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Neoliberalism war on labor

“Robots are coming for your job” may be more scare talk than reality,
but instilling that belief helps weaken labor bargaining power.

Outsourcing is the way to decimate union power

News Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Recommended Links Over 50 and unemployed Identity politics as diversion of attention from social inequality Atomization and oppression of workforce Neoliberal rationality of false Gods of neoliberalism
The neoliberal myth of human capital Chronic Unemployment Redistribution of wealth up as the essence of neoliberalism Scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed Anti-globalization movement Immigration, wage depression and free movement of workers  
Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite Populism as a social protest against neoliberalism Tucker Carlson's rejection of neoliberalism and neoconservatism   Glass-Steagall repeal Destruction of the New Deal Think Tanks as Enabler of Neoliberal Coup d'état
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 Quite coup Neoconservatism as an attack dog of neoliberalism
Audacioues Oligarchy and Loss of Trust 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 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. his calculation in creating "New labor" (read neoliberal stooges of Wall Street masked as Democratic Party) was right and for a couple of elections voters allow Democrats to betray them after the elections. 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 crush of neoliberal ideology, much like Prague string signified the crush of Communist ideology. but while there was some level of harassment, individual beatings of banksters in 2008 were non-existent. And in zombie stage (with discredited ideology) neoliberalism managed to continue and even counterattack in some countries. Brazil and Argentina fall into neoliberal hands just recently.   Neoliberals actually managed to learn Trotskyites methods of subversion of government and playing on population disconnect in case of economic difficulties as well if not better as Trotskyites themselves.

Neoliberalism is based on unconditional domination of labor by capital ("socialism for the rich, feudalism for labor"). American scholar and cultural critic Henry Giroux alleges that neoliberalism holds that market forces should organize every facet of society, including economic and social life. In labor relations neoliberalism promotes a social darwinist ethic which elevates self-interest over social needs. A new class of workers lost "good" jobs in the  USA since arly 90th. They all, especially, "over 50" caterory, facing acute socio-economic insecurity, There is no a special tern for such people. They are called  'precariat'. 

The imposition of neoliberalism in the United States arose from a the political counterrevolution led by financial oligarchy in the 1970s. It was their reaction on the falling rate of profitability in manufacturing industry as well as the emergence of strong competitors both in Europe and Asia, competitors which no longer were hampered by WWII decimation of industrial potential and in some way even manage to benefit from reconstruction getting newer better factories then in the USA.

Neoliberalism doesn't shrink government, but instead convert it into a national security state, which provides little governmental oversight over large business and multinationals, but toughly control the lower classes, the smacks -- including mass incarceration those at the bottom. With the inmates along with illegal immigrants slowly becoming an important  source of low-wage labor for some US corporations. Essentially a new incarnation of slave labor. 

Neoliberal policies led to the situation in the US economy in which 30% of workers earn low wages (less than two-thirds of the median wage for full-time workers), and 35% of the labor force is underemployed; only 40% of the working-age population in the U.S. is adequately employed. The Center for Economic Policy Research's (CEPR) Dean Baker (2006) argued that the driving force behind rising inequality in the US has been a series of government step to impose on the society deliberate, neoliberal policy choices including anti-inflationary bias, anti-unionism, and profiteering in the health industry

It can not be hidden. Redistribution of wealth up is all the neoliberalism is about. Simplifying, neoliberalism can be defined as socialism for the rich and feudalism for poor.

So forms of brutal exploitation when people work 12 hours a day (as many "contractors" do now, as for them labor laws do not apply) or when even bathroom breaks are regulated now are more common.  Amazon, Uber and several other companies have shown that neoliberal model can be as brutal as plantation slavery.

In a way, we returned to the brutality of the beginning of XX century on a new level characterized by much higher level of instability of employment. This is not disputed  even for neoliberal stooges in economic departments of major universities. As interesting question arise: "What form the backlash might take, if any ?"

I think it is an observable fact that the US neoliberal elite is now is discredited and entered political crisis in which it can't govern "as usual": defeat of Hillary Clinton and ability to Trump to win nomination from Republican Party and then managed to win them despite opposition from intelligence agencies and attempt to discredit him by trying him to Russia national elections. Tump victory signifies the start of discreditation of the neoliberal political elite. The sma is true for the success of Sunders in Democratic Party primaries and the fact that DNC needed to resort to dirty tricks to derail his candidacy signifies the same. Even taking into account his betrayal of his voters.

If this does not suggest the crisis of neoliberal governance, I do not know what is. Neoliberal Democrats ("Clintonized" Democratic Party) by and large lost workers and lower middle class votes. It became "Republicans light", the second War Party in Washington and now rely of "CIA-democrats" (candidates with background in intelligences serves or military) to win the seats in Congress much like Republicans in the past.  There was even (quickly suppressed) revolt against Pelosi in the House of Representatives, as it is clear that Pelosi represents the "Party of Davos" in the Congress, not American people.  

The crisis of neoliberalism created conditions for increased social protest which at stage mostly result in passive "f*ck you" to neoliberal elite.  In 2016 that led to election of Trump, but it was Sanders who captures social protest voters only to be derailed by machinations of DNC and Clinton clan.  At the same time, the efficiency with which Occupy Wall Street movement was neutered means that the national security state is still pretty effective in suppressing of dissent, so open violence probably will be suppressed brutally and efficiently.  "Color revolution" methods of social protest are not effective in  the USA sitution, as the key factor that allow "color revolutionaries" to challenge existing government. It is easy and not so risky to do when you understand that  the USA and its three letter agencies, embassies and NGOs stand behind and might allow you to emigrate, if you cause fail.  No so other significant power such as China or Russia can stand behind the protesters against neoliberalism in the USA. Neoliberals controls all braches of power. And internationally they are way too strong to allow Russia or China to interfere in the US election the way the USA interfered into Russian presidential election.   


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[Mar 24, 2020] Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika! by Mike Whitney

Mar 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

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Imagine if the congress approved a measure to form a public-private partnership between the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Can you imagine that?

Now imagine if a panicky and ill-informed Congress gave the Fed a blank check to bail out all of its crooked crony corporate and Wall Street friends, allowing the Fed to provide more than $4.5 trillion to underwater corporations that ripped off Mom and Pop investors by selling them bonds that were used to goose their stock prices so fatcat CEOs could make off like bandits. Imagine if all that red ink from private actors was piled onto the national debt pushing long-term interest rates into the stratosphere while crushing small businesses, households and ordinary working people.

Now try to imagine the impact this would have on the nation's future. Imagine if the Central Bank was given the green-light to devour the Treasury, control the country's "purse strings", and use nation's taxing authority to shore up its trillions in ultra-risky leveraged bets, its opaque financially-engineered ponzi-instruments, and its massive speculative debts that have gone pear-shaped leaving a gaping black hole on its balance sheet?

Well, you won't have to imagine this scenario for much longer, because the reality is nearly at hand. You see, the traitorous, dumbshit nincompoops in Congress are just a hairs-breadth away from abdicating congress's crucial power of the purse, which is not only their greatest strength, but also allows the congress to reign in abuses of executive power by controlling the flow of funding. The power of the purse is the supreme power of government which is why the founders entrusted it to the people's elected representatives in congress. Now these imbeciles are deciding whether to hand over that authority to a privately-owned banking cartel that has greatly expanded the chasm between rich and poor, incentivized destructive speculation on an industrial scale, and repeatedly inflated behemoth asset-price bubbles that have inevitably blown up sending stocks and the real economy into freefall. The idea of merging the Fed and the Treasury first appeared in its raw form in an article by former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen in the Financial Times. Here's a short excerpt from the piece:

"The Fed could ask Congress for the authority to buy limited amounts of investment-grade corporate debt The Fed's intervention could help restart that part of the corporate debt market, which is under significant stress. Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed while still providing needed liquidity to an essential market." ( Financial Times )

The Fed is not allowed to buy corporate debt, because it is not within its mandate of "price stability and full employment". It's also not allowed to arbitrarily intervene in the markets to pick winners and losers, nor is it allowed to bailout poorly-managed crybaby corporations who were gaming the system to their own advantage when the whole deal blew up in their faces. That's their problem, not the Fed's and not the American taxpayer's.

But notice how Bernanke emphasizes how "Such a programme would have to be carefully calibrated to minimize the credit risk taken by the Fed". Why do you think he said that?

He said it because he anticipates an arrangement where the new Treasury-Fed combo could buy up to "$4.5 trillion of corporate debt" (according to Marketwatch and BofA). And the way this will work, is the Fed will select the bonds that will be purchased and the credit risk will be heaped onto the US Treasury. Apparently Bernanke and Yellen think this is a "fair" arrangement, but others might differ on that point.

Keep in mind, that in the last week alone, investors pulled a record $107 billion out of corporate bonds which is a market which has been in a deep-freeze for nearly a month. The only activity is the steady surge of redemptions by frantic investors who want to get their money back before the listing ship heads for Davey Jones locker. This is the market that Bernanke wants the American people to bail out mainly because he doesn't want to submerge the Fed's balance sheet in red ink. He wants to find a sucker who will take the loss instead. That's where Uncle Sam comes in, he's the target of this subterfuge. This same theme pops up in a piece in the Wall Street Journal. Check it out:

"At least Treasury has come around to realizing it needs a facility to provide liquidity for companies. But as we write this, Mr. Mnuchin was still insisting that Treasury have control of most of the money to be able to ladle out directly to companies it wants to help. This is a recipe for picking winners and losers, and thus for bitter political fights and months of ugly headlines charging favoritism. The far better answer is for Treasury to use money from Congress to replenish the Exchange Stabilization Fund to back the Fed in creating a facility or special-purpose vehicles under Section 13(3) to lend the money to all comers. "( "Leaderless on the Econom" , Wall Street Journal)

I can hardly believe the author is bold enough to say this right to our faces. Read it carefully: They are saying "We want your money, but not your advice. The Fed will choose who gets the cash and who doesn't. Just put your trillions on the counter and get the hell out."

Isn't that what they're saying? Of course it is. And the rest of the article is even more arrogant:

"The Fed can charge a non-concessionary rate, but the vehicles should be open to those who think they need the money, not merely to those Treasury decides are worthy." (Huh? So the Treasury should have no say so in who gets taxpayer money??) The looming liquidity crisis is simply too great for that kind of bureaucratic, politicized decision-making. (Wall Street Journal)

Get it? In other words, the folks at Treasury are just too stupid or too prejudiced to understand the subtleties of a bigass bailout like this. Is that arrogance or what?

This is the contempt these people have for you and me and everyone else who isn't a part of their elitist gaggle of reprobates. Here's a clip from another article at the WSJ that helps to show how the financial media is pushing this gigantic handout to corporate America:.

"The Federal Reserve, Treasury Department and banking regulators deserve congratulations for their bold, necessary actions to provide liquidity to the U.S. financial system amid the coronavirus crisis. But more remains to be done. We thus recommend: (1) immediate congressional action . to authorize the Treasury to use the Exchange Stabilization Fund to guarantee prime money-market funds, (2) regulatory action to effect temporary reductions in bank capital and liquidity requirements (NOTE–So now the banks don't need to hold capital against their loans?) .. additional Fed lending to banks and nonbanks .(Note -by "nonbanks", does the author mean underwater hedge funds?)

We recommend that the Fed take further actions as lender of last resort. First, it should re-establish the Term Auction Facility, used in the 2008 crisis, allowing depository institutions to borrow against a broad range of collateral at an auction price (Note–They want to drop the requirement for good Triple A collateral.) Second, it should consider further exercising its Section 13(3) authority to provide additional liquidity to nonbanks, potentially including purchases of corporate debt through a special-purpose vehicle" ( "Do More to Avert a Liquidity Crisis" , Wall Street Journal )

This isn't a bailout, it's a joke, and there's no way Congress should approve these measures, particularly the merging of the US Treasury with the cutthroat Fed. That's a prescription for disaster! The Fed needs to be abolished not embraced as a state institution. It's madness!

And look how the author wants to set up an special-purpose vehicle (SPV) so the accounting chicanery can be kept off the books which means the public won't know how much money is being flushed down the toilet trying to resuscitate these insolvent corporations whose executives are still living high on the hog on the money they stole from credulous investors. This whole scam stinks to high heaven!

Meanwhile America's working people will get a whopping $1,000 bucks to tide them over until the debts pile up to the rafters and they're forced to rob the neighborhood 7-11 to feed the kids. How fair is that?

And don't kid yourself: This isn't a bailout, it's the elitist's political agenda aimed at creating a permanent underclass who'll work for peanuts just to eek out a living.

Welcome to Sweatshop Amerika!


anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:03 am GMT

In 2008-2009, the Federal Reserve bailed out the global banking system to the tune of $16 Trillion. But American citizens were left to pay usurious rates of interest on $1 Trillion of credit card debt. And American students had lost years of economic opportunity but their $1 Trillion dollars of debt could not be discharged through bankruptcy.

This time the banks should stand behind the debtors at the government troth.

anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:06 am GMT
It's hard to understand how holiday cruise shipping can be regarded as an essential business.

It is almost as hard to understand why a "Globalist Enterprise" should be spared its fate through the generosity of of one country. Even harder to understand, why would that one country should bail out a business, which had employed both tax-avoidance schemes as well as strategy import substitution and foreign investment to improve its profits at the expense of that country.

Nationalism is better that globalism. The current crisis was not caused by globalism; but globalism has drained from our country the means to respond to the crisis with the medicines and equipment that would reduce its severity.

Not a single cent of government aid should go toward a person or an entity outside the United States and it territories. Conditions should be placed upon such aid, so that the companies receiving it, must domesticate their supply chains, and must produce and develop their products within the United States.

Kim , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 5:38 am GMT
@anachronism Make the universities discharge the student debt. It was their scam all along. They can begin by retrenching their schools of the humanities and at least halving their administrative staff. And end building and sports programs. The fat hangs heavy on that particular pig.
anachronism , says: Show Comment March 23, 2020 at 7:19 am GMT
@Kim I agree with you up to a point.

The student and the university should share responsibility equally. In the future, the institution should be made a co-signor on any student loan; and the obligation to repay the loan should be joint and several for both the institution and the student.

Bankruptcy provides the ex-student with the chance to start over and to escape the burden; but not without consequences. This will discourage the ex-student, who is doing well financially and has the means to service the debt, from just walking away.

[Mar 15, 2020] The Companies Putting Profits Ahead of Public Health

Mar 14, 2020 | www.nytimes.com

As the coronavirus spreads, the public interest requires employers to abandon their longstanding resistance to paid sick leave.

By The Editorial Board

The editorial board is a group of opinion journalists whose views are informed by expertise, research, debate and certain longstanding values . It is separate from the newsroom.

Most American restaurants do not offer paid sick leave. Workers who fall sick face a simple choice: Work and get paid or stay home and get stiffed. Not surprisingly, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2014 that fully 20 percent of food service workers had come to work at least once in the previous year " while sick with vomiting or diarrhea ."

As the new coronavirus spreads across the United States, the time has come for restaurants, retailers and other industries that rely on low-wage labor to abandon their parsimonious resistance to paid sick leave. Companies that do not pay sick workers to stay home are endangering their workers, their customers and the health of the broader public. Studies show that paying for sick employees to stay home significantly reduces the spread of the seasonal flu. There's every reason to think it would help to check the new coronavirus, too.

[Mar 06, 2020] Palliative Liberalism Can't Cure Our Ailing Working Class

Mar 06, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Class-neutral, race-based policies in the United States include affirmative action in hiring, government set-asides for specified groups in contracting, and gerrymandering of congressional districts to create majority-minority districts likely to elect a member of a racial minority as a representative. In most cases the beneficiaries of these policies tend to be members of the affluent elite within a particular racial or ethnic group. For technocratic neoliberalism, the goal is to ensure that there is the proper racial and gender balance within the overclass, the balance that presumably would result from a perfect meritocracy. If pure meritocracy does not yet exist, then a simulacrum will be created. But as the British socialist thinker Ralph Miliband put it, "access to positions of power by members of the subordinate classes does not change the fact of domination; it only changes the personnel."

The assumption that contemporary North America and Europe already have near-classless societies, to be made perfectly classless by a few low-cost policy interventions, also compels neoliberals to attribute the problems of the native white Western working class not to the class system but rather to personal shortcomings, which a number of unfortunate individuals are alleged to share.

The most important personal shortcoming is alleged to be a lack of adequate job skills. The theory of skill-biased technological change (SBTC) was popular during the bubble years before the Great Recession. SBTC theory explained rising inequality by asserting that the "left-behind" members of the working class had inferior and outmoded skills not needed by the "creative class" or the "digital elite" in the new "global knowledge economy."

The premise has been that U.S. corporations like Apple did not offshore production to China to take advantage of low-wage, unfree workers and state subsidies of various kinds. No, it is often implied, the poor Chinese workers migrating from rural areas to make iPhones in sweatshop factories in southern China in degrading conditions for a pittance had superior STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills unmatched among ignorant American or European workers. Provide these "left-behind" workers in the West with appropriate skills ("human capital" in the pseudoeconomic jargon of neoliberalism) and their earnings will increase.

On the basis of SBTC theory, school curricula in the U.S. and elsewhere have been reconfigured to focus on STEM skills. For a generation, the conventional wisdom has held that the "jobs of the future" are "knowledge economy" jobs like software coding. But is this really true?

For working-class Americans and Europeans, the jobs of the future are mostly low-wage jobs, many of them in health care. In most of these jobs, the low wages are caused not by a lack of university education, which is not needed, nor by a lack of vocational skills, but by a lack of bargaining power on the part of workers.

♦♦♦

Somewhat bolder proposals to help the working class, which also avoid any heretical questioning of the labor market effects of deunionization, offshoring, and mass immigration, include more redistribution of income in the form of cash transfers or tax breaks and more opportunities for working-class citizens to start their own businesses.

Redistributionist proposals range from expanding tax subsidies to wage earners, like America's earned income tax credit (EITC), to the old but periodically revived idea of a universal basic income (UBI), which would allow all citizens to live at a minimally adequate level without working. While some minor forms of enhanced redistribution to mollify discontented voters will undoubtedly be tried in many Western countries, proposals for massive cash transfers are doomed for a number of reasons.

Purchasing political acquiescence from workers who have stagnant or declining incomes with substantial amounts of cash requires an economically dynamic sector of the economy to make the bribes affordable. In some versions, radical redistributionism posits the permanent existence of high intellectual-property rents flowing from the rest of the world to tech tycoons, along with global financial rents flowing to money managers. These rents, it is assumed, will be so high and sustainable that the tycoons and money managers will gladly share them with the rest of the population in the nation-states in which they happen to reside.

At the local level, something like this system has long existed in tech centers like San Francisco and financial entrepôts like New York and London. Local rentier interests are coddled by governments in return for their contribution to revenues. But while it may work in a few hub cities, the policy cannot be scaled up to the level of the ordinary nation-state, much less a continental nation-state like the United States, with a third of a billion inhabitants.

It is no coincidence that Reaganism-Clintonism and Thatcherism-Blairism flourished in an era of prolonged asset bubbles. For a time, it is possible for stock market booms and real estate bubbles to fund public services and redistribution while allowing the wealthy to keep most of their gains. But the financial industry is volatile and global innovation rents quickly disappear, as a result of lapsing patents, intellectual property theft, foreign success in indigenous innovation, and the commoditization of former cutting-edge industries.

♦♦♦

Recently a rival approach to reform, antimonopolism, has attracted growing attention and support among American progressives. Based on a revival of the long-moribund small-producer republicanism of William Jennings Bryan, Louis Brandeis, and Wright Patman, this school blames inequality and a host of other social ills on increasing "concentration" or "monopoly" and proposes a radical antitrust policy as a panacea. Breaking up large firms into smaller ones, it is claimed, will increase opportunities for Americans to exit the labor market by transitioning from wage earners to small business owners. Those who continue to sell their labor for wages will have their bargaining power increased, and the monopsony wage-setting power of employers reduced, by a government policy of breaking up big employers into a greater number of smaller ones -- so it is said.

Praising small business is certain to be an applause line in most Western democracies, given popular nostalgia for old-fashioned small-town and rural life. But multiplying the number of small firms will not help the wage-earning majority, because small firms pay poorly. In the U.S., large firms with over five hundred workers in 2007 employed 44 percent of all workers but only 28 percent of low-wage workers. Firms with fewer than ten workers employed only 20 percent of the workforce but 42 percent of low-wage workers.

Some of the new antimonopolists have suggested that breaking up big firms can increase the bargaining power of workers. But the idea that janitors will be in a better position to bargain for higher wages if Facebook is broken into three or four or five giant successor firms is implausible, to say the least.

♦♦♦

The cure-alls of education, redistribution, and antimonopolism enjoy broad elite support from the center-left to the center-right, in part, no doubt, because they do not question the commitment of post-1970s neoliberalism to liberalized policies about trade, immigration, and organized labor. Redistribution, for example, is not necessarily a left-wing idea. On the contrary, labor liberals and social democrats have usually opposed proposals for post-tax transfers of cash to individuals, in favor of measures that increase the ability of workers to bargain for higher pretax wages, like limits on immigration and offshoring, collective bargaining at the firm or sectoral level, and public job guarantees and socialized in-kind benefits like universal health care ("de-commodification").

Conversely, cash transfers and ideas of universal capitalism have a long and distinguished pedigree on the free market right. From Milton Friedman in the 1960s to Charles Murray in the 1990s, libertarians have proposed using some form of a basic income as a substitute, not a supplement, for most or all other social insurance and antipoverty programs.

But like the panaceas of education and redistribution, anti-monopolism does not question the premises of economic neoliberalism. Indeed, the antimonopolists claim, with some justification, that they are even more fervent devotees of markets than conventional neoliberals.

Worst of all, three of these schools of thought seek to respond to working-class populist rebellions by offering workers the chance to become something other than workers, as though there were something shameful and retrograde about being an ordinary wage earner. Many champions of education as a panacea want to turn wage earners into professionals. Advocates of universal capitalism want to turn wage earners into investors. Antimonopolists want to turn wage earners into small business owners.

In the 1930s, Keynes speculated about the euthanasia of the rentier class. These reformers propose the euthanasia of the working class. The neoliberal utopia is a workerless paradise.

♦♦♦

What about socialism -- the genuine kind with state ownership of the means of production? In theory, the option of democratic socialism need not be discredited by the horrors wrought by Marxist-Leninist dictatorships in rural nations like twentieth-century Russia and China.

Democratic socialism is discredited for other reasons. One is the greater track record of the mixed economy, with a blend of markets, public enterprises, and nonprofit provision, over both the pure free market economy and state socialism. A case can be made for socializing some enterprises or industries, but socializing everything can only be justified by dogmatic ideology.

The other argument against democratic socialism is the fact that socializing most or all of the economy by itself would not address the problem of checking the power of the managerial elite, which mere elections, however free, would be unlikely to constrain. Empowering organized labor by means like tripartite business-labor-government bargaining can provide real checks on the managerial overclass, without sacrificing the dynamism of the mixed economy.

♦♦♦

The American writer Daniel McCarthy has aptly called approaches like the ones I have criticized in this essay "palliative liberalism." However popular these miracle cures may be among the managerial elite and the overclass intelligentsia, as remedies for working-class distress in the deindustrialized heartlands of the Western world the panaceas of redistributionism, education, and antimonopolism are like prescriptions of aspirin for cancer. They may ameliorate the symptoms, but they do not cure the disease -- the imbalance of power, within Western nation-states, between the overclass and the working class as a whole, including many exploited immigrant workers who labor for the affluent in the metropolitan hubs.

If banana republicanism is to be avoided as the fate of the Western democracies, reformers in America and Europe will have to do far more than buy off the population with a subsidy here or an antitrust lawsuit there. Indeed, if a package of minor, ameliorative reforms is handed down from the mountaintops of Davos or Aspen by a claque of benevolent billionaires and the technocrats and the politicians and intellectuals whom the billionaires subsidize, with little or no public participation or debate, the lack of voice and agency of most citizens will be made apparent in the most humiliating way.

What the racially and religiously diverse working-class majorities in the Western nations need is what they once possessed and no longer have: countervailing power. In the absence of mass-membership institutions comparable to the older grassroots parties, labor unions, and religious organizations, which can provide ordinary citizens with the collective power to check the abuses of the managerial elite, palliative reform at most can create oligarchy with a human face.

Michael Lind is a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. This essay is adapted from his most recent book, The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite , published on January 21st by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. © 2020 by Michael Lind.

[Mar 04, 2020] Class: The Little Word the Elites Want You to Forget

Mar 02, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith and Karl Marx grounded their philosophies in the understanding that there is a natural antagonism between the rich and the rest of us. The interests of the rich are not our interests. The truths of the rich are not our truths. The lives of the rich are not our lives. Great wealth not only breeds contempt for those who do not have it but it empowers oligarchs to pay armies of lawyers, publicists, politicians, judges, academics and journalists to censure and control public debate and stifle dissent. Neoliberalism , deindustrialization, the destruction of labor unions, slashing and even eliminating the taxes of the rich and corporations, free trade, globalization, the surveillance state, endless war and austerity -- the ideologies or tools used by the oligarchs to further their own interests -- are presented to the public as natural law, the mechanisms for social and economic progress, even as the oligarchs dynamite the foundations of a liberal democracy and exacerbate a climate crisis that threatens to extinguish human life.

The oligarchs are happy to talk about race. They are happy to talk about sexual identity and gender. They are happy to talk about patriotism. They are happy to talk about religion. They are happy to talk about immigration. They are happy to talk about abortion. They are happy to talk about gun control. They are happy to talk about cultural degeneracy or cultural freedom. They are not happy to talk about class. Race, gender, religion, abortion, immigration, gun control, culture and patriotism are issues used to divide the public, to turn neighbor against neighbor, to fuel virulent hatreds and antagonisms. The culture wars give the oligarchs, both Democrats and Republicans, the cover to continue the pillage. There are few substantial differences between the two ruling political parties in the United States. This is why oligarchs like Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg can switch effortlessly from one party to the other. Once oligarchs seize power, Aristotle wrote, a society must either accept tyranny or choose revolution.

The United States stood on the cusp of revolution -- a fact President Franklin Roosevelt acknowledged in his private correspondence -- amid the breakdown of capitalism in the 1930s. Roosevelt responded by aggressively curbing the power of the oligarchs. The federal government dealt with massive unemployment by creating 12 million jobs through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), making the government the largest employer in the country. It legalized unions, many of which had been outlawed, and through the National Labor Relations Act empowered organizing. It approved banking regulations, including the Emergency Banking Act, the Banking Act and the Securities Act, all in 1933, to prevent another stock market crash. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration provided the equivalent in today's money of $9.88 billion for relief operations in cities and states. The Democratic president heavily taxed the rich and corporations. (The Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s was still taxing the highest earners at 91%.) Roosevelt's administration instituted programs such as Social Security and a public pension program. It provided financial assistance to tenant farmers and migrant workers. It funded arts and culture. It created the United States Housing Authority and instituted the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established the minimum wage and set a limit on mandatory work hours. This heavy government intervention lifted the country out of the Great Depression. It also made Roosevelt, who was elected to an unprecedented fourth term, and the Democratic Party wildly popular among working and middle-class families. The Democratic Party, should it resurrect such policies, would win every election in a landslide.

But the New Deal was the bête noire of the oligarchs. They began to undo Roosevelt's New Deal even before World War II broke out at the end of 1941. They gradually dismantled the regulations and programs that had not only saved capitalism but arguably democracy itself. We now live in an oligarchic state. The oligarchs control politics, the economy, culture, education and the press. Donald Trump may be a narcissist and a con artist, but he savages the oligarchic elite in his long-winded speeches to the delight of his crowds. He, like Bernie Sanders, speaks about the forbidden topic -- class. But Trump, though an embarrassment to the oligarchs, does not, like Sanders, pose a genuine threat to them. Trump will, like all demagogues, incite violence against the vulnerable, widen the cultural and social divides and consolidate tyranny, but he will leave the rich alone. It is Sanders whom the oligarchs fear and hate.

The Democratic Party elites will use any mechanism, no matter how nefarious and undemocratic, to prevent Sanders from obtaining the nomination. The New York Times interviewed 93 of the more than 700 superdelegates, appointed by the party and permitted to vote in the second round if no candidate receives the required 1,991 delegates to win in the first round. Most of those interviewed said they would seek to prevent Sanders from being the nominee if he did not have a majority of delegates in the first count, even if it required drafting someone who did not run in the primaries -- Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio was mentioned -- and even if it led to Sanders' supporters abandoning the party in disgust. If Sanders fails to obtain 1,991 delegates before the convention, which appears likely, it seems nearly certain he will be blocked by the party from becoming the Democratic candidate. The damage done to the Democratic Party, if this happens, will be catastrophic. It will also all but ensure that Trump wins a second term.

As I wrote in my Feb. 17 column , "The New Rules of the Games," "Sanders' democratic socialism is essentially that of a New Deal Democrat. His political views would be part of the mainstream in France or Germany, where democratic socialism is an accepted part of the political landscape and is routinely challenged as too accommodationist by communists and radical socialists. Sanders calls for an end to our foreign wars, a reduction of the military budget, for 'Medicare for All,' abolishing the death penalty, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and private prisons, a return of Glass-Steagall , raising taxes on the wealthy, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, canceling student debt, eliminating the Electoral College, banning fracking and breaking up agribusinesses. This does not qualify as a revolutionary agenda."

"Sanders, unlike many more radical socialists, does not propose nationalizing the banks and the fossil fuel and arms industries," I continued. "He does not call for the criminal prosecution of the financial elites who trashed the global economy or the politicians and generals who lied to launch preemptive wars, defined under international law as criminal wars of aggression, which have devastated much of the Middle East, resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of refugees and displaced people, and cost the nation between $5 trillion and $7 trillion. He does not call for worker ownership of factories and businesses. He does not promise to halt the government's wholesale surveillance of the public. He does not intend to punish corporations that have moved manufacturing overseas. Most importantly, he believes, as I do not, that the political system, including the Democratic Party, can be reformed from within. He does not support sustained mass civil disobedience to bring the system down, the only hope we have of halting the climate emergency that threatens to doom the human race. On the political spectrum, he is, at best, an enlightened moderate."

The Democratic Party leaders are acutely aware that in a functioning democracy, one where the rich do not buy elections and send lobbyists to Washington and state capitals to write laws and legislation, one where the danger of oligarchic rule is understood and part of the national debate, they would be out of a job.

The Democrats, like the Republicans, serve the interests of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. The Democrats, like the Republicans, serve the interests of the defense contractors. The Democrats, like the Republicans, serve the interests of the fossil fuel industry. The Democrats, along with the Republicans, authorized $738 billion for our bloated military in fiscal 2020. The Democrats, like the Republicans, do not oppose the endless wars in the Middle East. The Democrats, like the Republicans, took from us our civil liberties, including the right to privacy, freedom from wholesale government surveillance, and due process. The Democrats, like the Republicans, legalized unlimited funding from the rich and corporations to transform our electoral process into a system of legalized bribery. The Democrats, like the Republicans, militarized our police and built a system of mass incarceration that has 25% of the world's prisoners, although the United States has only 5% of the world's population. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are the political face of the oligarchy.

The leaders of the Democratic Party -- the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Tom Perez -- would rather implode the party and the democratic state than surrender their positions of privilege. The Democratic Party is not a bulwark against despotism. It is the guarantor of despotism. It is a full partner in the class project. Its lies, deceit, betrayal of working men and women and empowering of corporate pillage made a demagogue like Trump possible. Any threat to the class project, even the tepid one that would be offered by Sanders as the party's nominee, will see the Democratic elites unite with the Republicans to keep Trump in power.

What will we do if the oligarchs in the Democratic Party once again steal the nomination from Sanders? Will we finally abandon a system that has always been gamed against us? Will we turn on the oligarchic state to build parallel, popular institutions to protect ourselves and to pit power against power? Will we organize unions, third parties and militant movements that speak in the language of class warfare? Will we form community development organizations that provide local currencies, public banks and food cooperatives? Will we carry out strikes and sustained civil disobedience to wrest power back from the oligarchs to save ourselves and our planet?

In 2016 I did not believe that the Democratic elites would permit Sanders to be the nominee and feared, correctly, they would use him after the convention to herd his followers into the voting booths for Hillary Clinton. I do not believe this animus against Sanders has changed in 2020. The theft this time may be more naked, and for this reason more revealing of the forces involved. If all this plays out as I expect and if those on the left continue to put their faith and energy into the Democratic Party, they are not simply willfully naive but complicit in their own enslavement. No successful political movement will be built within the embrace of the Democratic Party, nor will such a movement be built in one election cycle. The struggle to end oligarchic rule will be hard and bitter. It will take time. It will require self-sacrifice, including sustained protest and going to jail. It will be rooted in class warfare. The oligarchs will stop at nothing to crush it. Open, nonviolent revolt against the oligarchic state is our only hope. Oligarchic rule must be destroyed. If we fail, our democracy, and finally our species, will become extinct.

Related Articles
The World Is Now the Property of the 1 Percent by Nomi Prins / TomDispatch

America's Egregious Economic Inequality in a Single Statistic by Jacob Sugarman

Bernie Sanders Is the Only Candidate Who Can Save America by Juan Cole

[Mar 02, 2020] Class: The Little Word the Elites Want You to Forget

Mar 02, 2020 | www.truthdig.com
Mr. Fish / Truthdig
Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith and Karl Marx grounded their philosophies in the understanding that there is a natural antagonism between the rich and the rest of us. The interests of the rich are not our interests. The truths of the rich are not our truths. The lives of the rich are not our lives. Great wealth not only breeds contempt for those who do not have it but it empowers oligarchs to pay armies of lawyers, publicists, politicians, judges, academics and journalists to censure and control public debate and stifle dissent. Neoliberalism , deindustrialization, the destruction of labor unions, slashing and even eliminating the taxes of the rich and corporations, free trade, globalization, the surveillance state, endless war and austerity -- the ideologies or tools used by the oligarchs to further their own interests -- are presented to the public as natural law, the mechanisms for social and economic progress, even as the oligarchs dynamite the foundations of a liberal democracy and exacerbate a climate crisis that threatens to extinguish human life.

The oligarchs are happy to talk about race. They are happy to talk about sexual identity and gender. They are happy to talk about patriotism. They are happy to talk about religion. They are happy to talk about immigration. They are happy to talk about abortion. They are happy to talk about gun control. They are happy to talk about cultural degeneracy or cultural freedom. They are not happy to talk about class. Race, gender, religion, abortion, immigration, gun control, culture and patriotism are issues used to divide the public, to turn neighbor against neighbor, to fuel virulent hatreds and antagonisms. The culture wars give the oligarchs, both Democrats and Republicans, the cover to continue the pillage. There are few substantial differences between the two ruling political parties in the United States. This is why oligarchs like Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg can switch effortlessly from one party to the other. Once oligarchs seize power, Aristotle wrote, a society must either accept tyranny or choose revolution.

The United States stood on the cusp of revolution -- a fact President Franklin Roosevelt acknowledged in his private correspondence -- amid the breakdown of capitalism in the 1930s. Roosevelt responded by aggressively curbing the power of the oligarchs. The federal government dealt with massive unemployment by creating 12 million jobs through the Works Progress Administration (WPA), making the government the largest employer in the country. It legalized unions, many of which had been outlawed, and through the National Labor Relations Act empowered organizing. It approved banking regulations, including the Emergency Banking Act, the Banking Act and the Securities Act, all in 1933, to prevent another stock market crash. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration provided the equivalent in today's money of $9.88 billion for relief operations in cities and states. The Democratic president heavily taxed the rich and corporations. (The Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s was still taxing the highest earners at 91%.) Roosevelt's administration instituted programs such as Social Security and a public pension program. It provided financial assistance to tenant farmers and migrant workers. It funded arts and culture. It created the United States Housing Authority and instituted the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established the minimum wage and set a limit on mandatory work hours. This heavy government intervention lifted the country out of the Great Depression. It also made Roosevelt, who was elected to an unprecedented fourth term, and the Democratic Party wildly popular among working and middle-class families. The Democratic Party, should it resurrect such policies, would win every election in a landslide.

But the New Deal was the bête noire of the oligarchs. They began to undo Roosevelt's New Deal even before World War II broke out at the end of 1941. They gradually dismantled the regulations and programs that had not only saved capitalism but arguably democracy itself. We now live in an oligarchic state. The oligarchs control politics, the economy, culture, education and the press. Donald Trump may be a narcissist and a con artist, but he savages the oligarchic elite in his long-winded speeches to the delight of his crowds. He, like Bernie Sanders, speaks about the forbidden topic -- class. But Trump, though an embarrassment to the oligarchs, does not, like Sanders, pose a genuine threat to them. Trump will, like all demagogues, incite violence against the vulnerable, widen the cultural and social divides and consolidate tyranny, but he will leave the rich alone. It is Sanders whom the oligarchs fear and hate.

The Democratic Party elites will use any mechanism, no matter how nefarious and undemocratic, to prevent Sanders from obtaining the nomination. The New York Times interviewed 93 of the more than 700 superdelegates, appointed by the party and permitted to vote in the second round if no candidate receives the required 1,991 delegates to win in the first round. Most of those interviewed said they would seek to prevent Sanders from being the nominee if he did not have a majority of delegates in the first count, even if it required drafting someone who did not run in the primaries -- Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio was mentioned -- and even if it led to Sanders' supporters abandoning the party in disgust. If Sanders fails to obtain 1,991 delegates before the convention, which appears likely, it seems nearly certain he will be blocked by the party from becoming the Democratic candidate. The damage done to the Democratic Party, if this happens, will be catastrophic. It will also all but ensure that Trump wins a second term.

As I wrote in my Feb. 17 column , "The New Rules of the Games," "Sanders' democratic socialism is essentially that of a New Deal Democrat. His political views would be part of the mainstream in France or Germany, where democratic socialism is an accepted part of the political landscape and is routinely challenged as too accommodationist by communists and radical socialists. Sanders calls for an end to our foreign wars, a reduction of the military budget, for 'Medicare for All,' abolishing the death penalty, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and private prisons, a return of Glass-Steagall , raising taxes on the wealthy, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, canceling student debt, eliminating the Electoral College, banning fracking and breaking up agribusinesses. This does not qualify as a revolutionary agenda."

"Sanders, unlike many more radical socialists, does not propose nationalizing the banks and the fossil fuel and arms industries," I continued. "He does not call for the criminal prosecution of the financial elites who trashed the global economy or the politicians and generals who lied to launch preemptive wars, defined under international law as criminal wars of aggression, which have devastated much of the Middle East, resulted in hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of refugees and displaced people, and cost the nation between $5 trillion and $7 trillion. He does not call for worker ownership of factories and businesses. He does not promise to halt the government's wholesale surveillance of the public. He does not intend to punish corporations that have moved manufacturing overseas. Most importantly, he believes, as I do not, that the political system, including the Democratic Party, can be reformed from within. He does not support sustained mass civil disobedience to bring the system down, the only hope we have of halting the climate emergency that threatens to doom the human race. On the political spectrum, he is, at best, an enlightened moderate."

The Democratic Party leaders are acutely aware that in a functioning democracy, one where the rich do not buy elections and send lobbyists to Washington and state capitals to write laws and legislation, one where the danger of oligarchic rule is understood and part of the national debate, they would be out of a job.

The Democrats, like the Republicans, serve the interests of the pharmaceutical and insurance industries. The Democrats, like the Republicans, serve the interests of the defense contractors. The Democrats, like the Republicans, serve the interests of the fossil fuel industry. The Democrats, along with the Republicans, authorized $738 billion for our bloated military in fiscal 2020. The Democrats, like the Republicans, do not oppose the endless wars in the Middle East. The Democrats, like the Republicans, took from us our civil liberties, including the right to privacy, freedom from wholesale government surveillance, and due process. The Democrats, like the Republicans, legalized unlimited funding from the rich and corporations to transform our electoral process into a system of legalized bribery. The Democrats, like the Republicans, militarized our police and built a system of mass incarceration that has 25% of the world's prisoners, although the United States has only 5% of the world's population. The Democrats, like the Republicans, are the political face of the oligarchy.

The leaders of the Democratic Party -- the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Tom Perez -- would rather implode the party and the democratic state than surrender their positions of privilege. The Democratic Party is not a bulwark against despotism. It is the guarantor of despotism. It is a full partner in the class project. Its lies, deceit, betrayal of working men and women and empowering of corporate pillage made a demagogue like Trump possible. Any threat to the class project, even the tepid one that would be offered by Sanders as the party's nominee, will see the Democratic elites unite with the Republicans to keep Trump in power.

What will we do if the oligarchs in the Democratic Party once again steal the nomination from Sanders? Will we finally abandon a system that has always been gamed against us? Will we turn on the oligarchic state to build parallel, popular institutions to protect ourselves and to pit power against power? Will we organize unions, third parties and militant movements that speak in the language of class warfare? Will we form community development organizations that provide local currencies, public banks and food cooperatives? Will we carry out strikes and sustained civil disobedience to wrest power back from the oligarchs to save ourselves and our planet?

In 2016 I did not believe that the Democratic elites would permit Sanders to be the nominee and feared, correctly, they would use him after the convention to herd his followers into the voting booths for Hillary Clinton. I do not believe this animus against Sanders has changed in 2020. The theft this time may be more naked, and for this reason more revealing of the forces involved. If all this plays out as I expect and if those on the left continue to put their faith and energy into the Democratic Party, they are not simply willfully naive but complicit in their own enslavement. No successful political movement will be built within the embrace of the Democratic Party, nor will such a movement be built in one election cycle. The struggle to end oligarchic rule will be hard and bitter. It will take time. It will require self-sacrifice, including sustained protest and going to jail. It will be rooted in class warfare. The oligarchs will stop at nothing to crush it. Open, nonviolent revolt against the oligarchic state is our only hope. Oligarchic rule must be destroyed. If we fail, our democracy, and finally our species, will become extinct.

Related Articles
The World Is Now the Property of the 1 Percent by Nomi Prins / TomDispatch
America's Egregious Economic Inequality in a Single Statistic by Jacob Sugarman
Bernie Sanders Is the Only Candidate Who Can Save America by Juan Cole

[Feb 29, 2020] The problem with the idea of privilege is that very few people are really privileged, a white male dude certainly isn t privileged just because he is white and male

Jan 01, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

MisterMr 12.31.19 at 12:29 pm

An addendum to my previous comment:

The problem with the idea of privilege is that very few people are really privileged, a white male dude certainly isn't privileged just because he is white and male, although a black dudette could be in a worse position.

It is important to stress that actual privilege starts quite high on the totem pole, most people are not privileged.

[Feb 24, 2020] The new class war did a liberal elite pave the way for rise of Trump US news by

Notable quotes:
"... Between an oligarchy in technocratic form and outsider populism, Lind predicts that oligarchs with money and connections will win nine times out of 10. But as they turn narrow and nepotistic, the ruling class will further lose their connection to reality. ..."
Feb 02, 2020 | www.theguardian.com

[Feb 19, 2020] On Michael Lind's "The New Class War" by Gregor Baszak

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... To writer Michael Lind, Trump's victory, along with Brexit and other populist stirrings in Europe, was an outright declaration of "class war" by alienated working-class voters against what he calls a "university-credentialed overclass" of managerial elites. ..."
"... Lind cautions against a turn to populism, which he believes to be too personality-centered and intellectually incoherent -- not to mention, too demagogic -- to help solve the terminal crisis of "technocratic neoliberalism" with its rule by self-righteous and democratically unaccountable "experts" with hyperactive Twitter handles. Only a return to what Lind calls "democratic pluralism" will help stem the tide of the populist revolt. ..."
"... Many on the left have been incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat. The result has been the stifling climate of a neo-McCarthyism, in which the only explanation for Trump's success was an unholy alliance of "Putin stooges" and unrepentant "white supremacists." ..."
"... To Lind, the case is much more straightforward: while the vast majority of Americans supports Social Security spending and containing unskilled immigration, the elites of the bipartisan swamp favor libertarian free trade policies combined with the steady influx of unskilled migrants to help suppress wage levels in the United States. Trump had outflanked his opponents in the Republican primaries and Clinton in the general election by tacking left on the economy (he refused to lay hands on Social Security) and right on immigration. ..."
"... Then, in the 1930s, while the world was writhing from the consequences of the Great Depression, a series of fascist parties took the reigns in countries from Germany to Spain. To spare the United States a similar descent into barbarism, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented the New Deal, in which the working class would find a seat at the bargaining table under a government-supervised tripartite system where business and organized labor met seemingly as equals and in which collective bargaining would help the working class set sector-wide wages. ..."
"... This class compromise ruled unquestioned for the first decades of the postwar era. It was made possible thanks to the system of democratic pluralism, which allowed working-class and rural constituencies to actively partake in mass-membership organizations like unions as well as civic and religious institutions that would empower these communities to shape society from the ground up. ..."
"... But then, amid the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" set in that sought to reverse the class compromise. The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the newly emboldened managerial class was "global labor arbitrage" in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations; alternatively, profits can be maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of an unskilled, non-unionized immigrant workforce that competes for jobs with its unionized domestic counterparts. By one-sidedly canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, Lind concludes, the managerial elite had brought the recent populist backlash on itself. ..."
"... American parties are not organized parties built around active members and policy platforms; they are shifting coalitions of entrepreneurial candidate campaign organizations. Hence, the Democratic and Republican Parties are not only capitalist ideologically; they are capitalistically run enterprises. ..."
"... In the epigraph to the book, Lind cites approvingly the 1949 treatise The Vital Center by historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who wrote that "class conflict, pursued to excess, may well destroy the underlying fabric of common principle which sustains free society." Schlesinger was just one among many voices who believed that Western societies after World War II were experiencing the "end of ideology." From now on, the reasoning went, the ideological battles of yesteryear were settled in favor of a more disinterested capitalist (albeit New Deal–inflected) governance. This, in turn, gave rise to the managerial forces in government, the military, and business whose unchecked hold on power Lind laments. The midcentury social-democratic thinker Michael Harrington had it right when he wrote that "[t]he end of ideology is a shorthand way of saying the end of socialism." ..."
"... A cursory glance at the recent impeachment hearings bears witness to this, as career bureaucrats complained that President Trump unjustifiably sought to change the course of an American foreign policy that had been nobly steered by them since the onset of the Cold War. In their eyes, Trump, like the Brexiteers or the French yellow vest protesters, are vulgar usurpers who threaten the stability of the vital center from polar extremes. ..."
Jan 08, 2020 | lareviewofbooks.org

A FEW DAYS AFTER Donald Trump's electoral upset in 2016, Club for Growth co-founder Stephen Moore told an audience of Republican House members that the GOP was "now officially a Trump working class party." No longer the party of traditional Reaganite conservatism, the GOP had been converted instead "into a populist America First party." As he uttered these words, Moore says, "the shock was palpable" in the room.

The Club for Growth had long dominated Republican orthodoxy by promoting low tax rates and limited government. Any conservative candidate for political office wanting to reap the benefits of the Club's massive fundraising arm had to pay homage to this doctrine. For one of its formerly leading voices to pronounce the transformation of this orthodoxy toward a more populist nationalism showed just how much the ground had shifted on election night.

To writer Michael Lind, Trump's victory, along with Brexit and other populist stirrings in Europe, was an outright declaration of "class war" by alienated working-class voters against what he calls a "university-credentialed overclass" of managerial elites. The title of Lind's new book, The New Class War: Saving Democracy from the Managerial Elite , leaves no doubt as to where his sympathies lie, though he's adamant that he's not some sort of guru for a " smarter Trumpism ," as some have labeled him.

Lind cautions against a turn to populism, which he believes to be too personality-centered and intellectually incoherent -- not to mention, too demagogic -- to help solve the terminal crisis of "technocratic neoliberalism" with its rule by self-righteous and democratically unaccountable "experts" with hyperactive Twitter handles. Only a return to what Lind calls "democratic pluralism" will help stem the tide of the populist revolt.

The New Class War is a breath of fresh air. Many on the left have been incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton's defeat. The result has been the stifling climate of a neo-McCarthyism, in which the only explanation for Trump's success was an unholy alliance of "Putin stooges" and unrepentant "white supremacists."

To Lind, the case is much more straightforward: while the vast majority of Americans supports Social Security spending and containing unskilled immigration, the elites of the bipartisan swamp favor libertarian free trade policies combined with the steady influx of unskilled migrants to help suppress wage levels in the United States. Trump had outflanked his opponents in the Republican primaries and Clinton in the general election by tacking left on the economy (he refused to lay hands on Social Security) and right on immigration.

The strategy has since been successfully repeated in the United Kingdom by Boris Johnson, and it looks, for now, like a foolproof way for conservative parties in the West to capture or defend their majorities against center-left parties that are too beholden to wealthy, metropolitan interests to seriously attract working-class support. Berating the latter as irredeemably racist certainly doesn't help either.

What happened in the preceding decades to produce this divide in Western democracies? Lind's narrative begins with the New Deal, which had brought to an end what he calls "the first class war" in favor of a class compromise between management and labor. This first class war is the one we are the most familiar with: originating in the Industrial Revolution, which had produced the wretchedly poor proletariat, it soon led to the rise of competing parties of organized workers on the one hand and the liberal bourgeoisie on the other, a clash that came to a head in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Then, in the 1930s, while the world was writhing from the consequences of the Great Depression, a series of fascist parties took the reigns in countries from Germany to Spain. To spare the United States a similar descent into barbarism, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implemented the New Deal, in which the working class would find a seat at the bargaining table under a government-supervised tripartite system where business and organized labor met seemingly as equals and in which collective bargaining would help the working class set sector-wide wages.

This class compromise ruled unquestioned for the first decades of the postwar era. It was made possible thanks to the system of democratic pluralism, which allowed working-class and rural constituencies to actively partake in mass-membership organizations like unions as well as civic and religious institutions that would empower these communities to shape society from the ground up.

But then, amid the stagflation crisis of the 1970s, a "neoliberal revolution from above" set in that sought to reverse the class compromise. The most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the newly emboldened managerial class was "global labor arbitrage" in which production is outsourced to countries with lower wage levels and laxer regulations; alternatively, profits can be maximized by putting downward pressure on domestic wages through the introduction of an unskilled, non-unionized immigrant workforce that competes for jobs with its unionized domestic counterparts. By one-sidedly canceling the class compromise that governed the capitalist societies after World War II, Lind concludes, the managerial elite had brought the recent populist backlash on itself.

Likewise, only it can contain this backlash by returning to the bargaining table and reestablishing the tripartite system it had walked away from. According to Lind, the new class peace can only come about on the level of the individual nation-state because transnational treaty organizations like the EU cannot allow the various national working classes to escape the curse of labor arbitrage. This will mean that unskilled immigration will necessarily have to be curbed to strengthen the bargaining power of domestic workers. The free-market orthodoxy of the Club for Growth will also have to take a backseat, to be replaced by government-promoted industrial strategies that invest in innovation to help modernize their national economies.

Under which circumstances would the managerial elites ever return to the bargaining table? "The answer is fear," Lind suggests -- fear of working-class resentment of hyper-woke, authoritarian elites. Ironically, this leaves all the agency with the ruling class, who first acceded to the class compromise, then canceled it, and is now called on to forge a new one lest its underlings revolt.

Lind rightly complains all throughout the book that the old mass-membership based organizations of the 20th century have collapsed. He's coy, however, about who would reconstitute them and how. At best, Lind argues for a return to the old system where party bosses and ward captains served their local constituencies through patronage, but once more this leaves the agency with entities like the Republicans and Democrats who have a combined zero members. As the third-party activist Howie Hawkins remarked cunningly elsewhere ,

American parties are not organized parties built around active members and policy platforms; they are shifting coalitions of entrepreneurial candidate campaign organizations. Hence, the Democratic and Republican Parties are not only capitalist ideologically; they are capitalistically run enterprises.

Thus, they would hardly be the first options one would think of to reinvigorate the forces of civil society toward self-rule from the bottom up.

The key to Lind's fraught logic lies hidden in plain sight -- in the book's title. Lind does not speak of "class struggle ," the heroic Marxist narrative in which an organized proletariat strove for global power; no, "class war " smacks of a gloomy, Hobbesian war of all against all in which no side truly stands to win.

In the epigraph to the book, Lind cites approvingly the 1949 treatise The Vital Center by historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. who wrote that "class conflict, pursued to excess, may well destroy the underlying fabric of common principle which sustains free society." Schlesinger was just one among many voices who believed that Western societies after World War II were experiencing the "end of ideology." From now on, the reasoning went, the ideological battles of yesteryear were settled in favor of a more disinterested capitalist (albeit New Deal–inflected) governance. This, in turn, gave rise to the managerial forces in government, the military, and business whose unchecked hold on power Lind laments. The midcentury social-democratic thinker Michael Harrington had it right when he wrote that "[t]he end of ideology is a shorthand way of saying the end of socialism."

Looked at from this perspective, the break between the postwar Fordist regime and technocratic neoliberalism isn't as massive as one would suppose. The overclass antagonists of The New Class War believe that they derive their power from the same "liberal order" of the first-class peace that Lind upholds as a positive utopia. A cursory glance at the recent impeachment hearings bears witness to this, as career bureaucrats complained that President Trump unjustifiably sought to change the course of an American foreign policy that had been nobly steered by them since the onset of the Cold War. In their eyes, Trump, like the Brexiteers or the French yellow vest protesters, are vulgar usurpers who threaten the stability of the vital center from polar extremes.

A more honest account of capitalism would also acknowledge its natural tendencies to persistently contract and to disrupt the social fabric. There is thus no reason to believe why some future class compromise would once and for all quell these tendencies -- and why nationalistically operating capitalist states would not be inclined to confront each other again in war.

Gregor Baszak is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His Twitter handle is @gregorbas1.

Stourley Kracklite 20 days ago • edited ,

Reagan was a free-trader and a union buster. Lind's people jumped the Democratic ship to vote for Reagan in (lemming-like) droves. As Republicans consolidated power over labor with cheap goods from China and the meth of deficit spending Democrats struggled with being necklaced as the party of civil rights.
The idea that people who are well-informed ought not to govern is a sad and sick cover story that the culpable are forced to chant in their caves until their days are done, the reckoning being too great.

[Feb 18, 2020] Automation Armageddon: a Legitimate Worry? reviewed the history of automation, focused on projections of gloom-and-doom by Michael Olenick

Relatively simple automation often beat more complex system. By far.
Notable quotes:
"... My guess is we're heading for something in-between, a place where artisanal bakers use locally grown wheat, made affordable thanks to machine milling. Where small family-owned bakeries rely on automation tech to do the undifferentiated grunt-work. The robots in my future are more likely to look more like cash registers and less like Terminators. ..."
"... I gave a guest lecture to a roomful of young roboticists (largely undergrad, some first year grad engineering students) a decade ago. After discussing the economics/finance of creating and selling a burgerbot, asked about those that would be unemployed by the contraption. One student immediately snorted out, "Not my problem!" Another replied, "But what if they cannot do anything else?". Again, "Not my problem!". And that is San Josie in a nutshell. ..."
"... One counter-argument might be that while hoping for the best it might be prudent to prepare for the worst. Currently, and for a couple of decades, the efficiency gains have been left to the market to allocate. Some might argue that for the common good then the government might need to be more active. ..."
"... "Too much automation is really all about narrowing the choices in your life and making it cheaper instead of enabling a richer lifestyle." Many times the only way to automate the creation of a product is to change it to fit the machine. ..."
"... You've gotta' get out of Paris: great French bread remains awesome. I live here. I've lived here for over half a decade and know many elderly French. The bread, from the right bakeries, remains great. ..."
"... I agree with others here who distinguish between labor saving automation and labor eliminating automation, but I don't think the former per se is the problem as much as the gradual shift toward the mentality and "rightness" of mass production and globalization. ..."
"... I was exposed to that conflict, in a small way, because my father was an investment manager. He told me they were considering investing in a smallish Swiss pasta (IIRC) factory. He was frustrated with the negotiations; the owners just weren't interested in getting a lot bigger – which would be the point of the investment, from the investors' POV. ..."
"... Incidentally, this is a possible approach to a better, more sustainable economy: substitute craft for capital and resources, on as large a scale as possible. More value with less consumption. But how we get there from here is another question. ..."
"... The Ten Commandments do not apply to corporations. ..."
"... But what happens when the bread machine is connected to the internet, can't function without an active internet connection, and requires an annual subscription to use? ..."
"... Until 100 petaflops costs less than a typical human worker total automation isn't going to happen. Developments in AI software can't overcome basic hardware limits. ..."
"... When I started doing robotics, I developed a working definition of a robot as: (a.) Senses its environment; (b.) Has goals and goal-seeking logic; (c.) Has means to affect environment in order to get goal and reality (the environment) to converge. Under that definition, Amazon's Alexa and your household air conditioning and heating system both qualify as "robot". ..."
"... The addition of a computer (with a program, or even downloadable-on-the-fly programs) to a static machine, e.g. today's computer-controlled-manufacturing machines (lathes, milling, welding, plasma cutters, etc.) makes a massive change in utility. It's almost the same physically, but ever so much more flexible, useful, and more profitable to own/operate. ..."
"... And if you add massive databases, internet connectivity, the latest machine-learning, language and image processing and some nefarious intent, then you get into trouble. ..."
Oct 25, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Michael Olenick, a research fellow at INSEAD who writes regularly at Olen on Economics and Innowiki . Originally published at Innowiki

Part I , "Automation Armageddon: a Legitimate Worry?" reviewed the history of automation, focused on projections of gloom-and-doom.

"It smells like death," is how a friend of mine described a nearby chain grocery store. He tends to exaggerate and visiting France admittedly brings about strong feelings of passion. Anyway, the only reason we go there is for things like foil or plastic bags that aren't available at any of the smaller stores.

Before getting to why that matters – and, yes, it does matter – first a tasty digression.

I live in a French village. To the French, high-quality food is a vital component to good life.

My daughter counts eight independent bakeries on the short drive between home and school. Most are owned by a couple of people. Counting high-quality bakeries embedded in grocery stores would add a few more. Going out of our way more than a minute or two would more than double that number.

Typical Bakery: Bread is cooked at least twice daily

Despite so many, the bakeries seem to do well. In the half-decade I've been here, three new ones opened and none of the old ones closed. They all seem to be busy. Bakeries are normally owner operated. The busiest might employ a few people but many are mom-and-pop operations with him baking and her selling. To remain economically viable, they rely on a dance of people and robots. Flour arrives in sacks with high-quality grains milled by machines. People measure ingredients, with each bakery using slightly different recipes. A human-fed robot mixes and kneads the ingredients into the dough. Some kind of machine churns the lumps of dough into baguettes.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/O22jWIjcdaY?feature=oembed


Baguette Forming Machine: This would make a good animated GIF

The baker places the formed baguettes onto baking trays then puts them in the oven. Big ovens maintain a steady temperature while timers keep track of how long various loaves of bread have been baking. Despite the sensors, bakers make the final decision when to pull the loaves out, with some preferring a bien cuit more cooked flavor and others a softer crust. Finally, a person uses a robot in the form of a cash register to ring up transactions and processes payments, either by cash or card.

Nobody -- not the owners, workers, or customers -- think twice about any of this. I doubt most people realize how much automation technology is involved or even that much of the equipment is automation tech. There would be no improvement in quality mixing and kneading the dough by hand. There would, however, be an enormous increase in cost. The baguette forming machines churn out exactly what a person would do by hand, only faster and at a far lower cost. We take the thermostatically controlled ovens for granted. However, for anybody who has tried to cook over wood controlling heat via air and fuel, thermostatically controlled ovens are clearly automation technology.

Is the cash register really a robot? James Ritty, who invented it, didn't think so; he sold the patent for cheap. The person who bought the patent built it into NCR, a seminal company laying the groundwork of the modern computer revolution.

Would these bakeries be financially viable if forced to do all this by hand? Probably not. They'd be forced to produce less output at higher cost; many would likely fail. Bread would cost more leaving less money for other purchases. Fewer jobs, less consumer spending power, and hungry bellies to boot; that doesn't sound like good public policy.

Getting back to the grocery store my friend thinks smells like death; just a few weeks ago they started using robots in a new and, to many, not especially welcome way.

As any tourist knows, most stores in France are closed on Sunday afternoons, including and especially grocery stores. That's part of French labor law: grocery stores must close Sunday afternoons. Except that the chain grocery store near me announced they are opening Sunday afternoon. How? Robots, and sleight-of-hand. Grocers may not work on Sunday afternoons but guards are allowed.

Not my store but similar.

Dimanche means Sunday. Aprés-midi means afternoon.

I stopped in to get a feel for how the system works. Instead of grocers, the store uses security guards and self-checkout kiosks.

When you step inside, a guard reminds you there are no grocers. Nobody restocks the shelves but, presumably for half a day, it doesn't matter. On Sunday afternoons, in place of a bored-looking person wearing a store uniform and overseeing the robo-checkout kiosks sits a bored-looking person wearing a security guard uniform doing the same. There are no human-assisted checkout lanes open but this store seldom has more than one operating anyway.

I have no idea how long the French government will allow this loophole to continue. I thought it might attract yellow vest protestors or at least a cranky store worker – maybe a few locals annoyed at an ancient tradition being buried – but there was nobody complaining. There were hardly any customers, either.

The use of robots to sidestep labor law and replace people, in one of the most labor-friendly countries in the world, produced a big yawn.

Paul Krugman and Matt Stoller argue convincingly that it's the bosses, not the robots, that crush the spirits and souls of workers. Krugman calls it "automation obsession" and Stoller points out predictions of robo-Armageddon have existed for decades. The well over 100+ examples I have of major automation-tech ultimately led to more jobs, not fewer.

Jerry Yang envisions some type of forthcoming automation-induced dystopia. Zuck and the tech-bros argue for a forthcoming Star Trek style robo-utopia.

My guess is we're heading for something in-between, a place where artisanal bakers use locally grown wheat, made affordable thanks to machine milling. Where small family-owned bakeries rely on automation tech to do the undifferentiated grunt-work. The robots in my future are more likely to look more like cash registers and less like Terminators.

It's an admittedly blander vision of the future; neither utopian nor dystopian, at least not one fueled by automation tech. However, it's a vision supported by the historic adoption of automation technology.


The Rev Kev , October 25, 2019 at 10:46 am

I have no real disagreement with a lot of automation. But how it is done is another matter altogether. Using the main example in this article, Australia is probably like a lot of countries with bread in that most of the loaves that you get in a supermarket are typically bland and come in plastic bags but which are cheap. You only really know what you grow up with.

When I first went to Germany I stepped into a Bakerie and it was a revelation. There were dozens of different sorts and types of bread on display with flavours that I had never experienced. I didn't know whether to order a loaf or to go for my camera instead. And that is the point. Too much automation is really all about narrowing the choices in your life and making it cheaper instead of enabling a richer lifestyle.

We are all familiar with crapification and I contend that it is automation that enables this to become a thing.

WobblyTelomeres , October 25, 2019 at 11:08 am

"I contend that it is automation that enables this to become a thing."

As does electricity. And math. Automation doesn't necessarily narrow choices; economies of scale and the profit motive do. What I find annoying (as in pollyannish) is the avoidance of the issue of those that cannot operate the machinery, those that cannot open their own store, etc.

I gave a guest lecture to a roomful of young roboticists (largely undergrad, some first year grad engineering students) a decade ago. After discussing the economics/finance of creating and selling a burgerbot, asked about those that would be unemployed by the contraption. One student immediately snorted out, "Not my problem!" Another replied, "But what if they cannot do anything else?". Again, "Not my problem!". And that is San Josie in a nutshell.

washparkhorn , October 26, 2019 at 3:25 am

A capitalist market that fails to account for the cost of a product's negative externalities is underpricing (and incentivizing more of the same). It's cheating (or sanctioned cheating due to ignorance and corruption). It is not capitalism (unless that is the only reasonable outcome of capitalism).

Tom Pfotzer , October 25, 2019 at 11:33 am

The author's vision of "appropriate tech" local enterprise supported by relatively simple automation is also my answer to the vexing question of "how do I cope with automation?"

In a recent posting here at NC, I said the way to cope with automation of your job(s) is to get good at automation. My remark caused a howl of outrage: "most people can't do automation! Your solution is unrealistic for the masses. Dismissed with prejudice!".

Thank you for that outrage, as it provides a wonder foil for this article. The article shows a small business which learned to re-design business processes, acquire machines that reduce costs. It's a good example of someone that "got good at automation". Instead of being the victim of automation, these people adapted. They bought automation, took control of it, and operated it for their own benefit.

Key point: this entrepreneur is now harvesting the benefits of automation, rather than being systematically marginalized by it. Another noteworthy aspect of this article is that local-scale "appropriate" automation serves to reduce the scale advantages of the big players. The availability of small-scale machines that enable efficiencies comparable to the big guys is a huge problem. Most of the machines made for small-scale operators like this are manufactured in China, or India or Iran or Russia, Italy where industrial consolidation (scale) hasn't squashed the little players yet.

Suppose you're a grain farmer, but only have 50 acres (not 100s or 1000s like the big guys). You need a combine – that's a big machine that cuts grain stalk and separate grain from stalk (threshing). This cut/thresh function is terribly labor intensive, the combine is a must-have. Right now, there is no small-size ($50K or less) combine manufactured in the U.S., to my knowledge. They cost upwards of $200K, and sometimes a great deal more. The 50-acre farmer can't afford $200K (plus maint costs), and therefore can't farm at that scale, and has to sell out.

So, the design, production, and sales of these sort of small-scale, high-productivity machines is what is needed to re-distribute production (organically, not by revolution, thanks) back into the hands of the middle class.

If we make possible for the middle class to capture the benefits of automation, and you solve 1) the social dilemmas of concentration of wealth, 2) the declining std of living of the mid- and lower-class, and 3) have a chance to re-design an economy (business processes and collaborating suppliers to deliver end-user product/service) that actually fixes the planet as we make our living, instead of degrading it at every ka-ching of the cash register.

Point 3 is the most important, and this isn't the time or place to expand on that, but I hope others might consider it a bit.

marcel , October 25, 2019 at 12:07 pm

Regarding the combine, I have seen them operating on small-sized lands for the last 50 years. Without exception, you have one guy (sometimes a farmer, often not) who has this kind of harvester, works 24h a day for a week or something, harvesting for all farmers in the neighborhood, and then moves to the next crop (eg corn). Wintertime is used for maintenance. So that one person/farm/company specializes in these services, and everybody gets along well.

Tom Pfotzer , October 25, 2019 at 2:49 pm

Marcel – great solution to the problem. Choosing the right supplier (using combine service instead of buying a dedicated combine) is a great skill to develop. On the flip side, the fellow that provides that combine service probably makes a decent side-income from it. Choosing the right service to provide is another good skill to develop.

Jesper , October 25, 2019 at 5:59 pm

One counter-argument might be that while hoping for the best it might be prudent to prepare for the worst. Currently, and for a couple of decades, the efficiency gains have been left to the market to allocate. Some might argue that for the common good then the government might need to be more active.

What would happen if efficiency gains continued to be distributed according to the market? According to the relative bargaining power of the market participants where one side, the public good as represented by government, is asking for and therefore getting almost nothing?

As is, I do believe that people who are concerned do have reason to be concerned.

Kent , October 25, 2019 at 11:33 am

"Too much automation is really all about narrowing the choices in your life and making it cheaper instead of enabling a richer lifestyle." Many times the only way to automate the creation of a product is to change it to fit the machine.

Brooklin Bridge , October 25, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Some people make a living saying these sorts of things about automation. The quality of French bread is simply not what it used to be (at least harder to find) though that is a complicated subject having to do with flour and wheat as well as human preparation and many other things and the cost (in terms of purchasing power), in my opinion, has gone up, not down since the 70's.

As some might say, "It's complicated," but automation does (not sure about "has to") come with trade offs in quality while price remains closer to what an ever more sophisticated set of algorithms say can be "gotten away with."

This may be totally different for cars or other things, but the author chose French bread and the only overall improvement, or even non change, in quality there has come, if at all, from the dark art of marketing magicians.

Brooklin Bridge , October 25, 2019 at 12:11 pm

/ from the dark art of marketing magicians, AND people's innate ability to accept/be unaware of decreases in quality/quantity if they are implemented over time in small enough steps.

Michael , October 25, 2019 at 1:47 pm

You've gotta' get out of Paris: great French bread remains awesome. I live here. I've lived here for over half a decade and know many elderly French. The bread, from the right bakeries, remains great. But you're unlikely to find it where tourists might wander: the rent is too high.

As a general rule, if the bakers have a large staff or speak English you're probably in the wrong bakery. Except for one of my favorites where she learned her English watching every episode of Friends multiple times and likes to practice with me, though that's more of a fluke.

Brooklin Bridge , October 25, 2019 at 3:11 pm

It's a difficult subject to argue. I suspect that comparatively speaking, French bread remains good and there are still bakers who make high quality bread (given what they have to work with). My experience when talking to family in France (not Paris) is that indeed, they are in general quite happy with the quality of bread and each seems to know a bakery where they can still get that "je ne sais quoi" that makes it so special.

I, on the other hand, who have only been there once every few years since the 70's, kind of like once every so many frames of the movie, see a lowering of quality in general in France and of flour and bread in particular though I'll grant it's quite gradual.

The French love food and were among the best farmers in the world in the 1930s and have made a point of resisting radical change at any given point in time when it comes to the things they love (wine, cheese, bread, etc.) , so they have a long way to fall, and are doing so slowly; but gradually, it's happening.

I agree with others here who distinguish between labor saving automation and labor eliminating automation, but I don't think the former per se is the problem as much as the gradual shift toward the mentality and "rightness" of mass production and globalization.

Oregoncharles , October 26, 2019 at 12:58 am

I was exposed to that conflict, in a small way, because my father was an investment manager. He told me they were considering investing in a smallish Swiss pasta (IIRC) factory. He was frustrated with the negotiations; the owners just weren't interested in getting a lot bigger – which would be the point of the investment, from the investors' POV.

I thought, but I don't think I said very articulately, that of course, they thought of themselves as craftspeople – making people's food, after all. It was a fundamental culture clash. All that was 50 years ago; looks like the European attitude has been receding.

Incidentally, this is a possible approach to a better, more sustainable economy: substitute craft for capital and resources, on as large a scale as possible. More value with less consumption. But how we get there from here is another question.

Carolinian , October 25, 2019 at 12:42 pm

I have been touring around by car and was surprised to see that all Oregon gas stations are full serve with no self serve allowed (I vaguely remember Oregon Charles talking about this). It applies to every station including the ones with a couple of dozen pumps like we see back east. I have since been told that this system has been in place for years.

It's hard to see how this is more efficient and in fact just the opposite as there are fewer attendants than waiting customers and at a couple of stations the action seemed chaotic. Gas is also more expensive although nothing could be more expensive than California gas (over $5/gal occasionally spotted). It's also unclear how this system was preserved–perhaps out of fire safety concerns–but it seems unlikely that any other state will want to imitate just as those bakeries aren't going to bring back their wood fired ovens.

JohnnyGL , October 25, 2019 at 1:40 pm

I think NJ is still required to do all full-serve gas stations. Most in MA have only self-serve, but there's a few towns that have by-laws requiring full-serve.

Brooklin Bridge , October 25, 2019 at 2:16 pm

I'm not sure just how much I should be jumping up and down about our ability to get more gasoline into our cars quicker. But convenient for sure.

The Observer , October 25, 2019 at 4:33 pm

In the 1980s when self-serve gas started being implemented, NIOSH scientists said oh no, now 'everyone' will be increasingly exposed to benzene while filling up. Benzene is close to various radioactive elements in causing damage and cancer.

Oregoncharles , October 26, 2019 at 1:06 am

It was preserved by a series of referenda; turns out it's a 3rd rail here, like the sales tax. The motive was explicitly to preserve entry-level jobs while allowing drivers to keep the gas off their hands. And we like the more personal quality.

Also, we go to states that allow self-serve and observe that the gas isn't any cheaper. It's mainly the tax that sets the price, and location.

There are several bakeries in this area with wood-fired ovens. They charge a premium, of course. One we love is way out in the country, in Falls City. It's a reason to go there.

shinola , October 25, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Unless I misunderstood, the author of this article seems to equate mechanization/automation of nearly any type with robotics.

"Is the cash register really a robot? James Ritty, who invented it, didn't think so;" – Nor do I.

To me, "robot" implies a machine with a high degree of autonomy. Would the author consider an old fashioned manual typewriter or adding machine (remember those?) to be robotic? How about when those machines became electrified?

I think the author uses the term "robot" over broadly.

Dan , October 25, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Agree. Those are just electrified extensions of the lever or sand timer. It's the "thinking" that is A.I.

Refuse to allow A.I.to destroy jobs and cheapen our standard of living. Never interact with a robo call, just hang up. Never log into a website when there is a human alternative. Refuse to do business with companies that have no human alternative. Never join a medical "portal" of any kind, demand to talk to medical personnel. Etc.

Sabotage A.I. whenever possible. The Ten Commandments do not apply to corporations.

https://medium.com/@TerranceT/im-never-going-to-stop-stealing-from-the-self-checkout-22cbfff9919b

Sancho Panza , October 25, 2019 at 1:52 pm

During a Chicago hotel stay my wife ordered an extra bath towel from the front desk. About 5 minutes later, a mini version of R2D2 rolled up to her door with towel in tow. It was really cute and interacted with her in a human-like way. Cute but really scary in the way that you indicate in your comment.

It seems many low wage activities would be in immediate risk of replacement. But sabotage? I would never encourage sabotage; in fact, when it comes to true robots like this one, I would highly discourage any of the following: yanking its recharge cord in the middle of the night, zapping it with a car battery, lift its payload and replace with something else, give it a hip high-five to help it calibrate its balance, and of course, the good old kick'm in the bolts.

Sancho Panza , October 26, 2019 at 9:53 am

Here's a clip of that robot, Leo, bringing bottled water and a bath towel to my wife.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXygNznHSs0

Barbara , October 26, 2019 at 11:48 am

Stop and Shop supermarket chain now has robots in the store. According to Stop and Shop they are oh so innocent! and friendly! why don't you just go up and say hello?

All the robots do, they say, go around scanning the shelves looking for: shelf price tags that don't match the current price, merchandise in the wrong place (that cereal box you picked up in the breakfast aisle and decided, in the laundry aisle, that you didn't want and put the box on a shelf with detergent.) All the robots do is notify management of wrong prices and misplaced merchandise.

The damn robot is cute, perky lit up eyes and a smile – so why does it remind me of the Stepford Wives.

S&S is the closest supermarket near me, so I go there when I need something in a hurry, but the bulk of my shopping is now done elsewhere. Thank goodness there are some stores that are not doing this: The area Shoprites and FoodTown's don't – and they are all run by family businesses. Shoprite succeeds by have a large assortment brands in every grocery category and keeping prices really competitive. FoodTown operates at a higher price and quality level with real butcher and seafood counters as well as prepackaged assortments in open cases and a cooked food counter of the most excellent quality with the store's cooks behind the counter to serve you and answer questions. You never have to come home from work tired and hungry and know that you just don't want to cook and settle for a power bar.

Carolinian , October 25, 2019 at 1:11 pm

A robot is a machine -- especially one programmable by a computer -- capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically. Robots can be guided by an external control device or the control may be embedded

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

Those early cash registers were perhaps an early form of analog computer. But Wiki reminds that the origin of the term is a work of fiction.

The term comes from a Czech word, robota, meaning "forced labor";the word 'robot' was first used to denote a fictional humanoid in a 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti – Rossum's Universal Robots) by the Czech writer, Karel Čapek

shinola , October 25, 2019 at 4:26 pm

Perhaps I didn't qualify "autonomous" properly. I didn't mean to imply a 'Rosie the Robot' level of autonomy but the ability of a machine to perform its programmed task without human intervention (other than switching on/off or maintenance & adjustments).

If viewed this way, an adding machine or typewriter are not robots because they require constant manual input in order to function – if you don't push the keys, nothing happens. A computer printer might be considered robotic because it can be programmed to function somewhat autonomously (as in print 'x' number of copies of this document).

"Robotics" is a subset of mechanized/automated functions.

Stephen Gardner , October 25, 2019 at 4:48 pm

When I first got out of grad school I worked at United Technologies Research Center where I worked in the robotics lab. In general, at least in those days, we made a distinction between robotics and hard automation. A robot is programmable to do multiple tasks and hard automation is limited to a single task unless retooled. The machines the author is talking about are hard automation. We had ASEA robots that could be programmed to do various things. One of ours drilled, riveted and sealed the skin on the horizontal stabilators (the wing on the tail of a helicopter that controls pitch) of a Sikorsky Sea Hawk.

The same robot with just a change of the fixture on the end could be programmed to paint a car or weld a seam on equipment. The drilling and riveting robot was capable of modifying where the rivets were placed (in the robot's frame of reference) based on the location of precisely milled blocks build into the fixture that held the stabilator.

There was always some variation and it was important to precisely place the rivets because the spars were very narrow (weight at the tail is bad because of the lever arm). It was considered state of the art back in the day but now auto companies have far more sophisticated robotics.

Socal Rhino , October 25, 2019 at 1:44 pm

But what happens when the bread machine is connected to the internet, can't function without an active internet connection, and requires an annual subscription to use?

That is the issue to me: however we define the tools, who will own them?

The Rev Kev , October 25, 2019 at 6:53 pm

You know, that is quite a good point that. It is not so much the automation that is the threat as the rent-seeking that anything connected to the internet allows to be implemented.

*_* , October 25, 2019 at 2:28 pm

Until 100 petaflops costs less than a typical human worker total automation isn't going to happen. Developments in AI software can't overcome basic hardware limits.

breadbaker , October 25, 2019 at 2:29 pm

The story about automation not worsening the quality of bread is not exactly true. Bakers had to develop and incorporate a new method called autolyze ( https://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2017/09/29/using-the-autolyse-method ) in the mid-20th-century to bring back some of the flavor lost with modern baking. There is also a trend of a new generation of bakeries that use natural yeast, hand shaping and kneading to get better flavors and quality bread.

But it is certainly true that much of the automation gives almost as good quality for much lower labor costs.

Tom Pfotzer , October 25, 2019 at 3:05 pm

On the subject of the machine-robot continuum

When I started doing robotics, I developed a working definition of a robot as: (a.) Senses its environment; (b.) Has goals and goal-seeking logic; (c.) Has means to affect environment in order to get goal and reality (the environment) to converge. Under that definition, Amazon's Alexa and your household air conditioning and heating system both qualify as "robot".

How you implement a, b, and c above can have more or less sophistication, depending upon the complexity, variability, etc. of the environment, or the solutions, or the means used to affect the environment.

A machine, like a typewriter, or a lawn-mower engine has the logic expressed in metal; it's static.

The addition of a computer (with a program, or even downloadable-on-the-fly programs) to a static machine, e.g. today's computer-controlled-manufacturing machines (lathes, milling, welding, plasma cutters, etc.) makes a massive change in utility. It's almost the same physically, but ever so much more flexible, useful, and more profitable to own/operate.

And if you add massive databases, internet connectivity, the latest machine-learning, language and image processing and some nefarious intent, then you get into trouble.

:)

Phacops , October 25, 2019 at 3:08 pm

Sometimes automation is necessary to eliminate the risks of manual processes. There are parenteral (injectable) drugs that cannot be sterilized except by filtration. Most of the work of filling, post filling processing, and sealing is done using automation in areas that make surgical suites seem filthy and people are kept from these operations.

Manual operations are only undertaken to correct issues with the automation and the procedures are tested to ensure that they do not introduce contamination, microbial or otherwise. Because even one non-sterile unit is a failure and testing is destructive process, of course any full lot of product cannot be tested to state that all units are sterile. Periodic testing of the automated process and manual intervention is done periodically and it is expensive and time consuming to test to a level of confidence that there is far less than a one in a million chance of any unit in a lot being non sterile.

In that respect, automation and the skills necessary to interface with it are fundamental to the safety of drugs frequently used on already compromised patients.

Brooklin Bridge , October 25, 2019 at 3:27 pm

Agree. Good example. Digital technology and miniaturization seem particularly well suited to many aspect of the medical world. But doubt they will eliminate the doctor or the nurse very soon. Insurance companies on the other hand

lyman alpha blob , October 25, 2019 at 8:34 pm

Bill Burr has some thoughts on self checkouts and the potential bonanza for shoppers – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxINJzqzn4w

TG , October 26, 2019 at 11:51 am

"There would be no improvement in quality mixing and kneading the dough by hand. There would, however, be an enormous increase in cost." WRONG! If you had an unlimited supply of 50-cents-an-hour disposable labor, mixing and kneading the dough by hand would be cheaper. It is only because labor is expensive in France that the machine saves money.

In Japan there is a lot of automation, and wages and living standards are high. In Bangladesh there is very little automation, and wages and livings standards are very low.

Are we done with the 'automation is destroying jobs' meme yet? Excessive population growth is the problem, not robots. And the root cause of excessive population growth is the corporate-sponsored virtual taboo of talking about it seriously.

[Feb 14, 2020] The trouble with Artificial Intelligence

Feb 14, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Hoarsewhisperer , Feb 12 2020 6:36 utc | 43

Posted by: juliania | Feb 12 2020 5:15 utc | 39
(Artificial Intelligence)

The trouble with Artificial Intelligence is that it's not intelligent.
And it's not intelligent because it's got no experience, no imagination and no self-control.

[Feb 09, 2020] US troops have stolen tens of millions in Iraq and Afghanistan

Many of these crimes grew out of shortcomings in the military's management of the deployments that experts say are still present: a heavy dependence on cash transactions, a hasty award process for high-value contracts, loose and harried oversight within the ranks, and a regional culture of corruption that proved seductive to the Americans troops transplanted there.
Notable quotes:
"... "this thing going on" ..."
"... a regional culture of corruption that proved seductive to the Americans troops transplanted there. ..."
May 09, 2015 | slate.com

The Fraud of War: U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have stolen tens of millions through bribery, theft, and rigged contracts.

U.S. Army Specialist Stephanie Charboneau sat at the center of a complex trucking network in Forward Operating Base Fenty near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that distributed daily tens of thousands of gallons of what troops called "liquid gold": the refined petroleum that fueled the international coalition's vehicles, planes, and generators.

A prominent sign in the base read: "The Army Won't Go If The Fuel Don't Flow." But Charboneau, 31, a mother of two from Washington state, felt alienated after a supervisor's harsh rebuke. Her work was a dreary routine of recording fuel deliveries in a computer and escorting trucks past a gate. But it was soon to take a dark turn into high-value crime.

She began an affair with a civilian, Jonathan Hightower, who worked for a Pentagon contractor that distributed fuel from Fenty, and one day in March 2010 he told her about "this thing going on" at other U.S. military bases around Afghanistan, she recalled in a recent telephone interview.

Troops were selling the U.S. military's fuel to Afghan locals on the side, and pocketing the proceeds. When Hightower suggested they start doing the same, Charboneau said, she agreed.

In so doing, Charboneau contributed to thefts by U.S. military personnel of at least $15 million worth of fuel since the start of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. And eventually she became one of at least 115 enlisted personnel and military officers convicted since 2005 of committing theft, bribery, and contract-rigging crimes valued at $52 million during their deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a comprehensive tally of court records by the Center for Public Integrity.

Many of these crimes grew out of shortcomings in the military's management of the deployments that experts say are still present: a heavy dependence on cash transactions, a hasty award process for high-value contracts, loose and harried oversight within the ranks, and a regional culture of corruption that proved seductive to the Americans troops transplanted there.

Charboneau, whose Facebook posts reveal a bright-eyed woman with a shoulder tattoo and a huge grin, snuggling with pets and celebrating the 2015 New Year with her children in Seattle Seahawks jerseys, now sits in Carswell federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas, serving a seven-year sentence for her crime.

[Feb 09, 2020] What Separates Sanders From Warren (and Everybody Else)

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Of course, some may argue that one's class is based largely on her own experience and perspective, but this confuses psychological feelings with concrete social and economic realities. As C. Wright Mills pointed out in his classic study, "White Collar: The American Middle Classes," just because people "are not 'class conscious' at all times and in all places does not mean 'there are no classes' or that 'in America everybody is middle class.' " Although subjective feelings are no doubt important, to accept that everyone who identifies as middle class must be middle class is to disregard objective economic realities. ..."
"... The new middle class flourished until the capitalist class decided to revolt against the legacy of the New Deal toward the end of the 20th century. In the contemporary era, many who would have been middle-class in the postwar years have effectively been proletarianized once again, and economic inequality has returned pre-Great Depression heights. Proletarianization, Mills explained, "refers to shifts of middle-class occupations toward wage-workers in terms of: income, property, skill, prestige or power, irrespective of whether or not the people involved are aware of these changes. Or, the meaning may be in terms of changes in consciousness, outlook, or organized activity." ..."
Jan 16, 2020 | www.truthdig.com
In America, the term "middle class" has long been used to describe the majority of wage and salary earners, from those receiving a median annual income of around $50,000 to those who earn three or four times that amount. Whether Democrat or Republican, politicians from across the political aisle claim to represent the middle class -- that vast-yet-amorphous segment of the population where the managers and the managed all seem to fit together.

The term has always been somewhat problematic when it comes to politics. As Joan C. Williams observes in her 2017 book, "White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America," a "central way we make class disappear is to describe virtually everyone as 'middle class.' " The majority of Americans see themselves as middle class, including those in the top 10% earning several times the average income. According to Williams, a close friend of hers who "undoubtedly belonged to the top 1%" once referred to herself as middle class, a perspective that the author describes as "class cluelessness."

This cluelessness was also evident in a New York Times article last summer titled "What Middle Class Families Want Politicians to Know," which included interviews with a number of purportedly middle class families with household incomes of up to $400,000 (only one of the interviewees earned less than $100,000, with the average around $200,000).

The fact that people who earn a quarter-million dollars annually place themselves in the same category as those earning $70,000 tells us just how politically useless the term "middle class" has become in contemporary America. Even when we take into account geographic factors and fluctuations in the cost of living, there is little rational justification for categorizing a $60,000-a-year blue-collar worker with a lawyer or doctor earning in excess of $200,000.

Of course, some may argue that one's class is based largely on her own experience and perspective, but this confuses psychological feelings with concrete social and economic realities. As C. Wright Mills pointed out in his classic study, "White Collar: The American Middle Classes," just because people "are not 'class conscious' at all times and in all places does not mean 'there are no classes' or that 'in America everybody is middle class.' " Although subjective feelings are no doubt important, to accept that everyone who identifies as middle class must be middle class is to disregard objective economic realities.

One's class consciousness (or lack thereof) has important implications for one's political attitudes, and in America class consciousness has always been somewhat lacking compared to other countries. The United States has never had a true aristocratic class or feudal property relations like those in Europe, and in the 19th century, the "middle class" essentially stood for small capitalists and propertied farmers. Between the mid-19th century and mid-20th century, the country was transformed, in Mills' analysis, from a "nation of small capitalists into a nation of hired employees" -- a trend that sociologists call "proletarianization."

In the post-World War II era, thanks to the struggle of labor and the policies of the New Deal, which aimed to reduce inequality and mediate class tensions, many in the working class became comfortably middle class. In other words, the proletariat turned into a kind of "petty bourgeois," adopting the same values and attitudes as their employers, while accepting the status quo after a few adjustments. Ironically, this ended up undercutting more radical labor movements while preserving the economic system, which eventually came back to bite working people and their children.

The new middle class flourished until the capitalist class decided to revolt against the legacy of the New Deal toward the end of the 20th century. In the contemporary era, many who would have been middle-class in the postwar years have effectively been proletarianized once again, and economic inequality has returned pre-Great Depression heights. Proletarianization, Mills explained, "refers to shifts of middle-class occupations toward wage-workers in terms of: income, property, skill, prestige or power, irrespective of whether or not the people involved are aware of these changes. Or, the meaning may be in terms of changes in consciousness, outlook, or organized activity."

The proletarianization of the middle class over the past 50 years has had an enormously detrimental effect on communities across the country, but it has taken quite a while for many working people in America to recognize their new situation in terms of consciousness and outlook. The enduring popularity of the term "middle class" reflects this state of affairs.

In the Democratic primaries, only one candidate has deliberately chosen to use "working class" over "middle class." Not surprisingly, that candidate is Sen. Bernie Sanders. "I am a candidate of the working class," Sanders recently declared on Facebook. "I come from the working class. That is my background, that's who I am. I fought for the working class as a mayor, a Congressman and a Senator. And that is the kind of president that I will be." Sanders, whose campaign is 100% grassroots-funded, wrote in a column last week for the Des Moines Register, " our campaign is focused on making sure the government stops representing billionaires and start representing us -- the working class of this country."

Though it may seem like a somewhat trivial distinction, when we look at the rest of the Democratic field, it's clear that Sanders has indeed distinguished himself from the other top candidates. For example, Sanders' opponent Joe Biden frequently speaks of the middle class but rarely the working class. "This country wasn't built by Wall Street bankers and CEOs and hedge fund managers. It was built by the American middle class," Biden declares on his campaign website, where he says that the middle class "isn't a number," but a "set of values." (In a way this is correct, but not in the sense that Biden seems to think.)

On the more progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren's website, where she lists her numerous plans, one searches in vain for any references to the working class, though there are plenty to the middle class.

How much this actually matters is, of course, debatable, but the term "working class" undoubtedly has far more implications and political significance than "middle class," which, like many overused words in the political lexicon, has lost all meaning. By using "working class" instead, Sanders appears to be trying to increase class consciousness in America, where those in the ruling class have often demonstrated the highest level of class consciousness (never failing to use their abundant resources to protect and advance their own interests).

The more young and working-class people come to recognize their own situation and place in the 21st century American economy, the more they seem to embrace "socialist" policies that are rejected by "middle class" sensibilities.

In the Democratic primaries, only one candidate has made raising levels of class consciousness part of his campaign strategy, and in an election that could very well be determined by working-class voters, this may be the strategy to defeat Trump.

[Jan 12, 2020] US has been preaching human rights while mounting wars and lying.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Over $7 trillion spent while homelessness is rampant. Healthcare is unaffordable for the 99% of the population. ..."
Jan 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Likklemore , Jan 11 2020 17:48 utc | 201

At 2016, here is the long bombing list of the 32 countries by the late William Blum. Did I mention sanctions is an Act of War?

Little u.s. has been preaching human rights while mounting wars and lying. Albright thought the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children were worth it. !!! it was worth killings and maiming.

Over $7 trillion spent while homelessness is rampant. Healthcare is unaffordable for the 99% of the population.

The u.s. will leave Iraq and Syria aka Saigon 1975 or horizontal. It's over.

2020: u.s. Stands Alone.

Searching for friends. Now, after Russiagate here is little pompous: "we want to be friends with Russia." Sanctions much excepting we need RD180 engines, seizure of diplomatic properties. Who are you kidding?

"we seek a constructive and productive relationship with the Russian Federation".

What a bunch of hypocrites? How dare you criticize commenters who see little u.s. in the light of day, not a shining beacon on the hill..

[Jan 11, 2020] Atomization of workforce as a part of atomization of society under neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness. ..."
"... And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves. ..."
"... The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling. ..."
"... Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation. ..."
"... So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church. ..."
Apr 18, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:09 am
Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what's wrenching society apart George Monbiot, Guardian

George Monbiot on human loneliness and its toll. I agree with his observations. I have been cataloguing them in my head for years, especially after a friend of mine, born in Venice and a long-time resident of Rome, pointed out to me that dogs are a sign of loneliness.

A couple of recent trips to Rome have made that point ever more obvious to me: Compared to my North Side neighborhood in Chicago, where every other person seems to have a dog, and on weekends Clark Street is awash in dogs (on their way to the dog boutiques and the dog food truck), Rome has few dogs. Rome is much more densely populated, and the Italians still have each other, for good or for ill. And Americans use the dog as an odd means of making human contact, at least with other dog owners.

But Americanization advances: I was surprised to see people bring dogs into the dining room of a fairly upscale restaurant in Turin. I haven't seen that before. (Most Italian cafes and restaurants are just too small to accommodate a dog, and the owners don't have much patience for disruptions.) The dogs barked at each other for while–violating a cardinal rule in Italy that mealtime is sacred and tranquil. Loneliness rules.

And the cafes and restaurants on weekends in Chicago–chockfull of people, each on his or her own Powerbook, surfing the WWW all by themselves.

That's why the comments about March on Everywhere in Harper's, recommended by Lambert, fascinated me. Maybe, to be less lonely, you just have to attend the occasional march, no matter how disorganized (and the Chicago Women's March organizers made a few big logistical mistakes), no matter how incoherent. Safety in numbers? (And as Monbiot points out, overeating at home alone is a sign of loneliness: Another argument for a walk with a placard.)

Katharine , April 17, 2017 at 11:39 am

I particularly liked this point:

In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet.

With different imagery, the same is true in this country. The preaching of self-reliance by those who have never had to practice it is galling.

DJG , April 17, 2017 at 11:48 am

Katherine: Agreed. It is also one of the reasons why I am skeptical of various evangelical / fundi pastors, who are living at the expense of their churches, preaching about individual salvation.

So you have the upper crust (often with inheritances and trust funds) preaching economic self-reliances, and you have divines preaching individual salvation as they go back to the house provided by the members of the church.

[Jan 02, 2020] The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It s Usefulness Happiness as an achievable goal is an illusion, but that doesn t mean happiness itself is not attainable by Darius Foroux

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." ..."
"... Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer. ..."
Aug 22, 2019 | getpocket.com

For the longest time, I believed that there's only one purpose of life: And that is to be happy. Right? Why else go through all the pain and hardship? It's to achieve happiness in some way. And I'm not the only person who believed that. In fact, if you look around you, most people are pursuing happiness in their lives.

That's why we collectively buy shit we don't need, go to bed with people we don't love, and try to work hard to get approval of people we don't like.

Why do we do these things? To be honest, I don't care what the exact reason is. I'm not a scientist. All I know is that it has something to do with history, culture, media, economy, psychology, politics, the information era, and you name it. The list is endless.

We are who are.

Let's just accept that. Most people love to analyze why people are not happy or don't live fulfilling lives. I don't necessarily care about the why .

I care more about how we can change.

Just a few short years ago, I did everything to chase happiness.

But at the end of the day, you're lying in your bed (alone or next to your spouse), and you think: "What's next in this endless pursuit of happiness?"

Well, I can tell you what's next: You, chasing something random that you believe makes you happy.

It's all a façade. A hoax. A story that's been made up.

Did Aristotle lie to us when he said:

"Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence."

I think we have to look at that quote from a different angle. Because when you read it, you think that happiness is the main goal. And that's kind of what the quote says as well.

But here's the thing: How do you achieve happiness?

Happiness can't be a goal in itself. Therefore, it's not something that's achievable. I believe that happiness is merely a byproduct of usefulness. When I talk about this concept with friends, family, and colleagues, I always find it difficult to put this into words. But I'll give it a try here. Most things we do in life are just activities and experiences.

Those things should make you happy, right? But they are not useful. You're not creating anything. You're just consuming or doing something. And that's great.

Don't get me wrong. I love to go on holiday, or go shopping sometimes. But to be honest, it's not what gives meaning to life.

What really makes me happy is when I'm useful. When I create something that others can use. Or even when I create something I can use.

For the longest time I foud it difficult to explain the concept of usefulness and happiness. But when I recently ran into a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the dots connected.

Emerson says:

"The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well."

And I didn't get that before I became more conscious of what I'm doing with my life. And that always sounds heavy and all. But it's actually really simple.

It comes down to this: What are you DOING that's making a difference?

Did you do useful things in your lifetime? You don't have to change the world or anything. Just make it a little bit better than you were born.

If you don't know how, here are some ideas.

That's just some stuff I like to do. You can make up your own useful activities.

You see? It's not anything big. But when you do little useful things every day, it adds up to a life that is well lived. A life that mattered.

The last thing I want is to be on my deathbed and realize there's zero evidence that I ever existed.

Recently I read Not Fade Away by Laurence Shames and Peter Barton. It's about Peter Barton, the founder of Liberty Media, who shares his thoughts about dying from cancer.

It's a very powerful book and it will definitely bring tears to your eyes. In the book, he writes about how he lived his life and how he found his calling. He also went to business school, and this is what he thought of his fellow MBA candidates:

"Bottom line: they were extremely bright people who would never really anything, would never add much to society, would leave no legacy behind. I found this terribly sad, in the way that wasted potential is always sad."

You can say that about all of us. And after he realized that in his thirties, he founded a company that turned him into a multi-millionaire.

Another person who always makes himself useful is Casey Neistat . I've been following him for a year and a half now, and every time I watch his YouTube show , he's doing something.

He also talks about how he always wants to do and create something. He even has a tattoo on his forearm that says "Do More."

Most people would say, "why would you work more?" And then they turn on Netflix and watch back to back episodes of Daredevil.

A different mindset.

Being useful is a mindset. And like with any mindset, it starts with a decision. One day I woke up and thought to myself: What am I doing for this world? The answer was nothing.

And that same day I started writing. For you it can be painting, creating a product, helping elderly, or anything you feel like doing.

Don't take it too seriously. Don't overthink it. Just DO something that's useful. Anything.

Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance. His ideas and work have been featured in TIME, NBC, Fast Company, Inc., Observer, and many more publications. Join his free weekly newsletter.

More from Darius Foroux

This article was originally published on October 3, 2016, by Darius Foroux, and is republished here with permission. Darius Foroux writes about productivity, habits, decision making, and personal finance.

Join his newsletter.


[Nov 14, 2019] Neoliberalism Paved the Way for Authoritarian Right-Wing Populism by Henry A. Giroux

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Neoliberalism became an incubator for a growing authoritarian populism fed largely by economic inequality. ..."
"... This apocalyptic populism was rooted in a profound discontent for the empty promises of a neoliberal ideology that made capitalism and democracy synonymous, and markets the model for all social relations. In addition, the Democratic proponents of neoliberalism, such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, participated in the dismantling of the social contract, widening economic inequality, and burgeoning landscapes of joblessness, misery, anger and despair. ..."
"... Liberal democracies across the globe appeared out of touch with not only the misery and suffering caused by neoliberal policies, they also produced an insular and arrogant group of politicians who regarded themselves as an enlightened political formation that worked " on behalf of an ignorant public ." ..."
"... As a regime of affective management, neoliberalism created a culture in which everyone was trapped in his or her own feelings, emotions and orbits of privatization. One consequence was that legitimate political claims could only be pursued by individuals and families rather than social groups. ..."
Sep 26, 2019 | truthout.org

Part of the Series The Public Intellectual

Talk of a looming recession is heating up as the global economy slows and President Trump's tiff with China unsettles financial markets. As world trade contracts, stock markets drop, the manufacturing sector in the United States is in decline for the first time in a decade , and farmers and steel workers continue losing their income and jobs.

Rumors of a coming recession accentuate fears about the further deterioration of conditions faced by workers and the poor, who are already suffering from precarious employment, poverty, lack of meaningful work and dwindling pensions. A global economic slump would make living standards for the poor even worse. As Ashley Smith points out , levels of impoverishment in the United States are already shocking, with "four out of every ten families [struggling] to meet the costs of food, housing, health care, and utilities every month."

Just as the 2008 global economic crisis revealed the failures of liberal democracy and the scourge of neoliberalism, a new economic recession in 2019 could also reveal how institutions meant to serve the public interest and offer support for a progressive politics now serve authoritarian ideologies and a ruling elite that views democracy as the enemy of market-based freedoms and white nationalism.

What has not been learned from the 2008 crisis is that an economic crisis neither unites those most affected in favor of a progressive politics nor does it offer any political guarantees regarding the direction of social change. Instead, the emotions that fueled massive public anger toward elites and globalization gave rise to the celebration of populist demagogues and a right-wing tsunami of misdirected anger, hate and violence toward undocumented immigrants, refugees, Muslims and people of color.

The 2008 financial crisis wreaked havoc in multiple ways. Yet there was another crisis that received little attention: a crisis of agency. This crisis centered around matters of identity, self-determination and collective resistance, which were undermined in profound ways, giving rise to and legitimating the emergence of authoritarian populist movements in many parts of the world, such as United States, Hungary, Poland and Brazil.

At the heart of this shift was the declining belief in the legitimacy of both liberal democracy and its pledges about trickle-down wealth, economic security and broadening equal opportunities preached by the apostles of neoliberalism. In many ways, public faith in the welfare state, quality employment opportunities, institutional possibilities and a secure future for each generation collapsed. In part, this was a consequence of the post-war economic boom giving way to massive degrees of inequality, the off-shoring of wealth and power, the enactment of cruel austerity measures, an expanding regime of precarity, and a cut-throat economic and social environment in which individual interests and needs prevailed over any consideration of the common good. As liberalism aligned itself with corporate and political power, both the Democratic and Republican Parties embraced financial reforms that increased the wealth of the bankers and corporate elite while doing nothing to prevent people from losing their homes, being strapped with chronic debt, seeing their pensions disappear, and facing a future of uncertainty and no long-term prospects or guarantees.

Neoliberalism became an incubator for a growing authoritarian populism fed largely by economic inequality.

In an age of economic anxiety, existential insecurity and a growing culture of fear, liberalism's overheated emphasis on individual liberties "made human beings subordinate to the market, replacing social bonds with market relations and sanctifying greed," as noted by Pankaj Mishra. In this instance, neoliberalism became an incubator for a growing authoritarian populism fed largely by economic inequality. The latter was the outcome of a growing cultural and political polarization that made "it possible for haters to come out from the margins, form larger groups and make political trouble." This toxic polarization and surge of right-wing populism produced by casino capitalism was accentuated with the growth of fascist groups that shared a skepticism of international organizations, supported a militant right-wing nationalism, and championed a surge of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim and anti-democratic values.

This apocalyptic populism was rooted in a profound discontent for the empty promises of a neoliberal ideology that made capitalism and democracy synonymous, and markets the model for all social relations. In addition, the Democratic proponents of neoliberalism, such as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, participated in the dismantling of the social contract, widening economic inequality, and burgeoning landscapes of joblessness, misery, anger and despair.

At the same time, they enacted policies that dismantled civic culture and undermined a wide range of democratic institutions that extended from the media to public goods such as public and higher education. Under such circumstances, democratic narratives, values and modes of solidarity, which traded in shared responsibilities and shared hopes, were replaced by a market-based focus on a regressive notion of hyper-individualism, ego-centered values and a view of individual responsibility that eviscerated any broader notion of social, systemic, and corporate problems and accountability.

Ways of imagining society through a collective ethos became fractured, and a comprehensive understanding of politics as inclusive and participatory morphed into an anti-politics marked by an investment in the language of individual rights, individual choice and the power of rights-bearing individuals.

Under the reign of neoliberalism, language became thinner and more individualistic, detached from history and more self-oriented, all the while undermining viable democratic social spheres as spaces where politics bring people together as collective agents and critically engaged citizens. Neoliberal language is written in the discourse of economics and market values, not ethics. Under such circumstances, shallowness becomes an asset rather than a liability. Increasingly, the watered-down language of liberal democracy, with its over-emphasis on individual rights and its neoliberal coddling of the financial elite, gave way to a regressive notion of the social marked by rising authoritarian tendencies, unchecked nativism, unapologetic expressions of bigotry, misdirected anger and the language of resentment-filled revolt. Liberal democracies across the globe appeared out of touch with not only the misery and suffering caused by neoliberal policies, they also produced an insular and arrogant group of politicians who regarded themselves as an enlightened political formation that worked " on behalf of an ignorant public ."

The ultimate consequence was to produce later what Wolfgang Merkel describes as "a rebellion of the disenfranchised." A series of political uprisings made it clear that neoliberalism was suffering from a crisis of legitimacy further accentuated by the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the election of Donald Trump, support for the National Rally ( formerly known as the National Front ) in France, and the emergence of powerful right-wing populist movements across the globe.

What has been vastly underestimated in the rise of right-wing populism is the capture of the media by authoritarian populists.

As a regime of affective management, neoliberalism created a culture in which everyone was trapped in his or her own feelings, emotions and orbits of privatization. One consequence was that legitimate political claims could only be pursued by individuals and families rather than social groups. In this instance, power was removed from the social sphere and placed almost entirely in the hands of corporate and political demagogues who used it to enrich themselves for their own personal gain.

Power was now used to produce muscular authority in order "to secure order, boundaries, and to divert the growing anger of a declining middle and working-class," Wendy Brown observes . Both classes increasingly came to blame their economic and political conditions that produced their misery and ravaged ways of life on "'others': immigrants, minority races, 'external' predators and attackers ranging from terrorists to refugees." Liberal-individualistic views lost their legitimacy as they refused to indict the underlying structures of capitalism and its winner-take-all ethos.

Functioning largely as a ruthless form of social Darwinism, economic activity was removed from a concern with social costs, and replaced by a culture of cruelty and resentment that disdained any notion of compassion or ethical concern for those deemed as "other" because of their class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and religion. This is a culture marked by gigantic hypocrisies, "the gloomy tabulation of unspeakable violent events," widespread viciousness, "great concentrations of wealth," "surveillance overkill," and the "unceasing despoliation of biospheres for profit."

George Monbiot sums up well some of the more toxic elements of neoliberalism, which remained largely hidden since it was in the mainstream press less as an ideology than as an economic policy. He writes :

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 minimized, public services should be privatized. The organization of labor 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.

In the neoliberal worldview, those who are unemployed, poor consumers or outside of the reach of a market in search of insatiable profits are considered disposable. Increasingly more people were viewed as anti-human, unknowable, faceless and symbols of fear and pathology. This included undocumented immigrants in the United States and refugees in Europe, as well as those who were considered of no value to a market society, and thus eligible to be deprived of the most basic rights and subject to the terror of state violence.

Marking selected groups as disposable in both symbolic and material forms, the neoliberal politics of disposability became a machinery of political and social death -- producing spaces where undesirable members are abused, put in cages , separated from their children and subject to a massive violation of their human rights. Under a neoliberal politics of disposability, people live in spaces of ever-present danger and risk where nothing is certain; human beings considered excess are denied a social function and relegated to what Étienne Balibar calls the "death zones of humanity." These are the 21st century workstations designed for the creation and process of elimination; a death-haunted mode of production rooted in the "absolute triumph of irrationality."

Economic and cultural nationalism has become a rallying cry to create the conditions for merging a regressive neoliberalism and populism into a war machine.

Within this new political formation, older forms of exploitation are now matched, if not exceeded, by a politics of racial and social cleansing, as entire populations are removed from ethical assessments, producing zones of social abandonment. In this new world, there is a merging of finance capital and a war culture that speaks to a moral and political collapse in which the welfare state is replaced by forms of economic nationalism and a burgeoning carceral state .

Furthermore, elements of this crisis can be seen in the ongoing militarization of everyday life as more and more institutions take on the model of the prison. Additionally, there is also the increased arming of the police, the criminalization of a wide range of behaviors related to social problems, the rise of the surveillance state, and the ongoing war on youth, undocumented immigrants, Muslims and others deemed enemies of the state.

Under the aegis of a neoliberal war culture, we have witnessed increasing immiseration for the working and middle classes, massive tax cuts for the rich, the outsourcing of public services, a full-fledged attack on unions, the defunding of public goods, and the privatization of public services extending from health and education to roads and prisons. This ongoing transfer of public resources and services to the rich, hedge fund managers, and corporate elite was matched by the corporate takeover of the commanding institutions of culture, including the digital, print and broadcast media. What has been vastly underestimated in the rise of right-wing populism is the capture of the media by authoritarian populists and its flip side, which amounts to a full-fledged political attack on independent digital, online and oppositional journalists.

While it is generally acknowledged that neoliberalism was responsible for the worldwide economic crisis of 2008, what is less acknowledged is that structural crisis produced by a capitalism on steroids was not matched by subjective crisis and consequently gave rise to new reactionary political populist movements. As economic collapse became visceral, people's lives were upended and sometimes destroyed. Moreover, as the social contract was shredded along with the need for socially constructed roles, norms and public goods, the "social" no longer occupied a thick and important pedagogical space of solidarity, dialogue, political expression, dissent and politics.

As public spheres disappeared, communal bonds were weakened and social provisions withered. Under neoliberalism, the social sphere regresses into a privatized society of consumers in which individuals are atomized, alienated, and increasingly removed from the variety of social connections and communal bonds that give meaning to the degree to which societies are good and just.

Establishment politics lost its legitimacy, as voters rejected the conditions produced by financialized capitalism.

People became isolated, segregated and unable " to negotiate democratic dilemmas in a democratic way " as power became more abstract and removed from public participation and accountability. As the neoliberal net of privilege was cast wider without apology for the rich and exclusion of others, it became more obvious to growing elements of the public that appeals to liberal democracy had failed to keep its promise of a better life for all. It could no longer demand, without qualification, that working people should work harder for less, and that democratic participation is exclusively about elections. What could not be hidden from many disenfranchised groups was that ruling elites produced what Adam Tooze describes as "a disastrous slide from the hypocrisies and compromises of the previous status quo into something even [more dangerous]."

As the global crisis has intensified since 2008, elements of a political and moral collapse at the heart of an authoritarian society are more obvious and find their most transparent expression of ruthlessness, greed and unchecked power in the rule of Donald Trump. As Chris Hedges points out :

The ruling corporate elites no longer seek to build. They seek to destroy. They are agents of death. They crave the unimpeded power to cannibalize the country and pollute and degrade the ecosystem to feed an insatiable lust for wealth, power and hedonism. Wars and military "virtues" are celebrated. Intelligence, empathy and the common good are banished. Culture is degraded to patriotic kitsch . Those branded as unproductive or redundant are discarded and left to struggle in poverty or locked away in cages.

The slide into authoritarianism was made all the easier by the absence of a broad-based left mass movement in the United States, which failed to provide both a comprehensive vision of change and an alignment of single-issue groups and smaller movements into one mass movement. Nancy Fraser rightly observes that following Occupy, "potential links between labour and new social movements were left to languish. Split off from one another, those indispensable poles of a viable left were miles apart, waiting to be counterposed as antithetical."

Since the 1970s, there has been a profound backlash by economic, financial, political and religious fundamentalists and their allied media establishments against labor, an oppositional press, people of color and others who have attempted to extend the workings of democracy and equality.

As the narrative of class and class struggle disappeared along with the absence of a vibrant socialist movement, the call for democracy no longer provided a unifying narrative to bring different oppressed groups together. Instead, economic and cultural nationalism has become a rallying cry to create the conditions for merging a regressive neoliberalism and populism into a war machine. Under such circumstances, politics is imagined as a form of war, repelling immigrants and refugees who are described by President Trump as "invaders," "vermin" and "rapists." The emergence of neoliberalism as a war machine is evident in the current status of the Republican Party and the Trump administration, which wage assaults on anything that does not mimic the values of the market. Such assaults take the form of fixing whole categories of people as disposable, as enemies, and force them into conditions of extreme precarity -- and in increasingly more instances, conditions of danger. Neoliberal capitalism radiates violence, evident in its endless instances of mass shooting, such as those that took place most recently in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. This should not be surprising for a society that measures power by the speed that it removes itself from any sense of ethical and social responsibility. As Beatrix Campbell puts it ,

The richest society on the planet is armed. And it invests in one of the largest prison systems in the world. Violence circulates between state and citizen. Drilled to kill, doomed to die: mastery and martyrdom is the heartbreaking dialectic of the manufacture of militarized, violent masculinity . The making and maintaining of militarised masculinities is vital to these new modes of armed conflict that are proliferating across the flexible frontiers of globalized capitalism, between and within states.

What has become clear is that the neoliberal agenda has been a spectacular failure . Moreover, it has mobilized on a global level the violent political, social, racial and economic energies of a resurgent fascist politics. Across the globe, right-wing modes of governance are appearing in which the line collapses between "outside foreign enemies" such as refugees and undocumented immigrants, on the one hand, and on the other, inside "dangerous" or "treasonous" classes such as critical journalists, educators and dissidents.

As neoliberal economies increasingly resort to violence and repression, fear replaces any sense of shared responsibilities, as violence is not only elevated to an organizing principle of society, but also expands a network of extreme cruelty. Imagining politics as a war machine, more and more groups are treated as excess and inscribed in an order of power as disposable, enemies, and [forced] into conditions of extreme precarity. This is a particularly vicious form of state violence that undermines and constrains agency, and subjects individuals to zones of abandonment, as evident in the growth of immigrant jails and an expanding carceral complex in the United States and other countries, such as Hungary.

As neoliberalism's promise of social mobility and expanding economic progress collapsed, it gave way to an authoritarian right-wing populism looking for narratives on which to pin the hatred of governing elites who, as Paul Mason notes , "capped health and welfare spending, [imposed] punitive benefit withdraws [that] forced many families to rely on food banks [and] withdraw sickness and disability benefits from one million former workers below retirement age."

Across the globe, a series of uprisings have appeared that signal new political formations that rejected the notion that there was no alternative to neoliberal hegemony. This was evident not only with the election of Donald Trump and the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, but also with the election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and support for popular movements such as the National Rally in France. Establishment politics lost its legitimacy, as voters rejected the conditions produced by financialized capitalism.

In the United States, both major political parties were more than willing to turn the economy over to the bankers and hedge fund managers while producing policies that shaped radical forms of industrial and social restructuring, all of which caused massive pain, suffering and rage among large segments of the working class and other disenfranchised groups. Right-wing populist leaders across the globe recognized that national economies were in the hands of foreign investors, a mobile financial elite and transnational capital. In a masterful act of political diversion, populist leaders attacked all vestiges of liberal capitalism while refusing to name neoliberal inequities in wealth and power as a basic threat to their societies. Instead of calling for an acceleration of the democratic ideals of popular sovereignty and equality, right-wing populist leaders, such as Trump, Bolsonaro and Hungary's Viktor Orbán defined democracy as the enemy of those who wish for unaccountable power. They also diverted genuine popular anger into the abyss of cultural chauvinism, anti-immigrant hatred, a contempt of Muslims and a targeted attack on the environment, health care, education, public institutions, social provisions and other basic life resources. As Arjun Appadurai observes , such authoritarian leaders hate democracy, capture the political emotions of those treated as disposable, and do everything they can to hide the deep contradictions of neoliberal capitalism.

In this scenario, we have the resurgence of a fascist politics that capitalizes on the immiseration, fears and anxieties produced by neoliberalism without naming the underlying conditions that create and legitimate its policies and social costs. While such populists comment on certain elements of neoliberalism such as globalization, they largely embrace those ideological and economic elements that concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a political, corporate and financial elite, thus reinforcing in the end an extreme form of capitalism. Moreover, right-wing populists may condemn globalization, but they do so by blaming those considered outside the inclusive boundaries of a white homeland even though the same forces victimize them . At the same time, such leaders mobilize passions that deny critical understanding while simultaneously creating desires and affects that produce toxic and hypermasculine forms of identification.

Authoritarian leaders hate democracy and do everything they can to hide the deep contradictions of neoliberal capitalism.

In this instance, an oppressive form of education becomes central to politics and is used as a tool of power in the struggle over power, agency and politics. What is at stake here is not simply a struggle between authoritarian ideas and democratic ideals, but also a fierce battle on the part of demagogues to destroy the institutions and conditions that make critical thought and oppositional accounts of power possible. This is evident, for example, in Trump's constant attack on the critical media, often referring to them as "'the enemy of the people' pushing 'Radical Left Democrat views,'" even as journalists are subject to expulsion, mass jailing and assassination across the world by some of Trump's allies.

Waging war on democracy and the institutions that produce it, neoliberalism has tapped into a combination of fear and cathartic cruelty that has once again unleashed the mobilizing passions of fascism, especially the historically distinct registers of extreme nationalism, nativism, white supremacy, racial and ethnic cleansing, voter suppression, and an attack on a civic culture of critique and resistance. The result is a new political formation that I have called neoliberal fascism, in which the principles and practices of a fascist past and neoliberal present have merged, connecting the worst dimensions and excesses of gangster capitalism with the fascist ideals of white nationalism and racial supremacy associated with the horrors of a fascist past.

Neoliberal fascism hollows out democracy from within, breaks down the separation of power while increasing the power of the presidency, and saturates cultural and social life with its ideology of self-interest, a survival-of-the-fittest ethos, and regressive notions of freedom and individual responsibility.

What needs to be acknowledged is that neoliberalism as an extreme form of capitalism has produced the conditions for a fascist politics that is updated to serve the interest of a concentrated class of financial elite and a rising tide of political demagogues across the globe.

The mass anger fueling neoliberal fascism is a diversion of genuine resistance into what amounts to a pathology, which empties politics of any substance. This is evident also in its support of a right-wing populism and its focus on the immigrants and refugees as "dangerous outsiders," which serves to eliminate class politics and camouflage its own authoritarian ruling class interests and relentless attacks on social welfare.

A new economic slump would further fuel forces of repression and strengthen the forces of white supremacy.

In the face of a looming global recession, it is crucial to understand the connection between the rise of right-wing populism and neoliberalism, which emerged in the late 1970s as a commanding ideology fueling a punitive form of globalization. This historical moment is marked by unique ideological, economic and political formations produced by ever-increasing brutal forms of capitalism, however diverse.

Governing economic and political thinking everywhere, neoliberalism's unprecedented concentration of economic and political power has produced a toxic state modeled after the models of finance and unchecked market forces. It has also produced a profound shift in human consciousness, agency and modes of identification. The consequences have become familiar and include cruel austerity measures, adulation of self-regulating markets, the liberating of capital from any constraints, deregulation, privatization of public goods, the commodification of everyday life and the gutting of environmental, health and safety laws. It has also paved the way for a merging of extreme market principles and the sordid and mushrooming elements of white supremacy, racial cleansing and ultranationalism that have become specific to updated forms of fascist politics.

Such policies have produced massive inequities in wealth, power and income, while further accelerating mass misery, human suffering, the rise of state-sanctioned violence and ever-expanding sites of terminal exclusion in the forms of walls, detention centers and an expanding carceral state. An impending recession accentuates the antagonisms, instabilities and crisis produced by the long history and reach of neoliberal ideologies and policies.

A new economic slump would further fuel forces of repression and strengthen the forces of white supremacy, Islamophobia, nativism and misogyny. In the face of such reactionary forces, it is crucial to unite various progressive forces of opposition into a powerful anti-capitalist movement that speaks not only to the range of oppressions exacerbated by neoliberalism, but also to the need for new narratives that speak to overturning a system steeped in the machineries of war, militarization, repression and death.

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and is the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books include: Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education (Haymarket 2014), The Violence of Organized Forgetting (City Lights 2014), Dangerous Thinking in the Age of the New Authoritarianism (Routledge, 2015), America's Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, 2016), America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017), The Public in Peril (Routledge, 2018) and American Nightmare: Facing the Challenge of Fascism (City Lights, 2018) and The Terror of the Unforeseen (LARB Books, 2019). Giroux is also a member of Truthout 's Board of Directors.

[Oct 23, 2019] The treason of the intellectuals The Undoing of Thought by Roger Kimball

Highly recommended!
Supporting neoliberalism is the key treason of contemporary intellectuals eeho were instrumental in decimating the New Deal capitalism, to say nothing about neocon, who downgraded themselves into intellectual prostitutes of MIC mad try to destroy post WWII order.
Notable quotes:
"... More and more, intellectuals were abandoning their attachment to the traditional panoply of philosophical and scholarly ideals. One clear sign of the change was the attack on the Enlightenment ideal of universal humanity and the concomitant glorification of various particularisms. ..."
"... "Our age is indeed the age of the intellectual organization of political hatreds ," he wrote near the beginning of the book. "It will be one of its chief claims to notice in the moral history of humanity." There was no need to add that its place in moral history would be as a cautionary tale. In little more than a decade, Benda's prediction that, because of the "great betrayal" of the intellectuals, humanity was "heading for the greatest and most perfect war ever seen in the world," would achieve a terrifying corroboration. ..."
"... In Plato's Gorgias , for instance, the sophist Callicles expresses his contempt for Socrates' devotion to philosophy: "I feel toward philosophers very much as I do toward those who lisp and play the child." Callicles taunts Socrates with the idea that "the more powerful, the better, and the stronger" are simply different words for the same thing. Successfully pursued, he insists, "luxury and intemperance are virtue and happiness, and all the rest is tinsel." How contemporary Callicles sounds! ..."
"... In Benda's formula, this boils down to the conviction that "politics decides morality." To be sure, the cynicism that Callicles espoused is perennial: like the poor, it will be always with us. What Benda found novel was the accreditation of such cynicism by intellectuals. "It is true indeed that these new 'clerks' declare that they do not know what is meant by justice, truth, and other 'metaphysical fogs,' that for them the true is determined by the useful, the just by circumstances," he noted. "All these things were taught by Callicles, but with this difference; he revolted all the important thinkers of his time." ..."
"... In other words, the real treason of the intellectuals was not that they countenanced Callicles but that they championed him. ..."
"... His doctrine of "the will to power," his contempt for the "slave morality" of Christianity, his plea for an ethic "beyond good and evil," his infatuation with violence -- all epitomize the disastrous "pragmatism" that marks the intellectual's "treason." The real problem was not the unattainability but the disintegration of ideals, an event that Nietzsche hailed as the "transvaluation of all values." "Formerly," Benda observed, "leaders of States practiced realism, but did not honor it; With them morality was violated but moral notions remained intact, and that is why, in spite of all their violence, they did not disturb civilization ." ..."
"... From the savage flowering of ethnic hatreds in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to the mendacious demands for political correctness and multiculturalism on college campuses across America and Europe, the treason of the intellectuals continues to play out its unedifying drama. Benda spoke of "a cataclysm in the moral notions of those who educate the world." That cataclysm is erupting in every corner of cultural life today. ..."
"... Finkielkraut catalogues several prominent strategies that contemporary intellectuals have employed to retreat from the universal. A frequent point of reference is the eighteenth-century German Romantic philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder. "From the beginning, or to be more precise, from the time of Plato until that of Voltaire," he writes, "human diversity had come before the tribunal of universal values; with Herder the eternal values were condemned by the court of diversity." ..."
"... Finkielkraut focuses especially on Herder's definitively anti-Enlightenment idea of the Volksgeist or "national spirit." ..."
"... Nevertheless, the multiculturalists' obsession with "diversity" and ethnic origins is in many ways a contemporary redaction of Herder's elevation of racial particularism over the universalizing mandate of reason ..."
"... In Goethe's words, "A generalized tolerance will be best achieved if we leave undisturbed whatever it is which constitutes the special character of particular individuals and peoples, whilst at the same time we retain the conviction that the distinctive worth of anything with true merit lies in its belonging to all humanity." ..."
"... The geography of intellectual betrayal has changed dramatically in the last sixty-odd years. In 1927, intellectuals still had something definite to betray. In today's "postmodernist" world, the terrain is far mushier: the claims of tradition are much attenuated and betrayal is often only a matter of acquiescence. ..."
"... In the broadest terms, The Undoing of Thought is a brief for the principles of the Enlightenment. Among other things, this means that it is a brief for the idea that mankind is united by a common humanity that transcends ethnic, racial, and sexual divisions ..."
"... Granted, the belief that there is "Jewish thinking" or "Soviet science" or "Aryan art" is no longer as widespread as it once was. But the dispersal of these particular chimeras has provided no inoculation against kindred fabrications: "African knowledge," "female language," "Eurocentric science": these are among today's talismanic fetishes. ..."
"... Then, too, one finds a stunning array of anti-Enlightenment phantasmagoria congregated under the banner of "anti-positivism." The idea that history is a "myth," that the truths of science are merely "fictions" dressed up in forbidding clothes, that reason and language are powerless to discover the truth -- more, that truth itself is a deceitful ideological construct: these and other absurdities are now part of the standard intellectual diet of Western intellectuals. The Frankfurt School Marxists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno gave an exemplary but by no means uncharacteristic demonstration of one strain of this brand of anti-rational animus in the mid-1940s. ..."
"... Historically, the Enlightenment arose as a deeply anti-clerical and, perforce, anti-traditional movement. Its goal, in Kant's famous phrase, was to release man from his "self-imposed immaturity." ..."
"... The process of disintegration has lately become an explicit attack on culture. This is not simply to say that there are many anti-intellectual elements in society: that has always been the case. "Non-thought," in Finkielkraut's phrase, has always co-existed with the life of the mind. The innovation of contemporary culture is to have obliterated the distinction between the two. ..."
"... There are many sides to this phenomenon. What Finkielkraut has given us is not a systematic dissection but a kind of pathologist's scrapbook. He reminds us, for example, that the multiculturalists' demand for "diversity" requires the eclipse of the individual in favor of the group ..."
"... To a large extent, the abdication of reason demanded by multiculturalism has been the result of what we might call the subjection of culture to anthropology. ..."
"... In describing this process of leveling, Finkielkraut distinguishes between those who wish to obliterate distinctions in the name of politics and those who do so out of a kind of narcissism. The multiculturalists wave the standard of radical politics and say (in the words of a nineteenth-century Russian populist slogan that Finkielkraut quotes): "A pair of boots is worth more than Shakespeare." ..."
"... The upshot is not only that Shakespeare is downgraded, but also that the bootmaker is elevated. "It is not just that high culture must be demystified; sport, fashion and leisure now lay claim to high cultural status." A grotesque fantasy? ..."
"... . Finkielkraut notes that the rhetoric of postmodernism is in some ways similar to the rhetoric of Enlightenment. Both look forward to releasing man from his "self-imposed immaturity." But there is this difference: Enlightenment looks to culture as a repository of values that transcend the self, postmodernism looks to the fleeting desires of the isolated self as the only legitimate source of value ..."
"... The products of culture are valuable only as a source of amusement or distraction. In order to realize the freedom that postmodernism promises, culture must be transformed into a field of arbitrary "options." "The post-modern individual," Finkielkraut writes, "is a free and easy bundle of fleeting and contingent appetites. He has forgotten that liberty involves more than the ability to change one's chains, and that culture itself is more than a satiated whim." ..."
"... "'All cultures are equally legitimate and everything is cultural,' is the common cry of affluent society's spoiled children and of the detractors of the West. ..."
"... There is another, perhaps even darker, result of the undoing of thought. The disintegration of faith in reason and common humanity leads not only to a destruction of standards, but also involves a crisis of courage. ..."
"... As the impassioned proponents of "diversity" meet the postmodern apostles of acquiescence, fanaticism mixes with apathy to challenge the commitment required to preserve freedom. ..."
"... Communism may have been effectively discredited. But "what is dying along with it is not the totalitarian cast of mind, but the idea of a world common to all men." ..."
Dec 01, 1992 | www.moonofalabama.org

On the abandonment of Enlightenment intellectualism, and the emergence of a new form of Volksgeist.

When hatred of culture becomes itself a part of culture, the life of the mind loses all meaning. -- Alain Finkielkraut, The Undoing of Thought

Today we are trying to spread knowledge everywhere. Who knows if in centuries to come there will not be universities for re-establishing our former ignorance? -- Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799)

I n 1927, the French essayist Julien Benda published his famous attack on the intellectual corruption of the age, La Trahison des clercs. I said "famous," but perhaps "once famous" would have been more accurate. For today, in the United States anyway, only the title of the book, not its argument, enjoys much currency. "La trahison des clercs": it is one of those memorable phrases that bristles with hints and associations without stating anything definite. Benda tells us that he uses the term "clerc" in "the medieval sense," i.e., to mean "scribe," someone we would now call a member of the intelligentsia. Academics and journalists, pundits, moralists, and pontificators of all varieties are in this sense clercs . The English translation, The Treason of the Intellectuals , 1 sums it up neatly.

The "treason" in question was the betrayal by the "clerks" of their vocation as intellectuals. From the time of the pre-Socratics, intellectuals, considered in their role as intellectuals, had been a breed apart. In Benda's terms, they were understood to be "all those whose activity essentially is not the pursuit of practical aims, all those who seek their joy in the practice of an art or a science or a metaphysical speculation, in short in the possession of non-material advantages." Thanks to such men, Benda wrote, "humanity did evil for two thousand years, but honored good. This contradiction was an honor to the human species, and formed the rift whereby civilization slipped into the world."

According to Benda, however, this situation was changing. More and more, intellectuals were abandoning their attachment to the traditional panoply of philosophical and scholarly ideals. One clear sign of the change was the attack on the Enlightenment ideal of universal humanity and the concomitant glorification of various particularisms. The attack on the universal went forward in social and political life as well as in the refined precincts of epistemology and metaphysics: "Those who for centuries had exhorted men, at least theoretically, to deaden the feeling of their differences have now come to praise them, according to where the sermon is given, for their 'fidelity to the French soul,' 'the immutability of their German consciousness,' for the 'fervor of their Italian hearts.'" In short, intellectuals began to immerse themselves in the unsettlingly practical and material world of political passions: precisely those passions, Benda observed, "owing to which men rise up against other men, the chief of which are racial passions, class passions and national passions." The "rift" into which civilization had been wont to slip narrowed and threatened to close altogether.

Writing at a moment when ethnic and nationalistic hatreds were beginning to tear Europe asunder, Benda's diagnosis assumed the lineaments of a prophecy -- a prophecy that continues to have deep resonance today. "Our age is indeed the age of the intellectual organization of political hatreds ," he wrote near the beginning of the book. "It will be one of its chief claims to notice in the moral history of humanity." There was no need to add that its place in moral history would be as a cautionary tale. In little more than a decade, Benda's prediction that, because of the "great betrayal" of the intellectuals, humanity was "heading for the greatest and most perfect war ever seen in the world," would achieve a terrifying corroboration.

J ulien Benda was not so naïve as to believe that intellectuals as a class had ever entirely abstained from political involvement, or, indeed, from involvement in the realm of practical affairs. Nor did he believe that intellectuals, as citizens, necessarily should abstain from political commitment or practical affairs. The "treason" or betrayal he sought to publish concerned the way that intellectuals had lately allowed political commitment to insinuate itself into their understanding of the intellectual vocation as such. Increasingly, Benda claimed, politics was "mingled with their work as artists, as men of learning, as philosophers." The ideal of disinterestedness, the universality of truth: such guiding principles were contemptuously deployed as masks when they were not jettisoned altogether. It was in this sense that he castigated the " desire to abase the values of knowledge before the values of action ."

In its crassest but perhaps also most powerful form, this desire led to that familiar phenomenon Benda dubbed "the cult of success." It is summed up, he writes, in "the teaching that says that when a will is successful that fact alone gives it a moral value, whereas the will which fails is for that reason alone deserving of contempt." In itself, this idea is hardly novel, as history from the Greek sophists on down reminds us. In Plato's Gorgias , for instance, the sophist Callicles expresses his contempt for Socrates' devotion to philosophy: "I feel toward philosophers very much as I do toward those who lisp and play the child." Callicles taunts Socrates with the idea that "the more powerful, the better, and the stronger" are simply different words for the same thing. Successfully pursued, he insists, "luxury and intemperance are virtue and happiness, and all the rest is tinsel." How contemporary Callicles sounds!

In Benda's formula, this boils down to the conviction that "politics decides morality." To be sure, the cynicism that Callicles espoused is perennial: like the poor, it will be always with us. What Benda found novel was the accreditation of such cynicism by intellectuals. "It is true indeed that these new 'clerks' declare that they do not know what is meant by justice, truth, and other 'metaphysical fogs,' that for them the true is determined by the useful, the just by circumstances," he noted. "All these things were taught by Callicles, but with this difference; he revolted all the important thinkers of his time."

In other words, the real treason of the intellectuals was not that they countenanced Callicles but that they championed him. To appreciate the force of Benda's thesis one need only think of that most influential modern Callicles, Friedrich Nietzsche. His doctrine of "the will to power," his contempt for the "slave morality" of Christianity, his plea for an ethic "beyond good and evil," his infatuation with violence -- all epitomize the disastrous "pragmatism" that marks the intellectual's "treason." The real problem was not the unattainability but the disintegration of ideals, an event that Nietzsche hailed as the "transvaluation of all values." "Formerly," Benda observed, "leaders of States practiced realism, but did not honor it; With them morality was violated but moral notions remained intact, and that is why, in spite of all their violence, they did not disturb civilization ."

Benda understood that the stakes were high: the treason of the intellectuals signaled not simply the corruption of a bunch of scribblers but a fundamental betrayal of culture. By embracing the ethic of Callicles, intellectuals had, Benda reckoned, precipitated "one of the most remarkable turning points in the moral history of the human species. It is impossible," he continued,

to exaggerate the importance of a movement whereby those who for twenty centuries taught Man that the criterion of the morality of an act is its disinterestedness, that good is a decree of his reason insofar as it is universal, that his will is only moral if it seeks its law outside its objects, should begin to teach him that the moral act is the act whereby he secures his existence against an environment which disputes it, that his will is moral insofar as it is a will "to power," that the part of his soul which determines what is good is its "will to live" wherein it is most "hostile to all reason," that the morality of an act is measured by its adaptation to its end, and that the only morality is the morality of circumstances. The educators of the human mind now take sides with Callicles against Socrates, a revolution which I dare to say seems to me more important than all political upheavals.

T he Treason of the Intellectuals is an energetic hodgepodge of a book. The philosopher Jean-François Revel recently described it as "one of the fussiest pleas on behalf of the necessary independence of intellectuals." Certainly it is rich, quirky, erudite, digressive, and polemical: more an exclamation than an analysis. Partisan in its claims for disinterestedness, it is ruthless in its defense of intellectual high-mindedness. Yet given the horrific events that unfolded in the decades following its publication, Benda's unremitting attack on the politicization of the intellect and ethnic separatism cannot but strike us as prescient. And given the continuing echo in our own time of the problems he anatomized, the relevance of his observations to our situation can hardly be doubted. From the savage flowering of ethnic hatreds in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union to the mendacious demands for political correctness and multiculturalism on college campuses across America and Europe, the treason of the intellectuals continues to play out its unedifying drama. Benda spoke of "a cataclysm in the moral notions of those who educate the world." That cataclysm is erupting in every corner of cultural life today.

In 1988, the young French philosopher and cultural critic Alain Finkielkraut took up where Benda left off, producing a brief but searching inventory of our contemporary cataclysms. Entitled La Défaite de la pensée 2 ("The 'Defeat' or 'Undoing' of Thought"), his essay is in part an updated taxonomy of intellectual betrayals. In this sense, the book is a trahison des clercs for the post-Communist world, a world dominated as much by the leveling imperatives of pop culture as by resurgent nationalism and ethnic separatism. Beginning with Benda, Finkielkraut catalogues several prominent strategies that contemporary intellectuals have employed to retreat from the universal. A frequent point of reference is the eighteenth-century German Romantic philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder. "From the beginning, or to be more precise, from the time of Plato until that of Voltaire," he writes, "human diversity had come before the tribunal of universal values; with Herder the eternal values were condemned by the court of diversity."

Finkielkraut focuses especially on Herder's definitively anti-Enlightenment idea of the Volksgeist or "national spirit." Quoting the French historian Joseph Renan, he describes the idea as "the most dangerous explosive of modern times." "Nothing," he writes, "can stop a state that has become prey to the Volksgeist ." It is one of Finkielkraut's leitmotifs that today's multiculturalists are in many respects Herder's (generally unwitting) heirs.

True, Herder's emphasis on history and language did much to temper the tendency to abstraction that one finds in some expressions of the Enlightenment. Ernst Cassirer even remarked that "Herder's achievement is one of the greatest intellectual triumphs of the philosophy of the Enlightenment."

Nevertheless, the multiculturalists' obsession with "diversity" and ethnic origins is in many ways a contemporary redaction of Herder's elevation of racial particularism over the universalizing mandate of reason. Finkielkraut opposes this just as the mature Goethe once took issue with Herder's adoration of the Volksgeist. Finkielkraut concedes that we all "relate to a particular tradition" and are "shaped by our national identity." But, unlike the multiculturalists, he soberly insists that "this reality merit[s] some recognition, not idolatry."

In Goethe's words, "A generalized tolerance will be best achieved if we leave undisturbed whatever it is which constitutes the special character of particular individuals and peoples, whilst at the same time we retain the conviction that the distinctive worth of anything with true merit lies in its belonging to all humanity."

The Undoing of Thought resembles The Treason of the Intellectuals stylistically as well as thematically. Both books are sometimes breathless congeries of sources and aperçus. And Finkielkraut, like Benda (and, indeed, like Montaigne), tends to proceed more by collage than by demonstration. But he does not simply recapitulate Benda's argument.

The geography of intellectual betrayal has changed dramatically in the last sixty-odd years. In 1927, intellectuals still had something definite to betray. In today's "postmodernist" world, the terrain is far mushier: the claims of tradition are much attenuated and betrayal is often only a matter of acquiescence. Finkielkraut's distinctive contribution is to have taken the measure of the cultural swamp that surrounds us, to have delineated the links joining the politicization of the intellect and its current forms of debasement.

In the broadest terms, The Undoing of Thought is a brief for the principles of the Enlightenment. Among other things, this means that it is a brief for the idea that mankind is united by a common humanity that transcends ethnic, racial, and sexual divisions.

The humanizing "reason" that Enlightenment champions is a universal reason, sharable, in principle, by all. Such ideals have not fared well in the twentieth century: Herder's progeny have labored hard to discredit them. Granted, the belief that there is "Jewish thinking" or "Soviet science" or "Aryan art" is no longer as widespread as it once was. But the dispersal of these particular chimeras has provided no inoculation against kindred fabrications: "African knowledge," "female language," "Eurocentric science": these are among today's talismanic fetishes.

Then, too, one finds a stunning array of anti-Enlightenment phantasmagoria congregated under the banner of "anti-positivism." The idea that history is a "myth," that the truths of science are merely "fictions" dressed up in forbidding clothes, that reason and language are powerless to discover the truth -- more, that truth itself is a deceitful ideological construct: these and other absurdities are now part of the standard intellectual diet of Western intellectuals. The Frankfurt School Marxists Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno gave an exemplary but by no means uncharacteristic demonstration of one strain of this brand of anti-rational animus in the mid-1940s.

Safely ensconced in Los Angeles, these refugees from Hitler's Reich published an influential essay on the concept of Enlightenment. Among much else, they assured readers that "Enlightenment is totalitarian." Never mind that at that very moment the Nazi war machine -- what one might be forgiven for calling real totalitarianism -- was busy liquidating millions of people in order to fulfill another set of anti-Enlightenment fantasies inspired by devotion to the Volksgeist .

The diatribe that Horkheimer and Adorno mounted against the concept of Enlightenment reminds us of an important peculiarity about the history of Enlightenment: namely, that it is a movement of thought that began as a reaction against tradition and has now emerged as one of tradition's most important safeguards. Historically, the Enlightenment arose as a deeply anti-clerical and, perforce, anti-traditional movement. Its goal, in Kant's famous phrase, was to release man from his "self-imposed immaturity."

The chief enemy of Enlightenment was "superstition," an omnibus term that included all manner of religious, philosophical, and moral ideas. But as the sociologist Edward Shils has noted, although the Enlightenment was in important respects "antithetical to tradition" in its origins, its success was due in large part "to the fact that it was promulgated and pursued in a society in which substantive traditions were rather strong." "It was successful against its enemies," Shils notes in his book Tradition (1981),

because the enemies were strong enough to resist its complete victory over them. Living on a soil of substantive traditionality, the ideas of the Enlightenment advanced without undoing themselves. As long as respect for authority on the one side and self-confidence in those exercising authority on the other persisted, the Enlightenment's ideal of emancipation through the exercise of reason went forward. It did not ravage society as it would have done had society lost all legitimacy.

It is this mature form of Enlightenment, championing reason but respectful of tradition, that Finkielkraut holds up as an ideal.

W hat Finkielkraut calls "the undoing of thought" flows from the widespread disintegration of a faith. At the center of that faith is the assumption that the life of thought is "the higher life" and that culture -- what the Germans call Bildung -- is its end or goal.

The process of disintegration has lately become an explicit attack on culture. This is not simply to say that there are many anti-intellectual elements in society: that has always been the case. "Non-thought," in Finkielkraut's phrase, has always co-existed with the life of the mind. The innovation of contemporary culture is to have obliterated the distinction between the two. "It is," he writes, "the first time in European history that non-thought has donned the same label and enjoyed the same status as thought itself, and the first time that those who, in the name of 'high culture,' dare to call this non-thought by its name, are dismissed as racists and reactionaries." The attack is perpetrated not from outside, by uncomprehending barbarians, but chiefly from inside, by a new class of barbarians, the self-made barbarians of the intelligentsia. This is the undoing of thought. This is the new "treason of the intellectuals."

There are many sides to this phenomenon. What Finkielkraut has given us is not a systematic dissection but a kind of pathologist's scrapbook. He reminds us, for example, that the multiculturalists' demand for "diversity" requires the eclipse of the individual in favor of the group . "Their most extraordinary feat," he observes, "is to have put forward as the ultimate individual liberty the unconditional primacy of the collective." Western rationalism and individualism are rejected in the name of a more "authentic" cult.

One example: Finkielkraut quotes a champion of multiculturalism who maintains that "to help immigrants means first of all respecting them for what they are, respecting whatever they aspire to in their national life, in their distinctive culture and in their attachment to their spiritual and religious roots." Would this, Finkielkraut asks, include "respecting" those religious codes which demanded that the barren woman be cast out and the adulteress be punished with death?

What about those cultures in which the testimony of one man counts for that of two women? In which female circumcision is practiced? In which slavery flourishes? In which mixed marriages are forbidden and polygamy encouraged? Multiculturalism, as Finkielkraut points out, requires that we respect such practices. To criticize them is to be dismissed as "racist" and "ethnocentric." In this secular age, "cultural identity" steps in where the transcendent once was: "Fanaticism is indefensible when it appeals to heaven, but beyond reproach when it is grounded in antiquity and cultural distinctiveness."

To a large extent, the abdication of reason demanded by multiculturalism has been the result of what we might call the subjection of culture to anthropology. Finkielkraut speaks in this context of a "cheerful confusion which raises everyday anthropological practices to the pinnacle of the human race's greatest achievements." This process began in the nineteenth century, but it has been greatly accelerated in our own age. One thinks, for example, of the tireless campaigning of that great anthropological leveler, Claude Lévi-Strauss. Lévi-Strauss is assuredly a brilliant writer, but he has also been an extraordinarily baneful influence. Already in the early 1950s, when he was pontificating for UNESCO , he was urging all and sundry to "fight against ranking cultural differences hierarchically." In La Pensée sauvage (1961), he warned against the "false antinomy between logical and prelogical mentality" and was careful in his descriptions of natives to refer to "so-called primitive thought." "So-called" indeed. In a famous article on race and history, Lévi-Strauss maintained that the barbarian was not the opposite of the civilized man but "first of all the man who believes there is such a thing as barbarism." That of course is good to know. It helps one to appreciate Lévi-Strauss's claim, in Tristes Tropiques (1955), that the "true purpose of civilization" is to produce "inertia." As one ruminates on the proposition that cultures should not be ranked hierarchically, it is also well to consider what Lévi-Strauss coyly refers to as "the positive forms of cannibalism." For Lévi-Strauss, cannibalism has been unfairly stigmatized in the "so-called" civilized West. In fact, he explains, cannibalism was "often observed with great discretion, the vital mouthful being made up of a small quantity of organic matter mixed, on occasion, with other forms of food." What, merely a "vital mouthful"? Not to worry! Only an ignoramus who believed that there were important distinctions, qualitative distinctions, between the barbarian and the civilized man could possibly think of objecting.

Of course, the attack on distinctions that Finkielkraut castigates takes place not only among cultures but also within a given culture. Here again, the anthropological imperative has played a major role. "Under the equalizing eye of social science," he writes,

hierarchies are abolished, and all the criteria of taste are exposed as arbitrary. From now on no rigid division separates masterpieces from run-of-the mill works. The same fundamental structure, the same general and elemental traits are common to the "great" novels (whose excellence will henceforth be demystified by the accompanying quotation marks) and plebian types of narrative activity.

F or confirmation of this, one need only glance at the pronouncements of our critics. Whether working in the academy or other cultural institutions, they bring us the same news: there is "no such thing" as intrinsic merit, "quality" is an only ideological construction, aesthetic value is a distillation of social power, etc., etc.

In describing this process of leveling, Finkielkraut distinguishes between those who wish to obliterate distinctions in the name of politics and those who do so out of a kind of narcissism. The multiculturalists wave the standard of radical politics and say (in the words of a nineteenth-century Russian populist slogan that Finkielkraut quotes): "A pair of boots is worth more than Shakespeare."

Those whom Finkielkraut calls "postmodernists," waving the standard of radical chic, declare that Shakespeare is no better than the latest fashion -- no better, say, than the newest item offered by Calvin Klein. The litany that Finkielkraut recites is familiar:

A comic which combines exciting intrigue and some pretty pictures is just as good as a Nabokov novel. What little Lolitas read is as good as Lolita . An effective publicity slogan counts for as much as a poem by Apollinaire or Francis Ponge . The footballer and the choreographer, the painter and the couturier, the writer and the ad-man, the musician and the rock-and-roller, are all the same: creators. We must scrap the prejudice which restricts that title to certain people and regards others as sub-cultural.

The upshot is not only that Shakespeare is downgraded, but also that the bootmaker is elevated. "It is not just that high culture must be demystified; sport, fashion and leisure now lay claim to high cultural status." A grotesque fantasy? Anyone who thinks so should take a moment to recall the major exhibition called "High & Low: Modern Art and Popular Culture" that the Museum of Modern Art mounted a few years ago: it might have been called "Krazy Kat Meets Picasso." Few events can have so consummately summed up the corrosive trivialization of culture now perpetrated by those entrusted with preserving it. Among other things, that exhibition demonstrated the extent to which the apotheosis of popular culture undermines the very possibility of appreciating high art on its own terms.

When the distinction between culture and entertainment is obliterated, high art is orphaned, exiled from the only context in which its distinctive meaning can manifest itself: Picasso becomes a kind of cartoon. This, more than any elitism or obscurity, is the real threat to culture today. As Hannah Arendt once observed, "there are many great authors of the past who have survived centuries of oblivion and neglect, but it is still an open question whether they will be able to survive an entertaining version of what they have to say."

And this brings us to the question of freedom. Finkielkraut notes that the rhetoric of postmodernism is in some ways similar to the rhetoric of Enlightenment. Both look forward to releasing man from his "self-imposed immaturity." But there is this difference: Enlightenment looks to culture as a repository of values that transcend the self, postmodernism looks to the fleeting desires of the isolated self as the only legitimate source of value.

For the postmodernist, then, "culture is no longer seen as a means of emancipation, but as one of the élitist obstacles to this." The products of culture are valuable only as a source of amusement or distraction. In order to realize the freedom that postmodernism promises, culture must be transformed into a field of arbitrary "options." "The post-modern individual," Finkielkraut writes, "is a free and easy bundle of fleeting and contingent appetites. He has forgotten that liberty involves more than the ability to change one's chains, and that culture itself is more than a satiated whim."

What Finkielkraut has understood with admirable clarity is that modern attacks on elitism represent not the extension but the destruction of culture. "Democracy," he writes, "once implied access to culture for everybody. From now on it is going to mean everyone's right to the culture of his choice." This may sound marvelous -- it is after all the slogan one hears shouted in academic and cultural institutions across the country -- but the result is precisely the opposite of what was intended.

"'All cultures are equally legitimate and everything is cultural,' is the common cry of affluent society's spoiled children and of the detractors of the West." The irony, alas, is that by removing standards and declaring that "anything goes," one does not get more culture, one gets more and more debased imitations of culture. This fraud is the dirty secret that our cultural commissars refuse to acknowledge.

There is another, perhaps even darker, result of the undoing of thought. The disintegration of faith in reason and common humanity leads not only to a destruction of standards, but also involves a crisis of courage. "A careless indifference to grand causes," Finkielkraut warns, "has its counterpart in abdication in the face of force." As the impassioned proponents of "diversity" meet the postmodern apostles of acquiescence, fanaticism mixes with apathy to challenge the commitment required to preserve freedom.

Communism may have been effectively discredited. But "what is dying along with it is not the totalitarian cast of mind, but the idea of a world common to all men."

Julien Benda took his epigraph for La Trahison des clercs from the nineteenth-century French philosopher Charles Renouvier: Le monde souffre du manque de foi en une vérité transcendante : "The world suffers from lack of faith in a transcendent truth." Without some such faith, we are powerless against the depredations of intellectuals who have embraced the nihilism of Callicles as their truth.

1 The Treason of the Intellectuals, by Julien Benda, translated by Richard Aldington, was first published in 1928. This translation is still in print from Norton.

2 La Défaite de la pensée , by Alain Finkielkraut; Gallimard, 162 pages, 72 FF . It is available in English, in a translation by Dennis O'Keeffe, as The Undoing of Thought (The Claridge Press [London], 133 pages, £6.95 paper).

Roger Kimball is Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion and President and Publisher of Encounter Books. His latest book is The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine's Press)

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[Oct 20, 2019] Putin sarcastic remark on Western neoliberal multiculturalism

Highly recommended!
Oct 17, 2019 | www.unz.com

"If minorities prefer Sharia Law, then we advise them to go to those places where that's the state law.

Russia does not need minorities. Minorities need Russia, and we will not grant them special privileges, or try to change our laws to fit their desires, no matter how loud they yell "discrimination"

-Vladimir Putin

[Oct 06, 2019] Devop created huge opportunities for a new generation of snake oil salesman

Highly recommended!
Oct 06, 2019 | www.reddit.com

DragonDrew Jack of All Trades 772 points · 4 days ago

"I am resolute in my ability to elevate this collaborative, forward-thinking team into the revenue powerhouse that I believe it can be. We will transition into a DevOps team specialising in migrating our existing infrastructure entirely to code and go completely serverless!" - CFO that outsources IT level 2 OpenScore Sysadmin 527 points · 4 days ago

"We will utilize Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, Cloud technologies, python, data science and blockchain to achieve business value"

[Sep 13, 2019] Clowns, AI and layoffs

Sep 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Bugs Bunny , September 13, 2019 at 4:25 pm

Clowns should be increasingly used in redundancy (layoff, firing) meetings until it becomes the norm and employers start to compete with each other to offer the best clown redundancy experience and promote it as a benefit.

It would also create clown jobs, which would probably require more clown schools, meaning that the tuition prices would go through the roof and young people dreaming of becoming redundancy clowns would either have to come from wealth or take out massive clown loans to fund their education for clown universities and grad schools. Shareholders can only take so much top line costs and Wall Street pressure would force corporations to improve return on investment and reduce redundancy clown labor expenses. Sadly, redundancy clowns would find themselves training their own replacements – HB1 clowns from "low cost" countries. Employers would respond to quality criticisms of the HB1 clown experience by publishing survey results showing very similar almost ex-employee satisfaction with the new clowns.

Eventually, of course, redundancy clowns will be replaced by AI and robots. It's just the future and we will need to think about how to adapt to it today by putting in place a UBI for the inevitable redundant redundancy clowns.

[Sep 09, 2019] What's the True Unemployment Rate in the US? by Jack Rasmus

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The real unemployment rate is probably somewhere between 10%-12%. ..."
"... The U-6 also includes what the labor dept. calls involuntary part time employed. It should include the voluntary part time as well, but doesn't (See, they're not actively looking for work even if unemployed). ..."
"... But even the involuntary part time is itself under-estimated. I believe the Labor Dept. counts only those involuntarily part time unemployed whose part time job is their primary job. It doesn't count those who have second and third involuntary part time jobs. That would raise the U-6 unemployment rate significantly. The labor Dept's estimate of the 'discouraged' and 'missing labor force' is grossly underestimated. ..."
"... The labor dept. also misses the 1-2 million workers who went on social security disability (SSDI) after 2008 because it provides better pay, for longer, than does unemployment insurance. That number rose dramatically after 2008 and hasn't come down much (although the government and courts are going after them). ..."
"... The way the government calculates unemployment is by means of 60,000 monthly household surveys but that phone survey method misses a lot of workers who are undocumented and others working in the underground economy in the inner cities (about 10-12% of the economy according to most economists and therefore potentially 10-12% of the reported labor force in size as well). ..."
"... The SSDI, undocumented, underground, underestimation of part timers, etc. are what I call the 'hidden unemployed'. And that brings the unemployed well above the 3.7%. ..."
Sep 09, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

The real unemployment rate is probably somewhere between 10%-12%. Here's why: the 3.7% is the U-3 rate, per the labor dept. But that's the rate only for full time employed. What the labor dept. calls the U-6 includes what it calls discouraged workers (those who haven't looked for work in the past 4 weeks). Then there's what's called the 'missing labor force'–i.e. those who haven't looked in the past year. They're not calculated in the 3.7% U-3 unemployment rate number either. Why? Because you have to be 'out of work and actively looking for work' to be counted as unemployed and therefore part of the 3.7% rate.

The U-6 also includes what the labor dept. calls involuntary part time employed. It should include the voluntary part time as well, but doesn't (See, they're not actively looking for work even if unemployed).

But even the involuntary part time is itself under-estimated. I believe the Labor Dept. counts only those involuntarily part time unemployed whose part time job is their primary job. It doesn't count those who have second and third involuntary part time jobs. That would raise the U-6 unemployment rate significantly. The labor Dept's estimate of the 'discouraged' and 'missing labor force' is grossly underestimated.

The labor dept. also misses the 1-2 million workers who went on social security disability (SSDI) after 2008 because it provides better pay, for longer, than does unemployment insurance. That number rose dramatically after 2008 and hasn't come down much (although the government and courts are going after them).

The way the government calculates unemployment is by means of 60,000 monthly household surveys but that phone survey method misses a lot of workers who are undocumented and others working in the underground economy in the inner cities (about 10-12% of the economy according to most economists and therefore potentially 10-12% of the reported labor force in size as well). The labor dept. just makes assumptions about that number (conservatively, I may add) and plugs in a number to be added to the unemployment totals. But it has no real idea of how many undocumented or underground economy workers are actually employed or unemployed since these workers do not participate in the labor dept. phone surveys, and who can blame them.

The SSDI, undocumented, underground, underestimation of part timers, etc. are what I call the 'hidden unemployed'. And that brings the unemployed well above the 3.7%.

Finally, there's the corroborating evidence about what's called the labor force participation rate. It has declined by roughly 5% since 2007. That's 6 to 9 million workers who should have entered the labor force but haven't. The labor force should be that much larger, but it isn't. Where have they gone? Did they just not enter the labor force? If not, they're likely a majority unemployed, or in the underground economy, or belong to the labor dept's 'missing labor force' which should be much greater than reported. The government has no adequate explanation why the participation rate has declined so dramatically. Or where have the workers gone. If they had entered the labor force they would have been counted. And their 6 to 9 million would result in an increase in the total labor force number and therefore raise the unemployment rate.

All these reasons–-i.e. only counting full timers in the official 3.7%; under-estimating the size of the part time workforce; under-estimating the size of the discouraged and so-called 'missing labor force'; using methodologies that don't capture the undocumented and underground unemployed accurately; not counting part of the SSI increase as unemployed; and reducing the total labor force because of the declining labor force participation-–together means the true unemployment rate is definitely over 10% and likely closer to 12%. And even that's a conservative estimate perhaps." Join the debate on Facebook More articles by: Jack Rasmus

Jack Rasmus is author of the recently published book, 'Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression', Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com and his twitter handle is @drjackrasmus. His website is http://kyklosproductions.com .

[Aug 30, 2019] Over 50 and unemployed: Don t panic!

Highly recommended!
Don't panic is always a good advice. Following it is another story...
Notable quotes:
"... Using contacts, no matter how far in the past they rest, is nothing to be ashamed of! You've probably spent most of your life working, and meeting a lot of people along the way. ..."
"... Your resume should be tailored to each and every job you apply for. While it is important to showcase your talent and skills, how you present the information is equally important. ..."
Jan 03, 2012 | Palmetto Workforce Connections

When you find yourself over 50 and unemployed, the thought of finding another job may seem daunting and hopeless.

It is quite easy to become discouraged because many people fear being stereotyped because of their age, the tough job market, or the prospect of being interviewed by someone half their age. However, there are some things the older unemployed should keep in mind while on the job search. Using the following tips will increase your chances of a short job search and create an overall more pleasant experience.

  1. Quit telling yourself that no one hires older workers. This is simply just not true. In some cases older workers have to exert more effort to overcome discrimination, but this is certainly not the case for every employer. There are even entire websites with jobs posted specifically for older workers, and a quick Google search will render you a list of those websites. Take advantage of such resources!
  2. Take advantage of new technology. Learn to blog and micro-blog, via Twitter, about your profession and interests. You should even create a LinkedIn profile (a website similar to Facebook yet has a more career oriented function) to assist it meeting people in your desired field. All of which will help you stay fine tuned on your skills, while developing new ones. Learning to use social networking will indicate to potential employers that you can adapt to change and learn new things, particularly technology, fairly quickly.
  3. Use all those hard earned contacts. Using contacts, no matter how far in the past they rest, is nothing to be ashamed of! You've probably spent most of your life working, and meeting a lot of people along the way. It is completely acceptable to reach out to former colleagues, class mates, co-workers and employers for job possibilities. Using resources like Facebook or LinkedIn are great ways to find those long lost contacts as well. Chances are they would love to hear from you and help you out if possible.
  4. Don't clutter your resume. Your resume should be tailored to each and every job you apply for. While it is important to showcase your talent and skills, how you present the information is equally important. This means keep it straight to the point and relate your past experience to the skills necessary for the job you are applying for. Essentially, don't do a history dump of every job you've ever had, instead, make each word count!
  5. Don't act superior to the interviewer. It is likely that the people interviewing you will be younger than you. But this does not mean you should look down upon them. Obviously they have earned their position, and if you play your cards right, in due time, you will earn yours! Even if you've worked more years than your interviewer has been alive, it's not okay to tell him or her that you can "teach" them anything. A better idea would be to state your experience working in a multi-generational work place.

Use these tips to help make your job search less stressful and more positive. Whatever you do, don't throw in the towel before you've even tried. Your experience and knowledge will be recognized. All you need is the right employer to identify it.

[Aug 20, 2019] Trump Promised Massive Infrastructure Projects -- Instead We ve Gotten Nothing>

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... So far, that wager has netted Americans nothing. No money. No deal. No bridges, roads or leadless water pipes. And there's nothing on the horizon since Trump stormed out of the most recent meeting. That was a three-minute session in May with Democratic leaders at which Trump was supposed to discuss the $2 trillion he had proposed earlier to spend on infrastructure. In a press conference immediately afterward, Trump said if the Democrats continued to investigate him, he would refuse to keep his promises to the American people to repair the nation's infrastructure. ..."
"... Candidate Donald Trump knew it was no joke. On the campaign trail, he said U.S. infrastructure was "a mess" and no better than that of a "third-world country. " When an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia in 2015, killing eight and injuring about 200 , he tweeted , "Our roads, airports, tunnels, bridges, electric grid -- all falling apart." Later, he tweeted , "The only one to fix the infrastructure of our country is me." ..."
"... Donald Trump promised to make America great again. And that wouldn't be possible if America's rail system, locks, dams and pipelines -- that is, its vital organs -- were "a mess." Trump signed what he described as a contract with American voters to deliver an infrastructure plan within the first 100 days of his administration. ..."
"... He mocked his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton's proposal to spend $275 billion. "Her number is a fraction of what we're talking about. We need much more money to rebuild our infrastructure," he told Fox News in 2016 . "I would say at least double her numbers, and you're going to really need a lot more than that." ..."
"... In August of 2016, he promised , "We will build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, seaports and airports that our country deserves. American cars will travel the roads, American planes will connect our cities, and American ships will patrol the seas. American steel will send new skyscrapers soaring. We will put new American metal into the spine of this nation." ..."
"... That contract Trump signed with American voters to produce an infrastructure plan in the first 100 days: worthless. It never happened. He gave Americans an Infrastructure Week in June of 2017, though, and at just about the 100-day mark, predicted infrastructure spending would "take off like a rocket ship." Two more Infrastructure Weeks followed in the next two years, but no money. ..."
"... This year, by which time the words Infrastructure Week had become a synonym for promises not kept, Trump met on April 30 with top Democratic leaders and recommended a $2 trillion infrastructure investment. Democrats praised Trump afterward for taking the challenge seriously and for agreeing to find the money. ..."
"... Almost immediately, Trump began complaining that Democrats were trying to hoodwink him into raising taxes to pay for the $2 trillion he had offered to spend. ..."
"... Trump and the Republicans relinquished one way to pay for infrastructure when they passed a tax cut for the rich and corporations in December of 2017. As a result, the rich and corporations pocketed hundreds of billions -- $1 trillion over 10 years -- and Trump doesn't have that money to invest in infrastructure. Corporations spent their tax break money on stock buybacks, further enriching the already rich. They didn't invest in American manufacturing or worker training or wage increases. ..."
"... I have seen this movie before. A State builds a highway, it then leases that highway to a corporation for a bucket of cash which it uses to bribe the electorate to win the next election or two. The corporation shoves brand new toll booths on the highway charging sky high rates which puts a crimp in local economic activity. After the lease is up after twenty years, the State gets to take over the highway again to find that the corporation cut back on maintenance so that the whole highway has to be rebuilt again. Rinse and repeat. ..."
"... Promises by any narcissist mean nothing. You cannot hang your hat on any word that Trump speaks, because it's not about you or anyone else, but about him and only him. ..."
"... Here is a heads up. If any infrastructure is done it will be airports. The elite fly and couldn't give a crap about the suspension and wheel destroying potholes we have to slalom around every day. They also don't care that the great unwashed waste thousands of hours stuck in traffic when a bridge is closed or collapses. ..."
Jul 26, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Yves here. In a bit of synchronicity, when a reader was graciously driving me to the Department of Motor Vehicles (a schlepp in the wilds of Shelby County), she mentioned she'd heard local media reports that trucks had had their weight limits lowered due to concern that some overpasses might not be able to handle the loads. Of course, a big reason infrastructure spending has plunged in the US is that it's become an excuse for "public-private partnerships," aka looting, when those deals take longer to get done and produce bad results so often that locals can sometimes block them.

By Tom Conway, the international president of the United Steelworkers Union (USW) . Produced by the Independent Media Institute

Bad news about infrastructure is as ubiquitous as potholes. Failures in a 108-year-old railroad bridge and tunnel cost New York commuters thousands of hours in delays. Illinois doesn't regularly inspect , let alone fix, decaying bridges. Flooding in Nebraska caused nearly half a billion dollars in road and bridge damage -- just this year.

No problem, though. President Donald Trump promised to fix all this. The great dealmaker, the builder of eponymous buildings, the star of "The Apprentice," Donald Trump, during his campaign, urged Americans to bet on him because he'd double what his opponent would spend on infrastructure. Double, he pledged!

So far, that wager has netted Americans nothing. No money. No deal. No bridges, roads or leadless water pipes. And there's nothing on the horizon since Trump stormed out of the most recent meeting. That was a three-minute session in May with Democratic leaders at which Trump was supposed to discuss the $2 trillion he had proposed earlier to spend on infrastructure. In a press conference immediately afterward, Trump said if the Democrats continued to investigate him, he would refuse to keep his promises to the American people to repair the nation's infrastructure.

The comedian Stephen Colbert described the situation best, saying Trump told the Democrats: "It's my way or no highways."

The situation, however, is no joke. Just ask the New York rail commuters held up for more than 2,000 hours over the past four years by bridge and tunnel breakdowns. Just ask the American Society of Civil Engineers , which gave the nation a D+ grade for infrastructure and estimated that if more than $1 trillion is not added to currently anticipated spending on infrastructure, "the economy is expected to lose almost $4 trillion in GDP , resulting in a loss of 2.5 million jobs in 2025."

Candidate Donald Trump knew it was no joke. On the campaign trail, he said U.S. infrastructure was "a mess" and no better than that of a "third-world country. " When an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia in 2015, killing eight and injuring about 200 , he tweeted , "Our roads, airports, tunnels, bridges, electric grid -- all falling apart." Later, he tweeted , "The only one to fix the infrastructure of our country is me."

Donald Trump promised to make America great again. And that wouldn't be possible if America's rail system, locks, dams and pipelines -- that is, its vital organs -- were "a mess." Trump signed what he described as a contract with American voters to deliver an infrastructure plan within the first 100 days of his administration.

He mocked his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton's proposal to spend $275 billion. "Her number is a fraction of what we're talking about. We need much more money to rebuild our infrastructure," he told Fox News in 2016 . "I would say at least double her numbers, and you're going to really need a lot more than that."

In August of 2016, he promised , "We will build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, seaports and airports that our country deserves. American cars will travel the roads, American planes will connect our cities, and American ships will patrol the seas. American steel will send new skyscrapers soaring. We will put new American metal into the spine of this nation."

In his victory speech and both of his State of the Union addresses, he pledged again to be the master of infrastructure. "We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, school, hospitals. And we will put millions of our people to work," he said the night he won.

That sounds excellent. That's exactly what 75 percent of respondents to a Gallup poll said they wanted. That would create millions of family-supporting jobs making the steel, aluminum, concrete, pipes and construction vehicles necessary to accomplish infrastructure repair. That would stimulate the economy in ways that benefit the middle class and those who are struggling.

That contract Trump signed with American voters to produce an infrastructure plan in the first 100 days: worthless. It never happened. He gave Americans an Infrastructure Week in June of 2017, though, and at just about the 100-day mark, predicted infrastructure spending would "take off like a rocket ship." Two more Infrastructure Weeks followed in the next two years, but no money.

Trump finally announced a plan in February of 2018 , at a little over the 365-day mark, to spend $1.5 trillion on infrastructure. It went nowhere because it managed to annoy both Democrats and Republicans.

It was to be funded by only $200 billion in federal dollars -- less than what Hillary Clinton proposed. The rest was to come from state and local governments and from foreign money interests and the private sector. Basically, the idea was to hand over to hedge fund managers the roads and bridges and pipelines originally built, owned and maintained by Americans. The fat cats at the hedge funds would pay for repairs but then toll the assets in perpetuity. Nobody liked it.

That was last year. This year, by which time the words Infrastructure Week had become a synonym for promises not kept, Trump met on April 30 with top Democratic leaders and recommended a $2 trillion infrastructure investment. Democrats praised Trump afterward for taking the challenge seriously and for agreeing to find the money.

"It couldn't have gone any better," Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal , D-Mass., told the Washington Post, even though Neal was investigating Trump for possible tax fraud.

Almost immediately, Trump began complaining that Democrats were trying to hoodwink him into raising taxes to pay for the $2 trillion he had offered to spend.

Trump and the Republicans relinquished one way to pay for infrastructure when they passed a tax cut for the rich and corporations in December of 2017. As a result, the rich and corporations pocketed hundreds of billions -- $1 trillion over 10 years -- and Trump doesn't have that money to invest in infrastructure. Corporations spent their tax break money on stock buybacks, further enriching the already rich. They didn't invest in American manufacturing or worker training or wage increases.

Three weeks after the April 30 meeting, Trump snubbed Democrats who returned to the White House hoping the president had found a way to keep his promise to raise $2 trillion for infrastructure. Trump dismissed them like naughty schoolchildren. He told them he wouldn't countenance Democrats simultaneously investigating him and bargaining with him -- even though Democrats were investigating him at the time of the April meeting and one of the investigators -- Neal -- had attended.

Promise not kept again.

Trump's reelection motto, Keep America Great, doesn't work for infrastructure. It's still a mess. It's the third year of his presidency, and he has done nothing about it. Apparently, he's saving this pledge for his next term.

In May, he promised Louisianans a new bridge over Interstate 10 -- only if he is reelected. He said the administration would have it ready to go on "day one, right after the election." Just like he said he'd produce an infrastructure plan within the first 100 days of his first term.

He's doubling down on the infrastructure promises. His win would mean Americans get nothing again.

Arizona Slim , July 26, 2019 at 6:26 am

Paging Bernie Sanders: You need to be all over this Trump-fail. And sooner, rather than later.

The Rev Kev , July 26, 2019 at 6:40 am

The whole thing seems so stupid. The desperate need is there, the people are there to do the work, the money spent into the infrastructure would give a major boost to the real economy, the completed infrastructure would give the real economy a boost for years & decades to come – it is win-win right across the board. But the whole thing is stalled because the whole deal can't be rigged to give a bunch of hedge fund managers control of that infrastructure afterwards. If it did, the constant rents that Americans would have to pay to use this infrastructure would bleed the economy for decades to come.

I have seen this movie before. A State builds a highway, it then leases that highway to a corporation for a bucket of cash which it uses to bribe the electorate to win the next election or two. The corporation shoves brand new toll booths on the highway charging sky high rates which puts a crimp in local economic activity. After the lease is up after twenty years, the State gets to take over the highway again to find that the corporation cut back on maintenance so that the whole highway has to be rebuilt again. Rinse and repeat.

When President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act in 1956, can you imagine how history would have gone if they had been handed over to a bunch of corporations who would have built toll booths over the whole network? Would have done wonders for the American economy I bet.

Wukchumni , July 26, 2019 at 6:48 am

One of the things discussed at our town hall meeting the other night, was a much needed $481k public bathroom, and that was the low bid.

It has to be ADA compliant with ramps, etc.

$48,100 seems like it'd be plenty to get 'r done, as you can build a house with a couple of bathrooms, and a few bedrooms, a kitchen and living room for maybe $200k.

Ignacio , July 26, 2019 at 8:58 am

And if toll revenues don't come as high as expected, mother state will come to the rescue of those poor fund managers. I find it amazing that Trump uses the stupid Russia, Russia, Russia! fixation of democrats as an excuse to do nothing about infrastructure. Does this work with his electorate?

cnchal , July 26, 2019 at 7:09 am

Tom, grow up.

Promises by any narcissist mean nothing. You cannot hang your hat on any word that Trump speaks, because it's not about you or anyone else, but about him and only him.

Here is a heads up. If any infrastructure is done it will be airports. The elite fly and couldn't give a crap about the suspension and wheel destroying potholes we have to slalom around every day. They also don't care that the great unwashed waste thousands of hours stuck in traffic when a bridge is closed or collapses.

Carla , July 26, 2019 at 7:47 am

Well, fix the airports and you've still got Boeing, self-destructing as fast as it can. And Airbus can't fill all the orders no matter how hard it tries. Guess everybody will just have to . stay home.

WheresOurTeddy , July 26, 2019 at 7:16 am

Are all the coal jobs back? How about the manufacturing? NAFTA been repealed and replaced with something better yet? How's the wall coming and has Mexico sent the check yet? Soldiers back from Afghanistan/Iraq/Syria yet?

Got that tax cut for rich people and a ton of conservative judges through though, didn't he?

Katniss Everdeen , July 26, 2019 at 8:17 am

"It couldn't have gone any better," Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal, D-Mass., told the Washington Post, even though Neal was investigating Trump for possible tax fraud.

What a surprise. It's simply "amazing" that the insane status quo jihad that has been waged against Trump since he announced his candidacy had real consequences for the country. Who would have thought that calling ANY president ignorant, ugly, fat, a liar, a traitor, a cheater, an agent of Putin, a racist, a misogynist, a xenophobe, a bigot, an isolationist and an illegitimate occupant of the White House 24/7 since he or she won the election would make actual accomplishment nearly impossible.

The mere mention of his name on college campuses has even been legitimized as a fear-inducing, "safety"-threatening "microagression."

It's just so rich that having determined to prevent Trump from doing absolutely anything he promised during the campaign by any and all means, regardless of what the promise was or how beneficial it may have been, his numerous, bilious "critics" now have the gonads to accuse him of not getting anything done.

With all due respect to the author of this piece, the result he laments was exactly the point of this relentless nightmare of Trump derangement to which the nation has been subjected for three years. I tend to think that the specific promise most targeted for destruction was his criticism of NATO and "infrastructure" was collateral damage, but that's neither here nor there.

The washington status quo has succeeded in its mission to cripple a president it could not defeat electorally, and now tries to blame him for their success. Cutting off your nose to spite your face has always been a counterproductive strategy.

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

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

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

slorter, 27 Apr 2018 01:37

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

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

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

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

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

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

bryonyed -> slorter , 27 Apr 2018 01:41

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

[Jun 19, 2019] America s Suicide Epidemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worrisome Numbers

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

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

Alas, the news only gets grimmer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Economics of Stress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Race Enigma

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

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

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

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

Trump's Faux Populism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am

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

JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

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

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

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

sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am

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

dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm

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

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

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

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

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am

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

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

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am

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

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

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

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

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

Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm

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

jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm

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

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

obese cracker

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

rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now why didn't I think of that?

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

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

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

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

@YetAnotherAnon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

eventually figured out a learning style that worked for me.

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

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

No doubt about it. No embellishment needed there!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also more places visa-free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ESL teachers. Spain for me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Mar 11, 2019] The university professors, who teach but do not learn: neoliberal shill DeJong tries to prolong the life of neoliberalism in the USA

Highly recommended!
DeJong is more dangerous them Malkin... It poisons students with neoliberalism more effectively.
Mar 11, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Kurtismayfield , , March 10, 2019 at 10:52 am

Re:Wall Street Democrats

They know, however, that they've been conned, played, and they're absolute fools in the game.

Thank you Mr. Black for the laugh this morning. They know exactly what they have been doing. Whether it was deregulating so that Hedge funds and vulture capitalism can thrive, or making sure us peons cannot discharge debts, or making everything about financalization. This was all done on purpose, without care for "winning the political game". Politics is economics, and the Wall Street Democrats have been winning.

notabanker , , March 10, 2019 at 12:26 pm

For sure. I'm quite concerned at the behavior of the DNC leadership and pundits. They are doubling down on blatant corporatist agendas. They are acting like they have this in the bag when objective evidence says they do not and are in trouble. Assuming they are out of touch is naive to me. I would assume the opposite, they know a whole lot more than what they are letting on.

urblintz , , March 10, 2019 at 12:49 pm

I think the notion that the DNC and the Democrat's ruling class would rather lose to a like-minded Republican corporatist than win with someone who stands for genuine progressive values offering "concrete material benefits." I held my nose and read comments at the kos straw polls (where Sanders consistently wins by a large margin) and it's clear to me that the Clintonista's will do everything in their power to derail Bernie.

polecat , , March 10, 2019 at 1:00 pm

"It's the Externalities, stupid economists !" *should be the new rallying cry ..

rd , , March 10, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Keynes' "animal spirits" and the "tragedy of the commons" (Lloyd, 1833 and Hardin, 1968) both implied that economics was messier than Samuelson and Friedman would have us believe because there are actual people with different short- and long-term interests.

The behavioral folks (Kahnemann, Tversky, Thaler etc.) have all shown that people are even messier than we would have thought. So most macro-economic stuff over the past half-century has been largely BS in justifying trickle-down economics, deregulation etc.

There needs to be some inequality as that provides incentives via capitalism but unfettered it turns into France 1989 or the Great Depression. It is not coincidence that the major experiment in this in the late 90s and early 2000s required massive government intervention to keep the ship from sinking less than a decade after the great unregulated creative forces were unleashed.

MMT is likely to be similar where productive uses of deficits can be beneficial, but if the money is wasted on stupid stuff like unnecessary wars, then the loss of credibility means that the fiat currency won't be quite as fiat anymore. Britain was unbelievably economically powerfully in the late 1800s but in half a century went to being an economic afterthought hamstrung by deficits after two major wars and a depression.

So it is good that people like Brad DeLong are coming to understand that the pretty economic theories have some truths but are utter BS (and dangerous) when extrapolated without accounting for how people and societies actually behave.

Chris Cosmos , , March 10, 2019 at 6:43 pm

I never understood the incentive to make more money -- that only works if money = true value and that is the implication of living in a capitalist society (not economy)–everything then becomes a commodity and alienation results and all the depression, fear, anxiety that I see around me. Whereas human happiness actually comes from helping others and finding meaning in life not money or dominating others. That's what social science seems to be telling us.

Oregoncharles , , March 10, 2019 at 2:46 pm

Quoting DeLong:

" He says we are discredited. Our policies have failed. And they've failed because we've been conned by the Republicans."

That's welcome, but it's still making excuses. Neoliberal policies have failed because the economics were wrong, not because "we've been conned by the Republicans." Furthermore, this may be important – if it isn't acknowledged, those policies are quite likely to come sneaking back, especially if Democrats are more in the ascendant., as they will be, given the seesaw built into the 2-Party.

The Rev Kev , , March 10, 2019 at 7:33 pm

Might be right there. Groups like the neocons were originally attached the the left side of politics but when the winds changed, detached themselves and went over to the Republican right. The winds are changing again so those who want power may be going over to what is called the left now to keep their grip on power. But what you say is quite true. It is not really the policies that failed but the economics themselves that were wrong and which, in an honest debate, does not make sense either.

marku52 , , March 10, 2019 at 3:39 pm

"And they've failed because we've been conned by the Republicans.""

Not at all. What about the "free trade" hokum that DeJong and his pal Krugman have been peddling since forever? History and every empirical test in the modern era shows that it fails in developing countries and only exacerbates inequality in richer ones.

That's just a failed policy.

I'm still waiting for an apology for all those years that those two insulted anyone who questioned their dogma as just "too ignorant to understand."

Glen , , March 10, 2019 at 4:47 pm

Thank you!

He created FAILED policies. He pushed policies which have harmed America, harmed Americans, and destroyed the American dream.

Kevin Carhart , , March 10, 2019 at 4:29 pm

It's intriguing, but two other voices come to mind. One is Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste by Mirowski and the other is Generation Like by Doug Rushkoff.

Neoliberalism is partially entrepreneurial self-conceptions which took a long time to promote. Rushkoff's Frontline shows the Youtube culture. There is a girl with a "leaderboard" on the wall of her suburban room, keeping track of her metrics.

There's a devastating VPRO Backlight film on the same topic. Internet-platform neoliberalism does not have much to do with the GOP.

It's going to be an odd hybrid at best – you could have deep-red communism but enacted for and by people whose self-conception is influenced by decades of Becker and Hayek? One place this question leads is to ask what's the relationship between the set of ideas and material conditions-centric philosophies? If new policies pass that create a different possibility materially, will the vise grip of the entrepreneurial self loosen?

Partially yeah, maybe, a Job Guarantee if it passes and actually works, would be an anti-neoliberal approach to jobs, which might partially loosen the regime of neoliberal advice for job candidates delivered with a smug attitude that There Is No Alternative. (Described by Gershon). We take it seriously because of a sense of dread that it might actually be powerful enough to lock us out if we don't, and an uncertainty of whether it is or not.

There has been deep damage which is now a very broad and resilient base. It is one of the prongs of why 2008 did not have the kind of discrediting effect that 1929 did. At least that's what I took away from _Never Let_.

Brad DeLong handing the baton might mean something but it is not going to ameliorate the sense-of-life that young people get from managing their channels and metrics.

Take the new 1099 platforms as another focal point. Suppose there were political measures that splice in on the platforms and take the edge off materially, such as underwritten healthcare not tied to your job. The platforms still use star ratings, make star ratings seem normal, and continually push a self-conception as a small business. If you have overt DSA plus covert Becker it is, again, a strange hybrid,

Jeremy Grimm , , March 10, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Your comment is very insightful. Neoliberalism embeds its mindset into the very fabric of our culture and self-concepts. It strangely twists many of our core myths and beliefs.

Raulb , , March 10, 2019 at 6:36 pm

This is nothing but a Trojan horse to 'co-opt' and 'subvert'. Neoliberals sense a risk to their neo feudal project and are simply attempting to infiltrate and hollow out any threats from within.

There are the same folks who have let entire economics departments becomes mouthpieces for corporate propaganda and worked with thousands of think tanks and international organizations to mislead, misinform and cause pain to millions of people.

They have seeded decontextualized words like 'wealth creators' and 'job creators' to create a halo narrative for corporate interests and undermine society, citizenship, the social good, the environment that make 'wealth creation' even possible. So all those take a backseat to 'wealth creator' interests. Since you can't create wealth without society this is some achievement.

Its because of them that we live in a world where the most important economic idea is protecting people like Kochs business and personal interests and making sure government is not 'impinging on their freedom'. And the corollary a fundamental anti-human narrative where ordinary people and workers are held in contempt for even expecting living wages and conditions and their access to basics like education, health care and living conditions is hollowed out out to promote privatization and become 'entitlements'.

Neoliberalism has left us with a decontextualized highly unstable world that exists in a collective but is forcefully detached into a context less individual existence. These are not mistakes of otherwise 'well meaning' individuals, there are the results of hard core ideologues and high priests of power.

Dan , , March 10, 2019 at 7:31 pm

Two thumbs up. This has been an ongoing agenda for decades and it has succeeded in permeating every aspect of society, which is why the United States is such a vacuous, superficial place. And it's exporting that superficiality to the rest of the world.

VietnamVet , , March 10, 2019 at 7:17 pm

I read Brad DeLong's and Paul Krugman's blogs until their contradictions became too great. If anything, we need more people seeing the truth. The Global War on Terror is into its 18th year. In October the USA will spend approximately $6 trillion and will have accomplish nothing except to create blow back. The Middle Class is disappearing. Those who remain in their homes are head over heels in debt.

The average American household carries $137,063 in debt. The wealthy are getting richer.

The Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates families together have as much wealth as the lowest half of Americans. Donald Trump's Presidency and Brexit document that neoliberal politicians have lost contact with reality. They are nightmares that there is no escaping. At best, perhaps, Roosevelt Progressives will be reborn to resurrect regulated capitalism and debt forgiveness.

But more likely is a middle-class revolt when Americans no longer can pay for water, electricity, food, medicine and are jailed for not paying a $1,500 fine for littering the Beltway.

A civil war inside a nuclear armed nation state is dangerous beyond belief. France is approaching this.

[Mar 02, 2019] The Trump presidency From the Manhattan underworld to the White House by Patrick Martin

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Trump's "opposition" in the Democratic Party is no less hostile to democratic rights. They have focused their anti-Trump campaign on bogus allegations that he is a Russian agent, while portraying the emergence of social divisions within the United States as the consequence of Russian "meddling," not the crisis of capitalism, and pushing for across-the-board internet censorship. ..."
Mar 01, 2019 | www.wsws.org

"The finance aristocracy, in its mode of acquisition as well as in its pleasures, is nothing but the rebirth of the lumpenproletariat on the heights of bourgeois society ." -- Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France

What Marx described, in his analysis of the corruption of the bourgeoisie in France leading up to the 1848 revolution, applies with even greater force to the United States of 2019, where the bourgeoisie faces its own rendezvous with social upheaval and explosive class battles.

That is how a Marxist understands the spectacle of Wednesday's hearing before the House Oversight Committee, in which Michael Cohen, the former attorney and "fixer" for Donald Trump for more than a decade, testified for six hours about how he and his boss worked to defraud business partners and tax collectors, intimidate critics and suppress opposition to Trump's acitvities in real estate, casino gambling, reality television and, eventually, electoral politics.

What Cohen described was a seedier version of an operation that most Americans would recognize from viewing films like The Godfather: Trump as the capo di tutti capi, the unquestioned authority who must be consulted on every decision ; the children, Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric, each now playing significant roles in the ongoing family criminal enterprise; Allen Weisselberg, CFO of the Trump Organization, the consigliere in charge of finance, mentioned by Cohen more than 20 times in the course of six hours of testimony as the man who facilitated Trump's schemes to evade taxes, deceive banks or stiff business partners.

Cohen himself was an enforcer. By his own account, he threatened people on Trump's behalf at least 500 times in a ten-year period, including business associates, politicians, journalists and anyone seeking to file complaints or gain reimbursement after being defrauded by one or another Trump venture. The now-disbarred lawyer admitted to tape recording clients -- including Trump among many others -- more than 100 times during this period.

The incidents recounted by Cohen range from the farcical (Trump browbeating colleges and even his military prep school not to release his grades or test scores), to the shabby (Trump having his own "charitable" foundation buy a portrait of himself for $60,000), to the brazenly criminal (deliberately inflating the value of properties when applying for bank loans while deflating the value of the same properties as much as twenty-fold in order to evade taxation).

One of the most remarkable revelations was Cohen's flat assertion that Trump himself did not enter the presidential race with the expectation that he could win either the Republican nomination or the presidency. Instead, the billionaire reality television "star" regularly told his closest aides, the campaign would be the "greatest infomercial in political history," good for promoting his brand and opening up business opportunities in previously closed markets.

These unflattering details filled the pages of the daily newspapers Thursday and occupied many hours on the cable television news. But in all that vast volume of reporting and commentary, one would look in vain for any serious assessment of what it means, in terms of the historical development and future trajectory of American society, that a family like the Trumps now occupies the highest rung in the US political system.

The World Socialist Web Site rejects efforts by the Democrats and the corporate media to dismiss Trump as an aberration, an accidental figure whose unexpected elevation to the presidency in 2016 will be "corrected" through impeachment, forced resignation or electoral defeat in 2020. We insist that the Trump administration is a manifestation of a protracted crisis and breakdown of American democracy, whose course can be traced back at least two decades to the failed impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998-99, followed by the stolen presidential election of 2000.

The US political system, always dominated by the interests of the capitalist ruling class that controls both of the major parties, the Democrats as much as the Republicans, is breaking down under the burden of mounting social tensions, driven above all by skyrocketing economic inequality. It is impossible to sustain the pretense that elections at two-year and four-year intervals provide genuine popular influence over the functioning of a government so completely subordinated to the financial aristocracy.

The figures are familiar but require restating: over the past three decades, virtually all the increase in wealth in American society has gone to a tiny layer at the top. Three mega-billionaires -- Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates -- now control more wealth than half the American population. This process of social polarization is global: according to the most recent Oxfam report, 26 billionaires control more wealth than the poorer half of the human race.

These billionaires did not accumulate their riches by devising new technologies or making new scientific discoveries that increased the wealth and happiness of humanity as a whole. On the contrary, their enrichment has come at the expense of society. Bezos has become the world's richest man through the emergence of Amazon as the greatest sweatshop enterprise in history, where every possible second of labor power is extracted from a brutally exploited workforce.

The class of billionaires as a whole, having precipitated the global financial collapse of 2008 through reckless speculation and swindling in the sale of derivatives and other obscure financial "products," was bailed out, first by the Republican Bush, then by the Democrat Obama, to the tune of trillions of dollars. Meanwhile, the jobs, living standards and social conditions for the great mass of working people sharply declined.

As for Donald Trump, the real estate swindler, casino con man and reality television mogul is a living demonstration of the truth of Balzac's aphorism: "Behind every great fortune is a great crime."

Trump toyed with running for president on the ultra-right Reform Party ticket in 2000 after a long stint as a registered Democrat and donor to both capitalist parties. When he decided to run for president as a Republican in 2016, however, he had shifted drastically to the right. His candidacy marked the emergence of a distinctly fascistic movement, as he spewed anti-immigrant prejudice and racism more generally, while making a right-wing populist appeal to working people, particularly in de-industrialized areas in the Midwest and Appalachia, on the basis of economic nationalism.

As World Socialist Web Site editorial board Chairman David North explained even before the 2016 elections:

The Republican nominee for the presidency of the United States did not emerge from an American version of a Munich beer hall. Donald Trump is a billionaire, who made his money in Manhattan real estate swindles, the semi-criminal operations of casino gambling, and the bizarre world of "reality television," which entertains and stupefies its audience by manufacturing absurd, disgusting and essentially fictional "real life" situations. The candidacy of Donald Trump could be described as the transfer of the techniques of reality television to politics.

The main development in the two years since Trump entered the White House is the emergence of the American working class into major struggles, beginning with the wave of teachers' strikes in 2018, initiated by the rank and file in defiance of the bureaucratic unions. The reaction in the American ruling elite is a panic-stricken turn to authoritarian methods of rule.

The billionaire in the White House is now engaged in a systematic assault on the foundations of American democracy. He has declared a national emergency in order to bypass Congress, which holds the constitutional "power of the purse," and divert funds from the military and other federal departments to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Whether or not he is immediately successful in this effort, it is clear that Trump is moving towards the establishment of an authoritarian regime, with or without the sanction of the ballot box. As Cohen observed in his closing statement -- in remarks generally downplayed by the media and ignored by the Democrats -- he is worried that if Trump loses the 2020 election, "there will never be a peaceful transition of power."

Trump's "opposition" in the Democratic Party is no less hostile to democratic rights. They have focused their anti-Trump campaign on bogus allegations that he is a Russian agent, while portraying the emergence of social divisions within the United States as the consequence of Russian "meddling," not the crisis of capitalism, and pushing for across-the-board internet censorship.

The defense of democratic rights and genuine resistance to Trump's drive toward authoritarian rule must come through the development of an independent political movement of the working class, directed against both big business parties, the Democrats as much as the Republicans, and against the profit system which they both defend.

[Feb 26, 2019] THE CRISIS OF NEOLIBERALISM by Julie A. Wilson

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. ..."
"... Both Sanders and Trump were embedded in the emerging left and right responses to neoliberalism's crisis. Specifically, Sanders' energetic campaign -- which was undoubtedly enabled by the rise of the Occupy movement -- proposed a decidedly more "commongood" path. Higher wages for working people. Taxes on the rich, specifically the captains of the creditocracy. ..."
"... In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism. ..."
"... We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism. ..."
"... While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."' ..."
Oct 08, 2017 | www.amazon.com

Quote from the book is courtesy of Amazon preview of the book Neoliberalism (Key Ideas in Media & Cultural Studies)

In Chapter 1, we traced the rise of our neoliberal conjuncture back to the crisis of liberalism during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, culminating in the Great Depression. During this period, huge transformations in capitalism proved impossible to manage with classical laissez-faire approaches. Out of this crisis, two movements emerged, both of which would eventually shape the course of the twentieth century and beyond. The first, and the one that became dominant in the aftermath of the crisis, was the conjuncture of embedded liberalism. The crisis indicated that capitalism wrecked too much damage on the lives of ordinary citizens. People (white workers and families, especially) warranted social protection from the volatilities and brutalities of capitalism. The state's public function was expanded to include the provision of a more substantive social safety net, a web of protections for people and a web of constraints on markets. The second response was the invention of neoliberalism. Deeply skeptical of the common-good principles that undergirded the emerging social welfare state, neoliberals began organizing on the ground to develop a "new" liberal govemmentality, one rooted less in laissez-faire principles and more in the generalization of competition and enterprise. They worked to envision a new society premised on a new social ontology, that is, on new truths about the state, the market, and human beings. Crucially, neoliberals also began building infrastructures and institutions for disseminating their new' knowledges and theories (i.e., the Neoliberal Thought Collective), as well as organizing politically to build mass support for new policies (i.e., working to unite anti-communists, Christian conservatives, and free marketers in common cause against the welfare state). When cracks in embedded liberalism began to surface -- which is bound to happen with any moving political equilibrium -- neoliberals were there with new stories and solutions, ready to make the world anew.

We are currently living through the crisis of neoliberalism. As I write this book, Donald Trump has recently secured the U.S. presidency, prevailing in the national election over his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Throughout the election, I couldn't help but think back to the crisis of liberalism and the two responses that emerged. Similarly, after the Great Recession of 2008, we've saw two responses emerge to challenge our unworkable status quo, which dispossesses so many people of vital resources for individual and collective life. On the one hand, we witnessed the rise of Occupy Wall Street. While many continue to critique the movement for its lack of leadership and a coherent political vision, Occupy was connected to burgeoning movements across the globe, and our current political horizons have been undoubtedly shaped by the movement's success at repositioning class and economic inequality within our political horizon. On the other hand, we saw' the rise of the Tea Party, a right-wing response to the crisis. While the Tea Party was critical of status-quo neoliberalism -- especially its cosmopolitanism and embrace of globalization and diversity, which was perfectly embodied by Obama's election and presidency -- it was not exactly anti-neoliberal. Rather, it was anti-left neoliberalism-, it represented a more authoritarian, right [wing] version of neoliberalism.

Within the context of the 2016 election, Clinton embodied the neoliberal center that could no longer hold. Inequality. Suffering. Collapsing infrastructures. Perpetual war. Anger. Disaffected consent. There were just too many fissures and fault lines in the glossy, cosmopolitan world of left neoliberalism and marketized equality. Indeed, while Clinton ran on status-quo stories of good governance and neoliberal feminism, confident that demographics and diversity would be enough to win the election, Trump effectively tapped into the unfolding conjunctural crisis by exacerbating the cracks in the system of marketized equality, channeling political anger into his celebrity brand that had been built on saying "f*** you" to the culture of left neoliberalism (corporate diversity, political correctness, etc.) In fact, much like Clinton's challenger in the Democratic primary, Benie Sanders, Trump was a crisis candidate.

Both Sanders and Trump were embedded in the emerging left and right responses to neoliberalism's crisis. Specifically, Sanders' energetic campaign -- which was undoubtedly enabled by the rise of the Occupy movement -- proposed a decidedly more "commongood" path. Higher wages for working people. Taxes on the rich, specifically the captains of the creditocracy.

Universal health care. Free higher education. Fair trade. The repeal of Citizens United. Trump offered a different response to the crisis. Like Sanders, he railed against global trade deals like NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). However, Trump's victory was fueled by right neoliberalism's culture of cruelty. While Sanders tapped into and mobilized desires for a more egalitarian and democratic future, Trump's promise was nostalgic, making America "great again" -- putting the nation back on "top of the world," and implying a time when women were "in their place" as male property, and minorities and immigrants were controlled by the state.

Thus, what distinguished Trump's campaign from more traditional Republican campaigns was that it actively and explicitly pitted one group's equality (white men) against everyone else's (immigrants, women, Muslims, minorities, etc.). As Catherine Rottenberg suggests, Trump offered voters a choice between a multiracial society (where folks are increasingly disadvantaged and dispossessed) and white supremacy (where white people would be back on top). However, "[w]hat he neglected to state," Rottenberg writes,

is that neoliberalism flourishes in societies where the playing field is already stacked against various segments of society, and that it needs only a relatively small select group of capital-enhancing subjects, while everyone else is ultimately dispensable. 1

In other words, Trump supporters may not have explicitly voted for neoliberalism, but that's what they got. In fact, as Rottenberg argues, they got a version of right neoliberalism "on steroids" -- a mix of blatant plutocracy and authoritarianism that has many concerned about the rise of U.S. fascism.

We can't know what would have happened had Sanders run against Trump, but we can think seriously about Trump, right and left neoliberalism, and the crisis of neoliberal hegemony. In other words, we can think about where and how we go from here. As I suggested in the previous chapter, if we want to construct a new world, we are going to have to abandon the entangled politics of both right and left neoliberalism; we have to reject the hegemonic frontiers of both disposability and marketized equality. After all, as political philosopher Nancy Fraser argues, what was rejected in the election of 2016 was progressive, left neoliberalism.

While the rise of hyper-right neoliberalism is certainly nothing to celebrate, it does present an opportunity for breaking with neoliberal hegemony. We have to proceed, as Gary Younge reminds us, with the realization that people "have not rejected the chance of a better world. They have not yet been offered one."'

Mark Fisher, the author of Capitalist Realism, put it this way:

The long, dark night of the end of history has to be grasped as an enormous opportunity. The very oppressive pervasiveness of capitalist realism means that even glimmers of alternative political and economic possibilities can have a disproportionately great effect. The tiniest event can tear a hole in the grey curtain of reaction which has marked the horizons of possibility under capitalist realism. From a situation in which nothing can happen, suddenly anything is possible again.4

I think that, for the first time in the history of U.S. capitalism, the vast majority of people might sense the lie of liberal, capitalist democracy. They feel anxious, unfree, disaffected. Fantasies of the good life have been shattered beyond repair for most people. Trump and this hopefully brief triumph of right neoliberalism will soon lay this bare for everyone to see. Now, with Trump, it is absolutely clear: the rich rule the world; we are all disposable; this is no democracy. The question becomes: How will we show up for history? Will there be new stories, ideas, visions, and fantasies to attach to? How can we productively and meaningful intervene in the crisis of neoliberalism? How can we "tear a hole in the grey curtain" and open up better worlds? How can we put what we've learned to use and begin to imagine and build a world beyond living in competition? I hope our critical journey through the neoliberal conjuncture has enabled you to begin to answer these questions.

More specifically, in recent decades, especially since the end of the Cold War, our common-good sensibilities have been channeled into neoliberal platforms for social change and privatized action, funneling our political energies into brand culture and marketized struggles for equality (e.g., charter schools, NGOs and non-profits, neoliberal antiracism and feminism). As a result, despite our collective anger and disaffected consent, we find ourselves stuck in capitalist realism with no real alternative. Like the neoliberal care of the self, we are trapped in a privatized mode of politics that relies on cruel optimism; we are attached, it seems, to politics that inspire and motivate us to action, while keeping us living in competition.

To disrupt the game, we need to construct common political horizons against neoliberal hegemony. We need to use our common stories and common reason to build common movements against precarity -- for within neoliberalism, precarity is what ultimately has the potential to thread all of our lives together. Put differently, the ultimate fault line in the neoliberal conjiuicture is the way it subjects us all to precarity and the biopolitics of disposability, thereby creating conditions of possibility for new coalitions across race, gender, citizenship, sexuality, and class. Recognizing this potential for coalition in the face of precarization is the most pressing task facing those who are yearning for a new world. The question is: How do we get there? How do we realize these coalitional potentialities and materialize common horizons?

HOW WE GET THERE

Ultimately, mapping the neoliberal conjuncture through everyday life in enterprise culture has not only provided some direction in terms of what we need; it has also cultivated concrete and practical intellectual resources for political interv ention and social interconnection -- a critical toolbox for living in common. More specifically, this book has sought to provide resources for thinking and acting against the four Ds: resources for engaging in counter-conduct, modes of living that refuse, on one hand, to conduct one's life according to the norm of enterprise, and on the other, to relate to others through the norm of competition. Indeed, we need new ways of relating, interacting, and living as friends, lovers, workers, vulnerable bodies, and democratic people if we are to write new stories, invent new govemmentalities, and build coalitions for new worlds.

Against Disimagination: Educated Hope and Affirmative Speculation

We need to stop turning inward, retreating into ourselves, and taking personal responsibility for our lives (a task which is ultimately impossible). Enough with the disimagination machine! Let's start looking outward, not inward -- to the broader structures that undergird our lives. Of course, we need to take care of ourselves; we must survive. But I firmly believe that we can do this in ways both big and small, that transform neoliberal culture and its status-quo stories.

Here's the thing I tell my students all the time. You cannot escape neoliberalism. It is the air we breathe, the water in which we swim. No job, practice of social activism, program of self-care, or relationship will be totally free from neoliberal impingements and logics. There is no pure "outside" to get to or work from -- that's just the nature of the neoliberalism's totalizing cultural power. But let's not forget that neoliberalism's totalizing cultural power is also a source of weakness. Potential for resistance is everywhere, scattered throughout our everyday lives in enterprise culture. Our critical toolbox can help us identify these potentialities and navigate and engage our conjuncture in ways that tear open up those new worlds we desire.

In other words, our critical perspective can help us move through the world with what Henry Giroux calls educated hope. Educated hope means holding in tension the material realities of power and the contingency of history. This orientation of educated hope knows very well what we're up against. However, in the face of seemingly totalizing power, it also knows that neoliberalism can never become total because the future is open. Educated hope is what allows us to see the fault lines, fissures, and potentialities of the present and emboldens us to think and work from that sliver of social space where we do have political agency and freedom to construct a new world. Educated hope is what undoes the power of capitalist realism. It enables affirmative speculation (such as discussed in Chapter 5), which does not try to hold the future to neoliberal horizons (that's cruel optimism!), but instead to affirm our commonalities and the potentialities for the new worlds they signal. Affirmative speculation demands a different sort of risk calculation and management. It senses how little we have to lose and how much we have to gain from knocking the hustle of our lives.

Against De-democratization: Organizing and Collective Coverning

We can think of educated hope and affirmative speculation as practices of what Wendy Brown calls "bare democracy" -- the basic idea that ordinary' people like you and me should govern our lives in common, that we should critique and try to change our world, especially the exploitative and oppressive structures of power that maintain social hierarchies and diminish lives. Neoliberal culture works to stomp out capacities for bare democracy by transforming democratic desires and feelings into meritocratic desires and feelings. In neoliberal culture, utopian sensibilities are directed away from the promise of collective utopian sensibilities are directed away from the promise of collective governing to competing for equality.

We have to get back that democractic feeling! As Jeremy Gilbert taught us, disaffected consent is a post-democratic orientation. We don't like our world, but we don't think we can do anything about it. So, how do we get back that democratic feeling? How do we transform our disaffected consent into something new? As I suggested in the last chapter, we organize. Organizing is simply about people coming together around a common horizon and working collectively to materialize it. In this way, organizing is based on the idea of radical democracy, not liberal democracy. While the latter is based on formal and abstract rights guaranteed by the state, radical democracy insists that people should directly make the decisions that impact their lives, security, and well-being. Radical democracy is a practice of collective governing: it is about us hashing out, together in communities, what matters, and working in common to build a world based on these new sensibilities.

The work of organizing is messy, often unsatisfying, and sometimes even scary. Organizing based on affirmative speculation and coalition-building, furthermore, will have to be experimental and uncertain. As Lauren Berlant suggests, it means "embracing the discomfort of affective experience in a truly open social life that no

one has ever experienced." Organizing through and for the common "requires more adaptable infrastructures. Keep forcing the existing infrastructures to do what they don't know how to do. Make new ways to be local together, where local doesn't require a physical neighborhood." 5 What Berlant is saying is that the work of bare democracy requires unlearning, and detaching from, our current stories and infrastructures in order to see and make things work differently. Organizing for a new world is not easy -- and there are no guarantees -- but it is the only way out of capitalist realism.

Against Disposability: Radical Equality

Getting back democratic feeling will at once require and help us lo move beyond the biopolitics of disposability and entrenched systems of inequality. On one hand, organizing will never be enough if it is not animated by bare democracy, a sensibility that each of us is equally important when it comes to the project of determining our lives in common. Our bodies, our hurts, our dreams, and our desires matter regardless of our race, gender, sexuality, or citizenship, and regardless of how r much capital (economic, social, or cultural) we have. Simply put, in a radical democracy, no one is disposable. This bare-democratic sense of equality must be foundational to organizing and coalition-building. Otherwise, we will always and inevitably fall back into a world of inequality.

On the other hand, organizing and collective governing will deepen and enhance our sensibilities and capacities for radical equality. In this context, the kind of self-enclosed individualism that empowers and underwrites the biopolitics of disposability melts away, as we realize the interconnectedness of our lives and just how amazing it feels to

fail, we affirm our capacities for freedom, political intervention, social interconnection, and collective social doing.

Against Dispossession: Shared Security and Common Wealth

Thinking and acting against the biopolitics of disposability goes hand-in-hand with thinking and acting against dispossession. Ultimately, when we really understand and feel ourselves in relationships of interconnection with others, we want for them as we want for ourselves. Our lives and sensibilities of what is good and just are rooted in radical equality, not possessive or self-appreciating individualism. Because we desire social security and protection, we also know others desire and deserve the same.

However, to really think and act against dispossession means not only advocating for shared security and social protection, but also for a new society that is built on the egalitarian production and distribution of social wealth that we all produce. In this sense, we can take Marx's critique of capitalism -- that wealth is produced collectively but appropriated individually -- to heart. Capitalism was built on the idea that one class -- the owners of the means of production -- could exploit and profit from the collective labors of everyone else (those who do not own and thus have to work), albeit in very different ways depending on race, gender, or citizenship. This meant that, for workers of all stripes, their lives existed not for themselves, but for others (the appropriating class), and that regardless of what we own as consumers, we are not really free or equal in that bare-democratic sense of the word.

If we want to be really free, we need to construct new material and affective social infrastructures for our common wealth. In these new infrastructures, wealth must not be reduced to economic value; it must be rooted in social value. Here, the production of wealth does not exist as a separate sphere from the reproduction of our lives. In other words, new infrastructures, based on the idea of common wealth, will not be set up to exploit our labor, dispossess our communities, or to divide our lives. Rather, they will work to provide collective social resources and care so that we may all be free to pursue happiness, create beautiful and/or useful things, and to realize our potential within a social world of living in common. Crucially, to create the conditions for these new, democratic forms of freedom rooted in radical equality, we need to find ways to refuse and exit the financial networks of Empire and the dispossessions of creditocracy, building new systems that invite everyone to participate in the ongoing production of new worlds and the sharing of the wealth that we produce in common.

It's not up to me to tell you exactly where to look, but I assure you that potentialities for these new worlds are everywhere around you.

[Feb 12, 2019] Older Workers Need a Different Kind of Layoff A 60-year-old whose position is eliminated might be unable to find another job, but could retire if allowed early access to Medicare

Highly recommended!
This is a constructive suggestion that is implementable even under neoliberalism. As everything is perverted under neoliberalism that might prompt layoffs before the age of 55.
Notable quotes:
"... Older workers often struggle to get rehired as easily as younger workers. Age discrimination is a well-known problem in corporate America. What's a 60-year-old back office worker supposed to do if downsized in a merger? The BB&T-SunTrust prospect highlights the need for a new type of unemployment insurance for some of the workforce. ..."
"... One policy might be treating unemployed older workers differently than younger workers. Giving them unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than younger workers would be one idea, as well as accelerating the age of Medicare eligibility for downsized employees over the age of 55. The latter idea would help younger workers as well, by encouraging older workers to accept buyout packages -- freeing up career opportunities for younger workers. ..."
Feb 12, 2019 | www.bloomberg.com

The proposed merger between SunTrust and BB&T makes sense for both firms -- which is why Wall Street sent both stocks higher on Thursday after the announcement. But employees of the two banks, especially older workers who are not yet retirement age, are understandably less enthused at the prospect of downsizing. In a nation with almost 37 million workers over the age of 55, the quandary of SunTrust-BB&T workforce will become increasingly familiar across the U.S. economy.

But what's good for the firms isn't good for all of the workers. Older workers often struggle to get rehired as easily as younger workers. Age discrimination is a well-known problem in corporate America. What's a 60-year-old back office worker supposed to do if downsized in a merger? The BB&T-SunTrust prospect highlights the need for a new type of unemployment insurance for some of the workforce.

One policy might be treating unemployed older workers differently than younger workers. Giving them unemployment benefits for a longer period of time than younger workers would be one idea, as well as accelerating the age of Medicare eligibility for downsized employees over the age of 55. The latter idea would help younger workers as well, by encouraging older workers to accept buyout packages -- freeing up career opportunities for younger workers.

The economy can be callous toward older workers, but policy makers don't have to be. We should think about ways of dealing with this shift in the labor market before it happens.

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

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

mkenney63 5 Dec 2015 20:37

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

Kencathedrus -> Marcedward 5 Dec 2015 20:23

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

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

mkenney63 -> Bobishere 5 Dec 2015 20:17

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


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

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


Steven Palmer 5 Dec 2015 19:19

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


BlairM -> Iconoclastick 5 Dec 2015 19:10

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

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

brusuz 5 Dec 2015 18:52

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

Jimi Del Duca 5 Dec 2015 18:31

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

slightlynumb -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 18:04

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

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

AmyInNH -> tommydog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AmyInNH -> CaptainGrey 5 Dec 2015 17:15

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

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

Jeremiah2000 -> Teresa Trujillo 5 Dec 2015 16:53

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

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

Gary Reber 5 Dec 2015 16:45

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

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

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

Gary Reber 5 Dec 2015 16:44

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

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

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

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

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

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

yamialwaysright 5 Dec 2015 16:13

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

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

nuthermerican4u 5 Dec 2015 15:59

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

soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:32

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iconoclastick 5 Dec 2015 15:31

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

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

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

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

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

soundofthesuburbs -> soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

soundofthesuburbs 5 Dec 2015 15:24

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

In the UK nothing has changed.

We call our Leisure Class the Aristocracy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


mbidding Jeremiah2000 5 Dec 2015 15:08

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

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

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

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

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


Earl Shelton 5 Dec 2015 15:08

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

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


oKWJNRo 5 Dec 2015 14:40

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

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

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

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

Martin Joseph -> realdoge 5 Dec 2015 14:33

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

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

VWFeature 5 Dec 2015 14:29

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

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

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

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

Robert Goldschmidt -> Jake321 5 Dec 2015 14:27

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

moonwrap02 5 Dec 2015 14:26

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

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

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


Jeremiah2000 -> bifess 5 Dec 2015 14:17

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

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

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

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

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


neuronmaker -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 14:16

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

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

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

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


Marcedward -> MarjaE 5 Dec 2015 14:12

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


tommydog -> martinusher 5 Dec 2015 14:12

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

slightlynumb -> AmyInNH 5 Dec 2015 14:12

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

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

It's an equal opportunity plantation now.

Robert Goldschmidt 5 Dec 2015 14:11

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

Here is my list:

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

The reformation of monopolies which price gouge and block innovation.

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

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

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

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

We created this mess and we can fix it.

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

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

Zara Von Fritz 5 Dec 2015 13:48

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


Jeremiah2000 -> bifess 5 Dec 2015 13:42

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More than 83 percent have air-conditioning.

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

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

(Data from the U.S. census.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mark , December 8, 2018 at 12:10 pm

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

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

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

Rosario , December 8, 2018 at 2:56 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Nov 27, 2018] American capitalism could afford to make concessions assiciated with The New Deal because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a neoliberal counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This policy has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions.

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The original "New Deal," which included massive public works infrastructure projects, was introduced by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s amid the Great Depression. Its purpose was to stave off a socialist revolution in America. It was a response to a militant upsurge of strikes and violent class battles, led by socialists who were inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution ..."
"... Since the 2008 crash, first under Bush and Obama, and now Trump, the ruling elites have pursued a single-minded policy of enriching the wealthy, through free credit, corporate bailouts and tax cuts, while slashing spending on social services. ..."
"... To claim as does Ocasio-Cortez that American capitalism can provide a new "New Deal," of a green or any other variety, is to pfile:///F:/Private_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/Historyromote an obvious political fiction." ..."
Nov 27, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Northern Star November 26, 2018 at 4:23 pm

As the New deal unravels:

"The original "New Deal," which included massive public works infrastructure projects, was introduced by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s amid the Great Depression. Its purpose was to stave off a socialist revolution in America. It was a response to a militant upsurge of strikes and violent class battles, led by socialists who were inspired by the 1917 Russian Revolution that had occurred less than two decades before.

American capitalism could afford to make such concessions because of its economic dominance. The past forty years have been characterized by the continued decline of American capitalism on a world stage relative to its major rivals. The ruling class has responded to this crisis with a social counterrevolution to claw back all gains won by workers. This has been carried out under both Democratic and Republican administrations and with the assistance of the trade unions.

Since the 2008 crash, first under Bush and Obama, and now Trump, the ruling elites have pursued a single-minded policy of enriching the wealthy, through free credit, corporate bailouts and tax cuts, while slashing spending on social services.

To claim as does Ocasio-Cortez that American capitalism can provide a new "New Deal," of a green or any other variety, is to pfile:///F:/Private_html/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/Historyromote an obvious political fiction."

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/11/23/cort-n23.html

[Aug 05, 2018] How identity politics makes the Left lose its collective identity by Tomasz Pierscionek

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The identity politics phenomenon sweeping across the Western world is a divide and conquer strategy that prevents the emergence of a genuine resistance to the elites. ..."
"... Each subgroup, increasingly alienated from all others, focuses on the shared identity and unique experiences of its members and prioritises its own empowerment. Anyone outside this subgroup is demoted to the rank of ally, at best. ..."
"... Precious time is spent fighting against those deemed less oppressed and telling them to 'check their privilege' as the ever-changing pecking order of the 'Oppression Olympics' plays out. The rules to this sport are as fluid as the identities taking part. One of the latest dilemmas affecting the identity politics movement is the issue of whether men transitioning to women deserve recognition and acceptance or 'whether trans women aren't women and are apparently " raping ..."
"... It is much easier to 'struggle' against an equally or slightly less oppressed group than to take the time and effort to unite with them against the common enemy - capitalism. ..."
"... There is a carefully crafted misconception that identity politics derives from Marxist thought and the meaningless phrase 'cultural Marxism', which has more to do with liberal culture than Marxism, is used to sell this line of thinking. Not only does identity politics have nothing in common with Marxism, socialism or any other strand of traditional left-wing thought, it is anathema to the very concept. ..."
"... 'An injury to one is an injury to all' has been replaced with something like 'An injury to me is all that matters'. No socialist country, whether in practice or in name only, promoted identity politics. Neither the African and Asian nations that liberated themselves from colonialist oppression nor the USSR and Eastern Bloc states nor the left-wing movements that sprung up across Latin America in the early 21st century had any time to play identity politics. ..."
"... The idea that identity politics is part of traditional left-wing thought is promoted by the right who seek to demonise left wing-movements, liberals who seek to infiltrate, backstab and destroy said left-wing movements, and misguided young radicals who know nothing about political theory and have neither the patience nor discipline to learn. The last group seek a cheap thrill that makes them feel as if they have shaken the foundations of the establishment when in reality they strengthen it. ..."
"... Identity politics is typically a modern middle-class led phenomenon that helps those in charge keep the masses divided and distracted. ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
"... Tomasz Pierscionek is a doctor specialising in psychiatry. He was previously on the board of the charity Medact, is editor of the London Progressive Journal and has appeared as a guest on RT's Sputnik and Al-Mayadeen's Kalima Horra. ..."
Aug 05, 2018 | www.rt.com
The identity politics phenomenon sweeping across the Western world is a divide and conquer strategy that prevents the emergence of a genuine resistance to the elites. A core principle of socialism is the idea of an overarching supra-national solidarity that unites the international working class and overrides any factor that might divide it, such as nation, race, or gender. Workers of all nations are partners, having equal worth and responsibility in a struggle against those who profit from their brain and muscle.

Capitalism, especially in its most evolved, exploitative and heartless form - imperialism - has wronged certain groups of people more than others. Colonial empires tended to reserve their greatest brutality for subjugated peoples whilst the working class of these imperialist nations fared better in comparison, being closer to the crumbs that fell from the table of empire. The international class struggle aims to liberate all people everywhere from the drudgery of capitalism regardless of their past or present degree of oppression. The phrase 'an injury to one is an injury to all' encapsulates this mindset and conflicts with the idea of prioritising the interests of one faction of the working class over the entire collective.

Since the latter part of the 20th century, a liberally-inspired tendency has taken root amongst the Left (in the West at least) that encourages departure from a single identity based on class in favour of multiple identities based upon one's gender, sexuality, race or any other dividing factor. Each subgroup, increasingly alienated from all others, focuses on the shared identity and unique experiences of its members and prioritises its own empowerment. Anyone outside this subgroup is demoted to the rank of ally, at best.

At the time of writing there are apparently over 70 different gender options in the West, not to mention numerous sexualities - the traditional LGBT acronym has thus far grown to LGBTQQIP2SAA . Adding race to the mix results in an even greater number of possible permutations or identities. Each subgroup has its own ideology. Precious time is spent fighting against those deemed less oppressed and telling them to 'check their privilege' as the ever-changing pecking order of the 'Oppression Olympics' plays out. The rules to this sport are as fluid as the identities taking part. One of the latest dilemmas affecting the identity politics movement is the issue of whether men transitioning to women deserve recognition and acceptance or 'whether trans women aren't women and are apparently " raping " lesbians'.

The ideology of identity politics asserts that the straight white male is at the apex of the privilege pyramid, responsible for the oppression of all other groups. His original sin condemns him to everlasting shame. While it is true that straight white men (as a group) have faced less obstacles than females, non-straight men or ethnic minorities, the majority of straight white men, past and present, also struggle to survive from paycheck to paycheck and are not personally involved in the oppression of any other group. While most of the world's wealthiest individuals are Caucasian males, millions of white men exist who are both poor and powerless. The idea of 'whiteness' is itself an ambiguous concept involving racial profiling. For example, the Irish, Slavs and Ashkenazi Jews may look white yet have suffered more than their fair share of famines, occupations and genocides throughout the centuries. The idea of tying an individual's privilege to their appearance is itself a form of racism dreamed up by woolly minded, liberal (some might say privileged) 'intellectuals' who would be superfluous in any socialist society.

Is the middle-class ethnic minority lesbian living in Western Europe more oppressed than the whitish looking Syrian residing under ISIS occupation? Is the British white working class male really more privileged than a middle class woman from the same society? Stereotyping based on race, gender or any other factor only leads to alienation and animosity. How can there be unity amongst the Left if we are only loyal to ourselves and those most like us? Some 'white' men who feel the Left has nothing to offer them have decided to play the identity politics game in their search of salvation and have drifted towards supporting Trump (a billionaire with whom they have nothing in common) or far-right movements, resulting in further alienation, animosity and powerlessness which in turn only strengthens the position of the top 1%. People around the world are more divided by class than any other factor.

It is much easier to 'struggle' against an equally or slightly less oppressed group than to take the time and effort to unite with them against the common enemy - capitalism. Fighting oppression through identity politics is at best a lazy, perverse and fetishistic form of the class struggle led by mostly liberal, middle class and tertiary-educated activists who understand little of left-wing political theory. At worst it is yet another tool used by the top 1% to divide the other 99% into 99 or 999 different competing groups who are too preoccupied with fighting their own little corner to challenge the status quo. It is ironic that one of the major donors to the faux-left identity politics movement is the privileged white cisgender male billionaire George Soros , whose NGOs helped orchestrate the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine that gave way to the emergence of far right and neo-nazi movements: the kind of people who believe in racial superiority and do not look kindly on diversity.

There is a carefully crafted misconception that identity politics derives from Marxist thought and the meaningless phrase 'cultural Marxism', which has more to do with liberal culture than Marxism, is used to sell this line of thinking. Not only does identity politics have nothing in common with Marxism, socialism or any other strand of traditional left-wing thought, it is anathema to the very concept.

'An injury to one is an injury to all' has been replaced with something like 'An injury to me is all that matters'. No socialist country, whether in practice or in name only, promoted identity politics. Neither the African and Asian nations that liberated themselves from colonialist oppression nor the USSR and Eastern Bloc states nor the left-wing movements that sprung up across Latin America in the early 21st century had any time to play identity politics.

The idea that identity politics is part of traditional left-wing thought is promoted by the right who seek to demonise left wing-movements, liberals who seek to infiltrate, backstab and destroy said left-wing movements, and misguided young radicals who know nothing about political theory and have neither the patience nor discipline to learn. The last group seek a cheap thrill that makes them feel as if they have shaken the foundations of the establishment when in reality they strengthen it.

Identity politics is typically a modern middle-class led phenomenon that helps those in charge keep the masses divided and distracted. In the West you are free to choose any gender or sexuality, transition between these at whim, or perhaps create your own, but you are not allowed to question the foundations of capitalism or liberalism. Identity politics is the new opiate of the masses and prevents organised resistance against the system. Segments of the Western Left even believe such aforementioned 'freedoms' are a bellwether of progress and an indicator of its cultural superiority, one that warrants export abroad be it softly via NGOs or more bluntly through colour revolutions and regime change.

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Tomasz Pierscionek is a doctor specialising in psychiatry. He was previously on the board of the charity Medact, is editor of the London Progressive Journal and has appeared as a guest on RT's Sputnik and Al-Mayadeen's Kalima Horra.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT. Read more

[Jun 06, 2018] Neoliberal language allows to cut wages by packaging neoliberal oligarchy preferences as national interests

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 22, 2018] The American ruling class loves Identity Politics, because Identity Politics divides the people into hostile groups and prevents any resistance to the ruling elite

Highly recommended!
The quotes are from A Conversation on Race, by Paul Craig Roberts - The Unz Review
Notable quotes:
"... The American ruling class loves Identity Politics, because Identity Politics divides the people into hostile groups and prevents any resistance to the ruling elite. With blacks screaming at whites, women screaming at men, and homosexuals screaming at heterosexuals, there is no one left to scream at the rulers. ..."
"... Consequently, the ruling elite have funded "black history," "women's studies," and "transgender dialogues," in universities as a way to institutionalize the divisiveness that protects them. These "studies" have replaced real history with fake history. ..."
Apr 22, 2018 | www.unz.com

Steve Gittelson , April 19, 2018 at 2:43 am GMT

PCR's latest is really good. I love it when he gets to ripping, and doesn't stop for 2000+ words or so. It reads a lot better than Toynbee, fersher.

The working class, designated by Hillary Clinton as "the Trump deplorables," is now the victimizer, not the victim. Marxism has been stood on its head.

The American ruling class loves Identity Politics, because Identity Politics divides the people into hostile groups and prevents any resistance to the ruling elite. With blacks screaming at whites, women screaming at men, and homosexuals screaming at heterosexuals, there is no one left to scream at the rulers.

The ruling elite favors a "conversation on race," because the ruling elite know it can only result in accusations that will further divide society. Consequently, the ruling elite have funded "black history," "women's studies," and "transgender dialogues," in universities as a way to institutionalize the divisiveness that protects them. These "studies" have replaced real history with fake history.

Steve Gittelson , April 19, 2018 at 3:59 pm GMT

Just a bit more real truth from PCR. Carry on

All of America, indeed of the entire West, lives in The Matrix, a concocted [and false] reality. Western peoples are so propagandized, so brainwashed, that they have no understanding that their disunity was created in order to make them impotent in the face of a rapacious ruling class, a class whose arrogance and hubris has the world on the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

History as it actually happened is disappearing as those who tell the truth are dismissed as misogynists, racists, homophobes, Putin agents, terrorist sympathizers, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists. Liberals who complained mightily of McCarthyism now practice it ten-fold.

The United States with its brainwashed and incompetent population -- indeed, the entirety of the Western populations are incompetent -- and with its absence of intelligent leadership has no chance against Russia and China, two massive countries arising from their overthrow of police states as the West descends into a gestapo state. The West is over and done with. Nothing remains of the West but the lies used to control the people. All hope is elsewhere.

[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 22, 2017] Beyond Cynicism America Fumbles Towards Kafka s Castle by James Howard Kunstler

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... With the election of 2016, symptoms of the long emergency seeped into the political system. Disinformation rules. There is no coherent consensus about what is happening and no coherent proposals to do anything about it. The two parties are mired in paralysis and dysfunction and the public's trust in them is at epic lows. Donald Trump is viewed as a sort of pirate president, a freebooting freak elected by accident, "a disrupter" of the status quo at best and at worst a dangerous incompetent playing with nuclear fire. A state of war exists between the White House, the permanent D.C. bureaucracy, and the traditional news media. Authentic leadership is otherwise AWOL. Institutions falter. The FBI and the CIA behave like enemies of the people. ..."
"... They chatter about electric driverless car fleets, home delivery drone services, and as-yet-undeveloped modes of energy production to replace problematic fossil fuels, while ignoring the self-evident resource and capital constraints now upon us and even the laws of physics -- especially entropy , the second law of thermodynamics. Their main mental block is their belief in infinite industrial growth on a finite planet, an idea so powerfully foolish that it obviates their standing as technocrats. ..."
"... The universities beget a class of what Nassim Taleb prankishly called "intellectuals-yet-idiots," hierophants trafficking in fads and falsehoods, conveyed in esoteric jargon larded with psychobabble in support of a therapeutic crypto-gnostic crusade bent on transforming human nature to fit the wished-for utopian template of a world where anything goes. In fact, they have only produced a new intellectual despotism worthy of Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot. ..."
"... Until fairly recently, the Democratic Party did not roll that way. It was right-wing Republicans who tried to ban books, censor pop music, and stifle free expression. If anything, Democrats strenuously defended the First Amendment, including the principle that unpopular and discomforting ideas had to be tolerated in order to protect all speech. Back in in 1977 the ACLU defended the right of neo-Nazis to march for their cause (National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43). ..."
"... This is the recipe for what we call identity politics, the main thrust of which these days, the quest for "social justice," is to present a suit against white male privilege and, shall we say, the horse it rode in on: western civ. A peculiar feature of the social justice agenda is the wish to erect strict boundaries around racial identities while erasing behavioral boundaries, sexual boundaries, and ethical boundaries. Since so much of this thought-monster is actually promulgated by white college professors and administrators, and white political activists, against people like themselves, the motives in this concerted campaign might appear puzzling to the casual observer. ..."
"... The evolving matrix of rackets that prompted the 2008 debacle has only grown more elaborate and craven as the old economy of stuff dies and is replaced by a financialized economy of swindles and frauds . Almost nothing in America's financial life is on the level anymore, from the mendacious "guidance" statements of the Federal Reserve, to the official economic statistics of the federal agencies, to the manipulation of all markets, to the shenanigans on the fiscal side, to the pervasive accounting fraud that underlies it all. Ironically, the systematic chiseling of the foundering middle class is most visible in the rackets that medicine and education have become -- two activities that were formerly dedicated to doing no harm and seeking the truth ! ..."
"... Um, forgotten by Kunstler is the fact that 1965 was also the year when the USA reopened its doors to low-skilled immigrants from the Third World – who very quickly became competitors with black Americans. And then the Boom ended, and corporate American, influenced by thinking such as that displayed in Lewis Powell's (in)famous 1971 memorandum, decided to claw back the gains made by the working and middle classes in the previous 3 decades. ..."
"... "Wow – is there ever negative!" ..."
"... You also misrepresent reality to your readers. No, the black underclass is not larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated now than in the 1960's, when cities across the country burned and machine guns were stationed on the Capitol steps. The "racial divide" is not "starker now than ever"; that's just preposterous to anyone who was alive then. And nobody I've ever known felt "shame" over the "outcome of the civil rights campaign". I know nobody who seeks to "punish and humiliate" the 'privileged'. ..."
"... My impression is that what Kunstler is doing here is diagnosing the long crisis of a decadent liberal post-modernity, and his stance is not that of either of the warring sides within our divorced-from-reality political establishment, neither that of the 'right' or 'left.' Which is why, logically, he published it here. National Review would never have accepted this piece ..."
"... "Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor." ..."
"... Young black people are told by their elders how lucky they are to grow up today because things are much better than when grandpa was our age and we all know this history.\ ..."
"... It's clear that this part of the article was written from absolute ignorance of the actual black experience with no interest in even looking up some facts. Hell, Obama even gave a speech at Howard telling graduates how lucky they were to be young and black Today compared to even when he was their age in the 80's! ..."
"... E.g. Germany. Germany is anything but perfect and its recent government has screwed up with its immigration policies. But Germany has a high standard of living, an educated work force (including unions and skilled crafts-people), a more rational distribution of wealth and high quality universal health care that costs 47% less per capita than in the U.S. and with no intrinsic need to maraud around the planet wasting gobs of taxpayer money playing Global Cop. ..."
"... The larger subtext is that the U.S. house of cards was planned out and constructed as deliberately as the German model was. Only the objective was not to maximize the health and happiness of the citizenry, but to line the pockets of the parasitic Elites. (E.g., note that Mitch McConnell has been a government employee for 50 years but somehow acquired a net worth of over $10 Million.) ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.com

On America's 'long emergency' of recession, globalization, and identity politics.

Can a people recover from an excursion into unreality? The USA's sojourn into an alternative universe of the mind accelerated sharply after Wall Street nearly detonated the global financial system in 2008. That debacle was only one manifestation of an array of accumulating threats to the postmodern order, which include the burdens of empire, onerous debt, population overshoot, fracturing globalism, worries about energy, disruptive technologies, ecological havoc, and the specter of climate change.

A sense of gathering crisis, which I call the long emergency , persists. It is systemic and existential. It calls into question our ability to carry on "normal" life much farther into this century, and all the anxiety that attends it is hard for the public to process. It manifested itself first in finance because that was the most abstract and fragile of all the major activities we depend on for daily life, and therefore the one most easily tampered with and shoved into criticality by a cadre of irresponsible opportunists on Wall Street. Indeed, a lot of households were permanently wrecked after the so-called Great Financial Crisis of 2008, despite official trumpet blasts heralding "recovery" and the dishonestly engineered pump-up of capital markets since then.

With the election of 2016, symptoms of the long emergency seeped into the political system. Disinformation rules. There is no coherent consensus about what is happening and no coherent proposals to do anything about it. The two parties are mired in paralysis and dysfunction and the public's trust in them is at epic lows. Donald Trump is viewed as a sort of pirate president, a freebooting freak elected by accident, "a disrupter" of the status quo at best and at worst a dangerous incompetent playing with nuclear fire. A state of war exists between the White House, the permanent D.C. bureaucracy, and the traditional news media. Authentic leadership is otherwise AWOL. Institutions falter. The FBI and the CIA behave like enemies of the people.

Bad ideas flourish in this nutrient medium of unresolved crisis. Lately, they actually dominate the scene on every side. A species of wishful thinking that resembles a primitive cargo cult grips the technocratic class, awaiting magical rescue remedies that promise to extend the regime of Happy Motoring, consumerism, and suburbia that makes up the armature of "normal" life in the USA. They chatter about electric driverless car fleets, home delivery drone services, and as-yet-undeveloped modes of energy production to replace problematic fossil fuels, while ignoring the self-evident resource and capital constraints now upon us and even the laws of physics -- especially entropy , the second law of thermodynamics. Their main mental block is their belief in infinite industrial growth on a finite planet, an idea so powerfully foolish that it obviates their standing as technocrats.

The non-technocratic cohort of the thinking class squanders its waking hours on a quixotic campaign to destroy the remnant of an American common culture and, by extension, a reviled Western civilization they blame for the failure in our time to establish a utopia on earth. By the logic of the day, "inclusion" and "diversity" are achieved by forbidding the transmission of ideas, shutting down debate, and creating new racially segregated college dorms. Sexuality is declared to not be biologically determined, yet so-called cis-gendered persons (whose gender identity corresponds with their sex as detected at birth) are vilified by dint of not being "other-gendered" -- thereby thwarting the pursuit of happiness of persons self-identified as other-gendered. Casuistry anyone?

The universities beget a class of what Nassim Taleb prankishly called "intellectuals-yet-idiots," hierophants trafficking in fads and falsehoods, conveyed in esoteric jargon larded with psychobabble in support of a therapeutic crypto-gnostic crusade bent on transforming human nature to fit the wished-for utopian template of a world where anything goes. In fact, they have only produced a new intellectual despotism worthy of Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot.

In case you haven't been paying attention to the hijinks on campus -- the attacks on reason, fairness, and common decency, the kangaroo courts, diversity tribunals, assaults on public speech and speakers themselves -- here is the key take-away: it's not about ideas or ideologies anymore; it's purely about the pleasures of coercion, of pushing other people around. Coercion is fun and exciting! In fact, it's intoxicating, and rewarded with brownie points and career advancement. It's rather perverse that this passion for tyranny is suddenly so popular on the liberal left.

Until fairly recently, the Democratic Party did not roll that way. It was right-wing Republicans who tried to ban books, censor pop music, and stifle free expression. If anything, Democrats strenuously defended the First Amendment, including the principle that unpopular and discomforting ideas had to be tolerated in order to protect all speech. Back in in 1977 the ACLU defended the right of neo-Nazis to march for their cause (National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43).

The new and false idea that something labeled "hate speech" -- labeled by whom? -- is equivalent to violence floated out of the graduate schools on a toxic cloud of intellectual hysteria concocted in the laboratory of so-called "post-structuralist" philosophy, where sundry body parts of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Judith Butler, and Gilles Deleuze were sewn onto a brain comprised of one-third each Thomas Hobbes, Saul Alinsky, and Tupac Shakur to create a perfect Frankenstein monster of thought. It all boiled down to the proposition that the will to power negated all other human drives and values, in particular the search for truth. Under this scheme, all human relations were reduced to a dramatis personae of the oppressed and their oppressors, the former generally "people of color" and women, all subjugated by whites, mostly males. Tactical moves in politics among these self-described "oppressed" and "marginalized" are based on the credo that the ends justify the means (the Alinsky model).

This is the recipe for what we call identity politics, the main thrust of which these days, the quest for "social justice," is to present a suit against white male privilege and, shall we say, the horse it rode in on: western civ. A peculiar feature of the social justice agenda is the wish to erect strict boundaries around racial identities while erasing behavioral boundaries, sexual boundaries, and ethical boundaries. Since so much of this thought-monster is actually promulgated by white college professors and administrators, and white political activists, against people like themselves, the motives in this concerted campaign might appear puzzling to the casual observer.

I would account for it as the psychological displacement among this political cohort of their shame, disappointment, and despair over the outcome of the civil rights campaign that started in the 1960s and formed the core of progressive ideology. It did not bring about the hoped-for utopia. The racial divide in America is starker now than ever, even after two terms of a black president. Today, there is more grievance and resentment, and less hope for a better future, than when Martin Luther King made the case for progress on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. The recent flash points of racial conflict -- Ferguson, the Dallas police ambush, the Charleston church massacre, et cetera -- don't have to be rehearsed in detail here to make the point that there is a great deal of ill feeling throughout the land, and quite a bit of acting out on both sides.

The black underclass is larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated than it was in the 1960s. My theory, for what it's worth, is that the civil rights legislation of 1964 and '65, which removed legal barriers to full participation in national life, induced considerable anxiety among black citizens over the new disposition of things, for one reason or another. And that is exactly why a black separatism movement arose as an alternative at the time, led initially by such charismatic figures as Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. Some of that was arguably a product of the same youthful energy that drove the rest of the Sixties counterculture: adolescent rebellion. But the residue of the "Black Power" movement is still present in the widespread ambivalence about making covenant with a common culture, and it has only been exacerbated by a now long-running "multiculturalism and diversity" crusade that effectively nullifies the concept of a national common culture.

What follows from these dynamics is the deflection of all ideas that don't feed a narrative of power relations between oppressors and victims, with the self-identified victims ever more eager to exercise their power to coerce, punish, and humiliate their self-identified oppressors, the "privileged," who condescend to be abused to a shockingly masochistic degree. Nobody stands up to this organized ceremonial nonsense. The punishments are too severe, including the loss of livelihood, status, and reputation, especially in the university. Once branded a "racist," you're done. And venturing to join the oft-called-for "honest conversation about race" is certain to invite that fate.

Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor. Hung out to dry economically, this class of whites fell into many of the same behaviors as the poor blacks before them: absent fathers, out-of-wedlock births, drug abuse. Then the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 wiped up the floor with the middle-middle class above them, foreclosing on their homes and futures, and in their desperation many of these people became Trump voters -- though I doubt that Trump himself truly understood how this all worked exactly. However, he did see that the white middle class had come to identify as yet another victim group, allowing him to pose as their champion.

The evolving matrix of rackets that prompted the 2008 debacle has only grown more elaborate and craven as the old economy of stuff dies and is replaced by a financialized economy of swindles and frauds . Almost nothing in America's financial life is on the level anymore, from the mendacious "guidance" statements of the Federal Reserve, to the official economic statistics of the federal agencies, to the manipulation of all markets, to the shenanigans on the fiscal side, to the pervasive accounting fraud that underlies it all. Ironically, the systematic chiseling of the foundering middle class is most visible in the rackets that medicine and education have become -- two activities that were formerly dedicated to doing no harm and seeking the truth !

Life in this milieu of immersive dishonesty drives citizens beyond cynicism to an even more desperate state of mind. The suffering public ends up having no idea what is really going on, what is actually happening. The toolkit of the Enlightenment -- reason, empiricism -- doesn't work very well in this socioeconomic hall of mirrors, so all that baggage is discarded for the idea that reality is just a social construct, just whatever story you feel like telling about it. On the right, Karl Rove expressed this point of view some years ago when he bragged, of the Bush II White House, that "we make our own reality." The left says nearly the same thing in the post-structuralist malarkey of academia: "you make your own reality." In the end, both sides are left with a lot of bad feelings and the belief that only raw power has meaning.

Erasing psychological boundaries is a dangerous thing. When the rackets finally come to grief -- as they must because their operations don't add up -- and the reckoning with true price discovery commences at the macro scale, the American people will find themselves in even more distress than they've endured so far. This will be the moment when either nobody has any money, or there is plenty of worthless money for everyone. Either way, the functional bankruptcy of the nation will be complete, and nothing will work anymore, including getting enough to eat. That is exactly the moment when Americans on all sides will beg someone to step up and push them around to get their world working again. And even that may not avail.

James Howard Kunstler's many books include The Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation , and the World Made by Hand novel series. He blogs on Mondays and Fridays at Kunstler.com .

Whine Merchant December 20, 2017 at 10:49 pm

Wow – is there ever negative!
Celery , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:33 pm
I think I need to go listen to an old-fashioned Christmas song now.

The ability to be financially, or at least resource, sustaining is the goal of many I know since we share a lack of confidence in any of our institutions. We can only hope that God might look down with compassion on us, but He's not in the practical plan of how to feed and sustain ourselves when things play out to their inevitable end. Having come from a better time, we joke about our dystopian preparations, self-conscious about our "overreaction," but preparing all the same.

Merry Christmas!

Fran Macadam , says: December 20, 2017 at 11:55 pm
Look at it this way: Germany had to be leveled and its citizens reduced to abject penury, before Volkswagen could become the world's biggest car company, and autobahns built throughout the world. It will be darkest before the dawn, and hopefully, that light that comes after, won't be the miniature sunrise of a nuclear conflagration.
KD , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:02 am
Eat, Drink, and be Merry, you can charge it on your credit card!
Rock Stehdy , says: December 21, 2017 at 6:38 am
Hard words, but true. Kunstler is always worth reading for his common-sense wisdom.
Helmut , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:04 am
An excellent summary and bleak reminder of what our so-called civilization has become. How do we extricate ourselves from this strange death spiral?
I have long suspected that we humans are creatures of our own personal/group/tribal/national/global fables and mythologies. We are compelled by our genes, marrow, and blood to tell ourselves stories of our purpose and who we are. It is time for new mythologies and stories of "who we are". This bizarre hyper-techno all-for-profit world needs a new story.
Liam , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:38 am
"The black underclass is larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated than it was in the 1960s. My theory, for what it's worth, is that the civil rights legislation of 1964 and '65, which removed legal barriers to full participation in national life, induced considerable anxiety among black citizens over the new disposition of things, for one reason or another."

Um, forgotten by Kunstler is the fact that 1965 was also the year when the USA reopened its doors to low-skilled immigrants from the Third World – who very quickly became competitors with black Americans. And then the Boom ended, and corporate American, influenced by thinking such as that displayed in Lewis Powell's (in)famous 1971 memorandum, decided to claw back the gains made by the working and middle classes in the previous 3 decades.

Peter , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:34 am
I have some faith that the American people can recover from an excursion into unreality. I base it on my own survival to the end of this silly rant.
SteveM , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:08 am
Re: Whine Merchant, "Wow – is there ever negative!"

Can't argue with the facts

P.S. Merry Christmas.

Dave Wright , says: December 21, 2017 at 9:22 am
Hey Jim, I know you love to blame Wall Street and the Republicans for the GFC. I remember back in '08 you were urging Democrats to blame it all on Republicans to help Obama win. But I have news for you. It wasn't Wall Street that caused the GFC. The crisis actually had its roots in the Clinton Administration's use of the Community Reinvestment Act to pressure banks to relax mortgage underwriting standards. This was done at the behest of left wing activists who claimed (without evidence, of course) that the standards discriminated against minorities. The result was an effective repeal of all underwriting standards and an explosion of real estate speculation with borrowed money. Speculation with borrowed money never ends well.

I have to laugh, too, when you say that it's perverse that the passion for tyranny is popular on the left. Have you ever heard of the French Revolution? How about the USSR? Communist China? North Korea? Et cetera.

Leftism is leftism. Call it Marxism, Communism, socialism, liberalism, progressivism, or what have you. The ideology is the same. Only the tactics and methods change. Destroy the evil institutions of marriage, family, and religion, and Man's innate goodness will shine forth, and the glorious Godless utopia will naturally result.

Of course, the father of lies is ultimately behind it all. "He was a liar and a murderer from the beginning."

When man turns his back on God, nothing good happens. That's the most fundamental problem in Western society today. Not to say that there aren't other issues, but until we return to God, there's not much hope for improvement.

NoahK , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:15 am
It's like somebody just got a bunch of right-wing talking points and mashed them together into one incohesive whole. This is just lazy.
Andrew Imlay , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:36 am
Hmm. I just wandered over here by accident. Being a construction contractor, I don't know enough about globalization, academia, or finance to evaluate your assertions about those realms. But being in a biracial family, and having lived, worked, and worshiped equally in white and black communities, I can evaluate your statements about social justice, race, and civil rights. Long story short, you pick out fringe liberal ideas, misrepresent them as mainstream among liberals, and shoot them down. Casuistry, anyone?

You also misrepresent reality to your readers. No, the black underclass is not larger, more dysfunctional, and more alienated now than in the 1960's, when cities across the country burned and machine guns were stationed on the Capitol steps. The "racial divide" is not "starker now than ever"; that's just preposterous to anyone who was alive then. And nobody I've ever known felt "shame" over the "outcome of the civil rights campaign". I know nobody who seeks to "punish and humiliate" the 'privileged'.

I get that this column is a quick toss-off before the holiday, and that your strength is supposed to be in your presentation, not your ideas. For me, it's a helpful way to rehearse debunking common tropes that I'll encounter elsewhere.

But, really, your readers deserve better, and so do the people you misrepresent. We need bad liberal ideas to be critiqued while they're still on the fringe. But by calling fringe ideas mainstream, you discredit yourself, misinform your readers, and contribute to stereotypes both of liberals and of conservatives. I'm looking for serious conservative critiques that help me take a second look at familiar ideas. I won't be back.

peter in boston , says: December 21, 2017 at 10:48 am
Love Kunstler -- and love reading him here -- but he needs a strong editor to get him to turn a formless harangue into clear essay.
Someone in the crowd , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:07 am
I disagree, NoahK, that the whole is incohesive, and I also disagree that these are right-wing talking points.

The theme of this piece is the long crisis in the US, its nature and causes. At no point does this essay, despite it stream of consciousness style, veer away from that theme. Hence it is cohesive.

As for the right wing charge, though it is true, to be sure, that Kunstler's position is in many respects classically conservative -- he believes for example that there should be a national consensus on certain fundamentals, such as whether or not there are two sexes (for the most part), or, instead, an infinite variety of sexes chosen day by day at whim -- you must have noticed that he condemned both the voluntarism of Karl Rove AND the voluntarism of the post-structuralist crowd.

My impression is that what Kunstler is doing here is diagnosing the long crisis of a decadent liberal post-modernity, and his stance is not that of either of the warring sides within our divorced-from-reality political establishment, neither that of the 'right' or 'left.' Which is why, logically, he published it here. National Review would never have accepted this piece. QED.

Jon , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:10 am
This malaise is rooted in human consciousness that when reflecting on itself celebrating its capacity for apperception suffers from the tension that such an inquiry, such an inward glance produces. In a word, the capacity for the human being to be aware of his or herself as an intelligent being capable of reflecting on aspects of reality through the artful manipulation of symbols engenders this tension, this angst.

Some will attempt to extinguish this inner tension through intoxication while others through the thrill of war, and it has been played out since the dawn of man and well documented when the written word emerged.

The malaise which Mr. Kunstler addresses as the problem of our times is rooted in our existence from time immemorial. But the problem is not only existential but ontological. It is rooted in our being as self-aware creatures. Thus no solution avails itself as humanity in and of itself is the problem. Each side (both right and left) seeks its own anodyne whether through profligacy or intolerance, and each side mans the barricades to clash experiencing the adrenaline rush that arises from the perpetual call to arms.

Joe the Plutocrat , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:27 am
"Globalization has acted, meanwhile, as a great leveler. It destroyed what was left of the working class -- the lower-middle class -- which included a great many white Americans who used to be able to support a family with simple labor."

And to whom do we hand the tab for this? Globalization is a word. It is a concept, a talking point. Globalization is oligarchy by another name. Unfortunately, under-educated, deplorable, Americans; regardless of party affiliation/ideology have embraced. And the most ironic part?

Russia and China (the eventual surviving oligarchies) will eventually have to duke it out to decide which superpower gets to make the USA it's b*tch (excuse prison reference, but that's where we're headed folks).

And one more irony. Only in American, could Christianity, which was grew from concepts like compassion, generosity, humility, and benevolence; be re-branded and 'weaponized' to further greed, bigotry, misogyny, intolerance, and violence/war. Americans fiddled (over same sex marriage, abortion, who has to bake wedding cakes, and who gets to use which public restroom), while the oligarchs burned the last resources (natural, financial, and even legal).

The scientist 880 , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:48 am
"Today, there is more grievance and resentment, and less hope for a better future, than when Martin Luther King made the case for progress on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963."

Spoken like a white guy who has zero contact with black people. I mean, even a little bit of research and familiarity would give lie to the idea that blacks are more pessimistic about life today than in the 1960's.

Black millenials are the most optimistic group of Americans about the future. Anyone who has spent any significant time around older black people will notice that you don't hear the rose colored memories of the past. Black people don't miss the 1980's, much less the 1950's. Young black people are told by their elders how lucky they are to grow up today because things are much better than when grandpa was our age and we all know this history.\

It's clear that this part of the article was written from absolute ignorance of the actual black experience with no interest in even looking up some facts. Hell, Obama even gave a speech at Howard telling graduates how lucky they were to be young and black Today compared to even when he was their age in the 80's!

Here is the direct quote;

"In my inaugural address, I remarked that just 60 years earlier, my father might not have been served in a D.C. restaurant -- at least not certain of them. There were no black CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Very few black judges. Shoot, as Larry Wilmore pointed out last week, a lot of folks didn't even think blacks had the tools to be a quarterback. Today, former Bull Michael Jordan isn't just the greatest basketball player of all time -- he owns the team. (Laughter.) When I was graduating, the main black hero on TV was Mr. T. (Laughter.) Rap and hip hop were counterculture, underground. Now, Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night, and Beyoncé runs the world. (Laughter.) We're no longer only entertainers, we're producers, studio executives. No longer small business owners -- we're CEOs, we're mayors, representatives, Presidents of the United States. (Applause.)

I am not saying gaps do not persist. Obviously, they do. Racism persists. Inequality persists. Don't worry -- I'm going to get to that. But I wanted to start, Class of 2016, by opening your eyes to the moment that you are in. If you had to choose one moment in history in which you could be born, and you didn't know ahead of time who you were going to be -- what nationality, what gender, what race, whether you'd be rich or poor, gay or straight, what faith you'd be born into -- you wouldn't choose 100 years ago. You wouldn't choose the fifties, or the sixties, or the seventies. You'd choose right now. If you had to choose a time to be, in the words of Lorraine Hansberry, "young, gifted, and black" in America, you would choose right now. (Applause.)"

https://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/obamas-howard-commencement-transcript-222931

https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_58cf1d9ae4b0ec9d29dcf283/amp

Adam , says: December 21, 2017 at 11:57 am
I love reading about how the Community Reinvestment Act was the catalyst of all that is wrong in the world. As someone in the industry the issue was actually twofold. The Commodities Futures Modernization Act turned the mortgage securities market into a casino with the underlying actual debt instruments multiplied through the use of additional debt instruments tied to the performance but with no actual underlying value. These securities were then sold around the world essentially infecting the entire market. In order that feed the beast, these NON GOVERNMENT loans had their underwriting standards lowered to rediculous levels. If you run out of qualified customers, just lower the qualifications. Government loans such as FHA, VA, and USDA were avoided because it was easier to qualify people with the new stuff. And get paid. The short version is all of the incentives that were in place at the time, starting with the Futures Act, directly led to the actions that culminated in the Crash. So yes, it was the government, just a different piece of legislation.
SteveM , says: December 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm
Kunstler itemizing the social and economic pathologies in the United States is not enough. Because there are other models that demonstrate it didn't have to be this way.

E.g. Germany. Germany is anything but perfect and its recent government has screwed up with its immigration policies. But Germany has a high standard of living, an educated work force (including unions and skilled crafts-people), a more rational distribution of wealth and high quality universal health care that costs 47% less per capita than in the U.S. and with no intrinsic need to maraud around the planet wasting gobs of taxpayer money playing Global Cop.

The larger subtext is that the U.S. house of cards was planned out and constructed as deliberately as the German model was. Only the objective was not to maximize the health and happiness of the citizenry, but to line the pockets of the parasitic Elites. (E.g., note that Mitch McConnell has been a government employee for 50 years but somehow acquired a net worth of over $10 Million.)

P.S. About the notionally high U.S. GDP. Factor out the TRILLIONS inexplicably hoovered up by the pathological health care system, the metastasized and sanctified National Security State (with its Global Cop shenanigans) and the cronied-up Ponzi scheme of electron-churn financialization ginned up by Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Banksters, and then see how much GDP that reflects the actual wealth of the middle class is left over.

One Guy , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:10 pm
Right-Wing Dittoheads and Fox Watchers love to blame the Community Reinvestment Act. It allows them to blame both poor black people AND the government. The truth is that many parties were to blame.
LouB , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:14 pm
One of the things I love about this rag is that almost all of the comments are included. You may be sure that similar commenting privilege doesn't exist most anywhere else.

Any disfavor regarding the supposed bleakness with the weak hearted souls aside, Mr K's broadside seems pretty spot on to me.

tzx4 , says: December 21, 2017 at 1:57 pm
I think the author overlooks the fact that government over the past 30 to 40 years has been tilting the playing field ever more towards the uppermost classes and against the middle class. The evisceration of the middle class is plain to see.

If the the common man had more money and security, lots of our current intrasocial conflicts would be far less intense.

Jeeves , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm
Andrew Imlay: You provide a thoughtful corrective to one of Kunstler's more hyperbolic claims. And you should know that his jeremiad doesn't represent usual fare at TAC. So do come back.

Whether or not every one of Kunstler's assertions can withstand a rigorous fact-check, he is a formidable rhetorician. A generous serving of Weltschmerz is just what the season calls for.

Wezz , says: December 21, 2017 at 2:44 pm
America is stupefied from propaganda on steroids for, largely from the right wing, 25? years of Limbaugh, Fox, etc etc etc Clinton hate x 10, "weapons of mass destruction", "they hate us because we are free", birtherism, death panels, Jade Helm, pedophile pizza, and more Clinton hate porn.

Americans have been taught to worship the wealthy regardless of how they got there. Americans have been taught they are "Exceptional" (better, smarter, more godly than every one else) in spite of outward appearances. Americans are under educated and encouraged to make decisions based on emotion from constant barrage of extra loud advertising from birth selling illusion.

Americans brain chemistry is most likely as messed up as the rest of their bodies from junk or molested food. Are they even capable of normal thought?

Donald Trump has convinced at least a third of Americans that only he, Fox, Breitbart and one or two other sources are telling the Truth, every one else is lying and that he is their friend.

Is it possible we are just plane doomed and there's no way out?

John Blade Wiederspan , says: December 21, 2017 at 4:26 pm
I loathe the cotton candy clown and his Quislings; however, I must admit, his presence as President of the United States has forced everyone (left, right, religious, non-religious) to look behind the curtain. He has done more to dis-spell the idealism of both liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, rich and poor, than any other elected official in history. The sheer amount of mind-numbing absurdity resulting from a publicity stunt that got out of control ..I am 70 and I have seen a lot. This is beyond anything I could ever imagine. America is not going to improve or even remain the same. It is in a 4 year march into worse, three years to go.
EarlyBird , says: December 21, 2017 at 5:23 pm
Sheesh. Should I shoot myself now, or wait until I get home?
dvxprime , says: December 21, 2017 at 5:46 pm
Mr. Kuntzler has an honest and fairly accurate assessment of the situation. And as usual, the liberal audience that TAC is trying so hard to reach, is tossing out their usual talking points whilst being in denial of the situation.

The Holy Bible teaches us that repentance is the first crucial step on the path towards salvation. Until the progressives, from their alleged "elite" down the rank and file at Kos, HuffPo, whatever, take a good, long, hard look at the current national dumpster fire and start claiming some responsibility, America has no chance of solving problems or fixing anything.

Slooch , says: December 21, 2017 at 7:03 pm
Kunstler must have had a good time writing this, and I had a good time reading it. Skewed perspective, wild overstatement, and obsessive cherry-picking of the rare checkable facts are mixed with a little eye of newt and toe of frog and smothered in a oar and roll of rhetoric that was thrilling to be immersed in. Good work!
jp , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:09 pm
aah, same old Kunstler, slightly retailored for the Trump years.

for those of you familiar with him, remember his "peak oil" mania from the late 00s and early 2010s? every blog post was about it. every new year was going to be IT: the long emergency would start, people would be Mad Maxing over oil supplies cos prices at the pump would be $10 a gallon or somesuch.

in this new rant, i did a control-F for "peak oil" and hey, not a mention. I guess even cranks like Kunstler know when to give a tired horse a rest.

c.meyer , says: December 21, 2017 at 8:30 pm
So what else is new. Too 'clever', overwritten, no new ideas. Can't anyone move beyond clichés?
Active investor , says: December 22, 2017 at 12:35 am
Kunstler once again waxes eloquent on the American body politic. Every word rings true, except when it doesn't. At times poetic, at other times paranoid, Kunstler does us a great service by pointing a finger at the deepest pain points in America, any one of which could be the geyser that brings on catastrophic failure.

However, as has been pointed out, he definitely does not hang out with black people. For example, the statement:

But the residue of the "Black Power" movement is still present in the widespread ambivalence about making covenant with a common culture, and it has only been exacerbated by a now long-running "multiculturalism and diversity" crusade that effectively nullifies the concept of a national common culture.

The notion of a 'national common culture' is interesting but pretty much a fantasy that never existed, save colonial times.

Yet Kunstler's voice is one that must be heard, even if he is mostly tuning in to the widespread radicalism on both ends of the spectrum, albeit in relatively small numbers. Let's face it, people are in the streets marching, yelling, and hating and mass murders keep happening, with the regularity of Old Faithful. And he makes a good point about academia loosing touch with reality much of the time. He's spot on about the false expectations of what technology can do for the economy, which is inflated with fiat currency and God knows how many charlatans and hucksters. And yes, the white working class is feeling increasingly like a 'victim group.'

While Kunstler may be more a poet than a lawyer, more songwriter than historian, my gut feeling is that America had better take notice of him, as The American ship of state is being swept by a ferocious tide and the helmsman is high on Fentanyl (made in China).

JonF , says: December 22, 2017 at 9:52 am
Re: The crisis actually had its roots in the Clinton Administration's use of the Community Reinvestment Act

Here we go again with this rotting zombie which rises from its grave no matter how many times it has been debunked by statisticians and reputable economists (and no, not just those on the left– the ranks include Bruce Bartlett for example, a solid Reaganist). To reiterate again : the CRA played no role in the mortgage boom and bust. Among other facts in the way of that hypothesis is the fact that riskiest loans were being made by non-bank lenders (Countrywide) who were not covered by the CRA which only applied to actual banks– and the banks did not really get into the game full tilt, lowering their lending standards, until late in the game, c. 2005, in response to their loss of business to the non-bank lenders. Ditto for the GSEs, which did not lower their standards until 2005 and even then relied on wall Street to vet the subprime loans they were buying.

To be sure, blaming Wall Street for everything is also wrong-headed, though wall Street certainly did some stupid, greedy and shady things (No, I am not letting them off the hook!) But the cast of miscreants is numbered in the millions and it stretches around the planet. Everyone (for example) who got into the get-rich-quick Ponzi scheme of house flipping, especially if they lied about their income to do so. And everyone who took out a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) and foolishly charged it up on a consumption binge. And shall we talk about the mortgage brokers who coached people into lying, the loan officers who steered customers into the riskiest (and highest earning) loans they could, the sellers who asked palace-prices for crackerbox hovels, the appraisers who rubber-stamped such prices, the regulators who turned a blind eye to all the fraud and malfeasance, the ratings agencies who handed out AAA ratings to securities full of junk, the politicians who rejoiced over the apparent "Bush Boom" well, I could continue, but you get the picture.

We have met the enemy and he was us.

kevin on the left , says: December 22, 2017 at 10:49 am
"The Holy Bible teaches us that repentance is the first crucial step on the path towards salvation. Until the progressives, from their alleged "elite" down the rank and file at Kos, HuffPo, whatever, take a good, long, hard look at the current national dumpster fire and start claiming some responsibility, America has no chance of solving problems or fixing anything."

Pretty sure that calling other people to repent of their sin of disagreeing with you is not quite what the Holy Bible intended.

[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 Cæsar , 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 Cæsar , 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 03, 2017] Business Has Killed IT With Overspecialization by Charlie Schluting

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... What happened to the old "sysadmin" of just a few years ago? We've split what used to be the sysadmin into application teams, server teams, storage teams, and network teams. There were often at least a few people, the holders of knowledge, who knew how everything worked, and I mean everything. ..."
"... Now look at what we've done. Knowledge is so decentralized we must invent new roles to act as liaisons between all the IT groups. Architects now hold much of the high-level "how it works" knowledge, but without knowing how any one piece actually does work. In organizations with more than a few hundred IT staff and developers, it becomes nearly impossible for one person to do and know everything. This movement toward specializing in individual areas seems almost natural. That, however, does not provide a free ticket for people to turn a blind eye. ..."
"... Does your IT department function as a unit? Even 20-person IT shops have turf wars, so the answer is very likely, "no." As teams are split into more and more distinct operating units, grouping occurs. One IT budget gets split between all these groups. Often each group will have a manager who pitches his needs to upper management in hopes they will realize how important the team is. ..."
"... The "us vs. them" mentality manifests itself at all levels, and it's reinforced by management having to define each team's worth in the form of a budget. One strategy is to illustrate a doomsday scenario. If you paint a bleak enough picture, you may get more funding. Only if you are careful enough to illustrate the failings are due to lack of capital resources, not management or people. A manager of another group may explain that they are not receiving the correct level of service, so they need to duplicate the efforts of another group and just implement something themselves. On and on, the arguments continue. ..."
Apr 07, 2010 | Enterprise Networking Planet

What happened to the old "sysadmin" of just a few years ago? We've split what used to be the sysadmin into application teams, server teams, storage teams, and network teams. There were often at least a few people, the holders of knowledge, who knew how everything worked, and I mean everything. Every application, every piece of network gear, and how every server was configured -- these people could save a business in times of disaster.

Now look at what we've done. Knowledge is so decentralized we must invent new roles to act as liaisons between all the IT groups. Architects now hold much of the high-level "how it works" knowledge, but without knowing how any one piece actually does work. In organizations with more than a few hundred IT staff and developers, it becomes nearly impossible for one person to do and know everything. This movement toward specializing in individual areas seems almost natural. That, however, does not provide a free ticket for people to turn a blind eye.

Specialization

You know the story: Company installs new application, nobody understands it yet, so an expert is hired. Often, the person with a certification in using the new application only really knows how to run that application. Perhaps they aren't interested in learning anything else, because their skill is in high demand right now. And besides, everything else in the infrastructure is run by people who specialize in those elements. Everything is taken care of.

Except, how do these teams communicate when changes need to take place? Are the storage administrators teaching the Windows administrators about storage multipathing; or worse logging in and setting it up because it's faster for the storage gurus to do it themselves? A fundamental level of knowledge is often lacking, which makes it very difficult for teams to brainstorm about new ways evolve IT services. The business environment has made it OK for IT staffers to specialize and only learn one thing.

If you hire someone certified in the application, operating system, or network vendor you use, that is precisely what you get. Certifications may be a nice filter to quickly identify who has direct knowledge in the area you're hiring for, but often they indicate specialization or compensation for lack of experience.

Resource Competition

Does your IT department function as a unit? Even 20-person IT shops have turf wars, so the answer is very likely, "no." As teams are split into more and more distinct operating units, grouping occurs. One IT budget gets split between all these groups. Often each group will have a manager who pitches his needs to upper management in hopes they will realize how important the team is.

The "us vs. them" mentality manifests itself at all levels, and it's reinforced by management having to define each team's worth in the form of a budget. One strategy is to illustrate a doomsday scenario. If you paint a bleak enough picture, you may get more funding. Only if you are careful enough to illustrate the failings are due to lack of capital resources, not management or people. A manager of another group may explain that they are not receiving the correct level of service, so they need to duplicate the efforts of another group and just implement something themselves. On and on, the arguments continue.

Most often, I've seen competition between server groups result in horribly inefficient uses of hardware. For example, what happens in your organization when one team needs more server hardware? Assume that another team has five unused servers sitting in a blade chassis. Does the answer change? No, it does not. Even in test environments, sharing doesn't often happen between IT groups.

With virtualization, some aspects of resource competition get better and some remain the same. When first implemented, most groups will be running their own type of virtualization for their platform. The next step, I've most often seen, is for test servers to get virtualized. If a new group is formed to manage the virtualization infrastructure, virtual machines can be allocated to various application and server teams from a central pool and everyone is now sharing. Or, they begin sharing and then demand their own physical hardware to be isolated from others' resource hungry utilization. This is nonetheless a step in the right direction. Auto migration and guaranteed resource policies can go a long way toward making shared infrastructure, even between competing groups, a viable option.

Blamestorming

The most damaging side effect of splitting into too many distinct IT groups is the reinforcement of an "us versus them" mentality. Aside from the notion that specialization creates a lack of knowledge, blamestorming is what this article is really about. When a project is delayed, it is all too easy to blame another group. The SAN people didn't allocate storage on time, so another team was delayed. That is the timeline of the project, so all work halted until that hiccup was restored. Having someone else to blame when things get delayed makes it all too easy to simply stop working for a while.

More related to the initial points at the beginning of this article, perhaps, is the blamestorm that happens after a system outage.

Say an ERP system becomes unresponsive a few times throughout the day. The application team says it's just slowing down, and they don't know why. The network team says everything is fine. The server team says the application is "blocking on IO," which means it's a SAN issue. The SAN team say there is nothing wrong, and other applications on the same devices are fine. You've ran through nearly every team, but without an answer still. The SAN people don't have access to the application servers to help diagnose the problem. The server team doesn't even know how the application runs.

See the problem? Specialized teams are distinct and by nature adversarial. Specialized staffers often relegate themselves into a niche knowing that as long as they continue working at large enough companies, "someone else" will take care of all the other pieces.

I unfortunately don't have an answer to this problem. Maybe rotating employees between departments will help. They gain knowledge and also get to know other people, which should lessen the propensity to view them as outsiders

[Dec 03, 2017] Another Democratic party betrayal of their former voters. but what you can expect from the party of Bill Clinton?

Highly recommended!
Dec 03, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

SpringTexan , December 2, 2017 at 12:08 pm

And I feel like the Democrats get so distracted. They have been talking about sexual harassment and stuff instead of the TAX BILL. It is so damn easy to get them to take their eyes off the ball! and get played again and again. . . and TRAGIC given the consequences . . .

Big River Bandido , December 2, 2017 at 3:10 pm

It's the perfect "distraction". Allows them to engage in virtue-signaling and "fighting for average Americans". It's all phony, they always "lose" in the end getting exactly what they wanted in the first place, while not actually having to cast a vote for it.

Kabuki theater in every respect.

jrs , December 2, 2017 at 3:18 pm

It's all related, less safety net and more inequality means more desperation to take a job, *ANY* job, means more women putting up with sexual harassment (and workplace bullying and horrible and illegal workplace conditions etc.) as the price of a paycheck.

Allegorio , December 2, 2017 at 11:07 pm

Horrible Toomey's re-election was a parallel to the Clinton/Trump fiasco. The Democrats put up a corporate shill, Katie McGinty that no-one trusted.

"Former lobbyist Katie McGinty has spent three decades in politics getting rich off the companies she regulated and subsidized. Now this master of the revolving-door wants Pennsylvania voters to give her another perch in government: U.S. Senator." Washington Examiner.

She was a Clintonite through and through, that everyone, much like $Hillary, could see through.

Expat , December 2, 2017 at 8:01 am

To paraphrase the Beatles, you say you want a revolution but you don't really mean it. You want more of the same because it makes you feel good to keep voting for your Senator or your Congressman. The others are corrupt and evil, but your guys are good. If only the others were like your guys. News flash: they are all your guys.

America is doomed. And so much the better. Despite all America has done for the world, it has also been a brutal despot. America created consumerism, super-sizing and the Kardashians. These are all unforgivable sins. America is probably the most persistently violent country in the world both domestically and internationally. No other country has invaded or occupied so much of the world, unless you count the known world in which case Macedonia wins.

This tax plan is what Americans want because they are pretty ignorant and stupid. They are incapable of understanding basic math so they can't work out the details. They believe that any tax cut is inherently good and all government is bad so that is also all that matters. They honestly think they or their kids will one day be rich so they don't want to hurt rich people. They also believe that millionaires got their money honestly and through hard work because that is what they learned from their parents.

Just send a blank check to Goldman Sachs. Keep a bit to buy a gun which you can use to either shoot up a McDonalds or blow your own brains out.

And some people still ask me why I left and don't want to come back. LOL

tony , December 2, 2017 at 9:30 am

Macedonia of today is not the same are that conquered the world. They stole the name from Greeks.

That being said, the US is ripe for a change. Every policy the current rulers enact seems to make things better. However, I suspect a revolution would kill majority of the population since it would disrupt the all important supply chains, so it does not seem viable.

However, a military takeover could be viable. If they are willing to wipe out the most predatory portions of the ruling class, they could fix the healthcare system, install a high-employment policy and take out the banks and even the military contractors. Which could make them very popular.

False Solace , December 2, 2017 at 5:18 pm

> a military takeover could be viable

Yeah, right. Have you seen our generals? They're just more of the same leeches we have everywhere else in the 0.01%. Have you seen any of the other military dictatorships around the world, like actually existing ones? They're all brilliantly corrupt and total failures when it comes to running any sort of economy. Not to mention the total loss of civil rights. Americans have this idiotic love of their military thanks to decades of effective propaganda and think the rule of pampered generals would somehow be better than the right to vote. Bleh.

Allegorio , December 2, 2017 at 11:20 pm

This is a military dictatorship. The fourth and sixth amendments have been de facto repealed. Trump cared about one thing and one thing only, namely to repeal the estate tax. He is the ultimate con man and this was his biggest con. It is truly amazing how he accomplished this. He has saved his family a billion $$$. He will now turn over governing to the generals and Goldman Sachs. He may even retire. Truly amazing. One has to admire the sheer perversity of it all. When will the American electorate get tired of being conned? The fact is they have nothing but admiration for Trump. We live in a criminal culture, winner take all. America loves its winners.

John Wright , December 2, 2017 at 10:45 am

There is an old 2003 David Brooks column in which he mentions that

"The Democrats couldn't even persuade people to oppose the repeal of the estate tax, which is explicitly for the mega-upper class. Al Gore, who ran a populist campaign, couldn't even win the votes of white males who didn't go to college, whose incomes have stagnated over the past decades and who were the explicit targets of his campaign. Why don't more Americans want to distribute more wealth down to people like themselves?"

Then Brooks goes on to explain

"The most telling polling result from the 2000 election was from a Time magazine survey that asked people if they are in the top 1 percent of earners. Nineteen percent of Americans say they are in the richest 1 percent and a further 20 percent expect to be someday. So right away you have 39 percent of Americans who thought that when Mr. Gore savaged a plan that favored the top 1 percent, he was taking a direct shot at them."

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/12/opinion/the-triumph-of-hope-over-self-interest.html

The Republicans have conditioned people to believe government services (except for defense/military) are run poorly and need to be "run like a business" for a profit.

The problem is that not all government services CAN be profitable (homeless care, mental health care for the poor, EPA enforcement, OSHA enforcement). And when attempts are made to privatize some government operations such as incarceration, the result is that the private company tries to maximize profits by pushing for laws to incarcerate ever more people.

The history of the USA as viewed by outsiders, maybe 50 years hence, will be that of a resource consuming nation that spent a vast fortune on military hardware and military adventures when it had little to fear due to geography, a nation that touted an independent press that was anything but, a nation that created a large media/entertainment industry which helped to keep citizens in line, a nation that fostered an overly large (by 2 or 3 times per Paul Whooley) parasitical financial industry that did not perform its prime capital allocation task competently as it veered from bubble to bubble and a nation that managed to spend great sums on medical care without covering all citizens.

But the USA does have a lot of guns and a lot of frustrated people.

Maybe Kevlar vests will be the fashion of the future?

Steve , December 2, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Thanks for the great link on how sadly uninformed average Americans are! I've been looking for it for a while and great comment!

MyLessThanPrimeBeef , December 2, 2017 at 4:08 pm

The provision to do away with the estate tax, if not immediately, in the current versions (House and Senate) is great news for the 1%, and bad for the rest of us.

And if more people are not against that (thanks for quoting the NYTImes article), it's the failure of the rest of the media for not focusing more on it, but wasting time and energy on fashion, sports, entertainment, etc.

Vatch , December 2, 2017 at 7:24 pm

he provision to do away with the estate tax . . . is great news for the 1%

I think it's even a little more extreme than that. The data is a few years old, but it is only the top 0.6% who are affected by estate taxes in the United States. See the data at these web sites:

https://www.irs.gov/statistics/soi-tax-stats-historical-table-17

https://www.irs.gov/statistics/soi-tax-stats-estate-tax-statistics-year-of-death-table-1

Sydney Conner , December 2, 2017 at 5:06 pm

Thanks for the succinct, accurate eloquent description of our nightmare reality.

DHG , December 2, 2017 at 8:13 pm

https://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/the-dark-rigidity-of-fundamentalist-rural-america-a-view-from-the-inside/

JTMcPhee , December 2, 2017 at 10:34 pm

The military adventures were largely in support of what Smedley Butler so accurately called the Great "Racket" of Monroe Doctrine colonialism and rapacious extractive "capitalism" aka "looting."

For those who haven't encountered Maj. Gen. Butler's take on his 33 years of serving the Oligokleptocracy, here's a link: https://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/warisaracket.html

A smart and honest fellow, who even declined as a "war hero" to serve as the oligarchs' figurehead in an earlier and clumsier plot to get rid of the trappings and regulation of "democracy:" The Business Plot, https://jtoddring.wordpress.com/2008/01/19/smedley-butler-and-the-business-plot/

It took longer and costed the rich a bit more to buy up all the bits of government, but the way they've done will likely be more compendious and lasting. Barring some "intervening event(s)".

Jonathan Holland Becnel , December 2, 2017 at 11:51 am

Doomed?

Project Much?

While Republicans show their true colors, im out there seeing a resurgence of civil society. And im starting to reach Hard core Tea Party types. Jobs, Manufacturing, Actual Policy.

IOW The Revolution Is Nigh.

2018 will be a Fn watershed.

[Nov 27, 2017] This Is Why Hewlett-Packard Just Fired Another 30K

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Imagine working at HP and having to listen to Carly Fiorina bulldoze you...she is like a blow-torch...here are 4 minutes of Carly and Ralph Nader (if you can take it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC4JDwoRHtk ..."
"... My husband has been a software architect for 30 years at the same company. Never before has he seen the sheer unadulterated panic in the executives. All indices are down and they are planning for the worst. Quality is being sacrificed for " just get some relatively functional piece of shit out the door we can sell". He is fighting because he has always produced a stellar product and refuses to have shit tied to his name ( 90% of competitor benchmarks fail against his projects). They can't afford to lay him off, but the first time in my life I see my husband want to quit... ..."
"... HP basically makes computer equipment (PCs, servers, Printers) and software. Part of the problem is that computer hardware has been commodized. Since PCs are cheap and frequent replacements are need, People just by the cheapest models, expecting to toss it in a couple of years and by a newer model (aka the Flat screen TV model). So there is no justification to use quality components. Same is become true with the Server market. Businesses have switched to virtualization and/or cloud systems. So instead of taking a boat load of time to rebuild a crashed server, the VM is just moved to another host. ..."
"... I hung an older sign next to the one saying Information Technology. Somehow MIS-Information Technology seemed appropriate.) ..."
"... Then I got to my first duty assignment. It was about five months after the first moon landing, and the aerospace industry was facing cuts in government aerospace spending. I picked up a copy of an engineering journal in the base library and found an article about job cuts. There was a cartoon with two janitors, buckets at their feet and mops in their hands, standing before a blackboard filled with equations. Once was saying to the other, pointing to one section, "you can see where he made his mistake right here...". It represented two engineers who had been reduced to menial labor after losing their jobs. ..."
"... So while I resent all the H1Bs coming into the US - I worked with several for the last four years of my IT career, and was not at all impressed - and despise the politicians who allow it, I know that it is not the first time American STEM grads have been put out of jobs en masse. In some ways that old saying applies: the more things change, the more they stay the same ..."
"... Just like Amazon, HP will supposedly make billions in profit analyzing things in the cloud that nobody looks at and has no use to the real economy, but it makes good fodder for Power Point presentations. I am amazed how much daily productivity goes into creating fancy charts for meetings that are meaningless to the actual business of the company. ..."
"... 'Computers' cost as much - if not more time than they save, at least in corporate settings. Used to be you'd work up 3 budget projections - expected, worst case and best case, you'd have a meeting, hash it out and decide in a week. Now you have endless alternatives, endless 'tweaking' and changes and decisions take forever, with outrageous amounts of time spent on endless 'analysis' and presentations. ..."
"... A recent lay off here turned out to be quite embarrassing for Parmalat there was nobody left that knew how to properly run the place they had to rehire many ex employees as consultants-at a costly premium ..."
"... HP is laying off 80,000 workers or almost a third of its workforce, converting its long-term human capital into short-term gains for rich shareholders at an alarming rate. The reason that product quality has declined is due to the planned obsolescence that spurs needless consumerism, which is necessary to prop up our debt-backed monetary system and the capitalist-owned economy that sits on top of it. ..."
"... The world is heading for massive deflation. Computers have hit the 14 nano-meter lithography zone, the cost to go from 14nm to say 5nm is very high, and the net benefit to computing power is very low, but lets say we go from 14nm to 5nm over the next 4 years. Going from 5nm to 1nm is not going to net a large boost in computing power and the cost to shrink things down and re-tool will be very high for such an insignificant gain in performance. ..."
"... Another classic "Let's rape all we can and bail with my golden parachute" corporate leaders setting themselves up. Pile on the string of non-IT CEOs that have been leading the company to ruin. To them it is nothing more than a contest of being even worse than their predecessor. Just look at the billions each has lost before their exit. Compaq, a cluster. Palm Pilot, a dead product they paid millions for and then buried. And many others. ..."
"... Let's not beat around the bush, they're outsourcing, firing Americans and hiring cheap labor elsewhere: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-15/hewlett-packard-to-cut-up-to-30-000-more-jobs-in-restructuring It's also shifting employees to low-cost areas, and hopes to have 60 percent of its workers located in cheaper countries by 2018, Nefkens said. ..."
"... Carly Fiorina: (LOL, leading a tech company with a degree in medieval history and philosophy) While at ATT she was groomed from the Affirmative Action plan. ..."
"... It is very straightforward. Replace 45,000 US workers with 100,000 offshore workers and you still save millions of USD ! Use the "savings" to buy back stock, then borrow more $$ at ZIRP to buy more stock back. ..."
"... If you look on a site like LinkedIN, it will always say 'We're hiring!'. YES, HP is hiring.....but not YOU, they want Ganesh Balasubramaniamawapbapalooboopawapbamboomtuttifrutti, so that they can work him as modern day slave labor for ultra cheap. We can thank idiot 'leaders' like Meg Pasty Faced Whitman and Bill 'Forced Vaccinations' Gates for lobbying Congress for decades, against the rights of American workers. ..."
"... An era of leadership in computer technology has died, and there is no grave marker, not even a funeral ceremony or eulogy ... Hewlett-Packard, COMPAQ, Digital Equipment Corp, UNIVAC, Sperry-Rand, Data General, Tektronix, ZILOG, Advanced Micro Devices, Sun Microsystems, etc, etc, etc. So much change in so short a time, leaves your mind dizzy. ..."
Sep 15, 2015 | Zero Hedge

SixIsNinE

yeah thanks Carly ... HP made bullet-proof products that would last forever..... I still buy HP workstation notebooks, especially now when I can get them for $100 on ebay .... I sold HP products in the 1990s .... we had HP laserjet IIs that companies would run day & night .... virtually no maintenance ... when PCL5 came around then we had LJ IIIs .... and still companies would call for LJ I's, .... 100 pounds of invincible Printing ! .

This kind of product has no place in the World of Planned-Obsolesence .... I'm currently running an 8510w, 8530w, 2530p, Dell 6420 quad i7, hp printers hp scanners, hp pavilion desktops, .... all for less than what a Laserjet II would have cost in 1994, Total.

Not My Real Name

I still have my HP 15C scientific calculator I bought in 1983 to get me through college for my engineering degree. There is nothing better than a hand held calculator that uses Reverse Polish Notation!

BigJim

HP used to make fantastic products. I remember getting their RPN calculators back in th 80's; built like tanks. Then they decided to "add value" by removing more and more material from their consumer/"prosumer" products until they became unspeakably flimsy. They stopped holding things together with proper fastenings and starting hot melting/gluing it together, so if it died you had to cut it open to have any chance of fixing it.

I still have one of their Laserjet 4100 printers. I expect it to outlast anything they currently produce, and it must be going on 16+ years old now.

Fuck you, HP. You started selling shit and now you're eating through your seed corn. I just wish the "leaders" who did this to you had to pay some kind of penalty greater than getting $25M in a severance package.

Automatic Choke

+100. The path of HP is everything that is wrong about modern business models. I still have a 5MP laserjet (one of the first), still works great. Also have a number of 42S calculators.....my day-to-day workhorse and several spares. I don't think the present HP could even dream of making these products today.

nope-1004

How well will I profit, as a salesman, if I sell you something that works? How valuable are you, as a customer in my database, if you never come back? Confucious say "Buy another one, and if you can't afford it, f'n finance it!" It's the growing trend. Look at appliances. Nothing works anymore.

Normalcy Bias

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

Son of Loki

GE to cut Houston jobs as work moves overseas http://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2015/09/15/ge-to-cut-houston-job... " Yes we can! "

Automatic Choke

hey big brother.... if you are curious, there is a damn good android emulator of the HP42S available (Free42). really it is so good that it made me relax about accumulating more spares. still not quite the same as a real calculator. (the 42S, by the way, is the modernization/simplification of the classic HP41, the real hardcord very-programmable, reconfigurable, hackable unit with all the plug-in-modules that came out in the early 80s.)

Miss Expectations

Imagine working at HP and having to listen to Carly Fiorina bulldoze you...she is like a blow-torch...here are 4 minutes of Carly and Ralph Nader (if you can take it): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vC4JDwoRHtk

Miffed Microbiologist

My husband has been a software architect for 30 years at the same company. Never before has he seen the sheer unadulterated panic in the executives. All indices are down and they are planning for the worst. Quality is being sacrificed for " just get some relatively functional piece of shit out the door we can sell". He is fighting because he has always produced a stellar product and refuses to have shit tied to his name ( 90% of competitor benchmarks fail against his projects). They can't afford to lay him off, but the first time in my life I see my husband want to quit...

unplugged

I've been an engineer for 31 years - our managements's unspoken motto at the place I'm at (large company) is: "release it now, we'll put in the quality later". I try to put in as much as possible before the product is shoved out the door without killing myself doing it.

AGuy

Do they even make test equipment anymore?

HP test and measurement was spun off many years ago as Agilent. The electronics part of Agilent was spun off as keysight late last year.

HP basically makes computer equipment (PCs, servers, Printers) and software. Part of the problem is that computer hardware has been commodized. Since PCs are cheap and frequent replacements are need, People just by the cheapest models, expecting to toss it in a couple of years and by a newer model (aka the Flat screen TV model). So there is no justification to use quality components. Same is become true with the Server market. Businesses have switched to virtualization and/or cloud systems. So instead of taking a boat load of time to rebuild a crashed server, the VM is just moved to another host.

HP has also adopted the Computer Associates business model (aka Borg). HP buys up new tech companies and sits on the tech and never improves it. It decays and gets replaced with a system from a competitor. It also has a habit of buying outdated tech companies that never generate the revenues HP thinks it will.

BullyBearish

When Carly was CEO of HP, she instituted a draconian "pay for performance" plan. She ended up leaving with over $146 Million because she was smart enough not to specify "what type" of performance.

GeezerGeek

Regarding your statement "All those engineers choosing to pursue other opportunities", we need to realize that tech in general has been very susceptible to the vagaries of government actions. Now the employment problems are due to things like globalization and H1B programs. Some 50 years ago tech - meaning science and engineering - was hit hard as the US space program wound down. Permit me this retrospective:

I graduated from a quite good school with a BS in Physics in 1968. My timing was not all that great, since that was when they stopped granting draft deferments for graduate school. I joined the Air Force, but as an enlisted airman, not an officer. Following basic training, I was sent to learn to operate PCAM operations. That's Punched Card Accounting Machines. Collators. Sorters. Interpreters. Key punches. I was in a class with nine other enlistees. One had just gotten a Masters degree in something. Eight of us had a BS in one thing or another, but all what would now be called STEM fields. The least educated only had an Associate degree. We all enlisted simply to avoid being drafted into the Marines. (Not that there's anything wrong with the Marines, but all of us proclaimed an allergy to energetic lead projectiles and acted accordingly. Going to Canada, as many did, pretty much ensured never getting a job in STEM fields later in life.) So thanks to government action (fighting in VietNam, in this case) a significant portion of educated Americans found themselves diverted from chosen career paths. (In my case, it worked out fine. I learned to program, etc., and spent a total of over 40 years in what is now called IT. I think it was called EDP when I started the trek. Somewhere along the line it became (where I worked) Management Information Systems. MIS. And finally the department became simply Information Technology. I hung an older sign next to the one saying Information Technology. Somehow MIS-Information Technology seemed appropriate.)

Then I got to my first duty assignment. It was about five months after the first moon landing, and the aerospace industry was facing cuts in government aerospace spending. I picked up a copy of an engineering journal in the base library and found an article about job cuts. There was a cartoon with two janitors, buckets at their feet and mops in their hands, standing before a blackboard filled with equations. Once was saying to the other, pointing to one section, "you can see where he made his mistake right here...". It represented two engineers who had been reduced to menial labor after losing their jobs.

So while I resent all the H1Bs coming into the US - I worked with several for the last four years of my IT career, and was not at all impressed - and despise the politicians who allow it, I know that it is not the first time American STEM grads have been put out of jobs en masse. In some ways that old saying applies: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

If you made it this far, thanks for your patience.

adr

Just like Amazon, HP will supposedly make billions in profit analyzing things in the cloud that nobody looks at and has no use to the real economy, but it makes good fodder for Power Point presentations. I am amazed how much daily productivity goes into creating fancy charts for meetings that are meaningless to the actual business of the company.

IT'S ALL BULLSHIT!!!!!

I designed more products in one year for the small company I work for than a $15 billion corporation did throughout their entire design department employing hundreds of people. That is because 90% of their workday is spent preparing crap for meetings and they never really get anything meaningful done.

It took me one week to design a product and send it out for production branded for the company I work for, but it took six months to get the same type of product passed through the multi billion dollar corporation we license for. Because it had to pass through layer after layer of bullshit and through every level of management before it could be signed off. Then a month later somebody would change their mind in middle management and the product would need to be changed and go through the cycle all over again.

Their own bag department made six bags last year, I designed 16. Funny how I out produce a department of six people whose only job is to make bags, yet I only get paid the salary of one.

Maybe I'm just an imbecile for working hard.

Bear

You also have to add all the wasted time of employees having to sit through those presentations and the even more wasted time on Ashley Madison

cynicalskeptic

'Computers' cost as much - if not more time than they save, at least in corporate settings. Used to be you'd work up 3 budget projections - expected, worst case and best case, you'd have a meeting, hash it out and decide in a week. Now you have endless alternatives, endless 'tweaking' and changes and decisions take forever, with outrageous amounts of time spent on endless 'analysis' and presentations.

EVERY VP now has an 'Administrative Assistant' whose primary job is to develop PowerPoint presentations for the endless meetings that take up time - without any decisions ever being made.

Computers stop people from thinking. In ages past when you used a slide rule you had to know the order of magnitude of the end result. Now people make a mistake and come up with a ridiculous number and take it at face value because 'the computer' produced it.

Any exec worht anythign knew what a given line in their department or the total should be +or a small amount. I can't count the number of times budgets and analyses were WRONG because someone left off a few lines on a spreadsheet total.

Yes computer modeling for advanced tech and engineering is a help, CAD/CAM is great and many other applications in the tech/scientific world are a great help but letting computers loose in corporate and finance has produced endless waste AND - worsde - thigns like HFT (e.g. 'better' more effective ways to manipulate and cheat markets.

khnum

A recent lay off here turned out to be quite embarrassing for Parmalat there was nobody left that knew how to properly run the place they had to rehire many ex employees as consultants-at a costly premium

Anopheles

Consultants don't come at that much of a premium becaue the company doesn't have to pay benefits, vacation, sick days, or payroll taxes, etc. Plus it's really easy and cheap to get rid of consultants.

arrowrod

Obviously, you haven't worked as a consultant. You get paid by the hour. To clean up a mess. 100 hours a week are not uncommon. (What?, is it possible to work 100 hours a week? Yes, it is, but only for about 3 months.)

RaceToTheBottom

HP Executives are trying hard to bring the company back to its roots: The ability to fit into one garage...

PrimalScream

ALL THAT Meg Whitman needs to do ... is to FIRE EVERYBODY !! Then have all the products made in China, process all the sales orders in Hong Kong, and sub-contract the accounting and tax paperwork to India. Then HP can use all the profits for stock buybacks, except of course for Meg's salary ... which will keep rising astronomically!

Herdee

That's where education gets you in America.The Government sold out America's manufacturing base to Communist China who holds the debt of the USA.Who would ever guess that right-wing neo-cons(neo-nazis) running the government would sell out to communists just to get the money for war? Very weird.

Really20

"Communist"? The Chinese government, like that of the US, never believed in worker ownership of businesses and never believed that the commerical banking system (whether owned by the state, or private corporations which act like a state) should not control money. Both countries believe in centralization of power among a few shareholders, who take the fruits of working people's labor while contributing nothing of value themselves (money being but a token that represents a claim on real capital, not capital itself.)

Management and investors ought to be separate from each other; management should be chosen by workers by universal equal vote, while a complementary investor board should be chosen by investors much as corporate boards are now. Both of these boards should be legally independent but bound organizations; the management board should run the business while the investor board should negotiate with the management board on the terms of equity issuance. No more buybacks, no more layoffs or early retirements, unless workers as a whole see a need for it to maintain the company.

The purpose of investors is to serve the real economy, not the other way round; and in turn, the purpose of the real economy is to serve humanity, not the other way around. Humans should stop being slaves to perpetual growth.

Really20

HP is laying off 80,000 workers or almost a third of its workforce, converting its long-term human capital into short-term gains for rich shareholders at an alarming rate. The reason that product quality has declined is due to the planned obsolescence that spurs needless consumerism, which is necessary to prop up our debt-backed monetary system and the capitalist-owned economy that sits on top of it.

NoWayJose

HP - that company that sells computers and printers made in China and ink cartridges made in Thailand?

Dominus Ludificatio

Another company going down the drain because their focus is short term returns with crappy products.They will also bring down any company they buy as well.

Barnaby

HP is microcosm of what Carly will do to the US: carve it like a pumpkin and leave the shell out to bake in the sun for a few weeks. But she'll make sure and poison the seeds too! Don't want anything growing out of that pesky Palm division...

Dre4dwolf

The world is heading for massive deflation. Computers have hit the 14 nano-meter lithography zone, the cost to go from 14nm to say 5nm is very high, and the net benefit to computing power is very low, but lets say we go from 14nm to 5nm over the next 4 years. Going from 5nm to 1nm is not going to net a large boost in computing power and the cost to shrink things down and re-tool will be very high for such an insignificant gain in performance.

What does that mean

  1. Computers (atleast non-quantum ones) have hit the point where about 80-90% of the potential for the current science has been tap'd
  2. This means that the consumer is not going to be put in the position where they will have to upgrade to faster systems for atleast another 7-8 years.... (because the new computer wont be that much faster than their existing one).
  3. If no one is upgrading the only IT sectors of the economy that stand to make any money are software companies (Microsoft, Apple, and other small software developers), most software has not caught up with hardware yet.
  4. We are obviously heading for massive deflation, consumer spending levels as a % are probably around where they were in the late 70s - mid 80s, this is a very deflationary environment that is being compounded by a high debt burden (most of everyones income is going to service their debts), that signals monetary tightening is going on... people simply don't have enough discretionary income to spend on new toys.

All that to me screams SELL consumer electronics stocks because profits are GOING TO DECLINE , SALES ARE GOING TO DECLINE. There is no way , no amount of buy backs will float the stocks of corporations like HP/Dell/IBM etc... it is inevitable that these stocks will be worth 30% less over the next 5 - 8 years

But what do I know? maybe I am missing something.

In anycase a lot of pressure is being put on HP to do all it can at any cost to boost the stock valuations, because so much of its stock is institution owned, they will strip the wallpaper off the walls and sell it to a recycling plant if it would give them more money to boost stock valuations. That to me signals that most of the people pressuring the board of HP to boost the stock, want them to gut the company as much as they can to boost it some trivial % points so that the majority of shares can be dumped onto muppets.

To me it pretty much also signals something is terribly wrong at HP and no one is talking about it.

PoasterToaster

Other than die shrinks there really hasn't been a lot going on in the CPU world since Intel abandoned its Netburst architecture and went back to its (Israeli created) Pentium 3 style pipeline. After that they gave up on increasing speed and resorted to selling more cores. Now that wall has been hit, they have been selling "green" and "efficient" nonsense in place of increasing power.

x86 just needs to go, but a lot is invested in it not the least of which is that 1-2 punch of forced, contrived obsolesence carried out in a joint operation with Microsoft. 15 years ago you could watch videos with no problem on your old machine using Windows XP. Fast forward to now and their chief bragging point is still "multitasking" and the ability to process datastreams like video. It's a joke.

The future is not in the current CPU paradigm of instructions per second; it will be in terms of variables per second. It will be more along the lines of what GPU manufacturers are creating with their thousands of "engines" or "processing units" per chip, rather than the 4, 6 or 12 core monsters that Intel is pushing. They have nearly given up on their roadmap to push out to 128 cores as it is. x86 just doesn't work with all that.

Dojidog

Another classic "Let's rape all we can and bail with my golden parachute" corporate leaders setting themselves up. Pile on the string of non-IT CEOs that have been leading the company to ruin. To them it is nothing more than a contest of being even worse than their predecessor. Just look at the billions each has lost before their exit. Compaq, a cluster. Palm Pilot, a dead product they paid millions for and then buried. And many others.

Think the split is going to help? Think again. Rather than taking the opportunity to fix their problems, they have just duplicated and perpetuated them into two separate entities.

HP is a company that is mired in a morass of unmanageable business processes and patchwork of antiquated applications all interconnected to the point they are petrified to try and uncouple them.

Just look at their stock price since January. The insiders know. Want to fix HP? All it would take is a savvy IT based leader with a boatload of common sense. What makes money at HP? Their printers and ink. Not thinking they can provide enterprise solutions to others when they can't even get their own house in order.

I Write Code

Let's not beat around the bush, they're outsourcing, firing Americans and hiring cheap labor elsewhere: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-15/hewlett-packard-to-cut-up-to-30-000-more-jobs-in-restructuring It's also shifting employees to low-cost areas, and hopes to have 60 percent of its workers located in cheaper countries by 2018, Nefkens said.

yogibear

Carly Fiorina: (LOL, leading a tech company with a degree in medieval history and philosophy) While at ATT she was groomed from the Affirmative Action plan.

Alma Mater: Stanford University (B.A. in medieval history and philosophy); University of Maryland (MBA); Massachusetts Institute of Technology

==================================================================

Patricia Russo: (Lucent) (Dedree in Political Science). Another lady elevated through the AA plan, Russo got her bachelor's degree from Georgetown University in political science and history in 1973. She finished the advanced management program at Harvard Business School in 1989

Both ladies steered their corporations to failure.

Clowns on Acid

It is very straightforward. Replace 45,000 US workers with 100,000 offshore workers and you still save millions of USD ! Use the "savings" to buy back stock, then borrow more $$ at ZIRP to buy more stock back.

You guys don't know nuthin'.

homiegot

HP: one of the worst places you could work. Souless.

Pancho de Villa

Ladies and Gentlemen! Integrity has left the Building!

space junk

I worked there for a while and it was total garbage. There are still some great folks around, but they are getting paid less and less, and having to work longer hours for less pay while reporting to God knows who, often a foreigner with crappy engrish skills, yes likely another 'diversity hire'. People with DEEP knowledge, decades and decades, have either gotten unfairly fired or demoted, made to quit, or if they are lucky, taken some early retirement and GTFO (along with their expertise - whoopsie! who knew? unintended consequences are a bitch aren't they? )....

If you look on a site like LinkedIN, it will always say 'We're hiring!'. YES, HP is hiring.....but not YOU, they want Ganesh Balasubramaniamawapbapalooboopawapbamboomtuttifrutti, so that they can work him as modern day slave labor for ultra cheap. We can thank idiot 'leaders' like Meg Pasty Faced Whitman and Bill 'Forced Vaccinations' Gates for lobbying Congress for decades, against the rights of American workers.

Remember that Meg 'Pasty Faced' Whitman is the person who came up with the idea of a 'lights out' datacenter....that's right, it's the concept of putting all of your computers in a building, in racks, in the dark, and maybe hiring an intern to come in once a month and keep them going. This is what she actually believed. Along with her other statement to the HP workforce which says basically that the future of HP is one of total automation.....TRANSLATION: If you are a smart admin, engineer, project manager, architect, sw tester, etc.....we (HP management) think you are an IDIOT and can be replaced by a robot, a foreigner, or any other cheap worker.

Race to the bottom is like they say a space ship approaching a black hole......after a while the laws of physics and common sense, just don't apply anymore.

InnVestuhrr

An era of leadership in computer technology has died, and there is no grave marker, not even a funeral ceremony or eulogy ... Hewlett-Packard, COMPAQ, Digital Equipment Corp, UNIVAC, Sperry-Rand, Data General, Tektronix, ZILOG, Advanced Micro Devices, Sun Microsystems, etc, etc, etc. So much change in so short a time, leaves your mind dizzy.

[Oct 02, 2017] Techs push to teach coding isnt about kids success – its about cutting wages by Ben Tarnoff

Highly recommended!
IT is probably one of the most "neoliberalized" industry (even in comparison with finance). So atomization of labor and "plantation economy" is a norm in IT. It occurs on rather high level of wages, but with influx of foreign programmers and IT specialists (in the past) and mass outsourcing (now) this is changing. Completion for good job positions is fierce. Dog eats dog competition, the dream of neoliberals. Entry level jobs are already paying $15 an hour, if not less.
Programming is a relatively rare talent, much like ability to play violin. Even amateur level is challenging. On high level (developing large complex programs in a team and still preserving your individuality and productivity ) it is extremely rare. Most of "commercial" programmers are able to produce only a mediocre code (which might be adequate). Only a few programmers can excel if complex software projects. Sometimes even performing solo. There is also a pathological breed of "programmer junkie" ( graphomania happens in programming too ) who are able sometimes to destroy something large projects singlehandedly. That often happens with open source projects after the main developer lost interest and abandoned the project.
It's good to allow children the chance to try their hand at coding when they otherwise may not had that opportunity, But in no way that means that all of them can became professional programmers. No way. Again the top level of programmers required position of a unique talent, much like top musical performer talent.
Also to get a decent entry position you iether need to be extremely talented or graduate from Ivy League university. When applicants are abundant, resume from less prestigious universities are not even considered. this is just easier for HR to filter applications this way.
Also under neoliberalism cheap labor via H1B visas flood the market and depresses wages. Many Silicon companies were so to say "Russian speaking in late 90th after the collapse of the USSR. Not offshoring is the dominant way to offload the development to cheaper labor.
Notable quotes:
"... As software mediates more of our lives, and the power of Silicon Valley grows, it's tempting to imagine that demand for developers is soaring. The media contributes to this impression by spotlighting the genuinely inspiring stories of those who have ascended the class ladder through code. You may have heard of Bit Source, a company in eastern Kentucky that retrains coalminers as coders. They've been featured by Wired , Forbes , FastCompany , The Guardian , NPR and NBC News , among others. ..."
"... A former coalminer who becomes a successful developer deserves our respect and admiration. But the data suggests that relatively few will be able to follow their example. Our educational system has long been producing more programmers than the labor market can absorb. ..."
"... More tellingly, wage levels in the tech industry have remained flat since the late 1990s. Adjusting for inflation, the average programmer earns about as much today as in 1998. If demand were soaring, you'd expect wages to rise sharply in response. Instead, salaries have stagnated. ..."
"... Tech executives have pursued this goal in a variety of ways. One is collusion – companies conspiring to prevent their employees from earning more by switching jobs. The prevalence of this practice in Silicon Valley triggered a justice department antitrust complaint in 2010, along with a class action suit that culminated in a $415m settlement . Another, more sophisticated method is importing large numbers of skilled guest workers from other countries through the H1-B visa program. These workers earn less than their American counterparts, and possess little bargaining power because they must remain employed to keep their status. ..."
"... Guest workers and wage-fixing are useful tools for restraining labor costs. But nothing would make programming cheaper than making millions more programmers. ..."
"... Silicon Valley has been unusually successful in persuading our political class and much of the general public that its interests coincide with the interests of humanity as a whole. But tech is an industry like any other. It prioritizes its bottom line, and invests heavily in making public policy serve it. The five largest tech firms now spend twice as much as Wall Street on lobbying Washington – nearly $50m in 2016. The biggest spender, Google, also goes to considerable lengths to cultivate policy wonks favorable to its interests – and to discipline the ones who aren't. ..."
"... Silicon Valley is not a uniquely benevolent force, nor a uniquely malevolent one. Rather, it's something more ordinary: a collection of capitalist firms committed to the pursuit of profit. And as every capitalist knows, markets are figments of politics. They are not naturally occurring phenomena, but elaborately crafted contraptions, sustained and structured by the state – which is why shaping public policy is so important. If tech works tirelessly to tilt markets in its favor, it's hardly alone. What distinguishes it is the amount of money it has at its disposal to do so. ..."
"... The problem isn't training. The problem is there aren't enough good jobs to be trained for ..."
"... Everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to code. Coding can be a rewarding, even pleasurable, experience, and it's useful for performing all sorts of tasks. More broadly, an understanding of how code works is critical for basic digital literacy – something that is swiftly becoming a requirement for informed citizenship in an increasingly technologized world. ..."
"... But coding is not magic. It is a technical skill, akin to carpentry. Learning to build software does not make you any more immune to the forces of American capitalism than learning to build a house. Whether a coder or a carpenter, capital will do what it can to lower your wages, and enlist public institutions towards that end. ..."
"... Exposing large portions of the school population to coding is not going to magically turn them into coders. It may increase their basic understanding but that is a long way from being a software engineer. ..."
"... All schools teach drama and most kids don't end up becoming actors. You need to give all kids access to coding in order for some can go on to make a career out of it. ..."
"... it's ridiculous because even out of a pool of computer science B.Sc. or M.Sc. grads - companies are only interested in the top 10%. Even the most mundane company with crappy IT jobs swears that they only hire "the best and the brightest." ..."
"... It's basically a con-job by the big Silicon Valley companies offshoring as many US jobs as they can, or "inshoring" via exploitation of the H1B visa ..."
"... Masters is the new Bachelors. ..."
"... I taught CS. Out of around 100 graduates I'd say maybe 5 were reasonable software engineers. The rest would be fine in tech support or other associated trades, but not writing software. Its not just a set of trainable skills, its a set of attitudes and ways of perceiving and understanding that just aren't that common. ..."
"... Yup, rings true. I've been in hi tech for over 40 years and seen the changes. I was in Silicon Valley for 10 years on a startup. India is taking over, my current US company now has a majority Indian executive and is moving work to India. US politicians push coding to drive down wages to Indian levels. ..."
Oct 02, 2017 | www.theguardian.com

This month, millions of children returned to school. This year, an unprecedented number of them will learn to code.

Computer science courses for children have proliferated rapidly in the past few years. A 2016 Gallup report found that 40% of American schools now offer coding classes – up from only 25% a few years ago. New York, with the largest public school system in the country, has pledged to offer computer science to all 1.1 million students by 2025. Los Angeles, with the second largest, plans to do the same by 2020. And Chicago, the fourth largest, has gone further, promising to make computer science a high school graduation requirement by 2018.

The rationale for this rapid curricular renovation is economic. Teaching kids how to code will help them land good jobs, the argument goes. In an era of flat and falling incomes, programming provides a new path to the middle class – a skill so widely demanded that anyone who acquires it can command a livable, even lucrative, wage.

This narrative pervades policymaking at every level, from school boards to the government. Yet it rests on a fundamentally flawed premise. Contrary to public perception, the economy doesn't actually need that many more programmers. As a result, teaching millions of kids to code won't make them all middle-class. Rather, it will proletarianize the profession by flooding the market and forcing wages down – and that's precisely the point.

At its root, the campaign for code education isn't about giving the next generation a shot at earning the salary of a Facebook engineer. It's about ensuring those salaries no longer exist, by creating a source of cheap labor for the tech industry.

As software mediates more of our lives, and the power of Silicon Valley grows, it's tempting to imagine that demand for developers is soaring. The media contributes to this impression by spotlighting the genuinely inspiring stories of those who have ascended the class ladder through code. You may have heard of Bit Source, a company in eastern Kentucky that retrains coalminers as coders. They've been featured by Wired , Forbes , FastCompany , The Guardian , NPR and NBC News , among others.

A former coalminer who becomes a successful developer deserves our respect and admiration. But the data suggests that relatively few will be able to follow their example. Our educational system has long been producing more programmers than the labor market can absorb. A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the supply of American college graduates with computer science degrees is 50% greater than the number hired into the tech industry each year. For all the talk of a tech worker shortage, many qualified graduates simply can't find jobs.

More tellingly, wage levels in the tech industry have remained flat since the late 1990s. Adjusting for inflation, the average programmer earns about as much today as in 1998. If demand were soaring, you'd expect wages to rise sharply in response. Instead, salaries have stagnated.

Still, those salaries are stagnating at a fairly high level. The Department of Labor estimates that the median annual wage for computer and information technology occupations is $82,860 – more than twice the national average. And from the perspective of the people who own the tech industry, this presents a problem. High wages threaten profits. To maximize profitability, one must always be finding ways to pay workers less.

Tech executives have pursued this goal in a variety of ways. One is collusion – companies conspiring to prevent their employees from earning more by switching jobs. The prevalence of this practice in Silicon Valley triggered a justice department antitrust complaint in 2010, along with a class action suit that culminated in a $415m settlement . Another, more sophisticated method is importing large numbers of skilled guest workers from other countries through the H1-B visa program. These workers earn less than their American counterparts, and possess little bargaining power because they must remain employed to keep their status.

Guest workers and wage-fixing are useful tools for restraining labor costs. But nothing would make programming cheaper than making millions more programmers. And where better to develop this workforce than America's schools? It's no coincidence, then, that the campaign for code education is being orchestrated by the tech industry itself. Its primary instrument is Code.org, a nonprofit funded by Facebook, Microsoft, Google and others . In 2016, the organization spent nearly $20m on training teachers, developing curricula, and lobbying policymakers.

Silicon Valley has been unusually successful in persuading our political class and much of the general public that its interests coincide with the interests of humanity as a whole. But tech is an industry like any other. It prioritizes its bottom line, and invests heavily in making public policy serve it. The five largest tech firms now spend twice as much as Wall Street on lobbying Washington – nearly $50m in 2016. The biggest spender, Google, also goes to considerable lengths to cultivate policy wonks favorable to its interests – and to discipline the ones who aren't.

Silicon Valley is not a uniquely benevolent force, nor a uniquely malevolent one. Rather, it's something more ordinary: a collection of capitalist firms committed to the pursuit of profit. And as every capitalist knows, markets are figments of politics. They are not naturally occurring phenomena, but elaborately crafted contraptions, sustained and structured by the state – which is why shaping public policy is so important. If tech works tirelessly to tilt markets in its favor, it's hardly alone. What distinguishes it is the amount of money it has at its disposal to do so.

Money isn't Silicon Valley's only advantage in its crusade to remake American education, however. It also enjoys a favorable ideological climate. Its basic message – that schools alone can fix big social problems – is one that politicians of both parties have been repeating for years. The far-fetched premise of neoliberal school reform is that education can mend our disintegrating social fabric. That if we teach students the right skills, we can solve poverty, inequality and stagnation. The school becomes an engine of economic transformation, catapulting young people from challenging circumstances into dignified, comfortable lives.

This argument is immensely pleasing to the technocratic mind. It suggests that our core economic malfunction is technical – a simple asymmetry. You have workers on one side and good jobs on the other, and all it takes is training to match them up. Indeed, every president since Bill Clinton has talked about training American workers to fill the "skills gap". But gradually, one mainstream economist after another has come to realize what most workers have known for years: the gap doesn't exist. Even Larry Summers has concluded it's a myth.

The problem isn't training. The problem is there aren't enough good jobs to be trained for . The solution is to make bad jobs better, by raising the minimum wage and making it easier for workers to form a union, and to create more good jobs by investing for growth. This involves forcing business to put money into things that actually grow the productive economy rather than shoveling profits out to shareholders. It also means increasing public investment, so that people can make a decent living doing socially necessary work like decarbonizing our energy system and restoring our decaying infrastructure.

Everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to code. Coding can be a rewarding, even pleasurable, experience, and it's useful for performing all sorts of tasks. More broadly, an understanding of how code works is critical for basic digital literacy – something that is swiftly becoming a requirement for informed citizenship in an increasingly technologized world.

But coding is not magic. It is a technical skill, akin to carpentry. Learning to build software does not make you any more immune to the forces of American capitalism than learning to build a house. Whether a coder or a carpenter, capital will do what it can to lower your wages, and enlist public institutions towards that end.

Silicon Valley has been extraordinarily adept at converting previously uncommodified portions of our common life into sources of profit. Our schools may prove an easy conquest by comparison.

See also:

willyjack, 21 Sep 2017 16:56

"Everyone should have the opportunity to learn how to code. " OK, and that's what's being done. And that's what the article is bemoaning. What would be better: teach them how to change tires or groom pets? Or pick fruit? Amazingly condescending article.

MrFumoFumo , 21 Sep 2017 14:54
However, training lots of people to be coders won't automatically result in lots of people who can actually write good code. Nor will it give managers/recruiters the necessary skills to recognize which programmers are any good.

congenialAnimal -> alfredooo , 24 Sep 2017 09:57

A valid rebuttal but could I offer another observation? Exposing large portions of the school population to coding is not going to magically turn them into coders. It may increase their basic understanding but that is a long way from being a software engineer.

Just as children join art, drama or biology classes so they do not automatically become artists, actors or doctors. I would agree entirely that just being able to code is not going to guarantee the sort of income that might be aspired to. As with all things, it takes commitment, perseverance and dogged determination. I suppose ultimately it becomes the Gattaca argument.

alfredooo -> racole , 24 Sep 2017 06:51
Fair enough, but, his central argument, that an overabundance of coders will drive wages in that sector down, is generally true, so in the future if you want your kids to go into a profession that will earn them 80k+ then being a "coder" is not the route to take. When coding is - like reading, writing, and arithmetic - just a basic skill, there's no guarantee having it will automatically translate into getting a "good" job.
Wiretrip , 21 Sep 2017 14:14
This article lumps everyone in computing into the 'coder' bin, without actually defining what 'coding' is. Yes there is a glut of people who can knock together a bit of HTML and JavaScript, but that is not really programming as such.

There are huge shortages of skilled developers however; people who can apply computer science and engineering in terms of analysis and design of software. These are the real skills for which relatively few people have a true aptitude.

The lack of really good skills is starting to show in some terrible software implementation decisions, such as Slack for example; written as a web app running in Electron (so that JavaScript code monkeys could knock it out quickly), but resulting in awful performance. We will see more of this in the coming years...

Taylor Dotson -> youngsteveo , 21 Sep 2017 13:53
My brother is a programmer, and in his experience these coding exams don't test anything but whether or not you took (and remember) a very narrow range of problems introduce in the first years of a computer science degree. The entire hiring process seems premised on a range of ill-founded ideas about what skills are necessary for the job and how to assess them in people. They haven't yet grasped that those kinds of exams mostly test test-taking ability, rather than intelligence, creativity, diligence, communication ability, or anything else that a job requires beside coughing up the right answer in a stressful, timed environment without outside resources.

The_Raven , 23 Sep 2017 15:45

I'm an embedded software/firmware engineer. Every similar engineer I've ever met has had the same background - starting in electronics and drifting into embedded software writing in C and assembler. It's virtually impossible to do such software without an understanding of electronics. When it goes wrong you may need to get the test equipment out to scope the hardware to see if it's a hardware or software problem. Coming from a pure computing background just isn't going to get you a job in this type of work.
waltdangerfield , 23 Sep 2017 14:42
All schools teach drama and most kids don't end up becoming actors. You need to give all kids access to coding in order for some can go on to make a career out of it.
TwoSugarsPlease , 23 Sep 2017 06:13
Coding salaries will inevitably fall over time, but such skills give workers the option, once they discover that their income is no longer sustainable in the UK, of moving somewhere more affordable and working remotely.
DiGiT81 -> nixnixnix , 23 Sep 2017 03:29
Completely agree. Coding is a necessary life skill for 21st century but there are levels to every skill. From basic needs for an office job to advanced and specialised.
nixnixnix , 23 Sep 2017 00:46
Lots of people can code but very few of us ever get to the point of creating something new that has a loyal and enthusiastic user-base. Everyone should be able to code because it is or will be the basis of being able to create almost anything in the future. If you want to make a game in Unity, knowing how to code is really useful. If you want to work with large data-sets, you can't rely on Excel and so you need to be able to code (in R?). The use of code is becoming so pervasive that it is going to be like reading and writing.

All the science and engineering graduates I know can code but none of them have ever sold a stand-alone software. The argument made above is like saying that teaching everyone to write will drive down the wages of writers. Writing is useful for anyone and everyone but only a tiny fraction of people who can write, actually write novels or even newspaper columns.

DolyGarcia -> Carl Christensen , 22 Sep 2017 19:24
Immigrants have always a big advantage over locals, for any company, including tech companies: the government makes sure that they will stay in their place and never complain about low salaries or bad working conditions because, you know what? If the company sacks you, an immigrant may be forced to leave the country where they live because their visa expires, which is never going to happen with a local. Companies always have more leverage over immigrants. Given a choice between more and less exploitable workers, companies will choose the most exploitable ones.

Which is something that Marx figured more than a century ago, and why he insisted that socialism had to be international, which led to the founding of the First International Socialist. If worker's fights didn't go across country boundaries, companies would just play people from one country against the other. Unfortunately, at some point in time socialists forgot this very important fact.

xxxFred -> Tomix Da Vomix , 22 Sep 2017 18:52
SO what's wrong with having lots of people able to code? The only argument you seem to have is that it'll lower wages. So do you think that we should stop teaching writing skills so that journalists can be paid more? And no one os going to "force" kids into high-level abstract coding practices in kindergarten, fgs. But there is ample empirical proof that young children can learn basic principles. In fact the younger that children are exposed to anything, the better they can enhance their skills adn knowlege of it later in life, and computing concepts are no different.
Tomix Da Vomix -> xxxFred , 22 Sep 2017 18:40
You're completely missing the point. Kids are forced into the programming field (even STEM as a more general term), before they evolve their abstract reasoning. For that matter, you're not producing highly skilled people, but functional imbeciles and a decent labor that will eventually lower the wages.
Conspiracy theory? So Google, FB and others paying hundreds of millions of dollars for forming a cartel to lower the wages is not true? It sounds me that you're sounding more like a 1969 denier that Guardian is. Tech companies are not financing those incentives because they have a good soul. Their primary drive has always been money, otherwise they wouldn't sell your personal data to earn money.

But hey, you can always sleep peacefully when your kid becomes a coder. When he is 50, everyone will want to have a Cobol, Ada programmer with 25 years of experience when you can get 16 year old kid from a high school for 1/10 of a price. Go back to sleep...

Carl Christensen -> xxxFred , 22 Sep 2017 16:49
it's ridiculous because even out of a pool of computer science B.Sc. or M.Sc. grads - companies are only interested in the top 10%. Even the most mundane company with crappy IT jobs swears that they only hire "the best and the brightest."
Carl Christensen , 22 Sep 2017 16:47
It's basically a con-job by the big Silicon Valley companies offshoring as many US jobs as they can, or "inshoring" via exploitation of the H1B visa - so they can say "see, we don't have 'qualified' people in the US - maybe when these kids learn to program in a generation." As if American students haven't been coding for decades -- and saw their salaries plummet as the H1B visa and Indian offshore firms exploded......
Declawed -> KDHughes , 22 Sep 2017 16:40
Dude, stow the attitude. I've tested code from various entities, and seen every kind of crap peddled as gold.

But I've also seen a little 5-foot giggly lady with two kids, grumble a bit and save a $100,000 product by rewriting another coder's man-month of work in a few days, without any flaws or cracks. Almost nobody will ever know she did that. She's so far beyond my level it hurts.

And yes, the author knows nothing. He's genuinely crying wolf while knee-deep in amused wolves. The last time I was in San Jose, years ago , the room was already full of people with Indian surnames. If the problem was REALLY serious, a programmer from POLAND was called in.

If you think fighting for a violinist spot is hard, try fighting for it with every spare violinist in the world . I am training my Indian replacement to do my job right now . At least the public can appreciate a good violin. Can you appreciate Duff's device ?

So by all means, don't teach local kids how to think in a straight line, just in case they make a dent in the price of wages IN INDIA.... *sheesh*

Declawed -> IanMcLzzz , 22 Sep 2017 15:35
That's the best possible summarisation of this extremely dumb article. Bravo.

For those who don't know how to think of coding, like the article author, here's a few analogies :

A computer is a box that replays frozen thoughts, quickly. That is all.

Coding is just the art of explaining. Anyone who can explain something patiently and clearly, can code. Anyone who can't, can't.

Making hardware is very much like growing produce while blind. Making software is very much like cooking that produce while blind.

Imagine looking after a room full of young eager obedient children who only do exactly, *exactly*, what you told them to do, but move around at the speed of light. Imagine having to try to keep them from smashing into each other or decapitating themselves on the corners of tables, tripping over toys and crashing into walls, etc, while you get them all to play games together.

The difference between a good coder and a bad coder is almost life and death. Imagine a broth prepared with ingredients from a dozen co-ordinating geniuses and one idiot, that you'll mass produce. The soup is always far worse for the idiot's additions. The more cooks you involve, the more chance your mass produced broth will taste bad.

People who hire coders, typically can't tell a good coder from a bad coder.

Zach Dyer -> Mystik Al , 22 Sep 2017 15:18
Tech jobs will probably always be available long after your gone or until another mass extinction.
edmundberk -> AmyInNH , 22 Sep 2017 14:59
No you do it in your own time. If you're not prepared to put in long days IT is not for you in any case. It was ever thus, but more so now due to offshoring - rather than the rather obscure forces you seem to believe are important.
WithoutPurpose -> freeandfair , 22 Sep 2017 13:21
Bit more rhan that.
peter nelson -> offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 12:44
Sorry, offworldguy, but you're losing this one really badly. I'm a professional software engineer in my 60's and I know lots of non-professionals in my age range who write little programs, scripts and apps for fun. I know this because they often contact me for help or advice.

So you've now been told by several people in this thread that ordinary people do code for fun or recreation. The fact that you don't know any probably says more about your network of friends and acquaintances than about the general population.

xxxFred , 22 Sep 2017 12:18
This is one of the daftest articles I've come across in a long while.
If it's possible that so many kids can be taught to code well enough so that wages come down, then that proves that the only reason we've been paying so much for development costs is the scarcity of people able to do it, not that it's intrinsically so hard that only a select few could anyway. In which case, there is no ethical argument for keeping the pools of skilled workers to some select group. Anyone able to do it should have an equal opportunity to do it.
What is the argument for not teaching coding (other than to artificially keep wages high)? Why not stop teaching the three R's, in order to boost white-collar wages in general?
Computing is an ever-increasingly intrinsic part of life, and people need to understand it at all levels. It is not just unfair, but tantamount to neglect, to fail to teach children all the skills they may require to cope as adults.
Having said that, I suspect that in another generation or two a good many lower-level coding jobs will be redundant anyway, with such code being automatically generated, and "coders" at this level will be little more than technicians setting various parameters. Even so, understanding the basics behind computing is a part of understanding the world they live in, and every child needs that.
Suggesting that teaching coding is some kind of conspiracy to force wages down is well, it makes the moon-landing conspiracy looks sensible by comparison.
timrichardson -> offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 12:16
I think it is important to demystify advanced technology, I think that has importance in its own right.Plus, schools should expose kids to things which may spark their interest. Not everyone who does a science project goes on years later to get a PhD, but you'd think that it makes it more likely. Same as giving a kid some music lessons. There is a big difference between serious coding and the basic steps needed to automate a customer service team or a marketing program, but the people who have some mastery over automation will have an advantage in many jobs. Advanced machines are clearly going to be a huge part of our future. What should we do about it, if not teach kids how to understand these tools?
rogerfederere -> William Payne , 22 Sep 2017 12:13
tl;dr.
Mystik Al , 22 Sep 2017 12:08
As automation is about to put 40% of the workforce permanently out of work getting into to tech seems like a good idea!
timrichardson , 22 Sep 2017 12:04
This is like arguing that teaching kids to write is nothing more than a plot to flood the market for journalists. Teaching first aid and CPR does not make everyone a doctor.
Coding is an essential skill for many jobs already: 50 years ago, who would have thought you needed coders to make movies? Being a software engineer, a serious coder, is hard. IN fact, it takes more than technical coding to be a software engineer: you can learn to code in a week. Software Engineering is a four year degree, and even then you've just started a career. But depriving kids of some basic insights may mean they won't have the basic skills needed in the future, even for controlling their car and house. By all means, send you kids to a school that doesn't teach coding. I won't.
James Jones -> vimyvixen , 22 Sep 2017 11:41
Did you learn SNOBOL, or is Snowball a language I'm not familiar with? (Entirely possible, as an American I never would have known Extended Mercury Autocode existed we're it not for a random book acquisition at my home town library when I was a kid.)
William Payne , 22 Sep 2017 11:17
The tide that is transforming technology jobs from "white collar professional" into "blue collar industrial" is part of a larger global economic cycle.

Successful "growth" assets inevitably transmogrify into "value" and "income" assets as they progress through the economic cycle. The nature of their work transforms also. No longer focused on innovation; on disrupting old markets or forging new ones; their fundamental nature changes as they mature into optimising, cost reducing, process oriented and most importantly of all -- dividend paying -- organisations.

First, the market invests. And then, .... it squeezes.

Immature companies must invest in their team; must inspire them to be innovative so that they can take the creative risks required to create new things. This translates into high skills, high wages and "white collar" social status.

Mature, optimising companies on the other hand must necessarily avoid risks and seek variance-minimising predictability. They seek to control their human resources; to eliminate creativity; to to make the work procedural, impersonal and soulless. This translates into low skills, low wages and "blue collar" social status.

This is a fundamental part of the economic cycle; but it has been playing out on the global stage which has had the effect of hiding some of its' effects.

Over the past decades, technology knowledge and skills have flooded away from "high cost" countries and towards "best cost" countries at a historically significant rate. Possibly at the maximum rate that global infrastructure and regional skills pools can support. Much of this necessarily inhumane and brutal cost cutting and deskilling has therefore been hidden by the tide of outsourcing and offshoring. It is hard to see the nature of the jobs change when the jobs themselves are changing hands at the same time.

The ever tighter ratchet of dehumanising industrialisation; productivity and efficiency continues apace, however, and as our global system matures and evens out, we see the seeds of what we have sown sail home from over the sea.

Technology jobs in developed nations have been skewed towards "growth" activities since for the past several decades most "value" and "income" activities have been carried out in developing nations. Now, we may be seeing the early preparations for the diffusion of that skewed, uneven and unsustainable imbalance.

The good news is that "Growth" activities are not going to disappear from the world. They just may not be so geographically concentrated as they are today. Also, there is a significant and attention-worthy argument that the re-balancing of skills will result in a more flexible and performant global economy as organisations will better be able to shift a wider variety of work around the world to regions where local conditions (regulation, subsidy, union activity etc...) are supportive.

For the individuals concerned it isn't going to be pretty. And of course it is just another example of the race to the bottom that pits states and public sector purse-holders against one another to win the grace and favour of globally mobile employers.

As a power play move it has a sort of inhumanly psychotic inevitability to it which is quite awesome to observe.

I also find it ironic that the only way to tame the leviathan that is the global free-market industrial system might actually be effective global governance and international cooperation within a rules-based system.

Both "globalist" but not even slightly both the same thing.

Vereto -> Wiretrip , 22 Sep 2017 11:17
not just coders, it put even IT Ops guys into this bin. Basically good old - so you are working with computers sentence I used to hear a lot 10-15 years ago.
Sangmin , 22 Sep 2017 11:15
You can teach everyone how to code but it doesn't necessarily mean everyone will be able to work as one. We all learn math but that doesn't mean we're all mathematicians. We all know how to write but we're not all professional writers.

I have a graduate degree in CS and been to a coding bootcamp. Not everyone's brain is wired to become a successful coder. There is a particular way how coders think. Quality of a product will stand out based on these differences.

Vereto -> Jared Hall , 22 Sep 2017 11:12
Very hyperbolic is to assume that the profit in those companies is done by decreasing wages. In my company the profit is driven by ability to deliver products to the market. And that is limited by number of top people (not just any coder) you can have.
KDHughes -> kcrane , 22 Sep 2017 11:06
You realise that the arts are massively oversupplied and that most artists earn very little, if anything? Which is sort of like the situation the author is warning about. But hey, he knows nothing. Congratulations, though, on writing one of the most pretentious posts I've ever read on CIF.
offworldguy -> Melissa Boone , 22 Sep 2017 10:21
So you know kids, college age people and software developers who enjoy doing it in their leisure time? Do you know any middle aged mothers, fathers, grandparents who enjoy it and are not software developers?

Sorry, I don't see coding as a leisure pursuit that is going to take off beyond a very narrow demographic and if it becomes apparent (as I believe it will) that there is not going to be a huge increase in coding job opportunities then it will likely wither in schools too, perhaps replaced by music lessons.

Bread Eater , 22 Sep 2017 10:02
From their perspective yes. But there are a lot of opportunities in tech so it does benefit students looking for jobs.
Melissa Boone -> jamesbro , 22 Sep 2017 10:00
No, because software developer probably fail more often than they succeed. Building anything worthwhile is an iterative process. And it's not just the compiler but the other devs, oyur designer, your PM, all looking at your work.
Melissa Boone -> peterainbow , 22 Sep 2017 09:57
It's not shallow or lazy. I also work at a tech company and it's pretty common to do that across job fields. Even in HR marketing jobs, we hire students who can't point to an internship or other kind of experience in college, not simply grades.
Vereto -> savingUK , 22 Sep 2017 09:50
It will take ages, the issue of Indian programmers is in the education system and in "Yes boss" culture.

But on the other hand most of Americans are just as bad as Indians

Melissa Boone -> offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 09:50
A lot of people do find it fun. I know many kids - high school and young college age - who code in the leisure time because they find it pleasurable to make small apps and video games. I myself enjoy it too. Your argument is like saying since you don't like to read books in your leisure time, nobody else must.

The point is your analogy isn't a good one - people who learn to code can not only enjoy it in their spare time just like music, but they can also use it to accomplish all kinds of basic things. I have a friend who's a software developer who has used code to program his Roomba to vacuum in a specific pattern and to play Candy Land with his daughter when they lost the spinner.

Owlyrics -> CapTec , 22 Sep 2017 09:44
Creativity could be added to your list. Anyone can push a button but only a few can invent a new one.
One company in the US (after it was taken over by a new owner) decided it was more profitable to import button pushers from off-shore, they lost 7 million customers (gamers) and had to employ more of the original American developers to maintain their high standard and profits.
Owlyrics -> Maclon , 22 Sep 2017 09:40
Masters is the new Bachelors.
Maclon , 22 Sep 2017 09:22
So similar to 500k a year people going to university ( UK) now when it used to be 60k people a year( 1980). There was never enough graduate jobs in 1980 so can't see where the sudden increase in need for graduates has come from.
PaulDavisTheFirst -> Ethan Hawkins , 22 Sep 2017 09:17

They aren't really crucial pieces of technology except for their popularity

It's early in the day for me, but this is the most ridiculous thing I've read so far, and I suspect it will be high up on the list by the end of the day.

There's no technology that is "crucial" unless it's involved in food, shelter or warmth. The rest has its "crucialness" decided by how widespread its use is, and in the case of those 3 languages, the answer is "very".

You (or I) might not like that very much, but that's how it is.

Julian Williams -> peter nelson , 22 Sep 2017 09:12
My benchmark would be if the average new graduate in the discipline earns more or less than one of the "professions", Law, medicine, Economics etc. The short answer is that they don't. Indeed, in my experience of professions, many good senior SW developers, say in finance, are paid markedly less than the marketing manager, CTO etc. who are often non-technical.

My benchmark is not "has a car, house etc." but what does 10, 15 20 years of experience in the area generate as a relative income to another profession, like being a GP or a corporate solicitor or a civil servant (which is usually the benchmark academics use for pay scaling). It is not to denigrate, just to say that markets don't always clear to a point where the most skilled are the highest paid.

I was also suggesting that even if you are not intending to work in the SW area, being able to translate your imagination into a program that reflects your ideas is a nice life skill.

AmyInNH -> freeandfair , 22 Sep 2017 09:05
Your assumption has no basis in reality. In my experience, as soon as Clinton ramped up H1Bs, my employer would invite 6 same college/degree/curriculum in for interviews, 5 citizen, 1 foreign student and default offer to foreign student without asking interviewers a single question about the interview. Eventually, the skipped the farce of interviewing citizens all together. That was in 1997, and it's only gotten worse. Wall St's been pretty blunt lately. Openly admits replacing US workers for import labor, as it's the "easiest" way to "grow" the economy, even though they know they are ousting citizens from their jobs to do so.
AmyInNH -> peter nelson , 22 Sep 2017 08:59
"People who get Masters and PhD's in computer science" Feed western universities money, for degree programs that would otherwise not exist, due to lack of market demand. "someone has a Bachelor's in CS" As citizens, having the same college/same curriculum/same grades, as foreign grad. But as citizens, they have job market mobility, and therefore are shunned. "you can make something real and significant on your own" If someone else is paying your rent, food and student loans while you do so.
Ethan Hawkins -> farabundovive , 22 Sep 2017 07:40
While true, it's not the coders' fault. The managers and execs above them have intentionally created an environment where these things are secondary. What's primary is getting the stupid piece of garbage out the door for Q profit outlook. Ship it amd patch it.
offworldguy -> millartant , 22 Sep 2017 07:38
Do most people find it fun? I can code. I don't find it 'fun'. Thirty years ago as a young graduate I might have found it slightly fun but the 'fun' wears off pretty quick.
Ethan Hawkins -> anticapitalist , 22 Sep 2017 07:35
In my estimation PHP is an utter abomination. Python is just a little better but still very bad. Ruby is a little better but still not at all good.

Languages like PHP, Python and JS are popular for banging out prototypes and disposable junk, but you greatly overestimate their importance. They aren't really crucial pieces of technology except for their popularity and while they won't disappear they won't age well at all. Basically they are big long-lived fads. Java is now over 20 years old and while Java 8 is not crucial, the JVM itself actually is crucial. It might last another 20 years or more. Look for more projects like Ceylon, Scala and Kotlin. We haven't found the next step forward yet, but it's getting more interesting, especially around type systems.

A strong developer will be able to code well in a half dozen languages and have fairly decent knowledge of a dozen others. For me it's been many years of: Z80, x86, C, C++, Java. Also know some Perl, LISP, ANTLR, Scala, JS, SQL, Pascal, others...

millartant -> Islingtonista , 22 Sep 2017 07:26
You need a decent IDE
millartant -> offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 07:24

One is hardly likely to 'do a bit of coding' in ones leisure time

Why not? The right problem is a fun and rewarding puzzle to solve. I spend a lot of my leisure time "doing a bit of coding"

Ethan Hawkins -> Wiretrip , 22 Sep 2017 07:12
The worst of all are the academics (on average).
Ethan Hawkins -> KatieL , 22 Sep 2017 07:09
This makes people like me with 35 years of experience shipping products on deadlines up and down every stack (from device drivers and operating systems to programming languages, platforms and frameworks to web, distributed computing, clusters, big data and ML) so much more valuable. Been there, done that.
Ethan Hawkins -> Taylor Dotson , 22 Sep 2017 07:01
It's just not true. In SV there's this giant vacuum created by Apple, Google, FB, etc. Other good companies struggle to fill positions. I know from being on the hiring side at times.
TheBananaBender -> peter nelson , 22 Sep 2017 07:00
You don't work for a major outsourcer then like Serco, Atos, Agilisys
offworldguy -> LabMonkey , 22 Sep 2017 06:59
Plenty of people? I don't know of a single person outside of my work which is teaming with programmers. Not a single friend, not my neighbours, not my wife or her extended family, not my parents. Plenty of people might do it but most people don't.
Ethan Hawkins -> finalcentury , 22 Sep 2017 06:56
Your ignorance of coding is showing. Coding IS creative.
Ricardo111 -> peter nelson , 22 Sep 2017 06:56
Agreed: by gifted I did not meant innate. It's more of a mix of having the interest, the persistence, the time, the opportunity and actually enjoying that kind of challenge.

While some of those things are to a large extent innate personality traits, others are not and you don't need max of all of them, you just need enough to drive you to explore that domain.

That said, somebody that goes into coding purelly for the money and does it for the money alone is extremely unlikelly to become an exceptional coder.

Ricardo111 -> eirsatz , 22 Sep 2017 06:50
I'm as senior as they get and have interviewed quite a lot of programmers for several positions, including for Technical Lead (in fact, to replace me) and so far my experience leads me to believe that people who don't have a knack for coding are much less likely to expose themselves to many different languages and techniques, and also are less experimentalist, thus being far less likely to have those moments of transcending merely being aware of the visible and obvious to discover the concerns and concepts behind what one does. Without those moments that open the door to the next Universe of concerns and implications, one cannot do state transitions such as Coder to Technical Designer or Technical Designer to Technical Architect.

Sure, you can get the title and do the things from the books, but you will not get WHY are those things supposed to work (and when they will not work) and thus cannot adjust to new conditions effectively and will be like a sailor that can't sail away from sight of the coast since he can't navigate.

All this gets reflected in many things that enhance productivity, from the early ability to quickly piece together solutions for a new problem out of past solutions for different problems to, later, conceiving software architecture designs fittted to the typical usage pattern in the industry for which the software is going to be made.

LabMonkey , 22 Sep 2017 06:50
From the way our IT department is going, needing millions of coders is not the future. It'll be a minority of developers at the top, and an army of low wage monkeys at the bottom who can troubleshoot from a script - until AI comes along that can code faster and more accurately.
LabMonkey -> offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 06:46

One is hardly likely to 'do a bit of coding' in ones leisure time

Really? I've programmed a few simple videogames in my spare time. Plenty of people do.

CapTec , 22 Sep 2017 06:29
Interesting piece that's fundamentally flawed. I'm a software engineer myself. There is a reason a University education of a minimum of three years is the base line for a junior developer or 'coder'.

Software engineering isn't just writing code. I would say 80% of my time is spent designing and structuring software before I even touch the code.

Explaining software engineering as a discipline at a high level to people who don't understand it is simple.

Most of us who learn to drive learn a few basics about the mechanics of a car. We know that brake pads need to be replaced, we know that fuel is pumped into an engine when we press the gas pedal. Most of us know how to change a bulb if it blows.

The vast majority of us wouldn't be able to replace a head gasket or clutch though. Just knowing the basics isn't enough to make you a mechanic.

Studying in school isn't enough to produce software engineers. Software engineering isn't just writing code, it's cross discipline. We also need to understand the science behind the computer, we need too understand logic, data structures, timings, how to manage memory, security, how databases work etc.

A few years of learning at school isn't nearly enough, a degree isn't enough on its own due to the dynamic and ever evolving nature of software engineering. Schools teach technology that is out of date and typically don't explain the science very well.

This is why most companies don't want new developers, they want people with experience and multiple skills.

Programming is becoming cool and people think that because of that it's easy to become a skilled developer. It isn't. It takes time and effort and most kids give up.

French was on the national curriculum when I was at school. Most people including me can't hold a conversation in French though.

Ultimately there is a SKILL shortage. And that's because skill takes a long time, successes and failures to acquire. Most people just give up.

This article is akin to saying 'schools are teaching basic health to reduce the wages of Doctors'. It didn't happen.

offworldguy -> thecurio , 22 Sep 2017 06:19
There is a difference. When you teach people music you teach a skill that can be used for a lifetimes enjoyment. One might sit at a piano in later years and play. One is hardly likely to 'do a bit of coding' in ones leisure time.

The other thing is how good are people going to get at coding and how long will they retain the skill if not used? I tend to think maths is similar to coding and most adults have pretty terrible maths skills not venturing far beyond arithmetic. Not many remember how to solve a quadratic equation or even how to rearrange some algebra.

One more thing is we know that if we teach people music they will find a use for it, if only in their leisure time. We don't know that coding will be in any way useful because we don't know if there will be coding jobs in the future. AI might take over coding but we know that AI won't take over playing piano for pleasure.

If we want to teach logical thinking then I think maths has always done this and we should make sure people are better at maths.

Alex Mackaness , 22 Sep 2017 06:08
Am I missing something here? Being able to code is a skill that is a useful addition to the skill armoury of a youngster entering the work place. Much like reading, writing, maths... Not only is it directly applicable and pervasive in our modern world, it is built upon logic.

The important point is that American schools are not ONLY teaching youngsters to code, and producing one dimensional robots... instead coding makes up one part of their overall skill set. Those who wish to develop their coding skills further certainly can choose to do so. Those who specialise elsewhere are more than likely to have found the skills they learnt whilst coding useful anyway.

I struggle to see how there is a hidden capitalist agenda here. I would argue learning the basics of coding is simply becoming seen as an integral part of the school curriculum.

thecurio , 22 Sep 2017 05:56
The word "coding" is shorthand for "computer programming" or "software development" and it masks the depth and range of skills that might be required, depending on the application.

This subtlety is lost, I think, on politicians and perhaps the general public. Asserting that teaching lots of people to code is a sneaky way to commodotise an industry might have some truth to it, but remember that commodotisation (or "sharing and re-use" as developers might call it) is nothing new. The creation of freely available and re-usable software components and APIs has driven innovation, and has put much power in the hands of developers who would not otherwise have the skill or time to tackle such projects.

There's nothing to fear from teaching more people to "code", just as there's nothing to fear from teaching more people to "play music". These skills simply represent points on a continuum.

There's room for everyone, from the kid on a kazoo all the way to Coltrane at the Village Vanguard.

sbw7 -> ragingbull , 22 Sep 2017 05:44
I taught CS. Out of around 100 graduates I'd say maybe 5 were reasonable software engineers. The rest would be fine in tech support or other associated trades, but not writing software. Its not just a set of trainable skills, its a set of attitudes and ways of perceiving and understanding that just aren't that common.
offworldguy , 22 Sep 2017 05:02
I can't understand the rush to teach coding in schools. First of all I don't think we are going to be a country of millions of coders and secondly if most people have the skills then coding is hardly going to be a well paid job. Thirdly you can learn coding from scratch after school like people of my generation did. You could argue that it is part of a well rounded education but then it is as important for your career as learning Shakespeare, knowing what an oxbow lake is or being able to do calculus: most jobs just won't need you to know.
savingUK -> yannick95 , 22 Sep 2017 04:35
While you roll on the floor laughing, these countries will slowly but surely get their act together. That is how they work. There are top quality coders over there and they will soon promoted into a position to organise the others.

You are probably too young to remember when people laughed at electronic products when they were made in Japan then Taiwan. History will repeat it's self.

zii000 -> JohnFreidburg , 22 Sep 2017 04:04
Yes it's ironic and no different here in the UK. Traditionally Labour was the party focused on dividing the economic pie more fairly, Tories on growing it for the benefit of all. It's now completely upside down with Tories paying lip service to the idea of pay rises but in reality supporting this deflationary race to the bottom, hammering down salaries and so shrinking discretionary spending power which forces price reductions to match and so more pressure on employers to cut costs ... ad infinitum.
Labour now favour policies which would cause an expansion across the entire economy through pay rises and dramatically increased investment with perhaps more tolerance of inflation to achieve it.
ID0193985 -> jamesbro , 22 Sep 2017 03:46
Not surprising if they're working for a company that is cold-calling people - which should be banned in my opinion. Call centres providing customer support are probably less abuse-heavy since the customer is trying to get something done.
vimyvixen , 22 Sep 2017 02:04
I taught myself to code in 1974. Fortran, COBOL were first. Over the years as a aerospace engineer I coded in numerous languages ranging from PLM, Snowball, Basic, and more assembly languages than I can recall, not to mention deep down in machine code on more architectures than most know even existed. Bottom line is that coding is easy. It doesn't take a genius to code, just another way of thinking. Consider all the bugs in the software available now. These "coders", not sufficiently trained need adult supervision by engineers who know what they are doing for computer systems that are important such as the electrical grid, nuclear weapons, and safety critical systems. If you want to program toy apps then code away, if you want to do something important learn engineering AND coding.
Dwight Spencer , 22 Sep 2017 01:44
Laughable. It takes only an above-average IQ to code. Today's coders are akin to the auto mechanics of the 1950s where practically every high school had auto shop instruction . . . nothing but a source of cheap labor for doing routine implementations of software systems using powerful code libraries built by REAL software engineers.
sieteocho -> Islingtonista , 22 Sep 2017 01:19
That's a bit like saying that calculus is more valuable than arithmetic, so why teach children arithmetic at all?

Because without the arithmetic, you're not going to get up to the calculus.

JohnFreidburg -> Tommyward , 22 Sep 2017 01:15
I disagree. Technology firms are just like other firms. Why then the collusion not to pay more to workers coming from other companies? To believe that they are anything else is naive. The author is correct. We need policies that actually grow the economy and not leaders who cave to what the CEOs want like Bill Clinton did. He brought NAFTA at the behest of CEOs and all it ended up doing was ripping apart the rust belt and ushering in Trump.
Tommyward , 22 Sep 2017 00:53
So the media always needs some bad guys to write about, and this month they seem to have it in for the tech industry. The article is BS. I interview a lot of people to join a large tech company, and I can guarantee you that we aren't trying to find cheaper labor, we're looking for the best talent.

I know that lots of different jobs have been outsourced to low cost areas, but these days the top companies are instead looking for the top talent globally.

I see this article as a hit piece against Silicon Valley, and it doesn't fly in the face of the evidence.

finalcentury , 22 Sep 2017 00:46
This has got to be the most cynical and idiotic social interest piece I have ever read in the Guardian. Once upon a time it was very helpful to learn carpentry and machining, but now, even if you are learning those, you will get a big and indispensable headstart if you have some logic and programming skills. The fact is, almost no matter what you do, you can apply logic and programming skills to give you an edge. Even journalists.
hoplites99 , 22 Sep 2017 00:02
Yup, rings true. I've been in hi tech for over 40 years and seen the changes. I was in Silicon Valley for 10 years on a startup. India is taking over, my current US company now has a majority Indian executive and is moving work to India. US politicians push coding to drive down wages to Indian levels.

On the bright side I am old enough and established enough to quit tomorrow, its someone else's problem, but I still despise those who have sold us out, like the Clintons, the Bushes, the Googoids, the Zuckerboids.

liberalquilt -> yannick95 , 21 Sep 2017 23:45
Sure markets existed before governments, but capitalism didn't, can't in fact. It needs the organs of state, the banking system, an education system, and an infrastructure.
thegarlicfarmer -> canprof , 21 Sep 2017 23:36
Then teach them other things but not coding! Here in Australia every child of school age has to learn coding. Now tell me that everyone of them will need it? Look beyond computers as coding will soon be automated just like every other job.
Islingtonista , 21 Sep 2017 22:25
If you have never coded then you will not appreciate how labour intensive it is. Coders effectively use line editors to type in, line by line, the instructions. And syntax is critical; add a comma when you meant a semicolon and the code doesn't work properly. Yeah, we use frameworks and libraries of already written subroutines, but, in the end, it is all about manually typing in the code.

Which is an expensive way of doing things (hence the attractions of 'off-shoring' the coding task to low cost economies in Asia).

And this is why teaching kids to code is a waste of time.

Already, AI based systems are addressing the task of interpreting high level design models and simply generating the required application.

One of the first uses templates and a smart chatbot to enable non-tech business people to build their websites. By describe in non-coding terms what they want, the chatbot is able to assemble the necessary components and make the requisite template amendments to build a working website.

Much cheaper than hiring expensive coders to type it all in manually.

It's early days yet, but coding may well be one of the big losers to AI automation along with all those back office clerical jobs.

Teaching kids how to think about design rather than how to code would be much more valuable.

jamesbro -> peter nelson , 21 Sep 2017 21:31
Thick-skinned? Just because you might get a few error messages from the compiler? Call centre workers have to put up with people telling them to fuck off eight hours a day.
Joshua Ian Lee , 21 Sep 2017 21:03
Spot on. Society will never need more than 1% of its people to code. We will need far more garbage men. There are only so many (relatively) good jobs to go around and its about competing to get them.
canprof , 21 Sep 2017 20:53
I'm a professor (not of computer science) and yet, I try to give my students a basic understanding of algorithms and logic, to spark an interest and encourage them towards programming. I have no skin in the game, except that I've seen unemployment first-hand, and want them to avoid it. The best chance most of them have is to learn to code.
Evelita , 21 Sep 2017 14:35
Educating youth does not drive wages down. It drives our economy up. China, India, and other countries are training youth in programming skills. Educating our youth means that they will be able to compete globally. This is the standard GOP stand that we don't need to educate our youth, but instead fantasize about high-paying manufacturing jobs miraculously coming back.

Many jobs, including new manufacturing jobs have an element of coding because they are automated. Other industries require coding skills to maintain web sites and keep computer systems running. Learning coding skills opens these doors.

Coding teaches logic, an essential thought process. Learning to code, like learning anything, increases the brains ability to adapt to new environments which is essential to our survival as a species. We must invest in educating our youth.

cwblackwell , 21 Sep 2017 13:38
"Contrary to public perception, the economy doesn't actually need that many more programmers." This really looks like a straw man introducing a red herring. A skill can be extremely valuable for those who do not pursue it as a full time profession.

The economy doesn't actually need that many more typists, pianists, mathematicians, athletes, dietitians. So, clearly, teaching typing, the piano, mathematics, physical education, and nutrition is a nefarious plot to drive down salaries in those professions. None of those skills could possibly enrich the lives or enhance the productivity of builders, lawyers, public officials, teachers, parents, or store managers.

DJJJJJC , 21 Sep 2017 14:23

A study by the Economic Policy Institute found that the supply of American college graduates with computer science degrees is 50% greater than the number hired into the tech industry each year.

You're assuming that all those people are qualified to work in software because they have a piece of paper that says so, but that's not a valid assumption. The quality of computer science degree courses is generally poor, and most people aren't willing or able to teach themselves. Universities are motivated to award degrees anyway because if they only awarded degrees to students who are actually qualified then that would reflect very poorly on their quality of teaching.

A skills shortage doesn't mean that everyone who claims to have a skill gets hired and there are still some jobs left over that aren't being done. It means that employers are forced to hire people who are incompetent in order to fill all their positions. Many people who get jobs in programming can't really do it and do nothing but create work for everyone else. That's why most of the software you use every day doesn't work properly. That's why competent programmers' salaries are still high in spite of the apparently large number of "qualified" people who aren't employed as programmers.

[Sep 11, 2017] Neoliberalism is creating loneliness. That's what is wrenching society apart by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do. ..."
"... A recent survey in England suggests that one in four women between 16 and 24 have harmed themselves, and one in eight now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder affect 26% of women in this age group. This is what a public health crisis looks like. ..."
"... Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction. ..."
"... Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement. ..."
"... It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It's more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is a project that explicitly aims, and has achieved, the undermining and elimination of social networks in favour of market competition ..."
"... In practice, loosening social and legal institutions has reduced social security (in the general sense rather than simply welfare payments) and encouraged the limitation of social interaction to money based activity ..."
"... All powerful institutions have a vested interest in keeping us atomized and individualistic. The gangs at the top don't want competition. They're afraid of us. In particular, they're afraid of men organising into gangs. That's where this very paper comes in ..."
"... The alienation genie was out of the bottle with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and mass migration to cities began and we abandoned living in village communities ..."
"... Neoliberalism expressly encourages 'atomisation'- it is all about reducing human interaction to markets. And so this is just one of the reasons that neoliberalism is such a bunk philosophy. ..."
"... My stab at an answer would first question the notion that we are engaging in anything. That presupposes we are making the choices. Those who set out the options are the ones that make the choices. We are being engaged by the grotesquely privileged and the pathologically greedy in an enterprise that profits them still further. It suits the 1% very well strategically, for obvious reasons, that the 99% don't swap too many ideas with each other. ..."
"... According to Robert Putnam, as societies become more ethnically diverse they lose social capital, contributing to the type of isolation and loneliness which George describes. Doesn't sound as evil as neoliberalism I suppose. ..."
"... multiculturalism is a direct result of Neoliberalism. The market rules and people are secondary. Everything must be done for business owners, and that everything means access to cheap labor. ..."
"... I'd have thought what he really wants to say is that loneliness as a phenomenon in modern Western society arises out of an intent on the part of our political and social elites to divide us all into competing against one another, as individuals and as members of groups, all the better to keep us under control and prevent us from working together to claim our fair share of resources. ..."
"... Has it occurred to you that the collapse in societal values has allowed 'neo-liberalism' to take hold? ..."
"... No. It has been the concentrated propaganda of the "free" press. Rupert Murdoch in particular, but many other well-funded organisations working in the background over 50 years. They are winning. ..."
"... We're fixated on a magical, abstract concept called "the economy". Everything must be done to help "the economy", even if this means adults working through their weekends, neglecting their children, neglecting their elderly parents, eating at their desks, getting diabetes, breaking down from stress, and giving up on a family life. ..."
"... You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. ..."
"... As can be seen from many of the posts, neo-liberalism depends on, and fosters, ignorance, an inability to see things from historical and different perspectives and social and intellectual disciplines. On a sociological level how other societies are arranged throws up interesting comparisons. Scandanavian countries, which have mostly avoided neo-liberalism by and large, are happier, healthier places to live. America and eastern countries arranged around neo-liberal, market driven individualism, are unhappy places, riven with mental and physical health problems and many more social problems of violence, crime and suicide. ..."
"... The people who fosted this this system onto us, are now either very old or dead. We're living in the shadow of their revolutionary transformation of our more equitable post-war society. Hayek, Friedman, Keith Joseph, Thatcher, Greenspan and tangentially but very influentially Ayn Rand. Although a remainder (I love the wit of the term 'Remoaner') , Brexit can be better understood in the context of the death-knell of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Criticism of his hypotheses on this thread (where articualted at all) focus on the existence of solitude and loneliness prior to neo liberalism, which seems to me to be to deliberately miss his point: this was formerly a minor phenomenon, yet is now writ on an incredible scale - and it is a social phenomenon particular to those western economies whose elites have most enthusiastically embraced neo liberalism. ..."
"... We all want is to: (and feel we have the right to) wear the best clothes, have the foreign holidays, own the latest tech and eat the finest foods. At the same time our rights have increased and awareness of our responsibilities have minimized. The execution of common sense and an awareness that everything that goes wrong will always be someone else fault. ..."
"... We are not all special snowflakes, princesses or worthy of special treatment, but we act like self absorbed, entitled individuals. Whether that's entitled to benefits, the front of the queue or bumped into first because its our birthday! ..."
"... Unhealthy social interaction, yes. You can never judge what is natural to humans based on contemporary Britain. Anthropologists repeatedly find that what we think natural is merely a social construct created by the system we are subject to. ..."
"... We are becoming fearful of each other and I believe the insecurity we feel plays a part in this. ..."
"... We have become so disconnected from ourselves and focused on battling to stay afloat. Having experienced periods of severe stress due to lack of money I couldn't even begin to think about how I felt, how happy I was, what I really wanted to do with my life. I just had to pay my landlord, pay the bills and try and put some food on my table so everything else was totally neglected. ..."
"... We need a radical change of political thinking to focus on quality of life rather than obsession with the size of our economy. High levels of immigration of people who don't really integrate into their local communities has fractured our country along with the widening gap between rich and poor. Governments only see people in terms of their "economic value" - hence mothers being driven out to work, children driven into daycare and the elderly driven into care homes. Britain is becoming a soulless place - even our great British comedy is on the decline. ..."
"... Quality of life is far more important than GDP I agree but it is also far more important than inequality. ..."
"... Thatcher was only responsible for "letting it go" in Britain in 1980, but actually it was already racing ahead around the world. ..."
"... Eric Fromm made similar arguments to Monbiot about the psychological impact of modern capitalism (Fear of Freedom and The Sane Society) - although the Freudian element is a tad outdated. However, for all the faults of modern society, I'd rather be unhappy now than in say, Victorian England. Similarly, life in the West is preferable to the obvious alternatives. ..."
"... Whilst it's very important to understand how neoliberalism, the ideology that dare not speak it's name, derailed the general progress in the developed world. It's also necessary to understand that the roots this problem go much further back. Not merely to the start of the industrial revolution, but way beyond that. It actually began with the first civilizations when our societies were taken over by powerful rulers, and they essentially started to farm the people they ruled like cattle. On the one hand they declared themselves protector of their people, whilst ruthlessly exploiting them for their own political gain. I use the livestock farming analogy, because that explains what is going on. ..."
"... Neo-liberalism allows psychopaths to flourish, and it has been argued by Robert Hare that they are disproportionately represented in the highest echelons of society. So people who lack empathy and emotional attachment are probably weilding a significant amount of influence over the way our economy and society is organised. Is it any wonder that they advocate an economic model which is most conducive to their success? Things like job security, rigged markets, unions, and higher taxes on the rich simply get in their way. ..."
"... . Data suggests that inequality has widened massively over the last 30 years ( https://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/infographic-income-inequality-uk ) - as has social mobility ( https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/may/22/social-mobility-data-charts ). Homelessness has risen substantially since 1979. ..."
"... As a director and CEO of an organisation employing several hundred people I became aware that 40% of the staff lived alone and that the workplace was important to them not only for work but also for interacting with their colleagues socially . ..."
"... A thoughtful article. But the rich and powerful will ignore it; their doing very well out of neo liberalism thank you. Meanwhile many of those whose lives are affected by it don't want to know - they're happy with their bigger TV screen. Which of course is what the neoliberals want, 'keep the people happy and in the dark'. An old Roman tactic - when things weren't going too well for citizens and they were grumbling the leaders just extended the 'games'. Evidently it did the trick ..."
"... Sounds like the inevitable logical outcome of a society where the predator sociopathic and their scared prey are all that is allowed. This dynamic dualistic tautology, the slavish terrorised to sleep and bullying narcissistic individual, will always join together to protect their sick worldview by pathologising anything that will threaten their hegemony of power abuse: compassion, sensitivity, moral conscience, altruism and the immediate effects of the ruthless social effacement or punishment of the same ie human suffering. ..."
"... "Alienation, in all areas, has reached unprecedented heights; the social machinery for deluding consciousnesses in the interest of the ruling class has been perfected as never before. The media are loaded with upscale advertising identifying sophistication with speciousness. Television, in constant use, obliterates the concept under the image and permanently feeds a baseless credulity for events and history. Against the will of many students, school doesn't develop the highly cultivated critical capacities that a real sovereignty of the people would require. And so on. ..."
"... There's no question - neoliberalism has been wrenching society apart. It's not as if the prime movers of this ideology were unaware of the likely outcome viz. "there is no such thing as society" (Thatcher). Actually in retrospect the whole zeitgeist from the late 70s emphasised the atomised individual separated from the whole. Dawkins' "The Selfish Gene" (1976) may have been influential in creating that climate. ..."
"... I would add that the basic concepts of the Neoliberal New world order are fundamentally Evil, from the control of world population through supporting of strife starvation and war to financial inducements of persons in positions of power. Let us not forget the training of our younger members of our society who have been induced to a slavish love of technology. ..."
"... The kind of personal freedom that you say goes hand in hand with capitalism is an illusion for the majority of people. It holds up the prospect of that kind of freedom, but only a minority get access to it. ..."
"... Problems in society are not solved by having a one hour a week class on "self esteem". In fact self-esteem and self-worth comes from the things you do. ..."
"... Neoliberalism is the bastard child of globalization which in effect is Americanization. The basic premise is the individual is totally reliant on the corporate world state aided by a process of fear inducing mechanisms, pharmacology is one of the tools. No community no creativity no free thinking. Poded sealed and cling filmed a quasi existence. ..."
"... Having grown up during the Thatcher years, I entirely agree that neoliberalism has divided society by promoting individual self-optimisation at the expensive of everyone else. ..."
"... There is no such thing as a free-market society. Your society of 'self-interest' is really a state supported oligarchy. If you really want to live in a society where there is literally no state and a more or less open market try Somalia or a Latin American city run by drug lords - but even then there are hierarchies, state involvement, militias. ..."
"... Furthermore, a society in which people are encouraged to be narrowly selfish is just plain uncivilized. Since when have sociopathy and barbarism been something to aspire to? ..."
"... Why don't we explore some of the benefits?.. Following the long list of some the diseases, loneliness can inflict on individuals, there must be a surge in demand for all sort of medications; anti-depressants must be topping the list. There is a host many other anti-stress treatments available of which Big Pharma must be carving the lion's share. Examine the micro-economic impact immediately following a split or divorce. There is an instant doubling on the demand for accommodation, instant doubling on the demand for electrical and household items among many other products and services. But the icing on the cake and what is really most critical for Neoliberalism must be this: With the morale barometer hitting the bottom, people will be less likely to think of a better future, and therefore, less likely to protest. In fact, there is nothing left worth protecting. ..."
"... Your freedom has been curtailed. Your rights are evaporating in front of your eyes. And Best of all, from the authorities' perspective, there is no relationship to defend and there is no family to protect. If you have a job, you want to keep, you must prove your worthiness every day to 'a company'. ..."
Oct 12, 2016 | www.theguardian.com

What greater indictment of a system could there be than an epidemic of mental illness? Yet plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness now strike people down all over the world. The latest, catastrophic figures for children's mental health in England reflect a global crisis.

There are plenty of secondary reasons for this distress, but it seems to me that the underlying cause is everywhere the same: human beings, the ultrasocial mammals, whose brains are wired to respond to other people, are being peeled apart. Economic and technological change play a major role, but so does ideology. Though our wellbeing is inextricably linked to the lives of others, everywhere we are told that we will prosper through competitive self-interest and extreme individualism.

In Britain, men who have spent their entire lives in quadrangles – at school, at college, at the bar, in parliament – instruct us to stand on our own two feet. The education system becomes more brutally competitive by the year. Employment is a fight to the near-death with a multitude of other desperate people chasing ever fewer jobs. The modern overseers of the poor ascribe individual blame to economic circumstance. Endless competitions on television feed impossible aspirations as real opportunities contract.

Consumerism fills the social void. But far from curing the disease of isolation, it intensifies social comparison to the point at which, having consumed all else, we start to prey upon ourselves. Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing, and to see that other people have more friends and followers than we do.

As Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett has brilliantly documented, girls and young women routinely alter the photos they post to make themselves look smoother and slimmer. Some phones, using their "beauty" settings, do it for you without asking; now you can become your own thinspiration. Welcome to the post-Hobbesian dystopia: a war of everyone against themselves.

Social media brings us together and drives us apart, allowing us precisely to quantify our social standing

Is it any wonder, in these lonely inner worlds, in which touching has been replaced by retouching, that young women are drowning in mental distress? A recent survey in England suggests that one in four women between 16 and 24 have harmed themselves, and one in eight now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety, depression, phobias or obsessive compulsive disorder affect 26% of women in this age group. This is what a public health crisis looks like.

If social rupture is not treated as seriously as broken limbs, it is because we cannot see it. But neuroscientists can. A series of fascinating papers suggest that social pain and physical pain are processed by the same neural circuits. This might explain why, in many languages, it is hard to describe the impact of breaking social bonds without the words we use to denote physical pain and injury. In both humans and other social mammals, social contact reduces physical pain. This is why we hug our children when they hurt themselves: affection is a powerful analgesic. Opioids relieve both physical agony and the distress of separation. Perhaps this explains the link between social isolation and drug addiction.

Experiments summarised in the journal Physiology & Behaviour last month suggest that, given a choice of physical pain or isolation, social mammals will choose the former. Capuchin monkeys starved of both food and contact for 22 hours will rejoin their companions before eating. Children who experience emotional neglect, according to some findings, suffer worse mental health consequences than children suffering both emotional neglect and physical abuse: hideous as it is, violence involves attention and contact. Self-harm is often used as an attempt to alleviate distress: another indication that physical pain is not as bad as emotional pain. As the prison system knows only too well, one of the most effective forms of torture is solitary confinement.

It is not hard to see what the evolutionary reasons for social pain might be. Survival among social mammals is greatly enhanced when they are strongly bonded with the rest of the pack. It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators, or to starve. Just as physical pain protects us from physical injury, emotional pain protects us from social injury. It drives us to reconnect. But many people find this almost impossible.

It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat. It's more surprising to discover the range of physical illnesses it causes or exacerbates. Dementia, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, lowered resistance to viruses, even accidents are more common among chronically lonely people. Loneliness has a comparable impact on physical health to smoking 15 cigarettes a day: it appears to raise the risk of early death by 26%. This is partly because it enhances production of the stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses the immune system.

Studies in both animals and humans suggest a reason for comfort eating: isolation reduces impulse control, leading to obesity. As those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder are the most likely to suffer from loneliness, might this provide one of the explanations for the strong link between low economic status and obesity?

Anyone can see that something far more important than most of the issues we fret about has gone wrong. So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain? Should this question not burn the lips of everyone in public life?

There are some wonderful charities doing what they can to fight this tide, some of which I am going to be working with as part of my loneliness project. But for every person they reach, several others are swept past.

This does not require a policy response. It requires something much bigger: the reappraisal of an entire worldview. Of all the fantasies human beings entertain, the idea that we can go it alone is the most absurd and perhaps the most dangerous. We stand together or we fall apart.

RachelL , 12 Oct 2016 03:57

Well its a bit of a stretch blaming neoliberalism for creating loneliness. Yet it seems to be the fashion today to imagine that the world we live in is new...only created just years ago. And all the suffering that we see now never existed before. Plagues of anxiety, stress, depression, social phobia, eating disorders, self-harm and loneliness never happened in the past, because everything was bright and shiny and world was good.

Regrettably history teaches us that suffering and deprivation have dogged mankind for centuries, if not tens of thousands of years. That's what we do; survive, persist...endure. Blaming 'neoliberalism' is a bit of cop-out. It's the human condition man, just deal with it.

B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 03:57
Some of the connections here are a bit tenuous, to say the least, including the link to political ideology. Economic liberalism is usually accompanied with social conservatism, and vice versa. Right wing ideologues are more likely to emphasize the values of marriage and family stability, while left wing ones are more likely to favor extremes of personal freedom and reject those traditional structures that used to bind us together.
ID236975 -> B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 04:15
You're a little confused there in your connections between policies, intentions and outcomes. Nevertheless, Neoliberalism is a project that explicitly aims, and has achieved, the undermining and elimination of social networks in favour of market competition.

In practice, loosening social and legal institutions has reduced social security (in the general sense rather than simply welfare payments) and encouraged the limitation of social interaction to money based activity.

As Monbiot has noted, we are indeed lonelier.

DoctorLiberty -> B26354 , 12 Oct 2016 04:18
That holds true when you're talking about demographics/voters.

Economic and social liberalism go hand in hand in the West. No matter who's in power, the establishment pushes both but will do one or the other covertly.

All powerful institutions have a vested interest in keeping us atomized and individualistic. The gangs at the top don't want competition. They're afraid of us. In particular, they're afraid of men organising into gangs. That's where this very paper comes in.

deskandchair , 12 Oct 2016 04:00
The alienation genie was out of the bottle with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and mass migration to cities began and we abandoned living in village communities. Over the ensuing approx 250 years we abandoned geographically close relationships with extended families, especially post WW2. Underlying economic structures both capitalist and marxist dissolved relationships that we as communal primates evolved within. Then accelerate this mess with (anti-) social media the last 20 years along with economic instability and now dissolution of even the nuclear family (which couldn't work in the first place, we never evolved to live with just two parents looking after children) and here we have it: Mass mental illness. Solution? None. Just form the best type of extended community both within and outside of family, be engaged and generours with your community hope for the best.
terraform_drone -> deskandchair , 12 Oct 2016 04:42
Indeed, Industrialisation of our pre-prescribed lifestyle is a huge factor. In particular, our food, it's low quality, it's 24 hour avaliability, it's cardboard box ambivalence, has caused a myriad of health problems. Industrialisation is about profit for those that own the 'production-line' & much less about the needs of the recipient.
afinch , 12 Oct 2016 04:03

It's unsurprising that social isolation is strongly associated with depression, suicide, anxiety, insomnia, fear and the perception of threat.

Yes, although there is some question of which order things go in. A supportive social network is clearly helpful, but it's hardly a simple cause and effect. Levels of different mental health problems appear to differ widely across societies just in Europe, and it isn't particularly the case that more capitalist countries have greater incidence than less capitalist ones.

You could just as well blame atheism. Since the rise of neo-liberalism and drop in church attendance track each other pretty well, and since for all their ills churches did provide a social support group, why not blame that?

ID236975 -> afinch, 12 Oct 2016 04:22
While attending a church is likely to alleviate loneliness, atheism doesn't expressly encourage limiting social interactions and selfishness. And of course, reduced church attendance isn't exactly the same as atheism.

Neoliberalism expressly encourages 'atomisation'- it is all about reducing human interaction to markets. And so this is just one of the reasons that neoliberalism is such a bunk philosophy.

anotherspace , 12 Oct 2016 04:05
So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain?

My stab at an answer would first question the notion that we are engaging in anything. That presupposes we are making the choices. Those who set out the options are the ones that make the choices. We are being engaged by the grotesquely privileged and the pathologically greedy in an enterprise that profits them still further. It suits the 1% very well strategically, for obvious reasons, that the 99% don't swap too many ideas with each other.

notherspace -> TremblingFactHunt , 12 Oct 2016 05:46
We as individuals are offered the 'choice' of consumption as an alternative to the devastating ennui engendered by powerlessness. It's no choice at all of course, because consumption merely enriches the 1% and exacerbates our powerlessness. That was the whole point of my post.

The 'choice' to consume is never collectively exercised as you suggest. Sadly. If it was, 'we' might be able to organise ourselves into doing something about it.

Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
According to Robert Putnam, as societies become more ethnically diverse they lose social capital, contributing to the type of isolation and loneliness which George describes. Doesn't sound as evil as neoliberalism I suppose.
ParisHiltonCommune -> Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 07:59
Disagree. Im British but have had more foreign friends than British. The UK middle class tend to be boring insular social status obsessed drones.other nationalities have this too, but far less so
Dave Powell -> Burstcouch , 12 Oct 2016 10:54
Multiculturalism is destroying social cohesion.
ParisHiltonCommune -> Dave Powell , 12 Oct 2016 14:47
Well, yes, but multiculturalism is a direct result of Neoliberalism. The market rules and people are secondary. Everything must be done for business owners, and that everything means access to cheap labor.

Multiculturalism isn't the only thing destroying social cohesion, too. It was being destroyed long before the recent surges of immigrants. It was reported many times in the 1980's in communities made up of only one culture. In many ways, it is being used as the obvious distraction from all the other ways Fundamentalist Free Marketers wreck live for many.

Rozina , 12 Oct 2016 04:09
This post perhaps ranges too widely to the point of being vague and general, and leading Monbiot to make some huge mental leaps, linking loneliness to a range of mental and physical problems without being able to explain, for example, the link between loneliness and obesity and all the steps in-between without risking derailment into a side issue.

I'd have thought what he really wants to say is that loneliness as a phenomenon in modern Western society arises out of an intent on the part of our political and social elites to divide us all into competing against one another, as individuals and as members of groups, all the better to keep us under control and prevent us from working together to claim our fair share of resources.

Go on, George, you can say that, why not?

MSP1984 , 12 Oct 2016 04:18
Are you familiar with the term 'Laughter is the best medicine'? Well, it's true. When you laugh, your brain releases endorphins, yeah? Your stress hormones are reduced and the oxygen supply to your blood is increased, so...

I try to laugh several times a day just because... it makes you feel good! Let's try that, eh? Ohohoo... Hahaha... Just, just... Hahahaha... Come on, trust me.. you'll feel.. HahaHAhaha! O-o-o-o-a-hahahahaa... Share

ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 04:19
>Neoliberalism is creating loneliness.

Has it occurred to you that the collapse in societal values has allowed 'neo-liberalism' to take hold?

totaram -> ID8701745 , 12 Oct 2016 05:00
No. It has been the concentrated propaganda of the "free" press. Rupert Murdoch in particular, but many other well-funded organisations working in the background over 50 years. They are winning.
greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 04:20
We're fixated on a magical, abstract concept called "the economy". Everything must be done to help "the economy", even if this means adults working through their weekends, neglecting their children, neglecting their elderly parents, eating at their desks, getting diabetes, breaking down from stress, and giving up on a family life.

Impertinent managers ban their staff from office relationships, as company policy, because the company is more important than its staff's wellbeing.

Companies hand out "free" phones that allow managers to harrass staff for work out of hours, on the understanding that they will be sidelined if thy don't respond.

And the wellbeing of "the economy" is of course far more important than whether the British people actually want to merge into a European superstate. What they want is irrelevant.

That nasty little scumbag George Osborne was the apotheosis of this ideology, but he was abetted by journalists who report any rise in GDP as "good" - no matter how it was obtained - and any "recession" to be the equivalent of a major natural disaster.

If we go on this way, the people who suffer the most will be the rich, because it will be them swinging from the lamp-posts, or cowering in gated communities that they dare not leave (Venezuela, South Africa). Those riots in London five years ago were a warning. History is littered with them.

DiscoveredJoys -> greenwichite , 12 Oct 2016 05:48
You can make a reasonable case that 'Neoliberalism' expects that every interaction, including between individuals, can be reduced to a financial one. If this results in loneliness then that's certainly a downside - but the upside is that billions have been lifted out of absolute poverty worldwide by 'Neoliberalism'.

Mr Monbiot creates a compelling argument that we should end 'Neoliberalism' but he is very vague about what should replace it other than a 'different worldview'. Destruction is easy, but creation is far harder.

concerned4democracy , 12 Oct 2016 04:28
As a retired teacher it grieves me greatly to see the way our education service has become obsessed by testing and assessment. Sadly the results are used not so much to help children learn and develop, but rather as a club to beat schools and teachers with. Pressurised schools produce pressurised children. Compare and contrast with education in Finland where young people are not formally assessed until they are 17 years old. We now assess toddlers in nursery schools.
SATs in Primary schools had children concentrating on obscure grammatical terms and usage which they will never ever use again. Pointless and counter-productive.
Gradgrind values driving out the joy of learning.
And promoting anxiety and mental health problems.
colddebtmountain , 12 Oct 2016 04:33
It is all the things you describe, Mr Monbiot, and then some. This dystopian hell, when anything that did work is broken and all things that have never worked are lined up for a little tinkering around the edges until the camouflage is good enough to kid people it is something new. It isn't just neoliberal madness that has created this, it is selfish human nature that has made it possible, corporate fascism that has hammered it into shape. and an army of mercenaries who prefer the take home pay to morality. Crime has always paid especially when governments are the crooks exercising the law.

The value of life has long been forgotten as now the only thing that matters is how much you can be screwed for either dead or alive. And yet the Trumps, the Clintons, the Camerons, the Johnsons, the Merkels, the Mays, the news media, the banks, the whole crooked lot of them, all seem to believe there is something worth fighting for in what they have created, when painfully there is not. We need revolution and we need it to be lead by those who still believe all humanity must be humble, sincere, selfless and most of all morally sincere. Freedom, justice, and equality for all, because the alternative is nothing at all.

excathedra , 12 Oct 2016 04:35
Ive long considered neo-liberalism as the cause of many of our problems, particularly the rise in mental health problems, alienation and loneliness.

As can be seen from many of the posts, neo-liberalism depends on, and fosters, ignorance, an inability to see things from historical and different perspectives and social and intellectual disciplines. On a sociological level how other societies are arranged throws up interesting comparisons. Scandanavian countries, which have mostly avoided neo-liberalism by and large, are happier, healthier places to live. America and eastern countries arranged around neo-liberal, market driven individualism, are unhappy places, riven with mental and physical health problems and many more social problems of violence, crime and suicide.

The worst thing is that the evidence shows it doesn't work. Not one of the privatisations in this country have worked. All have been worse than what they've replaced, all have cost more, depleted the treasury and led to massive homelessness, increased mental health problems with the inevitable financial and social costs, costs which are never acknowledged by its adherents.

Put crudely, the more " I'm alright, fuck you " attitude is fostered, the worse societies are. Empires have crashed and burned under similar attitudes.

MereMortal , 12 Oct 2016 04:37
A fantastic article as usual from Mr Monbiot.

The people who fosted this this system onto us, are now either very old or dead. We're living in the shadow of their revolutionary transformation of our more equitable post-war society. Hayek, Friedman, Keith Joseph, Thatcher, Greenspan and tangentially but very influentially Ayn Rand. Although a remainder (I love the wit of the term 'Remoaner') , Brexit can be better understood in the context of the death-knell of neoliberalism.

I never understood how the collapse of world finance, resulted in a right wing resurgence in the UK and the US. The Tea Party in the US made the absurd claim that the failure of global finance was not due to markets being fallible, but because free markets had not been enforced citing Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac as their evidence and of Bill Clinton insisting on more poor and black people being given mortgages.

I have a terrible sense that it will not go quietly, there will be massive global upheavals as governments struggle deal with its collapse.

flyboy101 , 12 Oct 2016 04:39
I have never really agreed with GM - but this article hits the nail on the head.

I think there are a number of aspects to this:

  1. The internet. The being in constant contact, our lives mapped and our thoughts analysed - we can comment on anything (whether informed or total drivel) and we've been fed the lie that our opinion is is right and that it matters) Ive removed fscebook and twitter from my phone, i have never been happier
  2. Rolling 24 hour news. That is obsessed with the now, and consistently squeezes very complex issues into bite sized simple dichotomies. Obsessed with results and critical in turn of everyone who fails to feed the machine
  3. The increasing slicing of work into tighter and slimmer specialisms, with no holistic view of the whole, this forces a box ticking culture. "Ive stamped my stamp, my work is done" this leads to a lack of ownership of the whole. PIP assessments are an almost perfect example of this - a box ticking exercise, designed by someone who'll never have to go through it, with no flexibility to put the answers into a holistic context.
  4. Our education system is designed to pass exams and not prepare for the future or the world of work - the only important aspect being the compilation of next years league tables and the schools standings. This culture is neither healthy no helpful, as students are schooled on exam technique in order to squeeze out the marks - without putting the knowledge into a meaningful and understandable narrative.

Apologies for the long post - I normally limit myself to a trite insulting comment :) but felt more was required in this instance.

Taxiarch -> flyboy101 , 12 Oct 2016 05:42
Overall, I agree with your points. Monbiot here adopts a blunderbuss approach (competitive self-interest and extreme individualism; "brutal" education, employment social security; consumerism, social media and vanity). Criticism of his hypotheses on this thread (where articualted at all) focus on the existence of solitude and loneliness prior to neo liberalism, which seems to me to be to deliberately miss his point: this was formerly a minor phenomenon, yet is now writ on an incredible scale - and it is a social phenomenon particular to those western economies whose elites have most enthusiastically embraced neo liberalism. So, when Monbiot's rhetoric rises:

"So why are we engaging in this world-eating, self-consuming frenzy of environmental destruction and social dislocation, if all it produces is unbearable pain?"

the answer is, of course, 'western capitalist elites'.

We stand together or we fall apart.

Hackneyed and unoriginal but still true for all that.

flyboy101 -> Taxiarch , 12 Oct 2016 06:19
I think the answer is only

the answer is, of course, 'western capitalist elites'.

because of the lies that are being sold. We all want is to: (and feel we have the right to) wear the best clothes, have the foreign holidays, own the latest tech and eat the finest foods. At the same time our rights have increased and awareness of our responsibilities have minimized. The execution of common sense and an awareness that everything that goes wrong will always be someone else fault.

We are not all special snowflakes, princesses or worthy of special treatment, but we act like self absorbed, entitled individuals. Whether that's entitled to benefits, the front of the queue or bumped into first because its our birthday!

I share Monbiots pain here. But rather than get a sense of perspective - the answer is often "More public money and counseling"

DGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:42
George Monbiot has struck a nerve. They are there every day in my small town local park: people, young and old, gender and ethnically diverse, siting on benches for a couple of hours at a time.

Trite as it may seem, this temporary thread of canine affection breaks the taboo of strangers passing by on the other side. Conversations, sometimes stilted, sometimes deeper and more meaningful, ensue as dog walkers become a brief daily healing force in a fractured world of loneliness. It's not much credit in the bank of sociability. But it helps.

Trite as it may seem from the outside, their interaction with the myriad pooches regularly walk

wakeup99 -> DGIxjhLBTdhTVh7T , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
Do a parkrun and you get the same thing. Free and healthy.
ParisHiltonCommune -> SenseCir , 12 Oct 2016 08:47
Unhealthy social interaction, yes. You can never judge what is natural to humans based on contemporary Britain. Anthropologists repeatedly find that what we think natural is merely a social construct created by the system we are subject to.

If you don't work hard, you will be a loser, don't look out of the window day dreaming you lazy slacker. Get productive, Mr Burns millions need you to work like a machine or be replaced by one.

Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:46
Good article. You´re absoluately right. And the deeper casue is this: separation from God. If we don´t fight our way back to God, individually and collectively, things are going to get a lot worse. With God, loneliness doesn´t exist. I encourage anyone and everyone to start talking to Him today and invite Him into your heart and watch what starts to happen.
wakeup99 -> Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 04:52
Religion divides not brings people together. Only when you embrace all humanity and ignore all gods will you find true happiness. The world and the people in it are far more inspiring when you contemplate the lack of any gods. The fact people do amazing things without needing the promise of heaven or the threat of hell - that is truly moving.
TeaThoughts -> Sandra Hannen Gomez , 12 Oct 2016 05:23
I see what you're saying but I read 'love' instead of God. God is too religious which separates and divides ("I'm this religion and my god is better than yours" etc etc). I believe that George is right in many ways in that money is very powerful on it's impact on our behavior (stress, lack etc) and therefore our lives. We are becoming fearful of each other and I believe the insecurity we feel plays a part in this.

We have become so disconnected from ourselves and focused on battling to stay afloat. Having experienced periods of severe stress due to lack of money I couldn't even begin to think about how I felt, how happy I was, what I really wanted to do with my life. I just had to pay my landlord, pay the bills and try and put some food on my table so everything else was totally neglected.

When I moved house to move in with family and wasn't expected to pay rent, though I offered, all that dissatisfaction and undealt with stuff came spilling out and I realised I'd had no time for any real safe care above the very basics and that was not a good place to be. I put myself into therapy for a while and started to look after myself and things started to change. I hope to never go back to that kind of position but things are precarious financially and the field I work in isn't well paid but it makes me very happy which I realise now is more important.

geoffhoppy , 12 Oct 2016 04:47
Neo-liberalism has a lot to answer for in bringing misery to our lives and accelerating the demise of the planet but I find it not guilty on this one. The current trends as to how people perceive themselves (what you've got rather than who you are) and the increasing isolation in our cities started way before the neo-liberals. It is getting worse though and on balance social media is making us more connected but less social. Share
RandomName2016 , 12 Oct 2016 04:48
The way that the left keeps banging on about neoliberalism is half of what makes them such a tough sell electorally. Just about nobody knows what neoliberalism is, and literally nobody self identifies as a neoliberal. So all this moaning and wailing about neoliberalism comes across as a self absorbed, abstract and irrelevant. I expect there is the germ of an idea in there, but until the left can find away to present that idea without the baffling layer of jargon and over-analysis, they're going to remain at a disadvantage to the easy populism of the right.
Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:49
Interesting article. We have heard so much about the size of our economy but less about our quality of life. The UK quality of life is way below the size of our economy i.e. economy size 6th largest in the world but quality of life 15th. If we were the 10th largest economy but were 10th for quality of life we would be better off than we are now in real terms.

We need a radical change of political thinking to focus on quality of life rather than obsession with the size of our economy. High levels of immigration of people who don't really integrate into their local communities has fractured our country along with the widening gap between rich and poor. Governments only see people in terms of their "economic value" - hence mothers being driven out to work, children driven into daycare and the elderly driven into care homes. Britain is becoming a soulless place - even our great British comedy is on the decline.

wakeup99 -> Astrogenie , 12 Oct 2016 04:56
Quality of life is far more important than GDP I agree but it is also far more important than inequality.
MikkaWanders , 12 Oct 2016 04:49
Interesting. 'It is the isolated and marginalised animals that are most likely to be picked off by predators....' so perhaps the species is developing its own predators to fill a vacated niche.

(Not questioning the comparison to other mammals at all as I think it is valid but you would have to consider the whole rather than cherry pick bits)

johnny991965 , 12 Oct 2016 04:52
Generation snowflake. "I'll do myself in if you take away my tablet and mobile phone for half an hour".
They don't want to go out and meet people anymore. Nightclubs for instance, are closing because the younger generation 'don't see the point' of going out to meet people they would otherwise never meet, because they can meet people on the internet. Leave them to it and the repercussions of it.....
johnny991965 -> grizzly , 12 Oct 2016 05:07
Socialism is dying on its feet in the UK, hence the Tory's 17 point lead at the mo. The lefties are clinging to whatever influence they have to sway the masses instead of the ballot box. Good riddance to them.
David Ireland -> johnny991965 , 13 Oct 2016 12:45
17 point lead? Dying on it's feet? The neo-liberals are showing their disconnect from reality. If anything, neo-liberalism is driving a people to the left in search of a fairer and more equal society.
justask , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
George Moniot's articles are better thought out, researched and written than the vast majority of the usual clickbait opinion pieces found on the Guardian these days. One of the last journalists, rather than liberal arts blogger vying for attention.
Nada89 , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
Neoliberalism's rap sheet is long and dangerous but this toxic philosophy will continue unabated because most people can't join the dots and work out how detrimental it has proven to be for most of us.

It dangles a carrot in order to create certain economic illusions but the simple fact is neoliberal societies become more unequal the longer they persist.

wakeup99 -> Nada89 , 12 Oct 2016 05:05
Neoliberal economies allow people to build huge global businesses very quickly and will continue to give the winners more but they also can guve everyone else more too but just at a slower rate. Socialism on the other hand mires everyone in stagnant poverty. Question is do you want to be absolutely or relatively better off.
totaram -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:19
You have no idea. Do not confuse capitalism with neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is a political ideology based on a mythical version of capitalism that doesn't actually exist, but is a nice way to get the deluded to vote for something that doesn't work in their interest at all.
peterfieldman , 12 Oct 2016 04:57
And things will get worse as society falls apart due to globalisation, uberization, lack of respect for authority, lacks of a fair tax and justice system, crime, immorality, loss of trust of politicians and financial and corporate sectors, uncontrolled immigration bringing with it insecurity and the risk of terrorism and a dumbing down of society with increasing inequality. All this is in a new book " The World at a Crossroads" which deals with the major issues facing the planet.
Nada89 -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:07
What, like endless war, unaffordable property, monstrous university fees, zero hours contracts and a food bank on every corner, and that's before we even get to the explosion in mental distress.
monsieur_flaneur -> thedisclaimer , 12 Oct 2016 05:10
There's nothing spurious or obscure about Neoliberalism. It is simply the political ideology of the rich, which has been our uninterrupted governing ideology since Reagan and Thatcher: Privatisation, deregulation, 'liberalisation' of housing, labour, etc, trickledown / low-tax-on-the-rich economics, de-unionization. You only don't see it if you don't want to see it.
arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:03
I'm just thinking what is wonderful about societies that are big of social unity. And conformity. Those societies for example where you "belong" to your family. Where teenage girls can be married off to elderly uncles to cement that belonging. Or those societies where the belonging comes through religious centres. Where the ostracism for "deviant" behaviour like being gay or for women not submitting to their husbands can be brutal. And I'm not just talking about muslims here.

Or those societies that are big on patriotism. Yep they are usually good for mental health as the young men are given lessons in how to kill as many other men as possible efficiently.

And then I have to think how our years of "neo-liberal" governments have taken ideas of social liberalisation and enshrined them in law. It may be coincidence but thirty years after Thatcher and Reagan we are far more tolerant of homosexuality and willing to give it space to live, conversely we are far less tolerant of racism and are willing to prosecute racist violence. Feminists may still moan about equality but the position of women in society has never been better, rape inside marriage has (finally) been outlawed, sexual violence generally is no longer condoned except by a few, work opportunities have been widened and the woman's role is no longer just home and family. At least that is the case in "neo-liberal" societies, it isn't necessarily the case in other societies.

So unless you think loneliness is some weird Stockholm Syndrome thing where your sense of belonging comes from your acceptance of a stifling role in a structured soiety, then I think blaming the heightened respect for the individual that liberal societies have for loneliness is way off the mark.

What strikes me about the cases you cite above, George, is not an over-respect for the individual but another example of individuals being shoe-horned into a structure. It strikes me it is not individualism but competition that is causing the unhappiness. Competition to achieve an impossible ideal.

I fear George, that you are not approaching this with a properly open mind dedicated to investigation. I think you have your conclusion and you are going to bend the evidence to fit. That is wrong and I for one will not support that. In recent weeks and months we have had the "woe, woe and thrice woe" writings. Now we need to take a hard look at our findings. We need to take out the biases resulting from greater awareness of mental health and better and fuller diagnosis of mental health issues. We need to balance the bias resulting from the fact we really only have hard data for modern Western societies. And above all we need to scotch any bias resulting from the political worldview of the researchers.

Then the results may have some value.

birney -> arkley , 12 Oct 2016 05:10
It sounded to me that he was telling us of farm labouring and factory fodder stock that if we'd 'known our place' and kept to it ,all would be well because in his ideal society there WILL be or end up having a hierarchy, its inevitable.
EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:04
Wasn't all this started by someone who said, "There is no such thing as Society"? The ultimate irony is that the ideology that championed the individual and did so much to dismantle the industrial and social fabric of the Country has resulted in a system which is almost totalitarian in its disregard for its ideological consequences.
wakeup99 -> EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
Thatcher said it in the sense that society is not abstract it is just other people so when you say society needs to change then people need to change as society is not some independent concept it is an aggregation of all us. The left mis quote this all the time and either they don't get it or they are doing on purpose.
HorseCart -> EndaFlannel , 12 Oct 2016 05:09
No, Neoliberalism has been around since 1938.... Thatcher was only responsible for "letting it go" in Britain in 1980, but actually it was already racing ahead around the world.

Furthermore, it could easily be argued that the Beatles helped create loneliness - what do you think all those girls were screaming for? And also it could be argued that the Beatles were bringing in neoliberalism in the 1960s, via America thanks to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis etc.. Share

billybagel -> wakeup99 , 12 Oct 2016 05:26
They're doing it on purpose. ""If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it." -- Joseph Boebbels
Luke O'Brien , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
Great article, although surely you could've extended the blame to capitalism has a whole?

In what, then, consists the alienation of labor? First, in the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., that it does not belong to his nature, that therefore he does not realize himself in his work, that he denies himself in it, that he does not feel at ease in it, but rather unhappy, that he does not develop any free physical or mental energy, but rather mortifies his flesh and ruins his spirit. The worker, therefore, is only himself when he does not work, and in his work he feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home. His labor, therefore, is not voluntary, but forced--forced labor. It is not the gratification of a need, but only a means to gratify needs outside itself. Its alien nature shows itself clearly by the fact that work is shunned like the plague as soon as no physical or other kind of coercion exists.

Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844

JulesBywaterLees , 12 Oct 2016 05:08
We have created a society with both flaws and highlights- and we have unwittingly allowed the economic system to extend into our lives in negative ways.

On of the things being modern brings is movement- we move away from communities, breaking friendships and losing support networks, and the support networks are the ones that allow us to cope with issues, problems and anxiety.

Isolation among the youth is disturbing, it is also un natural, perhaps it is social media, or fear of parents, or the fall in extra school activities or parents simply not having a network of friends because they have had to move for work or housing.

There is some upsides, I talk and get support from different international communities through the social media that can also be so harmful- I chat on xbox games, exchange information on green building forums, arts forums, share on youtube as well as be part of online communities that hold events in the real world.

LordMorganofGlossop , 12 Oct 2016 05:11
Increasingly we seem to need to document our lives on social media to somehow prove we 'exist'. We seem far more narcissistic these days, which tends to create a particular type of unhappiness, or at least desire that can never be fulfilled. Maybe that's the secret of modern consumer-based capitalism. To be happy today, it probably helps to be shallow, or avoid things like Twitter and Facebook!

Eric Fromm made similar arguments to Monbiot about the psychological impact of modern capitalism (Fear of Freedom and The Sane Society) - although the Freudian element is a tad outdated. However, for all the faults of modern society, I'd rather be unhappy now than in say, Victorian England. Similarly, life in the West is preferable to the obvious alternatives.

Interestingly, the ultra conservative Adam Smith Institute yesterday decided to declare themselves 'neoliberal' as some sort of badge of honour:
http://www.adamsmith.org/blog/coming-out-as-neoliberals

eamonmcc , 12 Oct 2016 05:15
Thanks George for commenting in such a public way on the unsayable: consume, consume, consume seems to be the order of the day in our modern world and the points you have highlighted should be part of public policy everywhere.

I'm old enough to remember when we had more time for each other; when mothers could be full-time housewives; when evenings existed (evenings now seem to be spent working or getting home from work). We are undoubtedly more materialistic, which leads to more time spent working, although our modern problems are probably not due to increasing materialism alone.

Regarding divorce and separation, I notice people in my wider circle who are very open to affairs. They seem to lack the self-discipline to concentrate on problems in their marriage and to give their full-time partner a high level of devotion. Terrible problems come up in marriages but if you are completely and unconditionally committed to your partner and your marriage then you can get through the majority of them.

CEMKM , 12 Oct 2016 05:47
Aggressive self interest is turning in on itself. Unfortunately the powerful who have realised their 'Will to Power' are corrupted by their own inflated sense of self and thus blinded. Does this all predict a global violent revolution?
SteB1 -> NeverMindTheBollocks , 12 Oct 2016 06:32

A diatribe against a vague boogieman that is at best an ill-defined catch-all of things this CIFer does not like.

An expected response from someone who persistently justifies neoliberalism through opaque and baseless attacks on those who reveal how it works. Neoliberalism is most definitely real and it has a very definite history.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism
http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=376

However, what is most interesting is how nearly all modern politicians who peddle neoliberal doctrine or policy, refuse to use the name, or even to openly state what ideology they are in fact following.

I suppose it is just a complete coincidence that the policy so many governments are now following so closely follow known neoliberal doctrine. But of course the clever and unpleasant strategy of those like yourself is to cry conspiracy theory if this ideology, which dare not speak its name is mentioned.

Your style is tiresome. You make no specific supported criticisms again, and again. You just make false assertions and engage in unpleasant ad homs and attempted character assassination. You do not address the evidence for what George Monbiot states at all.

heian555 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56
An excellent article. One wonders exactly what one needs to say in order to penetrate the reptilian skulls of those who run the system.

As an addition to Mr Monbiot's points, I would like to point out that it is not only competitive self-interest and extreme individualism that drives loneliness. Any system that has strict hierarchies and mechanisms of social inclusion also drives it, because such systems inhibit strongly spontaneous social interaction, in which people simply strike up conversation. Thailand has such a system. Despite her promoting herself as the land of smiles, I have found the people here to be deeply segregated and unfriendly. I have lived here for 17 years. The last time I had a satisfactory face-to-face conversation, one that went beyond saying hello to cashiers at checkout counters or conducting official business, was in 1999. I have survived by convincing myself that I have dialogues with my books; as I delve more deeply into the texts, the authors say something different to me, to which I can then respond in my mind.

SteB1 , 12 Oct 2016 05:56

Epidemics of mental illness are crushing the minds and bodies of millions. It's time to ask where we are heading and why

I want to quote the sub headline, because "It's time to ask where we are heading and why", is the important bit. George's excellent and scathing evidence based criticism of the consequences of neoliberalism is on the nail. However, we need to ask how we got to this stage. Despite it's name neoliberalism doesn't really seem to contain any new ideas, and in some way it's more about Thatcher's beloved return to Victorian values. Most of what George Monbiot highlights encapsulatec Victorian thinking, the sort of workhouse mentality.

Whilst it's very important to understand how neoliberalism, the ideology that dare not speak it's name, derailed the general progress in the developed world. It's also necessary to understand that the roots this problem go much further back. Not merely to the start of the industrial revolution, but way beyond that. It actually began with the first civilizations when our societies were taken over by powerful rulers, and they essentially started to farm the people they ruled like cattle. On the one hand they declared themselves p