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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'tat  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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[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.

[Aug 03, 2018] Donald Trump might be a symptom that neoliberal system is about to collapse

Amazing interview.
We are in the point when capitalist system (which presented itself as asocial system that created a large middle class) converted into it opposite: it is social system that could not deliver that it promised and now want to distract people from this sad fact.
The Trump adopted tax code is a huge excess: we have 40 year when corporation paid less taxes. This is last moment when they need another gift. To give them tax is crazy excess that reminding Louis XV of France. Those gains are going in buying of socks. And real growth is happening elsewhere in the world.
After WW2 there were a couple of decades of "golden age" of US capitalism when in the USA middle class increased considerably. That was result of pressure of working class devastated by Great Depression. Roosevelt decided that risk is too great and he introduced social security net. But capitalist class was so enraged that they started fighting it almost immediately after the New Deal was introduced. Business class was enrages with the level of taxes and counterattacked. Tarp act and McCarthyism were two successful counterattacks. McCarthyism converting communists and socialists into agents of foreign power.
The quality of jobs are going down. That's why Trump was elected... Which is sad. Giving your finger to the neoliberal elite does not solve their problem
Notable quotes:
"... Finally, if everybody tries to save themselves (protection), we have a historical example: after the Great Depression that happened in Europe. And most people believe that it was a large part of what led to WWII after WWI, rather than a much saner collective effort. But capitalism doesn't go for collective efforts, it tends to destroy itself by its own mechanisms. There has to be a movement from below. Otherwise, there is no counter force that can take us in another direction. ..."
"... When Trump announced his big tariffs on China, we saw the stock market dropped 700 points in a day. That's a sign of the anxiety, the danger, even in the minds of capitalists, about where this is going. ..."
"... Everything is done to avoid asking the question to what degree the system we have in place - capitalism is its name - is the problem. It's the Russians, it's the immigrants, it's the tariffs, it's anything else, even the pornstar, to distract us from the debate we need to have had that we haven't had for a half a century, which puts us in a very bad place. We've given a free pass to a capitalist system because we've been afraid to debate it. And when you give a free pass to any institution you create the conditions for it to rot, right behind the facade. ..."
"... The Trump presidency is the last gasp, it's letting it all hang out. A [neoliberal] system that's gonna do whatever it can, take advantage of this moment, grab it all before it disappears. ..."
Jul 10, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.com

In another interesting interview with Chris Hedges, Richard Wolff explains why the Trump presidency is the last resort of a system that is about to collapse:

Finally, if everybody tries to save themselves (protection), we have a historical example: after the Great Depression that happened in Europe. And most people believe that it was a large part of what led to WWII after WWI, rather than a much saner collective effort. But capitalism doesn't go for collective efforts, it tends to destroy itself by its own mechanisms. There has to be a movement from below. Otherwise, there is no counter force that can take us in another direction.

So, absent that counter force we are going to see this system spinning out of control and destroying itself in the very way its critics have for so long foreseen it well might.

When Trump announced his big tariffs on China, we saw the stock market dropped 700 points in a day. That's a sign of the anxiety, the danger, even in the minds of capitalists, about where this is going. If we hadn't been a country with two or three decades of a middle class - working class paid really well - maybe we could have gotten away with this. But in a society that has celebrated its capacity to do what it now fails to do, you have an explosive situation.

Everything is done to avoid asking the question to what degree the system we have in place - capitalism is its name - is the problem. It's the Russians, it's the immigrants, it's the tariffs, it's anything else, even the pornstar, to distract us from the debate we need to have had that we haven't had for a half a century, which puts us in a very bad place. We've given a free pass to a capitalist system because we've been afraid to debate it. And when you give a free pass to any institution you create the conditions for it to rot, right behind the facade.

The Trump presidency is the last gasp, it's letting it all hang out. A [neoliberal] system that's gonna do whatever it can, take advantage of this moment, grab it all before it disappears.

In France, it was said 'Aprs moi, le dluge' (after me the catastrophe). The storm will break.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/60FrsWm9OAc

[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 ..."
"... @Lookout ..."
"... @Hawkfish ..."
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

â?� 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.

interstitialjournal.files.wordpress.com/...

YouTube Video

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, theyâ??re up to 25 worker-owners, all earning a living wage. The new location will allow for 10 more worker-owners â?� and theyâ??re adding a bar." https://t.co/4GvTuNnVbu

â?� Democracy At Work (@democracyatwrk) June 21, 2018

this is a tweet thread from the Black Socialists on Modes of Production

Weâ??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

â?� 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/...

YouTube Video

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

Tags: Anti-Capitalist Meetup up 9 users have voted.

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 under neoliberal capitalism, entrepreneurship can be more inclusive of co-ops

GreyWolf on Sun, 07/15/2018 - 5:57pm
awesome co-op links! :-)

thanks for all this info

Lookout on Sun, 07/15/2018 - 8:12pm
worker coops are a sane approach

and something people with investment money can create. Sadly most folks in the US can't afford a $500 expense. However if people can jump into the gig economy...seems they could jump into a coop economy. I know Dr. Wolff's org helps with grants and legal work. It takes some motivation and a lot of dedication to swim up stream rather than just following the path they create to the part-time wal-mart greeter, stocker, cashier non-career. We live in the new world of slavery tied by the chains of debt and enforced with lives in private prison....breathe the freedom of capitalism.

Hawkfish on Mon, 07/16/2018 - 9:04am
Coop banks are essential

@Lookout

They provide both capital and (if necessary) business plans. To bootstrap the process you need some of both from the original companies. But as you say most people's can't afford the startup costs.

and something people with investment money can create. Sadly most folks in the US can't afford a $500 expense. However if people can jump into the gig economy...seems they could jump into a coop economy. I know Dr. Wolff's org helps with grants and legal work. It takes some motivation and a lot of dedication to swim up stream rather than just following the path they create to the part-time wal-mart greeter, stocker, cashier non-career. We live in the new world of slavery tied by the chains of debt and enforced with lives in private prison....breathe the freedom of capitalism.

Lookout on Mon, 07/16/2018 - 10:31am
I wonder if the ND State owned bank helps coops?

@Hawkfish
They weathered the 2008 collapse well.
https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009/03/how-nations-only-state-owne...

I see there is a national coop bank that assists coop start-ups.
https://ncb.coop/ncb

Thanks for the tip!

#4

They provide both capital and (if necessary) business plans. To bootstrap the process you need some of both from the original companies. But as you say most people's can't afford the startup costs.

chuckutzman on Sun, 07/15/2018 - 9:42pm
Something we can all do is to patronize the worker

co-op firms. I now buy my flours from Bobs Red Mill. He was an owner who cared more about his workers than cashing out for big-bucks.

divineorder on Mon, 07/16/2018 - 3:38am
Great essay, thanks. Wonder if Elon the Socialist will step up?

Okay.

If this is true, then restructure all of your current enterprises into WSDE cooperatives (Worker Self-Directed Enterprises).

Let the workers control the means of production in a democratic and environmentally sound fashion. https://t.co/sQwPVAx0GA

-- Black Socialists of America (@BlackSocialists) June 16, 2018

By the way, I am actually a socialist. Just not the kind that shifts resources from most productive to least productive, pretending to do good, while actually causing harm. True socialism seeks greatest good for all.

-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 16, 2018

[Jul 18, 2018] Bernie Town Hall Tonight Changing The Narrative Again By Using His Platform To Give People s Stories A Chance to Be Heard Wher

Notable quotes:
"... living in their cars. ..."
"... not hearing these stories ..."
"... @Mark from Queens ..."
"... @k9disc ..."
"... @k9disc ..."
"... @Pricknick ..."
"... @SancheLlewellyn ..."
"... @SancheLlewellyn ..."
"... @lizzyh7 ..."
"... @SancheLlewellyn ..."
"... @karl pearson ..."
Jul 18, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

Bernie Town Hall Tonight: Changing The Narrative Again By Using His Platform To Give People's Stories A Chance to Be Heard Where Corporate Media Utterly Fails


Mark from Queens on Mon, 07/16/2018 - 9:18pm This is gonna be quick. I just remembered that Bernie Sanders is holding another one of his excellent town halls tonight. This one is called "CEO's vs. Workers."

Before the negativity comes in, let me say clearly that this isn't a Bernie is our savior bit or arguing for electoral salvation or whatever. It's simply a recognition of someone with a platform putting in the time to make sure these stories are seen and documented for posterity, despite whatever limitations inherent in the broadcast's reach. I see this as highly commendable - and potent.

The story here that made me turn on the computer and hit "new essay" was from a young woman working for Disneyland in Anaheim, who tells of how brutal it is trying to survive on $12 an hour, having to cram roommates in to barely make the rent.

Then she mentions that some of her co-workers are living in their cars. Many have lost their homes and/or living in motels. There's also a Tent City, which extends to a larger Orange County problem, where more Disney co-workers are living. One of here co-workers was so ashamed of her situation that she told nobody that she was living in her car - and went missing and later found dead in it. She then admits a great fear of losing her home, saying there are no resources to be found if you're in that position. (Her story begins around the 18min mark).

Quite frankly, it's fucking heartbreaking and angering to listen to these people humbly tell their stories to the public without shame.

People in this country are not hearing these stories . And because of it, are easily kept distracted by corporate media manufactured controversy and divide and conquer by partisan ideologues. They're not having their own realities reflected back to them; are instead bred to be in a constant state of fear about things that don't effect their everyday lives and led to believe relatively inconsequential things are more important than fundamental ones that do effect their daily lives.

Every one of these Bernie townhalls (I've seen two others) have been riveting. This guy is single-handedly trying to give a platform to marginalized and dispossessed voices. Nothing like this ever gets on tv. Anytime there's a corporate attempt to do something similar it's a highly controlled, stilted affair. His are the opposite.

To me this is an example of how to change the narrative, which is the linchpin to everything. Why can't we get more people at a quicker pace to align themselves in solidarity to what we think and espouse here? Because there isn't a forum for the downtrodden, the castaways, the ripped off, the overworked and underpaid, the isolated, to tell their stories on a large scale. When people here stories firsthand there is a much better chance of building the kid of empathy and compassion at the heart of forming coalitions and/or support for those outside of one's life's station or class.

Of course it's all relative. And Bernie, despite being the most popular politician by far, doesn't have the reach of CNN. But it is something. And if this could inspire more of these types of panel discussion that dignify the working class it could revolutionize how narratives
get built.

This is the difference between people reading about this stuff and moving on, and having to look into the eyes of the afflicted and being moved to act.

If this can't work on the American public to rile up indignation and compassion we're completely hopeless.

Hey folks. These really are something amazing

Simply put, firsthand stories are so potent. He's really onto something with these townhalls giving folks the opportunity to speak their truth. No pundits, annoying talking heads, slick stage set.

No matter what you think of him, there's nobody in politics who comes close to what he's done to change the narrative. He continues to impact and expand it to include the real issues of people's lives (lack of healthcare, joblessness, being underpaid and overworked, etc.) that are completely ignored by the MSM.

Change The Narrative. Propaganda. What is the public corralled into talking about next? Almost always something to distract from how bad things really are.

k9disc on Mon, 07/16/2018 - 10:55pm
Co-Opt the Narrative.

I'm still having problems with Bernie.

I do believe in the personal stories angle. It is powerful stuff.

I'm afraid that anything but heels dug-in pushback on the Russia angle is going to be the death of the Republic.

@Mark from Queens

Simply put, firsthand stories are so potent. He's really onto something with these townhalls giving folks the opportunity to speak their truth. No pundits, annoying talking heads, slick stage set.

No matter what you think of him, there's nobody in politics who comes close to what he's done to change the narrative. He continues to impact and expand it to include the real issues of people's lives (lack of healthcare, joblessness, being underpaid and overworked, etc.) that are completely ignored by the MSM.

Change The Narrative. Propaganda. What is the public corralled into talking about next? Almost always something to distract from how bad things really are.

dfarrah on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 9:04pm
Diss him all you wish,

@k9disc but the bottom line is that he freed the American people from the notion that only candidates with boatloads of money from TPTB can win.

That notion has had a stranglehold on politics for decades.

Now we all know that a candidate can be funded by smaller donations.

I'm still having problems with Bernie.

I do believe in the personal stories angle. It is powerful stuff.

I'm afraid that anything but heels dug-in pushback on the Russia angle is going to be the death of the Republic.

#1

dfarrah on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 10:07pm
Diss him all you wish,

@k9disc but the bottom line is that he freed the American people from the notion that only candidates with boatloads of money from TPTB can win.

That notion has had a stranglehold on politics for decades.

I'm still having problems with Bernie.

I do believe in the personal stories angle. It is powerful stuff.

I'm afraid that anything but heels dug-in pushback on the Russia angle is going to be the death of the Republic.

#1

Pricknick on Mon, 07/16/2018 - 10:43pm
I'm done with Russia, Russia, Russia.

But Burnme is not.
Once again he refuses to broadcast the spectacle of american political corruption while laying the blame on russia.

Rather than make clear that interference in our elections is unacceptable, Trump instead accepted Putin's denials and cast doubt on the conclusions of our intelligence community. This is not normal.

I will never link anything on twitter so read if you must.
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/07/16/white-house-declares-summit...

SancheLlewellyn on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 8:50am
My only quibble with your blockquote

@Pricknick is the phrase "This is not normal." We are a fascist state, and it IS normal, just as the kidnapping and torturing small children by Trump's Gestapo is normal. (We might want to do something about it?)

Ditto Trump's obsequious ass kissing of Putin in Helsinki, proving he is a Russian asset the same way Frank Burns (on MASH) was a North Korean asset.

Bernie, however, points out the obvious (or what would be obvious if anyone cared to look), that even "blue states" hide an economic hellscape. Obama's bailout of the banks and reinflation of the housing bubble enriched the One Percent but left everyone else behind. Those who can't afford $750,000 crap shacks either end up homeless or get stuck with hours-long commutes to reach their jobs. Here in Portland we have so many tent cities you would think you stepped back into the 1930s.

Welcome to Hell. Maybe Bernie and others can show us the way out. If only we listen this time.

But Burnme is not.
Once again he refuses to broadcast the spectacle of american political corruption while laying the blame on russia.

Rather than make clear that interference in our elections is unacceptable, Trump instead accepted Putin's denials and cast doubt on the conclusions of our intelligence community. This is not normal.

I will never link anything on twitter so read if you must.
https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/07/16/white-house-declares-summit...

The Voice In th... on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 9:31am
A suggestion

@SancheLlewellyn
And PLEASE don't misunderstand me, I'm NOT dismissing their plight. I'm glad that someone is showing the desperation of people whose problems are NOT from their life choices i.e. prison, drugs, dropping out of High School.

Move to the Midwest. Housing is expensive here too, but $750,000 is a mansion. In my Chicago Suburb there are still houses under $150,000, usually small (1200-1500 sq ft) 1950's tract houses. There are 20 houses right now for sale between $250,000 and $300,000, quite nice houses built in the last thirty years. There are even 14 houses between $400,000 and $500,000 that look so upscale I can only dream about them (and dream of affording them). Illinois minimum wage is only $8.25 but even McDonald's is paying $12.
Taxes are regressive and horrendous. And the Weather sucks big time. But it's better than trying to live on $12 an hour in California.

The coasts are now only for the elite and their servants.

The weather is better in the South, but society and politics are extremely conservative.

#2 is the phrase "This is not normal." We are a fascist state, and it IS normal, just as the kidnapping and torturing small children by Trump's Gestapo is normal. (We might want to do something about it?)

Ditto Trump's obsequious ass kissing of Putin in Helsinki, proving he is a Russian asset the same way Frank Burns (on MASH) was a North Korean asset.

Bernie, however, points out the obvious (or what would be obvious if anyone cared to look), that even "blue states" hide an economic hellscape. Obama's bailout of the banks and reinflation of the housing bubble enriched the One Percent but left everyone else behind. Those who can't afford $750,000 crap shacks either end up homeless or get stuck with hours-long commutes to reach their jobs. Here in Portland we have so many tent cities you would think you stepped back into the 1930s.

Welcome to Hell. Maybe Bernie and others can show us the way out. If only we listen this time.

lizzyh7 on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 12:37pm
Russian asset?

@SancheLlewellyn I'm sorry but come on now. As for this being normal you'd be correct but it surely wasn't only Trump that normalized this, it's been normalized for a long damned time but most simply don't look at it, especially when it's a "Democrat" at the helm with a pretty smiling face assuring us that everything will be fine as long as we play along with them.

Hell is already here but buying into that Russia crapola is a cop out - Russia didn't cut high end taxes repeatedly while the rest of the country went to shit. Russia didn't bail out the banks at taxpayer expense and tell the taxpayers to pound sand and STFU. Russia is not fighting wars for global domination all over the planet and it does not have almost 1000 foreign bases all over the world.

Can Bernie save us? He'd best get off that Russia crap as even he knows good and damned well that our continued "defense" budgets cannot continue alongside Medicare for All, etc, etc, etc. THAT is the elephant in the room that apparently even Bernie is simply not willing to address.

#2 is the phrase "This is not normal." We are a fascist state, and it IS normal, just as the kidnapping and torturing small children by Trump's Gestapo is normal. (We might want to do something about it?)

Ditto Trump's obsequious ass kissing of Putin in Helsinki, proving he is a Russian asset the same way Frank Burns (on MASH) was a North Korean asset.

Bernie, however, points out the obvious (or what would be obvious if anyone cared to look), that even "blue states" hide an economic hellscape. Obama's bailout of the banks and reinflation of the housing bubble enriched the One Percent but left everyone else behind. Those who can't afford $750,000 crap shacks either end up homeless or get stuck with hours-long commutes to reach their jobs. Here in Portland we have so many tent cities you would think you stepped back into the 1930s.

Welcome to Hell. Maybe Bernie and others can show us the way out. If only we listen this time.

The Voice In th... on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 6:37pm
" Russia is not fighting wars for global domination"

@lizzyh7
That part is disputable but the rest is absolutely correct.

Remember, in politics, whether local or global, there doesn't have to be a good guy and a bad guy. Most often there are two (or more) bad guys.

#2.1 I'm sorry but come on now. As for this being normal you'd be correct but it surely wasn't only Trump that normalized this, it's been normalized for a long damned time but most simply don't look at it, especially when it's a "Democrat" at the helm with a pretty smiling face assuring us that everything will be fine as long as we play along with them.

Hell is already here but buying into that Russia crapola is a cop out - Russia didn't cut high end taxes repeatedly while the rest of the country went to shit. Russia didn't bail out the banks at taxpayer expense and tell the taxpayers to pound sand and STFU. Russia is not fighting wars for global domination all over the planet and it does not have almost 1000 foreign bases all over the world.

Can Bernie save us? He'd best get off that Russia crap as even he knows good and damned well that our continued "defense" budgets cannot continue alongside Medicare for All, etc, etc, etc. THAT is the elephant in the room that apparently even Bernie is simply not willing to address.

dfarrah on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 8:57pm
Kidnapping and

@SancheLlewellyn torturing?

Gestapo?

This comment is just another example of the trump hysteria that has taken over.

#2 is the phrase "This is not normal." We are a fascist state, and it IS normal, just as the kidnapping and torturing small children by Trump's Gestapo is normal. (We might want to do something about it?)

Ditto Trump's obsequious ass kissing of Putin in Helsinki, proving he is a Russian asset the same way Frank Burns (on MASH) was a North Korean asset.

Bernie, however, points out the obvious (or what would be obvious if anyone cared to look), that even "blue states" hide an economic hellscape. Obama's bailout of the banks and reinflation of the housing bubble enriched the One Percent but left everyone else behind. Those who can't afford $750,000 crap shacks either end up homeless or get stuck with hours-long commutes to reach their jobs. Here in Portland we have so many tent cities you would think you stepped back into the 1930s.

Welcome to Hell. Maybe Bernie and others can show us the way out. If only we listen this time.

Raggedy Ann on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 8:59am
Thanks, Mark, for eloquently

expressing what I also believe is Bernie's intent. The deep state might be able to keep him from being president, but they have not yet silenced him. They ensure the msm doesn't cover his town halls, but they are found and spread far and wide anyway.

When I was a manager, I would tell my employees that if I didn't know something was broken, I couldn't fix it. Bernie continues to publicize what is broken.

It is up to we, the people, to fix it through revolution. It's the only way.

karl pearson on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 11:26am
Working Poor

I'm glad you posted this. Bernie is one of a handful of D.C. politicians that addresses the plight of the working poor. Most Democrats talk about the difficulties of the middle class since that's a "safe" topic.

The Voice In th... on Tue, 07/17/2018 - 6:43pm
Hi, Karl!

@karl pearson
Most of the working poor think they are lower middle class and not at all like welfare people. Often, they are the most conservative. It's easy to have that outlook when things are always going against you. Most haven't caught on that the Democrats are no longer their friends and haven't been for around half a century. Some realize that the Republicans never have been. Others think if one side (D) has a black hat the other (R) must have a white hat. They actually think that Trump is their friend. "If he's Hillary's enemy, he must be my friend."

[Jul 10, 2018] Helping the bosses make the laws and break the laws

Jul 10, 2018 | www.mintpressnews.com

Last month's Supreme Court ruling scrapping the 41-year-old ruling requiring non-union government workers to pay into union tills was also a major blow to workers' collective bargaining rights, and a big victory for the ultra-rich, far-right financiers who also backed Trump. The court's decision came amid an ongoing wave of attacks on workers' rights -- including anti-union propaganda campaigns, litigation, and so-called "right-to-work" laws that undermine workers' rights, grievance procedures, wages and benefits.

"The Janus decision can be understood as a reflection of the prevailing politics of the time," Baraka observed.

"That is reflected in the make-up of the court and the relative weakness of organized labor and the bipartisan understanding that the neoliberal project requires the containment of the working class," he continued.

So the court as an instrument of class rule has been quite consistent."

A glance at the Judicial Branch's record shows the pivotal role it's played disempowering the hard-fought protections won by U.S. workers. In O'Connor v Ortega [1987], the court ruled that employees could be searched at work as if they were suspected criminals. In Wards Cove Packing Co v Atonio [1989] the court decided in favor of preventing discrimination claims from being brought against employers, although this was eventually reversed. And in Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc v NLRB [2002], the decision was made to strip undocumented workers of their right to organize a union.

Invariably drawn from the top layers of U.S. society, the justices of the Supreme Court are clearly bound to represent the class interests of the de facto aristocracy and capitalists who hold a monopoly on political and social power in the United States. For critics, this belies any attempt to depict the court as having ever been progressive.

"Line them up; until recently they were all male, WASP All of the judges are from Ivy League universities and aside from Sotomayor, they have never known poor people – the Supreme Court is already racist and fascist," Acuña said.

"Decisions favoring labor have been rare, social issues rarer – the problem is we are delusional," he added.

Lifelong social movement organizer and historian Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, author of An Indigenous People's History of the United States , is likewise skeptical.

"It certainly seems unlikely that social justice movements can make use of the courts," Dunbar-Ortiz told MintPress News.

She continued:

I believe that since the 1950s, we have relied too much on the notion that the liberal "living constitution" theory would prevail, but I always had doubts that it was a good idea, rather than the more difficult route of building a progressive congress, electoral politics, taking the easy way of the courts, giving lawyers central roles rather than politics in command."

[Jul 06, 2018] We enter this century with workers' rights fading, freedom and democracy attacked, and inequality growing

Jul 06, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

Mr. Anderson Pennsylvania, July 2

The last century began with few workers' rights and massive inequality. Two World Wars, an economic depression, and the Cold War convinced the money class that their survival required them to share.

We enter this century with workers' rights fading, freedom and democracy attacked, and inequality growing.

They tell us that this time is different and the excesses of the past are not a threat. That globalization, interconnectedness (human and electronic), and electronic commerce eliminate the need for unions, Glass-Steagall, labor laws, limits on campaign finance, and even facts. That concentration of wealth and power are in our collective best interests. That smaller government will free us to realize our true potentials. That corporations know best and will serve us better than governments ever could and do so at lower cost. That we should trust them. That they are wiser. That they know how things truly work. That if we do not allow them to establish a new order, then things will just get much worse.

And they are now dismantling the old order responsible for stable financial markets, livable wages with benefits, upward economic mobility, human dignity, accountability from the power and money classes, and respect for those not like ourselves. And if they are wrong which I believe they are, then we are certain to endure a misery not even seen in the last century.

DCN Illinois July 1

The trumpkins clearly choose not to consider the reality of a global supply chain and the interconnected nature of manufacturing. A report in the auto section of the Chicago tribune pointed out the Honda Odyssey is the second most American made vehicle based on here its parts are sourced. We see tRump and his minions on TV touting all the false claims outlined by Dr. K. The lies are easily fact checked against actual data but tRump and his minions fully understand his base plus many more Republicans who should actually know better will lap up the lies and keep cheering USA until they drive things off a cliff like the last Republican Administration. We can only hope next time will not be worse.

[Jun 06, 2018] Neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends

Highly recommended!
Neoliberals are a flavor of Trotskyites and they will reach any depths to hang on to power.
Notable quotes:
"... Just as conservative Christian theology provides an excuse for sexism and homophobia, neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends. ..."
"... Nothing short of a grass roots campaign (such as that waged by GetUp!) will get rid for us of these modern let-them-eat-cake parasites who consider their divine duty to lord over us. ..."
Jun 06, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com
meticulousdoc , 3 Jun 2018 16:16

Just as conservative Christian theology provides an excuse for sexism and homophobia, neoliberal language allows powerful groups to package their personal preferences as national interests systematically cutting spending on their enemies and giving money to their friends.

And when the conservative "Christians" form a neoliberal government, the results are toxic for all, except themselves and their coterie.

Nothing short of a grass roots campaign (such as that waged by GetUp!) will get rid for us of these modern let-them-eat-cake parasites who consider their divine duty to lord over us.

An excellent article, we need more of them.

[Apr 24, 2018] Class and how they use words to hide reality

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... For example, when a Republican talks about "freedom" they don't mean "freedom from want". They mean "freedom from government oppression", but only government oppression. ..."
"... Democrats act the same way about different things. When a Democrat says "diversity", they only mean diversity of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Diversity of ideas? Diversity of class? Not so much. When a Democrat says "privilege" it refers to "white" and "male". Privilege of wealth? (i.e. like the dictionary definition) That generally gets forgotten. ..."
"... -- Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers Of The World (IWW) ..."
"... @thanatokephaloides ..."
"... -- Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers Of The World (IWW) ..."
"... @longtalldrink ..."
"... @longtalldrink ..."
"... @Lily O Lady ..."
"... @Lily O Lady ..."
"... @longtalldrink ..."
"... @lizzyh7 ..."
"... @dkmich ..."
Apr 24, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

gjohnsit on Wed, 04/18/2018 - 11:45pm

I've come to realize that there's a lot of confusion out there due to people using words with very specific definitions.

For example, when a Republican talks about "freedom" they don't mean "freedom from want". They mean "freedom from government oppression", but only government oppression.

Private oppression? Republicans will either deny it exists, or justify it. When a Republican is "pro-life" it only refers to birth. Because those very same pro-life people are generally pro-war and pro-death penalty.

Democrats act the same way about different things. When a Democrat says "diversity", they only mean diversity of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Diversity of ideas? Diversity of class? Not so much. When a Democrat says "privilege" it refers to "white" and "male". Privilege of wealth? (i.e. like the dictionary definition) That generally gets forgotten.

And then there is the bipartisan misuse of words, which revolves around war and wealth.
When they say "humanitarian war" they mean, um, some contradictory concepts that are meaningless, but are designed to make you feel a certain way.
When they say "socialism" they really mean "state oppression" regardless of the economic system.
As for the many version of socialism with minimal or non-existent central governments? Or when socialist programs work? No one talks about them.

Let's not forget substituting or mixing up "middle class" for "working class".
"Working class" now equals "poor", which isn't right.
They use "working class" as a smear too.
When you say "working class" some people automatically insert certain words in front of it, as if it's generally understood.

When many hear discussion of outreach to "working class" voters, they silently add the words "white" and "male" and all too often imagine them working on a factory floor or in construction. They shouldn't. According to another analysis by CAP from late last year, just under 6 in 10 members of the working class are white, and the group is almost half female (46 percent).

The topic of the needs and interests of the working class is usually race and gender neutral. Only the dishonest or indoctrinated can't wrap their minds around that fact.This is important because working class values don't require a race or gender lens.

a new report released today by the Center for American Progress makes a convincing argument, using extensive polling data, that this divide does not need to exist. As it turns out, in many cases, voters -- both college educated and working class, and of all races -- are in favor of an economic agenda that would offer them broader protections whether it comes to work, sickness or retirement.
"The polling shows that workers across race support similar views on economic policy issues," said David Madland, the co-author of the report, entitled "The Working-Class Push for Progressive Economic Policies." "They support a higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the wealthy, and more spending on healthcare and retirement. There is broad support among workers for progressive economic policy."

This shows that it's possible to make economic issues front and center in a campaign platform in a way that doesn't just talk to working class whites and dismisses the concerns of female and minority voters. It also shows that the oft-discussed dilemma among Democrats -- whether to prioritize college educated voters or working class ones -- may be a false choice.

Propaganda is all about false choices. To accomplish this, the media has created a world in which the working class exist only in the margins .

With the working class largely unrepresented in the media, or represented only in supporting roles, is it any wonder that people begin to identify in ways other than their class? Which is exactly what the ruling class wants .

I can't believe I used to fall for this nonsense! It takes a stupendous level of cognitive dissonance to simultaneously celebrate the fortunes of someone from a specific identity while looking past the vast sea of people from said identity who are stuck in gut-wrenching poverty. We pop champagnes for the neo-gentry while disregarding our own tribulations. It's the most stunning form of logical jujitsu establishment shills have successfully conditioned us to accept; instead of gauging the health of the economy and the vitality of our nation based on the collective whole, we have been hoodwinked to accept the elevation of a few as success for us all.
Diversity has become a scam and nothing more than a corporate bamboozle and a federated scheme that is used to hide the true nature of crony capitalism. We have become a Potemkin society where tokens are put on the stage to represent equality while the vast majority of Americans are enslaved by diminishing wages or kneecapped into dependency. The whole of our politics has been turned into an identity-driven hustle. On both sides of the aisle and at every corner of the social divide are grievance whisperers and demagogues who keep spewing fuel on the fire of tribalism. They use our pains and suffering to make millions only to turn their backs on us the minute they attain riches and status.

It's only when you see an article written by the ruling elite, or one that identifies with the ruling elite, that you realize just how out-of-touch they can be. The rich really are different - they are sociopaths. They've totally and completely bought into their own righteousness, merit and virtue .

Class ascendance led me to become what Susan Jacoby classifies in her recent New York Times Op-Ed "Stop Apologizing for Being Elite" as an "elite": a vague description of a group of people who have received advanced degrees. Jacoby urges elites to reject the shame that they have supposedly recently developed, a shame that somehow stems from failing to stop the working class from embracing Trumpism. Jacoby laments that, following the 2016 election, these elites no longer take pride in their wealth, their education, their social status, and posits that if only elites embraced their upward mobility, the working class would have something to aspire to and thus discard their fondness for Trump and his promises to save them.

That level of condescension just blows my mind. It occurred to me some time ago that I have much more in common with a working class slob in France, or Mexico, or Brazil, or Russia, than I do with the wealthy elite in my own country. Don't think that the wealthy haven't figured that out too.

Pricknick on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:03am
Condescension.

That is the only word you need pay attention to.
I am inferior therefore expendable.
How the lofty will fail. They will succumb to those who are lessor in their minds.
Nice post gjohn.

Wink on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 4:11pm
And posted as a pod,

sort of, at... Patreon.com/C99
@Pricknick

That is the only word you need pay attention to.
I am inferior therefore expendable.
How the lofty will fail. They will succumb to those who are lessor in their minds.
Nice post gjohn.

thanatokephaloides on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:13am
the working class and the employing class have nothing in common

It occurred to me some time ago that I have much more in common with a working class slob in France, or Mexico, or Brazil, or Russia, than a do with the wealthy elite in my own country.
Don't think that the wealthy haven't figured that out too.

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.
There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among
millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing
class, have all the good things of life.

-- Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers Of The World (IWW)
source

QMS on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 8:17pm
over generalized

@thanatokephaloides I have been a worker and an employer for most of my career. I associate with many of the same ilk. None of us working / employer types can afford to hire the millions of under employed. Maybe a few here and there. We are not wealthy, nor are we taking advantage of the poor. Try to put this lofty idealism into perspective.

It occurred to me some time ago that I have much more in common with a working class slob in France, or Mexico, or Brazil, or Russia, than a do with the wealthy elite in my own country.
Don't think that the wealthy haven't figured that out too.

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.
There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among
millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing
class, have all the good things of life.

-- Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers Of The World (IWW)
source

earthling1 on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:18am
Their heads will look real fine

on a pike.

Meteor Man on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:30am
The Working-Class Push for Progressive Economic Policies

Somebody at CAP may be out of a job. I tried to find the report and came up empty. Can you provide the link? Thx.

The Aspie Corner on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 7:56am
But 'Murica is a classless society..../s

My ass. Class was a huge factor in 2016 (And still is) and working class issues were utterly ignored.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-jjrSWCgJus?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

longtalldrink on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 2:25pm
And let us not forget Occupy Wallstreet

was the continuation of the Poor People's Campaign. We are all still in dire straights.

Lily O Lady on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 11:09am
I up-voted you but

@longtalldrink @longtalldrink
that's " dire ." Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

was the continuation of the Poor People's Campaign. We are all still in dire straights.

thanatokephaloides on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 1:33pm
dyer

@Lily O Lady

I up-voted you but that's "dire." Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

A "dyer" is one who applies dyes.

"Dire" is a synonym for desperate. And it applies to our situation.

#6 #6
that's " dire ." Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

longtalldrink on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 2:21pm
Ugh

@Lily O Lady I saw that after I posted it and knew the grammar police would get me...yikes.

#6 #6
that's " dire ." Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

lizzyh7 on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 5:40pm
I just assumed it was

@longtalldrink a play on Dyer Straights...!

#6.1 I saw that after I posted it and knew the grammar police would get me...yikes.

longtalldrink on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 8:36pm
Actually

@lizzyh7 they were one of my favorite groups...so maybe subconsciously, this is what I was doing?

#6.1.2 a play on Dyer Straights...!

dkmich on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:37pm
So pay more taxes if you make more than 250K, BUT

pay $125K per kid for college if you earn more than 125K. That makes zero sense. A parent has no legal obligation to a child after age 18, but the 18 year old must include parental income if they apply for PELL. If they are included in their parents family, then the family must be legally obligated to pay for college. 18 can legally die, go to war, be incarcerated, and contractually bound, but they can't have a drink or be legally entitled to the same rights and benefits as everyone else.

Since the college-educated express less support at any price, it reeks of pettiness and tit for tat. "I paid for mine, you pay for yours." It is no wonder there is so much resentment at all levels and an economic coalition can't be formed. Somebody is always measuring who mom loves best. At no time did Bernie say a word about means testing a GD thing. It is why he was able to transcend labels.

thanatokephaloides on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 1:42pm
paid for

@dkmich

Since the college-educated express less support at any price, it reeks of pettiness and tit for tat. "I paid for mine, you pay for yours."

Especially when one considers the chances of that being true are really quite small.

Contrary to the Randian beLIEf, they didn't build what they have all by themselves. Society carried quite a bit of the freight here.

pay $125K per kid for college if you earn more than 125K. That makes zero sense. A parent has no legal obligation to a child after age 18, but the 18 year old must include parental income if they apply for PELL. If they are included in their parents family, then the family must be legally obligated to pay for college. 18 can legally die, go to war, be incarcerated, and contractually bound, but they can't have a drink or be legally entitled to the same rights and benefits as everyone else.

Since the college-educated express less support at any price, it reeks of pettiness and tit for tat. "I paid for mine, you pay for yours." It is no wonder there is so much resentment at all levels and an economic coalition can't be formed. Somebody is always measuring who mom loves best. At no time did Bernie say a word about means testing a GD thing. It is why he was able to transcend labels.

Snode on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 2:01pm
Thomas Edsall has an article

That starts out on disparities in housing, but rounds abouts to the "Elite Class" and the urban gentrification by corporatist democrats. It points out how the democratic party caters to this elite wing, and how the NIMBY-ism of the elites blocks affordable housing laws. It ends up with some observations:

"Taking it a step further, a Democratic Party based on urban cosmopolitan business liberalism runs the risk not only of leading to the continued marginalization of the minority poor, but also -- as the policies of the Trump administration demonstrate -- to the continued neglect of the white working-class electorate that put Trump in the White House."

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/opinion/democrats-gentrification-citi...

Lenzabi on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 2:48pm
We Can't

We really can't afford the wealthy parasite class anymore nor should we suffer their think tanks that make folks worship them and their lifestyles of indulgence and greed!

[Apr 24, 2018] Class and how they use words to hide reality

Notable quotes:
"... -- Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers Of The World (IWW) ..."
"... @thanatokephaloides ..."
"... -- Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers Of The World (IWW) ..."
"... @longtalldrink ..."
"... @longtalldrink ..."
"... @Lily O Lady ..."
"... @Lily O Lady ..."
"... @longtalldrink ..."
"... @lizzyh7 ..."
"... @dkmich ..."
Apr 24, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

gjohnsit on Wed, 04/18/2018 - 11:45pm

I've come to realize that there's a lot of confusion out there due to people using words with very specific definitions.

For example, when a Republican talks about "freedom" they don't mean "freedom from want".
They mean "freedom from government oppression", but only government oppression.
Private oppression? Republicans will either deny it exists, or justify it.
When a Republican is "pro-life" it only refers to birth.
Because those very same pro-life people are generally pro-war and pro-death penalty.

Democrats act the same way about different things.
When a Democrat says "diversity", they only mean diversity of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Diversity of ideas? Diversity of class? Not so much.
When a Democrat says "privilege" it refers to "white" and "male".
Privilege of wealth? (i.e. like the dictionary definition) That generally gets forgotten.

And then there is the bipartisan misuse of words, which revolves around war and wealth.
When they say "humanitarian war" they mean, um, some contradictory concepts that are meaningless, but are designed to make you feel a certain way.
When they say "socialism" they really mean "state oppression" regardless of the economic system.
As for the many version of socialism with minimal or non-existent central governments? Or when socialist programs work? No one talks about them.

Let's not forget substituting or mixing up "middle class" for "working class".
"Working class" now equals "poor", which isn't right.
They use "working class" as a smear too.
When you say "working class" some people automatically insert certain words in front of it, as if it's generally understood.

When many hear discussion of outreach to "working class" voters, they silently add the words "white" and "male" and all too often imagine them working on a factory floor or in construction. They shouldn't. According to another analysis by CAP from late last year, just under 6 in 10 members of the working class are white, and the group is almost half female (46 percent).

The topic of the needs and interests of the working class is usually race and gender neutral. Only the dishonest or indoctrinated can't wrap their minds around that fact.This is important because working class values don't require a race or gender lens.

a new report released today by the Center for American Progress makes a convincing argument, using extensive polling data, that this divide does not need to exist. As it turns out, in many cases, voters -- both college educated and working class, and of all races -- are in favor of an economic agenda that would offer them broader protections whether it comes to work, sickness or retirement.
"The polling shows that workers across race support similar views on economic policy issues," said David Madland, the co-author of the report, entitled "The Working-Class Push for Progressive Economic Policies." "They support a higher minimum wage, higher taxes on the wealthy, and more spending on healthcare and retirement. There is broad support among workers for progressive economic policy."

This shows that it's possible to make economic issues front and center in a campaign platform in a way that doesn't just talk to working class whites and dismisses the concerns of female and minority voters. It also shows that the oft-discussed dilemma among Democrats -- whether to prioritize college educated voters or working class ones -- may be a false choice.

Propaganda is all about false choices. To accomplish this, the media has created a world in which the working class exist only in the margins .

With the working class largely unrepresented in the media, or represented only in supporting roles, is it any wonder that people begin to identify in ways other than their class? Which is exactly what the ruling class wants .

I can't believe I used to fall for this nonsense! It takes a stupendous level of cognitive dissonance to simultaneously celebrate the fortunes of someone from a specific identity while looking past the vast sea of people from said identity who are stuck in gut-wrenching poverty. We pop champagnes for the neo-gentry while disregarding our own tribulations. It's the most stunning form of logical jujitsu establishment shills have successfully conditioned us to accept; instead of gauging the health of the economy and the vitality of our nation based on the collective whole, we have been hoodwinked to accept the elevation of a few as success for us all.
Diversity has become a scam and nothing more than a corporate bamboozle and a federated scheme that is used to hide the true nature of crony capitalism. We have become a Potemkin society where tokens are put on the stage to represent equality while the vast majority of Americans are enslaved by diminishing wages or kneecapped into dependency. The whole of our politics has been turned into an identity-driven hustle. On both sides of the aisle and at every corner of the social divide are grievance whisperers and demagogues who keep spewing fuel on the fire of tribalism. They use our pains and suffering to make millions only to turn their backs on us the minute they attain riches and status.

It's only when you see an article written by the ruling elite, or one that identifies with the ruling elite, that you realize just how out-of-touch they can be. The rich really are different - they are sociopaths. They've totally and completely bought into their own righteousness, merit and virtue .

Class ascendance led me to become what Susan Jacoby classifies in her recent New York Times Op-Ed "Stop Apologizing for Being Elite" as an "elite": a vague description of a group of people who have received advanced degrees. Jacoby urges elites to reject the shame that they have supposedly recently developed, a shame that somehow stems from failing to stop the working class from embracing Trumpism. Jacoby laments that, following the 2016 election, these elites no longer take pride in their wealth, their education, their social status, and posits that if only elites embraced their upward mobility, the working class would have something to aspire to and thus discard their fondness for Trump and his promises to save them.

That level of condescension just blows my mind. It occurred to me some time ago that I have much more in common with a working class slob in France, or Mexico, or Brazil, or Russia, than I do with the wealthy elite in my own country. Don't think that the wealthy haven't figured that out too.

Pricknick on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:03am
Condescension.

That is the only word you need pay attention to.
I am inferior therefore expendable.
How the lofty will fail. They will succumb to those who are lessor in their minds.
Nice post gjohn.

Wink on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 4:11pm
And posted as a pod,

sort of, at... Patreon.com/C99
@Pricknick

That is the only word you need pay attention to.
I am inferior therefore expendable.
How the lofty will fail. They will succumb to those who are lessor in their minds.
Nice post gjohn.

thanatokephaloides on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:13am
the working class and the employing class have nothing in common

It occurred to me some time ago that I have much more in common with a working class slob in France, or Mexico, or Brazil, or Russia, than a do with the wealthy elite in my own country.
Don't think that the wealthy haven't figured that out too.

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.
There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among
millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing
class, have all the good things of life.

-- Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers Of The World (IWW)
source

QMS on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 8:17pm
over generalized

@thanatokephaloides I have been a worker and an employer for most of my career. I associate with many of the same ilk. None of us working / employer types can afford to hire the millions of under employed. Maybe a few here and there. We are not wealthy, nor are we taking advantage of the poor. Try to put this lofty idealism into perspective.

It occurred to me some time ago that I have much more in common with a working class slob in France, or Mexico, or Brazil, or Russia, than a do with the wealthy elite in my own country.
Don't think that the wealthy haven't figured that out too.

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.
There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among
millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing
class, have all the good things of life.

-- Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers Of The World (IWW)
source

earthling1 on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:18am
Their heads will look real fine

on a pike.

Meteor Man on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:30am
The Working-Class Push for Progressive Economic Policies

Somebody at CAP may be out of a job. I tried to find the report and came up empty. Can you provide the link? Thx.

The Aspie Corner on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 7:56am
But 'Murica is a classless society..../s

My ass. Class was a huge factor in 2016 (And still is) and working class issues were utterly ignored.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/-jjrSWCgJus?modestbranding=0&html5=1&rel=0&autoplay=0&wmode=opaque&loop=0&controls=1&autohide=0&showinfo=0&theme=dark&color=red&enablejsapi=0

longtalldrink on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 2:25pm
And let us not forget Occupy Wallstreet

was the continuation of the Poor People's Campaign. We are all still in dire straights.

Lily O Lady on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 11:09am
I up-voted you but

@longtalldrink @longtalldrink
that's " dire ." Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

was the continuation of the Poor People's Campaign. We are all still in dire straights.

thanatokephaloides on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 1:33pm
dyer

@Lily O Lady

I up-voted you but that's "dire." Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

A "dyer" is one who applies dyes.

"Dire" is a synonym for desperate. And it applies to our situation.

#6 #6
that's " dire ." Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

longtalldrink on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 2:21pm
Ugh

@Lily O Lady I saw that after I posted it and knew the grammar police would get me...yikes.

#6 #6
that's " dire ." Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

lizzyh7 on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 5:40pm
I just assumed it was

@longtalldrink a play on Dyer Straights...!

#6.1 I saw that after I posted it and knew the grammar police would get me...yikes.

longtalldrink on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 8:36pm
Actually

@lizzyh7 they were one of my favorite groups...so maybe subconsciously, this is what I was doing?

#6.1.2 a play on Dyer Straights...!

dkmich on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 12:37pm
So pay more taxes if you make more than 250K, BUT

pay $125K per kid for college if you earn more than 125K. That makes zero sense. A parent has no legal obligation to a child after age 18, but the 18 year old must include parental income if they apply for PELL. If they are included in their parents family, then the family must be legally obligated to pay for college. 18 can legally die, go to war, be incarcerated, and contractually bound, but they can't have a drink or be legally entitled to the same rights and benefits as everyone else.

Since the college-educated express less support at any price, it reeks of pettiness and tit for tat. "I paid for mine, you pay for yours." It is no wonder there is so much resentment at all levels and an economic coalition can't be formed. Somebody is always measuring who mom loves best. At no time did Bernie say a word about means testing a GD thing. It is why he was able to transcend labels.

thanatokephaloides on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 1:42pm
paid for

@dkmich

Since the college-educated express less support at any price, it reeks of pettiness and tit for tat. "I paid for mine, you pay for yours."

Especially when one considers the chances of that being true are really quite small.

Contrary to the Randian beLIEf, they didn't build what they have all by themselves. Society carried quite a bit of the freight here.

pay $125K per kid for college if you earn more than 125K. That makes zero sense. A parent has no legal obligation to a child after age 18, but the 18 year old must include parental income if they apply for PELL. If they are included in their parents family, then the family must be legally obligated to pay for college. 18 can legally die, go to war, be incarcerated, and contractually bound, but they can't have a drink or be legally entitled to the same rights and benefits as everyone else.

Since the college-educated express less support at any price, it reeks of pettiness and tit for tat. "I paid for mine, you pay for yours." It is no wonder there is so much resentment at all levels and an economic coalition can't be formed. Somebody is always measuring who mom loves best. At no time did Bernie say a word about means testing a GD thing. It is why he was able to transcend labels.

Snode on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 2:01pm
Thomas Edsall has an article

That starts out on disparities in housing, but rounds abouts to the "Elite Class" and the urban gentrification by corporatist democrats. It points out how the democratic party caters to this elite wing, and how the NIMBY-ism of the elites blocks affordable housing laws. It ends up with some observations:

"Taking it a step further, a Democratic Party based on urban cosmopolitan business liberalism runs the risk not only of leading to the continued marginalization of the minority poor, but also -- as the policies of the Trump administration demonstrate -- to the continued neglect of the white working-class electorate that put Trump in the White House."

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/opinion/democrats-gentrification-citi...

Lenzabi on Thu, 04/19/2018 - 2:48pm
We Can't

We really can't afford the wealthy parasite class anymore nor should we suffer their think tanks that make folks worship them and their lifestyles of indulgence and greed!

[Apr 13, 2018] Neoliberalism and exploitation of part time workers at DuckDuckGo

Apr 13, 2018 | duckduckgo.com

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Neoliberalism and the End of Shorter Work Hours - The Bullet Neoliberalism and the End of Shorter ... work hours per worker include workers engaged in part-time work. ... between the over- exploitation of labour ...

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[Apr 13, 2018] Domestic Work, Neoliberalism, and Transforming Labor by Premilla Nadasen

Jan 01, 2013 | sfonline.barnard.edu

Neoliberalism has created a new political, economic, and cultural context through deregulation, privatization, securitization, and the dismantling of the welfare state. These changes have had a contradictory impact on women. Proponents of neoliberalism have praised the benefits of an unfettered, market-driven economy, extolled the virtues of personal choice and economic individualism as the keys to freedom, and argued that these ostensibly gender-blind economic structures offer opportunities for the agency and empowerment of women. Women's human rights have been part of the discursive and ideological justification for the implementation of neoliberalism in many parts of the world. Some women, especially economically better-off, educated women have benefitted from the dismantling of the old patriarchal order. However, as many authors have argued, because neoliberalism promotes the idea of a rational individual exercising free will while eroding social democracy, it has made life harder for most women and has widened the race/class divide among women. I suggest that, despite the many negative repercussions of neoliberal economic changes, these dramatic disruptions of the social order may offer avenues for poor women's collective mobilization and progressive political transformation.

Neoliberalism has reversed the benefits of social welfare citizenship that were a hallmark of the twentieth-century Fordist state. Neoliberalism's dismantling of the economic safety net, trend toward privatization, and rise of the security state have increased the burden on women. The reduction or elimination of welfare benefits for the poor, cutback of social services, reliance on market strategies, and mass incarceration have led to a crisis of social reproduction and a corresponding increase in women's workloads. With a decline in social rights and publicly-funded support services, women have access to fewer economic resources and must either turn to the private sector or increase their own unpaid labor. In this way, neoliberalism has intensified women's oppression and exploitation.

The rights of social citizenship instituted in the United States in the 1930s, however, were far from egalitarian. They created and institutionalized a racialized and gendered hierarchy with welfare policies that controlled and regulated women's behavior and reinforced the male breadwinner/family wage model. Women were more likely to receive social benefits as dependents rather than as independent individuals, and their benefits were stigmatized and less generous. In addition, protective labor legislation excluded occupations such as agricultural, domestic, part-time, and temporary work filled largely by women and people of color. These exclusions not only left these workers in a precarious situation, but they circumscribed the very definition of "work." Although some exclusions were eventually remedied, they had a long-lasting impact by shaping Americans' notion of "real" work, which was most closely associated with the factory floor, and excluded many women workers. And mainstream labor unions were only marginally interested in organizing excluded sectors. The New Deal and other social reforms of the mid-twentieth century naturalized a racial and gender hierarchy and established firm boundaries for the rights of labor citizenship, which was tied to full-time, largely male employment. Women and people of color were subordinated in this form of state-organized capitalism.

Despite its claims of race- and gender-neutrality, neoliberalism is replacing the old hierarchies with new patterns of racism and sexism. There has been an increase in low-paid, part-time contingent service sector and outsourced manufacturing work that relies disproportionately on immigrant women of color. While women of color have always worked in low-wage devalued occupations, the dramatic expansion of a low-wage service and manufacturing sector on a global scale has intensified their exploitation and reshaped the labor market. This has been coupled with new forms of discipline and control rooted in heightened xenophobia and border control. These growing employment sectors tend to be without benefits or labor protections, while full-time, well-paid, mostly male manufacturing jobs are on the decline. This shift in the labor market has resulted in women increasingly carrying the burden of financially supporting the family. The average American worker today is experiencing working conditions similar to those experienced by workers excluded from the rights of labor citizenship in the mid-twentieth century.

While the new political climate has made it more difficult for many women, it has also generated activism among low-wage women workers at the grassroots level. The activism has been most visible among immigrant day laborers, domestic workers, guest workers, farm workers, and other sectors historically excluded from the protections of labor law. Neoliberalism's dismantling of the New Deal's structured race/gender hierarchy has created an opening for worker mobilization and may offer opportunities for rethinking work and justice. Because of their exclusions, these workers out of necessity have developed innovative strategies for organizing. I will draw on examples from domestic worker organizing to analyze how it offers one model for grassroots, feminist labor organizing under neoliberalism.

New forms of domestic worker activism are flourishing outside the framework of the modern welfare state. During the 1930s, domestic workers were excluded from New Deal social benefits such as minimum wage, social security, unemployment compensation, and the right to organize and bargain collectively. While they won certain of these benefits over the course of the twentieth century, they still do not have the right to unionize and are not protected by civil rights and occupational health and safety laws. Because they work in isolated settings in the privacy of the home and often have multiple employers, domestic workers have generally been considered "unorganizable."

The inability to organize into traditional unions has fostered alternative methods of organizing. Domestic worker activists have organized by geography, rather than solely by occupation; demanded state-based, rather than employer-based rights; developed democratic grassroots political support, rather than relying on a union hierarchy and model of representation and collective bargaining; and cultivated public support, rather than speaking only to their constituency. They seek to revalue care work and regard it as legitimate work that is entitled to the same rights and protections as other kinds of labor. Domestic worker organizers employ an intersectional analysis that takes into account race, class, gender, culture, and nationality that speaks to the particular needs of their immigrant, women-of-color constituency. Through their organizing, domestic workers are challenging the neoliberal premise of market fundamentalism and asserting the need for state regulation and protection of labor.

In addition, domestic worker activists are modeling a notion of rights that is not citizenship-based. Many social movements over the course of the twentieth century -- including the civil rights and women's movements -- advocated inclusion in or expansion of the rights of citizenship. Neoliberalism has led to population displacement and migration, and relies on immigrant, especially undocumented immigrant, workers. These workers are usually denied citizenship rights or state-based labor protections either because of their immigration status or their occupation. Through organizing, however, they are pushing back against neoliberal disciplinary mechanisms and offering new conceptualizations of justice outside the framework of the nation-state. They seek state protections, but insist that these protections be extended even to those outside the boundaries of state-based citizenship and, thus, may offer a way to reconceptualize the role of the state. They organize both the documented and the undocumented and make claims for these workers regardless of citizenship status. They have also developed alliances with domestic workers in other parts of the world, further illustrating the way in which their struggle is not solely a national one.

Neoliberalism's reversal of the social democratic gains of the mid-twentieth century has created a need to consider the value of alternative strategies. As the state-protected benefits of labor citizenship diminish, more traditional workers -- who are increasingly finding themselves without a safety net -- are looking to previously excluded sectors as a possible model of organizing. By breaking down the Fordist assumptions of gender and work, neoliberalism is creating openings for a new feminist praxis and for new ways for thinking about gender, justice, and social change.

[Apr 13, 2018] NEOLIBERALISM THRHOUGH THE EYES OF WOMEN by Joo-Yeon Jeong & Seung-Min Choi

Nov 22, 2001 | focusweb.org

Joo-Yeon Jeong & Seung-Min Choi, PICIS*

There is no place on Earth where neo-liberalism has not poisoned. It has allowed a handful of private interests to control as much as possible of social life in order to maximize personal profit. It has poisonous effects especially in the Third World, where imperial powers continue to pirate natural and human resources to fill the pockets of transnational capitalists. Initiated by Reagan and Thatcher, for the last two decades, neo-liberalism has become the dominant economic and political trend for much of the leftist (so they identify themselves) governments as well as the right.

However, as women fighting against global capitalism and its new phase, as women yearning for a better world where we will not be exploited and abused, we must go a step further into looking into this 'neo-liberalism' through the experiences of women. And it is not just about how women linearly experience it - we must go into the depths to manifest how neo-liberalism operates in a very gender-biased way.

WO MEN WORKERS AS SCAPEGOATS


In Korea, the process of being absorbed into global capitalism began earlier than the economic crisis, during the economic 'hyper '-development era of military dictatorship of Park Jung-Hee, with quite a bit of help from the US. Fluctuating together with global economic crises, the Korean economy started to show signs of a recession from the early 90s, as rate of profit decreased. Thus, capitalists started to adopt policies of introducing flexibility to the labour market. It was 'experimented' on women workers first before taking full force on the entire working class at the end of the millennium.

Jobs where women were predominant started to be transformed in the 1980s, beginning in the form of dispatch labour and eventually expanding to generalisation of irregular labour. However, this process was mainly targeted at women workers and the male-oriented labour movement did not give much importance to it, even though women worker's movement consistently called for the address of the issue.

Although the incorporation of Korean economy into the global capitalist system had already started around a decade ago, Korean people came to experience its destructive nature during and after the economic crisis of 1997. The structural adjustment program of the IMF shook the labour market and massive lay-offs were implemented. In particular, women workers were laid off first, and the working conditions of women workers fell to the ground.

The methods that the management used was subcontracting or abolishing those production lines and business sectors where women were predominant. Women in these places were usually typists or clerical assistants, who were considered not important and cumbersome, and thus provided the logic and justification for the lay-offs. Many companies would lay-off these women, and instead employ workers from dispatch companies - thus providing the management with ways in which to decrease labour costs and evade provision of insurances and benefits. Or in the case of banks, the same worker would be reemployed, but on a contract basis as irregular workers, again to decrease labour costs. Another method of laying off women workers or transforming them into irregular workers, was targeting foremost women who were married to someone in the same workplace, and also those who were pregnant or were on their maternal leave. They provided the management with strong justifications based on patriarchal values of 'women's place is at home'. This process of unjust and discriminatory lay-offs at the onset of the economic crisis saw the deterioration of maternal protection and women worker's rights in general. The achievements that the women worker's movement had accomplished over the last couple of decades were undermined.

"FLEXIBILITY" OF WOMEN WORKERS


The massive lay-offs that occurred after 1997 was obviously not 'inevitable' on the part of the management, but was a calculated process of increasing the rate of profit through flexibility of the labour market. Because the need for lay-offs did not come simply from decrease in production, workers who were laid off were re-employed, but as irregular workers. And because flexibility measures were implemented foremost on women, women were also absorbed again in masses into the labour market, but this time as irregular workers with low wages and low protection.

Attaining flexibility of women workers was backed up by the patriarchal ideology of 'male as breadwinner' 1 . Through this ideology, women workers are considered not really as workers, but as 'assistant income providers', the ideology that contributes to devaluation of women's work. And this in turn provided the justification for the primary lay-offs of women and transforming women's jobs into irregular jobs - a justification that quelled the possibility of resistance from the working class. Recently, capitalist institutions and mainstream media elaborate that the rate of women's employment is increasing faster that the rate of men. On one hand, this is due to the increase in absolute number of jobs-irregular jobs for women, but also due to the fact that women do not have much choice than take up highly unstable jobs without any hesitation to earn a living, whereas men can afford to be more 'selective'.

Now, the percentage of irregular workers is risen to higher levels than regular workers. In analyzing a census on the economically-active workforce implemented by the Korean Statistical Office in August 2001, the Korea Labor & Society Institute (www.klsi.org) estimated the number of irregular workers to be 7.37 million, constituting 55.7% of the total workforce 2 .According to studies made in 2000, out of entire irregular workers, the percentage of women is higher than that of men at 53%, and within the entire women workforce irregular workers take up 70%. These official statistics exclude specially employed labour (for example, the type of jobs that capitalists characterise as self-employment) such as private tutors, insurance sales, golf caddies etc., so if these jobs are included, the rate of irregular women workers will definitely rocket.

Irregular work pertaining to capital's flexibility measures has brought deterioration of working conditions and impoverishment for workers of both genders. But it has affected women workers more severely. At the moment, most of irregular women workers are employed in small enterprises of less than 10 employees. It has driven women's work into the ditches and has also increased mental stress from lack of self-confidence and the fear of losing their jobs. One feminist scholar was interviewing irregular women workers and told of how the interviewees were in constant fear of being seen throughout the interview. Many social psychologists point out that the increase of irregular work and the mental stress that comes from it is becoming a serious social problem that is bound to affect the whole society.

Moreover, with the automation of production lines and transfer of factories in capital's constant search for cheaper labour, many women workers who had originally constituted a large proportion of the workforce in the manufacturing sector are now being absorbed into the service sector - in areas such as the so-called 'entertainment' businesses and as domestic workers. The service sector has rapidly expanded over the last few years in Korea, and many women are being employed as narrator models, telemarketers, and as servers and entertainers in bars. These jobs are not only unstable, low waged and physically strenuous, but they also enforce the use of 'femininity' and sexuality to raise sales, making women more vulnerable to possibilities of sexual abuse and exploitation. Also, because the service sector has always shared a very thin borderline with the sex industry, it is not very surprising that more and more women workers, both young and aged, are being drawn into the sex industry. For example, many married women in their 30's and 40's are employed in the so-called 'telephone rooms (jeon-hwa-bang)' and are forced to have phone sex with men. Many other married women were employed as 'pager women', who are paged to come to bars to 'entertain' men. This became a very heated issue when Daewoo Motors unionists went to a bar, paged women, and came face to face with familiar faces. When Daewoo workers were laid-off, the wives had to find jobs to sustain their families and the only ones available were as 'pager women'. The ruling elite and the conservative media are enthusiastically deploring the moral collapse of Korean women, but the reality is that it is the capitalist system that is corrupting the people.

The situation is not much different on the international arena. Neo-liberal globalisation has paved the way for increase in migrant women workers, international trafficking and enforced sex work in the Third World. In Korea, many women from the Philippines and Russia come to Korea as domestic workers and 'entertainers', and then are tricked into providing sexual services to Korean men and the US military.

WIDENING GAP BETWEEN WOMEN


Neo-liberal globalisation has also impeded the widening of gap between different classes of women. The living standard between women in the developed countries and those in the Third World is now incomparable, as is the situation inside Korea. Rich women of the bourgeoisie can afford to wear fur coats that cost tens of million won, shop in department stores in their imported cars, buy US produced baby food, send their children to expensive private English language schools so that they are reproduced as the minority elite who rule the world of globalisation, and employ women from South-east Asia as housemaids. This is how the minority of women in Korea live, and furthermore, they are not living on the wealth that they had accumulated themselves, but on the wealth accumulated by their husbands. And this in turn is the wealth accumulated from exploiting women workers in Korea and elsewhere in the Third World. In contrast to the minority of women who enjoy the outcome of neo-liberal domination in a good part of the world, majority of women cannot find a proper job no matter how hard they try, and when they do find a job, it is an unstable job in slave-like conditions that can get snatched away from them. They cannot afford domestic help or a nanny - they work for long tiring hours outside and then come home to find piles of dishes to be washed and children to be fed. Also, studies by women's organizations have found that domestic abuse has increased, as husbands and fathers who have lost jobs turn to expressing their anger at their daughters and wives, and resort to violence.

CULTURAL AND IDEOLOGICAL BACKLASH


To quell mass resistance against economic globalisation that has brought about increase in unemployment, decrement of public services, downfall in wages and deterioration of quality of life, the ruling elite has manipulated cultural conservatism to solidify its dominance over society. Cultural conservatism in Korea is represented by Confucian patriarchy. The economic crisis of 1997 saw the rise of this ideology that came together with the capitalist form of 'male as breadwinner' model, and acted to cover up the oppression of women while highlighting the need for women to make more sacrifices for the sake of saving the crumbling economy. In the meanwhile, unemployment of men was highlighted as a serious social problem. Thus the role of women was limited to that of 'comforting' the suffering man in the family, while the sufferings of women both as wage workers and non-wage workers were ignored. The Korean mainstream media and the conservative ruling elite alike have neglected the seriousness of women suffering from sexual abuse on the basis that women should have perseverance, but has spotlighted those desperate women who left home after losing all hopes as destructors of family values. Women who had replaced their husbands as the breadwinners end up in the sex industry, after being rejected from any other type of work, but then are stigmatised as being morally corrupt. The severity of unemployment of male youths appear in the news everyday, whereas female students are not only ignored but are blocked altogether from the labour market. Many right-wing sociologists and economists actually suggested that marriage for women should be more emphasized by the government so as to block women from entering the labour market - and thus lowering the official unemployment rate. The media focuses evermore on the fantasies of marriage, and the 'marriage business' is now enjoying its 'Belle Epoque'.

A CRITIQUE OF KIM DAE-JUNG'S POLICIES ON WOMEN


Kim Dae-Jung's government has been portrayed as being democratic and pro-feminist in and outside of Korea. There were high hopes for this president with his long history of fighting for democracy, and from the beginning, many civil and women's organizations decided to give him 'critical' support. However, his promise of establishing a ministry specific on women's issues was replaced by the Special Committee On Women's Affairs with no legislative powers, much to the disappointment of women's groups. As his presidential term is coming to an end, he did launch the Ministry of Gender Equality during the first half of this year, with a prominent figure from a major women NGO seated as the Minister. However, the policies that the Ministry is adopting are those that will hardly benefit majority of women suffering at grassroot levels.

This was recently manifested in the revisions that were made to the maternity clauses in the Standard Labour Laws in June. The Ministry had announced that it will expand public childcare so as to decrease the burden on working women. With support from major women NGOs 3 , the Ministry proposed revisions to maternity-related clauses in the Standard Labour Laws, and the clauses were changed for the first time since 1953. There were basically two major improvements - maternity leave was increased from the present 60 days to 90 days, and prohibition on employment of women in hazardous workplaces was expanded. This may seem like a big step, but the fact of the matter is, these laws came in exchange for further flexibility of women's labour. In exchange for increase of maternal leave, the Ministry also agreed to abolish the clauses restricting overtime work and night work, paid familycare leave and menstruation leave.

In a situation where 70% (or perhaps even higher and ever increasing) of women workers are irregular workers, how many women workers will actually benefit from the revision? The majority of working class women are outside legal boundaries. The Ministry and women NGOs argue that they will fight for the application of the laws to irregular workers, but without questioning the neo-liberal characteristics behind the legislation, there is really no chance that this will actually take place. Many women activists had fought hard for these laws for the last decade and they are congratulating themselves in finally achieving their objective, but in the meantime, a vast majority of women workers have fallen into the ditches of irregular work and the demands of the majority have been neglected to benefit a few. Capitalists have learnt to 'sacrifice' a few laws for the sake of obtaining further flexibility. Despite the argument that these revisions will open new opportunities for women, without questioning the essence of Kim's government and its support for neo-liberalism, the revisions that were recently made will only expedite the flexible usage of women workers and thus further deteriorate the working conditions of irregular women workers. The Ministry and the NGOs do not realize that the laws, along with others that were made during the recent years 4 , are all in compliance with neo-liberalism.

It has only been one year since the Ministry of Gender Equality took off, but those benefiting from it are middle-class, elite women, and only the minority of women workers who are lucky enough to be in a regular job. The presidential elections take place next year. Despite that the Ministry is conforming to neo-liberal policies and trying to confuse the workers about the essence of its policies, it does have some significance amidst the severely patriarchal political scene of Korea - which may well be undermined by any of the major right-wing political parties that take office - including the ruling New Millenium Democratic Party of Kim Dae-Jung, which still receive a lot of support from NGOs. This will merely lead to more lack of hope for state-led labour policies.

FIGHTING AND ORGANISING


Neo-liberalism was not something that hit Korea suddenly in 1997, but is a historical development of capitalism that has gradually taken form during the last few decades. It had been women workers who had felt the effects of globalisation first and thus were the first ones to resist. It was the women workers of Korea, who fought militantly during the 70s and early 80s for a democratic union and worker's rights. Women workers formed the foundation for the modern labour movement, although this fact often tends to be forgotten. During the late 80's, the Korean economy reconstructed itself into focusing on export-oriented heavy industries, whose workers were predominantly men, and women workers were left behind.

The onslaught of neo-liberal globalisation and the impoverishment that came with it was also felt first by women workers. Just after the economic crisis, the women worker's movement moved a big step forward when independent women's trade unions began to beformed 5 . The unions came out of the need to address the specific issues of women workers that could not be properly dealt with in a general union -organising irregular workers, the unemployed, domestic workers and those women who worked in small companies where there are no unions. The percentage of women participating in unions still remain at a meagre 5%, due to the fact that general unions do not accommodate workers who are not regular workers. It was only in 1997, when the IMF enforced austerity measures and structural adjustment programs also affected male workers, that the people's movement in Korea fully realised the destructive nature of neo-liberalism. From then on, flexibility of labour has become the main target of struggle for the working class. Spotlight was finally thrown on the fact that neo-liberalism attack women workers foremost, but unfortunately the longtime demands and struggles of women workers are being put aside, as the struggles against 'irregular labour' is again being organised in a male-oriented fashion.

The establishments of these unions are very significant in the history of the Korean labour movement and also in the women's movement. Just as the strategies of capitalists change, the organisation of the working class also much change to resist effectively. The essence of neo-liberalism and its gender-bias cannot be resisted through the traditional method of organization concentrating on male, regular workers from big enterprises.

However, these newly formed women's unions still have further developments to make and many obstacles to overcome, in their struggles against national and international capital. The unions must question the role of neo-liberal globalisation and its strategy of incorporating flexibility measures into the labour market, for a full understanding of the situation of women workers and organizing of more radical struggles that go into the fundamental core. And at the same time, the worker's movement of Korea must go through structural changes to accommodate the ever increasing irregular workers, and must also make more effort into overcoming the patriarchal values that are still prevalent inside people's movement. Many women activists and unionists have started to address the issues of gender discrimination and sexual violence inside the people's movement, which up until now had been covered up. Over the years, many fervent and militant women activists have had to leave the movement because of discrimination and violence. It was always considered women's fault, or victimized women were forced to 'forgive' for the 'greater cause'. Many women activists, workers and unionists are uniting themselves and are calling upon the movement to tackle the problem of hierarchy, discrimination and violence.

TOWARDS ORGANIZING GLOBAL RESISTANCE OF WOMEN


As we have seen, neo-liberal globalisation affects all areas of society, to attain flexibility of the labour market solely for the interests of transnational capital. In the case of Korea, this process of enforcing structural adjustment and flexibility has devastated the lives of the people, especially women. Capitalist industrialisation has brought about the rise of the women's proletariat and neo-liberal globalisation has further feminised the proletariat while at the same time impoverishing the proletariat into the verge of slavery.

This is not a matter of women merely being affected 'more' - we must look at the mechanisms of neo-liberalism that operate in a gender-biased way. Indeed, neo-liberal globalisation itself feed upon gender discrimination and effectively use traditional patriarchal values to exploit women further. Patriarchal ideologies act to crush any attempts of women to politicize and form resistance.

However, the essence of neo-liberalism is slowly being manifested and women have begun to fight back. Feminisation of labour and feminisation of poverty signify increased exploitation of women, but precisely because of that, provide the possibility for organization and resistance, nationally and internationally. Women must now go forth as subjects in uniting the people in our fight against neo-liberal globalisation. Instead of being incorporated into a ready-made movement of men or middle-class elite women, instead of taking the problems of discrimination for granted, women workers, farmers, indigenous peoples, migrants and other grassroot peoples of the Third World must form a broad solidarity. We must analyse globalisation from women's perspective, plan strategies that conform with the particular needs of women, propose alternatives that include women as equal subjects, keep to the principle of internationalism, and unite with other oppressed groups in the mass resistance in the fight against neo-liberalism - and go beyond in creating a world based on equality.

* Joo-Yeon Jeong & Seung-Min Choi are with the Policy & Information Center for International Solidarity (PICIS), Korea. This paper was presented at the International South Group Network (ISGN) Asian Workshop on Women and Globalisation, 22-24 November, Manila.

[1] This is merely an 'ideology', because despite the fact that the state supports this perspective, in reality many men had lost their jobs during the economic crisis and many women are now the sole income providers in their families.
[2] The interesting thing is that government funded institutions analysed the same statistics and came up with the percentage of 27-28%.
[3] This refers to Korea Women Associations United, an umbrella organization of women NGOs. They identify themselves as being 'progressive' but after Kim Dae-Jung came into power, they participated enthusiastically in his policies and have become more middle-class oriented than ever.
[4] In Korea, already a whole series of revisions were made to the Standard Labour Laws after the economic crisis, more than any other time in Korean history. The illegitimate passage by ruling party members of the bill allowing layoffs and the introduction of transformational working time system in December of 1997 was first in the series that forecasted massive neo-liberal attacks on labour. The passage was so explicitly impudent that Korean workers went on a massive general strike and militantly struggled throughout the winter. Now capitalists are willing to throw a few carrots while pushing forth their interests. Then came the maternity-related clauses, and now another revision is about to take place that will exchange reduction of working hours for more deterioration of working conditions.
[5] Three unions were formed almost at the same time: Korean Women's Trade Union, Seoul Women's Trade Union and Seoul Regional Women's Trade Union

[Apr 02, 2018] The Class Struggle in the Old West by Louis Proyect

Mar 30, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
Against the overall political pall cast by the Trump administration, there are hopeful signs. Despite the problems I have with the DSA's failure to make a clean break with the Democratic Party, my spirits remain lifted by their rapid growth. I also take heart in the ability of filmmakers to produce outstanding critiques of our social system in defiance of the commercial diktats of Hollywood. Finally, there is a bounty of radical historiography that through the examination of our past sheds light on our present malaise.

The New Historians of Capitalism (NHC) are just one indication of this trend. Within this school, Walter Johnson, Edward Baptist and Sven Beckert have all written about slavery and capitalism from the perspective of how the "peculiar institution" has shaped American society to this day. Despite their focus on the 19 th century, all are sure to "only connect" as E.M. Forster once put it. In an article for the Boston Review titled " To Remake the World: Slavery, Racial Capitalism, and Justice ", Walter Johnson put it this way:

The Movement for Black Lives proposal, "A Vision for Black Lives," insists on a relationship between the history of slavery and contemporary struggles for social justice. At the heart of the proposal is a call for "reparations for the historic and continuing harms of colonialism and slavery." Indeed, the ambient as well as the activist discussion of justice in the United States today is inseparable from the history of slavery.

While not a school in the same exact way as the NHC, the historians grouped around the Labor and Working Class History Association (LAWCHA) website have set themselves to the task of promoting "public and scholarly awareness of labor and working-class history through research, writing, and organizing." Among its members is Chad Pearson, whose " Reform or Repression: Organizing America's Anti-Union Movement " helps us understand the threat posed by Janus today even if the period covered in the book is over a century ago.

Pearson's LAWCHA colleague Mark A. Lause, a civil war era historian just like the NHC'ers, has just come out with a new book titled " The Great Cowboy Strike: Bullets, Ballots, & Class Conflicts in the American West " that should be of keen interest to CounterPunch readers. Since American society is guided by notions of "rugged individualism" embodied in the old West, it is high time for that mythology to be put to rest. Reading Lause's magisterial account will leave you with only one conclusion: Billy the Kid had more in common with Occupy Wall Street than he did with faux cowboys like Ronald Reagan chopping wood and George W. Bush clearing bush in their respective ranches. In fact, he was more likely to put a bullet in their counterparts way back then.

Pat Garrett, the lawman who killed Billy the Kid and who was characterized as a hero in most Hollywood movies, mostly functioned as a hired gun for the big cattle ranchers who considered small-time rustlers like Billy as the class enemy.

Like Billy, most cowboys were super-exploited. In many ways, working for a rancher was not much different than doing stoop labor for a big farmer. Riding 12 to 16 hours a day in the saddle at low pay -- often in the Texas panhandle's bitter cold–was not what you'd see in most cowboy movies, especially those made by John Ford who romanticized their life.

In the 1880s, there was a series of cowboy strikes that were never dramatized by John Ford, Howard Hawks, William Wellman or any other Hollywood director. In 1883, a virtual General Strike swept across the Texas panhandle that one newspaper described as the natural outcome of cowboys having some knowledge of the "immense profits" some bosses were making. Wasn't it to be expected that they would "ask for fair wages for what was the hardest of hard work"?

As he does throughout his book, Lause digs deep into the historical archives and discovers that one of the leaders was a forty-year-old Pueblo Indian from the Taos Agency named Juan Antonio Gomez. The cowboys had no union but according to the Commissioner of Labor, they were well organized and prepared for the strike by building a strike fund in advance. As we have seen recently from the West Virginia teachers strike, there is no substitute for militancy and organization. Strike headquarters was in Jesse Jenkins's saloon in Tascosa. Jenkins was sympathetic to the Greenback movement in Texas that eventually led to the formation of a party committed to a farmer-labor alliance that challenged the two-party system. As has generally been the case with militant labor struggles, the bourgeois press regarded the cowboys in much the same way that the West Virginia press viewed the teachers. The Las Vegas Gazette harrumphed that the strikers were "using unlawful means to compel their employers to grant their request" and added that the strikes "always result in evil and no good".

Unlike most recent strikes, the cowboys were not easy to push around. One newspaper reported that the bosses "imported a lot of men from the east, but the cowboys surrounded the newcomers and will not allow them to work". Of course, it also helped that, according to the Fort Collins Courier, the strikers were "armed with Winchester rifles and six-shooters and the lives of all who attempt to work for less than the amount demanded, are in great danger".

Another strike wave took place between 1884 and 1886. This time the cattle bosses were better prepared. They brought in Pat Garrett to head up the strike-breaking machinery. He was implicitly also the agent of the "Redeemer" Democrats, those politicians that supported terrorism to break the back of Reconstruction. He led a raid on the house of strike leader Tom Harris that led to the arrest of two strike leaders but not Harris. He and another cowboy striker came to the jailhouse later that night and broke them out.

Get the idea? This is material for a "revisionist" movie that could shake Hollywood and the mainstream film critics to their foundations. In fact, one was once made along these lines -- the vastly underrated 1978 "Heaven's Gate" by Michael Cimino that was widely viewed as Marxist propaganda. The N.Y. Times's Vincent Canby was beside himself:

The point of "Heaven's Gate" is that the rich will murder for the earth they don't inherit, but since this is not enough to carry three hours and 45 minutes of screentime, "Heaven's Gate" keeps wandering off to look at scenery, to imitate bad art (my favorite shot in the film is Miss Huppert reenacting "September Morn") or to give us footnotes (not of the first freshness) to history, as when we are shown an early baseball game. There's so much mandolin music in the movie you might suspect that there's a musical gondolier anchored just off-screen, which, as it turns out, is not far from the truth.

"Heaven's Gate" is something quite rare in movies these days – an unqualified disaster.

A passage on the Johnson County War, upon which "Heaven's Gate" was based (as well as "Shane"), can be found in chapter 8 of "The Great Cowboy Strike". This was essentially an armed struggle between wealthy ranchers and those trying to scratch out a living in Wyoming between 1889 to 1893 that Lause aptly describes as illustrating "the connections between cowboy discontent, range wars, and political insurgency."

This go-round the bosses' enforcer was Sheriff Frank Canton (played by Sam Waterston in "Heaven's Gate"), another cold-blooded killer like Pat Garrett. Anybody who defied the big ranchers was immediately dubbed a "rustler" and met the same fate as a cowboy named Jim Averill and his companion Ellen Watson who dared to defend their homestead against Johnson County's elite. Canton led his thugs into a raid on their cabin and strung them up on a short rope, as Lause put it.

For the final assault on the cowboys and the small homesteaders, a small army of men from Texas was recruited. An attack party was launched on April 5 th , 1890 against Nate Champion's Kaycee Ranch (played by Christopher Walken in "Heaven's Gate"). Surrounded by a much larger force, Champion was fearless. Lause writes, "To the unwanted admiration of those closing in on the cabin, the door flew open and Champion stormed out, a Winchester rifle in his left hand and a large pistol in the other. Even those who riddled him with bullets expressed their admiration for a man who had died 'game'".

If you want to mix solid class-oriented history with stirring tales of cowboy rebels, check out "The Great Cowboy Strike: Bullets, Ballots, & Class Conflicts in the American West". It is a reminder that once upon a time in America the Red States were really Red.

[Mar 24, 2018] Since 2010, the Census Bureau has reported that married couples have made up less than half of all households

Mar 24, 2018 | www.theatlantic.com

...he decline of marriage is upon us. Or, at least, that's what the zeitgeist would have us believe.

In 2010, when Time magazine and the Pew Research Center famously asked Americans whether they thought marriage was becoming obsolete, 39 percent said yes.

That was up from 28 percent when Time asked the question in 1978.

Also, since 2010, the Census Bureau has reported that married couples have made up less than half of all households; in 1950 they made up 78 percent.

Data such as these have led to much collective handwringing about the fate of the embattled institution.

[Mar 01, 2018] What is the vision, what is the historic goal our elites offer to inspire and enlist our people?

Notable quotes:
"... The globalists envision the earth as a plantation with oligarchs (stateless corporate monopolists) as planters, former national governments as overseers and the people of earth as niggers. ..."
Mar 01, 2018 | www.unz.com

WorkingClass , February 27, 2018 at 12:24 pm GMT

what is the vision, what is the historic goal our elites offer to inspire and enlist our people?

The globalists envision the earth as a plantation with oligarchs (stateless corporate monopolists) as planters, former national governments as overseers and the people of earth as niggers.

[Feb 21, 2018] The Corporation and Radicalism A Bad Partnership by Carl Horowitz

Notable quotes:
"... The two factions differ by motive. Businessmen act out of material self-interest. They want to hire people from abroad at much lower wages and benefits than most people here would accept. And they want to sell in untapped markets. Radicals, by contrast, act out of emotional self-interest. They crave total multiculturalism in one nation. ..."
"... Where these camps converge is the belief that national identity is outdated and must be replaced by an elaborate system of global coordination. A nation ought to have no right to define itself in terms of race, language or collective memory. In the world of information technology, in fact, business and radicalism now mean almost the same thing. America, in this view, has an obligation to accommodate the crush of people from abroad wanting in. We cannot discriminate. We shouldn't even ask about their motives . America is a global sanctuary, a coast-to-coast UN General Assembly. ..."
"... Mass immigration is a global way of saying "diversity." And that refers not to a diversity of opinion , but to a diversity of demography holding identical opinions. Some have likened this to a cultural equivalent of Marxism, hence the common term "cultural Marxism." Whatever one's preferred term, it is now the coin of the realm in the world of big business. ..."
Nov 23, 2017 | www.unz.com

(The following is based on a speech presented by Carl Horowitz at the most recent annual meeting of the H.L. Mencken Club, Baltimore, Maryland, November 3-4, 2017. It was orginally posted at NLPC.org )

Why are corporations, especially those that provide information technology, promoting radical politics? It's a question one increasingly hears these days. And it's a necessary question. For it is a fact: The corporation as an institution, partly out of self-interest and partly out of conviction, is allying itself with the hard Left. And the consequences could be devastating for our nation.

Now when I speak of "radicalism," I'm not referring to the tradition of businessmen using the State to achieve and maintain market advantage. Monopoly in this country is a more than a century-old tradition, and it is anything but radical. Nor am I referring to the more recent tradition of corporations paying radical accusers a "diversity tax" in hopes of shooing them away. That's capitulation, not commitment. No, what I'm referring to is the arms-length alliance between corporations and far-Left activists to subvert deeply ingrained human loyalties, especially those related to national identity. Most corporate executives today see America's future as post -national, not national.

The two factions differ by motive. Businessmen act out of material self-interest. They want to hire people from abroad at much lower wages and benefits than most people here would accept. And they want to sell in untapped markets. Radicals, by contrast, act out of emotional self-interest. They crave total multiculturalism in one nation.

Where these camps converge is the belief that national identity is outdated and must be replaced by an elaborate system of global coordination. A nation ought to have no right to define itself in terms of race, language or collective memory. In the world of information technology, in fact, business and radicalism now mean almost the same thing. America, in this view, has an obligation to accommodate the crush of people from abroad wanting in. We cannot discriminate. We shouldn't even ask about their motives . America is a global sanctuary, a coast-to-coast UN General Assembly.

Mass immigration is a global way of saying "diversity." And that refers not to a diversity of opinion , but to a diversity of demography holding identical opinions. Some have likened this to a cultural equivalent of Marxism, hence the common term "cultural Marxism." Whatever one's preferred term, it is now the coin of the realm in the world of big business.

Examples:

The Alarmist , November 23, 2017 at 5:56 am GMT

AirBnB, like Uber et al, is a company that built its fortunes by operating outside the laws that constrained its more conventional competition why should we be surprised that immigration law doesn't matter one whit to them?
utu , November 23, 2017 at 6:12 am GMT
Mind you, they haven't given up on class struggle.

Really? Have you seen any class struggle recently that would be detrimental to the top class? Marxists are the tools of neoliberal capitalist world order. They are perfectly happy with the system as long as it gives them a chance to join the top class.

Heros , November 23, 2017 at 9:39 am GMT

"While the influence of the Frankfurt School of Marxism can't be ignored here, I find it vastly overstated. The crucial game-changers have been black authors, for the most part home-grown Americans. "

Reading Horowitz is like reading gatestone institute articles. They can be very convincing, but the always miss the target because Jews are seeped in willful blindness. It starts with the dual passports and allegiances. How in any sane world should dual citizen neocons be allowed to steer foreign policy? But then it continues with the never ending kvetching about "anti-semitism" which is used to stifle any discussion that becomes uncomfortable for them, like how the October Revolution was little more than a jewish coup d'etat and a succeeding genocide of millions of Christians. Why should the US be forced to pay $3b on Oct. 1 of every fiscal year to Israel? What about the murder of the Czar by a gang of Ashkenazi? Or the Liberty or the King David Hotel? What about 70 years of Palestinian genocide? What about their bullying and extortion of governments and individuals to prevent BDS?

I could go on and on, but the point I am making is that Jews know this, but outwardly they are ignorant, at least when writing for the benefit of stupid goyim. Among themselves the truth is often alluded to in public, and that is why reading the Jewish press is so important. Eventually they will try to prevent goyim from accessing it, probably by claiming its all a lie just as with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

This jewish facade of plausible deniability has to be maintained at all costs, and this is why we always hear how jews are so persecuted, why every city is forced to have a holocaust museum and why every few years another holocaust or nazi-genocide movie comes out. It is all about jews maintaining this Potemkin lie and pretending its true.

Which brings me to one of their biggest lies: That Jews are semitic, that they are white and that they are not white, all simultaneously. If every component of US culture was forced to track the number jews receiving benefit alongside the number of "whites" and other races, then the country would really learn what true racism and patriarchy is. That is why this is just another part of the massive jew lie that they all pretend not to see.

Grandpa Charlie , November 23, 2017 at 11:48 am GMT
Ay, PF, awesome, rad! I like it, here in the wee hours, for some reason I couldn't sleep, but you know, I'm a old f*rt and I don't do skype, just like I don't FB, but maybe tomorrow I'll see a granddaughter or two, and they do all that stuff. Don't worry about a slow start, opening nights can be like that and then Boom!

Well done! Strong!

– grandpa

Malla , November 23, 2017 at 11:51 am GMT
I have always considered Capitalism and Communism as false oppositions to each other. People in power use whichever of the two is useful for a particular situation, place and time to attain certain long term aims. The future of the world is moving towards Corporate Communism where the worst of capitalism and communism are blended to rule over and exploit the masses. This explains why many Western crony companies had invested in the the Soviet Union in it's earlier days of , they could never had got a more slave labour population. The same with China recently. Crony Capitalism and Communism seem to go well together just like how big corporations and big governments go well together. This also explains why big corporations still hire their workforce from Western Universities which are hot beds of leftist propaganda. On one level, it never makes any sense. But when you see the bigger picture, it makes sense.
Besides, the false left vs right paradigm keeps the common man on the streets busy infighting and wasting their time without realizing the big schemes being played over them.

Cultural Marxism (probably) emerged much later then economic Marxism of Karl Marx. It was a solution to a pressing problem of why Western populations were resistant to Communism. The problem was narrowed down to traditional Western civilization, the White race and to some extent traditional Christianity. Cultural Marxism is a 'slow boil the frog' method unlike the shock method unleashed on Russia and China. It also uses the tactic of communists and communism infusing in every part of a country's institutions like blood capillaries around muscles.

m___ , November 23, 2017 at 11:54 am GMT
A "Chomsky" amass of evidencies, a drunk display of conclusions. This is what should be called the bend of intellectuals, what an agenda, it hangs out on all sides. Sully, irrelevant, cheatacious in it's intend. And yet, "let's fall for it"?
jacques sheete , November 23, 2017 at 11:59 am GMT

I now briefly will sum up.

Would that that have occurred about 3000 words prior.

wayfarer , November 23, 2017 at 12:54 pm GMT
"The mind of one free thinker can possess a million ideas. A million fanatics can have their minds, possessed by a single idea ." – unknown
Malla , November 23, 2017 at 1:40 pm GMT
@wayfarer

Excellent post.

fnn , November 23, 2017 at 1:56 pm GMT

While the influence of the Frankfurt School of Marxism can't be ignored here, I find it vastly overstated. The crucial game-changers have been black authors, for the most part home-grown Americans. Urtexts include Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth, James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time, Malcolm X's Autobiography and Richard Hamilton & Stokely Carmichael's Black Power. Over the next several years, as the Black Panthers turned up the heat, Eldridge Cleaver's Soul on Ice, Bobby Seale's Seize the Time and Huey Newton's Revolutionary Suicide became must-reads. Recent additions to the canon have been Derrick Bell's Faces at the Bottom of the Well, Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow, and Cornel West' s Race Matters.,

Arguably, none of the above books by black authors would have become influential had it not been for the intellectual framework created in the postwar period by the Frankfurt School "study," The Authoritarian Personality :

http://www.amnation.com/vfr/archives/007815.html

Paul Gottfried writes:
You should read my last three books, all of which stress that The Authoritarian Personality profoundly affected American political thinking. It was essential to the postwar reconstruction of German "civic culture' and the work was deeply admired by SM Lipset, the sponsors of Commentary, and scads of Cold War liberals. It was not necessarily viewed as the post-Marxist leftist source of moral corruption that I suggest it was in The Strange Death of Marxism. What made The Authoritarian Personality particularly insidious is that it was widely seen as a blueprint for non-totalitarian democracy both here and in Europe; and leaders in government and in universities read the book in that way. The fact that Adorno and Horkheimer (who later backed away from the implications of the work he had co-edited) were at the time Soviet sympathizers did not dampen the enthusiasm of the anti-Stalinist secularist intellectuals who tried to defend the study. Although the Jewish identity of the Frankfurt School may not have been the only factor leading to their anti-Christian, anti-fascist pseudo-science, denying its influence on the formation of Frankfort School ideas is simply silly.

Christopher Lash's True and Only Heaven includes a long section detailing the mainstream liberal support for The Authoritarian Personality in the 1950s and 1960s. Lipset, Hook, Daniel Bell, Arthur Schlesinger, Richard Hofstadter and the members of American Jewish Committe, who sponsored Adorno and Commentary magazine, were among the anti-Communist liberals who admired TAP and who thought that it had relevance for our country. Although you and I may be to the right of these celebrants, it would be hard to argue that no anti-Communist had any use for Adorno's ideas.

Hank Rearden , November 23, 2017 at 1:59 pm GMT
America, that shining city upon a hill (Matthew 5:14), has forsaken its own blood and soil (Luke 14.26, Matthew 19:27-30), and fully implemented the International Jew's globalist vision (Matthew 28:19) of Communist Freaqualism (Acts 4:32, Galatians 3:28), including acceptance of rapefugees (Matthew 25:35-36), placing blacks in leadership (Acts 13:1), condemning normal male behavior (Mark 9:47), and promoting male castration (Matthew 19.11-12) in favor of a androgynous utopia (Matthew 22:30).

John Gray once noted that liberal humanist values are a "hollowed-out version of a theistic myth," but as I've shown from the Christian Holy Book , they're actually Judeo-Christianity on sterioids.

"The liberal belief in the free and sacred nature of each individual is a direct legacy of the traditional Christian belief in the free and eternal souls. Without recourse to eternal souls and a Creator God, it becomes embarrassingly difficult for liberals to explain what is so special about individual Sapiens The idea that all humans are equal is a revamped version of the monotheist conviction that all souls are equal before God." p. 231

Yuval Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (Harper Collins, 2015)

Again, I'll point out that liberal humanist Freakqualism is not a "direct legacy" of Christianity, but an intensification.

Michael Kenny , November 23, 2017 at 2:03 pm GMT
I was born in Europe. Except for a few years in the 1960s, I have lived all my life in Europe. I have never come across anybody in Europe "rejecting their identity". Quite the contrary indeed! European national identities are alive and well, and thriving in the European Union. The article itself is the usual VDare anti-EU propaganda and the article linked to (by Pat Buchanan) doesn't support the author's argument. I don't really see why Americans are getting so steamed up about Marxism. Nobody has taken Marxism seriously since the collapse of the communist dictatorships 25 years ago. And, of course, I'm always amused at the way the people who shout "America First" keep telling us Europeans how to run our countries!
JackOH , November 23, 2017 at 2:23 pm GMT
Mr. Horowitz makes good points, but many of us here have made similar observations along the same path to understanding the world around us. Corporations have a whatever-it-takes ethos, and if they can make money by hanging on to eternal verities, they'll hang on to them, and if they can calculate that dumping eternal verities will serve them, they'll do that. Happy Thanksgiving Day all, and thanks to Ron for hosting this site, and many good commenters for illuminating our America a bit..
SimplePseudonymicHandle , November 23, 2017 at 3:26 pm GMT
OMG this article is all over the map.

Companies do what is politically expedient because the people who govern them make a rational choice to decide to the bottom line – or any short-term definition thereof – as opposed to standing up to the mob.

Period. End of story.

Imagine you are a minimum wage employee in the neighborhood laundromat and you're 16 and naive and you notice the kindly owner/manager pays protection money to the mob. In all other facets he is a kindly man, a good person, a good manager, a good businessperson. You wonder why he doesn't call the police, make a report to the FBI, call on politicians, or stand up to the mob himself.

Of course he can do any of those things. He chooses not to.

Why does he choose not to?

Well, duh.

Priss Factor , Website November 23, 2017 at 3:36 pm GMT
Boomer-Rang

http://justnotsaid.blogspot.com/2017/11/the-revenge-of-shiksas.html

Priss Factor

[Feb 18, 2018] In Raging Tweetstorm, Trump Says Russians Laughing Their Asses Off, Mocks Leakin' Monster Schiff Zero Hedge

Feb 18, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Zhaupka Sun, 02/18/2018 - 14:08 Permalink

PSYOPS are interesting.

GENERAL PSYOPS:
PSYOPS control U.S. Citizens who have nothing to lose; yet, U.S. Citizens deeply believe they have everything to lose when the only "objects" they truly own in this world is debt.

Look Around - Which Class were you birthed?

Which Class shall you and your family of relatives die?

Labor - Lower Class - Working Class - Get Paycheck / Job Class
Lower Lower Class - Retail / wholesale workers / laborers
Lower Middle Class - engineers, computer workers, doctors
Lower Upper Class - C-Level Managerial workers, sports celebrities, High-Net-Worth workers, etc.

Trading - Middle Class - Business Class - Get a Deal Class
Lower Middle Class - Owns business in an industry
Middle Middle Class - Operates 1 or more business in an industry
Upper Middle Class - Operates 1 or more businesses in 1 or more industries

Leisure - Upper Class - Investor Class - Let's Go Have Fun! Class
Lower Upper Class - New Billionaires.
Middle Upper Class - Multi-Billionaires invested in or own vast businesses in 1 or more vast industries
Upper Upper Class - Kings / Queens, Owners of Vast Tracts of Land on The Planet, Wealthy Post-Empire Families,

Goals of Working Class: Job, House and Car - loans, credit, debt for basics: food, shelter, clothing, transportation.

Goals of Trading Class expansion of business.

Goals of Leisure Class Enjoy Human Life. "Let's take the personal jets out for a spin today. Meet you at [Insert place on planet]."

Middle Classes (Business) and Upper Classes (Leisure) give "Vacations" and Time Off to Lower Labor Classes.

Working Classes do not have the money to associate, travel, and dine with the Trading Class (Middle).

Trading Classes do not have the money to Empire Trot with the Leisure Classes.

Income has co-relation neither to wealth, power, nor prestige. The vast majority of wealthy have little or zero income.

Common in debt U.S. Citizens stand back gawking at the great great-great-great-great-grand children of the Middle Class and Upper Class Families who have re-bequeathed and re-inherited family wealth through the centuries enjoying a life of leisure that for each generation the Common U.S. Citizens have never moved up in family wealth. General PSYOPS.

SIMPLE PSYOPS:
2005, prior to O elections all U.S. governments were directed by federal law to disclose their health insurance payments, fees, etc. to the U.S. Federal Government. U.S. governments Employees were also given a copy stating exactly how much the State, County, Town, City is paying for the employee. O is elected. Look at the amount spent. Nationalized Health Insurance. Simple PSYOPS.

SOPHISTICATED PSYOPS:

Key: Any criticism moving this Political Operative Donna Brazille around is considered racist.

PBS and NBC, ABC, SeeBS (CBS), etc. studios featured Donna Brazille doing the political-talk show circuit.

Donna Brazille, Editor of Atlanta newspaper was shown, based on after show retakes, cameo's, script tweeking, etc., to be clear minded, fair, and articulate.

Donna Brazille had a Social Debt and Final Payment Due.

The Clintons collected Final Payment during the Presidential Elections from Donna Brazille who made payment by smuggling U.S. Presidential Debate Questions to The Clintons.

PSYOPS is interesting and work especially well with a small group of wealthy who can hire and pay for PSYOPS either in the immediate term or longer term as with Donna Brazille.

Marketing is PSYOPS all day.

United States President Trump is Not:
an ex-bureaucrat
an ex-lawyer
An ex-government employee
Not Poor <- Very Important as Big Cash is involved.

United States President Trump has a marked distain for both Factions of the State Political Party republicans and democrats and wonder if any other U.S. Citizens have the same feelings and thoughts.

Trump came forward as an American United States Citizen.

Democrats gave all the Benefits the Labor Unions fought for during the 1930's and 1940's to Illegal Aliens.

Republicans gave all the industry and jobs to foreign countries and imported pre-trained foreigners into American Jobs.

When Trump threatened to watch every polling station in the United States, if he had to, to make sure no voter fraud, at least during the one and only election he participated, State Political Party faction's democrats and republicans laughed.

The State Political Party Factions colluded to Stop Trump while running the usual rigged fake fraudulent election.

The usual United States Media Channels using the United States National Emergency Broadcast System entrusted to individual caretaker / quasi-owners to manage and maintain premises, power level, and towers, began the usual selling broadcast time to the highest bidder. The usual war over the airwaves time and again. The Hearts and Minds Meme is the warring struggle between republicans and democrats to control United States Media Channels broadcasts before, during, and after a United States Election. The usual.

24/7 PSYOPS using the owners of ABC, BBC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, Reuters, U.K. Guardian, Associated Press, etc. broadcast State Party PSYOPS obfuscating Trump is winning, announced No Path to 270, and broadcast Common Citizens Protesting.

The Clintons had the White Females and the new meme: People of Color.

United States Media Channels using the United States National Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) showed White males violently protesting TRUMP one day and Black Males shown violently protesting TRUMP another day to PSYOPS Cobble Black and White Males as kin, long shot, similar voters. Don't say it, show it, persuasively.

Republicans all signed Pledges declaring in Media Channels they shall not vote for Trump and encouraged everyone to do the same. Democrats against Trump is a given. PSYOPS. Political PSYOPS.

After the election, United States President Trump asked to examine the voting rolls. The State Political Party (r&d) denied the request threatening using courts to tie up the matter and cause great usd expense through the Corrupt U.S. Judicial. SOPHISTICATED PSYOPS.

The Entire United States is Corrupt.

1. The Lawyer Amended Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence - the originals of which are all now in the dustbin of history - have successfully created these Criminal Enterprises according to the Founders:
the Corrupt House of Representatives,
the Corrupt U.S. Senate,
the Corrupt U.S. Judicial,
the Corrupt U.S. Military and its Corrupt 17 Intelligence Agencies,
the Corrupt U.S. Media (except for the 5 Independent newspapers that did support U.S. President Trump),
the Corrupt For Sale Ivy League "there is a tailored study FOR SALE PROVING [insert desire outcome here]. . . " Universities,
the Corrupt States, the Corrupt Counties, and the Corrupt Cities,
the Corrupt Republican Political Party, and
the Corrupt Democrat Political Party.

U.S. Political Government "Investigations" show the Perp Walk: Perjury after Perjured Testimony in U.S. Supreme Courts, U.S. House of Representatives, Senate Testimony. Fraud all. Only the most frightened horrified have cognitive dissonance belief remaining in U.S. Federal Government(s).

Overthrowing Governments is not done by those who work, commoners posting on internet websites, walking the streets with Pitchforks, Fire and Ropes, Protesting, carrying Placards, placing Posters, and Marching with Banners; those people in Life Long Debt Servitude (hovel&cart/house&car) usually come to gawk at the result.

Overthrowing Governments is done by extremely wealthy for differing reasons as in the Overthrowing the Government of Britain/ England / U.K. in the New World - the Free World - during the late 1700's Early 1800's with Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson knew Representative Government eventually becomes corrupt; a New Lawyered Governed Tyranny is formed.

Lawyered Representative Government Corrupts; Absolute Lawyered Representative Governments Corrupts Absolutely.

When Citizens are indebted to, fearful of, dependent on, lied to, [INSERT YOURS HERE], with government guns pointed at U.S. Citizens and Surveillance by their "elected" Representatives for each AOR using U.S. Militarized Collusive State, County, and City First Responders Type Government Patrolling Enforcement, a New Type of Governed Tyranny is formed (see 1 afore)

All U.S. Citizens are given a Legal Right and a Legal Duty.

When Lawyered Representative Governments do not do the will of the people (hint: U.S.).

". . . it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government."
- Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 2nd paragraph

The world is very different than ZH Heavy and MSM disclose.

Recent and periodic school shootings are the work of the two U.S. Political Factions democrats and republicans PSYOPS in the U.S. Political Party System.

Disclosing the real story could be considered Top Secret National Intelligence information especially with the fake social media account: Zhaupka.

- Viva De Zhaup!

[Feb 14, 2018] Making America Great Through Exploitation, Servitude and Abuse by James Petras

Notable quotes:
"... Capitalist exploitation is based on a rigid hierarchy with its private prerogatives, which enables the oligarchs to demand their feudal privileges, their seigniorial sexual predations. ..."
"... Today, 93% of US private sector workers have no organized representation. Moreover, many of the 7% who are in unions are controlled and exploited by their corrupt union officials – in league with the bosses. ..."
"... The more egregious immorality exposes itself one time too often and is condemned, while the victims are temporality lionized for their courage to protest. The worst predators apologize, resign to their yachts and mansions and are replaced by new avatars with the same power and structures in place which had facilitated the abuse. Politicians rush to embrace the victims in a kind of political and media 'Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy' when one considers their own role as enablers of this dehumanization. ..."
"... The problem is not merely corrupt and perverted individual miscreants: It is the hierarchy of inequality which produces and reproduces an endless supply of vulnerable workers to exploit and abuse. ..."
"... Sexual abuse of an individual in the workplace is just part of a chain that begins with exploitation of workers in general and can only be stopped through collective worker organization. ..."
"... Can anyone say with a straight face that the US remains a nation of free and autonomous citizens? Servitude and moral degradation are the outcome of an atomized, impotent laboring class who may change one boss for another or one vulgar president for a moralizing hypocrite. We hope that the exposés will start something but without class conscious organizations we don't know what will arise. ..."
Feb 08, 2018 | www.unz.com

The public denunciation by thousands of women and a few men that they had been victims of sexual abuse by their economic bosses raises fundamental issues about the social relations of American capitalism.

The moral offenses are in essence economic and social crimes. Sexual abuse is only one aspect of the social dynamics facilitating the increase in inequality and concentration of wealth, which define the practices and values of the American political and economic system.

Billionaires and mega-millionaires are themselves the products of intense exploitation of tens of millions of isolated and unorganized wage and salaried workers. Capitalist exploitation is based on a rigid hierarchy with its private prerogatives, which enables the oligarchs to demand their feudal privileges, their seigniorial sexual predations.

US capitalism thrives on and requires unlimited power and the capacity to have the public treasury pay for its untrammeled pillage of land, labor, transport systems and technological development. Capitalist power, in the United States, has no counterpart; there are few if any countervailing forces to provide any balance.

Today, 93% of US private sector workers have no organized representation. Moreover, many of the 7% who are in unions are controlled and exploited by their corrupt union officials – in league with the bosses.

This concentration of power produces the ever deepening inequalities between the world of the billionaires and the millions of low-wage workers.

The much-celebrated technological innovations have been subsidized by the state and its educational and research institutions. Although these are financed by the taxpayers, the citizen-workers are marginalized by the technological changes, like robotics, that they originally funded. High tech innovations flourish because they concentrate power, profits and private privilege.

The hierarchical matrix of power and exploitation has led to the polarization of mortality rates and moral codes. For the working poor, the absence of competent health care has led to the massive use and abuse of prescription opioids and other addictive drugs. For the upper class, it has led to the flagrant physical and psychological abuse of vulnerable employees, especially, but not exclusively young working women. The prestigious bourgeois media blur the class polarization by constant reference to what they term 'our shared traditional democratic values.'

The pervasive and growing vulnerability of workers of both sexes coincides with the incorporation of the latest technological innovations in production, distribution and promotion. This includes electronic and digital advances, artificial intelligence, robotics and extensive surveillance on workers, which incorporate high profits for the investors and long hours of demeaning monotonous work for those who manufacture and transport the 'products'.

The proliferation of new technology has grown in direct relation with the abject debasement of labor and the marginalization and trivialization of workers. Amazon and Walmart approach trillions of dollars in revenue from mass consumption, even as the Chaplinesque speed-up of robotized humans race to fill the overnight delivery orders. The entertainment industry amuses the population across class lines with increasingly vulgar and violent offerings, while the moguls of film entertain themselves with their young workers – who are depersonalized and even raped.

The more egregious immorality exposes itself one time too often and is condemned, while the victims are temporality lionized for their courage to protest. The worst predators apologize, resign to their yachts and mansions and are replaced by new avatars with the same power and structures in place which had facilitated the abuse. Politicians rush to embrace the victims in a kind of political and media 'Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy' when one considers their own role as enablers of this dehumanization.

The problem is not merely corrupt and perverted individual miscreants: It is the hierarchy of inequality which produces and reproduces an endless supply of vulnerable workers to exploit and abuse.

The most advanced forms of entertainment thrive in an environment of absolute impunity in which the occasional exposé of abuse or corruption is hidden behind a monetary settlement. The courage of an individual victim able to secure public attention is a step forward, but will have greater significance if it is organized and linked to a massive challenging of the power of the bourgeois entertainment industry and the system of high tech exploitation. Sexual abuse of an individual in the workplace is just part of a chain that begins with exploitation of workers in general and can only be stopped through collective worker organization.

Can anyone say with a straight face that the US remains a nation of free and autonomous citizens? Servitude and moral degradation are the outcome of an atomized, impotent laboring class who may change one boss for another or one vulgar president for a moralizing hypocrite. We hope that the exposés will start something but without class conscious organizations we don't know what will arise.

[Feb 11, 2018] The opioid epidemic, alcohol abuse and suicides are leading causes of death in the US. The rate of fatal drug overdoses rose by 137 percent from 2000 to 2014

Notable quotes:
"... The opioid epidemic, alcohol abuse and suicides are leading causes of death in the US. The rate of fatal drug overdoses rose by 137 percent from 2000 to 2014. In 2015 alone, more than 64,000 people died from drug overdoses, exceeding the number of US fatal casualties in the Vietnam War. The suicide rate rose by a staggering 24 percent between 1999 and 2014. ..."
"... These "deaths of despair" have disproportionately affected white Americans, including adults aged 25-59, those with limited education, and women. The sharpest increases have been in rural areas. ..."
"... As to why the rise in mortality has been greatest among white, middle-aged adults and some rural communities, the editorial points to possible factors, which all relate to class issues. They include "the collapse of industries and the local economies they supported, the erosion of social cohesion and greater social isolation, economic hardship, and distress among white workers over losing the security their parents once enjoyed." ..."
Feb 11, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

weilunion , February 9, 2018 at 5:44 pm

As the people protest, they might wish to read about how the SF police department worked with fascists to ID antifascists.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/09/california-police-white-supremacists-counter-protest

The cognitive dissonance is deafening. The FBI is a criminal organization. Trump and his cohorts are here to stay. If you think you can change the direction of failing America, best to organize a socialist party.

What is Mueller going to do about this?"

The opioid epidemic, alcohol abuse and suicides are leading causes of death in the US. The rate of fatal drug overdoses rose by 137 percent from 2000 to 2014. In 2015 alone, more than 64,000 people died from drug overdoses, exceeding the number of US fatal casualties in the Vietnam War. The suicide rate rose by a staggering 24 percent between 1999 and 2014.

These "deaths of despair" have disproportionately affected white Americans, including adults aged 25-59, those with limited education, and women. The sharpest increases have been in rural areas.

As to why the rise in mortality has been greatest among white, middle-aged adults and some rural communities, the editorial points to possible factors, which all relate to class issues. They include "the collapse of industries and the local economies they supported, the erosion of social cohesion and greater social isolation, economic hardship, and distress among white workers over losing the security their parents once enjoyed."

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/02/09/pers-f09.html

Nothing. The problem is capitalism. Wake up from a sorry nightmare.

This is the cost of the ruling elite's doing business.

[Feb 07, 2018] When the rest of the world's wages go up to six dollar per hour and the USA come down to six dollar per hour, globalization will end

Notable quotes:
"... Things "should" be made locally. There's no reason, especially with declining energy resources, that a toaster should be shipped from thousands of miles away by boat, plane, truck, rail. That's simply ridiculous, never mind causing a ton of extra pollution. We end up working at McDonald's or Target, but, yay, we just saved $5.00 on our toaster. ..."
"... I don't know how you know about the so-called safety net. I know because I had to use it while undergoing treatment for 2 types of stage 4 breast cancer the past 4 years. It is NOT what people think. It beats the already vulnerable into the ground -- -- this is not placating -- -- it is psychological breaking of human minds until they submit. The paperwork is like undergoing a tax audit -- - every 6 months. "Technicians" decide one's "benefits" which vary between "technicians". ..."
"... Food stamps can be $195 during one period and then $35 the next. The technicians/system takes no responsibility for the chaos and stress they bring into their victims' lives. It is literally crazy making. BTW: I am white, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, have a masters' degree, formerly owned my own business and while married lived within the top 10%. ..."
"... In addition, most of those on so-called social programs are children, the elderly, chronically ill, veterans. You are correct that the middle class is falling into poverty but you are not understanding what poverty actually looks like when the gov holds out its beneficial hand. It is nothing short of cruelty. ..."
Feb 07, 2018 | consortiumnews.com
Cold N. Holefield , February 5, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Yes, but increasingly there is no "working class" in America due to outsourcing and automation.

I hear that Trump wants to reverse all of that and put children to work in forward-to-the-past factories (versus back-to-the-future) and mines working 12 hours a day 7 days a week as part of his Make America Great Again initiative.

With all the deregulation, I can't wait to start smoking on airplanes again. Those were great times. Flying bombs with fifty or more lit fuses in the form of a cigarette you can smoke. The good old days.

backwardsevolution , February 5, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Cold N. Holefield -- it's like Ross Perot said re NAFTA and globalization: "When the rest of the world's wages go up to $6.00/hour and our's come down to $6.00/hour, globalization will end." That's what's happening, isn't it? Our wages are being held down, due in large part to low-skilled labor and H-1B's flooding into the country, and wages in Asia are rising. I remember Ross Perot standing right beside Bill Clinton when he said this, and I also remember the sly smile on Bill Clinton's face. He knew.

Our technology was handed to China on a silver platter by the greedy U.S. multinationals, technology that was developed by Western universities and taxpayer dollars, technology that would have taken decades for China to develop on their own.

Trump is trying desperately to bring some of these jobs back. That's why he handed them huge corporate tax breaks and cut some regulations.

Things "should" be made locally. There's no reason, especially with declining energy resources, that a toaster should be shipped from thousands of miles away by boat, plane, truck, rail. That's simply ridiculous, never mind causing a ton of extra pollution. We end up working at McDonald's or Target, but, yay, we just saved $5.00 on our toaster.

Trump is trying to cut back on immigration so that wages can increase, but the Left want to save the whole world, doing themselves in in the process. He wants to bring people in with skills the country can benefit from, but for that he's tarred and feathered.

P.S. I remember sitting behind a drunk on a long flight, and I saw him drop his cigarette. It rolled past me like it knew where it was going, and I couldn't find it. I called the stewardess, and she and I searched for a few anxious seconds until we found it. Yes, the good old days.

Diana Lee , February 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm

I don't know how you know about the so-called safety net. I know because I had to use it while undergoing treatment for 2 types of stage 4 breast cancer the past 4 years. It is NOT what people think. It beats the already vulnerable into the ground -- -- this is not placating -- -- it is psychological breaking of human minds until they submit. The paperwork is like undergoing a tax audit -- - every 6 months. "Technicians" decide one's "benefits" which vary between "technicians".

Food stamps can be $195 during one period and then $35 the next. The technicians/system takes no responsibility for the chaos and stress they bring into their victims' lives. It is literally crazy making. BTW: I am white, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, have a masters' degree, formerly owned my own business and while married lived within the top 10%.

In addition, most of those on so-called social programs are children, the elderly, chronically ill, veterans. You are correct that the middle class is falling into poverty but you are not understanding what poverty actually looks like when the gov holds out its beneficial hand. It is nothing short of cruelty.

backwardsevolution , February 6, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Diana Lee -- I hope you are well now. It breaks my heart what you went through. No, I cannot imagine.

I didn't mean the lower class were living "well" on food stamps and welfare. All I meant was that it helped, and without it all hell would break loose. If you lived in the top 10% at one point, then you would surely notice a difference, but for many who have been raised in this environment, they don't notice at all. It becomes a way of life. And, yes, you are right, it is cruelty. A loss of life.

[Feb 07, 2018] Whole Foods Employees Miserable Seeing Someone Cry At Work Is Becoming Normal Zero Hedge

Feb 07, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Whole Foods' new inventory management system aimed at improving efficiency and cutting down on waste is taking a toll on employees, who say the system's stringent procedures and graded "scorecards" have crushed morale and led to widespread food shortages, reports Business Insider .

The new system, called order-to-shelf, or OTS, "has a strict set of procedures for purchasing, displaying, and storing products on store shelves and in back rooms. To make sure stores comply, Whole Foods relies on "scorecards" that evaluate everything from the accuracy of signage to the proper recording of theft, or "shrink."

Some employees, who walk through stores with managers to ensure compliance, describe the system as onerous and stress-inducing . Conversations with 27 current and recently departed Whole Foods workers, including cashiers and corporate employees -- some of whom have been with the company for nearly two decades -- say the system is seen by many as punitive. - BI

Terrified employees report constant fear over losing their jobs over the OTS "scorecards," which anything below 89.9% can qualify as a failing score - resulting in possible firings. Whole Foods employees around the country thought that was hilarious. One such disaffected West Coast supervisor said "On my most recent time card, I clocked over 10 hours of overtime, sitting at a desk doing OTS work," adding "Rather than focusing on guest service, I've had team members cleaning facial-care testers and facing the shelves, so that everything looks perfect and untouched at all times."

Many Whole Foods employees at the corporate and store levels still don't understand how OTS works, employees said.

"OTS has confused so many smart, logical, and experienced individuals, the befuddlement is now a thing, a life all its own," an employee of a Chicago-area store said. "It's a collective confusion -- constantly changing, no clear answers to the questions that never were, until now."

An employee of a North Carolina Whole Foods said: " No one really knows this business model, and those who are doing the scorecards -- even regional leadership -- are not clear on practices and consequently are constantly providing the department leaders with inaccurate directions. All this comes at a time when labor has been reduced to an unachievable level given the requirements of the OTS model. "


peddling-fiction -> SloMoe Feb 6, 2018 9:52 PM Permalink

Have they been Amazoned?

Robots will soon pick up the slack...

BabaLooey -> peddling-fiction Feb 6, 2018 9:58 PM Permalink

Dr. EvilBezos strikes again!

The shit fuck......

IH8OBAMA -> Cognitive Dissonance Feb 6, 2018 10:32 PM Permalink

From Amazon workers, delivery drivers and now Whole Foods workers, it sounds like the Beezer is a real tyrant to work for. I'm surprised unions haven't been able to penetrate that organization. It is certainly big enough.

erkme73 -> JimmyJones Feb 6, 2018 11:11 PM Permalink

Wife is an ER MD. The physician leasing firm that employs her, which has the contract at the local hospital, recently got bought out by a new group. Suddenly she has a new director who assigns quotas to everything, and grades every aspect of her performance. It is quite stressful, and takes much of what little joy there was in her profession, and flushes it away. She is actively entertaining head hunters' calls again.

A Nanny Moose -> erkme73 Feb 6, 2018 11:57 PM Permalink

Just finished a two-year project building a hospital's Information Security Program....everything heading toward performance metrics measured against some horseshit ticketing system. Such systems only encourage throwing of horseshit over the fence, by incapable amateurs, to the people who actually know how to think. This program was put in place by a CIO who was former Air Farce.

It now takes 5 fucking hours of bureaucratic horseshit to perform 1/2 hour of actual engineering/technical work. The next step is to automate technical work from within the change control and IT automation systems.

Mark my words....just wait until the vulnerabilities in these change control, and Information Security Automation systems are exploited. Wait for the flaws in the code used to automate creation of entire networks, sever farms, security policies, etc.

I don't want to be within 100 miles of anything modern when this all goes to shit.

[Feb 03, 2018] Whole Foods Becomes Amazon Hell Foods as Employees, Managers Quit, Cry on the Job....and These People Want to Run Your Healthca

Notable quotes:
"... Cooks at restaurants routinely work in similar heat with similar levels of exertion. I know, because I was a cook at multiple restaurants. ..."
"... The reason OSHA doesn't care is because working people in extreme heat is SOP for scores of industries that you may not even realize. ..."
"... In an earlier generation, that would be an excellent question. But since then, we've seen the distribution and adoption of the neoliberal memo that such things are always and everywhere bad. Nor would they be high on the current administration's to do list. ..."
"... Amazon doesn't employ the workers. It employs temp agencies who supply the workers. This is a standard procedure these days for high-turnover workplaces, because in the end no one is responsible for what happens to the workers. ..."
"... A service business that gives crappy service will not prosper. ..."
"... I spent 25 years in the grocery business with 20 of them in management. The expectations stated above were industry standards (except the minutiae of sales goals). Only in Whole Foods was this model ignored. When the industry wide profit margin of grocers is less the 3cents on the dollar you have to be a TIGHT operator to turn a profit or you are doomed. As a department manager my entire job depended on how I managed my P&L report on a quarterly basis .. if I was over on payroll hours I DAMN well better be cutting back on other areas such as shrink, supplies or payroll mix (high paid FT vs low paid PT) ..."
"... Thanks for bringing up the industry baseline! Bezos' intense exploitation of labor merits a spotlight, but what's happening off in the shadows in other corporations? I recall seeing Costco held up as a + example, but what about others? ..."
"... It seems to me that Amazon are a one trick company (albeit, a very good trick), and they are likely to get burned very badly if they extend their predatory model to high value brands.. ..."
"... "When the industry wide profit margin of grocers is less the 3cents on the dollar" This figure is complete nonsense. It means nothing. It's the "profit margin" after paying themselves rent, which is where the profits in grocery stores end up.. No one is in business for a 3% return. It does make good for PR though. ..."
"... Its not clear to me that OTS originated with Amazon. Amazon only completed the Whole Foods purchase around Labor Day in 2017. It usually takes more than a month or two to come up with an entire computer-based software system and roll it out company-wide. ..."
"... Corporate America is capable of coming up with bone-headed implementations of what could be good ideas without the need to get Amazon, Google, Facebook, or Apple to push them to it. Wells Fargo was able to come up with "Eight is Great" for new account generation even with the guidance of Warren Buffet instead of Jeff Bezos. ..."
"... At any rate, I won't be frequenting Whole Foods any longer as I find worker abuse nauseating. ..."
"... So much paperwork that there's no time to deliver the food, hence empty shelves. A situation instantly recognizable to anyone who ever lived in the USSR. ..."
"... You didn't hear it from me, but from a friend who was a cashier at a grocery store, a small way to fight back against self checkout is to be creative in naming your produce to get a 95% discount ..."
"... Wal-Mart can man-up with a new ad campaign – Our Employees Don't Cry, they get food stamps. ..."
"... "I'm amazed at how many people choose to simply ignore the fate of Amazon's employees in order to receive free shipping." ..."
"... (Suggesting that AMZ is a sh*t business.) ..."
"... fast forward 1-2 years ..."
"... fast forward 1-2 more years . ..."
"... Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseum, ad infinitum . ..."
"... the first time in my life ..."
Feb 03, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on February 2, 2018 by Yves Smith As we've said, Jeff Bezos clearly hates people, except as appendages to bank accounts. All you need to do is observe how he treats his workers.

In a scoop, Business Insider reports on how Amazon is creating massive turnover and pointless misery at Whole Food by imposing a reign of terror impossible and misguided productivity targets.

Anyone who has paid the slightest attention to Amazon will see its abuse of out of Whole Foods workers as confirmation of an established pattern. And even more tellingly, despite Whole Foods supposedly being a retail business that Bezos would understand, the unrealistic Whole Foods metrics aren't making the shopping experience better.

As we'll discuss below, we'd already expressed doubts about how relevant Bezos' hyped Amazon model would be to Whole Foods. Proof is surfacing even faster than we expected.

But first to Bezos' general pattern of employee mistreatment.

It's bad enough that Bezos engages in the worst sort of class warfare and treats warehouse workers worse than the ASPCA would allow livery drivers to use horses. Not only do horses at least get fed an adequate ration, while Amazon warehouse workers regularly earn less than a local living wage, but even after pressure to end literal sweatshop conditions (no air conditioning so inside temperatures could hit 100 degrees; Amazon preferred to have ambulances at ready for the inevitable heatstroke victims rather than pay to cool air ), Amazon warehouse workers are, thanks to intensive monitoring, pressed to work at such a brutal pace that most can't handle it physically and quit by the six month mark. For instance, from a 2017 Gizmodo story, Reminder: Amazon Treats Its Employees Like Shit :

Amazon, like most tech companies, is skilled at getting stories about whatever bullshit it decides to feed the press. Amazon would very much prefer to have reporters writing some drivel about a discount code than reminding people that its tens of thousands of engineers and warehouse workers are fucking miserable. How do I know they're miserable? Because (as the testimony below demonstrates) they've told every writer who's bothered to ask for years.

Gawker, May 2014 – "I Do Not Know One Person Who Is Happy at Amazon"

.

The New York Times, August 2015- " Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace "

..

The Huffington Post, October 2015 – " The Life and Death of an Amazon Warehouse Temp "

For a good overview of the how Amazon goes about making its warehouse workers' lives hell, see Salon's Worse than Wal-Mart: Amazon's sick brutality and secret history of ruthlessly intimidating workers .

Mind you, Amazon's institutionalized sadism isn't limited to its sweatshops. Amazon is also cruel to its office workers. The New York Times story that Gizmodo selected, based on over 100 employee interviews, included:

Bo Olson lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. "You walk out of a conference room and you'll see a grown man covering his face," he said. "Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk."

While that paragraph was the most widely quoted from that story, some reporters reacted strongly to other bits. For instance, from The Verge :

Perhaps worst of all is Amazon's apparent approach when its employees need help. The Times has uncovered several cases where workers who were sick, grieving, or otherwise encumbered by the realities of life were pushed out of the company. A woman who had a miscarriage was told to travel on a business trip the day after both her twins were stillborn. Another woman recovering from breast cancer was given poor performance rankings and was warned that she was in danger of losing her job.

The Business Insider story on Amazon, 'Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal': Employees say Whole Foods is using 'scorecards' to punish them , is another window on how Bezos thinks whipping his workers is the best way to get results from them:


voteforno6 , February 2, 2018 at 6:21 am

I have yet to hear of anyone who has actually enjoyed working for Amazon. I know several people who have worked on building out their data centers, and it's the same type of experience – demanding, long hours, must be responsive to calls and emails 24×7. Even people who are otherwise highly skilled, highly competent workers are treated as disposable items. It's no surprise that they treat grocery workers the same.

Collapsar , February 2, 2018 at 7:45 am

According to this Business Insider article the OTS inventory management system was something brought in by whole foods management; not amazon. Employees are actually hoping amazon fixes the issues created by OTS.

Things are definitely bad when workers are hoping things will get better with Bezos in charge.

I can't remember where I read an article in which an amazon employee said people at the company joked that amazon is where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves.

David Carl Grimes , February 2, 2018 at 7:54 am

If working conditions are so bad at the warehouses (heatstrokes from lack of air conditioning), then why hasn't the Department of Labor gone after them? Surely the DoL or some local labor bureau most have gotten hundreds if not thousands of complaints?

Left in Wisconsin , February 2, 2018 at 10:37 am

Where are the unions? The Teamsters or UFCW should be all over this. Their complete absence from the story is telling. When the first three conclusions to be drawn from this story are:
1. That boss (and company culture) are awful
2. Why doesn't the government do something?
3. Maybe the workers can do a class action
then it's really not surprising that things are this bad.

Ransom Headweight , February 2, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Where are the unions? They've been systematic eradicated or are being led by "pro-business" stooges. About the only union worth a damn and bucking the system is the Nurses Union led by Rose Ann DeMoro. If you have the inclunation, take a look at labor during the first Gilded Age (late 1800s early 1900s) to see what it took to get the modest reforms of the New Deal enacted -- the very policies that are almost extinct now.

jrs , February 2, 2018 at 1:35 pm

Well even trying to unionize fast food failed badly is my impression. So often the laws make it hard but the workers also have to *WANT* to unionize.

Anon , February 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm

An article in The Atlantic provides an explanation for the absence of unions:

Efforts to get Amazon to change its labor practices have been unsuccessful thus far. Randy Korgan, the business representative and director of the Teamsters Local 63, which represents the Stater Brothers employees, told me that his office frequently gets calls from Amazon employees wanting to organize. But organizing is difficult because there's so much turnover at Amazon facilities and because people fear losing their jobs if they speak up. Burgett, the Indiana Amazon worker, repeatedly tried to organize his facility, he told me. The turnover was so high that it was difficult to get people to commit to a union campaign. The temps at Amazon are too focused on getting a full-time job to join a union, he said, and the full-time employees don't stick around long enough to join. He worked with both the local SEIU and then the Teamsters to start an organizing drive, but could never get any traction. He told me that whenever Amazon hears rumors of a union drive, the company calls a special "all hands" meeting to explain why a union wouldn't be good for the facility. (Lindsey said that Amazon has an open-door policy that encourages associates to bring concerns directly to the management team. "We firmly believe this direct connection is the most effective way to understand and respond to the needs of our workforce," she wrote, in an email.)

This is a common anti-union trick among low-wage jobs these days -- intentionally abuse your workers as much as possible to ensure the highest possible turnover (and even better, turnover in the form of voluntary quits, which do not qualify for unemployment benefits or impact the employer's UI tax). Workers who have zero investment in their jobs and who intend to quit at the earliest possible opportunity are less likely to go through the trouble and risk of supporting a union effort.

As a bonus, the high turnover results in many of the workers not ever becoming eligible for benefits. Most common tax-advantaged benefit plans, like health insurance and 401(k), are required to be offered to all employees with only a few limited exceptions. The permitted exceptions differ depending on the benefit type, but usually include criteria like length of service (often no more than 12 months or so) and in some cases, minimum work hours. The plan will lose its tax-advantaged status if it excludes more employees than the law permits, which can cost the employer back taxes and penalties. Firing employees for the purpose of interfering with their ERISA-regulated benefits is illegal , but treating them so poorly from day 1 that they are unlikely to last long enough to qualify for benefits is not.

From a policy perspective, we need to realize the instability created by high-turnover and fissured work environments and penalize it accordingly. A beneficial side effect of this is that it would likely incentivize employers to train and promote low-level workers upwards; low-level jobs like warehouse workers probably inherently have higher turnover than average, just because most workers don't want to do that for the rest of their lives (and some are successful in finding a way out), but when there's a path for the janitor to become CTO you can reduce that turnover.

flora , February 2, 2018 at 11:21 am

When you own the politicians' trade newspaper – WaPo – why would the politicians attack you?

Fraibert , February 2, 2018 at 9:09 am

Pretty sure, at least at the federal level, it would be OSHA jurisdiction issues. With that said, OSHA has received complaints, and done investigations: e.g., https://www.osha.gov/news/newsreleases/region3/01122016 ; https://www.recode.net/2017/11/9/16629412/amazon-warehouse-worker-killed-deaths-osha-fines-penalties

I found these just by Googling "OSHA amazon". Keep in mind, the low amounts of the fines doesn't necessarily reflect the severity of the underlying issues–my understanding is that OSHA has relatively weak abilities to fine violators in the first place.

Pespi , February 2, 2018 at 4:02 pm

OSHA has been neutered. If you're lucky enough to get someone to come without also being fired, they'll fine the business an ant's eyelid and be gone.

maria gostrey , February 2, 2018 at 9:38 am

the salon article referenced above perhaps is indicative of regulators' attitude toward those we expect them to regulate:

june 2, june 10 & july 25 – the days OSHA received complaints about the 100+ weather in the Allentown warehouse.

nothing about any sort of OSHA response.

Adam , February 2, 2018 at 2:07 pm

Cooks at restaurants routinely work in similar heat with similar levels of exertion. I know, because I was a cook at multiple restaurants.

Now I am a machinist, and temps like this are routine during the summer in most shops I worked.

The reason OSHA doesn't care is because working people in extreme heat is SOP for scores of industries that you may not even realize.

Big River Bandido , February 2, 2018 at 10:00 am

The regulatory agencies were captured decades ago by the industries they purport to regulate.

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 11:27 am

Government regulation and enforcement? In an earlier generation, that would be an excellent question. But since then, we've seen the distribution and adoption of the neoliberal memo that such things are always and everywhere bad. Nor would they be high on the current administration's to do list.

Elizabeth Burton , February 2, 2018 at 2:54 pm

Amazon doesn't employ the workers. It employs temp agencies who supply the workers. This is a standard procedure these days for high-turnover workplaces, because in the end no one is responsible for what happens to the workers.

Mikerw , February 2, 2018 at 8:18 am

To quote: "the beatings will continue until morale improves"

A service business that gives crappy service will not prosper. There is a high touch rate between customers and employees in this industry. Also, this is an industry with many options and competition; unlike airlines for example. We shop at WF from time to time, partly due to the experience being more pleasant. We have no issue moving (and no love of Amazon).

visitor , February 2, 2018 at 8:34 am

A service business that gives crappy service will not prosper.

if and only if there are preferable alternatives. If that business is cheaper, a monopoly, or if all other businesses deliver crappy service too, then it may well prosper. Case in point: the telecommunications market in the USA.

Fraibert , February 2, 2018 at 9:24 am

This is an important reason why the notion that market competition will increase social welfare isn't inherently true. It's long been understood that in concentrated markets (oligopolies) the market actors might implicitly coordinate their prices without a price increase. For example, Companies A, B, and C sell widgets; Company A announces a price increase via press release; B and C follow with similar increases a week later.

But companies can also implicitly coordinate on the quality of goods. If Company A pursues crapification, that can cover B and C for doing the same.

It's akin the the Greesham's Dyamic that Professor Black has written about extensively on this blog and in other places in connection with finance creating a criminogenic environment. Under the right circumstances, cheap bad quality can drive out good quality, leaving only bad.

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 11:41 am

Indeed. A "market" focusing solely on profitability would consider human values an inefficiency. It would remove them, along with what produced them, from the system, using routine failure modes and effects analysis. (An interesting point for promoters of AI.)

California witnessed considerable consolidation in its grocery business ten years or so ago. Similar, if somewhat less draconian conditions, resulted. I don't believe the "market" will generate a different result this time.

In addition, there's the question of Jeff Bezos's purposes in buying WF. It would not be to learn from another industry; I don't imagine Bezos values that concept. It would more likely be to expand his own methodologies and priorities to another industry, one that gives him access to a human activity outside the already extensive reach of his current business.

WF may be an experiment, whose survival might not be dictated by immediate notional profitability. Besides, the utility and profitability of the data flow from this experiment might never be visible.

Wisdom Seeker , February 2, 2018 at 2:03 pm

This is an important reason why the notion that market competition will increase social welfare isn't inherently true. It's long been understood that in concentrated markets (oligopolies) the market actors might implicitly coordinate their prices without a price increase.

I agree, except that the situations you describe are not "market competition". Any marketplace with fewer than about 7 truly independent competitors is not a competitive market.

But as you say, when there are few participants there is a lot of implicit signaling and coordination, which work to benefit the few participants at the expense of the general welfare.

We have a lot of faux markets, and a lot of faux competition. This is not helped by the prevalence of multiple "brands" owned by the same small number of large conglomerates. You could shut down just 2 or 3 companies in each product line and the supermarket shelves would lose 90% of their items. That ain't a competitive marketplace, even though the proliferation of brands provides the illusion of freedom of choice.

We need a populist wave to take back our democracy.

jrs , February 2, 2018 at 2:10 pm

Yes it's not textbook competition, but while textbook competition with many small players may be good for the consumer, there is no evidence that it is good for the worker. In fact I suspect it's bad for the worker as super competitive industries will nearly kill their employees just to stay in business. I'd rather work for an oligopoly (but it all depends on which one) as the freedom from relentless competition enables better working conditions in theory (again does not always materialize).

Dave , February 2, 2018 at 8:22 am

I spent 25 years in the grocery business with 20 of them in management. The expectations stated above were industry standards (except the minutiae of sales goals). Only in Whole Foods was this model ignored. When the industry wide profit margin of grocers is less the 3cents on the dollar you have to be a TIGHT operator to turn a profit or you are doomed. As a department manager my entire job depended on how I managed my P&L report on a quarterly basis .. if I was over on payroll hours I DAMN well better be cutting back on other areas such as shrink, supplies or payroll mix (high paid FT vs low paid PT)

I guess the Whole Foods employees are learning this now.

hemeantwell , February 2, 2018 at 8:42 am

Thanks for bringing up the industry baseline! Bezos' intense exploitation of labor merits a spotlight, but what's happening off in the shadows in other corporations? I recall seeing Costco held up as a + example, but what about others?

pretzelattack , February 2, 2018 at 8:48 am

if the industry standards decimate the work force and make customers unhappy, maybe it's the standards that are at fault.

Fraibert , February 2, 2018 at 9:15 am

To me, it doesn't make sense to penny pinch if you're a quasi-monopolistic supplier due to a special brand position. Whole Foods was associated with high quality goods, and was clearly able to charge a substantial price premium. Changing its operations as described above appears to reduce the justification for the price premium and destroy the company's unique market position.

It is almost like McDonald's deciding that beef patties cost too much, and that it would only serve chicken going forward.

PlutoniumKun , February 2, 2018 at 9:36 am

It seems to me that in the grocery business (like many), you either make money by being more efficient and cheaper than your competitors, or by having a unique selling point that allows you charge a premium (high quality, great service, etc).

If you look at the car industry, when mass market brands have bought high value brands (for example, Ford buying Jaguar), the sensible companies have been very cautious about ensuring that the brand aura (and hence high profit margin per car) is not tarnished by crudely cutting costs. Mercedes made that mistake in the 1980's with excessive cost cutting and it took them more than a decade, and billions of DM in investment, to win back their brand value when it became apparent that their cars were often less reliable than cheap Asian compacts.

It seems to me that Amazon are a one trick company (albeit, a very good trick), and they are likely to get burned very badly if they extend their predatory model to high value brands..

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 11:45 am

In scale, WF is a hobby business for Bezos, little more than a personal tax deduction. If it does not go as Bezos intends, it is not likely to have an effect on his primary business.

bob , February 2, 2018 at 9:19 am

"When the industry wide profit margin of grocers is less the 3cents on the dollar" This figure is complete nonsense. It means nothing. It's the "profit margin" after paying themselves rent, which is where the profits in grocery stores end up.. No one is in business for a 3% return. It does make good for PR though.

Chuck W , February 2, 2018 at 11:12 am

A 3% margin isn't the same thing as a 3% return. Maybe think about it this way, 26 turns on a 3% margin (once every 2 weeks). Without compounding that's a 78% return on average inventory level, before fixed and variable costs, interest expense and equity returns. You're right nobody is in the business for a 3% return!

bob , February 2, 2018 at 11:44 am

"A 3% margin isn't the same thing as a 3% return." I know this. But the way that figure is trotted out, relentlessly, is to leave the masses, and employees, with the idea that they only 'make' 3%, which is nonsense. Whatever they "make" is carefully chosen in accounting fairytale land.

The point about rents still stands. Most grocery stores/chains are REITs with captive retailers. No one ever sees the REIT side of things. Rite Aid is well know for being the captive retailer in this practice. Rite Aid doesn't 'make' any money (118M 'income' over 25 billion in sales = .004 Less that half a percent).. They 'make' the landlord LOTS of money. Tax dodge or money laundering, which does it better fit the definition of?

Chuck W , February 2, 2018 at 12:31 pm

Agreed. I think they trot out the 3% meme so nobody pushes them too hard on their "providing a public good" nature.

And on rent and landlord's, I absolutely agree. Regrettably it seems most of us are making our commercial landlords a lot of money (before we ever get to equity returns). So many small business owner's would loose their minds if they thought about that thoroughly. And to answer your last question, "I'll take Tax Dodge for $500, Alex"

Mel , February 2, 2018 at 12:40 pm

The way I read it way back when was that that 3% markup is on fresh produce and what not. So the turnover is necessarily high. So their return on invested capital might get as high as 3%/day, if they're lucky.

Jean , February 2, 2018 at 9:46 pm

Chuck W, please explain the "26 turns comment", don't assume people understand business jargon.

cnchal , February 3, 2018 at 12:26 am

Assumes stock turns over every two weeks, so 26 times per year.

Dave , February 2, 2018 at 10:41 pm

bob, can you direct me to an article and/or site which backs your claims. I would be most interested to read it. Perhaps my information is incorrect, but multiple Google searches have articles in which independent grocery business analysts confirm my number.

rd , February 2, 2018 at 3:43 pm

Its not clear to me that OTS originated with Amazon. Amazon only completed the Whole Foods purchase around Labor Day in 2017. It usually takes more than a month or two to come up with an entire computer-based software system and roll it out company-wide.

My guess is that Whole Foods was able to conceive of this all by themselves and since it fits into the Amazon way of doing things, they didn't stop them.

Corporate America is capable of coming up with bone-headed implementations of what could be good ideas without the need to get Amazon, Google, Facebook, or Apple to push them to it. Wells Fargo was able to come up with "Eight is Great" for new account generation even with the guidance of Warren Buffet instead of Jeff Bezos.

Kurtismayfield , February 2, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Does this 3% margin count the rent that is extracted from manufacturers for prime real estate in the stores? ( End caps for example). Slotting fees are rent extraction. Customers pay for this with higher prices for the items.

Whiteylockmandoubled , February 2, 2018 at 4:57 pm

Oh please. I shop at two of the major branded grocery chains, and while the staff is generally good and competent, they exhibit none of the hyper-awareness expected under OTS.

If you run into an employee and ask them where certain items can be found, they'll usually know and usually direct you to an aisle that has the item. But they will generally not know the exact location in the aisle, shelf, blah blah.

And the stupidity of corporate management is beyond belief. Due to niche marketing, items can be found in 3, 4 or even 5 different places. (My favorite is canned beans – organic and other high-end brands in the specialty fancy food aisle, a bunch in the Mexican/international/Spanish aisle, run of the mill murican brands and the same Goya brands that are in the international aisle in the general canned vegetable aisle, sale displays at the end of any random aisle. And dont even get me started on gluten-freeness).

At stop and shop they replaced the end of the checkout counters with a carousel for bagging, meaning a) that checkers had to bag each item as they went, b) no more baggers c) customers couldn't help bag stuff, and, my favorite, d) making it nearly impossible to use reusable bags. Talking to workers about it is simultaneously hilarious and enraging. "They said it was supposed to make it easier for us, but *shrug*". Everyone understands that it's designed to fail, slow things to a crawl, and piss customers off so they'll use the self-check line.

So spare us the tight-ship, low margin Whole-Foods-and-Amazon-are-just-just-learning-how-intense-the-business-really-is-and-too-bad-for-those-whiney-workers old school macho bullshit. Yes, it's not the most profitable industry in the world. But amazon is a whole other level of abusive monitoring of workers everywhere it goes.

Tony Wikrent , February 2, 2018 at 8:29 am

Makes me wonder what's happening at Washington Post. Quick search results are that Post has been "revived." Note that Bezos stays out of editorial process, but is heavily involved in tech ops.

Huey Long , February 2, 2018 at 8:29 am

I happened to stop by the Whole Foods in Columbus Circle, NYC yesterday for some produce and something is definitely different there.

It was around 4 pm, the store was packed, and apparently management had people out there with brooms and dustpans sweeping up what appeared to be clean floors. Between the crowds, the sweeping employees, and the boxes of stock on the floor it was much harder to move in there.

After navigating the aisles, I grabbed a bottle of cold beer for my subway ride home, and then proceeded to the in-house ramen/draft beer spot. The employees there seemed absolutely miserable and kept wandering away to talk in hushed voices about what was clearly some sort of work problem in the store from what I could gather. To the employees' credit however, they treated me with courtesy and respect even though their body language and demeanor screamed misery.

Following my mediocre Ramen and yummy draft beers, I wandered back over to the beer aisle to exchange my now warm subway subs for a cold bottle. I was shocked to find that the entire cold reach-in beer shelves had been re-stocked while I was in the ramen bar. After several moments of digging through freshly stocked warm beer I found a cold one, paid, and departed Whole Foods.

Thanks for this article, as it ties together all the oddities I observed today. It is really sad what happened to Whole Foods, particularly that location. I used to work on the Time Warner Center maintenance staff and frequently interacted with employees in that particular store and they used to be a jolly bunch.

At any rate, I won't be frequenting Whole Foods any longer as I find worker abuse nauseating.

SufferinSuccotash , February 2, 2018 at 8:37 am

So much paperwork that there's no time to deliver the food, hence empty shelves. A situation instantly recognizable to anyone who ever lived in the USSR.

The Rev Kev , February 2, 2018 at 8:56 am

Funny that. It was only a coupla months ago that a big story making the rounds was that Walmart shelves ( http://theweek.com/articles/466144/why-walmarts-shelves-are-empty ) were constantly empty. I suppose you have to be a mega-corporation to make blunders like this but still get away with it for a few months running.

Wyoming , February 2, 2018 at 9:56 am

Interesting you mention Wallmart. I live in central AZ and our local Wallmarts (3 ea) for several years had empty shelves, few workers – and they did not know where anything was, the greeters were gone, literally 1-2 actual cashiers – they were trying to force you to the self-checkout. Recently the stores are almost like they used to be with more workers, greeters back, still not enough cashiers though, and better stocking.

Has anyone else noticed this. It does seem to coincide with the Amazon purchase of WF. Correlation is not causation and all that but it might be a reaction to some extent.

Carolinian , February 2, 2018 at 1:23 pm

I'm probably one of the few people around here that shops at Walmart and yes they have cleaned up their act although it depends on the store. I'd say the thing people don't get about Walmart is that they are responsive to public opinion and customer gripes even if they supposedly treat their employees like disposable parts, easily replaced (but then they have lots of company in that department). For example a few years ago they took the clutter out of the aisles and did away with the craft/sewing section–trying to be more like Target -- and then reversed all those changes because their customers hated it.

Seems to me Bezos is taking on a much bigger challenge trying to reinvent brick and mortar than he did by innovating mail order. Here's betting he's not up to it. Perhaps his top honchos–meditating in their new waterfall equipped Seattle biosphere–will prove me wrong.

Pespi , February 2, 2018 at 4:07 pm

You didn't hear it from me, but from a friend who was a cashier at a grocery store, a small way to fight back against self checkout is to be creative in naming your produce to get a 95% discount

diptherio , February 2, 2018 at 10:01 am

Just FYI, that article is 5 years old. I remember discussing it here on NC. Unfortunately, it didn't portend the end of Wally World.

The Rev Kev , February 2, 2018 at 7:52 pm

Yeah, that one was 5 year old but I chose it because it gave a bit more info in it. There are plenty more from last year. Just go to Google and punch in the search term Wal-Mart shelves empty and see what come back, especially Google images. This means that this problem is not a one-off but has been a running theme for at least a four year period. Amazing.

Eureka Springs , February 2, 2018 at 8:47 am

People who shop at Whole Foods want to look at employees with that NPR vegan faux-hippy gaze. Not a lot of difference from the evangelical gaze, imo. Some sort of self hypnosis involved? Now that gaze will be replaced with the look of a desperate near homeless employee all Wal-Mart shoppers have grown accustomed to ignoring, Wal-Mart can man-up with a new ad campaign – Our Employees Don't Cry, they get food stamps.

If I were a rich man I would give everyone of these people a T-shirt which says – I am not a robot.

Fraibert , February 2, 2018 at 9:18 am

I wonder if Wal-Mart will discover increasing in-store staff, as well as an upgraded store experience, will actually improve its competitive position versus online retailers. That's pretty much what Best Buy has to do.

SufferinSuccotash , February 2, 2018 at 10:06 am

Or maybe pay the help more. falls out of chair laughing

Marco , February 2, 2018 at 10:32 am

Is this just an Amazon/WF issue or something larger for grocer chains? I find myself shopping at a Meijers (big Midwest chain) superstore whilst visiting my mother and noticed the same kind of strangeness with not just employee morale (they are clearly miserable) but stocking issues. Items that were ALWAYS available are no longer there. I needed pasta shells the other day. They had none. How can a super grocer NOT have pasta shells. Larger than normal sections of shelves are bare. Pallets haphazardly placed. Meijors used to be a somewhat pleasant and orderly experience with happy workers now approaching a WalMart experience.

oh , February 2, 2018 at 1:43 pm

Vegan faux-hippy-Hillary Obamba-gaze?

Adar , February 2, 2018 at 3:34 pm

Re the NPR vegan faux-hippy gaze, The WF near me in suburban Philadelphia, has a very upscale clientele. Once, in the produce section, they had set up a booth where a Hispanic woman would mix guacamole using just the ingredients the customers wished, without any extraneous chatter on her part. Wow! Your guac would be mixed by an ACTUAL MEXICAN PERSON! Just gotta be good, eh? Conservatives might say she was happy to have such a nice job. I thought it was downright creepy, like those catalogues where people beam as they demonstrate expensive vacuum cleaners. Yuk.

lakecabs , February 2, 2018 at 9:16 am

Our Soviet style master planners hard at work. At least the Soviets had 5 year plans that they would abandon after 5 years. How many years of failure can we tolerate? What ever happened to profit?

McWoot , February 2, 2018 at 9:47 am

Not a fan of Bezos, Amazon, or their practices, but strict planogram scorecarding is not uncommon in grocery, auto parts and similar retail orgs. The only part of that section of the article that strikes me as out of the ordinary is the employee's reaction to it.

diptherio , February 2, 2018 at 10:04 am

Translation: "Employee abuse is the norm, so I don't see what everyone is complaining about. Back to work, peasants!"

McWoot , February 2, 2018 at 10:16 am

The framing of the article suggests this is Amazon-ian behavior. Just pointing out that I don't believe that's accurate because the practice is commonplace in the industry.

diptherio , February 2, 2018 at 1:54 pm

I've got more than a few friends who have worked in grocery stores recently, and while they had many complaints, having to know last week's best selling item or this week's sales goals weren't among them. Just sayin' .

Harry , February 2, 2018 at 10:00 am

DE shaw culture spread by its alumni

Chuck , February 2, 2018 at 10:05 am

Thank you for highlighting Amazon's continued abuse of its employees. I'm amazed at how many people choose to simply ignore the fate of Amazon's employees in order to receive free shipping. My favorite people are the type that by books on late stage capitalism and plutocracy through their Amazon prime accounts.

Bukko Boomeranger , February 2, 2018 at 6:12 pm

"I'm amazed at how many people choose to simply ignore the fate of Amazon's employees in order to receive free shipping."

Sad but true, Chuck. My daughter, who's a total Social Justice Warrior type (speaking as a progessive, I'm proud of her for that) and her long-time boyfriend are proud Amazon customers. They have Amazon technobuttons on the walls of the house they bought so that all they have to do to re-order toilet paper and kitty litter is touch the device. (Suggesting that AMZ is a sh*t business.) A day or two later, it's delivered, for free, because they are Primes! Daughter's BF, who luuuuuvs him some tech, revels in this because it's so futuristic. When I suggest going to the store to buy some -- it's quicker -- or simply thinking ahead and purchasing stuff before they run out, I get the eye-roll given to Olds who old-splain oldways. They're Jellbylically concerned about the plight of abused North Koreans and the like. When I mentioned why I was buying their Christmas book gifts via Barnes & Noble rather than Amazon due to its mistreatment of workers, their ears glazed over. I'll forward this post to her, but I doubt it will get read, since it wasn't on her Fakebook feed.

J-Mann , February 2, 2018 at 7:41 pm

heh

I like the cut of your jib: " to Olds who old-splain oldways."

Grampa Simpson classic – One trick is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere – like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. "Give me five bees for a quarter," you'd say.

Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time. They didn't have white onions because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones

Simple Life , February 2, 2018 at 10:35 am

Find a local co-op market. if you can't find one, start one!

Louis Fyne , February 2, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Local co-ops are a great idea but (sorry for the but) in much of the country wholesale food distribution has been decimated or wiped out over the years due to competition from Wal-Mart, Target, Whole Foods, the legacy grocers or Sysco (on the restaurant side).

Geographically, few areas in the US are fortunate enough to have an independent and thriving food/produce wholesale market which helps bring down price and bring up quality to be competitive with the vertically integrated big boys.

Arizona Slim , February 2, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Well, here's Slim from drought-stricken AZ. And I'm about to rain on that co-op parade. When I lived in Pittsburgh, I worked at a food co-op that was the lone survivor after its main competitor went under. And we got REAL busy. We also had a bit of a management problem. Ours was a drunk who often came to work hungover. All the better way to abuse the rest of us. After a staff revolt (yes, I took part in it), he left and took a job as manager of the regional co-op warehouse in Columbus, Ohio. Where he treated the warehouse gals as his harem and got one of them pregnant.

To our utter and total amazement back in Pittsburgh, he took responsibility for his son and tried to be the best father he could. I have no idea what happened with the drinking problem.

The manager who succeeded him was even worse. He even called himself a martinet, and he was. After less than a year of his BS, I bailed out of the co-op and got a sit-down job in an office. Yeah, there was another lousy boss there, and I've talked about her on other threads.

But there was further fun and merriment back at the co-op. I was still friendly with the people who worked there, and guess what? Another staff revolt! They ran Mr. Martinet outta there too! Go staff! Mr. Martinet went to a yuppie grocery store in North Carolina. From there, he went on to become one of the original senior executives in Whole Foods.

diptherio , February 2, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Bummer about the food co-op, Slim. Some of us "in the movement" are trying to work out how to provide accountability for guys like the drunk manager you mention, so that they don't end up doing like he did, and just sliding around from one co-op to another. Open to suggestions

Unfortunately, the co-op name doesn't necessarily imply that everything is groovy for the workers. Hence, REI workers in Seattle trying to unionize, and why UFCW has had such success in organizing every single food co-op in Minneapolis-St. Paul (and there are quite a few). The history of consumer co-ops seems pretty clear – workers in them need union representation just as much as workers in regular businesses.

Pespi , February 2, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Hahaha, an excellent story, well told. I have fond memories of the little local co-op from when I was a kid.

jrs , February 2, 2018 at 1:54 pm

it failed.

rd , February 2, 2018 at 3:46 pm

Or a Wegmans. https://www.wegmans.com/

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/business/2010/05/14/alec-baldwins-mom-really-really-likes-wegmans/2195927/

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 4:00 pm

For those who need examples, there is an excellent co-op in Ocean Beach, San Diego. Its customer/members are devoutly loyal. By design, each is small and adapted to its local culture and food ecosystem. Michael Pollan is a good resource for ideas on this topic and on real food in general.

American businesses might prefer home runs, but singles and bunts are more common and sustainable. Besides, co-ops are harder to buy up or put out of business in the manner reputed to be practiced by, say, some retail coffee companies.

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 10:35 am

Jeff Bezos. John Galt. No difference.

Louis Fyne , February 2, 2018 at 12:58 pm

Except Jeff Bezos has sold the Ayn Rand way of life to the 'progressive' intelligensia who would happily rant over John Galt if you gave them your ear and a glass of Bordeaux.

HotFlash , February 2, 2018 at 1:05 pm

Didn't John Galt go away?

cnchal , February 2, 2018 at 4:18 pm

I don't know, did he?. I didn't finish the stupid book to find out.

Jeff N , February 2, 2018 at 10:38 am

Not just at Amazon, but I'm seeing an anecdotal trend of "get people to quit within a year or two of starting". Not just with ridiculous requests from above, but even with good ol' passive-aggressiveness. I can't remember if this article was tipped off to me by NC but here it is anyway:
https://www.ft.com/content/356ea48c-e6cf-11e6-967b-c88452263daf
(paywall, or websearch for "how employers manage out unwanted staff")

Croatoan , February 2, 2018 at 10:42 am

Don't you all get it? First they took away their freedom to form unions with others. Now they want to take away your freedom to form a union with you own bodies actions. This will crush the idea of sabotage and work slowdowns as an expression of labor power.

The Rev Kev , February 2, 2018 at 7:59 pm

Of course there is always this simple WW2 manual-https://www.cia.gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2012-featured-story-archive/simple-sabotage.html

Jeff Z , February 2, 2018 at 10:57 am

OSHA is a part of the DOL. https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/safety-health

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 11:04 am

Waste is inherent to selling fresh food. Trimmings, dry, damaged meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, breads, prepared foods. That's especially true of anything organic and not engineered to be harder, more colorful, durable and less tasty than their natural analogs. Whole Paycheck's intended customers – really, most shoppers anywhere – do not want to buy adulterated, processed versions of eggs, beakless turkeys, caged hens, and drugged industrially raised cows and pigs.

Fresh food, especially organic, does not last as long as industrial bread, fruits and vegetables or highly sugared packaged foods. It is the antithesis of such foods. The reason chicken soup made the way it was c.1940 is tastier and nutritionally better than soup made from a caged, medicated, neurotic fowl today is not great Grandma's recipe: it's the chicken.

Local sourcing, environmentally safe, animal friendly methods of raising require a wider supplier net. What Michael Pollan would call real food costs more. It should. But real food and real people are ripe for the cruel "more efficient" methods of production, distribution and sale that seem part of Jeff Bezos's DNA. Besides, what he really wants is probably the data flow. WF is simply a way to get it.

rd , February 2, 2018 at 3:52 pm

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/money/business/2017/03/03/wegmans-looks-cut-food-waste-with-new-state-regulations-coming/98049694/

Trey N , February 2, 2018 at 11:19 am

Typical uber-"capitalist" idiocy -- seen this happen in a lot of different industries over the years (esp techs):

CEO: "Our product sucks. We've grown too big, lost our innovative edge, we need to get back to our roots!"

Toady: "Uh, tried that already, boss. No can do. Too much bureaucracy now."

CEO: "Shit! Any ideas?"

Toady: "Actually, yes! We can buy out and take over one of the smaller competitors that's eating our lunch now, and steal their latest ideas and projects."

CEO: "Brilliant! Make it so!"

fast forward 1-2 years

CEO: "How's that takeover working out?"

Toady: "Well, it's taken a while, but we've fully integrated the company in with ours -- all of our corporate policies and procedures etc etc are in place there now."

CEO: "Excellent!"

fast forward 1-2 more years .

CEO: "Our product sucks! What happened to all those great ideas coming from that company we took over?"

Toady: "Well, most everyone working there when we bought it out are gone now. The founders and senior management cashed out the takeover premium and bailed immediately, and everybody else got frustrated with our corporate style and policies and eventually quit. Our people took over their projects, and promptly fucked them up beyond all belief. Instead of a cash cow, we got a dead cow on our hands now."

CEO: "Shit! Any ideas?"

Toady: "Yeah. We can either spin it off to the public again or just shut the whole fucking thing down and take a huge earnings write-off."

CEO: "Hmmm,..decisions, decisions . By the way, are there any other small competitors out there that we can buy out to rejuvenate our stale product line, toady?

Rinse. Repeat. Ad nauseum, ad infinitum .

Jeff N , February 2, 2018 at 4:41 pm

haha that's my place!

Sean , February 2, 2018 at 11:20 am

Amazon corporate sounds like a sweatshop. Their treatment of warehouse staff is nothing short of an abomination. But I can't help feeling that some of the employee comments at WholeFoods are less about bad management and work conditions and more about Millenials and a lack of ability handle criticism and work pressure. (The average age of a Whole Food employee at my store is easily 28yo.)

To call working on an inventory system "punitive". It's called business, and yes, it is difficult and takes a lot of effort. Punitive, though. To use an inventory system. Sorry. Not buying the whole story.

JBird , February 2, 2018 at 12:35 pm

If it's common for people to actually cry at work, and to have nightmares, with massive turnover, decreasing quality of service, product, and cleanliness blaming millennials is an inadequate response. Apparently Amazon wants to run Whole Foods with inadequate staff, fails to reward good good work, unfailingly punish not only poor work, but honest mistakes, and makes no allowance within the system for reality. If you did animal training this way, you would see the same results, I promise. The management "techniques" described will destroy any company, or at least reduce productivity massively.

Yves Smith Post author , February 2, 2018 at 3:11 pm

You are straw manning the post and the underlying article. The staff is grilled very frequently and graded, and much of what they are graded on isn't relevant to customer service. The shelves are supposed to be "leveled" all day, which is a ridiculous standard. The testing and insane shelf appearance standards are not normal to the industry and minor deviations are the basis for firing.

RMO , February 3, 2018 at 12:11 am

I have yet to met a single "Millennial" that fits that ridiculous stereotype – and I know a lot of people in that age bracket even though I was born in 1970. The very few who even seem to have tendencies in those directions seem more influenced by being from wealthy families than by their year of birth and I can think of at least as many Boomers and Gen X'ers that are like that too.

When I think of the high-school age or university age jobs the people I grew up with had and compare them to the jobs I've seen my "Millennial" friends doing the younger people have had it substantially worse over all.

Anarcissie , February 2, 2018 at 11:54 am

According to my browser, the word 'union' does not exist in this article.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , February 2, 2018 at 12:40 pm

#Famazon

Also theres an Ad for the 'United States Secret Service' that wants to recruit me. Lol Not with my Reenlistment Code (RE4)!!!!!

Arizona Slim , February 2, 2018 at 1:09 pm

A college friend of my mother went on to run the Secret Service detail for the White House. Very demanding position, but one that Mom's friend was quite proud of.

Eclair , February 2, 2018 at 12:41 pm

Lordy, Yves, please put a warning sign on that video! It's still breakfast time here in Seattle, and I clicked on it. No, it didn't offend my 'sensibilities.' But it encapsulated all the frustration and anger and helplessness I feel against our system. As well as being a powerful metaphor for 'late stage capitalism.'

Chauncey Gardiner , February 2, 2018 at 3:32 pm

Share your sentiments, Eclair. Having breakfast? The observations about employee abuse also pair well with a video of a 10 minute bike ride through the homeless encampments along the Santa Ana River near Angels Stadium and Disneyland in Anaheim:
https://mobile.twitter.com/Dalrymple/status/953739188050059265

Fear is part of their toolkit.

Pelham , February 2, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Whole Foods employees still outnumber these Amazon creatures checking up on them, I presume. If the WF workers and others at Amazon are so universally tormented and humiliated, shouldn't they be taking some kind of collective action?

Twice during WWII German officers tried to get rid of Hitler. I guess American workers don't measure up to even that standard.

Oregoncharles , February 2, 2018 at 1:59 pm

Those places are begging for union organizers – but are likely to fight back ruthlessly.

EoH , February 2, 2018 at 3:37 pm

I suspect Jeff Bezos would view unions at WF or Amazon the way Reagan viewed unionized Air Traffic Controllers. Or Wal-Mart, which has abandoned markets whose employment laws provide for unions or simply too many protections for employees.

Bezos is extracting resources from his employees with the same thought and in the same manner that early California hard rock miners used massive water hoses (monitors) to liquidate mountains in search for a few gold nuggets. (h/t Gray Brechin)

Petter , February 2, 2018 at 1:31 pm

Why don't they quit? If you allow yourself to be treated as and act as a slave, you become complicit in your own slavery.

Arizona Slim , February 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Which is why I Q-U-I-T the food co-op job mentioned above. Did the same in that office job, which was my second-to-last full-time job.

Have I ever had a good job? Yup. Working in a hot, dark, and greasy bike shop. Place closed in 2000 and I still miss the camaraderie with my fellow mechanics -- and the pride of accomplishment that came with fixing the customers' bikes.

Oregoncharles , February 2, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Because, like most Americans, they have no savings and no fallback if they lose their job.

Yves Smith Post author , February 2, 2018 at 3:13 pm

The article said many are quitting. Of course, the better employees will probably have the best options and be able to leave faster.

Craig H. , February 2, 2018 at 2:16 pm

From The Atlantic:

What Amazon Does to Poor Cities

Mostly about their warehouse in San Bernardino. The employees describe working there as The Hunger Games.

Punxsutawney , February 2, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Decades ago I worked in retail,

When arguing with my boss about crap we were required to do, he finally got frustrated and told me "Shit flows downhill", "DEAL WITH IT!". To which my response was "Yep, right onto the customer!"

It made him so angry I was lucky I wasn't fired on the spot, though in hindsight it would have been a blessing. Looks like nothing has changed 30 years later.

JBird , February 2, 2018 at 7:06 pm

I think it's gotten worse as the whole retail industry specifically and perhaps most industries gradually, have had the slowly MBA'd management reorganized, streamlined, outsourced and efficiencied it into a monetized Hades.

I was lucky to work in a couple of well run, or at competently run, businesses. So I know one can be profitable without brutalizing people. It's depressing to see what has happened.

Synoia , February 2, 2018 at 6:42 pm

I imaging the quickest route to being fired is:

Hi, my name is Jeff Bezos, and I'm a union organizer!

Well maybe not the Bezos part.

Jean , February 2, 2018 at 10:03 pm

Wonder what would happen if a customer started handing out union brochures to Whole Foods employees in one of their stores. What are they going to do? Kick you, a customer, out of the store?

Yves Smith Post author , February 2, 2018 at 10:29 pm

They probably would. It's private space. But it would make for good news stories. You would need to actually shop in fact handing them out to all the cashiers when you are checking out would be the best move, since you'd be out the store before management would catch on.

Dongo , February 2, 2018 at 8:51 pm

As the articles in the Business Insider series explicitly point out, this hated new system preceded the acquisition by Amazon.

Amazon is terrible. The way Whole Foods is now treating its workers is terrible. But Amazon simply did not develop or implement the policies at Whole Foods that this article is ascribing to it.

Jean , February 2, 2018 at 9:37 pm

OTS, What is that?

I know two Whole Foods employees who have quit in the last week.

The new name for the store is "Asswhole Foods".

The game is to sabotage as much as possible and give away and undercharge customers for as much as possible in the weeks before you quit.

A walkout strike on a busy Saturday would be a beautiful thing to see and would really get the public's attention.

Yves Smith Post author , February 2, 2018 at 10:39 pm

Good for your saboteurs! Amazon is trying to stop shrinkage but they'll lose more through deliberately missed scans. Oh, and a freezer door left open or temperature mysteriously reset would wreak even more havoc.

lentilsoup , February 2, 2018 at 10:40 pm

I was in a Whole Foods last night, where I shop a few times per month, here in central California. Lots of unfamiliar faces working there. Produce section definitely looking worse than usual -- empty shelves, low quality items. At checkout, the cashier was a young woman I'd never seen before, who looked tired and dispirited. I asked how she was doing that evening. Smirking wearily, she said, "Hangin' in there " (Which is about how I feel these days, too.) When it came time to pay, it was the first time in my life that the total at Whole Foods was less than I was expecting. Wow, I thought, I didn't think Amazon changed the prices that much? After I got home and looked at the receipt, I realized why -- she hadn't charged me for all the items! Bless her.

I don't believe Amazon and Whole Foods were ever a good match for each other, and with unhappy employees and other problems, I expect this particular branch of WF to be gone in a few years. And I really couldn't care less. There are other good places to shop.

[Jan 30, 2018] Perfect worker on the cheap by Dan Crawford

Jan 29, 2018 | angrybearblog.com

Via Bloomberg Obsession for the Perfect Worker Fading in Tight U.S. Job Market points to an issue in hiring that has been discussed here at AB:

This is a problem because, at 4.1 percent last month, U.S. unemployment is at the lowest level since 2000 and companies from Dallas to Denver are struggling to find the right workers. In some cases this is constraining growth, the Federal Reserve reported last week.

Corporate America's search for an exact match is "the number-one problem with hiring in our country," said Daniel Morgan, a recruiter in Birmingham, Alabama, who owns an Express Employment Professionals franchise. "Most companies get caught up on precise experience to a specific job," he said, adding: "Companies fail to see a person for their abilities and transferable skills."

U.S. employers got used to abundant and cheap labor following the 2007-2009 recession. Unemployment peaked at 10 percent in October 2009, and didn't return to the lows of the previous business cycle until last year. Firms still remain reluctant to boost pay or train employees with less-than-perfect credentials, though recruiters say that may have to change amid a jobless rate that's set to dip further.


Bill H , January 29, 2018 9:53 am

The way the article is cut off with the wage gains chart makes it seem that the article is on the Dean Baker theme of "pay higher wages and they will come," in which he argues that there is no shortage because you can hire workers away from your competitor, thereby merely moving the deficit from one place to another without eliminating it and unintentionally suggesting that there is actually is a shortage after all.

Immediately after that chart, however, the article segues into a pretty intelligent discussion of employers learning to ascertain "how can your experience be used in my application," making it unclear why the wage chart is even there.

The "lack of trained workers" complaint has long annoyed me, with its implication that it is the public sector's responsibility to train workers for the private sector. Why? If a company needs welders, why should that company not train its own welders?

J.Goodwin , January 29, 2018 11:39 am

Last week we were reviewing a job description we were preparing for a role in Canada. It was basically a super senior description, they wanted everything, specific experience, higher education, what amounts to a black belt project management certification but also accounting and finance background.

At the bottom it says 5 years experience.

I almost fell off my chair. That's an indicator of the pay band they were trying to fill at (let's say 3, and the description was written like a 10-15 years 6).

I tried to explain it to the person who wrote it and I said hey if we put this out there, we will get no hits. There is no one with this experience who will take what you are offering. I'm afraid we're going to end up with another home country expat instead. They're often not up the same standard you could get with a local if you reasonably scoped the job and gave a fair offer.

I think companies have forgotten how to compete for employees, and the recruiters are completely out of touch. Or maybe they are aware of the conditions and HR just won't sign on to fair value.

Mona Williams , January 29, 2018 1:09 pm

Before I retired 12 years ago, on-the-job training was much more common. Borders Books (remember them?) trained me for a week with pay for just a temporary Christmas-season job. Employers have gotten spoiled, and I hope they will figure this out. Some of the training programs I hear about just make me sigh. Nobody can afford to be trained while not being paid.

axt113 , January 29, 2018 1:26 pm

My Wife works as a junior recruiter, the problem she says is with the employers, they want a particular set of traits, and if there is even a slight deviation they balk

She says that one recent employer she worked with wanted so many particulars for not enough pay that even well experienced and well educated candidates she could find were either unwilling to accept the offer, or were missing one or two traits that made them unacceptable to the company.

rps , January 29, 2018 3:58 pm

This is exciting news for many of us who've been waiting for the pendulum to swing in favor of potential employees after a decade of reading employers help wanted Santa wish list criteria for a minimum wage job of 40+ hours. I'd argue the unemployment rate is not 4.1%; rather, I know of many intelligent/educated/experienced versatile people who've been cut out of the job market and/or chose not to work for breadcrumbs.

HR's 6 second resume review rule of potential candidates was a massive failure by eliminating candidates whose skills, experience and critical thinking abilities could've cultivated innovation across many disciplines. Instead companies looked for drone replacement at slave wages. HR's narrow candidate searches often focused on resume typos or perceived grammatical errors (highly unlikely HR recruiters have an English Ph.D), thus trashing the resume. Perhaps, HR will be refitted with critical thinking people who see a candidate's potential beyond the forgotten comma or period.

[Jan 06, 2018] More Power to the Workers Seymour Melman on Extraction by the Military, Managers, and Finance

Notable quotes:
"... By Jon Rynn, the author of Manufacturing Green Prosperity: The power to rebuild the American Middle Class, and many other writings available at JonRynn.com . His twitter handle is @JonathanRynn. Originally published at Economic Reconstruction ..."
"... *This article is meant as a wide-ranging, 'high-altitude' look at Melman's work, not as an exhaustive survey. Please see SeymourMelman.com for more of Melman's work, as well as his many books and articles. ..."
"... perhaps the most glaring example being the Soviet Union ..."
"... Somehow he also got an audience with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara as the Vietnam War heated up. Melman blamed McNamara, formerly head of Ford Motor Company, for rationalizing and systematizing the military industrial complex. After McNamara got through with it, the Department of Defense had turned into the headquarters of the military industrial complex, with the contractors as virtual divisions of the Pentagon. Melman was concerned that the military industrial complex was siphoning off much of the best and the brightest engineers and scientists, and that there was a surfeit of engineering talent available for civilian firms. "Where are the engineers?! Where are the engineers?!" Melman remembers McNamara screaming at him. It is a question we can continue to ask to this day. ..."
Jan 05, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. Get a cup of coffee. This is a meaty and important post.

While I agree overwhelmingly with the main points, I have a few quibbles. One is that Rynn attributes the dollar's role as reserve currency to oil being denominated in dollars. As we've discussed, the requirements of being a reserve currency is running persistent trade deficits so that there is a lot of the reserve currency in foreign hands so it is tradable. The reason foreigners are so happy to have the US run trade deficits is that pretty much everyone but us runs mercantilist trade policies. The US is effectively exporting jobs to these countries. They can have a higher savings rate and our exporting jobs alleviates the employment cost. What's not to like from their perspective?

By Jon Rynn, the author of Manufacturing Green Prosperity: The power to rebuild the American Middle Class, and many other writings available at JonRynn.com . His twitter handle is @JonathanRynn. Originally published at Economic Reconstruction

Seymour Melman was one of the most important political economists and peace activists of the 20th century. He would have been 100 years old on December 30, 2017 (he died in 2004), therefore this is a good time to consider his legacy, and more importantly from his point of view, to think about how his writings can help us achieve a more just world.

Melman always had a two-track intellectual focus, writing about both the military and the economy. The two concepts were intertwined in his books about the deleterious economic effects of military production, for instance, in 'Pentagon Capitalism', 'The Permanent War Economy', and 'Profits without Production'. He sought to decrease military spending, not just because American wars after World War II were unjust, but also because that spending constituted missed opportunities to improve the public sphere of life, and even more fundamentally, because military spending destroyed the core competence in manufacturing that Melman saw as the basis of economic life.

This integration of peace activism and economics crystallized after the 1950s. In the 1950s, Melman was involved with what became known as the 'ban the bomb' movement. There was a great deal of concern at the time that nuclear war of any sort could lead to the destruction of most if not all mankind, and it took quite a bit of activist effort to eventually lead to, for instance, a ban on testing nuclear weapons overground. Melman and others, such as another political economist born in 1917, Barry Commoner, argued that trying to survive a nuclear strike in fallout shelters and the like was madness, and that the aftereffects of nuclear war would make affected areas unlivable. Melman made the term 'overkill' popular, as a reference to the idea that you only need a small number of nuclear weapons to wipe out your enemy, and any more than that is a complete waste of money. Melman, and others such as Marcus Raskin, founder of the Institute for Policy Studies, helped create a movement for global nuclear disarmament.

At the same time that Melman was addressing the issue of nuclear war, academically Melman was pursuing a production-centered understanding of the economy, as opposed to the exchange-centered approach of mainstream economics that was then beginning to dominate economics departments. As a professor of industrial engineering at Columbia University from 1948 on, his bread-and-butter expertise concerned how to increase productivity on the factory floor. While he was best known for critiquing the military economy, his critiques were based on his intimate knowledge of how things are produced.

Production and Worker Centered Economics

To understand his critique of the role of the military in the economy, therefore, it is critical to understand his understanding of political economy. Much of his framework can be summed up thus: the more decision-making power is given to factory workers, the better the factory and the economy performs. In addition, the more the engineers and managers of industrial firms are competent to organize production, the better the economy of the country-as-a-whole performs. Military production and financial domination interfere with both processes, and divert resources from the infrastructure, another critical part of the production economy.

However, before we can understand why he came to these conclusions, we need to attempt an even more fundamental question, which when answered will make the other hypotheses easier to explore: how does an economy work? What creates economic growth? You may be thinking 'that's what economic departments are there to explain', or, 'I took some economics courses, so I know the answer to that question'. From Melman's perspective, mainstream economics cannot adequately answer these questions. Actually, from my perspective as well, since I spent 20 years working closely with Melman, and wrote a dissertation, book, and articles based on his world view.

The problem revolves around the concept of production. Usually, the concept of production boils down to manufacturing, or 'industrial production', which also involves things like construction and electricity generation. The epochal ideological problem, if you will, as far as I have been able to figure it out, is this: for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the spectacular increases in growth and standards of living that manufacturing and other industry provided were glaringly obvious to most people, and in particular to intellectuals and urban folk. Most people lived through big technological transformations, for instance, to an electrical society or to one using trains, then cars, then planes . The role of manufacturing and other industry was obvious -- maybe a little too obvious. Economics grew, not to explain this technological explosion, but mainly to explain the market mechanisms that enveloped this system of productive machinery.

It was into this industrial environment that people like Seymour Melman, Barry Commoner, John Kenneth Galbraith, John Maynard Keynes, and other, what I would call, 'production-oriented' economists grew up. Indeed, Karl Marx and prewar Marxists also experienced manufacturing transformations. What none of them developed, including Melman, was an explicit argument or framework that manufacturing is the foundation of a wealthy economy. It was obvious. For instance, Melman simply wrote in several books that 'In order to survive, a society must produce'. True enough, but in the current society in which the urban population, and professionals and intellectuals as a whole, have as much exposure to manufacturing as they have to other exotic and remote ecosystems, this doesn't explain much. However, Melman's writings offer a set of principles that can help us grasp the true nature of the political economy.

Let's actually start all the way at the beginning. Humans dominate the planet because we have hands and a brain that cooperatively are able to use tools to make other tools that then make things that we want. This was always our advantage over other animals, and has allowed us to create our own environments (houses and infrastructure in cities, for example), instead of going along with whatever the ecosystem happened to provide.

I said that we make tools that are used to make other tools, not that we simply make tools. The key to human success is ability to use a set of tools together, as a system, and to use one set of tools to make another set. So for instance in the modern economy, there are tools called machine tools that make all kinds of metal parts that are then used to make the machinery that we see in factories, and more machine tools, and which eventually make the goods that we use and the services that use those goods.

What we make depends critically, then, on what kinds of tools and machinery we use to make them. The production machinery may be out of sight, but without it we won't have anything we need. For instance, smart phones would not be possible without all kinds of very sophisticated machinery that makes the small parts that go into the phone. And those machines were made using other machines, in conjunction with workers. So let us explore a list of ten principles that we may glean from Melman's writings.

Melman's Principles of Political Economy

  1. The goods we use and their final price depend on what kind of tools/machinery are available to make them. Advances in tool/machine making is basically what drives economic growth -- you don't get electricity in your society because the market is set free, you get electricity because the machinery is available to generate electricity, and the tools/machines are available to make the machinery that generates the electricity. Melman was a world-leading expert in the production of machine tools.
  2. In order to put this machinery together, and to use the machinery in the best way possible, engineers and managers have to have 'the competence to organize production', as Melman put it. This is the basic stuff of industrial engineering -- how do you design a factory, or any other workplace, so that you get the most output with the least input. If you do this better than other companies, then you can charge less for your product, and presumably get a bigger market share and make more profit. If the country as a whole is doing is organizing work competently, then it will do better than other countries, economically.
  3. In order to maximize the usability of this critical production machinery, you need to maximize the 'productivity of capital', that is, you need to keep the machinery running (maximizing 'uptime'). If you have a car factory and the assembly line keeps breaking down, you will get less output in a particular period of time, just as most people can't be productive now if particular websites are 'down'. This 'uptime' is crucial to a well-functioning factory and indeed an economy. One of the reasons that the Soviet Union collapsed, according to Melman's analysis, is that the Soviets were so focused on making military equipment that they let their industrial machinery literally fall apart, and so they were experiencing a production crisis when Gorbachev entered the scene and decided he needed to shake things up.
  4. The more decision-making power you give workers on the shop floor, the better the machinery will perform, that is, you will maximize the productivity of capital, because well-trained and well-motivated workers will be able to prevent problems in the machinery from happening in the first place, and will react quickly if problems arise (for instance, on the famous Toyota assembly line, any worker can stop all production if they see a problem) . When workers are 'dumbed-down' and have no say, machinery breaks down and the entire production process -- the organization of work -- in not as efficient as it could be.
  5. An economic 'virtuous cycle' emerges if you pay workers more, because competent managers will compensate for higher wages by using more and better machinery, and by improving the way work is organized, which will then lead to higher profits, which can lead to higher wages, leading to better machinery/organization of work, and so on. Indeed, Melman even argued that if you have strong unions, management will be forced to figure out more clever ways of organizing work than just trying to decrease wages.
  6. When wages go up faster than the price of the machinery that is being produced by workers, then this 'virtuous cycle' is reinforced. Melman followed this ratio in various countries starting in the 1950s. For instance, in his last published book 'After Capitalism' he noted that the Japanese and Germans were increasing wages at a higher rate than the increase in their machinery prices, and their machinery industries were world-leading and their workers made more than their American counterparts. In America, on the other hand, machinery prices were going up faster than wages. So cutting or stagnating wages reverses the 'virtuous cycle' of increasing wages leading to better machinery and organization of work. This dynamic was one of the themes of Melman's first book, 'Dynamic Factors in Industrial Productivity'.
  7. A well-functioning management and concomitant organization of work is the basis of a thriving middle class, particularly if unions are strong, that is, workers have decision-making power in the firm. Basically, by generating more wealth, the society becomes richer, but if you generate more wealth by at the same time increasing wages, you not only keep the virtuous cycle of better productivity going, you obviously have a richer working class.
  8. Management, instead of contributing to a country's economic wealth by competently organizing production -- including giving workers more decision-making power -- usually instead divert resources to their own 'administrative overhead', as Melman put it in his dissertation in 1948. He continued to track this society-wide diversion of resources from production to administration until his last book, and found that the ratio of administrative overhead to production continued to increase (and was even worse in the Soviet Union).
  9. Melman agreed with my hypothesis that in order to thrive, a manufacturing sector needs to encompass a full suite of industries. A region's economy will thrive most if all the parts of the manufacturing economy are present in some form. In other words, national manufacturing specialization does not work. You can't be the best in making cars if someone else is making the machine tools that you use to make the cars, or if your country isn't making its own steel. There are relationships of positive reinforcement that occur among the various manufacturing industries. The economy is an ecosystem (a concept Melman's mentor used and I developed further in my writings), the important point being that you can't rip various parts of the regional manufacturing ecosystem apart, sending them willy nilly to other countries, and expect the surviving industries to thrive. This goes against the deification of David Ricardo and his theory of comparative advantage in economics, which is used to justify globalization and many trade treaties which have helped to devastate American manufacturing.

Tenth and finally for our purposes here, the United States has perhaps already reached a 'point of no return' where the managerial class has become so incompetent that the only way they understand to increase profits is to decrease labor costs by moving factories overseas. Not only does this rob the US of its production base, it decreases global growth by discouraging the use of better machinery and organization of work inside the factory. The virtuous cycle is broken. Part of the reason companies offshore factories is because they want to break the power of unions. Melman stressed that management pursues greater power as much as or more than they pursue greater profits -- and unions decrease managerial power. He called this dynamic 'power extension', which he considered more important than simply the drive for profits.

Consequences of Melman's Principles

If we apply these principles broadly, we can see that they collectively offer an alternative to mainstream economics. In the worldview of most economists, growth magically appears if you decrease government intervention. In the real world, economic growth appears if you create better machinery, organize work better, and pay your workers more. In the mainstream economics view, military production is just like anything else, in fact, any production or economic activity is just as important as any other, whether it's providing for tourists, creating machine tools, or making a tank. In the real world, there is a hierarchy of importance of economic activity, and manufacturing, and in particular manufacturing machinery, is at the top of that hierarchy. In the world of the economist, lower wages is equivalent to improving machinery, as long as the short-term profit is the same; in the real world, cutting wages leads to lower productivity which leads to a poorer country overall. In the view of economists, machinery is viewed as a replacement for workers; as I hope these principles have illustrated, machinery actually makes worker participation and decision-maker power more important, and in a well-functioning economy, machinery innovation brings better wages and more jobs.

Since Melman was generally at least a decade or two ahead of his time, we may need to dwell a bit on the following conundrum: in the economists' world, automation means less work, which means less people are needed to work in an economy. In the real world, automation has been going on since the start of the Industrial Revolution, but because of the actions of the managerial class to outsource production and the attendant increase in inequality, in the last few decades the standard of living of the working/middle class has stagnated or even declined.

There has been quite a bit of discussion about automation and inequality recently. Bernie Sanders made the problem of inequality the basis of an almost-successful run for the Presidency, and Thomas Piketty wrote a very well reviewed book about inequality. On the other hand, on the right (and neoliberal center), it has become an article of faith that automation will wreak havoc on the concept of work as we have known it, and maybe a 'basic income' policy will become necessary so that the hordes of unemployed at least can survive without work.

The problem with all of these ideas about automation, and in fact a problem with the progressive agenda as a whole (not to mention the conservative one), is that they ignore 'production', or what I have described as Melman's principles of production (Melman would often use the shorthand of 'they don't understand production' to dismiss someone's argument, a problem I hope to alleviate here). If production is the central way that a society creates wealth, and if that function is removed from an economy, then clearly you are going to have a lot less wealth. If one quarter of the working population in the 1960s was in manufacturing and one tenth is now, and the lost employment went into low-paying services while the income went into finance, then no wonder there has been an increase in inequality. The part of the economy that was producing material wealth, and that supported the backbone of the middle class, was ripped out and thrown away. The society became poorer, and with it most of its people, except the top 1%. (see http://www.globalteachin.com/ for a further explanation)

The astute reader might remember his or her intellectual betters explaining that we are now in a 'post-industrial' society -- a phrase that drove Melman crazy -- because most people work in the service economy. Manufacturing has been 'solved', according to this line of thinking, and is 'less advanced', so it naturally migrates to 'less advanced' countries like China -- ignoring the fact that more advanced countries like Germany and Japan have wealthier middle classes than we do because they have much larger manufacturing sectors. But let's look at the service economy a bit closer.

Services are what you do with goods that are manufactured, for the most part. For instance, the retail and wholesale service sectors retail and wholesale goods. Marketers are generally marketing goods. Airlines run a service based on the use of machinery (jets), and computers are, well, machines. The health industry is very dependent on machinery and goods like drugs, and the restaurant business can actually be considered a kind of manufacturing facility. The real estate industry is based on the construction industry, which uses machinery and goods produced in the manufacturing sector. Just about wherever you look, services mean using goods.

If services are the act of using goods, then it should be clear that a big country can't pay for most of its imported goods by exchanging them for services -- there simply aren't enough exportable services to exchange for all the goods. Any other country besides the US would have had a rude awakening of a decline in their currency had they had the level of trade deficits the US has, that is, the amount of goods and services that are imported vs. the amount exported. The US survives because other countries use the dollar as a medium of exchange and need dollars to buy oil. But this state of affairs will not last forever.

Manufacturing has always contributed the bulk of productivity growth in an economy. In fact, manufacturing productivity increases at about 3%, year after year, at least for the last 100 years. Technological improvements are made to machinery and the organization of work, year after year. The same does not happen in services, generally, because services require human intervention. Ah, but pundits will proclaim that artificial intelligence will replace much human service work. The problem is that the statistics on productivity don't show it, that is, the same amount of labor is still needed for the same amount of work, in almost all service industries. But there is 'technological unemployment' as machines take over some jobs, as they have been doing for almost two centuries, and often those people, unlike other decades, have not been able to find new work. What went wrong?

The Rise and Decline of the Virtuous Cycle

This is what happened in the two decades certainly after World War II, when about the same level of growth of automation (and mechanization) was occurring then as now: when a factory could output more goods with the same work force (because the machinery was better or the organization of work was improved), then the manager could offer the good for a lower price, or he could offer a better product for the same price (common in the electronics industry). By offering the good at a lower price or offering a better product at the same price, consumers would want more, that is, demand would go up. In order to meet the higher demand, the manager would actually hire more workers. In addition, some other workers would be employed in the industries making the automation machinery. So when consumers have enough disposable income to take advantage of advances in technology, automation actually leads to more employment, not less. The history of industrial growth between the end of the Civil War and the 1960s are a testament to this continually occurring (interrupted occasionally by terrible depressions).

This is the process Melman advances in his first book in the 1950s, "Dynamic Factors in Industrial Productivity". This process breaks down when consumers are not being given their fair share of the national income. That is, as more and more of the wealth of what is being generated by the economy winds up with the very rich, there is less and less for the rest of the society to spend on ever-increasing opportunities to buy stuff. Thus we have the phenomenon of all kinds of ways for your self-respecting highly-paid professional to spend money, including fancy goods, food, and housing, while the vast majority of the population is worried about making it to the end of the month and can't take advantage of cheaper or better goods -- and therefore, automation now leads to less employment, instead of more employment.

John Maynard Keynes basically laid out this problem in the 1930s. I called Keynes 'production-centered' because his logic assumed that most economic activity occurred in factories, as did most pre-WWII economists. But he also saw that warping income distribution would lead to lower levels of production. That is, the economy produces a certain amount of wealth, and it needs most people to have enough money in order to buy that produced wealth. When much of that wealth winds up with the very rich, the very rich don't spend that wealth on the produced wealth of the economy. Some goods go unbought, or what is the same thing, are never produced in the first place, and therefore, less people are needed to produce that wealth. Eventually, Keynes argued, the economy spins out of control and works its way into a depression, like the Great Depression. Only the government can kick start the economy, by supplying the demand that was sucked out by the very rich.

Although Melman did not explicitly use Keynes' formulations, he studied Keynes carefully and Keynes' ideas inform Melman's ideas. Melman also was enamored about another theory as to causes of depressions, one that has been mostly ignored, promulgated by the economist Leonard Ayres in a tract called 'The chief cause of this and other depressions', written in 1935. Briefly, Ayres argued that when the growth of consumer goods slows, then managers stop buying new factory machinery. When they stop buying factory machinery, the factory machinery managers start laying off factory machinery workers. When that happens, demand for all goods lessens because now less people are employed, consumer goods managers lay off more workers, and the economy goes into a death spiral. Since the 1960s the US economy has many fewer machinery jobs than it used to, the US doesn't even have much of the demand from those job holders that it used to have, and the economy becomes more brittle. But the effect Ayres writes about has a similar effect to the one Keynes describes: there is not enough demand for all the goods people are employed to produce, and the economy teeters toward depression.

As the rich get richer and the middle class and poor get poorer, the society-wide benefits of productivity increase -- automation -- break down, and actually make things worse. In an economy like the US that now imports much of its factory machinery, automation doesn't even create many new jobs in the US, like it used to. However there is an additional problem that Keynes could not have foreseen, that is, the decreasing competence of the American managerial class to produce, partly because of the effects of military production. Military production leads to a management that is not trained to produce for the civilian market, that is, it doesn't know how to increase the quality of goods or decrease the price by improving machinery or the organization of work, it only knows how to increase profits, often by making goods more expensive and less reliable. Since profits are assured, much of the manufacturing sector gravitate toward military production. The extreme case of this was the Soviet Union, whose manufacturing prowess was almost completely destroyed by the time of its collapse.

So the problem, contra much of progressive thinking, is not simply the lack of demand or the inequality of wealth (which leads to lack of demand). The problem in the US has gotten to the point where supply is a problem, that is, American management doesn't know how to compete globally. Whether the need is for industrial machinery, which mostly now comes from places like Germany or Japan, or the demand is for mass produced consumer goods, where China currently excels, the US is being squeezed from both the high and low quality sides, because management has given up its historic function of organizing work and creating better machinery.

The Role of the Military Industrial Complex

For much of the 1960s and 1970s, Melman laid the most blame for the deterioration of American manufacturing competence at the feet of the military industrial complex. His arguments became an important part of the arsenal of progressive forces in their attempt to reign in the military and the military industrial complex. The military did not harm the economy solely through a creeping incompetence in the economy, however. The military also wasted a huge amount of resources in their bloated budgets. Taking the cue from Eisenhower's famous 'Iron of Cross' speech, in which he lamented all of the schools, roads, and other infrastructure that could be built with the money spent on arms, Melman widely published charts and articles on the equivalence between, say, the cost of a bomber and how many schools could be built instead. Seconding John Kenneth Galbraith's concern about 'private opulence and public squalor', Melman wrote the books 'Peace Race' and 'Our Depleted Society' in the first half of the 1960s in an effort to alert the public to the fact that America had enduring social and infrastructural problems that needed much more resources, while at the same time the monies were being wasted on useless military equipment that was often making the US less secure. When Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders talked to LBJ about the problems of the cities, they brought Melman with them to explain the spreading deterioration of urban public works.

Somehow he also got an audience with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara as the Vietnam War heated up. Melman blamed McNamara, formerly head of Ford Motor Company, for rationalizing and systematizing the military industrial complex. After McNamara got through with it, the Department of Defense had turned into the headquarters of the military industrial complex, with the contractors as virtual divisions of the Pentagon. Melman was concerned that the military industrial complex was siphoning off much of the best and the brightest engineers and scientists, and that there was a surfeit of engineering talent available for civilian firms. "Where are the engineers?! Where are the engineers?!" Melman remembers McNamara screaming at him. It is a question we can continue to ask to this day.

The frustration and suffering caused by the Vietnam War buildup made a bad situation worse for the economic fortunes of the country. Martin Luther King and other progressives were furious that money was being taken from worthwhile domestic programs to fund the war. Melman became deeply involved with anti-war activity along with other leading intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, with whom he began a long, productive friendship. As in the case of arguing for nuclear disarmament, Melman's main public image was as an important peace activist.

This combination of concern for war and the preparation for war was complementary to his economic thought. Indeed, the entire field of economics was formerly referred to as political economy, because it was recognized that the state (government) was a vital actor, both good and bad, in the economy. Thorstein Veblen founded the Journal of Political Economy (which now only concentrates on economics), and Melman's mentor, the important industrial engineer Walter Rautenstrauch, worked with Veblen (and also with Frederick Winslow Taylor). The economists and sociologists that Melman encountered at Columbia and at CCNY in the 1930s and 1940s, such as Robert Lynd and John Maurice Clark, were a more eclectic group of thinkers than would emerge in the 1950s. Melman also worked with C. Wright Mills, whose 'Power Elite' were composed of corporate, government, and military officials, and with Paul Goodman and non-mainstream economists.

The Answer: More Democracy

The problem, in both economics and war, are similar: a group of elites attempt to exploit the working people of a country, either by denying workers power over their paychecks and working conditions, on the one hand, or by forcing them to be instruments of elite power extension in the form of war, on the other. In both cases, the answer to Melman was clear: more democracy.

In the case of war, democracy meant forcing the government, whether through protest or voting, to stop an enterprise that the vast majority of people opposed. On the economic front, the answer is to extend democracy to the level of the firm, that is workplace democracy, or a bit more formally, employee-owned-and-operated firms. Workplace democracy is what would come 'After Capitalism', the title of his last published book.

Melman's interest in self-management was kindled in the 1930s, by the temporary success of anarcho-syndicalists in Spain (before Franco brutally suppressed them) and by the example of the kibbutz in what would become Israel. Melman was part of a radical Zionist group at CCNY, and he briefly lived on a kibbutz. His second academic book in 1958, 'Decision-making and productivity', concentrated on the Standard Motor Company in England, which gave an unusual amount of work floor power to the union (he almost got fired from Columbia for the affront of singing the praises of unions, until some eminent professors came to his defense). By the 1980s, he again focused on workplace democracy, exploring the Mondragon system of cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain and the Emilia-Romagna cooperative system in Italy. In 'After Capitalism', he devoted a great deal of space to the problem of constructing a democratic alternative to the hierarchical, managerial structure of most firms.

His last Ph.D. student, in fact, wrote up a comparison of two shops at Ford, one in which the workers were given a great deal of authority and training in the operation of machine tools, and one in which they were only allowed to press an on and off button. His student found that the shop with greater worker decision-making was much more productive, and this finding can be found in numerous other studies.

Full-blown democracy within the firm is perhaps the ultimate manifestation of giving more power to workers. Many of Melman's economic principles are encouraged when managers do not have dictatorial control over the firm. The virtuous cycle, of salaries increasing more than the prices of the produced goods, can be easily enforced, because employees will want to distribute the income of the firm among themselves, not vacuum up most of it for the top managers and absentee owners. Higher wages will lead to greater consumer spending in the economy as a whole, leading to more employment and more spending. Administrative overhead will be minimized, freeing up resources for innovation and rising wages. Employees will not allow their factories (or service companies) to be shut down and moved abroad if they own the company (and can't sell it, as in the Mondragon system). In no case did Melman find, in the 1980s and 1990s, that a factory that had been closed had not been profitable. In other words, had (miraculously) all factories been owned and operated by their workers at the start of the 1980s, no (or very few) factories would have been shut down in the last 30 plus years, and we would have many millions more factory jobs, a strong middle class, and my guess is, no Trump.

This last consideration was very important to Melman, although of course he did not see Trump himself coming (who did?). Melman was very concerned, even by the 1990s, that we were arriving at a 'Weimar moment', as he wrote about in 'The Demilitarized Society'. That is, like 1920s Germany, a large 'lumpenproletariat' appeared, to use Karl Marx's phrase, that is, a large segment of the population who had been excised from the economy -- much of the manufacturing working class -- and that such a group would naturally be open to the ramblings of a demagogue -- like Trump.

By the 1980s, it was clear to Melman that the military industrial complex was not the only major sector that was hurtling manufacturing over a cliff. In 'Profits without Production', he linked the financial sector to the worsening situation of manufacturing. The early 1980s were marked by disastrously high interest rates, which he worried would be the nail in the coffin of American manufacturing exports, and he was right. About that time the Japanese came roaring into the American market, the result of decades of American military industrial spending, financial shenanigans, and the attempted destruction of the American working class. The financial sector, like the military industrial complex, sucked resources out of the manufacturing system, which was the source of the wealth, and gave nothing in return. Money would make more money much more quickly (eventually, in nanoseconds) than building a factory ever could. Global trade treaties, in conjunction with cheaper digital communications, would by the 1990s lead to a rapidly sinking prognosis for manufacturing. Something had to be done, but what?

Having witnessed Melman's attempts to start a manufacturing renaissance first hand, I can say that 'we' (including scholars like Jonathan Feldman) tried a number of things. By the late 1980s, Melman had convinced the Speaker of the House, Jim Wright, to make what Melman called 'economic conversion' a top priority in the House. Economic conversion, as Melman conceived it, would involve requiring every military factory to create a plan to convert that factory to some useful civilian production. Then, if the military budget should be cut, factory workers would not have to fear for their jobs, as they could pull out a plan to succeed in civilian markets. This would also include training engineers and workers in civilian production techniques. Of course, this was not something the Pentagon favored, since the great source of their power is not the defense of the country, but the political machine for creating jobs known as the military industrial complex. Consequently, the Representative from the defense contractor Martin Marietta's home district, Newt Gingrich, plotted to and eventually was able to bring down Jim Wright, torpedo economic conversion, and begin his march to right-wing Republican domination of Congress in the 1990s.

Well, we thought, when the Soviet Union fell, since the main excuse for a large military budget had disappeared, perhaps the American public would be open to arguments for a well-deserved 'peace dividend', that is, the government could finally divert some of the money the Pentagon was using to upgrade the infrastructure. We organized a 'National Town Meeting', involving many cities and progressive politicians. But by this time, the Left as a whole had undergone over 10 years of Reagan politics, and they didn't seem up to the challenge.

Melman also tried various ways of encouraging the unions to take a more innovative path, that is, to work toward a reindustrialization of the US. But they, too, were doing their best to survive the relentless assaults of offshoring and deindustrialization. Looking back on the early 1990s, perhaps if the gravity of global warming had been clearer, it would have been easier to formulate a framework that Melman and I evolved, but unfortunately only shortly before he died. The formulation was the following: To rebuild the economy, rebuild manufacturing, and to rebuild manufacturing, rebuild the infrastructure. With global warming and all the other ecological catastrophes looming on the horizon -- warnings that Barry Commoner and others had been broadcasting for a couple of decades -- it should be clear that the entire infrastructure, transportation, water, energy, urban, and other systems, need to be redesigned in order for global civilization to survive into the 22nd century (I have written a book on this subject, " Manufacturing Green Prosperity ", and article in an edited volume and a sample Federal budget, GreenNewDealPlan.com ).

The idea is that by spending trillions on constructing new infrastructure systems such as high-speed rail and national wind systems, new transit systems and walkable neighborhoods, and fixing old infrastructure, the government would supply the kind of long-term demand for domestic manufacturing that would revive American manufacturing. This effort, in turn, could make unemployment a thing of the past, and that kind of policy would negate the 'Weimar moment' and bring with it enthusiastic support from the entire working class, white, African-American, Latino, of whatever ethnicity or gender. Oh, and the oceans would not rise and wipe out all coastal cities and turn the rest of the land into deserts.

In the 'Demilitarized Society', Melman warned that fear was not a sustainable motivation for progressive activism. Eventually, fear turns to right-wing paranoia and the easy solution of demagogues, a situation we more and more find ourselves in today. Instead, a concrete set of solutions must be advanced at the same time that analysis and warnings are given.

I'm afraid that progressives are still toiling the fields of fear instead of constructing a structure of solutions. Climate activists are warning us of frightening futures, but they have not put forth solutions that fit the scope of the problem, such as spending trillions on infrastructure. The Resistance to Trump and the Republicans is doing an excellent job of rallying people to vote and protest, but they have not put forward a program, such as spending trillions of infrastructure that would create tens of millions of jobs and rebuild manufacturing, that would deal a death blow to the 1920s-style right-wing political revival. Instead of simply decrying the greed and overreach of the large corporations, we should be thinking about how to create an economic system in which employees own and operate their enterprises (Brian D'Agostino has proposed ways to make workplace democracy society-wide in his book 'The Middle Class Fights Back')

Melman would have urged us to understand the importance of production in the economy, of the inner workings of manufacturing, factories and machinery, why workplace democracy leads to greater prosperity, and how a middle class forms out of the virtuous cycle of increasing wages. Using this understanding of the economy as a foundation, we can then propose solutions to our biggest problems -- inequality, climate change, right-wing nationalism, militarism, and others -- that can capture the imaginations of the world's peoples.

*This article is meant as a wide-ranging, 'high-altitude' look at Melman's work, not as an exhaustive survey. Please see SeymourMelman.com for more of Melman's work, as well as his many books and articles.

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SoCal Rhino , January 5, 2018 at 9:50 am

Ran across this a few days back – strikes me as a more fruitful line of argument for political communication than MMT (very challenging to persuade with counterintuitive arguments).

JCC , January 5, 2018 at 9:51 am

Thanks for this. As someone who worked for one of the few ongoing successful machine tool manufacturers in this country as a field service engineer, I got the chance to work in factories across the US and also got the chance to watch them shutdown throughout the eighties and nineties. I also watched the progress of exactly what this article discusses, bloated administrations and fewer workers, most relegated to button-pusher employment.

After 3 years of no raises at all while watching Management wages increase substantially, I finally took heed to the writing on the wall and bailed out (luckily just in time for me) for a better line of work within the M.I.C.

My preference would have been to stick with the factories, but unfortunately they no longer exist at numbers that would have assured a decent working life (the Factory Service Dept. of the company I worked for is now less than 25% of the size it was – most of it off-loaded to low-wage distributorships and/or off-shored.

From the perspective of long-term society goodness, it was not the best decision, but from my perspective of personal goodness – food on my table, affordable health insurance, and a working furnace in the winter – it was my only choice of employment with decent wages that this country offered someone with my skills.

As hedge fund managers like to say relative to the long haul, IBGYBG, but it's a crappy philosophy to live by, especially considering that at the rate we're going, I might not be gone.

Jon Rynn , January 5, 2018 at 10:00 am

JCC, Melman once announced to me that as far as he could tell, all machine tool companies in the US were either foreign or foreign-owned -- although I think there were a few American owned, like Haas. The machine tool industry is the 'canary in the coal mine', if that goes, the rest of manufacturing competence is not far behind.

I think you and millions of others like you are making the rational decision to either get out or not to get in in the first place, and now there is skills shortage. This will require a strong industrial policy from the Federal government, in my opinion.

JCC , January 5, 2018 at 4:43 pm

Mr. Rynn,

The company I worked for is still operating as an American owned company located in NY State. It is still considered a premier Machine Tool Company (they build what are known as Super Precision Machine Tools) and unlike many other smaller American Machine Tool Mfgs. it actually bought some foreign companies as well as what was left of Bridgeport and one or two others instead of being bought. There was a close call a few years ago, if I remember correctly, when they were being courted by what I seem to recall was a foreign-owned Hedge Fund.

I have my regrets and I still consider it to be a good company, but from a financial standpoint, I'm also glad I left. My years there were a major wake-up call to what was happening to Mfg., as well as large businesses in general, across the country during the late 80's through the 90's. I have a very negative attitude towards Accounting/Financial Departments completely taking over the Management of business because of what I saw and experienced. They've gutted the best parts of what these companies provide to their respective communities and stake-holders, and the country.

Your article pointed out that particular problem as well as a few more of the more obvious issues. Thanks for that. It needs wide distribution.

McWatt , January 5, 2018 at 10:34 am

Having experienced all this as a manufacturer in the 70's and 80's Melman's concepts ring true to me. I'd love to hear Michael Hudson comment on Melman's theories.

Ed , January 5, 2018 at 11:19 am

I've not encountered Melman before, and he seems like someone who I should read directly. This site provides a real service.

However, I'll admit I just skimmed the article. My interest is history, not economics, and the same dynamic occurs again and again and again throughout history. And there is even an economics term that could be used for this, "the Dutch disease".

Basically, national economies over time will increasingly specialize in what is most profitable at the moment. Other sectors will gradually be starved of capital since investment will go to the most profitable sector, with less influence in the government, and in some cases be plundered to provide capital for the profitable sector. This creates a cycle as eventually even talented people who don't want to work in the specialized sectors will have to.

The classic example of this is Hapsburg Spain. Castille in fact had a pretty diverse economy in the 15th century, but increasingly specialized in producing soldiers and priests, and this was widely noted in commentary at the time. Personally, having grown up in New York City, I went into finance pretty much because it was either that or retail. New York City actually had a diverse economy before I was born and for a little bit afterwards.

The same process occurred in early 20th century Britain, with finance being the main specialized sector, but it was mild compared to Spain. The British wound down their empire after mid-century. That is a key point. Empires will increasingly specialize in priests, soldiers, and bureaucrats (financiers are are a sort of bureaucrat), finance by overt or implied tribute, because that is what is most profitable at the center. The hollowing out of Italian industry and agriculture was widely noted during the Roman Empire, even as people flocked to Rome. And the only way to fix the damage caused to the center in this way is to get rid of the empire.

WobblyTelomeres , January 5, 2018 at 11:51 am

IANAE. And I took macro 45 years ago, so I most likely have only the vaguest gauzy notion of the following.

Keynes suggested that trade imbalances, which occur when A is able to produce goods more efficiently than B will self correct as the currency of B will be devalued over time wrt the currency of A.

When the currency of B is the global reserve currency (which, I believe, Keynes did not address), this may result in a real constraint on this self-balancing, right? So, in this sense, your statement:

And the only way to fix the damage caused to the center in this way is to get rid of the empire.

might be rephrased as:

And the only way to fix the damage caused to the center in this way is to get rid of the global reserve currency.

Is this accurate?

Mikkel , January 5, 2018 at 4:09 pm

Actually Keynes addressed this very clearly. He knew that various policies can prevent currencies from self regulating and so believed that supranational regulation was required.

He argued for the IMF to be founded with the primary purpose of providing this regulation, including the creation of a global trade currency called the Bancor

Here is a summary of the idea and why things fell apart -- leading to the IMF instead becoming a capo for the creditor nations.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2008/nov/18/lord-keynes-international-monetary-fund

WobblyTelomeres , January 5, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Thank you!

Jon Rynn , January 5, 2018 at 12:20 pm

I would add that you can narrow down the causes of decline to two main sectors: the military and finance. Basically, if manufacturing is the most important source of wealth -- or manufacturing and infrastructure more generally -- then the state will often divert the surplus from manufacturing in order to become imperial, that is, they will take the surplus and build a military establishment in order to further empire. This certainly happened in Britain, and can be applied to France, Rome, etc., with perhaps the most glaring example being the Soviet Union.

Finance also diverts resources from manufacturing, because the surplus from manufacturing usually takes the form of money, and finance controls the money. But more importantly, the finance sector can increase its economic power faster than manufacturing because money makes more money much more quickly than factories can be built to create real wealth. We saw that in Britain, and the US.

HotFlash , January 5, 2018 at 2:11 pm

perhaps the most glaring example being the Soviet Union

Oooh, I can think of at least one other country

Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Raytheon. How odd that mfg in the US these days is less about making life better than about making it short.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , January 5, 2018 at 3:45 pm

I worked on General Dynamics and Raytheon equipment as an ATC Equipment repairer in the Army a few years back. Lol

Thx for the article, JR. Manufacturing is THE ISSUE of 2018 as far as im concerned.

a different chris , January 5, 2018 at 1:32 pm

This was good except for this one glaring mishmash of a paragraph, which needs to be either fixed or removed:

Somehow he also got an audience with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara as the Vietnam War heated up. Melman blamed McNamara, formerly head of Ford Motor Company, for rationalizing and systematizing the military industrial complex. After McNamara got through with it, the Department of Defense had turned into the headquarters of the military industrial complex, with the contractors as virtual divisions of the Pentagon. Melman was concerned that the military industrial complex was siphoning off much of the best and the brightest engineers and scientists, and that there was a surfeit of engineering talent available for civilian firms. "Where are the engineers?! Where are the engineers?!" Melman remembers McNamara screaming at him. It is a question we can continue to ask to this day.

Why was McNamara the one screaming about not having engineers, when the rest of the paragraph says he was the engineering sink? To a lesser extent, why did Melman ("somehow" is not satisfying) have an audience with McNamara, and was it during this audience that he "blasted" McNamara?

I'm thinking Melman told McNamara that he (McNamara) had all the engineers, and McNamara was denying it, but it's really hard to parse out and I don't even know why it's worth a sitting duck paragraph in a humongous post anyway.

Jon Rynn , January 5, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Point taken. I know it's unclear, and to the best of my recollection, Melman didn't know how to respond either. I guess the point is, McNamara didn't know how to handle what Melman was telling him. And also I have to admit I don't have the total context. Occassionally Melman would be invited by the military to give a talk, because they figured he knew what he was talking about and they actually wanted to know. I just thought it was an interesting anecdote, but maybe it's a bit too confusing.

Synoia , January 5, 2018 at 1:49 pm

Selling to the Military is easy, when one employs a few ex Generals. Number of salespeople low, and costs controlled.

Selling to the public, hard, costs orders of magnitude higher, and there is that pesky "marketing risk and cost"

What a surprise that the MIC is the easy way ..

sivalenka , January 5, 2018 at 3:50 pm

As a trained Industrial Engineer who worked in the midwest in the 90s , I can vouch for the science behind productivity gains that come from more worker freedoms. As a untrained economist, I can also confirm what I saw was the slow but steady destruction of rust belt and it's middle class from globalization.

Finally, it is also evident that these same laid off workers voted for leaders who both expanded the militiary industrial complex and globalization. Sad.

[Dec 31, 2017] Anti-Populism Ideology of the Ruling Class by James Petras

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... ' Anti-populism' is the simple ruling class formula for covering-up their real agenda, which is pro-militarist, pro-imperialist (globalization), pro-'rebels' (i.e. mercenary terrorists working for regime change), pro crisis makers and pro-financial swindlers. ..."
"... The economic origins of ' anti-populism' are rooted in the deep and repeated crises of capitalism and the need to deflect and discredit mass discontent and demoralize the popular classes in struggle. By demonizing ' populism', the elites seek to undermine the rising tide of anger over the elite-imposed wage cuts, the rise of low-paid temporary jobs and the massive increase in the reserve army of cheap immigrant labor to compete with displaced native workers. ..."
"... Demonization of independent popular movements ignores the fundamental programmatic differences and class politics of genuine populist struggles compared with the contemporary right-wing capitalist political scarecrows and clowns. ..."
"... The anti-populist ideologues label President Trump a 'populist' when his policies and proposals are the exact opposite. Trump champions the repeal of all pro-labor and work safety regulation, as well as the slashing of public health insurance programs while reducing corporate taxes for the ultra-elite. ..."
"... The media's ' anti-populists' ideologues denounce pro-business rightwing racists as ' populists' . In Italy, Finland, Holland, Austria, Germany and France anti-working class parties are called ' populist' for attacking immigrants instead of bankers and militarists. ..."
"... In other words, the key to understanding contemporary ' anti-populism' is to see its role in preempting and undermining the emergence of authentic populist movements while convincing middle class voters to continue to vote for crisis-prone, austerity-imposing neo-liberal regimes. ' Anti-populism' has become the opium (or OxyContin) of frightened middle class voters. ..."
Jul 07, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction

Throughout the US and European corporate and state media, right and left, we are told that ' populism' has become the overarching threat to democracy, freedom and . . . free markets. The media's ' anti-populism' campaign has been used and abused by ruling elites and their academic and intellectual camp followers as the principal weapon to distract, discredit and destroy the rising tide of mass discontent with ruling class-imposed austerity programs, the accelerating concentration of wealth and the deepening inequalities.

We will begin by examining the conceptual manipulation of ' populism' and its multiple usages. Then we will turn to the historic economic origins of populism and anti-populism. Finally, we will critically analyze the contemporary movements and parties dubbed ' populist' by the ideologues of ' anti-populism' .

Conceptual Manipulation

In order to understand the current ideological manipulation accompanying ' anti-populism ' it is necessary to examine the historical roots of populism as a popular movement.

Populism emerged during the 19 th and 20 th century as an ideology, movement and government in opposition to autocracy, feudalism, capitalism, imperialism and socialism. In the United States, populist leaders led agrarian struggles backed by millions of small farmers in opposition to bankers, railroad magnates and land speculators. Opposing monopolistic practices of the 'robber barons', the populist movement supported broad-based commercial agriculture, access to low interest farm credit and reduced transport costs.

In all cases, the populist governments in Latin America were based on a coalition of nationalist capitalists, urban workers and the rural poor. In some notable cases, nationalist military officers brought populist governments to power. What they had in common was their opposition to foreign capital and its local supporters and exporters ('compradores'), bankers and their elite military collaborators. Populists promoted 'third way' politics by opposing imperialism on the right, and socialism and communism on the left. The populists supported the redistribution of wealth but not the expropriation of property. They sought to reconcile national capitalists and urban workers. They opposed class struggle but supported state intervention in the economy and import-substitution as a development strategy.

Imperialist powers were the leading anti-populists of that period. They defended property privileges and condemned nationalism as 'authoritarian' and undemocratic. They demonized the mass support for populism as 'a threat to Western Christian civilization'. Not infrequently, the anti-populists ideologues would label the national-populists as 'fascists' . . . even as they won numerous elections at different times and in a variety of countries.

The historical experience of populism, in theory and practice, has nothing to do with what today's ' anti-populists' in the media are calling ' populism' . In reality, current anti-populism is still a continuation of anti-communism , a political weapon to disarm working class and popular movements. It advances the class interest of the ruling class. Both 'anti's' have been orchestrated by ruling class ideologues seeking to blur the real nature of their 'pro-capitalist' privileged agenda and practice. Presenting your program as 'pro-capitalist', pro-inequalities, pro-tax evasion and pro-state subsidies for the elite is more difficult to defend at the ballot box than to claim to be ' anti-populist' .

' Anti-populism' is the simple ruling class formula for covering-up their real agenda, which is pro-militarist, pro-imperialist (globalization), pro-'rebels' (i.e. mercenary terrorists working for regime change), pro crisis makers and pro-financial swindlers.

The economic origins of ' anti-populism' are rooted in the deep and repeated crises of capitalism and the need to deflect and discredit mass discontent and demoralize the popular classes in struggle. By demonizing ' populism', the elites seek to undermine the rising tide of anger over the elite-imposed wage cuts, the rise of low-paid temporary jobs and the massive increase in the reserve army of cheap immigrant labor to compete with displaced native workers.

Historic 'anti-populism' has its roots in the inability of capitalism to secure popular consent via elections. It reflects their anger and frustration at their failure to grow the economy, to conquer and exploit independent countries and to finance growing fiscal deficits.

The Amalgamation of Historical Populism with the Contemporary Fabricated Populism

What the current anti-populists ideologues label ' populism' has little to do with the historical movements.

Unlike all of the past populist governments, which sought to nationalize strategic industries, none of the current movements and parties, denounced as 'populist' by the media, are anti-imperialists. In fact, the current ' populists' attack the lowest classes and defend the imperialist-allied capitalist elites. The so-called current ' populists' support imperialist wars and bank swindlers, unlike the historical populists who were anti-war and anti-bankers.

Ruling class ideologues simplistically conflate a motley collection of rightwing capitalist parties and organizations with the pro-welfare state, pro-worker and pro-farmer parties of the past in order to discredit and undermine the burgeoning popular multi-class movements and regimes.

Demonization of independent popular movements ignores the fundamental programmatic differences and class politics of genuine populist struggles compared with the contemporary right-wing capitalist political scarecrows and clowns.

One has only to compare the currently demonized ' populist' Donald Trump with the truly populist US President Franklin Roosevelt, who promoted social welfare, unionization, labor rights, increased taxes on the rich, income redistribution, and genuine health and workplace safety legislation within a multi-class coalition to see how absurd the current media campaign has become.

The anti-populist ideologues label President Trump a 'populist' when his policies and proposals are the exact opposite. Trump champions the repeal of all pro-labor and work safety regulation, as well as the slashing of public health insurance programs while reducing corporate taxes for the ultra-elite.

The media's ' anti-populists' ideologues denounce pro-business rightwing racists as ' populists' . In Italy, Finland, Holland, Austria, Germany and France anti-working class parties are called ' populist' for attacking immigrants instead of bankers and militarists.

In other words, the key to understanding contemporary ' anti-populism' is to see its role in preempting and undermining the emergence of authentic populist movements while convincing middle class voters to continue to vote for crisis-prone, austerity-imposing neo-liberal regimes. ' Anti-populism' has become the opium (or OxyContin) of frightened middle class voters.

The anti-populism of the ruling class serves to confuse the 'right' with the 'left'; to sidelight the latter and promote the former; to amalgamate rightwing 'rallies' with working class strikes; and to conflate rightwing demagogues with popular mass leaders.

Unfortunately, too many leftist academics and pundits are loudly chanting in the 'anti-populist' chorus. They have failed to see themselves among the shock troops of the right. The left ideologues join the ruling class in condemning the corporate populists in the name of 'anti-fascism'. Leftwing writers, claiming to 'combat the far-right enemies of the people' , overlook the fact that they are 'fellow-travelling' with an anti-populist ruling class, which has imposed savage cuts in living standards, spread imperial wars of aggression resulting in millions of desperate refugees- not immigrants and concentrated immense wealth.

The bankruptcy of today's ' anti-populist' left will leave them sitting in their coffee shops, scratching at fleas, as the mass popular movements take to the streets!

[Dec 16, 2017] Indirect Effects of Unfair Employer Behavior on Workplace Performance by Matthias Heinz ,

Notable quotes:
"... Originally published at VoxEU ..."
"... Any organisation that needs to restructure, cut wages, or make layoffs needs to know how the employees who are not affected will respond. This column presents a field experiment which revealed that the perception that employers are unfair – in this case, as a result of layoffs – reduces the performance of employees who have not been not directly affected. As part of the experiment, experienced HR managers were able to successfully anticipate the consequences of unfair employer behaviour on unaffected workers. ..."
Dec 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Sabrina Jeworrek , Vanessa Mertins , Heiner Schumacher , and Matthias Sutter .

Originally published at VoxEU

Yves here. There has been much gnashing of teeth in the US about lackluster productivity growth, with the citied culprits ranging from lack of fundamental breakthroughs to cheap labor costs discouraging investment. Almost entirely absent from consideration is poor management demotivating worker. This article helps fill that gap.

Any organisation that needs to restructure, cut wages, or make layoffs needs to know how the employees who are not affected will respond. This column presents a field experiment which revealed that the perception that employers are unfair – in this case, as a result of layoffs – reduces the performance of employees who have not been not directly affected. As part of the experiment, experienced HR managers were able to successfully anticipate the consequences of unfair employer behaviour on unaffected workers.

Management matters for the success and profitability of companies. We know that simple management practices – including the regular maintenance of machines, optimisation of inventory, or recording types of quality problems – can improve the productivity of companies substantially (Bloom et al. 2013). Many of these management practices relate to the structure of an organisation, in particular its workflow and how it is controlled. But the relationship between managers and workers is also important. This relationship is characterised by both the wage paid to a worker as an incentive to work hard, but also by the worker's perception that he or she is being treated fairly (Akerlof 1982).

If workers believe that their employer is acting unfairly towards them, this can greatly reduce their performance at work. For example, Mas (2008) demonstrated that the conflict between Caterpillar and its workforce in the 1990s led to lower production quality. It is not clear, though, whether workers react to employer behaviour that they think is unfair only if they are directly affected (for example, through wage cuts or reorganisation), or also if they are not directly affected (their colleagues suffer, but they do not). This distinction is important for any organisation that reorganises or lays off some of its workers.

Random Layoffs

In our new study, we set up a field experiment to measure how unaffected workers react to unfair employer behaviour (Heinz et al. 2017). We rented a call centre and hired 195 employees to conduct a telephone survey in two shifts. Overall, our organisation was very employee-friendly – we paid a generous hourly wage, offered flexible work times, a pleasant work atmosphere, and full discretion to workers how to perform their job. We measured individual performance precisely by the number of calls each worker made during a shift.

We used three treatments to identify the effect of unfair employer behaviour on the performance of unaffected workers:

To keep the remaining workers' prospects constant (in the only remaining shift), we made explicit that there would be no future employment possibilities in our organisation. We also paid the wage upon arrival for each shift. This meant that workers in the 'layoff' treatment knew at the beginning of the second shift that the layoffs of their co-workers could not have any consequences for them.

The Effect of Layoffs on Survivors

We found that the layoff announcement decreased the remaining workers' performance by 12% (Figure 1). In the 'layoff' treatment, workers took a longer break at the beginning of the second shift, and they left their workplace earlier than in the other treatments. The layoff announcement also lowered the quality of workers' output.

In contrast, there was no significant difference in performance between our 'no-layoff' and 'quasi-layoff' treatments. The reduction in staff size per se had no effect on performance. Further robustness checks revealed that our treatment differences were not driven by a change in beliefs about the importance of the job, or changes in perceptions of the management's competence. Since our employees worked in single offices, and few of them had social ties to employees from other treatments, we can largely rule out peer effects.

Figure 1 Difference in performance (number of calls made) between the first and second shift in the 'no layoff', 'quasi-layoff' and 'layoff' treatment

Source : Heinz et al. (2017).

After the field experiment, we conducted surveys with our workers. Overall, workers in all treatments were quite satisfied with their salary, the management's behaviour towards them, and the atmosphere in the call centre. The remaining workers in the 'layoff' treatment, however, were significantly less satisfied with management behaviour towards their colleagues than the workers in the other treatments. We also asked workers from the 'layoff' treatment which parts of the layoff announcement they considered anti-social. Their answers indicate that they saw the layoffs per se, and the random selection of workers, as particularly unfair.

To back up our interpretation of the data, we conducted a prediction experiment with 43 professional human resource managers from medium-sized and large companies in Germany (they had, on average, eight years of professional experience). We explained our call centre setting and our treatment variation to them, and then asked them to predict the change in workplace performance between the first and second shifts.

The HR managers' predictions were remarkably accurate, in the aggregate. They predicted that performance in the 'layoff' treatment would drop significantly between the first and second shift, and that would drop only slightly in the other treatments. A large majority of the HR managers mentioned fairness concerns as the main reason for the performance reduction.

Maintaining Productivity During Layoffs

Our results imply that unfair behaviour towards workers can be costly for the employer, even if the only workers who are directly affected have quit the firm. This is important for any organisation that has to accommodate economic shocks by reducing labour costs.

To reduce or mitigate the costs of supposedly unfair acts, organisations could apply a number of HR practices. They could use HR practices that avoid layoffs (for example using natural fluctuation in the workforce). They could provide severance pay or outplacement services. They might shift the blame to interim managers or business consultants. They could also separate profitable and unprofitable business units, and downsize only the unprofitable units. These practices may help employers to maintain a productive relationship with their workforce.

[Dec 15, 2017] Rise and Decline of the Welfare State, by James Petras

Highly recommended!
Petras did not mention that it was Carter who started neoliberalization of the USA. The subsequent election of Reagan signified the victory of neoliberalism in this country or "quite coup". The death of New Deal from this point was just a matter of time. Labor relations drastically changes and war on union and atomization of workforce are a norm.
Welfare state still exists but only for corporation and MIC. Otherwise the New Deal society is almost completely dismanted.
It is true that "The ' New Deal' was, at best, a de facto ' historical compromise' between the capitalist class and the labor unions, mediated by the Democratic Party elite. It was a temporary pact in which the unions secured legal recognition while the capitalists retained their executive prerogatives." But the key factor in this compromise was the existence of the USSR as a threat to the power of capitalists in the USA. when the USSR disappeared cannibalistic instincts of the US elite prevailed over caution.
Notable quotes:
"... The earlier welfare 'reforms' and the current anti-welfare legislation and austerity practices have been accompanied by a series of endless imperial wars, especially in the Middle East. ..."
"... In the 1940's through the 1960's, world and regional wars (Korea and Indo-China) were combined with significant welfare program a form of ' social imperialism' , which 'buy off' the working class while expanding the empire. However, recent decades are characterized by multiple regional wars and the reduction or elimination of welfare programs and a massive growth in poverty, domestic insecurity and poor health. ..."
"... modern welfare state' ..."
"... Labor unions were organized as working class strikes and progressive legislation facilitated trade union organization, elections, collective bargaining rights and a steady increase in union membership. Improved work conditions, rising wages, pension plans and benefits, employer or union-provided health care and protective legislation improved the standard of living for the working class and provided for 2 generations of upward mobility. ..."
"... Social Security legislation was approved along with workers' compensation and the forty-hour workweek. Jobs were created through federal programs (WPA, CCC, etc.). Protectionist legislation facilitated the growth of domestic markets for US manufacturers. Workplace shop steward councils organized 'on the spot' job action to protect safe working conditions. ..."
"... World War II led to full employment and increases in union membership, as well as legislation restricting workers' collective bargaining rights and enforcing wage freezes. Hundreds of thousands of Americans found jobs in the war economy but a huge number were also killed or wounded in the war. ..."
"... So-called ' right to work' ..."
"... Trade union officials signed pacts with capital: higher pay for the workers and greater control of the workplace for the bosses. Trade union officials joined management in repressing rank and file movements seeking to control technological changes by reducing hours (" thirty hours work for forty hours pay ..."
"... Trade union activists, community organizers for rent control and other grassroots movements lost both the capacity and the will to advance toward large-scale structural changes of US capitalism. Living standards improved for a few decades but the capitalist class consolidated strategic control over labor relations. While unionized workers' incomes, increased, inequalities, especially in the non-union sectors began to grow. With the end of the GI bill, veterans' access to high-quality subsidized education declined ..."
"... With the election of President Carter, social welfare in the US began its long decline. The next series of regional wars were accompanied by even greater attacks on welfare via the " Volker Plan " freezing workers' wages as a means to combat inflation. ..."
"... Guns without butter' became the legislative policy of the Carter and Reagan Administrations. The welfare programs were based on politically fragile foundations. ..."
"... The anti-labor offensive from the ' Oval Office' intensified under President Reagan with his direct intervention firing tens of thousands of striking air controllers and arresting union leaders. Under Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and William Clinton cost of living adjustments failed to keep up with prices of vital goods and services. Health care inflation was astronomical. Financial deregulation led to the subordination of American industry to finance and the Wall Street banks. De-industrialization, capital flight and massive tax evasion reduced labor's share of national income. ..."
"... The capitalist class followed a trajectory of decline, recovery and ascendance. Moreover, during the earlier world depression, at the height of labor mobilization and organization, the capitalist class never faced any significant political threat over its control of the commanding heights of the economy ..."
"... Hand in bloody glove' with the US Empire, the American trade unions planted the seeds of their own destruction at home. The local capitalists in newly emerging independent nations established industries and supply chains in cooperation with US manufacturers. Attracted to these sources of low-wage, violently repressed workers, US capitalists subsequently relocated their factories overseas and turned their backs on labor at home. ..."
"... President 'Bill' Clinton ravaged Russia, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia and liberated Wall Street. His regime gave birth to the prototype billionaire swindlers: Michael Milken and Bernard 'Bernie' Madoff. ..."
"... Clinton converted welfare into cheap labor 'workfare', exploiting the poorest and most vulnerable and condemning the next generations to grinding poverty. Under Clinton the prison population of mostly African Americans expanded and the breakup of families ravaged the urban communities. ..."
"... President Obama transferred 2 trillion dollars to the ten biggest bankers and swindlers on Wall Street, and another trillion to the Pentagon to pursue the Democrats version of foreign policy: from Bush's two overseas wars to Obama's seven. ..."
"... Obama was elected to two terms. His liberal Democratic Party supporters swooned over his peace and justice rhetoric while swallowing his militarist escalation into seven overseas wars as well as the foreclosure of two million American householders. Obama completely failed to honor his campaign promise to reduce wage inequality between black and white wage earners while he continued to moralize to black families about ' values' . ..."
"... Obama's war against Libya led to the killing and displacement of millions of black Libyans and workers from Sub-Saharan Africa. The smiling Nobel Peace Prize President created more desperate refugees than any previous US head of state including millions of Africans flooding Europe. ..."
"... Forty-years of anti welfare legislation and pro-business regimes paved the golden road for the election of Donald Trump ..."
"... Trump and the Republicans are focusing on the tattered remnants of the social welfare system: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. The remains of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society -- are on the chopping block. ..."
"... The moribund (but well-paid) labor leadership has been notable by its absence in the ensuing collapse of the social welfare state. The liberal left Democrats embraced the platitudinous Obama/Clinton team as the 'Great Society's' gravediggers, while wailing at Trump's allies for shoving the corpse of welfare state into its grave. ..."
"... Over the past forty years the working class and the rump of what was once referred to as the ' labor movement' has contributed to the dismantling of the social welfare state, voting for ' strike-breaker' Reagan, ' workfare' Clinton, ' Wall Street crash' Bush, ' Wall Street savior' Obama and ' Trickle-down' Trump. ..."
"... Gone are the days when social welfare and profitable wars raised US living standards and transformed American trade unions into an appendage of the Democratic Party and a handmaiden of Empire. The Democratic Party rescued capitalism from its collapse in the Great Depression, incorporated labor into the war economy and the post- colonial global empire, and resurrected Wall Street from the 'Great Financial Meltdown' of the 21 st century. ..."
"... The war economy no longer fuels social welfare. The military-industrial complex has found new partners on Wall Street and among the globalized multi-national corporations. Profits rise while wages fall. Low paying compulsive labor (workfare) lopped off state transfers to the poor. Technology IT, robotics, artificial intelligence and electronic gadgets has created the most class polarized social system in history ..."
"... "The collaboration of liberals and unions in promoting endless wars opened the door to Trump's mirage of a stateless, tax-less, ruling class." ..."
"... Corporations [now] are welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up ..."
"... Corporations not only continuously seek monopolies (with the aid and sanction of the state) but they steadily fine tune the welfare state for their benefit. In fact, in reality, welfare for prols and peasants wouldn't exist if it didn't act as a money conduit and ultimate profit center for the big money grubbers. ..."
"... The article is dismal reading, and evidence of the failings of the "unregulated" society, where the anything goes as long as you are wealthy. ..."
"... Like the Pentagon. Americans still don't readily call this welfare, but they will eventually. Defense profiteers are unions in a sense, you're either in their club Or you're in the service industry that surrounds it. ..."
Dec 13, 2017 | www.unz.com

Introduction

The American welfare state was created in 1935 and continued to develop through 1973. Since then, over a prolonged period, the capitalist class has been steadily dismantling the entire welfare state.

Between the mid 1970's to the present (2017) labor laws, welfare rights and benefits and the construction of and subsidies for affordable housing have been gutted. ' Workfare' (under President 'Bill' Clinton) ended welfare for the poor and displaced workers. Meanwhile the shift to regressive taxation and the steadily declining real wages have increased corporate profits to an astronomical degree.

What started as incremental reversals during the 1990's under Clinton has snowballed over the last two decades decimating welfare legislation and institutions.

The earlier welfare 'reforms' and the current anti-welfare legislation and austerity practices have been accompanied by a series of endless imperial wars, especially in the Middle East.

In the 1940's through the 1960's, world and regional wars (Korea and Indo-China) were combined with significant welfare program a form of ' social imperialism' , which 'buy off' the working class while expanding the empire. However, recent decades are characterized by multiple regional wars and the reduction or elimination of welfare programs and a massive growth in poverty, domestic insecurity and poor health.

New Deals and Big Wars

The 1930's witnessed the advent of social legislation and action, which laid the foundations of what is called the ' modern welfare state' .

Labor unions were organized as working class strikes and progressive legislation facilitated trade union organization, elections, collective bargaining rights and a steady increase in union membership. Improved work conditions, rising wages, pension plans and benefits, employer or union-provided health care and protective legislation improved the standard of living for the working class and provided for 2 generations of upward mobility.

Social Security legislation was approved along with workers' compensation and the forty-hour workweek. Jobs were created through federal programs (WPA, CCC, etc.). Protectionist legislation facilitated the growth of domestic markets for US manufacturers. Workplace shop steward councils organized 'on the spot' job action to protect safe working conditions.

World War II led to full employment and increases in union membership, as well as legislation restricting workers' collective bargaining rights and enforcing wage freezes. Hundreds of thousands of Americans found jobs in the war economy but a huge number were also killed or wounded in the war.

The post-war period witnessed a contradictory process: wages and salaries increased while legislation curtailed union rights via the Taft Hartley Act and the McCarthyist purge of leftwing trade union activists. So-called ' right to work' laws effectively outlawed unionization mostly in southern states, which drove industries to relocate to the anti-union states.

Welfare reforms, in the form of the GI bill, provided educational opportunities for working class and rural veterans, while federal-subsidized low interest mortgages encourage home-ownership, especially for veterans.

The New Deal created concrete improvements but did not consolidate labor influence at any level. Capitalists and management still retained control over capital, the workplace and plant location of production.

Trade union officials signed pacts with capital: higher pay for the workers and greater control of the workplace for the bosses. Trade union officials joined management in repressing rank and file movements seeking to control technological changes by reducing hours (" thirty hours work for forty hours pay "). Dissident local unions were seized and gutted by the trade union bosses sometimes through violence.

Trade union activists, community organizers for rent control and other grassroots movements lost both the capacity and the will to advance toward large-scale structural changes of US capitalism. Living standards improved for a few decades but the capitalist class consolidated strategic control over labor relations. While unionized workers' incomes, increased, inequalities, especially in the non-union sectors began to grow. With the end of the GI bill, veterans' access to high-quality subsidized education declined.

While a new wave of social welfare legislation and programs began in the 1960's and early 1970's it was no longer a result of a mass trade union or workers' "class struggle". Moreover, trade union collaboration with the capitalist regional war policies led to the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of workers in two wars the Korean and Vietnamese wars.

Much of social legislation resulted from the civil and welfare rights movements. While specific programs were helpful, none of them addressed structural racism and poverty.

The Last Wave of Social Welfarism

The 1960'a witnessed the greatest racial war in modern US history: Mass movements in the South and North rocked state and federal governments, while advancing the cause of civil, social and political rights. Millions of black citizens, joined by white activists and, in many cases, led by African American Viet Nam War veterans, confronted the state. At the same time, millions of students and young workers, threatened by military conscription, challenged the military and social order.

Energized by mass movements, a new wave of social welfare legislation was launched by the federal government to pacify mass opposition among blacks, students, community organizers and middle class Americans. Despite this mass popular movement, the union bosses at the AFL-CIO openly supported the war, police repression and the military, or at best, were passive impotent spectators of the drama unfolding in the nation's streets. Dissident union members and activists were the exception, as many had multiple identities to represent: African American, Hispanic, draft resisters, etc.

Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, Medicare, Medicaid, OSHA, the EPA and multiple poverty programs were implemented. A national health program, expanding Medicare for all Americans, was introduced by President Nixon and sabotaged by the Kennedy Democrats and the AFL-CIO. Overall, social and economic inequalities diminished during this period.

The Vietnam War ended in defeat for the American militarist empire. This coincided with the beginning of the end of social welfare as we knew it as the bill for militarism placed even greater demands on the public treasury.

With the election of President Carter, social welfare in the US began its long decline. The next series of regional wars were accompanied by even greater attacks on welfare via the " Volker Plan " freezing workers' wages as a means to combat inflation.

Guns without butter' became the legislative policy of the Carter and Reagan Administrations. The welfare programs were based on politically fragile foundations.

The Debacle of Welfarism

Private sector trade union membership declined from a post-world war peak of 30% falling to 12% in the 1990's. Today it has sunk to 7%. Capitalists embarked on a massive program of closing thousands of factories in the unionized North which were then relocated to the non-unionized low wage southern states and then overseas to Mexico and Asia. Millions of stable jobs disappeared.

Following the election of 'Jimmy Carter', neither Democratic nor Republican Presidents felt any need to support labor organizations. On the contrary, they facilitated contracts dictated by management, which reduced wages, job security, benefits and social welfare.

The anti-labor offensive from the ' Oval Office' intensified under President Reagan with his direct intervention firing tens of thousands of striking air controllers and arresting union leaders. Under Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush and William Clinton cost of living adjustments failed to keep up with prices of vital goods and services. Health care inflation was astronomical. Financial deregulation led to the subordination of American industry to finance and the Wall Street banks. De-industrialization, capital flight and massive tax evasion reduced labor's share of national income.

The capitalist class followed a trajectory of decline, recovery and ascendance. Moreover, during the earlier world depression, at the height of labor mobilization and organization, the capitalist class never faced any significant political threat over its control of the commanding heights of the economy.

The ' New Deal' was, at best, a de facto ' historical compromise' between the capitalist class and the labor unions, mediated by the Democratic Party elite. It was a temporary pact in which the unions secured legal recognition while the capitalists retained their executive prerogatives.

The Second World War secured the economic recovery for capital and subordinated labor through a federally mandated no strike production agreement. There were a few notable exceptions: The coal miners' union organized strikes in strategic sectors and some leftist leaders and organizers encouraged slow-downs, work to rule and other in-plant actions when employers ran roughshod with special brutality over the workers. The recovery of capital was the prelude to a post-war offensive against independent labor-based political organizations. The quality of labor organization declined even as the quantity of trade union membership increased.

Labor union officials consolidated internal control in collaboration with the capitalist elite. Capitalist class-labor official collaboration was extended overseas with strategic consequences.

The post-war corporate alliance between the state and capital led to a global offensive the replacement of European-Japanese colonial control and exploitation by US business and bankers. Imperialism was later 're-branded' as ' globalization' . It pried open markets, secured cheap docile labor and pillaged resources for US manufacturers and importers.

US labor unions played a major role by sabotaging militant unions abroad in cooperation with the US security apparatus: They worked to coopt and bribe nationalist and leftist labor leaders and supported police-state regime repression and assassination of recalcitrant militants.

' Hand in bloody glove' with the US Empire, the American trade unions planted the seeds of their own destruction at home. The local capitalists in newly emerging independent nations established industries and supply chains in cooperation with US manufacturers. Attracted to these sources of low-wage, violently repressed workers, US capitalists subsequently relocated their factories overseas and turned their backs on labor at home.

Labor union officials had laid the groundwork for the demise of stable jobs and social benefits for American workers. Their collaboration increased the rate of capitalist profit and overall power in the political system. Their complicity in the brutal purges of militants, activists and leftist union members and leaders at home and abroad put an end to labor's capacity to sustain and expand the welfare state.

Trade unions in the US did not use their collaboration with empire in its bloody regional wars to win social benefits for the rank and file workers. The time of social-imperialism, where workers within the empire benefited from imperialism's pillage, was over. Gains in social welfare henceforth could result only from mass struggles led by the urban poor, especially Afro-Americans, community-based working poor and militant youth organizers.

The last significant social welfare reforms were implemented in the early 1970's coinciding with the end of the Vietnam War (and victory for the Vietnamese people) and ended with the absorption of the urban and anti-war movements into the Democratic Party.

Henceforward the US corporate state advanced through the overseas expansion of the multi-national corporations and via large-scale, non-unionized production at home.

The technological changes of this period did not benefit labor. The belief, common in the 1950's, that science and technology would increase leisure, decrease work and improve living standards for the working class, was shattered. Instead technological changes displaced well-paid industrial labor while increasing the number of mind-numbing, poorly paid, and politically impotent jobs in the so-called 'service sector' a rapidly growing section of unorganized and vulnerable workers especially including women and minorities.

Labor union membership declined precipitously. The demise of the USSR and China's turn to capitalism had a dual effect: It eliminated collectivist (socialist) pressure for social welfare and opened their labor markets with cheap, disciplined workers for foreign manufacturers. Labor as a political force disappeared on every count. The US Federal Reserve and President 'Bill' Clinton deregulated financial capital leading to a frenzy of speculation. Congress wrote laws, which permitted overseas tax evasion especially in Caribbean tax havens. Regional free-trade agreements, like NAFTA, spurred the relocation of jobs abroad. De-industrialization accompanied the decline of wages, living standards and social benefits for millions of American workers.

The New Abolitionists: Trillionaires

The New Deal, the Great Society, trade unions, and the anti-war and urban movements were in retreat and primed for abolition.

Wars without welfare (or guns without butter) replaced earlier 'social imperialism' with a huge growth of poverty and homelessness. Domestic labor was now exploited to finance overseas wars not vice versa. The fruits of imperial plunder were not shared.

As the working and middle classes drifted downward, they were used up, abandoned and deceived on all sides especially by the Democratic Party. They elected militarists and demagogues as their new presidents.

President 'Bill' Clinton ravaged Russia, Yugoslavia, Iraq and Somalia and liberated Wall Street. His regime gave birth to the prototype billionaire swindlers: Michael Milken and Bernard 'Bernie' Madoff.

Clinton converted welfare into cheap labor 'workfare', exploiting the poorest and most vulnerable and condemning the next generations to grinding poverty. Under Clinton the prison population of mostly African Americans expanded and the breakup of families ravaged the urban communities.

Provoked by an act of terrorism (9/11) President G.W. Bush Jr. launched the 'endless' wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and deepened the police state (Patriot Act). Wages for American workers and profits for American capitalist moved in opposite directions.

The Great Financial Crash of 2008-2011 shook the paper economy to its roots and led to the greatest shakedown of any national treasury in history directed by the First Black American President. Trillions of public wealth were funneled into the criminal banks on Wall Street which were ' just too big to fail .' Millions of American workers and homeowners, however, were ' just too small to matter' .

The Age of Demagogues

President Obama transferred 2 trillion dollars to the ten biggest bankers and swindlers on Wall Street, and another trillion to the Pentagon to pursue the Democrats version of foreign policy: from Bush's two overseas wars to Obama's seven.

Obama's electoral 'donor-owners' stashed away two trillion dollars in overseas tax havens and looked forward to global free trade pacts pushed by the eloquent African American President.

Obama was elected to two terms. His liberal Democratic Party supporters swooned over his peace and justice rhetoric while swallowing his militarist escalation into seven overseas wars as well as the foreclosure of two million American householders. Obama completely failed to honor his campaign promise to reduce wage inequality between black and white wage earners while he continued to moralize to black families about ' values' .

Obama's war against Libya led to the killing and displacement of millions of black Libyans and workers from Sub-Saharan Africa. The smiling Nobel Peace Prize President created more desperate refugees than any previous US head of state including millions of Africans flooding Europe.

'Obamacare' , his imitation of an earlier Republican governor's health plan, was formulated by the private corporate health industry (private insurance, Big Pharma and the for-profit hospitals), to mandate enrollment and ensure triple digit profits with double digit increases in premiums. By the 2016 Presidential elections, ' Obama-care' was opposed by a 45%-43% margin of the American people. Obama's propagandists could not show any improvement of life expectancy or decrease in infant and maternal mortality as a result of his 'health care reform'. Indeed the opposite occurred among the marginalized working class in the old 'rust belt' and in the rural areas. This failure to show any significant health improvement for the masses of Americans is in stark contrast to LBJ's Medicare program of the 1960's, which continues to receive massive popular support.

Forty-years of anti welfare legislation and pro-business regimes paved the golden road for the election of Donald Trump

Trump and the Republicans are focusing on the tattered remnants of the social welfare system: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. The remains of FDR's New Deal and LBJ's Great Society -- are on the chopping block.

The moribund (but well-paid) labor leadership has been notable by its absence in the ensuing collapse of the social welfare state. The liberal left Democrats embraced the platitudinous Obama/Clinton team as the 'Great Society's' gravediggers, while wailing at Trump's allies for shoving the corpse of welfare state into its grave.

Conclusion

Over the past forty years the working class and the rump of what was once referred to as the ' labor movement' has contributed to the dismantling of the social welfare state, voting for ' strike-breaker' Reagan, ' workfare' Clinton, ' Wall Street crash' Bush, ' Wall Street savior' Obama and ' Trickle-down' Trump.

Gone are the days when social welfare and profitable wars raised US living standards and transformed American trade unions into an appendage of the Democratic Party and a handmaiden of Empire. The Democratic Party rescued capitalism from its collapse in the Great Depression, incorporated labor into the war economy and the post- colonial global empire, and resurrected Wall Street from the 'Great Financial Meltdown' of the 21 st century.

The war economy no longer fuels social welfare. The military-industrial complex has found new partners on Wall Street and among the globalized multi-national corporations. Profits rise while wages fall. Low paying compulsive labor (workfare) lopped off state transfers to the poor. Technology IT, robotics, artificial intelligence and electronic gadgets has created the most class polarized social system in history. The first trillionaire and multi-billionaire tax evaders rose on the backs of a miserable standing army of tens of millions of low-wage workers, stripped of rights and representation. State subsidies eliminate virtually all risk to capital. The end of social welfare coerced labor (including young mother with children) to seek insecure low-income employment while slashing education and health cementing the feet of generations into poverty. Regional wars abroad have depleted the Treasury and robbed the country of productive investment. Economic imperialism exports profits, reversing the historic relation of the past.

Labor is left without compass or direction; it flails in all directions and falls deeper in the web of deception and demagogy. To escape from Reagan and the strike breakers, labor embraced the cheap-labor predator Clinton; black and white workers united to elect Obama who expelled millions of immigrant workers, pursued 7 wars, abandoned black workers and enriched the already filthy rich. Deception and demagogy of the labor-

Issac , December 11, 2017 at 11:01 pm GMT

"The military-industrial complex has found new partners on Wall Street and among the globalized multi-national corporations."

"The collaboration of liberals and unions in promoting endless wars opened the door to Trump's mirage of a stateless, tax-less, ruling class."

A mirage so real, it even has you convinced.

whyamihere , December 12, 2017 at 4:24 am GMT
If the welfare state in America was abolished, major American cities would burn to the ground. Anarchy would ensue, it would be magnitudes bigger than anything that happened in Ferguson or Baltimore. It would likely be simultaneous.

I think that's one of the only situations where preppers would actually live out what they've been prepping for (except for a natural disaster).

I've been thinking about this a little over the past few years after seeing the race riots. What exactly is the line between our society being civilized and breaking out into chaos. It's probably a lot thinner than most people think.

I don't know who said it but someone long ago said something along the lines of, "Democracy can only work until the people figure out they can vote for themselves generous benefits from the public treasury." We are definitely in this situation today. I wonder how long it can last.

Disordered , December 13, 2017 at 8:41 am GMT
While I agree with Petras's intent (notwithstanding several exaggerations and unnecessary conflations with, for example, racism), I don't agree so much with the method he proposes. I don't mind welfare and unions to a certain extent, but they are not going to save us unless there is full employment and large corporations that can afford to pay an all-union workforce. That happened during WW2, as only wartime demand and those pesky wage freezes solved the Depression, regardless of all the public works programs; while the postwar era benefited from the US becoming the world's creditor, meaning that capital could expand while labor participation did as well.

From then on, it is quite hard to achieve the same success after outsourcing and mechanization have happened all over the world. Both of these phenomena not only create displaced workers, but also displaced industries, meaning that it makes more sense to develop individual workfare (and even then, do it well, not the shoddy way it is done now) rather than giving away checks that probably will not be cashed for entrepreneurial purposes, and rather than giving away money to corrupt unions who depend on trusts to be able to pay for their benefits, while raising the cost of hiring that only encourages more outsourcing.

The amount of welfare given is not necessarily the main problem, the problem is doing it right for the people who truly need it, and efficiently that is, with the least amount of waste lost between the chain of distribution, which should reach intended targets and not moochers.

Which inevitably means a sound tax system that targets unearned wealth and (to a lesser degree) foreign competition instead of national production, coupled with strict, yet devolved and simple government processes that benefit both business and individuals tired of bureaucracy, while keeping budgets balanced. Best of both worlds, and no military-industrial complex needed to drive up demand.

Wally , Website December 13, 2017 at 8:57 am GMT
"President Obama transferred 2 trillion dollars to the ten biggest bankers and swindlers on Wall Street " That's twice the amount that Bush gave them.
jacques sheete , December 13, 2017 at 10:52 am GMT

The American welfare state was created in 1935 and continued to develop through 1973. Since then, over a prolonged period, the capitalist class has been steadily dismantling the entire welfare state.

Wrong wrong wrong.

Corporations [now] are welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up, and welfare for them started before 1935. In fact, it started in America before there was a USA. I do not have time to elaborate, but what were the various companies such as the British East India Company and the Dutch West India Companies but state pampered, welfare based entities? ~200 years ago, Herbert Spencer, if memory serves, pointed out that the British East India Company couldn't make a profit even with all the special, government granted favors showered upon it.

Corporations not only continuously seek monopolies (with the aid and sanction of the state) but they steadily fine tune the welfare state for their benefit. In fact, in reality, welfare for prols and peasants wouldn't exist if it didn't act as a money conduit and ultimate profit center for the big money grubbers.

Den Lille Abe , December 13, 2017 at 11:09 am GMT
Well, the author kind of nails it. I remember from my childhood in the 50-60 ties in Scandinavia that the US was the ultimate goal in welfare. The country where you could make a good living with your two hands, get you kids to UNI, have a house, a telly ECT. It was not consumerism, it was the American dream, a chicken in every pot; we chewed imported American gum and dreamed.

In the 70-80 ties Scandinavia had a tremendous social and economic growth, EQUALLY distributed, an immense leap forward. In the middle of the 80 ties we were equal to the US in standards of living.

Since we have not looked at the US, unless in pity, as we have seen the decline of the general income, social wealth fall way behind our own.
The average US workers income has not increased since 90 figures adjusted for inflation. The Scandinavian workers income in the same period has almost quadrupled. And so has our societies.

The article is dismal reading, and evidence of the failings of the "unregulated" society, where the anything goes as long as you are wealthy.

wayfarer , December 13, 2017 at 1:01 pm GMT

Between the mid 1970's to the present (2017) labor laws, welfare rights and benefits and the construction of and subsidies for affordable housing have been gutted. 'Workfare' (under President 'Bill' Clinton) ended welfare for the poor and displaced workers. Meanwhile the shift to regressive taxation and the steadily declining real wages have increased corporate profits to an astronomical degree.

source: http://www.unz.com/jpetras/rise-and-decline-of-the-welfare-state/

What does Hollywood "elite" JAP and wannabe hack-stand-up-comic Sarah Silverman think about the class struggle and problems facing destitute Americans? "Qu'ils mangent de la bagels!", source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Let_them_eat_cake

... ... ...

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 1:40 pm GMT
@Greg Fraser

Like the Pentagon. Americans still don't readily call this welfare, but they will eventually. Defense profiteers are unions in a sense, you're either in their club Or you're in the service industry that surrounds it.

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 2:43 pm GMT
As other commenters have pointed out, it's Petras curious choice of words that sometimes don't make too much sense. We can probably blame the maleable English language for that, but here it's too obvious. If you don't define a union, people might assume you're only talking about a bunch of meat cutters at Safeway.

The welfare state is alive and well for corporate America. Unions are still here but they are defined by access and secrecy, you're either in the club or not.

The war on unions was successful first by co-option but mostly by the media. But what kind of analysis leaves out the role of the media in the American transformation? The success is mind blowing.

America has barely literate (white) middle aged males trained to spout incoherent Calvinistic weirdness: unabased hatred for the poor (or whoever they're told to hate) and a glorification of hedge fund managers as they get laid off, fired and foreclosed on, with a side of opiates.

There is hardly anything more tragic then seeing a web filled with progressives (management consultants) dedicated to disempowering, disabling and deligitimizing victims by claiming they are victims of biology, disease or a lack of an education rather than a system that issues violence while portending (with the best media money can buy) that they claim the higher ground.

animalogic , December 13, 2017 at 2:57 pm GMT
@Wally

""Democracy can only work until the people figure out they can vote for themselves generous benefits from the public treasury." We are definitely in this situation today."

Quite right: the 0.01% have worked it out & US democracy is a Theatre for the masses.

Reg Csar , December 13, 2017 at 3:08 pm GMT

They elected militarists and demagogues as their new presidents.

Wilson and FDR were much more militarist and demagogic than those that followed.

Reg Csar , December 13, 2017 at 3:20 pm GMT
@whyamihere

I don't know who said it but someone long ago said something along the lines of, "Democracy can only work until the people figure out they can vote for themselves generous benefits from the public treasury."

Some French aristocrat put it as, once the gates to the treasury have been breached, they can only be closed again with gunpowder. Anyone recognize the author?

phil , December 13, 2017 at 4:48 pm GMT
The author doesn't get it. What we have now IS the welfare state in an intensely diverse society. We have more transfer spending than ever before and Obamacare represents another huge entitlement.

Intellectuals continue to fantasize about the US becoming a Big Sweden, but Sweden has only been successful insofar as it has been a modest nation-state populated by ethnic Swedes. Intense diversity in a huge country with only the remnants of federalism results in massive non-consensual decision-making, fragmentation, increased inequality, and corruption.

HallParvey , December 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm GMT
@Anonymous

The welfare state is alive and well for corporate America. Unions are still here but they are defined by access and secrecy, you're either in the club or not.

They are largely defined as Doctors, Lawyers, and University Professors who teach the first two. Of course they are not called unions. Access is via credentialing and licensing. Good Day

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm GMT
@Linda Green

Bernie Sanders, speaking on behalf of the MIC's welfare bird: "It is the airplane of the United States Air Force, Navy, and of NATO."

Elizabeth Warren, referring to Mossad's Estes Rockets: "The Israeli military has the right to attack Palestinian hospitals and schools in self defense"

Barack Obama, yukking it up with pop stars: "Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming."

It's not the agitprop that confuses the sheep, it's whose blowhole it's coming out of (labled D or R for convenience) that gets them to bare their teeth and speak of poo.

Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm GMT
@HallParvey

What came first, the credentialing or the idea that it is a necessary part of education? It certainly isn't an accurate indication of what people know or their general intelligence although that myth has flourished. Good afternoon.

Logan , December 13, 2017 at 9:10 pm GMT
@Realist

For an interesting projection of what might happen in total civilizational collapse, I recommend the Dies the Fire series of novels by SM Stirling.

It has a science-fictiony setup in that all high-energy system (gunpowder, electricity, explosives, internal combustion, even high-energy steam engines) suddenly stop working. But I think it does a good job of extrapolating what would happen if suddenly the cities did not have food, water, power, etc.

Spoiler alert: It ain't pretty. Those who dream of a world without guns have not really thought it through.

Logan , December 13, 2017 at 9:19 pm GMT
@phil

It has been pointed out repeatedly that Sweden does very well relative to the USA. It has also been noted that people of Swedish ancestry in the USA do pretty well also. In fact considerably better than Swedes in Sweden

[Dec 15, 2017] Paul Krugman: Republicans Despise the Working Class

This is a typical feature of neoliberalism in general, not just Republicans. Democratic Party is the same. And this is not just despite. There is real class war against working class unleashed in the USA since 1980. and neoliberals are winning.
Neoliberals disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can't contain it.
Notable quotes:
"... "Their disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can't contain it": Republicans Despise the Working Class, by Paul Krugman, NY Times : You can always count on Republicans to do two things: try to cut taxes for the rich and try to weaken the safety net for the poor and the middle class. ... ..."
"... PK would probably even tell you that some of his best friends are working class. As a show of his undying love, he even penned opinion pieces on their behalf, promoting the gift of China's ascension the WTO in 2000, saying how great it would be for labor...that was before the great sucking sound of jobs going to China... ..."
"... Britain's opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned Morgan Stanley that bankers are right to regard him as a threat because he wants to transform what he cast as a rigged economy that profits speculators at the expense of ordinary people. ..."
"... I have news for you Paul.... the wealthy have always treated labor as second class citizens... what else is new and why are you just now figuring this out? ..."
"... It's interesting that regardless of which party has been in power since the 1960's (e.g. since Johnson) neither have provided any gains in real income to labor's share of income. ..."
"... And regardless of which party has been in power since the 1970's median incomes have grown at a barely perceptible rate while GDP has continued to grow unabated at a very much greater rate... the gap (wedge) has continued to increase without a hitch. ..."
"... Lower prices of goods and services offered to just a small amount above costs of labor in operations and capital. If every business paid 100% of revenue to workers, the taxes owed in profit taxes will be zero. ..."
"... The bizzare result in a corporation pays no taxes for 10 to 15 years when the factory is new and it's productivity means the highest return on investment, until the factory is old and less competitive, and now the loss carry forward is zero so any profit is now taxed, at the time when the factory is old. ..."
"... The point of cutting the profit tax rate is to kill jobs. A profit tax of zero would promote a business trying to create a slave labor force so 100% of revenue is tax free to the owners. A zero profit tax rate means every single dollar paid to workers cuts shareholder income by 100% of those dollars. ..."
"... Maybe only half will end up homeless and hungry, but those will be the ones moving into their kids, or grandkids living rooms, eating their food. In exchange for a $500 tax cut for working class families, these families get to feed and house their grandparent or parent, assuming they were earning enough to move out of their parent's basement. ..."
"... he globalist Democrats despise the working class, but play nice each election cycle while they suck money out of union treasuries. ..."
Dec 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
"Their disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can't contain it": Republicans Despise the Working Class, by Paul Krugman, NY Times : You can always count on Republicans to do two things: try to cut taxes for the rich and try to weaken the safety net for the poor and the middle class. ...

But ... something has been added to the mix. ...Republicans ... don't treat all Americans with a given income the same. Instead, their bill ... hugely privileges owners, whether of businesses or of financial assets, over those who simply work for a living. ...

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has evaluated the Senate bill, which the final bill is expected to resemble. It finds that the bill would reduce taxes on business owners , on average, about three times as much as it would reduce taxes on those whose primary source of income is wages or salaries. For highly paid workers, the gap would be even wider, as much as 10 to one. ...

If this sounds like bad policy, that's because it is. More than that, it opens the doors to an orgy of tax avoidance. ... We're pitting hastily devised legislation, drafted without hearings over the course of just a few days, against the cleverest lawyers and accountants money can buy. Which side do you think will win?

As a result, it's a good guess that the bill will increase the budget deficit far more than currently projected. ...

So why are they doing this? After all, the tax bill appears to be terrible politics as well as terrible policy. ... The ... public overwhelmingly disapproves of the current Republican plan.

But Republicans don't seem able to help themselves: Their disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can't contain it.

When I realized the extent to which G.O.P. tax plans were going to favor business owners over ordinary workers, I found myself remembering what happened in 2012, when Eric Cantor -- then the House majority leader -- tried to celebrate Labor Day. He put out a tweet for the occasion that somehow failed to mention workers at all, instead praising those who have "built a business and earned their own success." ...

Cantor, a creature of the G.O.P. establishment if ever there was one, had so little respect for working Americans that he forgot to include them in a Labor Day message.

And now that disdain has been translated into legislation, in the form of a bill that treats anyone who works for someone else -- that is, the vast majority of Americans -- as a second-class citizen.

Paine , December 15, 2017 at 12:07 PM

Fair play for the ever so many petty wage heads. Out there ! High achieving high dollar earning high altruism embodying.

Our PK. What a guy ! "haut Liberal oblige " at its most glowing

Exploited citizens are indeed like oppressed citizens. Inferior class types
Hillary prefers earning her daily bread. By making humanist speeches to bankers and writing best selling alibi seasoned memoirs for the bibliophilic public. Why oh why does Paul love her so ?
JohnH -> Paine ... , December 15, 2017 at 01:33 PM

PK would probably even tell you that some of his best friends are working class. As a show of his undying love, he even penned opinion pieces on their behalf, promoting the gift of China's ascension the WTO in 2000, saying how great it would be for labor...that was before the great sucking sound of jobs going to China...

Republicans have no monopoly on selling out the working class...but workers have yet to figure out that there are more than two candidates running for President.

Paine -> JF... , December 15, 2017 at 12:40 PM
Labor parties exist in the OECD. But they had a third way fantasy. Where we all dance together. Most have still not shaken off this collaborationist pipe dream despite the fall of 2008. And the ten year doldrums since
Christopher H. said in reply to Paine ... , December 15, 2017 at 03:08 PM
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-politics-banking/british-labour-leader-corbyn-tells-morgan-stanley-were-a-threat-idUSKBN1DV44L

DECEMBER 1, 2017 / 3:23 AM / 14 DAYS AGO

British Labour leader Corbyn tells Morgan Stanley: 'We're a threat'

Guy Faulconbridge

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned Morgan Stanley that bankers are right to regard him as a threat because he wants to transform what he cast as a rigged economy that profits speculators at the expense of ordinary people.

...

Longtooth , December 15, 2017 at 12:16 PM
I have news for you Paul.... the wealthy have always treated labor as second class citizens... what else is new and why are you just now figuring this out?

It's interesting that regardless of which party has been in power since the 1960's (e.g. since Johnson) neither have provided any gains in real income to labor's share of income.

And regardless of which party has been in power since the 1970's median incomes have grown at a barely perceptible rate while GDP has continued to grow unabated at a very much greater rate... the gap (wedge) has continued to increase without a hitch.

So Paul, are you just no noticing this or are you under the impression that it's just the GOP wealthy that have disdain for labor... since it would appear to me that it's the wealthy regardless of party identification -- though there are admittedly a few notable exemptions.... but those are only after they have become among the globes richest persons.

DrDick -> Longtooth... , December 15, 2017 at 01:01 PM
That seems a grotesque misreading of the piece, which never claims this is new, just that it is even worse than before. Krugman has also written extensively about these issues in the past (he lambasted the Bush administration for exactly the same issues).
Longtooth -> DrDick... , December 15, 2017 at 02:30 PM
Dr. Dick,

I've been reading PK probably since before you could even read or perhaps since you graduated from Dick, Jane, Sally, & Spot. I'm even a huge fan except:

  1. I lambast him for not calling a spade a spade (which until just very recently he never did before), and
  2. For intentionally misleading, even though the direction he misleads favors my own positions.

In this case he made a clear statement that in the context of his post is intended to mean the current GOP (as you also were led to believe by your statement "worse then before", or perhaps "recent GOP" as you also believed by your statement "Bush administration...").

You are in fact the direct intent of my comment.. people who believe this GOP is any different than any other GOP. The only difference in this one and any other is that the party has a bullet proof majority in both houses AND a complicit Executive to do their bidding. That just makes it possible for the GOP to carry out its objectives... the objectives have never changed... since Coolidge and Hoover at least.

Krugman's explicit statement inferring and implying this GOP is different is:

"But Republicans don't seem able to help themselves: Their disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can't contain it."

In fact this has been the case all along so why if its not new news does he even mention it? Moreover he neglects entirely to say that it's not just the GOP that has disdain for labor but the entire wealth class, regardless of party. The Dems were persuaded by organized labor to pay attention to labor's issues and preferences .. or else!

Even at that all actual evidence shows quite clearly that labor takes it in the shorts since the 1960's at least, and if you go back to Coolidge and Hoover it was also in clear and obvious evidence at that time as well.

And yet, in all the time since, through all administrations and congress's labor keeps getting the shaft so it's not just the GOP that caters to the wealth, but the Dems as well... and this shouldn't be a surprise (but I'm sure is) because the U.S. gov't is actually run by and to the primarily benefit of the wealthy -- and it always has been in case you haven't much history under your belt yet.

You took Krugman's statement as he intended people like you to take it in his post hook line and sinker.

(my uncle was high up in organized labor in western US in the 1950's through 1970's. I lived with he and my aunt for a summer between college years. He said often and astutely based in his intimate political dealings with Democratic national and State leaders, "The Democrats have nor more back-bone than what Organized Labor provides." The parties aren't really that much different when it comes to the working class."

I was taken aback, and didn't believe him --- after all he was a labor leader --- but I watched over the ensuing decades and sure 'nuff, he was dead on right then and nothing's changed.

To make a difference gov't control has to be taken from the wealthy and has to be shared equally with labor... it doesn't do that nor has it ever done that. Ignore the rhetoric and look at the evidence over time... it's quite obvious and not even remotely vague.

DeDude , December 15, 2017 at 12:20 PM
But even among the predatory capitalists GOP types some are quite angry at the current tax "reform"

https://riabiz.com/a/2017/12/14/why-brent-brodeski-a-6-billion-gop-ria-is-in-a-furious-full-time-fight-against-the-republican-ria-unfriendly-tax-bill

There is likely to be a lot more of that. When some guys get $10 million then others are going to be angry that they only got $1 million. The donor class as a whole will be happy, but some of them will be very unhappy. They may even be willing to support the "Repal the Trump tax cuts" movement and actively support democratic candidates.

Paine -> DeDude... , December 15, 2017 at 12:41 PM
A giant Shark frenzy ? To good to be likely
Patricia Shannon , December 15, 2017 at 12:57 PM
True, but the Democrats do too. When I was active in the local Democratic party, the only concerns were for minorities and the middle-class. The only time the Caucasian working class was mentioned was to put them down.
Patricia Shannon -> Patricia Shannon ... , December 15, 2017 at 12:58 PM
I was referring to attitudes to the low income working class.
mulp -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 15, 2017 at 02:29 PM
If only Democrats were explaining how corporations can cut their taxes: Hire more workers to increase labor cost tax dodging! Pay workers higher wages to increase labor cost tax dodging. Provide more tax exempt benefits to increase labor cost tax dodges. Pay workers to do more R&D which is expensed. Borrow at low interest rates to pay workers to build a huge costly factory that will generate huge depreciation tax dodges plus interest cost tax dodges.

Lower prices of goods and services offered to just a small amount above costs of labor in operations and capital. If every business paid 100% of revenue to workers, the taxes owed in profit taxes will be zero.

mulp , December 15, 2017 at 02:20 PM
Krugman constantly fails to understand that the GOP, intentionally or not, works to kill jobs.

All businesses can dodge that "highest in the world" 35% corporate PROFITS tax by PAYING MORE TO WORKERS!

The biggest corporate business tax dodge in the US is labor costs.

Granted, the tax dodge of paying labor costs building a factory is spread out over decades, but if you build a billion dollar factory, the revenue after paying workers to operate the plant will almost never come close to a billion dollars. Immediate expensing of the billion dollar factory is likely to result in taxable losses of a billion dollars, that can be carried over to shelter $50-100 million in "profit" as the capital cost of production is zero - the capital costs is fully depreciated if capital is expensed, meaning the factory has a book value of zero.

The bizzare result in a corporation pays no taxes for 10 to 15 years when the factory is new and it's productivity means the highest return on investment, until the factory is old and less competitive, and now the loss carry forward is zero so any profit is now taxed, at the time when the factory is old.

Standard double declining balance depreciation spreads taxes out over the life of the factory, so taxes are flatter. Note that selling the factory after taxes are owed merely triggers capital gains equal to the price because the capital book price is zero.

The point of cutting the profit tax rate is to kill jobs. A profit tax of zero would promote a business trying to create a slave labor force so 100% of revenue is tax free to the owners. A zero profit tax rate means every single dollar paid to workers cuts shareholder income by 100% of those dollars.

To create jobs by lowering profit tax rates, investors must suddenly say "No no don't give me so much in dividends and do not increase the price of my shares by stock buyback! I HAVE TOO MUCH MONEY AND I WANT WORKERS TO GET MY MONEY"

To go a step further, the GOP will next call for killing jobs by ending or cutting SS and Medicare and Medicaid payments which pay workers to feed, cloth, house, care for those getting those benefits.

Maybe only half will end up homeless and hungry, but those will be the ones moving into their kids, or grandkids living rooms, eating their food. In exchange for a $500 tax cut for working class families, these families get to feed and house their grandparent or parent, assuming they were earning enough to move out of their parent's basement.

Economies are zero sum.

One person's costs are another person's 100% income.

Cut costs, you cut income.

As I liberal, I say that, like Newt ordered "death" replace "estate", every mention of "costs" get replaced with "jobs".

On tax and spend, the GOP is focused on killing jobs. Cut taxes to kill jobs. Cut spending to kill jobs.

After all, I never knew any employee going into a corporate meeting on cost cutting expecting to hear of a big hiring program or of company wide wage and benefit hikes, other than mandatory long vacations, at zero pay.

Tom aka Rusty , December 15, 2017 at 02:20 PM
The globalist Democrats despise the working class, but play nice each election cycle while they suck money out of union treasuries.

[Dec 15, 2017] Neoliberalism undermines workers health not only via the financial consequences of un/under employment and low wages, but also through chronic exposure to stress due to insecurity

Neoliberalism as "Die-now economics." "Embodiment into lower class" or "the representation as a member the lower class" if often fatal and upper mobility mobility is artificially limited (despite all MSM hype it is lower then in Europe). So just being a member of lower class noticeably and negatively affects your life expectancy and other social metrics. Job insecurity is the hazard reserved for lower and lower middle classes destructivly effect both physical and mental health. Too much stress is not good for humans. Neoliberalism with its manta of competition uber alles and atomization of the workforce is a real killer. also the fact that such article was published and the comments below is a clear sign that the days of neoliberalism are numbered. It should go.
Notable quotes:
"... In our new book , we draw on an extensive body of scientific literature to assess the health effects of three decades of neoliberal policies. Focusing on the social determinants of health -- the conditions of life and work that make it relatively easy for some people to lead long and healthy lives, while it is all but impossible for others -- we show that there are four interconnected neoliberal epidemics: austerity, obesity, stress, and inequality. They are neoliberal because they are associated with or worsened by neoliberal policies. ..."
"... Neoliberalism operates through labor markets to undermine health not only by way of the financial consequences of unemployment, inadequate employment, or low wages, as important as these are, but also through chronic exposure to stress that 'gets under your skin' by way of multiple mechanisms. Quite simply, the effects of chronic insecurity wear people out over the life course in biologically measurable ways . ..."
"... Oh, and "beyond class" because for social beings embodiment involves "social production; social consumption; and social reproduction." In the most reductive definition of class -- the one I used in my crude 1% + 10% + 90% formulation -- class is determined by wage work (or not), hence is a part of production (of capital), not social consumption (eating, etc.) or social reproduction (children, families, household work ). So, even if class in our political economy is the driver, it's not everything. ..."
"... "Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning. ..."
"... Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve." ..."
"... As opposed to being champions of "self-actualization/identity" and "absolute relativism", I always got the impression that they were both offering stark warnings about diving too deeply into the self, vis-a-vis, identity. As if, they both understood the terrifying world that it could/would create, devoid of common cause, community, and ultimately empathy. A world where "we" are not possible because we have all become "I". ..."
"... Wonks like Yglesias love to mock working class concerns as "economic anxiety," which is at once belittling (it's all about f-e-e-e-lings ..."
"... "we have measurable health outcomes from political choices" So True!!! ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

...Neoliberal epidemics are particular pathways of embodiment. From Ted Schrecker and Clare Bambra in The Conversation :

In our new book , we draw on an extensive body of scientific literature to assess the health effects of three decades of neoliberal policies. Focusing on the social determinants of health -- the conditions of life and work that make it relatively easy for some people to lead long and healthy lives, while it is all but impossible for others -- we show that there are four interconnected neoliberal epidemics: austerity, obesity, stress, and inequality. They are neoliberal because they are associated with or worsened by neoliberal policies. They are epidemics because they are observable on such an international scale and have been transmitted so quickly across time and space that if they were biological contagions they would be seen as of epidemic proportions.

(The Case-Deaton study provides an obvious fifth: Deaths of despair. There are doubtless others.) Case in point for one of the unluckier members of the 90%:

On the morning of 25 August 2014 a young New Jersey woman, Maria Fernandes, died from inhaling gasoline fumes as she slept in her 13-year-old car. She often slept in the car while shuttling between her three, low-wage jobs in food service; she kept a can of gasoline in the car because she often slept with the engine running, and was worried about running out of gasoline. Apparently, the can accidentally tipped over and the vapours from spilled gasoline cost her life. Ms Fernandes was one of the more obvious casualties of the zero-hours culture of stress and insecurity that pervades the contemporary labour market under neoliberalism.

And Schrecker and Bambra conclude:

Neoliberalism operates through labor markets to undermine health not only by way of the financial consequences of unemployment, inadequate employment, or low wages, as important as these are, but also through chronic exposure to stress that 'gets under your skin' by way of multiple mechanisms. Quite simply, the effects of chronic insecurity wear people out over the life course in biologically measurable ways .

... ... ...

Oh, and "beyond class" because for social beings embodiment involves "social production; social consumption; and social reproduction." In the most reductive definition of class -- the one I used in my crude 1% + 10% + 90% formulation -- class is determined by wage work (or not), hence is a part of production (of capital), not social consumption (eating, etc.) or social reproduction (children, families, household work ). So, even if class in our political economy is the driver, it's not everything.

nonclassical , December 11, 2017 at 8:30 pm

L.S. reminiscent of Ernst Becker's, "The Structure of Evil" "Escape from Evil"? (..not to indicate good vs. evil dichotomy) A great amount of perspective must be agreed upon to achieve "change" intoned. Divide and conquer are complicit, as noted .otherwise (and as indicated by U.S. economic history) change arrives only when all have lost all and can therefore agree begin again.

There is however, Naomi Klein perspective, "Shock Doctrine", whereby influence contributes to destabilization, plan in hand leading to agenda driven ("neoliberal"=market fundamentalism) outcome, not at all spontaneous in nature:

"Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve."

Amfortas the Hippie , December 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm

Well done, as usual.

On Case-Deason: Sounds like home. I keep the scanner on(local news) ems and fire only since 2006(sheriff got a homeland security grant). The incidence of suicide, overdose and "intoxication psychosis" are markedly increased in the last 10+ years out here in the wilderness(5K folks in whole county, last I looked). Our local economy went into near depression after the late 90's farm bill killed the peanut program then 911 meant no hunting season that year(and it's been noticeably less busy ever since) then drought and the real estate crash(we had 30 some realtors at peak..old family land being sold off, mostly). So the local Bourgeoisie have had less money to spend, which "trickles down" onto the rest of us.:less construction, less eating out even at the cheap places, less buying of gas, and on and on means fewer employees are needed, thus fewer jobs. To boot, there is a habit among many employers out here of not paying attention to labor laws(it is Texas ) the last minwage rise took 2 years to filter out here, and one must scrutinize one's pay stub to ensure that the boss isn't getting squirrelly with overtime and witholding.
Geography plays into all this, too 100 miles to any largish city.

... ... ...

Rosario , December 11, 2017 at 10:55 pm

I'm not well versed in Foucault or Lacan but I've read some of both and in reading between the lines of their writing (the phantom philosophy?) I saw a very different message than that often delivered by post-modern theorists.

As opposed to being champions of "self-actualization/identity" and "absolute relativism", I always got the impression that they were both offering stark warnings about diving too deeply into the self, vis-a-vis, identity. As if, they both understood the terrifying world that it could/would create, devoid of common cause, community, and ultimately empathy. A world where "we" are not possible because we have all become "I".

Considering what both their philosophies claimed, if identity is a lie, and the subject is always generated relative to the other, then how the hell can there be any security or well being in self-actualization? It is like trying to hit a target that does not exist.

All potentially oppressive cultural categorizations are examples of this (black, latino, gay, trans, etc.). If the identity is a moving target, both to the oppressor and the oppressed, then how can it ever be a singular source of political action? You can't hit what isn't there. This is not to say that these groups (in whatever determined category) are not oppressed, just that formulating political action based strictly on the identity (often as an essential category) is impossible because it does not actually exist materially. It is an amalgamation of subjects who's subjectivity is always relative to some other whether ally or oppressor. Only the manifestations of oppression on bodies (as brought up in Lambert's post) can be utilized as metrics for political action.

... ... ...

Lambert Strether Post author , December 11, 2017 at 11:20 pm

I thought of a couple of other advantages of the "embodiment" paradigm:

Better Framing . Wonks like Yglesias love to mock working class concerns as "economic anxiety," which is at once belittling (it's all about f-e-e-e-lings *) and disempowering (solutions are individual, like therapy or drugs). Embodiment by contrast insists that neoliberalism (the neoliberal labor market (class warfare)) has real, material, physiological effects that can be measured and tracked, as with any epidemic.

... ... ...

oaf , December 12, 2017 at 7:11 am

"we have measurable health outcomes from political choices" So True!!!

Thank you for posting this.

[Dec 14, 2017] In defence of the labour theory of value

Actually Marx's "labor theory of value" should be properly called the "theory of surplus value".
Notable quotes:
"... For Marx, value was socially-necessary labour time: David Harvey is good on this. From this perspective, exploitation and alienation are linked. Workers are exploited because they must work longer than necessary to get their consumption bundle. And they are alienated because this work is unsatisfying and a source of unfreedom. Now, I'll concede that many people hate the labour theory of value. One reason for this is that many discussions of it quickly become obscurantist as if "value" is some mystical entity embodied in commodities. ..."
"... This, though, certainly was not Marx's intention. Quite the opposite. He intended his theory to be a demystification. He wanted to show how what looked like relations between things the exchange of money for goods or labour-time were in fact relations between people. And unequal ones at that. ..."
"... I suspect that some of the animosity to Marx's use of LTV arises because of a resistance to the inference that Marx drew from it that workers are exploited. This issue, however, is independent of the validity of not of the LTV. For example, Roemer thinks workers are exploited without believing in the LTV, and Smith believed the LTV without arguing that workers were exploited. ..."
"... * He seems to be recovering now. The vet is also expected to make a full recovery eventually. ..."
"... Further understanding, which evolved after Marx, is that the LTV is just special case of the principle that what produces a surplus of usefulness is not labour per se, but the energy used in the transformation of a larger quantity of something into a smaller quantity of something else, and muscle power is just one way, even if it was the main one for a very long time, to obtain energy to transform a large quantity of less useful commodities into a smaller quantity of more useful commodities. ..."
"... And this follows into the impression that I have derived from various authors that our high standards of living depend not on the high "productivity" of labour, but on the high "productivity" of fossil fuels, which are the product of the fertility of land ..."
"... the complex process of differentiation in the economy (aka the division of labor) obscures the relationship between the creation of the surplus (work time above that necessary to reproduce consumption bundle) and its utilization by capitalists via investment. Investment is not possible without exploitation of workers, but that relationship is occluded by the mechanics of employment, markets, and property. ..."
"... My impression is that your bearded friend Karl does not use "alienation" in that sense at all, in an economic sense, but in a humanist sense: that by being separated from the means of production proletarians are alienated from the meaning of their work, from work as a human activity, as distinct from an economic activity ..."
"... Practically every "Dilbert" strip is about "alienation". This is my favourite ..."
"... Placing a high value on the frivolous and "useless" has always been the hallmark of those most able to decide the value of anything, because they have no use for economic use (so to speak), but rather social signaling. Broad social respect is an extremely expensive thing to buy with money alone. ..."
Dec 11, 2017 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com

Lucius has been poorly recently, which has required some trips to the vet and therefore a bill of a size that only David Davis could negotiate*. This has made me wonder: is there more to be said for the labour theory of value than we like to think?

For a long time, I've not really cared about this theory one way or the other. This is partly because I've not bothered much with questions of value; partly because, as John Roemer has shown, we don't need (pdf) a labour theory of value to suggest workers are exploited; and partly because the main Marxian charges against capitalism for example that it entails relationships of domination hold true (or not!) independently of the theory.

As I approach retirement, however, I've begun to change my mind. I think of major expenses in terms of labour-time because they mean I have to work longer. A trip to the vet is an extra fortnight of work; a good guitar an extra month, a car an extra year, and so on.

When I consider my spending, I ask: what must I give up in order to get that? And the answer is my time and freedom. My labour-time is the measure of value.

This is a reasonable basis for the claim that workers are exploited. To buy a bundle of goods and services, we must work a number of hours a week. But taking all workers together, the hours we work are greater than the hours needed to produce those bundles because we must also work to provide a profit for the capitalist. As Marx put it:

We have seen that the labourer, during one portion of the labour-process, produces only the value of his labour-power, that is, the value of his means of subsistence During the second period of the labour-process, that in which his labour is no longer necessary labour, the workman, it is true, labours, expends labour-power; but his labour, being no longer necessary labour, he creates no value for himself. He creates surplus-value which, for the capitalist, has all the charms of a creation out of nothing. This portion of the working-day, I name surplus labour-time.

For Marx, value was socially-necessary labour time: David Harvey is good on this. From this perspective, exploitation and alienation are linked. Workers are exploited because they must work longer than necessary to get their consumption bundle. And they are alienated because this work is unsatisfying and a source of unfreedom. Now, I'll concede that many people hate the labour theory of value. One reason for this is that many discussions of it quickly become obscurantist as if "value" is some mystical entity embodied in commodities.

This, though, certainly was not Marx's intention. Quite the opposite. He intended his theory to be a demystification. He wanted to show how what looked like relations between things the exchange of money for goods or labour-time were in fact relations between people. And unequal ones at that.

What's more, the charge of obscurantism against Marx is an especially weak one when it comes from orthodox economics. Much of this invokes unobservable concepts such as the natural rate of unemployment, marginal productivity, utility, the marginal product of capital and natural rate of interest ideas which, in the last two cases, might not even be theoretically coherent.

In fact, the LTV is reasonably successful by the standards of conventional economics: we have empirical evidence to suggest that it does (pdf) a decent (pdf) job of explaining (pdf) relative prices not that this was how Marx intended it to be used.

You can of course, think of counter-examples to the theory. But so what? in the social sciences, no substantial theory is 100% true.

I suspect that some of the animosity to Marx's use of LTV arises because of a resistance to the inference that Marx drew from it that workers are exploited. This issue, however, is independent of the validity of not of the LTV. For example, Roemer thinks workers are exploited without believing in the LTV, and Smith believed the LTV without arguing that workers were exploited.

By the (low) standards of economic theories, perhaps the LTV isn't so bad.

* He seems to be recovering now. The vet is also expected to make a full recovery eventually.

December 11, 2017 Permalink

Comments

Luis Enrique , December 11, 2017 at 02:09 PM

But the LTV says more than the output of the economy is divided between the workers and the (suppliers and) owners of capital goods, doesn't it? I mean, mainstream econ says that too. And unless ownership of capital inputs to production is distributed equally across society, then some people consume things that other's labour has produced, which means workers must produce more than they consume. But again, that's basic mainstream stuff, not LVT. You end by saying you can believe in exploitation but not LVT, and vice versa, but the main body of this blog seems to be connecting the two. I am confused.

Of course if you have the ability to vary your labour supply, and labour is how you earn your money, then you ask yourself how much you need to work to purchase whatever. But again that's mainstream not LVT.

David Friedman , December 11, 2017 at 06:14 PM

Your version of the labor theory of value is one of Adam Smith's versions. I don't think it is Marx's, but I know Smith better than Marx.

And definitely not Ricardo's.

ConfusedNeoLiberal , December 11, 2017 at 08:51 PM

What about value, in terms of risk among others, that the employers put in starting a new business?

Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 12:23 AM

"Smith believed the LTV without arguing that workers were exploited."

The Marxian approach was interested in, as other commenters have said, in the specific capitalist case, where "capitalism" for him means strictly "labour for hire" by workers alienated from the means of production by their ownership by capitalists.

But the labour theory of value, as understood by what Marx called "classicals", applies also to all labour, and he used it in that sense.

My understanding of the classicals and the LTV is reduced to a minimum this:

Further understanding, which evolved after Marx, is that the LTV is just special case of the principle that what produces a surplus of usefulness is not labour per se, but the energy used in the transformation of a larger quantity of something into a smaller quantity of something else, and muscle power is just one way, even if it was the main one for a very long time, to obtain energy to transform a large quantity of less useful commodities into a smaller quantity of more useful commodities.

And this follows into the impression that I have derived from various authors that our high standards of living depend not on the high "productivity" of labour, but on the high "productivity" of fossil fuels, which are the product of the fertility of land.

Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 12:29 AM

"value, in terms of risk among others, that the employers put in starting a new business?"

If the business produces a surplus, that is value added, than the surplus is the product of the energy/labour expended by all participants

How it is accounted for is one issue, especially over multiple time periods, and how it is shared out is a social relationship.

As to risk, everybody in the business runs the risk of not getting paid at the end of the month, and the opportunity cost of not doing something else, whichever labour they put in.

How risk and opportunity cost are accounted for, especially over multiple time periods, is another issue, and how they are shared is another social relationship.

Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 01:14 AM

"the surplus is the product of the energy/labour expended by all participants"

I'll perhaps further diminish the reputation of my "contributions" this way: perhaps all social relationships of production (at least among males) map closely onto (cursorial) group hunts.

https://78.media.tumblr.com/d4db6631d383cbfc9bd135c799a06e7f/tumblr_n3u8r0eJu01sohvpko1_500.jpg

:-)

Luis Enrique , December 12, 2017 at 08:40 AM

That's a very long winded way of saying that making stuff requires labour.

Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 01:50 PM

"a very long winded way of saying that making stuff requires labour"

Well, that's obvious, but what the classicals thought of as the LTV was not entirely obvious: that "surplus" (rather than "stuff") comes from the fertility of land and the transformation achieved with labour, and that nothing else is needed to achieve "surplus". Because for example capital goods are themselves surplus from fertility or labour, again back to the first blades made from chipping lumps of obsidian.

That's quite a bit more insightful, never mind also controversial, than "making stuff requires labour".

Rich Clayton , December 12, 2017 at 03:35 PM

Love this post. But, being a fellow marxist, I can't help but to disagree with this bit: "And they are alienated because this work is unsatisfying and a source of unfreedom." This is a colloquial use of alienation, and its not wrong.

But Marx is getting at something else: the complex process of differentiation in the economy (aka the division of labor) obscures the relationship between the creation of the surplus (work time above that necessary to reproduce consumption bundle) and its utilization by capitalists via investment. Investment is not possible without exploitation of workers, but that relationship is occluded by the mechanics of employment, markets, and property.

That's the sense in which workers are alienated under capitalism. Socialism could still have boring work, but, in so far as the investment function is brought under collective democratic control, workers would not be alienated in the special sense Marx is using.

Lukas , December 12, 2017 at 03:41 PM

@Luis Enrique

"Where else could stuff come from?" Well, assuming by "stuff" we mean objects of value, nowhere. But the reasons for which we value them are not dependent upon their natural origins or the labor required for their production. I don't value a computer because it's made of plastic and silicon and so forth, nor because of the labor required to produce it. It's useful because of what it does, not what it is; it's sort of Kant's definition of art versus the general conception of tools.

As for the relationship between production functions and the LTV, that seems (at least prima facie) pretty straightforward. If there is a high olefimity ascribed to the surplus provided by the product created by X, Y, then those production functions will, themselves, be assigned greater value, i.e., be worthy of more labor-time to attain. E.g., even if I'm not very good at fishing, if I really like the flavor of fish over other protein sources, I'll spend more time increasing my labor efficiency (be a better fisherman).

Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 05:36 PM

"Everything ultimately derives from nature and the labour of humans. Where else could stuff come from? That's all there is."

Then in theory the cost (not the price) of everything can be measured in terms of physical quantities of primary inputs and of hours of work.

"What's controversial about it?"

What is controversial is that written like that you sound like a Marxist: the alternative approach is to say that *property* creates surplus.
In the standard neoclassical approach "property" is the often forgotten "initial endowments" of the single representative agent.

Anyhow the "narrative" is: as Mr. Moneybags owns the iron mine and the coal mine and the smelter and the ingot roller and spoon press, then he is entitled to the surplus because without his property it is impossible to make spoons. Labour on its own is worthless, wastes away, while property is "valuable" capital.

"And how one gets from a production function (stuff is made from X, Y and Z) to LTV"

Production functions are just not very elaborate scams to pretend that property is the factor of production, rather then the fertility of land and the energy of labour, and land does not exist (after JB Clark "disappeared" it) and labour is just an accessory. Part of the scam is that "X, Y and Z" are denominated in money, not physical quantities.

As I wrote in another answer accounting for the output of land fertility and labour energy and how it is shared are the difficult bits. Welcome to the institutional approach to the political economy. :-)

Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 05:41 PM

"the reasons for which we value them are not dependent upon their natural origins or the labor required for their production"

And here be dragons. Your old bearded acquaintance Karl has something to say about this :-).

"It's useful because of what it does, not what it is"

So cleaning floors which is very useful should have a high value, while Leonardo paintings, that are merely scarce, should have a low value :-).

I though that most people reckoned that "value" depends on scarcity: so there is a scarcity of even not very good promoters of torysm, so G Osborne is entitled to 600,000 a year to edit the "Evening Standard", but there is no scarcity of excellent cleaners, so cleaners gets minimum wage if they are lucky.

:-)

Luis Enrique , December 12, 2017 at 05:43 PM

counting hours of worked is not a measure of cost, it is a tally of hours worked. In mainstream econ, production functions describe a physical production process (to make 1 unit of Y, you combine inputs like so) and are not not denominated in money. e.g. You multiply L by w to get cost.

mulp , December 12, 2017 at 05:46 PM

Economies are zero sum. GDP must be paid for, otherwise it won't be produced. The only source of money comes from labor costs, the money paid to workers to work producing GDP. As conservatives note, all taxes fall on workers by directly taking their pay, or by hiking the prices of what workers buy.

Taxes pay workers, e.g. teachers, and doctors with Medicare and Medicaid, weapons makers and warriors, or pay people to pay workers, Social Security benefits and SNAP.

Capital has value because it is built by paying workers. It gets a cut to repay the payers of workers.

Monopoly rent seeking is unsustainable. If a monoplists takes more from workers than they pay workers, he eventually takes so much money workers can no longer pay for GDP and it falls to zero as workers produce what they consume without buying from the monopolist capital.

Tanstaafl

As Keynes put it:

"I feel sure that the demand for capital is strictly limited in the sense that it would not be difficult to increase the stock of capital up to a point where its marginal efficiency had fallen to a very low figure. This would not mean that the use of capital instruments would cost almost nothing, but only that the return from them would have to cover little more than their exhaustion by wastage and obsolescence together with some margin to cover risk and the exercise of skill and judgment. In short, the aggregate return from durable goods in the course of their life would, as in the case of short-lived goods, just cover their labour costs of production plus an allowance for risk and the costs of skill and supervision.

"Now, though this state of affairs would be quite compatible with some measure of individualism, yet it would mean the euthanasia of the rentier, and, consequently, the euthanasia of the cumulative oppressive power of the capitalist to exploit the scarcity-value of capital. Interest today rewards no genuine sacrifice, any more than does the rent of land. The owner of capital can obtain interest because capital is scarce, just as the owner of land can obtain rent because land is scarce. But whilst there may be intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of land, there are no intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of capital. An intrinsic reason for such scarcity, in the sense of a genuine sacrifice which could only be called forth by the offer of a reward in the shape of interest, would not exist, in the long run, except in the event of the individual propensity to consume proving to be of such a character that net saving in conditions of full employment comes to an end before capital has become sufficiently abundant. But even so, it will still be possible for communal saving through the agency of the State to be maintained at a level which will allow the growth of capital up to the point where it ceases to be scarce."


Economies are zero sum. The value of goods and services must equal the labor costs in the long run. Tanstaaafl

Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 06:01 PM

"Socialism could still have boring work, but, in so far as the investment function is brought under collective democratic control, workers would not be alienated in the special sense Marx is using."

My impression is that your bearded friend Karl does not use "alienation" in that sense at all, in an economic sense, but in a humanist sense: that by being separated from the means of production proletarians are alienated from the meaning of their work, from work as a human activity, as distinct from an economic activity.

Collective ownership does not change at all that kind of alienation: being a cog in the capitalist machinery is no less alienating than being a cog in the collectivist machinery.

I think that our blogger when he talks about distributing control of the production process to workers is far closer to the marxian ideal than a collectivist approach.

Practically every "Dilbert" strip is about "alienation". This is my favourite:

http://dilbert.com/strip/2002-03-09

But these are also good:

http://dilbert.com/strip/1991-12-26
http://dilbert.com/strip/1993-01-05
http://dilbert.com/strip/1993-04-26
http://dilbert.com/strip/1994-11-07
http://dilbert.com/strip/1996-03-03
http://dilbert.com/strip/1996-07-24
http://dilbert.com/strip/1996-10-10
http://dilbert.com/strip/2002-08-10

Luis Enrique , December 12, 2017 at 06:26 PM

That is not what zero sum means

Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 06:53 PM

"counting hours of worked is not a measure of cost"

For a definition of "cost" that is made-up disregarding P Sraffa's work and in general the classics.

"multiply L by w to get cost."

As J Robinson and others pointed out that "w" depends on the distribution of income, on the interest rate, etc., so is an institutional matter.
As I was saying, accounting for the surplus and how to share it is not so easily handwavable.

Luis Enrique , December 12, 2017 at 08:55 PM

sorry, I meant for a money definition of cost that is not just counting inputs, but which is inputs multiplied by their prices.

nobody is hand waving. I think the mainstream view is that 'value' and 'surplus' are not meaningful terms, only prices and profits and subjective value. A production function says nothing about prices, you have to explain them with other stuff, and as you say, institutions and all manner of things could come in the play there.

You can say that that workers produce more in money terms than than they are paid, which is trivial (the wages paid by an employer are less than its gross profits so long as there are non-zero returns to capital, interest on a loan or dividends or whatever) and to my mind it's silly to define that as exploitation because it would apply in situations where the 'capitalist' is getting a small return and workers rewarded handsomely by any standard. Better imo to define exploitation as when capitalists are earning excess returns (and I'd fudge that by differentiating between workers' wages and salaries of top execs). Otherwise you lay yourself open to "the only thing worse than being exploited by capitlists is not beingn exploited by capitalists" which is J Robinson too I believe.

Luis Enrique , December 12, 2017 at 08:57 PM

and i think you only have to look at the income distribution to infer workers are being expoloited

B.L. Zebub , December 13, 2017 at 04:02 AM

@Blissex,

This is a genuine question: what you exposed above is related to or influenced by Steve Keen's ideas, yes? If so, I'd be interested in reading about that in more detail.

Lukas , December 13, 2017 at 04:28 AM

@Blissex

I've always thought that defining value by scarcity was an absurd misdirection, in part because there is no reason that the two should correlate at all. At any point in socioeconomic development beyond subsistence, value is to some extent socially defined, not economically defined. Status ends up being the most "useful" resource, as we see among all those who've never had to worry about their material conditions.

Placing a high value on the frivolous and "useless" has always been the hallmark of those most able to decide the value of anything, because they have no use for economic use (so to speak), but rather social signaling. Broad social respect is an extremely expensive thing to buy with money alone.

@Luis Enrique

Ah, but name for me a production process that doesn't take place over time. There's an infinite amount of time for all of us, but for each of us only so much, and those who fail to value it die full of regret. Surely someone somewhere must have something to say about this.

Luis Enrique , December 13, 2017 at 08:34 AM

I don't know why I wrote the above. Surplus is also a mainstream term. See wages set by bargaing over a surplus. Presume it's based o