have been better made by being open about it.
The obvious reason why she did it under an assumed name is that she knew perfectly well it wouldn't sit with the bollocks about 'rugged individualism', and wouldn't be seen as 'taking back her own money' (what if her medical care amounted to more than the portion of her taxes assigned to medicare?), but as ranky hypocrisy.
Not to mention it would be an intellectualy circle she could never square.Bourdillon , 6 Mar 2012 09:25
Rand was a woman who, on her death bed, praised wealth and independence, while simultaneously begging charity and succor from the state.
That would be a flaw in the woman, not the ideology, lets stick to that eh?
No, absolutely a flaw in in the ideology. If it's creator wasn't prepared to see it through to the then, why think anyone would?
Any ideology that so fundamentally fails to understand human nature, our needs and desires, our flaws, our alturism, and that we're fundamentally social animals, shouldn't even be begun to be taken seriously.
The rank hypocrisy aside, what she did on her death bed was far more rational than the nonsense she'd been preaching her whole life.
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. She had railed furiously against both programmes, as they represented everything she despised about the intrusive state. Her belief system was no match for the realities of age and ill health.
Probably wouldn't change anything. Cameron claimed the same Disability Living Allowance for his son that he is now taking away from disabled and terminally ill people in this country.
Greed is slowing evolution. We are deliberately cultivating a generation whose only purpose is to pay off the debts of the last one. Progress has stopped, so why are we continuing on the same course?
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
iwouldprefernotto , 6 Mar 2012 11:33Brilliant piece. Rand's philosophy is the philosophy of the psychopath, but you can see its appeal: it absolves her acolytes of the need to care. It must feel tremendously liberating, if you're that way inclined (i.e. a self-proclaimed ubermensch with a serious empathy deficit.)OldHob -> postcolonial , 6 Mar 2012 11:32
I remember reading an interview with Harry Stein, author of 'How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy: And Found Inner Peace'. He said that becoming right-wing made him realise that he didn't have to worry about everything constantly. I'm fairly sure that you can be a liberal without perpetually flagellating yourself for the sins of the world.Her writing may as well be used to legitimise the business methods of Montana in Scarface, and a loveley example of the Rand thought processes, here now, in the present day - The Russian version of capitalism......Gangsterism is about right. The morals of the shark tank.tomcmc , 6 Mar 2012 11:22"Rand's is the philosophy of the psychopath, a misanthropic fantasy of cruelty, revenge and greed."butchluva -> EnglishroG , 6 Mar 2012 11:13
In a nutshell, Mr Monbiot.
Her definitions and descriptions are certainly consistent with a clinical diagnosis of psychopathy.
Chilling to think that some policymakers treat this poison as a bible to inform their world view.I think she just hated herself and never grew up and projected that onto everyone else. (The teenage boys analogy is apposite.) It is central to right-wing (and ultra-religious) mindsets that everything that happens in the world is somebody else's fault, never theirs, they relinquish any responsibility for or role in any social problems or dynamics, especially and ironically those things to do with the way they are. They are the ultimate victims and this is a kind of psychosocial infantilism. They talk a lot about the need for 'personal responsibility' (in theory) because they don't have any, and act the opposite. They need a spurious 'objectivism' to hide behind, a 'reality' separate from human consciousness (as another contributor correctly identified) because of a crushing insecurity. Their superiority complexes are an ultra transparent and futile warding off of crippling feelings of inferiority. It is an abject, and dangerous state of mind. Fortunately many people who go through this phase grow out of it, they have a dark night of the soul, flashes of insight into themselves, are forced to face their shit and become better people or whatever. People like Ayn Rand, err, don't. Sad.gixxerman006 -> Kairolocus , 6 Mar 2012 10:56Opps, I'll try that again....weathereye -> Kairolocus , 6 Mar 2012 10:49
6 March 2012 1:55PM
Rand was a creep. Her personal life was a train wreck. Described in biographies as cruel, megalomaniacal, ungrateful and tasteless, she surrounded herself with a cult of loyal followers. She made a cuckold of her husband and humiliated him in public when he began suffering from dementia. She was addicted to amphetamines. By all accounts, she was not a very nice person. After William Edward Hickman kidnapped and dismembered a 12-year-old girl, she wrote admiringly of the state of mind that could engage in such an atrocity:
"Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should". Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people."
This echoes almost word for word Rand's later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: ' He was born without the ability to consider others .'"
It's amazing that this drug-addled, adulterous, cruel & utterly graceless individual is held in such regard by a significant chunk of right-wing America.
Her athiesism alone would bar anyone else from a moments consideration nevermind such veneration.
Her appeal it seems to me is in offering superficial answers in an utterly certain way that allows for no question or time spent (in Objectivist terms 'wasted') considering alternates (ie the pure demigogue).
Sadly that sort of rubbish has an appeal to a certain (usually male) adolescent mindset......and in a nation where the media is devoted to treating its populace as if they were late teen/early 20-somethings all their lifes it doesn't surprise me she has a small but noteable following.
Given the way the UK is being pushed to discard our own & embrace American 'pop' culture I wouldn't be surprised to see something similar begin here either.
Sadly.Kairolocus , 6 Mar 2012 08:55
she wrote admiringly of the state of mind that could engage in such an atrocity:
it is striking that the human population appears to maintain a level of psychopathy, rather as some deleterious genes are persistent despite their selective unfitness for the group and their prtogressive removal and disappearance being advantageous. I guess that rather like e.g. haemophilia, psychopathy needs to be recognised for what it is, and its maladaptiveness treated and contained as well as possible. There is a lot of rather florid social-behavioural/economic-political disorder around at present in a very chaotic human environment. There are plenty more Rands waving their GOP flags right now.Rand was a creep. Her personal life was a train wreck. Described in biographies as cruel, megalomaniacal, ungrateful and tasteless, she surrounded herself with a cult of loyal followers. She made a cuckold of her husband and humiliated him in public when he began suffering from dementia. She was addicted to amphetamines. By all accounts, she was not a very nice person. After William Edward Hickman kidnapped and dismembered a 12-year-old girl, she wrote admiringly of the state of mind that could engage in such an atrocity:
"Other people do not exist for him, and he does not see why they should". Hickman had "no regard whatsoever for all that society holds sacred, and with a consciousness all his own. He has the true, innate psychology of a Superman. He can never realize and feel 'other people."
This echoes almost word for word Rand's later description of her character Howard Roark, the hero of her novel The Fountainhead: 'He was born without the ability to consider others.'"
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
miked453 , 6 Mar 2012 08:58Excellent piece as ever George. The BBC need to repeat Adam Curtis' All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace . Brilliant and shocking.
Irishscouser , 6 Mar 2012 06:10If you watch Curtis' excellent 'All watched over by Robots of loving grace' you can see how utterly fraudulent Rand comes across, she seemed a bitter, lonely and pathetic creature whose petty and vindictive asides at society was one built on a complete insecurity complex, she was just acting out her own debauched fantasies and she found the right home (the US) to fulfill them.
It says something of a society, and inparticularly the utterly nutty 'Tea Party' to see Rand as champion of 'free will' and ' deregulation' in fact only in the US could her views be actually takens seriously, so much so they named a corporation after her.
Now that's scary!!!
NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 05:59@romantotale17
Frighteningly I suspect that the autocrats-in-planning are reading Kurzweil lately, who combines the New Right with the Randian Silicon Valley cyber-utopianism of which Curtis describes in his doco.
Kurzewil is Rand's John Galt as cyborg.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
Fortress -> conanthebarbarian , 6 Mar 2012 11:01
She wrote on on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy and aesthetics to name but a few.
Lots of Cif commenters do that every day. Unfortunately, what they write is mostly crap.
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
justaname -> EnglishroG , 6 Mar 2012 13:12
Rant's work has a special appeal to obnoxious teenage boys; friendless and unappreciated, toxic to girls, they take a special comfort in identifying with Rant's socially crippled isolated misunderstood geniuses and enjoy the rape scenes in the novels where the heroine enjoys the whole experience.
Interesting, and I'd say important comments... I think sexual selection is basically the issue. As much as I didn't like the film Happy Go Lucky I thought the Scott character was interesting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40Dw1Q2jvsY
how many 'creeps' are marginalised by crude sexual selection, blatant cruel discrimination, the willful flaunting of what is essentially genetic luck; what better to engender a zero sum sense of a world based on unfairness?
There have been experiments with depressed subordinate monkeys (Alpha males removed), one of which is given a serotonin boosting drug... (like MDMA I think) that monkey quickly rises to alpha male status.
If people, as they're so inclined to do, identify with their sexuality to the exclusion of virtue (after all what better than virtue, a conscience, to pour cold water on casual sex? hence the problem of binge drinking) they will in many cases derive enough narcissistic confidence to be 'successful' - in exactly the way that unscrupulous bankers would wish.
Many of the losers will turn to Rand... and far worse, I fear.
Mar 08, 2012 | www.theguardian.comJohannesL -> murielbelcher , 6 Mar 2012 14:27"Free society" is for these righty-wingers a society with unregulated corporate rule where democratic rule by the people for the people ("government") does not exist.Kikinaskald , 6 Mar 2012 14:23
The slave owners' freedom, in other words.In short, according to Mettler, the rich complain about the state while taking most of the benefits that the state provides.murielbelcher , 6 Mar 2012 14:23Watching her 1959 interview, I am convinced that her extreme ideology is tangled up with her personal experiences and other psychological factors. She came across as cold and seemingly detached from the humanity around her.weathereye , 6 Mar 2012 14:22
She also appeared entirely untroubled by the fact that others might hold different views, so convinced was she of her rightness.The Tea Party loonies are modern ' Randies', and idolize John Galt [hero of Atlas Shrugged ]. Like malaria, this disease is highly resistant to eradication and still kills millions.Kikinaskald , 6 Mar 2012 14:21I didn't read the read I mentioned above. According to the book description and an article I read earlier about the book (as far as I remember), the book doesn't show simply that the state is good while the lack of state is bad and so contradict Rand directly.gixxerman006 -> EconomicDeterminist , 6 Mar 2012 14:13
It proceeds in a more subtle way, showing that the rich and the affluent benefit from the state and benefit even more than the poorer. It's the rich that use the state for their benefit, not the poorer.
This doesn't mean that the absence of a state would be the ideal situation. The rich want a state that works only for their benefit, what is necessary is a state that works for everybody, that diminishes inequality.Mankini -> Spoonface , 6 Mar 2012 14:10
EconomicDeterminist 6 March 2012 6:57PM Response to tom1832, 5 March 2012 8:35PM
The left is obsessed with trying to find the intellectual antecedents of the new right. Intellectual?
Indeed. I'm reminded of the outrageously behaved (& therefore isolated by the other kids) sociopathic brat continually being told by its doting mother "there there there, nevermind, don't listen to a word of it, they're only jealous"
Quite how the right-wing imagines anyone on the left does anything but point & laugh at their 'philosophical heroine' (!!?) beggars belief. Rand is simply a damaged intellectual pygmy offering a deeply unoriginal juvenile nonsense so obviously born out of her own refugee experiences."Rand grew up to be a selfish individualist who claimed both that altruism is harmful, and that human beings are fully rational, with infant and childhood experience exerting no influence on adult behaviour."Spoonface -> Jaiysun44 , 6 Mar 2012 14:06TempleCloud -> noiraddict , 6 Mar 2012 14:03
I think Rand's addiction to amphetamines over decades is a partial explanation for her sociopathic nature, or perhaps a symptom of it.
Another good explanation is the childhood trauma she experienced when her mother took away her toys for a year (to toughen her up or somesuch). At the end of the year, Rand, still a young child, expected her toys back, only for her mother to tell her that she'd given the toys to the local orphanage. Rand grew up to be a selfish individualist who claimed both that altruism is harmful, and that human beings are fully rational, with infant and childhood experience exerting no influence on adult behaviour.
Not that there's any connection, of course.totemic , 6 Mar 2012 14:02
The lies she told came around and bit her in the arse.
A wonderful image. Do you think that's how she met her doom? Cause of death: Bitten to death on the arse by lies.Pragmatism , 6 Mar 2012 14:00
"The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion to the devaluation of the world of men. Labor produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity -- and does so in the proportion in which it produces commodities generally."
Marx's, Labour Theory of Value. An outstanding contribution to how social relations are corrupted within the social economy, through capitalist exploitation. But, communism meant elite prescription - social tyranny.
Ayn Rand's objectivized nonsense, sought to treat humans as objects - see the experience of the farmed animal (similarly prosocial animals).
All I wish to say is, thanks for the universal principle of human rights. And down with Financialization. Another thought provoking article from Mr Monbiot.I have not read Rand's work but the impression I get from your account of it is that it is a joke to take fools in much as Hubbard did when he created the Scientology cult.tsubaki , 6 Mar 2012 13:59and yet even Ayn Rand didnt think the police should be privatized. Well done, Dave!paulc156 , 6 Mar 2012 13:57HarryTheHorse -> DaveG333 , 6 Mar 2012 13:57
Almost one third of Americans, according to a recent poll, have read Atlas Shrugged
...According to a Gallup poll done at the end of the twentieth century, about one third of Americans believe aliens have visited us. Hmm.NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 13:56
Fine, I'll call it "Randism" and now she is all fine and Dandy too.
What are you talking about?
Democratic socialism has long been practiced and until the ascent of destructive neo-liberalism, was the pre-eminent political philosophy from 1945.
Randism is atavistic gobbledegook, that has never been implemented. In the degree to which it has influenced far right politicians in the US and UK, it has proved to be wholly negative.@DaveG333TempleCloud -> NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 13:55
"Capitalists believe economically that people should be free to choose how to use their capital, free movement of money, for both worker and owner." A position as idealistic and impractical as Rand's. It presupposes that both worker and owner as individuals have equal strength in any negotiation. It presupposes that ownership in itself is moral irrespective of how it was obtained.Suraklin , 6 Mar 2012 13:55
...if she we're alive she wouldn't last five seconds on CiF. By modern standards, ironically, she's a light weight.Funny how those supporting this sort of 'philosophy' always see a role for a state to have an army and police force to protect their wealth - surely the true believer in Objectivism would not need such things and any person of money who was unable to protect themselves with their own resources would deserve whatever was coming to them?RobspierreRules -> softMick , 6 Mar 2012 13:46"Many of us it seems can no longer differentiate between 'right' and 'wrong' or see the importance of defending a sense of common humanity, with those who seek to protect the poor and vulnerable in society scorned and berated,..."
Well said, well written - but in order to turn this around we have to remember we are faced with the dictum "There is no society." The absolute belief in that nihilistic proposition leaves no ground for negotiation. Once again we ask, "What is to be done?"
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
Gingecat , 6 Mar 2012 13:19
And Ayn didn't dig her way out from underneath the Iron curtain. No daring escape - she was granted an exit visa in 1925.
A staggering act of negligence for which I can never forgive the Soviets.
Mar 08, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com
uuuuuuu , 8 Mar 2012 05:43When will the Right (especially the American Right) accept that their value system is diametrically opposed to the "Christian values" they apparently espouse. The Tea Party would stone "the Good Samaritan" for helping those in need.wesg -> DanDownes , 8 Mar 2012 05:23
Ronald Reagan and Rick Perry have both advocated the abolition of the welfare state.
Humans have evolved as a co-operative species. Those who espouse Ayn Rand's values would have been ostracised from groups of our ancestors as parasites.Ayn interview (being the student of 4 years that you are, i assume you have seen this)JaneBasingstoke , 8 Mar 2012 01:45
- P1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ukJiBZ8_4k
- P2- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMTDaVpBPR0&feature=related
- P3- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zEruXzQZhNI&feature=related
Don't let George tell you whats what, listen to the crazy cows own tongue.Of course in the Douglas Adams take on Atlas Shrugged they all ended up dying from a virulent disease contracted from a dirty telephone.maybel , 8 Mar 2012 00:16
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSid-p0Xlk0Personally I think Thornstein Veblens philosophy, in Theory of the Leisure Class, one of the best.ValueCritic , 7 Mar 2012 16:21" Rand's is the philosophy of the psychopath, a misanthropic fantasy of cruelty, revenge and greed. "NeilBradley , 7 Mar 2012 13:56
He is comparing this to Marx's philosophy? The one that lead to the deaths of tens of millions and dozens of failed states and a century of stunted growth? Is that what George Manbiot calls "efforts to make the word a kinder place"? Well maybe we don't need that again. Maybe we don't need your 'kinder' death of tens of millions, George.
But George will not care what we want, if he is a consistent follower of Marx. He will have altruism, the moral sanction to do good stuff to us weather we want it or not. We can see that Rand was right on that count (among others).Great article George! I noticed that it was titled 'A Manifesto for Psychopaths' on your blog. Have you read Political Ponerology by Andrew Lobaczewski? He was a psychologist in post-war Communist Poland. Himself and some colleagues conducted painstaking research into psychopathy and uncovered some astonishing information which dovetails nicely with your observations.JDReno , 7 Mar 2012 12:05
I think the foremost expert on psychopaths today is Dr Robert Hare. He calls them humanity's "intra-species predator"...i will recommend to those who read books, one volume that has been overlooked, which, once read may explain the Ayn Rand movement.bighouse , 7 Mar 2012 10:39
Psychologist Dr. Albert Ellis debated Nathaniel Branden in New York City in 1967. It was a heated debate. After it, Ellis wrote a short, but excellent book,
"Is Objectivism a Religion?"
Dr. Ellis, a humanist was critical of dogmatic religions. He wrote an essay The case against religion, which stated his belief that elements of dogmatic beliefs were not in patient's self interest.
Read, Is Objectivism a Reigion?, and you may understand what you are dealing with.
I should add I met Ayn Rand when she made her pilgrimage to Boston's Ford Hall Forum. Rand, who was about 5'5", was mobbed by a crowd of admirers. I walked in, took her by the hand and moved her out of the building to a waiting limousine. It was an act of unadultrated altruism.Hooray for George Non-bio who once again hits the nail on the head. Just a small thing to add.Thorning , 7 Mar 2012 09:42
Greenspan who sat at her feet and absorbed Ms. Rand's banal, childish bullshit for many years was the one to repeal the Glasse-Steagal Act at the behest of Citigroup as it later became, which is widely acknowledged as the one event which led to the CDO alphabet soup mania which brought about the credit crunch debacle highlighting the folly of allowing unfetterred greed a la Iron Rand and exposing the nonsense of her capitalist wet dream.
Aftrer the crash Greenspan hilariously stated that he had no idea that this could have happened. Who woulda thunk it? He was only the top economist in the US and for decades had preached the Objectivist bullshit only to be shicked when faced with the shitstorm such juvenilia logically pruduces.
Atlas Shrugged itself is unreadable (I have heard it described as Mein Kampf written by Barbara Cartland) and it says little for the US that it is such a best seller although I believe the Koch Brothers have bought up millions of copies and made it's study compulsory at colleges they fund.Reader's Digest Book of the Month par excellence, popular like Leon Uris' Exodus and also unknown to official intellectuals.DeathbyThatcher , 7 Mar 2012 05:11
Danish prime minister Fogh Rasmussen rose to general secretary of NATO brought up on its philosophy; it was about the only book they had on the shelf in his modest country home and "everybody in the household had to read it".
Like its obvious parallel - crowleyanism or even satanism - aynrandism is ignored by elite and media; they simply cannot understand it and know nothing about it. So thanks for this.Ayn Rand is the right's Marx? Talk about philosophical degenerationpconl , 7 Mar 2012 04:33We in the UK have our own poundshop version of Ayn Rand in Jeremy Clarkson whose political philosophy is basically that evil is anything that stops him driving, eating, buying or doing whatever the hell he likes and good is anything that enables him to do whatever the hell the he likes whatever the consequences for others.
In various forms a remarkably popular belief set amongst those with higher than median incomes. See recent discussions on domestic servants for proof.
May 22, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
Books of The Times
'Mean Girl' Says to Thank Ayn Rand Think We Live in Cruel and Ruthless Times?
Ayn Rand liked to see herself as an ardent custodian of truth, but in her own life she had a hard time abiding too much reality. The critical recognition she craved mostly eluded her -- her best-selling novels "The Fountainhead" (1943) and "Atlas Shrugged" (1957) were lurid, melodramatic, full of implausible characters and turgid harangues -- and as her fame and notoriety grew, she retreated to the safe harbor of her acolytes.
Or presumably safe. As Lisa Duggan explains in "Mean Girl: Ayn Rand and the Culture of Greed," when Rand's affair with a much younger disciple soured in the late 1960s, her Objectivist movement -- which venerated a single, knowable reality, rationally apprehended by gloriously self-interested individuals -- seemed on the brink of collapse. "Emotion," Duggan writes, "had brought down the house of reason."
It's the kind of strange, glaring paradox that makes Rand a useful emblem for our topsy-turvy moment, Duggan says. Rand's simplistic reversals -- selfishness is a virtue, altruism is a sin, capitalism is a deeply moral system that allows human freedom to flourish -- have given her work a patina of transgression, making her beloved by those who consider themselves bold, anti-establishment truth tellers even while they cling to the prevailing hierarchical order. Not for nothing does her enormous fan base include Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Tea Partiers, President Trump and innumerable adolescents.
But then her ideas are too rigid to be neatly amenable to any real-world programs. Duggan's short book includes a long section on neoliberalism that seems, for a while, to lose sight of Rand. Despite her mentorship of Alan Greenspan, who would eventually become the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Rand was "not exactly a neoliberal herself," Duggan writes. She also refused to support the election of Ronald Reagan, deriding him for succumbing to "the God, family, tradition swamp." She was an atheist and a fierce advocate for abortion rights.
Now, almost four decades after Rand's death in 1982, right-wing nationalism and evangelical Christianity are ascendant at the same time as economic globalization and the erosion of the welfare state. Is there anything that ties this turbulence together? Yes, Duggan says, but it isn't the vaunted rationality that Rand fetishized as much as it is the feelings she validated. "The unifying threads are meanness and greed," Duggan writes of the current moment, "and the spirit of the whole hodgepodge is Ayn Rand."
Rand wasn't an especially sophisticated thinker who delved into primary texts to elaborate her philosophical system; she did, however, have a flair for the dramatic. One of her first jobs after emigrating from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1926 was as a scriptwriter for Cecil B. DeMille. She brought that theatrical sensibility to novels like "The Fountainhead," which, in Duggan's astute appraisal, offers "numerous plot twists but no real surprises." In both "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged," Rand strenuously played to the aspirations and desires of her readers. "Ayn Rand made acquisitive capitalists sexy," Duggan writes. The novels "are conversion machines that run on lust."
As befitting machines, the novels seem less literary than engineered. The Randian heroine is a Mean Girl -- tall, svelte, severe. The Randian hero is a Mean Boy -- tall, muscular, severe. Her villains are short and doughy, cursed with receding chins and dandruff. The undeserving weak exploit the worthy and the strong. The United States she depicts is ahistoric and sanitized for her readers' consumption -- "a clean slate for pure capitalist freedom, with no indigenous people, no slaves, no exploited immigrants or workers in sight," Duggan writes. In "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged" there's certainly sex but no pregnancies; nothing that might interfere with all the creative destruction her characters have to do.
Duggan, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University and the author of previous books about gender, sexuality and cultural politics, says that her "weird obsession with Ayn Rand began many years ago." She calls "Atlas Shrugged" "heavy-handed, hectoring, relentless," but allows that it is "also iconoclastic, sometimes surprising and even occasionally funny."
What seems to fascinate Duggan most is how Rand -- with her unyielding worldview, her extreme, sweeping statements and her intolerance of dissent -- has somehow managed to be reclaimed by those she so cruelly deplored. Rand described homosexuality as "immoral" and "disgusting," yet her "rages against the strictures of family, church and state appeal to many L.G.B.T.Q. readers." The younger generation of libertarians who approvingly cite Rand today might be surprised to learn that she derided their forebears as "hippies" and, with typical hyperbole, "a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people."
But this is what happens when you devise a philosophical system in which every human relationship is transactional: Before you know it, you'll get co-opted and commodified too.
Duggan paints Rand as cynical and shrewd in some ways, and hapless and naïve in others. In 1947, Rand volunteered to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee as a friendly witness, delivering histrionic testimony that managed to alienate everyone, suggesting that she "never fully grasped" how Hollywood worked, or how government worked, or how the balance of power worked between the two. She liked to affect a steely, imperious persona, but she was deeply insecure and easily wounded. She developed a debilitating amphetamine habit. Her fictional heroes marched forth and conquered life, but real life kept throwing her for a loop.
Rand was most successful as a fantasist and "propagandist," Duggan writes, who provided "templates, plot lines and characters" that gave selfishness an alluring sheen. In Rand's universe, capitalism was glamorous and liberating, with none of the mundane concerns -- haggling over health insurance, paying off student loans, scrambling for child care, managing precarious employment -- that consume so much of everyday American experience.
Reading Duggan on Rand's current fans made me think of the 1946 preface to Rand's early novel "Anthem," in which she railed against "the people who support plans specifically designed to achieve serfdom, but hide behind the empty assertion that they are lovers of freedom." Surveying the wreckage, such people expect "to escape moral responsibility by wailing: 'But I didn't mean this !'"
Mar 05, 2012 | www.theguardian.comHer psychopathic ideas made billionaires feel like victims and turned millions of followers into their doormats Comments 1,227 Illustration by Daniel Pudles I t has a fair claim to be the ugliest philosophy the postwar world has produced. Selfishness, it contends, is good, altruism evil, empathy and compassion are irrational and destructive. The poor deserve to die; the rich deserve unmediated power. It has already been tested, and has failed spectacularly and catastrophically. Yet the belief system constructed by Ayn Rand , who died 30 years ago today, has never been more popular or influential.
Rand was a Russian from a prosperous family who emigrated to the United States. Through her novels (such as Atlas Shrugged) and her nonfiction (such as The Virtue of Selfishness) she explained a philosophy she called Objectivism. This holds that the only moral course is pure self-interest. We owe nothing, she insists, to anyone, even to members of our own families. She described the poor and weak as "refuse" and "parasites", and excoriated anyone seeking to assist them. Apart from the police, the courts and the armed forces, there should be no role for government: no social security, no public health or education, no public infrastructure or transport, no fire service, no regulations, no income tax.
Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, depicts a United States crippled by government intervention in which heroic millionaires struggle against a nation of spongers. The millionaires, whom she portrays as Atlas holding the world aloft, withdraw their labour, with the result that the nation collapses. It is rescued, through unregulated greed and selfishness, by one of the heroic plutocrats, John Galt .
The poor die like flies as a result of government programmes and their own sloth and fecklessness. Those who try to help them are gassed. In a notorious passage, she argues that all the passengers in a train filled with poisoned fumes deserved their fate. One, for instance, was a teacher who taught children to be team players; one was a mother married to a civil servant, who cared for her children; one was a housewife "who believed that she had the right to elect politicians, of whom she knew nothing".
Rand's is the philosophy of the psychopath, a misanthropic fantasy of cruelty, revenge and greed. Yet, as Gary Weiss shows in his new book, Ayn Rand Nation, she has become to the new right what Karl Marx once was to the left: a demigod at the head of a chiliastic cult. Almost one third of Americans, according to a recent poll, have read Atlas Shrugged, and it now sells hundreds of thousands of copies every year.
Ignoring Rand's evangelical atheism, the Tea Party movement has taken her to its heart. No rally of theirs is complete without placards reading "Who is John Galt?" and "Rand was right". Rand, Weiss argues, provides the unifying ideology which has "distilled vague anger and unhappiness into a sense of purpose". She is energetically promoted by the broadcasters Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santelli. She is the guiding spirit of the Republicans in Congress.
Like all philosophies, Objectivism is absorbed, secondhand, by people who have never read it. I believe it is making itself felt on this side of the Atlantic: in the clamorous new demands to remove the 50p tax band for the very rich, for instance; or among the sneering, jeering bloggers who write for the Telegraph and the Spectator, mocking compassion and empathy, attacking efforts to make the word a kinder place.
It is not hard to see why Rand appeals to billionaires. She offers them something that is crucial to every successful political movement: a sense of victimhood. She tells them that they are parasitised by the ungrateful poor and oppressed by intrusive, controlling governments.
It is harder to see what it gives the ordinary teabaggers, who would suffer grievously from a withdrawal of government. But such is the degree of misinformation which saturates this movement and so prevalent in the US is Willy Loman syndrome (the gulf between reality and expectations) that millions blithely volunteer themselves as billionaires' doormats. 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. She had railed furiously against both programmes, as they represented everything she despised about the intrusive state. Her belief system was no match for the realities of age and ill health.
But they have a still more powerful reason to reject her philosophy: as Adam Curtis's BBC documentary showed last year, the most devoted member of her inner circle was Alan Greenspan , former head of the US Federal Reserve. Among the essays he wrote for Rand were those published in a book he co-edited with her called Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal . Here, starkly explained, you'll find the philosophy he brought into government. There is no need for the regulation of business – even builders or Big Pharma – he argued, as "the 'greed' of the businessman or, more appropriately, his profit-seeking is the unexcelled protector of the consumer". As for bankers, their need to win the trust of their clients guarantees that they will act with honour and integrity. Unregulated capitalism, he maintains, is a "superlatively moral system".
Once in government, Greenspan applied his guru's philosophy to the letter, cutting taxes for the rich, repealing the laws constraining banks, refusing to regulate the predatory lending and the derivatives trading which eventually brought the system down. Much of this is already documented, but Weiss shows that in the US, Greenspan has successfully airbrushed history.
Despite the many years he spent at her side, despite his previous admission that it was Rand who persuaded him that "capitalism is not only efficient and practical but also moral", he mentioned her in his memoirs only to suggest that it was a youthful indiscretion – and this, it seems, is now the official version. Weiss presents powerful evidence that even today Greenspan remains her loyal disciple, having renounced his partial admission of failure to Congress.
Saturated in her philosophy, the new right on both sides of the Atlantic continues to demand the rollback of the state, even as the wreckage of that policy lies all around. The poor go down, the ultra-rich survive and prosper. Ayn Rand would have approved.
Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at www.monbiot.com
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com
economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42Finally. 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'.
Jun 06, 2019 | www.newyorker.com
Rand's novels promised to liberate the reader from everything that he had been taught was right and good. She invited her readers to rejoice in cruelty. Her heroes were superior beings certain of their superiority. They claimed their right to triumph by destroying those who were not as smart, creative, productive, ambitious, physically perfect, selfish, and ruthless as they were. Duggan calls the mood of the books "optimistic cruelty." They are mean, and they have a happy ending -- that is, the superior beings are happy in the end. The novels reverse morality. In them, there is no duty to God or one's fellow-man, only to self. Sex is plentiful, free of consequence, and rough. Money and other good things come to those who take them. Rand's plots legitimize the worst effects of capitalism, creating what Duggan calls "a moral economy of inequality to infuse her softly pornographic romance fiction with the political eros that would captivate a mass readership."
Duggan traces Rand's influence, both direct and indirect, on American politics and culture. Rand's fiction was a vehicle for her philosophy, known as Objectivism, which consecrated an extreme form of laissez-faire capitalism and what she called "rational egoism," or the moral and logical duty of following one's own self-interest. Later in life, Rand promoted Objectivism through nonfiction books, articles, lectures, and courses offered through an institute that she established, called the Foundation for the New Intellectual. She was closely allied with Ludwig von Mises, an economist and historian who helped shape neoliberal thinking. When Rand was actively publishing fiction -- from the nineteen-thirties until 1957, when "Atlas Shrugged" came out -- hers was a marginal political perspective. Critics panned her novels, which gained their immense popularity gradually, by word of mouth. Mid-century American political culture was dominated by New Deal thinking, which prized everything that Rand despised: the welfare state, empathy, interdependence. By the nineteen-eighties, however, neoliberal thinking had come to dominate politics. The economist Alan Greenspan, for example, was a disciple of Rand's who brought her philosophy to his role as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Gerald Ford and, from 1987 until 2006, as the chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Duggan doesn't blame Rand for neoliberalism, exactly, but she spotlights the Randian spirit of what she calls the "Neoliberal Theater of Cruelty." This theatre would include players we don't necessarily describe as neoliberal. Paul Ryan, the former House Speaker, is a Rand evangelist who gave out copies of "Atlas Shrugged" as Christmas presents to his staff and said that she "did the best job of anybody to build a moral case of capitalism." When the Tea Party came out in force against the Affordable Care Act, in 2009, some of its members carried signs reading "Who Is John Galt?," a reference to "Atlas Shrugged."
Rand's spirit is prominent in Silicon Valley, too: the billionaires Peter Thiel, Elon Musk, Travis Kalanick, and others have credited Rand with inspiring them. The image of the American tech entrepreneur could have come from one of her novels. If she were alive today, she would probably adopt the word "disruption."
The collapse of the subprime-mortgage market and the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 should have brought about the death of neoliberalism by making plain the human cost of deregulation and privatization; instead, writes Duggan, "zombie neoliberalism" is now stalking the land.
And, of course, the spirit of Ayn Rand haunts the White House. Many of Donald Trump 's associates, including the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and his predecessor, Rex Tillerson, have paid homage to her ideas, and the President himself has praised her novel " The Fountainhead. " (Trump apparently identifies with its architect hero, Howard Roark, who blows up a housing project he has designed for being insufficiently perfect.)
Their version of Randism is stripped of all the elements that might account for my inability to throw out those books: the pretense of intellectualism, the militant atheism, and the explicit advocacy of sexual freedom. From all that Rand offered, these men have taken only the worst: the cruelty. They are not even optimistic. They are just plain mean.
Jun 14, 2019 | www.amazon.com
From the Introduction
... ... ...
Mean Girls, which was based on interviews with high school girls conducted by Rosalind Wiseman for her 2002 book Queen Bees and War/tubes, reflects the emotional atmosphere of the age of the Plastics (as the most popular girls at Actional North Shore High are called), as well as the era of Wall Street's Gordon Gekko, whose motto is “Greed is Good.”1 The culture of greed is the hallmark of the neoliberal era, the period beginning in the 1970s when the protections of the U.S. and European welfare states, and the autonomy of postcolonial states around the world, came under attack. Advocates of neoliberalism worked to reshape global capitalism by freeing transnational corporations from restrictive forms of state regulation, stripping away government efforts to redistribute wealth and provide public services, and emphasizing individual responsibility over social concern.
From the 1980s to 2008, neoliberal politics and policies succeeded in expanding inequality around the world. The political climate Ayn Rand celebrated—the reign of brutal capitalism—intensified. Though Ayn Rand’s popularity took off in the 1940s, her reputation took a dive during the 1960s and ’70s. Then after her death in 1982, during the neoliberal administrations of Ronald Reagan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom, her star rose once more. (See chapter 4 for a full discussion of the rise of neoliberalism.)
During the global economic crisis of 2008 it seemed that the neoliberal order might collapse. It lived on, however, in zombie form as discredited political policies and financial practices were restored. But neoliberal capitalism has always been contested, and competing and conflicting political ideas and organizations proliferated and intensified after 2008 as well.
Protest politics blossomed on the left with Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and opposition to the Dakota Access oil pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in the United States, and with the Arab Spring, and other mobilizations around the world. Anti-neoliberal electoral efforts, like the Bernie Sanders campaign for the U.S. presidency, generated excitement as well.
But protest and organizing also expanded on the political right, with reactionary populist, racial nationalist, and protofascist gains in such countries as India, the Philippines, Russia, Hungary, and the United States rapidly proliferating. Between these far-right formations on the one side and persistent zombie neoliberalism on the other, operating sometimes at odds and sometimes in cahoots, the Season of Mean is truly upon us.
We are in the midst of a major global, political, economic, social, and cultural transition — but we don’t yet know which way we’re headed. The incoherence of the Trump administration is symptomatic of the confusion as politicians and business elites jockey with the Breitbart alt-right forces while conservative evangelical Christians pull strings. The unifying threads are meanness and greed, and the spirit of the whole hodgepodge is Ayn Rand.
Rand’s ideas are not the key to her influence. Her writing does support the corrosive capitalism at the heart of neoliberalism, though few movers and shakers actually read any of her nonfiction. Her two blockbuster novels, 'The Fountainpen and Atlas Shrugged, are at the heart of her incalculable impact. Many politicians and government officials going back decades have cited Rand as a formative influence—particularly finance guru and former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who was a member of Rand's inner circle, and Ronald Reagan, the U.S. president most identified with the national embrace of neoliberal policies.
Major figures in business and finance are or have been Rand fans: Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Peter Thiel (Paypal), Steve Jobs (Apple), John Mackey (Whole Foods), Mark Cuban (NBA), John Allison (BB&T Banking Corporation), Travis Kalanik (Uber), Jelf Bezos (Amazon), ad infinitum.
There are also large clusters of enthusiasts for Rand’s novels in the entertainment industry, from the 1940s to the present—from Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, and Raquel Welch to Jerry Lewis, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Rob Lowe, Jim Carrey, Sandra Bullock, Sharon Stone, Ashley Judd, Eva Mendes, and many more.
The current Trump administration is stuffed to the gills with Rand acolytes. Trump himself identifies with Fountainhead character Howard Roark; former secretary of state Rex Tillerson listed Adas Shrugged as his favorite book in a Scouting magazine feature; his replacement Mike Pompeo has been inspired by Rand since his youth. Ayn Rand’s influence is ascendant across broad swaths of our dominant political culture — including among public figures who see her as a key to the Zeitgeist, without having read a worth of her writing.’’
But beyond the famous or powerful fans, the novels have had a wide popular impact as bestsellers since publication. Along with Rand’s nonfiction, they form the core texts for a political/ philosophical movement: Objectivism. There are several U.S.- based Objectivist organizations and innumerable clubs, reading groups, and social circles. A 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club found that only the Bible had influenced readers more than Atlas Shrugged, while a 1998 Modern Library poll listed The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged as the two most revered novels in English.
Atlas Shrugged in particular skyrocketed in popularity in the wake of the 2008 financial crash. The U.S. Tea Party movement, founded in 2009, featured numerous Ayn Rand—based signs and slogans, especially the opening line of Atlas Shrugged: “Who is John Galt?” Republican pundit David Frum claimed that the Tea Party was reinventing the GOP as “the party of Ayn Rand.” During 2009 as well, sales of Atlas Shrugged tripled, and GQ_magazine called Rand the year’s most influential author. A 2010 Zogby poll found that 29 percent of respondents had read Atlas Shrugged, and half of those readers said it had affected their political and ethical thinking.
In 2018, a business school teacher writing in Forbes magazine recommended repeat readings: “Recent events — the bizarro circus that is the 2016 election, the disintegration of Venezuela, and so on make me wonder if a lot of this could have been avoided bad we taken Atlas Shrugged's message to heart. It is a book that is worth re-reading every few years.”3
Rand biographer Jennifer Burns asserts simply that Ayn Rand's fiction is “the gateway drug” to right-wing politics in the United States — although her influence extends well beyond the right wing.4
But how can the work of this one novelist (also an essayist, playwright, and philosopher), however influential, be a significant source of insight into the rise of a culture of greed? In a word: sex. Ayn Rand made acquisitive capitalists sexy. She launched thousands of teenage libidos into the world of reactionary politics on a wave of quivering excitement. This sexiness extends beyond romance to infuse the creative aspirations, inventiveness, and determination of her heroes with erotic energy, embedded in what Rand called her “sense of life.” Analogous to what Raymond Williams has called a “structure of feeling,” Rand’s sense of life combines the libido-infused desire for heroic individual achievement with contempt for social inferiors and indifference to their plight.5
Lauren Berlant has called the structure of feeling, or emotional situation, of those who struggle for a good life under neoliberal conditions “cruel optimism”—the complex of feelings necessary to keep plugging away hopefully despite setbacks and losses.'’ Rand's contrasting sense of life applies to those whose fantasies of success and domination include no doubt or guilt. The feelings of aspiration and glee that enliven Rand’s novels combine with contempt for and indifference to others. The resulting Randian sense of life might be called “optimistic cruelty.” Optimistic cruelty is the sense of life for the age of greed.
Ayn Rand’s optimistic cruelty appeals broadly and deeply through its circulation of familiar narratives: the story of “civilizational” progress, die belief in American exceptionalism, and a commitment to capitalist freedom.
Her novels engage fantasies of European imperial domination conceived as technological and cultural advancement, rather than as violent conquest. America is imagined as a clean slate for pure capitalist freedom, with no indigenous people, no slaves, no exploited immigrants or workers in sight. The Fountainhead and especially Atlas Shrugged fabricate history and romanticize violence and domination in ways that reflect, reshape, and reproduce narratives of European superiority' and American virtue.
Their logic also depends on a hierarchy of value based on radicalized beauty and physical capacity — perceived ugliness or disability' are equated with pronounced worthlessness and incompetence.
Through the forms of romance and melodrama, Rand novels extrapolate the story of racial capitalism as a story of righteous passion and noble virtue. They retell The Birth of a Ntation through the lens of industrial capitalism (see chapter 2). They solicit positive identification with winners, with dominant historical forces. It is not an accident that the novels’ fans, though gender mixed, are overwhelmingly white Americans of the professional, managerial, creative, and business classes."
aslan , June 1, 2019devastating account of the ethos that shapes contemporary AmericaWreck2 , June 1, 2019
Ayn Rand is a singular influence on American political thought, and this book brilliantly unfolds how Rand gave voice to the ethos that shapes contemporary conservatism. Duggan -- whose equally insightful earlier book Twilight of Equality offered an analysis of neoliberalism and showed how it is both a distortion and continuation of classical liberalism -- here extends the analysis of American market mania by showing how an anti-welfare state ethos took root as a "structure of feeling" in American culture, elevating the individual over the collective and promoting a culture of inequality as itself a moral virtue.
Although reviled by the right-wing press (she should wear this as a badge of honor), Duggan is the most astute guide one could hope for through this devastating history of our recent past, and the book helps explain how we ended up where we are, where far-right, racist nationalism colludes (paradoxically) with libertarianism, an ideology of extreme individualism and (unlikely bed fellows, one might have thought) Silicon Valley entrepreneurship.
This short, accessible book is essential reading for everyone who wants to understand the contemporary United States.contemporary crueltykerwynk , June 2, 2019
Does the pervasive cruelty of today's ruling classes shock you? Or, at least give you pause from time to time? Are you surprised by the fact that our elected leaders seem to despise people who struggle, people whose lives are not cushioned and shaped by inherited wealth, people who must work hard at many jobs in order to scrape by? If these or any of a number of other questions about the social proclivities of our contemporary ruling class detain you for just two seconds, this is the book for you.
Writing with wit, rigor, and vigor, Lisa Duggan explains how Ayn Rand, the "mean girl," has captured the minds and snatched the bodies of so very many, and has rendered them immune to feelings of shared humanity with those whose fortunes are not as rosy as their own. An indispensable work, a short read that leaves a long memory.Valuable and insightful commentary on Rand and Rand's influence on today's world
Mean Girl offers not only a biographical account of Rand (including the fact that she modeled one of her key heroes on a serial killer), but describes Rand's influence on neoliberal thinking more generally.
As Duggan makes clear, Rand's influence is not just that she offered a programmatic for unregulated capitalism, but that she offered an emotional template for "optimistic cruelty" that has extended far beyond its libertarian confines. Mean Girl is a fun, worthwhile read!
Sister, June 3, 2019
Superb poitical and cultural exploration of Rand's influence
Lisa Duggan's concise but substantive look at the political and cultural influence of Ayn Rand is stunning. I feel like I've been waiting most of a lifetime for a book that is as wonderfully readable as it is insightful. Many who write about Rand reduce her to a caricature hero or demon without taking her, and the history and choices that produced her seriously as a subject of cultural inquiry. I am one of those people who first encountered Rand's books - novels, but also some nonfiction and her play, "The Night of January 16th," in which audience members were selected as jurors – as a teenager.
Under the thrall of some right-wing locals, I was so drawn to Rand's larger-than-life themes, the crude polarization of "individualism" and "conformity," the admonition to selfishness as a moral virtue, her reductive dismissal of the public good as "collectivism."
Her work circulated endlessly in those circles of the Goldwater-ite right. I have changed over many years, and my own life experiences have led me to reject the casual cruelty and vicious supremacist bent of Rand's beliefs.
But over those many years, the coterie of Rand true believers has kept the faith and expanded. One of the things I value about Duggan's compelling account is her willingness to take seriously the far reach of Rand's indifference to human suffering even as she strips away the veneer that suggests Rand's beliefs were deep.
In fact, though her views are deeply-seated, Rand is, at heart, a confidence artist, appealing only to narrow self-interest at the expense of the well-being of whole societies.
I learned that the hard way, but I learned it. Now I am recommending Duggan's wise book to others who seek to understand today's cultural and political moment in the United States and the rise of an ethic of indifference to anybody but the already affluent. Duggan is comfortable with complexity; most Randian champions or detractors are not.
Jun 07, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org
After the classical world of power politics gasped its last (1945), the United States found itself in an unprecedented world historical situation: it could mold, coerce, cajole, and most importantly penetrate an exhausted world economically, militarily, politically, and culturally. This it did with unexampled speed and skill relying in part on its aura of victory over Fascism. It built both visible and, most importantly, invisible bonds to its long term interests which both quickly and over time also became the core interests of its new client states and their local/"national" elites.
The second phase of American Hegemonic Expansion occurred throughout what was known then as the "second" and "third" worlds; the communist and non-aligned states. Through a careful policy of coercion and corruption (the use of criminal organizations often went hand in hand with the use of security forces) the United States was able to convince and ultimately co-opt much of the world's remaining elites in their lucrative and superficially attractive skein of capitalist production and consumption and cosmetic democracy. It was and is the world's most effective formula for world domination to have ever been devised. It is the very life-blood of Pax Americana.
Interestingly, and not surprisingly, the regions of the world that are not under firm American Hegemony such as some parts of the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa are the locations of the most violent conflicts. In part, these regions are still operating under the old Hobbesian conditions of anarchy and war. They either "suffer" from not being of sufficient interest to Superpower or are locally too costly to integrate into the world system at present. This, of course, could change at any moment when and if transnational elites hit upon novel ways of making these "war-torn" countries of benefit to themselves. The historical record says they, ultimately, surely will.
Thus, unlike the nineteenth century, the world system is far more stable under a tightly knit regime of interdependent elites dedicated to the pursuit of their own personal interests which are well served by their collective organization by Superpower or Empire. Ancient anarchy has been therefore drained from the international system, and as Negri and Hardt have pointed out in their books on Empire all conflict within the system is more of a local civil war rather than an ultimate challenge to the whole system.
It should not be totally surprising that the current international system represents the ever increasing homogenization of the interests of a group of people since the world is both materially and culturally expressed in the power of a Hegemon. American hegemony reproduced itself through the expert use and production of Baconian power and knowledge (and some geographic and historical luck). It is a totality that came of age when the old elites (remnants of the feudal ages) were militarily eliminated and new elites (primarily communist and nationalist and oftentimes both) were unable to be successfully born. In a world of mass surveillance, hegemonic power, elite interdependence, sophisticated consumption, and democratic ideology; what contradictions, if any, could liberate humankind from the sweet bondage of ever growing economic prosperity and, at least for the Great Powers, international peace through the solidification of the directory of the Great Global Class of the Twenty-First Century?
Dan Corjescu teaches Political Philosophy and Globalization at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Read other articles by Dan .
This article was posted on Wednesday, June 5th, 2019 at 4:28pm and is filed under Anarchism , Global Inequality , Globalization , Hegemony , Opinion , United States .
Jan 13, 2019 | www.nytimes.com
Meredith New York Jan. 6Darsan54 Grand Rapids, MI Jan. 5
NYT David Leonhardt "When the Rich Said No To Getting Richer". Quite a contrast. "A half-century ago, a top automobile executive named George Romney -- yes, Mitt's father -- turned down several big annual bonuses. He told his company's board he believed that no executive should make more than $225,000 a year (which translates into almost $2 million today).
He worried that "the temptations of success" could distract people from more important matters. This belief seems to have stemmed from both Romney's Mormon faith and a culture of financial restraint that was once commonplace in this country. Romney didn't try to make every dollar he could, or anywhere close to it. The same was true among many of his corporate peers. In the early 1960s, the typical chief executive at a large U.S. company made only 20 times as much as the average worker, rather than the current 271-to-1 ratio. Today, some C.E.O.s make $2 million in a single month. The old culture of restraint had multiple causes. One was the tax code. When Romney was saying no to bonuses, the top marginal tax rate was 91%." That was under GOP Eisenhower. And jobs here, unions strong, state college tuition tax subsidized-- the middle/working class had upward mobility and faith in the future. Now, per the international GINI Index of middle class security and upward economic mobility, the USA ranks behind many other capitalist democracies. What would George Romney say about Trump as president?Len Charlap Princeton, NJ Jan. 5
@Tom: Could it be possible too many loopholes and deductions are written into the system to make it effective? We have been defunding the IRS and building a tax system that favors creative returns for decades. Maybe it's time to go in another direction.Penningtonia princeton Jan. 5
@Ron Cohen "The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself." John Kenneth GalbraithBrinton Los Angeles Jan. 5
@WPLMMT; You mistunderstand. The 70% applies only to income OVER the threshold. So theoretically, the first 50 thousand (above the standard deduction) could be taxed at ,say 10%, the next 50K at 20%, from 100K - 500K at 30%, from 500k to a million at 50%. So the takehome from a million would be 715K, enough for anyone to live on. The exact details don't matter. It is the idea that only income above a very high number would be taxed at the marginal rate.Andrew NY Jan. 6
If the goal is to raise revenue by taxing high earners at a higher rate, it seems to me that a good place to begin would be to raise the effective tax rate on the rich to around 40% by eliminating the 50% discount on capital gains, and the depreciation allowances for real estate investments.fatrexhadswag DC Jan. 6
Income tax rate increases at high income levels would help but they miss the point. The real wealth in this country is from those who own assets, not those who draw a paycheck. The real deal would be to raise taxes on passive income and estate taxes on an ever increasing scale where, say, anything over $1m in annual passive income and $50m in estate value is taxed at 50% or higher. America is the land of opportunity; if those of us lucky enough to make it just leave it all to our heirs, they will have little incentive to work and add value to their own lives as well as to society. Plus the velocity of capital that would occur from heirs being forced to sell companies, real estate and other assets to pay estate taxes will place those assets in the hands of those best able to maximize their value going forward. Paul and AOC, I hope you are reading this and plugging it into your thinking.Jeffrey Bank Baltimore Maryland Jan. 6
I only wish the democrats would try to educate what the marginal tax means when they discuss policy in the public sphere. The media is going to go nuts with this 70% rate without taking the time to explain that it's only an additional bracket at the tippy top of the scale. This proposal wouldn't affect 99% of the country.LM Jersey Jan. 6
Every day I see and hear more about this young woman, I am more impressed. Disclaimer: I am a 68 year old white guy (Jew). She is smart, articulate, talks truth to power, and is also very hot! A tough combination to beat.Her Twitter comebacks against old Republican men are witty and hilarious, and hit home. I say AOC has a great future. She will learn the political ropes quickly. In ten years, stand by to stand by.Thomas K. Ray Marquette, Michigan Jan. 6
A high percentage of wealthy people inherited their money. There are many examples of highly successful men who marry beautiful, but not necessarily intelligent women. Their children's IQs are somewhere in between their parents IQ numbers. The end result is greed-driven wealth management and less than honorable decisions, including buying politicians. Narcissism runs rampant among this group with POTUS and some of his children as a prime example. Thomas Jefferson strongly felt that large inheritances should be heavily taxed to prevent the harmful activities of the very rich from destroying our democracy. He was right.Earl Philadelphia Jan. 7
We all benefit from living in this great nation of opportunity. Once you make more than 100K per month you should pay 70% tax. It is OFFENSIVE that our great nation does not provide free education through college, provide health insurance (especially, since there are people making millions ripping off the medical system), provide free daycare, housing and food for those who need support. TAX INCOME OVER 1 million....if this is a disinsentive then there is something seriously wrong with you.GG New Windsor Jan. 7
The U.S. has had a long history of a graduated income tax. In the Reagan era, the tax rate was at 50 percent having come down from 70 percent. We are not funding government spending, and are instead running up substantial deficits. Moreover, as the baby-boom population retires, social security and medicare will become unsustainable. While we can certainly reduce government spending significantly (especially the sacred cow of military spending), we will need to increase tax revenues. Tax increases are inevitable, and the most fair way to distribute the burden of increased taxes is through a graduated income tax. Those with the ability to pay, should pay more. After all, they are certainly enjoying the benefits of a free and stable country more than those at the other end of the income spectrum. While we can argue what the top marginal rate should be, it certainly should be 50 percent or greater. We should also eliminate the special tax preference given to dividends and capital gains, which mainly inure to the wealthy. To those whom much is given, much is expected.hammond San Francisco Jan. 5
@Jason First, no one is talking about taxing businesses at 73%, only individuals who are at extreme high levels of income. Second, why do the rich always seem to think that the "unwashed masses" owe them something? Go to Canada where in addition to a higher tax rate on your business you will also be paying for single payer health care for employees and subject to common sense regulations that businesses here are no subject to. The grass is always greener.Andy House The Sane White North Jan. 6
@NR Agreed and same here with our money. How much does anyone really need, beyond a certain point? Wherever that point is, I passed it decades ago. It's so disheartening to see how many people, often quite poor people, fully believe the mantra that taking money from rich people will reduce jobs and growth. Very little of my wealth goes towards growth. It's in index funds and T-bills and other instruments that mostly hold it until it's traded to some other wealthy person, hopefully at a profit to me. About the only way my money leads to growth is through the start-ups I have self-funded over the years. And even these were sold to large corporations (or they failed) by the time they had a few hundred employees. Most exits occurred with just a dozen or so employees. Mostly the wealthy barter and trade pieces of their portfolios with one another. It's just a game.Thomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 5
The most obvious thought to share here is about the laughable efforts of people who don't know economics from shoe boxes to try and sound more knowledgeable than a Nobel prize winning economist quoting... Nobel prize winning economists. The second most obvious thought is that the threat/boogie man of all the "rich people" leaving the US for "greener pastures" is both ludicrous and historically refuted. They simply DID NOT LEAVE in the 20th century, despite the economy becoming more mixed. They DID NOT LEAVE when the top MARGINAL tax rates were above 75%. And they did not leave when their research (you know, there actually is a fairly high correlation between affuence and intelligence...) revealed the FACT that the best places in the world to live are almost universally even more "mixed" than the US, are almost universally further left than what passes for a "left" in the US, and almost universally have significantly higher taxes. Folks, they just aren't going to bag up their bucks and blow town.The Observer Pennsylvania Jan. 5
@hm1342 It goes for politicians, some of whom are notably stupid, but not economists, who tend to be quite smart, if not necessarily correct.Paul Phoenix, AZ Jan. 6
Before Ronald Reagan, the top marginal tax rate was 70%. The country was doing fine and the rich were doing well also. Reagan reduced it to 50% and the rate was further reduced in subsequent administrations. For the last 40 years, there has been a massive transfer of wealth from the middle and the bottom earners to the very top. A main reason for the income inequality that we see in the country today. The top marginal rate should be raised above 70%. Money made by labor and money made by money (investment) should be taxed at the same rate if we want to narrow the income inequality in the country and also find the money for investments in infrastructure etc. What AOC is saying is nothing radical but common sense.B NYC Jan. 5
"You see, the mere thought of having a young, articulate, telegenic nonwhite woman serve is driving many on the right mad -- and in their madness they're inadvertently revealing their true selves." Actually, professor, the mere thought of having a young, articulate, telegenic nonwhite man as president for 8 years DROVE many on the right mad- and in their madness they're inadvertently revealing their true selves.sjs Bridgeport, CT Jan. 5
But rich people also benefit from raising their taxes in that the society as a whole takes a huge leap forward. Investment in our society leads to lower crime rates and less incarceration lead to a bigger tax base. Improvements to infrastructure and health care reduce enormous drains on the economy. Investment in education increase the value of labor, and most of all eliminating the deficit makes us strong at home and abroad. Everyone wins.Pam Skan Jan. 7
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, It is worth remembering just how much the companies of the mega-rich depend on tax paid for services and infrastructure. Where would Amazon be with out the road and US postal service?Blunt NY Jan. 5
@Billy Walker At less than $100k/year in income, you needn't worry. In income tax terminology, the term "marginal" means a rate that's applied only to income above a high threshold affecting the top percentile of earners. In your IRS Form 1040, you'll note that you are taxed at a certain percentage based on your adjusted gross income (AGI). Your AGI places you in a tax bracket, or income range. A marginal rate of 70% would apply to the highest tax bracket, because it would affect only those dollars that exceed a certain threshold (such as the $10 million mentioned by Ocasio-Cortez) - a threshold most of us will never even imagine earning, much less topping. Don't let the number scare you, Billy Walker - unless you hit the Powerball.Trippe Vancouver BC Jan. 5
Professor Krugman, I am delighted that you are back to writing what you know best and help the nation understand what is behind the noisy rhetoric. Ocasio-Cortez is an impressive politician. By getting good advice from experts, whether it is economists, sociologist, climate scientists and political philosophers, she will deliver to the congress a much needed intelligent and sunny feedback to propose and implement good policy. Please seek her out and offer her your advice. People like Saez, Piketty, Reich, Stiglitz and yourself are treasures (except for the second and perhaps the first national treasures) politicians should tap into. We need the GOP out of our lives. Rational taxation policy is one of the key elements of a successful Democratic government. It will help pay for all the good ideas: universal healthcare (you are lagging behind there), free public education from Kindergarten through College, environmental sanity. Regulation of Big Pharma, Wall Street (tax algorithmic trading for one, bring back G-S for another), Big Tech and of course Big Healthcare will all help getting back our country to sound governance of the FDR era, tax policies included. Thank you in advance.Bruce Shigeura Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
@Charlie in NY I do get tired of this type of comment, 'outsourced their military defence to the US'. The cold reality is that US administrations have very much wanted to have the largest military and a stunning number of military bases around the world. Your governments have embraced the role of world's police force including covertly (and openly) pursuing regime change in many jurisdictions. Over the decades your country has very much wanted this role, at the expense of other important priorities and needs in your country. Don't blame the rest of us for wanting a more balanced approach to military and other spending. Your wars in the Middle East, which have nothing to do with Europe, have cost you tremendously.Rob NYC Jan. 5
AOC is a ground-breaker on taxing the rich. I hope she takes on raising the corporate tax, which Bernie has hinted at. Chris Rock once explained, "Shaq is rich, but the white man who signs his check is wealthy." Raise Bezos' income and capital gains taxes, sure, but go for the big money -- tax Amazon's profits, assets, stock trading, acquisitions, and end all tax break/corporate welfare. Apple spent its Trump tax break buying back stock to enrich stockholders and executives; Sheldon Adelson put his on Republicans in the '18 election. Hedge funds bought, dismembered and stripped, then bankrupted Toys R Us and Sears, and another is ripping off Puerto Rico.
Neoliberal capitalism has gutted the American middle and working classes, leaving only gig economy jobs, like Saturn eating his children. Tax 'em and put their money to use on health care, education, the Green New Deal and job creation, affordable daycare, and rebuilding communities.Carole East Chatham, NY Jan. 5
@Michael Evans-Layng, PhD Yes, I agree with this comment. It's not even possible to conclude that there is a correlation here; my guess is that a correlation would not hold up to statistical analysis. However, it is certainly clear that, "high taxes on the wealthy and solid economic performance can coexist just fine". And that's all one needs to know, as a higher marginal rate will bring many benefits without having to hold the burden of being a single-variable driver of growth.Grove California Jan. 6
If 20% of this country understands what marginal rates are, then I'd be surprised. I have been a financial professional for 30+ years, and I rarely have a client - no matter how sophisticated - that understands it. And somehow I wonder how much of Congress understands it. Our country experienced strong growth and a healthy economy when marginal rates were high. And the concentration of wealth did not exist back then. We are just rationalizing a greed is good mentality by using terms like 70% tax rate - to scare people - instead of just saying raise taxes on the top 5%.SC Boston Jan. 5
The Republicans are looting the country with no one stopping them. The rich control all three branches of our government, which explains our current fiscal policy. The rich obviously don't want to be part of America other than to own it.William NY Jan. 7
@MV This reminds me of when, I believe it was towards the end of the last recession, I accidentally found myself on a Republican phone list. I got a call during which they were pitching tax breaks for the wealthy saying how it would create jobs. My response was to say that they wouldn't add jobs, just spend it on more Hermes scarves. (They go from several hundred to a couple thousand dollars.) I thought I was wise-cracking but sure enough I saw in the news a day or two later that Hermes stock was doing remarkably well.Concernicus Hopeless, America Jan. 6
@Jason, the rationale here is that society is better served with more equitable wealth distribution, as seen in Scandinavian countries, rather then the obscene wealth disparities seen here in the U.S. Your answer to this is, if you try and raise my taxes in order to benefit society as a whole, rather then just me I will run to anywhere that has the lowest tax rate. Well this is the mantra of every wealthy individual and business globally and as a result we have a tax base comprised of higher rates for middle income Americans who are squeezed financially in every direction and actually need the money, who carry the financial burden, while the wealthy use their money to buy political influence and over time further lower their tax rate for themselves and the business's they own, thus skirting their financial responsiblity to society which they benefit from. The rich have done plenty wrong, that is the point. We would not be in the horrible situation we are in now as a country without the sociopathic levels of greed seen in the upper echelons of wealth. Its time to take back the country from people like yourself who would rather run and preserve or hide their wealth then be willing to pay their fair share of taxes.79 RecommendJimB NY Jan. 5
@Allan Reagan I doubt very seriously that you or just about anyone else regularly works 75 hours a week. That would very roughly translate into just under 11 hours a day seven days a week. Meaning you are at the office by 8:00 AM and leave around 8:00 PM seven days a week. I am being very conservative in allocating only one hour for eating, bathroom breaks, personal phone calls, etc... Your wealth would likely mean a mansion in the suburbs. Figure a minimum of 45 minutes each way drive time. Total round trip an hour and a half. An hour to shower, shave, have coffee and quickly check the daily newspaper. I have allocated zero time for dinner time, shopping for clothes or food, etc... Zero family time. The math just does not add up. If by some freak of nature you really do work 75 hours a week then you are an all-time terrible husband and/or father. No matter how big your bank account is or how many houses you own. Ask your family....would they rather have less things and you only working 45-50 hours a week or more things. If they even care anymore. Promoting absentee husbands and fathers is certainly not the way to craft a truly civil society.79 RecommendKeith Dow Folsom Jan. 6
Zillionaires work harder by investing smarter. Investing smarter often means certainty in return on that investment. How better to insure that certainty than to invest in a "low tax" congressperson? Much easier and better expected return than say R&D or infrastructure.79 RecommendPdxtran Minneapolis Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel Intel is a prime example. The first Intel CEO who was a Republican, was a Bush supporter named Paul Otellini. He famously told Steve Jobs that Intel did not want to make the microprocessor for the iPhone. Intel then went from being the number one maker of microprocessors to being the number two. The second Intel CEO who was a Republican, was a Trump supporter named Brian Krzanich. He was an "expert" at manufacturing. Under his leadership Intel went for being the number one semiconductor company to being the number two. Apparently Republicans have a penchant for turning everything into number two.78 RecommendWalter Toronto Jan. 6
@vulcanalex: As a frequent commenter here, you SHOULD know about marginal tax rates, namely, that even with a top tax rate of 90%, nobody would pay that on their entire income. In the days when that rate was in force, it kicked in at an income level that would be equal to about $4 million per year. In order to avoid that, rich people upped their charitable contributions and did other things that might benefit society. Best of all, none of them starved.77 RecommendTessa NYC Jan. 7
@Andrew You are right - Warren Buffett stated that he pays less income tax than his secretary as his income derives from capital gains and dividends, and hers from employment.75 RecommendJohn C MA Jan. 6
His article was about personal income tax, not business tax. Unless you relinquish your US citizenship, you will have to pay income tax regardless of where your business is located. The point of discussing an increase in income tax on the ultra rich is to be able to fund social security, Medicare and Medicaid, and the other federal programs and agencies. Why is this relevant? Because Republicans routinely cut taxes for the wealthy and then say they need to cut funding for all these programs to balance the federal budget. If we can generate sufficient revenue for the federal government then we don't need to cut funding for all these federal programs.71 RecommendVesuviano Altadena, California Jan. 5
The Trump tax cut has added $2trillion to the national debt -- -an increase of 10%. The tax cut was supposed to pay for itself, because the increase in wages and profits would provide enough in tax revenue ( even at the lower tax rate). The deficits would shrink and eventually go away. None of these fantasies have ever been realized. Not under Reagan, W, or Trump. Its time to Ms. Cortez-Ocasio's "insane" ideas -- a 90% tax on income over $10 million per year is no crazier than these Republican tax schemes and the "suffering" only affects a tiny nunber of citizens. A return to Eisenhower-era tax rates hardly constitutes Bolshevism.Reply 71 RecommendKen L Atlanta Jan. 5
There are a lot of comments here criticizing AOC and Professor Krugman over the idea of such a high tax on the mega-wealthy. To them I simply say this: You can't get away from our country's history. We were collectively at our most prosperous as a nation for the twenty-five years after the Second World War, during which time our middle class was the envy of the world. During that time, taxes on the very rich were in line with what AOC is proposing. Corporate taxes were also high. Union membership was also high. Our country was much better off for all of those things. I'm already a fan of AOC. She's going to make a lot of right-wing heads explode.Reply 70 RecommendTMSquared Santa Rosa CA Jan. 5
I'd be interested in knowing to what extent much higher tax rates on the wealthy drive severe tax avoidance behavior, like parking money overseas. Clearly higher rates would have to be accompanied by stricter enforcement and tighter rules to avoid losing the expected revenue windfall.69 Recommendazlib AZ Jan. 5
@hammond Good point about the postwar conditions that went along with high marginal rates. But even if we avoid the mistake of concluding that high rates caused growth, there is still no reason to conclude that high rates impede growth.68 Recommendhm1342 NC Jan. 5
Maybe a higher marginal tax rate with stricter enforcement woudl have driven Trump out of the country and saved us the horror of the last two years. :-)Reply 67 RecommendSteve Berkeley CA Jan. 6
@Barking Doggerel: "And the very wealthy I've known are not smarter, more creative or virtuous than the folks who work for them or for other wealthy executives." That goes for politicians and economists, too.66 RecommendDan Kravitz Harpswell, ME Jan. 6
What is stupendous wealth good for? The marginal utility of wealth is quickly decreasing for ordinary survival goods like food and tents. But very expensive goods can only be had by the most wealthy. To get the most expensive and desirable things you must outbid other wealthy people. If you want to influence a key senator, for instance, you're going to have to come up with more than the opposition. If you want an original Van Gogh to impress others, you're going to have to outbid everybody else. If you need a kidney transplant quickly it won't be cheap. Wealth buys power. A mere millionaire nowadays only has leverage against common folk but is seen as a whiff by any billionaire. Power is roughly proportional to wealth, it's a relative thing. Those more wealthy can always kick sand in your face and that's still aggravating despite that you can kick sand in the faces of the myriads of the poor. The wealthy believe in the legitimacy of wealth and strive to purify this. There are always illegitimate jerks trying to beat the system, trying to circumvent the power of wealth. Jerks yammer about things like truth, science and justice. What they're really trying to do is get power without properly paying for it. It's necessary to put down those upstarts who whine about such things. This is another thing wealth is good for and another reason why you can never have enough.Reply 66 RecommendFourteen Boston Jan. 5
You quote economists in defense of your argument, or as the Republicans would say 'pointy-headed intellectuals'. But if Ocasio-Cortez is crazy, what would the Republicans call Dwight David Eisenhower? He thought a marginal tax rate of 91% was just right. So he's obviously far crazier than Ocasio-Cortez. Dan KravitzReply 65 RecommendLennerd Seattle Jan. 6
@Rima Regas The Rich really do believe they're entitled to rob the poor, and they've created various laws that make it easy and legal, which further entitles them, or so they believe. It's all part of the Rich-person alt-reality - a perk of being rich.65 RecommendHoward Stambor Seattle, WA Jan. 5
On the other hand, "...having a young, articulate, telegenic nonwhite woman serve . . . " in Congress is just exactly the ticket!62 Recommendr a Toronto Jan. 6
Just a reminder – and of course this is obvious to most readers – but neither the article nor many of the comments make it clear that the 73% or 80% is the last step of a progressive scale. Krugman and AOC are not proposing that ALL income be taxed at that rate. The maximum rate would apply only to that portion of a taxpayer's income above a certain dollar amount. The 73% or 80% rate could actually be set at a very high level of income, say $1 million or more. The benefits to all would be enormous. The detriment to high earners would be small.61 RecommendPenningtonia princeton Jan. 6
How about fixing the tax code - created by and for racketeers.Reply 61 RecommendSuzanne O'Neill Colorado Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel; You neglected to mention golf, which was a major factor in getting promoted at the large corporation I worked at.60 RecommendPeter Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Jan. 6
@vulcanalex And what is good for the country and your fellow citizens? I would hope that it is not all about you. If one's goal is to have a vibrant economy, good infrastructure and education are needed. I have two suggestions as to where to look for the needed funds: corporations (especially those paying employees less than a living wage and depending on taxpayers to provide food stamps and subsidize health care) and the very high income individuals. You may not be in the latter class. I believe a fact-based national conversation about tax rates (individual and corporate, earned and unearned income and capital gains) would benefit the nation. I am not optimistic this could occur without significant leadership.59 RecommendR. Law Texas Jan. 5
Paul, I must plainly admit, not too often do a shed a tear when reading, your article today was such a moment. It was on a sidewalk in Paris or New York to celebrate my daughters birthday, that surfaced as I read on. Pretty sure it was Paris, as we walked along, I noticed a family. I looked only at the father - sitting on some cardboard, his two children and his wife beside him - I gave what i could and his eyes spoke thanks and my eyes spoke hope for his obviously wonderful family(and himself as well). Paul, as the good man said "the times they are a changin" and I believe with all my heart that Equality really needs to be spoken of at many dinner tables. Sincerely, PeterReply 59 RecommendPhillip Wynn Beer Sheva, Israel Jan. 6
Very interesting how AOC understands economics in this country, and how many GOP'er bugaboos are about to get skewered :) Why, we might even find ourselves in a public discussion of democracy and unrestrained capitalism being polar opposites, with GOP'ers having to admit there was democracy in this country - which heavily restrained capitalism - long before the vaunted animal spirits of free marketeer piracy descended upon us. As in, democracy provided the environment for capitalism to succeed, not the other way 'round, and that democracy should take precedence over free marketeering piracy. After all, the original settlers and colonists only allowed corporations to exist with charters which had automatic expiration dates, corpoorations were only allowed to exist for the purpose of some public works project, and a corporation's charter was immediately revoked if it was found to be trying to influence a political campaign; in no sense of the word were corporations people, too, my friend (quoting a famous American). My, my, my, what an interesting history discussion is about to occur - could Elizabeth Warren please be the Professor, Professor Professeur K. ?59 RecommendRichie by New Jersey Jan. 5
Hate to disagree, but there's clear evidence AOC doesn't understand economics. For instance, she has argued it's impossible for her to find affordable housing in Washington DC. Whereas it's become plain that she is living rent-free in the heads of many Republicans.Reply 59 RecommendMatthew Carnicelli Brooklyn, NY Jan. 5
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, The rich that benefit from profits of large companies, like Walmart for example, do not do the actual work themselves. Instead they rely on the working poor to create their profits and then they hoard it all, while the rest of us provide money for food stamps etc.59 RecommendCitizenTM NYC Jan. 6
@Kenneth Johnson The 73% rate would only be on income above a stipulated amount, say $10,000,000 a year. Are your yearly earnings above $10.000.000 a year? The problem with unregulated capitalism is that it leads to people eventually wanting to impose an unrealistic form of socialism. Experience strongly suggests that a mixed capitalist-socialist economy is as good as it gets.58 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
'... privilege combined with aggression ...' THANK YOU.58 RecommendTMSquared Santa Rosa CA Jan. 5
@MV "Those who get that little extra $1,000 will easily spend it on a necessity, like an appliance". Exactly. And, given the tax giveaway the Republicans gave to corporations and the 1% last year, there probably won't be that little extra $1,000 for the appliance buyers this year. They'll probably owe.57 RecommendGator USA Jan. 7
@SandraH. Exactly. Impose high marginal rates on capital gains at the same time. We could make them a bit lower than income tax rates to incentivize capital investment. But now, even with low income tax rates, the difference between capital gains and income tax rates is a scandal--basically a fat loophole for rich capitalists.57 RecommendChris philadelphia Jan. 6
@Billy Walker How much of Jeff Bezo's (for example, nothing against him specifically) billions in annual income would have been possible without the existence of the interstate highway system? How about without the existence of the US postal service? How about without the internet (it wouldn't exist without DARPA's pioneering research)? Seems to me the government and US taxpayers were equal partners (or greater) in his earnings.57 RecommendAWG nyc Jan. 5
I would be more inclined to not laugh at Ms. Ocasio-Cortez if she had articulate and well reasoned thoughts. Instead she spouts leftist talking points and when asked for detail or context she almost always struggle to provide it. But because leftists like what she is saying they give her credibility just like Mr. Krugman.55 RecommendJohnson Smith TN Jan. 6
My father was a CPA during the years from 1947 to 1983. We had this discussion about tax rates early on when the highest rate (during the Eisenhower administration) was 90%. When I asked him about it as a child, he said simply that no one paid 90% of their income to the government. First of all the tax code had many more loopholes than later on, and secondly, he taught me the idea of a "graduated tax", which we still have on the books. All of us pay 10% on the first 15,000 or so that we earn, then 12% on the next 10,000 or so, then 15% on the next, and so to the top rate of 36%. The problem, as AOC and Prof. Krugman point out is that those at the very top of the income scale pay practically nothing compared to those below. The same is true when speaking about the Social Security tax (FICA) which is something like 6% of you pretax income and is capped, at I believe, around 128,000. Which simply means that if you make 100,000 a year your paying 6000 into the system, if you make 10 million, your still paying only around 6000 into the system (or about 0.0006%).55 RecommendArturo Belano Austin Jan. 6
So much greed by these socialists. No, you do not have a right to someone else's properties simply because they have more than you do. The rich already pays an oversized amount of taxes, while the bottom 50% pay zero in federal taxes. That does not sound fair. In America, everyone is free to start a business and make money, and most billionaires in this country are self made. They worked harder than anyone else. Bill Gates, for instance, started Microsoft at age 18, when most other guys his age were wasting their time at meaningless night clubs. He worked hard and long, and for ten years, did not take a single day off from work. Eventually, it began to pay off. The the greedy socialists came out of the woodwork, demanding to "tax the rich" to pay their "fair" share. Well, the rich already pay more than their fair share.54 RecommendRick Garber Minneapolis Jan. 5
Paul Krugman clearly hit a nerve. The dubious right is out in force here in the comments section to defend the rights of the beleaguered rich.Reply 54 Recommendcjl miami Jan. 5
The comments to this piece have reinforced my belief that a sizable portion of American taxpayers do not have a clue as to how the calculation of their federal tax bill is actually structured. At the very least, the term "marginal tax rate" is synonymous with "total tax rate" for most. To those who are trying to effect a sane change to our country's taxation policies, I say you need a structured PR campaign to raise awareness of just what the heck "marginal tax rate" actually means. You could start by showing how, even under current rates, it's possible for someone making an average income (Warren Buffett's secretary?) to pay a higher effective/total tax rate than someone (Warren Buffett?) whose income puts them in the top 0.1%. If you don't believe me, next time you're discussing taxes with friends, ask them the following math problem: John's adjusted gross income is $1M; The top marginal rate on that income is 37%; How much tax does John pay? If the answer you get is, $370k, well, that's my point. Most people won't say that there's too little information given to solve the problem. (This is, the current top rate on that income, by the way.) Once a sizable majority of Americans actually understand this, getting the support to enact a top MARGINAL rate of 70% shouldn't be too hard of a sell.53 RecommendDaniel USA Jan. 7
@Charlie in NY The Scandinavian countries are facing a whole lot less difficulties than the US. The military spending argument is a red herring. The US deal with NATO is/was that the Europeans would provide the cannon fodder for WW3, while the US would provide the nukes and high tech systems. This allowed the US to funnel money into the defense industry, while not maintaining as large an army as would otherwise be required. Back out of NATO, and all those European countries will "go nuclear" as fast as they can buy the technology from Israel. Is this in the US's best interests? We didn't think so after WW2. The saying was: NATO was designed to Keep the US in, the Russians out, and the Germans down.53 Recommendrj1776 Seatte Jan. 5
@Freda Pine the top rate 70% would not apply to you and if it did, the author of this opinion piece and most of its supporters would likely agree that you should not pay anywhere near 70% if you are making 300,000$52 RecommendGT NYC Jan. 6
"We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can`t have both." --Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis A fundamental reason for higher tax rates on the rich.Reply 52 RecommendJD Smith Pittsburgh Jan. 5
We tried this ... it was called the 70's. Did not end well .....Reply 52 RecommendPeter G Brabeck Carmel CA Jan. 5
I think it would serve progressives well to clarify their rhetoric and policy proposals and speak about raising taxes on the ULTRA RICH? I think there are many people who might be considered "rich", who already pay quite a bit in taxes, but aren't earning enough to engage in the complicated tax-dodging schemes that the ultra rich use. They bear the brunt of a tax code that allows ultra rich earners off the hook while they pay a lot in relation to their earnings. I know many upper-middle class people who might otherwise agree with Democratic policies, but when they hear "tax the rich" they vote Republican because they can't imagine paying more in taxes. It's the Jared Kushners of the world who should pay more, not the small business owner with a few million in a retirement portfolio.52 RecommendLisa Cabbage Portland, OR Jan. 5
A more pedestrian way to view Prof. Krugman's argument is to compare social unease and income/wealth distribution during what many, including conservatives, regard as the nostalgic fifties (fifty years ago, they commonly were labeled the fabulous fifties) with those of today. The 1950s, while it certainly had its problems and the civil rights movement still was in its nascency of emerging from 150 years of overwhelming oppression, nevertheless marked a decade of arguably America's most prosperous period when the prosperity metric is distributed proportionately across all socio-economic classes. The wealthiest lived very well indeed. Private railroad cars still adorned rail lines before the advent of private jets. While extreme poverty existed, especially among urban blacks and other minorities, and some rural communities, for the most part, the vast middle class was progressing and living comfortably. Top-tier marginal tax rates for large corporations and the wealthiest hovered close to AOC's proffered 80%. Most importantly, large corporations still operated on the principle that they were accountable to their stakeholders, i.e., investors, employees, customers, suppliers and communities, not solely to shareholders. Companies offered retirement pension plans rather than 401ks and they honored them. Management was compensated reasonably for their services, not with get-ultra-rich schemes that were backed by ludicrous fail-safe parachutes for malperformance. AOC is right.Reply 51 RecommendJason Dallas Jan. 7
@hammond Look at the dates on the graph, the high growth came AFTER 1960. Which war are you thinking "supercharged" the manufacturing sector? As far as causality and causation, gee wiz, this is a newspaper, not an academic journal, the man can only give so much evidence without losing readers. For a more complete presentation, read Jacob Hacker, "American Amnesia: How the War on Government Made Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper." Government investment is critical for high growth rates, and the wealthy need to pay taxes for that to happen.51 RecommendWhite Buffalo SE PA Jan. 5
@Jason The rich do something wrong every day. From the perspective of someone concerned with labor rights, which perhaps you aren't, they receive compensation vastly disproportional to the amount of labor they expend, and outrageously disproportional to the amount of labor expended by people who aren't rich who work equally long hours and make similar sacrifices. That is what is wrong with the notion of a free market. It is immoral and unethical, and you have to put an academic faith in the superiority of the free market system above your concern for what's right in order to participate in a system like that, and most of us either do or simply don't have any choice in the matter. Not everyone cares about that. From the perspective of someone who is just concerned with incentives and outputs, who has bought into the notion of a free market system, what is wrong is that, as Krugman points out, we don't operate within perfectly competitive markets, not even close. From that perspective, the rich profit from a system that naturally favors them completely independent of variables like labor, risk, demand, etc. I don't guess you have to go to confession for having done something wrong, but a little humility and perspective never hurt.51 RecommendT Ontario, Canada Jan. 5
@Bruce Rozenblit " To top off the entire royalty thing, much of their wealth was most likely generated from tax breaks, tax giveaways, tax shelters and the like. Odds are that a substantial portion of their wealth was never taxed to begin with and with the loss of the estate tax, they get to will it to their heirs tax free." Example #1. Trump and his family. Example #2 Mitt Romney, whose Bain Capital wealth derived from tax breaks earned by bankrupting once solid corporations and raiding their pension funds, etc, then delivering the bill to the tax payers to pay through the Federal Pension Insurance agency and other tax payer funded sources like welfare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance for those who lost their jobs and benefits.51 RecommendAppu Nair California Jan. 6
Bravo, AOC. Hopefully this will mean growth in the middle class. Many of the very wealthy don't like to admit that their wealth was largely contingent upon economic and tax policies that drove many from the middle class down to have-not status. Hopefully this kind of policy will right that wrong.51 RecommendJim Davis California Jan. 6
Squeezing the top 5% will not be enough to fill the Federal coffers. The super rich have superbly qualified accountants. In our borderless economy, tax havens and loopholes galore to attract and retain rich folks from all over the world. They exist right now but the incentives to hide from Uncle Sam are far less than the overtaxed, nanny states of Europe. Cortex the conquistador needs to earn money on her own by working first, pay taxes, meet payroll or know people who are not on the doll in order to understand taxes make the wealthy flee. And, investment will sink. Talks like this has already made her the East Coast counterpart of the elder stateswomen of stupidity, Rep. Maxine Waters. It is hard to recover from absurd public pronouncements that are etched in hard disks forever.Reply 51 RecommendBrendon Carr Seoul, Korea Jan. 6
A 90% tax rate on anybody doesn't seem to be a fair number. Nor 80% or 70%. Sorry but how about institute a luxury tax penalty on corporations who give out huge CEO payouts. Works for the NBAReply 50 RecommendMark Thomason Clawson, MI Jan. 5
The unstated but glaringly obvious assumption in Paul Krugman's and Sandy Ocasio's worldview is that "The Rich" are not citizens and human individuals with their own rights and interests, and families for which to care, but rather livestock to be farmed, milked, and slaughtered for the sustenance of everyone else -- under the wise instruction of Paul Krugman and Sandy Ocasio, of course, who as the will not be required to make the same sacrifices they demand of their fellows amongst The Rich. It's appalling in its entitlement. No thanks, Comrades.Reply 49 RecommendFrank Colorado Jan. 6
Diminished utility? How can they get that fourth mansion, complete with a set of cars and matching clothes in the closets of all houses? How can they get a second, bigger yacht? How can they get that private plane upgrade? That costs tens of millions. That is their utility. It just comes with much higher price tags. They need those things to be "part of the world" in which they live. That is how they can lend a plane or a yacht to a politician. It is how they show they are real people, not just those little tax payers. Readers may think I'm exaggerating here. I'm not. That really is their world. We are so far outside it we never see it, but it does leak into the press, only to be hushed up. Remember Mitt Romney's car elevator? That was paid for with the retirement funds of workers stripped out of closed companies wrecked by Bain Capital, a vulture capitalist firm. They have no retirement, but he's got a car elevator. Utility.49 RecommendHoward Boston Jan. 5
Luke 12:48: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." You'd think all those good Christians on the right, even if they are not that much into economics could find some direction from the New Testament. Trickle Down is a Big Con. The president is the Grifter in Chief. And the GOP knows it. They just don't want to kill the orange goose that laid their tax rates (among other things).Reply 48 RecommendGary Bernier Holiday, FL Jan. 6
Assume the Republican congress had drastically cut taxes on everyone named Howard (either first or last name). Our extra spending would have stimulated the economy and created jobs. Could the reason that Republicans did not do this is that we Howards did not band together and give the Republicans massive campaign contributions? If we had, I am sure the Republicans would have claimed that the tax cuts to the Howards would have paid for themselves. This is the intellectual depth, or lack thereof, at which the Republican Congress operates.Reply 48 RecommendKagetora New York Jan. 6
The unfortunate truth is that there are really three kinds of Republicans when it comes to tax policy. The ignorant; those who have "faith" in the conservative shibboleth that low taxes drive growth and everyone benefits. Like most faithful, they deny facts and endorse lies that support their superstition. There are the brainwashed; people who might be capable of rational thought, but have been reciting the low tax mantra for so long they've stopped thinking about it and just repeat it from rote. Then are the cynics; people who actually know they are selling snake oil, but don't care because it is so lucrative to them and their financial supporters. These are the worst. They knowingly create misery and decimate the middle class for own economic advantage. It is time to put an end to Republican rule.47 RecommendJohn Marshall New York Jan. 7
Never-mind the validity of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's positions, which I totally support, but it's hard to understand the right's hysteria surrounding AOC, until we remember their similar hysteria surrounding Barack Obama. Let's not forget that he was a secret muslim who was born in Kenya and secretly wanted to take away our guns. What most irritated them was the fact that he was an articulate, charismatic, highly educated man who was BLACK, and try as they might, they were unable to make the lies and stereotypes stick. Now, we have an articulate, educated WOMAN who is HISPANIC, and they are breaking out the same tired bag of tricks. President Obama, both because of his character but also because he was highly conscious of the image he had to portray being the first black president, was always diplomatic and tended to ignore these racist attacks. AOC, however, grew up during the Obama years, and she saw what that battlefield looked like. I love the fact that she always fights back, quickly, intelligently, and bitingly. And each time she does, she shows up her critics as the hypocrites they are. Bravo.Reply 47 RecommendEd Watters San Francisco Jan. 6
@Freda Pine I'm thinking you have absolutely no idea how taxation works. No one would pay 70% on their income. They'd pay 70% on income over $X, which in AOC's instance is $10 million. But... let's take your wrong approach and say it's a flat 70%. You wouldn't "get out of bed" for $3 million? You must be quite rich. Not only would I get out of bed for $3 million, I'd show up early and go home late. At $300,000, you would be paying about 30% as a GRADUATED tax, not flat. Please, if you're going to post on this stuff, at least familiarize yourself with the BASIC concepts in taxation, like marginal versus effect rates.47 RecommendClaudia New Hampshire Jan. 6
Establishment Democrats are just as incensed by AOC's 70% proposal as Republicans, but can't say so, for PR purposes.Reply 47 Recommendheysus Mount Vernon Jan. 6
I don't give a hoot about female, of color or young. If she has solid ideas, that's all that counts. If taxing the billionaires works, I'm all for AOC. Personally, if you look at politicians for entertainment value, I much prefer her roof top steps to watching a mouth unconnected to brain standing in front of "that dump" the White House.Reply 47 RecommendAndrew Chapel Hill, NC Jan. 6
Atta woman AOC. Just what we needed. A women who knows something and speaks her mind. I'm all in. Tax em!Reply 47 RecommendOld blue Chapel Hill, N.C. Jan. 7
@Payton Some politician's pipe dream legacy project... you mean like a certain Border Wall? And everything you've talked about with wanting to keep track of money - X% in Education, Y% for Healthcare, Z% for Military Spending, is written down in the form of the Congressional Omnibus Spending Bill, passed every year. It dictates what money goes where as a combination of smaller appropriations bills. I suggest you read it. You might learn something. I would rather trust a (functioning) government with my money than a collection of wealthy private individuals or corporations, because I can participate in government. I can vote my President out of office.I cannot do anything to tell Tim Cook, or Jeff Bezos, or the Waltons to use my money more efficiently, or that I disagree with what they're doing. Conservatives love to whine about government inefficiency any say the private sector does it better, but that's simply because the private sector cuts corners to do it faster and cheaper. Those cut corners get people sick when water infrastructure breaks down prematurely due to mismanagement by a private utility company, or a large farm corp dumps its waste into the river system instead of going through proper disposal procedures. The government is not necessarily inefficient - it is Thorough.47 RecommendJason Dallas Jan. 7
@Billy Walker With all due respect, Mr. Walker, if taxation is theft, it is theft regardless of the percentage taken. Your notion that taxation becomes theft at a certain percentage is... just your notion.46 RecommendCharlie in NY New York, NY Jan. 5
@Mjxs "When did we begin to believe that mega-millions to CEOs will magically transform into wealth for all...?" We don't believe that, but we've been told that we do. Additionally, some of our less useful democratic institutions--the Senate, the electoral college--guarantee ongoing, electorally unearned power to the side that propagates this falsehood.46 RecommendAna Luisa Belgium Jan. 5
@SJP. In fact the EU and Scandinavian countries are facing great difficulties bordering on stagnation or worse in some cases. It is also useful to recall that since the end of WWII, these Western countries mostly outsourced their military defense onto the US - that huge savings was what underpinned their growth.46 RecommendNovember 2018 has Come; 2020 is Coming Vallejo Jan. 6
@George There's nothing like an anti-tax conservative who didn't even start fact-checking his own ideological prejudices ... The wealthiest 1% don't have a $200k income, but at least a $390k income, with an average of $1.5 million. Now can you please explain why asking billionaires to start paying back the debt (in part caused by massive tax cuts given to them, by the way) so that people who were never lucky enough to earn so much can at least have access to decent healthcare and education would be a bad idea ... ? How about putting America first, rather than the wealthiest 1%? Any objections?46 RecommendLew San Diego, CA Jan. 7
It's great to see that the age-old competitive male trick of casting every smart, well-spoken, attractive, or youngish woman as a dumb "nit-wit" has lost its power. People who aren't unsuccessful right-wing males know that such men are simply frightened by ambitious, smart, up-and-coming women. And, at long last, today's ambitious, smart, up-and-coming women are not one bit intimidated by men who insist on taking absurd potshots at them. This is wonderful progress! Go Nancy, go AOC, go freshman House Democrats!Reply 45 RecommendLuke NYC Jan. 5
@Freda Pine: No, economists are not physiologists. They're not philologists or entomologists either. So what does physiology have to do with any of this???45 RecommendLen Charlap Princeton, NJ Jan. 6
@Kenneth Johnson You are missing lots of things, including the fact that under such a system there would be more tax brackets for higher incomes (rather than one bracket for all incomes over $500k.) And the tiered system would still apply, so the 73% rate would only affect income above a certain amount. Re: moving out of the country, if your income is being generated in the US, it would be subject to US taxes. Maybe use your affluence and tax savings in Texas to educate yourself?45 RecommendJdavid Jax fl Jan. 6
Let's see if we can understand why tax cuts for the Rich or more generally, income and wealth inequality, is bad for the economy. Economists have a concept called the velocity of money. It is the frequency, how often, that money changes hands in domestic commerce. Here's an example. Suppose the government gives Scrooge McDuck a Billion for advice on the comic book market, If Scrooge puts the bucks in his basement, and forgets about it, that doesn't help the economy at all. That Billion has a velocity of 0. Also, if Scrooge loses a financial bet to Daddy Warbucks, and the Billion moves from Scrooge's basement to Daddy's, that is a change, but the velocity does not change because it is not a useful change. It doesn't affect commerce. Money going to the Rich has a lower velocity than money going to the non-rich. The Rich spend a lower percentage of their money. What's a guy or gal who already has so many houses he can't remember how many & an elevator for his horse gonna spend his money on? The answer is he is going to use it to speculate.There is a correlation between inequality & financial speculation. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1661746 Speculation is bad for the economy. That money has a very low velocity. AND it increases risk which we have seen in 2008 ain't a good thing. Since 2007, the velocity of money has plunged. https://fredblog.stlouisfed.org/2016/04/a-plodding-dollar-the-recent-decrease-in-the-velocity-of-money /45 RecommendM.R. Khan Chicago Jan. 6
I own three businesses and I as I write this on a Saturday night in a hotel away from my business trying to expand it I can assure the professor I would not be doing this at a 70 percent tax rate!the ivory elite economists who write this drivel has never owned a business created one job or made one payroll. Did you just see the last jobs report the growth rate after trump cut taxes .44 RecommendRima Regas Southern California Jan. 5
These frauds who claim economic expertise without any real academic qualifications include Larry Kudlow.Reply 44 RecommendJessa Forthofer Maui Jan. 6
@Fourteen This sense of entitlement by the white patriarchy is rooted in America's original sin. From an essay I wrote in 2016: "Now, there are three things that we must deal with and we're going to transform this neighborhood into a brotherhood. We've got to deal with the problem of racism. We've got to deal with the problem of economic injustice or poverty. And we've got to deal with the problem of war."" The issues King delineated for his audiences in the months leading up to his assassination are the very same issues present day candidates are grappling with – the only difference is that in the intervening fifty plus years, the three fundamental problems identified by King have grown exponentially. Inequality is far wider today. Today's poverty is far deeper and encompasses a much wider segment of America's population. https://wp.me/p2KJ3H-1Tb Nothing can change until we have truth, reconciliation, and reparations because if it is OK to go on without apologizing as a nation, then it is OK to go on exploiting the classes in cycle after cycle of economic ups and downs and cycle after cycle of racial divide and conquer.44 RecommendAnother Joe Maine Jan. 5
I read this article as I sit on a patio at my Airbnb in Maui, looking out across the ocean. My girlfriend and I worked hard and tucked away any extra pennies we had for this vacation - doing so for a couple years. We are here to celebrate her 30th birthday, and it feels rich and lovely because this trip was hard-earned and marks a goal accomplished. It is unlikely we'll take another vacation like this for quite some time. The thing that strikes me the most as I read this article is that I sit here looking across the water toward the island of Lanai. Larry Ellison of Oracle owns 98% of that Hawaiian island (where the Dole pineapple plantation used to be). It is not a small island. Why do the rich need such things? Why is it reasonable to say that an individual man should even be able to purchase such a lavish, absurd amount of this beautiful paradise (and then only really allow the extremely wealthy to visit at the Four Seasons there, where a "bad" room runs over $1000 per night)? Why? The rich are not taxed enough.44 RecommendFourteen Boston Jan. 6
I'm not sure if this is still strictly true, but as of a couple of years ago the richest woman in the USA was the widow of one of Sam Walton's (i.e., Walmart) sons. In other words, the wealthiest woman in America was the heiress of an heir of someone who actually created a business. In case that isn't quite clear, the richest woman in America is someone who never, as far as is known, never did a lick of actual labor in her life. What is utterly astonishing is how many people have been brainwashed to believe our system is actually a meritocracy, and taxes on the wealthy are taxes on people who earned their wealth by the sweat of their brow. . .Reply 43 RecommendMiriam Chua Long Island Jan. 6
@Socrates The Rich have rigged the system to favor themselves against us. They don't know how to make money the old-fashioned way. They'd be lost in a competitive market. Instead, these Takers live in an alt-reality echo-chamber slapping each other on their backs for being "Makers." The Progressives see them clearly as parasites.43 RecommendJames Thornburgh San Diego Jan. 7
"...Republicans almost universally advocate low taxes on the wealthy, based on the claim that tax cuts at the top will have huge beneficial effects on the economy." Trickle-down economics, voodoo economics; when will people stop accepting this drivel, which was disproven by Reagan? As for the average middle-class American, what I find remarkable is that most people want lower taxes AND more services; I read letters in Newsday about it all the time. Totally illogical.Reply 43 RecommendSuzanne O'Neill Colorado Jan. 5
@romanette Well said.43 RecommendFourteen Boston Jan. 5
@Andy The quote that comes to mind is, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair42 RecommendSandraH. California Jan. 5
@Bruce Rozenblit I would add another prime motivation beyond wealth and power and control. For those with wealth and power in excess of what they could ever need, why do they continue to arrogantly pile it up regardless of the cost to others? I believe it is fear - the fear that people will object to the imbalance and try to right it. Great wealth and power engender insecurity. The Rich are afraid of us.42 RecommendGwe Ny Jan. 5
@Plennie Wingo, true. Our first tax reform should be to tax all income at the same rates. We should also eliminate different tax schedules for tax payers, depending on their marital status.42 Recommendch Indiana Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel Yes and no. In today's world, male privilege has given you that view. However, and this is not a small point, that is YOUR view. In reality, MOST people at the top marginal rate that *I* know are not merely CEOs. The people that I know, peeps that would qualify for this tax hike, are the upper managers, high wage earners, typically at the height of their career. They tend to be first generation high earners...otherwise they would not need to work in this manner because their investments would otherwise feed them. They do not have independent wealth but they are trying desperately to accumulate it. Because they typically live in one of the two coasts, they tend to have high property taxes and a high cost of living. They have the means to pay for their kids education, but they worry about their children ability to build on their current success. In my experience, the high earners I know come in different flavors and nationalities. They only thing they all have in common is achievement: academic and economic. But I will tell you something I do know about the CEO types and they don't grow on trees. Try and recruit talent and not pay them. You won't be able to.... and it will make a difference to the bottom line, because I have seen it. This plan will push down the upper middle class down the way that the GOP already decimated the other middle class. To combat income inequality, close the "Mitt Romney" loopholes.42 RecommendLarry L Dallas, TX Jan. 6
The wealthy CEO's don't even work an extra hour for that extra $1,000. They just negotiate for obscene amounts of compensation that they cannot in any way spend. There was a study awhile ago - I think I read about it in the NYT - that suggested that a higher marginal tax rate might reduce the incentive for CEO's to negotiate for higher and higher compensation, because that would bump them up to a higher marginal tax rate. If that is correct, then corporations would have more to pay ordinary workers, and income inequality would be reduced.Reply 39 RecommendDavid Andrew Henry Chicxulub Puerto Yucatan Mexico Jan. 5
@Gwe, frankly, I think the executive management of American companies back in the 1950s and 1960s were more competent because they were better at balancing the needs across a number of constituencies. Even after adjusting for inflation, they made much, much less. Now THAT'S value! What has changed is an attitude of me-ism that an older generation that had to survive WWII and the Great Depression did NOT have. Unfortunately, that sort of zeitgeist died with them and the country is poorer as a society for it.39 RecommendMarjorie Riverhead Jan. 5
Paul, in your previous column you noted that corporations were sitting on a mountain of savings. The money is mostly in foreign banks, because the corporations don't want to bring it home, because they can't find good investments. I recently visited with a retired Canadian banker who said his best years were when he was working with young entrepreneurs...contractors, builders, small business owners. He watched them grow and helped through some of the rough parts. Is there something wrong with today's bankers? (Everyone please revisit The Big Short) Back to today's tax story. About forty years a go I needed three American engineers with experience we couldn't find in Canada. They didn't want to come..."taxes are too high." I explained that their private health insurance was a tax. When we factored in the cost of US health insurance they would have more after tax income in Canada. They came to Canada. Please continue to write about taxes. Thank you. Ancient Canadian economist In a Mayan fishing villageReply 39 RecommendIgnatius J. Reilly N.C. Jan. 6
My dad owned a small business on the Gold Coast of L.I. during the 60's which catered to old money WASPS whose wealth was taxed at upwards of 90%. However, they all "summered" on L.I. or Cape Cod, had homes in Manhattan, Paris, London and yachts in the Caribbean. And, as a middle class young adult, I was able to attend community college for $50 per semester. That's when we had real upward mobility, a dynamic economy and a strong middle class.38 RecommendDave Lafayette, CO Jan. 6
Who is this "The Rich"? Let's face it, it's sort of a Boogeyman. The REAL tax amounts come from BUSINESSES. BIG BUSINESSES. And that's who should be taxed and taxed well. There shouldn't even be an individual income tax. Everyone's income comes from a BUSINESS one way or another and should be taken out and adjusted for on the Business end. And as we know Business just got a HUGE break under Trump and the Republicans.Reply 37 RecommendEd L. Syracuse Jan. 6
As Mr. Krugman is often fond of saying: "Your spending is my income, and my spending is your income." Or, to quote Barack Obama in 2008: "When you spread the wealth around a bit, it's good for everyone." For his quote above, Obama was eviscerated by the Right for "advocating socialism". Of course for those who believed Saint Ronnie when he said, "It's all YOUR money" - ALL taxation is "socialism". That would be the GOP's mantra if it wasn't for the military-industrial complex (socialism for defense contractors). But I digress. The message behind both the Krugman and Obama quotes above is simply that we are currently on a political and economic path to neo-feudalism (where the Lords own 90% of the wealth and we Serfs squabble over the remaining crumbs). By contrast, "everyone" benefits from a European-style "social democracy" - where government actually "provides for the General Welfare" so the average citizen doesn't have to worry much about food, clothing, shelter, education and health care. These basics are the foundation of Maslow's "hierarchy of needs". Once these basic needs are met, citizens are free to concentrate their energies on "productive pursuits" (whether that's earning more money or writing a symphony). And everyone (even the wealthy) suffers from far less stress than in our current jungle system where most Americans literally struggle from paycheck-to-paycheck - just one illness or job loss from total destitution. Yet we continue to vote for serfdom.37 RecommendMytake North Carolina Jan. 7
Never in the field of human conflict has so much been written about one who has accomplished so little.37 RecommendRich Fairbanks Jacksonville Oregon Jan. 6
@Jason Let the wealthy flee and see if living outside of the USA on a daily basis holds much of a candle to living every day in the USA (e.g., Seattle, LA, or NYC) to name a few. Good luck.37 RecommendRudy Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
I own a small forestry company. Despite a competent tax preparer I pay well over 20% in federal income taxes. A large forestry company (Weyerhauser) with billions in revenue pays 0% federal tax. AOC knows exactly what she is talking about.37 RecommendJohn Mardinly Chandler, AZ Jan. 5
@Thomas Zaslavsky There no way to create wealth other than inventions and discoveries that 20-21st century science has shown us. All the other money making schemes are either rent seeking or exploitational. So the way we compensate scientists and scientist makers (teachers, aides etc) is so flawed that our sustainable scientific growth is in jeopardy (check the time it takes a PhD in biology to get a permanent job!). I don't see CEO any better than the scientists I've met in my life. The only difference is that CEOs are uber competitive whereas great scientists are excellent collaborators. There will be no capitalism, only feudalism without scientific discovery and inventions ... stop lionizing the CEOs.36 RecommendKim Terre Haute Jan. 7
It's time to end the salary limit for Social Security taxes. Also, people like Warren Buffet, who don't get a salary but make their income from dividends, should pay into Social Security by a 'Payroll Tax' on dividends.36 RecommendRudy Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
@Jason People and capital are not more mobile than they have ever been. The median income in the US has been stagnant for decades, and the buying power of that income declines every year. This is happening as the ultra-rich see tax breaks and hundred-percent increases in their income.36 RecommendMike Tucson Jan. 5
@Allan Reagan I've seen 100s of scientists who forego consumption, risk their life on finding truth (less than 1 in 10 PhDs land permanent jobs in Academia presently) that in turn help move the 20-21st century machine into creating wealth for all. I don't see them asking for 10 million plus to get rewarded. Einstein refused a pay hike at Princeton to $8K (present value $40) but without him there'll be no internet, mobile phones etc for supposedly "self-made" men (yes men) like you to make money from! We're all incredibly hard working like you (mothers, teachers, drivers, painters etc). You're incredibly lucky to make 10 million plus! Modesty would be a nice gesture ...36 RecommendFrom Where I Sit Gotham Jan. 5
I wonder what our country would be like if we had the same distribution of income by deciles as we had in, say, 1980 before the Regan tax cuts and subsequent cuts. How much more money would people in the bottom three quartiles have in their pockets? With more money to enjoy life, could productivity have continued to increase rather than decrease. I suspect with all of that money in their pockets they would have consumed more, GDP growth would have been higher, there would have been less impetus to drive work to cheaper labor markets in Asia because people could afford things from higher labor markets like the good old USA. We would have more money to invest in infrastructure. We would have enough money for universal health care. So in turns out, I believe, the Republican tax policy is just one big scam to create a landed gentry in this country, something I doubt the founding fathers would be ok with having just gotten out of a country where the landed gentry were everything. And my having a universal health care growing at GDP rather than 2x GDP, would would have a low cost and better health care system.36 RecommendGary Monterey, California Jan. 7
Please don't repeat what you wrote here. It is tragically WRONG though it is widely repeated! No one pays 70% on ALL their income. Each tax rate applies ONLY to monies in that bracket. If a theoretical 70% applied to income above $10,000,000, and someone made $11,000,000, then they would pay the rate of 70% on $1,000,000. Furthermore, if there is an exemption for the first $12,000 of income, and a rate of 5% from $12,001-$20,000, then you, me and our millionaire example would all pay no tax on the first $12k, $399.95 on the next bracket and so on. The end result is what's known as the effective tax rate and that's the progressive part of it.36 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
@Billy Walker Sigh .... another failure to understand the meaning of marginal tax rate.36 RecommendJohn Quinn Virginia Beach Jan. 6
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, I think if you scratch them deep, many very wealthy people in the U.S. would like to see better infrastructure, universal healthcare, more people in homes than on the street, etc., plus a progressive program to deal with climate change. And if a logical, sensible tax proposal could be put forth, they would vote and help pay for it, slowing our nation's slide toward becoming a third world country.36 RecommendYuri Asian Bay Area Jan. 5
Progressive taxation is a fraud and unfair. Everyone should pay a flat rate; around 20%. There is no reason not to tax all taxpayers with the same rate.Reply 36 RecommendJohn D. Out West Jan. 6
Jesse "Big Daddy" Unruh -- when he was California State Assembly Speaker ran against incumbent Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970 promising a confiscatory tax of 100% on income above $1 million a year. Unruh, known for his quip "Money is the Mother's Milk of Politics" ran as a progressive populist against Reagan, who was re-elected with a decisive margin of 52.8% to 45.1%. Post-election Analysts were surprised that working class Democrats rejected Unruh because they said they strongly opposed his 100% tax on all income above $1 million annually. After Unruh lost there was an apocryphal interview with a taxi driver who said "if I make more than a million a year I don't want the state taking it away." When the reporter asked the cab driver if he really thought he'd ever make that much, the cab driver said "who knows, I might get lucky." Stamped on the politically modified DNA of too many working Americans is the fable that everyone is just a sliver of luck away from tycoon wealth. It's a fantasy of American Exceptionalism that explains the celebrity and allure of privatized wealth trumping common good and common sense. To paraphrase Marx: Money lust is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people". To misquote the late Carter Ag Secretary Bob Bergland, "the rich know the cost of everything but the value of nothing." Amen to that.36 RecommendTony Long San Francisco Jan. 5
@Ron Cohen, exactly right. A reduction in incentive for the ultra-wealthy to make an extra million or two also can help reduce the cutthroat nature of this economy & society. What would the rich guy have to do to add that extra couple of million? Lie about the asbestos in his company's talcum powder? Ignore product safety standards to save on manufacturing cost? Fire a wad of people and drive the remaining skeleton crew over the edge into stress-induced disease? Find a way to get that toxic waste off your hands, say as an ineffective, downright toxic fire retardant for furniture and baby clothes? Anything society can do to lower the probability of outcomes like those is a significant benefit for all.36 RecommendAndrew Zuckerman Port Washington, NY Jan. 5
"So why not tax them at 100 percent? The answer is that this would eliminate any incentive to do whatever it is they do to earn that much money, which would hurt the economy." And yet, as both you and Thomas Piketty have pointed out, most of the wealth being generated now is through investment, in other words making money from money. So nothing useful is being produced and these people are not "job creators." Go ahead. Tax them at 100 percent.35 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 7
@Matthew Carnicelli America isn't happier but rich Republican donors are. Republicans work for their rich donors, not for America so the party is just doing its job.35 RecommendNelson Austin Jan. 5
@Mjxs Rather than restore the draft, have a national conversation on our outsized military, and its (our?) goals. Perhaps reducing its budget significantly, instigating universal community domestic service for all our youth, and giving some of the savings to repair our tattered safety net would get us to where we would like to be.35 RecommendRyan GA Jan. 5
@Geoffrey Please read the comment from "Barking Doggeral," I think it answers your question. Basically, "super compensated" does not equal super productive by a long shot.35 RecommendJim California Jan. 5
I'll tell you how Ocasio-Cortez will perform as a member of Congress: She won't. She is too intelligent and her policies are too sane and sensible to mesh with the crooks and corporate shills who control our modern political system. The people want wild, outlandish, showbiz personalities, not a return to the stable social democracy that made us the greatest country in the world during the 1950s. AOC may know how to use Twitter, but unlike Trump she doesn't know how to use fear and deceit to influence an entrenched profit-driven plutocracy, and unlike Trump her ideas won't allow global megacorporations to consolidate their money and control over us so any hope of financial support is out of the question. And her ideas concerning policy would promote America's strength and stability, something that our foreign enemies will fight tooth and nail to prevent. With no corporate cash and an army of foreign agents and their Republican employees undermining her, AOC's agenda will go nowhere. Furthermore, she will accomplish nothing in Congress because there is no Congress. Trump has eliminated it. The shutdown is not a means to the end of building the wall. The Wall fight is just a means to an end: Trump and his followers want the government to remain shut down. They want to undermine our government and punish Federal employees by putting them out of work. Their motivations are resentment, spite, and the driving need to hurt Americans. Trump's goal is two branches of government.35 RecommendDoug Brockman springfield, mo Jan. 6
Facts are always disconcerting because they challenge beliefs and in this situation sense of personal self worth amongst the highly compensated.Reply 35 RecommendJim Muncy Florida Jan. 6
Imagine yourself a cardiologist making 900K a year. Now imagine taxing his income at 90% inclding state taxes. How likely is he to get out of bed at 3 AM to do y our emergency angioplasty, since his income depends on aperformance based compensation model and his sleepless night, before working the next day as well, isnt going to earn him beans a fter taxes?35 Recommendmpound USA Jan. 6
Yes, but 80% -- holy cow! That just sounds outrageous. It's very bad optics if nothing else. How can the IRS agent, with a straight face anyway, demand, "Okay, buddy, for the privilege of living here, you owe us eight out of every ten dollars you earn." Really? Isn't that absurd overreach? No? It's fine with me personally: I'm poor, living on a modest Social Security check. It's also fine with me if you outlaw booze and cigarettes, too, because I'm not a patron. I've no skin in these games. And I do love the idea of financing our deeply in debt, democratic government and helping the poor, I'm one of them, but, yeow, 80%? That's going to be a hard-sell just on the face of it, although I concede to the wisdom of my superiors -- the Ph.d. economists, especially the Nobel-Prize winners. Just as I did when called upon to fight the noble Vietnam War. They know more than me, right? So, AO-C, carry on, girl. You have the money gurus behind you, while this layman remains bemused, stymied, and not a little red-faced by the paradox, appropriateness, and effectiveness of an 80% tax rate. Holy cow! Good morning, Vietnam.Reply 34 RecommendVan Owen Lancaster PA Jan. 5
"The controversy of the moment involves AOC's advocacy of a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes, which is obviously crazy, right? I mean, who thinks that makes sense? Naturally, Krugman and the cocktail waitress/tax policy savant known as "AOC" don't even bother to define what constitutes "very high incomes", which demonstrates just how poorly thought out their magical thinking really is. Try again, Paul.Reply 34 RecommendJoe Public Merrimack, NH Jan. 6
Great article. No need to argue the point. Raise tax rates on those earning north of one million to 73%. Just do it. Now.34 RecommendAnatomically modern human At large Jan. 7
Taxation is theft. It is wrong to tax people at 70%, because you are stealing from them.Reply 34 RecommendPeter Z Los Angeles Jan. 5
". . . a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes . . . is a policy nobody has ever implemented, aside from the United States, for 35 years after World War II -- including the most successful period of economic growth in our history." I've been waiting for decades now for someone to notice this. For several years during world war II, the top tax rate was 95%. It dropped a bit at the end of the war, but by 1950 it was back above 90%, and there it remained until 1963. When vast amounts of public money flow into private pockets in the form of defense spending, which has been the case since the 1940s, high marginal tax rates are what keep public money public. Anything less amounts to a huge transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. Which is exactly what's been happening since the Reagan-Thatcher years. Call it "socialism for the rich". It's time to get back to the common sense policies of working for the common good, and that means progressive taxation.34 RecommendSteve California Jan. 5
Paul.....Taxing the wealthy is the ONLY way to provide income equality to all Americans. The rich never, ever, make their money without the Democratic Capitalistic system for them to operate within. The US infrastructure, the laws, the labor of the many, and other common benefits to all businesses provide Americans the opportunity to build personal wealth. If the wealth Gap gets too big, the many "have nots" will revolt. It's in the interest of the 1% to make sure the 99% is taken care of. It's a matter of survival.Reply 34 Recommendhikenandclimbin MV, WA Jan. 7
Currently the 1% own 50% of global wealth, they will own 66% by 2030. Left unchecked, they will eventually own virtually all wealth, which reduces you and I to serfs, and is intrinsically unstable. The reason for this is simple: the return on capital is about 6-10% while GDP growth is 2-4% which means that wealth will accumulate with those who own capital: aka: the rich get richer. That is a systemic outcome. The solution is simple: tax at the top, invest at the bottom.34 RecommendTom New Jersey Jan. 5
@Jason You clearly didn't read the editorial: Why is it that the Conservatives never articulate a policy proposal based on factual analysis ? Because, much like Jason's suggestion that he would move his business out of the country & Jason's criticism that the left's answer is soak the rich, has no basis in reality. Jason may or may not move his business but this of little consequence as his 'income' would be distinct from business profit. & the notion that the rich are soaked is difficult to reconcile with our current economic situation. The Far-Right seems to misunderstand how tax structure works & how tax income is used. Jason's suggestion that the private sector applies superior critical thinking skills is belied by his comments & this is driven home by the mere fact of his comment being an 'Times Pick'33 RecommendGeoffrey Dallas Jan. 6
@SJP The only country that has tried a marginal income tax rate above 55% recently (France, 70%) abandoned it as unproductive, i.e. it wasn't collecting much because people successfully avoided paying it. That speaks more to me than what may be optimal in theory. With state and local taxes added in, marginal tax in US blue states is already about 50%. An 80% tax rate is a political fantasy, even in Sweden (total top marginal rate 56%)33 RecommendLaurie USA Jan. 6
It sounds like a strategy to discriminate against a minority group based solely upon the one characteristic that defines their minority status - their income. No law-abiding group should be targeted for disproportionate, punitive taxation based upon their income. The ultra wealthy, who broke no laws while attaining their wealth, should not be financially exploited after the fact simply because the majority would like to siphon off their wealth rather than innovate and work for their own. Who are you, or anyone else to say how much of a person's hard earned income is "enough for them" or to decide how "bothered" they will be if you forcibly take the portion of their money you've deemed to be excessive. What have you done that entitles you to deserve any portion of another person's earnings? I could find a large group of impoverished, homeless people who would feel that the middle-class income you earn is too much for you and that you should be forced to distribute any amount over a subsistence income to them since they are less fortunate than you. I doubt you'd be as quick to advocate for their claim to your money as you are for your own claim to the money of the wealthy.33 RecommendRudy Berkeley, CA Jan. 6
@Annie. "What if we stopped believing that government could fix all of our problems?" The US Constitution is written so that the Federal Government provides for the common good. If we stop believing that, we might as well move to Russia.32 RecommendMeredith New York Jan. 6
@dmckj So Denmark is Cuba?32 RecommendBenjamin ben-baruch Ashland OR Jan. 6
Of course Repubs say tax cuts for the rich will benefit the whole economy---that's you and me. What else can they say---the truth? That they want to confiscate our national productivity---meaning what you and me produce at work? Because it's their due, as superior beings who call the shots? Then decide how little to pay you and me in return? Or that it's perfectly ok to send our jobs away to low wage countries, and leave us to scramble? Can they say that they should dominate our govt like the aristocrats of olden days? Those ones we overthrew way back when? No, would sound awful. So they and well paid consultants make up these economic slogans---and millions believe them! And many go along with it to be in with the influential and powerful. The politicians taking donor money spread the lie. The big con is to equate corporate wealth with Americanism and Freedom. They manipulate us with the implied threat and contrast of a true Communist dictatorship where the govt owns everything. But as Krugman's favorite 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders said---Yes, of course we want capitalism, but regulated capitalism! If elected govt doesn't regulate corporations then the corporations will regulate the govt. That's what we have now, disguised. Btw-- PK says, " if a rich man works..." How about if a rich woman works? Or rich person, Or rich people. Times have changed. Hard habit to break. Man is not synonomous with humanity.Reply 32 RecommendBlank Venice Jan. 7
Wow! A congressperson who understands economics and who can dance too!Reply 31 RecommendJW New York Jan. 7
@Allan Reagan I had an accountant in my early days of entrepreneurship who wisely explained to me that paying taxes was far better than not paying them. He was right, as I earned more income, I paid more taxes and became more successful so I could earn more income and pay more taxes. Paying the 70% rate on your earnings over $10m means you already earned $10m. In a year. Now stop complaining already.31 RecommendMarc Herlands San Diego, CA Jan. 6
@Billy Walker Regardless of whether we are talking about marginal rates, the idea that taxation is "theft" is something that the wealthy have been pounding into the heads of the population for decades now. If that were true, then those that don't want to pay taxes should not be permitted to use OUR roadways, or seek protection from OUR police force, or expect their trash to be picked up by OUR sanitation workers. If and when a natural disaster strikes and your home is destroyed, please don't look to US for relief. If you are in trouble in a foreign country do not look to OUR embassy. When you want to sue your business partners or you get into an accident and need to sue the negligent party or even when you are arrested and accused of a crime, please don't look to OUR courts for redress. If you have not paid for these services, please don't steal them from those that have paid. Also, if you have a business, please do not steal the use of OUR railways, roadways, bridges and tunnels, postal system, shipping ports, waterways, rivers, lakes, airports, airways, traffic controllers, etc. Because the more you are making, the more you will be using OUR infrastructure and services. Get your own and stop putting such heavy demands on what is OURS. Freeloading rich people will not be tolerated despite the fact that they are and always have been amongst the most self entitled people to grace this country. Pay your taxes or stop stealing.30 RecommendSteve Crouse CT Jan. 5
Eisenhower said that high marginal income tax rates on wealthy people and corporations was not socialism but sound economic policy. He said corporations would pay a greater portion of their profits from increased worker productivity to workers rather than pay an increased amount in taxes to government. For decades workers received annual increases in wages and benefits when marginal income tax rates were high. Then Reaganomics was introduced which lowered greatly those marginal income tax rates on wealthy people and corporations while raising payroll taxes on workers and businesses. The result has been no growth or loss of real income for 90% of the country, a small to moderate gain for the top 9%, and a huge gain in real income for the top 1% of income earners. Businesses gave bonuses to management for increasing before tax profits. They did this by reducing the growth rate of wages and benefits and moving production to Mexico and China where wages and benefits and regulations are much less than in the US. It has been goodbye good industrial jobs and hello to bad service jobs for the past 35 years. It's time to go back to that which helps most people and not the top 1%. Goodbye to trickle down economics which has never worked to help the bottom 99%.Reply 30 RecommendAlexanderTheGoodEnough Pennsylvania Jan. 6
@Ellen All correct, our infrastructure has already become third world. Next time you're stuck in traffic under a bridge, look up at the rusted steel and spalled concrete. I do this often because I've been involved with road construction all my life and I'm aware of the collapse of our infrastructure. However, few people ever look up at a bridge when below it, and don't recognize what they see. The politicians don't look either, but the engineers do.30 RecommendJack SF Bay Area Jan. 6
What's good for the USA is good for General Bullmoose!! https://youtu.be/Kj65AcbekIE I've been saying this for years. The wealth of the wealthy is founded upon and maintained by the prosperity of America's working people. Those among the ±1%, and most especially the 0.1%, who are not sociopaths ("It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail." ~ Gore Vidal et al.) must realize that the best investment that the well-to-do have ever made in all of human history was in America's infrastructure and its middle class during the 3+ decades following WW II. Even though at the time the taxes on the wealthy were overly confiscatory, not only did it result in remarkable economic prosperity for all, including the wealthy, it also meant that the wealthy could sleep safely in their beds and not have to cower behind walls and private armies for fear that their heads might end up on a pike. Sadly, those days seem to be passing. A person with no hope can be deadly, so, as the people lose more and more, the rich must, perforce, fear more and more. Some of them know that, and know better, but... "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." ~ Justice Louis D. Brandeis When John D. Rockefeller was asked once, "How much money is enough money?" He replied, "Just a little bit more."Reply 30 RecommendMolesh NY Jan. 6
It's not just higher tax brackets for the wealthy. It's also tax breaks on dividends as opposed to dividends as well as all of the other tax breaks that rich people receive. It's also unaudited and untracked overspending on the military, subsidies for fossil fuel companies, and all of that stuff. The result is that young people pay for their education for the rest of their lives; roads, bridges, railroads, airports, water systems, etc., are in a state of advanced decay and our society as a whole is suffering from structural deterioration. So good for Krugman and Ocasio-Cortez. It's about time.30 Recommendsjs Bridgeport, CT Jan. 5
Taxing the rich at 75% is a fools errand. President Holland tried only to see rich leave France. In a global economy, the rich move, when taxed too much, (in their opinion) to where taxes are lower. It is just as lovely to live in London - with the source of your income conveniently located in the Channel Island) then in NYC30 RecommendThomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 5
@WPLMMT I am a liberal and a progressive and what I want is for the ultra rich to stop grabbing everything for themselves aided by unfair tax laws and bought politicians. Write back in 2.5 years, WPLMMT, and see if your prediction about her longevity comes true. I wouldn't take the bet, if I were you.30 RecommendJMM Worcester, MA Jan. 5
@Robert Orban Reagan did not do it. Volcker did it, with the approval of Carter, before Reagan became president, and continued the same policy under Reagan.30 Recommendbud mckinney Jan. 6
@Ron Cohen A bigger contribution to the "why" is the changes in accounting rules on options and stock compensation. This plus the SEC rule changes regarding advanced advice (forecasting company performance) have allowed executives to play the expectations game and manage their payout.29 RecommendKaty NYC Jan. 7
Krugman,as usual,you are wrong.When you pay 70% or more in taxes;what is your incentive to work.The people taxed at the 70% rate will leave,just like France.Then France reduced the tax rate.Cortez is an individual with scant knowledge of economics/taxation.I find it amazing she grew up in affluent Yorktown Heights in Westchester County yet wants us to believe she's a poor hispanic from the Bronx.Reply 29 RecommendCharles New York Jan. 5
@Billy Walker Under Dwight D Eisenhower, taxes on the wealthy were much higher percentage. Ocasio regurgitated a Republican's tax plan and called it her own. During Ike's tenure, those monies were used to build the greatest infrastructure America ever built, and the last time America made any meaningful investment in our infrastructure - because Reganonomics paved the way to decrease taxes on the wealthy and there went America's infrastructure monies. Why are you so determined to make sure the rich get richer?29 Recommendlester ostroy Redondo Beach, CA Jan. 5
@Geoffrey "Why not punish the unproductive with high taxes as an incentive for them to become more productive".... It's rich to imply someone making $20 an hour is unproductive as opposed to one born to the investor or heir class who may have never lifted a finger or even earned their original wealth in the first place.29 RecommendDenise Johnson Claremont, CA Jan. 7
@Plennie Wingo When considering tax rates, the so called payroll tax should be folded in. Most observers of our tax rates seem to forget that part of the deal. Since the government uses the payroll taxes collected no differently than it uses any other funds collected, I think it would be smart to get rid of it altogether. Right now, the payroll tax, which is supposedly funding Social Security and Medicare has a surplus every year and is added ludicrously to the national "debt." Let's get rid of all of these fictions and start over so that the actual taxes everyone pays will be more equitable.29 RecommendMark Portland, ME Jan. 6
@Billy Walker So who cares about the data, history, experts- you know what you know. Our current tax laws have been written by the rich & corporations. Do you think that is why they favor the rich & corporations with little regard to what is best for our country? I do.28 Recommended connor camp springs, md Jan. 5
I think this quote by Mr. Krugman is a dangerous mentality to have for us citizens. "Or to put it a bit more succinctly, when taxing the rich, all we should care about is how much revenue we raise." Boy could this logic justify some madness down the road.28 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
Capital, and capitalists, can flee. It's why the Beatles left the U.K. in their prime. Remember "Tax Man"? Paul, you more than anyone have spoken about the fact that capital knows no borders; it just seeks the highest return.28 Recommendjas2200 Carlsbad, CA Jan. 7
Isn't a major elephant in the room the amount of our taxes that goes to (Eisenhower's famous phrase) the Military Industrial Complex? As Martin Luther King said :" A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."Reply 28 RecommendMidnight Scribe Chinatown, New York City Jan. 6
@Allan Reagan: If you are making under $100,000, you won't be hurt by the higher tax rates Democrats, including AOC, are talking about. AOC floated higher rates on income over $10,000,000. I think you are safe.28 RecommendAKJ Pennsylvania Jan. 6
The future has arrived and we'll do anything to stop it dead in its tracks. AOC is a symptom of the future, not the full-blown terminal illness lying in wait for the oligarchy. Beto O'Rourke may also be a symptom of this new dreaded epidemic. The GOP has been doing this smoke-and-mirrors act with the economy for decades: the "job creators" who can't be taxed, the efficient markets which result in a major financial catastrophe every ten years, the "competition" which only results in the consolidation of economic control and power in the hands of a few big corporations (monopolists) and big banks. And the whole thing runs on free money - zero interest rate policy - or effectively zero when inflation is factored in. We have a cult. A cult of "conservatism" which is profligate, wasteful, irresponsible, fatuous, anti-scientific, anti-fact, and anti-intellectual. Cults work better without facts. They're hostile to fact. And cults are dangerous like ignorance, and greed, and chicanery. Conservative = Insurgent. Up = Down. Donkey = Aristotle. And doesn't it sell like hotcakes along with those $40 red hats...Reply 28 RecommendMij Sirron California Jan. 6
@sharon Not to mention how Mitt shoveled a bunch of options into his retirement account without having to pay taxes on their full value.28 RecommendScott Texas Jan. 6
Great idea, let's raise more tax money so that we can do truly productive activities such as flying dead ex-presidents and senators across the country (several times) in 747's. Maybe they needed the security or were in a hurry to be buried. Then, of course, look at the great value-for-dollar we get from military spending.Reply 27 RecommendWizarat Moorestown, NJ Jan. 6
I don't need some 29 year-old who has never started a business, made payroll, created something that didn't exist before, took the chance, made the investment, and suffered the many setbacks before the idea was a success to tell me how I should or shouldn't spend my money. Taxing it is the same as saying how I should spend it. I also do not need an academic who has never started a business, made payroll, created something that didn't exist before, took the chance, made the investment, and suffered the many setbacks before the idea was a success to tell me how I should or shouldn't spend my money. Taxing it is the same as saying how I should spend it. Both of these folks are sad examples of the "let me tell you what is best for you" paternalistic, liberal ideology that we should all be very afraid of.27 RecommendWorldPeace2017 US Expat in SE Asia Jan. 6
Professor Krugman, AOC is no flake and the Republicans know that. Trumpian Republicans are running scared of the new freshman class of 116th Congress as it is the most diverse and educated ever. They are looking for ways to discredit these young, energetic, and educated Representatives of the People who came/got elected to take back the Government from the Corporations. They promised to make it work for all the people. Just to add one more item in your list of why we should tax the top 1% with a 70%-75% tax rate is the fact that the utility of extra money to people with middle and low income is certainly very high as compared to higher income folks/corporations. The marginal propensity to save is almost zero for extra money received as a result of tax cuts/reductions in the lower income individuals, essentially they are going to spend all of it in the local economy to obtain the necessities of life. This extra money spent in the economy would have a major multiplier effect in the economy. We do live in a consumer based economy. The revenue generated by taxing the extremely wealthy individuals/corporations would go a long way to fund a lot of Progressive ideas/values for our citizen. The freshman class of 116th Congress gives me a lot of hope for the future of our country.27 RecommendnotBillWalker New Britain, CT Jan. 7
@paulkrugman You have stated things I learned 65 years ago in my first economics class when good teachers were proud to say the names like Samuel Gompers and the like. Thank you. You were right about the timing and prosperity that the US had in the period after WW II. The US growth rate was doubling every 11years, as shown in graphs on The Guardian on 5 January. Only after Reagan did the US begin a real spiral down in growth, but still ahead of all others except China. Real productivity increases are hindered by some almost immovable obstacles; Greed by the rich, over weight among all groups and failures in educating/inspiring the masses. The three are global phenomenons but only addressing the first can lead to having the wherewithal's to address the other 2. I look forward to reading and following @AOC in her work in the future, she has great guts. I'm with her.Reply 27 RecommendPrede New Jersey Jan. 7
@Billy Walker It's a marginal tax rate, Billy. You're not going to be paying anywhere close to 70%.27 RecommendJoel Sanders New Jersey Jan. 6
@Jason Capital controls, high tariff walls, and high interest rates fix this. You know what the united states had from 1947-1970ish26 RecommendDave From Auckland Auckland Jan. 5
Mr. Krugman's citation of a utility analysis lacks a grounding in property rights, which arguably define and distinguish the US from all other political economies. That said, if we want to use utility as the standard of value, then let's use rule-based utility vs. act-based utility. On that standard, how have the socialist / communist / so-called "progressive" / fascist / generally collectivist countries performed over the last 100 years in relation to the US? Who has flourished? Who has perished? If you are in doubt, take a drive through a typical Pyongyang or Naypyidaw suburb and compare it to a typical US suburb. Also consider Moscow and Havana; they love collectivist thought almost as much as the US academy. Earth to Mr. Krugman: human beings are more than widgets in your economic toolbox. [No, not a Republican.]Reply 26 RecommendTim Kane Mesa, Arizona Jan. 6
If 'everyday' people had guaranteed healthcare, education for their kids and food on the table, they would not be so overwhelmed with making and saving money. Whatever tax rate that requires on whomever could pay would be worth itReply 26 RecommendMichael London UK Jan. 7
According to the late Nobel Laureate & Econ Historian Douglas C. North's "Structure & Change in Economic History" @ the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire wealth was so concentrated that 6 senators owned half of North Africa, specie so concentrated that trade was reduced to barter & the commercial economy collapsed. Serfdom was created to tie workers to the land. The Roman legion still held a tactical advantage over their adversaries, but it had thinned, as a result the empire needed a bigger army however the wealthy & powerful used their influence to avoid paying taxes; as a result the empire lacked the funds & the political will to defend its borders @ a time when it controlled all the resources of Western Civilization @ a time when that included Turkey, Syria, Egypt & North Africa as well as the best part of Europe against barbarians. Similar events lead to the collapse of Ancient Egypt's New Kingdom, Byzantium, Mideavel Japan, Hapsburg Spain, Bourbon France, Romanov Russia, Coolege-Hoover America (triggering the Great Depression, Hitler, WWII, the Holoust), oh, & BushJr America. Concentrated wealth destroys great empires, civilizations & nations. Marx got in trouble for pointing out that industrial capitalism grows slower than the rate of wealth concentration. The right likes to shoot the messenger. He was doing them a favor. High taxes & redistribution of bargaining power is needed to stave off instability & collapse & hardship so vast you can't conceive it.26 RecommendMike NY Jan. 5
Really fascinating article and very informative. More please. What's the lowest rate in the US? When I started work in 1981 in the U.K. I paid 30%. Now down to 20%. Plus about 3% for national insurance which is income tax really but is meant to be hypothecated to the NHS. I'm happy to pay some more to ensure the continued cohesion of our society. I don't know why some people find that such a problem.Reply 26 RecommendNextGeneration Portland Jan. 6
This ignores the fact that most people with a lot of money don't make their income in the form of a paycheck. What we really need to do is return the tax rate on investment income, not earned income. That would also help end these wild swings and speculation we see on Wall Street.Reply 26 RecommendJS Seattle Jan. 7
Appreciate the reporting, but NYT why not report on what Nancy Pelosi is saying or doing vs. a freshman in Congress? The Speaker of the House has years and years of experience; is one of the few members of the government who has been recorded effectively talking "back" to Trump; and as her daughter says, is someone who clearly knows what she is doing, so people (in America) can sleep at night.Reply 26 RecommendPaul Wortman Providence Jan. 5
@Jason, you wouldn't move to CA or Ireland, you'd move to countries like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, or Macedonia. Go ahead, be my guest!26 RecommendGary Durst Boston Jan. 6
It's been clear since Ronald Reagan that tax cuts don't trickle down while workers wages stagnate. It's time to reverse course, especially when Trump has nearly bankrupted the Treasury and Republicans have been shown to be hypocrites on deficit reduction. It's time to address income inequality and provide funds for Medicare-for-All; an infrastructure program that will bring the nation into the 21st century with high-speed rail and a modern energy grid that includes solar and wind; and prods states to return to tuition-free higher education at state colleges and universities. A.O.C. is "right on the money" with a top bracket of 70 percent. It's time to end the Trump kleptocracy and fully restore the graduated income tax.Reply 25 RecommendMax Dither Ilium, NY Jan. 7
Fascinating...an oversimplified correlation of two variables (tax rates and growth) to justify redistribution of wealth. "Hey, Mr/Ms X, I know you earned your income based on the value of what you do in a competitive marketplace, but you don't really need all of what you earned...so we the government, arbiters of wise decisions about how to spend money, are going to take most of what you earned and give it to someone else." Poppycock.... Rep Ocasio-Cortez seems both nice and sincere; I'd venture to say she's a very good person based upon her concern and empathy, and I don't understand the flawed tactics of the right in picking on her extra-legislative habits (dancing, clothing choices, etc.) Her empathy and personality don't balance her terrible politics regarding redistribution of wealth. As for economists -- Nobel Prizes notwithstanding -- the good ones are driving gorwth today and not publishing opinion pieces based on poor economic theoryReply 25 Recommendmrfreeze6 Seattle, WA Jan. 5
The point AOC (and, surprisingly, you) miss is that the kinds of wealthy people she wants to target with a 70 percent marginal tax rate don't make their income from wages. They make it from capital gains instead. So, if she wants to create a more sustainable revenue flow to the government, she needs to work on getting those rates up to reasonable levels. But capital gains have different forms. The part that she needs to focus is on speculative capital gains, not investment gains. Short term gains resulting from just flipping securities is gambling writ large, and there's no reason why the taxpayers should have to subsidize that risk-taking with low tax rates for the flippers. Treating these gains as ordinary income is goodness, but only if that rate matches the higher rate AOC wants. In fact, those should be higher than the top marginal rate, and expenses related to them should not be deductible. (This should include carried interest, too.) Long term capital gains tend to create jobs, infrastructure, and retirement savings, so those need to be encouraged with deductions of related expenses, and lower tax rates, too. In any event, I encourage AOC in her thinking. We need to readjust our tax system to make it more fair to the taxpayers, and to stop the robber barons on Wall Street from ripping us off.Reply 25 RecommendA Populist Wisconsin Jan. 5
@Prof Forgive me for not feeling sorry for the wealthy. They have benefited greatly under the system of government we call the U.S., a system we all pay for. There are plenty of other taxes people pay besides federal taxes (excise, state, city, local, property, etc.). They don't have armies of lobbyists, attorneys and loopholes to protect their capital. As for moving all of their money offshore, good riddance.25 RecommendART Boston Jan. 6
@hammond Paul Krugman has written about the "Europe was Rubble" myth - the idea that the unprecedented creation of a large and prosperous U.S. middle class, was only possible because of those special conditions. https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/the-europe-in-rubble-excuse / Here it is about tax policy, but it is also brought up as an excuse not to try policy responses to high unemployment, low wages, etc. In addition to PK's arguments: First, the whole idea that we had faster growth due to having had trade *surpluses*, doesn't make sense. Those surpluses actually required *more* output - not less. So, in theory, if Europe had *not* been rubble (dubious, as PK points out), US growth should have been *higher*. OK, that is all based on theoretical supply side constraints. But what about Demand? OK, now you have something. The trade surpluses increased demand (AD = C+I+G+(X-M). It is long past time to start talking about aggregate demand, and how that has been creating a dysfunctional economy. Also, how destruction of the New Deal, has allowed wages to stagnate, which has given us lots of low productivity jobs at low pay, reducing productivity growth through compositional effects - but more importantly, making US poorer, less efficient, and with less job satisfaction. Workers can tell when their job is really not valued. Finally, if indeed making low skilled US workers compete with foreign starvation wages is a problem, we need to acknowledge and fix that.25 RecommendCitizen RI Jan. 5
One of the biggest myths out there is the one in which an individual says "I did it all on my own". The truth is, no you did not. You had an education, passed down from other generations that made discoveries, you had paved roads, police and fireman, an educated workforce, safe food to eat, clean water to drink. All things paid for by everyone. We should have high taxes that are progressive. People use the misnomer, "The Government" to try and discredit as others the people charging the taxes. But come on people, stop being stupid. Our constitution says "Government by the people for the people". We are our government. Anyone of you, or I, can run for office. Enough of this fake individualism conservative fairy tale. We need to work together in order to build a more just and perfect society.25 RecommendRational not Rationalize Milwaukee, WI Jan. 7
You can put all the charts and graphs you want in front of people, provide all the historical evidence available, and provide evidence of how things have never and are not now working the way Republicans say it has or will, and they still will refuse to believe their lying eyes. The Republican experiment to fleece the middle and lower classes is ongoing and successful, in part supported by the middle and lower classes' willful blind ignorance and devotion to self flagellation.Reply 25 RecommendKenneth Johnson Pennsylvania Jan. 5
Please don't forget we are talking about the highest MARGINAL tax rate, e. g., the tax due on the income over $600,000 for a couple filing jointly was 37% in 2018 and the same couple paid 35% on $400,001 to $600,00, and 32% on $315,000 to $400,000, and 24% on $165,001 to ¥315,000, and 22% on $77,401 $165,000, and 12% on $19,051 to $77,400, and 10% on income up to $19,050. What we need are more margins on the high end; to equate a $600,000 earner with a $10,000,000 earner is absurd. Nearly half the top %1 of earners make $10,000,000 or more! Why should they be taxed at the same rate as someone making 6% as much??? A family making $36,000 (6% of $600,000) pays a highest marginal rate of 12%, while the family making $600,001 pays a highest marginal rate of 37% and a family making $10,000,000 pays at the same highest marginal rate of 37%! The incentive for the top .1% in this set up is not to put money back into their businesses or employ more people, but rather, it's to buy off politicians dedicated to keeping their tax rate on the bulk of their income ridiculously low! When the Koch brothers thanked Paul Ryan for passing Trump's tax cuts it cost them $500,000 (in donations to Ryan), but gained them $1,000,000,000 to $1,400,000,000 in reduced taxes. See how it works? Forget about the 1%! Go after the .1%!!!Reply 25 RecommendYW New York, NY Jan. 6
As an affluent retired person, I left New Jersey for Texas, where I'm originally from. With 'an optimal tax rate of 73%', I'll be leaving the USA. I can still spend 182 days a year here. Let them tax those affluent people who must remain behind. As Margaret Thatcher said: 'The problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other people's money'. Or am I missing something here?25 RecommendMarvant Duhon Bloomington Indiana Jan. 5
Love the fact that the article is punctuated by a slick advertisement pushing sales of $13 million co-ops. Does Krugman think that high-earning W-2 taxpayers will continue living in New York City, or even the US, when rates are 70-80%? France tried this just a few years ago; it was an instant failure resulting in a quick exodus of the country's largest taxpayers. Krugman is living in the fifties. We are now a globalized economy where capital and human resources are far more mobile.24 RecommendBBB Australia Jan. 7
I will quibble with one small and tangential claim in this article. Krugman writes that additional taxes on the very rich will not affect their life satisfaction, since they can still buy what they want. This is not always the case. Many of the very wealthy want to buy more things than they can afford. And some, not just the Koch family, want to buy the government. They pour billions into the attempt. And as it happens, that's another reason for increasing the marginal tax rate on the very rich.Reply 24 RecommendLisa NC Jan. 6
Why not tax labor lower than capital gains? Labor will have more incentive to work because they can keep more of what they earn. People who live off capital will just keep doing what they are doing. I doubt they'll rush out to get W-2 jobs. We're tried the reverse for long enough, let's flip it around and give the majority their turn.Reply 24 Recommendjoyce santa fe Jan. 5
As a recent retiree, I was surprised to learn that my husband and I wouldn't be paying any taxes on our substantial capital gains, dividends, and interest, as long as we kept below the ~ 77,000 income level. We're living on current cash and taxable accounts, and are fortunate not to need to sign up for SS until 70 1/2 nor pull from our retirement accounts (except to fill up the bracket). This is basically ridiculous. We're affluent, not Uber-wealthy, but certainly can afford to pay more than the piddling amount that we've paid the last couple of years.24 Recommendmt Portland OR Jan. 6
A country where taxes are basically fair and social programs give people, all of them, basic security, is a calm and efficiently working society that does not have regular massacres in schools and churches, and does not have a restless and frustrated public. and so on. there is a country like this next door. The contrast with the disfunctional US today is striking.Reply 24 Recommendttrumbo Fayetteville, Ark. Jan. 5
@Barking Doggerel Excellent comment. A keeper.24 RecommendSocrates Downtown Verona. NJ Jan. 6
Equality. That is a necessary component of civilized society and democracy. You have to have a certain level of equality. Freedom to become a billionaire is not good for America or any country. Community, compassion, belonging, love, equality. Not selfish riches.24 RecommendThomas Zaslavsky Binghamton, N.Y. Jan. 5
@Jay For the full context, the 1999 Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act was authored by three Randian Republicans from Republican-majority Senate and House. While Bill Clinton should not have signed it, Republicans authored it. In April 2003 - under the Bush Reign of Error - the attorneys general of two states went to Washington with a stern warning for the nation's top bank regulator. In the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in Wash DC, the AGs from North Carolina and Iowa said lenders were pushing increasingly risky mortgages. Their host, John Hawke, expressed skepticism. Roy Cooper of North Carolina and Tom Miller of Iowa headed a committee of state officials concerned about new forms of "predatory" lending. They urged Hawke to give states more latitude to limit exorbitant interest rates and fine-print fees. "People out there are struggling with oppressive loans," Cooper recalls saying. Hawke, a veteran banking industry lawyer appointed to head the OCC by Bill Clinton in 1998, wouldn't budge. He said he would reinforce federal policies that hindered states from reining in lenders. The AGs left the tense hour-long meeting realizing that Bush-Cheney's Washington had become a foe in the fight against reckless real estate finance. The OCC "took 50 sheriffs off the job during the time the mortgage lending industry was becoming the Wild West," Cooper says. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/27121535/ns/business-us_business/t/states-warned-about-impending-mortgage-crisis /24 RecommendDeb Blue Ridge Mtns. Jan. 6
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, The rich never work for the poor. The relatively poor work for the rich, after which the rich complain that they are being asked to pay taxes for services for the people they underpay.24 Recommendalan san francisco, ca Jan. 5
@vulcanalex - Did it ever occur to you that if Charles and David Koch, together worth upwards of 90 BILLION, paid taxes proportionally the same as you do now, your taxes might be lower? The middle class has been footing the bill for 50 yrs. and needs actual relief. No one, no one, no one needs 90 Billion $$. That's pure greed and it's economically stupid as well.23 RecommendJohn McCoy Washington, DC Jan. 7
One should tax every source of income at the same rates. Thus, incomve from dividends, capital gains, and inheritances should all be taxed at the higher rates. The distinction between earned and passive income is false and makes no difference to the recipient.23 RecommendJack Irvine, CA Jan. 5
@Gwe A true win-win. Pay the CEO's excessively to satisfy their egos and tax them appropriately to foster equality.23 RecommendSusan Fitzwater Ambler, PA Jan. 6
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 took away: SALT deductions (limited $10,000 fout of $19,883)) Personal exemptions ($12,150) Unreimbursed business expenses ($9,906). This increased my TAXABLE INCOME by + $32,209. Sure, marginal rate dropped from 24% to 22%, but my Federal tax INCREASE this year was $7,085 or 71%. MAGA!23 RecommendErik Nordheim Seattle Jan. 6
Some scattered thoughts. Bear with me. I just got back from an Orthodox Jewish wedding (a lovely experience!). While there, I fell into conversation with a good friend--a conservative. A moderate conservative--but conservative nonetheless. A dichotomy struck me--which I kept to myself. My friend's view of "classical liberalism" was "limited government." Enable people to rise as far as their talents and determination take them. And get out of the way. Such (he declared) was the philosophy of our sixteenth President--the sainted Lincoln. The Civil War (he said) garnished him with a bright shining halo he might never have achieved otherwise. Okay--maybe so. Maybe not. Who knows? So what's my own philosophy? Which I never got around to articulating. Protection, Mr. Krugman. Protection. Protection of an oppressed minority from an oppressive majority. OR-- --of an oppressed majority from an oppressive minority. Protection of the weak from the strong. Of the poor from the rich. Of the honorably striving working people that never won a place in the heart--or the books--of that conservative icon, Ayn Rand. So, Mr. Krugman-- --I read your piece with considerable sympathy. Tax the rich? Sounds good to me. Even out the horrendous inequality now plaguing and poisoning American life. But part of this feeling, Mr. Krugman, is old-fashioned SPITE. Sorry! I'd love to hear the Koch brothers howl. Someday. Soon.Reply 23 Recommendjames jordan Falls church, Va Jan. 5
@Gwe AOC's 70% tax rate proposal applies to dollars earns $10,000,001 and above. E.g. 70¢ on that one dollar instead of today's 37¢.23 RecommendSN Los Angeles Jan. 7
AOC has her work cut out for her. She will need your help. In reality, she will need all the support she can get to persuade the Democratic Caucus that a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes makes sense. Clearly, she and many noted highly respected economists have found that the trend in inequality has not been beneficial to the performance of the larger U.S. economy. She appears to have the energy and intelligence to develop a narrative that the Caucus could use but ultimately she and the proponents of the 70-80% will not hurt their chances for re-election in 2020. Equally important in making our society more egalitarian are the issue of tax shelters and the definition of income in the tax code, e.g. the treatment of income from capital gains vs. income from salaries and wages. My very rich friends seem to load a large portion of the "winnings" in offshore shelters. A big difference that needs to be addressed is the "cap" on payroll tax rates that are clearly unfair to the average wage-earning employee, and the self-employed "gig" economy worker. I hope someone will take up this very unfair provision. I suggest that requiring ALL income be treated equally with NO CAP for the FICA-HI payroll deduction would make the Social Security Trust Fund flush and possibly the funds required for Medicare for All a reality. With this kind of payroll tax package, there is a possibility that the payroll tax rate could be reduced or payments to recipients increased.23 RecommendJulie Carter Maine Jan. 7
@Joe, it appears you're confusing the marginal tax rate (the rate at which your highest additional dollar of income is taxed) with the overall rate at which your income is taxed. They're not the same. People won't be paying the highest rates except on their highest additional dollars of income -- those last several million dollars, for example.23 RecommendBewley5 Austin Jan. 7
What needs to be pointed out in every article on tax rates is that the 70% or 35% or whatever rate is in force is not on ones entire income, but only on the topmost part. It might only be on the top 10% of an individuals income, not on the entire amount. That is where people who oppose these rates don't get it. And when the "alternative minimum tax" was passed, it was meant to make sure everyone paid some tax because they weren't allowed to use all of they deductions. But somehow, some are more privileged than others and get to pay nothing, like the Trumps and Kushner's. In the meantime, some of us retirees who saved like crazy for retirement and had some decent investments have to pay through the nose every year when the law requires us to sell a certain portion of our retirement funds and pay capital gains rates. We have paid alternative minimum tax for years with far less annual income per year than Ivanka has per month.23 RecommendRoscoe Fort Myers, FL Jan. 7
The decline of the American middle class started with the election of Reagan and his voodoo economics. The investments we made say in college education could no longer be sustained at the lower tax rate and the result? No one but the upper ten percent can afford college.23 RecommendJeremy Kaplan Brooklyn Jan. 7
The other intended consequence of low taxes for the rich has been the accumulation of money that can be used to buy political power. I think that's the real purpose of the right, to have the power to take over our country. To counter that we need to look at wealth taxes and taxing more capital gains. We don't need more Donald Trumps and Koch brothers.23 RecommendEllen San Diego Jan. 5
@Billy Walker Just because 70% sounds "insane" to you does not mean it isn't the best policy. Are you an economist?23 RecommendBBB Australia Jan. 6
Bravo to Ocasio-Cortez, and to Krugman. But what I'd like to know is why is it that such sensible and fair taxing policies have not been promoted by current Democratic members of Congress? To answer my own question - they've been "bought" by corporate/1% campaign contributions. This said, how will Ms. Ocasio-Cortez fare in the House? Conversely, how will the House fare with her in it? Should be interesting to watch.Reply 23 RecommendBill B Fulton, MD Jan. 7
We need a "Jobs Created" form in the 1040 stack. In exchange for the tax cut, the very wealthy should be required to file it for the same reason that the very poor are required to prove they qualify for the Earned Income Credit. How many jobs did you create? How much were they worth? Write it down. Some ridiculously rich American volunteer should step forward with the last 10 years of their tax returns and corespondingly matched annual budgets to confirm 2 things that the GOP refuses to admit but uses to underpin tax cuts for people who do not need one: 1-The Uber Wealthy aren't big job creators. 2-The impact they have on the economy is far less than the average person who spends all their tax cut on goods and services. A higher tax rate, better matched with uber high personal income generated by the global multiplier effect, will have a greater impact on the economy in one year that one person can achieve in a lifetime. Kill the Trickle Down Theory before the GOP recycles it again.22 RecommendSandraH. California Jan. 6
@romanette I suspect that for every Jason who actually makes enough to pay the 73% marginal rate there are 50 Jason's that don't.22 RecommendVizitei Missouri Jan. 6
@Geoffrey, you're mythologizing wealth. Most annual income over $10 million has nothing to do with being "super productive." That's only true in an Ayn Rand novel.22 RecommendChris Toronto Jan. 7
I am fully aligned with Mr. Krugman when he bashes the idiocy of Trump's economic "policies". I part ways with him over his advocacy of super high tax rates. He makes a case that we did so well when we had it but he, of all people, knows the difference between correlation and causation. In the years without internet and with international movement by people and companies was full of friction, this kind of extortion and "not caring" about what the "rich" thought held up. In today's world, you would massive exodus of the most productive and economically active members of our society. It failed. In Europe and in the US, countries had to contend with real competition from other geographies who were only too happy to welcome these folks. Another point, which Mr. Krugman fails to address is this: who will put the capital in question to a more productive use - the government which collected it as a tax or the businessman who has an opportunity to invest in the improvement he finds most efficient and effective? This does argue for policies that encourage the 'right choice", but overall, the answer is known. This is why every true socialist system has failed economically, and will continue to do so. 70% tax bracket is not the answer. It never was.Reply 22 Recommendlinearspace Italy Jan. 7
Many of the comments here are dismaying. The point here is that both the US economy and society are not sustainable in the long-term with a tax system that creates massive inequality, public debt and disproportionately supports the enrichment of the already-wealthy. There is a self-centred, growing (mostly Republican) billionaires club buying the political system, defining public policy and not surprisingly they are the primary beneficiaries. US democracy is very broken and the rest of the world no longer views it as the example it once was. The US needs more voices like OAC's.Reply 22 Recommendpendragn52 South Florida Jan. 7
I thought I already liked AOC a lot; now I like her even more, especially after her political platform about a free universal health care reform proper of one of the major powers in the world.22 RecommendJacob Sommer Medford, MA Jan. 6
@Jason "apply some creativity and critical thinking (you know - the kind that happens in the private sector)." Worked in the private sector for 30 years. Never saw much of that.22 RecommendKurt Chicago Jan. 7
So often, it seems like the Republicn tax plan is, "We need to lower taxes on the rich because eventually it will be good for the middle class! Pay no attention to that sliver of middle class tax hike behind the curtain..." Why anybody takes their economic rhetoric seriously when there are no credible cases that their plans have worked lo these past 40 years remains a mystery to me.22 RecommendD I Francis London Jan. 7
The real crime is how much of the pie so few take home in the first place and how little the great bulk of Americans see. If there were a small village, and one powerful man making the rules on wealth distribution decided to give himself a ninety percent cut of the wealth and leave the remaining ten percent to the rest of the townsfolk, they'd go after him with torches and pitchforks. But we have a giant complicated impersonal economy, and this simple economic injustice gets lost and confused in the mix. But the fact remains, the people with power - the stewards of our government and our economy - are abusing their power, and we as individuals, and all of us as a society suffer greatly.22 Recommendmarkymark Lafayette, CA Jan. 5
@Joe Hi, It would be progressive and banded, so you would only pay 70% on the very highest part of your earnings. So you would be paying 30% on earnings up to say 100K, then 40% on earnings between 100K and 250K, and so on. Hope this helps.22 RecommendQuinn New Providence, NJ Jan. 5
If this country ever aspires to greatness again, it will take campaign finance reform and the end to vulture capitalism, including raising tax rates on wealthy individuals and corporations. The supreme court has given corporations way too much power and it's past time to take it back.22 RecommendMary M Raleigh Jan. 6
@Brinton I agree - a fair tax system would look at all income equally. A dollar of income would be treated the same regardless of its source. The discount on capital gains makes no economic sense - this is "picking winners and losers", something the GOP hates. Think of this: why is interest income taken at a higher rate than capital gains? The wrong answer is that the capital gain came from taking a higher risk. Why does the tax law reward risk taking and by contrast punish safer investing with a higher tax rate?22 Recommenddcf nyc Jan. 5
Thomas Picketty studied centuries of income inequality and found that without progressive government intervention, wealth disparities tend to worsen. The single most effective way to shrink wealth disparities and grow the middle class is through progressive taxation, aka, soak the rich. This is how Denmark does it. Funny thing, growing the middle class increases national happiness and strengthens a sense of community. Big difference from the uber rich who buy islands just to live without neighbors. Living in a more equitable society makes everyone happier.22 Recommend617to416 Ontario via Massachusetts Jan. 6
@Tom Dr. K is all in on the taxing of wealth and cap gains at higher rates, and while I haven't read AOC's particular proposals yet, no doubt she would agree.21 RecommendM. Ng New York, NY Jan. 7
@Annie I'm not sure a small local community group would effectively or efficiently provide some of the things we rely on the government to provide -- healthcare coverage for instance (at least here in Canada) or a police force. Those skeptical of what government does should try living in a country without musth government: Somalia, maybe.21 RecommendAna Luisa Belgium Jan. 5
We only need to look as far back as Kansas in 2012 to see a real life case study of republican tax policy in all its theoretical glory. Governor Brownback and the republican legislature passed into law a low individual income tax rate and eliminated state income taxes entirely for pass-through entities (ie small businesses) to spur job creation and investment in businesses. Not only did it not create said jobs nor spur investment in businesses, the state collected $750mm less in income tax ($2.2b vs. $2.9b) over 2014-16 and the state began FY 2017 with a $350mm deficit. Sadly the people who suffered disproportionately were residents of small towns and districts whose districts didn't have strong enough balance sheets to weather unusually low levels of tax revenue, where public services such as safety and schools struggled (many of which had to consider closing or consolidating). In addition, the state diverted funds from infrastructure spending and universities to the general fund and spend down the state's cash reserves. That is the result of a republican tax plan enacted.Reply 21 RecommendJenna X. Gadflye Atlanta, GA Jan. 6
@bcw And the exact same also goes for Trump himself, of course. Compare that to what Obama and the Democrats did: they increased taxes for people like themselves multiple times, and then used that money to cover 20 million more Americans all while curbing federal healthcare cost increases, AND by doing so saving an additional half a million American lives a decade. THAT is "putting America first", outside of the GOP "alternative facts" world.21 RecommendCO fan Boulder Jan. 6
Another reason to tax the 1% at the highest rate possible: they would have considerably less money to spend on buying politicians who will rig the system to benefit the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. I'm sure NYT's conservative commenters will say "but...job creators!" Right. "Job creators" who are rapidly automating the means of production because robots don't need to be paid a living wage. They never get sick or need vacations, either. Robots can work 24/7 without lunch or or bathroom breaks, too. Unlike us pesky peasants with our quaint notions about Constitutional and civil rights, including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." The misanthropic rich deserve a good soaking, every now and then, to remind them that they're no better than us and just as human as we are.Reply 21 RecommendJ San Diego Jan. 6
What Paul Krugman does not say (but knows all too well) is that due to various deductions and tax shelters, the effective (as opposed to nominal) % of income paid in the 50's, 60's and 70's was not much more than now. For example, until 1986 taxpayers were allowed to exclude 1/2 of their capital gains. So, if you were in a 70% tax bracket, the capital gains tax was 35%, in the 50% bracket you paid 25% and so on. Krugman knows this, but obviously does not mention it. He has to do his part to bamboozle the rubes. Remember, this is the same guy who predicted on election night 2016, that the stock market would "never recover".21 RecommendMV CC Jan. 5
AOC should run for president in 2028, the first year she is eligible. She's smart and super-attractive, which will turn R's into even crazier people than they are now, because people will always vote for someone who looks great. Would've worked for Beto in Texas if not for the massive voter suppression they have there.Reply 21 RecommendAndrew Connecticut Jan. 7
What we have going on right now here in the US is representation WITHOUT taxation.Reply 21 RecommendDave Westwood Jan. 6
@Billy Walker - "What policy on Planet Earth could possibly justify the government becoming an equal partner, or better, with someone's earnings?" Because there isn't a single person on the planet that works hard enough to "earn" $10 million per year, let alone those who actually have that as an income. There's comes a point at which a person's "earnings" are nothing more than benefits of position - which in and of itself isn't a problem. But it's important to acknowledge that this extra income is earned solely because of the individuals below them, as well as the advantages the state/government has provided to allow those earnings (typically through infrastructure, policies, protections, other indirect features, etc.), becoming an equal partner in redistributing that extra income to those that actually worked to make it happen, or paid for the ability to earn it, is reasonable.21 RecommendJohn Miami, FL Jan. 7
@Jose "aren't rich people part of our democracy? Don't they get a say as to whether they have to work and give away their earnings?" They do ... they get one vote person just like everyone else. They do not get one vote per dollar of income, although some of them act as if they should.21 RecommendSteve California Jan. 5
@Billy Walker "As someone who earns well less than $100k a year I simply cannot believe this nonsense of 70 or 80% tax rates. Just because I am not smart enough to earn $5 or $10 million or more a year does not give the government the right to take most of it. This tax concept is pure insanity. Even if it applies to earnings that only exceed the $10 mil number. Insane." You start out with the wrong premise right out of the gate. Many in the top 1-2% have done nothing especially noteworthy to achieve their wealth. They neither earned nor were particularly inventive. Some like Elon Musk definitely earned it. Others like the presidents children just inherited the fruits of a lifetime of cons and scams against ordinary working Americans. In either case there is a such a thing as an inflection point beyond which amassing further wealth means nothing. I see nothing wrong with taxing wealth beyond that critical maximum at those higher rates. After all many of those people enjoy the fruits and stability of a society made possible by the collective sacrifices of generations of Americans in wars past, present, and future. Much of the infrastructure (bridges, highways, waterways, court systems, property rights etc) that exists today (such as it is) that makes the current economic engine possible was bought and paid for by the millions upon millions of ordinary working Americans. The rich should pay more because they benefit the most from this sacrifices others have made!21 Recommendm.waterbury Seattle Washington Jan. 5
@George No one is suggesting people who make $200k pay 70% tax, these are rates for those making $10 million or more.21 RecommendRobert Out West Jan. 6
@Georgia M If you believe that the obscenely high and ever-rising incomes of the extremely rich are "their property" and that their rigging of our economy, our taxation rules, and our political process played no role in their good fortune, you have not been paying attention. A "young brilliant doctor" isn't even remotely in the class of the ultra-rich and is exactly the kind of misleading example they love to point at, like "small businessmen." We are talking billionaires and close to it.21 RecommendRich Berkeley CA Jan. 5
I can see why the righties are angry, and demanding that the corporate and the wealthy pay less. After all, worked great in Kansas.Reply 21 Recommendbcw Yorktown Jan. 5
@Peter, that's a marginal tax rate, not the rate on all your income. Only income above, say, $1M per year would be taxed that high. I assume most people can survive quite well on $1M per year, plus 30% of amounts above that.21 RecommendDavid St Louis Jan. 6
The rich have figured out how to maximize their returns on investment - the most productive dollars the rich spend is to buy Republican (and some Democratic) politicians. The Koch brothers invested a mere few hundred million to buy some elections and have so far made about 1.4 billion dollars from the Republican tax cut, a return of a few hundred percent in one year; which will continue every year going forward.21 RecommendABC123 USA Jan. 5
Hey, Prof Paul. I think we as a body politic need a refresher on what a marginal tax rate is? A 70% top marginal tax rate does not mean that the people 'earning' a million only take home 300K. It just means that after some other threshold has been crossed in terms of income after deductions, income above that level is taxed at increasingly higher levels. So that, say, the first 100k is taxed at a certain level (n), but the last 100k is taxed at a level that equals 'n minus 100K' and minus the other increments in income that kick in the higher marginal rates on the scale? Not elegantly stated, I know, but I find, over and over again, that people seem to not have been taught the difference between a tax rate and marginal tax rate.Reply 20 RecommendSusan Cambridge Jan. 7
From the article: "AOC's advocacy of a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes." This shows her naivete as a young person with limited years of working for a paycheck. At a certain point, if I'm only going to keep 20-30-cents of each additional dollar I'm making no thanks time to pack up for the day, go home, relax and enjoy time with my family. I think at least 95% of people would say the same thing. It's just not worth it especially to be paying for people who are staying home and people who are staying home and pumping out more and more babies, while I responsibly only brought two children into the world and pay for them myself.20 RecommendKevin Shoemaker Seattle, WA Jan. 7
The Swiss have a wealth tax. People are taxed approximately 1% for money lying around in bank accounts and other assets. This means taxes aren't focused on income per se, but accumulated wealth. I think it's an interesting idea for taxing the super wealthy. The tax could be prorated, higher for those with more money and very low for those with just a little savings.20 RecommendGuy Sajer Boston, MA Jan. 5
What this incredibly focused and accurate opinion piece does not mention is the uses that marginal taxes were put to or the incentives people and companies had to lower their marginal taxes through reinvestment. Infrastructure was created, low cost higher public education was expanded, basic research in those institutions was greater, and entire new industries were created, employees were invested in. Now, we have the rich playing the W.S. casino, mostly controlled by bots, employees are commodities or apprenticed and indebted, wages are supressed, there is not a strong infrastucture plan, I could go on. I say Make America Great Again, and tax the rich.Reply 20 Recommendcdearman Santa Fe, NM Jan. 5
@wes evans - I don't think that that is actually true. Furthermore, I'm not sure that the folks who do that work and are in that tax bracket are working because of the money. Jeff Bezos? Bill Gates? Warren Buffett? (the list could be quite long). If you taxed them at a higher rate, they wouldn't quit. In addition, many of those folks are no longer actually working, but simply accruing wealth though investments. They won't suddenly uninvest because of higher taxes. Instead, we'd have better schools, better healthcare, better transportation for everyone, and the economy would benefit much more as a result.20 RecommendA. Stanton Dallas, TX Jan. 6
Obviously, the public is unaware that the tax rate during the Eisenhower Administration, for people making above $400,000, was 90%. So, the idea that a 75% rate on the 0.1% is excessive is laughable. People in the 0.1% have many legal ways to reduce their tax liability. As Warren Buffet had stated many time, he pays less taxes that his secretary and Buffet is one of the four richest people in the world. The tax rate for people in his income bracket is not more than 39%. He, obviously, does not pay taxes at that level. Go figure.20 RecommendWilliam LeGro Oregon Jan. 7
Ms. AOC comes off to me as a non-threatening American Congresswoman of Puerto-Rican descent. What is it about her that makes her appear so dangerous to Trump's crazed male supporters? I blame most of it on her bright red lipstick, which for some reason is always threatening to insecure men.20 RecommendWhite Buffalo SE PA Jan. 6
@Freda Pine Here's an early commenter who already detailed this out and should have gotten NYT Picked since a lot of readers needed to read it in order to help shake loose a stuck wrong notion about what marginal rate means: Rational not Rationalize Milwaukee, WI Please don't forget we are talking about the highest MARGINAL tax rate, e. g., the tax due on the income over $600,000 for a couple filing jointly was 37% in 2018 and the same couple paid 35% on $400,001 to $600,00, and 32% on $315,000 to $400,000, and 24% on $165,001 to $315,000, and 22% on $77,401 $165,000, and 12% on $19,051 to $77,400, and 10% on income up to $19,050. What we need are more margins on the high end; to equate a $600,000 earner with a $10,000,000 earner is absurd. Nearly half the top %1 of earners make over $10M. Why should they be taxed at the same rate as someone making 6% as much? A family making $36,000 (6% of $600,000) pays a highest marginal rate of 12%, while the family making $600,001 pays a highest marginal rate of 37% and a family making $10M pays at the same highest marginal rate of 37%! The incentive for the top .1% in this set up is not to put money back into their businesses or employ more people, but rather, it's to buy off politicians dedicated to keeping their tax rate on the bulk of their income ridiculously low! When the Koch brothers thanked Paul Ryan for passing Trump's tax cuts it cost them $500,000 (in donations to Ryan), but gained them $1 - $1.4 Billion in reduced taxes.20 RecommendTony B NY, NY Jan. 6
@Red Sox, '04, '07, '13, '18, How many uber rich like Romney or wealthy CEOs or golf club developers actually worked for poor people? Gee, that's a tough one. Let me make it easy for you. Try zero. I am not wealthy and yet I never worked for a poor person in my life either, because a poor person would not have had sufficient money to pay even my meager earnings. When you work and pay taxes, you are not working for the poor, you are working taxes to support this country, and the many things it does for you. Remind me again how many of Romney's many sons enlisted. Another toughie. Again, let me make it easy for you. The answer is zero. Oh, that's right. Their "service to their country" consisted of helping Romney get elected. Kind of like Trump's sons service to their country. Or Trump's purple heart.20 RecommendNed Roberts Truckee Jan. 6
We're allowed to call people articulate?!? I thought that was a hate crime.Reply 20 RecommendMichael Rochester, NY Jan. 5
@talesofgenji Americans abroad are still required to file US tax statements. Of course, if they want to get rid of their US citizenship, they can. My guess is there is a way to capture that tax revenue. Perhaps starting with reminding the rich that they live in a society, and their wealth is tied to the health of the society.20 RecommendGaff New York Jan. 6
Paul, One of your best analyzes ever, and, your timing is impeccable. Thank you.Reply 20 RecommendDaycd San diego Jan. 7
Why are so many dead set against paying taxes? To use an old cliche "there is no such thing as a free lunch". This is how government services are paid for. Where would we be without government services? Are you willing to do without police, firemen, road crews, sanitation, the armed forces, aviation regulators, stop signs, parks and countless other things that government provides. Tax rates need to take into account income. The poor and the middle class should be taxed at a much lower rate than the wealthy. The wealthy can afford to have more taken in taxes. Do you really think they would notice? Greed is not an exemption. We should all be proud to pay our fair share of taxes. We live in a great country. Taxes are the levy we pay to keep it great.20 RecommendJosh Los Angeles Jan. 5
@Gwe the proposed 70% tax rate only kicks in after the executives are already earning 180X more than the average earner. Note that no other country comes closes to those inflated incomes! So your argument that they'll not get quality CEO's for less is nonsensical. https://www.statista.com/statistics/424159/pay-gap-between-ceos-and-average-workers-in-world-by-country /20 RecommendWhite Buffalo SE PA Jan. 6
Hey Paul why don't we just tax everyone at 100% and then redistribute to everyone perfectly equally? That would minimize the effect of diminishing marginal utility!! Hey Paul when are you going to wake up? Stagflation happened your position has been losing the argument for 40 years now, I am surprised you aren't used to it by now. Free movement of capital, free movement of labor, free trade. And no redistribution, that is where we are heading.19 RecommendJeong Yeob Kim Los Angeles Jan. 5
@jrinsc Too right. Let's make American marginal income tax rates great again! Bring back Eisenhower Republican tax rates!19 RecommendEddie Lew NYC Jan. 6
When I first saw AOC's tax proposal as a headline (and not reading the article), I did think, "Wow, that's too high!" But after thinking through the issue with Krugman's help, I've come around and now agree with AOC. I do think it'll be a tough sell to a sceptical public (surely made worse by conservative lobbying), but if Democrats can tune the public with what prosperity was like in the '50 with progressive taxes in place, I think there's a good chance that a majority of Americans will back this vision. But the work had to start now and with urgency (and without the shutdown of our government!).Reply 19 Recommendtrue patriot earth Jan. 6
George Bernard Shaw: "The more I see of the moneyed class, the more I understand the guillotine. "19 RecommendJon Washington DC Jan. 6
1. end the carry exemption for VC money 2. see 1Reply 19 RecommendBascom Hill Bay Area Jan. 5
There's this popular myth that supposedly tons of conservatives went "hysterical" over a perfectly innocent video of Ocasio-Cortez dancing around with friends. How many people exactly were "hysterical"? I keep reading this, and as far as I can tell it's just a myth. Was there maybe one fool who posted the video in a misguided attempt to somehow embarrass her? I guess, probably. But please just face reality and recognize that beyond a few negligible cranks, nobody cares.Reply 19 RecommendMark Koerner wisconsin Jan. 6
Please make a list of productive Americans by job title. Or is your list by income level? Are public school teachers productive? If so, why have their incomes been nearly flat for decades? Why has the median income of Americans not kept pace with inflation for over 25 years? They haven't been productive? They have been. Big Business hasn't shared those gains in productivity via $wages. The IBT of those businesses has soared.19 RecommendNelson Alexander New York Jan. 5
We hear a lot about "hard-earned" income and "hard-earned" dollars. Very well. It IS hard to earn money, at least for most people, so perhaps the government shouldn't tax income from wages, salaries and professional fees--and even from gambling--at such a high rate. Maybe we should change the system by pushing the top income tax rate downward and then raising the estate tax (often called the "inheritance tax"). That way, more "hard-earned" money will stay with the taxpayers who earned it, and the government would take a little more of the genuinely unearned money. An old saying about the people who were born on third base and thought they hit a triple comes to mindReply 19 RecommendR Biggs Boston Jan. 7
First, I believe Picketty also recommends similar highly progressive rates. Second, I'd be curious know what effect such rates would have on top-tier inflation? It seems clear that "inflation" is relatively low and stable because it no longer enters into wages. At the upper income level, meanwhile, inflation appears rampant. Everything in top-tier consumption, from art and high-end property to financial advice, bespoke suits, opera tickets, luxury hotels, political leverage, and legal fees, seems to be almost hyperinflating. This in turn drives the rivalrous demand for even more concentrated wealth at the top, a keep-up-with-the-Jones among billionaires . We might be doing the rich a favor by putting a tax chill on their metastasizing lifestyles.19 RecommendJack Nargundkar Germantown, Maryland Jan. 5
I assume that you work hard to make a living. Do you think that investment bankers and tech CEOs work 5000 times harder than you? I know a guy who wrote a computer program to trade stocks. He doesn't work at all, but makes more in a week than you make all year. Does that seem fair? The super-rich are able to buy influence, subjugate our democratic system, and push through laws that make them even richer - while making it harder for folks like you to get ahead. Does that seem fair? And you are worried about billionaires only bringing home $2 million / year?19 RecommendGeorgia M Canada Jan. 5
But this entire column presumes that the Republicans believe in science, data and facts. Despite 70+ years of evidence, knowledge and truth has not "trickled down" into the average Republican's mind. In fact, in the Trump era, it's gotten worse -- Republicans now believe in "alternative facts," which they make up to match whatever it is that they want to justify, and they assert that "truth isn't the truth." So good luck to OAC as she tries to convince Republicans about the efficacy of "a tax rate of 70-80 percent on very high incomes." Republicans, including the Trump administration, do believe that the 1950s was the best decade ever in the post-WWII era – not because of its 91% top tax rate on income, but for entirely different reasons that have nothing to do with fiscal policy.Reply 19 RecommendJoe Rockbottom califonria Jan. 7
I'm your average democratic socialist living north of your country and, yet I confess this article doesn't sit right with me. I enjoy reading Mr Krugman and I will read him first in your paper. What irks me though is his yup yup it's okay to soak the rich because it makes economic sense. Even if you could prove that taxing the rich at 75% won't harm economy, should you do it? That is to say, the wealth of the rich is their property. Just like my meagre possessions are my property. As a Canadian I pay around 29% income taxes (even working class Canadians pay a fair amount of tax). Wealthier Canadians pay around 55% of their income. We are fortunate that wealthy people feel invested in the community here and tolerate the higher taxes. The well-being of our public services is dependent on all people feeling they get something in return for their tax dollars. I guess what I am getting at is that there is a sort of social contract that all citizens are invested in-poor and rich. I recently spoke to a young brilliant doctor and asked if he wanted to move to the US (he has had some great offers). He said no, he wants to use his skills in the community. I am grateful this young man will work and contribute here. So, why increase his tax level even further? Saying that he has the money for the taking is not acceptable. I wish Ms Ocasio Cortez luck, but I hope these young socialists reign in the glee at the prospect of fleecing their fellow citizens.19 Recommend617to416 Ontario via Massachusetts Jan. 6
@Billy Walker they don't take "most of it." they only take that rate in the highest income percentile. So only the last marginal dollars earned. It is doubtful ANY CEO is worth the pay they get. and most of it is in stock options, the proceeds of which are not even discussed here because they are capital gains, not income. So, most CEO's only make a few hundred thousand in "income" and the rest is in stock options for which they are taxed at a much, much lower rate. That is how skewed our idiotic tax system is. They game it and don't even have to count their obvious income as actual income. Totally corrupt.19 RecommendTom Philadelphia Jan. 5
While there's no denying that many of the wealthy achieve success by their talent and hard work, no one becomes wealthy solely on his or her own. Chance always plays a role in anyone's success, and no one's success is achieved without extensive support from our society's institutions and from others. The success of any individual is therefore always a collective success -- created by a combination of the individual's own talents, the support of others, the advantages provided by our society, and the vagaries of chance. Because of this it is completely justified to expect -- and to demand if necessary -- that the wealthy give back some portion of their wealth to the community that contributes so much to their ability to become wealthy. Whether the share given back is 20%, 50%, or 80% should be determined based on two factors: first, how much does society need from the wealthy to continue to provide an environment in which as many as possible can succeed and, second, how important is it to maintain individually-held concentrations of wealth either to provide incentives for success or to allow for significant private expenditures and investment to complement our public expenditures and investment. While a 70% marginal tax rate on the wealthy sounds high given recent policy, the crumbling state of our public infrastructure, our fraying social safety net, and the growing inequities in access to the benefits of our society suggest a need for higher tax rates.19 RecommendJH NY Jan. 5
In 1960 when Eisenhower was president, the top marginal tax rate in the US was 93 percent, we were building interstate highways and quadrupling our higher education system via the GI bill, and the American economy was the envy of the world. So this notion that the country is better off if the rich don't pay taxes utterly ludicrous -- it is simply the invention of rich people who think they deserve to live tax-free. Since our democracy is broken and the rich basically own Congress, we will probably keep cutting taxes on rich people until they go negative, at which point American taxpayers will be paying the rich just for their overwhelming wonderfulness.19 RecommendGG New Windsor Jan. 7
As a small retail business owner I am continuously flabbergasted by chamber of commerce type's resistance to taxing the rich and increasing the minimum wage. My customers are NOT the 1% and every time wages have gone up my payroll has gone up 20% but my gross income has also increased by 20%. That is a good deal, and if my income taxes went up as a result of all my increased profit it would still be a good deal.19 RecommendBJ New York City Jan. 6
@Freda Pine here we go again. What do you not understand that this is likely a tax rate on those who make millions annually?19 Recommendbobg earth Jan. 5
Shouldn't we be talking about effective tax rates? Did people actually pay those high marginal rates? Given all the tax loopholes at the time, I don't think so.Reply 19 RecommendGrennan Green Bay Jan. 7
@Josh I have an even better idea--let's tax everyone at 0%! We'll all have lotsa money and we'll have a great big party. There are some downsides like not having an electricity grid, police, or firemen but on the other hand--whoopee!19 RecommendTom Kocis Austin Jan. 7
Good job making taxation policy interesting to read about. Maybe Dr. Krugman could clarify why and how the "taxes are bad" crowd insists on misrepresenting the marginal rate as the total rate, among other inaccuracies in a four-decade campaign to demonize taxation.19 RecommendProf San Diego Jan. 5
We need to assess the question of wether many of the rich "earn" money. You don't earn $200M in stock options and grants. What you have done is benefitted from a system that increasing rewards those with the power and the influence to rewrite the rules to their benefit and the the detriment of everyone else. How these people can take such a large portion of the corporate pie when lower paid employees barely get by is unconscionable.Reply 19 RecommendFromDublin Dublin, Ireland Jan. 6
Here are some facts Krugman will not mention. From 2014 At least 45% of Americans pay ZERO Federal income tax. The top 1 percent of taxpayers earned 20% of all Adjusted Gross Income. That same top 1% of taxpayers paid almost 40% of all federal income taxes. The top 1% of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90% collected. One-fifth of the US population gets more back in refunds than they pay in Federal taxes. Keep doing the Robin Hood routine and the 1%' ers will move ALL of their money off shore.19 RecommendRG Bellevue, WA Jan. 6
@Barking Doggerel This last paragraph... so so true19 RecommendDisillusioned Colorado Jan. 5
@Ma Ah, yes - the wisdom of simplistic remarks. Unfortunately it takes actual information and insight to even begin to compete with an economist of Krugman's expertise. You seem to be confused about what profit is, or the theory used in optimization of profit (incremental spending). You absolutely want to spend up to the point where the next dollar brings in another dollar of profit but not beyond. Spending less leaves money (profit) on the table. Could it be that you don't understand calculus? I'm afraid that economics, and incremental tax rates are a bit more complex than that. Your dig about social conscience is duly noted, as is your missing the point of his analysis. None of this is based on social conscience, but in what generates maximum economic growth. Paul not only gives direct evidence of a reduction in the growth rate that correlates with the reduction of tax rates, he dissects the reasons why. Want is not a straight line curve, something that the 'greed is good' crowd has neglected for over 40 years. Of course, your only retort to evidence and thoughtful analysis by a Nobel laureate is to label his thesis 'lunacy'. Sorry, but without evidence, solid reasoning or even standing in the field no one is going to pay attention. Which is a good thing, it's time rationality regained the upper hand in public policy and politics.18 RecommendHBD NYC Jan. 7
@Prof Here are some facts you didn't mention. Many Americans aren't paid enough by the "job creators" to have enough tax liability. When you pay people low enough wages, they end up being below the standard deduction. The top 1% has significantly more *wealth* than their wages indicate. Our tax scheme is mildly progressive at this point, so it should not be surprising that they pay a higher percent tax per dollar earned than someone earning, say, $25,000 a year. As of 2015, 13.5% of Americans lived in poverty. That's over 40 million people. Hard to have much income to tax in the first place when one is poor. Keep doing the reverse Robin Hood routine and the social fabric of this nation will tear so badly that our norms will disappear and we will descend into the chaos that permeates nation-states with extreme wealth inequality.18 RecommendVin NYC Jan. 6
At the very least, the FICA paycheck deduction should be based on every dollar earned rather than being capped at $128,000, (or so.) For one thing, this would go a long way to solve the problem of shortfalls in the Social Security fund for the large baby boom bump. How is it justified that this deduction should be capped for the highest earners??!Reply 18 RecommendRjW SprucePine NC Jan. 5
@Smokey geo Amazing. We've literally tried the approach you advocate for the past 30+ years, and all the evidence shows that we're worse off. Giving rich people more money on the hop that it trickles down has literally led to stagnant wages, obscene inequality, and lower growth than in the previous decades. You can try to dress it up however you want - feel free to throw another equation our way - but the proof is in the pudding. We've had almost four decades of evidence that refutes your argument.18 RecommendEd New York Jan. 6
@Michael Evans-Layng, PhD, Correlation v. Causation notwithstanding, as in life , tines change. Deductions were abused but companies were reinvesting heavily. Today they buy back their shares and salt the rest away offshore. Bring back the taxes but invest it wisely. Infrastructure, education, health care , research, you know, like China kinda sorta.18 RecommendStacia Redmond, WA Jan. 6
Please, no socialism in the US. It has been tested in many many many places, it is always a failure. Why try??? France has the second highest taxes in the world and massive protests. It is a tempting policy, Why not tax the super rich? Seems to make so much sense. The problem is that IT DOES NOT WORK. Tax at whatever rate you want, 76%, 80%, 99%, lets try for a few year, you'll get some money first and then less, less, less because society gets poorer, people and capital leave, so eventually you're back to where you were but with less wealth. Society needs to create wealth not be obsessed with taking from others. Policy of envy is the worse.18 RecommendMark Zaitz Denver Jan. 5
@Ed So the high tax rates in the mid-20th century were...socialism? Scare tactics aren't helpful. The rest of your comment is demonstrably not true based on our own history. It creates wealth *for our country* when we tax the rich appropriately. We should definitely not be focused on trying to create wealth just for individuals. How does that promote the general welfare? Try again.18 RecommendDr joe yonkers ny Jan. 5
The Dems need to articulate this with greater understanding and confidence. Most people do not understand "effective tax rate," and thus hear 73% and think it's on the entire earnings of an individual. Americans don't understand carried interest, the Soc Sec contribution max on earnings, and SEP and other pre-tax benefits for the wealthy. Then they hear, "Vote for me, I'll cut your taxes," and we deepen the mess.Reply 18 RecommendLarry St. Paul, MN Jan. 6
All I know is that Romney confirmed that he only pays 14 percent. Many of us ordinary folk pay far more and thats ok, but 14 percent?18 RecommendTom New Jersey Jan. 5
Discussions of higher taxes on the wealthy typically fail to clarify that higher taxation rates in all likelihood will only kick in once you reach a certain (much higher) level of income So a taxation rate of 50% on a $1 milllion salary doesn't mean that the individual pays $500,000 in federal taxes. In the 1950s the top tax rate was 91%, but it didn't kick in until you reached an annual income of $200,000, which in today's dollars is about $1.85 million. So what seems like grossly unfair government confiscation of hard-earned income -- when you start throwing around numbers like a 50% tax rate -- is nowhere near as harsh as it seems. According to one website, effective tax rates in the 1950s on the wealthy were closer to 42%. https://taxfoundation.org/taxes-rich-1950-not-high /18 RecommendRichard Waugaman Potomac MD Jan. 5
@Darsan54 Yes, there are too many deductions, but if Democrats are going to protest over removing the deduction for state taxes (a highly progressive reform that only affected high earners), Democrats aren't likely to do away with the mortgage interest deduction, which is the most significant remaining income tax distortion. . AOC and PK both ignore the real elephant in the room, which is the rates of divident (22%) and capital gains (20%) tax rates. We should be taxing capital income at labor income rates, or even better taxing capital itself. Once again, though, the educated elite donor base in the Democratic party would be hurt by taxes on their accumulated wealth. The debate over labor income taxes is mostly a snow-screen so the Democratic party doesn't have to talk about wealth inequality and our failure to tax wealth.18 RecommendBarbara Connecticut Jan. 5
Growing income inequality saps our strength as a nation, as it widens economic disparities and undermines our sense of common purpose. Higher marginal rates for the wealthy will help everyone. The wealthy will surely put patriotism and the common good above greed and self-interest.18 RecommendDeborah Altman Ehrlich Sydney Australia Jan. 5
I know this opinion piece addresses only personal income tax but I don't think you should separate the issue from corporate income tax. As many economists have already noted, based on current research, corporations have plowed most of their windfall from their lower tax rates into buying back stock and rewarding the officers of the company,rather than into higher wages for middle class workers in the company. Let's not forget this crucial inequity and make restitutions in both cases.18 RecommendRAD61 New York Jan. 6
It's not just taxing high earners. In Australia we lose more tax revenue from corporations avoiding taxation. For example, News Corporation (owned by Rupert Murdoch): -- had revenue of A$2 billion and paid no tax on it -- received A$30 million tax dollars from the Federal Government to develop women's sports coverage on his TV channel, Foxtel, coverage which never eventuated. -- his nephew, Matt Handbury, received A$14 million for 'research' which has been totally undocumented, but is believed to have gone to the IPA, a conservative 'think tank' established by Keith Murdoch, Rupert's father. I've no doubt the same largesse to corporations & their owners is seen in the USA, which provides our lot of kleptocrats with so much inspiration.Reply 18 RecommendJulie Carter Maine Jan. 7
Unfortunately, with second-rate economists and third-rate human beings like Arthur Laffer advising them, Republicans are not likely to change their views. It will need Democrat's getting hold of both the legislative and presidential branches of government for sense to prevail.18 Recommend
@Tessa One more time, the tax rate is only on the topmost of the income, not all of it. And not on anything below $10,000,000.
Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
Anomander64 -> Davesnothereman , 3 Jun 2018 16:44Shhhh... whatever you do, don't ever let them hear you criticizing the "job creators" or there will be trouble.
You know we can't touch the corporations - they are sacrosanct because they are the supposed "job creators" - this one title gives them carte blanche to act however they like, to make spurious claims about economies faltering, businesses going offshore and unemployment. They also donate heavily to the political parties.
Repeat after me:
"Blessed are the job creators"
"Blessed are the job creators"
"Blessed are the job creators"
"For THEY shall inherit the wealth"
Jun 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Binoy Kampmark via Oriental Review,
"After decades of neoliberalism, we are at the mercy of a cluster of cartels who are lobbying politicians hard and using monopoly power to boost profits."
Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality (2012)
The emergence of think tanks was as much a symptom of liberal progress as it was a nervous reaction in opposition to it. In 1938, the American Enterprise Association was founded by businessmen concerned that free enterprise would suffer at the hands of those too caught up with notions of equality and egalitarianism. In 1943, it dug into the political establishment in Washington, renamed as the American Enterprise Institute which has boasted moments of some influence in the corridors of the presidential administrations.
Gatherings of the elite, self-promoted as chat shops of the privileged and monstrously well-heeled, have often garnered attention. That the rich and powerful chat together privately should not be a problem, provided the glitterati keep their harmful ideas down to small circulation. But the Bilderberg gathering, a transatlantic annual meeting convened since 1954, fuels speculation for various reasons, not least of all because of its absence of detail and off-the-record agendas.
C. Gordon Tether, writing for the Financial Times in May 1975, would muse that,
"If the Bilderberg Group is not a conspiracy of some sort, it is conducted in such a way as to give a remarkably good imitation of one."
Each year, there are hushed murmurings and ponderings about the guest list. Politicians, captains of industry, and the filthy rich tend to fill out the numbers. In 2018, the Telegraph claimed that delegates would chew over such matters as "Russia, 'post-truth' and the leadership in the US, with AI and quantum computing also on the schedule." This time, the Swiss town of Montreux is hosting a gathering which has, among its invitees, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The Bilderberg Summit begins at the driveway – this year in Switzerland, at the hotel "Montreux Palace".
Often, the more entertaining assumptions about what happens at the Bilderberg Conference have come from outsiders keen to fantasise. The absence of a media pack, a situation often colluded with by media outlets themselves, coupled with a general holding of attendees to secrecy, have spawned a few gems. A gathering of lizard descendants hatching plans for world domination is an old favourite.
Other accounts are suitably dull, suggesting that little in the way of importance actually happens. That man of media, Marshall McLuhan, was appalled after attending a meeting in 1969 by those "uniformly nineteenth century minds pretending to the twentieth." He was struck by an asphyxiating atmosphere of "banality and irrelevance".
The briefings that come out are scripted to say little, though the Bilderberg gathering does come across as a forum to trial ideas (read anything significantly friendly to big business and finance) that may find their way into domestic circulation. Former Alberta Premier Alison Redford did just that at the 2012 meeting at Chantilly, Virginia. In reporting on her results after a trip costing $19,000, the Canadian politician proved short on detail.
"The Premier's participation advanced the Alberta government's more aggressive effort to engage world decision makers in Alberta's strategic interests, and to talk about Alberta's place in the world. The mission sets the stage for further relationship-building with existing partners and potential partners with common interests in investment, innovation and public policy."
One is on more solid ground in being suspicious of such figures given their distinct anti-democratic credentials. Such gatherings tend to be hostile to the demos, preferring to lecture and guide it rather than heed it. Bilderberg affirmed that inexorable move against popular will in favour of the closed club and controlling cartel. "There are powerful corporate groups, above government, manipulating things," asserts the much maligned Alex Jones, whose tendency to conspiracy should not detract from a statement of the obvious. These are gatherings designed to keep the broader populace at arms-length, and more.
The ideas and policies discussed are bound to be self-serving ones friendly to the interests of finance and indifferent to the welfare of the commonwealth. A Bilderberg report, describing the Bürgenstock Conference in 1960, saw the gatherings as ones "where arguments not always used in public debate can be put forth." As Joseph Stiglitz summarises from The Price of Inequality ,
"Those at the top have learned how to suck the money out of the rest in ways that the rest are hardly aware of. That is their true innovation. Policy shapes the market, but politics has been hijacked by a financial elite that has feathered its own nest ."
A nice distillation of Bilderbergism, indeed.
Gauging the influence of the Bilderberg Group in an empirical sense is not a simple matter, though WikiLeaks has suggested that "its influence on postwar history arguable eclipses that of the G8 conference." An overview of the group, published in August 1956 by Dr. Jósef H. Retinger, Polish co-founder and secretary of the gathering, furnishes us with a simple rationale: selling the US brand to sceptical Europeans and nullifying "anxiety". Meetings "unofficial and private" would be convened involving "influential and reliable people who carried the respect of those working in the field of national and international affairs".
Retinger also laid down the rationale for keeping meetings opaque and secret. Official international meetings, he reasoned, were troubled by those retinues of "experts and civil servants". Frank discussion was limited for fear of indiscretions that might be seen as rubbing against the national interest. The core details of subjects would be avoided. And thirdly, if those attending "are not able to reach agreement on a certain point they shelve it in order to avoid giving the impression of disunity."
Retinger was already floating ideas about Europe in May 1946 when, as secretary general of the Independent League for European Co-operation (ILEC), he pondered the virtues of federalism oiled by an elite cadre before an audience at Chatham House. He feared the loss of "big powers" on the continent, whose "inhabitants after all, represent the most valuable human element in the world." (Never mind those of the dusky persuasion, long held in European bondage.) Soon after, he was wooed by US Ambassador W. Averell Harriman and invited to the United States, where his ideas found "unanimous approval among financiers, businessmen and politicians."
The list of approvers reads like a modern Bilderberg selection, an oligarchic who's who , among them the banker Russell Leffingwell, senior partner in J. P. Morgan's, Nelson and David Rockefeller, chair of General Motors Alfred Sloan, New York investment banker Kuhn Loeb and Charles Hook, President of the American Rolling Mills Company. (Unsurprisingly, Retinger would establish the Bilberberg Group with the likes of Paul Rijkens, President of the multinational giant Unilever, the unglamorous face of European capitalism.)
Retinger's appraisals of sovereignty, to that end, are important in understanding the modern European Union, which continues to nurse those paradoxical tensions between actual representativeness and financial oligarchy. Never mind the reptilian issues: the EU, to a modest extent, is Bilderbergian, its vision made machinery, enabling a world to be made safe for multinationals while keeping popular sovereignty in check. Former US ambassador to West Germany, George McGhee, put it this way: "The Treaty of Rome [of 1957], which brought the Common Market into being, was nurtured at Bilderberg meetings."
May 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.orgAnne Jaclard , May 30, 2019 7:33:37 PM | 31
Bilderberg 2019 Meeting Information Revealed
Stacey Abrams, Eric Schmidt, Mike Pompeo, and Mattel Renzi, among others, will be attending the top-secret Bilderberh meetings from today through the weekend.
Topics to be discussed include the weaponisation of social media, the future of capitalism, Brexit, China, and threats to the neoliberal world order.
Held since 1954, Bilderberg has acted as a meeting point for high-level establishment politicians and corporate elites to promote the interests of Atlanticism and global corporations.
Many attendees of Bilderberg have gone on to play major roles in their countries' politics, including Angela Merkel and Barack Obama.
The presence of Abrams at the event is another sign that she may act as a vice-presidential candidate for Joe Biden, who himself has attended corporate-linked summits including Davos and the Munich Security Conference this year and who has seen his narratives bolstered by think tanks such as More in Common and the Trilateral Commission.
Abrams is herself a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and has pursued a neoliberal agenda while in office.
May 24, 2019 | medium.com
Entrepreneurship is having a moment. Innovative people with the resources, know-how and spunk to bring their ideas to life have been doing so since the dawn of civilization, but in the age of Silicon Valley tech startup success stories, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, and investment programs like Dragons' Den, you could say entrepreneurs have reached celebrity status.
Like the countless young girls singing into their hairbrushes and dreaming of becoming the next Beyonce, it seems like more and more people are setting their sights on venturing out on their own to create the next big thing and become the next Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, or Elon Musk.
Being inspired by stories of success is one thing, but I think we've gone too far and created the cult of the entrepreneur. It starts with people idolizing the billionaires in hoodies and assuming they'll have the same success trajectory, despite the fact that most people don't experience that type of success with any of their businesses, let alone their first. Then enter a new vocabulary focused on "hustle" and "lean startup" and "minimum viable product," which glorifies working practically 24/7 for nothing more than equity and crossed fingers. Then add a dash of absurd investments, like the $41 million that went into startup Color before it even launched (it eventually failed spectacularly).
The first problem I see with the cult of the entrepreneur is that for some people the title seems to take precedence over the success of the product or service they created. Like an author who's never had a book published, calling yourself an entrepreneur is meaningless if you can't point to the fruits of your entrepreneurship. The word has a misleading air of success.
The glorification of entrepreneurship naturally tempts people to use the term to build themselves up. This is especially evident on Twitter and LinkedIn where I've often seen entrepreneur listed in someone's bio without being able to figure out what he or she actually does. It also has the consequence of undermining people who work hard, achieve great success and are integral to a company's success without being entrepreneurs -- the Sheryl Sandberg rather than the Zuckerberg.
The focus of any business should always be its customers and how you're providing value for them while making sure your business model is sound and adaptable. There are a lot of moving parts and nobody can make it work alone. There are investors, business partners, people who offer advice along the way, and, of course, the people who end up working for that company in its early stages and as it grows. In fact, these people probably possess a lot of entrepreneurial qualities, but they don't get to call themselves entrepreneurs because they work for someone else.
With all the hype surrounding entrepreneurs, there's an elephant in the room: most people want the money, accolades, and power that come with being a successful entrepreneur, but they don't want to put in the years of hard work.
Even if you accept the fact that being an entrepreneur involves no time off, long hours, and extremely limited resources, you still have to contend with luck. As much as you might want to be the next TechCrunch headline, and as much as you might have a great concept and the skills to make it happen, it might be the wrong time or the wrong place for your idea.
As an entrepreneur you're betting your livelihood and your career at every stage. You might see examples of perceived overnight successes all around you, but you don't see the years of struggle and failure that often preceded them.
Bitstrips , which exploded onto the app scene recently, was founded in 2007, the same year the first iPhone came out. Even if you have all the confidence in the world in your idea, you don't know when (if ever) the exact conditions needed for success will come together.
Not everyone is prepared to spend years on a project that likely won't work out, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Eschewing years of financial struggle and uncertainty to work for a company that has already proven itself does not mean you've given up on success or sold yourself short.
The entrepreneurial spirit is a great thing that can manifest itself in different people in many different ways, regardless of what position they hold in a company. Trying to impress people by calling yourself an entrepreneur on social media is not one of them.
Apr 26, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,
In this universe of paradox, inequity, ironies, and fake-outs one strange actuality stands above the rest these days: that the much-reviled President Trump was on the right side of RussiaGate, and the enormous mob of America's Thinking Class was on the wrong side -- and by such a shocking margin of error that they remain in a horrified fugue of outrage and reprisal, apparently unaware that consequences await.
Granted, there's a lot to not like about Mr. Trump: his life of maximum privilege in a bubble of grifticious wealth; his shady career in the sub-swamp of New York real estate; his rough, garbled, and childlike manner of speech; his disdain of political decorum, his lumbering bellicosity, his apparently near-total lack of education, and, of course, the mystifying hair-doo. His unbelievable luck in winning the 2016 election can only be explained by the intervention of some malign cosmic force -- a role assigned to the Russians. At least that's how Mr. Trump's antagonists engineered The Narrative that they have now quadrupled down on.
To make matters worse, this odious President happens to be on the right side of several other political quarrels of the day, at least in terms of principle, however awkwardly he presents it.
The Resistance, which is to say the same Thinking Class groomed in the Ivy League and apprenticed in official leadership, has dug in on the idiotic policy position of a de facto open border with Mexico, and embellished that foolish idea with such accessory stupidities as sanctuary cities and free college tuition for non-citizens. Their arguments justifying these positions are wholly sentimental -- they're stuffing little children in cages ! -- masking a deep undercurrent of dishonesty and cynical opportunism -- not to mention putting themselves at odds with the rule-of-law itself.
During the 2016 election campaign, Mr. Trump often averred to forging better relations with Russia. The previous administration had meddled grotesquely in Ukrainian politics, among other things, and scuttled the chance to make common cause with Russia in areas of shared self-interest, for instance, in opposing worldwide Islamic terrorism. This was apparently too much for the US War Lobby, who needed a Russian boogeyman to keep the gravy train of weaponry and profitable interventionist operations chugging along, even if it meant arming Islamic State warriors who were blowing up US troops. Being falsely persecuted from before day one of his term for "collusion with Russia," Mr. Trump apparently found it necessary to go along with antagonizing Russia via sanctions and bluster, as if to demonstrate he never was "Putin's Puppet."
Meanwhile, by some strange process of psychological alchemy, the Thinking Class assigned Islamic radicals to their roster of sacred victims of oppression -- so that now it's verboten to mention them in news reports whenever some new slaughter of innocents is carried out around the world, or to complain about their hostility to Western Civ as a general proposition. Two decades after the obscene 9/11 attacks, the new Democratic Party controlled congress has apparently decided that it's better to make common cause with Islamic Radicalism than with a Russia that is, in actuality, no longer the Soviet Union but rather just another European nation trying to make it through the endgame of the industrial age, like everybody else.
The Thinking Class behind the bad faith Resistance is about to be beaten within an inch of its place in history with an ugly-stick of reality as The Narrative finally comes to be fairly adjudicated. The Mueller Report was much more than just disappointing; it was a comically inept performance insofar as it managed to overlook the only incidence of collusion that actually took place: namely, the disinfo operation sponsored by the Hillary Clinton campaign in concert with the highest officials of the FBI, the Department of Justice, State Department personnel, the various Intel agencies, and the Obama White house for the purpose of interfering in the 2016 election. It will turn out that the Mueller Investigation was just an extension of that felonious op, and Mr. Mueller himself may well be subject to prosecution for destroying evidence and, yes, obstruction of justice.
John F. Kennedy once observed that "life is unfair." It is unfair, perhaps, that a TV Reality Show huckster, clown, and rank outsider beat a highly credentialed veteran of the political establishment and that he flaunts his lack of decorum in the Oval Office. But it happens that he was on the side of the truth in the RussiaGate farrago and that happens to place him in a position of advantage going forward. Tags Politics
Show 98 Comments
Gobble D. Goop , 15 minutes ago linkfreedommusic , 25 minutes ago link
Thinking class? You mean those folks that cheated/bribed/slept/blew/affirmatve actioned thier way to an education credential? That thinking class?
Understandable.NeverDemRino , 2 hours ago link
and the enormous mob of America's Thinking Class was on the wrong side
America's Thinking Class are NOT a bunch of narcissistic blowhards screaming in front of TV News cameras wearing makeup, espousing and pontificating their mental illness from compromised perspectives of the world. America's Thinking Class are actually - thinking - living in the REAL world outside of DC, disseminating the available information, connecting the dots with logic, reason, incredulity, critical thinking, and a great deal of skepticism viewed through a jaundiced eye. This thinking class is coming to somewhat obvious yet VERY DIFFERENT conclusions from the print and news media propagandists and are on the right side of the facts and truth.
WE ARE THE NEWSJessica6 , 2 hours ago link
Jame Howard Kunstler is under the false impression that the Rule of Law will be restored in the Banana Repubic.prcat3vet , 2 hours ago link
"Thinking class" implies that they think - as in there are analytical processes that go in inside their skulls. I'm not certain Generation ReTweet exhibit enough individual consciousness to pass a Turing Test.Ace006 , 3 hours ago link
"masking a deep undercurrent of dishonesty and cynical opportunism -- not to mention putting themselves at odds with the rule-of-law itself."
The Rule of Law doesn't apply to the "thinking class", or didn't you know that.Zappalives , 3 hours ago link
Said highly-credentialed veteran of the political establishment (like I care) chortled after Gaddafi had been dispatched by our unconstitutional and illegal attack on Libya. "We came. We saw. He died." If that doesn't strike you as a serious deficiency in the decorum department I'll pass on what decorum you think it is that Trump lacks in the Oval Office. God SAVE us from the fools and grifters that the Establishment (spit) excretes who have all kinds of credentials and are masters of the graceful stilleto.
That smooth pansy of a president we just saw the end of never spent a Saturday tinkering with his ride while listening to some tunes and sucking down a brewski. And we paid a high price for that twink's efforts to fundamentally change America. Our so-called political elite are as useless as **** on a 200-lb. lesbian.DocJackson , 2 hours ago link
"The thinking class"......................thinking what ??????????????
Thinking that everyone was going to buy into their ill-conceived, ill-executed coup of a duly elected POTUS was going to stand ?????????????????
Their hubris will be their downfall.
Dem/progs/repubs from E and W coast have brought our republic ever closer to Civil war 2.0.
Withdraw your consent to be governed is the first step.
Go from there.Utopia Planitia , 3 hours ago link
I've been thinking about this for a while, and I figured it out. They're not the "thinking" class as in cognitive function, but of opinion: "I think this is the way things are supposed to be." So it's not the "thinking class," but "the opinionated class, those who spout **** in the conspicuous absence of supporting factual evidence, or even in conspicuous contradiction to same." ;-)Herp and Derp , 3 hours ago link
Your so-called "thinking class" does nothing of the kind. In fact they do everything they can to inhibit and prevent any "thinking". TDS does not have to be fatal, but will be if sufferers do not seek and accept treatment. (they are also fun to watch, especially when it gets to the stage where they are frothing at the mouth.)
Working in tech and consulting to a wide range of educated people in finance and pharma, I have to agree. Getting an advanced degree does not indicate anything more than persistence. Most people are sleep walking idiots no matter how 'smart' they are perceived in society.
Apr 14, 2019 | www.unz.com
Si1ver1ock says: April 13, 2019 at 12:01 pm GMT
It's interesting the Media has brought back the Sweden rape charge, but they are avoiding this rape story like the pest.
annamaria , says: April 13, 2019 at 12:19 pm GMT"Assange was reduced from one of the few towering figures of our time – a man who will have a central place in history books, if we as a species live long enough to write those books "annamaria , says: April 13, 2019 at 12:33 pm GMT
-- The presstituting crowd of stenographers (MSM) and the zionized X-tian war profiteers have made everything in their power (inadvertently) to ensure that Assange is and will be a towering figure of our time.
Even in distress, Assange has been fighting for truth and dignity; the ongoing show of lawlessness exposes the rot. The moral and creative midgets constituting the core of MSM and the satanic deciders are upset. Good!
The idiotic Senior District "Judge" Emma Arbuthnot (a wife and beneficiary of a mega-war profiteer Lord Arbuthnot -- Arbuthnot served as Chairman of the Defence Select Committee from 2005 to 2014) and the no less idiotic District "Judge" Michael Snow have entered the history books as well. As scoundrels: http://members5.boardhost.com/xxxxx/msg/1555064882.html
Snow does his best to bring the Judiciary into disrepute by playing to the gallery. He comments on the extradition in the same vein in a totally unprofessional manner. He is of course in a long line of disreputable members of the judiciary Snow's place in history is now secured – he chose to abuse the defendant rather than perform his role which was really quite straightforward. He is the narcissist and guilty of self interest not Julian Assange.@Si1ver1ock For every pronouncement against Assange by the US/UK government and judiciary, there should be an immediate question about the leniency shown towards the pedophiles and rapists in the UK (see Savile and the sudden "disappearance" of files re the high-placed pedophiles) and the story of Lolita Island and Lolita Express in the US.annamaria , says: April 13, 2019 at 1:28 pm GMT
Theresa May as the protector of pedophiles and rapists in the UK: https://www.corbettreport.com/pedophiles-in-politics-an-open-source-investigation/
One of the hurdles in investigating the claims is the Official Secrets Act, which prevents the disclosure of state secrets and "sensitive" information. "It is clear there are a lot of people who could provide a lot of information to support ongoing criminal investigations But they are not doing so because of the Official Secrets Act. They are fearful of not only breaking the law but the potential effect on their pension. This is absolutely crucial if we are to get some of these ex-officers coming forward and to get prosecutions of some of the former MPs." He has asked Home Secretary Theresa May to lift the restrictions, allowing former officials to speak up about what they know about the case, but so far there is no indication that this has been done.
The protection of the high-placed pedophiles and rapists in the US:
In the Epstein case, as well, there are numerous questions surrounding the possibility of high-level cover up. In recent weeks it has emerged that Epstein struck a remarkable secret deal with the US Attorney's Office that barred more than 500 pages of documents detailing negotiations of the deal and a staggering 13,000 documents from the investigation into Epstein's activities that were shelved as a result of the bargain.
Let the scoundrels talk about Assange to see how the concocted fraud is backfired.
Mrs. Clinton in particular should have been more circumspect:
It has since been revealed that Epstein had 21 different phone numbers for contacting his friend Bill Clinton, who, court records allege, "frequently flew" on Epstein's private jet between 2002 and 2005.@Ronald Thomas West And why are you spreading the MSM disinformation on the Unz forum? -- Just to satisfy your desire to litter the forum?annamaria , says: April 13, 2019 at 1:44 pm GMT
Read and learn: https://www.corbettreport.com/pedophiles-in-politics-an-open-source-investigation/
Also, perhaps you need to ponder why you are not treated the same way as the courageous, talented, principled, and dignified Assange is treated. Perhaps, something is missing in your character.@Art Theresa May has been the main protector of the high-placed British pedophiles
"Theresa May and the 'missing' child sex abuse files" https://www.reknr.com/uk/theresa-may-and-the-missing-child-sex-abuse-files/
"British PM Blocks Elite Pedophile Enquiry On Grounds Of 'National Security'" https://newspunch.com/british-pm-blocks-pedophile-enquiry/
The documents are thought to shed light on the years of ongoing pedophilia and child abuse within Westminster and contained names of "several" high-level politicians in the UK and US who are connected to an elite pedophile ring.
The followup: "Theresa May accused of cover-up over child abuse inquiry concerns," https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-child-abuse-inquiry-cover-up-concerns-dame-lowell-goddard-stories-a7369976.html
"England: Land of Royals, Tea and Horrific Pedophilia Coverups" http://time.com/2974381/england-land-of-royals-tea-and-horrific-pedophilia-coverups/
In the case of the Westminster "pedophile ring," the mounting sentiment that Britain's establishment serves its own interests and conceals its wrongdoing may be well founded. Until recently only seven police officers were working on Operation Fernbridge; Scotland Yard announced today the figure is now 22.
By fraudulently accusing Assange, Theresa May reminds the world about her role in the protection of the wealthy and influential Westminster pedophiles (the real rapists).
May 03, 2017 | www.unz.com
2) Trucklers – (LBJ) lower class White Americans who gain wealth and power by championing non White, minority causes just because it's a path to power, pleasing the elites who would otherwise dismiss them as hicks.
3) Pussyfooters (Bush Sr. Country Club Conservatives) White Americans who prefer their own safe life, don't hate their own people but rarely defend them – they don't like trouble, they're pussies. Alt Right has given them a new word "Cuckservatives".
4) Old Believers (Ron Paul, Pat Robertson) Sincere old guys who wish things could go back to the way things used to be when some systems supposedly worked for us when we were 90% White European American, before the Great Society, New Deal, feminism, etc
5) Proditors – (John Brown, Jane Fonda, SDS)
These are the forms of White traditional British oriented American traitors, not racial or ethnic groups with historic envy, hatreds of our people.
Do you have links to other Wilmot Robertson sites?Svigor , December 2, 2016 at 3:19 am GMTI really can't emphasize #2 strongly enough. The term "fog of war" is an apt one. People in a war generally don't know much at all about what's going on, at the time. They're lucky if they ever do. But in every single orthodox eye-witness account I've ever read, the storytellers know exactly what was going on, and why . Even when they shouldn't. They set off my skeptic alarms left and right.
Read some of the accounts critically, and see for yourself. They're mostly "everybody knows," "it is known," type stuff. Not credible at all. These are the bricks the orthodox narrative is made of.
Apr 12, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Posted on April 12, 2019 by Yves Smith Yves here. Karl Marx and Friedrich Englels, who documented the abuses of the early Industrial Revolution, are well remembered today, not just as activists but also as journalists. Oddly, Thorstein Veblen, who identified many of the pathologies of the rich of the Gilded Age, is vastly less well known. Was it because the robber barons of his age had amassed so much wealth and power that they were better able to create a veneer of legitimacy than Victorian era factory owners?
This post picks up some Veblen themes that are particularly germane today, such as the notion that businessmen often operate as rentiers and predators.
By Ann Jones, who is at work on a book about social democracy in Scandinavia (and its absence in the United States) and is the author of several books, including most recently They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America's Wars -- the Untold Stor y , a Dispatch Books original. Originally published at TomDispatch
Distracted daily by the bloviating POTUS? Here, then, is a small suggestion. Focus your mind for a moment on one simple (yet deeply complex) truth: we are living in a Veblen Moment.
That's Thorstein Veblen, the greatest American thinker you probably never heard of (or forgot). His working life -- from 1890 to 1923 -- coincided with America's first Gilded Age, so named by Mark Twain, whose novel of that title lampooned the greedy corruption of the country's most illustrious gentlemen. Veblen had a similarly dark, sardonic sense of humor.
Now, in America's second (bigger and better) Gilded Age, in a world of staggering inequality , believe me, it helps to read him again.
In his student days at Johns Hopkins, Yale, and finally Cornell, already a master of many languages, he studied anthropology, sociology, philosophy, and political economy (the old fashioned term for what's now called economics). That was back when economists were concerned with the real-life conditions of human beings, and wouldn't have settled for data from an illusory "free market."
Veblen got his initial job, teaching political economy at a salary of $520 a year, in 1890 when the University of Chicago first opened its doors. Back in the days before SATs and admissions scandals , that school was founded and funded by John D. Rockefeller, the classic robber baron of Standard Oil. (Think of him as the Mark Zuckerberg of his day.) Even half a century before the free-market economist Milton Friedman captured Chicago's economics department with dogma that serves the ruling class, Rockefeller called the university "the best investment" he ever made. Still, from the beginning, Thorstein Veblen was there, prepared to focus his mind on Rockefeller and his cronies, the cream of the upper class and the most ruthless profiteers behind that Gilded Age.
He was already asking questions that deserve to be raised again in the 1% world of 2019. How had such a conspicuous lordly class developed in America? What purpose did it serve? What did the members of the leisure class actually do with their time and money? And why did so many of the ruthlessly over-worked, under-paid lower classes tolerate such a peculiar, lopsided social arrangement in which they were so clearly the losers?
Veblen addressed those questions in his first and still best-known book, The Theory of the Leisure Class , published in 1899. The influential literary critic and novelist William Dean Howells, the "dean of American letters," perfectly captured the effect of Veblen's gleeful, poker-faced scientific style in an awestruck review. "In the passionless calm with which the author pursues his investigation," Howells wrote, "there is apparently no animus for or against a leisure class. It is his affair simply to find out how and why and what it is. If the result is to leave the reader with a feeling which the author never shows, that seems to be solely the effect of the facts."
The book made a big splash. It left smug, witless readers of the leisure class amused. But readers already in revolt, in what came to be known as the Progressive Era, came away with contempt for the filthy rich (a feeling that today, with a smug, witless plutocrat in the White House, should be a lot more common than it is).
What Veblen Saw
The now commonplace phrase "leisure class" was Veblen's invention and he was careful to define it: "The term 'leisure,' as here used, does not connote indolence or quiescence. What it connotes is non-productive consumption of time. Time is consumed non-productively (1) from a sense of the unworthiness of productive work, and (2) as an evidence of pecuniary ability to afford a life of idleness."
Veblen observed a world in which that leisure class, looking down its collective nose at the laboring masses, was all around him, but he saw evidence of something else as well. His anthropological studies revealed earlier cooperative, peaceable cultures that had supported no such idle class at all. In them, men and women had labored together, motivated by an instinctive pride in workmanship, a natural desire to emulate the best workers, and a deep parental concern -- a parental bent he called it -- for the welfare of future generations. As the child of Norwegian immigrants, Veblen himself had grown up on a Minnesota farm in the midst of a close-knit Norwegian-speaking community. He knew what just such a cooperative culture was like and what was possible, even in a gilded (and deeply impoverished) world.
But anthropology also recorded all too many class-ridden societies that saved upper-class men for the "honourable employments": governance, warfare, priestly office, or sports. Veblen noted that such arrangements elicited aggressive, dominant behavior that, over time, caused societies to change for the worse. Indeed, those aggressive upper-class men soon discovered the special pleasure that lay in taking whatever they wanted by "seizure," as Veblen termed it. Such an aggressive way of living and acting, in turn, became the definition of manly "prowess," admired even by the working class subjected by it. By contrast, actual work -- the laborious production of the goods needed by society -- was devalued. As Veblen put it, "The obtaining [of goods] by other methods than seizure comes to be accounted unworthy of man in his best estate." It seems that more than a century ago, the dominant men of the previous Gilded Age were, like our president, already spinning their own publicity.
A scientific Darwinian, Veblen saw that such changes developed gradually from alterations in the material circumstances of life. New technology, he understood, sped up industrialization, which in turn attracted those men of the leisure class, always on the lookout for the next thing of value to seize and make their own. When "industrial methods have been developed to such a degree of efficiency as to leave a margin worth fighting for," Veblen wrote, the watchful men struck like birds of prey.
Such constant "predation," he suggested, soon became the "habitual, conventional resource" of the parasitical class. In this way, a more peaceable, communal existence had evolved into the grim, combative industrial age in which he found himself: an age shadowed by predators seeking only profits and power, and putting down any workers who tried to stand up for themselves. To Veblen this change was not merely "mechanical." It was a spiritual transformation.
The Conspicuous Class
Classical economists from Adam Smith on typically depicted economic man as a rational creature, acting circumspectly in his own self-interest. In Veblen's work, however, the only men -- and they were all men then -- acting that way were those robber barons, admired for their "prowess" by the very working-class guys they preyed upon. (Think of President Trump and his besotted MAGA-hatted followers.) Veblen's lowly workers still seemed to be impelled by the "instinct for emulation." They didn't want to overthrow the leisure class. They wanted to climb up into it.
For their part, the leisured gents asserted their superiority by making a public show of their leisure or, as Veblen put it, their "conspicuous abstention from labour." To play golf, for example, as The Donald has spent much of his presidency doing, became at once "the conventional mark of superior pecuniary achievement" and "the conventional index of reputability." After all, he wrote, "the pervading principle and abiding test of good breeding is the requirement of a substantial and patent waste of time." In Donald Trump's version of the same, he displayed his penchant for "conspicuous consumption" by making himself the owner of a global chain of golf courses where he performs his "conspicuous leisure" by cheating up a storm and carrying what Veblen called a "conspicuous abstention from labour" to particularly enviable heights.
Veblen devoted 14 chapters of The Theory of the Leisure Class to analyzing every aspect of the life of the plutocrat living in a gilded world and the woman who accompanied him on his conspicuous outings, elaborately packaged in constricting clothing, crippling high heels, and "excessively long hair," to indicate just how unfit she was for work and how much she was "still the man's chattel." Such women, he wrote, were "servants to whom, in the differentiation of economic functions, has been delegated the office of putting in evidence their master's ability to pay." (Think POTUS again and whomever he once displayed with a certain possessive pride only to pay hush money to thereafter.)
And all of that's only from chapter seven, "Dress as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture." Today, each of those now-century-old chapters remains a still-applicable little masterpiece of observation, insight, and audacity, though it was probably the 14th and last chapter that got him fired from Rockefeller's university: "The Higher Learning as an Expression of the Pecuniary Culture." How timely is that?
The (Re)tardiness of Conservatives
As both an evolutionary and an institutional economist (two fields he originated), Veblen contended that our habits of thought and our institutions must necessarily "change with changing circumstances." Unfortunately, they often seem anchored in place instead, bound by the social and psychological inertia of conservatism. But why should that be so?
Veblen had a simple answer. The leisure class is so sheltered from inevitable changes going on in the rest of society that it will adapt its views, if at all, "tardily." Comfortably clueless (or calculating), the wealthy leisure class drags its heels (or digs them in) to retard economic and social forces that make for change. Hence the name "conservatives." That (re)tardiness -- that time lag imposed by conservative complacency -- stalls and stifles the lives of everyone else and the timely economic development of the nation. (Think of our neglected infrastructure, education, housing, health care, public transport -- you know the lengthening list today.)
Accepting and adjusting to social or economic change, unfortunately, requires prolonged "mental effort," from which the leisured conservative mind quite automatically recoils. But so, too, Veblen said, do the minds of the "abjectly poor, and all those persons whose energies are entirely absorbed by the struggle for daily sustenance." The lower classes were -- and this seems a familiar reality in the age of Trump -- as conservative as the upper class simply because the poor "cannot afford the effort of taking thought for the day after tomorrow," while "the highly prosperous are conservative because they have small occasion to be discontented with the situation as it stands." It was, of course, a situation from which they, unlike the poor, made a bundle in an age (both Veblen's and ours) in which money flows only uphill to the 1%.
Veblen gave this analytic screw one more turn. Called a "savage" economist, in his meticulous and deceptively neutral prose, he described in the passage that follows a truly savage and deliberate process:
"It follows that the institution of a leisure class acts to make the lower classes conservative by withdrawing from them as much as it may of the means of sustenance and so reducing their consumption, and consequently their available energy, to such a point as to make them incapable of the effort required for the learning and adoption of new habits of thought. The accumulation of wealth at the upper end of the pecuniary scale implies privation at the lower end of the scale."
And privation always stands as an obstacle to innovation and change. In this way, the industrial, technological, and social progress of the whole society is retarded or perhaps even thrown into reverse. Such are the self-perpetuating effects of the unequal distribution of wealth. And reader take note: the leisure class brings about these results on purpose.
The Demolition of Democracy
But how, at the turn of the nineteenth century, had America's great experiment in democracy come to this? In his 1904 book The Theory of Business Enterprise , Veblen zoomed in for a close up of America's most influential man: "the Business Man." To classical economists, this enterprising fellow was a generator of economic progress. To Veblen, he was "the Predator" personified: the man who invests in industry, any industry, simply to extract profits from it. Veblen saw that such predators created nothing, produced nothing, and did nothing of economic significance but seize profits.
Of course, Veblen, who could build a house with his own hands, imagined a working world free of such predators. He envisioned an innovative industrial world in which the labor of producing goods would be performed by machines tended by technicians and engineers. In the advanced factories of his mind's eye, there was no role, no place at all, for the predatory Business Man. Yet Veblen also knew that the natural-born predator of Gilded Age America was already creating a kind of scaffolding of financial transactions above and beyond the factory floor -- a lattice of loans, credits, capitalizations, and the like -- so that he could then take advantage of the "disruptions" of production caused by such encumbrances to seize yet more profits. In a pinch, the predator was, as Veblen saw it, always ready to go further, to throw a wrench into the works, to move into the role of outright "Saboteur."
Here Veblen's image of the predatory characters who dominated his Gilded Age runs up against the far glossier, more gilded image of the entrepreneurial executive hailed by most economists and business boosters of his time and ours. Yet in book after book, he continued to strip the gilded cloaks from America's tycoons, leaving them naked on the factory floor, with one hand jamming the machinery of American life and the other in the till.
Today, in our Second Even-Glitzier Gilded Age, with a Veblen Moment come round again, his conclusions seem self-evident. In fact, his predators pale beside a single image that he himself might have found incredible, the image of three hallowed multi-billionaires of our own Veblen Moment who hold more wealth than the bottom 160 million Americans.
The Rise of the Predatory State
Why, then, when Veblen saw America's plutocratic bent so clearly, is he now neglected? Better to ask, who among America's moguls wouldn't want to suppress such a clear-eyed genius? Economist James K. Galbraith suggests that Veblen was eclipsed by the Cold War, which offered only two alternatives, communism or capitalism -- with America's largely unfettered capitalist system presenting itself as a "conservative" norm and not what it actually was and remains: the extreme and cruel antithesis of communism.
When the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, it left only one alternative: the triumphant fantasy of the "free market." What survived, in other words, was only the post-Veblen economics of John D. Rockefeller's university: the "free market" doctrines of Milton Friedman, founder of the brand of economics popular among conservatives and businessmen and known as the Chicago School.
Ever since, America has once again been gripped by the heavy hands of the predators and of the legislators they buy . Veblen's leisure class is now eclipsed by those even richer than rich, the top 1% of the 1%, a celestial crew even more remote from the productive labor of working men and women than were those nineteenth-century robber barons. For decades now, from the ascendancy of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to Bill Clinton's New Democrats in the 1990s to the militarized world of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to the self-proclaimed billionaire con man now in the Oval Office, the plutocrats have continued to shower their dark money on the legislative process. Their only frustration: that the left-over reforms of Veblen's own "Progressive Era" and those of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal still somehow stand (though for how long no one knows).
As Galbraith pointed out in his 2008 book The Predator State , the frustrated predators of the twenty-first century sneakily changed tactics: they aimed to capture the government themselves, to become the state. And so they have. In the Trump era, they have created a government in which current regulators are former lobbyists for the very predators they are supposed to restrain. Similarly, the members of Trump's cabinet are now the saboteurs: shrinking the State Department, starving public schools, feeding big Pharma with Medicare funds, handing over national parks and public lands to "developers," and denying science and climate change altogether, just to start down a long list. Meanwhile, our Predator President, when not golfing , leaps about the deconstruction site, waving his hands and hurling abuse, a baron of distraction, commanding attention while the backroom boys (and girls) demolish the institutions of law and democracy.
Later in life, Veblen, the evolutionary who believed that no one could foresee the future, nonetheless felt sure that the American capitalist system, as it was, could not last. He thought it would eventually fall apart. He went on teaching at Stanford, the University of Missouri, and then the New School for Social Research, and writing a raft of brilliant articles and eight more books. Among them, The Vested Interests and the Common Man (1920) may be the best summation of his once astonishing and now essential views. He died at the age of 72 in August 1929. Two months later, the financial scaffolding collapsed and the whole predatory system came crashing down.
To the end, Veblen had hoped that one day the Predators would be driven from the marketplace and the workers would find their way to socialism. Yet a century ago, it seemed to him more likely that the Predators and Saboteurs, collaborating as they did even then with politicians and government lackeys, would increasingly amass more profits, more power, more adulation from the men of the working class, until one day, when those very plutocrats actually captured the government and owned the state, a Gilded Business Man would arise to become a kind of primitive Warlord and Dictator. He would then preside over a new and more powerful regime and the triumph in America of a system we would eventually recognize and call by its modern name: fascism.
St Jacques , April 12, 2019 at 1:46 am
Thankyou for bringing up one of my all time favourite authors. Why is he neglected? Because he saw and wrote too clearly and he mocked the use of mathematical models, and the silly assumptions underlying them – oh so unscientifically unsound.
Anarcissie , April 12, 2019 at 12:35 pm
I think Veblen may be neglected because his observations do not comport well with what many others observe. For instance, in the quoted or paraphrased material in the article, he asserts that the upper classes are idly conservative. But if we have observed the development of cooperative agrarian societies into, first, instances of industrial capitalism, and later imperial-liberal or finance-capitalist warfare-welfare states, it is the capitalists who were the radical progressives, who shook things up, who 'moved fast and broke things', and the agrarian cooperators who were the conservatives or reactionaries. And Uncle Karl agrees with me, at least as of the Communist Manifesto : 'The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society .. All that is solid melts into air .' and so on.
Would that the rich were idle! But they are not. They labor ceaselessly to destroy the Earth, to turn it into nothing more than numbers written on a tablet. It is a mistake to underestimate and deride such people, even if their personalities are socially deficient.
Anthony Wikrent , April 12, 2019 at 1:05 pm
I think you need to look at the crucial distinction Veblen made between industry and business, which I find has much more analytical and prescriptive power than Marx.
Anarcissie , April 12, 2019 at 4:09 pm
I was thinking of the combination of business and industry, industry being the work of changing the material world to produce desired things, experiences, and circumstances, and business being the political organization of that work, which has evolved in various ways into contemporary capitalism. The large-scale practice of modern industry apparently requires a lot of political organization. In my observation and personal experience, business, so defined, is also hard work, since one is not dealing with inanimate things, but with human beings, who are often as unpredictable, crafty, greedy and treacherous as oneself. Hence not many actually want to or are able to do it. This poses an obvious problem for those who want to establish a more cooperative and egalitarian social order above the local or familial level, much less a sustainable economy. The rich are anything but idle, and they always want more.
WheresOurTeddy , April 12, 2019 at 1:30 pm
as a friend of mine likes to say, "America never had a ruling class disinterested in ruling or an intelligentsia that was truly intelligent."
Thomas P , April 12, 2019 at 3:07 am
The book is also available for free at project Gutenberg:
The leisure class hasn't been able to expand copyright to infinity yet.
johnf , April 12, 2019 at 3:42 am
They are trying. Project Gutenberg is presently blocking all German IP addresses after a publisher asserted copyright on 18 works from 1903–1920. I must content myself with reading H.L. Mencken's iconoclastic essay, "Professor Veblen".
diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 9:45 am
The Opera browser has a build-in VPN just sayin' ;-)
GramSci , April 12, 2019 at 9:58 am
Ah, yes! H.L. Mencken, social darwinist and proto-nazi, as was Veblen's first professor at Yale, William Graham Sumner, Phi Beta Kappa and Bonesman, who brought the teachings of Herbert Spencer to Yale and America as the new Science of "Sociology". Of course we no longer call such sociology "social darwinism" or "nazism". "Meritocracy" is a more polite term. Veblen would still call it "predatory".
James , April 12, 2019 at 7:20 am
Amazing post! As clear and succinct political manifesto and call to arms as any I've read. Looks like I've got some more essential reading to do now.
Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 7:58 am
Wow! I am reading this while sitting in the cafeteria of UPMC Presbyterian Hospital (where my husband's cousin, the farmer of whom I have written here before, hovers between life and death.) Pittsburgh, home of the planet's largest gothic phallus, the gargoyled tower at Carnegie Mellon U. Even the First Baptist Church is a mini-Notre Dame.
Walking the mile up to the hospital this morning, along the row of gracious mansions, now a designated Historic District, built from the blood and sweat of the Polish and Czech and Italian coal miners and steel workers, I wondered if their tenements had been declared an Historic District.
DJG , April 12, 2019 at 9:14 am
Eclair: All the best to you. Your posts here have evoked him so well–a life of hard work and care for the land.
Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 11:29 am
DJG, I wrote a think you post to you, with additional comments but it either got lost or delayed or my fat fingers consigned it to Oblivion. Typing on my phone is dangerous.
Trent , April 12, 2019 at 10:07 am
Upmc, the future of predatory healthcare. My great grandfather raised his family of eight Italians in one of those row houses in Oakland. Now it's probably rented out by a slumlord to college kids racking up debt.
Trent , April 12, 2019 at 10:54 am
Also the cathedral of learning is university of Pittsburgh
Alfred , April 12, 2019 at 11:16 am
Yes. Pittsburgh was once the real 'metropolis of tomorrow', and the Cathedral of Learning was the ultimate proof both of the city's arrival in the future and of just how conservative that future was going to look. One of the key American buildings of its time, it's a tenth 'malic mould' embodying not only the so-called 'skyward trend of thought' by which the predatory businessmen of the 1920s imagined themselves transported to 'impossible heights' but also -- inside -- a showcase of international culture that foreshadowed today's globalization. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathedral_of_Learning
a different chris , April 12, 2019 at 2:32 pm
My dad, and I assume most of the other Pitt graduates of at least that era, called it "The Tower Of Ignorance".
We aren't all suckers, even if we sit at desks and wear ties.
Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 11:17 am
Oops, you are correct, Trent! I don't know why I associated it with C-M. And it really is almost more beaux arts than gothic. But it is still an example of 'mine is much much bigger than yours.'
Trent , April 12, 2019 at 11:24 am
No worries, I'm a throwback that takes a bit of pride in the area my family has resided the past few hundred years. If you get bored you should read about the Mellon's. Very big players in the gilded age.
Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 11:24 am
So, not a designated 'Historic District,' I will bet. My grandparents raised their kids in brick mill housing, still standing. But not 'Historic.'. Just haunted by the ghosts of the still-born babies and tubercular adolescents.
Trent , April 12, 2019 at 11:28 am
It's only historic until someone can make a profit from it!
Mike , April 12, 2019 at 11:54 am
My condolences upon your presence in the Pittsburgh of capitalism and scalping. If you wish to see the contradictory nature of "historicism", Pittsburgh is THE place to follow.
Case in point: In the close-by tiny mill town of Millvale (aptly named, no?) sits the St. Nicholas Croatian Catholic Church, where once a Croatian artist named Maxo Vanka was allowed to paint beautiful murals upon its walls and ceilings, all of which commemorated and encapsulated the horrific struggles of mine and mill workers of the region. They are akin to, and in some ways exceed, the murals of Diego Rivera – passionately and class-reverently done.
The contradiction? Besides the religious basis for this socialist art, the current foundation trying to preserve and defend these paintings is begging for corporate donations and having $1000+ benefits (wine, cheese, hubris) so some retouching and repainting can occur under an umbrella of the threat to the art and the church posed by those selfsame corporations who would love to topple the structure and put up office space. Oh, to be able to say "Sic semper tyrannus "
Eclair , April 12, 2019 at 1:37 pm
So, Mike, I should make a pilgrimage to visit this church soon, before it is scraped, yeah?
Mike , April 12, 2019 at 4:01 pm
Fear not – the church still stands, and the professional class are scurrying about, waxing poetic and oozing dollars, so it will be there for you for at least as long as the fund-raisers do their work.
I would go soon, though, just to see how years of neglect can harm mural art, because the difference between the undone and finished restoration is something to note.
P.S.- easier to drive there if you have wheels. Public transport suffers by scarcity and slowness.
Mike , April 12, 2019 at 4:07 pm
P.P.S. – my best wishes to your cousin, as well.
Arizona Slim , April 12, 2019 at 1:58 pm
Sotte voce: When I lived in Pittsburgh, the planet's largest gothic phallus was called the Catheter of Learning. (It's real name is the Cathedral of Learning.)
You're soaking in it! , April 12, 2019 at 4:05 pm
Ok, but geez. Shouldn't there be a meet-up in here somewhere?
Norb , April 12, 2019 at 8:08 am
If the human condition is viewed as an endless spiritual crisis seeking out resolution, then everyones collective efforts begin to make more sense. Spiritual connections must be made in order to survive and this choice sets into motion a chain of events that approximate the future. Everyone must choose what life they want to live. They must choose what spirit they will follow. A passive choice supports the status quo/conservatives, while an active choice drives change in society.
How the current spiritual crisis is handled will determine our collective future. It is no coincidence that true, honest spirituality has also been corrupted by the predator class. Spiritual subversion is the essence of TINA. Education and spiritual growth are the foundations upon which a free and productive society rest- without that, as the author notes, society evolves into fascism. Fascism becomes the spirituality of the predator class. Fascism is freedom disguised.
If this is true, then it becomes imperative for all freedom loving people to do everything in their power to subvert such exploitation and purposeful suffering. The spirit must be without freedom for all there is, in reality, freedom for none. Society must be based on reducing suffering, not creating or perpetuating it.
At root, that is what civil disobedience is all about. Civil disobedience takes on many forms, including actively building parallel social structures to negate the damaging social conditions brought about by a predator class. The saboteurs are themselves subject to sabotage. This inevitable dynamic explains why foreigners and domestic dissenters are treated as enemies and terrorists by the ruling elite. Foreign and domestic enemies must be eliminated. When this dynamic becomes an issue, it proves all by itself that the ruling elite no longer hold their citizens to any regard, regardless of the propaganda they employ to prove otherwise. The society becomes more polarized and violent.
The follow up to this essay is to explore the people and communities that took Veblen insights to heart and acted accordingly. That would provide examples upon which to build and restore.
diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 10:03 am
Society must be based on reducing suffering, not creating or perpetuating it.
and yet, in the present arrangement of things, most of us can't even get around in the place where we live without someone, somewhere, drilling oil, and transporting it, and refining it, and transporting it some more using this computer required someone, somewhere to mine metal ore, and refine and process and transport it
The great tragedy of our situation is that we often choose to do things we know to be harmful in order to protect and provide for those we love. "I'd give up my car, but I need it for my job. I'd quit the job, but I've got kids to think about and plus, what happens if my kid gets hurt and needs to get to the hospital fast? So I can't give up the car, even though I know it's contributing to larger scale problems that will effect everyone negatively, and already effect some people extremely negatively."
Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 8:39 am
You feel you are doing well when you are doing better than your peers.
I've only got a Boeing 747, and he's got an Airbus A380.
His one is bigger than mine.
Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 8:45 am
The biggest threat to progress in the forwards direction is those that like progress in the reverse direction.
The Magna Carta was the first step in moving forwards from when wealth and power were concentrated with one person, the Absolute Monarch.
Progress is always a battle between those below and those at the top, who want to keep wealth and power as concentrated as it is now, or to move backwards to when it was more concentrated.
Royalty spent centuries trying to regain the power they lost with the Magna Carta and get back to where they were before.
It is a constant battle and many nations slide back to the beginning with dictators, where wealth and power are concentrated with one person, and where that wealth and power is inherited.
To progress from the Magna Carta to universal suffrage took 700 years. Within another 50 years those at the top looked to move backwards to when they had more wealth and power.
They sought to regain the economic freedom they used to have and roll back the welfare state.
They set the wheels in motion.
In 1947, Albert Hunold, a senior Credit Suisse official looked for a group of right wing thinkers to form the Mont Pelerin Society and neoliberalism started to take shape.
"Why Nations Fail" is a good book on this subject.
DSB , April 12, 2019 at 8:55 am
"In the passionless calm with which the author pursues his investigation," Howells wrote, "there is apparently no animus for or against a leisure class. It is his affair simply to find out how and why and what it is. If the result is to leave the reader with a feeling which the author never shows, that seems to be solely the effect of the facts."
If only this author had such a deft hand as Veblen. Aspiration.
Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 8:56 am
The University of Chicago forgot what they used to know.
Henry Simons was at the University of Chicago as he was a firm believer in free markets, but he had learned the lessons of the 1920s and 1930s.
"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." Irving Fisher 1929.
Irving Fisher was a neoclassical economist that believed in free markets and he knew this was a stable equilibrium.
He became a laughing stock and worked out where he had gone wrong.
What goes wrong with free markets?
Henry Simons and Irving Fisher supported the Chicago Plan to take away the bankers ability to create money, so that free market valuations could have some meaning.
The real world and free market, neoclassical economics would then tie up.
1929 – Inflating the US stock market with debt (margin lending)
2008 – Inflating the US real estate market with debt (mortgage lending)
Bankers inflating asset prices with the money they create from loans.
Sound of the Suburbs , April 12, 2019 at 9:08 am
Real science is evolutionary and new knowledge builds on past knowledge in a way that is self-correcting and improves over time. The old knowledge remains and anything that is wrong gets changed.
Thorstein Veblen recognised economics wasn't like that and this is why they keep forgetting stuff.
We had a new, scientific economics for globalisation.
JBird4049 , April 12, 2019 at 3:54 pm
This explains why Milton Friedman is better known than Thorstein Veblen
I would not necessarily call something scientific even if it builds on previous knowledge. The key is the real effort at studying and understanding a subject.
"Economics," especially its propagandistic version Neoliberalism, is not at all scientific or even an attempt to study something. It is an effort to make opaque, not an attempt to clarify.
Political economy, like philosophy, metaphysics, psychology and sociology are themselves not "hard"science, but they were created, built upon, and maintain as usually honest attempts at understanding; Neoliberal Economics is as to Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations in Political Economy as Social Darwinism is to Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species is in evolutionary biology.
Sound of the Suburbs , April 13, 2019 at 4:58 pm
Take 1920s neoclassical economics and stick some more complex maths on top.
A new, scientific economics.
ewmayer , April 12, 2019 at 7:07 pm
There is an underappreciated consumer-credit-boom-and-bust aspect to the Great Crash / Great Depression era – people often point out the contradictions in blaming margin lending for eveything, IMO it is the consumer-credit aspect that helps fill in the rest. Briefly, the 1920s saw the first great boom in consumer credit, as wage-suppressed workers saw the fabulous boom in wealth of the rentier and stock-speculator class and were misled to go into hock by the overall optimism thus engendered. The boom in installment-plan buying was the 1920s analog of the the late great mortgage-finance bubble. Here is a link, much more out there for those willig to look for it:
DJG , April 12, 2019 at 9:13 am
An interesting question:
Why, then, when Veblen saw America's plutocratic bent so clearly, is he now neglected? Better to ask, who among America's moguls wouldn't want to suppress such a clear-eyed genius? Economist James K. Galbraith suggests that Veblen was eclipsed by the Cold War, which offered only two alternatives, communism or capitalism -- with America's largely unfettered capitalist system presenting itself as a "conservative" norm and not what it actually was and remains: the extreme and cruel antithesis of communism.
I have a feeling that the rejection was going on earlier. I am reminded that Sinclair Lewis's career started with his first important novel in 1914–fifteen years after Theory of the Leisure Class, yet still before the shattering effects of World War I. Yet Sinclair Lewis has also been in decline, and his stories are the novelist's way of dealing with Veblen's ideas–especially the novel Dodsworth.
I have a feeling that something deeper in the culture pushes aside the observations that Americans are avaricious, conformist, and not particularly happy. It is so much chirpier to repeat Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. And it may be that the fear of falling in U.S. culture–dropping economically with the possible implication of turning black racially–means that the unproductivity of the upper classes is what Americans are fixated on and aspire to.
nycTerrierist , April 12, 2019 at 10:49 am
Very good to mention Sinclair Lewis here.
Highly recommended literary counterpart to Veblen, though Veblen was no slouch
as a stylist, among his many strengths.
Not only Dodsworth, but I would say all of Lewis' oeuvre exposes the predation, corruption
and injustice of various good ole 'murkan institutions: Elmer Gantry (venal ministers), Arrowsmith (careerism in medicine), Main Street (oppressive 'normality'), Gideon Parrish (the 'uplift' racket), Ann Vickers (womens prisons), The Job (women in the workplace) etc etc.
Lewis is hilarious and a truly prescient progressive.
Carolinian , April 12, 2019 at 11:13 am
Sinclair Lewis probably faded because the self satisfied American world he described took a nose dive in the great depression and satire became both superfluous and universal (any 1930s Hollywood depiction of the rich–i.e. A Night at the Opera).
In any case thanks for the good article above. It does lay on the Trump hate a little thick given that our Veblen moment has been going on at least since Reagan.
BlueMoose , April 12, 2019 at 11:42 am
Yes the trump hate was a bit thick.
Tony Wright , April 12, 2019 at 7:20 pm
Not really. Trump is the current and shameless torchbearer, even though he hypocritically purports to be the saviour of the "deplorables" callously abandoned by Hilary & Co.
nycTerrierist , April 12, 2019 at 11:32 am
Lewis was a gleeful unmasker of hypocrisy.
Makes some people uncomfortable!
jfleni , April 12, 2019 at 9:19 am
RE: Should we break up big tech?
Absolutely, start with ooindoze; years ago a Finn Linus Torwald
wrote a FREE replacement for Unix, cutting ATT off at the Internet; all he got for his trouble was the runaway monopoly of ooindoze. Now ooindoze is worth billions (ten plus at last count) .
The difference is BS and propaganda and the sleaziest possible merchandizing, YAHOO
diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 9:34 am
The irony of linking to a Veblen book on Amazon is well, it's a thing ironic anyway it's still early, you get what I'm saying. Here's a free version, as Thorstein would have wanted it:
human , April 12, 2019 at 10:41 am
Or a discount version from a small, out-of-copyright, publisher: https://doverpublications.ecomm-search.com/m?formSubmitted=true&keywords=Veblen&x=22&y=24
Gary , April 12, 2019 at 2:58 pm
Thanks, Diptherio, but, and I don't know why so many people forget about this, you could just go to your nearest public library. They'd be delighted to find it for you
diptherio , April 12, 2019 at 9:38 am
I think NC should adopt a quote from Theory of Business Enterprise as it's official (or unofficial) motto:
A definition by enumeration will often sound like a fault-finding.
That's from memory, so maybe not exactly verbatim, but close. Sounds like a pretty good description of every day on NC!
johnf , April 12, 2019 at 9:40 am
Thanks for the tip. In 1919, Mencken worked through all of Veblen's published works. Following his recommendation, I found copies of the two Mencken thought most essential: "What I found myself aware of, coming to the end, was that practically the whole system of Prof. Veblen was in his first book and his last [as of 1919] – that is, in "The Theory of the Leisure Class" and "The Higher Learning in America". I pass on the news to literary archeologists. Read these two, and you won't have to read the others. And if even two daunt you, then read the first. Once through it, though you will have have missed many a pearl and many a pain, you will have an excellent grasp of the gifted metaphysician's ideas." [Prejudices, First Series (1919), pp. 59-83]
GramSci , April 12, 2019 at 10:12 am
Umm, as I noted above, Mencken was hardly a fan of Veblen. See e.g. this link , vectored through a fan of Mencken, Tyler Cowen . . .
johnf , April 12, 2019 at 2:04 pm
My very modest knowledge of Veblen is through secondary sources, one of which is Mencken, who I never thought was a Veblen adulator. It is probably now a duty to read some of the primary sources.
ChrisAtRU , April 12, 2019 at 10:03 am
What a wonderful article with which to start my day!
Today's #MustRead IMO
chuck roast , April 12, 2019 at 10:11 am
Back in the day I bought one of those little Penguin Classics of Theory out of the university bookstore for a buck. The fact that it was still in print was sufficient testimony that curiosity continued to exist about the long dead discipline of Political Economics. I read a portion of it, but never came close to finishing it. That always bothered me. What happened to the little Penguin over the years I cannot say.
Anyway, a couple of years ago I had the public library exhume a copy for me out of their warehouse. Immediately upon reading it I recalled with great disappointment why I never finish the Penguin the prose style was both turgid and tortured. So, I guess you could say that I have always been pleased to read about Veblen and depressed with the actual reading.
My recommendation would be that a good translator translate Theory of the Leisure Class into say French or Italian and then another translator translate it back into English. Doubtless much of the drole and tongue planted firmly in cheek would be lost in the translation, but perhaps a much more readable book would ensue.
GramSci , April 12, 2019 at 10:16 am
Once one understands how censored publications were in that day ( plus ça change . . .) and one discovers the sarcasm veiled behind all that "turgid prose", The Theory of the Leisure Class becomes a joy to read.
ChiGal in Carolina , April 14, 2019 at 12:13 am
We read it in high school and I remember it being very witty, and hence enjoyable.
RenoRich , April 12, 2019 at 10:17 am
Am I a member of the leisure class if I like to read articles & comments on this site?
I have downloaded and started reading "The Theory of the Leisure Class". Perhaps I can answer my own question after reading several chapters
Phil in KC , April 12, 2019 at 10:26 am
My thanks as well for this post, which (ahem, everyone) deserves a wider audience. Sadly, my own college edjumacation glided over Veblen. This was in the early 70's, when Friedman and Co. Economists, Inc. were taking over economics. Suddenly, he's relevant again!
Now, we just need a Teddy Roosevelt progressive to initiate some reforms and a Franklin Roosevelt to make the right kind of enemies.
Mike , April 12, 2019 at 11:02 am
The Theory of the Leisure Class was my introduction to economics, reading it right after the Kennedy assassination, thus turning me from a right-wing parrot into a critical and still learning skeptic of all cheerleading about "our" government, "our" city on the hill. My father, a union founder and organizer as well as a solid drinker, would often go off on me about my "nazi" ideas before this turn, then wondered at the abrupt wheel. Ahhhh, once an outlier, always
The sad part is I (we?) are more "outliers" than ever before, thanks to the freedom exercised by many of our co-citizens to conform and obey to any media/government/corporate message with knee-jerk speed. Expected of the professional caste and their sponsors within the banking and corporate elite, it is sad to see its reach into levels of the working class, where it displays its total dysfunction.
nycTerrierist , April 12, 2019 at 11:04 am
Small quibble with this outstanding post.
In her quick gloss of our Predator-Enablers in Chief, from Reagan to Trump,
Teflon Obama gets a pass he does not deserve:
"For decades now, from the ascendancy of President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s to Bill Clinton's New Democrats in the 1990s to the militarized world of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney to the self-proclaimed billionaire con man now in the Oval Office, the plutocrats have continued to shower their dark money on the legislative process. Their only frustration: that the left-over reforms of Veblen's own "Progressive Era" and those of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal still somehow stand (though for how long no one knows) ..
Similarly, the members of Trump's cabinet are now the saboteurs: shrinking the State Department, starving public schools, feeding big Pharma with Medicare funds, handing over national parks and public lands to "developers," and denying science and climate change altogether, just to start down a long list. Meanwhile, our Predator President, when not golfing, leaps about the deconstruction site, waving his hands and hurling abuse, a baron of distraction, commanding attention while the backroom boys (and girls) demolish the institutions of law and democracy."
NotTimothyGeithner , April 12, 2019 at 12:13 pm
I think Obama's legacy is dismantling more lefty organizing venues and directing energy towards wasteful infighting as people who conned themselves into liking him hold onto bizarre beliefs to justify Obama's third and fourth Shrub terms such as how Obama "inherited" problems despite choosing to run for President. Ben Bernanke, Bob Gates, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner (or insert whatever monster you wish) were just the associates of the previous administrations at various levels. Though Obama may not have been from the "leisure class" but the higher level staff, he approached the Presidency as a luxury pursuit. Yes, Michelle opted for lesser known designers, but the people who mattered cut their teeth in the previous four administrations. Outsiders were not brought in. Liz Warren jumps out as an exception, and even now her Presidential run, she is almost completely separate from Obama despite her time in the administration creating her star.
Coolidge restored public confidence in the White House after the scandals of his predecessor's administration, and left office with considerable popularity. As a Coolidge biographer wrote: "He embodied the spirit and hopes of the middle class, could interpret their longings and express their opinions. That he did represent the genius of the average is the most convincing proof of his strength".
Scholars have ranked Coolidge in the lower half of those presidents that they have assessed. He is praised by advocates of smaller government and laissez-faire economics, while supporters of an active central government generally view him less favorably, though most praise his stalwart support of racial equality. This is from the wiki on Calvin Coolidge. Does it sound like someone?
Except for Silent Cal stories and being an advocate of "white collies" (puppies that were often drowned because it was believed they were blind), he was a continuation of more of the same and has largely disappeared from the discourse outside of memorizing the Presidents. He was President until March 1929, and Hoover gets a lot of flak. The economic crisis came from somewhere.
Trump is particularly predatory and being current merits mention as the old leisure class not merely taking control of the government but turning it into their leisure pursuit. Obama much like his "soaring rhetoric" is almost entirely forgettable.
CarlH , April 12, 2019 at 2:13 pm
Thank you for mentioning this. The omission of Obama from that list jumped out at me as well. When I think of a "Banker's President" Obama is the first to come to mind.
Susan the other` , April 12, 2019 at 1:01 pm
Thank you for an introduction to Ann Jones. She is a beautiful writer and her subject is wonderful. No argument there. I enjoyed her jabs at Trump too. But in his behalf I'd just like to say it was refreshing to see him crash the gates for the sole reason that he shook up our very complacent Congress and they almost seem awake now. Trump is not an ideologue. He's a self promoter. So we can't expect him to have a vision. That's the big problem with him. He's got no compass. It isn't that he impulsively and inanely talks about things like "beautiful wonderful new health care" and other crap – it's that he doesn't have a clue about how to achieve anything. Except cooking books and money shuffling. And Jones' example of his cheating at golf – urban legend already – is his character in a nutshell. But that said, I blame malicious obstructionists like Pelosi and the very dreadful Mitch for preventing the progress we are dying for. Congress is MIA. Why do we even bother to elect it?
flora , April 12, 2019 at 2:25 pm
Great post. Thanks so much.
mauisurfer , April 12, 2019 at 2:42 pm
So, was Einstein a member of the "leisure class"?
At Princeton, he would take his little sailboat out on the lake when there was so little wind
that no other boats were out there with him.
He would get his boat just barely moving slowly steadily calmly.
And that is where he thought his deepest thoughts.
Personally, my deepest thoughts come in a leisurely hot bath.
Aloha , April 12, 2019 at 4:32 pm
A most enjoyable essay and it brings me full circle with what I have been researching this past week. The Counsel on Foreign Relations and what their many spinoff non profit organizations claim to do, and their membership list. Membership is by invitation only and there is enough history now to see who has been running the country since its inception in 1919. I could write a book on all of the corruption of each member on a global scale. Just pull up any 3 or 4 of the current members (no need to research all of the U.S. presidents, and yes they are all members, because we already know what they have done) and you will see how corrupt they all are. The members at the top are all white, male, .01%'s with international power. It seems really obvious to me that we lost the last of our rights on 9/11 and that we are now living in a communist country actually being run fairly quietly for now by the Chinese government. We have been taught to hate and kill anyone considered to be communist (Russia is in MSM all of the time) but where is the hatred for China in the media? Why has China been permitted to but up so much real estate here? I could to on and on but the bottom line is that I think that the international leaders of the world are all communists and that is why we have no democracy left. Before you disagree and call me crazy please do your research! That is all I ask.
berit , April 13, 2019 at 7:05 am
Thank you Excellent, comments included!! My copy of Thorstein Veblens Theory of the Leisure Class was lost somewhere along the way. I dutifully, as a fellow Norwegian, read it 50 years ago, working in New York, trying to like and acclimatize to an American way of life. This I saw first hand at the top, as part of staff of one of the richest, most famous banking families, then from the opposite level, clerk at Bell Telephone System in lower Manhattan. I've downloaded a free copy of Veblen, thanks, and shall reread it, as Norway seems to be on a trajectory not unlike the US, seemingly seeking the seat left open after UK's Tony Blair as US poodle one. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg the successor, I think – most regretfully.
Phil King , April 13, 2019 at 7:32 pm
No comment needed:
"It is also a matter of common notoriety and byword that in offenses which result in a large accession of property to the offender he does not ordinarily incur the extreme penalty or the extreme obloquy with which his offenses would be visited on the ground of the naive moral code alone. The thief or swindler who has gained great wealth by his delinquency has a better chance than the small thief of escaping the rigorous penalty of the law and some good repute accrues to him from his increased wealth and from his spending the irregularly acquired possessions in a seemly manner. A well-bred expenditure of his booty especially appeals with great effect to persons of a cultivated sense of the proprieties, and goes far to mitigate the sense of moral turpitude with which his dereliction is viewed by them. It may be noted also -- and it is more immediately to the point -- that we are all inclined to condone an offense against property in the case of a man whose motive is the worthy one of providing the means of a "decent" manner of life for his wife and children. If it is added that the wife has been "nurtured in the lap of luxury," that is accepted as an additional extenuating circumstance. "
Apr 13, 2019 | www.unz.com
Daniel Rich , says: April 13, 2019 at 10:38 pm GMT@annamaria
Once one realizes 'justice' [under neoliberalism] is a monetized commodity, lawlessness becomes a viable [and justifiable] option.
Mar 18, 2019 | theduran.com
RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran's Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the college admissions scam revolving around William Rick Singer, who was running a for-profit college-counseling program, where according to federal prosecutors, has a goal focused on helping "the wealthiest families in the U.S. get their kids into school."
Arrest warrants for Hollywood stars, Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, were delivered on Tuesday following their alleged involvement in a college-entrance-exam cheating scandal.
According to CNN, the women were two of around 50 people who were the subject of federal indictment following an extensive FBI investigation named "Operation Varsity Blues."
Loughlin's husband, Mossimo Giannulli, was also implicated, and was arrested early on Tuesday morning.
TMZ reported that Huffman was arrested by seven armed FBI agents. Her husband, William H. Macy, has not been charged in connection to the case. Loughlin, Giannulli, and Huffman are all facing charges of felony conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.
Huffman is accused of spending $15,000 on an organization that allegedly helped her daughter cheat on her SATs. Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of paying $500,000 to get their daughters into University of Southern California as recruits for the crew team for which neither of Loughlin's daughters rowed crew.
All three were recorded by the FBI on phone calls discussing their plans to alter or lie about their children's college applications.
Is there anything left in this country that has not been deeply tainted by corruption?
By now you have probably heard that dozens of people have been arrested for participating in a multi-million dollar college admissions scam. Enormous amounts of money were paid out in order to ensure that children from very wealthy families were able to get into top schools such as Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Texas and the University of Southern California. And as The Economic Collapse blog's Michael Snyder writes, we should certainly be disgusted by these revelations, but we shouldn't be surprised. Such corruption happens every single day on every single level of society in America. At this point our nation is so far gone that it is shocking when you run into someone that actually still has some integrity.
The "mastermind" behind this college admissions scam was a con man named William Rick Singer. He had been successfully getting the kids of wealthy people into top colleges for years using "side doors", and he probably thought that he would never get caught.
But he did.
There were four basic methods that Singer used to get children from wealthy families into elite schools. The first two methods involved bribes
Bribing college entrance exam administrators to allow a third party to facilitate cheating on college entrance exams, in some cases by posing as actual students,' is the first.
Bribing university athletic coaches and administrators to designate applicants as purported athletic recruits – regardless of their athletic abilities, and in some cases, even though they did not play the sport,' is the second.
Because many of these kids didn't even play the sports they were being "recruited" for, in some cases Photoshop was used to paste their faces on to the bodies of real athletes
In order to get non-athletic kids admitted to college as athletes, Singer often had to create fake profiles for them. Sometimes this involved fabricating resumes that listed them having played on elite club teams, but to finish the illusion Singer and his team would also use Photoshop to combine photos of the kids with actual athletes in the sport.
A number of college coaches became exceedingly wealthy from taking bribes to "recruit" kids that would never play once they got to school, but now a lot of those same coaches are probably going to prison.
The third and fourth methods that Singer used involved more direct forms of cheating
'Having a third party take classes in place of the actual students, with the understanding that the grades earned in those classes would be submitted as part of the students' application,' is the third.
The fourth was 'submitting falsified applications for admission to universities that, among other things, included the fraudulently obtained exam scores and class grades, and often listed fake awards and athletic activities.'
Of course the main thing that the media is focusing on is the fact that some celebrities are among those being charged in this case, and that includes Lori Loughlin from "Full House"
It was important to "Full House" star Lori Loughlin that her kids have "the college experience" that she missed out on, she said back in 2016.
Loughlin, along with "Desperate Housewives" actress Felicity Huffman, is among those charged in a scheme in which parents allegedly bribed college coaches and insiders at testing centers to help get their children into some of the most elite schools in the country, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Despite how cynical I have become lately, I never would have guessed that Lori Loughlin was capable of such corruption.
After all, she seems like such a nice lady on television.
But apparently she was extremely determined to make sure that her daughters had "the college experience", and so Loughlin and her husband shelled out half a million dollars in bribes
Loughlin and Giannulli 'agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team – despite the fact that they did not participate in crew – thereby facilitating their admission to USC,' according to the documents.
As bad as this scandal is, can we really say that it is much worse than what is going on around the rest of the country every single day?
Of course not.
We are a very sick nation, and we are getting sicker by the day.
William Rick Singer had a good con going, and he should have stopped while he was ahead
William "Rick" Singer said he had the inside scoop on getting into college, and anyone could get in on it with his book, "Getting In: Gaining Admission To Your College of Choice."
"This book is full of secrets," he said in Chapter 1 before dispensing advice on personal branding, test-taking and college essays.
But Singer had even bigger secrets, and those would cost up to $1.2 million.
But like most con men, Singer just had to keep pushing the envelope, and in the end it is going to cost him everything.
The ironic thing is that our colleges and universities are pulling an even bigger con. They have convinced all of us that a college education is the key to a bright future, but meanwhile the quality of the "education" that they are providing has deteriorated dramatically. I spent eight years in school getting three degrees, and so I know what I am talking about. For much more on all this, please see my recent article entitled "50 Actual College Course Titles That Prove That America's Universities Are Training Our College Students To Be Socialists" .
I know that it is not fashionable to talk about "morality" and "values" these days, but the truth is that history has shown us that any nation that is deeply corrupt is not likely to survive for very long.
Our founders understood this, and former president John Adams once stated that our Constitution "was made only for a moral and religious people"
Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.
Today, we are neither moral or religious.
What we are is deeply corrupt, and America will not survive if we keep going down this path.
Mar 01, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Bezos : I've witnessed this incredible thing happen on the internet over the last two decades. I started Amazon in my garage 24 years ago -- drove packages to the post office myself. Today we have 600,000-plus people, millions and millions of customers, a very large company.
How did that happen in such a short period of time? It happened because we didn't have to do any of the heavy lifting. All of the heavy-lifting infrastructure was already in place for it. There was already a telecommunication network, which became the backbone of the internet. There was already a payment system -- it was called the credit card. There was already a transportation network called the US Postal Service, and Royal Mail, and Deutsche Post, all over the world, that could deliver our packages. We didn't have to build any of that heavy infrastructure.
An even more stark example is Facebook. Here's a guy who literally, in his dorm room, started a company -- Mark Zuckerberg started a company in his dorm room, which is now worth half a trillion dollars -- less than two decades ago.
NY Geezer , March 1, 2019 at 9:04 am
Jeff Bezos strikes me as an incredibly pompous hustler who is so much into himself that he has begun to believe that he is GOD. Before trying to hustle others into traveling to Mars, or any other space destination, he should show us that it is feasible by PERSONALLY going first, surviving 18 months of space travel (9 months each way to Mars) including a landing on and take off from Mars.
flora , March 1, 2019 at 7:27 am
Jeff reveals how he made his fortune using public infrastructure (read govt spending) and tax breaks. Now he's aiming for Pentagon riches.
In addition to Amazon's much-panned withdrawal from a "second headquarters" deal in New York City -- which had the New York Post comparing Bezos to ex-Yankees pitcher Sonny Gray for his inability to "take the kind of pressure New York can dish out" -- the Pez-headed tech giant's dreams of Pentagon riches are suddenly being thwarted.
The blow involves a surprise delay in the award of the so-called JEDI contract, a $10 billion (or more) prize for Pentagon cloud management that once seemed gift-wrapped for Amazon.
Ape , March 1, 2019 at 7:48 am
Hmm, the internet already existed. In fact the WWW existed. He must know that -- so he's lying to minimize the amount of infrastructure he inherited. By 1994, everything was already there.
William Hunter Duncan , March 1, 2019 at 9:10 am
I am growing so very tired of the Cult of Bezos. That line about his garage is like an incantation to put his acolytes and sycophants into zombie mode. That argument that there can be no space Zuckerbergs sounds like subliminal messaging 'divert more public resources to ME! Only I can lead you to the stars!' He has zero intention of building his own space infrastructure. He wants us to build it for Him, our demigod, Bezos!
Dec 31, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com
Carolinian December 29, 2015
As Hemingway replied to that alum: "yes, they have more money."
Vatch December 29, 2015 at 11:25 am
Superficially, Hemingway was correct. But on a deeper level, he missed the reality of the heightened sense of entitlement that the very rich possess, as well as the deference that so many people automatically show to them. The rich shouldn't be different in this way, but they are. In some other societies, such entitlement and deference would accrue to senior party members, senior clergymen, or hereditary nobility (who might not have much money at all).
MyLessThanPrimeBeef December 29, 2015 at 11:45 am
"Go with the winner." That is how it works for the alpha male (a chimp, an ape, or a gorilla) for most followers anyway. Some will challenge. If victorious, followers will line up (more go-with-the-winner). If defeated, an outcast.
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 12:04 pm
Without a doubt Hemingway had a rather catty attitude toward his literary rival, but in this instance I think the debunking is merited. It's quite possible that rich people act the way we would act if we were rich, and that Fitzgerald's tiresome obsession with rich people didn't cut very deep. Hemingway is saying: take away all that money and the behavior would change as well. It's the money (or the power in your example) that makes the difference.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 1:58 pm
In my opinion, the fact that if they had less money would change the way they think, does not change the fact that, while they have more money, they think differently, and different rules apply to them.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:00 pm
Addendum: The fact that an Alpha Chimp would act differently if someone else was the Alpha Chimp does not change the fact that an Alpha Chimp has fundamentally different behavior than the rest of the group.
Carolinian December 29, 2015 at 2:17 pm
Sounds like you are saying the behavior of the rich is different -- not what F. Scott Fitzgerald said.
Massinissa December 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm
"Hemingway is responsible for a famous misquotation of Fitzgerald's. According to Hemingway, a conversation between him and Fitzgerald went:
Fitzgerald: The rich are different than you and me.
Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.
This never actually happened; it is a retelling of an actual encounter between Hemingway and Mary Colum, which went as follows:
Hemingway: I am getting to know the rich.
Colum: I think you'll find the only difference between the rich and other people is that the rich have more money."
Just want to point out that that quote of Hemingways wasn't about Fitzgerald and wasn't even by Hemingway. Anyway I was more attacking the "rich have more money" thing than I was trying to defend Fitzgerald, but I feel Fitzgerald got the basic idea right
craazyman December 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm
I read somewhere, maybe a biography of one of them when I read books like that, that Hemingway actually said it and only said that F. Scott said it.
There are no heroes among famous men. I said that!
giantsquid December 29, 2015 at 4:00 pm
Here's an interesting take on this reputed exchange between Fitzgerald and Hemingway:
"The rich are different" The real story behind the famed "exchange" between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.
Apparently Fitzgerald was referring specifically to the attitudes of those who are born rich, attitudes that Fitzgerald thought remained unaltered by events, including the loss of economic status.
"They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different."
Hemingway suggested that Fitzgerald had once been especially enamored of the rich, seeing them as a "special glamorous race" but ultimately became disillusioned.
"He thought they were a special glamorous race and when he fou