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Atomization and oppression of workforce

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Recommended Links The neoliberal myth of human capital Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust Neoliberal rationality Neoliberalism war on organized labor
Scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed Destruction of the New Deal Glass-Steagall repeal Think Tanks as Enabler of Neoliberal Coup d'état  Identity politics as diversion of attention from social inequality Identity politics as divide and conquer Class Struggle In The USA
Attack of Think Tanks Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite The Deep State Predator state Lewis Powell Memo The Essential Rules for Dominating Population
New American Militarism Neoconservatism Neo-fashism National Security State Propaganda  Inverted Totalitarism  Totalitarian Decisionism
Neoliberalism and Christianity Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism The Iron Law of Oligarchy Anglican Church on danger of neoliberalism Animal Farm   Neoconservatism as an attack dog of neoliberalism
The Great Betrayal: "Soft" neoliberals as Vichy Left Crowd manipulation Agenda-setting theory Manufacturing Consent Jingoism of the US neoliberal elite Media-Military-Industrial Complex War is Racket
Small government smoke screen "Starving the beast" bait and switcht Bill Clinton, the man who sold Democratic Party to Wall Street and helped FIRE sector to convert the country into casino Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure Two Party System American Imperialism, Transnational Capitalist Class and Globalization of Capitalism The Grand Chessboard
Ethno-linguistic and "Cultural" Nationalism as a reaction to Neoliberalism induced decline of standards of living American Exceptionalism Anatol Leiven on American Messianism Machiavellism Skeptic Quotations Humor Etc

Atomization of workforce and establishment of national security state after 9/11 so far prevented large organized collective actions (recent riots were not organized, and with the current technical capabilities of the three letter agencies any organization is difficult or impossible). I think that conversion of the state into national security state was the key factor that saved a couple of the most notorious neoliberals from being hanged on the electrical posts in 2008 although I remember slogan "Jump suckers" on the corner of Wall Street.

But neoliberal attacks on labor and especially organized labor started much earlier with Ronald Reagan and then continued under all subsequent presidents with Bill Clinton doing the bulk of this dirty job. Clinton's creation of the "New labor" (read neoliberal stooges of Wall Street masked as Democratic Party) was based on explicit betrayal or workers (" they have nowhere to go") .  And for several election cycles that was true.

But eventually that changes. Vichy left, represented by "Clintonized" Democratic Party got a crushing defeat in 2016 Presidential elections. Does not mean that Trump is better or less neoliberal, but it does suggest that working class does not trust Democratic Party any longer. 

2008 was the time of the crisis of neoliberal ideology, much like Prague spring signified the crisis of Communist ideology. While there was some level of harassment, individual beatings of banksters in 2008 were non-existent.


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[Jun 11, 2019] Open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage.

Jun 11, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

MG , Jun 11, 2019 8:40:24 AM | 129

@donkeytale

You stated, "Let's also ignore the fact that the sons and grandsons of the unionised postwar generation for the most part subsequently rejected blue collar work no matter what the pay. This is a sign of decadence I will grant you, and I am guilty as charged. "

This canard doesn't hold up in the face of empirical evidence. One example: 20,000 waiting in line for lousy warehouse jobs at Amazon. The fact is, open borders and illegal immigration are NeoLiberal tactics to promote wage arbitrage. In California, those impacted the most by illegal immigration are African Americans. Whole sectors, such as hotel maintenance and janitorial service, had been unionized, and had principally employed black workers whose salaries enabled them to move into the middle class. The hotel industry welcomed the influx of illegal immigrants willing to work for drastically lower wages. Black workers were replaced and the union destroyed. Unfortunately, many in the US and globally have been so propagandized about illegal immigration that even mentioning illegal immigration gets one falsely labeled racist. in the US, Democrats use illegal immigration as a "demographic strategy," which enables Democrats to remain in power while remaining wholly loyal to Wall Street and doing nothing to ameliorate the misery of the bottom 90%.

[May 15, 2019] Tariffs won't bring back manufacturing jobs...

The key factor here is that the USA is a neoliberal state which means profits before people and outsourcing to area with lower labor cost. Like leopard can't change its spots, neoliberalism can't change it "free movement of goods and labor" principles, or it stop being neoliberalism.
No jobs will come back to the USA as financial oligarchy is transnational body that uses the USA military as an enforcer for their gang. It does not care one bit about the common people in the USA.
May 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Originally from: Pepe Escobar Warns Over US-China Tensions The Hardcore Is Yet To Come

... ... ...

Where are our jobs?

Pause on the sound and fury for necessary precision. Even if the Trump administration slaps 25% tariffs on all Chinese exports to the US, the IMF has projected that would trim just a meager slither – 0.55% – off China's GDP. And America is unlikely to profit, because the extra tariffs won't bring back manufacturing jobs to the US – something that Steve Jobs told Barack Obama eons ago.

What happens is that global supply chains will be redirected to economies that offer comparative advantages in relation to China, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Laos. And this redirection is already happening anyway – including by Chinese companies.

BRI represents a massive geopolitical and financial investment by China, as well as its partners; over 130 states and territories have signed on. Beijing is using its immense pool of capital to make its own transition towards a consumer-based economy while advancing the necessary pan-Eurasian infrastructure development – with all those ports, high-speed rail, fiber optics, electrical grids expanding to most Global South latitudes.

The end result, up to 2049 – BRI's time span – will be the advent of an integrated market of no less than 4.5 billion people, by that time with access to a Chinese supply chain of high-tech exports as well as more prosaic consumer goods.

Anyone who has followed the nuts and bolts of the Chinese miracle launched by Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping in 1978 knows that Beijing is essentially exporting the mechanism that led China's own 800 million citizens to, in a flash, become members of a global middle class.

As much as the Trump administration may bet on "maximum pressure" to restrict or even block Chinese access to whole sectors of the US market, what really matters is BRI's advance will be able to generate multiple, extra US markets over the next two decades.

We don't do 'win-win'

There are no illusions in the Zhongnanhai, as there are no illusions in Tehran or in the Kremlin. These three top actors of Eurasian integration have exhaustively studied how Washington, in the 1990s, devastated Russia's post-USSR economy (until Putin engineered a recovery) and how Washington has been trying to utterly destroy Iran for four decades.

Beijing, as well as Moscow and Tehran, know everything there is to know about Hybrid War, which is an American intel concept. They know the ultimate strategic target of Hybrid War, whatever the tactics, is social chaos and regime change.

The case of Brazil – a BRICS member like China and Russia – was even more sophisticated: a Hybrid War initially crafted by NSA spying evolved into lawfare and regime change via the ballot box. But it ended with mission accomplished – Brazil has been reduced to the lowly status of an American neo-colony.

Let's remember an ancient mariner, the legendary Chinese Muslim Admiral Zheng He, who for three decades, from 1405 to 1433, led seven expeditions across the seas all the way to Arabia and Eastern Africa, reaching Champa, Borneo, Java, Malacca, Sumatra, Ceylon, Calicut, Hormuz, Aden, Jeddah, Mogadiscio, Mombasa, bringing tons of goods to trade (silk, porcelain, silver, cotton, iron tools, leather utensils).

That was the original Maritime Silk Road, progressing in parallel to Emperor Yong Le establishing a Pax Sinica in Asia – with no need for colonies and religious proselytism. But then the Ming dynasty retreated – and China was back to its agricultural vocation of looking at itself.

They won't make the same mistake again. Even knowing that the current hegemon does not do "win-win". Get ready for the real hardcore yet to come.


Tachyon5321 , 35 minutes ago link

The Swine fever is sweeping china hog farms and since the start of 2019 200+ millions hogs have been culled. Chinese hog production is down from 2016 high of 700 million to below 420 million by the end of the year. The fever is not under control.

Soybeans from Ukraine are unloaded at the port in Nantong, in eastern China. Imports of soy used to come from the US, but have slumped since the trade war began. Should point out that the Ukraine soy production matures at a different time of the year than the US soybean. The USA planting season starts in Late april, may and june. Because of the harvest time differences worldwide the USA supplies 80% of the late maturing soybeans needed by October/Nov and December.

A propaganda story by the Asian Times

BT , 46 minutes ago link

Orange Jesus just wants to be re-elected in 2020 and MIGA.

Son of Captain Nemo , 52 minutes ago link

Perhaps this is one of the "casualties" ( https://www.rt.com/news/459355-us-austria-embassy-mcdonalds/ ) of economic war given the significance of China and just how important it is to the U.S. in it's purchases of $USD to maintain the illusion of it's reserve currency status and "vigor"...

Surprised this didn't happen first at the U.S. Embassies in Russia and China?... Obviously Ronald McDonald has turned into a charity of sorts helping out Uncle $am in his ailing "health" these dayz!...

SUPER SIZE ME!... Cause I'm not lovin it anymore!... I'm needin it!!!!

joego1 , 52 minutes ago link

If Americans want to wear shoes they can make them or have a robot make them. Manufacturing can happen in the U.S. **** what Steve Jobs told Oblamy .

ElBarto , 1 hour ago link

I've never understood this "jobs aren't coming back" argument. Do you really think that it will stop tariffs? They're happening. Better start preparing.

ZakuKommander , 1 hour ago link

Oh, right, tariffs WILL bring back American jobs! Then why didn't the Administration impose them fully in 2017? Why negotiate at all; just impose all the tariffs!?! lol

Haboob , 1 hour ago link

Pepe is correct as usual. Even if America tariffs the world the jobs aren't coming back as corporations will be unable to turn profits in such a highly taxed country like America would be. What could happen however is America can form an internal free market again going isolationist with new home grown manufacturing.

Gonzogal , 41 minutes ago link

You VERY obviously have ZERO knowledge of Chinas history and its discoveries/inventions etc USED BY THE WEST.

I suggest that you keep your eyes open for "History Erased-China" on Y Tube. The series shows what would happen in todays world if countries and their contributions to the world did not happen.

here is a preview: https://youtu.be/b6PJxuheWfk

[May 04, 2019] Someone is getting a raise. It just isn't you

stackoverflow.com

As is usual, the headline economic number is always the rosiest number .

Wages for production and nonsupervisory workers accelerated to a 3.4 percent annual pace, signaling gains for lower-paid employees.

That sounds pretty good. Except for the part where it is a lie.
For starters, it doesn't account for inflation .

Labor Department numbers released Wednesday show that real average hourly earnings, which compare the nominal rise in wages with the cost of living, rose 1.7 percent in January on a year-over-year basis.

1.7% is a lot less than 3.4%.
While the financial news was bullish, the actual professionals took the news differently.

Wage inflation was also muted with average hourly earnings rising six cents, or 0.2% in April after rising by the same margin in March.
Average hourly earnings "were disappointing," said Ian Lyngen, head of U.S. rates strategy at BMO Capital Markets in New York.

Secondly, 1.7% is an average, not a median. For instance, none of this applied to you if you are an older worker .

Weekly earnings for workers aged 55 to 64 were only 0.8% higher in the first quarter of 2019 than they were in the first quarter of 2007, after accounting for inflation, they found. For comparison, earnings rose 4.7% during that same period for workers between the ages of 35 and 54.

On the other hand, if you worked for a bank your wages went up at a rate far above average. This goes double if you are in management.

Among the biggest standouts: commercial banks, which employ an estimated 1.3 million people in the U.S. Since Trump took office in January 2017, they have increased their average hourly wage at an annualized pace of almost 11 percent, compared with just 3.3 percent under Obama.

Finally, there is the reason for this incredibly small wage increase fo regular workers. Hint: it wasn't because of capitalism and all the bullsh*t jobs it creates. The tiny wage increase that the working class has seen is because of what the capitalists said was a terrible idea .

For Americans living in the 21 states where the federal minimum wage is binding, inflation means that the minimum wage has lost 16 percent of its purchasing power.

But elsewhere, many workers and employers are experiencing a minimum wage well above 2009 levels. That's because state capitols and, to an unprecedented degree, city halls have become far more active in setting their own minimum wages.
...
Averaging across all of these federal, state and local minimum wage laws, the effective minimum wage in the United States -- the average minimum wage binding each hour of minimum wage work -- will be $11.80 an hour in 2019. Adjusted for inflation, this is probably the highest minimum wage in American history.
The effective minimum wage has not only outpaced inflation in recent years, but it has also grown faster than typical wages. We can see this from the Kaitz index, which compares the minimum wage with median overall wages.

So if you are waiting for capitalism to trickle down on you, it's never going to happen. span y gjohnsit on Fri, 05/03/2019 - 6:21pm

Carolinas

Teachers need free speech protection

Thousands of South Carolina teachers rallied outside their state capitol Wednesday, demanding pay raises, more planning time, increased school funding -- and, in a twist, more legal protections for their freedom of speech
SC for Ed, the grassroots activist group that organized Wednesday's demonstration, told CNN that many teachers fear protesting or speaking up about education issues, worrying they'll face retaliation at work. Saani Perry, a teacher in Fort Mill, S.C., told CNN that people in his profession are "expected to sit in the classroom and stay quiet and not speak [their] mind."

To address these concerns, SC for Ed is lobbying for the Teachers' Freedom of Speech Act, which was introduced earlier this year in the state House of Representatives. The bill would specify that "a public school district may not willfully transfer, terminate or fail to renew the contract of a teacher because the teacher has publicly or privately supported a public policy decision of any kind." If that happens, teachers would be able to sue for three times their salary.

Teachers across the country are raising similar concerns about retaliation. Such fears aren't unfounded: Lawmakers in some states that saw strikes last year have introduced bills this year that would punish educators for skipping school to protest.

[May 02, 2019] If The U.S. Economy Is So Great, Why Are So Many Workers Miserable

May 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

If The U.S. Economy Is So Great, Why Are So Many Workers Miserable?

by Tyler Durden Thu, 05/02/2019 - 17:45 2 SHARES Authored by Mac Slavo via SHTFplan.com,

Millennial and generation Z workers are becoming increasingly miserable with their jobs and careers. Since we are told several times a day by the media that the economy is booming, why are so many young workers so disastrously melancholy all the time?

The mental well being of the American worker hit an all-time low in 2018, according to a report by Barron's . That's a bit shocking considering the economy is booming and wages are rising, right? Well, wages aren't rising that much, and much of the consumer spending is being put on credit cards , creating a vicious cycle of depression and consumerism that will repeat for a lot of folks.

Americans Are Financially And Mentally Unstable: Crippling Debt Is Linked To Chronic Depression

"When you're struggling with your mental health it can be much harder to stay in work or manage your spending, while being in debt can cause huge stress and anxiety – so the two issues feed off each other, creating a vicious cycle which can destroy lives," said Helen Undy the institute's chief executive. "Yet despite how connected these problems are, financial services rarely think about our mental health, and mental health services rarely consider what is happening with our money."

So why are we constantly being told everything is fine? The mainstream media loves to say that the U.S. is nearly ten years into one of the longest economic expansions in history, unemployment is the lowest it's been in almost half a century, and employees have more job choices than they've had in years. But there's just one problem. That's not actual truthful when taking all of the data into consideration. Sure, unemployment is low the way the government calculates it, but there's a reason for that. 102 million Americans are no longer "in the workforce" and therefore, unaccounted for.

Michael Snyder, who owns the Economic Collapse Blog s ays: "Sadly, the truth is that the rosy employment statistics that you are getting from the mainstream media are manufactured using smoke and mirrors."

When a working-age American does not have a job, the federal number crunchers put them into one of two different categories. Either they are categorized as "unemployed" or they are categorized as "not in the labor force".

But you have to add both of those categories together to get the total number of Americans that are not working.

Over the last decade, the number of Americans that are in the "unemployed" category has been steadily going down, but the number of Americans "not in the labor force" has been rapidly going up.

In both cases we are talking about Americans that do not have a job. It is just a matter of how the federal government chooses to categorize those individuals. – Michael Snyder, The Economic Collapse Blog

That could partially explain the misery some are feeling, but those who have jobs aren't happy either. They are often reeling from student loan and credit card debt. Being depressed makes shopping feel like a solution, but when the bill comes, the depression once again sets in making this a difficult cycle to break for so many just trying to scrape by.

Depression and suicide rates are rising sharply and other than putting the blame on superficial issues, researchers are at a loss as to the real reason why. But could it possibly be that as the elite globalists continue to take over the world and enslave mankind, people are realizing that they aren't meant to be controlled or manipulated, but meant to be free?

There's something we are all missing all around the globe. Could it possibly be free will and a life of freedom from theft and violent coercion and force that's missing?


Sick , 31 minutes ago link

Freedom to assemble is gone. That would be the only way for the awake people to make a change. Unfortunately everyone is glued to their electronics

CashMcCall , 57 minutes ago link

When even your own article lies to everyone... so the modern person that does well are those who lie the best and are the best con artists. Trump is an example. Low talent High con.

Example the US unemployment number.

Only the pool of unemployed that is Presently eligible for unemployment benefits is counted in the Unemployment number. That means self employed, commissioned workers, contractors etc are not included in the pool of unemployment even if they are out of work because they are unemployment ineligible.

Thus, over time, as unemployment benefits are lost, the unemployment pool shrinks. This is called a mathematical regression. How far does it shrink? To the point of equilibrium which is roughly 4% in which new persons enter the work force to the same extent of those losing benefits and being removed and become invisible.

Thus, Unemployment is a bogus number grossly understating truthful Unemployment. This method was first used under Obama and persists today under the Orange poser.

Nepotism and Affirmative action

Why would this make people unhappy? Chronic underemployment. Advancement is mostly by nepotism or affirmative action the flip side of the same coin. The incoming Harvard Class this year was 30% legacy student... and 30% affirmative action and the rest be damned. Happy?

Feminism has gripped the workplace.

Men hate working for female bosses. They don't trust them, they don't trust their judgment which often looks political and never logical. Men feel those women were promoted because of gender.

I saw this years ago in a clean room at National Semiconductor. A woman was put in charge of a team of roughly 30 white nerd males. She was at them constantly for not locking doors behind them and other menial infractions. She could not comprehend the complexity of the work or how inspiration operates but she would nag them and bully them.

At another facility there was a genius that would come to work and set up a sleeping bag and go to sleep under his desk. He was a Unix programmer and system engineer. So when something went wrong they would wake him and he would get up, solve the problem and go back to sleep.

Then the overstuffed string of pearls showed up as the new unit boss. She was infuriated that somebody would dare sleep on the clock and so blatantly. So she would harass him and wake him. Then one day she got so mad she started kicking him while he was sleeping. He grabbed his sleeping bag and briefcase and stormed out.

Ultimately the woman's boss took her to task and explained to her that it didn't matter if that employee slept under his desk because when he worked to solve problems only he could solve he saved the company millions. She was fired. As a token stipulation the sleeping genius came back and a sign was posted on his desk. "Kicking this employee is grounds for immediate dismissal."

Usually the nerd walks and just gets replaced by some diversity politician and string of pearls then sets the tone by making the workplace ****. Women simply are not as intelligent as men and pretending they are just wrecks morale of the people who are really intelligent. The rise of the shoulder padded woman string of pearls bully is a scourge to one and all.

bizznatch14 , 2 hours ago link

Simple answer: because people are spineless and terrible negotiators.

Long answer: for years the adage has been "do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life" or "find a good job and never leave" or "work your way to the top" or "be a hard worker, trust your leadership, keep your head down, and don't make waves."

********.

If you do what you love, you'll learn to hate it. Welcome to misery.

Upward mobility doesn't happen unless you leave. If you're a good little productive worker drone, management has no incentive to give you more than 1-3% raises every year to keep you 'loyal.' Once you've wasted 20 or so years being a robot, welcome to misery.

Nobody gets promoted unless you're a useless ***-kisser who fails to be productive and hasn't done anything egregious enough to get canned. Once you've been passed by for that promotion you want enough times, welcome to misery.

The people making the decisions at the top are the useless ***-kissers that can't do what you do but they talk a good game. Most of them are case studies in the Peter Principle. Once you realize that the 'top' consists of nothing but fuckwads, welcome to misery.

The only way to get ahead and get what you want out of a career is to develop the skills you need and market yourself top someone who'll pay you what you're worth.

Develop strong negotiation skills early, know your market value, and don't be afraid of change.

Employer loyalty is a farce; if you think your employer is loyal to you, I've got some oceanfront property in New Mexico to sell you.

Interested_Observer , 2 hours ago link

All the good jobs are being taken over by "imported labor" who are getting paid 1/2 of what Americans are getting paid.

There is no longer upward mobility unless you are part of an Indian Mafia.

Enjoy working for these freaks who treat everyone like crap?

[Apr 28, 2019] Prisoners of Overwork A Dilemma by Peter Dorman

Highly recommended!
This is true about IT jobs. Probably even more then for lawyers. IT became plantation economy under neoliberalism.
Notable quotes:
"... mandatory overwork in professional jobs. ..."
"... The logical solution is some form of binding regulation. ..."
"... One place to start would be something like France's right-to-disconnect law . ..."
"... "the situation it describes is a classic prisoners dilemma." ..."
Apr 28, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

The New York Times has an illuminating article today summarizing recent research on the gender effects of mandatory overwork in professional jobs. Lawyers, people in finance and other client-centered occupations are increasingly required to be available round-the-clock, with 50-60 or more hours of work per week the norm. Among other costs, the impact on wage inequality between men and women is severe. Since women are largely saddled with primary responsibility for child care, even when couples ostensibly embrace equality on a theoretical level, the workaholic jobs are allocated to men. This shows up in dramatic differences between typical male and female career paths. The article doesn't discuss comparable issues in working class employment, but availability for last-minute changes in work schedules and similar demands are likely to impact men and women differentially as well.

What the article doesn't point out is that the situation it describes is a classic prisoners dilemma.* Consider law firms. They compete for clients, and clients prefer attorneys who are available on call, always prepared and willing to adjust to whatever schedule the client throws at them. Assume that most lawyers want sane, predictable work hours if they are offered without a severe penalty in pay. If law firms care about the well-being of their employees but also about profits, we have all the ingredients to construct a standard PD payoff matrix:

There is a penalty to unilateral cooperation, cutting work hours back to a work-life balance level. If your firm does it and the others don't, you lose clients to them.

There is a benefit to unilateral defection. If everyone else is cutting hours but you don't, you scoop up the lion's share of the clients.

Mutual cooperation is preferred to mutual defection. Law firms, we are assuming, would prefer a world in which overwork was removed from the contest for competitive advantage. They would compete for clients as before, but none would require their staff to put in soul-crushing hours. The alternative equilibrium, in which competition is still on the basis of the quality of work but everyone is on call 24/7 is inferior.

If the game is played once, mutual defection dominates. If it is played repeatedly there is a possibility for mutual cooperation to establish itself, but only under favorable conditions (which apparently don't exist in the world of NY law firms). The logical solution is some form of binding regulation.

The reason for bringing this up is that it strengthens the case for collective action rather than placing all the responsibility on individuals caught in the system, including for that matter individual law firms. Or, the responsibility is political, to demand constraints on the entire industry. One place to start would be something like France's right-to-disconnect law .

*I haven't read the studies by economists and sociologists cited in the article, but I suspect many of them make the same point I'm making here.

Sandwichman said...
"the situation it describes is a classic prisoners dilemma."

Now why didn't I think of that?

https://econospeak.blogspot.com/2016/04/zero-sum-foolery-4-of-4-wage-prisoners.html April 26, 2019 at 6:22 PM

[Apr 13, 2019] For those IT guys who want to change the specalty

Highly recommended!
The neoliberal war on labor in the USA is real. And it is especially real for It folk over 50. No country for the old men, so to speak...
Notable quotes:
"... Obviously you need a financial cushion to not be earning for months and to pay for the training courses. ..."
"... Yeah, people get set in their ways and resistant to make changes. Steve Jobs talked about people developing grooves in their brain and how important it is to force yourself out of these grooves.* ..."
"... Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them. ..."
"... The brain is like a muscle, it needs to be constantly worked to become strong. If you waste it watching football or looking at porn your brain will atrophy like the muscles of a person in a wheelchair. ..."
"... IBEW (licensed electricians) has no upper age limit for apprentices They have lots of American engineers who applied in their 30s after realizing most companies want diverse HI-B engineers. ..."
"... At 40+, I still can learn advanced mathematics as well as I ever did. In fact, I can still compete with the Chinese 20 year olds. The problem is not mental horsepower, it's time and energy. I rarely have time to concentrate these days (wife, kids, pets), which makes it hard to get the solid hours of prime mental time required to really push yourself at a hard pace and learn advanced material. ..."
"... That's a huge key and I discovered it when I was asked to tutor people who were failing chemistry. I quickly discovered that all it took for most of them to "get it" was to keep approaching the problem from different angles until a light came on for them and for me the challenge of finding the right approach was a great motivator. Invariably it was some minor issue and once they overcame that, it became easy for them. I'm still astonished at that to this day. ..."
"... Sorry man, English teaching is huge, and will remain so for some time to come. I'm heavily involved in the area and know plenty of ESL teachers. Spain for me, and the level of English here is still so dreadful and they all need it, the demand is staggering and their schools suck at teaching it themselves. ..."
"... You have to really dislike your circumstances in the US to leave and be willing to find some way to get by overseas. ..."
"... We already saw this in South Africa. Mandela took over, the country went down the tubes, the wealthy whites left and the Boers were left to die in refugee camps. They WANT to leave and a few went to Russia, but most developed countries don't want them. Not with the limited amount of money they have. ..."
"... Americans are mostly ignorant to the fact that they live in a 2nd world country except for blacks and rednecks I have met in the Philippines who were stationed there in the military and have a $1000 a month check. Many of them live in more dangerous and dirty internal third worlds in America than what they can have in Southeast Asia and a good many would be homeless. They are worldly enough to leave. ..."
Apr 13, 2019 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [388] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 1:26 pm GMT

@YetAnotherAnon

" He's 28 years old getting too old and soft for the entry-level grunt work in the skilled trades as well. What then?"

I know a UK guy (ex City type) who retrained as an electrician in his early 50s. Competent guy. Obviously no one would take him on as an apprentice, so he wired up all his outbuildings as his project to get his certificate. But he's getting work now, word gets around if you're any good.

Obviously you need a financial cushion to not be earning for months and to pay for the training courses.

Yeah, people get set in their ways and resistant to make changes. Steve Jobs talked about people developing grooves in their brain and how important it is to force yourself out of these grooves.*

I know a Haitian immigrant without a college degree who was working three jobs and then dropped down to two jobs and went to school part time in his late 40's and earned his degree in engineering and is a now an engineer in his early 50's.

*From Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Simon and Schuster, 2011), pp.330-331:

"It's rare that you see an artist in his 30s or 40s able to really contribute something amazing," Jobs said wistfully to the writer David Sheff, who published a long and intimate interview in Playboy the month he turned thirty. "Of course, there are some people who are innately curious, forever little kids in their awe of life, but they're rare." The interview touched on many subjects, but Jobs's most poignant ruminations were about growing old and facing the future:

Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them.

I'll always stay connected with Apple. I hope that throughout my life I'll sort of have the thread of my life and the thread of Apple weave in and out of each other, like a tapestry. There may be a few years when I'm not there, but I'll always come back. . . .

If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you've done and whoever you were and throw them away.

The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, "Bye. I have to go. I'm going crazy and I'm getting out of here." And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently.

anonymous [191] Disclaimer , says: March 12, 2019 at 9:59 pm GMT
@The Anti-Gnostic

"fluid intelligence" starts crystallizing after your 20's". Nonsense, I had a great deal of trouble learning anything from my teen years and 20's because I didn't know how to learn. I went for 30 years and eventually figured out a learning style that worked for me. I have learned more and mastered more skills in the past ten years ages 49-59 than I had in the previous 30.

You can challenge yourself like I did and after a while of doing this (6 months) you will find it a lot easier to learn and comprehend than you did previously. (This is true only if you haven't damaged your brain from years of smoking and drinking). I constantly challenged myself with trying to learn math that I had trouble with in school and eventually mastered it.

The brain is like a muscle, it needs to be constantly worked to become strong. If you waste it watching football or looking at porn your brain will atrophy like the muscles of a person in a wheelchair.

Anon [257] Disclaimer , says: March 15, 2019 at 4:29 am GMT
@YetAnotherAnon

IBEW (licensed electricians) has no upper age limit for apprentices They have lots of American engineers who applied in their 30s after realizing most companies want diverse HI-B engineers.

Upper age limits for almost every occupation disappeared decades ago in America because of age discrimination laws.

I can't see how any 28 year old could possibly be too soft to go into any kind of manual labor job.

jbwilson24 , says: March 15, 2019 at 9:31 am GMT
@anonymous Yeah, there was a recent study showing that 70 year olds can form neural connections as quickly as teenagers.
At 40+, I still can learn advanced mathematics as well as I ever did. In fact, I can still compete with the Chinese 20 year olds. The problem is not mental horsepower, it's time and energy. I rarely have time to concentrate these days (wife, kids, pets), which makes it hard to get the solid hours of prime mental time required to really push yourself at a hard pace and learn advanced material.

This is why the Chinese are basically out of date when they are 30, their companies assume that they have kids and are not able to give 110% anymore.

jacques sheete , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:14 am GMT
@anonymous

eventually figured out a learning style that worked for me.

That's a huge key and I discovered it when I was asked to tutor people who were failing chemistry. I quickly discovered that all it took for most of them to "get it" was to keep approaching the problem from different angles until a light came on for them and for me the challenge of finding the right approach was a great motivator. Invariably it was some minor issue and once they overcame that, it became easy for them. I'm still astonished at that to this day.

The brain is like a muscle, it needs to be constantly worked to become strong. If you waste it watching football or looking at porn your brain will atrophy like the muscles of a person in a wheelchair.

No doubt about it. No embellishment needed there!

s.n , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:42 am GMT
@The Anti-Gnostic

Yeah. He's 28 years old and apparently his chosen skillset is teaching EASL in foreign countries. That sector is shrinking as English becomes the global lingua franca and is taught in elementary schools worldwide. He's really too old and soft for his Plan B (military), and getting too old and soft for the entry-level grunt work in the skilled trades as well. What then?

do you know anything first hand about the teaching- english- as-a- second- language hustle?

Asking sincerely – as I don't know anything about it. However I kinda suspect that 'native speakers' will be in demand in many parts of the globe for some time to come [as an aside – and maybe Linh has written of this and I missed it – but last spring I was in Saigon for a couple of weeks and, hanging out one day at the zoo & museum complex, was startled to see about three groups of Vietnamese primary-school students being led around by americans in their early 20s, narrating everything in american english . Apparently private schools offering entirely english-language curriculum are the big hit with the middle & upper class elite there. Perhaps more of the same elsewhere in the region?]

At any rate the young man in this interview has a lot more in the way of qualifications and skill sets than I had when I left the States 35 years ago, and I've done just fine. I'd advise any prospective expats to get that TEFL certificate as it's one extra thing to have in your back pocket and who knows?

PS: "It really can't be overstated how blessed you are to have American citizenship" – well, yes it can. Everyone knows that the best passport on earth is from Northwest Euroland, one of those places with free university education and free health care and where teenage mothers don't daily keel over dead from heroin overdoses in Dollar Stores .. Also more places visa-free

The Anti-Gnostic , says: Website March 15, 2019 at 2:37 pm GMT
@s.n

When you left the States 35 years ago, the world was 3 billion people smaller. The labor market has gotten a tad more competitive. I don't see any indication of a trade or other refined skillset in this article.

People who teach EASL for a living are like people who drive cars for a living: you don't do it because you're really good at teaching your native language, you do it because you're not marketable at anything else.

jeff stryker , says: March 15, 2019 at 3:20 pm GMT
@jacques sheete JACQUES

I think being Australian is the best citizenry you can have. The country is far from perfect, but any lower middle class American white like myself would prefer to be lower middle class there than in Detroit or Phoenix, where being lower income means life around the unfettered urban underclass that is paranoia inducing.

Being from the US is not as bad as being Bangladeshi, but if you had to be white and urban and poor you'd be better off in Sydney than Flint.

The most patriotic Americans have never been anywhere, so they have no idea whether Australia or Tokyo are better. They have never traveled.

s.n , says: March 15, 2019 at 11:42 am GMT
@The Anti-Gnostic

Yeah. He's 28 years old and apparently his chosen skillset is teaching EASL in foreign countries. That sector is shrinking as English becomes the global lingua franca and is taught in elementary schools worldwide. He's really too old and soft for his Plan B (military), and getting too old and soft for the entry-level grunt work in the skilled trades as well. What then?

do you know anything first hand about the teaching- english- as-a- second- language hustle?

Asking sincerely – as I don't know anything about it. However I kinda suspect that 'native speakers' will be in demand in many parts of the globe for some time to come [as an aside – and maybe Linh has written of this and I missed it – but last spring I was in Saigon for a couple of weeks and, hanging out one day at the zoo & museum complex, was startled to see about three groups of Vietnamese primary-school students being led around by americans in their early 20s, narrating everything in american english .

Apparently private schools offering entirely english-language curriculum are the big hit with the middle & upper class elite there. Perhaps more of the same elsewhere in the region?]

At any rate the young man in this interview has a lot more in the way of qualifications and skill sets than I had when I left the States 35 years ago, and I've done just fine. I'd advise any prospective expats to get that TEFL certificate as it's one extra thing to have in your back pocket and who knows?

ps: "It really can't be overstated how blessed you are to have American citizenship" – well, yes it can. Everyone knows that the best passport on earth is from Northwest Euroland, one of those places with free university education and free health care and where teenage mothers don't daily keel over dead from heroin overdoses in Dollar Stores ..

Also more places visa-free

s.n , says: March 16, 2019 at 7:23 am GMT
@The Anti-Gnostic

People who teach EASL for a living are like people who drive cars for a living: you don't do it because you're really good at teaching your native language, you do it because you're not marketable at anything else.

well that's the beauty of it: you don't have to be good at anything other than just being a native speaker to succeed as an EASL teacher, and thousands more potential customers are born every day. I'd definitely advise any potential expats to become accomplished, and, even better, qualified, in as many trades as possible. But imho the real key to success as a long term expat is your mindset: determination and will-power to survive no matter what. If you really want to break out of the States and see the world, and don't have inherited wealth, you will be forced to rely on your wits and good luck and seize the opportunities that arise, whatever those opportunities may be.

Thedirtysponge , says: March 16, 2019 at 4:01 pm GMT
@The Anti-Gnostic

Sorry man, English teaching is huge, and will remain so for some time to come. I'm heavily involved in the area and know plenty of ESL teachers. Spain for me, and the level of English here is still so dreadful and they all need it, the demand is staggering and their schools suck at teaching it themselves.

You are one of those people who just like to shit on things:) and people make a lot of money out of it, not everyone of course, like any area. But it's perfectly viable and good to go for a long time yet. It's exactly that English is the lingua Franca that people need to be at a high level of it. The Chinese market is still massive. The bag packer esl teachers are the ones that give off this stigma, and 'bag packer' and 'traveller' are by now very much regarded as dirty words in the ESL world.

Mike P , says: March 16, 2019 at 5:52 pm GMT
@Thedirtysponge

ESL teachers. Spain for me

There is a very funny version also with Jack Lemmon in "Irma la Douce", but I can't find that one on youtube.

jeff stryker , says: March 17, 2019 at 7:26 am GMT
@Thedirtysponge S.N. & DIRTY SPONGE

Most Americans lack the initiative to move anywhere. Most will complain but will never leave the street they were born on. Urban whites are used to adaptation being around other cultures anyhow and being somewhat street smart, but the poor rural whites in the exurbs or sticks whose live would really improve if they got the hell out of America will never move anywhere.

You have to really dislike your circumstances in the US to leave and be willing to find some way to get by overseas.

Lots of people will talk about leaving America without having a clue as to how hard this is to actually do. Australia and New Zealand are not crying out for white proles with high school education or GED. It is much more difficult to move overseas and stay overseas than most Americans think.

Except of course for the ruling elite. And that is because five-star hotels look the same everywhere and money is an international language.

We already saw this in South Africa. Mandela took over, the country went down the tubes, the wealthy whites left and the Boers were left to die in refugee camps. They WANT to leave and a few went to Russia, but most developed countries don't want them. Not with the limited amount of money they have.

Australia and NZ would rather have refugees than white people in dire circumstances.

Even immigrating to Canada, a country that I worked in, is much much harder than anyone imagines.

jeff stryker , says: March 17, 2019 at 7:37 am GMT
A LONGTIME EXPAT ON LIVING ABROAD

Americans are mostly ignorant to the fact that they live in a 2nd world country except for blacks and rednecks I have met in the Philippines who were stationed there in the military and have a $1000 a month check. Many of them live in more dangerous and dirty internal third worlds in America than what they can have in Southeast Asia and a good many would be homeless. They are worldly enough to leave.

But most Americans whose lives would be vastly improved overseas think they are living in the greatest country on earth.

[Mar 22, 2019] America's Apartheid of Dollars

Notable quotes:
"... The divisions can always be jacked up. "My opponent is a white nationalist!" and so he doesn't just think you're lazy, he wants to kill you. Convince average Americans to vote against their own interests by manipulating them into opposing any program that might benefit black and brown equally or more than themselves. ..."
"... Listen for what's missing in the speeches about inequality and injustice. Whichever candidate admits that we've created an apartheid of dollars for all deserves your support. ..."
Mar 22, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The birth lottery determines which of those three bands we'll sink or swim together in, because there is precious little mobility. In that bottom band, 81 percent face flat or falling net worths ( 40 percent of Americans make below $15 an hour) and so aren't going anywhere. Education, once a vehicle, is now mostly a tool for the preservation of current statuses across generations, to the point that it's worth paying bribes for. Class is sticky.

Money, not so much. Since the 9.9 percent have the most (except for the super wealthy at least), they have the most to lose. At their peak in the mid-1980s, the managers and technicians in this group held 35 percent of the nation's wealth. Three decades later, that fell 12 percent, exactly as much as the wealth of the 1 percent rose. A significant redistribution of wealth -- upwards -- took place following the 2008 market collapse, as bailouts, shorts, repossessions, and new laws helped the top end of the economy at cost to the bottom. What some label hardships are to others business opportunities.

The people at the top are throwing nails off the back of the truck to make sure no one else can catch up with them. There is a strong zero sum element to all this. The goal is to eliminate the competition . They'll have it all when society is down to two classes, the 1 percent and the 99 percent, and at that point we'll all be effectively the same color. The CEO of JP Morgan called it a bifurcated economy. Historians will recognize it as feudalism.

You'd think someone would sound a global climate change-level alarm about all this. Instead we divide people into tribes and make them afraid of each other by forcing competition for limited resources like health care. Identity politics sharpens the lines, recognizing increasingly smaller separations, like adding letters to LGBTQQIAAP.

Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, herself with presidential ambitions, is an example of the loud voices demanding more division . Contrast that with early model Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, who pleaded, "There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America."

The divisions can always be jacked up. "My opponent is a white nationalist!" and so he doesn't just think you're lazy, he wants to kill you. Convince average Americans to vote against their own interests by manipulating them into opposing any program that might benefit black and brown equally or more than themselves. Keep the groups fighting left and right and they'll never notice the real discrimination is up and down, even as massive economic forces consume all equally. Consumption becomes literal as Americans die from alcohol, drugs, and suicide in record numbers .

Meanwhile, no one has caught on to the fact that identity politics is a marketing tool for votes, fruit flavored vape to bring in the kiddies. Keep that in mind as you listen to the opening cries of the 2020 election. Listen for what's missing in the speeches about inequality and injustice. Whichever candidate admits that we've created an apartheid of dollars for all deserves your support.

** The author doesn't really drive for Uber but his conversation with the Spaniard was real.


JeffK March 22, 2019 at 7:39 am

Mr Van Buren. This piece nails it. The Democrats made a huge mistake focusing on race and LGBTQ instead of class. Their stated goal should be to replace race based affirmative action with class-based programs.

If there is serious violence coming to America it will come during the next major recession/financial crisis. The ARs will come out of the closet when, during the next financial crisis, the elites are bailed out (again), yet the riff raff lose their homes and pickups to foreclosure.

I am very pessimistic in this area. I believe the elites, in general, are agnostic to SJW issues, abortion, job loss, BLM, religious liberty, and on and on. The look at the riff raff with amusement, sparring over such trivial things. Meanwhile, the river of cash keeps flowing to their bank accounts.

Imagine if the digital transfer of money was abolished. Imagine if everybody had to have their money in a local bank instead of in an investment account of a major bank. Imagine if Americans saw, day after day, armored vehicles showing up at local banks to offload sacks of currency that went to only a few individual accounts held by the very rich.

Instead, the elites receive their financial statements showing an ever increasing hoard of cash at their disposal. They see it, but nobody else does. However, if everybody saw the river of wealth flowing to the elites, I believe things would change. Fast. Right now this transfer of wealth is all digital, hidden from the view of 99.99% of Americans and the IRS. And the elites, the banking industry, and the wealth management cabal prefer it that way.

It's easy to propose the ultimate goal of the elites is to have a utopian society to themselves, where the only interaction they have with the riff raff is with subservient technicians keeping it all running. Like the movie Elysium.

https://youtu.be/QILNSgou5BY

Oleg Gark , says: March 22, 2019 at 8:22 am
When feudalism comes to America, it will be justified by Libertarianism. With government defined as the bad guy, there's nothing to stop the 1% from organizing everything to their own benefit.

On the other side of the political spectrum, identity politics emphasizes people's differences and tribal affiliations over their shared citizenship. This prevents them from making common cause.

Fundamentally, these trends make the body politic so weak that it becomes susceptible to takeover by authoritarians that represent narrow interests.

Johann , says: March 22, 2019 at 8:31 am
"His skin was clearly a few shades darker than mine, though he pointed out that was only because my relatives came from the cold part of Europe and he came from the sunny part."

The Spanish in Europe got their color from the Moorish invasion, not the sun.

More of my annoying trivia that has little to do with the subject of an article.

John D. Thullen , says: March 22, 2019 at 9:15 am
Welp, the Democratic Party, by and large, believes all Americans regardless of class, race, religion, and gender should have guaranteed equal access to affordable healthcare, a substantial minimum wage, education and the rest.

Stacy Abrams wants these items too, along with equal access to the voting franchise.

"Until slavery was ended in the United States, human beings were legally considered capital, just like owning stocks and bonds today. But the Spaniard knew enough about history to wonder what reparations would be offered to the thousands of Chinese treated as animals to build the railroads or the 8,000 Irish who died digging the New Basin Canal or the whole families of Jews living on the Lower East Side of New York who were forced to employ their children to make clothing for uptown "white" stores. Later in the same century, wages were "voluntarily" cut to the bone at factories in Ohio to save jobs that disappeared anyway after the owners had wrung out the last profits."

That would be an excellent point if your inner Spaniard concluded reparations should be offered to the others as well, but ends up being merely tendentious if he contends that no one gets reparations.

But will you like it if the Democratic Party makes that part of their platform too?

I was born in Middletown, Ohio alongside the elegiacal hillbillies, who, by the way, didn't care for the blacks on the other side of the tracks anymore than my Armco-employed grandfather did, and certainly the business owners who disappeared the jobs and cut wages while voting for the so-called free traders were of the same ilk.

I didn't know any Democrats among any of my family's circle and, by the way, Middletown might as well have been south of the Mason Dixon anyway for all the white Democrats in town who gave not a crap about their fellow black citizens, certainly not the business owners who disappeared the jobs while voting for the so-called free traders.

It was the Republican Party (Larry Kudlow, I'm gunning for you) who championed creative destruction and the red tooth and claw of unfettered worldwide competition without asking, in fact jumping for joy, what the unintended consequences would be because the consequences were intended smash the unions for all, cut wages and benefits and hand the booty to shareholders, move operations to lower-tax, lower wage, environmentally unregulated parts of the globe to manufacture them thar high margin MAGA hats for the aggrieved.

What a beautiful grift!

Hello, Marianas.

That Democrats jumped on the bandwagon is no credit to them, especially while assuming the prone position as the republican party frayed the safety net.

True, the republicans laid off everyone, regardless of race, gender, and class and then cut everyone's benefits.

How equable of them.

TomG , says: March 22, 2019 at 9:44 am
As the Spaniard rightly understood, one can look way back into our history and see that the moneyed class has always used identity politics in economic control games to divide and conquer. That the Republicans rail on this as some evil creation of the modern Democrat is laughable at best. That the sheep who follow the party mouth pieces of the moneyed class in this media age can still be so easily manipulated is rather pitiful. Making common cause for the general welfare has never really sunk in as an American value.

Divide and conquer remains our true ethos. As the dole gets evermore paltry the only seeming options remaining are common cause for a common good or greater violence. One requires us to find a contentment beyond the delusional American dream of becoming that 1 to 10%. The other just requires continued anger, division and despair.

JoS. S. Laughon , says: March 22, 2019 at 10:12 am
Ironically the view that race/culture isn't at all important and should be disregarded in view of the class division (a "distraction"), is pretty much endorsing the classic Marxist critique.
ProletroleumCole , says: March 22, 2019 at 10:27 am
It's easy to notice divide and conquer when it's hate against those of the same class but are of a different culture/race.

But what's *difficult* to notice is identifying with the elites of your race in a positive way.
A lot of people, especially with the onset of realityTV, tend to think rich people are just like them (albeit a little smarter). The methods and systems to keep power aren't considered. They're made non-threatening. So many billionaires and politicians act effete today to stoke this image.

Lynn Robb , says: March 22, 2019 at 10:31 am
"Whichever candidate admits that we've created an apartheid of dollars for all deserves your support."

So we're supposed to vote for Bernie Sanders?

Connecticut Farmer , says: March 22, 2019 at 11:30 am
" Whether your housing is subsidized via a mortgage tax deduction "

This jumped off the screen. I wonder how many people even realize that. Probably the same number who still believe that social security is a "forced savings".

Connecticut Farmer , says: March 22, 2019 at 11:47 am
Not to put too fine a point on it but clearly we are wasting our time arguing. As long as the current system of government remains in effect it will be same old same old.

Many changes are in order–starting with this archaic remnant of a bygone era called "The Two Party System".

Lert345 , says: March 22, 2019 at 12:05 pm
Spaniards are indeed Hispanic. The definition of Hispanic relates to a linguistic grouping – that is, relating to Spain or Spanish speaking countries. Your friend would indeed qualify for all sorts of preferences according to the definition.

As to being a POC, I could not locate any definition as to what threshold of skin tone qualifies someone as a POC. I wager none yet exists but will be forthcoming.

Johann

As for the skin tone of Spaniards, many in the south have the Moorish influence,however, in the rest of the country skin tones range from light beige to very fair. Rather similar to Italians, actually.

Dave , says: March 22, 2019 at 12:18 pm
First, kudos to Van Buren for getting a Seamless delivery while driving. That's not easy to coordinate. Second, I look forward to more conservative policies addressing poverty, drug addiction and access to health care. This article adds to the 10-year rant against what Democrats have done or want to do.

Like nearly every Republican of the last 10 years, Van Buren offers none here. But I'm sure once the complaining is out of his system, they will arrive.

david , says: March 22, 2019 at 12:31 pm
" Whether your housing is subsidized via a mortgage tax deduction "

Sorry, not taking your money is NOT subsidizing!

I thought this is a "conservative" idea to begin with? Apparently, it is not true even here.

Jealousy that others can keep their money is driving the worse instinct of many republicans.

Sigh.

Vincent , says: March 22, 2019 at 12:32 pm
Your Spaniard friend also has it all wrong. The real division line is between those willing to initiate coercion for their own self-righteousness and those who refuse to. Anyone that supports government is one-in-the-same, regardless of color or class.
LouB , says: March 22, 2019 at 12:35 pm
Thirty years ago I'd be asking who printed the canned response pamphlet to give prepared talking points to enable anyone to provide quick sharp tongued witty criticisms of anything they may encounter that didn't tow the party line.

Now I gotta ask where do I download the Trollware to accomplish the same thing.

Sharp article, thanks.

JonF , says: March 22, 2019 at 12:42 pm
The Moors were a tiny class of invaders who left rather little imprint on the Spanish genome. That was true of the Romans and the Goths as well. Spanish genes are mostly the genes of the pre-Roman population: the Iberians in the south (who maybe migrated from North Africa), Celts in the north, and the indigenous Basques along the Pyrenees.
WorkingClass , says: March 22, 2019 at 2:27 pm
Yes. And thank you. It's a class war and the working class, divided, is a one legged man in an ass kicking contest.
Carolyn , says: March 22, 2019 at 3:36 pm
Outstanding piece!
Dave , says: March 22, 2019 at 3:39 pm
What happened to "a rising tide lifts all boats"? We've been promised for decades that the wealth generated by those at the very top would "trickle down." This was a cornerstone of Reaganism that has been parroted ever since.

There have been naysayers who say that that theory was fantasy and that all we would have is increased wealth disparity and greater national deficits.

How peculiar.

Peter Van Buren , says: March 22, 2019 at 4:06 pm
A rising tide lifts all yachts.
-- author Morris Berman

[Mar 15, 2019] Patriots Turning To #YangGang In Response To Trump, Conservatism Inc. Failure by James Kirkpatrick

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Yang promises a universal entitlement, not dependent on income, that he calls a "freedom dividend." To be funded through a value added tax , Yang claims that it would reduce the strain on "health care, incarceration, homeless services, and the like" and actually save billions of dollars. Yang also notes that "current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally." ..."
"... Yang is justifying the need for such a program because of automation . Again, VDARE.com has been exploring how automation may necessitate such a program for many years . Yang also discussed this problem on Tucker Carlson's show , which alone shows he is more open to real discussion than many progressive activists. ..."
"... Indeed, journalists, hall monitors that they are, have recognized that President Trump's online supporters are flocking to Yang, bringing him a powerful weapon in the meme wars. ..."
"... it is ominous for Trump that many of the more creative and dedicated people who formed his vanguard are giving up on him. ..."
Mar 15, 2019 | www.unz.com

The dark horse candidate of the 2020 Democratic primary is entrepreneur Andrew Yang , who just qualified for the first round of debates by attracting over 65,000 unique donors. [ Andrew Yang qualifies for first DNC debate with 65,000 unique donors , by Orion Rummler, Axios, March 12, 2019]

Yang is a businessman who has worked in several fields, but was best known for founding Venture for America , which helps college graduates become entrepreneurs. However, he is now gaining recognition for his signature campaign promise -- $1,000 a month for every American.

Yang promises a universal entitlement, not dependent on income, that he calls a "freedom dividend." To be funded through a value added tax , Yang claims that it would reduce the strain on "health care, incarceration, homeless services, and the like" and actually save billions of dollars. Yang also notes that "current welfare and social program beneficiaries would be given a choice between their current benefits or $1,000 cash unconditionally."

As Yang himself notes, this is not a new idea, nor one particularly tied to the Left. Indeed, it's been proposed by several prominent libertarians because it would replace the far more inefficient welfare system. Charles Murray called for this policy in 2016. [ A guaranteed income for every American , AEI, June 3, 2016] Milton Friedman suggested a similar policy in a 1968 interview with William F. Buckley, though Friedman called it a "negative income tax."

He rejected arguments that it would cause indolence. F.A. Hayek also supported such a policy; he essentially took it for granted . [ Friedrich Hayek supported a guaranteed minimum income , by James Kwak, Medium, July 20, 2015]

It's also been proposed by many nationalists, including, well, me. At the January 2013 VDARE.com Webinar, I called for a "straight-up minimum income for citizens only" among other policies that would build a new nationalist majority and deconstruct Leftist power. I've retained that belief ever since and argued for it here for years.

However, I've also made the argument that it only works if it is for citizens only and is combined with a restrictive immigration policy. As I previously argued in a piece attacking Jacobin's disingenuous complaints about the "reserve army of the unemployed," you simply can't support high wages, workers' rights, and a universal basic income while still demanding mass immigration.

Yang is justifying the need for such a program because of automation . Again, VDARE.com has been exploring how automation may necessitate such a program for many years . Yang also discussed this problem on Tucker Carlson's show , which alone shows he is more open to real discussion than many progressive activists.

Yang is also directly addressing the crises that the Trump Administration has seemly forgotten. Unlike Donald Trump himself, with his endless boasting about "low black and Hispanic unemployment," Yang has directly spoken about the demographic collapse of white people because of "low birth rates and white men dying from substance abuse and suicide ."

Though even the viciously anti-white Dylan Matthews called the tweet "innocuous," there is little doubt if President Trump said it would be called racist. [ Andrew Yang, the 2020 long-shot candidate running on a universal basic income, explained , Vox, March 11, 2019]

Significantly, President Trump himself has never once specifically recognized the plight of white Americans.

...He wants to make Puerto Rico a state . He supports a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, albeit with an 18-year waiting period and combined with pledges to secure the border and deport illegals who don't enroll in the citizenship program. He wants to create a massive bureaucratic system to track gun owners, restrict gun ownership , and require various "training" programs for licenses. He wants to subsidize local journalists with taxpayer dollars...

... ... ...

Indeed, journalists, hall monitors that they are, have recognized that President Trump's online supporters are flocking to Yang, bringing him a powerful weapon in the meme wars. (Sample meme at right.) And because many of these online activists are "far right" by Main Stream Media standards, or at least Politically Incorrect, there is much hand-waving and wrist-flapping about the need for Yang to decry "white nationalists." So of course, the candidate has dutifully done so, claiming "racism and white nationalism [are] a threat to the core ideals of what it means to be an American". [ Presidential candidate Andrew Yang has a meme problem , by Russell Brandom, The Verge, March 9, 2019]

But what does it mean to be an American? As more and more of American history is described as racist, and even national symbols and the national anthem are targets for protest, "America" certainly doesn't seem like a real country with a real identity. Increasingly, "America" resembles a continent-sized shopping mall, with nothing holding together the warring tribes that occupy it except money.

President Trump, of course, was elected because many people thought he could reverse this process, especially by limiting mass immigration and taking strong action in the culture wars, for example by promoting official English. Yet in recent weeks, he has repeatedly endorsed more legal immigration. Rather than fighting, the president is content to brag about the economy and whine about unfair press coverage and investigations. He already seems like a lame duck.

The worst part of all of this is that President Trump was elected as a response not just to the Left, but to the failed Conservative Establishment. During the 2016 campaign, President Trump specifically pledged to protect entitlements , decried foreign wars, and argued for a massive infrastructure plan. However, once in office, his main legislative accomplishment is a tax cut any other Republican president would have pushed. Similarly, his latest budget contains the kinds of entitlement cuts that are guaranteed to provoke Democrat attack ads. [ Trump said he wouldn't cut Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare . His 2020 budget cuts all 3 , by Tara Golshan, Vox, March 12, 2019] And the president has already backed down on withdrawing all troops from Syria, never mind Afghanistan.

Conservatism Inc., having learned nothing from candidate Donald Trump's scorched-earth path to the Republican nomination, now embraces Trump as a man but ignores his campaign message. Instead, the conservative movement is still promoting the same tired slogans about "free markets" even as they have appear to have lost an entire generation to socialism. The most iconic moment was Charlie Kirk, head of the free market activist group Turning Point USA, desperately trying to tell his followers not to cheer for Tucker Carlson because Carlson had suggested a nation should be treated like a family, not simply a marketplace .

President Trump himself is now trying to talk like a fiscal conservative [ Exclusive -- Donald Trump: 'Seductive' Socialism Would Send Country 'Down The Tubes' In a Decade Or Less , by Alexander Marlow, Matt Boyle, Amanda House, and Charlie Spierling, Breitbart, March 11, 2019]. Such a pose is self-discrediting given how the deficit swelled under united Republican control and untold amounts of money are seemingly still available for foreign aid to Israel, regime change in Iran and Venezuela, and feminist programs abroad to make favorite daughter Ivanka Trump feel important. [ Trump budget plans to give $100 million to program for women that Ivanka launched , by Nathalie Baptiste, Mother Jones, March 9, 2019]

Thus, especially because of his cowardice on immigration, many of President Trump's most fervent online supporters have turned on him in recent weeks. And the embrace of Yang seems to come out of a great place of despair, a sense that the country really is beyond saving.

Yang has Leftist policies on many issues, but many disillusioned Trump supporters feel like those policies are coming anyway. If America is just an economy, and if everyone in the world is a simply an American-in-waiting, white Americans might as well get something out of this System before the bones are picked clean.

National Review ' s Theodore Kupfer just claimed the main importance of Yang's candidacy is that it will prove meme-makers ability to affect the vote count "has been overstated" [ Rise of the pink hats , March 12, 2019].

Time will tell, but it is ominous for Trump that many of the more creative and dedicated people who formed his vanguard are giving up on him.

[Mar 09, 2019] The USA new class in full glory: rich are shopping differently from the low income families and the routine is like doing drags, but more pleasurable and less harmful. While workers are stuglling with the wages that barely allow to support the family, the pressure to cut hours and introduce two tire system

Notable quotes:
"... Buying beautiful clothes at full retail price was not a part of my childhood and it is not a part of my life now. It felt more illicit and more pleasurable than buying drugs. It was like buying drugs and doing the drugs, simultaneously."" ..."
"... "Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike against Two-Tier" [ Labor Notes ]. "UE proposed keeping the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement in place while negotiating a new contract, but Wabtec rejected that proposal. Instead it said it would impose a two-tier pay system that would pay new hires and recalled employees up to 38 percent less in wages, institute mandatory overtime, reorganize job classifications, and hire temporary workers for up to 20 percent of the plant's jobs. ..."
"... Workers voted on Saturday to authorize the strike." • Good. Two-tier is awful, wherever found (including Social Security). ..."
Mar 09, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Guillotine Watch

"My Year of Living Like My Rich Friend" [ New York Magazine ].

"[S]hopping with T was different. When she walked into a store, the employees greeted her by name and began to pull items from the racks for her to try on. Riding her coattails, I was treated with the same consideration, which is how I wound up owning a beautiful cashmere 3.1 Philip Lim sweater that I had no use for and rarely wore, and which was eventually eaten by moths in my closet.

Buying beautiful clothes at full retail price was not a part of my childhood and it is not a part of my life now. It felt more illicit and more pleasurable than buying drugs. It was like buying drugs and doing the drugs, simultaneously.""

Indeed:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/dfO0TgcDUnI

Class Warfare

"Erie Locomotive Plant Workers Strike against Two-Tier" [ Labor Notes ]. "UE proposed keeping the terms of the existing collective bargaining agreement in place while negotiating a new contract, but Wabtec rejected that proposal. Instead it said it would impose a two-tier pay system that would pay new hires and recalled employees up to 38 percent less in wages, institute mandatory overtime, reorganize job classifications, and hire temporary workers for up to 20 percent of the plant's jobs.

Workers voted on Saturday to authorize the strike." • Good. Two-tier is awful, wherever found (including Social Security).

[Mar 08, 2019] William Davies reviews 'Family Values' by Melinda Cooper LRB 8 November 2018

Mar 08, 2019 | lrb.co.uk

The phrase 'hard-working families', a staple of New Labour and Conservative rhetoric for about twenty years, fell by the wayside with the political upheavals of Jeremy Corbyn's election as Labour leader in 2015 and the resignation of David Cameron the following summer. (Theresa May initially hoped to refocus on 'JAMs' – Just About Managing families – but lost all ideological confidence along with her parliamentary majority in June last year.) The phrase was used as a way of signalling economic and moral commitment at the same time. Gordon Brown – who liked to cloak redistributive policies in communitarian, traditionalist rhetoric – is said to have been the first to use it, in 1995. The Blair, Brown and Cameron governments all repeatedly claimed to be on the side of hard-working families, tinkering with tax, benefits and public services as way of helping this opaque group to 'get on'.

The full text of this book review is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

[Feb 26, 2019] It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of human rights promotion, as have some other communists

Notable quotes:
"... It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of "human rights" promotion, as have some other communists. ..."
Feb 26, 2019 | www.unz.com

Digital Samizdat , says: February 26, 2019 at 1:03 pm GMT

@Commentator Mike Today's system is a hybrid of a late finance-stage global capitalism and cultural–not economic–Marxism. Instead of class struggle, we have identity politics. Instead of the ownership of the means of production, we have tranny bathrooms.

So the right-wingers (like Peter Hitchens) who say that 'Marxism won' are half right culturally, not economically. What causes all the confusion (among the libertarian types especially) is that capitalism in reality does not in any way resemble how it ought to work according to libertarian theories and never did. But when you point out to them that capitalism never worked in practice to begin with, they answer: 'But true capitalism has never even been tried!' And of course, they're right. 'True' capitalism (i.e., what libertarian theory calls capitalism) really never has been tried, and for exactly the same reason that perpetual motion machines have never been tried either: they're impossible.

None of which means I'm a 'pure' socialist. I'm open to mixed-economies and new experiments. I usually characterize myself more as a national socialist, mostly to differentiate myself from the 'world revolution' Trotskyite socialists who now predominate on the far-left.

That means I also take some inspiration from some fascists and national-syndicalists, although I don't regard any of them as holy writ, either.

In my opinion, the number one success factor for a civilization is not what theory it professes, but rather who controls it. Theories will always have to be modified to suit the circumstances; but the character of a people is much harder to change.

China's prospering because it's controlled by Chinese engineers; our civilization is suffocating because it's controlled by Jew-bankers and Masonic lawyers. Get rid of them first, and we can debate monetary theory till we're blue in the face.

Commentator Mike , says: February 26, 2019 at 4:01 pm GMT

@Digital Samizdat

I think that applying the old concepts of Marxism is no longer possible in the west since there is hardly a genuine proletariat as a proper class any more with the deindustrialisation and the transfer of major industries to China and other Asian and Latin American countries.

On the other hand the lumpenproletariat has grown and will grow further with greater automation in industry.

Many more people are now unemployed, underemployed, in service industries, part-time and temporary jobs, or ageing old age pensioners and retirees.

With the greater atomisation of the individual, break up of families, greater mobility, the concept of classes rooted long-term in their communities seems less applicable. You could say most of the global proletariat is now in China.

It would seem that many of the Trotskyites of the past have now become neocons favouring capitalism and imperialist military intervention under guise of "human rights" promotion, as have some other communists.

Paul Edward Gottfried's "The Strange Death of Marxism" seems to offer some explanations but is not of much use in developing a new activism capable of taking on the system or providing a more viable alternative.

RobinG , says: February 26, 2019 at 4:29 pm GMT
@Commentator Mike

classical concepts of socialism and capitalism, and left and right politics

The left/right concept is no longer valid. For one thing, of what use is a $15. minimum wage (apparently a standard "left" plank) if there aren't any jobs? Take a look at Andrew Yang. At least he is posing the right questions.

Andrew Yang's Pitch to America – We Must Evolve to a New Form of Capitalism

[Feb 11, 2019] Neoliberalism has caused 'misery and division', Bernie Fraser says Business The Guardian

Feb 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Political ideologies appear to have contributed to inequality and disadvantage in Australia in that time, he argues.

Fraser in large part blames "neoliberalism" and its influence on policymaking for the "disconnect between Australia's impressive economic growth story and its failure on so many markers to show progress towards a better, fairer society".

"Favouring the market system ahead of the state system, and individual interests ahead of community interests, can lead to profoundly unfair social outcomes.

ss="rich-link"> More than three million Australians living in poverty, Acoss report reveals Read more

"Those unable to afford access to decent standards of housing, healthcare, and other essential services have to settle for inferior arrangements, or go without."

Fraser says charitable organisations see the effects of "real poverty" that result in "misery, anxiety and loss of self-esteem of mothers unable to put food on the table for their kids, of old and young homeless people, and the victims of domestic violence and drug overdoses".

Fraser summarises the key thrusts of neoliberalism as "the pursuit of the lowest possible rates of income and most other taxes and the maximum restraint on government interventions and spending programs".

Evidence in Australia and overseas shows the influence of neoliberalism on fiscal policy "and the misery and social polarisation that has come with it", he says.

The global financial crisis "should have" marked a tipping point, when the "idealised view of financial markets being self-regulating" was shattered. While Australia "avoided the worst traumas of the GFC" with prompt fiscal and monetary policy responses, in Europe "taxes were increased and spending programs slashed", resulting in a further five or six years of severe recession.

Fraser says that all political ideologies -- taken to extremes -- can be divisive and cause damage, including an ideology "based on a state system".

But the former Reserve Bank governor focuses on neoliberalism because it "remains in vogue". The Morrison government "continues to reaffirm its over-riding commitment to lower taxation, and to assert that this is the best way to increase investment, jobs and economic growth" - despite the lack of evidence to support the theory .

Although Fraser recognises that politics never can or should be taken out of policymaking, he suggests the best course is to "hammer away" at flaws of particular approaches.

For example, Fraser praises "the avoidance of costly tax cuts accruing to large corporations" as a positive development -- referring to the Turnbull government abandoning the big business component of its $50bn 10-year company tax cut plan.

He suggests the "quick done-deal" of Labor signing up to the Coalition's proposed acceleration of the cut to taxes on small and medium business was an example that "political interests are always lurking nearby".

In a separate presentation Keating -- who headed PM&C from 1991 to 1996 -- warns the government's promise to cap expenditure while simultaneously cutting taxes and returning the budget to surplus is based on overly optimistic assumptions of growth in GDP, wages and productivity.

ss="rich-link"> Why are stock markets falling and how far will they go? Read more

According to Keating, the government must stop assuming there have been no structural changes in the relationship between unemployment and the rate of wage increases.

He notes that predictions of a tightening labour market leading to higher wages are predicated on assumptions of growth averaging 3% or as much as 3.5%.

He will also say a sustained return to past rates of economic growth will be impossible unless we can ensure a reasonably equitable distribution of income, involving a faster rate of wage increases, especially for the low-paid.


Matt Quinn , 19 Oct 2018 12:33

Excellent that neoliberalism is being put under the spotlight. To fully understand it, and the root causes of its "thrusts", one need only refer to its history, helpfully chronicled by economist Mason Gaffney in his little known but devastating 1994 work The Corruption of Economics . It begins:

Neoclassical economics is the idiom of most economic discourse today. It is the paradigm that bends the twigs of young minds. Then it confines the florescence of older ones, like chicken-wire shaping a topiary.

It took form about a hundred years ago, when Henry George and his reform proposals were a clear and present political danger and challenge to the landed and intellectual establishments of the world.

Few people realize to what degree the founders of Neo-classical economics changed the discipline for the express purpose of deflecting George and frustrating future students seeking to follow his arguments.

It can be argued that the 20th century was a disastrous wrong-turn leading to the subversion of a rising economic democracy for the benefit of rent-takers. Unnecessary privation, war and destruction of the living world were it's necessary consequence, but it's not to late to revisit the keen insights of a (deliberately) forgotten genius like Henry George.

How Land Barons, Industrialists and Bankers Corrupted Economics , Dierdre Kent 2016.

In a nutshell, Land (aka nature) causes Wealth causes Money for some definition of wealth and money:
What Money is : Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy , Mosler 2010 P1.
What Wealth is : Progress and Poverty , Henry George 1879, esp intro, ch3, 17.
How we got to Now : The Corruption of Economics , Mason Gaffney 1994 p 29-44. Excellent Prologue by Fred Harrison: Who's Afraid of Henry George? .

For sincere and willing truth-seekers, this short list cannot fail to deeply reward even a cursory treatment.

petesweetbix -> FelixKruell , 19 Oct 2018 04:00
And you appear not to understand the difference between an "average" and a "median". The median measure the mid-point, above and below which 50% of the sample population falls. The average is just an average over all, and become increasingly different from the median, the more the inequalities (i.e., skewness of the distribution) increase. This is precisely what has happened in most western societies since the 1980s. The report mentions AVERAGE wealth, but this hides a large spread, with large increases at the top, while the bottom 10 to 20% in most western societies have almost nothing, and have not seen their new wealth increase for decades. How can it, if you don't own a house and don't have shares/super, etc.?? I think you are generalising too much from your own (probably limited) social circle and experiences.
MobileAtheist -> PieSwine , 17 Oct 2018 23:54
Your welcome, yes its an informative site, I might add, Neo-liberalism is only half the problem Globalisation goes hand in hand with it and both are supported if not controlled by the IMF, with the aim of crushing the working people of third world nations, and the ALP explicitly support Globalisation whilst emphatically deny involvement with Neoliberalism.
justdreamingguss , 17 Oct 2018 06:21
Wages have stagnated and corporate profits have soared! Privatisation of public assets and corporatization in this capitalist system, is the biggest fail of all times for the majority of our society! Back in my day, If there were two working, (Which there wasn't) my wage was enough to own my own house in 2.8 years.
The system is defunct and fucked!
justdreamingguss , 17 Oct 2018 05:52
Neoliberalism seems to be a nice name, conjured up by a nasty think tank. given to a system that enhances massive profits for the few. A system that allows public owned assets (Infrastructure) to be sold at devalued prices and a system where people are to be considered as a commodity, with those of no use to their system being skinned and left out to dry.
RUSiriUs , 17 Oct 2018 05:29
I have been hammering the same line for years now, it so good to have someone as articulate and respected as Bernie Fraser damning neoliberalism for what it is as an economic cover story for implementing right-wing ideology. Trickle down theory has been routinely assessed as a failure to deliver equity and as a result the LNP are polarising society.
HofBrisbane , 17 Oct 2018 04:34
When neoliberalism is broken down, it's just the same old chestnut of socialism for the privileged (via lobbying to create an environment best for rent seekers) and capitalism for the rest of us where if we fail, too bad so sad.
Friarbird , 17 Oct 2018 04:18
Neoliberalism is fraud.
It is the speedo wound back, that 'glorious beachside situation' under water, a pea-and-thimble trick to baffle and fleece the suckers.
Being the creation of Libertarians, it has their trademark ideological motivation, a visceral loathing of government, in whatever form.
That determination to demonise and even dismantle govt is made plain by Neoliberalism's numerous facilitating porkies, pushed as the unvarnished truth.
One example.
Neoliberal ideologues dogmatically insist the Commonwealth needs to somehow 'borrow' to fund the deficit.
This assertion has no basis in reality.
It is a whopper designed to serve the needs of ideology, nothing more.
For Neoliberal ideologues, this piece of deceit kicks two significant goals.
First, it enables them to depict govt as so inherently inefficient, so inept, it cannot even raise dollar one of the very currency which it is allegedly controls.
Down, down goes disgraced govt.
From where can it obtain the desperately-needed funds?
Here comes the second goal.
To fund the deficit, the C' wealth goes crawling, cap-in-hand, to the private sector.
Fearless, freedom-loving, shit-hot-and-shiny private sector !
But it's total myth.
The Commonwealth is a sovereign currency issuer.
Ergo sum, it always has its own money, AUD.
Saying it needs to borrow something it creates and controls-- and of which it has an infinite supply-- only makes sense as a propaganda-driven porkie.

It's like claiming you need to borrow somebody else's piss.

20reeds , 17 Oct 2018 03:28
Neoliberalism (ie rule market forces) is a binary system - it produces winners and losers.

The winners are those paid to lobby, write the legislation, secure the profits, get the shares, run the corporations, the banks, the accountancies, the insurers etc.

The losers are the majority us who remain outside in the cold. The winners are not going to change their ways and why should they - they hold the power and we the masses pose no threat to them.

Its way past time that those who are not winning in this binary game started to threaten the winners. This is what McManus is doing with her ACTU 'change the rules' campaign - it is seriously threatening the neoliberal agenda.

The Wentworth by-election is threatening the Morrison neoliberal coalition with annihilation and just might be the turning point for Australians to take back their democracy and their economy from the thieves who hold power.

Banter76 -> Lovedogg , 17 Oct 2018 03:12
No. With a couple of exceptions the communities that delivered the highest Brexit vote tended to have the least migrants.

I am advocating Social Democracy, a mixed economy where there is a private sector and a state sector and more state intervention to stop communities being 'left behind'. Investment in education & training and renationalisation of natural monopolies such as water and rail is what's needed in the UK.

For far too long all the mainstream MSM including the BBC and this paper have acted as a propaganda machine for the Neoliberal outsourcing of workers to undermine salaries while putting money into the off shore accounts of fat cats.

Meanwhile the Mail, Sky & Sun (Murdoch) and Express, LBC radio have jumped on the opportunity of a divided Britain to encourage hatred of the other.

Colinn -> FelixKruell , 17 Oct 2018 02:01
I used to buy crap chinese marine ply, my new supplier has Australian made, high quality marine ply for 2/3 the price. I always prefer to keep my money local.
2/3 of Australia isn't surviving, they're drowning, not waving.
It is about the 1% who think robbing the poor is good business. The strongest economy in Australia was when wage growth was good. Businesses only look at their small picture and the larger economy is none of their concern. Business has been able to buy politicians for their own profit, not the good of the country.
RobLeighton , 17 Oct 2018 01:58
Obviously, everything is horrible in Australia these days and is getting worse.
Even though Australia is ranked #3 on the Human Development Index out of some
192 countries and has an awesomely high per capita GDP. Australia is also among the
most respected, most reputable countries on the planet and has 3 cities in the top 10
of best cities in the world to live in. Other than that, it is horrible there.
Banter76 , 17 Oct 2018 01:31
"Favouring the market system ahead of the state system, and individual interests ahead of community interests, can lead to profoundly unfair social outcomes"

Australians take note. Neoliberalism has led to the rise of the far right in the UK and across EU countries. Doesn't help that people like Murdoch encourage finger pointing at foreigners while supporting the right-wing economic policies creating the massive division and job insecurity.

PieSwine -> CosmoCrawley , 16 Oct 2018 23:14
Neo-liberalism: low taxes to encourage employment; deregulation of labour market and business "red-tape" and privatisation of public assets and utilities. You may also throw in an unhealthy obsession with micro economics and interest rates.

All of which have been shown to have negligible impact on their stated goals (see lower taxes) and have been terrible for consumers, workers and society.

daveinbalmain -> Foxlike , 16 Oct 2018 23:09
Seventy years (give or take) have passed since the end of WW2.

In Europe, the first half of that period could broadly be described as social democracy, the second as neo-liberal.

To your point Fox, let's see the data on a simple line chart:

Real individual wages per capita
GDP per capita
National indebtedness
Private indebtedness

I'm willing to be corrected but I'd bet you London to a brick that the social democratic shits all over the neo-liberal from a great height when it comes to improvements in these core data.

HellBrokeLuce -> leon depope , 16 Oct 2018 22:26
That's it.. the world moved to the right back in the mid to late 80's ..as the Soviet Union collapsed ..and the wall came down.

Now both Russia and China are on the free market merry go round.. except that they keep controls on certain aspects .. of the economy, an iron fist control, taking advantage and abusing the free market to meet their own ends. Conservatism is about individualism .. as put forward by Howard.. aspirational to achieve for yourself.. Nothing to do with your community. That's why they hate the UN.. generally and particularly in regards to climate change.. the world acting as one community for the benefit of all communities.. So they want to build walls.. trade barriers... it's all characterized as impinging on the countries sovereignty.. The interesting thing is ..that back in the 80's ..the left was all about protectionism.. and isolationist policy. So to speak.. now Trump wants to turn back the clock.. 40 years or so. It's a bit late for that.

So...never give conservatism a chance. Actually..the inevitable consequence of climate change making the world re calibrate economics ..through sustainability, not greed first, will put and end to conservatism. It's a high price to pay.. but I have no doubt it will happen.

Pararto , 16 Oct 2018 22:25
Income is important, but it has been the progressive concentration of wealth that is causing the real damage and polarization. If we no longer belong in the same society, if we no longer care for others as being our own, if we no longer look at other living things as our relations, then we are looking into a catastrophic void.

[Feb 02, 2019] Google Employees Are Fighting With Executives Over Pay

Notable quotes:
"... In July, Bloomberg reported that, for the first time, more than 50 percent of Google's workforce were temps, contractors, and vendors. ..."
Feb 02, 2019 | www.wired.com

... ... ...

Asked whether they have confidence in CEO Sundar Pichai and his management team to "effectively lead in the future," 74 percent of employees responded "positive," as opposed to "neutral" or "negative," in late 2018, down from 92 percent "positive" the year before. The 18-point drop left employee confidence at its lowest point in at least six years. The results of the survey, known internally as Googlegeist, also showed a decline in employees' satisfaction with their compensation, with 54 percent saying they were satisfied, compared with 64 percent the prior year.

The drop in employee sentiment helps explain why internal debate around compensation, pay equity, and trust in executives has heated up in recent weeks -- and why an HR presentation from 2016 went viral inside the company three years later.

The presentation, first reported by Bloomberg and reviewed by WIRED, dates from July 2016, about a year after Google started an internal effort to curb spending . In the slide deck, Google's human-resources department presents potential ways to cut the company's $20 billion compensation budget. Ideas include: promoting fewer people, hiring proportionately more low-level employees, and conducting an audit to make sure Google is paying benefits "(only) for the right people." In some cases, HR suggested ways to implement changes while drawing little attention, or tips on how to sell the changes to Google employees. Some of the suggestions were implemented, like eliminating the annual employee holiday gift; most were not.

Another, more radical proposal floated inside the company around the same time didn't appear in the deck. That suggested converting some full-time employees to contractors to save money. A person familiar with the situation said this proposal was not implemented. In July, Bloomberg reported that, for the first time, more than 50 percent of Google's workforce were temps, contractors, and vendors.

[Jan 21, 2019] Neoliberalism does not work well for the mojority of working people by Chris Becker

Notable quotes:
"... By Chris Becker. Originally published at MacroBusiness ..."
"... The problem with capitalism is when it is wedded to an ideology that has limited or perverted checks and balances. Inequality being the most dire and neglected outcome of perverting a system that does not punish the risk takers who fail. Witness the banking industry in the aftermath of the GFC. A properly tuned capitalistic system would have seen the majority of bankers incarcerated, there wealth confiscated by legal and just reparations and an overhaul of the financial sector. ..."
"... Make a system where the actors benefit by cheating and they will cheat – good people included. ..."
"... Sal si puedes. ..."
"... "This general irregularity must be placed within the irregular cycle of the working week (and indeed of the working year) which provoked so much lament from moralists and mercantilists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. ..."
"... A rhyme printed in 1639 gives us a satirical version: ..."
"... You know that Munday is Sundayes brother; Tuesday is such another; Wednesday you must go to Church and pray; Thursday is half-holiday; On Friday it is too late to begin to spin; The Saturday is half-holiday agen. John Houghton, in 1681, gives us the indignant version: ..."
"... "When the framework knitters or makers of silk stockings had a great price for their work, they have been observed seldom to work on Mondays and Tuesdays but to spend most of their time at the ale-house or nine-pins . . . The weavers, 'tis common with them to be drunk on Monday, have their head-ache on Tuesday, and their tools out of order on Wednesday. As for the shoemakers, they'll rather be hanged than not remember St. Crispin on Monday . . . and it commonly holds as long as they have a penny of money or pennyworth of credit." ..."
"... "If you're not willing to kill everybody who has a different idea than yourself, you cannot have Frederick Hayek's free market. You cannot have Alan Greenspan or the Chicago School, you cannot have the economic freedom that is freedom for the rentiers and the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector to reduce the rest of the economy to serfdom." ..."
"... "In a libertarian society, there is no commons or public space. There are property lines, not borders. When it comes to real property and physical movement across such real property, there are owners, guests, licensees, business invitees and trespassers – not legal and illegal immigrants." ..."
"... "This is an outrageous betrayal of public trust -- but only what can be expected when private bankers are given a governing role in American monetary policy. In a sane world, private bankers would have no more voice than any other citizen in making that decision . It's time to throw these turkeys out of American monetary policy." ..."
"... "The "nation-state" as a fundamental unit of man's organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state." ..."
"... "The Trilateralist Commission is international (and) is intended to be the vehicle for multinational consolidation of the commercial and banking interests BY SEIZING CONTROL OF THE POLITICAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES. The Trilateralist Commission represents a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power – political, monetary, intellectual, and ecclesiastical." ..."
Jan 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Chris Becker. Originally published at MacroBusiness

It's always interesting to hear mega-capitalists complain about the very system that provides them opportunity to turn their talents into Scrooge McDuck size piles of cash. Furthermore, it's usually the most successful that have the most liberal of views and Ray Dalio, head of hedge fund Bridgewater, has weighed in again.

From CNBC :

"Capitalism basically is not working for the majority of people. That's just the reality," Dalio said at the 2018 Summit conference in Los Angeles in November. Monday, Dalio tweeted a video of his Summit talk.

"Today, the top one-tenth of 1 percent of the population's net worth is equal to the bottom 90 percent combined. In other words, a big giant wealth gap. That was the same -- last time that happened was the late '30s," Dalio said. (Indeed, research from Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the National Bureau of Economic Research of wealth inequality throughout the 20th century, covered by The Guardian , bears this out.)

Further, Dalio points to a survey by the Federal Reserve showing that 40 percent of adults can't come up with $400 in the case of an emergency. "It gives you an idea of what the polarity is," Dalio said. "That's a real world. That's an issue."

"We're in a situation when the economy is at a peak, we still have this very big tension. That's where we are today," he said in November. "We're in a situation where, if you have a downturn, and we will have a downturn, I believe that -- I worry that that polarity will become greater."

Here's the full talk:

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/3kUQlAUoDPw

There is no actual problem with capitalism in and of itself. As a system, compared to other systems in the past, it has provided the greatest gains to the greatest number of people in the last two centuries of human development. To borrow a catchphrase, it's settled science, and in fact maybe one of the only theories of economics that actually holds water, given that communism, socialism and other market structures have failed time and time again.

The problem with capitalism is when it is wedded to an ideology that has limited or perverted checks and balances. Inequality being the most dire and neglected outcome of perverting a system that does not punish the risk takers who fail. Witness the banking industry in the aftermath of the GFC. A properly tuned capitalistic system would have seen the majority of bankers incarcerated, there wealth confiscated by legal and just reparations and an overhaul of the financial sector.

Captured regulatory authorities and legislative assemblies overturned the fundamental cornerstone of capitalism – if you fail, you take a loss – and turned it into an even more perverse form of socialism where the losers become winners and society bears the entire burden of their mistakes.

Dalio, like Buffet and Gates before him are pointing out the problems of extreme wealth, but this is not a new phenomenon. History shows that when income and wealth inequality become widely disparate, the forces of populism rise to shake the foundations. And inequality in the US and in the Western world is again reaching those heady heights where "unbridled" (read:captured) capitalism resulted in the Great Depression:

The concentration of wealth by capturing the full yield of capitalism without distributing any seeds is worse than ever as The Economist explains:

The 16,000 families making up the richest 0.01%, with an average net worth of $371m, now control 11.2% of total wealth -- back to the 1916 share, which is the highest on record. Those down the distribution have not done quite so well: the top 0.1% (consisting of 160,000 families worth $73m on average) hold 22% of America's wealth, just shy of the 1929 peak -- and exactly the same share as the bottom 90% of the population.

Dalio is right to point out that an unworkable capitalist system, where the majority of the gains are kept by the few, creating an oligarchy that is inflexible to change, or risk, has not benefited the majority.

Lost in the amazing advances in the developing world which has embraced versions of capitalism over the last thirty years is that the average Westerner has gone nowhere in terms of wage growth and real wealth:


Similar forces have been in play in Australia:

Creating these instabilities, where it's extremely hard for someone to rise above the average wage, let alone no wage, is going to cost the whole system eventually if it is not reformed and brought back to the center where it belongs.


kimsarah , January 18, 2019 at 1:45 am

Here's a good example of today's capitalism:
https://wolfstreet.com/2019/01/17/another-retail-chain-owned-stripped-bare-by-sun-capital-goes-bankrupt/#comment-169787

james wordsworth , January 18, 2019 at 6:41 am

Capitalism "works" because it is a flawed system that steals from society. Limited liability corporations protect profits and socialize losses.

Companies get society provided benefits for well well below cost, but spend zillions avoiding contributing to their improvement (think infrastructure, public education, legal system). Consumers over consume because they are not charged the full cost of their consumption. So we get pollution, resource depletion and worker exploitation.

Capitalism is a wild stallion that can take you to places you would never get to on your own, but unharnessd it will likely also take you into a ditch. Capitalism needs to be harnessed by society. It needs to serve society. Society should not be serving capitalism.

The actions of the actors in a system can be predictable. Make a system where the actors benefit by cheating and they will cheat – good people included. Make a system that encourages good behaviour and people will be better.

The planet can not handle much more of capitalism's "success".

vidimi , January 18, 2019 at 7:36 am

capitalism works because those who benefit from it get to decide whether it works or not

Carla , January 18, 2019 at 8:13 am

YES!

WheresOurTeddy , January 18, 2019 at 12:41 pm

"To borrow a catchphrase, it's settled science, and in fact maybe one of the only theories of economics that actually holds water, given that communism, socialism and other market structures have failed time and time again."

Remember when capitalism started in earnest in the early Renaissance and the already established, competing ideology tried to strangle it in its crib and destabilize any state, no matter how small, that didn't hew to the orthodox economic and political hegemony? Oh right, me neither.

"Socialism didn't work" without acknowledging the entire resources of the European and American "first world" attempted to put down the USSR from 1917-1921, and undeclared covert war on any state with a constitution to the left of Harry Truman ever since is kind of a mitigating circumstance of "capitalism > socialism"

Ape , January 19, 2019 at 4:46 am

Not true. See the uk revolution, the dutch revolution, and the French. Each one was an attempt by capitalism to revolutionize a region and the feudal lords tried to strangle it.

But it slowly built basic accounting methods and legal social frameworks that ended up dominating the world.

Just like socialism has created legal structures that have changed basic sense with 2 steps forwards and 1 back. Who knows where it may go after a few more centuries of revolutions?

James , January 18, 2019 at 7:58 am

Make a system where the actors benefit by cheating and they will cheat – good people included.

That's the basic question in a nutshell. Can Capitalism ever be configured in such a way in which that doesn't happen? The historical record says no, not for long, "cheating" being a relative term anyway. Good capitalists will tell you they don't cheat, they simply redefine the legal meaning of the word to benefit their own interests, the law and its makers being simply another commodity to be bought and sold like any other.

notabanker , January 18, 2019 at 8:23 am

This debate on "capitalism" feels like the black mirror discussion of MMT.
MMT = Good because it is a theory that runs contrary to norms that have produced bad results.
Capitalism = Bad because it is the widely accepted theory that has led to bad results.

Reality is they are both amoral concepts that need to be applied appropriately to produce the desired results. Coming to consensus on what those results need to be is the issue.

Dalio is an interesting character. If he went public with this in November, you can bet he's been modeling it for years, made piles of money on it and he sees it at the end of its cycle. What he's not saying is how they've modeled it out for the next 5-10 years and what those outcomes entail, which is unfortunate.

Wandering Mind , January 18, 2019 at 9:54 am

I disagree with the characterization of both MMT and capitalism. MMT is mostly not theoretical, but descriptive. The system is operated as economists like Stephanie Kelton describe. What is not the "norm" is the open acknowledgement of the way in which the monetary system operates. That particular self-delusion is about 300 years old.

Capitalism is driven by the need to always expand. But what seems possible on the micro level is not possible on the macro level, at least not forever.

Grebo , January 18, 2019 at 1:25 pm

Capitalism is based on two kinds of theft. Private ownership of the gifts of nature is theft from the community. Appropriation of the surplus is theft from the workers.

I would not call that amoral.

KPL , January 18, 2019 at 8:35 am

This is the kind of lectures you will get when you bail out scoundrels. Scoundrels will blame capitalism when in reality these scoundrels define capitalism as "privatize profits and socialize losses". The temerity of these scoundrels is galling. These arsonists talk of capitalism. If capitalism had been allowed to do its job, many of these scoundrels would have been languishing in jails and the companies they run would have been dead and buried.

James , January 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm

Capitalism doesn't prescribe right or wrong in moral terms, only profits. The idea that markets could ever be self-policing is laughably misguided. We're living with that truth as we speak. Profits buy power and influence, which are then used to change the rules of the game to enable even more profits in a classic vicious cycle. Rinse and repeat until a clear winner emerges or the entire system collapses in a mass of warring factions. Looks like we've got the latter to me.

KPL , January 20, 2019 at 1:21 am

It is the bailouts (in the guise of saving the common man from something unimaginably worse, mind you) and the lack of accountability (no one going to jail, arsonists being asked to put out the fire etc.) that is simply covering capitalism with the moral hazard muck to an extent that capitalism is now unrecognizable. The rottenness of the system has been in the works since 1987 (Greenspan put) and has taken this long to germinate into a monster. Let us see how it ends!

The Rev Kev , January 18, 2019 at 8:37 am

Gotta be real specific in our terminology here. When you say Capitalism it is like saying Religion. Just as with Religion you have different flavours of it such as Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. you have also different types of Capitalism as well. I suppose that you can best describe the type of Capitalism that we have in place now as 'Crony Capitalism' though others may disagree. Another aspect of the type of capitalism that has evolved is that it is built on the premise of expansion as it came of age during the past two centuries when expansion was just the way it was.
Not only has this caused problems in a world of finite resources which we are pushing the envelope off but I have no idea what would happen when the Age of Expansion ends and we instead go into the Age of Contraction which will maybe last just as long. Another problem with our brand of Capitalism is that it never captures all the costs associated with a venture. An example? All those toxic sites that fracking will leave behind? The companies will never pay to clean that mess up but it will be done – maybe – by the taxpayer so of course those companies never add those costs into their accounts. A more sustainable form of Capitalism would be forced to calculate those costs into their accounts. Just because Capitalism is the way that it is does not mean that that is the way that it has to be.

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , January 18, 2019 at 11:20 am

A little bit of every -ism.

Looking back, it appears that when humans came out of Africa, they intermixed with Neaderthals, acquiring some of the local immunity DNA, among others, and that gave them survival advantages.

And the hybridization has enabled them to overpopulate the planet, with commentators of all kinds, including those wiser ones who are aware of the over-popluation problem and climate change.

So, in the same way, we should look to combining ideas and -isms.

Not just socialism all good, capitalism all bad, etc.

John steinbach , January 18, 2019 at 8:41 am

Wrong question. Capitalism isn't designed to "work", it's designed to exploit & destroy- individuals, communities, societies, and ecosystems.

The results are overwhelmingly obvious except to elites.

WheresOurTeddy , January 18, 2019 at 12:43 pm

oh it's obvious to them too, but as Upton Sinclair said, it's impossible to get someone to understand something when their paycheck depends on them not understanding it.

sierra7 , January 18, 2019 at 5:34 pm

Correct. Without "restraint", unbridled capitalism cannot be sustained; it will eventually devour the planet and render it uninhabitable. Unbridled capitalism is an animal uncaged. That uncaged animal today, globally is devouring the commons. "Capitalism" is now, "off the rails".

prodigalson , January 18, 2019 at 8:51 am

"There is no actual problem with capitalism in and of itself. As a system, compared to other systems in the past, it has provided the greatest gains to the greatest number of people in the last two centuries of human development. To borrow a catchphrase, it's settled science, and in fact maybe one of the only theories of economics that actually holds water, given that communism, socialism and other market structures have failed time and time again."

Precisely wrong. Capitalism is a donut machine, doing its job, and spitting out donuts, it's working exactly as it's supposed to. The externalities and corruption are part and parcel of the system. Saying that "pure" capitalism wouldn't have the impurities we see in the system is the exact same arguement socialists and communists could argue for their own systems. "Communism (or capitalism) (or socialism) failed because it wasn't pure enough", essentially. Capitalism takes the worst aspects of human nature, promotes them as virtues, then acts surprised when everyone starts acting like pirates and vampire squid.

cnchal , January 18, 2019 at 9:12 am

I know. That paragraph left me laughing.

What is funny is that the post author didn't get his or her own irony.

Tom Doak , January 19, 2019 at 5:11 pm

He probably gets it, he just put it in there as a disclaimer to keep himself from being shunned by his peers in the professional class.

tegnost , January 18, 2019 at 10:06 am

capitalism assumes rational actors will balance out its flaws. He claims socialism fails but the new deal had some elements of socialism which assuaged the winner take all nature of capitalism. Deregulation basically is unmaking the rules and the result is global casino capitalism, and that's a disease just as it would be in vegas or atlantic city. I am unsurprisingly not optimistic, we had a great chance to rein it all in, twice with obama (i say twice because I was cajoled into voting for him a second time because he was supposedly going to do something good in his second term when the poor man became unshackled from the need to be re elected [irony alert: if obama had made any effort to help regular "folks" he wouldn't have had any problem getting re elected and the dnc wouldn't have needed to cheat the voters and shove her republican leaning highness down our collective throats]) and a third time with b sanders, so that's 12 years of active enrichment of the worst fackers in the world, and now this article makes it seem like maybe they are worried but they won't do anything to rein in bezos, or fix student loans, or any of the other crises facing the population. Self driving tech is going to increase traffic and consumption, who here thinks waymo and uber will give up on the fantasy because they're worried about global warming? They're worried about patents. They're worried someone else will get the mountainous payoff. It's all about the self and there is no sign that hand wringing of the nature Mr Dalio is engaging in, as sensible and reasoned as it may be, is going to lead to any changes that result in concrete material benefits going to people who the upper class, for lack of a better word, hates. The only good mope is one with a catalog of unpayable debts, who works to survive all the while paying into their social security account so the worst fackers in the world can garnish it and put a bottom tranche on their greedy securitization schemes.

diptherio , January 18, 2019 at 10:43 am

My first thought was: climate change. If your system of producing goods and services leads to environmental destruction that interferes with the ability of the planet to harbor human life, well .I'd say that's a major problem with your system.

Massinissa , January 18, 2019 at 5:00 pm

To follow on Prodigalson's analogy, Its a machine that destroys the environment to creates donuts until there is no-one left alive to eat the donuts.

lyman alpha blob , January 18, 2019 at 11:06 am

+1

What you said, plus capitalism requires constant growth with finite resources which is frankly an insane expectation.

PKMKII , January 18, 2019 at 1:20 pm

The one difference with the purity argument is that the communist apologists are pointing to the impurity of the system. The tried systems were either too capitalist or too despotic or not despotic enough or too reformist or etc.They posit that the solution is just that the system needs to have the purity of the way their political theory describes a communist system.

The capitalist apologists, apropos, point to the impurity of the individual instead. The system cannot fail, as they don't even see it as a system, it is simply "human nature." The morality of the individuals at the top of the hierarchy determines all. If capitalism is failing, it is because of the bad choices of those individuals.

Massinissa , January 18, 2019 at 5:04 pm

"The morality of the individuals at the top of the hierarchy determines all. If capitalism is failing, it is because of the bad choices of those individuals."

That's incorrect, though. The system favors those willing to exploit others and the system as structured puts those people at the top of the pyramid. Anyone with morality cannot have outstanding success in rising to the top of the economic hierarchy in this system due to their morality being a major limitation, with the possible exception of being born into wealth.

Glen , January 18, 2019 at 3:06 pm

From my background as an engineer, I have come to the conclusion that economics is not a science and should be renamed as political economics as that is a much more descriptive.

All of the "isms" are constructs of the governing rules established by governing bodies (mostly national governments) and agreements between governing bodies. All of the "isms" depend on a means to enforce the rules. I know this is all obvious to anybody who has studied this stuff. It was not to me until I started paying attention in the late 90's, and ignored all the BS we get bombarded with on a daily basis.

The current set of rules (including the unwritten class rules where the rich and poor have different rules) guarantees the end of a human inhabitable world. It seems to me that we need to re-write the rules very quickly before we are overtaken by events.

Massinissa , January 18, 2019 at 5:05 pm

Perhaps we should just go back to what Economics used to be called: Political Economy.

That name got nixed because its not fancy sounding enough.

a different chris , January 18, 2019 at 8:55 am

>As a system, compared to other systems in the past, it has provided the greatest gains to the greatest number of people in the last two centuries of human development.

How do we actually know that? What was, during the peak years, an "average" Aztec's quality of life, for example? Let alone knowing what work/remuneration system he/she existed under. And in truth, the measurement itself is capitalism's measurement. It's like ranking everybody in the country by how hard they can throw a baseball. It's useful for winning at baseball, doesn't say anything about the country's metallurgical capabilities. Capitalism is best at Capitalism! Yea!

I actually think the biggest contributor to what they claim as "the greatest gains to the greatest number of people" is sewage treatment. Which I believe has been a government initiative, yes?

Now, I'm actually not comfortable kicking over the table. Universal Health Care and really high marginal tax rates would, in my model of the world (which may be completely wrong) work well enough. We would have to study not-so-Great Britain's problems when they tried the same thing, to be sure.

JCC , January 18, 2019 at 9:01 am

The embedded youtube video doesn't seem to match the theme of the article. Is this the one you meant to link to?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C43i3yclec

(Not that the embedded video wasn't worth taking the time to watch)

Jörgen in Germany , January 18, 2019 at 9:21 am

For me, the question is:
once capitalism is established, is it possible to rein it in? Will it not allways turn out to get out of control, to become the „real existing" capitalism. Is a capitalism „with a human face" a stable possibilty. Communism „with a human face" doesn't seem to be possible. Sytems have their own dynamics and tend to find a stable equlibrium, and for each there are only a finite number of stable states, probably defined by human nature. Power tends to concentrate.
In short: Is a capitalist system, in which the TBTF are allowed to fail, a realistic possibility?

Jack , January 18, 2019 at 9:26 am

"To borrow a catchphrase, it's settled science, and in fact maybe one of the only theories of economics that actually holds water, given that communism, socialism and other market structures have failed time and time again." Seems like the author is ignoring those successful socialistic countries like Denmark, Sweden, etc.

Massinissa , January 18, 2019 at 5:06 pm

They're social democracies, which aren't exactly socialist. They're democratic capitalist societies with some basic socialist elements.

Kurtismayfield , January 18, 2019 at 5:25 pm

Sorry, but the USA's biggest trading partner is a self declared Communist state. Anytime someone brings up the Communist boogeyman this needs to be given right back to them. Vietnam isn't doing so bad either. Of course what the Corporatists love is not the Communism but the Totalitarianism. You can still be Communist and be involved in a market economy, and China has plenty of state involvement in it's industry

greg kaiser , January 18, 2019 at 9:29 am

The FIRE sector makes money from money. Their interest and profits compound and concentrate wealth. That is the only possible outcome of capitalism.

Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit! That is the only possible outcome for the rest of the human race as a result of capitalist extractions.

Anarcissie , January 18, 2019 at 9:32 am

Seemingly a significant portion of the folk desire more stuff, regardless of the consequences. Capitalism provides more stuff for many of them, or can pretend to. Therefore they will continue to support it until it collapses. Sal si puedes.

NotTimothyGeithner , January 18, 2019 at 10:18 am

I'm pretty certain this is a case of the dopamine hit in lieu of economic security on the lower side of the income scale.

Sound of the Suburbs , January 18, 2019 at 9:39 am

Where did it all go wrong?

Economics, the time line:

Classical economics – observations and deductions from the world of small state, unregulated capitalism around them

Neoclassical economics – Where did that come from?

Keynesian economics – observations, deductions and fixes for the problems of neoclassical economics

Neoclassical economics – Why is that back?

We thought small state, unregulated capitalism was something that it wasn't as our ideas came from neoclassical economics, which has little connection with classical economics.

On bringing it back again, we had lost everything that had been learned in the 1930s, by which time it had already demonstrated its flaws.

Let's find out what capitalism really is again by going back to the classical economists.

We really need to get the cost of living back into economics.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

Cutting taxes but letting the cost of living soar has been a pointless neoliberal exercise.

Let's find out what real wealth creation is again as they worked out in the 1930s.

It's measured by GDP that excludes the transfer of existing assets like stocks and real estate as inflating asset prices isn't creating real wealth. That fictitious financial wealth has a habit of disappearing as they realised after 1929.

We need to remember the problem with the markets they discovered in the 1930s.

https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.52.41.png

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.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

Sound of the Suburbs , January 19, 2019 at 3:02 am

Michael Hudson has enlightened me as to the history of economics and I have added the other parts that were lost from the 1930s.

Sound of the Suburbs , January 18, 2019 at 9:49 am

What was that terrible existence like before capitalism?

https://libcom.org/files/timeworkandindustrialcapitalism.pdf

"This general irregularity must be placed within the irregular cycle of the working week (and indeed of the working year) which provoked so much lament from moralists and mercantilists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

A rhyme printed in 1639 gives us a satirical version:

You know that Munday is Sundayes brother;
Tuesday is such another;
Wednesday you must go to Church and pray;
Thursday is half-holiday;
On Friday it is too late to begin to spin;
The Saturday is half-holiday agen.

John Houghton, in 1681, gives us the indignant version:

"When the framework knitters or makers of silk stockings had a great price for their work, they have been observed seldom to work on Mondays and Tuesdays but to spend most of their time at the ale-house or nine-pins . . .
The weavers, 'tis common with them to be drunk on Monday, have their head-ache on Tuesday, and their tools out of order on Wednesday. As for the shoemakers, they'll rather be hanged than not remember St. Crispin on Monday . . . and it commonly holds as long as they have a penny of money or pennyworth of credit."

Merrie England gave way to the dark satanic mills.

Capitalism is progress?

The Rev Kev , January 18, 2019 at 8:04 pm

Maybe because they had plenty of time to think while they were weaving but historically, if you had an active politically minded group, it was guaranteed that the weavers would be part of them. Until they got industrialized that is. Certainly that was true in Scotland in the 19th century.

DJG , January 18, 2019 at 9:58 am

The article is interesting, but do we truly have to be lectured by Becker?:

To borrow a catchphrase, it's settled science, and in fact maybe one of the only theories of economics that actually holds water, given that communism, socialism and other market structures have failed time and time again.

In other words, capitalism is dogma that has defeated the Arians. Try going to Wikipedia, put in "Panic of," and you will get fifteen major crashes in the U.S. economy from 1792 to 1930. That's fifteen crashes in 150 years. And this is a system that hasn't failed time and time again?

Mixed economies with strong government intervention and subsidies to the citizenry (the welfare state) have done quite well. The Venetian republic used that economic model for some 1100 years. There are alternatives to U.S. buccaneer capitalism and its endless slogans about its bestness.

whine country , January 18, 2019 at 10:15 am

Only in America:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AFDhxk97Xg

abynormal , January 18, 2019 at 2:17 pm

https://youtu.be/gAyWvNXLn0g

TroyMcClure , January 18, 2019 at 10:27 am

Nearly dropped my phone as I desperately texted Denmark to let them know their country had failed.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , January 18, 2019 at 11:50 am

Haha

jrs , January 18, 2019 at 1:58 pm

some might agree and then probably blame immigrants *eye roll*

But there are degrees of perceived "failure" and in the U.S. these are getting pretty extreme.

Partyless Poster , January 18, 2019 at 10:28 am

They are never honest about socialism, "its been tried and it failed"
Never mention that any country that dares go socialist will immediately be economically attacked by capitalist countries. Has it ever been given a chance where it wasn't?
I always thought it funny that capitalists always say socialism doesn't work but then why are they so desperately afraid of it.

monday1929 , January 18, 2019 at 1:45 pm

And why try to spread capitalism to your main enemies, China and Russia, instead of letting them languish with their inferior systems?

jrs , January 18, 2019 at 1:53 pm

it's not clear that China's present system isn't also capitalism. Russia neither only it's also particularly corrupt. It's a raw power contest with them and the U.S. government, not an ideological one,

Massinissa , January 18, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Russia has been capitalist since the wall fell, China since Deng Xiaopings reforms. Russia is just a regular capitalist country at this point, whereas China is State Capitalism (in fact, the only major extant example of such).

diptherio , January 18, 2019 at 10:57 am

What I find so frustrating about this kind of analysis is that it takes as given that "capitalism" is a thing, something actually existing in the real world. In reality, it's a sound we make with our mouths, and nothing more. At most it's a rather vague concept whose definition there does not seem to be any real agreement on. It's a shibboleth with no actual referent in the physical world.

I think words like "capitalism" and "socialism" get used as mental shorthand because most of us can't be bothered with the nuance of reality. The policies, norms, and systems we have in place now are there because they serve (or served) the interests of some person or group of people who had enough influence/power to get them put in place. Sheldon Adelson demanding the Feds regulate on-line gambling is a perfect example. Adelson doesn't give a rip whether having the gov't remove his competitors is "capitalism" or not. It's in his interests, and if he can flex enough muscle to get the Feds to go along, he'll get his way. What label you put on the outcome is irrelevant.

The strong take what they can and the weak suffer what they must. Seems like that's been true in every large-scale society I'm familiar with, regardless of how they labled themselves.

Grebo , January 18, 2019 at 2:11 pm

A clear definition of capitalism is not to the advantage of capitalists, so we never hear one, except "private ownership of the means of production" which is not it.

People have been taught to think of capitalism simply as "the source of all good things" so by definition any alternative must be worse. No need to think about the details.

Ape , January 19, 2019 at 5:04 am

Capitalism is stock markets. The separation of labor and management from ownership by turning ownership into a financial commodity.

The difference between piracy and the dutch east india company? Capitalism.

jrs , January 18, 2019 at 2:33 pm

for leftists it seems it's often shorthand for the status quo, and the status quo economics and power relationships. So sure that's a catch all for the water us fishes hardly know we swim in.

They aren't wrong on the fact that any system that uses more resources than the earth produces WILL NOT and CAN NOT end well and that the only hope, if hope there is, is in reigning this in. And that probably, or at least probably if it is to be humane in any sense and not just be mass extermination, requires an economy geared toward human needs, not consumerism, not excess for anyone beyond what the world can produce.

Sometimes this system we live in produces more or less inequality, how much depends on how much the powerful are able to take, how much power they have to direct all wealth to themselves. Always it produces wage slavery, deprived as wage slaves are of their own subsistence other than by selling their labor. They might have more of less of a voice in the workplace, in the U.S. they have pretty much none. So the U.S. status quo is a powerless vast mass of people that must work for a living whose lives are dictated by economic powers beyond their control. And then there are the rentiers taking their cut from everyone working for a living as well. The returns just from owning property etc. – almost all real property being owned by a few large players.

Knute Rife , January 18, 2019 at 11:37 am

So capitalism is bad only because it has been wedded to perverse ideologies, but all other economic systems are bad inherently. Seems legit.

Susan the Other , January 18, 2019 at 11:46 am

What a blabbering rambling pointless airhead.

elissa3 , January 18, 2019 at 11:49 am

No, no, no NO!
https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2018/11/principles-for-dummies/

AdamK , January 18, 2019 at 12:22 pm

The biggest failure of capitalism is environmental. In a system which everything is privatized except the externalities which are dumped on public plate with no way to pursue public interest and which will bring us down sooner than later. Inequality is at the core of the system, but it isn't the worst outcome. A system that produces much more than needed and pollutes the environment, we find ourselves sitting on piles of garbage and killing ourselves in the name of production efficiency. In a socialist system the public has potentially control over resources and could potentially divert resources to less destructive production, or make a conscious decision to stop altogether. Even if we, in this stage, distribute wealth equaly we won't be able to avert the environmental catastrophe that awaits us.

Kevin R LaPointe , January 18, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Capitalism has been historically a system of exploitation of the Masses, and remains so today, even after decades of attempts to reform it. Talk regarding the system has largely been of a circular and utopian nature since the collapse of the U.S.S.R.. The Center-Left coalition has been searching for a way to make Capitalism "work," i.e. make it palpable enough for the majority of people so as to keep the Owner Classes feeling secure. You can't fix what something is by its very nature, though. Capitalism is a socio-economic model for a Class based organizing of society; it's chief claim to progress was that it operated as a universal (neither religiously or ethnically demarcated) organizational structure outside of the hereditary based systems of feudalism that preceded it–though given projected trends for Wealth concentration one might find the later claim to be somewhat specious.

The Keynesian economists tried to make Capitalism work and they were axed back in the 70's, along with the older generations of the CED, the moment the owner classes felt secure again after the Great Crash. Unions, Regulatory Bodies, and the promises of a Great Society where undermined and attacked, dismantled, and largely turned into empty talking points. The triumph of Right Wing politics, aka the last four to five decades, should be observed as nothing short of absolute failure on the part of the Center-Left, Triangulationists (Neo-Liberals), and the Soft-Politics of Identity in providing substantive answers to systemic questions of exploitation of the Many by the Few. The Liberal Theory of Reform has ultimately proved to be very divergent from Reality, which has largely demonstrated that it takes both large scale emergent catastrophes (Great Depression), a militant population (Socialists, Fascists, Organized Labor, and/or Disgruntled Peasantry), and the acceptance or acquiescence of the Power Elites in order for Change to place. The gradualism of reformist policy has largely been debunked thanks to over a century of sloppy and mostly reactive implementation and subsequent repeal.

In the Western context, however, Capitalism is the softest form of Power enforcement, in that it is largely an idea that most in the society at least tentatively accept as the deterministic apparatus for "success" and "failure." Even intellectual debate is referred to as, "the Marketplace of Ideas." Once it is gone as viable option, the Elites have one of two options: submit to egalitarianism or resort to older forms of control.

To be more frank, we also need to start talking about actual material breaking points, rather than pretending that abstract "polarization" will continue on.

Ignacio , January 18, 2019 at 3:09 pm

For me the question is if the "system", broken as it is, is or isn't already repairable, and whether guys like this are really ready for the necessary steps.

PrairieRose , January 18, 2019 at 8:48 pm

Capitalism cannot survive without slave labor.

/lasse , January 19, 2019 at 6:29 am

Capitalism works! The problem are all those brainwashed by neoliberal propaganda nonsense, that capitalism is a system that will deliver to all and sundry, sort of market socialism.

Only a child could believe that?
That the minority of the elite that owns and control the means of production and not least the financial institutions would have identical interests with common people?

Some people still not get that neoliberalism is and was a counter revolution, by the capitalist class, on the postwar mixed economy that did spread economic growth to all and sundry. That it should generate welfare to everybody was just a propaganda ploy. Everyone who didn't engage in self-deception did see that from the beginning.

It have worked beyond any expectations, a total success for the few that owns this world. Some counter counter revolution on this aren't even remotely visible on the horizon. And if it would come the few will defend their progress with whatever it takes, if a bloodbath are required they won't hesitate.

Norb , January 19, 2019 at 12:55 pm

A Benevolent Dictator will be needed to displace capitalism as the means for supplying the goods and services needed for a survivable and sustainable society. A new enlightened elite conscious of rational needs instead of marketers and self-promoters.

Millions of individuals are beginning to extricate themselves, the best way they can, from this corrupt system. The die hard capitalists will be the last to notice that the world has changed around them. Climate change will make this a necessity. People not working together to ensure their common survival will be dead.

Capitalism depends on various forms of exploitation to persist. When the world has been ground down to such an extent that growth and exploitation cannot continue, those practiced in radical conservation have the best chance for survival. I just don't see slave societies meeting that requirement. Slaves can always sabotage the system if they don't fear for their lives. An elite spending their time and energies focused on preventing slave revolts won't have the luxury of abundance to pursue their follies- they will be too busy trying to survive themselves.

Maybe this has a silver lining. The future elite will be members of the community, not some sequestered and pampered minority granted the privilege to live in this seclusion- it just won't be possible any more.

Until then, learn practical skills and be kind.

templar555510 , January 19, 2019 at 5:22 pm

" .is going to cost the system eventually. " This is the reality .. Systems DO NOT reform themselves; they can't because they don't know how to. Something new has to emerge to fill the vacumm they create when they collapse.No one knows what that will be. So just be prepared . Hold to what you know to be true.

Kilgore Trout , January 19, 2019 at 6:27 pm

"Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of us all." –J. M. Keynes

Govt Sachs , January 19, 2019 at 10:14 pm

"If you're not willing to kill everybody who has a different idea than yourself, you cannot have Frederick Hayek's free market. You cannot have Alan Greenspan or the Chicago School, you cannot have the economic freedom that is freedom for the rentiers and the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) sector to reduce the rest of the economy to serfdom." ~ Michael Hudson

Neoliberalism is extreme capitalism, the libertarian purists' dream that, if left unabated, would eliminate human rights, safety regulations and environmental protections. That's why they've taken Civics out of the educational curriculum. Why should people learn about rights in a future world of no citizenship?

And forget about freedom to roam. There would be restricted zones, less car ownership, more mass transit, less private property ownership. Why do you think the housing prices are so out of reach today?

"In a libertarian society, there is no commons or public space. There are property lines, not borders. When it comes to real property and physical movement across such real property, there are owners, guests, licensees, business invitees and trespassers – not legal and illegal immigrants." ~ Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute

They've already tried their experiment of replacing nations with privately owned "charter cities" in Honduras, but it didn't work, unsurprisingly. Co-ops must be restored in that region, which were very successful.

Private bankers can't control BOTH forms of money creation – government issuance of new currency and credit creation, but they do and have been in the US for the past 40 years now.

Gov't finance is being intentionally mismanaged because banks make money on loans (and deficits cut into their profits), so they suppressed wages and shut off fiscal policy gov't investment in order to force the nation to borrow credit. This has caused a massive private debt over the past 40 years, all dishonorably accrued because it never had to have happened in the first place. It should all be cancelled.

"This is an outrageous betrayal of public trust -- but only what can be expected when private bankers are given a governing role in American monetary policy. In a sane world, private bankers would have no more voice than any other citizen in making that decision . It's time to throw these turkeys out of American monetary policy."

We need to reclaim the State from the money lenders.

"The "nation-state" as a fundamental unit of man's organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state."
~ Zbigniew Brzezinski, Between Two Ages, 1970

"The Trilateralist Commission is international (and) is intended to be the vehicle for multinational consolidation of the commercial and banking interests BY SEIZING CONTROL OF THE POLITICAL GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES. The Trilateralist Commission represents a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power – political, monetary, intellectual, and ecclesiastical."
~ Barry Goldwater, With No Apologies, 1979

[Jan 14, 2019] Class Warfare

Jan 14, 2019 | www.versobooks.com

"Uses and Abuses of Class Separatism" [ Verso ]. "[T]here are at least two necessary and sufficient elements in a relation of production. There's a structural element and an individual element. The structural element is in the relation itself (externally-facing), like a ratio, for example, and the individual element is in how people experience and live the relation (internally-facing) .. The wage relation is a paradigm case of a relation of production. It's got structural elements, like the exploitative difference between amounts paid to workers compared to profits made by capitalists. It also has experiential elements, like how workers live their wage relations depending on their race, gender, nationality, sexuality, ability. Neither element is sufficient on its own for the relation of production. Neither is dependent on the other. Neither is a function of the other. Both are necessary and sufficient for the relation of production . Class separatists separate out the structural element of relations of production, name it "class", and then distinguish this element of relations of production from the individual elements, calling them "identity" . However, class separatists make a big mistake (maybe their biggest) when they think that structural elements cut across individual elements of relations of production. The way Black women live unequal housing relations is different than indigenous men, queer immigrants, or a straight white people. But class separatists go way too far and think that these individual elements of relations of production (which they tragically call "identity" just like liberals do) need not be foregrounded and given equal political weight in their thinking and organizing. Of course structural elements of relations of production, like rent prices or mold, cut across so many differences. But these elements don't cut across individual differences. The structural elements are lived through the individual elements. The individual differences are muscles to the structural bones in relations of production. If we try to cut across these muscles, we lose our movement power." • This article is part of an extremely heatlthy on-going polemic on the left, and well worth a read on that account (It's also written in English, and not dense jargon. (I do think that "separatists" has the wrong tone.)

"Labor exploitation also happens close to home" [ Supply Chain Dive ]. "Far too often, customers outsource their moral outrage, as well as their manufacturing, to their top tier suppliers. Turning a blind eye to these tragedies may be the easy choice, especially when the upstream supply chain is halfway around the world. But human trafficking and exploitation are not reserved to low cost countries. We need to acknowledge there are labor exploitations within our domestic supply chain. Knowingly or not, we use suppliers who take advantage of employees, provide poor working conditions and low wages, and purposefully violate laws and regulations. Where is the moral outrage of labor exploitation in the United States?" More:

I remember the employees at a printed circuit board facility with holes in their clothes and burns on their skin due to the acids they worked with. Employees in a small and crowded break room that was crawling with roaches eating their lunch. Workers jammed shoulder to shoulder on assembly benches without enough room to properly do their work. Machinists lacking eye and hearing protection. Barbed wire surrounding an outside break area. Exposed electrical wires and leaking pipes, and clean rooms that were far from clean.

Can't see this from the Acela windows, though!

[Jan 12, 2019] Protectionist Measure to Help U.S. Corporations at the Expense of U.S. Workers Tops Trump China Trade Agenda

Jan 12, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , January 07, 2019 at 02:35 PM

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/protectionist-measure-to-help-u-s-corporations-at-the-expense-of-u-s-workers-tops-trump-china-trade-agenda

January 2, 2019

Protectionist Measure to Help U.S. Corporations at the Expense of U.S. Workers Tops Trump China Trade Agenda
By Dean Baker

Readers of this New York Times piece * on Robert Lighthizer, United States trade representative, and his negotiations with China may have missed this point. The piece said that one of Lighthizer's main goals was to stop China's practice of requiring that companies like Boeing and GE, who set up operations in China, take Chinese companies as business partners.

This is an effective way of requiring technology transfers, since the partners will become familiar with the production techniques of the U.S. companies. This will enable them in future years to be competitors with these companies.

If the U.S. government prohibits contracts that require this sort of technology transfer it will make it more desirable to outsource some of their production to China. This will be good for the profits of Boeing, GE, and other large companies but bad for U.S. workers. It will also mean that we will be paying more for products in the future than would otherwise be the case, since if Chinese companies would have been able to out-compete U.S. companies, it presumably means that would be charging lower prices or selling a better product.

It is also worth noting that the basic concern expressed by Lighthizer and others assumes that major U.S. corporations are unable to look out for themselves. They are not being forced to enter in contracts with China. This problem arises because they decide to invest in China, even with conditions requiring technology transfer.

We have a great story here where the government, and many analysts, think our largest corporations lack the ability to look out for their best interest. By contrast, when it comes to individual workers who are forced to sign away their right to have class action suits, or individual investors who can be fleeced by the financial industry, the current position of the government is that they can look out for themselves.

The NYT piece also does some inappropriate mind reading when it tells readers:

"Mr. Trump is increasingly eager to reach a deal that will help calm the markets, which he views as a political electrocardiogram of his presidency."

The reporter/editor does not know that Trump is "increasingly eager" or that he "views" the markets as "a political electrocardiogram of his presidency."

Good reporting says what politicians do and say. It does not report as fact their alleged opinions.

* https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/01/us/politics/robert-lighthizer-president-trump.html

Mr. Bill -> anne... , January 09, 2019 at 04:53 PM
As a people, we should look to the masters of mercantilism, Germany, and learn the lessons. How are they dealing with the tendency of corporations to hire the gulag communists to produce goods for sale in the advanced Western economies, like Germany and America.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 09, 2019 at 05:03 PM
Obviously, the communist government of China, which owns all production, has decided to not buy from the capitalists, but prefers to sell to them, only. Whoops.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 09, 2019 at 05:04 PM
Something in the scientific trade model seems to have been in error. Duh !
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 09, 2019 at 05:08 PM
Everything is okay though, the top 1% of the capitalists are making their nut. The rest of us ? Who cares. That's capitalism.
Mr. Bill -> Mr. Bill... , January 09, 2019 at 05:14 PM
Capitalists love Communism ! No need for all the mess of democracy. Last man standing is a risible philosophy.

[Jan 04, 2019] Hard core neoliberals want no money paid to workers, but they demand government ensure consumers have lots of money to spend, far more money than they earn

Jan 04, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

mulp -> anne... , December 31, 2018 at 01:17 PM

Why can't Krugman, an economist, clearly explain the destruction of the nation by neoliberals destruction of economic theory, turning benefits into liabilities, and liabilities into benefit, but only asymetricaly???

Hard core neoliberals cleverly attacked Adam Smith and Keynes so stealthily that even Krugman rejects Adamm Smith and Keynes, and embraces free lunch economics.

No progressive today would support FDR or his advisors, including Eccles, who was much smarter than anyone running the Fed since about 1970.

Hard core neoliberals want no money paid to workers, but they demand government ensure consumers have lots of money to spend, far mote money than they earn. But, Hard core neoliberals do not want government giving consumers money to spend to generate high profits for Hard core neoliberals, but want the government to enable cHard core neoliberals get the free money to rent to consumers, and then government punish consumers for not being able to pay debt because they are not paid to work, because paying workers costs Hard core neoliberals too much.

Just read a editorial from the anti government control of economy Heritage demanding a branch of government, the Fed, control the economy, ie print more money, so businesses don't have to pay consumers to buy stuff, ie, pay higher wages.

Free lunch economics is a total failure, yet hard core neoliberals argue its working great, except [real] liberals keep pointing out its clear and obvious failures.

But hard core neoliberals should be thankful Krugman is not a liberal, but a free lunch progressive in near total agreement with free lunch Hard core neoliberals.

[Jan 03, 2019] May Day in a Neoliberal Society

Notable quotes:
"... "We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you're a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you." ..."
"... "No single event has influenced the history of labor in Illinois, the United States, and even the world, more than the Chicago Haymarket Affair. It began with a rally on May 4, 1886, but the consequences are still being felt today. Although the rally is included in American history textbooks, very few present the event accurately or point out its significance." ..."
"... Chicago Haymarket Massacre ..."
"... Working for Inclusive, Just, and Equal Alternatives in Asia and Europe. AEPF11 tackled strategies on major themes or People's Visions, representing the hopes of citizens of the two regions. These are: ..."
"... Resource Justice, Land Rights, Equal Access to Water, and Participation – Going Beyond Extractivism ..."
"... Food Sovereignty/Food Security – Beyond zero hunger ..."
"... Climate Justice – Towards Sustainable Energy Production and Use, and Zero Waste ..."
"... Socially Just Trade, Production and Investment ..."
"... Social Justice – Social Protection for All, Decent Work and Sustainable Livelihoods, Tax Justice and other egalitarian Alternatives to Debt and Austerity ..."
"... Peace Building and Human Security – Responses to Migration, and Fundamentalism and Terrorism ..."
"... Participatory Democracy, Gender Equality and Minority Rights ..."
"... http://www.aseminfoboard.org/events/11th-asia-europe-peoples-forum-aepf11 ..."
"... "We are increasingly experiencing corporate capture", whereby multinational and national corporations structure and determine our lives and livelihoods," ..."
Jan 03, 2019 | countercurrents.org

It is indeed ironic that the US, where May Day has its origin, government has never celebrated this day, but instead has declared it 'law and order day' since Eisenhower. This is indicative of contempt for workers by a capitalist-controlled state and the resolve to prevent labor from demanding a voice in public policy as it did in the 19 th century when it confronted a violently hostile employer backed by the state. Today, many Republican and Democrats openly and unapologetically acknowledge capitalist monopoly over public policy. Mick Mulvaney, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, unashamedly invited 1,300 bank executives to help him convert the agency that he heads into a pro-banking institution, more so than it is currently, by contributing money to politicians favoring banking deregulation and curbing consumer protection safeguards. "We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you're a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you."

An honest admission of the degree to which neoliberalism has triumphed, Mulvaney's speech was indicative of the degree to which capital is now in an open politically-normalized war against labor and society. This is no different than it was in the post-Civil War era when the nascent labor movement in America confronted the combined forces of both employers and the state in the struggle for living wages, safety, and varieties of employer abuses of workers, including children and women. An estimated 35,000 workers, mostly Italian and Irish immigrants, went on strike in Chicago on May 1, 1886 in what became known as the Haymarket Massacre. They demanded an 8-hour workday, fair wages, work safety, abolition of child labor, and the end to labor exploitation by management in the workplace. The response was the police striking workers and government adopting harsh measures against any worker trying to organize in the aftermath. William J Adelman, founder of the Illinois Labor History Society and Vice President, correctly stated: "No single event has influenced the history of labor in Illinois, the United States, and even the world, more than the Chicago Haymarket Affair. It began with a rally on May 4, 1886, but the consequences are still being felt today. Although the rally is included in American history textbooks, very few present the event accurately or point out its significance."

As Adelman pointed out, American society is more anti-labor than many other advanced capitalist countries, though anti-labor policies have spread globally under neoliberalism since the 1980s. While the police are not out killing workers as they were in the 19 th and early 20 th century, the contemporary neoliberal state has adopted policies intended to crush organized labor and silence any voice of dissent to the corporate welfare state. As a market-based institutional order impacting every aspect of society, including personal identity, neoliberal corporate welfarism has replaced social welfare capitalism. The neoliberal goal is to turn the clock back to the early stages of capitalist development when labor had no rights and the state's role was to act as a conduit for private capital accumulation. Although society's institutional evolution does not permit for a return to 19 th century social conditions, the trend is to erase as many of the vestiges of social welfare as possible in order to accelerate capital accumulation.

Whether neoliberalism operates under the pluralist model where vestiges of social welfare and diversity remain as part of the legal structure, or under the populist authoritarian model intended to erase pluralism and social welfare, the goal is capital accumulation through massive transfer of income from labor and the middle class to the richest tiny percentage in the world. Employers had no difficulty convincing the government to crush the labor movement in Chicago through violent means in the 1880s or to execute a number of labor leaders in the aftermath, thus sending a strong message to the world about the absence of workers' rights, civil rights, human rights and social justice. The infamous Chicago Haymarket Massacre left a legacy of the class struggle with reverberations around the world, exposing the myth of bourgeois democracy as representative of anyone outside the capitalist class. Anti-union and anti-labor policies were characteristic of the US government from Haymarket until the Great Depression when Roosevelt cleverly broadened the labor movement in order to co-opt if as part of the Democratic party, thus deradicalizing workers and subordinating the class struggle to capital, in return for a social welfare state.

Post-Vietnam War progressive opposition to the misanthropic neoliberal culture in most countries has been co-opted by pluralist neoliberal political parties claiming to represent all classes within the context of the existing social order. Every identity group, from minorities, women, elderly, alternative lifestyle, environmental groups, etc. is represented under the larger umbrella of a pluralist political party. Similarly, the conservative to rightwing identity groups, religious, nationalist, militarist, xenophobic, racist, misogynist, etc. are under the umbrella of the populist/authoritarian neoliberal political camp as in Trump's Republican Party. The left representing the working class – lower middle class included – has a very weak voice so marginalized a much in the historically anti-left America as in most of the Western World. Instead of joining the progressive leftist camp, the labor movement is itself co-opted by the neoliberal political parties of the pluralist or populist variety, thus society operates under a totalitarian canopy within which the choices are between the neoliberal pluralist or the populist pluralist parties, with variations in modalities, considering inherent conflicts among the political and financial elites choosing different camps. President Macron representing the pluralist neoliberal camp in France is just as militaristic and anti-labor as Trump representing the populist neoliberal camp in the US. Labor's representation in these governments is non-existent. Operating within the parliamentary system, France has an anti-capitalist non-revolutionary party, though it has not been put to the test and it has a very long way to go before it takes power.

In the neoliberal age that dominates life in all its aspects, the development of genuine socialism seems unattainable and people become fatalistic or apathetic. However, the contradictions of the neoliberal establishment, the countless of contradictions in the social order will produce the foundations of a new social order built on the ashes of the one decaying. The declarations of the Asia-Europe People's Forum in the last two decades point out some of the structural problems of the neoliberal status quo, as articulated by heads of state. However, these declarations remain mere rhetoric, as the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit of July 2016 illustrates.

Working for Inclusive, Just, and Equal Alternatives in Asia and Europe. AEPF11 tackled strategies on major themes or People's Visions, representing the hopes of citizens of the two regions. These are:

http://www.aseminfoboard.org/events/11th-asia-europe-peoples-forum-aepf11

ASEM11 touches on some of the problems without analyzing their root causes, namely, globalist neoliberal policies that the same heads of state as signatories are pursuing. While agreeing on the interlocking nature of the crises of capitalism, and acknowledging such crises are the cause of greater social polarization – poverty, inequality, joblessness, and insecurity – they are not willing to abandon the very system that gives rise to the crises. While they readily admit that "We are increasingly experiencing corporate capture", whereby multinational and national corporations structure and determine our lives and livelihoods," they are unwilling to do anything about it. No government is doing anything to encourage genuine grassroots progressive movements, labor and social movements that would become the foundation for a new social order rooted in social justice. On the contrary, the goal is to prevent labor mobilization, progressive social organizations, unless of course they are co-opted and subordinate to the goals of neoliberalism. That the US does not celebrate May Day to honor workers is a reflection of the dominant culture's contempt for labor. For those countries that officially celebrate May Day while pursuing neoliberal anti-labor policies, the holiday has been reduced to about the same level of hypocrisy as any national Independence Day – oppression remains a reality for workers, while equality and social justice are a distant dream.

Jon V. Kofas , Ph.D. – Retired university professor of history – author of ten academic books and two dozens scholarly articles. Specializing in International Political economy, Kofas has taught courses and written on US diplomatic history, and the roles of the World Bank and IMF in the world.

[Jan 03, 2019] This is what keeps us working for the man by Joe Jarvis

Notable quotes:
"... only 1 in 3 US citizen STEM graduates can actually find jobs these days. ..."
"... US citizen are left submitting their resumes into black holes because the tech firms have placed their HR function into bunkers with near zero accessibility to the professional community who wants to offer their services. ..."
"... many bright minds, in the prime of their lives, instead of contributing, are sitting around trying to figure out where they're going to get their next meal. ..."
Jan 03, 2019 | The Daily Bell

by Joe Jarvis via The Daily Bell

You load sixteen tons, what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go,
I owe my soul to the company store.

Travis Merle wrote the song Sixteen Tons about working your life away in the coal mines and spending your whole paycheck–and then some–at the company store. You had no other options in the corporate mining villages of the early twentieth century.

The most famous version of the song came from Tennessee Ernie Ford. Sixteen Tons was covered by many others, including Johnny Cash, and even Elvis at some concerts though he never recorded it.

And South Park recently featured their own version in an episode called "Unfulfilled," about working for Amazon. Of course, South Park is a comedy cartoon series that parodies real-life events. They depicted Amazon fulfilment centers as the only available jobs in the small Colorado town. People worked in dangerous collaboration with machines, and went home to spend their entire paycheck on Amazon.

Jeff Bezos was depicted as a telepathic villain . He would tune in to various Alexa streams to gauge the mood of the town. And anyone who didn't do his bidding would have their Prime status revoked. Comparing Amazon to coal mines is funny because it exaggerates a fear in society. Everyone buys from Amazon, so the small businesses go under. And everyone working for the small businesses goes to work for Amazon.

South Park did the same thing with a Walmart episode about a decade back. Walmart possessed some unknown power which compelled people to shop there, they were powerless to resist. Even better if they could work there and get an employee discount despite the low pay.

And then Amazon came along to compete with Walmart .

... ... ...

Yes, deliver THE DAILY BELL to my inbox!

XXX 8 hours ago

Just when American workers were getting comfortable and were delivering productivity improvements, "corporate America" dropped the ball and started doing massive outsourcing and importation of H-1B workers. To such a severe extent that only 1 in 3 US citizen STEM graduates can actually find jobs these days.

Even top grads from top schools are ignored while the red carpet is rolled out to foreign national OPT and H-1B visa recipients. US citizen are left submitting their resumes into black holes because the tech firms have placed their HR function into bunkers with near zero accessibility to the professional community who wants to offer their services.

The loss to the economy due to such is enormous. So many bright minds, in the prime of their lives, instead of contributing, are sitting around trying to figure out where they're going to get their next meal.

XXX 10 hours ago remove link

Being your own boss sounds great, but in fact most people are not 'wired' for that. Which is a good thing, because any hierarchal organization requires that a few be leaders, with the majority being led. That's why tribes have one chief, nations have one King or President. It's why there is one judge who presides over a trial, why there is one teacher to a classroom, and why we have many times more soldiers than generals.

That is simply the reality. The folks who go on about how we should all become entrepreneurs and work for ourselves as a solution to the noxious employment situation we find ourselves in are ignoring that reality. A world of 'all chiefs and no Indians' just doesn't work, because most people are unable to function that way. That doesn't make them inferior, it doesn't make them suckers for working for 'the man'...that this is not currently working out too well is a function of the incompetent way we've been handling the whole employment-thing, not because too many are employed by others.

The ratio of leaders vs. followers is the way it is because that's what is needed for these systems to WORK. Furthermore, you find this in ALL of nature as well...the pack has ONE leader, the hive has ONE Queen, even among single-celled organisms, the mitochondria have assumed the leadership role and now control and direct all other cellular functions. We see this in the evolution of out own bodies, which consist of many different systems all operating under the leadership of organized neural cells in the brain. You will of course notice that these biological systems have something in common...they all work for the good of the WHOLE organism, not just a few parts. This is a missing piece in most human-run systems, and is likely a reason most people tend to mistrust them and want out.

There is nothing wrong with being a 'worker bee'! Not everyone in the church choir can sell a million albums...does that mean everyone else should just say the hell with it and disband their choirs? When company A makes one guy the CEO, should all the other employees quit in protest and go form their own companies? Then what is the CEO going to run? And who will work for all those new companies?

Anyone who thinks Americans have some kind of problem with 'work' needs to examine the MESSAGING our society is sending about work. I think the problem really lies there. Because competition without cooperation is just warfare. And boy, is THIS a society at war with itself or what?

XXX 12 hours ago

All large systems are hierarchical. Feudalism was hierarchical. So in that sense they are similar, although in corporations there are usually a lot more levels and a lot more people are 'not serfs', but something slightly higher up.

Hierarchies (as far as we know) are the only way to 'scale'. Look at any large system and you will see a hierarchy (roads, Internet, vascular system, government, military, and yes, corporations).

Hierarchical systems may have undesirable elements for some e.g. inequality, but until someone comes up with a different way to organize and run a large system, it is the only way. And, it was not 'designed', it is simply the natural outcome. As natural as the blood flowing in your veins. To 'blame' natural systems for perceived drawbacks is like blaming 'math'.

XXX 14 hours ago (Edited) remove link

This article indicates that we live within a system built and controlled by others and that our only choice is how we respond to that environment. Someone else writes the rules that favor them and the rest of us just have to live with it.

It's a political economy. Changing the rules changes the economy.

Metalredneck , 14 hours ago

I'm sure the resemblance to feudalism is a coincidence. /s

[Jan 03, 2019] Why France's Yellow Vest protests have been ignored by "The Resistance" in the U.S. by Max Parry

US "resistance" is as fake as it can be. It consists mainly of Clinton wing of DemoRats (in pocket of Wall Street) and neoliberal presstitutes in MSM.
Macron is seen as a former Rothschild banker who had the idea that he could 'modernise' France in the neoliberal Brussels way. According to the latest poll 61% of the French reject Macron's policies.
Jan 03, 2019 | www.unz.com

In less than two months, the yellow vests (" gilets jaunes " ) movement in France has reshaped the political landscape in Europe. For a seventh straight week, demonstrations continued across the country even after concessions from a cowed President Emmanuel Macron while inspiring a wave of similar gatherings in neighboring states like Belgium and the Netherlands. Just as el uture EU designer was fortunate enough to have friends in high places. Schuman's clemency was granted by none other than General Charles de Gaulle himself, the leader of the resistance during the war and future French President. Instantly, Schuman's turncoat reputation was rehabilitated and his wartime activity whitewashed. Even though he had knowingly voted full authority to Pétain, the retention of his post in the Vichy government was veneered to have occurred somehow without his knowledge or consent.

... ... ...

Max Parry is an independent journalist and geopolitical analyst. His work has appeared in Counterpunch, Global Research, Dissident Voice, Greanville Post, OffGuardian, and more. Max may be reached at maxrparry@live.com


JLK , says: January 2, 2019 at 5:20 am GMT

Thierry Meyssan is reporting that Macron is more of a stooge for Henry Kravis (of the KKR corporate raider firm) than for the Rothschilds. He also alleges that Kravis has been funding ISIS/Daesh.

http://www.voltairenet.org/article204303.html

Rothschild made a comment the other day about the Italian government debt problem. French banks have heavy exposure. France has troops in Syria; has the French army been leveraged into a mercenary force for wealthy Zionists?

OMG , says: January 2, 2019 at 8:44 am GMT

Not a bad article 'though I have read more profound philosophical discussions about the underlying historical underpinnings to this movement. [see eg. http://www.defenddemocracy.press/the-ghost-of-1789-looms-over-france-and-europe/ .

The article by Angela Nagle which is linked to is, however, absolutely excellent and I thoroughly recommend reading it as a very powerful argument against unfettered immigration.

Justsaying , says: January 2, 2019 at 10:54 am GMT

Very perceptive to place "Resistance" between quotes. Resistance is non-existent in the US. True resistance requires an educated working class; instead the US has a amassed one of the most stupefied and brainwashed workers on the planet.

Alfred Barnes , says: January 2, 2019 at 11:17 am GMT

The Yellow Jackets movement isn't lost in the US, nor among those who support DJT. In fact, until the Tea Party movement and the Occupy movement, both grass roots organized, recognize they have a common enemy in the status quo, they will continue to conquered by it.

The merge of fiscal and social responsibility is something the NWO wants to avoid at all costs while they implement their global currency and totalitarian rule. Globalists want to replace God with the state.

Paul C. , says: January 2, 2019 at 12:28 pm GMT
@Jeff Stryker

France and the US, like most nations, are controlled by the parasitical zionist central bankers and their deep state apparatchiks. They continue to squeeze the native populations into poverty and servitude, while destroying their culture with open borders, facilitating 3rd world immigration. The zionist controlled MSM won't cover the Yellow Vest movement in hopes to keep awareness low. Many would like to see it gain a foothold in the US. Unfortunately, Americans have been subject to fluoridation of their water supply, unlike France, and thus are docile. The pharmaceuticals and vaccines have rendered them zombies.

[Dec 24, 2018] Income inequality happens by design. We cant fix it by tweaking capitalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Stocks have always been "a legal form of gambling". What is happening now however, is that a pair of treys can beat out your straight flush. Companies that have never turned a profit fetch huge prices on the stock market. ..."
"... The stock market suckered millions in before 2008 and then prices plummeted. Where did the money from grandpa's pension fund go? ..."
"... Abraham Lincoln said that the purpose of government is to do for people what they cannot do for themselves. Government also should serve to keep people from hurting themselves and to restrain man's greed, which otherwise cannot be self-controlled. Anyone who seeks to own productive power that they cannot or won't use for consumption are beggaring their neighbor––the equivalency of mass murder––the impact of concentrated capital ownership. ..."
"... family wealth" predicts outcomes for 10 to 15 generations. Those with extreme wealth owe it to events going back "300 to 450" years ago, according to research published by the New Republic – an era when it wasn't unusual for white Americans to benefit from an economy dependent upon widespread, unpaid black labor in the form of slavery. ..."
"... Correction: The average person in poverty in the U.S. does not live in the same abject, third world poverty as you might find in Honduras, Central African Republic, Cambodia, or the barrios of Sao Paulo. ..."
"... Since our poor don't live in abject poverty, I invite you to live as a family of four on less than $11,000 a year anywhere in the United States. If you qualify and can obtain subsidized housing you may have some of the accoutrements in your home that you seem to equate with living the high life. You know, running water, a fridge, a toilet, a stove. You would also likely have a phone (subsidized at that) so you might be able to participate (or attempt to participate) in the job market in an honest attempt to better your family's economic prospects and as is required to qualify for most assistance programs. ..."
"... So many dutiful neoliberals on here rushing to the defense of poor Capitalism. Clearly, these commentators are among those who are in the privileged position of reaping the true benefits of Capitalism - And, of course, there are many benefits to reap if you are lucky enough to be born into the right racial-socioeconomic context. ..."
"... Please walk us through how non-capitalist systems create wealth and allow their lowest class people propel themselves to the top in one generation. You will note that most socialist systems derive their technology and advancements from the more capitalistic systems. Pharmaceuticals, software, and robotics are a great example of this. I shutter to think of what the welfare of the average citizen of the world would be like without the advancements made via the capitalist countries. ..."
Dec 05, 2015 | The Guardian

The poorest Americans have no realistic hope of achieving anything that approaches income equality. They still struggle for access to the basics

... ... ...

The disparities in wealth that we term "income inequality" are no accident, and they can't be fixed by fiddling at the edges of our current economic system. These disparities happened by design, and the system structurally disadvantages those at the bottom. The poorest Americans have no realistic hope of achieving anything that approaches income equality; even their very chances for access to the most basic tools of life are almost nil.

... ... ...

Too often, the answer by those who have hoarded everything is they will choose to "give back" in a manner of their choosing – just look at Mark Zuckerberg and his much-derided plan to "give away" 99% of his Facebook stock. He is unlikely to help change inequality or poverty any more than "giving away" of $100m helped children in Newark schools.

Allowing any of the 100 richest Americans to choose how they fix "income inequality" will not make the country more equal or even guarantee more access to life. You can't take down the master's house with the master's tools, even when you're the master; but more to the point, who would tear down his own house to distribute the bricks among so very many others?

mkenney63 5 Dec 2015 20:37

Excellent article. The problems we face are structural and can only be solved by making fundamental changes. We must bring an end to "Citizens United", modern day "Jim Crow" and the military industrial complex in order to restore our democracy. Then maybe, just maybe, we can have an economic system that will treat all with fairness and respect. Crony capitalism has had its day, it has mutated into criminality.

Kencathedrus -> Marcedward 5 Dec 2015 20:23

In the pre-capitalist system people learnt crafts to keep themselves afloat. The Industrial Revolution changed all that. Now we have the church of Education promising a better life if we get into debt to buy (sorry, earn) degrees.

The whole system is messed up and now we have millions of people on this planet who can't function even those with degrees. Barbarians are howling at the gates of Europe. The USA is rotting from within. As Marx predicted the Capitalists are merely paying their own grave diggers.

mkenney63 -> Bobishere 5 Dec 2015 20:17

I would suggest you read the economic and political history of the past 30 years. To help you in your study let me recommend a couple of recent books: "Winner Take all Politics" by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson and "The Age of Acquiescence" by Steve Fraser. It always amazes me that one can be so blind the facts of recent American history; it's not just "a statistical inequality", it's been a well thought-out strategy over time to rig the system, a strategy engaged in by politicians and capitalists. Shine some light on this issue by acquainting yourself with the facts.


Maharaja Brovinda -> Singh Jill Harrison 5 Dec 2015 19:42

We play out the prisoner's dilemma in life, in general, over and over in different circumstances, every day. And we always choose the dominant - rational - solution. But the best solution is not based on rationality, but rather on trust and faith in each other - rather ironically for our current, evidence based society!


Steven Palmer 5 Dec 2015 19:19

Like crack addicts the philanthropricks only seek to extend their individual glory, social image their primary goal, and yet given the context they will burn in history. Philanthroptits should at least offset the immeasurable damage they have done through their medieval wealth accumulation. Collaborative philanthropy for basic income is a good idea, but ye, masters tools.


BlairM -> Iconoclastick 5 Dec 2015 19:10

Well, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, capitalism is the worst possible economic system, except for all those other economic systems that have been tried from time to time.

I'd rather just have the freedom to earn money as I please, and if that means inequality, it's a small price to pay for not having some feudal lord or some party bureaucrat stomping on my humanity.

brusuz 5 Dec 2015 18:52

As long as wealth can be created by shuffling money from one place to another in the giant crap shoot we call our economy, nothing will change. Until something takes place to make it advantageous for the investor capitalists to put that money to work doing something that actually produces some benefit to the society as a whole, they will continue their extractive machinations. I see nothing on the horizon that is going to change any of that, and to cast this as some sort of a racial issue is quite superficial. We have all gotten the shaft, since there is no upward mobility available to anyone. Since the Bush crowd of neocons took power, we have all been shackled with "individual solutions to societal created problems."

Jimi Del Duca 5 Dec 2015 18:31

Friends, Capitalism is structural exploitation of ALL WORKERS. Thinking about it as solely a race issue is divisive. What we need is CLASS SOLIDARITY and ORGANIZATION. See iww.org We are the fighting union with no use for capitalists!

slightlynumb -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 18:04

You'd be better off reading Marx if you want to understand capitalism. I think you are ascribing the word to what you think it should be rather than what it is.

It is essentially a class structure rather than any defined economic system. Neoliberal is essentially laissez faire capitalism. It is designed to suborn nation states to corporate benefit.

AmyInNH -> tommydog

They make $40 a month. Working 7 days a week. At least 12 hour days. Who's fed you that "we're doing them a favor" BS?

And I've news for you regarding "Those whose skills are less adaptable to doing so are seeing their earnings decline." We have many people who have 3 masters degrees making less than minimum wage. We have top notch STEM students shunned so corporations can hire captive/cheaper foreign labor, called H1-Bs, who then wait 10 years working for them waiting for their employment based green card. Or "visiting" students here on J1 visas, so the employers can get out of paying: social security, federal unemployment insurance, etc.

Wake up and smell the coffee tommydog. They've more than a thumb on the scale.

seamanbodine,
I am a socialist. I decided to read this piece to see if Mr. Thrasher could write about market savagery without propounding the fiction that whites are somehow exempt from the effects of it.

No, he could not. I clicked on the link accompanying his assertion that whites who are high school dropouts earn more than blacks with college degrees, and I read the linked piece in full. The linked piece does not in fact compare income (i.e., yearly earnings) of white high school dropouts with those of black college graduates, but it does compare family wealth across racial cohorts (though not educational ones), and the gap there is indeed stark, with average white family wealth in the six figures (full disclosure, I am white, and my personal wealth is below zero, as I owe more in student loans than I own, so perhaps I am not really white, or I do not fully partake of "whiteness," or whatever), and average black family wealth in the four figures.

The reason for this likely has a lot to do with home ownership disparities, which in turn are linked in significant part to racist redlining practices. So white dropouts often live in homes their parents or grandparents bought, while many black college graduates whose parents were locked out of home ownership by institutional racism and, possibly, the withering of manufacturing jobs just as the northward migration was beginning to bear some economic fruit for black families, are still struggling to become homeowners. Thus, the higher average wealth for the dropout who lives in a family owned home.

But this is not what Mr. Thrasher wrote. He specifically used the words "earn more," creating the impression that some white ignoramus is simply going to stumble his way into a higher salary than a cultivated, college educated black person. That is simply not the case, and the difference does matter.

Why does it matter? Because I regularly see middle aged whites who are broken and homeless on the streets of the town where I live, and I know they are simply the tip of a growing mountain of privation. Yeah, go ahead, call it white tears if you want, but if you cannot see that millions (including, of course, not simply folks who are out and out homeless, but folks who are struggling to get enough to eat and routinely go without needed medication and medical care) of people who have "white privilege" are indeed oppressed by global capitalism then I would say that you are, at the end of the day, NO BETTER THAN THE WHITES YOU DISDAIN.

If you have read this far, then you realize that I am in no way denying the reality of structural racism. But an account of economic savagery that entirely subsumes it into non-economic categories (race, gender, age), that refuses to acknowledge that blacks can be exploiters and whites can be exploited, is simply conservatism by other means. One gets the sense that if we have enough black millionaires and enough whites dying of things like a lack of medical care, then this might bring just a little bit of warmth to the hearts of people like Mr. Thrasher.

Call it what you want, but don't call it progressive. Maybe it is historical karma. Which is understandable, as there is no reason why globally privileged blacks in places like the U.S. or Great Britain should bear the burden of being any more selfless or humane than globally privileged whites are or have been. The Steven Thrashers of humanity are certainly no worse than many of the whites they cannot seem to recognize as fully human are.

But nor are they any better.
JohnLG 5 Dec 2015 17:23

I agree that the term "income inequality" is so vague that falls between useless and diversionary, but so too is most use of the word "capitalism", or so it seems to me. Typically missing is a penetrating analysis of where the problem lies, a comprehensibly supported remedy, or large-scale examples of anything except what's not working. "Income inequality" is pretty abstract until we look specifically at the consequences for individuals and society, and take a comprehensive look at all that is unequal. What does "capitalism" mean? Is capitalism the root of all this? Is capitalism any activity undertaken for profit, or substantial monopolization of markets and power?

Power tends to corrupt. Money is a form of power, but there are others. The use of power to essentially cheat, oppress or kill others is corrupt, whether that power is in the form of a weapon, wealth, the powers of the state, or all of the above. Power is seductive and addictive. Even those with good intensions can be corrupted by an excess of power and insufficient accountability, while predators are drawn to power like sharks to blood. Democracy involves dispersion of power, ideally throughout a whole society. A constitutional democracy may offer protection even to minorities against a "tyranny of the majority" so long as a love of justice prevails. Selective "liberty and justice" is not liberty and justice at all, but rather a tyranny of the many against the few, as in racism, or of the few against the many, as by despots. Both forms reinforce each other in the same society, both are corrupt, and any "ism" can be corrupted by narcissism. To what degree is any society a shining example of government of, for, and by the people, and to what degree can one discover empirical evidence of corruption? What do we do about it?

AmyInNH -> CaptainGrey 5 Dec 2015 17:15

You're too funny. It's not "lifting billions out of poverty". It's moving malicious manufacturing practices to the other side of the planet. To the lands of no labor laws. To hide it from consumers. To hide profits.

And it is dying. Legislatively they choke off their natural competition, which is an essential element of capitalism. Monopoly isn't capitalism. And when they bribe legislators, we don't have democracy any more either.

Jeremiah2000 -> Teresa Trujillo 5 Dec 2015 16:53

Stocks have always been "a legal form of gambling". What is happening now however, is that a pair of treys can beat out your straight flush. Companies that have never turned a profit fetch huge prices on the stock market.

The stock market suckered millions in before 2008 and then prices plummeted. Where did the money from grandpa's pension fund go?

Gary Reber 5 Dec 2015 16:45

Abraham Lincoln said that the purpose of government is to do for people what they cannot do for themselves. Government also should serve to keep people from hurting themselves and to restrain man's greed, which otherwise cannot be self-controlled. Anyone who seeks to own productive power that they cannot or won't use for consumption are beggaring their neighbor––the equivalency of mass murder––the impact of concentrated capital ownership.

The words "OWN" and "ASSETS" are the key descriptors of the definition of wealth. But these words are not well understood by the vast majority of Americans or for that matter, global citizens. They are limited to the vocabulary used by the wealthy ownership class and financial publications, which are not widely read, and not even taught in our colleges and universities.

The wealthy ownership class did not become wealthy because they are "three times as smart." Still there is a valid argument that the vast majority of Americans do not pay particular attention to the financial world and educate themselves on wealth building within the current system's limited past-savings paradigm. Significantly, the wealthy OWNERSHIP class use their political power (power always follows property OWNERSHIP) to write the system rules to benefit and enhance their wealth. As such they have benefited from forging trade policy agreements which further concentrate OWNERSHIP on a global scale, military-industrial complex subsidies and government contracts, tax code provisions and loopholes and collective-bargaining rules – policy changes they've used their wealth to champion.

Gary Reber 5 Dec 2015 16:44

Unfortunately, when it comes to recommendations for solutions to economic inequality, virtually every commentator, politician and economist is stuck in viewing the world in one factor terms – human labor, in spite of their implied understanding that the rich are rich because they OWN the non-human means of production – physical capital. The proposed variety of wealth-building programs, like "universal savings accounts that might be subsidized for low-income savers," are not practical solutions because they rely on savings (a denial of consumption which lessens demand in the economy), which the vast majority of Americans do not have, and for those who can save their savings are modest and insignificant. Though, millions of Americans own diluted stock value through the "stock market exchanges," purchased with their earnings as labor workers (savings), their stock holdings are relatively minuscule, as are their dividend payments compared to the top 10 percent of capital owners. Pew Research found that 53 percent of Americans own no stock at all, and out of the 47 percent who do, the richest 5 percent own two-thirds of that stock. And only 10 percent of Americans have pensions, so stock market gains or losses don't affect the incomes of most retirees.

As for taxpayer-supported saving subsidies or other wage-boosting measures, those who have only their labor power and its precarious value held up by coercive rigging and who desperately need capital ownership to enable them to be capital workers (their productive assets applied in the economy) as well as labor workers to have a way to earn more income, cannot satisfy their unsatisfied needs and wants and sufficiently provide for themselves and their families. With only access to labor wages, the 99 percenters will continue, in desperation, to demand more and more pay for the same or less work, as their input is exponentially replaced by productive capital.

As such, the vast majority of American consumers will continue to be strapped to mounting consumer debt bills, stagnant wages and inflationary price pressures. As their ONLY source of income is through wage employment, economic insecurity for the 99 percent majority of people means they cannot survive more than a week or two without a paycheck. Thus, the production side of the economy is under-nourished and hobbled as a result, because there are fewer and fewer "customers with money." We thus need to free economic growth from the slavery of past savings.

I mentioned that political power follows property OWNERSHIP because with concentrated capital asset OWNERSHIP our elected representatives are far too often bought with the expectation that they protect and enhance the interests of the wealthiest Americans, the OWNERSHIP class they too overwhelmingly belong to.

Many, including the author of this article, have concluded that with such a concentrated OWNERSHIP stronghold the wealthy have on our politics, "it's hard to see where this cycle ends." The ONLY way to reverse this cycle and broaden capital asset OWNERSHIP universally is a political revolution. (Bernie Sanders, are you listening?)

The political revolution must address the problem of lack of demand. To create demand, the FUTURE economy must be financed in ways that create new capital OWNERS, who will benefit from the full earnings of the FUTURE productive capability of the American economy, and without taking from those who already OWN. This means significantly slowing the further concentration of capital asset wealth among those who are already wealthy and ensuring that the system is reformed to promote inclusive prosperity, inclusive opportunity, and inclusive economic justice.

yamialwaysright 5 Dec 2015 16:13

I was interested and in agreement until I read about structured racism. Many black kidsin the US grow up without a father in the house. They turn to anti-social behaviour and crime. Once you are poor it is hard to get out of being poor but Journalists are not doing justice to a critique of US Society if they ignore the fact that some people behave in a self-destructive way. I would imagine that if some black men in the US and the UK stuck with one woman and played a positive role in the life of their kids, those kids would have a better chance at life. People of different racial and ethnic origin do this also but there does seem to be a disproportionate problem with some black US men and some black UK men. Poverty is one problem but growing up in poverty and without a father figure adds to the problem.

What the author writes applies to other countries not just the US in relation to the super wealthy being a small proportion of the population yet having the same wealth as a high percentage of the population. This in not a black or latino issue but a wealth distribution issue that affects everyone irrespective of race or ethnic origin. The top 1%, 5% or 10% having most of the wealth is well-known in many countries.

nuthermerican4u 5 Dec 2015 15:59

Capitalism, especially the current vulture capitalism, is dog eat dog. Always was, always will be. My advice is that if you are a capitalist that values your heirs, invest in getting off this soon-to-be slag heap and find other planets to pillage and rape. Either go all out for capitalism or reign in this beast before it kills all of us.

soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:32

Our antiquated class structure demonstrates the trickle up of Capitalism and the need to counterbalance it with progressive taxation.

In the 1960s/1970s we used high taxes on the wealthy to counter balance the trickle up of Capitalism and achieved much greater equality.

Today we have low taxes on the wealthy and Capitalism's trickle up is widening the inequality gap.

We are cutting benefits for the disabled, poor and elderly so inequality can get wider and the idle rich can remain idle.

They have issued enough propaganda to make people think it's those at the bottom that don't work.

Every society since the dawn of civilization has had a Leisure Class at the top, in the UK we call them the Aristocracy and they have been doing nothing for centuries.

The UK's aristocracy has seen social systems come and go, but they all provide a life of luxury and leisure and with someone else doing all the work.

Feudalism - exploit the masses through land ownership
Capitalism - exploit the masses through wealth (Capital)

Today this is done through the parasitic, rentier trickle up of Capitalism:

a) Those with excess capital invest it and collect interest, dividends and rent.
b) Those with insufficient capital borrow money and pay interest and rent.

The system itself provides for the idle rich and always has done from the first civilisations right up to the 21st Century.

The rich taking from the poor is always built into the system, taxes and benefits are the counterbalance that needs to be applied externally.

Iconoclastick 5 Dec 2015 15:31

I often chuckle when I read some of the right wing comments on articles such as this. Firstly, I question if readers actually read the article references I've highlighted, before rushing to comment.

Secondly, the comments are generated by cifers who probably haven't set the world alight, haven't made a difference in their local community, they'll have never created thousands of jobs in order to reward themselves with huge dividends having and as a consequence enjoy spectacular asset/investment growth, at best they'll be chugging along, just about keeping their shit together and yet they support a system that's broken, other than for the one percent, of the one percent.

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies issued this week analyzed the Forbes list of the 400 richest Americans and found that "the wealthiest 100 households now own about as much wealth as the entire African American population in the United States". That means that 100 families – most of whom are white – have as much wealth as the 41,000,000 black folks walking around the country (and the million or so locked up) combined.

Similarly, the report also stated that "the wealthiest 186 members of the Forbes 400 own as much wealth as the entire Latino population" of the nation. Here again, the breakdown in actual humans is broke down: 186 overwhelmingly white folks have more money than that an astounding 55,000,000 Latino people.

family wealth" predicts outcomes for 10 to 15 generations. Those with extreme wealth owe it to events going back "300 to 450" years ago, according to research published by the New Republic – an era when it wasn't unusual for white Americans to benefit from an economy dependent upon widespread, unpaid black labor in the form of slavery.

soundofthesuburbs -> soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:26

It is the 21st Century and most of the land in the UK is still owned by the descendants of feudal warlords that killed people and stole their land and wealth.

When there is no land to build houses for generation rent, land ownership becomes an issue.

David Cameron is married into the aristocracy and George Osborne is a member of the aristocracy, they must both be well acquainted with the Leisure Class.

I can't find any hard work going on looking at the Wikipedia page for David Cameron's father-in-law. His family have been on their estate since the sixteenth century and judging by today's thinking, expect to be on it until the end of time.

George Osborne's aristocratic pedigree goes back to the Tudor era:

"he is an aristocrat with a pedigree stretching back to early in the Tudor era. His father, Sir Peter Osborne, is the 17th holder of a hereditary baronetcy that has been passed from father to son for 10 generations, and of which George is next in line."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/profiles/george-osborne-a-silver-spoon-for-the-golden-boy-2004814.html

soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:24

The working and middle classes toil to keep the upper class in luxury and leisure.

In the UK nothing has changed.

We call our Leisure Class the Aristocracy.

For the first time in five millennia of human civilisation some people at the bottom of society aren't working.

We can't have that; idleness is only for the rich.

It's the way it's always been and the way it must be again.

Did you think the upper; leisure class, social calendar disappeared in the 19th Century?
No it's alive and kicking in the 21st Century ....

Peer into the lives of today's Leisure Class with Tatler. http://www.tatler.com/the-season

If we have people at the bottom who are not working the whole of civilisation will be turned on its head.

"The modern industrial society developed from the barbarian tribal society, which featured a leisure class supported by subordinated working classes employed in economically productive occupations. The leisure class is composed of people exempted from manual work and from practicing economically productive occupations, because they belong to the leisure class."

The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions, by Thorstein Veblen. It was written a long time ago but much of it is as true today as it was then. The Wikipedia entry gives a good insight.

DBChas 5 Dec 2015 15:13
"income inequality" is best viewed as structural capitalism. It's not as if, did black and brown people and female people somehow (miraculously) attain the economic status of the lower-paid, white, male person, the problem would be solved--simply by adjusting pay scales. The problem is inherent to capitalism, which doesn't mean certain "types" of people aren't more disadvantaged for their "type." No one is saying that. For capitalists, it's easier to rationalize the obscene unfairness (only rich people say, "life's not fair") when their "type" is regarded as superior to a different "type," whether that be with respect to color or gender or both.

Over time--a long time--the dominant party (white males since the Dark Ages, also the life-span of capitalism coincidentally enough) came to dominance by various means, too many to try to list, or even know of. Why white males? BTW, just because most in power and in money are white males does not mean ALL white males are in positions of power and wealth. Most are not, and these facts help to fog the issue.

Indeed, "income inequality," is not an accident, nor can it be fixed, as the author notes, by tweaking (presumably he means capitalism). And he's quite right too in saying, "You can't take down the master's house with the master's tools..." I take that ALSO to mean, the problem can't be fixed by way of what Hedges has called a collapsing liberal establishment with its various institutions, officially speaking. That is, it's not institutional racism that's collapsing, but that institution is not officially recognized as such.

HOWEVER, it IS possible, even when burdened with an economics that is capitalism, to redistribute wealth, and I don't just mean Mark Zuckerberg's. I mean all wealth in whatever form can be redistributed if/when government decides it can. And THIS TIME, unlike the 1950s-60s, not only would taxes on the wealthy be the same as then but the wealth redistributed would be redistributed to ALL, not just to white families, and perhaps in particular to red families, the oft forgotten ones.

This is a matter of political will. But, of course, if that means whites as the largest voting block insist on electing to office those without the political will, nothing will change. In that case, other means have to be considered, and just a reminder: If the government fails to serve the people, the Constitution gives to the people the right to depose that government. But again, if whites as the largest voting block AND as the largest sub-group in the nation (and women are the largest part of that block, often voting as their men vote--just the facts, please, however unpleasant) have little interest in seeing to making necessary changes at least in voting booths, then...what? Bolshevism or what? No one seems to know and it's practically taboo even to talk about possibilities. Americans did it once, but not inclusively and not even paid in many instances. When it happens again, it has to happen with and for the participation of ALL. And it's worth noting that it will have to happen again, because capitalism by its very nature cannot survive itself. That is, as Marx rightly noted, capitalism will eventually collapse by dint of its internal contradictions.


mbidding Jeremiah2000 5 Dec 2015 15:08

Correction: The average person in poverty in the U.S. does not live in the same abject, third world poverty as you might find in Honduras, Central African Republic, Cambodia, or the barrios of Sao Paulo.

Since our poor don't live in abject poverty, I invite you to live as a family of four on less than $11,000 a year anywhere in the United States. If you qualify and can obtain subsidized housing you may have some of the accoutrements in your home that you seem to equate with living the high life. You know, running water, a fridge, a toilet, a stove. You would also likely have a phone (subsidized at that) so you might be able to participate (or attempt to participate) in the job market in an honest attempt to better your family's economic prospects and as is required to qualify for most assistance programs.

Consider as well that you don't have transportation to get a job that would improve your circumstances. You earn too much to qualify for meaningful levels of food support programs and fall into the insurance gap for subsidies because you live in a state that for ideological reasons refuses to expand Medicaid coverage. Your local schools are a disgrace but you can't take advantage of so-called school choice programs (vouchers, charters, and the like) as you don't have transportation or the time (given your employer's refusal to set fixed working hours for minimum wage part time work) to get your kids to that fine choice school.

You may have a fridge and a stove, but you have no food to cook. You may have access to running water and electricity, but you can't afford to pay the bills for such on account of having to choose between putting food in that fridge or flushing that toilet. You can't be there reliably for your kids to help with school, etc, because you work constantly shifting hours for crap pay.

Get back to me after six months to a year after living in such circumstances and then tell me again how Americans don't really live in poverty simply because they have access to appliances.


Earl Shelton 5 Dec 2015 15:08

The Earned Income Tax Credit seems to me a good starting point for reform. It has been around since the 70s -- conceived by Nixon/Moynihan -- and signed by socialist (kidding) Gerald Ford -- it already *redistributes* income (don't choke on the term, O'Reilly) directly from tax revenue (which is still largely progressive) to the working poor, with kids.

That program should be massively expanded to tax the 1% -- and especially the top 1/10 of 1% (including a wealth tax) -- and distribute the money to the bottom half of society, mostly in the form of work training, child care and other things that help put them in and keep them in the middle class. It is a mechanism already in existence to correct the worst ravages of Capitalism. Use it to build shared prosperity.


oKWJNRo 5 Dec 2015 14:40

So many dutiful neoliberals on here rushing to the defense of poor Capitalism. Clearly, these commentators are among those who are in the privileged position of reaping the true benefits of Capitalism - And, of course, there are many benefits to reap if you are lucky enough to be born into the right racial-socioeconomic context.

We can probably all agree that Capitalism has brought about widespread improvements in healthcare, education, living conditions, for example, compared to the feudal system that preceded it... But it also disproportionately benefits the upper echelons of Capitalist societies and is wholly unequal by design.

Capitalism depends upon the existence of a large underclass that can be exploited. This is part of the process of how surplus value is created and wealth is extracted from labour. This much is indisputable. It is therefore obvious that capitalism isn't an ideal system for most of us living on this planet.

As for the improvements in healthcare, education, living conditions etc that Capitalism has fostered... Most of these were won through long struggles against the Capitalist hegemony by the masses. We would have certainly chosen to make these improvements to our landscape sooner if Capitalism hadn't made every effort to stop us. The problem today is that Capitalism and its powerful beneficiaries have successfully convinced us that there is no possible alternative. It won't give us the chance to try or even permit us to believe there could be another, better way.

Martin Joseph -> realdoge 5 Dec 2015 14:33

Please walk us through how non-capitalist systems create wealth and allow their lowest class people propel themselves to the top in one generation. You will note that most socialist systems derive their technology and advancements from the more capitalistic systems. Pharmaceuticals, software, and robotics are a great example of this.

I shutter to think of what the welfare of the average citizen of the world would be like without the advancements made via the capitalist countries.

VWFeature 5 Dec 2015 14:29

Markets, economies and tax systems are created by people, and based on rules they agree on. Those rules can favor general prosperity or concentration of wealth. Destruction and predation are easier than creation and cooperation, so our rules have to favor cooperation if we want to avoid predation and destructive conflicts.

In the 1930's the US changed many of those rules to favor general prosperity. Since then they've been gradually changed to favor wealth concentration and predation. They can be changed back.

The trick is creating a system that encourages innovation while putting a safety net under the population so failure doesn't end in starvation.

A large part of our current problems is the natural tendency for large companies to get larger and larger until their failure would adversely affect too many others, so they're not allowed to fail. Tax law, not antitrust law, has to work against this. If a company can reduce its tax rate by breaking into 20 smaller (still huge) companies, then competition is preserved and no one company can dominate and control markets.

Robert Goldschmidt -> Jake321 5 Dec 2015 14:27

Bernie Sanders has it right on -- we can only heal our system by first having millions rise up and demand an end to the corruption of the corporations controlling our elected representatives. Corporations are not people and money is not speech.

moonwrap02 5 Dec 2015 14:26

The effects of wealth distribution has far reaching consequences. It is not just about money, but creating a fair society - one that is co-operative and cohesive. The present system has allowed an ever divide between the rich and poor, creating a two tier society where neither the twain shall meet. The rich and poor are almost different species on the planet and no longer belong to the same community. Commonality of interest is lost and so it's difficult to form community and to have good, friendly relationships across class differences that are that large.

"If capitalism is to be seen to be fair, the same rules are to apply to the big guy as to the little guy,"

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/2-charts-that-show-what-the-world-really-thinks-about-capitalism-a6719851.html


Jeremiah2000 -> bifess 5 Dec 2015 14:17

Sorry. I get it now. You actually think that because the Washington elite has repealed Glass-Steagel that we live in a unregulated capitalistic system.

This is so far from the truth that I wasn't comprehending that anyone could think that. You can see the graph of pages published in the Federal Register here. Unregulated capitalism? Wow.

Dodd Frank was passed in 2010 (without a single Republican vote). Originally it was 2,300 pages. It is STILL being written by nameless bureaucrats and is over 20,000 pages. Unregulated capitalism? Really?

But the reality is that Goliath is conspiring with the government to regulate what size sling David can use and how many stones and how many ounces.

So we need more government regulations? They will disallow David from anything but spitwads and only two of those.


neuronmaker -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 14:16

Do you understand the concept of corporations which are products of capitalism?

The legal institutions within each capitalist corporations and nations are just that, they are capitalist and all about making profits.

The law is made by the rich capitalists and for the rich capitalists. Each Legislation is a link in the chain of economic slavery by capitalists.

Capitalism and the concept of money is a construction of the human mind, as it does not exist in the natural world. This construction is all about using other human beings like blood suckers to sustain a cruel and evil life style - with blood and brutality as the core ideology.


Marcedward -> MarjaE 5 Dec 2015 14:12

I would agree that our system of help for the less-well-off could be more accessible and more generous, but that doesn't negate that point that there is a lot of help out there - the most important help being that totally free educational system. Think about it, a free education, and to get the most out of it a student merely has to show up, obey the rules, do the homework and study for tests. It's all laid out there for the kids like a helicopter mom laying out her kids clothes. How much easier can we make it? If people can't be bothered to show up and put in effort, how is their failure based on racism


tommydog -> martinusher 5 Dec 2015 14:12

As you are referring to Carlos Slim, interestingly while he is Mexican by birth his parents were both Lebanese.

slightlynumb -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 14:12

Why isn't that capitalism? It's raw capitalism on steroids.

Zara Von Fritz -> Toughspike 5 Dec 2015 14:12

It's an equal opportunity plantation now.

Robert Goldschmidt 5 Dec 2015 14:11

The key to repairing the system is to identify the causes of our problems.

Here is my list:

The information technology revolution which continues to destroy wages by enabling automation and outsourcing.

The reformation of monopolies which price gouge and block innovation.

Hitting ecological limits such as climate change, water shortages, unsustainable farming.

Then we can make meaningful changes such as regulation of the portion of corporate profit that are pay, enforcement of national and regional antitrust laws and an escalating carbon tax.

Zara Von Fritz -> PostCorbyn 5 Dec 2015 14:11

If you can believe these quality of life or happiness indexes they put out so often, the winners tend to be places that have nice environments and a higher socialist mix in their economy. Of course there are examples of poor countries that practice the same but its not clear that their choice is causal rather than reactive.

We created this mess and we can fix it.

Zara Von Fritz -> dig4victory 5 Dec 2015 14:03

Yes Basic Income is possibly the mythical third way. It socialises wealth to a point but at the same time frees markets from their obligation to perpetually grow and create jobs for the sake of jobs and also hereford reduces the subsequent need for governments to attempt to control them beyond maintaining their health.

Zara Von Fritz 5 Dec 2015 13:48

As I understand it, you don't just fiddle with capitalism, you counteract it, or counterweight it. A level of capitalism, or credit accumulation, and a level of socialism has always existed, including democracy which is a manifestation of socialism (1 vote each). So the project of capital accumulation seems to be out of control because larger accumulations become more powerful and meanwhile the power of labour in the marketplace has become less so due to forces driving unemployment. The danger is that capital's power to control the democratic system reaches a point of no return.


Jeremiah2000 -> bifess 5 Dec 2015 13:42

"I do not have the economic freedom to grow my own food because i do not have access to enough land to grow it and i do not have the economic clout to buy a piece of land."

Economic freedom does NOT mean you get money for free. It means that means that if you grow food for personal use, the federal government doesn't trash the Constitution by using the insterstate commerce clause to say that it can regulate how much you grow on your own personal land.

Economic freedom means that if you have a widget, you can choose to set the price for $10 or $100 and that a buyer is free to buy it from you or not buy it from you. It does NOT mean that you are entitled to "free" widgets.

"If capitalism has not managed to eradicate poverty in rich first world countries then just what chance if there of capitalism eradicating poverty on a global scale?"

The average person in poverty in the U.S. doesn't live in poverty:

In fact, 80.9 percent of households below the poverty level have cell phones, and a healthy majority-58.2 percent-have computers.

Fully 96.1 percent of American households in "poverty" have a television to watch, and 83.2 percent of them have a video-recording device in case they cannot get home in time to watch the football game or their favorite television show and they want to record it for watching later.

Refrigerators (97.8 percent), gas or electric stoves (96.6 percent) and microwaves (93.2 percent) are standard equipment in the homes of Americans in "poverty."

More than 83 percent have air-conditioning.

Interestingly, the appliances surveyed by the Census Bureau that households in poverty are least likely to own are dish washers (44.9 percent) and food freezers (26.2 percent).

However, most Americans in "poverty" do not need to go to a laundromat. According to the Census Bureau, 68.7 percent of households in poverty have a clothes washer and 65.3 percent have a clothes dryer.

(Data from the U.S. census.)

[Dec 24, 2018] Phone in sick: its a small act of rebellion against wage slavery

Notable quotes:
"... By far the biggest act of wage slavery rebellion, don't buy shit. The less you buy, the less you need to earn. Holidays by far the minority of your life should not be a desperate escape from the majority of your life. Spend less, work less and actually really enjoy living more. ..."
"... How about don't shop at Walmart (they helped boost the Chinese economy while committing hari kari on the American Dream) and actually engaging in proper labour action? Calling in sick is just plain childish. ..."
"... I'm all for sticking it to "the man," but when you call into work for a stupid reason (and a hangover is a very stupid reason), it is selfish, and does more damage to the cause of worker's rights, not less. I don't know about where you work, but if I call in sick to my job, other people have to pick up my slack. I work for a public library, and we don't have a lot of funds, so we have the bear minimum of employees we can have and still work efficiently. As such, if anybody calls in, everyone else, up to and including the library director, have to take on more work. ..."
Oct 24, 2015 | The Guardian

"Phoning in sick is a revolutionary act." I loved that slogan. It came to me, as so many good things did, from Housmans, the radical bookshop in King's Cross. There you could rummage through all sorts of anarchist pamphlets and there I discovered, in the early 80s, the wondrous little magazine Processed World. It told you basically how to screw up your workplace. It was smart and full of small acts of random subversion. In many ways it was ahead of its time as it was coming out of San Francisco and prefiguring Silicon Valley. It saw the machines coming. Jobs were increasingly boring and innately meaningless. Workers were "data slaves" working for IBM ("Intensely Boring Machines").

What Processed World was doing was trying to disrupt the identification so many office workers were meant to feel with their management, not through old-style union organising, but through small acts of subversion. The modern office, it stressed, has nothing to do with human need. Its rebellion was about working as little as possible, disinformation and sabotage. It was making alienation fun. In 1981, it could not have known that a self-service till cannot ever phone in sick.

I was thinking of this today, as I wanted to do just that. I have made myself ill with a hangover. A hangover, I always feel, is nature's way of telling you to have a day off. One can be macho about it and eat your way back to sentience via the medium of bacon sandwiches and Maltesers. At work, one is dehydrated, irritable and only semi-present. Better, surely, though to let the day fall through you and dream away.

Having worked in America, though, I can say for sure that they brook no excuses whatsoever. When I was late for work and said things like, "My alarm clock did not go off", they would say that this was not a suitable explanation, which flummoxed me. I had to make up others. This was just to work in a shop.

This model of working – long hours, very few holidays, few breaks, two incomes needed to raise kids, crazed loyalty demanded by huge corporations, the American way – is where we're heading. Except now the model is even more punishing. It is China. We are expected to compete with an economy whose workers are often closer to indentured slaves than anything else.

This is what striving is, then: dangerous, demoralising, often dirty work. Buckle down. It's the only way forward, apparently, which is why our glorious leaders are sucking up to China, which is immoral, never mind ridiculously short-term thinking.

So again I must really speak up for the skivers. What we have to understand about austerity is its psychic effects. People must have less. So they must have less leisure, too. The fact is life is about more than work and work is rapidly changing. Skiving in China may get you killed but here it may be a small act of resistance, or it may just be that skivers remind us that there is meaning outside wage-slavery.

Work is too often discussed by middle-class people in ways that are simply unrecognisable to anyone who has done crappy jobs. Much work is not interesting and never has been. Now that we have a political and media elite who go from Oxbridge to working for a newspaper or a politician, a lot of nonsense is spouted. These people have not cleaned urinals on a nightshift. They don't sit lonely in petrol stations manning the till. They don't have to ask permission for a toilet break in a call centre. Instead, their work provides their own special identity. It is very important.

Low-status jobs, like caring, are for others. The bottom-wipers of this world do it for the glory, I suppose. But when we talk of the coming automation that will reduce employment, bottom-wiping will not be mechanised. Nor will it be romanticised, as old male manual labour is. The mad idea of reopening the coal mines was part of the left's strange notion of the nobility of labour. Have these people ever been down a coal mine? Would they want that life for their children?

Instead we need to talk about the dehumanising nature of work. Bertrand Russell and Keynes thought our goal should be less work, that technology would mean fewer hours.

Far from work giving meaning to life, in some surveys 40% of us say that our jobs are meaningless. Nonetheless, the art of skiving is verboten as we cram our children with ever longer hours of school and homework. All this striving is for what exactly? A soul-destroying job?

Just as education is decided by those who loved school, discussions about work are had by those to whom it is about more than income.

The parts of our lives that are not work – the places we dream or play or care, the space we may find creative – all these are deemed outside the economy. All this time is unproductive. But who decides that?

Skiving work is bad only to those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

So go on: phone in sick. You know you want to.

friedad 23 Oct 2015 18:27

We now exist in a society in which the Fear Cloud is wrapped around each citizen. Our proud history of Union and Labor, fighting for decent wages and living conditions for all citizens, and mostly achieving these aims, a history, which should be taught to every child educated in every school in this country, now gradually but surely eroded by ruthless speculators in government, is the future generations are inheriting. The workforce in fear of taking a sick day, the young looking for work in fear of speaking out at diminishing rewards, definitely this 21st Century is the Century of Fear. And how is this fear denied, with mind blowing drugs, regardless if it is is alcohol, description drugs, illicit drugs, a society in denial. We do not require a heavenly object to destroy us, a few soulless monsters in our mist are masters of manipulators, getting closer and closer to accomplish their aim of having zombies doing their beckoning. Need a kidney, no worries, zombie dishwasher, is handy for one. Oh wait that time is already here.

Hemulen6 23 Oct 2015 15:06

Oh join the real world, Suzanne! Many companies now have a limit to how often you can be sick. In the case of the charity I work for it's 9 days a year. I overstepped it, I was genuinely sick, and was hauled up in front of Occupational Health. That will now go on my record and count against me. I work for a cancer care charity. Irony? Surely not.

AlexLeo -> rebel7 23 Oct 2015 13:34

Which is exactly my point. You compete on relevant job skills and quality of your product, not what school you have attended.

Yes, there are thousands, tens of thousands of folks here around San Jose who barely speak English, but are smart and hard working as hell and it takes them a few years to get to 150-200K per year, Many of them get to 300-400K, if they come from strong schools in their countries of origin, compared to the 10k or so where they came from, but probably more than the whining readership here.

This is really difficult to swallow for the Brits back in Britain, isn't it. Those who have moved over have experiences the type of social mobility unthinkable in Britain, but they have had to work hard and get to 300K-700K per year, much better than the 50-100K their parents used to make back in GB. These are averages based on personal interactions with say 50 Brits in the last 15 + years, all employed in the Silicon Valley in very different jobs and roles.

Todd Owens -> Scott W 23 Oct 2015 11:00

I get what you're saying and I agree with a lot of what you said. My only gripe is most employees do not see an operation from a business owner or managerial / financial perspective. They don't understand the costs associated with their performance or lack thereof. I've worked on a lot of projects that we're operating at a loss for a future payoff. When someone decides they don't want to do the work they're contracted to perform that can have a cascading effect on the entire company.

All in all what's being described is for the most part misguided because most people are not in the position or even care to evaluate the particulars. So saying you should do this to accomplish that is bullshit because it's rarely such a simple equation. If anything this type of tactic will leaf to MORE loss and less money for payroll.


weematt -> Barry1858 23 Oct 2015 09:04

Sorry you just can't have a 'nicer' capitalism.

War ( business by other means) and unemployment ( you can't buck the market), are inevitable concomitants of capitalist competition over markets, trade routes and spheres of interests. (Remember the war science of Nagasaki and Hiroshima from the 'good guys' ?)
"..capital comes dripping from head to foot, from every pore, with blood and dirt". (Marx)

You can't have full employment, or even the 'Right to Work'.

There is always ,even in boom times a reserve army of unemployed, to drive down wages. (If necessary they will inject inflation into the economy)
Unemployment is currently 5.5 percent or 1,860,000 people. If their "equilibrium rate" of unemployment is 4% rather than 5% this would still mean 1,352,000 "need be unemployed". The government don't want these people to find jobs as it would strengthen workers' bargaining position over wages, but that doesn't stop them harassing them with useless and petty form-filling, reporting to the so-called "job centre" just for the sake of it, calling them scroungers and now saying they are mentally defective.
Government is 'over' you not 'for' you.

Governments do not exist to ensure 'fair do's' but to manage social expectations with the minimum of dissent, commensurate with the needs of capitalism in the interests of profit.

Worker participation amounts to self managing workers self exploitation for the maximum of profit for the capitalist class.

Exploitation takes place at the point of production.

" Instead of the conservative motto, 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's work!' they ought to inscribe on their banner the revolutionary watchword, 'Abolition of the wages system!'"

Karl Marx [Value, Price and Profit]

John Kellar 23 Oct 2015 07:19

Fortunately; as a retired veteran I don't have to worry about phoning in sick.However; during my Air Force days if you were sick, you had to get yourself to the Base Medical Section and prove to a medical officer that you were sick. If you convinced the medical officer of your sickness then you may have been luck to receive on or two days sick leave. For those who were very sick or incapable of getting themselves to Base Medical an ambulance would be sent - promptly.


Rchrd Hrrcks -> wumpysmum 23 Oct 2015 04:17

The function of civil disobedience is to cause problems for the government. Let's imagine that we could get 100,000 people to agree to phone in sick on a particular date in protest at austerity etc. Leaving aside the direct problems to the economy that this would cause. It would also demonstrate a willingness to take action. It would demonstrate a capability to organise mass direct action. It would demonstrate an ability to bring people together to fight injustice. In and of itself it might not have much impact, but as a precedent set it could be the beginning of something massive, including further acts of civil disobedience.


wumpysmum Rchrd Hrrcks 23 Oct 2015 03:51

There's already a form of civil disobedience called industrial action, which the govt are currently attacking by attempting to change statute. Random sickies as per my post above are certainly not the answer in the public sector at least, they make no coherent political point just cause problems for colleagues. Sadly too in many sectors and with the advent of zero hours contracts sickies put workers at risk of sanctions and lose them earnings.


Alyeska 22 Oct 2015 22:18

I'm American. I currently have two jobs and work about 70 hours a week, and I get no paid sick days. In fact, the last time I had a job with a paid sick day was 2001. If I could afford a day off, you think I'd be working 70 hours a week?

I barely make rent most months, and yes... I have two college degrees. When I try to organize my coworkers to unionize for decent pay and benefits, they all tell me not to bother.... they are too scared of getting on management's "bad side" and "getting in trouble" (yes, even though the law says management can't retaliate.)

Unions are different in the USA than in the UK. The workforce has to take a vote to unionize the company workers; you can't "just join" a union here. That's why our pay and working conditions have gotten worse, year after year.


rtb1961 22 Oct 2015 21:58

By far the biggest act of wage slavery rebellion, don't buy shit. The less you buy, the less you need to earn. Holidays by far the minority of your life should not be a desperate escape from the majority of your life. Spend less, work less and actually really enjoy living more.

Pay less attention to advertising and more attention to the enjoyable simplicity of life, of real direct human relationships, all of them, the ones in passing where you wish a stranger well, chats with service staff to make their life better as well as your own, exchange thoughts and ideas with others, be a human being and share humanity with other human beings.

Mkjaks 22 Oct 2015 20:35

How about don't shop at Walmart (they helped boost the Chinese economy while committing hari kari on the American Dream) and actually engaging in proper labour action? Calling in sick is just plain childish.

toffee1 22 Oct 2015 19:13

It is only considered productive if it feeds the beast, that is, contribute to the accumulation of capital so that the beast can have more power over us. The issue here is the wage labor. The 93 percent of the U.S. working population perform wage labor (see BLS site). It is the highest proportion in any society ever came into history. Under the wage labor (employment) contract, the worker gives up his/her decision making autonomy. The worker accepts the full command of his/her employer during the labor process. The employer directs and commands the labor process to achieve the goals set by himself. Compare this, for example, self-employed providing a service (for example, a plumber). In this case, the customer describes the problem to the service provider but the service provider makes all the decisions on how to organize and apply his labor to solve the problem. Or compare it to a democratically organized coop, where workers make all the decisions collectively, where, how and what to produce. Under the present economic system, a great majority of us are condemned to work in large corporations performing wage labor. The system of wage labor stripping us from autonomy on our own labor, creates all the misery in our present world through alienation. Men and women lose their humanity alienated from their own labor. Outside the world of wage labor, labor can be a source self-realization and true freedom. Labor can be the real fulfillment and love. Labor together our capacity to love make us human. Bourgeoisie dehumanized us steeling our humanity. Bourgeoisie, who sold her soul to the beast, attempting to turn us into ever consuming machines for the accumulation of capital.

patimac54 -> Zach Baker 22 Oct 2015 17:39

Well said. Most retail employers have cut staff to the minimum possible to keep the stores open so if anyone is off sick, it's the devil's own job trying to just get customers served. Making your colleagues work even harder than they normally do because you can't be bothered to act responsibly and show up is just plain selfish.
And sorry, Suzanne, skiving work is nothing more than an act of complete disrespect for those you work with. If you don't understand that, try getting a proper job for a few months and learn how to exercise some self control.

TettyBlaBla -> FranzWilde 22 Oct 2015 17:25

It's quite the opposite in government jobs where I am in the US. As the fiscal year comes to a close, managers look at their budgets and go on huge spending sprees, particularly for temp (zero hours in some countries) help and consultants. They fear if they don't spend everything or even a bit more, their spending will be cut in the next budget. This results in people coming in to do work on projects that have no point or usefulness, that will never be completed or even presented up the food chain of management, and ends up costing taxpayers a small fortune.

I did this one year at an Air Quality Agency's IT department while the paid employees sat at their desks watching portable televisions all day. It was truly demeaning.

oommph -> Michael John Jackson 22 Oct 2015 16:59

Thing is though, children - dependents to pay for - are the easiest way to keep yourself chained to work.

The homemaker model works as long as your spouse's employer retains them (and your spouse retains you in an era of 40% divorce).

You are just as dependent on an employer and "work" but far less in control of it now.


Zach Baker 22 Oct 2015 16:41

I'm all for sticking it to "the man," but when you call into work for a stupid reason (and a hangover is a very stupid reason), it is selfish, and does more damage to the cause of worker's rights, not less. I don't know about where you work, but if I call in sick to my job, other people have to pick up my slack. I work for a public library, and we don't have a lot of funds, so we have the bear minimum of employees we can have and still work efficiently. As such, if anybody calls in, everyone else, up to and including the library director, have to take on more work. If I found out one of my co-workers called in because of a hangover, I'd be pissed. You made the choice to get drunk, knowing that you had to work the following morning. Putting it into the same category of someone who is sick and may not have the luxury of taking off because of a bad employer is insulting.


[Dec 08, 2018] Internet as a perfect tool of inverted totalitarism: it stimulates atomizatin of individuals, creates authomatic 24x7 surveillance over population, suppresses solidarity by exceggerating non-essential differences and allow more insidious brainwashing of the population

Highly recommended!
Dec 08, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Livius Drusus , December 8, 2018 at 7:20 am

I think the Internet and the infotech revolution in general have been largely negative in their impact on the world. Ian Welsh has a blog post that largely sums up my views on the issue.

https://www.ianwelsh.net/what-the-infotechtelecom-revolution-has-actually-done/

Contrary to what many people say I think large organizations like governments and corporations have significantly more power now than before and ordinary people have less power. The Internet has made it easier to get information but you have to sift through tons of junk to get to anything decent. For every website like Naked Capitalism there are thousands pushing nonsense or trying to sell you stuff.

And even if you are more knowledgeable, so what? If you cannot put that knowledge to use what good is it? At best it makes you more well-rounded, interesting and harder to fool but in political terms knowing a lot of stuff doesn't make you more effective. In the past people didn't have access to nearly as much information but they were more willing and able to organize and fight against the powerful because it was easier to avoid detection/punishment (that is where stuff like widespread surveillance tech comes in) and because they still had a vibrant civic life and culture.

I actually think people are more atomized now than in the past and the Internet and other technologies have probably fueled this process. Despite rising populism, the Arab Spring, Occupy, the Yellow Jackets in France, Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the DSA this is all a drop in the bucket compared to just the massive social movements of the 1960s much less earlier periods. Robert Putnam argued that television, the Internet and other technologies likely helped to produce the collapse of civic life in the United States by "individualizing" people's leisure time and personally I think Putnam is right. Civic life today is very weak and I think the Internet is partially to blame.

Mark , December 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm

And even if you are more knowledgeable, so what? If you cannot put that knowledge to use what good is it?

Agreed. If anything these more knowledgeable people had a greater audience prior to the internet. Whether you were a journalist, a great economist, a great author, or a great orator you need to persist and show intellect and talent to have your message heard wide and broad.
(This is probably a little idealistic, but I think there is truth there.)

Now you need very little of this. If your most famous asset is your attractive body you can attract a greater audience than great scholars and politicians.

Rosario , December 8, 2018 at 2:56 pm

I can't speak much on authoritarianism since whatever form it takes on today is wildly different from what it was in the past. Unfortunately, it is hard to convince many people living in western societies that they are living in an authoritarian system because their metal images are goose-stepping soldiers and Fraktur print posters.

I suppose the way I can assure myself that we are living in an authoritarian society is by analyzing the endless propaganda spewed from countless, high-viewership media and entertainment outlets. It is quite simple, if the media and entertainment narratives are within a very narrow intellectual window (with lots of 600 lb. gorillas sitting in corners) than the culture and politics are being defined by powerful people with a narrow range of interests. This is not to say that forming public opinion or preferring particular political views is a new thing in Western media and entertainment, just that its application, IMO, is far more effective and subtle (and becoming more-so by the day) than it ever was in, say, NAZI Germany or the Soviet Union.

I'd put my money down that most educated Germans during NAZI rule were well aware that propaganda was being utilized to "manufacture consent" but they participated and accepted this despite the content for pragmatic/selfish reasons. Much of the NAZI propaganda played on existing German/European cultural narratives and prejudices. Leaveraging existing ideology allowed the party to necessitate their existence by framing the German as juxtaposed against the impure and unworthy. Again, ideologies that existed independent of the party not within it. Goebbels and company were just good at utilizing the technology of the time to amplify these monstrosities.

I question that being the case today. It is far more complicated. Technology is again the primary tool for manipulation, but it is possible that current technology is allowing for even greater leaps in reason and analysis. The windows for reflection and critical thought close as soon as they are opened. Seems more like the ideology is manufactured on the fly. For example, the anti-Russia narrative has some resonance with baby boomers, but how the hell is it effective with my generation (millennial) and younger? The offhand references to Putin and Russian operatives from my peers are completely from left field when considering our life experience. People in my age group had little to say about Russia three years ago. It says volumes on the subtle effectiveness of Western media machines if you can re-create the cold war within two years for an entire generation.

In addition and related to above, the West's understanding of "Freedom of Speech" is dated by about 100 years. Governments are no longer the sole source of speech suppression (more like filtering and manipulation), and the supremacy of the free-market coupled with the erroneously perceived black-and-white division between public and private have convinced the public (with nearly religious conviction) that gigantic media and entertainment organizations do not have to protect the free speech of citizens because they are not government. Public/Private is now an enormous blob. With overlapping interests mixed in with any antagonisms. It is ultimately dictated by capital and its power within both government and business. Cracking this nut will be a nightmare.

Yes, this is an authoritarian world, if measured by the distance between the populace and its governing powers, but it is an authoritarianism operating in ways that we have never seen before and using tools that are terribly effective.

[Dec 07, 2018] An important point that you hint at is that the Brits were violently and manipulatively forced to accept mass immigration for many years.

Dec 07, 2018 | www.unz.com

Che Guava , says: December 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm GMT

I agree Jilles, and with many other of the commenters.

Read enough to see that the article has many errors of fact and perception. It is bad enough to suspect *propaganda* , but Brett is clearly not at that level.

An important point that you hint at is that the Brits were violently and manipulatively forced to accept mass immigration for many years.

Yet strangely, to say anything about it only became acceptable when some numbers of the immigrants were fellow Europeans from within the EU, and most having some compatibility with existing ethnicity and previous culture.

Even people living far away notice such forced false consciousness.

As for Corbyn, he is nothing like the old left of old Labour. He tries to convey that image, it is a lie.

He may not be Blairite-Zio New Labour, and received some influence from the more heavily Marxist old Labour figures, but he is very much a creature of the post-worst-of-1968 and dirty hippy new left, Frankfurt School and all that crap, doubt that he has actually read much of it, but he has internalised it through his formal and political education.

By the way, the best translation of the name of North Korea's ruling party is 'Labour Party'. While it is a true fact, I intend nothing from it but a small laugh.

[Dec 05, 2018] Consequences of Routine Work Schedule Instability for Worker Health and Wellbeing by Daniel Schneider and Kristen Harknett

Abstract:
Dec 05, 2018 | equitablegrowth.org

The American labor market is increasingly unequal, characterized by extraordinary returns to work at the top of the market but rising precarity and instability at the bottom of the market. Research on precarious work and its consequences has overwhelmingly focused on the economic dimension of precarity, epitomized by low and stagnant wages.

But, the rise in precarious work has also involved a major shift in the temporal dimension of work such that many workers now experience routine instability in their work schedules. This temporal instability represents a fundamental and under-appreciated manifestation of the risk shift from firms to workers and their families.

To date, a lack of suitable existing data has precluded empirical investigation of how such precarious scheduling practices affect the health and wellbeing of workers. We use an innovative approach to collect survey data from a large and strategically selected segment of the US workforce: hourly workers in the service sector. These data reveal relationships between exposure to routine instability in work schedules and psychological distress, poor sleep quality, and unhappiness.

While low wages are also associated with these outcomes, unstable and un-predictable schedules are much more strongly associated. Further, while precarious schedules affect worker wellbeing in part through the mediating influence of household economic insecurity, a much larger proportion of the association is driven by work-life conflict. The temporal dimension of work is central to the experience of precarity and an important social determinant of worker wellbeing.

[Dec 03, 2018] American Life Expectancy Continues to Fall: Rise in Suicides, Overdose Deaths the Big Culprit naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... My dentist who I think is Republican told me when I brought up Medicare for all said "I don't think we can afford Medicare for all." ..."
Dec 03, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The evidence of social decay in America is becoming more visible. As other countries continue to show increases in life expectancy, the US continues its deterioration.

Life expectancy in the US fell to 78.6 years in 2017, a o.1 year fall from 2016 and a 0.3 year decline from the peak.

From CNN :

Overdose deaths reached a new high in 2017, topping 70,000, while the suicide rate increased by 3.7%, the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics reports.

Dr. Robert Redfield, CDC director, called the trend tragic and troubling. "Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation's overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable," he wrote in a statement.

While this assessment is technically correct, it is too superficial in seeing the rising rate of what Angus Deaton and Ann Case called "deaths of despair" as a health problem, rather than symptoms of much deeper societal ills. Americans take antidepressants at a higher rate than any country in the world. The average job tenure is a mere 4.4 years. In my youth, if you changed jobs in less than seven or eight years, you were seen as an opportunist or probably poor performer. The near impossibility of getting a new job if you are over 40 and the fact that outside hot fields, young people can also find it hard to get work commensurate with their education and experience, means that those who do have jobs can be and are exploited by their employers. Amazon is the most visible symbol of that, working warehouse workers at a deadly pace, and regularly reducing even white collar males regularly to tears.

On top of that, nuclear families, weakened communities, plus the neoliberal expectation that individuals be willing to move to find work means that many Americans have shallow personal networks, and that means less support if one suffers career or financial setbacks.

But the big driver, which the mainstream press is unwilling to acknowledge, is that highly unequal societies are unhealthy societies. We published this section from a Financial Times comment by Michael Prowse in 2007, and it can't be repeated often enough :

Those who would deny a link between health and inequality must first grapple with the following paradox. There is a strong relationship between income and health within countries. In any nation you will find that people on high incomes tend to live longer and have fewer chronic illnesses than people on low incomes.

Yet, if you look for differences between countries, the relationship between income and health largely disintegrates. Rich Americans, for instance, are healthier on average than poor Americans, as measured by life expectancy. But, although the US is a much richer country than, say, Greece, Americans on average have a lower life expectancy than Greeks. More income, it seems, gives you a health advantage with respect to your fellow citizens, but not with respect to people living in other countries .

Once a floor standard of living is attained, people tend to be healthier when three conditions hold: they are valued and respected by others; they feel 'in control' in their work and home lives; and they enjoy a dense network of social contacts. Economically unequal societies tend to do poorly in all three respects: they tend to be characterised by big status differences, by big differences in people's sense of control and by low levels of civic participation .

Unequal societies, in other words, will remain unhealthy societies – and also unhappy societies – no matter how wealthy they become. Their advocates – those who see no reason whatever to curb ever-widening income differentials – have a lot of explaining to do.

And this extract comes from a 2013 article, Why Are Americans' Life Expectancies Shorter than Those of People in Other Advanced Economies?

Let's talk life expectancy.

The stats first. They tell a clear story: Americans now live shorter lives than men and women in most of the rest of the developed world. And that gap is growing.

Back in 1990, shouts a new study published last week in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, the United States ranked just 20th on life expectancy among the world's 34 industrial nations. The United States now ranks 27th -- despite spending much more on health care than any other nation.

Americans, notes an editorial the journal ran to accompany the study, are losing ground globally "by every" health measure.

Why such poor performance? Media reports on last week's new State of U.S. Health study hit all the usual suspects: poor diet, poor access to affordable health care, poor personal health habits, and just plain poverty.

In the Wall Street Journal, for instance, a chief wellness officer in Ohio opined that if Americans exercised more and ate and smoked less, the United States would surely start moving up in the global health rankings.

But many epidemiologists -- scientists who study health outcomes -- have their doubts. They point out that the United States ranked as one of the world's healthiest nations in the 1950s, a time when Americans smoked heavily, ate a diet that would horrify any 21st-century nutritionist, and hardly ever exercised.

Poor Americans, then as now, had chronic problems accessing health care. But poverty, epidemiologists note, can't explain why fully insured middle-income Americans today have significantly worse health outcomes than middle-income people in other rich nations.

The University of Washington's Dr. Stephen Bezruchka has been tracking these outcomes since the 1990s. The new research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Bezruchka told Too Much last week, should worry Americans at all income levels.

"Even if we are rich, college-educated, white-skinned, and practice all the right health behaviors," he notes, "similar people in other rich nations will live longer."

A dozen years ago, Bezruchka published in Newsweek the first mass-media commentary, at least in the United States, to challenge the conventional take on poor U.S. global health rankings.

To really understand America's poor health standing globally, epidemiologists like Bezruchka posit, we need to look at "the social determinants of health," those social and economic realities that define our daily lives.

None of these determinants matter more, these researchers contend, than the level of a society's economic inequality, the divide between the affluent and everyone else. Over 170 studies worldwide have so far linked income inequality to health outcomes. The more unequal a society, the studies show, the more unhealthy most everyone in it -- and not the poor alone.

Just how does inequality translate into unhealthy outcomes? Growing numbers of researchers place the blame on stress. The more inequality in a society, the more stress on a daily level. Chronic stress, over time, wears down our immune systems and leaves us more vulnerable to disease.

The Wall Street Journal has more detail on the breakdown of the further decline in US life expectancy , and also points out how other countries are continuing to show progress:

Data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Thursday show life expectancy fell by one-tenth of a year, to 78.6 years, pushed down by the sharpest annual increase in suicides in nearly a decade and a continued rise in deaths from powerful opioid drugs like fentanyl. Influenza, pneumonia and diabetes also factored into last year's increase.

Economists and public-health experts consider life expectancy to be an important measure of a nation's prosperity. The 2017 data paint a dark picture of health and well-being in the U.S., reflecting the effects of addiction and despair, particularly among young and middle-aged adults, as well as diseases plaguing an aging population and people with lower access to health care

Life expectancy is 84.1 years in Japan and 83.7 years in Switzerland, first and second in the most-recent ranking by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The U.S. ranks 29th..

White men and women fared the worst, along with black men, all of whom experienced increases in death rates. Death rates rose in particular for adults ages 25 to 44, and suicide rates are highest among people in the nation's most rural areas. On the other hand, deaths declined for black and Hispanic women, and remained the same for Hispanic men .

Earlier this century, the steady and robust decline in heart-disease deaths more than offset the rising number from drugs and suicide, Dr. Anderson said. Now, "those declines aren't there anymore," he said, and the drug and suicide deaths account for many years of life lost because they occur mostly in young to middle-aged adults.

While progress against deaths from heart disease has stalled, cancer deaths -- the nation's No. 2 killer -- are continuing a steady decline that began in the 1990s, Dr. Anderson said. "That's kind of our saving grace," he said. "Without those declines, we'd see a much bigger drop in life expectancy."

Suicides rose 3.7% in 2017, accelerating an increase in rates since 1999, the CDC said. The gap in deaths by suicide widened starkly between cities and the most rural areas between 1999 and 2017, the data show. The rate is now far higher in rural areas. "There's a much wider spread," Dr. Hedegaard said.

"This is extremely discouraging," Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said of the suicide-rate increase. Studies show that traumas such as economic difficulties or natural disasters, along with access to lethal means including guns and opioid drugs, and lack of access to care can affect suicide rates, she said. More accurate recording of deaths may also have added to the numbers, she said.

Japan leads the pack in life expectancy and pretty much every other measure of social well being. Yet when its financial bubbles were bigger than the ones in the US pre our crisis, and it's on its way to having a lost three decades of growth. On top of that, Japan has one of the worst demographic crunches in the world, in terms of the aging of its population. So how it is that Japan is coping well with decline, while the US is getting sicker in many ways (mental health, obesity, falling expectancy)?

It's easy to hand-wave by saying "Japanese culture," but I see the causes as more specific. The Japanese have always given high employment top priority in their economic planning. Entrepreneurs are revered for creating jobs, not for getting rich. Similarly, Japan was long criticized by international economist types for having an inefficient retail sector (lots of small local shops), when they missed the point: that was one way of increasing employment, plus Japanese like having tight local communities.

After their crisis, Japanese companies went to considerable lengths to preserve jobs, such as by having senior people taking pay cuts and longer term, lowering the already not that large gap between entry and top level compensation. The adoption of second-class workers (long-term temps called "freeters") was seen as less than ideal, since these workers would never become true members of the company community, but it was better than further reducing employment.

Contrast that to our crisis response. We reported in 2013 that the top 1% got 121% of the income gains after the crisis. The very top echelon did better at the expense of everyone else. Longer term, lower-income earners have fallen behind. From a 2017 MarketWatch story, quoting a World Economic Forum report: "America has experienced 'a complete collapse of the bottom 50 percent income share in the U.S. between 1978 to 2015.'"

There is a lot of other data that supports the same point: inequality continues to widen in America. The areas that are taking the worst hits are states like West Virginia and Ohio that have been hit hard by deindustrialization. But the elites are removed in their glamorous cities and manage not to notice the conditions when they transit through the rest of America. They should consider themselves lucky that America's downtrodden are taking out their misery more on themselves than on their betters.

The Rev Kev , November 30, 2018 at 6:30 am

God, this is so depressing to read. The worse aspect of it is that it never had to be this way but that these deaths were simply 'collateral damage' to the social and economic changes in America since the 1970s – changes by choice. This seems to be a slow motion move to replicate what Russia went through back in the 1990s which led to the unnecessary, premature deaths of millions of its people. Dmitry Orlov has a lot to say about the subject of collapse and there is a long page in which Orlov talks about how Russia got through these bad times while comparing it with America as he lives there now. For those interested, it is at-

http://energyskeptic.com/2015/dmitry-orlov-how-russians-survived-collapse/

What gets me most is how these deaths are basically anonymous and are not really remembered. When AIDS was ravishing the gay community decades ago, one way they got people to appreciate the numbers of deaths was the AIDS Memorial Quilt which ended up weighing over 50 tons. It is a shame that there can not be an equivalent project for all these deaths of despair.

Yves Smith Post author , November 30, 2018 at 6:47 am

There were pictures in the Wall Street Journal article I didn't pull over due to copyright issues, but it did show people commemorating these deaths Captions:

People in Largo, Fla., hold candles at a vigil on Oct. 17 to remember the thousands who succumbed to opioid abuse in their community.

More than 1,000 backpacks containing belongings of suicide victims and letters with information about them are scattered across a lawn during a demonstration at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on March 22.

But to your point, these seem isolated and are not getting press coverage at anywhere near the level of the AIDS crisis.

Carla , November 30, 2018 at 1:24 pm

Great post, Yves, thank you! One suggestion: might you consider putting the last word in quotes, as in "betters" ?

Spanish reader , November 30, 2018 at 1:35 pm

It focuses too much on peak oil. As if the social collapse of the United States (and the Soviet Union) was some kind of natural consequence of resources dryinf out instead of a premeditated looting.

Eclair , November 30, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Orlov's posts on how Russians survived the collapse is a small masterpiece. I read it a couple of years back and it affected me greatly. I just reread it, thanks, Rev Kev, and it seems even more relevant now.

Small gems: Money becomes useless: items or services that can be swapped are paramount. Bottles of alcohol, fresh homegrown veggies (and pot), I re-fashion your old suit and you fix my broken window.

Social networks keep you alive. Know and be on good terms with your neighbors. Communal gardens keep you fed.

War-hardened men (and the women who love them), who thrive on violence abound. They will either be hired as security or rove about as free-lancers. A community is better able either to hire them, or defend against them.

Our ancestors lived and thrived without: central heating, electric lights, hot and cold running water, flush toilets, garbage collection, the Internet. We can too; it just takes forethought and planning. Densely packed cities without these amenities are hell.

Cultivate an attitude of disdain for the 'normal' things that society values, especially if you are a middle-aged male; career, large house and SUV, foreign vacations, a regular salary. Enjoy contemplating nature. When the former disappear, you have the latter to fall back upon. And consider a second career as a recycler of abandoned buildings, or a distiller of potatoes. (Think of all the Medieval structures built from crumbling Roman edifices.)

Russians, in many ways, had more resilience built in to their system: housing was State-owned, so there was less homelessness. Private automobiles were relatively rare, but public transportation was wide-spread and remained in good-running order. Minimal universal health care existed.

Cease from trying, futilely, to change the System. Ain't gonna happen. Instead, prepare to survive, if only just, the coming dismantling.

Steve H. , November 30, 2018 at 7:24 am

> Once a floor standard of living is attained, people tend to be healthier when three conditions hold: they are valued and respected by others; they feel 'in control' in their work and home lives; and they enjoy a dense network of social contacts.

"Sapolsky: We belong to multiple hierarchies, and you may have the worst job in your corporation and no autonomy and control and predictability, but you're the captain of the company softball team that year and you'd better bet you are going to have all sorts of psychological means to decide it's just a job, nine to five, that's not what the world is about. What the world's about is softball. I'm the head of my team, people look up to me, and you come out of that deciding you are on top of the hierarchy that matters to you."

iirc, there was a perspective of some economists that infinite groaf could be carried by the creative, emergent, and infinite wants of homo sapiens. But that creates compounding deprivations, never enough time, money, resources. With the 2:1 ratio of loss aversion, what is compounded are bad affects.

That 'dense network of social contacts' means smaller groups with symmetric interactions. The multiple dominance heirarchies is the healthy version of creative emergence, but supplying needs, not creating wants.

rd , November 30, 2018 at 9:02 am

I think that one of the most valuable tools used by government in the Great Depression was the CCC, WPA, and TVA set of programs that provided jobs to people while they created valuable infrastructure and art. How many of those people could go back to the dams or state parks and tell their spouses and kids that "I helped build that." During a time of despair, it was a way of making people believe they had value.

Today, it would be viewed as a waste of money that could be better spent on the military or another tax cut for the wealthy.

Wukchumni , November 30, 2018 at 9:24 am

I'd mentioned some wrongheaded policies of Sequoia NP of 90 years ago yesterday, and they seem ridiculous in retrospect, and we no longer treat natural places as ad hoc zoos, where everybody gets to see the dancing bears @ a given hour.

Our methodology as far as our rapport with fire was just as stupid, but we've really done nothing to repair our relationship with trees and the forests they hang out in.

There's an abundance of physical labor needed to clear out the duff, the deadfalls and assorted debris from huge swaths of guaranteed employment until the job is done, which could take awhile.

There's really few graft possibilities though, we're talking chainsaws, Pulaskis, never ending burn pile action and lots of sweat equity. If KBR wanted to be in charge of backcountry camps housing crews, that'd be ok, they'd be doing something useful for a change.

False Solace , November 30, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Yes, why do you think video games appeal so much to young males? Because of the pixels? What these gamers are really after is the ability to excel in a niche hierarchy. It doesn't (usually) appeal to females as much as more traditional kinds of success but it serves a psychological need.

divadab , November 30, 2018 at 8:13 am

A traitorous ruling class that has sold out its workers in favor of foreign workers.

And it's very lucrative – the Walton's fortune was made by being an agent of communist Chinese manufacturers. In direct competition with US manufacturers. Does this not seem like treason to you?

Phillip Allen , November 30, 2018 at 9:10 am

The word 'communist' in relation to the Chinese government and party is void of content. 'Communist' in the current Chinese context is legacy branding, nothing more. Its use in this comment is inflammatory, as is the too-loose bandying of 'treason'. The Waltons are loyal to their class (however fierce their disputes may be with rival oligarch factions), and since the state exists to serve the interests of their class, how can they be traitors to the state?

divadab , November 30, 2018 at 10:34 am

"Communist" is what they call themselves. They're totalitarians. Which is what most people think "communist" means – because all countries that called themselves communist used authoritarian rule. Methinks you might be a marxist idealist. Offended by the misuse of your ideal State word by totalitarians.

Similarly, I used "treason" in the sense of acting against the interests of the citizens, not in the sense of a crime against the state. You clearly believe the state to be representative of only the ruling class. And I don't disagree wrt the USA and its imperial machine. Which would make the State treasonous, according to the sense of the word I used.

NotTimothyGeithner , November 30, 2018 at 10:51 am

One could always say communism is an end point developed through a process preceded by socialism and before that capitalism which replaces feudalism. The idea being Chinese Communists, the rich Chinese have bug out spots for a reason, believe Mao and the Soviets moved too quickly skipping a Marxist historical epoch.

The Communist Party officially is always a vanguard for the future society not the Communist society. Phrases such as "under communism" aren't Soviet features as much as they are propaganda from the West.

When the Reds were the only game in town, the greedy class joined the CCP, but since 1991, they skipped signing up, leaving believers in control. What the party congress believes is probably important.

As far as branding goes, all Communists are branded because the are all vanguard parties, not parties of blocs or even current populations. Star Trek is the only communist society. The Soviet thinkers definitely wrote about what an Ideal society would look like, the nature of work, and self and societal improvement.

Overthrowing a long established government shouldn't be done for light and transient reasons, and Xi has seemed to be concerned with the demands of the party congress. The party at large doesn't have a single voice to rally behind which makes it difficult to overthrow a government.

rob , December 1, 2018 at 7:01 am

the word is "communist". The gov't isn't anything of the sort these days. Isn't the chinese gov't of today "fascist". just like the national socialists of the german stripe? They are the state that may be lord over controller of private institutions, and ruler of other state institutions, all intermixed into what is "the chinese economy". They allow the private wealth creation in a controlled sense. that is state function serving private wealth. and if you are a party loyal, private wealth may come to you some day too.
It is just another part of the world trend "everyone is turning into full fledged fascists"
No wonder people in the states are dying earlier.. to get back on topic

Polar Donkey , November 30, 2018 at 8:29 am

Last night, my wife and I took our boys to meet Santa at my older son's school. Elementary school in Mississippi. The town is an outer suburb of Memphis. A mile east of the town you are in rural Mississippi. I noticed 2 or 3 parents with visible drug addiction issues. These folks were still people. Want their kids to see Santa and have a better life. The country doesn't care.

Janie , November 30, 2018 at 9:49 am

I'll guess that you're near Byhalia. Happy memories of visiting family there from late forties through sixties. Wonder what its like now – how the economic changes have affected it.

Polar Donkey , November 30, 2018 at 7:41 pm

Byhalia is a little further down highway 78. Kids from Byhalia drive up to Olive Branch to go to a McDonald's and other fast food. Things may be changing because they just completed an outer interstate loop that passes close by Byhalia. Byhalia was just in news a couple months ago because a kid died during a football game. People were up in arms about no doctor at game and a 30 to 40 minute drive to closest hospital. There aren't any doctors offices in Byhalia. Then toxicology report came back. Kid had cocaine in his system. Holly Springs and Byhalia area are big drug smuggling area. Close to Memphis and it's distribution network, but across state line in poor rural Mississippi. NBA players linked to this area and smuggling networks.

Wukchumni , November 30, 2018 at 8:44 am

I'm always amazed @ the suicide by gun numbers, as it strikes me as a not so fool proof way of checking out, exacerbated by perhaps dying slowly in a painful way?

Oh, and bloody, very much so.

Fentanyl seems an easier way out, you just drift into the ether and leave a presentable corpse for everybody you knew, who all wonder if they could have done something to stop it from happening, posthaste.

NotTimothyGeithner , November 30, 2018 at 10:10 am

It's cheap and fairly efficient, and the drug way out can be tricky. Silent film legend, Lupe Valez, is the famed example of suicide by drugs gone wrong. She still died but not on her own terms because the sleeping pills she took didn't react well with her last meal.

How many people have tried to check out and had it not work is something to consider.

Martin Finnucane , November 30, 2018 at 2:28 pm

Re Lupe Valdez: probably not true, at least according to the Wikipedia page . Not that it affects your point too much, I guess.

timbers , November 30, 2018 at 8:44 am

The level of denial people are capable of can be daunting.

1). My dentist who I think is Republican told me when I brought up Medicare for all said "I don't think we can afford Medicare for all." This was not an immediate response to my raising the topic, but something he told me after several visits and having thought about what I had said and around the time Sanders got media coverage introducing a Medicare for all bill (I was getting a crown and required many visits). Talking to your dentist can be a one sided conversation for obvious reasons, but I thought "don't you mean we can't afford NOT to have Medicare for all?"

2). A co-worker of mine who is African American. When I said U.S. life expectancy is falling, this is a sign of extreme policy failure and should affect how we rate the ACA (read that here, of course!) replied "You're assuming health has an impact on life expectancy." I was stunned and didn't know what to say for a second and finally said "yes, absolutely."

TroyMcClure , November 30, 2018 at 9:47 am

These are the types that are more than happy to hand the place over to the next Bolsonaro if only to protect the status gap between themselves and those beneath them.

False Solace , November 30, 2018 at 12:42 pm

They also "hand the place over" when the Bolsonaro types tell everyone they have the solution and the opposition party is tainted by austerity and corruption.

Massinissa , November 30, 2018 at 12:49 pm

"You're assuming health has an impact on life expectancy"

I have absolutely no idea how I would respond to this either. Was this comment by this person some kind of built in knee-jerk response to criticism of the ACA/Obama?

timbers , December 1, 2018 at 9:09 am

Opps I meant to write "You're assuming health CARE has an impact on life expectancy."

In response to your question, I think so, yes.

jrs , November 30, 2018 at 1:03 pm

actually you are assuming health coverage, even if it was real coverage for what one needed, has that much of an impact on life expectancy and from what I've read it probably doesn't compared to things like poverty *regardless* of health coverage. Because the greatest link to say heart attacks is with poverty (not diet etc.)

At this point though it doesn't even make sense to talk about the ACA circa now and say it's Obama's ACA, it wasn't that great to begin with. But Trump has made it worse.

Left in Wisconsin , November 30, 2018 at 2:06 pm

My dentist who I think is Republican told me when I brought up Medicare for all said "I don't think we can afford Medicare for all."

When I brought up Medicare for All to my dentist, after listening to him describe some of his ER work where he claims to routinely see people who have intentionally damaged their teeth in order to obtain painkillers (which he is not allowed to proscribe to them regardless), he said he would never want to have the kind of inferior health care they have "in Europe." He seemed genuinely surprised when I reported that my wife had done most of a pregnancy in Italy in the mid-90s and got pre-natal care that was better than anything she ever got in this country.

My dentist is definitely a Repub. And he socializes with other medical professionals, which I presume gives him a very distorted image of the health care system. I often hear him railing against the idiotic dictates of insurance companies and he seems genuinely proud that, unlike the inscrutable and BS pricing of hospitals, dentists have to have straightforward pricing because many people do pay 100% out of pocket (so he says).

This is a part of the 10% that is going to be very hard to reach. But I tell him socialists need dental care too and so he will always have work even after we take over.

Tom Stone , November 30, 2018 at 9:27 am

Suicide can be a rational and sensible choice.
Bluntly, if the quality of your life is shitty and not going to improve why stick around?
That the reason so many people's lives are bad enough that they decide death is preferable to life is societal doesn't change their circumstances.
If you are old and sick, barely surviving financially or in poor health and unable to afford care suicide might look like your best alternative.
The "Hemlock Society" has been around for quite a while, that its membership is growing in the short term says a great deal about America.

In the Land of Farmers , November 30, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Suicide is never rational. It is arrogance that one could weigh the pros and cons of suicide like they think the have all the pertinent information. The only truth is that we have no idea what happens when we die or if there is some kind of experience that continues in a form that might not be a personal consciousness. Also, why don't you see the decision to die is made under duress and therefor invalid like signing a contract with a gun pointed at your head? There were several times in my life that I determined "the quality of [my] life is shitty and not going to improve [so] why stick around", but yet, I became better off going through the struggle. As a result I have made others lives better with the understanding I have gained going through the Shaman's journey.

By considering suicide you are considering trading a known (suffering) for an unknown (Death). In what way can that be considered rational?

The sad fact is that we spend our whole lives avoiding suffering and never take the time to understand it. Opioids, all drugs, are a route to avoid suffering, to avoid looking at our trauma. Materialism is about avoiding our suffering. Suicide is materialistic because it supposes there is a mind that we can stop.

But even in the Buddhist centers I visit it has turned away from the spiritual and people go there not to understand their suffering, but rather only to escape it.

American society does not have an economic problem, it has a spiritual problem.

Eclair , November 30, 2018 at 2:48 pm

I respect your view that suicide is an arrogant act and that suffering is an unavoidable part of life. I totally agree with the latter philosophy. You suffer, and you wade through it and come out on the other side as a better person. Forged in fire, so to speak.

Plus, I am, by nature, an optimist. There is always something to look forward to, every morning.

But, a few years ago, I suffered a cascade of bodily failures, whose symptoms were at first ignored, then misdiagnosed, resulting in my taking medications that made me worse off. At one point, for two months, I had constant nerve pain (comparable to having teeny barbed wire wrapped around my torso and and being zapped by an electric charge every few seconds.) Plus back pain. I could not eat, and when I did, I vomited. I lost 20 pounds. I could not sleep for more than hour at a time, and that hour happened only once a day. I walked only with the aid of two walking sticks. I was totally constipated for a month (gross, but this condition just adds to one's misery.) There was no end in sight and my condition just kept worsening with each round of new medication.

I did not seriously contemplate suicide. But I did give some thought to what I would do if I had to face life without sleep, without food, without the ability to walk, and death came up as one of the better solutions. Fortunately, I changed doctors.

In the Land of Farmers , November 30, 2018 at 6:10 pm

I empathize with your struggles, and I have contemplated suicide myself, but contemplating death is part of the shaman's journey. I do not think that suicide is arrogant, I think it is a misunderstanding.

IMHO, medical doctors will disrupt this journey. They should be consulted but with the understanding that they know very little about the balance of the body and what is needed to heal.

Truth is, we will die. The greater the suffering the easier to find out "who" that is suffering.

sangweq , November 30, 2018 at 10:35 pm

"Life teaches you how to live it, if you live long enough.".

-Tony Bennett

witters , November 30, 2018 at 7:44 pm

"Suicide is never rational" is an arrogant assertion.

Massinissa , November 30, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Even if it *is* a 'rational' choice, that is because the system is absolutely broken and must be changed.

In the Land of Farmers , November 30, 2018 at 1:33 pm

+1000

I get in fights with my therapist all the time about this. She is always advocating for ME to change when I feel if she wants to help us all she should be helping us change the system.

jrs , November 30, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Well roles like therapist are part of what props up the system and they get paid for precisely that.

I mean if we are just living our lives we see that things are both individual and systematic. And some things are strongly systematic (economic problems), and others probably have a significantly personal component (phobias etc.). And so we have to exist with both being true, but if we are drowning in economic problems the rest doesn't matter. But therapists have a specific role to individualize all problems. But if people are just doing therapy to get stuff off their chest, who can blame them. Enough people are, although it's not how therapists like to see their role.

Ojia , November 30, 2018 at 9:34 am

Lifespan dropping, mortality going up

Are we tired of winning yet???

Jason Boxman , November 30, 2018 at 9:58 am

The only real visible sign of decay on the train to DC from Boston is Baltimore, which nearly appears bombed out.

NotTimothyGeithner , November 30, 2018 at 11:34 am

The train goes right by Chester, Pa, and you can see decay along the tracks all along BosWash. Except for Biden, a corrupt tool who hasn't figured out how to cash in, the elites don't take the train.

Tomonthebeach , November 30, 2018 at 1:07 pm

Remember the Kingsman movie where the president was going to let all the dopers die? Think Trump.

Not only is the WH response to the opioid problem merely cosmetic, they (and NIH) refuse to link it to the economics of human obsolescence. How convenient. As jobs die, the workers do too – less welfare burden. That is fascist thinking, and it is evident today.

Finally, let us recall that all public health leaders are Trump appointees – i.e., incompetent. CDC too refuses to link suicide to the economy. It's bad politics. They can do this because there are no national standards for reporting deaths as suicides or even drug overdoses. It is entirely up to the elected coroner. Thus 10s of thousands of suicides are reported as natural or accidental either intentionally to ease the grief of family members or because they lack the manpower to investigate suspicious deaths. Note the bump in accidental deaths. Driving your car into a concrete abutment or over a cliff might be an accident, but more often than not, the driver was pickled (Irish courage) and the death was intentional.

So, until we do a better job of measuring the causes of death, the administration can continue to blame the deaths on moral weakness rather than its cruel economic policies.

djrichard , November 30, 2018 at 2:19 pm

Well we might not be thriving, but our empire is thriving. And the empire has a simple message for us: embrace the suck.

How is it legal , November 30, 2018 at 2:20 pm

Sadly, I believe if suicide attempts were taken into account, the picture would even look far bleaker, and likely include far more Metro areas. In those Metro areas there are likely far less gun/rifle owners (reportedly the most successful method), far quicker ambulance response times, and significant expenditures have been made, and actions taken, to thwart attempts on transit lines and bridges, along with committing suicidal persons to locked down psychiatric facilities (which then adds further financial burden, significant employment issues, and possibly ugly, forced medication side effects); while doing absolutely nothing whatsoever to address the causes.

What a sickening blotch on the US , with such wealth and power – sovereign in its own currency – that it's citizens are increasingly attempting and committing suicide because they can no longer afford to live in any manner that's considered humane. That, while its Fourth Estate deliberately obscures the deadly problem – which cannot be cured by forcing Pharma™, Therapy™, and Psychiatric Confinement™ at it, when a predatory crippling of economic stability is the entire cause – and refuses to hold the Government and Elites accountable.

Bobby Gladd , November 30, 2018 at 3:36 pm

I would commend to all Beth Macy's riveting book " Dopesick : Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America ."

Equal parts nicely written investigative reporting and painful personal stories. I'd thought that the "opioid epidemic" meme was hyperbolic. I was wrong.

WorkerPleb , December 1, 2018 at 5:32 pm

This happened in Russian and Eastern European countries too didn't it?

[Nov 27, 2018] American capitalism could afford to make concessions assiciated with The New Deal because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a neoliberal counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This policy has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The original "New Deal," which included massive public works infrastructure projects, was introduced by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s amid the Great Depression. Its purpose was to stave off a socialist revolution in America. It was a response to a militant upsurge of strikes and violent class battles, led by socialists who were inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution ..."
"... Since the 2008 crash, first under Bush and Obama, and now Trump, the ruling elites have pursued a single-minded policy of enriching the wealthy, through free credit, corporate bailouts and tax cuts, while slashing spending on social services. ..."
"... To claim as does Ocasio-Cortez that American capitalism can provide a new "New Deal," of a green or any other variety, is to pfile:///F:/Private_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/Historyromote an obvious political fiction." ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star November 26, 2018 at 4:23 pm

As the New deal unravels:

"The original "New Deal," which included massive public works infrastructure projects, was introduced by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s amid the Great Depression. Its purpose was to stave off a socialist revolution in America. It was a response to a militant upsurge of strikes and violent class battles, led by socialists who were inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution that had occurred less than two decades before.

American capitalism could afford to make such concessions because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a social counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions.

Since the 2008 crash, first under Bush and Obama, and now Trump, the ruling elites have pursued a single-minded policy of enriching the wealthy, through free credit, corporate bailouts and tax cuts, while slashing spending on social services.

To claim as does Ocasio-Cortez that American capitalism can provide a new "New Deal," of a green or any other variety, is to pfile:///F:/Private_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/Historyromote an obvious political fiction."

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/11/23/cort-n23.html

[Nov 06, 2018] Haves and Have nots under US neoliberalism by Rania Khalek

Notable quotes:
"... "As the heat of packed-together bodies fogged the windows, passengers beat on the walls and clawed at the doors in a scene from a real-life horror story," ..."
Nov 06, 2018 | www.rt.com

Spending time in Western Europe, as I have done the last several months, provides some serious perspective on America's decline. In most European countries, like Germany for example, public transportation works efficiently and there is a social safety net. While homelessness is a problem, it's nowhere near as rampant as in the US and usually seems to be associated with addiction. People in Europe are generally much healthier and happier, housing and food and higher education are affordable and people don't spend all their time working – they are able to take vacations and enjoy life in a way the vast majority of Americans are not. Europeans are typically entitled to lengthy paid maternity leave, whereas in the US working class women are forced to return to work in as little as two weeks . Read more © Christopher Furlong / Getty 130,000 homeless children, empty food banks predicted this Christmas

Meanwhile, New York's Subway system is decaying due to disinvestment and corruption. Last summer a train stalled, leaving passengers in the dark with no air conditioning for an hour. "As the heat of packed-together bodies fogged the windows, passengers beat on the walls and clawed at the doors in a scene from a real-life horror story," reported the New York Times. In Washington DC, the nation's capital, the Metro is always late and totally unreliable, with train fires becoming a regular occurrence while Amtrak trains experience routine derailments . These are just some examples of infrastructure decay. The list goes on: bridges are crumbling, schools are shuttered. In Baltimore dozens of schools had no heat during record freezing temperatures this winter. The only thing America's leadership seems capable of investing in is prisons and war.

In America, the old devour the young. Young Americans are struggling under the weight of $1.4 trillion in student loan debt. But don't let that confuse you about the state of America's elderly. They too aren't taken care of. In many European countries people are entitled to pensions and they can retire comfortably. In the US some have to work until they die as Social Security isn't enough to live on and Medicare doesn't quite cover all of their medical needs. As for healthcare, as many as 45,000 people a year die because they cannot access it.

And then there is the issue of water. There are over 3,000 counties across America whose water supplies have lead levels higher than in Flint, Michigan, and nothing substantial is being done to address the problem.

Haves and Have nots

All this is taking place in a nation where inequality continues to climb. There are counties a few miles apart from one another where the life expectancy drops by 20 years.

Researchers say the life expectancy gap, as high as 20.1 years between rich and poor counties, resembles the gap seen between low-income countries versus rich countries. In other words, there are pockets of the US that have the characteristics of third world countries. It seems that the US in many ways, after having destroyed other parts of the world, has turned inward on itself, sacrificing its most vulnerable citizens at the altar of capitalism.

Bernie Sanders made an issue of this during his presidential bid, often noting in his stump speeches the dramatic difference in lifespan in McDowell County, West Virginia, where men live to about 64, and six hours away in Fairfax, Virginia, where the average lifespan shoots up to 82.

[Oct 30, 2018] I see the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) problem as its nearly impossible to take the fact that we know PIP is a scam to court. IBM will say its an issue with you, your performance nose dived and your manager tried to fix that. You have to not only fight those simple statements, but prove that PIP is actually systematic worker abuse.

Notable quotes:
"... It is in fact a modern corporate horror story; it's also life at a modern corporation, period. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

Cindy Gallop , Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:24 AM

This makes for absolutely horrifying, chills-down-your-spine reading. A modern corporate horror story - worthy of a 'Black Mirror' episode. Phenomenal reporting by Ariana Tobin and Peter Gosselin. Thank you for exposing this. I hope this puts an end to this at IBM and makes every other company and industry doing this in covert and illegal ways think twice about continuing.
Daisy S Cindy Gallop , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Agree..a well written expose'. I've been a victim of IBM's "PIP" (Performance Improvement Plan) strategy, not because of my real performance mind you, but rather, I wasn't billing hours between projects and it was hurting my unit's bottom line. The way IBM instructs management to structure the PIP, it's almost impossible to dig your way out, and it's intentional. If you have a PIP on your record, nobody in IBM wants to touch you, so in effect you're already gone.
Paul Brinker Daisy S , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I see the PIP problem as its nearly impossible to take the fact that we know PIP is a scam to court. IBM will say its an issue with you, your performance nose dived and your manager tried to fix that. You have to not only fight those simple statements, but prove that PIP is actually systematic worker abuse.
dragonflap Cindy Gallop , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Cindy, they've been doing this for at least 15-20 years, or even longer according to some of the previous comments. It is in fact a modern corporate horror story; it's also life at a modern corporation, period.
Maria Stone dragonflap , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
This started happening in the 1990's when they added 5 years to your age and years of service and ASKED you to retire.
Matt_Z , Thursday, March 22, 2018 6:01 PM
After over 35 years working there, 19 of them as a manager sending out more of those notification letters than I care to remember, I can vouch for the accuracy of this investigative work. It's an incredibly toxic and hostile environment and has been for the last 5 or so years. One of the items I was appraised on annually was how many US jobs I moved offshore. It was a relief when I received my notification letter after a two minute phone call telling me it was on the way. Sleeping at night and looking myself in the mirror aren't as hard as they were when I worked there.
IBM will never regain any semblance of their former glory (or profit) until they begin to treat employees well again.
With all the offshoring and resource actions with no backfill over the last 10 years, so much is broken. Customers suffer almost as much as the employees.
I don't know how in the world they ended up on that LinkedIn list. Based on my fairly recent experience there are a half dozen happy employees in the US, and most of them are C level.
Jennifer , Thursday, March 22, 2018 9:42 AM
Well done. It squares well with my 18 years at IBM, watching resource action after resource action and hearing what my (unusually honest) manager told me. Things got progressively worse from 2012 onward. I never realized how stressful it was to live under the shadow of impending layoffs until I finally found the courage to leave in 2015. Best decision I've made.

IBM answers to its shareholders, period. Employees are an afterthought - simply a means to an end. It's shameful. (That's not to say that individual people managers feel that way. I'm speaking about IBM executives.)

Herb Jennifer , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Well, they almost answer to their shareholders, but that's after the IBM executives take their share. Ginni's compensation is tied to stock price (apparently not earnings) and buy backs maintain the stock price.
Ribit , Thursday, March 22, 2018 8:17 AM
If the criteria for layoff is being allegedly overpaid and allegedly a poor performer, then it follows that Grinnin' Jenny should have been let go long ago.
Mr. Hand Ribit , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Yes! After the 4th of those 22 consecutive quarters of declining revenues. And she's no spring chicken either. ;-)
DDRLSGC Ribit ,
Especially these CEOs who have ran their companies into the ground for the last 38 years.
owswitch , Thursday, March 22, 2018 8:58 AM
Just another fine example of how people become disposable.
And, when it comes to cost containment and profit maximization, there is no place for ethics in American business.
Businesses can lie just as well as politicians.

Millennials are smart to avoid this kind of problem by remaining loyal only to themselves. Companies certainly define anyone as replaceable - even their over-paid CEO's.

DDRLSGC owswitch

The millennials saw what happen to their parents and grandparents getting screwed over after a life time of work and loyalty. You can't blame them for not caring about so called traditional American work ethics and then they are attacked for not having them when the business leaders threw away all those value decades ago.

Some of these IBM people have themselves to blame for cutting their own economic throats for fighting against unions, putting in politicians who are pro-business and thinking that their education and high paying white collar STEM jobs will give them economic immunity.

If America was more of a free market and free enterprise instead of being more of a close market of oligarchies and monopolies, and strong government regulations, companies would think twice about treating their workforce badly because they know their workforce would leave for other companies or start up their own companies without too much of a hassle.

HiJinks DDRLSGC

Under the old IBM you could not get a union as workers were treated with dignity and respect - see the 3 core beliefs. Back then a union would not have accomplished anything.

DDRLSGC HiJinks
Doesn't matter if it was the old IBM or new IBM, you wonder how many still actually voted against their economic interests in the political elections that in the long run undermine labor rights in this country.
HiJinks DDRLSGC
So one shouldn't vote? Neither party cares about the average voter except at election time. Both sell out to Big Business - after all, that's where the big campaign donations come from. If you believe only one party favors Big Business, then you have been watching to much "fake news". Even the unions know they have been sold out by both and are wising up. How many of those jobs were shipped overseas the past 25 years.
DDRLSGC HiJinks ,
No, they should have been more active in voting for politicians who would look after the workers' rights in this country for the last 38 years plus ensuring that Congressional people and the president would not be packing the court system with pro-business judges. Sorry, but it is the Big Business that have been favoring the Republican Party for a long, long time and the jobs have been shipped out for the last 38 years.

[Oct 30, 2018] It s all about making the numbers so the management can present a Potemkin Village of profits and ever-increasing growth sufficient to get bonuses. There is no relation to any sort of quality or technological advancement, just HR 3-card monte

Notable quotes:
"... It's no coincidence whatsoever that Diane Gherson, mentioned prominently in the article, blasted out an all-employees email crowing about IBM being a great place to work according to (ahem) LinkedIn. I desperately want to post a link to this piece in the corporate Slack, but that would get me fired immediately instead of in a few months at the next "resource action." It's been a whole 11 months since our division had one, so I know one is coming soon. ..."
"... I used to say when I was there that: "After every defeat, they pin medals on the generals and shoot the soldiers". ..."
"... 1990 is also when H-1B visa rules were changed so that companies no longer had to even attempt to hire an American worker as long as the job paid $60,000, which hasn't changed since. This article doesn't even mention how our work visa system facilitated and even rewarded this abuse of Americans. ..."
"... Well, starting in the 1980s, the American management was allowed by Reagan to get rid of its workforce. ..."
"... It's all about making the numbers so the management can present a Potemkin Village of profits and ever-increasing growth sufficient to get bonuses. There is no relation to any sort of quality or technological advancement, just HR 3-card monte. They have installed air bearing in Old Man Watson's coffin as it has been spinning ever faster ..."
"... Corporate America executive management is all about stock price management. Their bonus's in the millions of dollars are based on stock performance. With IBM's poor revenue performance since Ginny took over, profits can only be maintained by cost reduction. Look at the IBM executive's bonus's throughout the last 20 years and you can see that all resource actions have been driven by Palmisano's and Rominetty's greed for extravagant bonus's. ..."
"... Also worth noting is that IBM drastically cut the cap on it's severance pay calculation. Almost enough to make me regret not having retired before that changed. ..."
"... Yeah, severance started out at 2 yrs pay, went to 1 yr, then to 6 mos. and is now 1 month. ..."
"... You need to investigate AT&T as well, as they did the same thing. I was 'sold' by IBM to AT&T as part of he Network Services operation. AT&T got rid of 4000 of the 8000 US employees sent to AT&T within 3 years. Nearly everyone of us was a 'senior' employee. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | disqus.com

dragonflap7 months ago I'm a 49-year-old SW engineer who started at IBM as part of an acquisition in 2000. I got laid off in 2002 when IBM started sending reqs to Bangalore in batches of thousands. After various adventures, I rejoined IBM in 2015 as part of the "C" organization referenced in the article.

It's no coincidence whatsoever that Diane Gherson, mentioned prominently in the article, blasted out an all-employees email crowing about IBM being a great place to work according to (ahem) LinkedIn. I desperately want to post a link to this piece in the corporate Slack, but that would get me fired immediately instead of in a few months at the next "resource action." It's been a whole 11 months since our division had one, so I know one is coming soon.

Stewart Dean7 months ago ,

The lead-in to this piece makes it sound like IBM was forced into these practices by inescapable forces. I'd say not, rather that it pursued them because a) the management was clueless about how to lead IBM in the new environment and new challenges so b) it started to play with numbers to keep the (apparent) profits up....to keep the bonuses coming. I used to say when I was there that: "After every defeat, they pin medals on the generals and shoot the soldiers".

And then there's the Pig with the Wooden Leg shaggy dog story that ends with the punch line, "A pig like that you don't eat all at once", which has a lot of the flavor of how many of us saw our jobs as IBM die a slow death.

IBM is about to fall out of the sky, much as General Motors did. How could that happen? By endlessly beating the cow to get more milk.

IBM was hiring right through the Great Depression such that It Did Not Pay Unemployment Insurance. Because it never laid people off, Because until about 1990, your manager was responsible for making sure you had everything you needed to excel and grow....and you would find people that had started on the loading dock and had become Senior Programmers. But then about 1990, IBM starting paying unemployment insurance....just out of the goodness of its heart. Right.

CRAW Stewart Dean7 months ago ,

1990 is also when H-1B visa rules were changed so that companies no longer had to even attempt to hire an American worker as long as the job paid $60,000, which hasn't changed since. This article doesn't even mention how our work visa system facilitated and even rewarded this abuse of Americans.

DDRLSGC Stewart Dean7 months ago ,

Well, starting in the 1980s, the American management was allowed by Reagan to get rid of its workforce.

Georgann Putintsev Stewart Dean7 months ago ,

I found that other Ex-IBMer's respect other Ex-IBMer's work ethics, knowledge and initiative.

Other companies are happy to get them as a valueable resource. In '89 when our Palo Alto Datacenter moved, we were given two options: 1.) to become a Programmer (w/training) 2.) move to Boulder or 3.) to leave.

I got my training with programming experience and left IBM in '92, when for 4 yrs IBM offerred really good incentives for leaving the company. The Executives thought that the IBM Mainframe/MVS z/OS+ was on the way out and the Laptop (Small but Increasing Capacity) Computer would take over everything.

It didn't. It did allow many skilled IBMers to succeed outside of IBM and help built up our customer skill sets. And like many, when the opportunity arose to return I did. In '91 I was accidentally given a male co-workers paycheck and that was one of the reasons for leaving. During my various Contract work outside, I bumped into other male IBMer's that had left too, some I had trained, and when they disclosed that it was their salary (which was 20-40%) higher than mine was the reason they left, I knew I had made the right decision.

Women tend to under-value themselves and their capabilities. Contracting also taught me that companies that had 70% employees and 30% contractors, meant that contractors would be let go if they exceeded their quarterly expenditures.

I first contracted with IBM in '98 and when I decided to re-join IBM '01, I had (3) job offers and I took the most lucrative exciting one to focus on fixing & improving DB2z Qry Parallelism. I developed a targeted L3 Technical Change Team to help L2 Support reduce Customer problems reported and improve our product. The instability within IBM remained and I saw IBM try to eliminate aging, salaried, benefited employees. The 1.) find a job within IBM ... to 2.) to leave ... was now standard.

While my salary had more than doubled since I left IBM the first time, it still wasn't near other male counterparts. The continual rating competition based on salary ranged titles and timing a title raise after a round of layoffs, not before. I had another advantage going and that was that my changed reduced retirement benefits helped me stay there. It all comes down to the numbers that Mgmt is told to cut & save IBM. While much of this article implies others were hired, at our Silicon Valley Location and other locations, they had no intent to backfill. So the already burdened employees were laden with more workloads & stress.

In the early to mid 2000's IBM setup a counter lab in China where they were paying 1/4th U.S. salaries and many SVL IBMers went to CSDL to train our new world 24x7 support employees. But many were not IBM loyal and their attrition rates were very high, so it fell to a wave of new-hires at SVL to help address it.

Stewart Dean Georgann Putintsev7 months ago ,

It's all about making the numbers so the management can present a Potemkin Village of profits and ever-increasing growth sufficient to get bonuses. There is no relation to any sort of quality or technological advancement, just HR 3-card monte. They have installed air bearing in Old Man Watson's coffin as it has been spinning ever faster

IBM32_retiree • 7 months ago ,

Corporate America executive management is all about stock price management. Their bonus's in the millions of dollars are based on stock performance. With IBM's poor revenue performance since Ginny took over, profits can only be maintained by cost reduction. Look at the IBM executive's bonus's throughout the last 20 years and you can see that all resource actions have been driven by Palmisano's and Rominetty's greed for extravagant bonus's.

Dan Yurman7 months ago ,

Bravo ProPublica for another "sock it to them" article - journalism in honor of the spirit of great newspapers everywhere that the refuge of justice in hard times is with the press.

Felix Domestica7 months ago ,

Also worth noting is that IBM drastically cut the cap on it's severance pay calculation. Almost enough to make me regret not having retired before that changed.

RonF Felix Domestica7 months ago ,

Yeah, severance started out at 2 yrs pay, went to 1 yr, then to 6 mos. and is now 1 month.

mjmadfis RonF7 months ago ,

When I was let go in June 2013 it was 6 months severance.

Terry Taylor7 months ago ,

You need to investigate AT&T as well, as they did the same thing. I was 'sold' by IBM to AT&T as part of he Network Services operation. AT&T got rid of 4000 of the 8000 US employees sent to AT&T within 3 years. Nearly everyone of us was a 'senior' employee.

weelittlepeople Terry Taylor7 months ago ,

Good Ol Ma Bell is following the IBM playbook to a Tee

emnyc7 months ago ,

ProPublica deserves a Pulitzer for this article and all the extensive research that went into this investigation.

Incredible job! Congrats.

On a separate note, IBM should be ashamed of themselves and the executive team that enabled all of this should be fired.

WmBlake7 months ago ,

As a permanent old contractor and free-enterprise defender myself, I don't blame IBM a bit for wanting to cut the fat. But for the outright *lies, deception and fraud* that they use to break laws, weasel out of obligations... really just makes me want to shoot them... and I never even worked for them.

Michael Woiwood7 months ago ,

Great Article.

Where I worked, In Rochester,MN, people have known what is happening for years. My last years with IBM were the most depressing time in my life.

I hear a rumor that IBM would love to close plants they no longer use but they are so environmentally polluted that it is cheaper to maintain than to clean up and sell.

scorcher147 months ago ,

One of the biggest driving factors in age discrimination is health insurance costs, not salary. It can cost 4-5x as much to insure and older employee vs. a younger one, and employers know this. THE #1 THING WE CAN DO TO STOP AGE DISCRIMINATION IS TO MOVE AWAY FROM OUR EMPLOYER-PROVIDED INSURANCE SYSTEM. It could be single-payer, but it could also be a robust individual market with enough pool diversification to make it viable. Freeing employers from this cost burden would allow them to pick the right talent regardless of age.

DDRLSGC scorcher147 months ago ,

The American business have constantly fought against single payer since the end of World War II and why should I feel sorry for them when all of a sudden, they are complaining about health care costs? It is outrageous that workers have to face age discrimination; however, the CEOs don't have to deal with that issue since they belong to a tiny group of people who can land a job anywhere else.

pieinthesky scorcher147 months ago ,

Single payer won't help. We have single payer in Canada and just as much age discrimination in employment. Society in general does not like older people so unless you're a doctor, judge or pharmacist you will face age bias. It's even worse in popular culture never mind in employment.

OrangeGina scorcher147 months ago ,

I agree. Yet, a determined company will find other methods, explanations and excuses.

JohnCordCutter7 months ago ,

Thanks for the great article. I left IBM last year. USA based. 49. Product Manager in one of IBMs strategic initiatives, however got told to relocate or leave. I found another job and left. I came to IBM from an acquisition. My only regret is, I wish I had left this toxic environment earlier. It truely is a dreadful place to work.

60 Soon • 7 months ago ,

The methodology has trickled down to smaller companies pursuing the same net results for headcount reduction. The similarities to my experience were painful to read. The grief I felt after my job was "eliminated" 10 years ago while the Recession was at its worst and shortly after my 50th birthday was coming back. I never have recovered financially but have started writing a murder mystery. The first victim? The CEO who let me go. It's true. Revenge is best served cold.

donttreadonme97 months ago ,

Well written . people like me have experienced exactly what you wrote. IBM is a shadow of it's former greatness and I have advised my children to stay away from IBM and companies like it as they start their careers. IBM is a corrupt company. Shame on them !

annapurna7 months ago ,

I hope they find some way to bring a class action lawsuit against these assholes.

Mark annapurna7 months ago ,

I suspect someone will end up hunt them down with an axe at some point. That's the only way they'll probably learn. I don't know about IBM specifically, but when Carly Fiorina ran HP, she travelled with and even went into engineering labs with an armed security detail.

OrangeGina Mark7 months ago ,

all the bigwig CEOs have these black SUV security details now.

Sarahw7 months ago ,

IBM has been using these tactics at least since the 1980s, when my father was let go for similar 'reasons.'

Vin7 months ago ,

Was let go after 34 years of service. Mine Resource Action latter had additional lines after '...unless you are offered ... position within IBM before that date.' , implying don't even try to look for a position. They lines were ' Additional business controls are in effect to manage the business objectives of this resource action, therefore, job offers within (the name of division) will be highly unlikely.'.

Mark Vin7 months ago ,

Absolutely and utterly disgusting.

Greybeard7 months ago ,

I've worked for a series of vendors for over thirty years. A job at IBM used to be the brass ring; nowadays, not so much.

I've heard persistent rumors from IBMers that U.S. headcount is below 25,000 nowadays. Given events like the recent downtime of the internal systems used to order parts (5 or so days--website down because staff who maintained it were let go without replacements), it's hard not to see the spiral continue down the drain.

What I can't figure out is whether Rometty and cronies know what they're doing or are just clueless. Either way, the result is the same: destruction of a once-great company and brand. Tragic.

ManOnTheHill Greybeard7 months ago ,

Well, none of these layoffs/ageist RIFs affect the execs, so they don't see the effects, or they see the effects but attribute them to some other cause.

(I'm surprised the article doesn't address this part of the story; how many affected by layoffs are exec/senior management? My bet is very few.)

ExIBMExec ManOnTheHill7 months ago ,

I was a D-banded exec (Director-level) who was impacted and I know even some VPs who were affected as well, so they do spread the pain, even in the exec ranks.

ManOnTheHill ExIBMExec7 months ago ,

That's different than I have seen in companies I have worked for (like HP). There RIFs (Reduction In Force, their acronym for layoff) went to the director level and no further up.

[Oct 30, 2018] Anyone working at IBM after 1993 should have had no expectation of a lifetime career

Under neoliberlaism the idea of loyalty between a corporation and an employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests.
Notable quotes:
"... Any expectation of "loyalty", that two-way relationship of employee/company from an earlier time, was wishful thinking ..."
"... With all the automation going on around the world, these business leaders better worry about people not having money to buy their goods and services plus what are they going to do with the surplus of labor ..."
"... This is the nail in the coffin. As an IT manager responsible for selecting and purchasing software, I will never again recommend IBM products ..."
"... The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The idea of loyalty between a corporation and an at-will employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests. ..."
"... The annual unemployment rate topped 8% in 1975 and would reach nearly 10% in 1982. The economy seemed trapped in the new nightmare of stagflation," so called because it combined low economic growth and high unemployment ("stagnation") with high rates of inflation. And the prime rate hit 20% by 1980. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org
Jeff Russell , Thursday, March 22, 2018 4:31 PM
I started at IBM 3 days out of college in 1979 and retired in 2017. I was satisfied with my choice and never felt mistreated because I had no expectation of lifetime employment, especially after the pivotal period in the 1990's when IBM almost went out of business. The company survived that period by dramatically restructuring both manufacturing costs and sales expense including the firing of tens of thousands of employees. These actions were well documented in the business news of the time, the obvious alternative was bankruptcy.

I told the authors that anyone working at IBM after 1993 should have had no expectation of a lifetime career. Downsizing, outsourcing, movement of work around the globe was already commonplace at all such international companies. Any expectation of "loyalty", that two-way relationship of employee/company from an earlier time, was wishful thinking .

I was always prepared to be sent packing, without cause, at any time and always had my resume up-to-date. I stayed because of interesting work, respectful supervisors, and adequate compensation.

The "resource action" that forced my decision to retire was no surprise, the company that hired me had been gone for decades.

DDRLSGC Jeff Russell , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
With all the automation going on around the world, these business leaders better worry about people not having money to buy their goods and services plus what are they going to do with the surplus of labor
John Kauai Jeff Russell , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I had, more or less, the same experience at Cisco. They paid me to quit. Luckily, I was ready for it.

The article mentions IBMs 3 failures. So who was it that was responsible for not anticipating the transitions? It is hard enough doing what you already know. Perhaps companies should be spending more on figuring out "what's next" and not continually playing catch-up by dumping the older workers for the new.

MichiganRefugee , Friday, March 23, 2018 9:52 AM
I was laid off by IBM after 29 years and 4 months. I had received a division award in previous year, and my last PBC appraisal was 2+ (high performer.) The company I left was not the company I started with. Top management--starting with Gerstner--has steadily made IBM a less desirable place to work. They now treat employees as interchangeable assets and nothing more. I cannot/would not recommend IBM as an employer to any young programmer.
George Purcell , Friday, March 23, 2018 7:41 AM
Truly awesome work. I do want to add one thing, however--the entire rhetoric about "too many old white guys" that has become so common absolutely contributes to the notion that this sort of behavior is not just acceptable but in some twisted way admirable as well.
Bob Fritz , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:35 PM
I read the article and all the comments.

Is anyone surprised that so many young people don't think capitalism is a good system any more?

I ran a high technology electronic systems company for years. We ran it "the old way." If you worked hard, and tried, we would bend over backwards to keep you. If technology or business conditions eliminated your job, we would try to train you for a new one. Our people were loyal, not like IBMers today. I honestly think that's the best way to be profitable.

People afraid of being unjustly RIFFed will always lack vitality.

petervonstackelberg , Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:00 PM
I'm glad someone is finally paying attention to age discrimination. IBM apparently is just one of many organizations that discriminate.

I'm in the middle of my own fight with the State University of New York (SUNY) over age discrimination. I was terminated by a one of the technical colleges in the SUNY System. The EEOC/New York State Division of Human Rights (NYDHR) found that "PROBABLE CAUSE (NYDHR's emphasis) exists to believe that the Respondent (Alfred State College - SUNY) has engaged in or is engaging in the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of." Investigators for NYDHR interviewed several witnesses, who testified that representatives of the college made statements such as "we need new faces", "three old men" attending a meeting, an older faculty member described as an "albatross", and "we ought to get rid of the old white guys". Witnesses said these statements were made by the Vice President of Academic Affairs and a dean at the college.

davosil , Sunday, March 25, 2018 5:00 PM
This saga at IBM is simply a microcosm of our overall economy. Older workers get ousted in favor of younger, cheaper workers; way too many jobs get outsourced; and so many workers today [young and old] can barely land a full-time job.
This is the behavior that our system incentivises (and gets away with) in this post Reagan Revolution era where deregulation is lauded and unions have been undermined & demonized. We need to seriously re-work 'work', and in order to do this we need to purge Republicans at every level, as they CLEARLY only serve corporate bottom-lines - not workers - by championing tax codes that reward outsourcing, fight a livable minimum wage, eliminate pensions, bust unions, fight pay equity for women & family leave, stack the Supreme Court with radical ideologues who blatantly rule for corporations over people all the time, etc. etc. ~35 years of basically uninterrupted Conservative economic policy & ideology has proven disastrous for workers and our quality of life. As goes your middle class, so goes your country.
ThinkingAloud , Friday, March 23, 2018 7:18 AM
The last five words are chilling... This is an award-winning piece....
RetiredIBM.manager , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:39 PM
I am a retired IBM manager having had to execute many of these resource reduction programs.. too many.. as a matter of fact. ProPUBLICA....You nailed it!
David , Thursday, March 22, 2018 3:22 PM
IBM has always treated its customer-facing roles like Disney -- as cast members who need to match a part in a play. In the 60s and 70s, it was the white-shirt, blue-suit white men whom IBM leaders thought looked like mainframe salesmen. Now, rather than actually build a credible cloud to compete with Amazon and Microsoft, IBM changes the cast to look like cloud salespeople. (I work for Microsoft. Commenting for myself alone.)
CRAW David ,

Now IBM still treats their employees like Disney - by replacing them with H-1B workers.

MHV IBMer , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:35 PM
I am a survivor, the rare employee who has been at IBM for over 35 years. I have seen many, many layoff programs over 20 years now. I have seen tens of thousands people let go from the Hudson Valley of N.Y. Those of us who have survived, know and lived through what this article so accurately described. I currently work with 3 laid off/retired and rehired contractors. I have seen age discrimination daily for over 15 years. It is not only limited to layoffs, it is rampant throughout the company. Promotions, bonuses, transfers for opportunities, good reviews, etc... are gone if you are over 45. I have seen people under 30 given promotions to levels that many people worked 25 years for. IBM knows that these younger employees see how they treat us so they think they can buy them off. Come to think of it, I guess they actually are! They are ageist, there is no doubt, it is about time everyone knew. Excellent article.
Goldie Romero , Friday, March 23, 2018 2:31 PM
Nice article, but seriously this is old news. IBM has been at this for ...oh twenty years or more.
I don't really have a problem with it in terms of a corporation trying to make money. But I do have a problem with how IBM also likes to avoid layoffs by giving folks over 40 intentionally poor reviews, essentially trying to drive people out. Just have the guts to tell people, we don't need you anymore, bye. But to string people along as the overseas workers come in...c'mon just be honest with your workers.
High tech over 40 is not easy...I suggest folks prep for a career change before 50. Then you can have the last laugh on a company like IBM.
jblog , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:37 AM
From pages 190-191 of my novel, Ordinary Man (Amazon):

Throughout it all, layoffs became common, impacting mostly older employees with many years of service. These job cuts were dribbled out in small numbers to conceal them from the outside world, but employees could plainly see what was going on.

The laid off employees were supplanted by offshoring work to low-costs countries and hiring younger employees, often only on temporary contracts that offered low pay and no benefits – a process pejoratively referred to by veteran employees as "downsourcing." The recruitment of these younger workers was done under the guise of bringing in fresh skills, but while many of the new hires brought new abilities and vitality, they lacked the knowledge and perspective that comes with experience.

Frequently, an older more experienced worker would be asked to help educate newer employees, only to be terminated shortly after completing the task. And the new hires weren't fooled by what they witnessed and experienced at OpenSwitch, perceiving very quickly that the company had no real interest in investing in them for the long term. To the contrary, the objective was clearly to grind as much work out of them as possible, without offering any hope of increased reward or opportunity.

Most of the young recruits left after only a year or two – which, again, was part of the true agenda at the company. Senior management viewed employees not as talent, but simply as cost, and didn't want anyone sticking around long enough to move up the pay scale.

turquoisewaters , Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:19 PM
This is why you need unions.
Aaron Stackpole , Thursday, March 22, 2018 5:23 PM
This is the nail in the coffin. As an IT manager responsible for selecting and purchasing software, I will never again recommend IBM products. I love AIX and have worked with a lot if IBM products but not anymore. Good luck with the millennials though...
awb22 , Thursday, March 22, 2018 12:14 PM
The same thing has been going on at other companies, since the end of WWII. It's unethical, whether the illegality can be proven or not.

In the RTP area, where I live, I know many, many current and former employees. Times have changed, but the distinction between right and wrong hasn't.

Dave Allen , Thursday, March 22, 2018 1:07 PM
I worked for four major corporations (HP, Intel, Control Data Corporation, and Micron Semiconductor) before I was hired by IBM as a rare (at that time) experienced new hire.

Even though I ended up working for IBM for 21 years, and retired in 2013, because of my experiences at those other companies, I never considered IBM my "family."

The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The idea of loyalty between a corporation and an at-will employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests.

It is a business arrangement, not a love affair. Every individual needs to continually assess their skills and their value to their employer. If they are not commensurate, it is the employee's responsibility to either acquire new skills or seek a new employer.

Your employer will not hesitate to lay you off if your skills are no longer needed, or if they can hire someone who can do your job just as well for less pay. That is free enterprise, and it works for people willing to take advantage of it.

sometimestheyaresomewhatright Dave Allen , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I basically agree. But why should it be OK for a company to fire you just to replace you with a younger you? If all that they accomplish is lowering their health care costs (which is what this is really about). If the company is paying about the same for the same work, why is firing older workers for being older OK?
Dave Allen sometimestheyaresomewhatright , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Good question. The point I was trying to make is that people need to watch out for themselves and not expect their employer to do what is "best" for the employee. I think that is true whatever age the employee happens to be.

Whether employers should be able to discriminate against (treat differently) their employees based on age, gender, race, religion, etc. is a political question. Morally, I don't think they should discriminate. Politically, I think it is a slippery slope when the government starts imposing regulations on free enterprise. Government almost always creates more problems than they fix.

DDRLSGC Dave Allen , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Sorry, but when you deregulate the free enterprise, it created more problems than it fixes and that is a fact that has been proven for the last 38 years.
Danllo DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
That's just plain false. Deregulation creates competiiton. Competition for talented and skilled workers creates opportunities for those that wish to be employed and for those that wish to start new ventures. For example, when Ma Bell was regulated and had a monopoly on telecommunications there was no innovation in the telecom inudstry. However, when it was deregulated, cell phones, internet, etc exploded ... creating billionaires and millionaires while also improving the quality of life.
DDRLSGC Danllo , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
No, it happens to be true. When Reagan deregulate the economy, a lot of those corporate raiders just took over the companies, sold off the assets, and pocketed the money. What quality of life? Half of American lived near the poverty level and the wages for the workers have been stagnant for the last 38 years compared to a well-regulated economy in places like Germany and the Scandinavian countries where the workers have good wages and a far better standard of living than in the USA. Why do you think the Norwegians told Trump that they will not be immigrating to the USA anytime soon?
NotSure DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
What were the economic conditions before Regan? It was a nightmare before Regan.

The annual unemployment rate topped 8% in 1975 and would reach nearly 10% in 1982. The economy seemed trapped in the new nightmare of stagflation," so called because it combined low economic growth and high unemployment ("stagnation") with high rates of inflation. And the prime rate hit 20% by 1980.
DDRLSGC NotSure , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
At least we had a manufacturing base in the USA, strong regulations of corporations, corporate scandals were far and few, businesses did not go under so quickly, prices of goods and services did not go through the roof, people had pensions and could reasonably live off them, and recessions did not last so long or go so deep until Reagan came into office. In Under Reagan, the jobs were allowed to be send overseas, unions were busted up, pensions were reduced or eliminated, wages except those of the CEOs were staganent, and the economic conditions under Bush, Senior and Bush, Jr. were no better except that Bush, Jr, was the first president to have a net minus below zero growth, so every time we get a Republican Administration, the economy really turns into a nightmare. That is a fact.

You have the Republicans in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin using Reaganomics and they are economic disaster areas.

DDRLSGC NotSure , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
You had an industrial base in the USA, lots of banks and savings and loans to choose from, lots of mom and pop stores, strong government regulation of the economy, able to live off your pensions, strong unions and employment laws along with the court system to back you up against corporate malfeasance. All that was gone when Reagan and the two Bushes came into office.
james Foster , Thursday, March 29, 2018 8:37 PM
Amazingly accurate article. The once great IBM now a dishonest and unscrupulous corporation concerned more about earnings per share than employees, customers, or social responsibility. In Global Services most likely 75% or more jobs are no longer in the US - can't believe a word coming out of Armonk.
Philip Meyer james Foster , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I'm not sure there was ever a paradise in employment. Yeah, you can say there was more job stability 50 or 60 years ago, but that applied to a much smaller workforce than today (mostly white men). It is a drag, but there are also lot more of us old farts than there used to be and we live a lot longer in retirement as well. I don't see any magic bullet fix either.
George A , Tuesday, March 27, 2018 6:12 PM
Warning to Google/Facebook/Apple etc. All you young people will get old. It's inevitable. Do you think those companies will take care of you?
econdataus , Sunday, March 25, 2018 3:01 PM
Great article. What's especially infuriating is that the industry continues to claim that there is a shortage of STEM workers. For example, google "claim of 1.4 million computer science jobs with only 400,000 computer science graduates to fill them". If companies would openly say, "we have plenty of young STEM workers and prefer them to most older STEM workers", we could at least start addressing the problem. But they continue to promote the lie of there being a STEM shortage. They just want as big a labor pool as possible, unemployed workers be damned.
Buzz , Friday, March 23, 2018 12:00 PM
I've worked there 17 years and have worried about being layed off for about 11 of them. Moral is in the toilet. Bonuses for the rank and file are in the under 1% range while the CEO gets millions. Pay raises have been non existent or well under inflation for years. Adjusting for inflation, I make $6K less than I did my first day. My group is a handful of people as at least 1/2 have quit or retired. To support our customers, we used to have several people, now we have one or two and if someone is sick or on vacation, our support structure is to hope nothing breaks. We can't keep millennials because of pay, benefits and the expectation of being available 24/7 because we're shorthanded. As the unemployment rate drops, more leave to find a different job, leaving the old people as they are less willing to start over with pay, vacation, moving, selling a house, pulling kids from school, etc. The younger people are generally less likely to be willing to work as needed on off hours or to pull work from a busier colleague. I honestly have no idea what the plan is when the people who know what they are doing start to retire, we are way top heavy with 30-40 year guys who are on their way out, very few of the 10-20 year guys due to hiring freezes and we can't keep new people past 2-3 years. It's like our support business model is designed to fail.
OrangeGina , Friday, March 23, 2018 11:41 AM
Make no mistake. The three and four letter acronyms and other mushy corporate speak may differ from firm to firm, but this is going on in every large tech company old enough to have a large population of workers over 50. I hope others will now be exposed.
JeffMo , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:23 AM
This article hits the nail right on the head, as I come up on my 1 year anniversary from being....ahem....'retired' from 23 years at IBM....and I'll be damned if I give them the satisfaction of thinking this was like a 'death' to me. It was the greatest thing that could have ever happened. Ginny and the board should be ashamed of themselves, but they won't be.
Frankie , Friday, March 23, 2018 1:00 AM
Starting around age 40 you start to see age discrimination. I think this is largely due to economics, like increased vacation times, higher wages, but most of all the perception that older workers will run up the medical costs. You can pass all the age related discrimination laws you want, but look how ineffective that has been.

If you contrast this with the German workforce, you see that they have more older workers with the skills and younger workers without are having a difficult time getting in. So what's the difference? There are laws about how many vacation weeks that are given and there is a national medical system that everyone pays, so discrimination isn't seen in the same light.

The US is the only hold out maybe with South Africa that doesn't have a good national medical insurance program for everyone. Not only do we pay more than the rest of the world, but we also have discrimination because of it.

Rick Gundlach , Thursday, March 22, 2018 11:38 PM
This is very good, and this is IBM. I know. I was plaintiff in Gundlach v. IBM Japan, 983 F.Supp.2d 389, which involved their violating Japanese labor law when I worked in Japan. The New York federal judge purposely ignored key points of Japanese labor law, and also refused to apply Title VII and Age Discrimination in Employment to the parent company in Westchester County. It is a huge, self-described "global" company with little demonstrated loyalty to America and Americans. Pennsylvania is suing them for $170 million on a botched upgrade of the state's unemployment system.
Jeff , Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:05 PM
In early 2013 I was given a 3 PBC rating for my 2012 performance, the main reason cited by my manager being that my team lead thought I "seemed distracted". Five months later I was included in a "resource action", and was gone by July. I was 20 months shy of 55. Younger coworkers were retained. That was about two years after the product I worked on for over a decade was off-shored.

Through a fluke of someone from the old, disbanded team remembering me, I was rehired two years later - ironically in a customer support position for the very product I helped develop.

While I appreciated my years of service, previous salary, and previous benefits being reinstated, a couple years into it I realized I just wasn't cut out for the demands of the job - especially the significant 24x7 pager duty. Last June I received email describing a "Transition to Retirement" plan I was eligible for, took it, and my last day will be June 30. I still dislike the job, but that plan reclassified me as part time, thus ending pager duty for me. The job still sucks, but at least I no longer have to despair over numerous week long 24x7 stints throughout the year.

A significant disappointment occurred a couple weeks ago. I was discussing healthcare options with another person leaving the company who hadn't been resource-actioned as I had, and learned the hard way I lost over $30,000 in some sort of future medical benefit account the company had established and funded at some point. I'm not sure I was ever even aware of it. That would have funded several years of healthcare insurance during the 8 years until I'm eligible for Medicare. I wouldn't be surprised if their not having to give me that had something to do with my seeming "distracted" to them. <rolls eyes="">

What's really painful is the history of that former account can still be viewed at Fidelity, where it associates my departure date in 2013 with my having "forfeited" that money. Um, no. I did not forfeit that money, nor would I have. I had absolutely no choice in the matter. I find the use of the word 'forfeited' to describe what happened as both disingenuous and offensive. That said, I don't know whether's that's IBM's or Fidelity's terminology, though.

Herb Jeff , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Jeff, You should call Fidelity. I recently received a letter from the US Department of Labor that they discovered that IBM was "holding" funds that belonged to me that I was never told about. This might be similar or same story .

[Oct 30, 2018] Neoliberal way of screwing up people is via HR

Notable quotes:
"... I too was a victim of IBM's underhanded trickery to get rid of people...39 years with IBM, a top performer. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org
xn0 , Monday, April 2, 2018 1:44 PM
These practices are "interesting". And people still wonder why there are so many deadly amok runs at US companies? What do they expect when they replace old and experienced workers with inexperienced millenials, who often lack basic knowledge about their job? Better performance?

This will run US tech companies into the ground. This sort of "American" HR management is gaining ground here in Germany as well, its troubling. And on top they have to compete against foreign tech immigrants from middle eastern and asian companies. Sure fire recipe for social unrest and people voting for right-wing parties.

nottigerwoods , Friday, March 30, 2018 1:39 PM
I too was a victim of IBM's underhanded trickery to get rid of people...39 years with IBM, a top performer. I never got a letter telling me to move to Raleigh. All i got was a phone call asking me if i wanted to take the 6 month exception to consider it. Yet, after taking the 6 month exception, I was told I could no longer move, the colocation was closed. Either I find another job, not in Marketing support (not even Marketing) or leave the company. I received no letter from Ginni, nothing. I was under the impression I could show up in Raleigh after the exception period. Not so. It was never explained....After 3 months I will begin contracting with IBM. Not because I like them, because I need the money...thanks for the article.
doncanard , Friday, March 30, 2018 1:33 PM
dropped in 2013 after 22 years. IBM stopped leading in the late 1980's, afterwards it implemented "market driven quality" which meant listen for the latest trends, see what other people were doing, and then buy the competition or drive them out of business. "Innovation that matters": it's only interesting if an IBM manager can see a way to monetize it.

That's a low standard. It's OK, there are other places that are doing better. In fact, the best of the old experienced people went to work there. Newsflash: quality doesn't change with generations, you either create it or you don't.

Sounds like IBM is building its product portfolio to match its desired workforce. And of course, on every round of layoffs, the clear criterion was people who were compliant and pliable - who's ready to follow orders ? Best of luck.

[Oct 30, 2018] Neoliberal IT working place is really a minefield for older workers

Notable quotes:
"... The annual unemployment rate topped 8% in 1975 and would reach nearly 10% in 1982. The economy seemed trapped in the new nightmare of stagflation," so called because it combined low economic growth and high unemployment ("stagnation") with high rates of inflation. And the prime rate hit 20% by 1980. ..."
Oct 30, 2018 | features.propublica.org

disqus_qN55ZbK3Ce , Friday, March 23, 2018 3:09 PM

If anything, IBM is behind the curve. I was terminated along with my entire department from a major IBM subcontractor, with all affected employees "coincidentally" being over 50. By "eliminating the department" and forcing me to sign a waiver to receive my meager severance, they avoided any legal repercussions. 18 months later on the dot (the minimum legal time period), my workload was assigned to three new hires, all young. Interestingly, their combined salaries are more than mine, and I could have picked up all their work for about $200 in training (in social media posting, something I picked up on my own last year and am doing quite well, thank you).

And my former colleagues are not alone. A lot of friends of mine have had similar outcomes, and as the article states, no one will hire people my age willingly in my old capacity. Luckily again, I've pivoted into copywriting--a discipline where age is still associated with quality ("dang kids can't spell anymore!"). But I'm doing it freelance, with the commensurate loss of security, benefits, and predictability of income.

So if IBM is doing this now, they are laggards. But because they're so big, there's a much more obvious paper trail.

Stephen McConnell , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:44 AM
One of the most in-depth, thoughtful and enlightening pieces of journalism I've seen. Having worked on Capitol Hill during the early 1980's for the House and Senate Aging Committees, we worked hard to abolish the remnants of mandatory retirement and to strengthen the protections under the ADEA. Sadly, the EEOC has become a toothless bureaucracy when it comes to age discrimination cases and the employers, as evidenced by the IBM case, have become sophisticated in hiding what they're doing to older workers. Peter's incredibly well researched article lays the case out for all to see. Now the question is whether the government will step up to its responsibilities and protect older workers from this kind of discrimination in the future. Peter has done a great service in any case.
Mark , Friday, March 23, 2018 1:05 AM
The US tech sector has mostly ignored US citizen applicants, of all ages, since the early 2000s. Instead, preferring to hire foreign nationals. The applications of top US citizen grads are literally thrown in the garbage (or its electronic equivalent) while companies like IBM have their hiring processes dominated by Indian nationals. IBM is absolutely a poster-child for H-1B, L-1, and OPT visa abuse.
CRAW Mark , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
EXACTLY. Work visas are the enabler of this discrimination. We are overrun.
Warren Stiles , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:17 PM
Bottom line is we have entered an era when there are only two classes who are protected in our economy; the Investor Class and the Executive Class. With Wall Street's constant demand for higher profits and increased shareholder value over all other business imperatives, rank and file workers have been relegated to the class of expendable resource. I propose that all of us over fifty who have been riffed out of Corporate America band together for the specific purpose of beating the pants off them in the marketplace. The best revenge is whooping their youngster butts at the customer negotiating table. By demonstrating we are still flexible and nimble, yet with the experience to avoid the missteps of misspent youth, we prove we can deliver value well beyond what narrow-minded bean counters can achieve.
DDRLSGC Warren Stiles , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
or whipping the butts of the older managers who thought that their older workers were over the hill.
Warren Stiles DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Just like they are...
Jeff Russell , Thursday, March 22, 2018 4:31 PM
I started at IBM 3 days out of college in 1979 and retired in 2017. I was satisfied with my choice and never felt mistreated because I had no expectation of lifetime employment, especially after the pivotal period in the 1990's when IBM almost went out of business. The company survived that period by dramatically restructuring both manufacturing costs and sales expense including the firing of tens of thousands of employees. These actions were well documented in the business news of the time, the obvious alternative was bankruptcy.

I told the authors that anyone working at IBM after 1993 should have had no expectation of a lifetime career. Downsizing, outsourcing, movement of work around the globe was already commonplace at all such international companies. Any expectation of "loyalty", that two-way relationship of employee/company from an earlier time, was wishful thinking. I was always prepared to be sent packing, without cause, at any time and always had my resume up-to-date. I stayed because of interesting work, respectful supervisors, and adequate compensation. The "resource action" that forced my decision to retire was no surprise, the company that hired me had been gone for decades.

DDRLSGC Jeff Russell , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
With all the automation going on around the world, these business leaders better worry about people not having money to buy their goods and services plus what are they going to do with the surplus of labor
John Kauai Jeff Russell , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I had, more or less, the same experience at Cisco. They paid me to quit. Luckily, I was ready for it.

The article mentions IBMs 3 failures. So who was it that was responsible for not anticipating the transitions? It is hard enough doing what you already know. Perhaps companies should be spending more on figuring out "what's next" and not continually playing catch-up by dumping the older workers for the new.

MichiganRefugee , Friday, March 23, 2018 9:52 AM
I was laid off by IBM after 29 years and 4 months. I had received a division award in previous year, and my last PBC appraisal was 2+ (high performer.) The company I left was not the company I started with. Top management--starting with Gerstner--has steadily made IBM a less desirable place to work. They now treat employees as interchangeable assets and nothing more. I cannot/would not recommend IBM as an employer to any young programmer.
George Purcell , Friday, March 23, 2018 7:41 AM
Truly awesome work. I do want to add one thing, however--the entire rhetoric about "too many old white guys" that has become so common absolutely contributes to the notion that this sort of behavior is not just acceptable but in some twisted way admirable as well.
Bob Fritz , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:35 PM
I read the article and all the comments.

Is anyone surprised that so many young people don't think capitalism is a good system any more?

I ran a high technology electronic systems company for years. We ran it "the old way." If you worked hard, and tried, we would bend over backwards to keep you. If technology or business conditions eliminated your job, we would try to train you for a new one. Our people were loyal, not like IBMers today. I honestly think that's the best way to be profitable.

People afraid of being unjustly RIFFed will always lack vitality.

petervonstackelberg , Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:00 PM
I'm glad someone is finally paying attention to age discrimination. IBM apparently is just one of many organizations that discriminate.

I'm in the middle of my own fight with the State University of New York (SUNY) over age discrimination. I was terminated by a one of the technical colleges in the SUNY System. The EEOC/New York State Division of Human Rights (NYDHR) found that "PROBABLE CAUSE (NYDHR's emphasis) exists to believe that the Respondent (Alfred State College - SUNY) has engaged in or is engaging in the unlawful discriminatory practice complained of." Investigators for NYDHR interviewed several witnesses, who testified that representatives of the college made statements such as "we need new faces", "three old men" attending a meeting, an older faculty member described as an "albatross", and "we ought to get rid of the old white guys". Witnesses said these statements were made by the Vice President of Academic Affairs and a dean at the college.

davosil , Sunday, March 25, 2018 5:00 PM
This saga at IBM is simply a microcosm of our overall economy. Older workers get ousted in favor of younger, cheaper workers; way too many jobs get outsourced; and so many workers today [young and old] can barely land a full-time job.
This is the behavior that our system incentivises (and gets away with) in this post Reagan Revolution era where deregulation is lauded and unions have been undermined & demonized. We need to seriously re-work 'work', and in order to do this we need to purge Republicans at every level, as they CLEARLY only serve corporate bottom-lines - not workers - by championing tax codes that reward outsourcing, fight a livable minimum wage, eliminate pensions, bust unions, fight pay equity for women & family leave, stack the Supreme Court with radical ideologues who blatantly rule for corporations over people all the time, etc. etc. ~35 years of basically uninterrupted Conservative economic policy & ideology has proven disastrous for workers and our quality of life. As goes your middle class, so goes your country.
ThinkingAloud , Friday, March 23, 2018 7:18 AM
The last five words are chilling... This is an award-winning piece....
RetiredIBM.manager , Thursday, March 22, 2018 7:39 PM
I am a retired IBM manager having had to execute many of these resource reduction programs.. too many.. as a matter of fact. ProPUBLICA....You nailed it!
David , Thursday, March 22, 2018 3:22 PM
IBM has always treated its customer-facing roles like Disney -- as cast members who need to match a part in a play. In the 60s and 70s, it was the white-shirt, blue-suit white men whom IBM leaders thought looked like mainframe salesmen. Now, rather than actually build a credible cloud to compete with Amazon and Microsoft, IBM changes the cast to look like cloud salespeople. (I work for Microsoft. Commenting for myself alone.)
CRAW David , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Now IBM still treats their employees like Disney - by replacing them with H-1B workers.
MHV IBMer , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:35 PM
I am a survivor, the rare employee who has been at IBM for over 35 years. I have seen many, many layoff programs over 20 years now. I have seen tens of thousands people let go from the Hudson Valley of N.Y. Those of us who have survived, know and lived through what this article so accurately described. I currently work with 3 laid off/retired and rehired contractors. I have seen age discrimination daily for over 15 years. It is not only limited to layoffs, it is rampant throughout the company. Promotions, bonuses, transfers for opportunities, good reviews, etc... are gone if you are over 45. I have seen people under 30 given promotions to levels that many people worked 25 years for. IBM knows that these younger employees see how they treat us so they think they can buy them off. Come to think of it, I guess they actually are! They are ageist, there is no doubt, it is about time everyone knew. Excellent article.
Goldie Romero , Friday, March 23, 2018 2:31 PM
Nice article, but seriously this is old news. IBM has been at this for ...oh twenty years or more.
I don't really have a problem with it in terms of a corporation trying to make money. But I do have a problem with how IBM also likes to avoid layoffs by giving folks over 40 intentionally poor reviews, essentially trying to drive people out. Just have the guts to tell people, we don't need you anymore, bye. But to string people along as the overseas workers come in...c'mon just be honest with your workers.
High tech over 40 is not easy...I suggest folks prep for a career change before 50. Then you can have the last laugh on a company like IBM.
jblog , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:37 AM
From pages 190-191 of my novel, Ordinary Man (Amazon):

Throughout
it all, layoffs became common, impacting mostly older employees with many years
of service. These job cuts were dribbled out in small numbers to conceal them
from the outside world, but employees could plainly see what was going on.

The laid off
employees were supplanted by offshoring work to low-costs countries and hiring
younger employees, often only on temporary contracts that offered low pay and
no benefits – a process pejoratively referred to by veteran employees as
"downsourcing." The recruitment of these younger workers was done under the
guise of bringing in fresh skills, but while many of the new hires brought new
abilities and vitality, they lacked the knowledge and perspective that comes
with experience.

Frequently,
an older more experienced worker would be asked to help educate newer
employees, only to be terminated shortly after completing the task. And the new
hires weren't fooled by what they witnessed and experienced at OpenSwitch,
perceiving very quickly that the company had no real interest in investing in
them for the long term. To the contrary, the objective was clearly to grind as
much work out of them as possible, without offering any hope of increased
reward or opportunity.

Most of the
young recruits left after only a year or two – which, again, was part of the
true agenda at the company. Senior management viewed employees not as talent,
but simply as cost, and didn't want anyone sticking around long enough to move
up the pay scale.

turquoisewaters , Thursday, March 22, 2018 10:19 PM
This is why you need unions.
Aaron Stackpole , Thursday, March 22, 2018 5:23 PM
This is the nail in the coffin. As an IT manager responsible for selecting and purchasing software, I will never again recommend IBM products. I love AIX and have worked with a lot if IBM products but not anymore. Good luck with the millennials though...
awb22 , Thursday, March 22, 2018 12:14 PM
The same thing has been going on at other companies, since the end of WWII. It's unethical, whether the illegality can be proven or not.

In the RTP area, where I live, I know many, many current and former employees. Times have changed, but the distinction between right and wrong hasn't.

Suzan awb22 , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I was hired by one of the government agencies in RTP last year and then never given a start date after I submitted my SS number & birth certificate.

Anyone familiar with this situation?

Dave Allen , Thursday, March 22, 2018 1:07 PM
I worked for four major corporations (HP, Intel, Control Data Corporation, and Micron Semiconductor) before I was hired by IBM as a rare (at that time) experienced new hire. Even though I ended up working for IBM for 21 years, and retired in 2013, because of my experiences at those other companies, I never considered IBM my "family." The way I saw it, every time I received a paycheck from IBM in exchange for two weeks' work, we were (almost) even. I did not owe them anything else and they did not owe me anything. The idea of loyalty between a corporation and an at-will employee makes no more sense than loyalty between a motel and its guests. It is a business arrangement, not a love affair. Every individual needs to continually assess their skills and their value to their employer. If they are not commensurate, it is the employee's responsibility to either acquire new skills or seek a new employer. Your employer will not hesitate to lay you off if your skills are no longer needed, or if they can hire someone who can do your job just as well for less pay. That is free enterprise, and it works for people willing to take advantage of it.
sometimestheyaresomewhatright Dave Allen , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I basically agree. But why should it be OK for a company to fire you just to replace you with a younger you? If all that they accomplish is lowering their health care costs (which is what this is really about). If the company is paying about the same for the same work, why is firing older workers for being older OK?
Dave Allen sometimestheyaresomewhatright , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Good question. The point I was trying to make is that people need to watch out for themselves and not expect their employer to do what is "best" for the employee. I think that is true whatever age the employee happens to be.

Whether employers should be able to discriminate against (treat differently) their employees based on age, gender, race, religion, etc. is a political question. Morally, I don't think they should discriminate. Politically, I think it is a slippery slope when the government starts imposing regulations on free enterprise. Government almost always creates more problems than they fix.

DDRLSGC Dave Allen , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Sorry, but when you deregulate the free enterprise, it created more problems than it fixes and that is a fact that has been proven for the last 38 years.
Danllo DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
That's just plain false. Deregulation creates competiiton. Competition for talented and skilled workers creates opportunities for those that wish to be employed and for those that wish to start new ventures. For example, when Ma Bell was regulated and had a monopoly on telecommunications there was no innovation in the telecom inudstry. However, when it was deregulated, cell phones, internet, etc exploded ... creating billionaires and millionaires while also improving the quality of life.
DDRLSGC Danllo , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
No, it happens to be true. When Reagan deregulate the economy, a lot of those corporate raiders just took over the companies, sold off the assets, and pocketed the money. What quality of life? Half of American lived near the poverty level and the wages for the workers have been stagnant for the last 38 years compared to a well-regulated economy in places like Germany and the Scandinavian countries where the workers have good wages and a far better standard of living than in the USA. Why do you think the Norwegians told Trump that they will not be immigrating to the USA anytime soon?
NotSure DDRLSGC , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
What were the economic conditions before Regan? It was a nightmare before Regan.

The annual unemployment rate topped 8% in 1975 and would reach nearly 10% in 1982. The economy seemed trapped in the new nightmare of stagflation," so called because it combined low economic growth and high unemployment ("stagnation") with high rates of inflation. And the prime rate hit 20% by 1980.
DDRLSGC NotSure , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
At least we had a manufacturing base in the USA, strong regulations of corporations, corporate scandals were far and few, businesses did not go under so quickly, prices of goods and services did not go through the roof, people had pensions and could reasonably live off them, and recessions did not last so long or go so deep until Reagan came into office. In Under Reagan, the jobs were allowed to be send overseas, unions were busted up, pensions were reduced or eliminated, wages except those of the CEOs were staganent, and the economic conditions under Bush, Senior and Bush, Jr. were no better except that Bush, Jr, was the first president to have a net minus below zero growth, so every time we get a Republican Administration, the economy really turns into a nightmare. That is a fact.

You have the Republicans in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin using Reaganomics and they are economic disaster areas.

DDRLSGC NotSure , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
You had an industrial base in the USA, lots of banks and savings and loans to choose from, lots of mom and pop stores, strong government regulation of the economy, able to live off your pensions, strong unions and employment laws along with the court system to back you up against corporate malfeasance. All that was gone when Reagan and the two Bushes came into office.
james Foster , Thursday, March 29, 2018 8:37 PM
Amazingly accurate article. The once great IBM now a dishonest and unscrupulous corporation concerned more about earnings per share than employees, customers, or social responsibility. In Global Services most likely 75% or more jobs are no longer in the US - can't believe a word coming out of Armonk.
Philip Meyer james Foster , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
I'm not sure there was ever a paradise in employment. Yeah, you can say there was more job stability 50 or 60 years ago, but that applied to a much smaller workforce than today (mostly white men). It is a drag, but there are also lot more of us old farts than there used to be and we live a lot longer in retirement as well. I don't see any magic bullet fix either.
George A , Tuesday, March 27, 2018 6:12 PM
Warning to Google/Facebook/Apple etc. All you young people will get old. It's inevitable. Do you think those companies will take care of you?
econdataus , Sunday, March 25, 2018 3:01 PM
Great article. What's especially infuriating is that the industry continues to claim that there is a shortage of STEM workers. For example, google "claim of 1.4 million computer science jobs with only 400,000 computer science graduates to fill them". If companies would openly say, "we have plenty of young STEM workers and prefer them to most older STEM workers", we could at least start addressing the problem. But they continue to promote the lie of there being a STEM shortage. They just want as big a labor pool as possible, unemployed workers be damned.
Buzz , Friday, March 23, 2018 12:00 PM
I've worked there 17 years and have worried about being layed off for about 11 of them. Moral is in the toilet. Bonuses for the rank and file are in the under 1% range while the CEO gets millions. Pay raises have been non existent or well under inflation for years. Adjusting for inflation, I make $6K less than I did my first day. My group is a handful of people as at least 1/2 have quit or retired. To support our customers, we used to have several people, now we have one or two and if someone is sick or on vacation, our support structure is to hope nothing breaks. We can't keep millennials because of pay, benefits and the expectation of being available 24/7 because we're shorthanded. As the unemployment rate drops, more leave to find a different job, leaving the old people as they are less willing to start over with pay, vacation, moving, selling a house, pulling kids from school, etc. The younger people are generally less likely to be willing to work as needed on off hours or to pull work from a busier colleague. I honestly have no idea what the plan is when the people who know what they are doing start to retire, we are way top heavy with 30-40 year guys who are on their way out, very few of the 10-20 year guys due to hiring freezes and we can't keep new people past 2-3 years. It's like our support business model is designed to fail.
OrangeGina , Friday, March 23, 2018 11:41 AM
Make no mistake. The three and four letter acronyms and other mushy corporate speak may differ from firm to firm, but this is going on in every large tech company old enough to have a large population of workers over 50. I hope others will now be exposed.
JeffMo , Friday, March 23, 2018 10:23 AM
This article hits the nail right on the head, as I come up on my 1 year anniversary from being....ahem....'retired' from 23 years at IBM....and I'll be damned if I give them the satisfaction of thinking this was like a 'death' to me. It was the greatest thing that could have ever happened. Ginny and the board should be ashamed of themselves, but they won't be.
Frankie , Friday, March 23, 2018 1:00 AM
Starting around age 40 you start to see age discrimination. I think this is largely due to economics, like increased vacation times, higher wages, but most of all the perception that older workers will run up the medical costs. You can pass all the age related discrimination laws you want, but look how ineffective that has been.

If you contrast this with the German workforce, you see that they have more older workers with the skills and younger workers without are having a difficult time getting in. So what's the difference? There are laws about how many vacation weeks that are given and there is a national medical system that everyone pays, so discrimination isn't seen in the same light.

The US is the only hold out maybe with South Africa that doesn't have a good national medical insurance program for everyone. Not only do we pay more than the rest of the world, but we also have discrimination because of it.

Rick Gundlach , Thursday, March 22, 2018 11:38 PM
This is very good, and this is IBM. I know. I was plaintiff in Gundlach v. IBM Japan, 983 F.Supp.2d 389, which involved their violating Japanese labor law when I worked in Japan. The New York federal judge purposely ignored key points of Japanese labor law, and also refused to apply Title VII and Age Discrimination in Employment to the parent company in Westchester County. It is a huge, self-described "global" company with little demonstrated loyalty to America and Americans. Pennsylvania is suing them for $170 million on a botched upgrade of the state's unemployment system.
Jeff , Thursday, March 22, 2018 2:05 PM
In early 2013 I was given a 3 PBC rating for my 2012 performance, the main reason cited by my manager being that my team lead thought I "seemed distracted". Five months later I was included in a "resource action", and was gone by July. I was 20 months shy of 55. Younger coworkers were retained. That was about two years after the product I worked on for over a decade was off-shored.

Through a fluke of someone from the old, disbanded team remembering me, I was rehired two years later - ironically in a customer support position for the very product I helped develop.

While I appreciated my years of service, previous salary, and previous benefits being reinstated, a couple years into it I realized I just wasn't cut out for the demands of the job - especially the significant 24x7 pager duty. Last June I received email describing a "Transition to Retirement" plan I was eligible for, took it, and my last day will be June 30. I still dislike the job, but that plan reclassified me as part time, thus ending pager duty for me. The job still sucks, but at least I no longer have to despair over numerous week long 24x7 stints throughout the year.

A significant disappointment occurred a couple weeks ago. I was discussing healthcare options with another person leaving the company who hadn't been resource-actioned as I had, and learned the hard way I lost over $30,000 in some sort of future medical benefit account the company had established and funded at some point. I'm not sure I was ever even aware of it. That would have funded several years of healthcare insurance during the 8 years until I'm eligible for Medicare. I wouldn't be surprised if their not having to give me that had something to do with my seeming "distracted" to them. <rolls eyes="">

What's really painful is the history of that former account can still be viewed at Fidelity, where it associates my departure date in 2013 with my having "forfeited" that money. Um, no. I did not forfeit that money, nor would I have. I had absolutely no choice in the matter. I find the use of the word 'forfeited' to describe what happened as both disingenuous and offensive. That said, I don't know whether's that's IBM's or Fidelity's terminology, though.

Herb Jeff , in reply to" aria-label="in reply to">
Jeff, You should call Fidelity. I recently received a letter from the US Department of Labor that they discovered that IBM was "holding" funds that belonged to me that I was never told about. This might be similar or same story.
AlmostNative , Sunday, April 1, 2018 4:27 PM
Great article. And so so close to home. I worked at IBM for 23 years until I became yet another statistic -- caught up in one of their many "RA's" -- Resource Actions. I also can identify with the point about being encouraged to find a job internally yet hiring managers told to not hire. We were encouraged to apply for jobs outside the US -- Europe mainly -- as long as we were willing to move and work at the prevailing local wage rate. I was totally fine with that as my wife had been itching for some time for a chance to live abroad. I applied for several jobs across Europe using an internal system IBM set up just for that purpose. Never heard a word. Phone calls and internal e-mails to managers posting jobs in the internal system went unanswered. It turned out to be a total sham as far as I was concerned.

IBM has laid off hundreds of thousands in the last few decades. Think of the MILLIONS of children, spouses, brothers/sisters, aunts/uncles, and other family members of laid-off people that were affected. Those people are or will be business owners and in positions to make technology decisions. How many of them will think "Yeah, right, hire IBM. They're the company that screwed daddy/mommy". I fully expect -- and I fully hope -- that I live to see IBM go out of business. Which they will, sooner or later, as they are living off of past laurels -- billions in the bank, a big fat patent portfolio, and real estate that they continue to sell off or rent out. If you do hire IBM, you should fully expect that they'll send some 20-something out to your company a few weeks after you hire them, that person will be reading "XYZ for Dummys" on the plane on the way to your offices and will show up as your IBM 'expert'.

[Oct 25, 2018] The chamber of commerce likes the fact that workers will take more crap, and work for less, if they know their family will lose access to heathcare if they dont. It creates a servile, frightened workforce. Just the way the oligarchs like it.

Oct 25, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

edmondo , October 23, 2018 at 3:05 pm

the next Trump, a Trump with the rough edges sanded off, is going to seize that issue and run with it, and lock in Republican power for another generation (as soon as they can figure out how to package Medicare for All as supporting the free market. Don't laugh).

The Republicans will sell this to America as making American business more competitive oin world commerce by lowering costs. Healthcare costs have to be eat up a huge portion of American companies employee costs. By dumping these costs onto the government, American business becomes more cost competitive around the world. (Not believing most of this myself, but it's the argument the GOP will make.)

I never understood why Bernie never made this appeal to the US Chamber of Commerce.

Monty , October 23, 2018 at 4:06 pm

Because the chamber of commerce likes the fact that workers will take more crap, and work for less, if they know their family will lose access to heathcare if they dont. It creates a servile, frightened workforce. Just the way the oligarchs like it.

Mo's Bike Shop , October 23, 2018 at 9:45 pm

There's efficiency, and then there's efficiency .

Summer , October 24, 2018 at 3:00 am

Kind of like holding the family hostage.
Only thing missing is a clandestine drop every other Friday to pick up your paycheck no police, come alone.

MikeW_CA , October 23, 2018 at 3:23 pm

You could "package Medicare for All as supporting the free market" by pointing out that it would allow small businesses to compete with big ones by eliminating their need to arrange for health insurance for their employees -- something that is much easier and more cost effective for big businesses.

ChiGal in Carolina , October 23, 2018 at 4:19 pm

This case has been made by many. Watch the free movie Fix It online made by an American businessman re what providing even crappy insurance to his employees affects his bottom line.

ambrit , October 23, 2018 at 4:22 pm

Also frame it as equalizing the cost of doing business internationally. Any kind of National Health scheme is a subsidy for that nations business class. How much of the "lower labour costs" touted in support of 'outsourcing' American jobs is paid for by the other countries government's assumption of their domestic medical funding?
This brings up the question of which business group has more 'influence' on the political parties and thus government, international trade or domestic production?

ChiGal in Carolina , October 23, 2018 at 4:37 pm

Done properly (HR 676), it allows patients to choose whatever provider they want. It does not artificially constrain them with narrow networks.

That is free market. OTOH, Medicare Advantage plans use networks.

Lynne , October 23, 2018 at 5:33 pm

And Medicare for All is single payer, not single provider, right? Which means that there will be competition among hospital conglomerates and less room for under-the-table deals like the one here where the biggest hospital company bought the biggest insurance company in the state, and nobody could do anything about the fact that the insurance company suddenly would not pay for any doctor other than their own because the ACA had an antitrust waiver for medical insurance companies.

[Oct 23, 2018] Middle Class Destroyed 50% Of All American Workers Make Less Than $30,533 A Year by Michael Snyder

Oct 22, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

The middle class in America has been declining for decades, and we continue to get even more evidence of the catastrophic damage that has already been done.

According to the Social Security Administration, the median yearly wage in the United States is just $30,533 at this point. That means 50 percent of all American workers make at least that much per year, but that also means that 50 percent of all American workers make that much or less per year. When you divide $30,533 by 12, you get a median monthly wage of just over $2,500. But of course nobody can provide a middle class standard of living for a family of four for just $2,500 a month, and we will discuss this further below. So in most households at least two people are working, and in many cases multiple jobs are being taken on by a single individual in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. The American people are working harder than ever, and yet the middle class just continues to erode .

The deeper we dig into the numbers provided by the Social Security Administration, the more depressing they become. Here are just a few examples from their official website

At this moment, the federal poverty level for a family of five is $29,420 , and yet about half the workers in the entire country don't even make that much on a yearly basis.

So can someone please explain to me again why people are saying that the economy is "doing well"?

Many will point to how well the stock market has been doing, but the stock market has not been an accurate barometer for the overall economy in a very, very long time.

And the stock market has already fallen nearly 1,500 points since the beginning of the month. The bull market appears to be over and the bears are licking their chops.

No matter who has been in the White House, and no matter which political party has controlled Congress, the U.S. middle class has been systematically eviscerated year after year. Many that used to be thriving may still even call themselves "middle class", but that doesn't make it true.

You would think that someone making "the median income" in a country as wealthy as the United States would be doing quite well. But the truth is that $2,500 a month won't get you very far these days.

First of all, your family is going to need somewhere to live. Especially on the east and west coasts, it is really hard to find something habitable for under $1,000 a month in 2018. If you live in the middle of the country or in a rural area, housing prices are significantly cheaper. But for the vast majority of us, let's assume a minimum of $1,000 a month for housing costs.

Secondly, you will also need to pay your utility bills and other home-related expenses. These costs include power, water, phone, television, Internet, etc. I will be extremely conservative and estimate that this total will be about $300 a month.

Thirdly, each income earner will need a vehicle in order to get to work. In this example we will assume one income earner and a car payment of just $200 a month.

So now we are already up to $1,500 a month. The money is running out fast.

Next, insurance bills will have to be paid. Health insurance premiums have gotten ridiculously expensive in recent years, and many family plans are now well over $1,000 a month. But for this example let's assume a health insurance payment of just $450 a month and a car insurance payment of just $50 a month.

Of course your family will have to eat, and I don't know anyone that can feed a family of four for just $500 a month, but let's go with that number.

So now we have already spent the entire $2,500, and we don't have a single penny left over for anything else.

But wait, we didn't even account for taxes yet. When you deduct taxes, our fictional family of four is well into the red every month and will need plenty of government assistance.

This is life in America today, and it isn't pretty.

In his most recent article, Charles Hugh Smith estimated that an income of at least $106,000 is required to maintain a middle class lifestyle in America today. That estimate may be a bit high, but not by too much.

Yes, there is a very limited sliver of the population that has been doing well in recent years, but most of the country continues to barely scrape by from month to month. Out in California, Silicon Valley has generated quite a few millionaires, but the state also has the highest poverty in the entire nation. For every Silicon Valley millionaire, there are thousands upon thousands of poor people living in towns such as Huron, California

Nearly 40 percent of Huron residents -- and almost half of all children -- live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That's more than double the statewide rate of 19 percent reported last month, which is the highest in the U.S. The national average is 12.3 percent.

"We're in the Appalachians of the West," Mayor Rey Leon said. "I don't think enough urgency is being taken to resolve a problem that has existed for way too long."

Multiple families and boarders pack rundown homes, only about a quarter of residents have high school diplomas and most lack adequate health care in an area plagued with diabetes and high asthma rates in one the nation's most polluted air basins.

One recent study found that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s , and America's once thriving middle class is evaporating right in front of our eyes.

We could have made much different choices as a society, but we didn't, and now we are going to have a great price to pay for our foolishness...

[Oct 02, 2018] Sysadmins_about thier jobs

Oct 02, 2018 | www.reddit.com

[–]


therankin 5 months ago (0 children)

You really stuck it out.

Sometimes things where I work feel like that. I'm the only admin at a school with 120 employees and 450 students. It's both challenging, fun, and can be frustrating. The team I work with is very nice and supportive and on those rare occasions I need help we have resources to get it (Juniper contract, a consulting firm helped me build out a redundant cluster and a SAN, etc).

I can see that if the environment wasn't so great I could feel similar to the way you did.

I'm glad you got out, and I'm glad you've been able to tell us that it can get better.

The truth is I actually like going to work; I think if you're in a position where you dread work you should probably work on getting out of there. Good for you though sticking it out so long. You learned a lot and learned how to juggle things under pressure and now you have a better gig partially because of it (I'm guessing).

baphometsayshi 6 months ago (0 children)

-the problem is you. Your expectations are too high -no job is perfect. Be happy you have one and can support your family.

fuck those people with a motorized rake. if they were in your position they would have been screaming for relief.

Dontinquire 6 months ago (0 children)
If I may be so bold... Fuck them, good for you. Get what you're worth, not what you're paid.
jedikaiti 6 months ago (0 children)
Your friends are nuts, they should have been helping you jump ship ASAP.
headsupvoip 6 months ago (1 child)
WoW, just WOW. Glad you got out. Sounds like this ISP does not understand that the entire revenue stream is based on aging hardware. If they are not willing to keep it updated, which means keeping the staff at full strength and old equipment replaced it will all come to a halt. Your old boss sounds like she is a prime example of the Peter principle.

We do VoIP and I researched the Calix product line for ISP's after reading your post. Always wondered how they still supported legacy TDM. Like the old Hank Williams song with a twist, "Us geeks will Survive". Cheers

djgizmo 6 months ago (0 children)
TDM is still a big thing since the old switches used to cost 400k plus. Now that metaswitch is less than 200k, it's less of a thing, but tdm for transport is rock solid and you can buy a ds3 from one co or headend to another for very cheap to transport lines compared to the equivalent in data.
AJGrayTay 6 months ago (0 children)

I talk to friends. Smart people I look up to and trust. The answer?

-the problem is you. Your expectations are too high

-no job is perfect. Be happy you have one and can support your family.

Oh man, this... I feel your pain. Only you know your situation, man (or woman). Trust your judgement, isolate emotional responses and appraise objectively. Rarely, if ever, does anyone know better than you do.

DAVPX 6 months ago (0 children)
Well done. I went through something like this recently and am also feeling much better working remotely.
renegadecanuck 6 months ago (0 children)
It's true that no job is perfect, but there's a difference between "this one person in the office is kind of grumpy and annoys me", "I have one coworker that's lazy and management doesn't see it", or "we have to support this really old computer, because replacing the equipment that uses it is way too expensive" and "I get treated like shit every day, my working hours are too long, and they won't get anyone to help me".
ralph8877 6 months ago * (0 children)

He puts that responsibility on me. Says if I can get someone hired I'd get a $500 bonus.

but my boss didn't bite.

Seems like your boss lied to you to keep you from quitting.

fricfree 6 months ago (1 child)
I'm curious. How many hours were you working in this role?
chrisanzalone007 6 months ago (0 children)
First I'd like to say. I have 4 kids and a wife. It was discussed during the interview that I work to live. And expect to work 40 hours unless it's an emergency.

For the first 6 months or so I'd work on weekdays after hours on simple improvements. This then stopped and shifted to working on larger projects (via home labs) on the weekends (entire weekends lost) just to feel prepared to administer Linux kvm, or our mpls Network (that I had zero prior experience on)

This started effecting my home life. I stopped working at home and discussed with my wife. Together we decided if the company was willing to pay significantly more ($20k a year) I would invest the needed time after hours into the company.

I brought this to my boss and nothing happened. I got a 4% raise. This is when I capped the time I spent at home on NEEDED things and only focused on what I wanted out of IT (network engineering) and started digging into GNS3 a bit more

-RYknow 6 months ago (1 child)
Disappointed there was no mention of thenfirend who supported your decision, and kept telling you to get out!! Haha! Just playing buddy! Glad you got out...and that place can fuck themselves!!

Really happy for you man! You deserve to be treated better!

chrisanzalone007 6 months ago (0 children)
Lol! Looking back I actually feel bad that you had to listen to my problems! Definitely appreciated - you probably prevented a few explosions lol
mailboy79 6 months ago (1 child)
OP, thank you for your post.

I'm unemployed right now and the interviews have temporarily slowed down, but I'm determined not to take "just anything" to get by, as doing so can adversely affect my future prospects.

thinkyrsoillustrious 6 months ago (0 children)

MSP

I've been reading this whole thread and can relate, as I'm in a similar position. But wanted to comment, based on experience, that you are correct about taking 'just anything' will adversely affect your future prospects. After moving to Central NY I was unemployed for a while and took a helpdesk position (I was a Senior Systems Analyst/Microsoft Systems Administrator making good money 18 years ago!) That stuck with me as they see it on my resume...and have only been offered entry level salaries every since. That, and current management in a horrible company, ruined my career!! So be careful...

illkrumpwithyou 6 months ago (0 children)
A job is a means to an end, my friend. If it was making you miserable then you absolutely did the right thing in leaving.
1nfestissumam 6 months ago (0 children)
Congrats, but a 5 month gap on the resume won't fly for 99.9% of our perspective employers. There better be a damn good reason other than complaining about burnout on the lined up interview. I resigned without another opportunity lined up and learned a 9 month lesson the hard way. Never jump ship without anything lined up. If not for you, then for your family.
mistralol 6 months ago (0 children)
It works like this. Get paid as much a possible for as little effort as possible.

And companies want as much as possible for as little money as possible.

Sinister29389 6 months ago (0 children)
SA's typically wear many hats at small or large organizations. Shoot, we even got a call from an employee asking IT if they can jump start their car 😫.

It's a thankless job and resources are always lacking. The typical thinking is, IT does not make money for the company, they spend it. This always put the dept. on the back burner until something breaks of course.

qsub 6 months ago (0 children)
I've bee through 7 jobs in the last 12 years, I'm surprised people still hire me lol. I'm pretty comfortable where I am now though, I also have a family.
Sinsilenc 6 months ago (0 children)
These companies that think managed printer contracts are expensive are nuts. They are about even with toner replacement costs. We buy our own xerox machines and have our local xerox rep manage them for us. Whoever had that hair brained idea needs slapped.
OFDarkness 6 months ago (0 children)
I had 12 years of what you had, OP. Same job, same shit you described on a daily basis... I can tell you right now it's not you or your expectations too high... some companies are just sick from the top to the bottom and ISP's... well they are magnets both for ppl who work too hard and for ppl who love to exploit the ones who work too hard in order to get their bonuses... After realising that no matter how hard I worked, the ppl in charge would never change anything to make work better both for workers, company and Customers... I quit my job, spent a year living off my savings... then started my own business and never looked back. You truly deserve better!
Grimzkunk 6 months ago (4 children)
Just for me curiosity, do you have family? Young kids?
chrisanzalone007 6 months ago (3 children)
4 kids. 11 and under
Grimzkunk 6 months ago (2 children)
Wow! Congrats man, 4 kids is a lot of energy. How many hours are you working each weeks?

I only have one little dude for the moment and having to drive him to and from the daycare each day prevent me from doing anymore than 40hr/week.

chrisanzalone007 6 months ago (1 child)
Very much tiring! Lol. I'm at 40 hours a week unless we have an outage, or compromised server(or want to learn something on my own time). I'm up front at my interviews that "i work to live" and family is the most important thing to me.

I do spend quite a bit of personal time playing. With Linux KVM, (Linux in general since I'm a windows guy) difference between LVM block storage with different file systems, no lvm with image files. Backups (lvm snapshots) - front end management - which ultimately evolved to using proxmox. Since I manage iptv I read books about the mpeg stream to understand the pieces of it better.

I was actually hired as a "network engineer" (even though I'm more of a systems guy) so I actually WANT more network experience. Bgp, ospf, mpls, qos in mpls, multicast, pim sparse mode.

So I've made a GNS3 lab with our ALU hardware in attempts to build our network to get some hands on experience.

One day while trying to enable router guard (multicast related) - I broke the hell out of multicast by enabling it on the incoming vlan for our largest service area. Felt like an idiot so I stopped touching production until I could learn it (and still not there!)

Grimzkunk 6 months ago (0 children)
Good to hear the "I work to live". I'm also applying the same, family first, but it can sadly be hard for some to understand :-(

I feel like employers should have different expectations with employee that have family VS those that that don't. And even then, I would completely understand a single person without family that enjoy life the more he can and doesn't want to work more than what is on its contract since.

I really don't know how it works in employers mind.

chrisanzalone007 6 months ago (0 children)
The work load is high, but I've learned to deal with it. I ordered 7 servers about 9 months ago and they were just deployed last month. Prioritizing is life!

What pushed me over the ledge was. Me spending my time trying to improve solutions to save time, and being told not gonna happen. The light in the tunnel gets further and further away.

_ChangeOfPace 5 months ago (1 child)
Were you working for an ISP in the SC/GA area? This sounds exactly like our primary ISP.
chrisanzalone007 5 months ago (0 children)
That's crazy! But no

[Sep 22, 2018] Saturday Satire Down With The Working Classes! by CJ Hopkins

Sep 22, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by CJ Hopkins via Unz.com,

... ... ...

The international working classes are racists. They are misogynists. Xenophobic transphobes. They do not think the way we want them to. Some of them actually still believe in God. And they are white supremacists. Anti-Semites. Gun-toting, Confederate-flag-flying rednecks. Most of them have never even heard of terms like "intersectionality," "TERF," and so on.

They do not respect the corporate media. They think that news sources like the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and so on, are basically propaganda outlets for the global corporations and oligarchs who own them, and thus are essentially no different from FOX, whose pundits they believe every word of.

Their minds are so twisted by racism and xenophobia that they can't understand how global capitalism, the graduated phase-out of national sovereignty, the privatization of virtually everything, the debt-enslavement of nearly everyone, and the replacement of their so-called "cultures" with an ubiquitous, smiley-faced, gender-neutral, non-oppressive, corporate-friendly, Disney simulation of culture are actually wonderfully progressive steps forward on the road to a more peaceful, less offensive world.

Now this has been proved in numerous studies with all kinds of charts and graphs and so on. And not only by the corporate statisticians, and the corporate media, and liberal think tanks. Why, just this week, Mehdi Hasan, in an exasperated jeremiad in the pages of The Intercept , that bastion of fearless, adversarial journalism owned by billionaire Pierre Omidyar, proved, once again, that Donald Trump was elected because PEOPLE ARE GODDAMN RACISTS!

[Sep 12, 2018] The Recovery Threw the Middle-Class Dream Under a Benz by Nelson D. Schwartz

Notable quotes:
"... By cutting interest rates to near zero and pumping trillions -- yes, you read that right -- into the economy, the Federal Reserve essentially put a trampoline under the stock market. ..."
"... Only about half of American households have any exposure to the stock market, including 401(k)'s and retirement plans, and ownership of the shares of individual companies is clustered among upper-income families. ..."
Sep 12, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

A decade ago this week, Wall Street imploded. Read our special coverage .

Once a year or so, the economist Diane Swonk ventures into the basement of her 1891 Victorian house outside Chicago and opens a plastic box containing the items that mean the most to her: awards, wedding pictures, the clothes she was wearing at the World Trade Center on the day it was attacked. But what she seeks out again and again is a bound diary of the events of the financial crisis and their aftermath.

"It's useful to go back and see what a chaotic time it was and how terrifying it was," she said. "That time is seared in my mind. I looked at it again recently, and all the pain came flooding back."

A decade later, things are eerily calm. The economy, by nearly any official measure, is robust . Wall Street is flirting with new highs . And the housing market, the epicenter of the crash, has recovered in many places. But like the diary stored in Ms. Swonk's basement, the scars of the financial crisis and the ensuing Great Recession are still with us, just below the surface.

The most profound of these is that the uneven nature of the recovery compounded a long-term imbalance in the accumulation of wealth. As a consequence, what it means to be secure has changed. Wealth, real wealth, now comes from investment portfolios, not salaries. Fortunes are made through an initial public offering, a grant of stock options, a buyout or another form of what high-net-worth individuals call a liquidity event.

Data from the Federal Reserve show that over the last decade and a half, the proportion of family income from wages has dropped from nearly 70 percent to just under 61 percent. It's an extraordinary shift, driven largely by the investment profits of the very wealthy. In short, the people who possess tradable assets, especially stocks, have enjoyed a recovery that Americans dependent on savings or income from their weekly paycheck have yet to see. Ten years after the financial crisis, getting ahead by going to work every day seems quaint, akin to using the phone book to find a number or renting a video at Blockbuster.

The financial crisis didn't just kill the dream of getting rich from your day job. It also put an end to a fundamental belief of the middle class: that owning a home was always a good idea because prices moved in only one direction -- up. The bubble, while it lasted, gave millions in the middle class a sense of validation of their financial acumen, and made them feel as if they had done the Right Thing.

In theory, if you lost your job, or suffered some other kind of financial setback, you could always sell into a real estate market that was forever rising. Ever-higher home prices became a steam valve, and the "greater fool" theory substituted for any conventional measure of value.

The kindling for the fire that consumed Wall Street and nearly the entire economy was mortgages that should never have been taken out in the first place. Homeowners figured the more house the better, whether or not their income could support the monthly payment, while greedy banks and middlemen were all too happy to encourage them.

Ten years ago, Lehman Brothers collapsed. Everything changed.
Read more in our series "

When the bubble burst, the bedrock investment for many families was wiped out by a combination of falling home values and too much debt. A decade after this debacle, the typical middle-class family's net worth is still more than $40,000 below where it was in 2007, according to the Federal Reserve. The damage done to the middle-class psyche is impossible to price, of course, but no one doubts that it was vast.

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Banks were hurt, too, but aside from the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the pain proved transitory. Bankers themselves were never punished for their sins. In one form or another -- the Troubled Asset Relief Program, quantitative easing, the Fed's discount window -- the financial sector was supported in spectacular fashion.

Like the bankers, shareholders and investors were also bailed out. By cutting interest rates to near zero and pumping trillions -- yes, you read that right -- into the economy, the Federal Reserve essentially put a trampoline under the stock market. The subsequent bounce produced a windfall, but only for a limited group of beneficiaries. Only about half of American households have any exposure to the stock market, including 401(k)'s and retirement plans, and ownership of the shares of individual companies is clustered among upper-income families.

For homeowners, there wasn't much of a rescue package from Washington, and eight million succumbed to foreclosure. Sometimes, eviction came in the form of marshals with court orders; in other cases, families quietly handed over the keys to the bank and just walked away. Although home prices in hot markets have fully recovered, many homeowners are still underwater in the worst-hit states like Florida, Arizona and Nevada. Meanwhile, more Americans are renting and have little prospect of ever owning a home.

Worsening the picture, the post-crisis era has been marked by an increased disparity in wealth between white, Hispanic and African-American members of the middle class. That's according to an analysis of Fed data by the Pew Research Center, which found that families in the latter two groups were more dependent on housing as their principal form of investment. Not only were both minority groups harder hit by foreclosures, but Hispanics were also twice as likely as other Americans to be living in Sun Belt states where the housing crash was most severe.

In 2016, net worth among white middle-income families was 19 percent below 2007 levels, adjusted for inflation. But among blacks, it was down 40 percent, and Hispanics saw a drop of 46 percent. For many, old-fashioned hard work has simply not been a viable path out of this hole. After unemployment peaked in the fall of 2009, it took years for joblessness to return to pre-recession levels. Slack in the labor market left the employed and unemployed alike with little leverage to demand raises, even as corporate profits surged.

Maybe it was inevitable that when half the population watches its wages stagnate while the other half gets rich in the market, the result is President Donald Trump and Brexit.

"It peeled away the facade and revealed an anger that had been building for decades," said Ms. Swonk, who is chief economist at Grant Thornton in Chicago. "The crisis was horrific, but its legacy pushed us over the edge in terms of the discontent."

It also made inequality and the One Percent an urgent topic, and made unlikely celebrities of wonky intellectuals such as the economist Thomas Piketty. His best seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," published in 2013, was 816 data-laden pages that laid out a grim diagnosis. Mr. Piketty argued that the decades after World War II, when the divisions between the classes narrowed and opportunities to move up the economic ladder expanded -- that is, when the middle class as we knew it was formed -- may actually have been an aberration. Society, Mr. Piketty wrote, risks a return to the historical norm of a yawning gap between rich and poor.

Whether or not he is right, the concentration of wealth that is a legacy of the financial crisis will make itself felt far into the future. Younger Americans, in particular, will be marked by the experience of 2008 much as the Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression haunted the generations who lived through it in the last century. Not only were they unable to accumulate assets in the lean years of the early recovery, but they also missed out on the recent stock market rally that benefited their older and richer peers.

A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found that while all birth cohorts lost wealth during the Great Recession, Americans born in the 1980s were at the "greatest risk for becoming a lost generation for wealth accumulation."

For those fortunate enough to still possess wealth after the crisis, the future looks very different. With the security provided by assets, rather than just income, they and especially their children are on a glide path for a gilded financial future.

"Over and over, you see that family wealth is an important determinant of opportunity for the next generation, over and above income," said Fabian T. Pfeffer, a sociologist at the University of Michigan. "Wealth serves as a private safety net that allows you to behave differently and plan differently."

A wealthy person who loses a job can afford to be more choosy and wait for an opportunity suited to his or her skills and experience. The risk of going to an expensive college and taking on debt is lower when there is parental wealth to fall back on.

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Timothy Smeeding, who teaches public affairs and economics at the University of Wisconsin, put it more bluntly. "You can see dynasties starting to form," he said.

Ten years have passed since the trauma of 2008, the nerves are still raw, and the pain still has a way of flaring up. Every time she goes down into the basement and peruses her diary, Diane Swonk feels it anew.

"It is the diary of an economist, as well as a mother and a human being," Ms. Swonk said. It includes her published writings for clients, as well as her feelings, thoughts and fears as the crisis unfolded. She also recorded her impression of key figures she met during those fateful months, including Lawrence H. Summers, a top White House economic official at the time, and Ben S. Bernanke, then the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

"The financial crisis became a delineator," she said. "There were those who could recoup their losses and those who could not. Some people have amnesia, but we are still living with the wounds."

Nelson D. Schwartz has covered economics since 2012. Previously, he wrote about Wall Street and banking, and also served as European economic correspondent in Paris. He joined The Times in 2007 as a feature writer for the Sunday Business section.

[Sep 07, 2018] Bernie Sanders Introduces 'Stop BEZOS' Bill To Tax Amazon For Underpaying Workers

Notable quotes:
"... Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act ..."
Sep 07, 2018 | yro.slashdot.org

(theverge.com) Sanders' Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act (abbreviated "Stop BEZOS") -- along with Khanna's House of Representatives counterpart, the Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act -- would institute a 100 percent tax on government benefits that are granted to workers at large companies . The bill's text characterizes this as a "corporate welfare tax," and it would apply to corporations with 500 or more employees. If workers are receiving government aid through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), national school lunch and breakfast programs, Section 8 housing subsidies, or Medicaid, employers will be taxed for the total cost of those benefits. The bill applies to full-time and part-time employees, as well as independent contractors that are de facto company employees.

[Sep 07, 2018] Silicon Valley Has Been Treating Workers 'Miserably' Since the 1970s, Economic Historian Says

Sep 07, 2018 | news.slashdot.org

"Uber is the waste product of the service economy," Hyman said on the latest episode of Recode Decode , a podcast.

"It relies on a bunch of people who don't have an alternative." Hyman told Recode that the number of people who have to rely on temporary, freelance or other "alternative work arrangements" has been growing since the 1970s , when the era of bloated corporations gave way to businesses that optimized for short-term profits and began treating workers as disposable.

"The alternative to driving for Uber is not a good job in a factory with a union wage or working in a stable office job, it's slinging coffee at a Starbucks where you may or may not get the hours you need," he said. "That is what people are shoring up. They're shoring up getting enough hours, trying to make ends meet. Oftentimes, people talk about the gig economy as 'supplementary income' ...

It's not supplemental if you need it to pay for your kids' braces, or food, or rent."

Hyman argued that this phenomenon could be traced back to the legions of undocumented migrant laborers who built early computers, before those manufacturing jobs moved overseas.

[Aug 07, 2018] The Story of Stagnant Wage Growth by Dean Baker

Images removed...
Notable quotes:
"... This column originally appeared on Dean Baker's blog: Beat the Press. ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

This recovery has not been great for workers. They have seen modest real wage gains over the last five years, but these gains have not come close to making up the ground lost in the recession and the first years of the recovery.

Nonetheless, real wages have been growing for most of the last five years. The last month has been an exception to this pattern, not because nominal wages have grown less, but because we had a large jump in energy prices, which has depressed real wage growth. Here's picture for the last five years.

... ... ...

As can be seen, there is a very modest acceleration in the rate of average hourly wage growth over this period from just over 2.0 percent in the middle of 2013 to 2.7 percent in the most recent data. Real wage growth, which is the difference between the rate of wage growth and the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, has mostly been positive, with the exception of a few months at the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 and last month.

The explanation for the much larger variation in the real wage than the nominal wage is the variation in the rate of inflation over this period which is in turn overwhelmingly a function of changes in world oil prices. A sharp drop in world oil prices in 2014 translated into much lower energy prices for consumers in the United States. This meant very low, and even negative inflation rates, in 2015. The result was a much more rapid rate of real wage growth.

World oil prices have partially rebounded in the last two years, going from lows near $40 a barrel to current levels that are near $70. This has added to the inflation rate, pushing down real wage growth, and actually leading to short periods of negative growth.

The issue here is not that nominal wages have stopped growing, it is just that changes in world energy prices had led to a temporary drag on real wage growth, just as they provided a temporary boost to real wage growth in 2015.

This story is worth pointing out in the context of recent comments about real wages stagnating. This is true, but the cause is the rise in world oil prices, not something bad that happened to the labor market.

The folks who want to blame Trump for stagnant wages are off the mark, unless they think he is responsible for the rise in world oil prices. If the argument is that the tax cuts have not led to more rapid wage growth, this is true, but we really should not have expected to see much effect just yet. The tax cut story is that it will lead to more investment, which will in turn lead to higher productivity. Higher productivity will in turn lead to higher wages.

The key in this story is investment. And so far, there is nothing to show here , indicating that the tax cuts are only paying off for shareholders, not workers.

Anyhow, the point is that it's a bit silly to blame slower real wage growth on Trump. I'm not about to become a Trumper, but the guy does 1000 things every day for which he should be chased out of office. Let's focus on the real items, we don't have to make stuff up.

This column originally appeared on Dean Baker's blog: Beat the Press.

[Jul 29, 2018] The Middle Precariat: The Downwardly Mobile Middle Class by Lynn Parramore

Notable quotes:
"... By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website ..."
"... Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America ..."
"... You will not do as well as your parents ..."
"... Life is a struggle to keep up. Even if you achieve something, you will live in fear of losing it. America is not your land: it belongs to the ultra-rich. ..."
"... The Vanishing Middle Class ..."
"... Capital in the Twenty-First Century ..."
"... Global Wealth Report ..."
"... Professed as a right for individual freedom and empowerment, in reality it serves to suppress disobedience with shame. If you earn like shit -- it's gotta be because YOU are shit. Just try harder. Don't you see those OTHER kids that did well! ..."
"... I think one crucial thing that has to change is the culture of extreme individualisation. ..."
"... die Plutonomisten und Bolshewisten! ..."
"... That the article brings "fear of robots" into the discussion is a tell that the writer does not want to mention that it is the competition from others in the world wide labor force that depress USA wages. ..."
"... We have been commodified since before we were even born, to the point where opportunities for what Lave and Wenger would call "legitimate peripheral participation" in the kinds of work that yield real, humane, benefits to our communities are scant to nonexistent for most of us. Something has gone deeply awry in this core social function at the worst possible time in human history. ..."
"... That was a wonderful post, very moving, thank you. These kind of testimonies are very important because they show the real human cost of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is truly a death cult. Please find an alternative to alcohol. Music, art, nature, etc. ..."
"... At least you are self aware. Most people are not. As for the Ship of Status, let it sink. Find a lifeboat where you feel comfortable and batten down for the Roaring (20)40s yet to come. Once you find something to work for, the bad habits will lose much of their hold on you. As long as you don't slide into alcoholism, you have a chance. ..."
"... Neoliberalism, the economic policy that is private sector "free market" driven, giving the owners of capital free, unfettered reign. Created by libertarians like Fredrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman, they sold it to the nation but failed to mention that little peccadillo about how privatization of government would usher in economic fascism. ..."
"... "An extreme form of laissez-faire individualism that developed in the writings of Hayek, Friedman and Nozick they are also referred to as libertarians. They draw on the natural rights tradition of John Locke and champion's full autonomy and freedom of the individual." ..."
"... What they meant was ECONOMIC freedom. They despise social freedom (democracy) because civil, labor, health, food safety, etc., rights and environmental protections put limits on their profits. ..."
"... The "maximizing shareholder value" myth turns people into psychopaths . The entire neoliberal economic policy of the past 40 years is based on the false assumption that self-interest is the driving evolution of humanity. We're not all psychopaths, turns out. We're social beings that have mainly used cooperation to get us through these thousands of years of existence. ..."
"... "If the IMF is to shake its image as an inward-looking, out-of-touch boys club, it needs to start taking the issue seriously. The effect of the male dominance in macroeconomics can be seen in the policy direction of the organisation: female economists are more likely to be in favour of Government-backed redistribution measures than their male counterparts. ..."
"... Of course, the parochial way in which economics is perceived by the IMF, as nothing more than the application of mathematical models, is nothing new. In fact, this is how mainstream economics frequently is taught in universities all over the world. Is it any wonder that the IMF has turned out as it is?" ..."
"... "Economics students are forced to spend so much time with this complex calculus so that they can go to work on Wall St. that there's no room in the course curriculum for the history of economic thought. ..."
"... So all they know about Adam Smith is what they hear on CNN news or other mass media that are a travesty of what these people really said and if you don't read the history of economic thought, you'd think there's only one way of looking at the world and that's the way the mass media promote things and it's a propagandistic, Orwellian way. ..."
"... The whole economic vocabulary is to cover up what's really happening and to make people think that the economy is getting richer while the reality is they're getting poorer and only the top is getting richer and they can only get rich as long as the middle class and the working class don't realize the scam that's being pulled off on them." ..."
"... "I often joke with my fellow country neighbors that it costs a hundred bucks to simply leave the house. It's not a joke anymore. At this point those still fighting for a paltry 15.00 should include a hundred dollar per day walk out your front door per diem." ..."
"... This is a stark and startling reality. This reality is outside the framework of understanding of economic struggle in America that is allowed by the corporate neoliberal culture/media. ..."
"... As the Precariat grows, having watched the .1% lie, cheat and steal – from them, they are more likely to also lie, cheat and steal in mortgage, employment and student loan applications and most importantly and sadly, in their dealings with each other. Everybody is turning into a hustler. ..."
"... Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy. ..."
"... "The labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers." ..."
"... Capitalism had two sides, the productive side where people earned their income and the parasitic side where the rentiers lived off unearned income. The Classical Economists had shown that most at the top of society were just parasites feeding off the productive activity of everyone else. ..."
"... The early neoclassical economists hid the problems of rentier activity in the economy by removing the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income and they conflated "land" with "capital". They took the focus off the cost of living that had been so important to the Classical Economists to hide the effects of rentier activity in the economy. ..."
"... The landowners, landlords and usurers were now just productive members of society again. It they left banks and debt out of economics no one would know the bankers created the money supply out of nothing. Otherwise, everyone would see how dangerous it was to let bankers do what they wanted if they knew the bankers created the money supply through their loans. ..."
"... The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs ..."
"... An unexpected consequence of globalization is that a lot of people see how thing are done, elsewhere. ..."
"... Part of me doesn't feel sorry at all for the plight of middle-class Americans. When times were good they were happy to throw poor and working-class people under the bus. I remember when the common answer to complaints about factory closings was "you should have gotten an education, dummy." Now that the white-collar middle class can see that they are next on the chopping block they are finding their populist soul. ..."
Jul 26, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst at the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

The children of America's white-collar middle class viewed life from their green lawns and tidy urban flats as a field of opportunity. Blessed with quality schools, seaside vacations and sleepover camp, they just knew that the American dream was theirs for the taking if they hit the books, picked a thoughtful and fulfilling career, and just, well, showed up.

Until it wasn't.

While they were playing Twister and imagining a bright future, someone apparently decided that they didn't really matter. Clouds began to gather -- a "dark shimmer of constantly shifting precariousness," as journalist Alissa Quart describes in her timely new book " Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America ."

The things these kids considered their birthright -- reputable colleges, secure careers, and attractive residences -- were no longer waiting for them in adulthood.

Today, with their incomes flat or falling, these Americans scramble to maintain a semblance of what their parents enjoyed. They are moving from being dominant to being dominated. From acting to acted upon. Trained to be educators, lawyers, librarians, and accountants, they do work they can't stand to support families they rarely see. Petrified of being pushed aside by robots, they rankle to see financial titans and tech gurus flaunting their obscene wealth at every turn.

Headlines gush of a humming economy, but it doesn't feel like a party to them -- and they've seen enough to know who will be holding the bag when the next bubble bursts.

The "Middle Precariats," as Quart terms them, are suffering death by a thousand degradations. Their new reality: You will not do as well as your parents . Life is a struggle to keep up. Even if you achieve something, you will live in fear of losing it. America is not your land: it belongs to the ultra-rich.

Much of Quart's book highlights the mirror image of the downwardly mobile middle class Trump voters from economically strained regions like the Midwest who helped throw a monkey wrench into politics-as-usual. In her tour of American frustration, she talks to urbanites who lean liberal and didn't expect to find themselves drowning in debt and disappointment. Like the falling-behind Trump voters, these people sense their status ripped away, their hopes dashed.

If climbing up the ladder of success is the great American story, slipping down it is the quintessential tragedy. It's hard not to take it personally: the ranks of the Middle Precariat are filled with shame.

They are somebodies turning into nobodies.

And there signs that they are starting to revolt. If they do, they could make their own mark on the country's political landscape.

The Broken Bourgeoisie

Quart's book takes a sobering look at the newly unstable bourgeoisie, illustrating what happens when America's off-the-rails inequality blasts over those who always believed they would end up winners.

There's the Virginia accountant who forks over nearly 90% of her take home pay on care for her three kids; the Chicago adjunct professor with the disabled child who makes less than $24,000 a year; and the California business reporter who once focused on the financial hardships of others and now faces unemployment herself.

There are Uber-driving teachers and law school grads reviewing documents for $20 an hour -- or less. Ivy Leaguers who live on food stamps.

Lacking unions, church communities and nearby close relatives to support them, the Middle Precariats are isolated and stranded. Their labor has sputtered into sporadic contingency: they make do with short-term contracts or shift work. (Despite the much-trumpeted low unemployment rate, the New York Times reports that jobs are often subpar, featuring little stability and security). Once upon a time, only the working poor took second jobs to stay afloat. Now the Middle Precariat has joined them.

Quart documents the desperate measures taken by people trying to keep up appearances, relying on 24/7 "extreme day care" to accommodate unpredictable schedules or cobbling together co-living arrangements to cut household costs. They strain to provide things like academic tutors and sports activities for their kids who must compete with the children of the wealthy. Deep down, they know that they probably can't pass down the cultural and social class they once took for granted.

Quart cites a litany of grim statistics that measure the quality of their lives, like the fact that a middle-class existence is now 30% more expensive than it was twenty years ago, a period in which the price of health care and the cost of a four-year degree at a public college nearly doubled.

Squeezed is especially detailed on the plight of the female Middle Precariat, like those who have the effrontery to procreate or grow older. With the extra burdens of care work, pregnancy discrimination, inadequate family leave, and wage disparities, (not to mention sexual harassment, a subject not covered), women get double squeezed. For women of color, often lacking intergenerational wealth to ease the pain, make that a triple squeeze.

The Middle Precariat in middle age is not a pretty sight: without union protection or a reliable safety net they endure lost jobs, dwindled savings, and shattered identities. In one of the saddest chapters, Quart describes how the pluckiest try reinvent themselves in their 40s or 50s, enrolling in professional courses and certification programs that promise another shot at security, only to find that they've been scammed by greedy college marketers and deceptive self-help mavens who leave them more desperate than before.

Quart notes that even those making decent salaries in the United States now see themselves barred from the club of power and wealth. They may have illiquid assets like houses and retirement accounts, but they still see themselves as financially struggling. Earning $100,000 sounds marvelous until you've forked over half to housing and 30% to childcare. Each day is one bit of bad luck away from disaster.

"The spectacular success of the 0.1 percent, a tiny portion of society, shows just how stranded, stagnant, and impotent the current social system has made the middle class -- even the 10 percent who are upper-middle class," Quart writes.

Quart knows that the problems of those who seem relatively privileged compared many may not garner immediate sympathy. But she rightly notes that their stresses are a barometer for the concentration of extreme wealth in some American cities and the widening chasm between the very wealthy and everybody else.

The Dual Economy

The donor-fed establishment of both political parties could or would not see this coming, but some prescient economists have been sounding the alarm.

In his 2016 book The Vanishing Middle Class , MIT economist Peter Temin detailed how the U.S. has been breaking up into a "dual economy" over the last several decades, moving toward a model that is structured economically and politically more like a developing nation -- a far cry from the post-war period when the American middle class thrived.

In dual economies, the rich and the rest part ways as the once-solid middle class begins to disappear. People are divided into separate worlds in the kinds of jobs they hold, the schools their kids attend, their health care, transportation, housing, and social networks -- you name it. The tickets out of the bottom sector, like a diploma from a first-rate university, grow scarce. The people of the two realms become strangers.

French economist Thomas Picketty provided a stark formula for what happens capitalism is left unregulated in his 2015 bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century . It goes like this: when the rate of return on the investments of the wealthy exceeds the rate of growth in the overall economy, the rich get exponentially richer while everyone becomes poorer. In more sensible times, like the decades following WWII, that rule was mitigated by an American government that forced the rich pay their share of taxes, curbed the worst predations of businesses, and saw to it that roads, bridges, public transit, and schools were built and maintained.

But that's all a fading memory. Under the influence of political money, politicians no longer seek a unified economy and society where the middle class can flourish. As Quart observes, the U.S. is the richest and also the most unequal country in the world, featuring the largest wealth inequality gap of the two hundred countries in the Global Wealth Report of 2015.

Who is to Blame?

Over and over, the people Quart interviews tend to blame themselves for their situation -- if only they'd chosen a different career, lived in another city, maybe things wouldn't have turned out this way. Sometimes they point the finger at robots and automation, though they arguably have much more to fear from the wealthy humans who own the robots.

But some are waking up to the fact it is the wealthy and their purchased politicians who have systematically and deliberately stripped them of power. Deprivations like paltry employee rights, inadequate childcare, ridiculously expensive health care, and non-existent retirement security didn't just happen . Abstract words like deregulation and globalization become concrete: somebody actually did this to you by promoting policies that leave you high and dry.

As Quart indicates, understanding this is the first step to a change of consciousness, and her book is part of this shift.

Out of this consciousness, many individuals and organizations are working furiously and sometimes ingeniously to alter the negative trajectory of the Middle Precariat. Quart outlines proposals and developments like small-scale debt consolidation, student debt forgiveness, adequately subsidized day care, and non-traditional unions that could help.

America also has a track record of broad, fundamental solutions that have already proven to work. Universal basic income may sound attractive, but we already have a program that could improve the lot of the middle class if expanded: Social Security.

Right now, a worker stops having to pay Social Security tax on any earnings beyond $128,400 -- a number that is unreasonably low because the rich wish to keep it so. Just by raising that cap, we could the lower the retirement age so that Americans in their 60s would not have greet customers at Walmart. More opportunities would open up to younger workers.

The Middle Precariat could be forgiven for suspecting that the overlords of Silicon Valley may have something other than altruism in mind when they tout universal basic income. Epic tax evaders, they stand to benefit from pushing the responsibility for their low-paid workers and the inadequate safety net and public services that they helped create onto ordinary taxpayers.

Beyond basic income lies a basic fact: the American wealthy do not pay their share in taxes. In fact, American workers pay twice as much in taxes as wealthy investors. That's why infrastructure crumbles, schools deteriorate, and sane health care and childcare are not available.

Most Americans realize that inequality has to be challenged through the tax code: a 2017 Gallup poll shows that the majority think that the wealthy and corporations don't pay enough. Politicians, of course, ignore this to please their donors.

And so the Middle Precariat, like the Trump voters, is getting fed up with them.

From Depressed to Energized

Quart astutely points out that income inequality is being written into the law of the land. Funded the efforts of billionaires like the Koch brothers, politicians have altered laws and constitutions across the country to cement the dual economy through everything from restricting voting rights to defunding public education.

Several Middle Precariats in Squeezed have turned to independent or renegade candidates like Bernie Sanders who offer broad, substantial programs like debt-free college and universal health care that address the fissures in their lives. They are listening to candidates who are not afraid to say that markets should work for human beings, not the other way around.

If Donald Trump's political rise "can be understood as an expression of the gulf between middle-class citizens and America's ruling classes," as Quart observes, then the recent surge of non-establishment Democratic candidates, especially democratic socialists, may be the next phase of a middle class revolt.

Recent surprise victories in Pennsylvania and New York in the Democratic primaries by female candidates openly embracing democratic socialism, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who bested Democratic stalwart Joe Crowley by running for Congress on a platform of free Medicare and public college tuition for all, may not be the blip that establishment Democrats hope. In New York, democratic socialist Julia Salazar is looking to unseat long-time state senator Martin Dilan. Actress Cynthia Nixon , running against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, has just proclaimed herself a democratic socialist and promises to raise taxes on the rich and boost funding for public schools. Michelle Goldberg recently announced in the New York Times that " The Millenial Socialists are Coming ," indicating the intense dislike of traditional politics in urban centers. These young people do not think of things like debt-free college or paid family leave as radical: they see it done elsewhere in the world and don't accept that it can't be done in America.

Historically, the more affluent end of the middle class tends to identify with and support the wealthy. After all, they might join their ranks one day. But when this dream dies, the formerly secure may decide to throw their lot in with the rest of the Precariats. That's when you have the chance for a real mass movement for change.

Of course, people have to recognize their common circumstances and fates. The urban denizens of New York and San Francisco have to see what they have in common with middle class Trump voters from the Rust Belt, as well as working class Americans and everybody else who is not ultra-rich.

If the growing ranks of Precariats can work together, maybe it won't take a natural catastrophe or a war or violent social upheaval to change America's unsustainable course of gross inequality. Because eventually, something has to give.


Sergey P , July 26, 2018 at 3:42 am

I think one crucial thing that has to change is the culture of extreme individualization.

Professed as a right for individual freedom and empowerment, in reality it serves to suppress disobedience with shame. If you earn like shit -- it's gotta be because YOU are shit. Just try harder. Don't you see those OTHER kids that did well!

Part of the blame is on New Age with it's quazi-buddhist narrative: basically, everything is perfect, and if you don't feel it that way, it's because you are tainted with envy or weakness.

Thus what is in fact a heavily one-sided battle -- is presented as a natural order of things.

I believe we need a new framework. A sort of mix of Marx and Freud: study of the subconscious of the social economy. The rich not just HAPPEN to be rich. They WANT to be rich. Which means that in some way they NEED others to be poor.

Of course, I'm generalizing. And some rich are just really good at what they do. These rich will indeed trickle down, they will increase the well-being of people. But there are others. People working in insurance and finance. And as their role in the economy grows -- as does their role in politics, their power. They want to have more, while others would have less.

But behind it all are not rational thoughts, not efficiency, but psychological trauma, pain of the soul. Without addressing these matters, we will not be able to change the world.

I'm sorry if my thoughts are somewhat fragmented. It's just something I've been thinking of a lot since I started reading NC, discovering MMT and heterodox approaches in general.

athena , July 26, 2018 at 6:06 am

I enjoyed reading your thoughts, and completely agree with them all. :)

NotTimothyGeithner , July 26, 2018 at 7:53 am

The problem is the perception the Democratic Party is reliable as a partner. The culture wasn't a problem in 2008 when the Democratic candidate was perceived as wanting to raise taxes, pass universal health care, and end the wars.

Louis Fyne , July 26, 2018 at 8:53 am

====Part of the blame is on New Age with it's quazi-buddhist narrative: basically, everything is perfect, and if you don't feel it that way, it's because you are tainted with envy or weakness.

Adam Curtis touched about this (and the 50's/60's "self-actualization movement) in his TV documentary "Century of Self." if i recall correctly. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=century+of+self

That's where I first heard of this theoretical link. I think that it's flat out right and post-WWII psycho-babble has seeped into society in pernicious ways (along with everything else, breakdown of nuclear family, etc). Unfortunately, can't prove it like Euclid.

Urizenik , July 26, 2018 at 9:00 am

"A sort of mix of Marx and Freud"– the " Frankfurt School " is a start, with the realization of "the culture industry" as force majeure in the "heavily one-sided battle." And ditto recommendation of "The Century of the Self."

MC , July 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

There's also Zizek.

Left in Wisconsin , July 26, 2018 at 1:00 pm

Both good suggestions.

Responding to Sergey P:
I think one crucial thing that has to change is the culture of extreme individualisation.

There are really only two alternatives to individualism. There is Durkheim-ian "society," in which we are all in this together – interdependent. I think this is still an appropriate lens for a lot of smaller cities and communities where people really do still know each other and everyone wants the community to thrive. And, of course, it is the only way to think about human society nested inside a finite Earth. But it can only work on a larger scale through mediating "institutions" or "associations." All the evidence shows, consistent with the piece, that precariousness by itself weakens social institutions – people have less time and money to contribute to making them work well.

And then there is Marx-ian "class." Which is to say, we are not all individuals but we are not all of one group. There are different groups with different interests and, not infrequently, the interests of different groups are opposed – what is good for one is bad for another – and if power is unequal between groups (either because some groups as groups have more power than others or because individuals with more power all have the same group affinity), then powerful groups will use that power to oppress others. In that case, the only remedy is to try to systematically empower the weak and/or disempower the strong. This also requires collective action – institutions, associations, government – and it is again noted that our collective institutions, most notably unions, have been seriously weakened in the last 40-60 years.

The real world doesn't always fit into neat categories. Trump's America First is an appeal to the "society" of USAmerica. Maybe there will be some improvements for working people. But the argument in the piece, perhaps not as clearly stated as I would like, is that the interests of the (former) middle class – as a class – have diverged from the interests of the upper class. Changing that equation requires collective action.

DolleyMadison , July 26, 2018 at 3:02 pm

Well said

Redlife2017 , July 26, 2018 at 5:08 am

Naturally one must quote the great Frank Herbert from his novel Dune:

"Once men turned their thinking over to machines in the hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them."

Or shorter: Follow the money.

Jim Haygood , July 26, 2018 at 5:49 am

'We already have a program that could improve the lot of the middle class if expanded: Social Security.'

Never mind expanding it -- even the existing Social Security program is less than 20% funded, headed for zero in 2034 according to its trustees. Scandalously, these trustees owe no fiduciary duty to beneficiaries. Old Frank wanted pensioners to be forever dependent on his D party. How did that work out for us?

Take a look at the transmittal letter for the 2018 trustees report, released last month. Two public trustee positions are "VACANT," just as they were in last year's transmittal letter:

https://ibb.co/mwsxuT

Just above these blank spaces is the signature of one Nancy Berryhill, "Acting Commissioner of Social Security." But wait --

On March 6, 2018, the Government Accountability Office stated that as of November 17, 2017, Berryhill's status violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which limits the time a position can be filled by an acting official; "[t]herefore Ms. Berryhill was not authorized to continue serving using the title of Acting Commissioner after November 16." Berryhill declared, "Moving forward, I will continue to lead the agency from my position of record, Deputy Commissioner of Operations."

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

By June 5th, Berryhill was still impersonating the Acting Commissioner, legally or not.

Summing up, even the trustees' one-page transmittal letter shows that Social Security is treated as a total and complete Third World joke by the US federal government.

YankeeFrank , July 26, 2018 at 8:34 am

Yeah, yeah. Gubmint can't do nuthin' rite. How about we take our government back from the plutocrats and set SS on solid footing again. There are no impediments other than the will of the people to use our power. Now that the Boomers are moving off all sorts of things, like 'thinking', and 'logic', will become prevalent again.

Kurtismayfield , July 26, 2018 at 8:44 am

Never mind expanding it -- even the existing Social Security program is less than 20% funded, headed for zero in 2034 according to its trustees. Scandalously, these trustees owe no fiduciary duty to beneficiaries. Old Frank wanted pensioners to be forever dependent on his D party. How did that work out for us?

Correct, then the system will eventually be totally reliant on taxes coming in. According to 2011 OASDI Trustees Report

Beginning in 2023, trust fund assets will diminish until they become exhausted in 2036. Non-interest income is projected to be sufficient to support expenditures at a level of 77 percent of scheduled benefits after trust fund exhaustion in 2036, and then to decline to 74 percent of scheduled benefits in 2085

The benefits are never going to go completely away, the benefits will decrease if nothing is done. Things can be done to change this, such as an increasing the the cap on earnings, raising new revenues, etc. This is not exactly an "end of the world" scenario for SSI.

Also, no one complained when the excess SSI tax collected "Social security trust fund" was used to keep interest rates down by purchasing Government bonds.

Jamie , July 26, 2018 at 11:03 am

The whole tax angle is a complete red herring. Raising the cap is not the answer. FICA is "the most regressive tax" the country imposes. Eliminating FICA altogether, doing away with the "trust fund" and the pretense that SS is not the government taking care of it's elderly citizens but is workers taking care of themselves, is the answer. If the emphasis in Quart's book on the rise of a new democratic socialism means anything, it means reconciling with the notion that it is OK for the government to take measures to ensure the welfare of the people. Pay-as-you-go SS can become simply the re-assumption of our collective responsibility to take care of our own, as a society, not as individuals.

Kurtismayfield , July 26, 2018 at 11:29 am

I would be fine with that if I could trust the Federal government to do the right thing. The problem is that we have too many people invested in the system, and I don't trust the Federal government to not screw people over in a new system. You know what will happen, they will set up a two tiered system where people over a certain age will keep their benefits, and the new people will get a system that is completely crapified or means tested.

kgw , July 26, 2018 at 11:39 am

Well-put The only way to eliminate the constant refrain of "but SS is (insert blithering comment on entitlement spending), is to shift resources to people rather than armies for the SuperRich.

Anon , July 26, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Yeah, more Butter–Less Guns!

(Now how do we stop the media hysteria about those big,bad Enemies -- Russia?!)

JCC , July 26, 2018 at 9:52 am

So we should just ignore the fact that our own Govt has "borrowed" $2.8 Trillion, at least, from the SS Trust Fund so far and can't (won't) pay it back?

This "borrowing" should be illegal and I believe that "Old Frank" would be rolling in his grave if he knew that would happen.

And I sincerely doubt his intentions were to get SS on the books in order to keep us beholden to the Dem Party. And if that were true it is obvious that his party doesn't agree. If they did they wouldn't be assisting in gutting the program.

Grumpy Engineer , July 26, 2018 at 11:00 am

The whole concept of creating and maintaining a multi-trillion dollar "trust fund" was irrevocably flawed. When the surplus payroll taxes were "invested" in government bonds, they entered the government's general fund and were promptly spent. The money is gone. That's why it's on the books as a debt owed to the Social Security administration. There are no actual assets behind the fund. It's just one part of the government owing money to another part of the government.

However, what would the alternative have been? Investing in the crap shoot known as the US stock market? No thanks. Or setting the funds aside in a bank account, where they would cease circulating through the economy? That wouldn't have worked either, as all dollars in circulation would have eventually ended up there, causing massive deflation.

None of these are workable. We should have gone on a strictly pay-as-you-go basis. If payroll taxes generated more revenue than was necessary, we should have cut payroll taxes and/or raised benefits. And if they fall short, we should raise payroll taxes and/or cut benefits.

Today, we cover about 95% of benefits with payroll taxes. The remainder comes from "trust fund redemptions", where general fund monies are given to the SSA to cover the shortfall. Given that our government is already running a deficit, this means more borrowing (or money-printing, depending on how you look at things).

When the "trust fund" is depleted, but SSA will lack the legal authority to claim any more general fund monies, but it would be quite easy for Congress to change the rules to simply state that "any SSA shortfall will be covered by the general fund". And I predict they will do so in 2034, as it would take less than a month of constituents complaining about reduced benefits to force even the strictest of deficit hawks to cave.

Or maybe they'll get creative and instead raise rates on the interest that the trust fund earns. Right now it's a 3% rate, but if Congress were to double or triple it, the trust fund would last much longer. [As would the debt owed to the SSA.] Heck, if they multiplied the interest rate by a factor of 11, then they could theoretically dispense with payroll taxes entirely. Right?

Spring Texan , July 26, 2018 at 1:15 pm

Yes, SS has contributed NOT ONE PENNY to the deficit and the reason it accumulated a surplus was so people could collect later. Now, they want to say that old surplus shouldn't count. That's thievery.

Milton , July 26, 2018 at 10:37 pm

tired old tripe and how much is the US military funded? I can answer that for you. It's ZERO. 0% funded! Take your heterodox BS to a bunch of freshman impressionables – it is only tolerated here because you are a fine writer and interesting as hell and know almost all there is about economic liberalism.

ObjectiveFunction , July 26, 2018 at 6:44 am

Wow. So let's go full SSCodex for a bit and push this trend out to the limit.

While the unwashed masses remain a market for big Ag, big Pharma, big Auto, big (online) Retail, and a few others, it seems like the predatory 'fund' segment of the FIRE elite has moved on to devouring larger prey (capitalist autophagy?). The unbankable precariat are beneath their notice now, like pennies on the sidewalk.

So in that case, the 1% of the 0.1% has evolved beyond 'exploitation' in any Marxist sense. It is now indifferent to the very life or death of the precariat, at home or abroad, still less their security or advancement. It needs them neither for consuming nor producing, nor for building ziggurats.

(Just so long as the pitchforks aren't out – but that's what the credentialed minion 20% is for. And drones).

Here Disposables, have some more plastic and painkillers. Be assured the Alphas will be live tweeting the Pandemic, or Chicxulub 2.0, from Elon's luxury robot-serviced survival capsules (oh, you thought those were for use on Mars? Silly rabble!)

It's like that DKs mosh pit classic: "Uncounted millions whisked away / the rich will have more room to play"

[I exaggerate, of course, for illustration. Slightly.]

Musicismath , July 26, 2018 at 7:29 am

I think you can extend this analysis to the current U.K. Conservative Party. Commentators have started to notice that the Brexiteer wing of the party seems completely impervious to claims Brexit will harm the economy. Are the Tories no longer the natural party of British business, they ask?

Using your logic, we can say that a fund-interest-dominated Tory party simply has no interest in or need for the "ordinary" bits of the British business community anymore. What it wants are shorting and raiding opportunities, and from that vantage point a catastrophic Brexit is very attractive. Put these interests in coalition with a voter base largely living on guaranteed incomes and retirement funds of one sort or another and you have the surreal spectacle of an entire governing party and its supporters who are no longer anchored to the "real" economy at all. Yes, it's an exaggeration but it's an exaggeration that explains a few things, I think.

athena , July 26, 2018 at 7:47 am

You both need to read the 2005 leaked Citigroup "plutonomy memo", if you haven't yet. Very bright minds called it a decade ago, that the global economy isn't even an economy any longer in any traditional sense. This is part one: https://delong.typepad.com/plutonomy-1.pdf

ObjectiveFunction , July 26, 2018 at 8:47 am

"Plutonomy" sounds like some nasal epithet out of a Goebbels speech: " die Plutonomisten und Bolshewisten! "

sharonsj , July 26, 2018 at 4:59 pm

Great link. From page one, Citigroup thinks the global imbalance is a great opportunity. Nothing new here. For years I've been reading about stock and futures manipulations–and vulture capitalists–that cause people to die or kill themselves. The rich don't care; they see it as a way to make more money. And then you wonder why I've been talking revolution for years as well?

Louis Fyne , July 26, 2018 at 8:09 am

"Who is to Blame?"

Answer: Add the US wasting its blood and cash meddling in other countries' affairs. "honest friendship with all nations-entangling alliances with none." bueller ?

Ironic as multilateralist/globalist/fan of US interventions George Soros supposedly provided some of the seed money for the Institute for New Economic Thinking.

athena , July 26, 2018 at 8:17 am

I don't think Soros is diabolical or sadistic. He's just, let's say, "neurologically eccentric" and unimaginably wealthy.

chris , July 26, 2018 at 8:40 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iipn6yM43sM

athena , July 26, 2018 at 9:25 am

I just want to not die earlier than necessary because I can't afford health care. I'd also like to stop worrying that I'll spend my golden years homeless and starving because of some disaster headed my way. I gave up on status a long time ago, and am one of those mentioned who has little pity for the top 10%.

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 11:52 am

Ditto

John B , July 26, 2018 at 8:50 am

Sounds like a good book. I shall have to pick it up from my library, since buying new books is a stretch.

Nearly all income growth in the United States since the 1970s has gone into income obtained by the rich other than wages and salaries, like capital gains, stock options, dividends, partnership distributions, etc. To capture overall economic growth to which the entire society has contributed, Social Security benefits should be tied to economic growth, smoothed for the business cycle. If people believe benefit increases require tax increases, the tax should be applied to all earnings, not just salary/wages. Raising the $128,400 cap on income subject to SS taxes would thus increase taxes on the lower rungs of the upper middle class but not really address the problem.

Daniel F. , July 26, 2018 at 9:32 am

I apologise in advance for being blunt and oversimplifying the matter, but at the end of the day, (in my very humble and possibly uninformed opinion) nothing short of a mass beheading would work. The 0.1% doesn't really seem, uh, willing to let go of their often ill-gotten billions, and when they do (i.e. charities and such), they often end up being some kind of scam. I refuse to believe that the Zuckerberg-types operate their foundations out of genuine philanthropy. Acquisitions and mergers like Disney buying Fox or Bayer gobbling up Monsanto don't contribute anything to the well-being of the 99% either, and I think that's and understatement.

If there's going to be some kind of revolution, it needs to happen before the logical conclusion of rampaging capitalism. the OCP-type megacorp with its own private army. And, if there indeed is a revolution, what's next?

nycTerrierist , July 26, 2018 at 9:47 am

nice gesture:

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/25/betsy-devos-yacht-untied-causing-10000-damages/

Michael Fiorillo , July 26, 2018 at 10:14 am

Case in point: as a public school teacher who has been opposing so-called education reform for two decades, I can assure you that the "venture/vulture philanthropy" model that infests the education world has absolutely nothing to do with improving education, and everything to do with busting the teachers unions, privatizing the schools and turning them into drilling grounds for training young people to accept the subordination, surveillance, tedium and absurdity that awaits them in the workplace. For those lucky enough to have jobs.

As a result of this phenomena, I periodically suggest a new term on the education blogs I post on: "Malanthropy:" the process of of using tax exempt, publicly subsidized entities to directly and indirectly support your financial and political interests, but which are harmful to the public good"

Newton Finn , July 26, 2018 at 9:36 am

Clear and compelling analysis, although still a little MMT challenged. About to turn 70, I vividly remember living through a sudden sea change in American capitalism. In the late 1970s/early 80s, whatever undercurrents of patriotism and humanitarianism that remained within the postwar economy (and had opened the space for the middle class) evaporated, and almost overnight we were living in a culture without any sense of balance or proportion, a virulent and violent mindset that maxed out everything and knew not the meaning of enough. Not only the business world but also the personal world was infected by this virus, as ordinary people no longer dreamed of achieving a healthy and stable family life but rather became hellbent to "succeed" and get rich. Empathy, compassion, and commitment to social justice was no longer cool, giving way to self-interest and self-promotion as the new "virtues." Men, of course, led the way in this devolution, but there was a time in the 90s when almost every other woman I knew was a real estate agent. I touched upon a small male-oriented piece of this social devolution in an essay I wrote several years ago: Would Paladin Have Shot Bin Laden? For those who might be intrigued, here's the link:

https://newtonfinn.com/2011/12/15/would-paladin-have-shot-bin-laden/

The Rev Kev , July 26, 2018 at 10:06 am

What was needed was a Wyatt Earp, not a Paladin ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgvxu8QY01s ). His standard procedure in the old West was to use his Colt revolver to pistol-whip an offender. Short, sharp and effective.
But then again there was no way that Bin Laden was ever going to be taken prisoner. That bit on his resume as being a contractor for the CIA was a bit embarrassing after all.

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 10:49 am

I remember the 50's and even under the hue of bright eyes saw that people were just as hell bent to 'get ahead' in their careers as now and that competing with 'the Joneses' in every crude way imaginable was the rage.

Perhaps more precise to say that in the early '80s, Capitalism reached a tipping point where gravity overcame thrust and virtues with latent vice became vices with the optics of virtue. That and the fact that the right actors always seem available -as if out of thin air, but in reality very much part of cause and effect – for a given state of entropy.

Newton Finn , July 26, 2018 at 12:22 pm

No doubt what was somewhat latent in postwar American capitalism became obscenely blatant in or around the Reagan era. It was all there before, of course, in former times like the Gilded Age. But in the midsize, now rustbelt city I grew up in and continue to live in, the upper middle class of my childhood and youth–the doctors, lawyers, corporate exec's, etc.–lived a few blocks away from my working class neighborhood, had nicer homes, drove caddys instead of chevys, and so forth, but their kids went to school with us working class kids, went to the same movies and dances, hung out in the same places, and all of us, generally, young and old, lived in essentially the same world. For example, my uncle, a lawyer, made maybe 3 times what my dad, a factory clerk, made. THAT was the split between the middle and upper middle class back then, at least in a fairly typical Midwestern city. THAT was what drastically and suddenly changed in the late 70s/early 80s and has only intensified thereafter.

BrianStegner , July 26, 2018 at 10:05 am

Terrific article, but with so many "missing" words (words left out)–too many to list, gratis–you make it a serious challenge to consider sharing with literate friends on social media. Seriously, doesn't anyone re-read their work before "posting?"

Expat2uruguay , July 26, 2018 at 10:28 am

Well, at least the missing words in this piece don't make sentences unintelligible. I've seen that happen before.

It's such a shame for authors to put so much work time and effort into their articles, but then allow the lack of an editor or final read-through to tarnish the entire work.

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 11:40 am

If they're so literate, they can fill in the missing words as the NC commentariat has apparently done with no difficulty.

The substance is well worth sharing, and widely.

David Miller , July 26, 2018 at 10:11 am

One thing that strikes me – a generation ago the talking-point robots of the right could decry "socialized medicine" and all those people supposedly dying while waiting for an operation in foreign, "socialized medicine" places. And they could largely get away with it because relatively few people had personal acquaintances outside their own area.

But now, anyone active in social media probably can interact freely with people all over the world and appreciate how pathetic things really are in the US.

I read on a sports-related forum where an English guy had been watching Breaking Bad and commented offhand that he was amazed at the cost of medical treatment for Mr. White. This turned into a discussion between Brits and Yanks about the NHS. And person after person chimed in "yeah, NHS is not perfect but this kind of thing could never happen here." And you saw the Americans – "yeah, our health care system really is a disgrace."

I'm not a big fan of the social media Borg in general, but here at least seems to be a good effect. It might over time enable more people to wake up as to how jacked up certain things are here.

Eureka Springs , July 26, 2018 at 10:16 am

I'd like to declare us a completely divided, conquered people.

In the last few weeks I've visited with many old friends all of them suffering in silence. Each and every one falling further behind, on the brink of disaster, if not already there. No matter their credentials, many highly credentialed with multiple degrees and or highly experienced in several fields. All with ridiculously high work ethics. All feel maintaining personal integrity is costing them an ability to 'get ahead'.

Many of these friends have multiple jobs, no debt, no car payment, some have insurance which is killing them, medical bills which bury them if they ever have so much as basic health issues, and they are thrifty, from the clothes they wear to the amount of rent they commit themselves. And yet 'staying afloat', is but a dream trumped by guilt and isolationism.

I often joke with my fellow country neighbors that it costs a hundred bucks to simply leave the house. It's not a joke anymore. At this point those still fighting for a paltry 15.00 should include a hundred dollar per day walk out your front door per diem.

A couple months back I gave my camper to an old acquaintance who had no record, found himself homeless after being falsely accused of a crime and locked up for two months. And another friend with full time management position, just gave up her apartment to move into a tent in another friends back yard. Both of these people are bright, hard working, mid forties, white, family peeps with great children. The very kind this article addresses.

The noose tightens and people are committing desperate acts. There is no solidarity. No vision of a way out of this.

Watch a ten dollar parking ticket bring a grown man to terror in their eyes. And he brought in a thousand bucks last week, but has been texting his landlord about past due rent all afternoon.

I feel like I'm on the brink of a million episodes of " Falling Down ".

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 11:50 am

Indeed. But as consciousness is raised as to the real causes (not personal failure, not robots taking over), hopefully solidarity will grow.

Wonderful article, definitely want to read the book.

John , July 26, 2018 at 11:56 am

I don't think the 0.1% wanted to build a society like this, it is just the way the math works. Somewhere around 1980 the integrity of the US was lost and it became possible for the owning class to divorce themselves from their neighbors and arbitrage labor around the world. Computers and telecommunications made it possible to manage a global supply chain and Republicans changed the tax rules to make it easier to shut down businesses and move them overseas.

A different way to view this: as the wealthy earn profits they can use some of their cash to modify the rules to their benefit. Then they gain more cash which allows them to influence voters and politicians to modify the rules even more in their favor.

If people organized they could change the rules in their favor, but that rarely happens. We used to have unions (imperfect though they were) which lobbied for the working class.

sharonsj , July 26, 2018 at 5:09 pm

I think the 1980s was when I found out my wealthy cousins, who owned a clothing factory in Georgia, had moved it to–get ready for this–Borneo! And of course they are Republicans.

Louis , July 26, 2018 at 10:17 am

The collective decisions to pull up the drawbridge, and a lot middle-class people have supported these decisions are the major reason why there is a housing crisis and higher-education is so expensive.

A lot of people, especially middle-class people, come out with pitchforks every time a new housing development is proposed, screaming about how they don't want "those people" living near them and will vehemently oppose anything that isn't single-family homes which has resulted in the housing supply lagging behind demand, thus affordability issues.

These same people over the years have decided that tax-cuts are more important than adequately funding higher education, so higher education has become a lot more expensive as state support has dwindled.

As the saying goes you made you bed, now you get to sleep in it. Unfortunately so does the younger generation who may not have anything to do with the horrible decision making of the past.

John Wright , July 26, 2018 at 10:33 am

The article stated Americans are "Petrified of being pushed aside by robots".

Maybe I associate with the wrong people, but I don't know any who fear being pushed aside by robots.

But I do know of someone who was being laid off from a tech firm and was finding his job moved overseas.

The deal management presented was, "you can leave now, with your severance package, or get two more weeks pay by training your replacement who will be visiting from overseas."

He trained the new worker for the two weeks.

The American worker is being hit, not by robots, but by outsourcing to other countries and by in-sourcing of labor from other countries.

Robots are expensive and will be avoided if a human can do the job cheaply enough.

That the article brings "fear of robots" into the discussion is a tell that the writer does not want to mention that it is the competition from others in the world wide labor force that depress USA wages.

In the USA, we are witnessing labor arbitrage encouraged by both parties and much of the media as they push USA wages toward world wide levels.

But not for the elite wage earners who gain from this system.

FluffytheObeseCat , July 26, 2018 at 10:58 am

Agreed. The kind of pink collar and barely white collar employees this piece was focused on are not presently threatened by "robots". They are threatened by outsourcing and wage arbitrage.

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 11:11 am

That the article brings "fear of robots" into the discussion is a tell that the writer does not want to mention that it is the competition from others in the world wide labor force that depress USA wages.

You may have a point there, and you are spot on that the vast bulk of job-loss is due to job migration and import of cheaper labor. But regardless of the writer's intent or simple laziness, don't be too fast to poo-poo the effect of Robots.

One problem is that we tend to measure job loss and gain without reference to the actual job loosers and the fact that re-training for them may well be impossible or completely ineffective or, at the very minimum, often extremely painful. So while automation may provide as many new jobs as it takes away old ones, that is cold comfort indeed to the worker who gets left behind.

Another, is that the fear of massive job loss to Robots is almost certainly warranted even if not yet fully materialized.

ambrit , July 26, 2018 at 12:24 pm

When the "Steel Wave" of robot workers comes ashore, I'll be near the head of the queue to join the "Robo Luddites." If the owners of the robot hordes won't pay a fair share of the costs of their mechanominions worker displacement activities, then they should be made to pay an equivalent share in heightened "Production Facility Security Costs." Ford Motors and the River Rouge plant strike comes to mind.
See: http://98937119.weebly.com/strike-at-the-river-rouge-plant-1941.html

Todde , July 26, 2018 at 1:01 pm

The robots are going to be shooting back

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 1:35 pm

It'd be great to be right there with you on that fateful day, Ambrit :-) (And I've even got my gun with the little white flag that pops out and has "Bang!" written on it, all oiled up and ready to go). I suspect however that it will be a silent D Day that probably took place some time ago.

Hard Briexit looks to be baked in the cake
Global Warming disaster looks to be baked in the cake
Water wars look to be baked in the cake.
Massive impoverishment in developed and so called third world nations alike and insane 'last gasp' looting looks to be baked in the cake
[ ]
Why would all manner of robots, the ones too tiny to see along with human looking ones and giant factories that are in reality themselves robots be the exception?

ambrit , July 26, 2018 at 9:45 pm

We'd be facing robots, so that flag would have to go "Bang" in binary code. (Might even work. While they are trying to decipher the flag, we can switch their tubes of graphite lubricant with tubes of carborundum.)
When the technologically capable humans have all died off, will the robots perish likewise for lack of programmers?

G Roller , July 26, 2018 at 4:30 pm

"Robots" are software programs, do-it-yourself online appointments, voice recognition, "press 1 now." What's the point of retraining? All you're good for is to make sure the plug is in the wall.

Arizona Slim , July 26, 2018 at 12:02 pm

The act of training the overseas replacement could become an act of sabotage. Think of the ways that one could train the replacement to do the job incorrectly, more slowly than necessary, or not at all.

Brooklin Bridge , July 26, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Sabotage by miss-training.

In a lot of cases that doesn't require much 'intentional' effort. But the lure of cheap labor seems to conquer all. I've seen software companies take loss after loss on off-shore development team screw ups until they finally get it right. I even saw one such company go out of business trying rather than just calling it quits and going back to what was left of their core developers.

funemployed , July 26, 2018 at 12:19 pm

As I approach 40, having only realized in recent years that the constant soul-ache I've lived with my whole life is not some inherent flaw in my being, but a symptom of a deeply ill society, I desperately wish I could share in the glimmer of hope at the end of this post.

But I cannot. What drives me to despair is not the fragile, corrupt, and unsustainable social/political/economic system we're inheriting; nor is it the poisoned and increasingly harsh planet, nor the often silent epidemic of mental and emotional anguish that prevents so many of us from becoming our best selves. I retain great faith in the resilience and potential of the human spirit. And contrary to the stereotypes, I think my generation and those who have come after are often more intellectually and emotionally mature than our parents and grandparents. At the very least, we have a powerful sense of irony and highly tuned BS detectors.

What drives me to despair is so pathetically prosaic that I want to laugh and cry all at once as I type this. To put it as simply as I know how, a core function of all functional human societies is apprenticeship, by which I mean the basic process whereby deep knowledge and skills are transferred from the old to the young, where tensions between tradition and change are contested and resolved, and where the fundamental human need to develop a sense of oneself as a unique and valuable part of a community can flourish.

We have been commodified since before we were even born, to the point where opportunities for what Lave and Wenger would call "legitimate peripheral participation" in the kinds of work that yield real, humane, benefits to our communities are scant to nonexistent for most of us. Something has gone deeply awry in this core social function at the worst possible time in human history.

... ,,, ,,,

ChristopherJ , July 26, 2018 at 2:03 pm

thank you funemployed, perceptive

lyman alpha blob , July 26, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Sympathies from a fellow traveler – your experience sounds similar to mine. I'm a little older and in my 20s I avoided getting a 'real' job for all the reasons you describe. When I hit my 30s and saw what some of the guys who had been hanging out in the bar too long looked like, and decided I ought to at least try it and see how it would go.

Turns out my 20 year old self had been right.

Gayle , July 26, 2018 at 5:11 pm

"Some quirk of my psychology means doing those things creates an irresistible urge in me to slowly poison myself with alcohol and tobacco."

I think those things and drugs are conscience oblivators. Try gardening. Touch the earth. Grow actual food. Not hemp. Back away from the education racket. Good luck. Quit the poison.

David May , July 26, 2018 at 5:16 pm

That was a wonderful post, very moving, thank you. These kind of testimonies are very important because they show the real human cost of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is truly a death cult. Please find an alternative to alcohol. Music, art, nature, etc.

ChiGal in Carolina , July 26, 2018 at 7:08 pm

Thank you for sharing your compelling story. As someone who could be your mother, it is painful to me not only that this is your experience, but that you are so acutely aware of it. No blinders. Hence, I guess, the need for alcohol.

You write beautifully. Hope is hard to come by sometimes.

ambrit , July 26, 2018 at 9:58 pm

At least you are self aware. Most people are not. As for the Ship of Status, let it sink. Find a lifeboat where you feel comfortable and batten down for the Roaring (20)40s yet to come. Once you find something to work for, the bad habits will lose much of their hold on you. As long as you don't slide into alcoholism, you have a chance.

Unfettered Fire , July 26, 2018 at 12:25 pm

Life was kinder just 40 years ago, not perfect but way more mellow than it is today. Kids were listening to Peter Frampton and Stevie Wonder, not punk, grunge, rap and industrial music. What changed? Neoliberalism, the economic policy that is private sector "free market" driven, giving the owners of capital free, unfettered reign. Created by libertarians like Fredrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman, they sold it to the nation but failed to mention that little peccadillo about how privatization of government would usher in economic fascism.

"An extreme form of laissez-faire individualism that developed in the writings of Hayek, Friedman and Nozick they are also referred to as libertarians. They draw on the natural rights tradition of John Locke and champion's full autonomy and freedom of the individual."

What they meant was ECONOMIC freedom. They despise social freedom (democracy) because civil, labor, health, food safety, etc., rights and environmental protections put limits on their profits.

The "maximizing shareholder value" myth turns people into psychopaths . The entire neoliberal economic policy of the past 40 years is based on the false assumption that self-interest is the driving evolution of humanity. We're not all psychopaths, turns out. We're social beings that have mainly used cooperation to get us through these thousands of years of existence.

There's nothing wrong with wanting government to protect the public sector from predatory capitalists. Otherwise, society's value system turns upside down sick people are more valued than healthy violent are more valued to fill up the prison factories war becomes a permanent business a filthy, toxic planet is good for the oil industry a corporate governance with no respect for rights or environmental protections is the best capitalism can offer?

Thanks, but no thanks.

The easily manipulated right are getting the full assault. "Run for your lives! The democratic socialists want to use the government bank for everyone, not just the 1%!! They understand how the economy really works and see through our lies!! Before you know it, everyone will be enjoying a better quality of life! AAAAGHHH!!"

Even the IMF is getting a scolding for being so out-of-touch with reality. Isn't economics supposed to factor in conscience?

"If the IMF is to shake its image as an inward-looking, out-of-touch boys club, it needs to start taking the issue seriously. The effect of the male dominance in macroeconomics can be seen in the policy direction of the organisation: female economists are more likely to be in favour of Government-backed redistribution measures than their male counterparts.

Of course, the parochial way in which economics is perceived by the IMF, as nothing more than the application of mathematical models, is nothing new. In fact, this is how mainstream economics frequently is taught in universities all over the world. Is it any wonder that the IMF has turned out as it is?"

Michael Hudson, as usual, was right:

"Economics students are forced to spend so much time with this complex calculus so that they can go to work on Wall St. that there's no room in the course curriculum for the history of economic thought.

So all they know about Adam Smith is what they hear on CNN news or other mass media that are a travesty of what these people really said and if you don't read the history of economic thought, you'd think there's only one way of looking at the world and that's the way the mass media promote things and it's a propagandistic, Orwellian way.

The whole economic vocabulary is to cover up what's really happening and to make people think that the economy is getting richer while the reality is they're getting poorer and only the top is getting richer and they can only get rich as long as the middle class and the working class don't realize the scam that's being pulled off on them."

Newton Finn , July 26, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Unfettered Fire and funemployed: deeply appreciate your lengthy and heartfelt posts. It's a terribly small thing, but I have a suggestion to make that always helps me to feel a bit better about things or should I say to feel a bit better about the possibility of things. If you're game, and haven't already done so, search for the following free online book: "Equality" by Edward Bellamy. Then do no more than read the introduction and first chapter (and slightly into the second) to absorb by far the finest Socratic dialogue ever written about capitalism, socialism, and the only nonviolent way to move from the former to the latter–a way wide open to us, theoretically, right now. I know that's a hell of a qualifier.

Andrew Watts , July 26, 2018 at 12:54 pm

Why do modern intellectuals insist on inventing euphemisms for already known definitions? The middle precariat is merely another term for the petty bourgeoisie. While they may have possessed economic benefits like pensions and owned minuscule amounts of financial assets they were never the dominant ruling class. Their socioeconomic status was always closer in their livelihoods to the working class. After the working class was effectively being dismantled starting in the 1970s, it has become the petty bourgeoisie's turn to be systematically impoverished.

This is the primary economic development of our era of late capitalism. The question is, what does it mean to be American if this country is no longer a land of opportunity?

precariat , July 26, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Because the 'known definitions' do not apply anymore.

The middle has more in common with those below than those above. And here is the scary reason: everyone is to be preyed upon by the wealth extractors who dominate our politics/economy -- everyone. There is no social or educational allegieance, there is only a resource to be ruthlessly plundered, people and their ability to earn and secure.

Mel , July 26, 2018 at 1:44 pm

Right. It's hardly a euphemism. The Middle Precariat are the people in the 9.9% who will not be part of the 8.9%.

Andrew Watts , July 26, 2018 at 5:07 pm

The so-called precariat lacks any sense of class consciousness and as a consequence are incapable of any kind of solidarity. Nor do they perceive any predatory behavior in the economic system. If the article is to be believed they blame themselves for their plight. These traits which include the admiration and imitation of the rich are the hallmarks of the petty bourgeoisie.

This disagreement over semantics is an example of the shallowness and superficiality of new ideas. Marx already predicted that they'd be unceremoniously thrown into the underclass in later stages of economic development at any rate.

ProNewerDeal , July 26, 2018 at 1:16 pm

thanks for this article.

The BigMedia & BigPols ignore the Type 1 Overqualified Underemployed cohort. Perhaps hopefully someone like the new Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will discuss it, her recently being of this cohort as an economist by degree working as a bartender. Instead we have examples of BigMedia/BigPol crying about "STEM worker shortage" where there already are countless underemployed STEM workers working Uber-ish type McJobs.

Afaict the only occupations (mostly) immune to Type 1 Overqualified Underemployment risk here in Murica are medical pros: physicians/dentists/pharmacists & possibly nurses. Otherwise there are stories of PhD Uber drivers, MBA strippers, & lawyers working Apple store retail, especially in the first few years post 2008-GFC but still present now. In other words, the US labor market "new economy" is resembling "old economy" of Latin America or Russia (proverbial physicist selling trinkets on the Trans-Siberia railway).

precariat , July 26, 2018 at 1:24 pm

From Eureka Springs, this:

"I often joke with my fellow country neighbors that it costs a hundred bucks to simply leave the house. It's not a joke anymore. At this point those still fighting for a paltry 15.00 should include a hundred dollar per day walk out your front door per diem."

This is a stark and startling reality. This reality is outside the framework of understanding of economic struggle in America that is allowed by the corporate neoliberal culture/media.

Jean , July 26, 2018 at 1:34 pm

As the Precariat grows, having watched the .1% lie, cheat and steal – from them, they are more likely to also lie, cheat and steal in mortgage, employment and student loan applications and most importantly and sadly, in their dealings with each other. Everybody is turning into a hustler.

As to dealings with institutions, this comment is apt. I think this came from NC comments a couple of weeks ago. Apologies for not being able to attribute it to its author:

"Why should the worker be subservient to the employer? Citizens owe NO LOYALTY, moral or legal, to a someone else's money making enterprise. And that enterprise is strictly a product of signed commercial legal documents. Commercial enterprise has no natural existence. It is a man-made creation, and is a "privilege", not a "right"; just as a drivers license is a privilege and not an absolute right."

Sound of the Suburbs , July 26, 2018 at 1:38 pm

Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy. The Classical economist, Adam Smith, observed the world of small state, unregulated capitalism around him.

"The labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers."

How does this tie in with the trickledown view we have today? Somehow everything has been turned upside down.

The workers that did the work to produce the surplus lived a bare subsistence existence. Those with land and money used it to live a life of luxury and leisure.

The bankers (usurers) created money out of nothing and charged interest on it. The bankers got rich, and everyone else got into debt and over time lost what they had through defaults on loans, and repossession of assets.

Capitalism had two sides, the productive side where people earned their income and the parasitic side where the rentiers lived off unearned income. The Classical Economists had shown that most at the top of society were just parasites feeding off the productive activity of everyone else.

Economics was always far too dangerous to be allowed to reveal the truth about the economy.

How can we protect those powerful vested interests at the top of society?

The early neoclassical economists hid the problems of rentier activity in the economy by removing the difference between "earned" and "unearned" income and they conflated "land" with "capital". They took the focus off the cost of living that had been so important to the Classical Economists to hide the effects of rentier activity in the economy.

The landowners, landlords and usurers were now just productive members of society again. It they left banks and debt out of economics no one would know the bankers created the money supply out of nothing. Otherwise, everyone would see how dangerous it was to let bankers do what they wanted if they knew the bankers created the money supply through their loans.

https://www.bankofengland.co.uk/-/media/boe/files/quarterly-bulletin/2014/money-creation-in-the-modern-economy.pdf

The powerful vested interests held sway and economics was corrupted. Now we know what's wrong with neoclassical economics we can put the cost of living back in.

Disposable income = wages – (taxes + the cost of living)

Employees want more disposable income (discretionary spending). Employers want to pay lower wages for higher profits

The cost of living = housing costs + healthcare costs + student loan costs + food + other costs of living

The neoliberals obsessed about reducing taxes, but let the cost of living soar. The economists also ignore the debt that is papering over the cracks and maintaining demand in the economy. This can never work in the longer term as you max. out on debt.

Lambert Strether , July 26, 2018 at 3:35 pm

> These young people do not think of things like debt-free college or paid family leave as radical: they see it done elsewhere in the world and don't accept that it can't be done in America.

An unexpected consequence of globalization is that a lot of people see how thing are done, elsewhere.

Livius Drusus , July 26, 2018 at 7:46 pm

Part of me doesn't feel sorry at all for the plight of middle-class Americans. When times were good they were happy to throw poor and working-class people under the bus. I remember when the common answer to complaints about factory closings was "you should have gotten an education, dummy." Now that the white-collar middle class can see that they are next on the chopping block they are finding their populist soul.

At the end of the day we need to have solidarity between workers but this is a good example of why you should never think that you are untouchable and why punching down is never a good political strategy. There will always be somebody more powerful than you and after they are done destroying the people at the bottom you will probably be next.

[Jul 24, 2018] Bernie Sanders embraces the anti-Russia campaign by Patrick Martin

Notable quotes:
"... Sanders's support for the anti-Russia and anti-Wikileaks campaign is all the more telling because he was himself the victim of efforts by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party leadership to block his 2016 campaign. In June and July 2016, Wikileaks published internal Democratic emails in which officials ridiculed the Sanders campaign, forcing the DNC to issue a public apology: "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email." ..."
"... In the aftermath of his election campaign, Sanders was elevated into a top-level position in the Democratic Party caucus in the US Senate. His first response to the inauguration of Trump was to declare his willingness to "work with" the president, closely tracking remarks of Obama that the election of Trump was part of an "intramural scrimmage" in which all sides were on the same team. As the campaign of the military-intelligence agencies intensifies, however, Sanders is toeing the line. ..."
"... The Sanders campaign did not push the Democrats to the left, but rather the state apparatus of the ruling class brought Sanders in to give a "left" veneer to a thoroughly right-wing party. ..."
"... There is no contradiction between the influx of military-intelligence candidates into the Democratic Party and the Democrats' making use of the services of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez to give the party a "left" cover. Both the CIA Democrats and their pseudo-left "comrades" agree on the most important questions: the defense of the global interests of American imperialism and a more aggressive intervention in the Syrian civil war and other areas where Washington and Moscow are in conflict. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.wsws.org

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders appeared on the CBS interview program "Face the Nation" Sunday and fully embraced the anti-Russia campaign of the US military-intelligence apparatus, backed by the Democratic Party and much of the media.

In response to a question from CBS host Margaret Brennan, Sanders unleashed a torrent of denunciations of Trump's meeting and press conference in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A preliminary transcript reads:

SANDERS: "I will tell you that I was absolutely outraged by his behavior in Helsinki, where he really sold the American people out. And it makes me think that either Trump doesn't understand what Russia has done, not only to our elections, but through cyber attacks against all parts of our infrastructure, either he doesn't understand it, or perhaps he is being blackmailed by Russia, because they may have compromising information about him.

"Or perhaps also you have a president who really does have strong authoritarian tendencies. And maybe he admires the kind of government that Putin is running in Russia. And I think all of that is a disgrace and a disservice to the American people. And we have got to make sure that Russia does not interfere, not only in our elections, but in other aspects of our lives."

These comments, which echo remarks he gave at a rally in Kansas late last week, signal Sanders' full embrace of the right-wing campaign launched by the Democrats and backed by dominant sections of the military-intelligence apparatus. Their opposition to Trump is centered on issues of foreign policy, based on the concern that Trump, due to his own "America First" brand of imperialist strategy, has run afoul of geostrategic imperatives that are considered inviolable -- in particular, the conflict with Russia.

Sanders did not use his time on a national television program to condemn Trump's persecution of immigrants and the separation of children from their parents, or to denounce his naming of ultra-right jurist Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, or to attack the White House declaration last week that the "war on poverty" had ended victoriously -- in order to justify the destruction of social programs for impoverished working people. Nor did he seek to advance his supposedly left-wing program on domestic issues like health care, jobs and education.

Sanders' embrace of the anti-Russia campaign is not surprising, but it is instructive. This is, after all, an individual who presented himself as "left-wing," even a "socialist." During the 2016 election campaign, he won the support of millions of people attracted to his call for a "political revolution" against the "billionaire class." For Sanders, who has a long history of opportunist and pro-imperialist politics in the orbit of the Democratic Party, the aim of the campaign was always to direct social discontent into establishment channels, culminating in his endorsement of the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Sanders's support for the anti-Russia and anti-Wikileaks campaign is all the more telling because he was himself the victim of efforts by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party leadership to block his 2016 campaign. In June and July 2016, Wikileaks published internal Democratic emails in which officials ridiculed the Sanders campaign, forcing the DNC to issue a public apology: "On behalf of everyone at the DNC, we want to offer a deep and sincere apology to Senator Sanders, his supporters, and the entire Democratic Party for the inexcusable remarks made over email."

In the aftermath of his election campaign, Sanders was elevated into a top-level position in the Democratic Party caucus in the US Senate. His first response to the inauguration of Trump was to declare his willingness to "work with" the president, closely tracking remarks of Obama that the election of Trump was part of an "intramural scrimmage" in which all sides were on the same team. As the campaign of the military-intelligence agencies intensifies, however, Sanders is toeing the line.

The experience is instructive not only in relation to Sanders, but to an entire social milieu and the political perspective with which it is associated. This is what it means to work within the Democratic Party. The Sanders campaign did not push the Democrats to the left, but rather the state apparatus of the ruling class brought Sanders in to give a "left" veneer to a thoroughly right-wing party.

New political figures, many associated with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) are being brought in for the same purpose. As Sanders gave his anti-Russia rant, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sat next to him nodding her agreement. The 28-year-old member of the DSA last month won the Democratic nomination in New York's 14th Congressional District, unseating the Democratic incumbent, Joseph Crowley, the fourth-ranking member of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives.

Since then, Ocasio-Cortez has been given massive and largely uncritical publicity by the corporate media, summed up in an editorial puff piece by the New York Times that described her as "a bright light in the Democratic Party who has brought desperately needed energy back to New York politics "

Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders were jointly interviewed from Kansas, where the two appeared Friday at a campaign rally for James Thompson, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for the US House of Representatives from the Fourth Congressional District, based in Wichita, in an August 7 primary election.

Thompson might appear to be an unusual ally for the "socialist" Sanders and the DSA member Ocasio-Cortez. His campaign celebrates his role as an Army veteran, and his website opens under the slogan "Join the Thompson Army," followed by pledges that the candidate will "Fight for America." In an interview with the Associated Press, Thompson indicated that despite his support for Sanders' call for "Medicare for all," and his own endorsement by the DSA, he was wary of any association with socialism. "I don't like the term socialist, because people do associate that with bad things in history," he said.

Such anticommunism fits right in with the anti-Russian campaign, which is the principal theme of the Democratic Party in the 2018 elections. As the World Socialist Web Site has pointed out for many months, the real thrust of the Democratic Party campaign is demonstrated by its recruitment as congressional candidates of dozens of former CIA and military intelligence agents, combat commanders from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and war planners from the Pentagon, State Department and White House.

There is no contradiction between the influx of military-intelligence candidates into the Democratic Party and the Democrats' making use of the services of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez to give the party a "left" cover. Both the CIA Democrats and their pseudo-left "comrades" agree on the most important questions: the defense of the global interests of American imperialism and a more aggressive intervention in the Syrian civil war and other areas where Washington and Moscow are in conflict.

[Jul 21, 2018] Migrants, Pro-Globalization Leftists, and the Suffocating Middle Class by Outis Philalithopoulos

Notable quotes:
"... By Enrico Verga, a writer, consultant, and entrepreneur based in Milan. As a consultant, he concentrates on firms interested in opportunities in international and digital markets. His articles have appeared in Il Sole 24 Ore, Capo Horn, Longitude, Il Fatto Quotidiano, and many other publications. You can follow him on Twitter @enricoverga . ..."
"... Continuing flows of low-cost labor can be useful for cutting costs. West Germany successfully absorbed East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the dirty secret of this achievement is the exploitation of workers from the former East, as Reuters reports . ..."
"... The expansion of the EU to Poland (and the failed attempt to incorporate the Ukraine) has allowed many European businesses to shift local production to nations where the average cost of a blue or white collar worker is much lower ( by 60-70% on average ) than in Western European countries. ..."
"... The middle class is a silent mass that for many years has painfully digested globalization, while believing in the promises of globalist politicians," explains Luciano Ghelfi, a journalist of international affairs who has followed Lega from its beginnings. Ghelfi continues: ..."
"... I think unrestrained globalization has taken a hit. In Italy as well, as we have seen recently, businesses are relocating abroad. And the impoverished middle class finds itself forced to compete for state resources (subsidies) and jobs which can be threatened by an influx of economic migrants towards which enormous resources have been dedicated – just think of the 4.3 billion Euros that the last government allocated toward economic migrants. ..."
"... In all of this, migrants are more victims than willing actors, and they become an object on which the fatigue, fear, and in the most extreme cases, hatred of the middle class can easily focus. ..."
"... If for the last twenty years, with only occasional oscillation, the pro-globalization side has been dominant in the West, elections are starting to swing the balance in a new direction. ..."
"... "Klein analyzes a future (already here to some degree) in which multinational corporations freely fish from one market or another in an effort to find the most suitable (i.e. cheapest) labor force." ..."
"... never export their way out of poverty and misery ..."
Jul 20, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Enrico Verga, a writer, consultant, and entrepreneur based in Milan. As a consultant, he concentrates on firms interested in opportunities in international and digital markets. His articles have appeared in Il Sole 24 Ore, Capo Horn, Longitude, Il Fatto Quotidiano, and many other publications. You can follow him on Twitter @enricoverga .

International commerce, jobs, and economic migrants are propelled by a common force: profit.

In recent times, the Western middle class (by which I mean in particular industrial workers and office employees) has lost a large number of jobs and has seen its buying power fall. It isn't true that migrants are the source of all evil in the world. However, under current conditions, they become a locus for the exasperation of the population at twenty years of pro-globalization politics. They are tragically placed in the role of the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Western businesses have slipped jobs overseas to countries with low labor costs, while the middle class has been pushed into debt in order to try to keep up. The Glass-Steagall law and other brakes on American banks were abolished by a cheerleader for globalization, Bill Clinton, and these banks subsequently lost all restraints in their enthusiasm to lend. The cherry on top of the sundae was the real estate bubble and ensuing crash of 2008.

A damning picture of the results of 20 years of globalization is provided by Forbes , capitalism's magazine par excellence. Already in 2016, the surprise victory of Trump led to questions about whether the blond candidate's win was due in part to the straits of the American middle class, impoverished as a result of the pro-globalization politics of figures like Clinton and Obama.

Further support for this thesis is furnished by the New York Times , describing the collapse of the stars-and-stripes middle class. Its analysis is buttressed by lengthy research from the very mainstream Pew Center , which agrees that the American middle class is vanishing.

And Europe? Although the European middle class has been squeezed less than its American counterpart, for us as well the picture doesn't look good. See for example the analysis of the Brookings Institute , which discusses not only the flagging economic fortunes of the European middle class, but also the fear of prosperity collapsing that currently grips Europe.

Migrants and the Shock Doctrine

What do economic migrants have to do with any of this?

Far be it from me to criticize large corporations, but clearly they – and their managers and stockholders – benefit from higher margins. Profits (revenue minus costs and expenses) can be maximized by reducing expenses. To this end, the costs of acquiring goods (metals, agricultural products, energy, etc.) and services (labor) need to fall steadily.

In the quest to lower the cost of labor, the most desirable scenario is a sort of blank slate: to erase ongoing arrangements with workers and start over from zero, building a new "happy and productive" economy. This operation can be understood as a sort of "shock doctrine."

The term "economic shock therapy" is based on an analogy with electroshock therapy for mental patients. One important analysis of it comes from Naomi Klein , who became famous explaining in 2000 the system of fashion production through subsidiaries that don't adhere to the safety rules taken so seriously in Western countries (some of you may recall the scandal of Benetton and Rana Plaza , where more than a thousand workers at a Bangladesh factory producing Benetton (and other) clothes were crushed under a collapsing building).

Klein analyzes a future (already here to some degree) in which multinational corporations freely fish from one market or another in an effort to find the most suitable (i.e. cheapest) labor force. Sometimes relocating from one nation to another is not possible, but if you can bring the job market of other countries here in the form of a low-cost mass of people competing for employment, then why bother?

The Doctrine in Practice

Continuing flows of low-cost labor can be useful for cutting costs. West Germany successfully absorbed East Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the dirty secret of this achievement is the exploitation of workers from the former East, as Reuters reports .

The expansion of the EU to Poland (and the failed attempt to incorporate the Ukraine) has allowed many European businesses to shift local production to nations where the average cost of a blue or white collar worker is much lower ( by 60-70% on average ) than in Western European countries.

We see further evidence of damage to the European middle class daily, from France where the (at least verbally) pro-globalization Macron is cutting social welfare to attract foreign investment , to Germany where many ordinary workers are seriously exploited . And so on through the UK and Italy.

Political Reactions

The migrant phenomenon is a perfect counterpoint to a threadbare middle class, given its role as a success story within the narrative of globalization.

Economic migrants are eager to obtain wealth on the level of the Western middle class – and this is of course a legitimate desire. However, to climb the social ladder, they are willing to do anything: from accepting low albeit legal salaries to picking tomatoes illegally ( as Alessandro Gassman, son of the famous actor, reminded us ).

The middle class is a silent mass that for many years has painfully digested globalization, while believing in the promises of globalist politicians," explains Luciano Ghelfi, a journalist of international affairs who has followed Lega from its beginnings. Ghelfi continues:

This mirage has fallen under the blows it has received from the most serious economic crisis since the Second World War. Foreign trade, easy credit (with the American real estate bubble of 2008 as a direct consequence), peace missions in Libya (carried out by pro-globalization French and English actors, with one motive being in my opinion the diversion of energy resources away from [the Italian] ENI) were supposed to have created a miracle; they have in reality created a climate of global instability.

Italy is of course not untouched by this phenomenon. It's easy enough to give an explanation for the Five Stars getting votes from part of the southern electorate that is financially in trouble and might hope for some sort of subsidy, but the North? The choice of voting center right (with a majority leaning toward Lega) can be explained in only one way – the herd (the middle class) has tried to rise up.

I asked him, "So in your opinion, is globalization in stasis? Or is it radically changing?" He replied:

I think unrestrained globalization has taken a hit. In Italy as well, as we have seen recently, businesses are relocating abroad. And the impoverished middle class finds itself forced to compete for state resources (subsidies) and jobs which can be threatened by an influx of economic migrants towards which enormous resources have been dedicated – just think of the 4.3 billion Euros that the last government allocated toward economic migrants.

This is an important element in the success of Lega: it is a force that has managed to understand clearly the exhaustion of the impoverished middle class, and that has proposed a way out, or has at least elaborated a vision opposing the rose-colored glasses of globalization.

In all of this, migrants are more victims than willing actors, and they become an object on which the fatigue, fear, and in the most extreme cases, hatred of the middle class can easily focus.

What Conflicts Are Most Relevant Today?

At the same time, if we observe, for example in Italy, the positions taken by the (pro-globalization?) Left, it becomes easier to understand why the middle class and also many blue collar workers are abandoning it. Examples range from the unfortunate declarations of deputy Lia Quartapelle on the need to support the Muslim Brotherhood to the explanations of the former president of the Chamber of Deputies, Laura Boldrini, on how the status of economic migrant should be seen as a model for the lifestyle of all Italians . These remarks were perhaps uttered lightly (Quartapelle subsequently took her post down and explained that she had made a mistake), but they are symptomatic of a certain sort of pro-globalization cultural "Left" that finds talking to potential voters less interesting than other matters.

From Italy to America (where Hillary Clinton was rejected after promoting major international trade arrangements that she claimed would benefit middle-class American workers) to the UK (where Brexit has been taken as a sort of exhaust valve), the middle class no longer seems to be snoring.

We are currently seeing a political conflict between globalist and nationalist forces. Globalists want more open borders and freer international trade. Nationalists want protection for work and workers, a clamping down on economic migrants, and rules with teeth aimed at controlling international trade.

If for the last twenty years, with only occasional oscillation, the pro-globalization side has been dominant in the West, elections are starting to swing the balance in a new direction.

Meanwhile, many who self-identify as on the Left seem utterly uninterested in the concerns of ordinary people, at least in cases where these would conflict with the commitment to globalization.

If the distinction between globalism and nationalism is in practice trumping other differences, then we should not let ourselves be distracted by bright and shiny objects, and keep our focus on what really matters.


fresno dan , July 20, 2018 at 7:06 am

From the Forbes link:
"The first downside of international trade that even proponents of freer trade must acknowledge is that while the country as a whole gains some people do lose."
More accurate to say a tiny, tiny, TINY percentage gain.

Nice how they use the euphemism "country as a whole" for GDP. Yes, GDP goes up – but that word that can never be uttered by American corporate media – DISTRIBUTION – that essentially ALL gains in GDP have gone to the very top. AND THAT THIS IS A POLITICAL DECISION, not like the waves of the ocean or natural selection. There is plenty that could be done about it – BUT it STARTS with WANTING to do something effective about it .

And of course, the bizarre idea that inflation helps. Well, like trade, it helps .the very, very rich
https://www.themaven.net/mishtalk/economics/real-hourly-earnings-decline-yoy-for-production-workers-flat-for-all-employees-W4eRI5nksU2lsrOR9Z01WQ/

Enrico Verga , July 20, 2018 at 9:30 am

im used to use reliable link ( on forbes it's not Pew but i quoted also Pew) :)

Off The Street , July 20, 2018 at 9:43 am

Nice how they use the euphemism "country as a whole" for GDP.

Fresno Dan,
You have identified one of my pet peeves about economists and their fellow traveler politicians. They hide behind platitudes, and the former are more obnoxious about that. Economists will tell people that they just don't understand all that complexity, and that in the name of efficiency, etc, free trade and the long slide toward neo-liberal hell must continue.

Heraclitus , July 20, 2018 at 11:38 am

I think the assertion that all economic gains have gone to the very top is not accurate. According to 'Unintended Consequences' by Ed Conard, the 'composition of the work force has shifted to demographics with lower incomes' between 1980 and 2005. If you held the workforce of 1980 steady through 2005, wages would be up 30% in real terms, not including benefits.

It's amazing that critics miss this.

Jean , July 20, 2018 at 12:21 pm

But you are ignoring immigrant based population increases which dilutes your frozen population number. How convenient for argument's sake.

Not mentioned in the article are rent increases caused by more competition for scarcer housing.

makedoanmend , July 20, 2018 at 7:12 am

I think the author has highlighted some home truths in the article. I once remember several years ago just trying to raise the issue of immigration* and its impact on workers on an Irish so-called socialist forum. Either I met silence or received a reply along the lines: 'that when socialists rule the EU we'll establish continental wide standards that will ensure fairness for everyone'. Fairy dust stuff. I'm not anti immigrant in any degree but it seems unwise not to understand and mitigate the negative aspects of policies on all workers. Those chickens are coming home to roost by creating the type of political parties (new or established) that now control the EU and many world economies.

During the same period many younger middle and upper middle class Irish extolled the virtues, quite openly, of immigration as way of lowering the power and wages of existing Irish workers so that the costs of building homes, labour intensive services and the like would be concretely reduced; and that was supposed to be a good thing for the material well being of these middle and upper middle classes. Sod manual labour.

One part of the working class was quite happy to thrown another part of the working class under the bus and the Left**, such as it was and is, was content to let it happen. Then established Leftist parties often facilitated the rightward economic process via a host of policies, often against their own stated policies in election manifestos. The Left appeared deceitful. The Irish Labour party is barely alive and subsisting on die-hard traditionalists for their support by those who can somehow ignore the deceit of their party. Surreaslist stuff from so-called working class parties,

And now the middle-middle classes are ailing and we're supposed to take notice. Hmmm. Yet, as a Leftist, myself, it is incumbent upon us to address the situation and assist all workers, whatever their own perceived status.

*I'm an immigrant in the UK currently, though that is about to change next year.

** Whether the "Left", such as the Irish Labour Party, was just confused or bamboozled matters not a jot. After the financial crises that became an economic crisis, they zealously implemented austerity policies that predominantly cleared the way for a right wing political landscape to dominate throughout Europe. One could be forgiven for thinking that those who called themselves Leftists secretly believed that only right wing, neo-liberal economic policies were correct. And I suppose, being a bit cynical, that a few politicos were paid handsomely for their services.

PlutoniumKun , July 20, 2018 at 8:30 am

I think its easy to see why the more middle class elements of the left wing parties never saw immigration as a problem – but harder to see why the Trade Unions also bought into this. Partly I think it was a laudable and genuine attempt to ensure they didn't buy into racism – when you look at much trade union history, its not always pleasant reading when you see how nakedly racist some early trade union activists were, especially in the US. But I think there was also a process whereby Unions increasingly represented relatively protected trades and professions, while they lost ground in more vulnerable sectors, such as in construction.

I think there was also an underestimation of the 'balancing' effect within Europe. I think a lot of activists understimated the poverty in parts of Europe, and so didn't see the expansion of the EU into eastern Europe as resulting in the same sort of labour arbitrage thats occurred between the west and Asia. I remember the discussions over the enlargement of the EU to cover eastern Europe and I recall that there seemed to be an inbuilt assumption (certainly in the left), that rising general prosperity would ensure there would be no real migration impact on local jobs. This proved to be entirely untrue.

Incidentally, in my constituency (Dublin Central) in past elections the local Labour party was as guilty as any of pandering to the frequent racism encountered on the doorsteps in working class areas. But it didn't do them much good. Interestingly, SF was the only party who would consistently refuse to pander (At least in Dublin), making the distinction between nationalist and internationalist minded left wingers even more confusing.

makedoanmend , July 20, 2018 at 10:17 am

Yes, one has to praise the fact that the Unions didn't pander to racism – but that's about all the (insert expletive of choice) did correctly.

Your other points, as ever, are relevant and valid but (and I must but) I tend to think that parties like Labour were too far "breezy" about the repercussions about labour arbitrage. But that's water under the bridge now.

Speaking about SF and the North West in general, they have aggressively canvassed recent immigrants and have not tolerated racism among their ranks. Their simple reasoning was that is unthinkable that SF could tolerate such behaviour amongst themselves when they has waged a campaign against such attitudes and practices in the six counties. (SF are no saints, often fumble the ball badly, and are certainly not the end-all-be-all, but this is something they get right).

Glen , July 20, 2018 at 8:56 am

It has to be understood that much of immigration is occurring because of war, famine, collapsing societies (mostly due to massive wealth inequality and corrupt governments). Immigration is not the cause of the economic issues in the EU, it's a symptom (or a feature if you're on top). If you don't correct the causes – neo-liberalism, kleptocracy, rigged game – what ever you want to call it, then you too will become an immigrant in your own country (and it will be a third world country by the time the crooks on top are done).

Don't get caught up in the blame the other poor people game. It's a means to get the powerless to fight among themselves. They are not in charge, they are victims just like you.

Felix_47 , July 20, 2018 at 9:18 am

Having spent a lot of time in the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan and Iraq I have to say that rampant overpopulation plays a big part. Anyone who can get out is getting out. It makes sense. And with modern communications they all know how life is in Europe or the US in contrast to the grinding horror that surrounds them.

Louis Fyne , July 20, 2018 at 11:45 am

But Conan tells me that Haiti is a tropical paradise! (my brother too spent a lot of time in Afghanistan and Iraq working with the locals during his deployments)

"Twitter liberalism" is doing itself by not recognizing that much of the developing world IS a corrupt cesspool.

Instead of railing against Trump, the Twitter-sphere needs to rail against the bipartisan policies that drive corruption, and economic dislocations and political dislocations. and rail against religious fundamentalism that hinders family planning.

But that can't fit onto a bumper sticker.

Calling Trump names is easier.

redleg , July 20, 2018 at 7:32 pm

But if you actually do that, rail against bipartisan neoliberal policies on social media and IRL, the conservatives are far less hostile than the die-hard Dems. This is especially true now, with all the frothing at the mouth and bloodlust about Russia. Its raised their "it's ALL *YOUR* FAULT"-ism by at least an order of magnitude.

Oregoncharles , July 20, 2018 at 2:05 pm

Actually, that's been true since the 18th C., at least for the US. TV may make it more vivid, and Europe has changed places, but most Americans have immigrant ancestors, most often from Europe.

makedoanmend , July 20, 2018 at 10:04 am

Very good points, and I agree with all of them.

However, it does seem that the policy of the EU, especially under the influence of Mutti Merkel, signalled a free-for-all immigration stance over the last several years, completely ignoring the plight of existing workers (many of whom would be recent immigrants themselves and the children of immigrants). That the so-called Left either sat idly by or jumped on Mutti's band wagon didn't do them any favours with working people. Every country or customs union has and needs to regulate its borders. It also makes some sense to monitor labour markets when unfavourable conditions appear.

It appears that only the wealthy are largely reaping the rewards of the globalist direction trade has taken. These issues need to be addressed by the emerging Left political parties in the West. Failure to address these issues must, I would contend, play into the hands of the more right wing parties whose job is to often enrich the local rich.

But, bottom line, your are correct workers do not come out well when blaming other workers for economies that have been intentionally created to produce favourable conditions for the few over the many.

nervos belli , July 20, 2018 at 10:20 am

It's a blade with two sides.
There are push factors like the wars and poor countries. However neither of these causes can be fixed. Not possible. Europe can gnash their teeth all they want, not even when they did the unthinkable and put the US under sanctions for their warcrimes would the US ever stop. First there would be color revolutions in western europe.

As important as the push factors are the pull ones. 90% or so of all refugees 2015 went to Germany. Some were sent to other countries by the EU, these too immediately moved to Germany and didn't stay where they were assigned. So the EU has to clean up their act and would need to put the last 10 or so US presidents and administrations before a judge in Den Haag for continued war crimes and crimes against humanity (please let me my dreams). The EU would also need to clean up their one sided trade treaties with Africa and generally reign in their own corporations. All that is however not enough by far and at most only half the battle. Even when the EU itself all did these things, the poverty would remain and therefore the biggest push factor. Humans always migrate to the place where the economy is better.

The pull factors is however at least as big. The first thing to do is for Germany to fix their laws to be in sync with the other EU countries. At this point, Germany is utterly alone, at most some countries simply don't speak out against german policy since they want concessions in other areas. Main one here is France with their proposed EU and Euro reforms but not alone by far.

Ben Wolf , July 20, 2018 at 7:36 am

Nationalists want protection for work and workers, a clamping down on economic migrants, and rules with teeth aimed at controlling international trade.

Socialism in one country is a Stalinist theory, and falling back upon it in fear of international capital is not only regressive but (assuming we aren't intentionally ignoring history) relective of a defensive mentality.

In other words, this kind of thinking is the thinking of the whipped dog cringing before the next blow.

Enrico Verga , July 20, 2018 at 9:31 am

Am i a dog? :)

Andrew Watts , July 20, 2018 at 11:28 am

Or perhaps they want to regulate and control the power of capital in their country. Which is an entirely impossible proposition considering that capital can flee any jurisdiction and cross any border. After all, transnational capital flows which were leveraged to the hilt in speculative assets played an oversized role in generating the financial crisis and subsequent crash.

It wouldn't be the first time I've been called a Stalinist though.

Oregoncharles , July 20, 2018 at 1:47 pm

And why would we care whether it's a "Stalinist" theory? For that matter, although worker ownership would solve some of these problems, we needn't be talking about socialism, but rather about more functional capitalism.

Quite a leap in that last sentence; you haven't actually established anything of the sort.

JBird , July 20, 2018 at 3:39 pm

but rather about a more functional capitalism.

Personally, I believe capitalism needs to go away, but for it, or any other economic system, to work, we would need a fair, equal, just, enforced rule of law that everyone would be under, wouldn't we?

Right now the blessed of our various nations do not want this, so they make so that one set is unfair, unequal, unjust, harshly enforced on most of their country's population while they get the gentle rules.

For a society to function long term, it needs to have a fair and just set of rules that everyone understands and follow, although the rules don't have to equal; people will tolerate different levels of punishments and strictness of the rules. The less that is the case the more dysfunctional, and usually the more repressive it is. See the Western Roman Empire, the fall of just about every Chinese dynasty, the Russian Empire, heck even the American War of Independence, and the American Civil War. In example, people either actively worked to destroy the system or did not care to support it.

disc_writes , July 20, 2018 at 8:10 am

Thank you for the article, a pretty lucid analysis of the recent electoral results in Italy and trends elsewhere. Although I would have liked to read something about people voting the way they do because they are xenophobe fascist baby-eating pedophile racist Putin friends. Just for fun.

Funny how the author's company promotes "Daily international job vacancies in UNDP, FAO, UN, UNCTAD, UNIDO and the other Governative Organization, Non Governative Organization, Multinationals Corporations. Public Relations, Marketing, Business Development."

Precisely the sort of jobs that infuriates the impoverishing middle classes.

Lambert Strether , July 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Class traitors are important and to be encouraged (though a phrase with a more positive tone would be helpful).

Felix_47 , July 20, 2018 at 9:16 am

As recently as 2015, Bernie Sanders defended not only border security, but also national sovereignty. Asked about expanded immigration, Sanders flipped the question into a critique of open-borders libertarianism: "That's a Koch brothers proposal which says essentially there is no United States."
Unfortunately the ethnic division of the campaign and Hillary's attack seems to have led him to change his mind.

Andrew Watts , July 20, 2018 at 11:34 am

That's probably due to the fact that just about everybody can't seem to differentiate between immigration and mass migration. The latter issue is a matter of distributing the pain of a collapsing order. state failure, and climate change while the former is simply engaging in the comfortable rhetoric of politics dominated by the American middle class.

Enrico Verga , July 20, 2018 at 9:36 am

Ciao .

Oki lemme see.

1 people vote they like. im not updated if the voters eat babies but i'll check and let u know.
2 My company is not dream job. It is a for free ( and not making a penny) daily bulleting that using a fre soft (paper.li) collect international qualified job offers for whoever is willing to work in these sector.
i'm not pro or contro migrants. i actually only reported simple fact collating differents point :)

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , July 20, 2018 at 9:40 am

Economic migrants seek prosperity and are justified in doing so, yet they can also be seen as pawns in an international strategy that destroys the negotiating leverage of workers. The resulting contradictions potentially render conventional political classifications obsolete.

This appears on the homepage, but not here.

In any case, the 10% also seek prosperity. They are said to be the enablers of the 1%.

Perhaps pawns too.

Are economic migrants both pawns and enablers?

JBird , July 20, 2018 at 3:42 pm

Yes. The economic migrants are both pawns and enablers as well as victims.

Newton Finn , July 20, 2018 at 10:02 am

Until the left alters its thinking to reflect the crucial information presented in this video, information more clearly and comprehensively spelled out in "Reclaiming the State" by Mitchell and Fazi, resurgent rightwing nationalism will be the only outlet for those who reject global neoliberalism's race to the bottom. It's that simple and sad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IynNfA1Ohao

ROB , July 20, 2018 at 10:11 am

To paint this as two pro-globalisation (within which you place the left) and pro-nationalism is simplistic and repositions the false dichotomy of left vs right with something just as useless. We should instead seek to speak to the complexities of the modern political spectrum. This is an example of poor journalism and analysis and shouldn't have been posted here, sorry Yves.

John Wright , July 20, 2018 at 11:16 am

By "false dichotomy of left vs right" are you implying there is little difference between left and right?

Is that not one of the themes of the article?

Please speak to the complexities of the modern political spectrum and give some examples of better and more useful journalism and analysis.

JTMcPhee , July 20, 2018 at 11:17 am

Thanks for your opinion. Check the format of this place: articles selected for information or provoking thoughts, in support of a general position of driving toward betterment of the general welfare, writ large.

The political economy is at least as complex as the Krebs or citric acid cycle that biology students and scientists try to master. There are so many moving parts and intersecting and competing interests that in the few words that the format can accommodate, regarding each link, it's a little unkind to expect some master work of explication and rhetorical closure every time.

The Krebs cycle is basically driven by the homeostatic thrust, bred of billions of years of refinement, to maintain the healthy functioning and prolong life of the organism. There's a perceivable axis to all the many parts of respiration, digestion, energy flows and such, all inter-related with a clear organizing principle at the level of the organism. On the record, it's hardly clear that at the level of the political economy, and all the many parts that make it up, there is sufficient cohesion around a set of organizing principles that parallel the drive, at the society and species level, to regulate and promote the energy flows and interactions that would keep things healthy and prolong the life of the larger entity. Or that their is not maybe a death wish built into the "cultural DNA" of most of the human population.

Looks a lot to me that we actually have been invested (in both the financial and military senses of the word) by a bunch of different cancer processes, wild and unregulated proliferation of ecnomic and political tumor tissues that have invaded and undermined the healthy organs of the body politic. Not so clear what the treatments might be, or the prognosis. It is a little hopeful, continuing the biological analogy, that the equivalents of inflammation and immune system processes appear to be overcoming the sneaky tricks that cancer genes and cells employ to evade being identified and rendered innocuous.

John , July 20, 2018 at 11:44 am

Yes, "invested in a bunch of cancer processes" is a good description of allowing excessive levels of predatory wealth. Thus you end up with a bunch of Jay Gould hyper capitalists whose guiding principle is: I can always pay one half of the working class to kill the other half. Divide and conquer rules.

jrs , July 20, 2018 at 6:40 pm

It's mostly simply wrong. This doesn't describe the political views of almost anyone near power anywhere as far as I can tell:

"Globalists want more open borders and freer international trade. Nationalists want protection for work and workers, "

Most of the nationalist forces are on the right and give @#$# all for workers rights. Really they may be anti-immigrant but they are absolutely anti-worker.

JimmyV , July 20, 2018 at 12:04 pm

The middle class does not really exist, it was a concept invented by capitalists to distract the workers from their essential unity as fellow wage slaves. Some make more wages, some make less wages but they all have their surplus value, the money left over after they have enough to take care of themselves, taken by the capitalist and used for his ends even though he may not have worked in the value creation process at all.

Economic migrants are members of the working class who have been driven from their home country to somewhere else by the capitalist system. While the article does mention capitalist shock doctrine methods for establishing imperialism and correctly notes that economic migrants are victims, it then goes on to try to lay a weak and insidious argument against them. The author goes on citing multiple different cases of worker wages being driven lower or stagnating, many of these cases have differing and sometimes complex reasons for why this happened. But migrants and globalization are to blame he says and that our struggle is nationalism vs globalism. He refuses to see what is staring him in the face, workers produce surplus value for society, more workers produce more surplus value. If society finds itself wealthier with more workers then why do workers wage fall or stagnate? He does note correctly that this is due to the workers now having a weaker bargaining position with the capitalist, but he seems to conclude from this without stating outrightly that we should then reject the economic migrants because of this.

However, we could instead conclude that if more workers produce more surplus value but yet their wages fall because the capitalist takes a larger share of the overall pot, that the problem is not more workers but instead the capitalist system itself which was rigged to exploit workers everywhere. Plus the workers bargaining position only weakens with a greater number of them if they are all just bargaining for themselves, but if they were to bargain togather collectively then there bargaining position has actually only grown even stronger.

Also he falsly equates democratic party policies with leftists, instead of correctly noting that the democratic party represents capitalist interests from a centrist position and not the left. The strength of global capitalism can only be fought by a global coalition of the working class. The struggle of Mexican and American workers are interrelated to each other and the same goes for that of European and Middle Eastern workers. The time has come for the left to raise the rallying cry of its great and glorious past.

That workers of the world must unite!

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , July 20, 2018 at 1:02 pm

You claim, as if it were obvious, that "economic migrants are members of the working class who have been driven from their home country to somewhere else by the capitalist system."

Are all economic migrants therefore bereft of agency?

If the borders of the US were abruptly left completely open, a huge number of people would enter the country tomorrow, for economic reasons. Would they all have been "driven" here, or would they have some choice in the matter?

When you say, "he refuses to say what is staring him in the face, that [ ] more workers produce more surplus value," you are not only taking a gratuitously pedantic tone, you are actually not making a coherent critique. If economic migrants move from one country to another, the total pool of workers in the world has not increased; while according to your logic, if all the workers in the world were to move to Rhode Island, Rhode Island would suddenly be swimming in the richness of surplus value.

When you say, "we could instead conclude that [..] the problem is not more workers but instead the capitalist system itself which was rigged to exploit workers everywhere," you are straw-manning the author but also making a purely rhetorical argument. If you think the capitalist system can be replaced with a better one within the near future, then you can work toward that; but in the meanwhile, nations, assuming that they will continue to exist, will either have open borders or something short of that, and these decisions do affect the lives of workers.

When you say he "falsly equates democratic party policies with leftists," the false equivalence is coming from you. The article barely touches on the Democratic Party, and instead draws most of its examples from Europe, especially Italy. In Italy, the public figures he mentions call themselves part of the sinistra and are generally referred to that way. You might perhaps feel that they are not entitled to that name (and in fact, the article sometimes places "left" in quotation marks), but you should at least read the article and look them up before discussing the matter.

Oregoncharles , July 20, 2018 at 1:56 pm

From the article: "Meanwhile, many who self-identify as on the Left seem utterly uninterested in the concerns of ordinary people, at least in cases where these would conflict with the commitment to globalization."

To Be Fair, Verga clearly is skeptical about those claims to be "on the Left," as he should be. Nonetheless, his initial mention of Democratic exemplars of globalization triggers American reflexes.

Oregoncharles , July 20, 2018 at 4:47 pm

Something before this failed to post; was rejected as a double post.

In brief: corporate globalization is a conservative, Republican policy that Bill Clinton imposed on the Dems, where it has since become doctrine, since it pays. It's ultimately the reason I'm a Green, not a Democrat, and in a sense the reason there IS a Green Party in the US.

Lambert Strether , July 20, 2018 at 3:47 pm

> The middle class does not really exist, it was a concept invented by capitalists

Let's not be simplistic. They have people for that.

Eduardo Pinha , July 20, 2018 at 1:00 pm

The author points to stagnant middle class income in USA and Western Europe but fail to look the big picture. Middle class income has increased sharply in the past decades in Asia and Eastern Europe. Overall the gain huge, even though life is tougher in richer countries.

JBird , July 20, 2018 at 4:04 pm

Overall the gain huge, even thought life is tougher in richer countries.

Please accept my apologies for saying this. I don't mean to offend. I just have to point out something.

Many in the Democratic Party, as well as the left, are pointing to other countries and peoples as well as the American 9.9% and saying things are great, why are you complaining? With the not so hidden implications, sometimes openly stated that those who do are losers and deplorables.

Saying that middle class incomes are merely stagnant is a sick, sick joke as well as an untruth. As an American, I do not really care about the middle classes in Asia and Eastern Europe. Bleep the big picture. The huge gains comes with a commensurate increase in homeless in the United States, and a falling standard of living for most the of the population, especially in the "wealthy" states, like my state of California. Most of us are using fingernails to stay alive and homed. If those gains had not been caused by the losses, I would be very please to see them. As it is, I have to live under President Trump and worry about surviving. Heck, worry about the rest of my family doing so.

jrs , July 20, 2018 at 6:50 pm

"Saying that middle class incomes are merely stagnant is a sick, sick joke as well as an untruth."

+10,000

I mean I actually do care somewhat about the people of the world, but we here in "rich countries" are being driven to homelessness at this point and told the goddamn lie that we live in a rich country, rather than the truth that we live in a plutocracy with levels of inequality approaching truly 3rd world. We are literally killing ourselves because we have to live in this plutocracy and our one existence itself is not even worth it anymore in this economic system (and we are lacking even a few of the positives of many other 3rd world countries). And those that aren't killing ourselves still can't find work, and even if we do, it doesn't pay enough to meet the most basic necessities.

David in Santa Cruz , July 20, 2018 at 1:24 pm

Thought-provoking post.

1. It is unfortunate that Verga raises the rising cost of material inputs but fails to meaningfully address the issue. One of the drivers of migration, as mentioned in Comments above, is the population volcano currently erupting. Labor is cheap and globalization possible in large part because the world population has grown from 2 Billion to over 7 Billion in the past 60-odd years. This slow-growing mountain of human beings has created stresses on material inputs which are having a negative impact on the benefits derived from declining labor costs. This becomes a death-spiral as capital seeks to balance the rising cost of raw materials and agricultural products by driving down the cost of labor ever further.

2. Verga touches on the interplay of Nationalism and Racism in the responses of political parties and institutions in Italy and elsewhere. Voters appear to be abandoning Left and left-ish parties because the Left have been unable to come up with a definintion of national sovereignty that protects worker rights largely due to the importance of anti-racism in current Left-wing thought. Working people were briefly bought-off with cheap consumer goods and easy credit, but they now realize that low-wage migrant and off-shore workers mean that even these goodies are now out of reach. The only political alternative currently on offer is a brand of Nationalism defined by Racism -- which becomes acceptable to voters when the alternative is Third-World levels of poverty for those outside the 1% and their 9% enablers.

I don't see any simple solutions. Things may get very ugly.

redleg , July 20, 2018 at 8:05 pm

The "left" abandoned the working class. Denied a political champion, the right offered the working class scapegoats.

PKMKII , July 20, 2018 at 1:59 pm

I certainly see that policies tampering down free trade, both of capital and labor, can benefit workers within a particular country. However, especially in the context of said policies in "Western" countries, this can tend towards a, protect the working class within the borders, leave those outside of it in impoverished squalor. Which doesn't mesh well with the leftist goal of global class consciousness. Much like the racially segregated labor policies of yesteryear, it's playing a zero-sum game with the working class while the ownership class gets the "rising tide lifts all boats" treatment.

So how do we protect workers within the sovereign, while not doing so at the cost of the workers outside of it? Schwieckart has an interesting idea, that tariffs on imports are used to fund non-profits/higher education/cooperatives in the country of export. However, I think we'd need something a bit more fine-tuned than that.

Tomonthebeach , July 20, 2018 at 3:23 pm

It has always baffled me that governments enable this global musical chairs game with the labor market. Nearly all Western governments allow tax dodging by those who benefit the most from their Navies, Armies, Patents, and Customs enforcement systems. However, it is the working class that carries the brunt of that cost while corporations off-shore their profits.

A simple-minded fix might be to start taxing foreign profits commensurate with the cost of enabling those overseas profits.

whine country , July 20, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Interesting that a corporation is a person just like us mortals when it is to their advantage, but unlike us humans, they can legally escape taxation on much of their income whereas a human being who is a US citizen cannot. A human citizen is generally taxed by the US on all income regardless of its source. OTOH, corporations (among other means) routinely transfer intellectual property to a non tax jurisdiction and then pay artificial payments to that entity for the rights to use such property. It is a scam akin to a human creating a tax deduction by transferring money from one pocket to another. Yes, proper taxation of corporations is a simple-minded fix which is absolutely not simple to legislate. Nice try though. Something else to ponder: Taxation without representation was said to be a major factor in our war of independence from Britain. Today no one seems to be concerned that we have evolved into representation without taxation. Doesn't see right to me.

ChrisAtRU , July 20, 2018 at 3:59 pm

"Klein analyzes a future (already here to some degree) in which multinational corporations freely fish from one market or another in an effort to find the most suitable (i.e. cheapest) labor force."

Indeed:

Our Industry Follows Poverty

FWIW I don't think it's productive to talk about things like immigration in (or to) the US in terms of just the here – as in what should/could we be doing here to fix the problem. It's just as much if not more about the there . If we view the global economic order as an enriched center feeding off a developing periphery, then fixing the periphery should be first aim. #Wall or #NoBorders are largely incendiary extremes. Ending Original Sin and creating some sort of supranational IOU/credit system (not controlled by World Bank or IMF!) will end the economic imbalance and allow countries who will never export their way out of poverty and misery a way to become equal first world nation states. With this equality, there will be less economic migration, less peripheral poverty and potentially less political unrest. It's a gargantuan task to be sure, but with rising Socialist sentiment here and abroad, I'd like to think we are at least moving in the right direction.

Anonymous2 , July 20, 2018 at 4:40 pm

No mention of tax policy?

If the rich were properly taxed then social tensions would be greatly reduced and if the revenue raised were used to help the poorest in society much distress could be alleviated.

I worry that debate on migration/globalisation is being encouraged to distract attention from this issue.

JimmyV , July 20, 2018 at 5:02 pm

I may indeed have taken a gratuitously pedantic tone and could have chosen a better one, for that i apologise. I do however believe that much of my critique still stands, I will try to go through your points one by one.

"Are all economic migrants therefore bereft of agency?"

Not all but many are, especially the ones that most people are complaining about. Many of them are being driven from their home countries not simply for a better life but so they can have something approaching a life at all. While to fully prove this point would require an analysis of all the different migrants and their home country conditions, I do feel that if we are talking about Syrian refugees, migrants from Africa risking their lives crossing the Mediteranian sea, or CentralAmerican refugees than yes i do think these people to an extent have had their agency taken from them by global events. For Syrians, by being caught in an imperialist power struggle which while the civil war may not have been caused by it, it certainly has been prolonged because of it. Not too mention America played a very significant role in creating the conditions for ISIS, and western European powers don't have completely clean hands either due to their long history of brutal imperialism in the mideast. Africa of course also has an extensive past of colonization and suffers from a present of colonization and exploitation as well. For Central Americans there is of course the voracious american drug market as well as our politicians consistent appetite for its criminalisation to blame. There is also of course global climate change. Many of these contributing conditions are not being dealt with and so i believe that the migrations we have witnessed these last few years are only the first ining of perhaps even greater migrations to come. How we deal with it now, could determine whether our era is defined by mass deaths or something better. So to the extent that i believe many of these migrants have agency is similiar to how a person climbing onto the roof of there house to escape a flood does.

If the borders of the US were left completely open then, yes, there would most likely be a rush of people at first but over time they would migrate back and forth according to their needs, through the opening of the border they would gain agency. People often think that a country not permitting its citizens to leave is wrong and immoral, but if most countries close their borders to the people of a country going through great suffering, then it seems to me that is essentially the same even if the rhetoric may be different. The likeliness of this is high if the rich countries close there borders, since if the rich countries like the US and Italy feel they can not take them in, then its doubtful countries on the way that are much poorer will be able to either.

At the begining of your article you stated that "International commerce, jobs, and economic migrants are propelled by a common force: profit." This is the capitalist system, which is a system built upon the accumulation of capital, which are profits invested in instruments of labor, aka machines and various labor enhancements. Now Rhode island is quite small so there are geographical limitations of course, but if that was not an issue then yes. Wage workers in the capitalist system produce more value than they consume, if this was not the case they would not be hired or be hired for long. So if Rhode Island did not have the geographical limitations that it does, then with more workers the overall pot of valuable products and services would increase per capita in relation to the population. If the workers are divided and not unified into cohesive and responsive institutions to fight for there right share of the overall pie, which I believe should be all of it, then most of the gain to society will go to the capitalist as increased profits. So it is not the migrant workers who take from the native but instead actually the capitalist who exploits and trys to magnify there difference. So if the capitalist system through imperialism helped to contribute to the underlying conditions driving mass migration, and then it exploits there gratitude and willingness to work for less than native workers, than I believe it follows that they will wish to drive native anger towards the migrants with the ultimate goal of allowing them to exploit the migrant workers at an even more severe level. This could be true within the country, such as the US right now where the overarching result of anti-immigrant policies has been to not get rid of them but to drive there exploitation more into the shadows, or through mass deportations back to their home country followed by investments to exploit their desperation at super low wages that will then compete with the rich country workers, it is also possible they will all just die and everyone will look away. Either way the result will still be lower wages for rich country workers, it seems to me the only way out of the impass is for the native workers to realize their unity with migrant workers as exploited workers and instead of directing that energy of hostility at each other instead focus it upon the real root which is the capitalists themselves. Without the capitalists, more workers, held withing certain geographic limitations of course, would in fact only enrich each other.

So while nations may indeed continue to exist for awhile, the long term benefit of native workers is better served by making common cause with migrants against their mutual oppressors then allowing themselves to be stirred up against them. Making this argument to workers is much harder, but its the most beneficial if it can be made successfully.

This last point i do agree i may have been unfair to you, historically I believe the left generally referred to anarchists, socialists and communists. So I often dislike the way modern commentators use the left to refer to anything from a center right democrat like Hillary Clinton all the way to the most hard core communist, it can make understanding political subtleties difficult since anarchists, socialists and communists have radically different politics than liberals, much more so than can be expressed along a linear line. But as you point out you used quotes which i admit i did not notice, and of course one must generally use the jargon of the times in order to be understood.

Overall i think my main critique was that it seemed that throughout your article you were referencing different negative symptoms of capitalism but was instead taking that evidence for the negatives of globalism. I may come from a more radical tradition than you may be used to, but i would consider globalism to be an inherent aspect of capitalism. Capitalism in its algorithmic quest for ever increasing profits generally will not allow its self to be bound for long by people, nations, or even the physical and environmental limitations of the earth. While one country may be able to restrict it for a time unless it is overcome completely it will eventually reach out globally again. The only way to stop it is a prolonged struggle of the international working class cooperating with each other against capitalism in all its exploitive forms. I would also say that what we are seeing is not so much globalism vs nationalism but instead a rearrangement of the competing imperial powers, Russia, China, US, Germany and perhaps the evolution of multiple competing imperialisms similiar in nature to pre- world war times but that may have to wait for later.

A great deal of your article did indeed deal with Italy which I did not address but I felt that your arguments surrounding migrants was essentially of a subtle right wing nature and it needed to be balanced by a socialist counter narrative. I am very glad that you took the time to respond to my critique I know that putting analysis out there can be very difficult and i am thankful for your response which has allowed me to better express and understand my viewpoint. Once again I apoligise if I used some overly aggressive language and i hope your able to get something out of my response as well.

Outis Philalithopoulos Post author , July 20, 2018 at 7:30 pm

I appreciate the more reflective tone of this reply. I believe there are still some misreadings of the article, which I will try to clarify.

For one thing, I am not the author of the article! Enrico Verga is the author. I merely translated the article. Enrico is Italian, however, and so for time zone reasons will be unable to respond to your comments for a while. I am happy to write a bit on this in the meantime.

You make two arguments.

The first is that many or most migrants are fleeing desperate circumstances. The article speaks however consistently of "economic migrants" – there are some overlapping issues with refugees, but also significant differences. Clearly there are many people who are economically comfortable in their home countries and who would still jump at a chance to get US citizenship if they could (look up EB-5 fraud for one example). Saying this does not imply some sort of subtle critique of such people, but they are not a myth.

I actually found your second argument more thought-provoking. As I understand you, you are suggesting something like the following. You support completely open borders. You acknowledge that this would lead at first to massive shifts in population, but in the long run you say things would stabilize. You acknowledge that this will lead to "lower wages for rich country workers," but say that we should focus on the fact that it is only within the capitalist system that this causality holds. You also suggest that it would probably lead, under current conditions, to workers having their anger misdirected at migrants and therefore supporting more reactionary policies.

Given that the shift to immediate open borders would, by this analysis, be highly detrimental to causes you support, why do you favor it? Your reasons appear to be (1) it's the right thing to do and we should just do it, (2) yes, workers might react in the way described, but they should not feel that way, and maybe we can convince them not to feel that way, (3) things will work themselves out in the long run.

I am a bit surprised at the straightforwardly idealistic tone of (1) and (2). As for (3), as Keynes said, in the long run we are all dead. He meant by this that phenomena that might in theory equilibrate over a very long time can lead to significant chaos in the short run; this chaos can meanwhile disrupt calculations about the "long term" and spawn other significant negative consequences.

Anyone who is open to the idea of radically new economic arrangements faces the question of how best to get there. You are perhaps suggesting that letting global capital reign supreme, unhindered by the rules and restrictions of nation-states, will in the long run allow workers to understand their oppression more clearly and so increase their openness to uniting against it. If so, I am skeptical.

I will finally point out that a part of the tone of your response seems directed at the impression that Enrico dislikes migrants, or wants other people to resent them. I see nothing in the article that would suggest this, and there are on the other hand several passages in which Enrico encourages the reader to empathize with migrants. When you suggest that his arguments are "essentially of a subtle right wing nature," you are maybe reacting to this misreading; in any case, I'm not really sure what you are getting at, since this phrase is so analytically imprecise that it could mean all sorts of things. Please try to engage with the article with arguments, not with vague epithets.

Raulb , July 20, 2018 at 8:57 pm

There is a bit of a dissonance here. Human rights has been persistently used by neoliberals to destabilize other regions for their own ends for decades now with little protest. And when the standard playbook of coups and stirring up trouble does not work its war and total destruction as we have seen recently in Iraq, Libya and Syria for completely fabricated reasons.

Since increased migration is the obvious first consequence when entire countries are decimated and in disarray one would expect the countries doing the destruction to accept the consequences of their actions but instead we have the same political forces who advocate intervention on 'human rights grounds' now demonizing migrants and advocating openly racist policies.

One can understand one mistake but 3 mistakes in a row! And apparently we are not capable of learning. The bloodlust continues unabated for Iran. This will destabilize an already destabilized region and cause even more migration to Europe. There seems to be a fundamental contradiction here, that the citizens of countries that execute these actions and who who protest about migrants must confront.

Maybe they should pay trillions of dollars of reparations for these intervention so these countries can be rebuilt and made secure again so migrants can return to their homes. Maybe the UN can introduce a new fund with any country considering destabilizing another country, for instance Iran, to first deposit a trillion dollars upfront to deal with the human fallout. Or maybe casually destabilizing and devastating entire countries, killing millions of people and putting millions more in disarray should be considered crimes against humanity and prosecuted so they are not repeated.

[Jul 18, 2018] Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up - Owning one's work can workers manage themselves caucus99percent

Notable quotes:
"... Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism (2012), ..."
"... Note: If you are more of a visual or audio learner, then please scroll down to see our "Recommended Videos" list. That said, a certain degree of reading will be required for you to achieve a thorough understanding of Socialism as a concept, in addition to the means by which we are to reach a Socialist/Communist society. ..."
"... Socialism and the American Negro ..."
"... Martin Luther King, Jr., as Democratic Socialist ..."
"... Why Socialism? ..."
"... The Principles of Communism ..."
"... Manifesto of the Communist Party ..."
"... Critique of the Gotha Programme ..."
"... The Capitalist System ..."
"... Marx's Concept of Socialism ..."
"... Marx's Concept of Man, ..."
"... The 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat' in Marx and Engels ..."
"... State Capitalism and Dictatorship ..."
"... The Black Church and Marxism: What Do They Have to Say to Each Other? ..."
"... The ABC's of Socialism ..."
"... Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State ..."
"... Reform or Revolution? ..."
"... The Mass Strike ..."
"... The Negro as Capitalist ..."
"... Marx's Concept of Man ..."
"... The 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat' from Marx to Lenin ..."
"... Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center ..."
"... The Invention of the White Race: ..."
"... Statism and Anarchy ..."
"... Bakunin on Anarchy ..."
"... Black Marxism ..."
"... Black Reconstruction in America ..."
"... Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media ..."
"... participatory economy ..."
"... self-managed economy ..."
"... cooperative economy ..."
"... a mode of production (in German: Produktionsweise, meaning "the way of producing") is a specific combination of the following: ..."
"... Productive forces : these include human labour power and means of production (e.g. tools, productive machinery, commercial and industrial buildings, other infrastructure, technical knowledge, materials, plants, animals and exploitable land). ..."
"... Social and technical relations of production : these include the property, power and control relations governing society's productive assets (often codified in law), cooperative work relations and forms of association, relations between people and the objects of their work and the relations between social classes. ..."
"... By performing social surplus labour in a specific system of property relations, the labouring classes constantly reproduce the foundations of the social order. A mode of production normally shapes the mode of distribution, circulation and consumption and is regulated by the state . ..."
"... New productive forces will cause conflict in the current mode of production. When conflict arises, the modes of production can evolve within the current structure or cause a complete breakdown. ..."
"... www.polecom.org/ The Political Economy of Communication, Vol 1, No 2 (2013) Theorising and analysing digital labour: From global value chains to modes of production Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster ..."
"... @The Aspie Corner ..."
"... @The Aspie Corner ..."
"... @Hawkfish ..."
"... @GreyWolf ..."
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Jul 18, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

Richard Wolff remains important in the continuing education of the left from the time when (for some of us), it was actually not a big deal to think of entry points and an Ideological State Apparatus.

Labor aristocracy remains the dominant feature of capitalism even as there has been resistance in the form of workers cooperatives. Could there be in the US context, more viable examples of workers' self managing institutions, or Workers Self Directed Enterprises (WSDEs) to minimize the social divisions created by capitalism. This has been covered by others in ACM especially on Mondragon, but it is Summer, and revisiting this is important for renewal as elections are coming, despite the usual villains. There perhaps are those who have not had occasion to cover this material and perhaps there are some who would like to augment their current state of understanding certain materialist philosophies .

As daunting as the terminology might seem it does require us to think about some basic ideas like embodied labor and living labor and the property relationships of that labor. Wolff's video below is one of many resources essential to understand the problems of stratified labor divisions, and the exploitation of value.

Contemporary capitalism no longer "delivers the goods" (which is understood as a rising standard of real wages) to the majority of people. That classic defense of its instability (e.g. recurrent bouts of unemployment), its deepening economic, political, and cultural inequalities, and its attendant injustices is no lon­ger plausible.

At a national scale, this is what Stephen Miller and Donald Trump are doing in Europe, when they promote a coded racism in the discourse of immigration, as a dog whistle for US bigotry and social division across classes, races, genders, and sexualities. This is the actual "culture war" where the social justice warriors against diversity are those "very fine people" wearing implicit and explicit icons for hatred and supremacy.

This is ugly.

Trump says that immigration is not "good for our country" because it is "changing the culture." pic.twitter.com/7zTXE9Miyh

� Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) July 13, 2018

As a piece in WaPo suggests "Trump's lies are not a defensive response to protect a political legacy. Trump's lies are his legacy."

But the first step should be understanding that there are some specific historical modes of production with the inevitable unevenness of development. " because human beings have a rational interest in developing their capacities to control their interactions with external nature in order to satisfy their wants, the historical tendency is strongly toward further development of these capacities." (Cohen)

Class struggle is made more complicated when false consciousness is enabled by a crony capitalism manipulating a labor aristocracy. Self development gets thwarted and subjugation as wage slavery can be compared in the immigration context to actual slavery as human trafficking occurs.

While living and working conditions for workers in the "global North" have deteriorated sharply since the late 1960s, the result has not been, for the most part, the growth of revolutionary consciousness. Instead we have seen reactionary ideas – racism, sexism, homophobia, nativism, militarism – strengthened in a significant sector of workers in the advanced capitalist countries. Since the late 1970s, nearly one-third of U.S. voters in union households have voted for right-wing Republicans. (1)

[...]

"Obviously, out of such enormous super profits (since they are obtained over and above the profits which capitalists squeeze out of the workers of their "own" country) it is possible to bribe their labor leaders and an upper stratum of the labor aristocracy. And the capitalists of the "advanced" countries do bribe them: they bribe them in a thousand different ways, direct and indirect, overt and covert."

solidarity-us.org/...

Workers' self-organization and self-activity in the workplace struggles is the starting point for creating the material and ideological conditions for an effective challenge to working class reformism and conservatism. Clearly, militant workplace struggle is not a sufficient condition for the development of radical and revolutionary consciousness among workers. Struggles in working-class communities around housing, social welfare, transport and other issues; and political struggles against racism and war are crucial elements in the political self-transformation of the working class.

Successful workplace struggles, however, are the necessary condition for the development of class consciousness. Without the experience of such struggles, workers will continue to passively accept reformist politics or, worse, embrace reactionary politics.

solidarity-us.org/...

Understanding the struggle involves a foundational awareness of the mode of production and the productive forces and relations of production.

YouTube Video

In Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism (2012), Richard Wolff argues that global capitalism can no longer meet the needs of the world's population. He goes onto note that socialism as it has been practiced during the twentieth century cannot meet these needs either. His work is an attempt to construct a viable alternative to global capitalism, centering on Marx's notion of surplus capital. Marx argued that one of the most salient features of capitalism was that workers produce more than what they are paid for. For instance, a worker may work eight hours a day but his labor in those eight hours may be equivalent to twelve hours labor. It is the owners and managers that appropriate this surplus labor, enrich themselves with it, and exploit the laborers in the process. What Wolff proposes as an alternative are Workers Self Directed Enterprises (WSDEs) . In WSDEs, workers, who produce surplus capital, are in charge of the profit, not owners, managers or executives.

[...]

The last section of Wolff's work is an attempt to rethink the core issue of the present; the massive inequality of wealth generated by global capitalism. Here,Wolff articulates his vision of WSDEs. He claims that only WSDEs can actually be labeled socialist because they represent the only instance in which surplus labor is appropriated by the workers themselves. Wolff does not delve into specifics, such as the amount of property that would need to be nationalized or at least held in collective control, or the degree of planning needed. His major question is the relationship between WSDE's, other capitalist entities, and the government. Wolff gives some insights as to the relationships that may occur between these entities,,but does not speculate about interactions that cannot be known in advance. He argues that just like any social advancement, the transition to WSDEs would not be smooth or easy, and would be dictated in large part by the environment. Wolff does,however, examine the possible social structures of WSDEs and their relation to surrounding communities. WSDEs would be democratically controlled by workers,as well as the residents of the surrounding community (since the decisions made by the workers would directly affect the community). In addition, Wolff draws another distinction between producers and enablers. Producers actually create surplus,while enablers, such as lawyers or janitors, allow producers to. Producers, enablers, and members of the community all have a say in how the WSDE is run and how the surplus is divided.

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The problem as it always has been is the role of institutions like banks and the dilemma of advanced technology. The interesting question is whether there could be a WSDE in Silicon Valley, or WSDE schools.

The complex network of cycles of digital labour.(Fuchs)

Baltimore Worker co-op Red Emma's proves the power and potential for this model.
"From a founding group of seven, they�re up to 25 worker-owners, all earning a living wage. The new location will allow for 10 more worker-owners � and they�re adding a bar." https://t.co/4GvTuNnVbu

� Democracy At Work (@democracyatwrk) June 21, 2018

this is a tweet thread from the Black Socialists on Modes of Production

We�re going to be honest:

Too many Leftists lack an understanding for what Capitalism is, not as an abstract socioeconomic system, but as a MODE OF PRODUCTION.

Move past LABELS and watch @profwolff break down Capitalism as a MODE OF PRODUCTION using simple arithmetic.

(1/6) pic.twitter.com/jaMz6ujbda

� Black Socialists of America (@BlackSocialists) June 11, 2018

(1/6) "It's really only 'do ya got it?' or 'do ya not have it?'

And if ya have it, you can be the employer.

And if you don't, [then] ya can't [be the employer].

The fact that the employer who has it didn't produce it is a nagging problem we prefer not to ask [about]."

(2/6) "The logic would be, gee, the worker added the value; [they] SHOULD GET IT!

'CAUSE [THEY] GAVE IT!

[THEY] CREATED IT!

...

Do you think that happens in Capitalism?

No, you don't, do you?

We don't give the worker the value added... EVER, in Capitalism."

(3/6) "[The Capitalist] has to rip the workers off...

[The Capitalist] has to STEAL from them part of what their labor added.

...

The condition of your employment is that you produce more by your labor than you get paid.

Welcome to the capitalist system."

(4/6) "The best way to describe your work in a capitalist enterprise is not that the employer gives YOU a job; it's that you give your employer THE SURPLUS!

The 'giver' and the 'getter' are in reversed order from what the language suggests."

(5/6) "What is 'Socialism,' given what I've described here?

...

The workers will still come to work ... but ... the surplus?

They get that.

...

What is the simple American phrase that captures this?

'Worker co-op.'

It's very old...

You don't need a new [theory]..."

(6/6) It is time that Leftists come back to the essence of Scientific Socialism and, using the method of dialectical materialism, truly evaluate the means by which we achieve true "liberation" within the 21st century.

The revolution begins with us, and it begins in the workplace. You can find the full lecture from Professor Wolff ( @profwolff ) through the "Recommended Videos" section of our official resource guide linked below:

Resource Guide | BSA These are the official writings, videos, and more that BSA recommends all Socialists explore, regardless of skin color. https://blacksocialists.us/resource-guide Recommended Readings Part 1: The Introduction

Note: If you are more of a visual or audio learner, then please scroll down to see our "Recommended Videos" list. That said, a certain degree of reading will be required for you to achieve a thorough understanding of Socialism as a concept, in addition to the means by which we are to reach a Socialist/Communist society.

The following list of readings are articles or excerpts from larger works for those of you who may not feel like devoting hours out of each day to diving deep into understanding Socialism. This reading list is for people who may get the basic gist of why Capitalism is bad, but who may not be too familiar with Socialism as a theory. Much of these works deal with secondhand interpretations or explanations, so please make sure to explore more fundamental works further down below.

With these readings, you'll have to think deeply, but maybe not as long or hard as you would have to think when reading an entire book:

Recommended Readings Part 2: The Longer Reads

If you want to call yourself a Socialist, or you already consider yourself one, then this is the list for you:

Recommended Readings Part 3: The Longest Reads

Most of these works are incredibly long and dense, so many of you probably won't take the time to read through them, but Marxists.org has plenty of content that summarizes and provides analyses on much of what is shared here, and it also provides key excerpts.

These are works that are considered essential readings for understanding the foundation upon which we base our socialist theory and/or understanding today, in conjunction with historical records (in other words: this is some OG sh!t ):

Workers' self-management is more significant in other nations of which Spain's Mondragon is a good example.

An economic system consisting of self-managed enterprises is sometimes referred to as a participatory economy , self-managed economy or cooperative economy . This economic model is a major version of market socialism and decentralized planned economy, stemming from the notion that people should be able to participate in making the decisions that affect their well-being. The major proponents of self-managed market socialism in the 20th century include the economists Benjamin Ward , Jaroslav Vanek and Branko Horvat. [5] The Ward-Vanek model of self-management involves the diffusion of entrepreneurial roles amongst all the partners of the enterprise.

Branko Horvat notes that participation is not simply more desirable but also more economically viable than traditional hierarchical and authoritarian management as demonstrated by econometric measurements, which indicate an increase in efficiency with greater participation in decision-making. According to Horvat, these developments are moving the world toward a self-governing socialistic mode of organization. [6]

In the economic theory of self-management, workers are no longer employees but partners in the administration of their enterprise. Management theories in favor of greater self-management and self-directed activity cite the importance of autonomy for productivity in the firm, and economists in favor of self-management argue that cooperatives are more efficient than centrally-managed firms because every worker receives a portion of the profit, thereby directly tying their productivity to their level of compensation.

en.wikipedia.org/...

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Perhaps the best that can occur considering the entrenched hegemony of pre-capitalist organization of universities and its constant attempt to make schools into factories, is an Online Unversity of the Left.

A mode of production combines productive forces and relations of production.

a mode of production (in German: Produktionsweise, meaning "the way of producing") is a specific combination of the following:

By performing social surplus labour in a specific system of property relations, the labouring classes constantly reproduce the foundations of the social order. A mode of production normally shapes the mode of distribution, circulation and consumption and is regulated by the state .

New productive forces will cause conflict in the current mode of production. When conflict arises, the modes of production can evolve within the current structure or cause a complete breakdown.

www.polecom.org/ The Political Economy of Communication, Vol 1, No 2 (2013) Theorising and analysing digital labour: From global value chains to modes of production Christian Fuchs, University of Westminster

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Comments

The Aspie Corner on Sun, 07/15/2018 - 5:28pm

I'd love to work at a cooperative business.

Only problem is they don't exist where I live in Flawer'Duh. If I could start one, I would. Sadly I don't have the capital necessary to do so.

dfarrah on Sun, 07/15/2018 - 5:42pm
It is just a matter of

@The Aspie Corner the employees buying the business from the owner(s), whether it is privately or publicly owned.

Workers are apparently not willing or able to pool their funds to buy or create co-ops.

Only problem is they don't exist where I live in Flawer'Duh. If I could start one, I would. Sadly I don't have the capital necessary to do so.

Hawkfish on Sun, 07/15/2018 - 6:02pm
T Corps

@The Aspie Corner

One problem is that state provided corporate structures are not useful (I wonder why...). For example, here in Washington we have the "T-Corp" for worker coops ( as opposed to C- and S-corps and LLCs) that suffer from the founders equity problem. In Mondragon they solved this by taking the accumulated capital of out of the business as pension investments in the coop bank, but in the T- Corp you have to leave the capital in the business. This makes it impossible for the company to grow by attracting new workers after some time has gone by because no one can buy in.

When I set up such a business about 20 years ago, we got around this by making an S-Corp with custom bylaws. It cost about $1k back then, but it may be more now (and I'm sure FL has its own special issues). But that is how to go about it IMHO.

Only problem is they don't exist where I live in Flawer'Duh. If I could start one, I would. Sadly I don't have the capital necessary to do so.

GreyWolf on Sun, 07/15/2018 - 6:46pm
I'd love to hear more ...

@Hawkfish of your first-hand experiences. You said you're in Washington [state?]

I hear there are a few states that are more co-op friendly, like CA or VT ...
Here in SC the S-Corp with custom bylaws would be the route I would select, but I was contemplating using another state ...

#1

One problem is that state provided corporate structures are not useful (I wonder why...). For example, here in Washington we have the "T-Corp" for worker coops ( as opposed to C- and S-corps and LLCs) that suffer from the founders equity problem. In Mondragon they solved this by taking the accumulated capital of out of the business as pension investments in the coop bank, but in the T- Corp you have to leave the capital in the business. This makes it impossible for the company to grow by attracting new workers after some time has gone by because no one can buy in.

When I set up such a business about 20 years ago, we got around this by making an S-Corp with custom bylaws. It cost about $1k back then, but it may be more now (and I'm sure FL has its own special issues). But that is how to go about it IMHO.

Hawkfish on Mon, 07/16/2018 - 9:07am
It was over 20 years ago

@GreyWolf

So I don't remember much. But we required all workers (we only got up to three) to be equal shareholders and paid out all earnings every year. But unfortunately I don't even have the bylaws any more.

#1.2 of your first-hand experiences. You said you're in Washington [state?]

I hear there are a few states that are more co-op friendly, like CA or VT ...
Here in SC the S-Corp with custom bylaws would be the route I would select, but I was contemplating using another state ...

annieli on Sun, 07/15/2018 - 5:33pm
that is the problem, although

that is the problem, although it does suggest that more effort needs to be put into how