|May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)|
|Contents||Bulletin||Scripting in shell and Perl||Network troubleshooting||History||Humor|
Skepticism and Pseudoscience > Who Rules America > Neoliberal Brainwashing
|News||An introduction to Neoliberalism||Recommended books||Recommended Links||Neoliberalism war on organized labor||Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich||Globalization of Financial Flows|
|Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization||Neoliberal rationality||Neoliberal "New Class" as variant of Soviet Nomenklatura||Neoliberalism and Christianity||Key Myths of Neoliberalism||Ayn Rand and her Objectivism Cult||Anti-globalization movement|
|Zombie state of neoliberalism and coming collapse of neoliberalism||Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism||Over-consumption of Luxury Goods as Market Failure||Definitions of neoliberalism||Neoliberal Brainwashing||Neoclassical Pseudo Theories||US Presidential Elections of 2016 as a referendum on neoliberal globalization|
|Media-Military-Industrial Complex||Neocons||New American Militarism||Casino Capitalism||Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism||War is Racket||Inverted Totalitarism|
|Financial Crisis of 2008 as the Crisis of Neoliberalism and shift to neo-fascism||Neoliberal corruption||Financial Sector Induced Systemic Instability of Economy||Corruption of Regulators||"Fight with Corruption" as a smoke screen for neoliberal penetration into host countries||Deconstructing neoliberalism's definition of 'freedom'||Resurgence of neofascism as reaction on crisis of neoliberalism and neoliberal globalization|
|Alternatives to Neo-liberalism||Elite Theory||Compradors||Fifth column||Color revolutions||Key Myths of Neoliberalism||Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"|
|If Corporations Are People, They Are Psychopaths||IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement||Gangster Capitalism||Neoliberalism as a Cause of Structural Unemployment in the USA||Neoliberalism and inequality||Blaming poor and neoliberalism laziness dogma||Corporatist Corruption: Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime|
|Peak Cheap Energy and Oil Price Slump||The Deep State||Predator state||Disaster capitalism||Harvard Mafia||Small government smoke screen||Super Capitalism as Imperialism|
|The Great Transformation||Monetarism fiasco||Neoliberalism and Christianity||Republican Economic Policy||In Goldman Sachs we trust: classic example of regulatory capture by financial system hackers||Ronald Reagan: modern prophet of profligacy||Milton Friedman -- the hired gun for Deification of Market|
|Libertarian Philosophy||Media domination strategy||Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few||YouTube on neoliberalism||History of neoliberalism||Humor||Etc|
Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare. “There’s class warfare, all right, "Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."
Make no mistake, the neo-Liberal fuckers are just as bad as the Stalinists
GB: once a great cultured nation, now a poorly-educated gangster mafia state, ruled by oligarchs and inhabited by soccer hooligans
Greatly simplifying Neoliberalism = Casino Capitalism = "Transnational elites, Unite!" It is a neo-Trotskyism with the word "proletarians" substituted by the word "elites" in famous slogan "Proletarians of all countries, Unite!" and permanent "Color revolutions" as a variation and enhancement of Trotsky idea of "Permanent revolution"
Neoliberalism is a very interesting social system which by-and-large defeated and replaced both New Deal capitalism and socialism (and facilitated the dissolution of the USSR by buying out Soviet nomenklatura, including KGB brass). It is the only social system in which the name of the system is somehow is prohibited by MSM to mention. In this system, like under Stalin's version of socialism, the state play the leading role in enforcing the social system upon the people, brainwashing them with wall-to-wall 24 x 7 USSR-style propaganda an, if necessary, by state violence (As Sheldon Volin mentioned neoliberalism try to use violence selectively, as overuse of state violence undermines the social system, see Inverted Totalitarism).
Instead of regulating predatory tendencies of capitalism like under New Deal, state became just a corrupt policeman that serve large corporations and against the people. In this sense any neoliberal country is to certain extent is an "occupied country" and the neoliberal regime is occupying regime, much like Bolsheviks (with their theocratic state) were in USSR space. Much like during Robber barons era, when the state helped to squash West Virginia miner upraising in 1912-21.
The neoliberal state justifies its decisions, policies and rules in terms that are commensurable with the logic of markets. Neoliberalism might therefore be defined as the elevation of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms. To the level of a secular religion in which "market" and "competition" are new deities.
Neoliberalism radically transforms welfare state. The idea of welfare is not abolished. But under neoliberalism only corporations are desirable welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up.
In labor relations neoliberal pursue a staunch anti-unit stance. Labor is atomized, unions suppressed and individuals put on the market "naked" on conditions dictated by employees. Which means squeezing goo paying job in favor of terms and contractors, outsourcing and other anti--labor measure designed to preserve falling profitability in the market condition characterized by falling consumer demand (due to lower standard of living for the majority of population). And this is done at any cost. Even at the cost of human life. That situation gave rise to the term "naked capitalism".
Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. that gave a rise of verious (often stupid) metrics and cult of "performance reviews". It redefines citizens as consumers, who exercise they political power mainly buying and selling, the process which supposedly rewards merit (producing market winners) and punishes inefficiency. It postulates a primitive (and wrong) dogma that “the market” always delivers benefits that are superior and could never be achieved by planning. Which is definitely untrue for military contractors. In a way "market" under neoliberalism is a kind of "all powerful deity". Which makes neoliberalism a variation of a secular religion (compare with "God building" faction of Bolsheviks Party which included such prominent figures as Lynacharsky). As such neoliberalism, like Marxism before, is very hostile to Christianity. And while Marxism absolutize the power of human compassion and redefines paradise as a social system that supposedly can be built on Earth (communism), neoliberalism denigrates the power of human compassion and enforces "greed is good" and "homo homini lupus est" morale. Which turns into law of jungle for lower and middle class. In this sense it is more like a branch of Satanism, with greed as a virtue ("Greed is good"), speculation as a noble activity (while according to Chris Hedges "Speculation in the 17th century was a crime. Speculators were hanged." ) and the slogan "Homo homini lupus est" as one of the key Commandments. See Neoliberalism and Christianity
This social system can be viewed as dialectical denial of socialism and represents the other extreme in classic triad "Thesis, antithesis, synthesis". We do not know yet what the synthesis will be like, but neoliberalism as a social system after 2008 shows definite cracks. Much like the USSR after the WWII when people serving in Red Army discovered what the standard of living was in Central and Western European workers and start to understand that "state socialism" as practiced in the USSR can't deliver promise high standard of living.
And that helped decimated communist propaganda once and for all, although Bolshevism as a social system still was around for another 40 years or so. Like Bolshevism before it, neoliberalism proved to be unstable social system. A utopian system which is unable to deliver promised benefits to the common people, and which destabilizes capitalism in comparison with New Deal capitalism, producing periodic crisis with increasing severity. The first of such crisis was "savings and loans" crisis, followed by dot com bubble burst, and the financial crisis in 2008 which led to the Great Recession.
In 2008 the large banks, which are the core of neoliberal economics, were saved from facing consequences of their "transgressions" only by massive state intervention. All powerful market was unable to save those sick puppies. The consequences of 2008 crisis did buried neoliberal ideology which from this point looks like cruel and primitive hypocrisy designed to restore the power of financial oligarchy to the level the latter enjoyed in 1930th. In 2016 it led to the election of Trump who managed to defeat establishment candidate, neocon warmonger Hillary Clinton despite all the efforts of the neoliberal/neocon establishment to derail him. Trump pursues the version of neoliberalism which can be called "bastard neoliberalism" -- neoliberalism limited to the USA with implicit rejection of globalization (or at least large part of it). Which makes Trumpism somewhat similar to Stalinism. Unlike Trotsky Stalin did not believed in the "World Revolution" mantra.
In the absence of alternatives neoliberalism managed somewhat recover after 2008 debacle, and even successfully counterattacked in some LA and European countries (Argentina, Brazil, Greece), but the Great Recession still left of huge and ugly scar on the neoliberal face. In any case glory days of triumphal march of neoliberalism all over globe are over.
Also the lowering of the standard of living of the middle class is no longer possible to hide ("it 's not enough cookies for everbody"). Outsourcing and offshoring of manufacturing in the USA -- the citadel of neoliberalism led to epidemic of opiod abuse similar to epidemic of alcoholism among workers in the late USSR.
Impoverishment of lower 20% of the society (those who have so called McJobs) reached the level when we can talk about a third world country within the USA.
All those factors created pre-conditions for a sharp rise of far right nationalism. In a way neoliberalism creates far right nationalism splash much like Gilded Age and the maker crash of Sept 4, 1929 capitalism created precondition for the rise of national socialism. Reading NDSAP 25 points program (adopted in 1920) we can instaltly feel that many problem that exited then are now replayed on the new level. After approximately 40 years of global dominance is shows cracks. Backlash against neoliberal globalization became strong enough to provide upsets, albeit temporary, which demonstrated itself in Brexit, and election of Trump. Who, despite his election-time claims to be a fighter against neoliberal globalization, for restoration of local jobs, and against the wars for expanding neoliberal empire, folded in two-or three months after the inauguration.
Like Soviet version of Communism before it, Neoliberalism failed to meet its promises of rising standard of living (and the key idea of justifying of raising of inequality and redistribution of wealth up under neoliberalism was "rising water lifts all boats" mantra, or as Kenneth Galbraith famously defined it “Trickle-down theory - the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.” ). We can stress again, that the current opiod epidemics in the USA is not that different from epidemics of alcoholism in the USSR under Brezhnev's "well developed socialism". It is important to understand that under neoliberalism the key priority is the maintenance of global neoliberal empire for the benefits of multinationals (with the associated idea of Global Neoliberal Revolution which makes is similar to Trotskyism). Opening new markets is vital for the interest of transnational corporations and that means that the USA government supports the war for neoliberal empire explosion at the expense of interests of regular US citizens. Outsourcing and atomization of the US workforce (squeezing unions) means that neoliberal government has an adversarial attitude towards its common citizenry. They are, by definition, the second class citizens (Undermensch or as Hillary Clinton elegantly coined it "basket of deplorables" ) . While neoliberal themselves ("creative class") are new Ubermench and like old aristocracy are above the law. So the idea Implemented in Soviet nomenklatura is now replayed on a new level.
As it evolved with time, neoliberalism is a somewhat fuzzy concept ( much like Bolshevism evolved from Leninism to Stalinism and then to Brezhnev's socialism ). In various countries it can morph into quite different "regimes", despite the common "market fundamentalism" core. The simplest and pretty precise way to define is is to view it as "socialism for the rich, feudalism for the poor" or, more correctly "Trotskyism for the rich" ("Elites of all countries unite !" instead of “Proletarians of all countries, Unite! ...). So Stalins's idea of socialism in a single country mutated into "socialism for the upper strata of population and corporations, especially transnationals".
In this sense neoliberals are as "internationalists" as communists were at their time, and may be even more. Thhe term "globalism" is commonly used instead of "internationalism". And like "Communist International", the "Neoliberal International" accepts the elite from any country, but only a very narrow strata of the elite and only on a certain conditions, with the leading role reserved for the USA elite and part of G7 elite. Much like in Comintern the role of Moscow as a leader was something that can't be even discussed. Only taken for granted. Although spying capabilities of "Neoliberal International" via "five eyes" are tremendously more powerful then the rudimentary capabilities of Comintern and the technology of staging "color revolutions" is more polished then Trotskyite approach to staging proletarian revolutions.
Neoliberals also have more money and that matters. The allow to create a powerful "fifth column" in countries other then G7 who are on the receiving end of neoliberal expropriation of wealth to the top countries of Neoliberal International. Like in Comintern, "all pigs are created equal, but some pigs are more equal then others."
The key idea of obtaining power by training the cadre of "professional revolutionaries" introduced by social-democratic parties and, especially, Bolsheviks are replaced with no less effective the network of neoliberal think tanks. In other words neoliberalism borrowed and perverted almost all major ideas of social-democratic parties. The party core typical for Bolsheviks, and instrumental to the success of their coup d'état in October 1917 against Provisional government by Kerensky was essentially replaced by the network of thinktanks that Koch and other billionaires have sponsored. Monte Perelin society (the initial neoliberal think tank) explicitly tried to adapt successful idea of western social democratic parties and Bolsheviks to neoliberal doctrine. One such "appropriations" is the level of secrecy and existence of "underground" part of the party along with "legal" parliamentary faction (a set of honorable (in a sense, what hey such politicians for example in the USA congress (honorable politician is the one who after he was bought stays bought) politicians are just a tip of the iceberg), . Some important work was also done by renegade Trotskyites in the USA (aka neoconservatives, especially by James Burnham as well as staunch neoliberals like James Buchanan (The Guardian)
The papers Nancy MacLean discovered show that Buchanan saw stealth as crucial. He told his collaborators that “conspiratorial secrecy is at all times essential”. Instead of revealing their ultimate destination, they would proceed by incremental steps. For example, in seeking to destroy the social security system, they would claim to be saving it, arguing that it would fail without a series of radical “reforms”... Gradually they would build a [well-paid] “counter-intelligentsia”, allied to a “vast network of political power” that would become the new establishment.
It also created it's own Neoliberal newspeak and a set of myths ("greed is good", "invisible hand", "the efficient markets hypothesis", "rational expectations scam", Shareholder value scam, supply side voodoo aka "rising tide lifts all boats", etc). In "neoliberal newspeak" the term "freedom" is used as the excuse for ripping down public protections on behalf of the very rich. For example "free market" means the market free from any coercion by the state (read "free from regulations") which makes it the corporate jungle where the most powerful corporation dictate the rules of the game and eat alive small fish with complete impunity. In no way neoliberal "free market" is fair. Actually neoliberals try to avoid to discuss the issue of farness of the market. This is anathema for them. As such neoliberalism has distinct Social Darwinism flavor and enforces scapegoating and victimization of poor and unemployed
It facilitates over-consumption and getting into the debt both on the country (neo-colonialism) and on the individual workers (debt-slavery) levels, and has sophisticated mechanisms of enforcing this situation on unsuspecting population (IMF, World banks on the level of the countries), credit card companies, mortgages, student debt on individual level. And a worker with a large debt is, essentially, a debt-slave. Atomization (neoliberalism is openly and forcefully anti-union) and enslavement of the workforce is exactly what neoliberalism is about: recreation of the plantation economy on a new technological and social levels. Not that unions are without problems in their own right, but crushing the union is the goal of every neoliberal government starting with Thatcher and Reagan. The same model that is depicted in famous song Sixteen Tons. With replacement of the company store debt and private corporate currencies with credit card debt.
Like Trotskyism it is pretty militaristic creed and the dream of global Communist empire led from Moscow was replaced by the dream of global neoliberal empire led by Washington. Neocons in this sense is just a specific flavor of neoliberals --" neoliberals with the gun" as in Al Capone maxim "You Can Get Much Further with a Kind Word and a Gun than with a Kind Word Alone" ;-). This "institualized gangsterism" of the US neocons represents probably the greatest threat to the survival of modern civilization.
Neoliberalism elevates of market-based principles and techniques of evaluation to the level of state-endorsed norms. The authority of the neoliberal state is heavily dependent on the authority of neoliberal economics (and economists). When this authority collapses the eventual collapse of neoliberalism is imminent. This is a classic "the castle built of sand story. "
Due to the size the introduction was moved to a separate page -- Neoliberalism: an Introduction
|Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2017||Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2016||Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2015||Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2014||Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2013||Neoliberalism Bulletin, 2011||Neoliberalism Bulletin 2009||Neoliberalism Bulletin 2008|
Dec 17, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
JBird , December 16, 2017 at 5:14 pmPlenue , December 16, 2017 at 6:45 pm
Yes, it can be used for that , but often the goal is to channel, and contain the thinking from or to whatever, not degrade. Using modern neoliberal economics as an example. The older 19th and early 20th century mainstream political economy were deeper, more comprehensive, and often better at explaining economics. It was also called political economy, and not just economics for that reason.
There was a real financed campaign to narrow the focus on what we call economics today. Part of that effort was to label people very narrowly as just economic beings, which is what libertarianism is, and to label economic thought outside of it as socialism/communism, which is Stalinism, which is the gulag, which is bad thought. The economists studying this were just as intelligent, thoughtful, and incisive, but the idea, the worm of people=money=economics created a thought stop, or an an un-acknowledgment of anything else, the inability to even see anything else.
I sometimes think some are against the masses getting any higher education because one is exposed to other ways of thinking, and believing. A student might never change their beliefs, but the mind is expanded for considering the possibilities and at looking at where others are coming from. Those mindworms are also more obvious, and less useful.
So you could be ninety year blockhead, but if you are willing to listen, to think on what you are exposed to in college, your mind is expanded and strengthen. Which is perhaps the main goal of a liberal arts education. Even a very hard college education will still have some of the same effect.JBird , December 16, 2017 at 7:41 pm
"The economists studying this were just as intelligent, thoughtful, and incisive, but the idea, the worm of people=money=economics created a thought stop, or an an un-acknowledgment of anything else, the inability to even see anything else."
So would you say identity politics is the same thing in reverse? Intelligent people looking at issues from every perspective but that of money and economics?
Yes, as it is used now. It can be very important, but what I have against identity politics as it is done today is that it is the first and last answer to everything. Many people can see, they just think one's identity is paramount. MLK said it best when he talked about being judged for the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.
Please keep in mind that the identity being used could anything. Your sex, gender, orientation, age, class, religion, anything.
Today it's skin color, tomorrow?
Dec 11, 2017 | www.huffingtonpost.com
In his ground-breaking 1995 book Jihad vs. McWorld , political scientist Benjamin Barber posits that the global conflicts of the early 21st century would be driven by two opposing but equally undemocratic forces: neoliberal corporate globalization (which he dubbed "McWorld") and reactionary tribal nationalisms (which he dubbed "Jihad"). Although distinct in many ways, both of these forces, Barber persuasively argues, succeed by denying the possibilities for democratic consensus and action, and so both must be opposed by civic engagement and activism on a broad scale.
In the two decades since Barber's book, this conflict has seemed to play out along overtly cultural lines: with Islamic extremism representing jihad, in opposition to Western neoliberalism representing McWorld. Case in pitch-perfect point: the Al Qaeda terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Yet despite his use of the Arabic word Jihad, Barber is clear that reactionary tribalism is a worldwide phenomenon -- and in 2016 we're seeing particularly striking examples of that tribalism in Western nations such as Great Britain and the United States.
Britain's vote this week in favor of leaving the European Union was driven entirely by such reactionary tribal nationalism. The far-right United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and its leader Nigel Farage led the charge in favor of Leave , as exemplified by a recent UKIP poster featuring a photo of Syrian refugees with the caption " Breaking point: the EU has failed us ." Farage and his allies like to point to demographic statistics about how much the UK has changed in the last few decades , and more exactly how the nation's white majority has been somewhat shifted over that time by the arrival of sizeable African and Asian immigrant communities.
It's impossible not to link the UKIP's emphases on such issues of immigration and demography to the presidential campaign of the one prominent U.S. politician who is cheering for the Brexit vote : presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump. From his campaign-launching speech about Mexican immigrant "criminals and rapists" to his proposal to ban Muslim immigration and his "Make American Great Again" slogan, Trump has relied on reactionary tribal nationalism at every stage of his campaign, and has received the enthusiastic endorsement of white supremacist and far-right organizations as a result. For such American tribal nationalists, the 1965 Immigration Act is the chief bogeyman, the origin point of continuing demographic shifts that have placed white America in a precarious position.
The only problem with that narrative is that it's entirely inaccurate. What the 1965 Act did was reverse a recent, exclusionary trend in American immigration law and policy, returning the nation to the more inclusive and welcoming stance it had taken throughout the rest of its history. Moreover, while the numbers of Americans from Latin American, Asian, and Muslim cultures have increased in recent decades, all of those communities have been part of o ur national community from its origin points . Which is to say, this right-wing tribal nationalism isn't just opposed to fundamental realities of 21st century American identity -- it also depends on historical and national narratives that are as mythic as they are exclusionary.
Linking Brexit and Trump to global right-wing tribal nationalisms doesn't mean conflating them all, of course. Although Trump rallies have featured troubling instances of violence, and although the murderer of British politican Jo Cox was an avowed white supremacist and Leave supporter, the right-wing Islamic extremism of groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram rely far more consistently and centrally on violence and terrorism in support of their worldview and goals. Such specific contexts and nuances are important and shouldn't be elided.
Yet at the same time, we can't understand our 21st century world without a recognition of this widespread phenomenon of global, tribal nationalism. From ISIS to UKIP, Trump to France's Jean-Marie Le Pen, such reactionary forces have become and remain dominant players across the world, influencing local and international politics, economics, and culture. Benjamin Barber called this trend two decades ago, and we would do well to read and remember his analyses -- as well as his call for civic engagement and activism to resist these forces and fight for democracy.
Ben Railton Professor & public scholar of American Studies, Follow Ben Railton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AmericanStudier
Dec 15, 2017 | www.zerohedge.comAuthored by Gabriel Rockhill via Counterpunch.org,
One of the most steadfast beliefs regarding the United States is that it is a democracy. Whenever this conviction waivers slightly, it is almost always to point out detrimental exceptions to core American values or foundational principles. For instance, aspiring critics frequently bemoan a "loss of democracy" due to the election of clownish autocrats, draconian measures on the part of the state, the revelation of extraordinary malfeasance or corruption, deadly foreign interventions, or other such activities that are considered undemocratic exceptions . The same is true for those whose critical framework consists in always juxtaposing the actions of the U.S. government to its founding principles, highlighting the contradiction between the two and clearly placing hope in its potential resolution.
The problem, however, is that there is no contradiction or supposed loss of democracy because the United States simply never was one. This is a difficult reality for many people to confront, and they are likely more inclined to immediately dismiss such a claim as preposterous rather than take the time to scrutinize the material historical record in order to see for themselves. Such a dismissive reaction is due in large part to what is perhaps the most successful public relations campaign in modern history.
What will be seen, however, if this record is soberly and methodically inspected, is that a country founded on elite, colonial rule based on the power of wealth -- a plutocratic colonial oligarchy, in short -- has succeeded not only in buying the label of "democracy" to market itself to the masses, but in having its citizenry, and many others, so socially and psychologically invested in its nationalist origin myth that they refuse to hear lucid and well-documented arguments to the contrary.
To begin to peel the scales from our eyes, let us outline in the restricted space of this article, five patent reasons why the United States has never been a democracy (a more sustained and developed argument is available in my book, Counter-History of the Present ).
To begin with, British colonial expansion into the Americas did not occur in the name of the freedom and equality of the general population, or the conferral of power to the people. Those who settled on the shores of the "new world," with few exceptions, did not respect the fact that it was a very old world indeed, and that a vast indigenous population had been living there for centuries. As soon as Columbus set foot, Europeans began robbing, enslaving and killing the native inhabitants. The trans-Atlantic slave trade commenced almost immediately thereafter, adding a countless number of Africans to the ongoing genocidal assault against the indigenous population. Moreover, it is estimated that over half of the colonists who came to North America from Europe during the colonial period were poor indentured servants, and women were generally trapped in roles of domestic servitude. Rather than the land of the free and equal, then, European colonial expansion to the Americas imposed a land of the colonizer and the colonized, the master and the slave, the rich and the poor, the free and the un-free. The former constituted, moreover, an infinitesimally small minority of the population, whereas the overwhelming majority, meaning "the people," was subjected to death, slavery, servitude, and unremitting socio-economic oppression.
Second, when the elite colonial ruling class decided to sever ties from their homeland and establish an independent state for themselves, they did not found it as a democracy. On the contrary, they were fervently and explicitly opposed to democracy, like the vast majority of European Enlightenment thinkers. They understood it to be a dangerous and chaotic form of uneducated mob rule. For the so-called "founding fathers," the masses were not only incapable of ruling, but they were considered a threat to the hierarchical social structures purportedly necessary for good governance. In the words of John Adams, to take but one telling example, if the majority were given real power, they would redistribute wealth and dissolve the "subordination" so necessary for politics.
When the eminent members of the landowning class met in 1787 to draw up a constitution, they regularly insisted in their debates on the need to establish a republic that kept at bay vile democracy, which was judged worse than "the filth of the common sewers" by the pro-Federalist editor William Cobbett. The new constitution provided for popular elections only in the House of Representatives, but in most states the right to vote was based on being a property owner, and women, the indigenous and slaves -- meaning the overwhelming majority of the population -- were simply excluded from the franchise. Senators were elected by state legislators, the President by electors chosen by the state legislators, and the Supreme Court was appointed by the President.
It is in this context that Patrick Henry flatly proclaimed the most lucid of judgments: "it is not a democracy." George Mason further clarified the situation by describing the newly independent country as "a despotic aristocracy."
When the American republic slowly came to be relabeled as a "democracy," there were no significant institutional modifications to justify the change in name. In other words, and this is the third point, the use of the term "democracy" to refer to an oligarchic republic simply meant that a different word was being used to describe the same basic phenomenon. This began around the time of "Indian killer" Andrew Jackson's presidential campaign in the 1830s. Presenting himself as a 'democrat,' he put forth an image of himself as an average man of the people who was going to put a halt to the long reign of patricians from Virginia and Massachusetts. Slowly but surely, the term "democracy" came to be used as a public relations term to re-brand a plutocratic oligarchy as an electoral regime that serves the interest of the people or demos . Meanwhile, the American holocaust continued unabated, along with chattel slavery, colonial expansion and top-down class warfare.
In spite of certain minor changes over time, the U.S. republic has doggedly preserved its oligarchic structure, and this is readily apparent in the two major selling points of its contemporary "democratic" publicity campaign. The Establishment and its propagandists regularly insist that a structural aristocracy is a "democracy" because the latter is defined by the guarantee of certain fundamental rights (legal definition) and the holding of regular elections (procedural definition). This is, of course, a purely formal, abstract and largely negative understanding of democracy, which says nothing whatsoever about people having real, sustained power over the governing of their lives.
However, even this hollow definition dissimulates the extent to which, to begin with, the supposed equality before the law in the United States presupposes an inequality before the law by excluding major sectors of the population: those judged not to have the right to rights, and those considered to have lost their right to rights (Native Americans, African-Americans and women for most of the country's history, and still today in certain aspects, as well as immigrants, "criminals," minors, the "clinically insane," political dissidents, and so forth). Regarding elections, they are run in the United States as long, multi-million dollar advertising campaigns in which the candidates and issues are pre-selected by the corporate and party elite. The general population, the majority of whom do not have the right to vote or decide not to exercise it, are given the "choice" -- overseen by an undemocratic electoral college and embedded in a non-proportional representation scheme -- regarding which member of the aristocratic elite they would like to have rule over and oppress them for the next four years. "Multivariate analysis indicates," according to an important recent study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, "that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination [ ], but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy."
To take but a final example of the myriad ways in which the U.S. is not, and has never been, a democracy, it is worth highlighting its consistent assault on movements of people power. Since WWII, it has endeavored to overthrow some 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically elected.
It has also, according the meticulous calculations by William Blum in America's Deadliest Export: Democracy , grossly interfered in the elections of at least 30 countries, attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders, dropped bombs on more than 30 countries, and attempted to suppress populist movements in 20 countries. The record on the home front is just as brutal. To take but one significant parallel example, there is ample evidence that the FBI has been invested in a covert war against democracy. Beginning at least in the 1960s, and likely continuing up to the present, the Bureau "extended its earlier clandestine operations against the Communist party, committing its resources to undermining the Puerto Rico independence movement, the Socialist Workers party, the civil rights movement, Black nationalist movements, the Ku Klux Klan, segments of the peace movement, the student movement, and the 'New Left' in general" ( Cointelpro: The FBI's Secret War on Political Freedom , p. 22-23).
Consider, for instance, Judi Bari's summary of its assault on the Socialist Workers Party: "From 1943-63, the federal civil rights case Socialist Workers Party v. Attorney General documents decades of illegal FBI break-ins and 10 million pages of surveillance records. The FBI paid an estimated 1,600 informants $1,680,592 and used 20,000 days of wiretaps to undermine legitimate political organizing."
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Jan 01, 2014 | thebaffler.com
By any reasonable measure, the neoliberal dream lies in tatters. In 2008 poorly regulated financial markets yielded a world-historic financial collapse. One generation, weaned on reveries of home ownership as the coveted badge of economic independence and old-fashioned American striving, has been plunged into foreclosure, bankruptcy, and worse. And a successor generation of aspiring college students is now discovering that their equally toxic student-loan dossiers are condemning them to lifetimes of debt. Both before and after 2008, ours has been an economic order that, largely designed to reward paper speculation and penalize work, produces neither significant job growth nor wages that keep pace with productivity. Meanwhile, the only feints at resurrecting our nation's crumbling civic life that have gained any traction are putatively market-based reforms in education, transportation, health care, and environmental policy, which have been, reliably as ever, riddled with corruption, fraud, incompetence, and (at best) inefficiency. The Grand Guignol of deregulation continues apace.
In one dismal week this past spring, for example, a virtually unregulated fertilizer facility immolated several blocks of West, Texas, claiming at least fourteen lives (a number that would have been much higher had the junior high school adjoining the site been in session at the time of the explosion), while a shoddily constructed and militantly unregulated complex of textile factories collapsed in Savar, Bangladesh, with a death toll of more than 1,100 workers.
In the face of all this catastrophism, the placid certainties of neoliberal ideology rattle on as though nothing has happened. Remarkably, our governing elites have decided to greet a moment of existential reckoning for most of their guiding dogmas by incanting with redoubled force the basic catechism of the neoliberal faith: reduced government spending, full privatization of social goods formerly administered by the public sphere, and a socialization of risk for the upper class. When the jobs economy ground to a functional halt, our leadership class first adopted an anemic stimulus plan, and then embarked on a death spiral of austerity-minded bids to decommission government spending at the very moment it was most urgently required -- measures seemingly designed to undo whatever prospective gains the stimulus might have yielded. It's a bit as though the board of directors of the Fukushima nuclear facility in the tsunami-ravaged Japanese interior decided to go on a reactor-building spree on a floodplain, or on the lip of an active volcano.
So now, five years into a crippling economic downturn without even the conceptual framework for a genuine, broad-based, jobs-driven recovery shored up by boosts in federal spending and public services, the public legacy of these times appears to be a long series of metaphoric euphemisms for brain-locked policy inertia: the debt ceiling, the fiscal cliff, the sequestration, the shutdown, the grand bargain. Laid side by side, all these coinages bring to mind the claustrophobic imagery of a kidnapping montage from a noir gangster film -- and it is, indeed, no great exaggeration to say that the imaginative heart of our public life is now hostage to a grinding, miniaturizing agenda of neoliberal market idolatry. As our pundit class has tirelessly flogged the non-dramas surrounding the official government's non-confrontations over the degree and depth of the inevitable brokered deal to bring yet more austerity to the flailing American economy, we civilian observers can be forgiven for suspecting that there is, in fact, no "there" there. For all their sound and fury, these set-tos proceed from the same basic premises on both sides, and produce the same outcome: studied retreat from any sense of official economic accountability for, well, anything.
But the neoliberal flight from public responsibility is actually a tangled, and curiously instructive, tale of strikingly other-than-intended consequences -- something akin to the fables of perverse incentives that neoliberal theorists themselves love to cook up in their never-ending campaign against the prerogatives of the public sphere. The world of neoliberal market consensus that we now inhabit would likely strike many of the movement's founders as a grotesque parody of their own aims and intentions. But because it is a fable of intellectual overreach, as opposed to narrow economic self-interest, the neoliberal saga also bears an oddly hopeful moral. The seemingly impermeable armature of terrible social and economic thought that has bequeathed to us our present state of ruin is really a flimsy and jury-rigged set of market superstitions, and could readily be discarded for sturdier wares.
Open and Shut
To be sure, policy consensus is one of the premier breeding grounds of irony in our time, but the mid-twentieth-century movement that became known to us as the neoliberal rebellion is steeped in the stuff. For starters, the original cohort of neoliberal apostles conceived of themselves as an insulated, elite group of critics who were able to approach the great machinery of government and popular political discourse only at a fastidious remove. They began the project of combining their intellectual labors, oddly enough, out of their shared embrace of The Good Society (1937), a treatise on the limits of state planning by New Republic columnist Walter Lippmann, who, like many of his successors at that "contrarian" journal, advertised his growing disenchantment with New Deal liberalism and the whole endeavor of economic policy-making in the public interest. But Lippmann soon fell afoul of the more doctrinaire members of his new fraternity of mostly European fellow travelers -- notably German economist Wilhelm Röpke and French publisher Louis Rougier, who would later come into bad odor as a fascist collaborator. The group's early association with both Lippmann and Rougier underlined the perils of overexuberant detours into the political arena, and when they made a fresh stab at affiliating as transatlantic defenders of market liberty once the interregnum of the Second World War had passed, their formal alliance, now called the Mont Pelerin Society after a resort in the Swiss Alps, began life as something of a standoffish debating society. The first major irony in the annals of neoliberalism is that a clutch of publicity-averse intellectuals would, within three decades of the group's founding in 1947, end up running a very big chunk of the Anglophone capitalist world.
The neoliberal flight from public responsibility is actually a curiously instructive tale of strikingly other-than-intended consequences.
The Mont Pelerin faithful congregated around the Austrian anti-Keynesian economist F. A. Hayek, an Old World polymath who was eager to integrate his (strictly theoretical) vindication of individual liberty not merely into the heart of the economics discipline, but also into the full sweep of public life, from moral philosophy to scientific research. With the zeal of the ardent émigré, Hayek embraced the skeptical empiricism of conservative British thinkers such as Edmund Burke and David Hume -- and also seconded the broader British reverence for political custom and cultural tradition, which he saw as the outcome of adaptation across the generations. As economic historian Angus Burgin writes, Hayek maintained that "traditions were products of extended processes of competition, and had persisted because in some sense -- which their beneficiaries did not always rationally comprehend -- they worked." The focus here remained, as it did throughout Hayek's career, squarely on the radical limitations on knowledge available to individual human agents. In The Constitution of Liberty , the work he regarded, far more than the bestselling polemic The Road to Serfdom , as the summation of his thought, Hayek wrote that "civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge which we individually do not possess" -- and thereby the "freedom and unpredictability of human action" were to be tempered by "rules which experience has shown to serve best on the whole." It speaks volumes about Hayek's own sense of intellectual tradition that he initially proposed the group be called the Acton-Tocqueville Society -- a suggestion overruled on the grounds that these particular avatars of noble European tradition were both too Catholic and too aristocratic for modern tastes.
Like many European intellectuals of the time, Hayek was also haunted by the recent terrors of totalitarianism; both he and his harder-line Austrian colleague, Ludwig von Mises, were exiles from the Nazi regime, and the group of like-minded intellectuals they recruited to form the Mont Pelerin Society shared their sense that market-based liberalism remained the only sure refuge from communism and fascism. It was an obvious corollary of this faith that the philosophic values associated with such liberalism -- skepticism, open inquiry, and historical contingency -- were the most reliable antidotes to totalitarianism. Hayek, for example, argued that the halting and contingent nature of all human knowledge laid bare the conceits of state economic planning and demand management as so much bitter and destructive farce. In a 1936 lecture called "Economics and Knowledge," he sounded an early note of epistemological skepticism in public affairs that was virtually postmodern: "How," he demanded to know, "can the combination of fragments of knowledge existing in different minds bring about results which, if they were to be brought about deliberately, would require a knowledge on the part of the directing mind which no single person can possess?"
Clearly, nothing about such radical skepticism entailed an ironclad commitment to free-market fundamentalism. Any brand of liberalism that forced humans into free market relations would be self-contradictory, as liberal theorists from Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill to John Dewey, all of whom shared Hayek's epistemological stance, understood. Indeed, Karl Popper -- the thinker who inspired Hayek and many other Mont Pelerin founders -- was himself a social democratic defender of the welfare state with decidedly socialist leanings. As Popper explained in a 1994 interview not long before his death, his conception of individual liberty was not antithetical to principles of economic democracy:
In a way one has to have a free market, but I also believe that to make a godhead out of the principle of the free market is nonsense. . . . Traditionally, one of the main tasks of economics was to think of the problem of full employment. Since approximately 1965 economists have given up on that; I find it very wrong.
Clearly, too, the "open society" that Popper famously envisioned permitted ample room for the adoption of egalitarian, even redistributionist, policies. Even as Hayek himself inveighed against the "collectivist" ideology of New Deal economic reforms, he also took pains to distance himself from a devil-take-the-hindmost model of unregulated market competition. The challenge, as Hayek saw it, was not merely to mobilize the resources of the economic policy elite and its intellectual fellow travelers to ratify a complacent, status quo vision of business civilization, but to collaborate on a far more ambitious project. In a 1949 paper called "The Intellectuals and Socialism," Hayek sketched out a visionary, classically liberal mandate that became the animating mission of the Mont Pelerin Society:
We must be able to offer a new liberal program which appeals to the imagination. We must make the building of a free society once more an intellectual adventure, a deed of courage. What we lack is a liberal Utopia, a program which seems neither a mere defense of things as they are nor a diluted kind of socialism, but a truly liberal radicalism which does not spare the susceptibilities of the mighty (including the trade unions), which is not too severely practical, and which does not confine itself to what appears today as politically possible. We need intellectual leaders who are willing to work for an ideal, however small may be the prospects of its early realisation. They must be men who are willing to stick to principles and to fight for their realisation, however remote. The practical compromises they must leave to the politicians.
There is, of course, a contradiction at the heart of Hayek's vision: How is a utopian free society supposed to pursue its own ambitious battery of universalized mandates while remaining ostensibly founded on the radically unknowable nature of all human experience? But the real irony of Hayek's utopian longings is that they were fully realized -- albeit, of course, in nothing like the form he envisioned. As Daniel Stedman Jones argues in his incisive study of the neoliberal rise to power, Masters of the Universe , "it is hard to think of another 'utopia' to have been as fully realized" as Hayek's came to be in the powerful neoliberal regimes taking shape in Reagan's America and Thatcher's Britain: "The free market became the organizing principle for microeconomic reform, especially through the privatization of state assets, nationalized industries, and public services. Trade unions were vanquished and the power of labor was diluted. Exchange controls were abolished. The financial markets were progressively deregulated. Market mechanisms became the models for the operation of health care." While it's true, Stedman Jones notes, that "the purity that Hayek advocated was meant as an optimistic and ideological and intellectual tactic rather than a blueprint," it was to become that and much, much more: neoliberals went on to erect a permanent edifice of postideological assumptions about the natural predominance of markets and the just as rigid limitations of government. "The results," as Stedman Jones sums things up, "have been extraordinary."
In retrospect, Mont Pelerin's guiding spirits probably should have put a lot less stock in Adam Smith's comforting policy-fable of the Invisible Hand and heeded instead the counsel of the old Chinese curse "May all your wishes be granted." That aphorism is also rendered in English as "May you live in interesting times," and both renderings hold with equal force in the neoliberal case. For as the (fairly recondite and academic) proceedings of the Mont Pelerin set were gaining wider traction in the policy world, multiple crackups of the Keynesian model of coordinated economic planning helped to create an opening for the figure who would be the new economic order's zeitgeist on horseback: the diminutive University of Chicago monetarist-for-all-seasons, Milton Friedman.
The robustly entrepreneurial Friedman embraced a masscult platform.
When Paul Volcker -- Jimmy Carter's appointee to chair the Federal Reserve -- adopted a modified version of Friedman's theology of the money supply to tame the two-digit inflation of the late 1970s, Friedman was suddenly the policy visionary who could do no wrong. He soon served as an informal adviser to both the Reagan and Thatcher governments (and, less prestigiously, to the dictatorship of Chilean general Augusto Pinochet). He reached a popular audience via a column in Newsweek , a hit series on PBS, and several bestselling tracts of unalloyed free-market sloganeering. While demure Europeans such as Hayek distrusted the allure of popular renown as a temptation to oversimplify their ideas and pander to the public, the robustly entrepreneurial Friedman embraced a masscult platform -- and for the most part on the very grounds that aroused Hayek's suspicion. When he succeeded Hayek as chairman of the Mont Pelerin group, Friedman brought it, and the broader project of neoliberal thought, into its high propaganda phase. As he cultivated a high media profile, Friedman positioned himself at the nexus of an influential new group of transatlantic conservative think tanks that would go on to supply much of the concrete policy agendas for the Reagan and Thatcher revolutions: the Institute of Economic Affairs in London; the Hoover Institution at Stanford (where he would spend the balance of his career after retiring from the University of Chicago); and the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
And as the institutional platforms for Milton Friedman's free-market gospel multiplied, the vaunted intellectual range of neoliberal inquiry vanished into a stagnant pool of confident and absolute assertions of the market's unchallenged sovereignty as the arbiter of all life outcomes. Friedman converted Adam Smith's classical doctrine of the invisible hand -- whereby all self-interested actions mystically possess a benign or munificent social payoff -- into an inverted demonology of the public sphere. There is, he said in an address honoring the two-hundredth anniversary of The Wealth of Nations , "an invisible hand in politics that is the precise reverse of the invisible hand in the market":
In politics, men who intend only to promote the public interest, as they conceive it, are 'led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of their intention.' They become the front-men for special interests they would never knowingly serve. They end up sacrificing the public interest to the special interest, the interest of the consumers to that of producers, of the masses who never go to college to that of those who attend college, of the poor working-class saddled with employment taxes to the middle class who get disproportionate benefits from social security, and so down the line.
It's hard to imagine a purer statement of the founding principles of neoliberalism as we have come wearily to know it in this advanced stage of market collapse. It is pitched, first of all, in a counterintuitive rhetoric of worldly cleverness, a spirit of seminar-room one-upmanship. Not only is Adam Smith right about the hidden virtues of business interests, but the same paradox operates, by a virtually metaphysical law, to transform every action of every individual putatively serving the public interest into a parody of his or her stated intent. Here is a hermeneutics of suspicion that far outstrips the wildest excesses of the death-of-the-author acolytes of high postmodern critical theory. Not only is it the case that public servants will fail to advance the public's interest out of some depressingly common shortcoming of character -- susceptibility to bribery, say, or short-sighted ideological delusion. No, the central idea here is far more radical than that: government, by its very nature, can't serve the public interest, because of the innately condescending and imperious character of the act of governing.
Friedman's claim owed its origins in large part to the work of George Stigler, a colleague at the University of Chicago. Stigler helped pioneer the famous neoliberal doctrine of regulatory capture, which in turn is its own ultra-cynical academic appropriation of what seems, at first glance, like a muckraking Marxist's indictment of the bourgeois state. Stigler and other advocates of the so-called public choice school of economic theory maintained that regulatory agencies inevitably became hostage to the interests of the industries they oversaw. In a 1971 journal article bearing the deceptively wan title "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Stigler airily dismissed reformist complaints about regulatory corruption as "exactly as appropriate as a criticism of the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company for selling groceries, or as a criticism of a politician for currying popular support." Stigler's disdain for pandering political leaders did not, however, prevent him from summarizing his theory in a policy paper for then-president Richard Nixon. And, like most of the leading lights of neoliberal theory, Stigler went on to win a Nobel Prize in Economics.
To be sure, the problem of industry-captive oversight is a common failing of the modern regulatory state, as any cursory glance at the recent track records of, say, the Securities and Exchange Commission or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will sadly demonstrate. But in promoting regulatory capture as a bedrock law of public-sector enterprise, the neoliberals performed a neat trick; they posited corruption as a permanent condition of the regulatory state. And in so doing, they casually relegated a fistful of traditional Progressive and New Deal reforms -- the cause of good government, upgrades in civil service appointments and public-sector unionizing, the punishment of graft and fraud, and (not least by a long shot) the tighter regulation of corruption in the private sector -- to the dustbin of history. Such measures, they preached, could breed only perverse and self-defeating outcomes, and would indeed grievously multiply double-dealing in the public sector. Only by harnessing the superior explanatory power of "profit-maximizing" in public life, Stigler argued, could the sad pieties of reformism be laid aside in favor of the sterner and more confident guidance of the true masters of realpolitik -- the lords of the economic profession. Because "reformers will be ill-equipped to use the state for their reforms, and victims of the pervasive use of the state's support of special groups will be helpless to protect themselves," Stigler reasoned, "economists should quickly establish the license to practice on the rational theory of political behavior." Thus was born still another pet piety of the neoliberal counter-reformation: the notion that economics is "the imperial science," duly licensed to dispense its market-pleasing wisdom in every sphere of life, from crime prevention and education policy to dating and food preparation.
The notion that the public and private sectors both bear "defects" is elevated to a metaphysical affront to the market's sovereignty.
In the brewing theology of the modern conservative backlash, the moral hazards of the captive regulatory state were entirely the creation of the bad actors in the public sector. The bagmen for the industries seeking to purchase regulatory favors from the agents of the state were, after all, only acting in accord with the sainted Smithian dictates of self-interest. What fault could it be of theirs if the state had provided them with an open market in graft, kickbacks, and influence-peddling? Indeed, Friedman, ever alert to opportunities for rhetorical one-upmanship, floated the proposition that critics of free-market policies were foisting a bad-faith "double standard" on the rightful workings of market self-interest. "A market 'defect,'" Friedman explained in a tribute to Smith's Wealth of Nations , "whether through an absence of competition or external effects (equivalent, as recent literature has made clear, to transaction costs) has been regarded as immediate justification for government intervention. But the political mechanism has its 'defects' too. It is fallacious to compare the actual market with the ideal political structure. One should either compare the real with the real, or the ideal with the ideal."
Got that? The notion that the public and private sectors both bear "defects" -- a completely banal supposition conceded by any Galbraithian on the economic left -- is here elevated to a metaphysical affront to the market's sovereignty. In fact, the double standard that Friedman calls out is nothing of the sort. No progressive-minded supporter of government intervention had staked out the absurd position that the state is morally immaculate, or itself unsusceptible to any constructive outside intervention when its practices are out of line with the public interest. Friedman writes as though Congress had never appointed an inspector general, passed legislation to reform the civil service, and improved regulatory safeguards -- or as though the various federal employees' unions had never pushed for improved hiring practices or better working conditions to upgrade their work product. And that's because, for critics in the neoliberal camp, such external controls on the state's behavior simply cannot exist; the regulatory-capture school of neoliberal theory already ruled out, on principle, the possibility that such interventions could yield anything other than market-distorting outcomes. In other words, Friedman's lament about the mismatched moral standards of state and market is the phony protest of a card cheat seeking mainly to stoke up the theatrical appeal of an already rigged game.
Who'll Stop the Rana?
You'd think that our recent bruising encounters with the devastating fallout from the deregulators' handiwork in the housing market of the early aughts should, by rights, render Friedman's complaints about the public sector's assaults on market virtue the deadest of dead letters. But, if anything, the ritual defense of the market's sovereign prerogative has dug in that much more intractably as its basic coordinates have been discredited. As critics such as Dean Baker routinely point out, the stalled recovery out of the Great Recession is almost exclusively a function of the failure of our neoliberal economic establishment to speak honestly about a collapsed housing bubble that created a yawning shortfall in demand -- a shortfall that, amid the paralysis of credit markets in the same recession, could be jumpstarted only by government stimulus.
All sorts of absurdities have flowed from this magisterial breakdown in comprehension. Since the neoliberal catechism holds that stimulative government spending can never be justified in the long run, much of our debate over the recovery's prospective course has been given over to speculative nonsense. Chief among these talismanic invocations of free-market faith is the great question of how to placate the jittery job creators. At virtually every turn in the course of debate over how steeply to cut government spending in this recession, our sachems of neoliberal orthodoxy have insisted that any revenue-enhancing move the government so much as contemplated would spook business leaders into mothballing plans to expand operations and add jobs. It became the all-purpose worst-case scenario of first resort. If health care reform passed, if federal deficits expanded, or if marginal tax rates were permitted to rise for the vapors-prone investor class, why, then the whole prospect of a broad-based economic recovery was as good as shot. [*]
And since neoliberalism is most notably a global -- or properly speaking, the globalizing -- ideology, such pat distortions of economic reality are no longer confined to the Anglo-American political economy. Nor are they confined to strictly cognitive errors in policymaking. The collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory in Bangladesh has yielded commentary from neoliberals that might well merit entry into the psychiatric profession's DSM-5 as textbook illustrations of moral aphasia. Here, after all, was a tragedy that would appall even the darkest Victorian imaginings of a Charles Dickens or a Karl Marx: factory workers earning a monthly wage of $38 crowded into a structurally unsound multistory facility built on a foundation of sand above a drained pond. Three stories of the factory had been hastily erected on top of an already unsound existing structure just to house the fresh battalions of underpaid workers demanded by bottom-feeding international textile contractors.
Government inspectors repeatedly demanded that the facility be shuttered on safety grounds, but the plant's proprietors ignored their citations, reckoning that the short-term gains of maintaining peak production outweighed the negligible threat of a fine or safety citation. Nor was there likely to be any pressure from Western bastions of enlightenment and human rights. The ceremonial stream of Astroturf labor-and-safety-inspecting delegations from Western nations made zero note of the cracked and teetering foundations of the Rana Plaza structure. Lorenz Berzau, the managing director of one such industry consortium (the Business Social Compliance Initiative), primly told the Wall Street Journal that the group isn't an engineering concern -- and what's more, "it's very important not to expect too much from the social audit" that his group and other Western overseers conduct on production facilities. And, as Dave Jamieson and Emran Hossain reported in the Huffington Post , labor organizers have long since learned that the auditing groups serve largely as pro forma conduits of impression management for consumer markets in the West. The auditing of manufacturing facilities in the developing world "ends up catering more to the brands involved than the workers toiling on the line," Jamieson and Hossain write.
Yes, factory owners and managers well understand the permissible bounds of discourse in such Potemkin-style inquiries -- and instruct their workforce accordingly. "What to say to the auditors always comes from the owners," a Bangladeshi line worker named Suruj Miah told the two reporters. "The owners in most cases would warn workers not to say negative things about the factories. Workers are left without a choice." Sumi Abedin, one of the survivors of an earlier disaster -- a factory fire in the nearby Tazreen plant that claimed the lives of 112 workers in November 2012 -- told the Huffington Post that on the day of an international audit team's visit, management compelled workers to wear T-shirts designating them as members of a nonexistent fire safety committee, and had them brandishing prop fire-extinguishing equipment that plant managers had procured only for the duration of the audit.
What this disaster ought to have driven through the neoliberal consensus's collective solar plexus is something close to the polar opposite of its cherished, evidence-proof theory of the captive regulator: a largely cosmetic global watchdog effort funded overwhelmingly by private-sector concerns, far from delivering oversight and accountability, has incentivized fraud and negligence. And conveniently enough, it's the race-to-the-bottom competitive forces unleashed by the global workplace that ritually sanctify all of this routine dishonesty. In their malignant neglect of worker safety measures, local factory managers are able to cite the same market pressures to maximize production and profit that have prevented the ornamental Western groups conducting audits of workplace safety practices from releasing their findings to the workers at risk of being killed by the neoliberal regime of global manufacturing.
Still, the dogmas of neoliberal market prerogative are far sturdier than a collapsing factory or a raging fire on the production line. If the dogmatists have thrown overboard Hayek-era intellectual values like experimentation and skepticism, at least they can stave off their inevitable extinction by shoring up Friedman-era platitudes and, from the mantles of the nation's most prestigious universities and op-ed shops, try to pass them off as the nation's highest common sense. So former University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein, who helped found the influential law and economics movement that essentially transposed the shibboleths of public choice theory into legal doctrine, has patiently explained that the just and measured response to the collapse of Rana Plaza is to seek enforcement of preexisting building codes across the Bangladeshi private sector. Writing on the heels of the disaster, in the Hoover Institution's web journal, Defining Ideas , Epstein takes pains to rule out the passage of any "new laws" to improve worker-safety standards or international monitoring efforts.
In other words: Bangladeshi workers can either be more safe or starve more rapidly.
But lest even this minimal recourse to regulation sound like too heady a plunge into statist remedies, Professor Epstein also cautions that the aggrieved and grieving workers in the Bangladeshi garment trade must not veer recklessly into unionism or other non-market-approved modes of worker self-determination. After all, he reasons, "in order to stave a shutdown off by improving factory safety, the savvy firm will have to raise its asking price from foreign purchasers . . . and may have to lower wages to remain competitive." (This is another classic myth of the neoliberal faith -- the rational "trade-off" between personal safety and wages that the independent broker makes when he or she contracts with an employer to freely exchange time and skills for wages. Only, of course, the notion of such rational choice has been reduced to a bitter farce in workplaces such as Rana Plaza, where the basic human rights of workers are only acknowledged theatrically, for the purposes of Potemkin auditing tours.) A more activist approach to the crisis in global worker safety would create intolerable distress to Epstein's utopian vision of the carefully calibrated relations of global market production. Sure, the EU might ban exports of clothes bearing the taint of labor exploitation -- but such a measure would just perversely create "undeserved economic protection" for EU economies that are net clothing exporters (and by implication, would deprive consumers of the sacred right to the cheapest possible attire that bullied and undercompensated labor can provide).
And do not get Epstein started on the mischief wrought by unions, which are all but certain to multiply calamities like the Rana Plaza disaster:
It is not as though the only thing that a union does once it gains its dominant position is to advocate for the safety of its workers, even if that item is at the top of its agenda. Unions also bargain over wages, work rules, seniority, pensions, benefits, and other conditions of employment. In dealing with these issues, they exert a monopoly clout that can easily raise wages and reduce productivity. In a market with many firms, they can exert that force only if they are prepared to take retaliatory action against the firms that refuse to bow to their conditions. And they can only do so if they induce the government to take measures to restrict the entry of non-union firms that could underbid them.
In other words: Bangladeshi workers can either be more safe or starve more rapidly. But according to Epstein, they assuredly aren't entitled to earn a living wage without the threat of being crushed or burned to death at any given moment. The pertinent market trade-offs simply won't permit it. Indeed, if you want to know the truth, Epstein claims, "labor agitation was . . . one of the contributing causes to the collapse at Rana Plaza." Even the threat of union-related disruptions to established work discipline can be Kryptonite to the beleaguered clothes barons of Bangladesh. We find ourselves confronted yet again by the torments of the heroic job creator. Prospective labor agitation, Epstein contends, "places enormous strains on the firms that have to deliver goods to foreign purchasers in order to remain in business. The threat of a repeat protest has led many firm bosses to step up the pace of work in the factories, which in turn means longer shifts, more workers, more extensive use of heavy equipment in order to make up for lost production, and stockpiling goods. That maneuver turned into a fatal insurance policy against future labor disruptions."
You see? One minute you're protesting for a wage increase or a work regime less likely to injure you, and before you know it, you've frightened your employer into stockpiling inventory at such a frenetic pace that he kills you. Could the tonic discipline of market preferences really be any clearer? One can only hope that future no-goodnik labor agitators will heed this tragic lesson and recognize "foreign purchasers" as the remote, punitive, and awesome deities that the market meant them to be.
Trapped in the Moneybox
It is not all that surprising, in light of the trajectory of neoliberal ascendancy, to see rigidly orthodox market apologists like Professor Epstein driven to such extremities to tease out a neoliberal moral from the bloody, smoldering squalor of the Rana Plaza disaster. But the neoliberal consensus has long since transcended conventional divisions of party and ideology; the axiomatic assertion of market dominance is a conditioned reflex among nearly all established pundits.
In a now-infamous April 24 write-up of the Bangladeshi catastrophe, Slate 's Moneybox columnist Matt Yglesias -- an eager Democratic partisan brandishing pious Washington credentials from The American Prospect and the Center for American Progress -- tried his own hand at an Epstein-style vindication of the market's undeviating wisdom. In a post bearing the reassuring free-to-be-you-and-me headline "Different Places Have Different Safety Rules and That's OK," Yglesias framed his defense of the status quo regime of erratic standards for worker safety in the hoary rhetoric of the public choice "trade-off." "While having a safe job is good," Yglesias chirped, "money is also good."
OK, then! But note again the pinched moral universe in which employees are permitted only to have a safe job or a (barely) sustenance income, and never both at the same time. It seems a modest social goal to demand that the exchange of labor value for a paycheck in non-mortal conditions be accepted as an incontrovertible human right. If a rapidly globalizing market order is unable to secure that baseline personal and financial security, its support for wildly varying models of job safety should be regarded precisely as the problem -- and not as the taken-for-granted standard for phony assertions about what individual workers (let alone "the Bangladeshis," tout court) are purported to be choosing.
"While having a safe job is good," Yglesias chirped, "money is also good."
But Matt Yglesias, like many of Washington's market-besotted, faux-contrarian pundits on the notional left side of the partisan aisle, will not be rushed into stating the morally obvious. Yes, he concedes, there could well be an abstract case here for collective action aimed at upgrading the safety conditions of Bangladeshi workplaces -- but like Epstein, he frets that the collective-action models of richer, Western workplaces create prohibitive costs of doing business and therefore may not fall within the ambit of choices that workers in Bangladesh should reasonably be permitted to make. "Bangladesh is a lot poorer than the United States, and there are very good reasons for Bangladeshi people to make different choices in this regard than Americans," Yglesias writes. "Safety rules that are appropriate for the United States would be unnecessarily immiserating in much poorer Bangladesh."
So, not to worry, Mr. Moneybox confidently asserts. The trade-offs have yielded optimal gains in each diverse market setting, in this, the best of all possible neoliberal worlds: "American jobs have gotten much safer over the past 20 years, and Bangladesh has gotten a lot richer." As an authority for this sweeping claim -- which, by the way, is untrue in what Yglesias sees as the argument-clinching "safer" U.S. end of the spectrum; Bureau of Labor Statistics data on workplace fatalities show steady increases over the past five years, with right-to-work states such as Texas leading the grisly toll -- Yglesias cites the work of Robert Frank, a public-choice enthusiast who, in his recent book The Darwin Economy , seeks to lay the groundwork for a terrifying entity he calls the "libertarian welfare state."
Social media scourges wasted little time in calling out Yglesias's smug, fatuous, and opportunistic effort to advertise his market contrarianism on the ruins of the Rana Plaza collapse. Eventually the scribe was hounded into publishing a passive-aggressive follow-up post averring that he'd been misread and unfairly castigated by his critics. The stalwart wonk remained unbowed, however; Yglesias wrote that he still "absolutely" stood by the conclusion that, in matters of workplace safety, it's "appropriate for rich countries to have more stringent standards than poor ones."
Now, Matt Yglesias is not a doctrinaire neoliberal thinker -- certainly not in the sense that a disciplined propagandist like Milton Friedman was (even though he longs, absurdly, for a revival of "Friedman-style pragmatism" to bring the economic right to its senses). [**] But that's precisely the point. Neoliberal orthodoxy has leached so deeply into the intellectual groundwater of the nation's political class that it's no longer a meaningful descriptor of ideological difference. That's why Yglesias's erstwhile American Prospect colleague Ezra Klein, over at his prestigious post atop the Washington Post 's economic blog shop, can marvel at the tough-minded budget "seriousness" of serial Randian liar Paul Ryan -- or why the Obama White House can confidently slot offshore billionaire Penny Pritzker as its second-term commerce secretary while it continues to mouth empty platitudes about saving the nation's middle class.
All Friedmans Now
It was Milton Friedman himself who famously announced, during his tour as an informal adviser to Richard Nixon, that "we're all Keynesians now" -- but that oft-quoted maxim has been badly truncated from its full context. What Friedman actually said, in a 1968 interview with Time magazine, was "in one sense, we are all Keynesians now; in another, no one is a Keynesian any longer." He went on to spell out the paradox more fully: "We all use the Keynesian language and apparatus; none of us any longer accepts the initial Keynesian conclusions."
Now, more than four decades on, Friedman's savvy rhetorical dodge is the watchword of all mainstream macroeconomic thought. Even putative liberals who pay lip service to the efficacy of government intervention dig in behind their own pet postulates about the market's transcendent wisdom and beneficence -- about the need to temper the alleged excesses of the social-democratic usages of social wealth with sterner, more austere pieties about the real-world trade-offs mandated by the lords of neoliberal market liberation.
It is an undeniable species of gibberish, one that would have likely appalled even as firm a market stoic as Hayek, who, whatever his other intellectual handicaps, well understood the mischief wrought by a glib and self-seeking centrism. During the Mont Pelerin group's tenth anniversary gathering in 1957, Hayek delivered a controversial speech called "Why I Am Not a Conservative." It was designed, among other things, to distance the group from the steady accretion of self-insulated and untested right-wing bromides that would later be the hallmark of Friedman's successor reign. Today, however, Hayek's oration sounds a much more sobering note of prophecy for our political culture at large. "Advocates of the Middle Way with no goal of their own, conservatives have been guided by the belief that the truth must lie somewhere between the extremes -- with the result that they have shifted position every time a more extreme movement appeared on either wing," Hayek announced.
The one true road to intellectual serfdom, in other words, was the one that Hayek correctly saw lurking within the heart of the neoliberal revolution.
[*] Meanwhile, the actual state of the labor economy told a different story -- that corporate profits had spiked to record highs and that, instead of scaling back entirely on job expenditures, employers were in fact adding hours to the average employee workweek, rightly calculating that they could continue getting more value out of the existing workforce in an artificially slack job market with anemic, and declining, union representation. (Once again, Dean Baker was virtually alone among economic commentators in noting this important shift.) Never mind, as well, that when significant provisions of the allegedly business-killing health care law finally began to kick in, health care spending in the private sector started to slow and stabilize on what looked to be a permanent and structural basis, with a projected decline of $770 billion over the next decade. In other words, government intervention in the economy -- even via a mechanism as compromised and graft-riddled as the 2010 Affordable Care Act -- was showing a striking capacity to even out and stabilize one of the most stubborn and devastating inequalities in the American economy, access to affordable health care. And far from producing a steeper drag on broader conditions for recovery, the stabilization of health care spending occurred amid a pronounced spike in health care hiring, and indeed a long overdue (if still altogether too weak) rebound in the labor economy generally.
[**] Yglesias has offered qualified support for the Obama stimulus plan and health care overhaul, and on this past May Day, even ventured a classically coy Slate post where he pretended to flirt with Marxism. (Hipster-trolling headline: "Capitalism is looking pretty shabby.")
Chris Lehmann is editor in chief of The Baffler and author of Rich People Things . His latest book, The Money Cult , is out now from Melville House.
Jul 18, 2017 | www.unz.com
For a year, the big question of Russiagate has boiled down to this: Did Donald Trump's campaign collude with the Russians in hacking the DNC? And until last week, the answer was "no."
As ex-CIA director Mike Morell said in March, "On the question of the Trump campaign conspiring with the Russians there is smoke, but there is no fire, at all. There's no little campfire, there's no little candle, there's no spark."
Well, last week, it appeared there had been a fire in Trump Tower. On June 9, 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with Russians -- in anticipation of promised dirt on Hillary Clinton's campaign. While not a crime, this was a blunder. For Donald Jr. had long insisted there had been no collusion with the Russians. Caught in flagrante, he went full Pinocchio for four days.
And as the details of that June 9 meeting spilled out, Trump defenders were left with egg on their faces, while anti-Trump media were able to keep the spotlight laser-focused on where they want it -- Russiagate.
This reality underscores a truth of our time. In the 19th century, power meant control of the means of production; today, power lies in control of the means of communication.
Who controls the media spotlight controls what people talk about and think about. And mainstream media are determined to keep that spotlight on Trump-Russia, and as far away as possible from their agenda -- breaking the Trump presidency and bringing him down.
Almost daily, there are leaks from the investigative and security arms of the U.S. government designed to damage this president.
Just days into Trump's presidency, a rifle-shot intel community leak of a December meeting between Trump national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn and Russia's ambassador forced the firing of Flynn.
An Oval Office meeting with the Russian foreign minister in which Trump disclosed that Israeli intelligence had ferreted out evidence that ISIS was developing computer bombs to explode on airliners was leaked. This alerted ISIS, damaged the president, and imperiled Israeli intelligence sources and methods.
Some of the leaks from national security and investigative agencies are felonies, not only violations of the leaker's solemn oath to protect secrets, but of federal law.
Yet the press is happy to collude with these leakers and to pay them in the coin they seek. First, by publishing the secrets the leakers want revealed. Second, by protecting them from exposure to arrest and prosecution for the crimes they are committing.
The mutual agendas of the deep-state leakers and the mainstream media mesh perfectly.
Consider the original Russiagate offense.
Confidential emails of the DNC and John Podesta were hacked, i.e., stolen by Russian intelligence and given to WikiLeaks. And who was the third and indispensable party in this "Tinker to Evers to Chance" double-play combination?
The media itself. While deploring Russian hacking as an "act of war" against "our democracy," the media published the fruits of the hacking. It was the media that revealed what Podesta wrote and how the DNC tilted the tables against Bernie Sanders.
If the media believed Russian hacking was a crime against our democracy, why did they publish the fruits of that crime?
Is it not monumental hypocrisy to denounce Russia's hacking of the computers of Democratic political leaders and institutions, while splashing the contents of the theft all over Page 1?
Not only do our Beltway media traffic in stolen secrets and stolen goods, but the knowledge that they will publish secrets and protect those who leak them is an incentive for bureaucratic disloyalty and criminality.
Our mainstream media are like the fellow who avoids the risk of stealing cars, but wants to fence them once stolen and repainted.
Some journalists know exactly who is leaking against Trump, but they are as protective of their colleagues' "sources" as of their own. Thus, the public is left in the dark as to what the real agenda is here, and who is sabotaging a president in whom they placed so much hope.
And thus does democracy die in darkness.
Do the American people not have a "right to know" who are the leakers within the government who are daily spilling secrets to destroy their president? Are the identities of the saboteurs not a legitimate subject of investigation? Ought they not be exposed and rooted out?
Where is the special prosecutor to investigate the collusion between bureaucrats and members of the press who traffic in the stolen secrets of the republic?
Bottom line: Trump is facing a stacked deck.
People inside the executive branch are daily providing fresh meat to feed the scandal. Anti-Trump media are transfixed by it. It is the Watergate of their generation. They can smell the blood in the water. The Pulitzers are calling. And they love it, for they loathe Donald Trump both for who he is and what he stands for.
It is hard to see when this ends, or how it ends well for the country.
Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, "Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever."
Copyright 2017 Creators.com. ← Russia Baiters and Putin Haters Category: Ideology Tags: American Media , Donald Trump , Russia
NoseytheDuke , Show Comment Next New Comment July 18, 2017 at 5:27 am GMTPat, you are again presenting yourself to be a disinformation asset and are truly undermining your credibility here. The DNC and Podesta emails were leaked not hacked. Please write this out in full a hundred times on the blackboard or whiteboard of your choice. Maybe then it will sink in.Priss Factor , Website Show Comment Next New Comment July 18, 2017 at 5:57 am GMTThere is nothing there. Let the media cry Russia Russia Russia forever. Trump can do other things. People will lose interest in this. This is different from Watergate because there really was a burglary and a coverup. There's nothing remotely like this here.vinteuil , Show Comment Next New Comment July 18, 2017 at 8:43 am GMT
1. If Russians really did it, they did it on their own. Trump team had nothing to do with it.
2. If Russians didn't do it, this is just the media wasting its resources and energy on nothing.
Let the media keep digging and digging and digging where they is no gold. Let them be distracted by Trump does something real. Because Buchanan lived through Watergate, I think he's over-thinking this. It's like dejavu to him. Sure, the media today are more deranged than ever. Media are also more cynical and in the control of globalists. But they got nothing on Russia. They have the cry of Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, but unless they can provide solid evidence, this is nothing.Pat Buchanan does his best – but apparently he just can't bring himself to doubt the integrity of America's "intelligence" services – even after their epic failure &/or deception when it came to Iraq's non-existent WMD's. "Confidential emails of the DNC and John Podesta were hacked, i.e., stolen by Russian intelligence and given to WikiLeaks." What reason do we have to believe this, other than the worthless word of these perpetually lying creeps?The Alarmist , Show Comment Next New Comment July 18, 2017 at 9:37 am GMTRandal , Show Comment Next New Comment July 18, 2017 at 11:37 am GMT
It is hard to see when this ends, or how it ends well for the country.
No it's not. The Republic died a long time ago: The Empire is in that rough middle period where the Praetorians choose the leader who suits them most, but occasionally have an unsuitable one slip past them. This ends with the barbarians moving in to assume all the trappings of being a Roman but lead the empire to a final crushing defeat at the hands of worse barbarians.Buchanan still being too reasonable towards the enemies of US democracy (the Democrats and their neocon Republican allies trying to undermine and overthrow the elected US President), imo.Gg Mo , Show Comment Next New Comment July 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm GMT
There's still no need, unless Buchanan knows something a lot more significant than what he covers here, to give any credence whatsoever to the "Russia influencing the US election" black propaganda campaign. It should still be laughed at, rather than given the slightest credibility, whilst, as Buchanan does indeed do repeatedly, turning the issue upon the true criminals – those in US government circles leaking US security information to try to influence US politics.
Did Donald Trump's campaign collude with the Russians in hacking the DNC?
Clearly not, as far as anybody knows based upon information in the public domain. There's no evidence Russia's government hacked anything anyway. A meeting by campaign representatives with Russians claiming to have dirt on Trump's rival is not evidence of collusion in hacking.
Confidential emails of the DNC and John Podesta were hacked, i.e., stolen by Russian intelligence and given to WikiLeaks.
Again, Buchanan seems to be needlessly conceding ground to known liars and deluded zealots.
If there was any attempt by Russia to "influence" the US election it was trivial, and should be put into context whenever it is mentioned. That context includes the longstanding and ongoing efforts by the US to interfere massively in other countries' (including Russia's) elections and governments, and the routine acceptance of foreign interference in US politics by Israel in particular.
If Trump and his backers really wanted to put a halt to this laughable nonsense about foreign influence, he should start a high profile investigation of the nefarious "influencing" of US politics by foreign "agents of influence" in general, specifically including Israel and staffed by men who are not sympathetic to that country.
That would quickly result in the shutting down of mainstream media complaints about foreign influence.@NoseytheDukeGg Mo , Show Comment Next New Comment July 18, 2017 at 1:05 pm GMT
Yup, His name was Seth Rich . (and let us never forget Michael Hastings and the Smith Mundt Modernization Act put in place for a Hillary win/steal.)Yipes -- What is the matter with Buchanan? Is he taking weird prescription drugs for Alzheimers ?Andrei Martyanov , Website Show Comment Next New Comment July 18, 2017 at 1:45 pm GMT
He seems to be a bit of an apologist for KNOWN liars and he doesn't seem to understand that the MSM is absolutely the mouthpiece for these agencies, populated with agents like Cooper and Mika etc etc etc
It is hard to see when this ends, or how it ends well for the country.
It already didn't end well and it pains me to say this. What it may become only is worse. At this stage I don's see any "better" scenarios. The truth has been revealed.
Dec 16, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Sabrina Jeworrek , Vanessa Mertins , Heiner Schumacher , and Matthias Sutter .Originally published at VoxEU
Yves here. There has been much gnashing of teeth in the US about lackluster productivity growth, with the citied culprits ranging from lack of fundamental breakthroughs to cheap labor costs discouraging investment. Almost entirely absent from consideration is poor management demotivating worker. This article helps fill that gap.
Any organisation that needs to restructure, cut wages, or make layoffs needs to know how the employees who are not affected will respond. This column presents a field experiment which revealed that the perception that employers are unfair – in this case, as a result of layoffs – reduces the performance of employees who have not been not directly affected. As part of the experiment, experienced HR managers were able to successfully anticipate the consequences of unfair employer behaviour on unaffected workers.
Management matters for the success and profitability of companies. We know that simple management practices – including the regular maintenance of machines, optimisation of inventory, or recording types of quality problems – can improve the productivity of companies substantially (Bloom et al. 2013). Many of these management practices relate to the structure of an organisation, in particular its workflow and how it is controlled. But the relationship between managers and workers is also important. This relationship is characterised by both the wage paid to a worker as an incentive to work hard, but also by the worker's perception that he or she is being treated fairly (Akerlof 1982).
If workers believe that their employer is acting unfairly towards them, this can greatly reduce their performance at work. For example, Mas (2008) demonstrated that the conflict between Caterpillar and its workforce in the 1990s led to lower production quality. It is not clear, though, whether workers react to employer behaviour that they think is unfair only if they are directly affected (for example, through wage cuts or reorganisation), or also if they are not directly affected (their colleagues suffer, but they do not). This distinction is important for any organisation that reorganises or lays off some of its workers.
In our new study, we set up a field experiment to measure how unaffected workers react to unfair employer behaviour (Heinz et al. 2017). We rented a call centre and hired 195 employees to conduct a telephone survey in two shifts. Overall, our organisation was very employee-friendly – we paid a generous hourly wage, offered flexible work times, a pleasant work atmosphere, and full discretion to workers how to perform their job. We measured individual performance precisely by the number of calls each worker made during a shift.
We used three treatments to identify the effect of unfair employer behaviour on the performance of unaffected workers:
To keep the remaining workers' prospects constant (in the only remaining shift), we made explicit that there would be no future employment possibilities in our organisation. We also paid the wage upon arrival for each shift. This meant that workers in the 'layoff' treatment knew at the beginning of the second shift that the layoffs of their co-workers could not have any consequences for them.
The Effect of Layoffs on Survivors
We found that the layoff announcement decreased the remaining workers' performance by 12% (Figure 1). In the 'layoff' treatment, workers took a longer break at the beginning of the second shift, and they left their workplace earlier than in the other treatments. The layoff announcement also lowered the quality of workers' output.
In contrast, there was no significant difference in performance between our 'no-layoff' and 'quasi-layoff' treatments. The reduction in staff size per se had no effect on performance. Further robustness checks revealed that our treatment differences were not driven by a change in beliefs about the importance of the job, or changes in perceptions of the management's competence. Since our employees worked in single offices, and few of them had social ties to employees from other treatments, we can largely rule out peer effects.
Figure 1 Difference in performance (number of calls made) between the first and second shift in the 'no layoff', 'quasi-layoff' and 'layoff' treatment
Source : Heinz et al. (2017).
After the field experiment, we conducted surveys with our workers. Overall, workers in all treatments were quite satisfied with their salary, the management's behaviour towards them, and the atmosphere in the call centre. The remaining workers in the 'layoff' treatment, however, were significantly less satisfied with management behaviour towards their colleagues than the workers in the other treatments. We also asked workers from the 'layoff' treatment which parts of the layoff announcement they considered anti-social. Their answers indicate that they saw the layoffs per se, and the random selection of workers, as particularly unfair.
To back up our interpretation of the data, we conducted a prediction experiment with 43 professional human resource managers from medium-sized and large companies in Germany (they had, on average, eight years of professional experience). We explained our call centre setting and our treatment variation to them, and then asked them to predict the change in workplace performance between the first and second shifts.
The HR managers' predictions were remarkably accurate, in the aggregate. They predicted that performance in the 'layoff' treatment would drop significantly between the first and second shift, and that would drop only slightly in the other treatments. A large majority of the HR managers mentioned fairness concerns as the main reason for the performance reduction.
Maintaining Productivity During Layoffs
Our results imply that unfair behaviour towards workers can be costly for the employer, even if the only workers who are directly affected have quit the firm. This is important for any organisation that has to accommodate economic shocks by reducing labour costs.
To reduce or mitigate the costs of supposedly unfair acts, organisations could apply a number of HR practices. They could use HR practices that avoid layoffs (for example using natural fluctuation in the workforce). They could provide severance pay or outplacement services. They might shift the blame to interim managers or business consultants. They could also separate profitable and unprofitable business units, and downsize only the unprofitable units. These practices may help employers to maintain a productive relationship with their workforce.
Dec 13, 2017 | www.unz.com
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.
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."whyamihere , December 12, 2017 at 4:24 am GMT
"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.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.Disordered , December 13, 2017 at 8:41 am GMT
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.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.Wally , Website December 13, 2017 at 8:57 am GMT
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."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 GMTDen Lille Abe , December 13, 2017 at 11:09 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.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.wayfarer , December 13, 2017 at 1:01 pm GMT
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.Anonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 1:40 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.
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
... ... ...@Greg FraserAnonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 2:43 pm GMT
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.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.animalogic , December 13, 2017 at 2:57 pm GMT
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.@WallyReg Cćsar , December 13, 2017 at 3:08 pm GMT
""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 Cćsar , December 13, 2017 at 3:20 pm GMT
They elected militarists and demagogues as their new presidents.
Wilson and FDR were much more militarist and demagogic than those that followed.@whyamiherephil , December 13, 2017 at 4:48 pm GMT
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?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.HallParvey , December 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm GMT
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.@AnonymousAnonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm GMT
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@Linda GreenAnonymous , Disclaimer December 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm GMT
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.@HallParveyLogan , December 13, 2017 at 9:10 pm GMT
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.@RealistLogan , December 13, 2017 at 9:19 pm GMT
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.@phil
It has been pointed out repeatedly that Sweden does very well relative to the USA. It has also been noted that people of Swedish ancestry in the USA do pretty well also. In fact considerably better than Swedes in Sweden
Dec 15, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com"Their disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can't contain it": Republicans Despise the Working Class, by Paul Krugman, NY Times : You can always count on Republicans to do two things: try to cut taxes for the rich and try to weaken the safety net for the poor and the middle class. ...
But ... something has been added to the mix. ...Republicans ... don't treat all Americans with a given income the same. Instead, their bill ... hugely privileges owners, whether of businesses or of financial assets, over those who simply work for a living. ...
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has evaluated the Senate bill, which the final bill is expected to resemble. It finds that the bill would reduce taxes on business owners , on average, about three times as much as it would reduce taxes on those whose primary source of income is wages or salaries. For highly paid workers, the gap would be even wider, as much as 10 to one. ...
If this sounds like bad policy, that's because it is. More than that, it opens the doors to an orgy of tax avoidance. ... We're pitting hastily devised legislation, drafted without hearings over the course of just a few days, against the cleverest lawyers and accountants money can buy. Which side do you think will win?
As a result, it's a good guess that the bill will increase the budget deficit far more than currently projected. ...
So why are they doing this? After all, the tax bill appears to be terrible politics as well as terrible policy. ... The ... public overwhelmingly disapproves of the current Republican plan.
But Republicans don't seem able to help themselves: Their disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can't contain it.
When I realized the extent to which G.O.P. tax plans were going to favor business owners over ordinary workers, I found myself remembering what happened in 2012, when Eric Cantor -- then the House majority leader -- tried to celebrate Labor Day. He put out a tweet for the occasion that somehow failed to mention workers at all, instead praising those who have "built a business and earned their own success." ...
Cantor, a creature of the G.O.P. establishment if ever there was one, had so little respect for working Americans that he forgot to include them in a Labor Day message.
And now that disdain has been translated into legislation, in the form of a bill that treats anyone who works for someone else -- that is, the vast majority of Americans -- as a second-class citizen.
Paine , December 15, 2017 at 12:07 PMFair play for the ever so many petty wage heads. Out there ! High achieving high dollar earning high altruism embodying.
Our PK. What a guy ! "haut Liberal oblige " at its most glowingExploited citizens are indeed like oppressed citizens. Inferior class typesHillary prefers earning her daily bread. By making humanist speeches to bankers and writing best selling alibi seasoned memoirs for the bibliophilic public. Why oh why does Paul love her so ?JohnH -> Paine ... , December 15, 2017 at 01:33 PMPaine -> JF... , December 15, 2017 at 12:40 PM
PK would probably even tell you that some of his best friends are working class. As a show of his undying love, he even penned opinion pieces on their behalf, promoting the gift of China's ascension the WTO in 2000, saying how great it would be for labor...that was before the great sucking sound of jobs going to China...
Republicans have no monopoly on selling out the working class...but workers have yet to figure out that there are more than two candidates running for President.Labor parties exist in the OECD. But they had a third way fantasy. Where we all dance together. Most have still not shaken off this collaborationist pipe dream despite the fall of 2008. And the ten year doldrums sinceChristopher H. said in reply to Paine ... , December 15, 2017 at 03:08 PMhttps://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-politics-banking/british-labour-leader-corbyn-tells-morgan-stanley-were-a-threat-idUSKBN1DV44LLongtooth , December 15, 2017 at 12:16 PM
DECEMBER 1, 2017 / 3:23 AM / 14 DAYS AGO
British Labour leader Corbyn tells Morgan Stanley: 'We're a threat'
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn warned Morgan Stanley that bankers are right to regard him as a threat because he wants to transform what he cast as a rigged economy that profits speculators at the expense of ordinary people.
...I have news for you Paul.... the wealthy have always treated labor as second class citizens... what else is new and why are you just now figuring this out?DrDick -> Longtooth... , December 15, 2017 at 01:01 PM
It's interesting that regardless of which party has been in power since the 1960's (e.g. since Johnson) neither have provided any gains in real income to labor's share of income.
And regardless of which party has been in power since the 1970's median incomes have grown at a barely perceptible rate while GDP has continued to grow unabated at a very much greater rate... the gap (wedge) has continued to increase without a hitch.
So Paul, are you just no noticing this or are you under the impression that it's just the GOP wealthy that have disdain for labor... since it would appear to me that it's the wealthy regardless of party identification -- though there are admittedly a few notable exemptions.... but those are only after they have become among the globes richest persons.That seems a grotesque misreading of the piece, which never claims this is new, just that it is even worse than before. Krugman has also written extensively about these issues in the past (he lambasted the Bush administration for exactly the same issues).Longtooth -> DrDick... , December 15, 2017 at 02:30 PMDr. Dick,DeDude , December 15, 2017 at 12:20 PM
I've been reading PK probably since before you could even read or perhaps since you graduated from Dick, Jane, Sally, & Spot. I'm even a huge fan except:
- I lambast him for not calling a spade a spade (which until just very recently he never did before), and
- For intentionally misleading, even though the direction he misleads favors my own positions.
In this case he made a clear statement that in the context of his post is intended to mean the current GOP (as you also were led to believe by your statement "worse then before", or perhaps "recent GOP" as you also believed by your statement "Bush administration...").
You are in fact the direct intent of my comment.. people who believe this GOP is any different than any other GOP. The only difference in this one and any other is that the party has a bullet proof majority in both houses AND a complicit Executive to do their bidding. That just makes it possible for the GOP to carry out its objectives... the objectives have never changed... since Coolidge and Hoover at least.
Krugman's explicit statement inferring and implying this GOP is different is:
"But Republicans don't seem able to help themselves: Their disdain for ordinary working Americans as opposed to investors, heirs, and business owners runs so deep that they can't contain it."
In fact this has been the case all along so why if its not new news does he even mention it? Moreover he neglects entirely to say that it's not just the GOP that has disdain for labor but the entire wealth class, regardless of party. The Dems were persuaded by organized labor to pay attention to labor's issues and preferences .. or else!
Even at that all actual evidence shows quite clearly that labor takes it in the shorts since the 1960's at least, and if you go back to Coolidge and Hoover it was also in clear and obvious evidence at that time as well.
And yet, in all the time since, through all administrations and congress's labor keeps getting the shaft so it's not just the GOP that caters to the wealth, but the Dems as well... and this shouldn't be a surprise (but I'm sure is) because the U.S. gov't is actually run by and to the primarily benefit of the wealthy -- and it always has been in case you haven't much history under your belt yet.
You took Krugman's statement as he intended people like you to take it in his post hook line and sinker.
(my uncle was high up in organized labor in western US in the 1950's through 1970's. I lived with he and my aunt for a summer between college years. He said often and astutely based in his intimate political dealings with Democratic national and State leaders, "The Democrats have nor more back-bone than what Organized Labor provides." The parties aren't really that much different when it comes to the working class."
I was taken aback, and didn't believe him --- after all he was a labor leader --- but I watched over the ensuing decades and sure 'nuff, he was dead on right then and nothing's changed.
To make a difference gov't control has to be taken from the wealthy and has to be shared equally with labor... it doesn't do that nor has it ever done that. Ignore the rhetoric and look at the evidence over time... it's quite obvious and not even remotely vague.But even among the predatory capitalists GOP types some are quite angry at the current tax "reform"Paine -> DeDude... , December 15, 2017 at 12:41 PM
There is likely to be a lot more of that. When some guys get $10 million then others are going to be angry that they only got $1 million. The donor class as a whole will be happy, but some of them will be very unhappy. They may even be willing to support the "Repal the Trump tax cuts" movement and actively support democratic candidates.A giant Shark frenzy ? To good to be likelyPatricia Shannon , December 15, 2017 at 12:57 PMTrue, but the Democrats do too. When I was active in the local Democratic party, the only concerns were for minorities and the middle-class. The only time the Caucasian working class was mentioned was to put them down.Patricia Shannon -> Patricia Shannon ... , December 15, 2017 at 12:58 PMI was referring to attitudes to the low income working class.mulp -> Fred C. Dobbs... , December 15, 2017 at 02:29 PMIf only Democrats were explaining how corporations can cut their taxes: Hire more workers to increase labor cost tax dodging! Pay workers higher wages to increase labor cost tax dodging. Provide more tax exempt benefits to increase labor cost tax dodges. Pay workers to do more R&D which is expensed. Borrow at low interest rates to pay workers to build a huge costly factory that will generate huge depreciation tax dodges plus interest cost tax dodges.mulp , December 15, 2017 at 02:20 PM
Lower prices of goods and services offered to just a small amount above costs of labor in operations and capital. If every business paid 100% of revenue to workers, the taxes owed in profit taxes will be zero.Krugman constantly fails to understand that the GOP, intentionally or not, works to kill jobs.Tom aka Rusty , December 15, 2017 at 02:20 PM
All businesses can dodge that "highest in the world" 35% corporate PROFITS tax by PAYING MORE TO WORKERS!
The biggest corporate business tax dodge in the US is labor costs.
Granted, the tax dodge of paying labor costs building a factory is spread out over decades, but if you build a billion dollar factory, the revenue after paying workers to operate the plant will almost never come close to a billion dollars. Immediate expensing of the billion dollar factory is likely to result in taxable losses of a billion dollars, that can be carried over to shelter $50-100 million in "profit" as the capital cost of production is zero - the capital costs is fully depreciated if capital is expensed, meaning the factory has a book value of zero.
The bizzare result in a corporation pays no taxes for 10 to 15 years when the factory is new and it's productivity means the highest return on investment, until the factory is old and less competitive, and now the loss carry forward is zero so any profit is now taxed, at the time when the factory is old.
Standard double declining balance depreciation spreads taxes out over the life of the factory, so taxes are flatter. Note that selling the factory after taxes are owed merely triggers capital gains equal to the price because the capital book price is zero.
The point of cutting the profit tax rate is to kill jobs. A profit tax of zero would promote a business trying to create a slave labor force so 100% of revenue is tax free to the owners. A zero profit tax rate means every single dollar paid to workers cuts shareholder income by 100% of those dollars.
To create jobs by lowering profit tax rates, investors must suddenly say "No no don't give me so much in dividends and do not increase the price of my shares by stock buyback! I HAVE TOO MUCH MONEY AND I WANT WORKERS TO GET MY MONEY"
To go a step further, the GOP will next call for killing jobs by ending or cutting SS and Medicare and Medicaid payments which pay workers to feed, cloth, house, care for those getting those benefits.
Maybe only half will end up homeless and hungry, but those will be the ones moving into their kids, or grandkids living rooms, eating their food. In exchange for a $500 tax cut for working class families, these families get to feed and house their grandparent or parent, assuming they were earning enough to move out of their parent's basement.
Economies are zero sum.
One person's costs are another person's 100% income.
Cut costs, you cut income.
As I liberal, I say that, like Newt ordered "death" replace "estate", every mention of "costs" get replaced with "jobs".
On tax and spend, the GOP is focused on killing jobs. Cut taxes to kill jobs. Cut spending to kill jobs.
After all, I never knew any employee going into a corporate meeting on cost cutting expecting to hear of a big hiring program or of company wide wage and benefit hikes, other than mandatory long vacations, at zero pay.The globalist Democrats despise the working class, but play nice each election cycle while they suck money out of union treasuries.
Dec 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
...Neoliberal epidemics are particular pathways of embodiment. From Ted Schrecker and Clare Bambra in The Conversation :
In our new book , we draw on an extensive body of scientific literature to assess the health effects of three decades of neoliberal policies. Focusing on the social determinants of health -- the conditions of life and work that make it relatively easy for some people to lead long and healthy lives, while it is all but impossible for others -- we show that there are four interconnected neoliberal epidemics: austerity, obesity, stress, and inequality. They are neoliberal because they are associated with or worsened by neoliberal policies. They are epidemics because they are observable on such an international scale and have been transmitted so quickly across time and space that if they were biological contagions they would be seen as of epidemic proportions.
(The Case-Deaton study provides an obvious fifth: Deaths of despair. There are doubtless others.) Case in point for one of the unluckier members of the 90%:
On the morning of 25 August 2014 a young New Jersey woman, Maria Fernandes, died from inhaling gasoline fumes as she slept in her 13-year-old car. She often slept in the car while shuttling between her three, low-wage jobs in food service; she kept a can of gasoline in the car because she often slept with the engine running, and was worried about running out of gasoline. Apparently, the can accidentally tipped over and the vapours from spilled gasoline cost her life. Ms Fernandes was one of the more obvious casualties of the zero-hours culture of stress and insecurity that pervades the contemporary labour market under neoliberalism.
And Schrecker and Bambra conclude:
Neoliberalism operates through labor markets to undermine health not only by way of the financial consequences of unemployment, inadequate employment, or low wages, as important as these are, but also through chronic exposure to stress that 'gets under your skin' by way of multiple mechanisms. Quite simply, the effects of chronic insecurity wear people out over the life course in .
... ... ...
Oh, and "beyond class" because for social beings embodiment involves "social production; social consumption; and social reproduction." In the most reductive definition of class -- the one I used in my crude 1% + 10% + 90% formulation -- class is determined by wage work (or not), hence is a part of production (of capital), not social consumption (eating, etc.) or social reproduction (children, families, household work ). So, even if class in our political economy is the driver, it's not everything.
nonclassical , December 11, 2017 at 8:30 pmAmfortas the Hippie , December 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm
L.S. reminiscent of Ernst Becker's, "The Structure of Evil" – "Escape from Evil"? (..not to indicate good vs. evil dichotomy) A great amount of perspective must be agreed upon to achieve "change" intoned. Divide and conquer are complicit, as noted .otherwise (and as indicated by U.S. economic history) change arrives only when all have lost all and can therefore agree begin again.
There is however, Naomi Klein perspective, "Shock Doctrine", whereby influence contributes to destabilization, plan in hand leading to agenda driven ("neoliberal"=market fundamentalism) outcome, not at all spontaneous in nature:
"Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that "the market" delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.
Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve."Rosario , December 11, 2017 at 10:55 pm
Well done, as usual.
On Case-Deason: Sounds like home. I keep the scanner on(local news) ems and fire only since 2006(sheriff got a homeland security grant). The incidence of suicide, overdose and "intoxication psychosis" are markedly increased in the last 10+ years out here in the wilderness(5K folks in whole county, last I looked). Our local economy went into near depression after the late 90's farm bill killed the peanut program then 911 meant no hunting season that year(and it's been noticeably less busy ever since) then drought and the real estate crash(we had 30 some realtors at peak..old family land being sold off, mostly). So the local Bourgeoisie have had less money to spend, which "trickles down" onto the rest of us.:less construction, less eating out even at the cheap places, less buying of gas, and on and on means fewer employees are needed, thus fewer jobs. To boot, there is a habit among many employers out here of not paying attention to labor laws(it is Texas ) the last minwage rise took 2 years to filter out here, and one must scrutinize one's pay stub to ensure that the boss isn't getting squirrelly with overtime and witholding.
Geography plays into all this, too 100 miles to any largish city.
... ... ...Lambert Strether Post author , December 11, 2017 at 11:20 pm
I'm not well versed in Foucault or Lacan but I've read some of both and in reading between the lines of their writing (the phantom philosophy?) I saw a very different message than that often delivered by post-modern theorists.
As opposed to being champions of "self-actualization/identity" and "absolute relativism", I always got the impression that they were both offering stark warnings about diving too deeply into the self, vis-a-vis, identity. As if, they both understood the terrifying world that it could/would create, devoid of common cause, community, and ultimately empathy. A world where "we" are not possible because we have all become "I".
Considering what both their philosophies claimed, if identity is a lie, and the subject is always generated relative to the other, then how the hell can there be any security or well being in self-actualization? It is like trying to hit a target that does not exist.
All potentially oppressive cultural categorizations are examples of this (black, latino, gay, trans, etc.). If the identity is a moving target, both to the oppressor and the oppressed, then how can it ever be a singular source of political action? You can't hit what isn't there. This is not to say that these groups (in whatever determined category) are not oppressed, just that formulating political action based strictly on the identity (often as an essential category) is impossible because it does not actually exist materially. It is an amalgamation of subjects who's subjectivity is always relative to some other whether ally or oppressor. Only the manifestations of oppression on bodies (as brought up in Lambert's post) can be utilized as metrics for political action.
... ... ...oaf , December 12, 2017 at 7:11 am
I thought of a couple of other advantages of the "embodiment" paradigm:
Better Framing . Wonks like Yglesias love to mock working class concerns as "economic anxiety," which is at once belittling (it's all about f-e-e-e-lings *) and disempowering (solutions are individual, like therapy or drugs). Embodiment by contrast insists that neoliberalism (the neoliberal labor market (class warfare)) has real, material, physiological effects that can be measured and tracked, as with any epidemic.
... ... ...
"we have measurable health outcomes from political choices" So True!!!
Thank you for posting this.
Dec 09, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
Internet-is-Beast -> Ms No , Dec 9, 2017 3:25 AMDavidduke2000 -> Internet-is-Beast , Dec 9, 2017 3:05 AM
I acknowledge what you are saying. However, I have learned that when one is in the midst of a pessimistic scenario, one tends to develop tunnel vision and assume that the future will be like the present, only worse. Though I despise psychology as a science, this is a very psychological phenomenon. Granting what you say about Trump and the false optimism he generated, I voted for him not because I hated Trump less, but that I hated Hillary more.
Nevertheless, notwithstanding, in spite of all this, I do have a certain optimism about the American people, as a rayon de lumičre in a gloomy prospect.Clock Crasher -> Ms No , Dec 9, 2017 12:57 AM
keep the blinders on, even better yet wear the virtual reality goggles of MAGA while the country is living off a never ending fraud.
Every part of the us government is a fraud, the money is a fraud, wall street is a fraud, 99% of the food you eat is kosher fraud and you pension is fraud as the money is not there to allow you to collect your pension yet most people are paying dearly for their pension and the money goes to either israel or the profiteers of the war machine.Davidduke2000 -> Clock Crasher , Dec 9, 2017 2:58 AM
They are toast. The leaks are not going to stop. Once the baby boom generation dies off completely the next generations will clean up their mess. The baby boom can't see past their own prosperity. But everyone else is ready for reform.
(trying to throw a little optimism into the mix)
Think about it.. when you look at the electoral map by county HRC was thoroughly crushed. Is DJT a SomaSalesMan aka Mega Psyop.. who the fuck knows. The awakening is happen Chinese water torture style.
This is a lot like being a Gold perma Bull. We want to come into the forums every day and write about how hopeless the situation is (a lot like what I do here everyday).
Just remember this.. Even Mao's wife had to stand trial for crimes against the populace. In 20 years the babyboomers will be out of the way and we can get onto bigger and better things.FredFlintstone -> Ms No , Dec 9, 2017 5:55 AM
the biggest problems come from the millennial who grew up with bullshit, baby boomers lived threw a lot of american bullshit and they are the ones like PCR are warning the youngs that america's days are numbered . even Deagel.com predict that the us population in 2025 will dwindle from 325 million to only 55 millions, where do you think the 275 million will go? nuclear war will take care of them.
the corruption is so great that every single new weapon does not work and all these weapons are built at a great cost. The bulk of the left activists are millennials , the same with the super left, yet on the right the millennials are busy filing their nails, surfing and buying bitcoin for a quick profit.
I am Canadian, I am an outsider and see clearly as I am not part of the system, I see a country where the leaders convinced the population that they are exceptional but the people took it as a compliment, it was meant to fool them into a sense of being above the rest of the world, yet most americans do not know the capital of florida, california, mississippi, alabama yet they are in their own country.
This exceptionalism is preventing them from understanding the danger they are in.
For the first time I see a consensus on zerohedge that PCR is 100% right and the posters are worried what will become of america if israel is left with a huge hold on all us presidents and on the political infrastructure of the us and they agree with PCR on the list of propaganda the us have been telling the citizens to keep them distracted from knowing that their days are numbered when the Russians might attack thinking america wants to annihilate them.veritas semper ... , Dec 9, 2017 12:27 AM
Damnit! I just wanted to retire quietly to a golf course.Internet-is-Beast -> veritas semper vinces , Dec 9, 2017 2:46 AM
Pax Britannica<< Pax Americana<< Pax Judaica.
We are in the late stages of Pax Judaica. They, through their money magic,usury,fiat printing,and the bought/paid for/bribed/blackmailed sycophants,rule almost the whole world.The West entirely.
They have push so much,on all aspects of the society,that the recoil is going to be devastating.We started seeing this with the Jerusalem f*ck up.
US can not be saved at this point. It is at the Event Horizon already. I don't know what will be left of it: a few 4th world small countries ,where warlords kill each other? Americans love violence.
I absolutely sure IS...RA...EL is NOT going to survive. Neither Saudi Barbaria. Especially after this last blunder.
Will they go into the dustbin of history gracefully,without destroying the whole world in the process?
I don't think so,they are psychopaths.They do not like to lose or to be exposed for what they really are.
PCR makes a valid point. The Russians are patient ,balanced, intelligent people,but if they sense they are dealing with irrational ones ,they will not take a chance. The Russians have already said that US is not agreement capable, a great insult in their view.HRClinton -> veritas semper vinces , Dec 9, 2017 3:44 AM
Referencing your first line, there's also "army intelligence" "Long Island expressway" to cite a couple of other examples of the same wordplay.roddy6667 -> JibjeResearch , Dec 9, 2017 1:06 AM
Pax Iudaea. Delenda est.
Hostis humani generis. Delenda est.IDESofMARCH , Dec 9, 2017 1:07 AM
In America everybody has their labels (businessman, Libertarian, Democrat, Republican) so they can all fight with each other better. The country is so Balkanized that cannot function as a whole any more. I guess that was the plan all along.Walt , Dec 9, 2017 1:28 AM
Peace and truth are not welcome at the Whitehouse which should be painted BLOOD RED. Politicians are a greedy bloodthirsty criminals, That includes Trump. If you want to save the world from WW3 which we are watching incubate. ALL current crop of politicians have to be thrown out of government. YOU NEED A BLOODY REVOLUTION and throw these criminals into maximum security with the killers and molestors to do as they wish with them.
Without public revolt we'll just keep seeing, hearing and swallowing fake news after fake news brain wash and send our children to kill the innocent in WAR after WAR.Seasmoke , Dec 9, 2017 1:34 AM
Private interests and agendas have control over the US government. As in (((Private interests and agendas))) have control over the US government.Moe Howard , Dec 9, 2017 1:46 AM
Don't forget the biggest lie. Even bigger than 9/11. That in the mid 2000s millions of deadbeats all decided to buy houses that they could not afford. What a joke of a country. Land of the fee. Home of the Slave.Ivan de beers , Dec 9, 2017 2:05 AM
"What Mueller is doing is so corrupt that he really should be arrested and renditioned to Egypt." Best line of the whole piece. Love it. We are not, however, "Walking Into Armageddon" Rather, we are "Slouching into the Apocolypse"
I am ENTERTAINED.GardenWeasel , Dec 9, 2017 2:57 AM
Trump handing Jerusalem to israel is just the first step in setting up the rise of Israel and the fall of America. It is a symbolic transfer of power. All is left is world war 3 and the financial system collapse.ProsperD9 -> GardenWeasel , Dec 9, 2017 3:56 AM
PCR is way off this time. Flynn is acting as bait, and the swamp critters went for it. Trump and Bannon are playing the ol' rope-a-dope rather well. After the Dems and Deep Staters wear themselves out throwing all of these ineffective punches they will take them out.jafo2me , Dec 9, 2017 3:01 AM
You might be on to something...as the Dems and Deep State reveal themselves for what they really are, it makes it easier for Trump to go in for the kill....! They are getting more and more careless and their corruption and stupidity revealed more and more each day. I hope Trump be able to pave the way to cleaning up America and getting it back on its feet....we will see...!slicktroutman -> jafo2me , Dec 9, 2017 8:40 AM
As many of you either know or have heard...
"THE" controllers of the puppet politicans, bankers and world leaders "WANT YOU TO LIVE IN FEAR." All the reasons stated by PCR are valid but not one of them is a reason to go out and get drunk tomorrow. Either you believe in your own fate and the actions which control the fate which you harvest "OR YOU DON'T."
Why would I worry about things I have zero control over, especially when I "KNOW" "THEY" live off of that fear? I will live every moment of my life in the joy and happiness which is this blessing to be alive "AND" will live in fear of no one. If you live your life this way they lose and you get to appreciate a gift which is greater then any material object on the planet.
The worse which they can do when you decide to refuse to live in fear of "THEM" is to take your life which they have no power to do either.. Put up your middle finger to all of them, smile and move on and enjoy what time you have here to make it the best you can do.
Choose not to live in fear of them..
We all fear death and question our place in the universe. The artist's job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence. ... Ernest HemingwayConscious Reviver , Dec 9, 2017 3:08 AM
And then he killed himself.....l...jafo2me , Dec 9, 2017 3:23 AM
Two interesting pieces of news out of moonofalabama.org
First b says the real buyer of the fake $450M fake DaVinci is MbS, the KSA crown prince. Second, MbS just fired his Zino-friendly, Jared-friendly foreign minister.JailBanksters , Dec 9, 2017 3:29 AM
As for Flynn...
The rumors early on were that Flynn knew who all the pedophiles were in Washington, wanted to go after them "AND" would not back down. Trump's VP was included on that list and played a part in the decision to move him out of the public eye and into the position he currently occupies behind the scenes.
Interestingly enough it was supposedly this stupid explanation of him not telling Pence about his meeting with the Russian Ambassador which was the excuse as to why he had to be removed. On face value, think about how ridiculous this is. A decorated General who answers to the President withheld information on a meeting which is fairly typical military procedure.
"IT'S CALLED THE NEED TO KNOW." HELLO....
Trump could have simply stated that Flynn was not under orders from Pence and was acting under a protocol common to members within the Military but not common to politicians. If Pence wanted to know anything about what people within my Administration are doing he is always welcome to discuss it with me. PERIOD...
THE ENTIRE EXCUSE IS TOTAL BS AND THE WEAKNESS OF THAT EXCUSE GIVES ME SUSPICION TO BELIEVE THAT THE ORIGIONAL RUMORS WERE ACCURATE.Conscious Reviver -> JailBanksters , Dec 9, 2017 4:46 AM
America Isn't "Walking Into Armageddon", America Is "Pushing for Armageddon"JailBanksters -> Conscious Reviver , Dec 9, 2017 5:11 AM
The Fascist Tom Cotton with his hair on fire leading the charge. Metaphorically leading the charge to our own destruction. He would never get himself involved in any genuine battle charge. Russia is not my enemy or adversary.slipreedip , Dec 9, 2017 4:57 AM
Has Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, Russia, China, North Korea ever done any physical harm to the USA ? No ... How about the reverse ? Mmm, it appears the only ones that have attacked the USA are Saudi Arabia and Israel. But America does not attack them, instead it only attacks the countries that have never attacked the USA.
Is that wierd or what ?, it's almost as if there is another agenda at play.Stan Derdissue -> Tellthetruth , Dec 9, 2017 6:25 AM
US foreign Policy in a nutshell. Its war...one way or another.free corn , Dec 9, 2017 5:59 AM
You mean the Islam that allows grandads to marry and abuse 10 year olds. Husbands to beat up their wives, hang gay teenage boys off cranes in public squares. Whip 12 year old girls in public for wearing western tight jeans ( underneath their hijab may I add). Satan would approve of this sadistic protocol.Conscious Reviver -> free corn , Dec 9, 2017 7:00 AM
it's amazing to see so much naivety here. People seems to believe that America/Russia are bad/good. But people it's not just imperialism anymore it's globalism. Therefore it's not about interests of countries but rather the ones of oligarchs. And oligarchs interests are international, so why would they be interested in Armageddon? Earth belong to them, why would they want to damage their wealth so much? i think we'll see busyness as usual - small wars, removing obstacles for transnationals, concentration of wealth and power and social engineering on global scale.slicktroutman -> Conscious Reviver , Dec 9, 2017 8:30 AM
The NWO globalism program failed already. Now we are on to something else.WTFUD -> free corn , Dec 9, 2017 7:23 AM
Can you explain how it failed already? Be specific.Dark star , Dec 9, 2017 6:46 AM
Naive, ha ha! Take a look at Libya, the War Crimes & Genocide, overseen by the US & Vassals and talk about Good/Bad, NO SON, we're talking Class A EVIL here, and in the other Regime Change Neocon Playbook. How many Foreign Bases/Entanglements are Russia involved in, outside of Russia? In their Only ME base/port in Syria the US tried to fuck them over. Now Russia has half a dozen strategic Bases ( including a meeting of minds with Egypt, Qatar, Libya, Turkey, Sudan ) to eliminate DAESH/al-CIAd'uh (US Constructs).
Lastly, Only through Threat and Intimidation can the US keep these Vassals on board. Have you not noticed how the Geopolitical Landmark is changing with Sovereigns flocking far and wide to Moscow, for an ALTERNATIVE to the Vassal Prisoner Status offered up by Vichy DC.
Naive Son? Z/Hedgers will call out Russia if they deviate from the Path of Righteousness.
No Russia didn't displace, maim, murder, tens of millions of citizens in the ME, VICHY DC did.WTFUD -> Dark star , Dec 9, 2017 6:59 AM
I read somewhere that the Ukrainian Army has changed its rule book to allow soldiers to wear beards. The inference from this is that those ISIS members rescued by the Americans are being shipped to Ukraine to fight with the Nazis against those in the East who object to Kiev's desire to genocide ethnic Russians. It would appear that, not content with arming Nazis and putting them in Ukraine's Government, the US is now putting an armed ISIS into Eastern Europe. Does anybody have more detail?WTFUD , Dec 9, 2017 6:47 AM
Airlifting them from Der el Zor ( and inevitable destruction at the hands of Syrian/Hezbollah Bravehearts ) onto the demarcation line in the Donbass? Good luck with that Chestnut! What are the Jihadi's wearing, 3 SETS OF THERMALS? Let's put it this way, no matter how many Jihadi proxy scum/Advisers they airlift into Donbass there will be 10 times more FOREIGN FREEDOM-FIGHTERS (ok mainly Russian, but from Everywhere ) ready to join that gig, me included.
Death to ZATO!Conscious Reviver -> WTFUD , Dec 9, 2017 7:05 AM
How convenient that Trump gets to play the Good Guy, supposedly fingers tied at every turn by Deep State, preventing him from reaching out.
There's not a shred of evidence that he's intervened to mend relations with Russia and if there is can someone shed light on this?
First up he has a filthy Neocon POS in Nikki Haley in the UN, the Only one on the Security Council who's a War Hawk (including the Palestinian fiasco ).
Did he intervene in the ILLEGAL eviction of Russian Diplomatic Quarters? Has he worked diligently with China & Russia to resolve DPRK or contributed to the Neocon war-drum beat with more bluster? Has he increased or defused tension in the ME by withdrawing US Troops or has he added to Obama's clandestine proxy jihadi recruitment programme by sending moar ADVISERS?
They say Tillerson's on his way out, to be replaced by a Neocon war-hawk in Mike Pompeo who's current charge of al-CIAd'uh covert operations is a continuation of the Obama failings.
Unlike Obama ( one of his few credits in 8 years ) Trump's Encouraging Netanyahu's Deviancy?
I've read over at the Saker/Other that behind the scenes Vichy DC could step up the supply of WMD's/Advisers to Kiev.
The US Coalition Forces in Syria (minus the US, lol), like their Iraqi counterparts (the Kurds in the main ) are at least talking with Russia/Government to thwart, long-term US Military Bases on Syrian soil. Obviously the US is unhappy about this with their Partition ambitions.
FUCK VICHY DC & EVERYONE IN IT!Able Ape , Dec 9, 2017 8:15 AM
When Vicky Nuland's relatives ran Russia. https://youtube.com/watch?v=pRfY8CwjXvY"Rebellion to t... , Dec 9, 2017 8:33 AM
The US suffers from MIC Induced Psychosis - the only cure is stop funding the military!...Sudden Debt , Dec 9, 2017 9:01 AM
Pope John Paul II, Gorbachev, and Reagan, together, ended the Cold War. HW Bush is the architect on how the USA kept its military industrial complex intact. The USA no longer had an existential threat, and no longer a reason to maintain a multiple tens of billions annual defense budget. So HW Bush picked an enemy and started a global war, that continues to this day. The British military map makers, redrew much of the middle east, after WWI.
The state of Israel was already in the works, long before the story of the holocaust, some 20 years later. Anyway, Sadaam Hussein, leader of Iraq, and US ally, spoke to the Bush administration about Kuwait; and taking back for Iraq, what Sadaam believed the British map makers took away in 1917. Saddam was fooled, and the Bush administration had a reason to keep the military industrial complex intact. The globalism/new world order, that US and EU government officials speak of, is simply another way of saying that no one has any civil liberties and everyone is being monitored.
This dangerous game was effective and working for quite a while. A great deal of wealth and power transferred to a select few. The strategy went sideways when Mr Putin said enough is enough, in roughly 2011.
Now, freedom fighters have joined Mr Putin, such as Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, Barrett Brown, Manning, Glenn Greenwald, Sarah Carter,and many other, to restore freedom and honor back to the people of the world by shining light on all of the corruption.
It will take Trump and Sessions some time to restore trust and to root out the corruption.
The bottom line is that there are good people out there, who will never let this criminal behavior and corruption to be hidden from the unwashed masses.
America is just looking for an excuse to send their young kids to war to get shot to pieces and get mentally fucked up so the drug industry can profit, the war industry can profit, the banks can profit...
It's clear that it's the patriotic thing to do.
Dec 15, 2017 | www.zerohedge.com
FBI Edits To Clinton Exoneration Go Far Beyond What Was Previously Known; Comey, McCabe, Strzok Implicated Tyler Durden Dec 15, 2017 10:10 AM 0 SHARES detailed in a Thursday letter from committee chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok
The letter reveals specific edits made by senior FBI agents when Deputy Director Andrew McCabe exchanged drafts of Comey's statement with senior FBI officials , including Peter Strzok, Strzok's direct supervisor , E.W. "Bill" Priestap, Jonathan Moffa, and an unnamed employee from the Office of General Counsel (identified by Newsweek as DOJ Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson) - in what was a coordinated conspiracy among top FBI brass to decriminalize Clinton's conduct by changing legal terms and phrases, omitting key information, and minimizing the role of the Intelligence Community in the email investigation. Doing so virtually assured that then-candidate Hillary Clinton would not be prosecuted.
Heather Samuelson and Heather Mills
Also mentioned in the letter are the immunity agreements granted by the FBI in June 2016 to top Obama advisor Cheryl Mills and aide Heather Samuelson - who helped decide which Clinton emails were destroyed before turning over the remaining 30,000 records to the State Department. Of note, the FBI agreed to destroy evidence on devices owned by Mills and Samuelson which were turned over in the investigation.
Sen. Johnson's letter reads:
According to documents produced by the FBI, FBI employees exchanged proposed edits to the draft statement. On May 6, Deputy Director McCabe forwarded the draft statement to other senior FBI employees, including Peter Strzok, E.W. Priestap, Jonathan Moffa, and an employee on the Office of General Counsel whose name has been redacted. While the precise dates of the edits and identities of the editors are not apparent from the documents, the edits appear to change the tone and substance of Director Comey's statement in at least three respects .
It was already known that Strzok - who was demoted to the FBI's HR department after anti-Trump text messages to his mistress were uncovered by an internal FBI watchdog - was responsible for downgrading the language regarding Clinton's conduct from the criminal charge of "gross negligence" to "extremely careless."
"Gross negligence" is a legal term of art in criminal law often associated with recklessness. According to Black's Law Dictionary, gross negligence is " A severe degree of negligence taken as reckless disregard ," and " Blatant indifference to one's legal duty, other's safety, or their rights ." "Extremely careless," on the other hand, is not a legal term of art.
According to an Attorney briefed on the matter, "extremely careless" is in fact a defense to "gross negligence": "What my client did was 'careless', maybe even 'extremely careless,' but it was not 'gross negligence' your honor." The FBI would have no option but to recommend prosecution if the phrase "gross negligence" had been left in.
18 U.S. Code § 793 "Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information" specifically uses the phrase "gross negligence." Had Comey used the phrase, he would have essentially declared that Hillary had broken the law.In addition to Strzok's "gross negligence" --> "extremely careless" edit, McCabe's damage control team removed a key justification for elevating Clinton's actions to the standard of "gross negligence" - that being the " sheer volume " of classified material on Clinton's server. In the original draft, the "sheer volume" of material "supports an inference that the participants were grossly negligent in their handling of that information."
Also removed from Comey's statement were all references to the Intelligence Community's involvement in investigating Clinton's private email server.
Director Comey's original statement acknowledged the FBI had worked with its partners in the Intelligence Community to assess potential damage from Secretary Clinton's use of a private email server. The original statement read:
[W]e have done extensive work with the assistance of our colleagues elsewhere in the Intelligence Community to understand what indications there might be of compromise by hostile actors in connection with the private email operation.
The edited version removed the references to the intelligence community:
[W]e have done extensive work [removed] to understand what indications there might be of compromise by hostile actors in connection with the personal e-mail operation.
Furthermore, the FBI edited Comey's statement to downgrade the probability that Clinton's server was hacked by hostile actors, changing their language from "reasonably likely" to "possible" - an edit which eliminated yet another justification for the phrase "Gross negligence." To put it another way, "reasonably likely" means the probability of a hack due to Clinton's negligence is above 50 percent, whereas the hack simply being "possible" is any probability above zero.
It's also possible that the FBI, which was not allowed to inspect the DNC servers, was uncomfortable standing behind the conclusion of Russian hacking reached by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike.
The original draft read:
Given the combination of factors, we assess it is reasonably likely that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's private email account."
The edited version from Director Comey's July 5 statement read:
Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's personal e-mail account.
Johnson's letter also questions an " insurance policy " referenced in a text message sent by demoted FBI investigator Peter Strzok to his mistress, FBI attorney Lisa Page, which read " I want to believe the path you threw out to consideration in Andy's office -- that there's no way he gets elected -- but I'm afraid we can't take that risk." It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40...."
One wonders if the "insurance policy" Strzok sent to Page on August 15, 2016 was in reference to the original counterintelligence operation launched against Trump of which Strzok became the lead investigator in "late July" 2016? Of note, Strzok reported directly to Bill Priestap - the director of Counterintelligence, who told James Comey not to inform congress that the FBI had launched a counterintelligence operation against then-candidate Trump, per Comey's March 20th testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. (h/t @TheLastRefuge2 )
Transcript , James Comey Testimony to House Intel Committee, March 20, 2016
The letter from the Senate Committee concludes; "the edits to Director Comey's public statement, made months prior to the conclusion of the FBI's investigation of Secretary Clinton's conduct, had a significant impact on the FBI's public evaluation of the implications of her actions . This effort, seen in the light of the personal animus toward then-candidate Trump by senior FBI agents leading the Clinton investigation and their apparent desire to create an "insurance policy" against Mr. Trump's election, raise profound questions about the FBI's role and possible interference in the 2016y presidential election and the role of the same agents in Special Counsel Mueller's investigation of President Trump ."
Johnson then asks the FBI to answer six questions:
- Please provide the names of the Department of Justice (DOJ) employees who comprised the "mid-year review team" during the FBI's investigation of Secretary Clinton's use of a private email server.
- Please identify all FBI, DOJ, or other federal employees who edited or reviewed Director Comey's July 5, 2016 statement . Please identify which individual made the marked changes in the documents produced to the Committee.
- Please identify which FBI employee repeatedly changed the language in the final draft statement that described Secretary Clinton's behavior as "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless. " What evidence supported these changes?
- Please identify which FBI employee edited the draft statement to remove the reference to the Intelligence Community . On what basis was this change made?
- Please identify which FBI employee edited the draft statement to downgrade the FBI's assessment that it was "reasonably likely" that hostile actors had gained access to Secretary Clinton's private email account to merely that than [sic] intrusion was "possible." What evidence supported these changes?
- Please provide unredacted copies of the drafts of Director Comey's statement, including comment bubbles , and explain the basis for the redactions produced to date.
We are increasingly faced with the fact that the FBI's top ranks have been filled with political ideologues who helped Hillary Clinton while pursuing the Russian influence narrative against Trump (perhaps as the "insurance" Strzok spoke of). Meanwhile, "hands off" recused Attorney General Jeff Sessions and assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein don't seem very excited to explore the issues with a second Special Counsel. As such, we are now almost entirely reliant on the various Committees of congress to pursue justice in this matter. Perhaps when their investigations have concluded, President Trump will feel he has the political and legal ammunition to truly clean house at the nation's swampiest agencies.swmnguy -> 11b40 , Dec 15, 2017 4:42 PM
All I see in this story is that the FBI edits their work to make sure the terminology is consistent throughout. This is not a smoking gun of anything, except bureaucratic procedure one would find anywhere any legal documents are prepared.
That's not to say Hillary shouldn't have been prosecuted. But what we're seeing here looks like perfectly normal behavior once the decision has been made not to prosecute; get the statements to be consistent with the conclusion. In a bureaucracy, that requires a number of people to be involved. And it would necessarily include people who work for Hillary Clinton, since that's whose information is being discussed.
Now, if Hillary hadn't been such an arrogant bitch, we wouldn't be having this conversation. If she had just take the locked-down Android of iOS phone they issued her, instead of having to forward everything to herself so she could use her stupid Blackberry (which can't be locked down to State Dep't. specs), everything would have been both hunky and dory.
And the stuff about how a foreign power might have, or might possibly have, accessed her emails is all BS too. We already know they weren't hacked, they were leaked.
Maybe people who don't understand complicated organizations see something nefarious here, but nobody who does will. Nothing will come of this but some staged-for-TV dramatic pronouncements in the House, and on FOX News, and affiliated websites. There's nothing here.
youarelost , Dec 15, 2017 8:59 AME.F. Mutton -> youarelost , Dec 15, 2017 9:04 AM
What did Obozo know and when did he know itBigly -> E.F. Mutton , Dec 15, 2017 9:14 AM
False Flag time - distraction needed ASAPshitshitshit -> Bigly , Dec 15, 2017 9:16 AM
We need to look for this as there are a LOT of people who need to be indicted and boobus americanus needs distraction.
My concern is that there are not enough non-corrupts there to handle and process the swamp as Trump did not fire and replace them 10 months ago.cheka -> eclectic syncretist , Dec 15, 2017 9:45 AM
I wonder how high will this little game go...
That obongo of all crooks is involved is a sure fact, but I'd like to see how many remaining defenders of the cause are still motivated to lose everything for this thing...
In other terms, what are the defection rates in the dem party, because now this must be an avalanche.macholatte -> cheka , Dec 15, 2017 10:23 AM
applied neo-bolshevismBay of Pigs -> macholatte , Dec 15, 2017 12:02 PM
I am tired of this shit. Aren't you?
Please, EVERYONE with a Twitter account send this message Every Day (tell your friends on facebook):
Mr. President, the time to purge the Obama-Clinton holdovers has long passed. Please get rid of them at once. Make your base happy. Fire 100+ from DOJ - State - FBI. Hire William K. Black as Special Prosecutor
send it to:
Does anybody know how to start an online petition?
Let's make some NOISE!!11b40 -> Bay of Pigs , Dec 15, 2017 1:22 PM
Sadly, I don't see this story being reported anywhere this morning. Only the biggest scandal in American history. WTF?grizfish -> Bay of Pigs , Dec 15, 2017 1:53 PM
Debatable re. biggest story being kept quiet. The AWAN Brothers/Family is a Pakistani spy ring operating inside Congress for more than a decade, and we hear nothing. They had access to virtually everything in every important committee. They had access to the Congressional servers and all the emails. Biggest spy scandal in our nations hsitory, and........crickets.
Of course, they may all be related, since Debbie Wasserman-Shits brought them in and set them up, then intertwined their work in Congress with their work for the DNC.ThePhantom -> grizfish , Dec 15, 2017 3:35 PM
They have had a year to destroy the evidence. Why should the CIA controlled MSM report the truth? It's just like slick willy. Deny. Deny. Deny.grizfish -> Bay of Pigs , Dec 15, 2017 4:29 PM
The Media is "in on it" and just as culpabale.... everyone's fighting for their lives.Lanka -> macholatte , Dec 15, 2017 2:27 PM
Just more theater. Throwing a bone to the few citizens who think for themselves. Giving us false hope the US legal system isn't corrupt. This will never be prosecuted, because the deep state remains in control. They've had a year to destroy the incriminating evidence.TerminalDebt -> cheka , Dec 15, 2017 12:43 PM
Tillerson is extremely incompetent in housecleaning. He needs to be replaced by Fred Kruger, Esq.Joe Davola -> TerminalDebt , Dec 15, 2017 1:27 PM
I guess we know now who the leaker was at the FBI and on the Mule's teameclectic syncretist -> eclectic syncretist , Dec 15, 2017 10:01 AM
I'm guessing the number of leakers is bigger than 1Overfed -> eclectic syncretist , Dec 15, 2017 10:58 AM
What's next? The FBI had Seth Rich killed? Is that why Sessions and everyone else appears paralyzed? How deep does this rabbit hole go?Mr. Universe -> Overfed , Dec 15, 2017 11:24 AM
I'm sure that Chaffets and Gowdy will hand down some very stern reprimands.Duane Norman -> Mr. Universe , Dec 15, 2017 11:31 AM
Ryan and his buddies in Congress will make strained faces (as if taking a dump) and wring their hands saying they must hire a "Special" Investigator to cover up this mess.Gardentoolnumber5 -> Overfed , Dec 15, 2017 3:12 PM
Yeah, but it won't make a difference.ThePhantom -> eclectic syncretist , Dec 15, 2017 3:38 PM
Chaffets left Congress because he couldn't get any more help from Trump's DOJ than he did from Obama's. Sad, as he was one of the good guys. imogrizfish -> ThePhantom , Dec 15, 2017 4:38 PM
did you notice the story yesterday about "Russian hacker admits putin ordered him to steal dnc emials" ? someones worried about it....Bush Baby -> eclectic syncretist , Dec 15, 2017 11:37 AM
They tweet that crap all the time. Usually just a repeat with different names, but always blaming a Ruskie. About every 6 months they hit on a twist in the wording that causes it to go viral.eclectic syncretist -> Bush Baby , Dec 15, 2017 11:57 AM
Before Trump was elected , I thought the only way to get our country back was through a Military Coup, but it appears there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.rccalhoun -> eclectic syncretist , Dec 15, 2017 12:43 PM
I wonder if that light is coming from the soon to be gaping hole in the FBI's asshole when the extent of this political activism by the agency eventually seeps into the public conciousness.Lanka -> rccalhoun , Dec 15, 2017 2:31 PM
you can't clean up a mess of this magnitude. fire everyone in washington---senator, representative, fbi, cia, nsa ,etc and start over---has NO chance of happenning
the only hope for a non violent solution is that a true leader emerges that every decent person can rally behind and respect, honor and dignity become the norm. unfortunately, corruption has become a culture and i don't know if it can be eradicatedshankster -> eclectic syncretist , Dec 15, 2017 4:11 PM
Just expose the Congress, McCabe, Lindsey, McCabe, Clinton, all Dem judges, Media, Hollywood, local government dems as pedos; that will half-drain the swamp.lew1024 -> Bush Baby , Dec 15, 2017 2:54 PM
Does the US public have a consciousness?checkessential -> BennyBoy , Dec 15, 2017 1:00 PM
If Trump gets the swamp cleaned without a military coup, he will be one of our greatest Presidents. There will be people who hate that more than they hate being in jail.TommyD88 -> checkessential , Dec 15, 2017 1:09 PM
And they say President Trump obstructed justice for simply asking Comey if he could drop the Michael Flynn matter. Wow.Overfed -> redmudhooch , Dec 15, 2017 2:47 PM
Alinsky 101: Accuse your opponent of that which you yourself are doing.A Sentinel -> TommyD88 , Dec 15, 2017 2:13 PM
Getting rid of the FBI (and all other FLEAs) would be a good thing for all of us.lurker since 2012 -> checkessential , Dec 15, 2017 4:09 PM
Precisely. That's actually a very good tool for decoding the Clintons and Obama. "You collaborated with Russia." Means "I collaborated with Saudi Arabia." It takes a little while and I haven't fully mastered it yet, but you can reverse alinsky-engineer their statements to figure out what they did.Ramesees -> BaBaBouy , Dec 15, 2017 9:31 AM
And get this, Flynn was set up! Yates had the transcript via the (illegal) FISA Court of warrant which relied on the Dirty Steele Dossier, when Flynn deviated from the transcript they charged him Lying to the FBI. Comey McCabe run around lying 24/7. Their is no fucking hope left! The swamp WINS ALWAYS.A Sentinel -> Ramesees , Dec 15, 2017 2:14 PM
I have - it's was NBC Nightly News - they spent time on the damning emails from Strozk. Maybe 2-3 minutes. Normal news segment time. Surprised the hell out of me.ThePhantom -> Ramesees , Dec 15, 2017 3:41 PM
Someone probably got fired for that.
the "MSM" needs to cover their own asses ...like "an insurance policy" just in case the truth comes out... best to be seen reporting on the REAL issue at least for a couple minutes..
Dec 14, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Yves here. I imagine many readers are acutely aware of the problems outlined in this article, if not beset by them already. By any rational standard, I should move now to a much cheaper country that will have me. I know individuals who live most of the year in third-world and near-third world countries, but they have very cheap ways of still having a toehold in the US and not (yet or maybe ever) getting a long-term residence visa. Ecuador is very accommodating regarding retirement visas, and a Social Security level income goes far there, but yours truly isn't retiring any time soon. And another barrier to an international move (which recall I did once, so I have some appreciation for what it takes), is that one ought to check out possible destinations but if you are already time and money and energy stressed, how do you muster the resources to do that at all, let alone properly?
Aside from the potential to greatly reduce fixed costs, a second impetus for me is Medicare. I know for most people, getting on Medicare is a big plus. I have a very rare good, very old insurance policy. When you include the cost of drug plans, Medicare is no cheaper than what I have now, and considerably narrows my network. Moreover, I expect it to be thoroughly crapified by ten years from now (when I am 70), which argues for getting out of Dodge sooner rather than later.
And that's before you get to another wee problem Lambert points out that I would probably not be happy in a third world or high end second world country. But the only bargain "world city" I know of is Montreal. I'm not sure it would represent enough of an all-in cost saving to justify the hassle of an international move and the attendant tax compliance burdens .and that charitably assumes I could even find a way to get permanent residence. Ugh.
By Alex Henderson, who has written for the L.A. Weekly, Billboard, Spin, Creem, the Pasadena Weekly and many other publications. Follow him on Twitter @alexvhenderson. Originally published at Alternet
Millions can no longer afford to retire, and may never be able when the GOP passes its tax bill.
The news is not good for millions of aging Baby Boomers and Gen Xers in the United States who are moving closer to retirement age. According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute's annual report on retirement preparedness for 2017, only 18 percent of U.S.-based workers feel "very confident" about their ability to retire comfortably ; Craig Copeland, senior research associate for EBRI and the report's co-author, cited "debt, lack of a retirement plan at work, and low savings" as "key factors" in workers' retirement-related anxiety. The Insured Retirement Institute finds a mere 23 percent of Baby Boomers and 24 percent of Gen Xers are confident that their savings will last in retirement. To make matters worse, more than 40 percent of Boomers and over 30 percent of Gen Xers report having no retirement savings whatsoever .
The U.S. has a retirement crisis on its hands, and with the far right controlling the executive branch and both houses of Congress, as well as dozens of state governments, things promise to grow immeasurably worse.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. Past progressive presidents, notably Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, took important steps to make life more comfortable for aging Americans. FDR signed the Social Security Act of 1935 into law as part of his New Deal, and when LBJ passed Medicare in 1965, he established a universal health care program for those 65 and older. But the country has embraced a neoliberal economic model since the election of Ronald Reagan, and all too often, older Americans have been quick to vote for far-right Republicans antagonistic to the social safety net.
In the 2016 presidential election, 55 percent of voters 50 and older cast their ballots for Donald Trump against just 44 percent for Hillary Clinton. (This was especially true of older white voters; 90 percent of black voters 45 and older, as well as 67 percent of Latino voters in the same age range voted Democratic.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) economic proposals may have been wildly popular with millennials, but no demographic has a greater incentive to vote progressive than Americans facing retirement. According to research conducted by the American Association of Retired Persons, the three greatest concerns of Americans 50 and older are Social Security, health care costs and caregiving for loved ones -- all areas that have been targeted by Republicans.
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, a devotee of social Darwinist Ayn Rand , has made no secret of his desire to privatize Social Security and replace traditional Medicare with a voucher program. Had George W. Bush had his way and turned Social Security over to Wall Street, the economic crash of September 2008 might have left millions of senior citizens homeless.
Since then, Ryan has doubled down on his delusion that the banking sector can manage Social Security and Medicare more effectively than the federal government. Republican attacks on Medicare have become a growing concern: according to EBRI, only 38 percent of workers are confident the program will continue to provide the level of benefits it currently does.
The GOP's obsession with abolishing the Affordable Care Act is the most glaring example of its disdain for aging Americans. Yet Obamacare has been a blessing for Boomers and Gen Xers who have preexisting conditions. The ACA's guaranteed issue plans make no distinction between a 52-year-old American with diabetes, heart disease or asthma and a 52-year-old who has never had any of those illnesses. And AARP notes that under the ACA, the uninsured rate for Americans 50 and older decreased from 15 percent in 2013 to 9 percent in 2016.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the replacement bills Donald Trump hoped to ram through Congress this year would have resulted in staggering premium hikes for Americans over 50. The CBO's analysis of the American Health Care Act, one of the earlier versions of Trumpcare, showed that a 64-year-old American making $26,500 per year could have gone from paying $1,700 annually in premiums to just over $16,000. The CBO also estimated that the GOP's American Health Care Act would have deprived 23 million Americans of health insurance by 2026.
As 2017 winds down, Americans with health problems are still in the GOP's crosshairs -- this time because of so-called tax reform. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (both the House and Senate versions) includes provisions that would undermine Obamacare and cause higher health insurance premiums for older Americans. According to AARP, "Older adults ages 50-64 would be at particularly high risk under the proposal, facing average premium increases of up to $1,500 in 2019 as a result of the bill."
The CBO estimates that the bill will cause premiums to spike an average of 10 percent overall, with average premiums increasing $890 per year for a 50-year-old, $1,100 per year for a 55-year-old, $1,350 per year for a 60-year-old and $1,490 per year for a 64-year-old. Premium increases, according to the CBO, would vary from state to state; in Maine, average premiums for a 64-year-old would rise as much as $1,750 per year.
Countless Americans who are unable to afford those steep premiums would lose their insurance. The CBO estimates that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would cause the number of uninsured under 65 to increase 4 million by 2019 and 13 million by 2027. The bill would also imperil Americans 65 and over by cutting $25 billion from Medicare .
As morally reprehensible as the GOP's tax legislation may be, it is merely an acceleration of the redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top that America has undergone since the mid-1970s. (President Richard Nixon may have been a paranoid right-winger with authoritarian tendencies, but he expanded Medicare and supported universal health care.) Between the decline of labor unions, age discrimination, stagnant wages, an ever-rising cost of living, low interest rates, and a shortage of retirement accounts, millions of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers may never be able to retire.
Traditional defined-benefit pensions were once a mainstay of American labor, especially among unionized workers. But according to Pew Charitable Trusts, only 13 percent of Baby Boomers still have them (among millennials, the number falls to 6 percent). In recent decades, 401(k) plans have become much more prominent, yet a majority of American workers don't have them either.
Analyzing W2 tax records in 2012, U.S. Census Bureau researchers Michael Gideon and Joshua Mitchell found that only 14 percent of private-sector employers in the U.S. were offering a 401(k) or similar retirement packages to their workers. That figure was thought to be closer to 40 percent, but Gideon and Mitchell discovered the actual number was considerably lower when smaller businesses were carefully analyzed, and that larger companies were more likely to offer 401(k) plans than smaller ones.
Today, millions of Americans work in the gig economy who don't have full-time jobs or receive W2s, but instead receive 1099s for freelance work. Tax-deferred SEP-IRAs were once a great, low-risk way for freelancers to save for retirement without relying exclusively on Social Security, but times have changed since the 1980s and '90s when interest rates were considerably higher for certificates of deposit and savings accounts. According to Bankrate.com, average rates for one-year CDs dropped from 11.27 percent in 1984 to 8.1 percent in 1990 to 5.22 percent in 1995 to under 1 percent in 2010, where it currently remains.
The combination of stagnant wages and an increasingly high cost of living have been especially hellish for Americans who are trying to save for retirement. The United States' national minimum wage, a mere $7.25 per hour, doesn't begin to cover the cost of housing at a time when rents have soared nationwide. Never mind the astronomical prices in New York City, San Francisco or Washington, D.C. Median rents for one-bedroom apartments are as high as $1,010 per month in Atlanta, $960 per month in Baltimore, $860 per month in Jacksonville and $750 per month in Omaha, according to ApartmentList.com.
That so many older Americans are renting at all is ominous in its own right. FDR made home ownership a primary goal of the New Deal, considering it a key component of a thriving middle class. But last year, the Urban Institute found that 19 million Americans who previously owned a home are now renting, 31 percent between the ages of 36 and 45. Laurie Goodman, one of the study's authors, contends the Great Recession has "permanently raised the number of renters," and that the explosion of foreclosures has hit Gen Xers especially hard.
The severity of the U.S. retirement crisis is further addressed in journalist Jessica Bruder's new book "Nomadland: Surviving America in the 21st Century," which follows Americans in their 50s, 60s and even 70s living in RVs or vans , barely eking out a living doing physically demanding, seasonal temp work from harvesting sugar beets to cleaning toilets at campgrounds. Several had high-paying jobs before their lives were blown apart by the layoffs, foreclosures and corporate downsizing of the Great Recession. Bruder speaks with former college professors and software professionals who now find themselves destitute, teetering on the brink of homelessness and forced to do backbreaking work for next to nothing. Unlike the big banks, they never received a bailout.
These neo-nomads recall the transients of the 1930s, themselves victims of Wall Street's recklessness. But whereas FDR won in a landslide in 1932 and aggressively pursued a program of progressive economic reforms, Republicans in Congress have set out to shred what little remains of the social safety net, giving huge tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires . The older voters who swept Trump into office may have signed their own death warrants.
If aging Americans are going to be saved from this dystopian future, the U.S. will have to forge a new Great Society. Programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will need to be strengthened, universal health care must become a reality and age discrimination in the workplace will have to be punished as a civil rights violation like racial and gender-based discrimination. If not, millions of Gen Xers and Boomers will spend their golden years scraping for pennies.
Expat , , December 14, 2017 at 6:29 amvidimi , , December 14, 2017 at 6:40 am
I certainly will never go back to the States for these and other reasons. I have a friend, also an American citizen, who travels frequently back to California to visit his son. He is truly worried about getting sick or having an accident when he is there since he knows it might bankrupt him. As he jokes, he would be happy to have another heart attack here in France since it's free!
For those of you who have traveled the world and talked to people, you probably know that most foreigners are perplexed by America's attitude to health care and social services. The richest nation in the world thinks that health and social security (in the larger sense of not being forced into the street) are not rights at all. Europeans scratch their heads at this.
The only solution is education and information, but they are appalling in America. America remains the most ignorant and worst educated of the developed nations and is probably beaten by many developing nations. It is this ignorance and stupidity that gets Americans to vote for the likes of Trump or any of the other rapacious millionaires they send to office every year.
A first step would be for Americans to insist that Congress eliminate its incredibly generous and life-long healthcare plans for elected officials. They should have to do what the rest of Americans do. Of course, since about 95% of Congress are millionaires, it might not be effective. But it's a start.Marco , , December 14, 2017 at 6:46 am
France has its share of problems, but boy do they pale next to the problems in America or even Canada. Life here is overall quite pleasant and I have no desire to go back to N.A.WobblyTelomeres , , December 14, 2017 at 7:47 am
Canada has problems?vidimi , , December 14, 2017 at 8:03 am
Was in Yellowknife a couple of years ago. The First Nations people have a rough life. From what I've read, such extends across the country.JEHR , , December 14, 2017 at 1:46 pm
yeah, Canada has a neoliberal infestation that is somewhere between the US and the UK. France has got one too, but it is less advanced. I'll enjoy my great healthcare, public transportation, and generous paid time off while I can.JEHR , , December 14, 2017 at 1:55 pm
The newest neoliberal effort in Canada was put forward by our Minister of Finance (a millionaire) who is touting a bill that will get rid of defined benefit pension plans given to public employees for so-called target benefit pension plans. The risk for target plans is taken by the recipient. Morneau's former firm promotes target benefit pension plans and the change could benefit Morneau himself as he did not put his assets from his firm in a blind trust. At the very least, he has a conflict of interest and should probably resign.
There is always an insidious group of wealthy people here who would like to re-make the world in their own image. I fear for the future.Dita , , December 14, 2017 at 8:25 am
Yes, I agree. There is an effort to "simplify" the financial system of the EU to take into account the business cycle and the financial cycle .jefemt , , December 14, 2017 at 10:02 am
Europeans may scratch their heads, but they should recall their own histories and the long struggle to the universal benefits now enjoyed. Americans are far too complacent. This mildness is viewed by predators as weakness and the attacks will continue.Scramjett , , December 14, 2017 at 1:43 pm
We really should be able to turn this around, and have an obligation to ourselves and our 'nation state' , IF there were a group of folks running on a fairness, one-for-all, all-for-one platform. That sure isn't the present two-sides-of-the-same-coin Democraps and Republicrunts.
Not sure if many of the readers here watch non-cable national broadcast news, but Pete Peterson and his foundation are as everpresent an advertiser as the pharma industry. Peterson is the strongest, best organized advocate for gutting social services, social security, and sending every last penny out of the tax-mule consumer's pocket toward wall street. The guy needs an equivalent counterpoint enemy.
Check it out, and be vigilant in dispelling his message and mission. Thanks for running this article.
Running away: the almost-haves run to another nation state, the uber-wealthy want to leave the earth, or live in their private Idaho in the Rockies or on the Ocean. What's left for the least among us? Whatever we create?
https://www.pgpf.org/sierra7 , , December 14, 2017 at 8:45 pm
I think pathologically optimistic is a better term than complacent. Every time someone dumps on them, their response is usually along the lines of "Don't worry, it'll get better," "Everything works itself out in the end," "maybe we'll win the lottery," my personal favorite "things will get better, just give it time" (honestly it's been 40 years of this neoliberal bullcrap, how much more time are we supposed to give it?), "this is just a phase" or "we can always bring it back later and better than ever." The last one is most troubling because after 20 years of witnessing things in the public sphere disappearing, I've yet to see a single thing return in any form at all.
I'm not sure where this annoying optimism came from but I sure wish it would go away.Jeremy Grimm , , December 14, 2017 at 4:44 pm
The "optimism" comes from having a lack of historical memory. So many social protections that we have/had is seen as somehow coming out of the ether benevolently given without any social struggles. The lack of historical education on this subject in particular is appalling. Now, most would probably look for an "APP" on their "dumbphones" to solve the problem.
The social advantages that we still enjoy were fought in the streets, and on the "bricks" flowing with the participants blood. 8 hr. day; women's right to vote; ability and right for groups of laborers to organize; worker safety laws ..and so many others. There is no historical memory on how those rights were achieved. We are slowly slipping into an oligarchy greased by the idea that the physical possession of material things is all that matters. Sheeple, yes.Expat , , December 14, 2017 at 6:10 pm
WOW! You must have been outside the U.S. for a long time. Your comment seems to suggest we still have some kind of democracy here. We don't get to pick which rapacious millionaires we get to vote for and it doesn't matter any way since whichever one we pick from the sad offerings ends up with policies dictated from elsewhere.Disturbed Voter , , December 14, 2017 at 6:29 am
Mmm, I think American voters get what they want in the end. They want their politicians because they believe the lies. 19% of Americans believe they are in the top 1% of wealth. A huge percentage of poor people believe they or their kids will (not can, but will) become wealthy. Most Americans can't find France on a map.
So, yes, you DO get to pick your rapacious millionaire. You send the same scumbags back to Washington every year because it's not him, it the other guys who are the problem. One third of Americans support Trump! Really, really support him. They think he is Jesus, MacArthur and Adam Smith all rolled up into one.
I may have been gone for about thirty years, but that has only sharpened my insights into America. It's very hard to see just how flawed America is from the inside but when you step outside and have some perspective, it's frightening.Carolinian , , December 14, 2017 at 8:05 am
The Democrat party isn't a reform party. Thinking it is so, is because of the "No Other Choice" meme. Not saying that the Republican party works in my favor. They don't. Political reform goes deeper than reforming either main party. It means going to a European plurality system (with its own downside). That way growing Third parties will be viable, if they have popular, as opposed to millionaire, support. I don't see this happening, because of Citizens United, but if all you have is hope, then you have to go with that.KYrocky , , December 14, 2017 at 12:05 pm
Had George W. Bush had his way and turned Social Security over to Wall Street, the economic crash of September 2008 might have left millions of senior citizens homeless.
Substitute Bill Clinton for George Bush in that sentence and it works just as well. Neoliberalism is a bipartisan project.
And many of the potential and actual horrors described above arise from the price distortions of the US medical system with Democratic acquiescence in said system making things worse. The above article reads like a DNC press release.
And finally while Washington politicians of both parties have been threatening Social Security for years that doesn't mean its third rail status has been repealed. The populist tremors of the last election -- which have caused our elites to lose their collective mind -- could be a mere prelude to what will happen in the event of a full scale assault on the safety net.rps , , December 14, 2017 at 5:01 pm
Substitute Obama's quest for a Grand Bargain as well.
Our government, beginning with Reagan, turned its back on promoting the general welfare. The wealthy soon learned that their best return on investment was the "purchase" of politicians willing to pass the legislation they put in their hands. Much of their investment included creating the right wing media apparatus.
The Class War is real. It has been going on for 40 years, with the Conservative army facing virtually no resistance. Conservatives welcome Russia's help. Conservatives welcome barriers to people voting. Conservatives welcome a populace that believes lies that benefit them. Conservatives welcome the social and financial decline of the entire middle class and poor as long as it profits the rich financially, and by extension enhances their power politically.
If retirees flee our country that will certainly please the Conservatives as that will be fewer critics (enemies). Also less need or demand for social programs.tegnost , , December 14, 2017 at 8:59 am
"Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day, but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery" Thomas Jefferson. Rights of British America, 1774 ME 1:193, Papers 1:125Marco , , December 14, 2017 at 6:55 am
yes, my problem with the post as well, completely ignores democrat complicity the part where someone with a 26k salary will pay 16k in insurance? No they won't, the system would collapse in that case which will be fine with me.OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , December 14, 2017 at 3:57 pm
"President Richard Nixon may have been a paranoid right-winger with authoritarian tendencies, but he expanded Medicare and supported universal health care."
"Gimme that old time Republican!"
One of the reasons I love NC is that most political economic analysis is often more harsh on the Democrats than the Repubs so I am a bit dismayed how this article is way too easy on Team D. How many little (and not so little) knives in the back from Clinton and Obama? Is a knife in the chest that much worse?tagio , December 14, 2017 at 4:39 pm
This entire thread is simply heartbreaking, Americans have had their money, their freedom, their privacy, their health, and sometimes their very lives taken away from them by the State. But the heartbreaking part is that they feel they are powerless to do anything at all about it so are just trying to leave.
But "People should not fear the government; the government should fear the people"
It's more than a feeling, HAL. https://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/is-america-an-oligarchy Link to the academic paper embedded in article.
As your quote appears to imply, it's not a problem that can be solved by voting which, let's not forget, is nothing more than expressing an opinion. I am not sticking around just to find out if economically-crushed, opiod-, entertainment-, social media-addled Americans are actually capable of rolling out tumbrils for trips to the guillotines in the city squares. I strongly suspect not.
This is the country where, after the banks crushed the economy in 2008, caused tens of thousands to lose their jobs, and then got huge bailouts, the people couldn't even be bothered to take their money out of the big banks and put it elsewhere. Because, you know, convenience! Expressing an opinion, or mobilizing others to express an opinion, or educating or proselytizing others about what opinion to have, is about the limit of what they are willing, or know how to do.
Dec 14, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
December 14, 2017 by Yves Smith Yves here. Notice that Costa Rica is served up as an example in this article. Way back in 1997, American Express had designated Costa Rica as one of the countries it identified as sufficiently high income so as to be a target for a local currency card offered via a franchise agreement with a domestic institution (often but not always a bank). 20 years later, the Switzerland of Central America still has limited Internet connectivity, yet is precisely the sort of place that tech titans like Google would like to dominate.
The initiative described in this article reminds me of how the World Bank pushed hard for emerging economies to develop capital markets, for the greater good of America's investment bankers.
By Burcu Kilic, an expert on legal, economic and political issues. Originally published at openDemocracy
Today, the big tech race is for data extractivism from those yet to be 'connected' in the world – tech companies will use all their power to achieve a global regime in which small nations cannot regulate either data extraction or localisation.
n a few weeks' time, trade ministers from 164 countries will gather in Buenos Aires for the 11th World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC11). US President Donald Trump in November issued fresh accusations of unfair treatment towards the US by WTO members , making it virtually impossible for trade ministers to leave the table with any agreement in substantial areas.
To avoid a 'failure ministerial," some countries see the solution as pushing governments to open a mandate to start conversations that might lead to a negotiation on binding rules for e-commerce and a declaration of the gathering as the "digital ministerial". Argentina's MC11 chair, Susana Malcorra, is actively pushing for member states to embrace e-commerce at the WTO, claiming that it is necessary to " bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots ".
It is not very clear what kind of gaps Malcorra is trying to bridge. It surely isn't the "connectivity gap" or "digital divide" that is growing between developed and developing countries, seriously impeding digital learning and knowledge in developing countries. In fact, half of humanity is not even connected to the internet, let alone positioned to develop competitive markets or bargain at a multilateral level. Negotiating binding e-commerce rules at the WTO would only widen that gap.
Dangerously, the "South Vision" of digital trade in the global trade arena is being shaped by a recent alliance of governments and well-known tech-sector lobbyists, in a group called 'Friends of E-Commerce for Development' (FED), including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uruguay, and, most recently, China. FED claims that e-commerce is a tool to drive growth, narrow the digital divide, and generate digital solutions for developing and least developed countries.
However, none of the countries in the group (apart from China) is leading or even remotely ready to be in a position to negotiate and push for binding rules on digital trade that will be favorable to them, as their economies are still far away from the technology revolution. For instance, it is perplexing that one of the most fervent defenders of FED's position is Costa Rica. The country's economy is based on the export of bananas, coffee, tropical fruits, and low-tech medical instruments, and almost half of its population is offline . Most of the countries in FED are far from being powerful enough to shift negotiations in favor of small players.
U.S.-based tech giants and Chinese Alibaba – so-called GAFA-A – dominate, by far, the future of the digital playing field, including issues such as identification and digital payments, connectivity, and the next generation of logistics solutions. In fact, there is a no-holds-barred ongoing race among these tech giants to consolidate their market share in developing economies, from the race to grow the advertising market to the race to increase online payments.
An e-commerce agenda that claims unprecedented development for the Global South is a Trojan horse move. Beginning negotiations on such topics at this stage – before governments are prepared to understand what is at stake – could lead to devastating results, accelerating liberalization and the consolidation of the power of tech giants to the detriment of local industries, consumers, and citizens. Aware of the increased disparities between North and South, and the data dominance of a tiny group of GAFA-A companies, a group of African nations issued a statement opposing the digital ambitions of the host for MC11. But the political landscape is more complex, with China, the EU, and Russia now supporting the idea of a "digital" mandate .
Repeating the Same Mistakes?
The relationships of most countries with tech companies are as imbalanced as their relationships with Big Pharma, and there are many parallels to note. Not so long ago, the countries of the Global South faced Big Pharma power in pharmaceutical markets in a similar way. Some developing countries had the same enthusiasm when they negotiated intellectual property rules for the protection of innovation and research and development costs. In reality, those countries were nothing more than users and consumers of that innovation, not the owners or creators. The lessons of negotiating trade issues that lie at the core of public interest issues – in that case, access to medicines – were costly. Human lives and fundamental rights of those who use online services should not be forgotten when addressing the increasingly worrying and unequal relationships with tech power.
The threat before our eyes is similarly complex and equally harmful to the way our societies will be shaped in the coming years. In the past, the Big Pharma race was for patent exclusivity, to eliminate local generic production and keep drug prices high. Today, the Big Tech race is for data extractivism from those who have yet to be connected in the world, and tech companies will use all the power they hold to achieve a global regime in which small nations cannot regulate either data extraction or data localization.
Big Tech is one of the most concentrated and resourceful industries of all time. The bargaining power of developing countries is minimal. Developing countries will basically be granting the right to cultivate small parcels of a land controlled by data lords -- under their rules, their mandate, and their will -- with practically no public oversight. The stakes are high. At the core of it is the race to conquer the markets of digital payments and the battle to become the platform where data flows, splitting the territory as old empires did in the past. As the Economist claimed on May 6, 2017: "Conflicts over control of oil have scarred the world for decades. No one yet worries that wars will be fought over data. But the data economy has the same potential for confrontation."
If countries from the Global South want to prepare for data wars, they should start thinking about how to reduce the control of Big Tech over -- how we communicate, shop, and learn the news -- , again, over our societies. The solution lies not in making rules for data liberalization, but in devising ways to use the law to reduce Big Tech's power and protect consumers and citizens. Finding the balance would take some time and we are going to take that time to find the right balance, we are not ready to lock the future yet.
Jef , December 14, 2017 at 11:32 amThuto , December 14, 2017 at 2:14 pm
I thought thats what the WTO is for?Mark P. , December 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm
One suspects big money will be thrown at this by the leading tech giants. To paraphrase from a comment I made recently regarding a similar topic : "with markets in the developed world pretty much sewn up by the tripartite tech overlords (google, fb and amazon), the next 3 billion users for their products/services are going to come from developing world". With this dynamic in mind, and the "constant growth" mantra humming incessantly in the background, it's easy to see how high stakes a game this is for the tech giants and how no resources will be spared to stymie any efforts at establishing a regulatory oversight framework that will protect the digital rights of citizens in the global south.
Multilateral fora like the WTO are de facto enablers for the marauding frontal attacks of transnational corporations, and it's disheartening to see that some developing nations have already nailed the digital futures of their citizens to the mast of the tech giants by joining this alliance. What's more, this signing away of their liberty will be sold to the citizenry as the best way to usher them into the brightest of all digital futures.Thuto , December 14, 2017 at 4:58 pm
One suspects big money will be thrown at this by the leading tech giants.
Vast sums of money are already being thrown at bringing Africa online, for better or worse. Thus, the R&D aimed at providing wireless Internet via giant drones/balloons/satellites by Google, Facebook, etc.
You're African. Possibly South African by your user name, which may explain why you're a little behind the curve, because the action is already happening, but more to the north -- and particularly in East Africa.
The big corporations -- and the tech giants are competing with the banking/credit card giants -- have noted how mobile technology leapt over the dearth of last century's telephony tech, land lines, and in turn enabled the highest adoption rates of cellphone banking in the world. (Particularly in East Africa, as I say.) The payoffs for big corporations are massive -- de facto cashless societies where the corporations control the payment systems –and the politicians are mostly cheap.
In Nigeria, the government has launched a Mastercard-branded national ID card that's also a payment card, in one swoop handing Mastercard more than 170 million potential customers, and their personal and biometric data.
In Kenya, the sums transferred by mobile money operator M-Pesa are more than 25 percent of that country's GDP.
You can see that bringing Africa online is technically a big, decade-long project. But also that the potential payoffs are vast. Though I also suspect China may come out ahead -- they're investing far more in Africa and in some areas their technology -- drones, for instance -- is already superior to what the Europeans and the American companies have.Mark P. , December 14, 2017 at 6:59 pm
Thank you Mark P.
Hoisted from a comment I made here recently: "Here in South Africa and through its Free Basics programme, facebook is jumping into bed with unsuspecting ISPs (I say unsuspecting because fb will soon be muscling in on their territory and becoming an ISP itself by provisioning bandwidth directly from its floating satellites) and circumventing net neutrality "
I'm also keenly aware of the developments in Kenya re: safaricom and Mpesa and how that has led to traditional banking via bank accounts being largely leapfrogged for those moving from being unbanked to active economic citizens requiring money transfer facilities. Given the huge succes of Mpesa, I wouldn't be surprised if a multinational tech behemoth (chinese or american) were to make a play for acquiring safaricom and positioning it as a triple-play ISP, money transfer/banking services and digital content provider (harvesting data about users habits on an unprecedented scale across multiple areas of their lives), first in Kenya then expanded throughout east, central and west africa. I must add that your statement about Nigeria puts Mark Zuckerberg's visit there a few months back into context somewhat, perhaps a reconnaissance mission of sorts.
Out of idle curiosity, how could you accurately deduce my country of origin from my name?Mark P. , December 14, 2017 at 3:34 pm
Out of idle curiosity, how could you accurately deduce my country of origin from my name?
Though I've lived in California for decades, my mother was South African and I maintain a UK passport, having grown up in London.Mattski , December 14, 2017 at 3:41 pm
As you also write: "with markets in the developed world pretty much sewn up by the tripartite tech overlords (google, fb and amazon), the next 3 billion users for their products/services are going to come from developing world."
Absolutely true. This cannot be stressed enough. The tech giants know this and the race is on.
Been happening with food for 50 years.
Dec 14, 2017 | www.unz.com
BigAl , December 13, 2017 at 1:17 pm GMTThe 1970's was in many ways the watershed decade for the radical transformation of the American economy and society, even more than the 1960's (I lived through both as a young man). I have yet to read the definitive social-critical analysis of these years to explain the changes that, looking back, seem to have taken the country of my childhood right out from under me, gone forever, increasingly difficult to remember through the fog of nostalgia that tends to distort as much as to reveal.
Some of the things I do remember about this time include the PATCO (air traffic controllers) strike, very well. What is often not mentioned is that PATCO was attempting to do something that had not been permitted under federal civil service law, that is, bargain for wages as well as working conditions. Wage bargaining, PATCO correctly assessed, was the issue that made or broke unions and had enabled state and local public employees to finally begin to earn a decent, living wage beginning in the 1960's (think the iconic Mike Quill and the NYC TWU).
Reagan correctly (from his point of view) saw that to fail to break PATCO on this issue was to open the floodgates and turn the U.S. civil services into something akin to its European counterpart, with the possibility of general strikes and the rest. And of course to encourage private sector unions in their drive to organize and to change federal and state labor laws to strengthen the right to picket strike and organize.
What I also remember well however, is how little support PATCO was able to garnish from other unionized workers (and in many cases from union leadership as well). It seemed to me at the time that some of the strongest hostility came from rank and file of trade and utilities unions. Of course Reagan, following the Nixon playbook, shrewdly played the patriot-nationalist card, painting PATCO as a threat to national security as well as composed of a bunch of ingrates who should have been happy to have jobs. But by then the segmentation of the American workforce, a tactic that played right into the hands of the corporate-capitalist class was in full swing. The American worker lucky enough to possess a decent paying skilled or semi-skilled union job was being taught to see their situation as morally "deserved" and to see newer aspirants to similar positions, whether recently arrived immigrants or members of racial-ethnic groups previously suppressed by law, custom and prejudice as threats/dangers/enemies of their own recently won status.
I recall too that it was in the 1970's that the threat of "relocation", at that time mainly from the more heavily unionized north and northeastern states to the union-hostile south began to play a major role in the destruction of the power of labor. This was the beginning of the "globalization" factor and of the off-shoring of manufacturing jobs that has been commented on extensively and that took off a decade or so later. What is often not recalled is that unions and other pro-labor groups attempted to lobby Congress to amend the NLRA (National Labor Relations Act) and to appoint labor-friendly members to the NLRB to ensure that plant relocation would be a mandatory subject of bargaining and thus prevent unilateral (by capital ownership) relocation or the threat of relocation as a means to destroy the power of labor. They were, of course, not successful, and factories and business continued to move away from traditional centers of labor power and worker-protections, first to so-called "right-to-work" states and eventually to Asia.
And I remember the beginning of the financialization of the American corporation that I experienced on a "micro" scale, a kid lucky enough to have a summer job while in university at a large resource-extraction corporation's HQ in NYC. I recall white-collar conversations about compensation and about how salaries had steadily risen over the past decade (the company was said to be doing "really well"). And I remember how towards the end of my summer stints more and more conversation was about stock prices and Wall Street favor and about the new executive managerial style brought in by "those young MBA"s", and about (for the first time) worries of a "take-over" by "outsiders" (the company, although public, had had family leadership for many years).
And most of all I remember how gradually the material-economic components to the identity of the blue-collar and middle class worker were written out of existence. The great narrative, the myth that explains to us what it means to be "an American," no longer included any hint of class solidarity, of the kind of work we did, the pay we earned, the common living conditions in the small towns and urban neighborhoods and "cookie-cutter" suburbs of America.
Formerly the struggle of economic and material improvement was seen by most ordinary Americas as a struggle for certain necessary conditions to maintain, strengthen, and perpetuate a way-of-life in which the common core assumptions about the "good life" remained basically stable and unchallenged: family, stable job, residential security, public schools, public places -- neighborhood bars, coffee shops, civic clubs, parks and playgrounds -- where people could meet and interact as social equals.
The financialization of the economy, indeed of social life itself to a great extent, meant the drive for the maximization of private profit and the pursuit of interests and 'efficiencies" conceived entirely apart from any impact of the common good of society as a whole, and should have been seen as a grave threat to the very conditions of material and economic security, only recently achieved, that were the foundation of these other civic and social institutions.
Instead, through a grand and diabolical deceit cynically promulgated by a mostly Republican capitalist class of privilege, but also aided and abetted by a "new Left" that increasingly postured itself as the enemy of this older and more traditional way of life, the enemy was reconceived as the new "elites", the young, urban, hipster "Leftist" who despised the old ways and represented a singular assault on everything good about America.
Meanwhile, steadily, relentlessly, the material conditions and hard-won economic improvements that had gradually made small town, urban-neighborhood, and inner-suburban life decent and livable were being destroyed by a class that paid lip-service to Capra's Bedford Falls while at the same time endlessly working to transform it into Pottersville.
Dec 11, 2017 | stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com
Lucius has been poorly recently, which has required some trips to the vet and therefore a bill of a size that only David Davis could negotiate*. This has made me wonder: is there more to be said for the labour theory of value than we like to think?
For a long time, I've not really cared about this theory one way or the other. This is partly because I've not bothered much with questions of value; partly because, as John Roemer has shown, we don't need (pdf) a labour theory of value to suggest workers are exploited; and partly because the main Marxian charges against capitalism – for example that it entails relationships of domination – hold true (or not!) independently of the theory.
As I approach retirement, however, I've begun to change my mind. I think of major expenses in terms of labour-time because they mean I have to work longer. A trip to the vet is an extra fortnight of work; a good guitar an extra month, a car an extra year, and so on.
When I consider my spending, I ask: what must I give up in order to get that? And the answer is my time and freedom. My labour-time is the measure of value.
This is a reasonable basis for the claim that workers are exploited. To buy a bundle of goods and services, we must work a number of hours a week. But taking all workers together, the hours we work are greater than the hours needed to produce those bundles because we must also work to provide a profit for the capitalist. As Marx put it:
We have seen that the labourer, during one portion of the labour-process, produces only the value of his labour-power, that is, the value of his means of subsistence During the second period of the labour-process, that in which his labour is no longer necessary labour, the workman, it is true, labours, expends labour-power; but his labour, being no longer necessary labour, he creates no value for himself. He creates surplus-value which, for the capitalist, has all the charms of a creation out of nothing. This portion of the working-day, I name surplus labour-time.
For Marx, value was socially-necessary labour time: David Harvey is good on this. From this perspective, exploitation and alienation are linked. Workers are exploited because they must work longer than necessary to get their consumption bundle. And they are alienated because this work is unsatisfying and a source of unfreedom. Now, I'll concede that many people hate the labour theory of value. One reason for this is that many discussions of it quickly become obscurantist – as if "value" is some mystical entity embodied in commodities.
This, though, certainly was not Marx's intention. Quite the opposite. He intended his theory to be a demystification. He wanted to show how what looked like relations between things – the exchange of money for goods or labour-time – were in fact relations between people. And unequal ones at that.
What's more, the charge of obscurantism against Marx is an especially weak one when it comes from orthodox economics. Much of this invokes unobservable concepts such as the natural rate of unemployment, marginal productivity, utility, the marginal product of capital and natural rate of interest – ideas which, in the last two cases, might not even be theoretically coherent.
In fact, the LTV is reasonably successful by the standards of conventional economics: we have empirical evidence to suggest that it does (pdf) a decent (pdf) job of explaining (pdf) relative prices – not that this was how Marx intended it to be used.
You can of course, think of counter-examples to the theory. But so what? in the social sciences, no substantial theory is 100% true.
I suspect that some of the animosity to Marx's use of LTV arises because of a resistance to the inference that Marx drew from it – that workers are exploited. This issue, however, is independent of the validity of not of the LTV. For example, Roemer thinks workers are exploited without believing in the LTV, and Smith believed the LTV without arguing that workers were exploited.
By the (low) standards of economic theories, perhaps the LTV isn't so bad.
* He seems to be recovering now. The vet is also expected to make a full recovery eventually.
December 11, 2017 PermalinkComments
Luis Enrique , December 11, 2017 at 02:09 PMDavid Friedman , December 11, 2017 at 06:14 PM
But the LTV says more than the output of the economy is divided between the workers and the (suppliers and) owners of capital goods, doesn't it? I mean, mainstream econ says that too. And unless ownership of capital inputs to production is distributed equally across society, then some people consume things that other's labour has produced, which means workers must produce more than they consume. But again, that's basic mainstream stuff, not LVT. You end by saying you can believe in exploitation but not LVT, and vice versa, but the main body of this blog seems to be connecting the two. I am confused.
Of course if you have the ability to vary your labour supply, and labour is how you earn your money, then you ask yourself how much you need to work to purchase whatever. But again that's mainstream not LVT.ConfusedNeoLiberal , December 11, 2017 at 08:51 PM
Your version of the labor theory of value is one of Adam Smith's versions. I don't think it is Marx's, but I know Smith better than Marx.
And definitely not Ricardo's.Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 12:23 AM
What about value, in terms of risk among others, that the employers put in starting a new business?Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 12:29 AM
"Smith believed the LTV without arguing that workers were exploited."
The Marxian approach was interested in, as other commenters have said, in the specific capitalist case, where "capitalism" for him means strictly "labour for hire" by workers alienated from the means of production by their ownership by capitalists.
But the labour theory of value, as understood by what Marx called "classicals", applies also to all labour, and he used it in that sense.
My understanding of the classicals and the LTV is reduced to a minimum this:
- By "value" we mean "surplus".
- The "physiocrats" correctly identified "land" (mines, farms, the sea) as a producer of physical surplus: once corn seed produces a whole corn cob. The quantity of physical output appears to be greater than the quantity of physical input, a phenomenon that used to be called "fertility".
- However the "classicals" recognized that there is surplus also when the quantity of output is physically smaller than the quantity of input: a larger quantity of iron ore and coal gets turned into a much smaller quantity of metal called "spoon", and that generates surplus too.
- Since the surplus is not quantitative they called it a surplus of "ofelimity", of usefulness. A spoon is more useful than the physically larger quantity of iron ore and coal used to make it, in most contexts.
- So the question is what creates a surplus of ofelimity even if quantity shrinks drastically.
- The classicals observed that while quantitative surplus may be spontaneous, as in apple trees just produce apples by themselves, all cases involving a surplus of ofelimity involved the application of labour.
- The LTV is simply that observation: that the whole chain of surpluses of ofelimity always goes back to the application of labour, from the first people who chipped obsidian blocks into blades onwards.
- As such the LTV is not really a "theory": it is a generic principle. It would be more properly a theory if there was some kind of "law" that related the quantity of labour embedded in a commodity to the surplus of usefulness it seems to have. But any such law cannot be universal, because usefulness is strictly context dependent. Sraffa wrote some preliminary booklet about that :-).
Further understanding, which evolved after Marx, is that the LTV is just special case of the principle that what produces a surplus of usefulness is not labour per se, but the energy used in the transformation of a larger quantity of something into a smaller quantity of something else, and muscle power is just one way, even if it was the main one for a very long time, to obtain energy to transform a large quantity of less useful commodities into a smaller quantity of more useful commodities.
And this follows into the impression that I have derived from various authors that our high standards of living depend not on the high "productivity" of labour, but on the high "productivity" of fossil fuels, which are the product of the fertility of land.Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 01:14 AM
"value, in terms of risk among others, that the employers put in starting a new business?"
If the business produces a surplus, that is value added, than the surplus is the product of the energy/labour expended by all participants
How it is accounted for is one issue, especially over multiple time periods, and how it is shared out is a social relationship.
As to risk, everybody in the business runs the risk of not getting paid at the end of the month, and the opportunity cost of not doing something else, whichever labour they put in.
How risk and opportunity cost are accounted for, especially over multiple time periods, is another issue, and how they are shared is another social relationship.Luis Enrique , December 12, 2017 at 08:40 AM
"the surplus is the product of the energy/labour expended by all participants"
I'll perhaps further diminish the reputation of my "contributions" this way: perhaps all social relationships of production (at least among males) map closely onto (cursorial) group hunts.
:-)Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 01:50 PM
That's a very long winded way of saying that making stuff requires labour.Rich Clayton , December 12, 2017 at 03:35 PM
"a very long winded way of saying that making stuff requires labour"
Well, that's obvious, but what the classicals thought of as the LTV was not entirely obvious: that "surplus" (rather than "stuff") comes from the fertility of land and the transformation achieved with labour, and that nothing else is needed to achieve "surplus". Because for example capital goods are themselves surplus from fertility or labour, again back to the first blades made from chipping lumps of obsidian.
That's quite a bit more insightful, never mind also controversial, than "making stuff requires labour".Lukas , December 12, 2017 at 03:41 PM
Love this post. But, being a fellow marxist, I can't help but to disagree with this bit: "And they are alienated because this work is unsatisfying and a source of unfreedom." This is a colloquial use of alienation, and its not wrong.
But Marx is getting at something else: the complex process of differentiation in the economy (aka the division of labor) obscures the relationship between the creation of the surplus (work time above that necessary to reproduce consumption bundle) and its utilization by capitalists via investment. Investment is not possible without exploitation of workers, but that relationship is occluded by the mechanics of employment, markets, and property.
That's the sense in which workers are alienated under capitalism. Socialism could still have boring work, but, in so far as the investment function is brought under collective democratic control, workers would not be alienated in the special sense Marx is using.Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 05:36 PM
"Where else could stuff come from?" Well, assuming by "stuff" we mean objects of value, nowhere. But the reasons for which we value them are not dependent upon their natural origins or the labor required for their production. I don't value a computer because it's made of plastic and silicon and so forth, nor because of the labor required to produce it. It's useful because of what it does, not what it is; it's sort of Kant's definition of art versus the general conception of tools.
As for the relationship between production functions and the LTV, that seems (at least prima facie) pretty straightforward. If there is a high olefimity ascribed to the surplus provided by the product created by X, Y, then those production functions will, themselves, be assigned greater value, i.e., be worthy of more labor-time to attain. E.g., even if I'm not very good at fishing, if I really like the flavor of fish over other protein sources, I'll spend more time increasing my labor efficiency (be a better fisherman).Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 05:41 PM
"Everything ultimately derives from nature and the labour of humans. Where else could stuff come from? That's all there is."
Then in theory the cost (not the price) of everything can be measured in terms of physical quantities of primary inputs and of hours of work.
"What's controversial about it?"
What is controversial is that written like that you sound like a Marxist: the alternative approach is to say that *property* creates surplus.
In the standard neoclassical approach "property" is the often forgotten "initial endowments" of the single representative agent.
Anyhow the "narrative" is: as Mr. Moneybags owns the iron mine and the coal mine and the smelter and the ingot roller and spoon press, then he is entitled to the surplus because without his property it is impossible to make spoons. Labour on its own is worthless, wastes away, while property is "valuable" capital.
"And how one gets from a production function (stuff is made from X, Y and Z) to LTV"
Production functions are just not very elaborate scams to pretend that property is the factor of production, rather then the fertility of land and the energy of labour, and land does not exist (after JB Clark "disappeared" it) and labour is just an accessory. Part of the scam is that "X, Y and Z" are denominated in money, not physical quantities.
As I wrote in another answer accounting for the output of land fertility and labour energy and how it is shared are the difficult bits. Welcome to the institutional approach to the political economy. :-)Luis Enrique , December 12, 2017 at 05:43 PM
"the reasons for which we value them are not dependent upon their natural origins or the labor required for their production"
And here be dragons. Your old bearded acquaintance Karl has something to say about this :-).
"It's useful because of what it does, not what it is"
So cleaning floors which is very useful should have a high value, while Leonardo paintings, that are merely scarce, should have a low value :-).
I though that most people reckoned that "value" depends on scarcity: so there is a scarcity of even not very good promoters of torysm, so G Osborne is entitled to Ł600,000 a year to edit the "Evening Standard", but there is no scarcity of excellent cleaners, so cleaners gets minimum wage if they are lucky.
:-)mulp , December 12, 2017 at 05:46 PM
counting hours of worked is not a measure of cost, it is a tally of hours worked. In mainstream econ, production functions describe a physical production process (to make 1 unit of Y, you combine inputs like so) and are not not denominated in money. e.g. You multiply L by w to get cost.Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 06:01 PM
Economies are zero sum. GDP must be paid for, otherwise it won't be produced. The only source of money comes from labor costs, the money paid to workers to work producing GDP. As conservatives note, all taxes fall on workers by directly taking their pay, or by hiking the prices of what workers buy.
Taxes pay workers, e.g. teachers, and doctors with Medicare and Medicaid, weapons makers and warriors, or pay people to pay workers, Social Security benefits and SNAP.
Capital has value because it is built by paying workers. It gets a cut to repay the payers of workers.
Monopoly rent seeking is unsustainable. If a monoplists takes more from workers than they pay workers, he eventually takes so much money workers can no longer pay for GDP and it falls to zero as workers produce what they consume without buying from the monopolist capital.
As Keynes put it:
"I feel sure that the demand for capital is strictly limited in the sense that it would not be difficult to increase the stock of capital up to a point where its marginal efficiency had fallen to a very low figure. This would not mean that the use of capital instruments would cost almost nothing, but only that the return from them would have to cover little more than their exhaustion by wastage and obsolescence together with some margin to cover risk and the exercise of skill and judgment. In short, the aggregate return from durable goods in the course of their life would, as in the case of short-lived goods, just cover their labour costs of production plus an allowance for risk and the costs of skill and supervision.
"Now, though this state of affairs would be quite compatible with some measure of individualism, yet it would mean the euthanasia of the rentier, and, consequently, the euthanasia of the cumulative oppressive power of the capitalist to exploit the scarcity-value of capital. Interest today rewards no genuine sacrifice, any more than does the rent of land. The owner of capital can obtain interest because capital is scarce, just as the owner of land can obtain rent because land is scarce. But whilst there may be intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of land, there are no intrinsic reasons for the scarcity of capital. An intrinsic reason for such scarcity, in the sense of a genuine sacrifice which could only be called forth by the offer of a reward in the shape of interest, would not exist, in the long run, except in the event of the individual propensity to consume proving to be of such a character that net saving in conditions of full employment comes to an end before capital has become sufficiently abundant. But even so, it will still be possible for communal saving through the agency of the State to be maintained at a level which will allow the growth of capital up to the point where it ceases to be scarce."
Economies are zero sum. The value of goods and services must equal the labor costs in the long run. TanstaaaflLuis Enrique , December 12, 2017 at 06:26 PM
"Socialism could still have boring work, but, in so far as the investment function is brought under collective democratic control, workers would not be alienated in the special sense Marx is using."
My impression is that your bearded friend Karl does not use "alienation" in that sense at all, in an economic sense, but in a humanist sense: that by being separated from the means of production proletarians are alienated from the meaning of their work, from work as a human activity, as distinct from an economic activity.
Collective ownership does not change at all that kind of alienation: being a cog in the capitalist machinery is no less alienating than being a cog in the collectivist machinery.
I think that our blogger when he talks about distributing control of the production process to workers is far closer to the marxian ideal than a collectivist approach.
Practically every "Dilbert" strip is about "alienation". This is my favourite:
But these are also good:
http://dilbert.com/strip/2002-08-10Blissex , December 12, 2017 at 06:53 PM
That is not what zero sum meansLuis Enrique , December 12, 2017 at 08:55 PM
"counting hours of worked is not a measure of cost"
For a definition of "cost" that is made-up disregarding P Sraffa's work and in general the classics.
"multiply L by w to get cost."
As J Robinson and others pointed out that "w" depends on the distribution of income, on the interest rate, etc., so is an institutional matter.
As I was saying, accounting for the surplus and how to share it is not so easily handwavable.Luis Enrique , December 12, 2017 at 08:57 PM
sorry, I meant for a money definition of cost that is not just counting inputs, but which is inputs multiplied by their prices.
nobody is hand waving. I think the mainstream view is that 'value' and 'surplus' are not meaningful terms, only prices and profits and subjective value. A production function says nothing about prices, you have to explain them with other stuff, and as you say, institutions and all manner of things could come in the play there.
You can say that that workers produce more in money terms than than they are paid, which is trivial (the wages paid by an employer are less than its gross profits so long as there are non-zero returns to capital, interest on a loan or dividends or whatever) and to my mind it's silly to define that as exploitation because it would apply in situations where the 'capitalist' is getting a small return and workers rewarded handsomely by any standard. Better imo to define exploitation as when capitalists are earning excess returns (and I'd fudge that by differentiating between workers' wages and salaries of top execs). Otherwise you lay yourself open to "the only thing worse than being exploited by capitlists is not beingn exploited by capitalists" which is J Robinson too I believe.B.L. Zebub , December 13, 2017 at 04:02 AM
and i think you only have to look at the income distribution to infer workers are being expoloitedLukas , December 13, 2017 at 04:28 AM
This is a genuine question: what you exposed above is related to or influenced by Steve Keen's ideas, yes? If so, I'd be interested in reading about that in more detail.Luis Enrique , December 13, 2017 at 08:34 AM
I've always thought that defining value by scarcity was an absurd misdirection, in part because there is no reason that the two should correlate at all. At any point in socioeconomic development beyond subsistence, value is to some extent socially defined, not economically defined. Status ends up being the most "useful" resource, as we see among all those who've never had to worry about their material conditions.
Placing a high value on the frivolous and "useless" has always been the hallmark of those most able to decide the value of anything, because they have no use for economic use (so to speak), but rather social signaling. Broad social respect is an extremely expensive thing to buy with money alone.
Ah, but name for me a production process that doesn't take place over time. There's an infinite amount of time for all of us, but for each of us only so much, and those who fail to value it die full of regret. Surely someone somewhere must have something to say about this.Blissex , December 13, 2017 at 11:43 AM
I don't know why I wrote the above. Surplus is also a mainstream term. See wages set by bargaing over a surplus. Presume it's based on prices of outputs compared to inputs or if in model with real quantities not prices, then in subjective values.
Lukas production functions are defined over a period of time.Blissex , December 13, 2017 at 11:51 AM
Ahem, I am trying to explain my understanding of Marx, who wrote both as economist and a philosopher, and a politial theorist.
Alienation, exploitation and inequality are technically distinct concepts, even if in the marxist (view (and that of every business school, that are faithful to marxist political economy) capitalist control of the means of production leads to alienation which leads to exploitation which leads to inequality. In the marxian political economy inequality can exist even with exploitation, for example, and that makes it less objectionable.
"Surplus is also a mainstream term. See wages set by bargaing over a surplus."
Some Economists have not forgotten at least some terminology of political economy and some Departments of Business still have surviving "history of economic thought" courses that some postgrads may still accidentally occasionally wander into and pick up some terms from...
"are not meaningful terms, only prices and profits and subjective value."
But the mainstream focus on prices and profits etc. is the purest handwaving, because it begs the question...
"A production function says nothing about prices"
Ha! This is one of the best examples where mainstream theory handwaves furiously: mainstream production functions switch effortlessly from "capital" as phusical quantities to aggregating "capital" by reckoning it in "numeraire". That is all about prices, and even about future expected prices and future expected rates of discount. Therefore rational expectations, a grand feat of handwaving.Blissex , December 13, 2017 at 12:03 PM
"defining value by scarcity was an absurd misdirection, in part because there is no reason that the two should correlate at all."
Ahhhhhhh but this is a very political point and not quite agreeable because:
One of the conceits of "microfoundations" is to show that there are "laws" of Economics that are precise, so everybody get exactly their just compensation, so for example demand-supply schedules are always presented, cleverly, as lines and static.
The view of political economists is that instead "everything" lies within boundaries of feasibility, which are dynamic, so for example demand-supply schedules are ribbons that change over time and circumstances, and transactions happens not at uniquely determined points of intersections, but in regions of feasibility, the precise point dependent on institutional arrangements.
So the LTV determines one boundary for "price" and desirability another boundary.Luis Enrique , December 13, 2017 at 04:33 PM
"exposed above is related to or influenced by Steve Keen's ideas"
Related and independently derived, but also a bit influenced. I had always suspected that the "classicals" used "labour" as a synonym for "muscle power", but various later readings persuaded me that was indeed the case. Later post will have some hopefully interesting detail. Then I looked into the literature and found that obviously this had been figured out before (centuries ago in some cases, like B de Mandeville).
Anyhow for similar approaches some references:
Blissex if you can come up with a better way of trying to describe total quantities of highly heterogeneous things (i.e. capital) you have a Nobel awaiting. Everybody know that attempts to put a number on the real quantity of capital is always going to be a rough and ready endeavour.
I don't see how working with prices and profits is 'handwaving'. What question does it beg? Much of economics is about trying to explain these things. I would not say economics focuses on prices and profits because many economics models work with real quantities that are high abstract and in theory are made commensurate using subjective value (utility) as the unit of account.
And I don't think this lot
picked up the term surplus by accidentally wandering in to the wrong seminar
Dec 13, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
he entire Middle East, from Palestine to Yemen, appears set to burst into flames after this week. The region was already teetering on the edge, but recent events have only made things worse. And while the mayhem should be apparent to any casual observer, what's less obvious is Jared Kushner's role in the chaos.
Kushner is, of course, the US president's senior advisor and son-in-law. The 36-year-old is a Harvard graduate who seems to have a hard time filling in forms correctly .
He repeatedly failed to mention his meetings with foreign officials on his security clearance and neglected to report to US government officials that he was co-director of a foundation that raised money for Israeli settlements, considered illegal under international law. (He is also said to have told Michael Flynn last December to call UN security council members to get a resolution condemning Israeli settlements quashed. Flynn called Russia.)
In his role as the president's special advisor, Kushner seems to have decided he can remake the entire Middle East, and he is wreaking his havoc with his new best friend, Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, the 32-year-old who burst on to the international scene by jailing many members of his country's ruling elite, including from his own family, on corruption charges.
Days before bin Salman's unprecedented move, Kushner was with the crown prince in Riyadh on an unannounced trip. The men are reported to have stayed up late, planning strategy while swapping stories. We don't know what exactly the two were plotting, but Donald Trump later tweeted his "great confidence" in bin Salman.
But the Kushner-bin Salman alliance moves far beyond Riyadh. The Saudis and Americans are now privately pushing a new "peace" deal to various Palestinian and Arab leaders that is more lop-sided toward Israel than ever before.
Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian parliamentarian in the Israeli Knesset, explained the basic contours of the deal to the New York Times: no full statehood for Palestinians, only "moral sovereignty." Control over disconnected segments of the occupied territories only. No capital in East Jerusalem. No right of return for Palestinian refugees.
This is, of course, not a deal at all. It's an insult to the Palestinian people. Another Arab official cited in the Times story explained that the proposal came from someone lacking experience but attempting to flatter the family of the American president. In other words, it's as if Mohammed bin Salman is trying to gift Palestine to Jared Kushner, Palestinians be damned.
Next came Donald Trump throwing both caution and international law to the wind by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
But it's not just Israel, either. Yemen is on the brink of a major humanitarian disaster largely because the country is being blockaded by Saudi Arabia. Trump finally spoke out against the Saudi measure this week, but both the state department and the Pentagon are said to have been privately urging Saudi Arabia and the UAE to ease their campaign against Yemen (and Lebanon and Qatar) for some time and to little impact. Why? Because Saudi and Emirati officials believe they "have tacit approval from the White House for their hardline actions, in particular from Donald Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner," journalist Laura Rozen reported .
The Kushner-bin Salman alliance has particularly irked secretary of state Rex Tillerson. Kushner reportedly leaves the state department completely out of his Middle Eastern plans. Of special concern to Tillerson, according to Bloomberg News , is Kushner's talks with bin Salman regarding military action by Saudi Arabia against Qatar. The state department is worried of all the unforeseen consequences such a radical course of action would bring, including heightened conflict with Turkey and Russia and perhaps even a military response from Iran or an attack on Israel by Hezbollah.
Here's where state department diplomacy should kick in. The US ambassador to Qatar could relay messages between the feuding parties to find a solution to the stand-off. So what does the ambassador to Qatar have to say about the Kushner-Salman alliance? Nothing, since there still is no confirmed ambassador to Qatar.
What about the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia? That seat's also vacant. And the US ambassador to Jordan, Morocco, Egypt? Vacant, vacant, and vacant. What about assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, a chief strategic post to establish US policy in the region? No one's been nominated. Deputy assistant secretary for press and public diplomacy? Vacant.
It's partly this vacuum of leadership by Tillerson that has enabled Kushner to forge his powerful alliance with bin Salman, much to the detriment of the region. And in their zeal to isolate Iran, Kushner and bin Salman are leaving a wake of destruction around them.
The war in Yemen is only intensifying. Qatar is closer to Iran than ever. A final status deal between Israel and the Palestinians seems all but impossible now. The Lebanese prime minister went back on his resignation. And the Saudi state must be paying the Ritz-Carlton a small fortune to jail key members of the ruling family over allegations of corruption.
There's a long history of American politicians deciding they know what's best for the Middle East while buttressing their autocratic allies and at the expense of the region's ordinary people. (The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has traditionally provided the rationale for America and its allies in the region, and his recent sycophantic portrayal of bin Salman certainly didn't disappoint!)
But the Kushner-bin Salman alliance also represents something else. Both the US and Saudi Arabia are concentrating power into fewer and fewer hands. And with fewer people in the room, who will be around to tell these men that their ideas are so damaging? Who will dare explain to them how they already have failed?
Moustafa Bayoumi is the author of the award-winning books How Does It Feel To Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America Topics Trump administration Opinion US foreign policy
DirtWorshiper -> curiouswes , 9 Dec 2017 11:39We've made war all over the world for decades, sponsored coups, propped up dictators all so our own ruling elites can make out like bandits. We are a rogue state and becoming an oligarchy too.zolotoy -> redux00 , 9 Dec 2017 11:39If European settlers had very little to do with it, where did all of those Zionist militias in 1948 come from?BParker -> Addicks123 , 9 Dec 2017 11:39The US has honestly broken many Palestinians into pieces. Where do you think all those fighter jets, tanks and gun boats come from.shemarch -> MetellusScipio , 9 Dec 2017 11:39wardpj -> Blubbers , 9 Dec 2017 11:38
In 1948 my father, who knew the Middle East well, said of the creation of Israel 'it will never work'. Of course, throwing thousands of people off their land is not the best way to create a peaceful country. And, while the Western guilt about the Holocaust furthered the creation of a homeland for the Jews, the plight of the Palestinians was completely neglected.
The increasing encroachment by Israel's settlements have been making the only creditable solution - the two states -increasingly difficult. Now Trump's declaration over Jerusalem has made the situation completely impossible.I think you need a more cogent "analysis" than that. It doesn't really say anything, does it. There's religion everywhere, so what's specific about the middle East? Start from that question and you may get somewhere.zolotoy -> MaryLeone Sullivan , 9 Dec 2017 11:38America sure as hell does support it .dancer693 , 9 Dec 2017 11:37The Trump administration has certainly increased tensions in the area...significantly. Much of this seems to have to do with challenging Iran's influence in the area. I suspect that is why Saudi Arabia and Trump are in cahoots. Saudi Arabia wants to be the new dominant country in the region and Iran is their main competitor. I expect a new war in the region against Qatar/Iran and Yemen. And we all know where Kushner will place his allegiance.urfanali -> TonyBennWasRight , 9 Dec 2017 11:37
One of the interesting things to me about all this is that Kushner is really the major focus right now in the Russia investigation. He has clearly been implicated in crimes for which he will be indicted. And soon. I have a hard time (in addition to the overwhelming everything else) with the fact that the President would give Kushner so much influence in the discussion. He's about to be indicted!!! Why would anyone negotiate with him?The Zionist settler state helping to spread its illegal settlements across the Palestinians land with the help needed of the US, UK and the House of SaudMaryLeone Sullivan -> TonyBennWasRight , 9 Dec 2017 11:35Israel never existed until 1949.hubbahubba -> umrkgermany , 9 Dec 2017 11:34The book Allies for Armageddon by Victoria Clark states that right-wing Israeli political groups exploit the Christian Fundamentalists in American into giving Israel their support and funding, as the latter believe Israel's full control of Jerusalem etc will bring forth the rapture.2020Vision4 , 9 Dec 2017 11:34Oh man, and all this while Trump runs a distractionary, hedge fund supporting operation to allow tax avoiders to now have access to their off shore cash at a lower tax rate. Where is the infrastructure rebuilding or are Trump supporters blinded even more now by Trumps enlarging butt cheeks blaming Obama and Bush.Charles Demers -> workshy_freeloader , 9 Dec 2017 11:34For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong. - H. L. Menckendancer693 -> Kathleen John O'Donnell , 9 Dec 2017 11:30Good questions. Trump has declared that the department should be reduced significantly. The vacant posts are partly due to that and partly due to the fact that Tillerson has rejected most of the administration's recommendations because of their being political picks.Addicks123 , 9 Dec 2017 11:28
Tillerson in the mean time seems to have barricaded himself behind a very few loyal lieutenants. He has not been able or interested in enabling or supporting the rest of the department.
Trump constantly ridicules Tillerson, privately and publicly and Tillerson called Trump a moron after a meeting in which Trump expressed his desire to increase our nuclear arsenal 10 times. Finally, Trump's vision of foreign policy is to have it concentrated in the White House instead of the State Department and Trump is totally uninterested in ANY of the State Department's advice or consultation. I guess the answer to your question is "all of the above".I get the impression that Trump is moving quickly with the Mueller investigation closing its net.Swilkerin , 9 Dec 2017 11:28
Until the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital the US could at least pretend to be an honest peace broker in the ME/Palestine issue - they have now dropped even this. The Palestinians have always considered the US to be biased against their interests and pro-Israel and this confirms it, why should they listen to the people who want to achieve a Palestine State by peaceful means when they kicked in the teeth at every twist and turn? The militants have just gained a brigade of new volunteers and elsewhere Daesh/Isis will be rubbing their hands at this propaganda gift.
Hopefully Trump won't last much longer - but that means a President Pence and if you watch Trump's speech announcing this he is there in the background nodding. One set of religious nutcases are egging on another lot and that's not going to be good for the Middle East.Tillerson and co represent the continuation of the NeoCon doctrine of Cheney and Rumsfeld. Its foreign policy lead by oil and gas interests. Trump really is busy shoring up his constituency base for the future with tax cuts for old money and oligarchs, while the right wing christian brigade which is also seriously loaded (its big business) are of cause delighted with the Jerusalem embassy decision. It also helps an embattled Likud establishment which is under the kosh and faces huge challenges to get reelected.angie11 , 9 Dec 2017 11:25Trump, Netanyahu, Salman: The true 'axis of evil'. And so it goes...joiwomcow , 9 Dec 2017 11:25Standard Republican playbook: when things are going badly at home, pick a fight in the middle east. This was timed to distract from Deutsche Bank releasing Trump's financial records to Muller. Expect Trump to escalate as Muller closes in - my guess is he'll bomb Iran, but who knows...johnbig , 9 Dec 2017 11:24Fabmothz , 9 Dec 2017 11:24
There is one benefit from Trump's decision. It is now fully clear that the USA is foursquare behind the Israelis and has always been so. Far from being and "honest broker" for peace they haveaccepted for 40 years any initiative the Israelis have made to ectend theor land area.
Just one question for Israel which all other countries in the world can answer easily: Where are the frontiers of your nation ?It's OK, the Palestinians have just recognized Washington DC as the capital of Israel.MichaelGerard1990 -> fredimeyer , 9 Dec 2017 11:24Jared has been funding illegal settlements. He's aim is to end Palestine.
Norman_Finklesteen 9 Dec 2017 11:22Last week there were crowds of people in the streets protesting at the corruption within Netenyahu's government, potentially very dangerous in respect to instigating investigations. A distraction was necessary and Trump handed him a loaded one with the Embassy debacle. Of course things are going to escalate, deaths, bombings, threats, retaliation. Now the streets will be filled with people supporting 'strongman' Netenyahu, demanding reprisals and safety measures. Job done. But at what cost?MetellusScipio -> TonyBennWasRight , 9 Dec 2017 11:20I'm not saying it should be ignored, not at all. I was simply making the point that the Palestinians will see things very differently, and any solution, if there is one, can only be found in a compromise.fredimeyer , 9 Dec 2017 11:20Jared is indeed responsible for what is happening. It was very obvious two years ago that Trump had not the slightest idea of politics in the region. Also Trump's astonishing characteristic of actually listening to people, and being persuaded by whoever has his ear, is unprecedented in the presidency.KrisFernie -> lotoole , 9 Dec 2017 11:19
Jared is a member of what can only be called a cult, far removed from the mainstream of American jews. Jared's views manifestly place his interpretation of what is good for Israel ahead of what is good for the American people, and even ahead of what is in fact the majority viewpoint among Israelis. There are limits to what an American president can do, and this embassy issue is mostly window dressing.
But what is important is that the international community now step in to offset trump's position and make it clear that Israel's policies are not rewardedIn order to bait Iran? Trump's pleasing the Saudis, for what reason? The answer is to follow the moneyAlGilchrist -> MetellusScipio , 9 Dec 2017 11:18The PLO founding charter only claimed Gaza as Palestinian land. Before Israel recaptured the eastern part of Jerusalem from Jordan, not the Palestinians.leanttotheleft , 9 Dec 2017 11:18This is the Empire in a further excess of dysfunction. The 'benevolent hegemon' of the 'new world order' often talked about in the post Cold War era has morphed into a poker table of over-entitled dick-swingers gambling with other people's money, countries and lives.redux00 -> TonyBennWasRight , 9 Dec 2017 11:14
And of course Trump and his dubious entourage arrive after several terms of both Republican and Democrat misrule. George W Bush plumbed new depths of cock-eyed middle eastern policy, which often seemed to have been prompted by war criminal Ariel Sharon and Israel. Meanwhile the Democrats mixed with the Wall Street financiers, facilitating the liberalisation of the finance sector, and the culture of debt dependency and asset-stripping - 'vulture capitalism' - which has only grown more ruthless since the financial crash of 2008.Large parts of West Jerusalem were occupied by Zionist militias in 1948. Including the most expensive neighborhoods today, Qatamon, Talbiyeh, Baqa. All ethnically cleansed. The rest of the city was occupied by force in 1967. Jerusalem has been an Arab city for centuries, Muslim Jewish and Christian. European settlers have very little to do with it.zolotoy -> logos00 , 9 Dec 2017 11:13America has always supported illegal Israeli settlements. The current gang is just a bit more honest (because more blatant and crude) about it.tc2011 , 9 Dec 2017 11:08Trump's announcement represents nothing less than the theft of the putative Palestinian capital of East Jerusalem. His announcement is illegal under international law and contravenes all previous diplomatic agreements on the subject. What the wider world is finally starting to see is that US conservatives and the Israeli government do not want a peace deal, they want capitulation and to turn the Palestinians into non-people.
Ramus , 9 Dec 2017 11:05Trump and his people would like a war. They don't really care where. Because the main US export is war stuff..our owners make money from war..any war, anywhere.redux00 -> GoingUp , 9 Dec 2017 11:01The days when the US with the Israelis in tow would rule over this region are finished. The one good thing about Trumps Jerusalem debacle is that it makes clear how dead the fiction of the two state solution is. And though it scares the racists and supremacists, we are moving closer and closer to one democratic secular state.logos00 , 9 Dec 2017 10:56Apart from all the other reasons for Kushner not having the leading role in the middle east, his financial support to settlers should automatically rule him out of any participation in brokering deals between Palestine and Israel. How can someone who is actively supporting illegal settlements have any semblance of being neutrality? However, in terms of the ethics of the Trump administration, it is simply business as usual.redux00 , 9 Dec 2017 10:56But what underlies all this is waning US and Saudi power in the region. They might burn the place down but they cannot remake it. The Saudis have devastated Yemen, killed thousands of children, and overseen a cholera epidemic. And still they can't defeat the Houthis. Their proxies have been routed in Syria and Iraq. The Qatar blockade has failed. So has the gambit to reshape Lebanon.KarlNaylor75 , 9 Dec 2017 10:53
Kushner is a toady duplicitous operator no doubt, but the whole American Israeli Saudi vision for the region is a nightmare that has no chance of success.Trump's announcement in recognising Jerusalem as Israeli capital shows his cunning strategic genius. It has united the governments of the Muslim Middle East in coming together and made it more unlikely that Saudi Arabia could align with Israel in triggering a wider conflict with Iran without incurring huge public disapproval within the country.algae64 , 9 Dec 2017 10:53
Trump is advancing the cause of Humanity by means that less appreciative and simple minds cannot fathom. All governments in the Middle East will be far more fearful in not knowing what Trump might do next or why. This is the secret essence of power and diplomacy in keeping others guessing and thus less likely to feel they have his support.
It's all part of a long term master plan whereby Trump could extricate the US from having much of a role in the Greater Middle East. Governments will have to compete before Trump for influence and raise their game and money before he will deal from strength. Trump is playing all the rival forces off to get the best deal and to preserve and enhance peace.The Guardian also ran an overly-reverential article about the Saudi crown prince a while back. It's worrying that they and the Americans are doing all of this with hardly a murmur of disapproval. Where's the UN resolution and sanctions? Where's the sanctions from the EU? America will veto everything at the UN and the EU mostly does what America wants it to do. Shows how useless the major organisations really are. I used to think that the EU was a good counter to American power, but they seem to have joined forces with the US recently, which is worrying when you have an unpredictable American president like Trump.AndPulli , 9 Dec 2017 10:47Kushner is totally out of his depth and playing with fire. The damage done by the shambolic Trump maladministration will take years, if not decades, to repair. These years will be looked back on as those during which America slid into disaster. Where are Trump's babysitters when you need them? They need to keep an eye on Baby Kushner too.umrkgermany -> Izzybe , 9 Dec 2017 10:46He wanted to tick off a box on his lunatic list of campaign pledges before Christmas. Consequences schmonsequences. I think he's also a willing tool of the end of times, rapture crazy Christian fundamentalists.Robape , 9 Dec 2017 10:41The USA should be declared a Rogue state. It certainly behaves worse than all other states. Trump needs locking up as well.Madmacstoo , 9 Dec 2017 10:37I assume the announcement that the US now recognises Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was more to do with Trump attempting to deflect interest away from Mueller now that he, his family and other chums in the administration are coming under financial scrutiny by the inquiry. At a stroke its certainly made Kushner's job in the Middle East much-harder if not impossible and surely makes him a target for every disaffected Palestinian.Tony Stopyra , 9 Dec 2017 10:36
Jared, who needs enemies when you've got a father-in-law like Donald.
And with fewer people in the room, who will be around to tell these men that their ideas are so damaging?
This is terrifying when you realise there are those close to Trump who are clearly telling him that this sort of this is not only not damaging, but may have divine sanction... http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jerusalem-donald-trump-israel-capital-decision-reason-why-evangelical-voters-us-fear-a8099321.html
Dec 13, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Livius Drusus , December 13, 2017 at 2:44 pm
I thought this was an interesting article. Apologies if this has been posted on NC already.
A stunning 33% of job seekers ages 55 and older are long-term unemployed, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. The average length of unemployment for the roughly 1.2 million people 55+ who are out of work: seven to nine months. "It's emotionally devastating for them," said Carl Van Horn, director of Rutgers University's John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, at a Town Hall his center and the nonprofit WorkingNation held earlier this year in New Brunswick, N.J.
... ... ...
The fight faced by the long-term unemployed
And, recent studies have shown, the longer you're out of work - especially if you're older and out of work - the harder it becomes to get a job offer.
The job-finding rate declines by roughly 50% within eight months of unemployment, according to a 2016 paper by economists Gregor Jarosch of Stanford University and Laura Pilossoph of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. "Unemployment duration has a strongly negative effect on the likelihood of subsequent employment," wrote researchers from the University of Maryland and the U.S. Census Bureau in another 2016 paper.
"Once upon a time, you could take that first job and it would lead to the next job and the job after that," said Town Hall panelist John Colborn, chief operating officer at the nonprofit JEVS Human Services, of Philadelphia. "The notion of a career ladder offered some hope of getting back into the labor market. The rungs of the ladder are getting harder and harder to find and some of them are broken."
In inner cities, said Kimberly McClain, CEO of The Newark Alliance, "there's an extra layer beyond being older and out of work. There are issues of race and poverty and being defined by your ZIP Code. There's an incredible sense of urgency."
... ... ...
Filling a work gap
If you are over 50, unemployed and have a work gap right now, the Town Hall speakers said, fill it by volunteering, getting an internship, doing project work, job-shadowing someone in a field you want to be in or taking a class to re-skill. These kind of things "make a candidate a lot more attractive," said Colborn. Be sure to note them in your cover letter and résumé.
Town Hall panelist Amanda Mullan, senior vice president and chief human resources officer of the New Jersey Resources Corp. (a utility company based in Wall, N.J.), said that when her company is interviewing someone who has been out of work lately, "we will ask: 'What have you done during that time frame?' If we get 'Nuthin,' that shows something about the individual, from a motivational perspective."
... ... ...
The relief of working again
Finally finding work when you're over 50 and unemployed for a stretch can be a relief for far more than financial reasons.
"Once I landed my job, the thing I most looked forward to was the weekend," said Konopka. "Not to relax, but because I didn't have to think about finding a job anymore. That's 24/7 in your head. You're always thinking on a Saturday: 'If I'm not doing something to find a job, will there be a posting out there?'"
Full article: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobs-are-everywhere-just-not-for-people-over-55-2017-12-08
Jun 13, 2010 | www.nj.com
At 5:30 every morning, Tony Gwiazdowski rolls out of bed, brews a pot of coffee and carefully arranges his laptop, cell phone and notepad like silverware across the kitchen table.
And then he waits.
Gwiazdowski, 57, has been waiting for 16 months. Since losing his job as a transportation sales manager in February 2009, he wakes each morning to the sobering reminder that, yes, he is still unemployed. So he pushes aside the fatigue, throws on some clothes and sends out another flurry of resumes and cheery cover letters.
But most days go by without a single phone call. And around sundown, when he hears his neighbors returning home from work, Gwiazdowski -- the former mayor of Hillsborough -- can't help but allow himself one tiny sigh of resignation.
"You sit there and you wonder, 'What am I doing wrong?'" said Gwiazdowski, who finds companionship in his 2-year-old golden retriever, Charlie, until his wife returns from work.
"The worst moment is at the end of the day when it's 4:30 and you did everything you could, and the phone hasn't rung, the e-mails haven't come through."
Gwiazdowski is one of a growing number of chronically unemployed workers in New Jersey and across the country who are struggling to get through what is becoming one long, jobless nightmare -- even as the rest of the economy has begun to show signs of recovery.
Nationwide, 46 percent of the unemployed -- 6.7 million Americans -- have been without work for at least half a year, by far the highest percentage recorded since the U.S. Labor Department began tracking the data in 1948.
In New Jersey, nearly 40 percent of the 416,000 unemployed workers last year fit that profile, up from about 20 percent in previous years, according to the department, which provides only annual breakdowns for individual states. Most of them were unemployed for more than a year.
But the repercussions of chronic unemployment go beyond the loss of a paycheck or the realization that one might never find the same kind of job again. For many, the sinking feeling of joblessness -- with no end in sight -- can take a psychological toll, experts say.
Across the state, mental health crisis units saw a 20 percent increase in demand last year as more residents reported suffering from unemployment-related stress, according to the New Jersey Association of Mental Health Agencies.
"The longer the unemployment continues, the more impact it will have on their personal lives and mental health," said Shauna Moses, the association's associate executive director. "There's stress in the marriage, with the kids, other family members, with friends."
And while a few continue to cling to optimism, even the toughest admit there are moments of despair: Fear of never finding work, envy of employed friends and embarassment at having to tell acquaintances that, nope, still no luck.
"When they say, 'Hi Mayor,' I don't tell a lot of people I'm out of work -- I say I'm semi-retired," said Gwiazdowski, who maxed out on unemployment benefits several months ago.
"They might think, 'Gee, what's wrong with him? Why can't he get a job?' It's a long story and maybe people really don't care and now they want to get away from you."
SECOND TIME AROUND
Lynn Kafalas has been there before, too. After losing her computer training job in 2000, the East Hanover resident took four agonizing years to find new work -- by then, she had refashioned herself into a web designer.
That not-too-distant experience is why Kafalas, 52, who was laid off again eight months ago, grows uneasier with each passing day. Already, some of her old demons have returned, like loneliness, self-doubt and, worst of all, insomnia. At night, her mind races to dissect the latest interview: What went wrong? What else should she be doing? And why won't even Barnes & Noble hire her?
"It's like putting a stopper on my life -- I can't move on," said Kafalas, who has given up karate lessons, vacations and regular outings with friends. "Everything is about the interviews."
And while most of her friends have been supportive, a few have hinted to her that she is doing something wrong, or not doing enough. The remarks always hit Kafalas with a pang.
In a recent study, researchers at Rutgers University found that the chronically unemployed are prone to high levels of stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness and even substance abuse, which take a toll on their self-esteem and personal relationships.
"They're the forgotten group," said Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, and a co-author of the report. "And the longer you are unemployed, the less likely you are to get a job."
Of the 900 unemployed workers first interviewed last August for the study, only one in 10 landed full-time work by March of this year, and only half of those lucky few expressed satisfaction with their new jobs. Another one in 10 simply gave up searching.
Among those who were still unemployed, many struggled to make ends meet by borrowing from friends or family, turning to government food stamps and forgoing health care, according to the study.
More than half said they avoided all social contact, while slightly less than half said they had lost touch with close friends. Six in 10 said they had problems sleeping.
Kafalas says she deals with her chronic insomnia by hitting the gym for two hours almost every evening, lifting weights and pounding the treadmill until she feels tired enough to fall asleep.
"Sometimes I forget what day it is. Is it Tuesday? And then I'll think of what TV show ran the night before," she said. "Waiting is the toughest part."
AGE A FACTOR
Generally, the likelihood of long-term unemployment increases with age, experts say. A report by the National Employment Law Project this month found that nearly half of those who were unemployed for six months or longer were at least 45 years old. Those between 16 and 24 made up just 14 percent.
Tell that to Adam Blank, 24, who has been living with his girlfriend and her parents at their Martinsville home since losing his sales job at Best Buy a year and half ago.
Blank, who graduated from Rutgers with a major in communications, says he feels like a burden sometimes, especially since his girlfriend, Tracy Rosen, 24, works full-time at a local nonprofit. He shows her family gratitude with small chores, like taking out the garbage, washing dishes, sweeping floors and doing laundry.
Still, he often feels inadequate.
"All I'm doing on an almost daily basis is sitting around the house trying to keep myself from going stir-crazy," said Blank, who dreams of starting a social media company.
When he is feeling particularly low, Blank said he turns to a tactic employed by prisoners of war in Vietnam: "They used to build dream houses in their head to help keep their sanity. It's really just imagining a place I can call my own."
Meanwhile, Gwiazdowski, ever the optimist, says unemployment has taught him a few things.
He has learned, for example, how to quickly assess an interviewer's age and play up or down his work experience accordingly -- he doesn't want to appear "threatening" to a potential employer who is younger. He has learned that by occasionally deleting and reuploading his resume to job sites, his entry appears fresh.
"It's almost like a game," he said, laughing. "You are desperate, but you can't show it."
But there are days when he just can't find any humor in his predicament -- like when he finishes a great interview but receives no offer, or when he hears a fellow job seeker finally found work and feels a slight twinge of jealousy.
"That's what I'm missing -- putting on that shirt and tie in the morning and going to work," he said.
The memory of getting dressed for work is still so vivid, Gwiazdowski says, that he has to believe another job is just around the corner.
"You always have to hope that that morning when you get up, it's going to be the day," he said.
"Today is going to be the day that something is going to happen."
Leslie Kwoh may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (973) 392-4147.DrBuzzard Jun 13, 2010
I collect from the state of iowa, was on tier I and when the gov't recessed without passing extension, iowa stopped paying tier I claims that were already open, i was scheduled to be on tier I until july 15th, and its gone now, as a surprise, when i tried to claim my week this week i was notified. SURPRISE, talk about stress.
berganliz Jun 13, 2010
This is terrible....just wait until RIF'd teachers hit the unemployment offices....but then, this is what NJ wanted...fired teachers who are to blame for the worst recession our country has seen in 150 years...thanks GWB.....thanks Donald Rumsfeld......thanks Dick Cheney....thanks Karl "Miss Piggy" Rove...and thank you Mr. Big Boy himself...Gov Krispy Kreame!
rp121 Jun 13, 2010
For readers who care about this nation's unemployed- Call your Senators to pass HR 4213, the "Extenders" bill. Unfortunately, it does not add UI benefits weeks, however it DOES continue the emergency federal tiers of UI. If it does not pass this week many of us are cut off at 26 wks. No tier 1, 2 -nothing.
Dec 13, 2017 | www.cvtips.com
It's almost impossible to describe the various psychological impacts, because there are so many. There are sometimes serious consequences, including suicide, and, some would say worse, chronic depression.
There's not really a single cause and effect. It's a compound effect, and unemployment, by adding stress, affects people, often badly.
The world doesn't need any more untrained psychologists, and we're not pretending to give medical advice. That's for professionals. Everybody is different, and their problems are different. What we can do is give you an outline of the common problems, and what you can do about them.
The good news is that only a relatively small number of people are seriously affected by the stress of unemployment to the extent they need medical assistance. Most people don't get to the serious levels of stress, and much as they loathe being unemployed, they suffer few, and minor, ill effects.
For others, there are a series of issues, and the big three are:
- Anger, and other negative emotions
Stress is Stage One. It's a natural result of the situation. Worries about income, domestic problems, whatever, the list is as long as humanity. The result of stress is a strain on the nervous system, and these create the physical effects of the situation over time. The chemistry of stress is complex, but it can be rough on the hormonal system.
Over an extended period, the body's natural hormonal balances are affected, and this can lead to problems. These are actually physical issues, but the effects are mental, and the first obvious effects are, naturally, emotional.
Anger, and other negative emotions
Not at all surprisingly, people under stress experience strong emotions. It's a perfectly natural response to what can be quite intolerable emotional strains. It's fair to say that even normal situations are felt much more severely by people already under stress. Things that wouldn't normally even be issues become problems, and problems become serious problems. Relationships can suffer badly in these circumstances, and that, inevitably, produces further crises. Unfortunately for those affected, these are by now, at this stage, real crises.
If the actual situation was already bad, this mental state makes it a lot worse. Constant aggravation doesn't help people to keep a sense of perspective. Clear thinking isn't easy when under constant stress.
Some people are stubborn enough and tough enough mentally to control their emotions ruthlessly, and they do better under these conditions. Even that comes at a cost, and although under control, the stress remains a problem.
One of the reasons anger management is now a growth industry is because of the growing need for assistance with severe stress over the last decade. This is a common situation, and help is available.
If you have reservations about seeking help, bear in mind it can't possibly be any worse than the problem.
Depression is universally hated by anyone who's ever had it. This is the next stage, and it's caused by hormonal imbalances which affect serotonin. It's actually a physical problem, but it has mental effects which are sometimes devastating, and potentially life threatening.
The common symptoms are:
- Difficulty in focusing mentally, thoughts all over the place in no logical order
- Fits of crying for no known reason
- Illogical, or irrational patterns of thought and behavior
- Suicidal thinking
It's a disgusting experience. No level of obscenity could possibly describe it. Depression is misery on a level people wouldn't conceive in a nightmare. At this stage the patient needs help, and getting it is actually relatively easy. It's convincing the person they need to do something about it that's difficult. Again, the mental state is working against the person. Even admitting there's a problem is hard for many people in this condition.
Generally speaking, a person who is trusted is the best person to tell anyone experiencing the onset of depression to seek help. Important: If you're experiencing any of those symptoms:
- Get on the phone and make an appointment to see your doctor. It takes half an hour for a diagnosis, and you can be on your way home with a cure in an hour. You don't have to suffer. The sooner you start to get yourself out of depression, the better.
- Avoid any antidepressants with the so-called withdrawal side effects. They're not too popular with patients, and are under some scrutiny. The normal antidepressants work well enough for most people.
Very important: Do not, under any circumstances, try to use drugs or alcohol as a quick fix. They make it worse, over time, because they actually add stress. Some drugs can make things a lot worse, instantly, too, particularly the modern made-in-a-bathtub variety. They'll also destroy your liver, which doesn't help much, either.
Alcohol, in particular, makes depression much worse. Alcohol is a depressant, itself, and it's also a nasty chemical mix with all those stress hormones.
If you've ever had alcohol problems, or seen someone with alcohol wrecking their lives, depression makes things about a million times worse.
Just don't do it. Steer clear of any so-called stimulants, because they don't mix with antidepressants, either.
Unemployment and staying healthy
The above is what you need to know about the risks of unemployment to your health and mental well being.
These situations are avoidable.
Your best defense against the mental stresses and strains of unemployment, and their related problems is staying healthy.
We can promise you that is nothing less than the truth. The healthier you are, the better your defenses against stress, and the more strength you have to cope with situations.
Basic health is actually pretty easy to achieve:
Eat real food, not junk, and make sure you're getting enough food. Your body can't work with resources it doesn't have. Good food is a real asset, and you'll find you don't get tired as easily. You need the energy reserves.
Give yourself a good selection of food that you like, that's also worth eating.
The good news is that plain food is also reasonably cheap, and you can eat as much as you need. Basic meals are easy enough to prepare, and as long as you're getting all the protein veg and minerals you need, you're pretty much covered.
You can also use a multivitamin cap, or broad spectrum supplements, to make sure you're getting all your trace elements. Also make sure you're getting the benefits of your food by taking acidophilus or eating yogurt regularly.
You don't have to live in a gym to get enough exercise for basic fitness. A few laps of the pool, a good walk, some basic aerobic exercises, you're talking about 30-45 minutes a day. It's not hard.
Don't just sit and suffer
If anything's wrong, check it out when it starts, not six months later. Most medical conditions become serious when they're allowed to get worse.
For unemployed people the added risk is also that they may prevent you getting that job, or going for interviews. If something's causing you problems, get rid of it.
Nobody who's been through the blender of unemployment thinks it's fun.
Anyone who's really done it tough will tell you one thing:
Don't be a victim. Beat the problem, and you'll really appreciate the feeling.
Nov 28, 2014 | theguardian.com
wa8dzp:Nichole Gracely has a master's degree and was one of Amazon's best order pickers. Now, after protesting the company, she's homeless.
I am homeless. My worst days now are better than my best days working at Amazon.
According to Amazon's metrics, I was one of their most productive order pickers -- I was a machine, and my pace would accelerate throughout the course of a shift. What they didn't know was that I stayed fast because if I slowed down for even a minute, I'd collapse from boredom and exhaustion.
During peak season, I trained incoming temps regularly. When that was over, I'd be an ordinary order picker once again, toiling in some remote corner of the warehouse, alone for 10 hours, with my every move being monitored by management on a computer screen.
Superb performance did not guarantee job security. ISS is the temp agency that provides warehouse labor for Amazon and they are at the center of the SCOTUS case Integrity Staffing Solutions vs. Busk. ISS could simply deactivate a worker's badge and they would suddenly be out of work. They treated us like beggars because we needed their jobs. Even worse, more than two years later, all I see is: Jeff Bezos is hiring.
I have never felt more alone than when I was working there. I worked in isolation and lived under constant surveillance. Amazon could mandate overtime and I would have to comply with any schedule change they deemed necessary, and if there was not any work, they would send us home early without pay. I started to fall behind on my bills.
At some point, I lost all fear. I had already been through hell. I protested Amazon. The gag order was lifted and I was free to speak. I spent my last days in a lovely apartment constructing arguments on discussion boards, writing articles and talking to reporters. That was 2012 and Amazon's labor and business practices were only beginning to fall under scrutiny. I walked away from Amazon's warehouse and didn't have any other source of income lined up.
I cashed in on my excellent credit, took out cards, and used them to pay rent and buy food because it would be six months before I could receive my first unemployment compensation check.
I received $200 a week for the following six months and I haven't had any source of regular income since those benefits lapsed. I sold everything in my apartment and left Pennsylvania as fast as I could. I didn't know how to ask for help. I didn't even know that I qualified for food stamps.
I furthered my Amazon protest while homeless in Seattle. When the Hachette dispute flared up I "flew a sign," street parlance for panhandling with a piece of cardboard: "I was an order picker at amazon.com. Earned degrees. Been published. Now, I'm homeless, writing and doing this. Anything helps."
I have made more money per word with my signs than I will probably ever earn writing, and I make more money per hour than I will probably ever be paid for my work. People give me money and offer well wishes and I walk away with a restored faith in humanity.
I flew my protest sign outside Whole Foods while Amazon corporate employees were on lunch break, and they gawked. I went to my usual flying spots around Seattle and made more money per hour protesting Amazon with my sign than I did while I worked with them. And that was in Seattle. One woman asked, "What are you writing?" I told her about the descent from working poor to homeless, income inequality, my personal experience. She mentioned Thomas Piketty's book, we chatted a little, she handed me $10 and wished me luck. Another guy said, "Damn, that's a great story! I'd read it," and handed me a few bucks.
Dec 07, 2017 | angrybearblog.com
John Harwood of that well known lefty outlet, . ummm, CNBC . writes this morning that "Trump has Forgotten his 'Forgotten People':"
He forgot them on health care. Jettisoning his campaign pledge to "take care of everybody" regardless of income, he proposed cutting federal health subsidies for the hard-pressed blue-collar voters who put him into office.
He forgot them on financial regulation. Abandoning talk of cracking down on Wall Street executives who "rigged" the economy to hobble the working class, he seeks to undercut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
And he forgot them on taxes. Discarding his vow to reshape taxation for average families at the expense of rich people like himself, he's working with Republican leaders to hand the biggest benefits to corporations and the wealthy.
To the contrary, his budget includes big cuts to Social Security disability program. Meanwhile his much-vaunted infrastructure plan has 'failed to materialize."
But, Harwood points out:
The president hasn't forgotten everything. In lieu of big financial benefits, Trump has steadily given "the forgotten people" at least one visceral commodity [: ] affirmation of shared racial grievances.
I think this is a good summary of Trump's domestic policies as revealed by the past year. On social issues, he has governed exactly as he promised during his campaign, issuing a de facto ban on Muslim immigration, unleashing ICE against Latinos, and fulminating against protesting black NFL players.But on economic issues he has behaved exactly like a standard issue country club republican. The requirement that the GOP enact a "replacement" for Obamacare? Gone. Preventing the offshoring of manufacturing jobs? Gone. Enacting at least something like a tariff at the borders? Gone. Actually *doing* something about the opioid crisis, which is strongly correlated with areas of economic distress (as opposed to lip service)? Nothing.
Joel , December 7, 2017 9:03 amlittle john , December 7, 2017 4:01 pm
Forgotten? LOL! No, Trump didn't forget. He was lying.run75441 , December 8, 2017 9:35 am
I hate doing this because I am not a fan of the President but a "de facto ban on Muslim immigration"? I cannot remember but I don't think Indonesia, Pakistan, India or Turkey was on the list. Those a pretty big Muslim nations. Maybe you should look it up. "Unleashing ICE against Latinos"? I have three Latino neighbors on my street, my next door neighbor doesn't even speak English, but I haven't seen any ICE agents around. Maybe I should just wait they're on their way? "Fulminating against NFL players"? You're right about that.
As an aside I have recently had to laugh when I see your pseudonym. Here in Dallas we've taken down the statue of Robert E. Lee from Robert E. Lee Park. (Now named Oak Lawn Park.) At the opening of the park in 1936 there is a great picture of the statue with FDR, Robert E Lee IV and D.W. Griffith. I am wondering if NewDealDemocrat is a microaggression?spencer , December 8, 2017 1:45 pm
Before you bemoan the loss of the CSR (covered by Section 1402 of the ACA) for those making between 138 and 250% FPL, you do understand premium subsidies will pick up the difference. If the states apply the premium increase properly to the Silver plans, the impact is felt across all other levels between 138% and 400% FPL. Indeed, in many cases Bronze plans are free, Gold plans become less costly, and premiums decrease. A person can go to a lower deductible/copay for the same or less cost than the original silver plan.
I think as some will tell you here, this does nothing for those greater than 400% FPL who now find themselves being hit with the full impact of a premium increase due to Trump's action. While a much smaller percentage of the insured, it still numbers around 9 million.
Isn't that 8 million being hit out of the under 20 million that had signed up for Obamacare.
So on a percent basis doesn't you quote imply about half of the relevant population is being hit?
Dec 13, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
diptherio , December 13, 2017 at 2:40 pm
Apologies if I posted this already:
Credit Union Sues Donald Trump to Save the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
December 5, 2017 – This afternoon, the law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA) filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Lower East Side People's Federal Credit Union against Donald Trump and Michael Mulvaney. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan.
The lawsuit challenges President Trump's recent, illegal takeover of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in which he installed his at-will White House employee, Michael Mulvaney, to be Acting Director of the CFPB. The CFPB protects millions of Americans from unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices in the financial marketplace. Mr. Mulvaney has called the CFPB a "sad, sick joke."
"We support the CFPB as a protector of our low income members' financial rights, and fear that the appointment of an Acting Director beholden to the White House could result in upheaval and ultimate dissolution of this critical agency," said Linda Levy, CEO of the Credit Union. "Having experienced the devastation that the 2008 mortgage crisis wreaked on our low income members, we need the CFPB to protect communities targeted by financial predators."
Dec 13, 2017 | www.theguardian.com
polpont , 4 Dec 2017 08:32Mueller will have to thread very carefully because he is maneuvering on a very politically charged terrain. And one cannot refrain from comparing the current situation with the many free passes the democrats were handed over by the FBI, the Department of Justice and the media which make the US look like a banana republic.ID1456161 -> Canadiman , 4 Dec 2017 08:30
The mind blowing fact that Clinton sat with the Attorney General on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport "to chit-chat" and not to discuss the investigation on Clinton's very wife that was being overseen by the same AG, leaves one flabbergasted.
And the fact that Comey essentially said that Clinton's behaviour, tantamount in his own words to extreme recklessness, did not warrant prosecution was just inconceivable.
Don't forget that Trump has nearly 50 M gun-toting followers on Tweeter and that he would not hesitate to appeal to them were he to feel threatened by what he could conceive as a judicial Coup d'Etat. The respect for the institutions in the USA has never been so low.Anna Bramwell -> etrang , 4 Dec 2017 08:28
...a judge would decide if the evidence was sufficient to warrant a trial.
Actually, in the U.S. a grand jury would decide if the evidence was sufficient to warrant formal charges leading to a trial. There is also the possibility that Mueller has uncovered both Federal and NY State offenses, so charges could be brought against Kushner at either level. Mueller has been sharing information from his investigation with the NY Attorney General's Office. Trump could pardon a federal offense, but has no jurisdiction to pardon charges brought against Kushner by the State of NY.I watched RT for 24 months before the US election. They favoured Bernie Saunders strongly before he lost to Hilary. Then they ran hustings for the smaller US parties, eg Greens, and the Libertarians , which could definitely be seen as an interference in the US election, but which as far as I know, was never mentioned in the US. They were anti Hilary but not pro Trump. And indeed, their strong anti capitalist bias would have made such support unlikely.EduardStreltsovGhost -> JonShone , 4 Dec 2017 08:28What's he lying about? More like he's denying the story peddled by the Democrats in some vain attempt at reducing his legitimacy over smashing Hillary in the elections.pretzelattack -> Atticus_Finch , 4 Dec 2017 08:28
Obama and Hillary met hundreds of foreign officials. Were they colluding as well?What is he going to prison for, again? Colluding with Israel?oddballs -> Taf1980uk , 4 Dec 2017 08:26The most anger in the media against the POTUS seems to be directed against Russia gate. Time and energy is wasted on conjecture, most 'probables will not stand in a court of law. This media hysteria deflects from the destruction of the affordable healthcare act and the tax changes good for the rich against the many. I think the people are being played.Krautolivier , 4 Dec 2017 08:21In the 1990s and 2000s a large section of the American establishment was effectively bought off by people like Prince Bandar. These are the ones that are determined that the anti-Russian policy then instigated be continued, even at the cost of slandering the current President's son-in-law. The irony is that in the meantime an effective regime change has taken place in Saudi and Bandar's bandits are mostly locked up behind bars.zerohoursuni -> damientrollope , 4 Dec 2017 08:19
It's all too funny.True, and not just hypocrisy either. This has to be seen in the context of a war, cold for now, on Russia - with China, via Iran and NK, next in line. Dangerous times, as a militarily formidable empire in economic decline looks set to take us all out. For the few who think and resist the dominant narrative - and are thereby routinely called out as 'kremlin trolls' - it is dismaying how easily folk are manipulated.cookcounty , 4 Dec 2017 08:15
Your points are valid but, alas, factual truths are routinely trumped (!) by powerful mythology. Fact is, despite an appalling record since WW2, Washington and its pet institutions - IMF/World Bank/WTO - are still seen as good guys. How? Because (a) all western states have traded foreign policy independence for favoured status in Washington, (b) English as global lingua franca means American soft propaganda is lapped up across the world via its entertainment industry, and (c) all 'our' media are owned by billionaire corps or as with BBC/Graun, subject to government intimidation/market forces.
Truth is, DRT is not some horrifically new entity. (Let's not forget how HRC's 'no fly zone' for Syria promised to take us into WW3, nor her demented "we came, we saw, he died - ha ha" response to Gaddafi's sodomisation by knife blade, and more importantly to Libya's descent into hell.) As John Pilger noted, "the obsession with Trump the man – not Trump as symptom and caricature of an enduring system – beckons great danger for all of us".I missed Jill Abramson's column about all the meetings the Obama administration held -- quite openly -- with foreign governments during the transition period between his election and his first inauguration.themandibleclaw -> SteveMilesworthy , 4 Dec 2017 08:12
But since she's been demonstrably and laughably wrong about predicting future political events in the USA (see her entire body of work during the 2016 election campaign), why should she start making sense now?
It's completely possible, of course, that some as-yet-to-be-revealed piece of evidence will prove collusion -- before the election and by candidate Trump -- with the Russians. But the Flynn testimony certainly isn't it. All the heavy breathing and hysteria is simply a sign of how the media, yet again, always gravitates toward the news it wishes were true, rather than what really is true. If all Meuller has is Flynn and the Russians during the transition period, he's got nothing.Flynn was charged with far more serious crimes which were all dropped and he was left with a charge that if he spends any time in prison, it will be about 6 months. Now, you could say for him to agree to that, he must have some juicy info - and he probably does - but what that juicy info is is just speculation. And if we are speculating, then maybe what he traded it for was nothing to do with Trump? After all, one of the charges against him was failing to register as a foreign agent on behalf of Turkey.WallyWillage , 4 Dec 2017 08:05
It's alleged that Turkey wanted Flynn to extradite Gullen for his alleged involvement in Turkey's failed coup. Just this weekend, Turkey have issued an arrest warrant for a former CIA officer in relation to the failed coup. So, IF the CIA were behind the failed coup and Flynn knows this - well, a good way to silence him would be to charge him with some serious crimes and then offer to drop them in return for his silence. But, like your theory, it's just speculation.Still no evidence of Russian collusion in Trump campaign BEFORE the election...... whatever happened after being president elect is not impeachable unless it would be after taking office.EduardStreltsovGhost -> CitizenOfTinyBlue , 4 Dec 2017 08:03
The secret deep state security forces haven't been this diminished since Carter cleared the stables in the 70's - they fought back and stopped his second term ...oddballs -> Taf1980uk , 4 Dec 2017 07:58if that were the case, Clinton, Bush and Obama would be sitting in jail right now.
You can easily impeach Trump for bombing Syria's military airfield, which is by UN definition war crime of war aggressionSeeing how the case against Trump and Flynn is based on 'probable' and not hard proof its 'probable that the anti Trump campaign is directed from within the murky enclaves of the US intelligence community.EduardStreltsovGhost , 4 Dec 2017 07:52
Trumps presidency could have the capability of galvanising a powerful resistance against the 2 party state for 'real change, like affordable healthcare and affordable education for ALL its people. But no its not happening, Trump is attacked on probables and undisclosed sources. A year has passed and nothing has been revealed.
Hatred against Trump deflects the anger, see the system works the US is still a democracy. Well it isn't, its a sick oligarchy run by the mega rich who own the media, 90% is owned by 5 corporations. Americans are fed the lie that their vast military empire with its 800 overseas bases are to defend US interests.
Well their not, their only function is, is to spend tax dollars that otherwise would be spent on education, health, infrastructure, things that would 'really' benefit America. Disagree, well go ahead and accuse me of being a conspiracy nut-job, in the meantime China is by peaceful means getting the mining rights in Africa, Australia, deals that matter.
The tax legislation for the few against the many is deflected by the anti-Trump hysteria based on conjecture and not proof.Wow this is like becoming McCarthy Era 2.0. I'm just waiting for the show trials of all these so-called colluders.RelaxAndChill -> Silgen , 4 Dec 2017 07:46Crimea was and is Russian. Your mask is slipping, Vlad .StillAbstractImp , 4 Dec 2017 07:40
Your ignorance is showing. I have no connection to Russia what so ever. Crimea was legally ceded to Russia over 200 years ago, by the Ottomans to Catherine the Great. Russia has never relinquished control. What the criminal organization the USSR did under Ukrainian expat Khrushchev, is irrelevant. And as Putin said , any agreement about respecting Ukraine's territorial integrity was negated when the USA and the EU fomented and financed a rebellion and revolution.Decelerating Fascism - Is Kushner a Putin operative, too?mikedow -> Karantino , 4 Dec 2017 07:35Australia, Canada, and S. Africa supply the lion's share of gold bullion that London survives on. And the best uranium in the world. All sorts of other precious commodities as well. If you're not toeing the line on US foreign policies religiously, the Yanks will drop you.themandibleclaw -> Toastface_Killah , 4 Dec 2017 07:34backstop -> EdwardFatherby , 4 Dec 2017 07:31
You are selectively choosing to refer to this one instance, but even here Obama administration were still in charge - so not very legal, was it.
I am "selectively choosing to refer to this one instance" because that's all Flynn has been charged with. Oh, and it is totally legal for a member of the incoming administration to start talks with their foreign counterparts. Here's a quote from an op-ed piece in The Hill from a law professor at Washington University.
the interest of (Russian Ambassador) Kislyak in determining the position of the new administration on sanctions is not unheard of in Washington, or necessarily untoward to raise with one of the incoming national security advisers. Ambassadors are supposed to seek changes in policies and often seek to influence officials in the early stages of administrations before policies are established. Flynn's suggestion that the Russians wait as the Trump administration unfolded its new policies is a fairly standard response of an incoming official .
http://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/362813-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-of-the-flynn-indictment"The problem is charging Flynn for lying. A technicality. But not charging Hillary for email server. Another technicality. That's all the public will see if no collusion proved, and will ruin credibility of the FBI and the Dems"BustedBoom , 4 Dec 2017 07:31
It's not just collusion is it, what about the rampant, naked nepotism, last seen on this unashamed scale in ancient Rome?CitizenOfTinyBlue , 4 Dec 2017 07:26So he lobbied for Israel not Russia then? Whoops. How does the author even know where Mueller's probe is heading, and which way Flynn flipped? Flynn worked much longer for the Obama administration than for Trump's.
He then pushed Flynn hard to try to turn Russia around on an anti-Israel vote by the UN security council.ConCaruthers , 4 Dec 2017 07:25You can easily impeach Trump for bombing Syria's military airfield, which is by UN definition war crime of war aggression, starting war without the Congress approval; and doing so by supporting false flag of AQ, is support of terrorists and so on
Oh you can't do it, of course, it was so - so presidential to bomb another country and it is just old habit and no war declaration, if country is too weak to bomb you back. And you love this exiting crazy balance of global nuclear annihilation too much, so you prefer screaming Russia, Russia to keep it hot, for wonderful military contracts.
Oh, and I have to be supporter of Putin's oligarchy with dreams of great tsars of Russia, if I care about humans survival on this planet and have very bad opinion about suicidal fools playing this stupid games.If the US wanted to do itself a massive favour it should shine the spotlight on Robert Mueller, the man now in charge of investigating the President of these United States for "collusion" with Russia and possible "obstruction of justice" himself obstructed a congressional investigation into the 9/11 terrorist attacks.moonsphere -> Hydro , 4 Dec 2017 07:24Dealing with western backed coups on its own doorstep and being the only country actually to be legally fighting in Syria - a war that directly threatens its security - does not amount to global belligerence.etrang -> CraftyRabbi , 4 Dec 2017 07:14John Edwin -> OlivesNightie , 4 Dec 2017 07:13
Mueller could charge/indict Kushner or Trump Jr under New York state criminal statutes
But not for crimes relating to federal elections or conspiring with Russia.Clinton lied under oathJohn Edwin -> SoAmerican , 4 Dec 2017 07:11The logan act is a dead law no one will be prosecuted for a act that has never been used... plus the president elect can talk to any foreign leader he or she wishes to use and even talk deals even if a current president for 2 months is still in office...emiliofloris -> Sowester , 4 Dec 2017 07:08Billsykesdoggy -> reinhardpolley , 4 Dec 2017 06:55
I am not sure any level of scandal will make much difference to Trump or his supporters. They simply see this as an elitist conspiracy and not amount of evidence of wrongdoing will have an impact.
So far the level of scandal is below that of Whitewater/Lewinsky, and that was a very low level indeed. What "evidence of wrongdoing" is there? Nothing, that's why they charged Flynn with lying to investigators. It's important to keep in mind that the he did nor lie about actual crimes. Perhaps that's going to change as the investigation proceeds, but so far this is nothing more than a partisan lawfare fishing expedition.<blockquoteSpecifically, it prohibits citizens from negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.>braciole -> Karantino , 4 Dec 2017 06:55
So Trump authorized Obama's talks with Macron last week?
Don't think so.emiliofloris -> Karantino , 4 Dec 2017 06:53
Because they attempted to covertly influence a general election in order to weaken the US.
And your evidence for this is what exactly? As for countries trying to influence elections in other countries, I'm all for it particularly when one of the candidates is murderous, arrogant and stupid.
BTW, in Honduras after supporting a coup against the democratically-elected president because he sought a referendum on allowing presidents to serve two terms, you'd think the United States would interfere when his non-democratically-elected replacement used a "packed" supreme court to change the constitution to allow presidents to serve more than one term to at least stop him stealing an election as he is now doing/has done. But they didn't and that hasn't stopped the United States whining that Evo Morales is being undemocratic by trying to extend the number of terms he can serve.technotherapy , 4 Dec 2017 06:46
Because they attempted to covertly influence a general election in order to weaken the US.
Should all countries which try to influence elections be treated as enemies? Where do you set the threshold? If we go by the actual evidence, Russia seems to have bought some Facebook ads and was allegedly involved in exposing HRC's meddling with the Democratic primaries. Compare that to the influence that countries like Israel and the Gulf Arabs exert on American politics and elections. Are you seriously claiming that Russia's influence is bigger or more decisive?
The goal of weakening the US is also highly debatable. Accepting for a moment that Russia tried to tip the balance in favor of Trump, would America be stronger if it were engaged more actively in Syria and Ukraine? Is there a specific example where Trump's administration weakened the American position to the advantage of Russia? And how is the sustained anti-Russian information warfare helping anyone but the Chinese?themandibleclaw -> Simon Denham , 4 Dec 2017 06:44The clues that Kushner has been pulling the strings on Russia are everywhere... He then pushed Flynn hard to try to turn Russia around on an anti-Israel vote by the UN security council.
And Russia didn't turn, so hardly a clue that Kushner was pulling strings with any effect. What this clue does suggest however, is that Israel pressured/colluded with the Trump Team to undermine the Obama administrations policy towards a UN resolution on illegal settlements. The elephant in the room is Israels influence on US politics.moonsphere -> SoAmerican , 4 Dec 2017 06:44
Can someone please actually tell us what Flynn/Jared/Trump is supposed to have done.
In relation to the "lying" charge - In December, Flynn (in his role as incoming National Security Advisor) was told to talk to the Russians by Kushner (in his role as incoming special advisor). In these conversations, Flynn told the Russians to be patient regarding sanctions as things may change when Trump becomes President. All of this is totally legal and is what EVERY new adminstration does. Flynn had his phoned tapped by the FBI so they knew he had talked to the Russian about sanctions - they also knew the conversation was totally legal - but when they asked him about it, he said he didn't discuss sanctions. So Flynn is being charged about lying about something that was totally legal for him to do. That's it.These days "US influence" seems to consist of bombing Middle Eastern countries back to the bronze age for reasons that defy easy logic. Anything that reduces that kind of influence would be welcome.reinhardpolley -> Simon Denham , 4 Dec 2017 06:33The Logan Act (18 U.S.C.A. § 953 ) is a single federal statute making it a crime for a citizen to confer with foreign governments against the interests of the United States. Specifically, it prohibits citizens from negotiating with other nations on behalf of the United States without authorization.themandibleclaw , 4 Dec 2017 06:22
https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Logan+ActAll those thinking this is the beginning of the end of Trump are going to be disappointed. Just look at the charges so far. Manafort has been charged with money laundering and not registering as a foreign agent - however, both of those charges pre-date him working for Trump. Flynn has been charged with lying to the FBI about speaking to the Russians - even though him speaking to the Russians in his role as National Security Advisor to the President-elect was not only totally legal, it was the norm. And this took place in December, after the election.damientrollope , 4 Dec 2017 06:15
So the 2 main players have been charged with things that have nothing to do with the Trump campaign, and lets not forget the point of the investigation is to find out if Trump's campaign colluded with the Russians to win the election. Manafort's charges related to before working for the Trump campaign whilst Flynn's came after Trump won the Presidency, neither of which have anything to do with the election. As much as I wish Trump wasn't President, don't get your hopes up that this is going anywhere.Gross hypocrisy on the US governments side. They have, since WW2 interfered with other countries elections, invaded, and killed millions worldwide, and are still doing so. Where were the FBI investigations then? Non existent. US politicians and the military hierarchy are completely immune from any prosecutions when it comes down to overseas illegal interference.Boojay , 4 Dec 2017 06:15
But now this Russian debacle, and at last they've woken up, because another country had the temerity to turn the tables on them. And I think if this was Bush or Obama we would never have heard a thing about it. Everybody hates the Dotard, because he's an obese dick with an IQ to match.Nothing will happen to Trump, It's all bollocks. You've all watched too many Spielberg films, bad guys win, and they win most of the time.formerathlete -> vacantspace , 4 Dec 2017 06:15
Trump is the real face of America, America like all governments are narcissistic, they will cheat, steal, kill, if it benefits them. It's called national interest, and it's number one on any leader's job list. Watch fog of war with Robert McNamara, fantastic and terrifying to see how it works.Hugh Mad -> JonShone , 4 Dec 2017 06:10
when American presidents were rational, well balanced with progressive views we had.... decent American healthcare? Equality of opportunity? Gun laws that made it safe to walk the streets?
Say who, what an a where now????????? Since when has the US EVER had any of the three things that you mentioned???
If ever, then it was a loooooong time before the pilgrim fathers ever landed.JonShone -> Hugh Mad , 4 Dec 2017 06:06
The US has also been meddling in other countries elections for years, and doubtless most Americans neither know or care about that! So it's perhaps it's best to simply term them a 'rival', most people should be able to agree on that.
That is the bottom line, yes. People view the world through west = good and Russia = bad, while both make economic and political decisions that serve the interests of their people respectively. Ultimately, I think people are scared that the West's monopoly on global influence is slipping, to as you said, a rival.You are right that calling Russia the US enemy needs justification, but these threads often deteriorate into arguments of the yes it is/no it isn't variety.RelaxAndChill , 4 Dec 2017 05:59
Gallup have been polling Americans for the past couple of decades on this. The last time I read about it a couple of years ago 70% of Americans had unfavourable views of Russia, ranging from those who saw them as an enemy (a smaller amount) through to those who saw them as a threat.
It's certain that their ideals and goals run counter to those generally held in the US in many ways. But let's not forget that the US' ideals are often, if not generally, divergent from their interests and US foreign policy since 1945 has been responsible for countless deaths, perhaps more than Russia's.
The US has also been meddling in other countries elections for years, and doubtless most Americans neither know or care about that! So it's perhaps it's best to simply term them a 'rival', most people should be able to agree on that.variation31 -> Sowester , 4 Dec 2017 05:50All the signs in the Russia probe point to ..
How the liberals and the Democrats don't give a damm about the USA or the world's political scene, just some endless 'sore loser' witch hunt. So much could be achieved by the improving of relations with Russia. Crimea was and is Russian. Let Trump have a go as POTUS and then judge him. He wants to befriend Putin and if done it would help solve Syrian, Nth Korean and other global problems.
They simply see this as an elitist conspiracy and not amount of evidence of wrongdoing will have an impact
Whereas if it's a Democrat in the spotlight, these same dipshits see it as an élitist cover-up and no lack of evidence of wrongdoing will have an impact. If anything, lack of evidence is evidence of cover-up which is therefore proof of evidence.
These cynical games they play with veracity and human honesty are a very pure form of evil.
May 06, 2014 | The Guardian
In a divided and dangerous world, we need to teach the new powers some manners
To know a society is not only to know its explicit rules. One must also know how to apply them: when to use them, when to violate them, when to turn down a choice that is offered, and when we are effectively obliged to do something but have to pretend we are doing it as a free choice. Consider the paradox, for instance, of offers-meant-to-be-refused. When I am invited to a restaurant by a rich uncle, we both know he will cover the bill, but I nonetheless have to lightly insist we share it – imagine my surprise if my uncle were simply to say: "OK, then, you pay it!"
There was a similar problem during the chaotic post-Soviet years of Yeltsin's rule in Russia. Although the legal rules were known, and were largely the same as under the Soviet Union, the complex network of implicit, unwritten rules, which sustained the entire social edifice, disintegrated. -[ It's he is completely detached from reality; that was a neoliberal revolution, nothing more nothing less -- NNB] In the Soviet Union, if you wanted better hospital treatment, say, or a new apartment, if you had a complaint against the authorities, were summoned to court or wanted your child to be accepted at a top school, you knew the implicit rules. You understood whom to address or bribe, and what you could or couldn't do.
After the collapse of Soviet power, one of the most frustrating aspects of daily life for ordinary people was that these unwritten rules became seriously blurred. People simply did not know how to react, how to relate to explicit legal regulations, what could be ignored, and where bribery worked. (One of the functions of organized crime was to provide a kind of ersatz legality. If you owned a small business and a customer owed you money, you turned to your mafia protector, who dealt with the problem, since the state legal system was inefficient.)
The stabilisation of society under the Putin reign is largely because of the newly established transparency of these unwritten rules. Now, once again, people mostly understand the complex cobweb of social interactions.
In international politics, we have not yet reached this stage. Back in the 1990s, a silent pact regulated the relationship between the great western powers and Russia. Western states treated Russia as a great power on the condition that Russia didn't act as one.--[ That' beyong naive -- the USA treated Yeltisn Russia as a vassal, it actually was a time --NNB] But what if the person to whom the offer-to-be-rejected is made actually accepts it? What if Russia starts to act as a great power? A situation like this is properly catastrophic, threatening the entire existing fabric of relations – as happened five years ago in Georgia. Tired of only being treated as a superpower, Russia actually acted as one.
How did it come to this? The "American century" is over, and we have entered a period in which multiple centres of global capitalism have been forming. In the US, Europe, China and maybe Latin America, too, capitalist systems have developed with specific twists: the US stands for neoliberal capitalism, Europe for what remains of the welfare state, China for authoritarian capitalism, Latin America for populist capitalism.
After the attempt by the US to impose itself as the sole superpower – the universal policeman – failed, there is now the need to establish the rules of interaction between these local centres as regards their conflicting interests.
This is why our times are potentially more dangerous than they may appear. During the cold war, the rules of international behaviour were clear, guaranteed by the Mad-ness – mutually assured destruction – of the superpowers. When the Soviet Union violated these unwritten rules by invading Afghanistan, it paid dearly for this infringement. The war in Afghanistan was the beginning of its end. Today, the old and new superpowers are testing each other, trying to impose their own version of global rules, experimenting with them through proxies – which are, of course, other, small nations and states.
Karl Popper once praised the scientific testing of hypotheses, saying that, in this way, we allow our hypotheses to die instead of us. In today's testing, small nations get hurt and wounded instead of the big ones – first Georgia, now Ukraine. Although the official arguments are highly moral, revolving around human rights and freedoms, the nature of the game is clear. The events in Ukraine seem something like the crisis in Georgia, part two – the next stage of a geopolitical struggle for control in a nonregulated, multicentred world.
It is definitely time to teach the superpowers, old and new, some manners, but who will do it? Obviously, only a transnational entity can manage it – more than 200 years ago, Immanuel Kant saw the need for a transnational legal order grounded in the rise of the global society. In his project for perpetual peace, he wrote: "Since the narrower or wider community of the peoples of the earth has developed so far that a violation of rights in one place is felt throughout the world, the idea of a law of world citizenship is no high-flown or exaggerated notion."
This, however, brings us to what is arguably the "principal contradiction" of the new world order (if we may use this old Maoist term): the impossibility of creating a global political order that would correspond to the global capitalist economy.
What if, for structural reasons, and not only due to empirical limitations, there cannot be a worldwide democracy or a representative world government? What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?
Today, in our era of globalisation, we are paying the price for this "principal contradiction." In politics, age-old fixations, and particular, substantial ethnic, religious and cultural identities, have returned with a vengeance. Our predicament today is defined by this tension: the global free circulation of commodities is accompanied by growing separations in the social sphere. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of the global market, new walls have begun emerging everywhere, separating peoples and their cultures. Perhaps the very survival of humanity depends on resolving this tension.
GreeneGrasshopper -> Strummered, 06 May 2014 10:05pm
Capitalism is a system engineered to ensure that the psychopaths get to the top. Ruthlessness, selfishness, blind pursuit of profit, manipulation and coercion of others, believing your own lies - these are the necessary qualities for success, which have been elevated into desirable qualities. If you don't have them, you're a loser.
To get to the top, you have to be a psychopath. If you're at the top, you're a psychopath.
Whitt, 06 May 2014 9:22pm
"Who can control the post-superpower capitalist world order?"
Is this a trick question?
The oligarchs, of course.
Silvertown Swedinburgh, 06 May 2014 11:24pm
For the 1948 Italian General Election the US fleet was in Italian ports with the US Marines on board just so the electorate would get the message and as one CIA agent said "We had bags of money that we delivered to selected politicians, to defray their political expenses, their campaign expenses, for posters, for pamphlets," according to CIA operative F. Mark Wyatt. and they kept interfering in Italian elections into the 1970s
MsrOboulot Malkatrinho, 07 May 2014 1:19pm
Northern Cyprus was annexed by Turkey. Many commentators would also argue that Croatia and Slovenia were effectively annexed by the EU, if not Austria and Germany. Commentators such as Pilger would argue that 80% of Latin America was annexed by the US a long time ago, but let's not go there. Of course, we can also talk about the Occupied Territories, how would you describe them? As I said, it's a matter of political views we disagree on, not one of terminology.
StephenStafford, 06 May 2014 9:39pm
Though the article deals with countries and geographic areas, much might be equivalently true of companies which may be likened to countries especially when some have larger revenues than many countries which they may tend to be able. individually or as a group, to dominate.
The Obama regime is calling fo sanctions on the Putin regime, whilst ExxonMobil seems unfazed and is busily investing with a Russian oil company Rosneft.
After Yeltsin, Putin very obviously searched for ways to reclaim State assets sold off on the cheap and whereas he could manage to deal with one (Yukos), his Government was obviously too impaired to go after many other Oligarchs, so for the moment they and their ill-gotten assets are 'safe' .
The current Ukrainian problem may have more in common with Georgia, than Syria, Libya and Iraq, but they all have the US squaring off against Russia. In Ukraine, Russia acted decisively over Crimea and left the US in a quandary as to what their next move could be, other than backing their puppet regime.
The US has shown little wish to be directly involved after Iraq in many of these local skirmishes apart from 'drones'. Russia has not turned up in any war zone using drones so far, though Iran and Hezbollah seem to see in their next conflicts, the use of drones will be very important.
What might be more worrying is when the current FRB resuscitation of the US economy fails to show the promise anticipated and the debt to China becomes a political problem. What then? Does Washington send warships to Beijing?
Putin told Bush a long while ago that Russia appreciated the US interest in its natural resources, but no thank you.
Beckow -> StephenStafford, 06 May 2014 11:50pm
"Ukrainian problem may have more in common with Georgia, than Syria, Libya and Iraq, but they all have the US squaring off against Russia."
I agree that Georgia was a mini-version of this, but because of its size the Ukraine problem is in a class of its own. In other words, this is truly new and almost anything can happen.
When trying to understand the reality around us it helps to do a few logical games, and Zizek does that, just not fully. For example, let's say there was no Russia, or only an absolutely powerless Russia (like Yeltsin in the 90's). What would happen?
Most likely Ukraine would be a quasi-independent, bankrupt state heavily indebted to the West, with NATO bases, folklore instead of real politics, large emigration (mostly illegal), and desperate population. It would be run by Western approved oligarchs who would share all local resources with Western "investors". It would not be in EU, although a small layer of Kiev intelligentsia would be heavily subsidized by the West, given do-nothing cushy NGO positions, offered frequent trips and humored as needed. The nationalists would be changing public holidays, tearing down and putting up statues, and occasionally venting their anger at minorities and at football games. The rest of the population would be slowly dropping to substance level, no jobs, no money, no futures. In other words just like some of the poorer EU countries, except without the accumulated wealth, euro currency and access to EU as an escape valve.
So having Russia - as a savior, boogeyman or a distraction - immensely help all Ukrainians. It makes them important enough to have to be bought out. It forces a competition for their affection and thus bids up any rewards. All Ukrainians do better (except the killed ones): the NGO crowd in Kiev gets more grants, oligarchs get more deals, nationalists get more respect, Russians in the south-east will get a veto power, so they will also have to be compensated. This is a win-win and on the ground the people engaged sense it: so they will keep it going, they will escalate. What are the alternatives? Greece without the Aegean islands? Or a dumpy provincial life?
This is locally driven and not any longer by super-powers, indispensable one, aspiring one, or any other kind. It will go on and will be quite entertaining. That's what Zizek missed, he is too globally focused. This is about a unique place, strange and desperate people, and no resources to pay for the entertainment. This is an end-of-days party for those who seem to have no place in the neo-liberal world, either EU or the Russian version.
StephenStafford -> Beckow, 07 May 2014 2:12pm
Good synopsis of the problem in Ukraine.
What would happen?
The weakness of Russia wasn't immediately capitalised upon by the USA, though the Clinton foreign policy increasingly reflected this, particularly with the interference in the Balkans. The PNAC on the other hand did see the advantage that the USA could take and that was obvious in the Afghanistan attack and more especially with Iraq.
Arguably in this post 1990 period, the USA acted relatively slowly to capitalise on the dissolution of the USSR.
Beckow StephenStafford, 07 May 2014 7:54pm
Most power gets dissipated with over-reach, so I am not sure capitalizing faster would have been better for US. Most power is also always local, and the world is a big place.
US neo-con dreamers tend to see the world as a map. It is not a "map". It is a much more complex environment with local dynamics, histories, and lots and lots of people. Who want stuff. Moving in, or "capitalizing" as you call it, creates heightened expectations and inevitable disappointments. My advise is to chill and keep it small. Over-reach and too much ambition never work in the long run.
WhatIsWhat -> StephenStafford
The US has shown little wish to be directly involved after Iraq in many of these local skirmishes apart from 'drones'.
For the sake of the truth, little correction:
The US has shown little wish to be openly and visibly involved after Iraq in many of these local skirmishes apart from 'drones'. They prefer to be invisible and remotely control 'human drones' who 'peacefully protest' and kill left and right for 'freedoms'.
Rialbynot, 06 May 2014 9:47pm
What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?
Today, in our era of globalisation, we are paying the price for this "principal contradiction."
Some are paying the price; others are benefitting. That's the first thing we need to recognise.
Having done so, we can then start "solving" the contradiction by re-focussing attention on our national economies, while also seeking to make the global market economy a little more people-friendly (the aim being a global social market economy).
Perhaps the EU's principle (or concept) of subsidiarity, which, unfortunately, the EU itself so often fails to apply, could be used to identify at which level decisions should be taken.
Brigitte Bernadotte -> Rialbynot, 07 May 2014 12:43pm
A "global democracy" is a nightmare per se, because it's a global government. The US is a democracy, and Germany was a democracy in the 20's, too. However, it turned into one of the most terrible dictatorships ever. Hell-bent on removing borders actually.
Any kind of global government, as friendly and benevolent it might be, could turn into a global dictaorship, like in Star Wars the Republic was turned into the Empire. Which country would fight the golbal dictorship? To which country wold whistleblowers and refugees go? Ivory tower left-wing populist academics like Zizek, who conveniently blames "capitalism" (the right to own property) as the root of all evil - as if the Soviet Union and Mao's China had been bastions of liberty - fail to deal with this aspect. I am not surprised, the EU welfare state is the reason for the euro debt mountain (in the US it's military overstretch), which is the reason for the EU's misery, and he failed to even mention that, too.
That's also why the EU is dangerous, it reduces political diversity, which helped Europe to overcome dictatorships in the past. Several EU countries grounding Morales' plane on American orders was a taste of that. As for subsidiarity, the EU is based on "ever closer union", which is an euphemism for centralist power grab.
Brian o'Cualain -> Brigitte Bernadotte, 07 May 2014 1:51pm
The US is no more a Democracy than Russia and probably not much less than what passes for democracies in most countries. He who pays the piper calls the tune. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/10769041/The-US-is-an-oligarchy-study-concludes.html
When looking at the EU welfare debt mountain it's worth looking who exactly benefits from the welfare, not only in terms of the generally recognized view of welfare but also the whole notion of corporate welfare, subsidies, tax-breaks etc. I think you'll find the scales will tend to tip where they tip for everything else.
Avi Unobtaniumstein -> Rialbynot, 08 May 2014 11:36am
Therein is another contradiction. Globalists cannot focus on their national economy.
michaelmichael, 06 May 2014 9:58pm
"Our predicament today is defined by this tension: the global free circulation of commodities is accompanied by growing separations in the social sphere. "
The tension lies primarily between those who have and those who haven't. As far as the corporations are concerned, its business as usual.
Our predicament TOMORROW will be defined by an intensifying scarcity of finite resources, with the additional whammy of climate change.
Luismdv, 06 May 2014 10:25pmTransReformation , 06 May 2014 10:32pm
"What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?"
There seems to be some plausibility in that hypothesis. If this was true, both the left and the right will have to check their political premises because the "democratic consensus" is shared across the whole political specter (except, both political extremes, largely irrelevant).
But unlike classic Marxism, which made the (socio-cultural) superstructure dependent on the (economic) structure, there is no evidence that this is true now. The implication could be that the economic structure remains in place (supported by basic human needs) while the democratic superstructure falls apart. This is not what I want, but is a possibility.
What if, for structural reasons, and not only due to empirical limitations, there cannot be a worldwide democracy or a representative world government? What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?
Today, in our era of globalisation, we are paying the price for this "principal contradiction.
A rather strange and unsatisfying article from Zizek. I partly agree with him but feel he needs to spell out what these 'structural reasons' to which he alludes. Why it's dissatisfying is that he appears to lament the impossibility of a world government or liberal democratic order. I consider that a blessing though, whatever shape or form it takes - not least liberal democratic - structurally it could only be oppressive.
I also find it strange that Zizek appears to accept 'this era of (economic) globalisation' as something natural and permanent rather than as contingent and transient - only a manifestation of a certain stage in the development of capitalism. My own gut-feeling is that globalisation is already beginning to decline and disintegrate due to economic, political, resource and environmental constraints.
While I'd certainly agree that this is a very dangerous time, in the long-run there's no point in lamenting the absence of a global order/government - it's in fact our last, best hope of freedom and equality. If the oligarchs and plutocrats across the globe were ever able to overcome their differences and unite behind a single global order or government it would inherently have to be highly authoritarian and undemocratic to maintain control.
NOTaREALmerican -> TransReformation, 06 May 2014 10:37pm
Re: If the oligarchs and plutocrats across the globe were ever able to overcome their differences and unite behind a single global order or government it would inherently have to be highly authoritarian and undemocratic to maintain control.
Well, not if it was run by the nice guys in Brussels. Didn't the people of the EU vote to consolidate power in Brussels because of their hope that a United States of Europe would be as democratic and freedom-loving as the United States of Merica?
DailyMailHatesMe, 06 May 2014 10:38pm
In the discipline of international relations, constructivism is the claim that significant aspects of international relations are historically and socially constructed, rather than inevitable consequences of human nature or other essential characteristics of world politics.
Philosophish, 06 May 2014 10:42pm
Though geopolitics qua content change all the time in history the age old dictum stands strong as ever: he with the money makes the rules!
The question is not who can control the 'superpowers', the question is who controls the money suppy.
sadhu, 06 May 2014 10:47pm
My guess is Bankers and big corporations will control the post capitalist world. Forget the political and moral arguments. The top layer will do everything in their power to control. But the dilemma is if 'they' have the power and 'free will' to control the 'we' the underdog should have the 'free will' as well to counter their control. However, as interesting as this article is, it still argues in political, economic and super power terms, where as a more realistic approach would be to look at this in biological and natural terms.
For example in plate tectonics, what controls what. Or does the matter of control even come into plate. In the past they attributed volcanoes to the power of Gods and Devils, where as through scientific analysis (as apposed to social and particularly religious ones) we have come to view volcanoes and plate tectonics as intricate natural processes.
Therefore, instead of speaking of controls how long will it take us to speak in terms of natural processes. How does it come about that one strata of society much like some particular genes, hormones and possibly bacteria and viruses take over the processes of a particular life form. It happens through natural processes and not political and moral arguments.
Bucky Fuller used to say that in order to have true democracy we should learn/discover its true principles just as we discovered the principles of gravity and electricity.
Here is a good place to mention John McMurtry and his 'Cancer Stage of Capitalism', downloadable from his info in Wikipedia.
I am so grateful to the Guardian and Cif for it was in such discussions where a kind soul introduced me to McMurtry.
EarlyVictoria, 06 May 2014 10:53pm
the US stands for neoliberal capitalism, Europe for what remains of the welfare state, China for authoritarian capitalism, Latin America for populist capitalism
Liking this neat formulation.
Laserlurk, 06 May 2014 10:56pm
First and foremost; perturbations we are witnessing are processes of reversing the globalisation-effect that in its core value destroys centralised global-powers control.
Second; humans as a race have lost momentum of the discovery and are pretty much bound to the known territories, continents and practices.
Without drive we are lost in a consumption and quite retarded innovation of the things and technologies that cause auto-dumb effect.
As understanding all of which is written above eases consequences of a post-Lacan society, we are generally unhappy about everything, but we lost the crying shoulder.
So, one might say we also live post- mutually assured destruction, as everyone is inflicting it slowly on themselves.
Then again, one can be rather nihilistic and write as well: Who cares?
NOTaREALmerican -> Laserlurk , 06 May 2014 11:01pm
Re: Then again
Or, one can be pathologically optimist and keep consolidating power in the hope that - eventually - the nice people WILL eventually run things.
taxhaven, 06 May 2014 11:08pm
...multiple centres of global capitalism have been forming. In the US, Europe, China and maybe Latin America, too, capitalist systems have developed with specific twists: the US stands for neoliberal capitalism, Europe for what remains of the welfare state, China for authoritarian capitalism, Latin America for populist capitalism...
Funny...everywhere I look I see authoritarian socialism, not "capitalism". I see manipulated markets, manipulated prices, crony favourites, insolvent public sectors, rigged wages and prices and zillions of regulations.
NOTaREALmerican -> taxhaven, 06 May 2014 11:19pm
There's no such thing as your fantasy version of Capitalism; where all the markets are "free" and there are no assholes and sociopaths trying to manipulate and screw people.
You live in the same fantasyland the Socialists and Libertarians do. None of the economic ISM's work according to moral rules when you've got lots of smart-n-savvy assholes and sociopaths.
The morals are for the children, and the adults are out trying to figure out how to screw the children (which - it turns out - is pretty easy).
taxhaven -> NOTaREALmerican, 06 May 2014 11:45pm
There's no such thing as your fantasy version of Capitalism (?)
So what IS there? It sure isn't anything close to "capitalism", is it...
NOTaREALmerican -> taxhaven, 06 May 2014 11:52pm
Re: So what IS there?
ALL the ISM words are worthless labels used by people with economic morality OCD. The assholes and sociopaths could care less what "the systems" is, because from an asshole and sociopath's perspective there is only one system: how much can I take NOW and how can I screw people to take more later.
What ELSE exists or has EVER existed? These dumbasses ISM's are worthless to even talk about; they exists only in a fantasyland of no assholes and manipulative sociopaths who confidently take what they want and have no morals.
GiulioSica, 06 May 2014 11:13pm
Zizek's analysis is once again spot on and would be accepted as self-evident (Ukraine a proxy war between superpowers) were it not for our twisted corporate controlled media.
But, unfortunately, he offers no solutions, only questions. As a result, it can be summed up in a short sentence: "Things are bad. What is to be done?"
ID1812901, 06 May 2014 11:16pm
Big banks rule the world, don't they?
NOTaREALmerican ID1812901, 06 May 2014 11:22pm
When ya think about, a bank creates money from nothing and is protected by the state. How could they NOT rule the world.
WillShirley, 06 May 2014 11:24pm
Seems very obvious here in the USA we are controlled (owned) by the multi-national corporations. They control our government, therefor they control our military and that makes them extremely dangerous.
They do not see killing tens of thousands of people as troubling in the slightest. Look at our invasion of Iraq. Look at the other little wars we started to protect the corporations. They own most of the so-called civilized world and plan to retain that control. They can't control the sunlight so we have almost NO solar power plants. They know clean water is going to be a problem... it is now... so they sell us bottles of what they say is clean water.... and we buy it happily.
Governments now exist to funnel wealth to the .01% who own the corporations. We exist for the same reason cattle are found at a dairy farm. Until the herd decides to act like adult men and women instead of domesticated animals we will continue to allow the corporate takeover of our world. Until we stop worshiping the dollar and acting as if only money can make us happy we will be in thrall to the capitalists/fascists who currently run the whole show.
North10, 06 May 2014 11:29pm
Sorry Zizek .far too sloppy .first Georgia, now Ukraine, well no, the US has interfered militarily with 75 countries since WW2 and currently has military bases in 135 sovereign nations ..so hardly first Georgia and now Ukraine .just watch four star US General Wesley Clark discussing in 2007 the US plans to topple seven countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, coincidence with real events, hardly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAWzvtVJA5A
So, hardly first Georgia and now Ukraine...
Vatslav Rente, 06 May 2014 11:30pm
Strange, abstract thinking Mr. Zizek.
What is this nonsense about Georgia and Ukraine. In Georgia, Russia prevented the genocide against Ossetians. In Eastern Ukraine supported ethnic Russians. What is the problem?
The rules never change. Money and Power are everything. Democracy, dictatorship, the international community - fiction for outsiders, words which superpower cover their interests. Of course Russia is holding its geopolitics. It's not like the state Department. Is this news? Maybe Mr. Zizek doubts in competence of the American President? Don't worry, the U.S. can't win all the time, this is normal. Moreover, to be "the world's policeman" ungrateful and dangerous activity, constantly crazy fundamentalist trying to burn the flag of your country)
HumbleDawes, 06 May 2014 11:39pm
To know a society is not only to know its explicit rules. One must also know how to apply them: when to use them, when to violate them, when to turn down a choice that is offered, and when we are effectively obliged to do something but have to pretend we are doing it as a free choice. Consider the paradox, for instance, of offers-meant-to-be-refused. When I am invited to a restaurant by a rich uncle, we both know he will cover the bill, but I nonetheless have to lightly insist we share it – imagine my surprise if my uncle were simply to say: "OK, then, you pay it!"
This uninspired paragraph, including its misuse of the word 'paradox', could have just been written: 'to know a society is not only to know its laws, one must also be aware of its social norms' without any real loss of meaning. 'Offers-meant-to-be-refused.' Endless verbiage. Sort-it-out-Slavoj.
ronaldadair, 06 May 2014 11:43pm
You have it all wrong my friend - that is to say you are barking up the wrong tree when you talk about a world controlled by who ? - one nation ? - or the corporate elite more likely !!
What so many people are missing is that we are heading at a fair rate of knots " back to the future " which will involve the nation state recapturing its power and the diminishing authority of the corporate elite who of course are hell bent on taking over everything affecting our lives not because they have any particular crusade in this direction, but simply because in order to continue to enlarge their empires - to increase their economies of scale , their future, as they see it, lies in a world where the corporation govern
This will not happen and one only has to move into a space where the correction occurs to see that the nation state will once again govern us as part of a world connected by bi-lateral trade agreements.
GordonGecko -> ronaldadair, 07 May 2014 8:43am
The 'corporate elite' already OWN our governments. The nation state is disappearing at the same rate as democratic representation.
JacobJonker -> ronaldadair, 07 May 2014 11:20am
Obvious and uncommon common sense.It may,however,not eventuate due to the propensity of the majority to be blind to their fate.There is also the usual apathy,though the coming generations will see a division into slaves,stooges,slave-masters,dissenters,freedom fighters and the usual coterie of the power pyramid from the top to the bottom layer of slaves to a system.Nation-states whose citizens wish to survive have a challenge ahead of them.Typically,only a minority is growing in awareness.
Robbli, 06 May 2014 11:45pm
"All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.". - Frank Herbert, Dune.
Nice people are too busy doing nice things and have no desires to rule and exploit, hence we will always be ruled by a-holes as long as we keep on voting for them and no, I don't know what the answer is unless we are prepared to make sacrifices, become self sufficient and live off the grid.
ThomasPaine2 -> Robbli, 07 May 2014 9:18amalexschwarz , 06 May 2014 11:46pm
A very well made point. I have a suggestion about how it could possibly be fixed.
In order to prevent the scum rising to the top, for want of a better cliché, we should look to re-structure our local and central law-making bodies. Rather than elections, which necessarily attract the vainglorious and selfish, a system of conscription should be implemented. Government (local and central) should have an upper-house composed of people from the community selected randomly, much like jury service.
Their job is to hear the legislative proposals and counter arguments and decide based upon evidence presented whether to approve a proposal. That will instantly remove the capacity for political corruption, as all legislation will need the approval of citizen's juries. Couple this with state funding of political parties for the lower house and corporate influence will be dramatically reduced.When I am invited to a restaurant by a rich uncle, we both know he will cover the bill, but I nonetheless have to lightly insist we share it – imagine my surprise if my uncle were simply to say: "OK, then, you pay it!"Argieman alexschwarz , 07 May 2014 12:31am
I gave up those social contracts a long time ago and I've never looked back. Your uncle knows damn well he is expected to pay, since you would never go to that restaurant if it weren't for his invite. If both parties know what that you aren't being genuine, then why bother at all? This is something that's always bothered me. Keep it real folks!
Now someone translate that to world politics.I´ll try an example: Slavoj´s uncle represents the banks, and Slavoj represent us. Slavoj is invited to dinner, he eats -not much. This Slavoj´s meal were the cheap and easy-to-get credits to buy homes, that became the famous "junk bonds" through a complicated financial engineering.
The end differs from Slavoj´s article:
I can´t pay, you know -Uncle says
So I´ll have to pay? -Slavoj, sweating, answers
I´m afraid you´ll have to -Uncle insists
Slavoj he asks the waiter to bring the bill, and thinks he´ll have to sell his car, no holidays, less clothes...
travellersjoy, 06 May 2014 11:58pm
Since US governments willingly colluded with its corporate class, and bullied and coerced Europe and the Anglosphere to transfer the wealth of the West, to the Middle East and then China, I have no confidence that there is a class of people with the skills, abilities, and INTELLIGENCE to see beyond the immediate profit horizon - except perhaps in China - and they are only thinking about their own interests.
If the people of the western world are incapable of electing good governments in the public/national interest, I doubt the possibility of any supra-power being more responsible. The fact is, all our governments can be, and often are, bought and sold by the great multinationals that demand free rein to do what they will - and who brought us the GFC, as well as the shift of economic power from West to East.
Asking for a benign dictator is just asking for trouble as any citizen of a fascist state can attest.
nj61nj, 07 May 2014 12:28am
what a depressing article which really doesn't tell us anything much at all. So kant -> almost pointless and sometimes damaging UN, Popper - an exposure of the problem of positivism. To say there is a contradiction or tension here is a misnomer, in fact it is just an increasingly unilateral domination of capitalism. It is increasingly difficult to find a dialectic within which to understand struggles and tensions which result from this situation. What of the state in Syria, or South Sudan, or Ukraine? Marxist philosophy needs to catch up quick.
Stevo0012345, 07 May 2014 12:32amRentControlNow , 07 May 2014 8:42am
Something I find interesting is the transnational nature of modern capital, and labour. This is making geo control difficult for modern superpowers, not impossible, but increasingly difficult. As revenue is increasingly tied to transnational enterprises, the paradox is that state interests are tied to cross border peace and stability. Not a goal helped by upsetting regional stability.
In the good old days when the world was divided into 2 spheres of influence stability was reasonably easy to enforce.
It is definitely time to teach the superpowers, old and new, some manners, but who will do it? Obviously, only a transnational entity can manage it
Does Žižek really mean that only a transnational entity / a law of world citizenship / a global political order can keep the PTB in check?
Presumably not, as he questions it:
What if, for structural reasons, and not only due to empirical limitations, there cannot be a worldwide democracy or a representative world government? What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?
The notion of a worldwide democracy is obviously absurd.
However, Žižek is right. We do need legal and politcal mechanisms that, as I see it, will stand up for individuals, communities and cultures in the face of the global economic order.
I think the solutions will have to be culturally pluralistic and local.
We need to recognise that superpowers, politicians and governments are still stuck in the 19th-Century of competitng nation states, the fight economic wars to be the top dogs.
World economy is now a fact:
We only have one global economy and what we think of as the US economy or the Russian economy does not have any reality outside of world economy. Governments try to impose their own rules on how they interact with global economic reality, but these rules are merely reactive. World economy is fact. The problem is that governments continue to view nation states as separate controllable economic entities -- which they are not.
They are not even interdependent entities (as was the case during colonial times). Goods and services can come for anywhere and are financed from multiple global locations, produced in multiple locations and consumed worldwide in different locations. This is even more the case when you consider global financial markets. Global financial actors and multinational corporations know this, whereas governments are still stuck in 19th Century thinking. It is this outmoded way of thinking that has led to economic wars in the past, continues to fuel current wars and will lead to future economic war if politicians don't wake up to the fact of world economy.
2bapilgrim, 07 May 2014 8:52am
So many comments on the headline, but the real problem to be solved is stated in the last paragraph:
Our predicament today is defined by this tension: the global free circulation of commodities is accompanied by growing separations in the social sphere. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of the global market, new walls have begun emerging everywhere, separating peoples and their cultures. Perhaps the very survival of humanity depends on resolving this tension.
MysticFish, 07 May 2014 8:53amKosmicfriend , 07 May 2014 8:54am
We now have a deeply serious moral crisis in politics not just a capitalist one. In the past right wing political crimes used to be reported. This time, what we get instead is worrying silence and one-sidedness from the media. Why would our governments go to such trouble to brush aside the gratuitous massacre of innocent unarmed Ukrainians?
http://ersieesist.livejournal.com/813.html" Today the old and new superpowers are...trying to impose their own version of global rules, experimenting with them through proxies - which are, of course,...small nations and states. (...small nations get hurt and wounded instead of the big ones)."MysticFish -> Kosmicfriend, 07 May 2014 10:25am
Consider that there may be an elite group of power-mongers who, through the control of global mega-institutions, wield the power to mobilize e.g the military might of the U.S. and of Britain and of other puppet nations. The anger resulting from their atrocities would in effect be directed at the U.S or British footsoldier, NOT the hidden MANIPULATORS! Actually, even Obama himself, could be a proxy!
Your argument is plausible, since all kinds of entities are now able to disguise themselves behind global corporations, who in turn, strangely exercise undue persuasion over our elected politicians. It's very difficult to see just what is going on. Global corporations appear to be the new weapon of war, when, for example, you look at the carpet bombing effect fracking has on vital agricultural land and water resources. The far right seem to think this technology serves their countries' interests, but then they are not particularly bright when they also act as paid mercenaries for Chinese ambitions.
imight, 07 May 2014 9:02am
the only way to stop the big powers fighting is to stop the reasons they fight at source.....greed
most power and influence in any country comes from its wealth holders and in many cases these are faceless suits in big business and high finance all protected by a blag legal system set up to protect companies and 'their' assets. i highlight 'their' as companies have more rights than individuals in modern law and this allows a disconnect between the people running the company and the consequences of decisions made.....
if companies and their executives and shareholders wish to continue receiving this rights of limited liability the law should be changed to force them to to behave ethically and pay fairly (the difference between highest and lowest paid workers should be low) and be responsible to the environment, if they cant do that ... why should they have limited public liabilities .... ????
sign up peeps pls
Rozina, 07 May 2014 9:30am
If proof were needed that Slavoj Žižek has little understanding of the current crisis in Ukraine, who the responsible agents are and what they seek to gain from plunging the country into chaos and war, this execrable post is it.
The transnational entity called the United Nations has long passed its use-by date. The US government is in thrall to Wall Street, corporations and their lobby groups and is over-extended in numerous wars and conflicts across the planet. Americans are tired of fighting, they are sinking into Third World poverty, their jobs are disappearing and more of them are ending up in prisons operated by private firms for profit.
It seems Žižek prefers the old order of one country dominating the world and that country being the United States. Russia on the other hand should meekly accept allowing Ukraine to fall under fascist rule and then itself being plundered by US corporations and divided up into small squabbling statelets while Siberian mineral wealth and Caspian Sea oil and gas enrich a small parasitic class that flits from one country to the next.
Martyn -> Blackburn, 07 May 2014 9:47am
The banks control the money supply, and so hold the nations to ransom. Some influential groups, some of them very wealthy, are interested in controlling and manipulating public opinion both at local and international level. One might be tempted to think that the people in power are those who have been democratically elected, but this is perhaps a deception. Whose democracy is it? The leaders? Or does it belong to those who do things behind the scenes? Control the money supply and public opinion and you already have a monopoly on rule.
Writeangle, 07 May 2014 10:22am
There are far too many different cultures and religions for there ever to be work agreement in many areas.Its only the political elite that dream their dogmas will take over the world. The welfare state ridden EU has dreams of getting bigger and more important, dreams that are extremely unlikely to be met.
Most Likely China will be the next world's superpower with the narcissistic welfare state EU sinking slowly in the west.
We will have to wait and see how China plays its new hand and how the others respond to it.
My guess is that the west will not be able to match China and will fall behind even in the US.
NinthLegion, 07 May 2014 10:34am
The Roman Caesars knew that thy could command respect, achieve unity, and lead efficiently and with deep authority if they had an enemy - any credible enemy. Its what holds nations together with what passes for a common mindset. The psychology has not changed. After the demise of the Soviet Union, Al Quieda stepped into the breach. Such a scenario also keeps a powerful and wholly influental industrial military complex happy - as Eisenhower warned. It keeps macho politicians with huge nuclear arsenals in power, clothed with their baubles at the conference tabe, and it also serves to impress wayward regimes. The threat to most governments today, I believe, comes more from within, rather than from without, and a perceived need for security against a potential enemy is beneficial (for them) in promoting a steady erosion of liberty.
Nations need an enemy that must be credible, sufficiently powerful, and able to provide a relatively malignant threat.
FrJack NinthLegion, 07 May 2014 11:24am
Nations need an enemy that must be credible, sufficiently powerful, and able to provide a relatively malignant threat.
Do you mean that there must actually be such a threat or that for a nation to hold together, it's population must believe (be made to believe, constantly told) there is such a threat?
FrJack, 07 May 2014 10:39am
Perhaps the very survival of humanity depends on resolving this tension.
Perhaps the opposite is true. The success of humans as a species, humanity, has and is in large part driven by the soiciobiologically evolved propensity to continually have the tensions/dynamic of competitive groups going on. We live in an age where it is now easier than ever to see/make analysis and judgment on the minutiae of how these tensions constantly ebb and flow and morph, how the players jockey for position and we are on the look out to see where that leaves us. But there is nothing new here, it is a never ending process without resolution. The idea of resolution is a quasi religious dream of return to the garden of eden where all the nuisance things that we have to worry about and deal with simply for being alive are 'solved' for us. 'Re'-solution is a dream of something that never existed except for when we were babies. It is an infantile memory.
tiojo, 07 May 2014 12:05pm
The USA just now is comparable with Britain and its empire at the time prime minister MacMillan made his famous 'Winds of Change' speech in South Africa. He was a politician who realised that the game was up. Britain was no longer the world power it had been. Although he knew that to be the case he didn't have a coherent plan for the future. The empire was dismantled. Britain dithered, and still does, about whether its future lies with Europe or not. Slow decline continued.
The USA post-Iraq is in slow decline as a world power. The bipolar world of the Cold War was replaced by an all too brief unipolar world of US hegemony. But now with the EU, China, India, Russia, Brazil and others providing alternatives we are, as Mr Zizek says, entering a multi-polar world where the dance moves have not been rehearsed. Such a shame that this fracturing of power does not lead to a reaffirmation of faith in internationalism and a willingness to compromise and collaborate through the UN and its agencies.
lioninthemeadow, 07 May 2014 12:06pm
Žižek touches on a fundamental truth that all reasonable human beings recognise: humanity must jettison its tribal attachments to nations etc. and vest greater powers in supranational bodies like the UN.
I believe it is inevitable that the world will increasingly fuse together in the decades and centuries ahead - it is logical, it is pragmatic and it is the only means of ensuring our mutual survival as a species.
As long as humans are divided by tribalism and reactionary loyalties then the world will be host to all manner of social catastrophes.
FrJack -> Danny Bird, 07 May 2014 12:49pmRCLopez , 07 May 2014 12:38pm
As long as humans are divided by tribalism and reactionary loyalties then the world will be host to all manner of social catastrophes.
The biggest catastrophy we are all facing is environmental. This is due in large part to the seemingly unending proliferation of human beings. Now, evolution wise, it can be said that as a species, our proliferation is a big success. I have not seen anyone argue that the behavioural propensity of tribalism and loyalty has or is having an effect that is hindering our evolutionary success. Indeed, it seems more credible that they are positive attributes in that sense. But if faced with a scenario that population growth must be curtailed or even reduced if we are to stand any hope of mitigating environmental ills, then I'd say it is better that some other tribe than mine bear the cost of that. I have no doubt they feel they same way. Now, plenty of people seem to be hoping for some other way out of this problem. I think they are dreaming.Well, as you yourself say, in those old times of "mad"-ness (mutually assured destruction) at least we entertained more secure and stable illusions even if based on very dangerous and unsustainable premisespeterDKK , 07 May 2014 1:26pm
It is definitely time to teach the superpowers, old and new, some manners, but who will do it?
No one ever has taught anything to the powerful. The best we can do is exactly what those so-called pro-Russia "terrorists" are doing in Eastern Ukraine
There is not such a thing as "rationality" or Karl Popper's falsifiability and "scientific testing of hypotheses" among many other things, because you can only have such a thing in the physical sciences. What on earth would be a baseline understanding of truth in politics, when it is all based on lying and manipulating people?!?Yeah, and the closest we have gotten to it is the UN which is an odd joke. They are just a proxy to the USG. Even its secretary compulsively criticizes Snowden even if he doesn't have to, as a way to show "respect" his masters
Immanuel Kant saw the need for a transnational legal order grounded in the rise of the global society
"Since the narrower or wider community of the peoples of the earth has developed so far that a violation of rights in one place is felt throughout the world, the idea of a law of world citizenship is no high-flown or exaggerated notion."
Yes, and this is happening. People are widely opening their eyes to the "freedom-loving" b#llsh!t of the USG
All gringos have done in their century of greatness ("the land of 'the' 'free' and 'the' 'brave'") is abusing people who can't defend themselves on an equal basis, mess with the environment and (very successfully I would admit) brainwash many, many people by selling them very stupid and unsustainable illusions
... or a representative world government
You are kidding us, right?
What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?
Well, I think definitely are. I don't think that market forces will help our "global" problems. We should stop ferally playing into market forces hoping for those illusions to solve our problems.
We have advanced our technologies and market a bit since the stone age, but morally we are still pretentious animals (monkeys wearing ties and thumbing our cell phones).
truth and peace and love,One great punch:EpaminondasUSA , 07 May 2014 3:12pm
What if the global market economy cannot be directly organised as a global liberal democracy with worldwide elections?
And some muddle about walls separating people and cultures. While delighted to read (at last) a reasonable article in the Guardian, I find Žižek's take wanting.
I am certain he can do better, given how well he describes the mainstay of the system ruling the world today.Monied interests will control the 'post-superpower capitalist world order.' During the past few years, they quietly used their power to force governments austerity policies in both the US and Europe and hack away at their social safety nets.TrasdentBacal EpaminondasUSA , 07 May 2014 4:06pm
Communism at least gave social liberalism in the West a chance, as an alternative to deprive the Soviets of sympathizers. Once communism collapsed in Eastern Europe, the monied interests felt they could dispense with liberalism and pursue more extreme aims.
America is the first effective 'post-democratic' western nation, that is an oligarchy of business-people. Over the coming decades, the machinery of democracy there will break down to be replaced by a shadow government of old money, CEOs, and financiers. It will then quietly work to induce the same in the other western nations. John Calvin's Switzerland will be the model of this new order.
Over the coming decades, the machinery of democracy there will break down to be replaced by a shadow government of old money, CEOs, and financiers. It will then quietly work to induce the same in the other western nations
It didn't work before...remember WWII! True, the dimensions of globalized markets and imperialistic interests were not the same those days, now they got internet and other means of cultural turning.
But national, religious, and ethnic identities remain strong in the Old World, from Portugal to Japan, you won't get people to speak American English and hail an identity-lacking world order. I am not totally sure whether that is good or bad, though.
Cousin2, 07 May 2014 4:17pm
The sad reality is that nothing has changed. We exist in a world where might makes right. In some countries, the brief period roughly between the end of WW2 and the beginning of the Reagan/Thatcher regimes will be remembered as a time when workers' wages kept pace with increased productivity.
Today, we are some 35 years back into business as usual, when increases in prosperity flow largely to the top few percent as they have been doing since the beginning and probably will "to the last syllable of recorded time."
These few percent, consciously or not, create, enforce, and change all the rules; it is for the rest of us to find some way to survive under them. Good luck all.
akarlin, 07 May 2014 9:31pm
Back in the 1990s, a silent pact regulated the relationship between the great western powers and Russia. Western states treated Russia as a great power on the condition that Russia didn't act as one. But what if the person to whom the offer-to-be-rejected is made actually accepts it? What if Russia starts to act as a great power?
With all due respect to Zizek, this is only half-true at best.
This "acknowledgement" of Russia as a great power only extended to pretty insignificant measures such as including it in the G8 (and only in its political, not financial, component). Otherwise, the US was pretty much entirely indifferent to Russia's national interests and preferences (often after having promised otherwise). NATO expansion is the big one, of course, but there are plenty of others (creeping missile defense, Libya, etc).
Far more accurate to say that the US simply treated Russia as the loser of the Cold War (despite Gorbachev's piteous assertions that it was ended by the USSR's own free choice and hence such attitudes are unfair) and as such should simply roll over and accept all edicts from Washington.
yourmiddleclassfarce, 08 May 2014 8:34am
Gangs are the most primitive form of government and within neo-liberalism all governments are merely gangs.
neo-liberalism = raising importance of the invention called money over that of people which is a dehumanising process which cultivates (culture being the inclusive process)
All institutions (specialism within and due to the divisive process called civilization) are collapsing (because the dehumanising process is collapsing culture which is the inclusive process). Even the world's gangs (of all type and power) are in that same precarious process.
neo-liberalism's excessive division is dehumanising hence the institutional collapse.
Rich people are a luxury WE can no longer afford.
MysticFish -> yourmiddleclassfarce, 08 May 2014 8:45am
Super-rich people and large corporations, are a luxury we can no longer afford. People will always need to hoard to a certain extent, though, to get them through winter and, if you are a farmer, lean years. It's not good to have everyone totally dependent on the tender mercies of a mafia run state, or they will become abject slaves.
We need to encourage benign human-scale enterprises that are responsive to local needs and don't cause harm on an industrial scale.
yourmiddleclassfarce -> MysticFish, 08 May 2014 11:48pm
I agree however if enough of us get together to make, for instance, a decision regarding a transport system for everyone (inclusive) that is not exclusive then benign state scale or even interstate scale agreements that are inclusive and not divisive will generate more social cohesion, interaction and economy precisely because the most efficient use of the invention called money rides on the back of social currency and not social exclusion. Social currency is destroyed by excessive division.
[Notice how the neo-liberals have removed the term 'mass transit' from the lexicon of social discourse?]
'Survival in numbers' is a prime survival mechanism in our species. Cooperation trumps competition most of the time. Neo-liberalism has made far too much division for our species to survive it. Cooperating with neo-liberalism is the biggest mistake.
LittleRichardjohn, 08 May 2014 9:45amtakethat , 09 May 2014 12:53pm
... ... ....
The prospect of global solidarity is almost certainly dependent on the absurdity of Consumerism hitting the buffers, which, since Consumerism is nothing more than a superstitious belief in Perpetual Motion...Here Zizek encourages a kind of liberal naiveté, astonishing for a guy who pretends to be comfortable with Lenin's no-nonsense revolutionary analytic approach.johncdvorak , 09 May 2014 6:37pm
Yes, a global world democracy would be nice. But it's hardly the case that in not having it we have only chaos. Global capital doesn't want world democracy. They want the TransPacific Partnership G8, etc. They want elite enrichment and militarized police. They've got it, or are in the process of getting it.. Instead of the pap he wrote, Zizek should be talking about the creation of a world-wide opposition to those political structures.Slavoj Žižek develops a false premise with great ease. He hints that some sort of reference point for unwritten social codes should exist when it's always been an experiment that is never resolved except by wars when the all sides are stretched too thin with endless tolerance.Desh Mott , 09 May 2014 8:56pm
The USA is subconsciously aware of this problem and its inevitable endpoint. It is thus armed to the teeth and will remain so.
In this situation it is impossible not to be a bully. Everyone else has to tolerate the bully and will continue to do so for a very long time. Only an economic collapse can disarm the USA. A collapse of the magnitude necessary does not seem likely.
The problem could be tempered by the citizenry, but the public is cowed by fears of terrorism, real and imagined. Everyone is monitored by the NSA to keep them in line. None of this will be resolved by any sort of world government as Žižek and other idealists imagine. The world is stuck in limbo.
Much of this is discussed on the No Agenda Show. Google it.Zizek doesn't literally think that international crises are because of psychodramas relating to rules, does he?
Jul 30, 2014 | marknesop.wordpress.com
colliemum, July 30, 2014 at 10:05 amFound at zerohedge, a US reaction on Russia's reaction to the sanctions:yalensis, July 30, 2014 at 3:31 pm
"Assuming that they take this action, it would be blatant protectionism," Clayton Yeutter, a U.S. Trade Representative under President Ronald Reagan, said in a phone interview. "There is little or no legitimacy to their complaints."
Yep, how dare the Russkies retaliate, when they ought to come begging on their knees to be allowed to do what the grand master in DC wants them to doRussians are using "trade as a geopolitical tool," warns a Washington think tank. Russia engaging in trade war – How despicable!ThatJ, July 30, 2014 at 3:39 pm
First Russkies pretend to find antibiotics in McDonalds "cheese" products. But everybody knows the cheese cannot possibly contain antibiotics, because it's not even real cheese! (it's a kind of edible plastic substance )
And next Russans claim that "Fruit shipments from the EU have recently contained Oriental fruit moths "
That's a lie too.
Everybody knows that if you eat your Polish quinces with a runcible spoon, then they will not contain any measurable amounts of moth larvae."Fedorov said consulting firms and audit firms will be the first to be targeted by the new bill. Next will be U.S. media, he said."colliemum, July 31, 2014 at 12:44 am
The US media helps in spreading liberasty. It should have been barred years ago.Above all else, Putin should throw out all Western NGOs – especially those with links to Soros.marknesop, July 30, 2014 at 9:41 pmcartman, July 30, 2014 at 10:21 am"It's not unusual for Russia to find something wrong when they have a political reason to do so".
No word on whether his tongue immediately turned black and started to smoke, then fell out of his mouth. It's not unusual for the United States to apply sanctions when they have a political reason to do so, and fuck-all else.I was wrong about Rosoboronexport. It is EXEMPT from the list of sanctions. No doubt some of the deals (titanium) are critical for the US's own MIC. Put Kadyrov or someone on the board and force Congress to slit Boeing's throat.cartman, July 30, 2014 at 10:26 amOr hire him to the company that produces rolled titanium alloys for Boeing and Airbus. A shot across the bow to say that Western leaders will have to be standing in front of their populations as they crash their economies. Russia won't do it for them.marknesop, July 30, 2014 at 9:51 pmExcellent reasoning. The baying audience of FOX-friends might be stoked at the idea of economic war with Russia, but the cold-eyed businessmen are likely to be unenthused at best. This is a great plan for achieving leverage cheaply and easily, and the U.S. government would be left 'splaining to Boeing that they had to lay off a couple of thousand workers because a bad man was appointed to the board of their major supplier.
The west is locked into its lame sanctions groove, and too proud to back down. This might be the big shootout from which only one currency will walk away.
Dec 12, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
Uber lost $2.5 billion in 2015, probably lost $4 billion in 2016, and is on track to lose $5 billion in 2017.
The top line on the table below shows is total passenger payments, which must be split between Uber corporate and its drivers. Driver gross earnings are substantially higher than actual take home pay, as gross earning must cover all the expenses drivers bear, including fuel, vehicle ownership, insurance and maintenance.
Most of the "profit" data released by Uber over time and discussed in the press is not true GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) profit comparable to the net income numbers public companies publish but is EBIDTAR contribution. Companies have significant leeway as to how they calculate EBIDTAR (although it would exclude interest, taxes, depreciation, amortization) and the percentage of total costs excluded from EBIDTAR can vary significantly from quarter to quarter, given the impact of one-time expenses such as legal settlements and stock compensation. We only have true GAAP net profit results for 2014, 2015 and the 2nd/3rd quarters of 2017, but have EBIDTAR contribution numbers for all other periods. 
Uber had GAAP net income of negative $2.6 billion in 2015, and a negative profit margin of 132%. This is consistent with the negative $2.0 billion loss and (143%) margin for the year ending September 2015 presented in part one of the NC Uber series over a year ago.
No GAAP profit results for 2016 have been disclosed, but actual losses likely exceed $4 billion given the EBIDTAR contribution of negative $3.2 billion. Uber's GAAP losses for the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2017 were over $2.5 billion, suggesting annual losses of roughly $5 billion.
While many Silicon Valley funded startups suffered large initial losses, none of them lost anything remotely close to $2.6 billion in their sixth year of operation and then doubled their losses to $5 billion in year eight. Reversing losses of this magnitude would require the greatest corporate financial turnaround in history.
No evidence of significant efficiency/scale gains; 2015 and 2016 margin improvements entirely explained by unilateral cuts in driver compensation, but losses soared when Uber had to reverse these cuts in 2017.
Total 2015 gross passenger payments were 200% higher than 2014, but Uber corporate revenue improved 300% because Uber cut the driver share of passenger revenue from 83% to 77%. This was an effective $500 million wealth transfer from drivers to Uber's investors. These driver compensation cuts improved Uber's EBIDTAR margin, but Uber's P&L gains were wiped out by higher non-EBIDTAR expense. Thus the 300% Uber revenue growth did not result in any improvement in Uber profit margins.
In 2016, Uber unilaterally imposed much larger cuts in driver compensation, costing drivers an additional $3 billion.  Prior to Uber's market entry, the take home pay of big-city cab drivers in the US was in the $12-17/hour range, and these earnings were possible only if drivers worked 65-75 hours a week.
An independent study of the net earnings of Uber drivers (after accounting for the costs of the vehicles they had to provide) in Denver, Houston and Detroit in late 2015 (prior to Uber's big 2016 cuts) found that driver earnings had fallen to the $10-13/hour range.  Multiple recent news reports have documented how Uber drivers are increasing unable to support themselves from their reduced share of passenger payments. 
A business model where profit improvement is hugely dependent on wage cuts is unsustainable, especially when take home wages fall to (or below) minimum wage levels. Uber's primary focus has always been the rate of growth in gross passenger revenue, as this has been a major justification for its $68 billion valuation. This growth rate came under enormous pressure in 2017 given Uber efforts to raise fares, major increases in driver turnover as wages fell,  and the avalanche of adverse publicity it was facing.
Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely, Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017.
MKS , December 12, 2017 at 6:19 amJohnnySacks , December 12, 2017 at 7:34 am
"Uber's business model can never produce sustainable profits"
Two words not in my vocabulary are "Never" and "Always", that is a pretty absolute statement in an non-absolute environment. The same environment that has produced the "Silicon Valley Growth Model", with 15x earnings companies like NVIDA, FB and Tesla (Average earnings/stock price ratio in dot com bubble was 10x) will people pay ridiculous amounts of money for a company with no underlying fundamentals you damn right they will! Please stop with the I know all no body knows anything, especially the psychology and irrationality of markets which are made up of irrational people/investors/traders.SoCal Rhino , December 12, 2017 at 8:30 am
My thoughts exactly. Seems the only possible recovery for the investors is a perfectly engineered legendary pump and dump IPO scheme. Risky, but there's a lot of fools out there and many who would also like to get on board early in the ride in fear of missing out on all the money to be hoovered up from the greater fools. Count me out.tegnost , December 12, 2017 at 9:52 am
The author clearly distinguishes between GAAP profitability and valuations, which is after all rather the point of the series. And he makes a more nuanced point than the half sentence you have quoted without context or with an indication that you omitted a portion. Did you miss the part about how Uber would have a strong incentive to share the evidence of a network effect or other financial story that pointed the way to eventual profit? Otherwise (my words) it is the classic sell at a loss, make it up with volume path to liquidation.allan , December 12, 2017 at 6:52 am
apples and oranges comparison, nvidia has lots and lots of patented tech that produces revenue, facebook has a kajillion admittedly irrational users, but those users drive massive ad sales (as just one example of how that company capitalizes itself) and tesla makes an actual car, using technology that inspires it's buyers (the put your money where your mouth is crowd and it can't be denied that tesla, whatever it's faults are, battery tech is not one of them and that intellectual property is worth a lot, and tesla's investors are in on that real business, profitable or otherwise)
Uber is an iphone app. They lose money and have no path to profitability (unless it's the theory you espouse that people are unintelligent so even unintelligent ideas work to fleece them). This article touches on one of the great things about the time we now inhabit, uber drivers could bail en masse, there are two sides to the low attachment employees who you can get rid of easily. The drivers can delete the uber app as soon as another iphone app comes along that gets them a better returnThuto , December 12, 2017 at 6:55 am
Yet another source (unintended) of subsidies for Uber, Lyft, etc., which might or might not have been mentioned earlier in the series:
Airports Are Losing Money as Ride-Hailing Services Grow [NYT]
For many air travelers, getting to and from the airport has long been part of the whole miserable experience. Do they drive and park in some distant lot? Take mass transit or a taxi? Deal with a rental car?
Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft are quickly changing those calculations. That has meant a bit less angst for travelers.
But that's not the case for airports. Travelers' changing habits, in fact, have begun to shake the airports' financial underpinnings. The money they currently collect from ride-hailing services do not compensate for the lower revenues from the other sources.
At the same time, some airports have had to add staff to oversee the operations of the ride-hailing companies, the report said. And with more ride-hailing vehicles on the roads outside terminals,
there's more congestion.
Socialize the losses, privatize the gains, VC-ize the subsidies.Louis Fyne , December 12, 2017 at 8:35 am
The cold hard truth is that Uber is backed into a corner with severely limited abilities to tweak the numbers on either the supply or the demand side: cut driver compensation and they trigger driver churn (as has already been demonstrated), increase fare prices for riders and riders defect to cheaper alternatives. The only question is how long can they keep the show going before the lights go out, slick marketing and propaganda can only take you so far, and one assumes the dumb money has a finite supply of patience and will at some point begin asking the tough questions.Thuto , December 12, 2017 at 11:30 am
The irony is that Uber would have been a perfectly fine, very profitable mid-sized company if Uber stuck with its initial model -- sticking to dense cities with limited parking, limiting driver supply, and charging a premium price for door-to-door delivery, whether by livery or a regular sedan. And then perhaps branching into robo-cars.
But somehow Uber/board/Travis got suckered into the siren call of self-driving cars, triple-digit user growth, and being in the top 100 US cities and on every continent.David Carl Grimes , December 12, 2017 at 6:57 am
I've shared a similar sentiment in one of the previous posts about Uber. But operating profitably in decent sized niche doesn't fit well with ambitions of global domination. For Uber to be "right-sized", an admission of folly would have to be made, its managers and investors would have to transcend the sunk cost fallacy in their strategic decision making, and said investors would have to accept massive hits on their invested capital. The cold, hard reality of being blindsided and kicked to the curb in the smartphone business forced RIM/Blackberry to right-size, and they may yet have a profitable future as an enterprise facing software and services company. Uber would benefit from that form of sober mindedness, but I wouldn't hold my breath.Michael Fiorillo , December 12, 2017 at 9:33 am
The question is: Why did Softbank invest in Uber?JimTan , December 12, 2017 at 10:50 am
I know nothing about Softbank or its management, but I do know that the Japanese were the dumb money rubes in the late '80's, overpaying for trophy real estate they lost billions on.
Until informed otherwise, that's my default assumptionYves Smith Post author , December 12, 2017 at 11:38 am
Softbank possibly looking to buy more Uber shares at a 30% discount is very odd. Uber had a Series G funding round in June 2016 where a $3.5 billion investment from Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund resulted in its current $68 billion valuation. Now apparently Softbank wants to lead a new $6 billion funding round to buy the shares of Uber employees and early investors at a 30% discount from this last "valuation". It's odd because Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund has pledged $45 billion to SoftBank's Vision Fund , an amount which was supposed to come from the proceeds of its pending Aramco IPO. If the Uber bid is linked to SoftBank's Vision Fund, or KSA money, then its not clear why this investor might be looking to literally 'double down' from $3.5 billion o $6 billion on a declining investment.Robert McGregor , December 12, 2017 at 7:04 am
SoftBank has not yet invested. Its tender is still open. If it does not get enough shares at a price it likes, it won't invest.
As to why, I have no idea.divadab , December 12, 2017 at 7:19 am
"Growth and Efficiency" are the sine qua non of Neoliberalism. Kalanick's "hype brilliance" was to con the market with "revenue growth" and signs of efficiency, and hopes of greater efficiency, and make most people just overlook the essential fact that Uber is the most unprofitable company of all time!Phil in Kansas City , December 12, 2017 at 7:55 am
What comprises "Uber Expenses"? 2014 – $1.06 billion; 2015 $3.33 billion; 2016 $9.65 billion; forecast 2017 $11.418 billion!!!!!! To me this is the big question – what are they spending $10 billion per year on?
ALso – why did driver share go from 68% in 2016 to 80% in 2017? If you use 68% as in 2016, 2017 Uber revenue is $11.808 billion, which means a bit better than break-even EBITDA, assuming Uber expenses are as stated $11.428 billion.
Perhaps not so bleak as the article presents, although I would not invest in this thing.lyman alpha blob , December 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm
I have the same question: What comprises over 11 billion dollars in expenses in 2017? Could it be they are paying out dividends to the early investors? Which would mean they are cannibalizing their own company for the sake of the VC! How long can this go on before they'll need a new infusion of cash?Vedant Desai , December 12, 2017 at 10:37 am
The Saudis have thrown a few billion Uber's way and they aren't necessarily known as the smart money.
Maybe the pole dancers have started chipping in too as they are for bitcoin .Louis Fyne , December 12, 2017 at 8:44 am
Oh article does answer your 2nd question. Read this paragraph:-
Since mass driver defections would cause passenger volume growth to collapse completely , Uber was forced to reverse these cuts in 2017 and increased the driver share from 68% to 80%. This meant that Uber's corporate revenue, which had grown over 300% in 2015 and over 200% in 2016 will probably only grow by about 15% in 2017.
As for the 1st, read this line in the article:-
There are undoubtedly a number of things Uber could do to reduce losses at the margin, but it is difficult to imagine it could suddenly find the $4-5 billion in profit improvement needed merely to reach breakeven.Alfred , December 12, 2017 at 9:49 am
in addition to all the points listed in the article/comments, the absolute biggest flaw with Uber is that Uber HQ conditioned its customers on (a) cheap fares and (b) that a car is available within minutes (1-5 if in a big city).
Those two are not mutually compatible in the long-term.Martin Finnucane , December 12, 2017 at 11:06 am
Thus (a) "We cost less" and (b) "We're more convenient" -- aren't those also the advantages that Walmart claims and feeds as a steady diet to its ever hungry consumers? Often if not always, disruption may repose upon delusion.Altandmain , December 12, 2017 at 11:09 am
Uber's business model could never produce sustainable profits unless it was able to exploit significant anti-competitive market power.
Upon that dependent clause hangs the future of capitalism, and – dare I say it? – its inevitable demise.Jim A. , December 12, 2017 at 12:21 pm
When this Uber madness blows up, I wonder if people will finally begin to discuss the brutal reality of Silicon Valley's so called "disruption".
It is heavily built in around the idea of economic exploitation. Uber drivers are often, especially when the true costs to operate an Uber including the vehicle depreciation are factored in, making not very much per hour driven, especially if they don't get the surge money.
Instacart is another example. They are paying the deliver operators very little.Altandmain , December 12, 2017 at 5:40 pm
At a fundamental level, I think that the Silicon Valley "disruption" model only works for markets (like software) where the marginal cost for production is de minimus and the products can be protected by IP laws. Volume and market power really work in those cases. But out here in meat-space, where actual material and labor are big inputs to each item sold, you can never just sit back on your laurels and rake in the money. Somebody else will always be able to come and and make an equivalent product. If they can do it more cheaply, you are in trouble.Joe Bentzel , December 12, 2017 at 2:19 pm
There aren't that many areas in goods and services where the marginal costs are very low.
Software is actually quite unique in that regard, costing merely the bandwidth and permanent storage space to store.
1. From the article, they cannot go public and have limited ways to raise more money. An IPO with its more stringent disclosure requirements would expose them.
2. They tried lowering driver compensation and found that model unsustainable.
3. There are no benefits to expanding in terms of economies of scale.
From where I am standing, it looks like a lot of industries gave similar barriers. Silicon Valley is not going to be able to disrupt those.
Tesla, another Silicon Valley company seems to be struggling to mass produce its Model 3 and deliver an electric car that breaks even, is reliable, while disrupting the industry in the ways that Elon Musk attempted to hype up.
So that basically leaves services and manufacturing out for Silicon Valley disruption.Phil in KC , December 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm
UBER has become a "too big to fail" startup because of all the different tentacles of capital from various Tier 1 VCs and investment bankers.
VCs have admitted openly that UBER is a subsidized business, meaning it's product is sold below market value, and the losses reflect that subsidization. The whole "2 sided platform" argument is just marketecture to hustle more investors. It's a form of service "dumping" that puts legacy businesses into bankruptcy. Back during the dotcom bubble one popular investment banker (Paul Deninger) characterized this model as "Terrorist Competition", i.e. coffers full of invested cash to commoditize the market and drive out competition.
UBER is an absolute disaster that has forked the startup model in Silicon Valley in order to drive total dependence on venture capital by founders. And its current diversification into "autonomous vehicles", food delivery, et al are simply more evidence that the company will never be profitable due to its whacky "blitzscaling" approach of layering on new "businesses" prior to achieving "fit" in its current one.
It's economic model has also metastasized into a form of startup cancer that is killing Silicon Valley as a "technology" innovator. Now it's all cargo cult marketing BS tied to "strategic capital".
UBER is the victory of venture capital and user subsidized startups over creativity by real entrepreneurs.
It's shadow is long and that's why this company should be ..wait for it UNBUNDLED (the new silicon valley word attached to that other BS religion called "disruption"). Call it a great unbundling and you can break up this monster corp any way you want.
Naked Capitalism is a great website.Phil in KC , December 12, 2017 at 3:10 pm
1. I Agree with your last point.
2. The elevator pitch for Uber: subsidize rides to attract customers, put the competition out of business, and then enjoy an unregulated monopoly, all while exploiting economically ignorant drivers–ahem–"partners."
3. But more than one can play that game, and
4. Cab and livery companies are finding ways to survive!Jan Stickle , December 12, 2017 at 5:00 pm
If subsidizing rides is counted as an expense, (not being an accountant, I would guess it so), then whether the subsidy goes to the driver or the passenger, that would account for the ballooning expenses, to answer my own question. Otherwise, the overhead for operating what Uber describes as a tech company should be minimal: A billion should fund a decent headquarters with staff, plus field offices in, say, 100 U.S. cities. However, their global pretensions are probably burning cash like crazy. On top of that, I wonder what the exec compensation is like?
After reading HH's initial series, I made a crude, back-of-the-envelope calculation that Uber would run out of money sometime in the third fiscal quarter of 2018, but that was based on assuming losses were stabilizing in the range of 3 billion a year. Not so, according to the article. I think crunch time is rapidly approaching. If so, then SoftBank's tender offer may look quite appetizing to VC firms and to any Uber employee able to cash in their options. I think there is a way to make a re-envisioned Uber profitable, and with a more independent board, they may be able to restructure the company to show a pathway to profitability before the IPO. But time is running out.
A not insignificant question is the recruitment and retention of the front line "partners." It would seem to me that at some point, Uber will run out of economically ignorant drivers with good manners and nice cars. I would be very interested to know how many drivers give up Uber and other ride-sharing gigs once the 1099's start flying at the beginning of the year. One of the harsh realities of owning a business or being an contractor is the humble fact that you get paid LAST!
We became instant Uber riders while spending holidays with relatives in San Diego. While their model is indeed unique from a rider perspective, it was the driver pool that fascinates me. These are not professional livery drivers, but rather freebooters of all stripes driving for various reasons. The remuneration they receive cannot possibly generate much income after expenses, never mind the problems associated with IRS filing as independent contractors.
One guy was just cruising listening to music; cooler to get paid for it than just sitting home! A young lady was babbling and gesticulating non stop about nothing coherent and appeared to be on some sort of stimulant. A foreign gentleman, very professional, drove for extra money when not at his regular job. He was the only one who had actually bought a new Prius for this gig, hoping to pay it off in two years.
This is indeed a brave new world. There was a period in Nicaragua just after the Contra war ended when citizens emerged from their homes and hit the streets in large numbers, desperately looking for income. Every car was a taxi and there was a bipedal mini Walmart at every city intersection as individuals sold everything and anything in a sort of euphoric optimism towards the future. Reality just hadn't caught up with them yet .
Dec 12, 2017 | billmoyers.com
The notion of the "Deep State" as outlined by Mike Lofgren may be useful in pointing to a new configuration of power in the US in which corporate sovereignty replaces political sovereignty, but it is not enough to simply expose the hidden institutions and structures of power.
... ... ...
Moreover, Lofgren needs to say more about a growing culture of cruelty brought about by the death of concessions in politics -- a politics now governed by the ultra-rich and mega corporations that has no allegiance to local politics and produces a culture infused with a self-righteous coldness that takes delight in the suffering of others. Power is now separated from politics and floats, unchecked and uncaring.This is a revolution in which the welfare state is being liquidated, along with the collective provisions that supported it. It is a revolution in which economics drives politics. Neoliberalism is a new form of hybrid global financial authoritarianism. It is connected to the Deep State and marked by its savage willingness in the name of accumulation, privatization, deregulation, dispossession and power to make disposable a wide range of groups extending from low income youth and poor minorities to elements of the middle class that have lost jobs, social protections and hope.
Then, there is the central question, how does the Deep State function to encourage particular types of individualistic, competitive, acquisitive and entrepreneurial behavior in its citizens?
The biggest problem facing the US may not be its repressive institutions, modes of governance and the militarization of everyday life, but the interiority of neoliberal nihilism, the hatred of democratic relations and the embrace of a culture of cruelty. The role of culture as an educative force, a new and powerful force in politics is central here and is vastly underplayed in the essay (which of course cannot include everything). For instance, in what ways does the Deep State use the major cultural apparatuses to convince people that there is no alternative to existing relations of power, that consumerism is the ultimate mark of citizenship and that making money is the essence of individual and social responsibility?
In other words, there is no theory of cultural domination here, no understanding of how identities, subjectivities and values are shaped in the narrow and selfish image of commerce, how exchange values are the only values. In my estimation, the Deep State is symptomatic of something more ominous, the rise of a new form of authoritarianism, a counter-revolution in which society is being restructured and advanced under what might be called the neoliberal revolution. This is a revolution in which the welfare state is being liquidated, along with the collective provisions that supported it. It is a revolution in which economics drives politics.
... ... ...
Dec 12, 2017 | seanmichaelbutler.wordpress.com
For 25 years following the end of the Second World War, the global economy experienced an unprecedented period of sustained growth. In the industrialized world, millions of people joined the ranks of the middle class, and wealth inequality sunk to historic lows. After decades of strife, labour and capital reached a relative ceasefire, and a mixed economy of governmental macroeconomic guidance combined with private microeconomic initiative emerged. Capital was able to make healthy profits, while much of the rising productivity of labour was passed on in the form of higher wages. Governments made full employment a priority, and increasingly accepted the responsibility of providing for the poor and disadvantaged. By the late 1960s, governments were seriously considering implementing a basic income (also known as a guaranteed annual income) and many policymakers thought that our biggest problem in another 20 years would be what to do with all our free time once the work week had been significantly reduced.
This exuberant economic attitude was arguably reflected in the radical social experimentation and revolution that emanated from universities now accessible to the majority, and in the various movements for liberty and social justice erupting worldwide. For many, all this social and economic optimism had one man to thank: the British political economist John Maynard Keynes, who had emerged from the academic wilderness in the 1930s to play a leading role in the design of the post-war economy at Bretton Woods, and whose focus on the counter-cyclical stimulus of aggregate demand became the lynchpin of governmental economic policy in subsequent decades. "There was a broad body of optimism that the 1950s and 1960s were the product of Keynesian economic engineering. Indeed, there was no reason why the prosperity of the international economy should not continue as long as appropriate Keynesian policies were pursued " In 1971, even the conservative US president Richard Nixon would famously proclaim, "We are all Keynesians now." The triumph of Keynesianism seemed complete.
Yet shortly after Nixon uttered these words, it all fell apart. That same year, Nixon ended the era of dollar to gold convertibility, a move that many see as the beginning of the end for the great post-war compromise between capital and labour.
Three years later, in the face of the first oil embargo and other pressures, the economy nose-dived into the worst recession since the Great Depression, never to rebound to earlier levels. Worse still, the theoretical underpinnings of Keynesianism were called into question by the simultaneous appearance of high inflation and high unemployment – a new phenomenon dubbed "stagflation". While Keynesianism floundered for an explanation, new theories stepped into the breach; monetarism and supply-side economics were the two most popular. While these new theories had distinctive approaches, both shared the belief that big government – namely Keynesianism – was the problem, and that the solution to stagflation was to restrict government intervention in the economy to a strict inflation-fighting monetary policy (in the case of monetarism) or to cut taxes to stimulate private investment (in the case of the supply-siders). This move away from government intervention and the welfare state, and towards more emphasis on an unfettered market, can been summed up by the term "neoliberalism". As the 1970s ran their course, neoliberalism gradually took over from Keynesianism as the reigning economic orthodoxy, to be consummated in the Anglo-Saxon world by the elections of Margaret Thatcher in the UK in 1979, Ronald Reagan in the US in 1980, and Brian Mulroney in Canada in 1984.
The story told by the victors of this ideological battle – the neoliberals – is that Keynesianism, despite its apparent success for 25 years, was in the end responsible for the constellation of economic crises that descended on the industrialized countries during the 1970s, and that neoliberalism was the remedy. The shift from Keynesianism to neoliberalism was, according to this story, the only rational option in the face of stagflation; as Thatcher crisply remarked at the time, "There is no alternative."
I will call into question this story, by first examining the causes of the 1970s economic malaise, and then looking at what interests were behind the promotion of neoliberalism as a solution, how it gained political power, and how it was disseminated around the world. I will fashion an alternate narrative, one in which Keynesianism was not to blame for stagflation, in which the economic crises of the 1970s put the compromise between capital and labour under severe strain and ultimately broke it, in which the capitalist class went on the offensive partly because it feared for its very survival, and in which this class achieved its ends by forming an alliance with social conservatives equally fearful in the face of the 1960s counter-cultural revolution. The protagonist of this story will be the United States; as the capitalist world's superpower, it was largely responsible for the crisis of the 1970s, it suffered the worst from it, and it led the way down the new path of neoliberalism.
THE FALL OF KEYNESIANISM
As one of the principle fathers of neoliberalism, the economist Milton Friedman's indictment of Keynesianism is of special relevance, for it is emblematic of the neoliberal attempt to – quite successfully – pin the blame for chronic recession squarely on Keynesian shoulders. Briefly, Friedman theorized that there was a so-called "natural" rate of unemployment, which persisted in the long-term despite governmental attempts to stimulate demand through spending. Running a budget deficit to pump money into the economy might bring down the unemployment rate in the short term, he thought, but in the long run it would only create inflation, while unemployment would inevitably return to its natural rate – now higher because of the inflation. He essentially argued that fiscal policy was useless – even damaging – and that if governments wanted to bring down the natural rate of unemployment, they should focus on keeping inflation low through monetary policy, while loosening restrictions on markets so that, for instance, wage levels could find their equilibrium point. This explanation for the stagflation encountered in the 1970s proved quite convincing to many searching for answers to the predicament, as well as enormously appealing to those who had always wished for a return to unfettered markets, and played a key role in justifying the switch from Keynesianism to neoliberalism, in its guise of monetarism.
How realistic is this account? Certainly, deficit financing played an important role in the soaring inflation of the 1970s, but was this solely the result of spending on social programs, such as under president Lyndon Johnson's Great Society initiative, or were there other causes for deficit spending? The Vietnam War, combined with Johnson's unwillingness to raise taxes in the face of rising war expenditures, caused the US Federal Reserve to print large amounts of new dollars. Military spending is often seen as the most inflationary form of government spending, because it puts new money into the economy without a corresponding increase in output. The US had some leeway to get away with this rapid increase in the money supply, since the dollar was the international reserve currency, but there was a limit to this, and the explosive inflation of the 1970s was the result.
It must be noted that the US proved a dismal failure in its short-lived role as manager of the world's monetary system. At Bretton Woods, it had been entrusted with the task of maintaining a sound monetary system, through the gold exchange standard, just as Britain had previously. Britain, being a trading nation, had had a strong interest in maintaining a sound international monetary system, and had been effective (some would say too effective) at maintaining it. The United States, on the other hand, traded much less, and consequentially took its responsibilities much less seriously. It is easy to speculate about the justification made by US officials as they printed irresponsible amounts money to pay for their war in Vietnam: they surely saw themselves as defending the free world against the tyranny of communism, a cause for which a little monetary instability, shouldered by the "free world" in general, was a small price to pay.
The first cracks in the system started to show during the series of currency crises that struck in the late 1960s. By the end of the decade, the dollars held outside the US were worth eight times as much as the US had in gold reserves. In 1971, rather than saving the system by devaluing the dollar, and fearing a run on US gold, Nixon ended the gold exchange standard. The US had abused its power of seigniorage (as monarchs before had), but wouldn't escape without paying a price.
The result was more inflation, as the dollar, now cut loose from the Bretton Woods standard of $35 per ounce of gold, shed its inflated value. The lower dollar also raised the cost of imports to the US consumer, further fueling domestic inflation. (The end of dollar convertibility also brought with it more far-reaching consequences. The fixed exchange rates of the 1950s and 60s were incompatible with free flows of capital. Yet taking the dollar off gold led directly to floating exchange rates, which in turn paved the way for freer flows of capital between countries. This development would later aid greatly in the furtherance of the neoliberal agenda.)
As if these developments were not inflationary enough, the Yom Kippur War of October 1973 led OPEC to restrict oil exports to Israel's allies, quadrupling oil prices virtually overnight. Yet this was inflation of a different nature than the kind that had been building up in the 1960s; rather than being linked to excess demand and an overheated economy, it was driven by increases in costs on the supply side and brought with it recessionary pressures. An increase in the price of oil, being fundamental to so much of the economy, is "similar to the imposition of a substantial sales tax. The price of the product goes up and consumers have less income available to spend on other goods and services. The result is a bout of inflation, at least temporarily, and sluggish economic expansion if not recession." This goes a long way towards explaining the supposedly impossible coincidence of high inflation with high unemployment.
Yet there were other factors that also contributed to the so-called "misery index" (inflation rate plus unemployment rate). The most basic of these was that governments tried repeatedly to beat inflation by attacking perceived excess demand through restrictive monetary and fiscal policies; when Nixon tried this strategy in 1970, it resulted in recession. His successor, Gerald Ford, tried the same approach in 1974 – despite the fact that inflation at that point was not being driven by excess demand, but by high costs on the supple side (namely oil). Thus, poor governmental reaction to inflation caused recession and rising unemployment, while failing to master inflation.
Another factor contributing to the slow-down of growth in the US economy was the end of the privileged position it enjoyed as the only power to emerge from the Second World War relatively unscathed. As Germany and Japan laboured to reconstruct their war-ravaged economies, the US faced little competition. Yet by the end of the 1960s, the old Axis powers, now recast as capitalist democracies but still economic powerhouses, were flexing their economic muscles again. This, combined with increasing competition from newly industrialized countries in East Asia and from other developing countries, cut into the robust economic growth the US had enjoyed for two decades previously.
To sum up, inflation caused by first the Vietnam War and later the oil embargo (itself the result of war in the Mideast), coupled with increasing competition to US business internationally, along with the shock of the collapse of the Bretton Woods framework, were the major factors that combined to create the "perfect storm" known as stagflation:
the stage was set for the deepest recession since the 1930s. The long period of post-war expansion had at last come to an end; America and world capitalism entered a new phase of turbulence which, amongst other things, threw economic policy and economics as a theory into a state of flux.
AND THE RISE OF NEOLIBERALISM
In the previous section, I outlined the confluence of factors that led to the crisis of stagflation in the 1970s. In the following section, I will describe the reaction to this crisis – the how and why of neoliberalism's triumph as the new economic orthodoxy.
Different authors ascribe to different points in time when the balance decisively shifted from Keynesianism to neoliberalism – some place the tipping point as early as the latter half of the 1960s, others as late as the ascendancy of Thatcher and Reagan – but the midway year 1974 seems as good as any. It was in this year that Gerald Ford came to the White House with the slogan, "Whip Inflation Now" (WIN), declaring that inflation was public enemy number one and that reduction in government spending was the chief means to that end. It was also in this year that inflation peaked (at 11% – although it would later be surpassed by a second peak of 13.5% in 1980), and that the "perfect storm" that had been building for years, catalyzed by the energy crisis, finally unleashed its full fury on the economy. In declaring war on inflation, Ford broke with the Keynesian bias of giving precedence to full employment; whereas before inflation had been a tool to control unemployment, now unemployment was to be used as a tool to control inflation:
The choice seemed to be stark: accept some inflation as the price of expansion and adapt business and accounting practices accordingly, or pursue a firm deflationary policy even if that meant accepting a higher level of unemployment than had been customary since the Second World War.
In choosing the latter, Ford shattered the fragile compromise between labour and capital and, favouring capital, took America on its first real steps towards neoliberalism.
Yet, as the crisis had gathered steam in the early 1970s, it was by no means clear which way the winds would blow. It was well remembered that the last major economic crisis, in the 1930s, had resulted in the socialist policies of the New Deal, and indeed in the 1970s labour again called for more governmental intervention as the solution to the crisis. Capital, meanwhile, as it suffered from reduced profits due to increased competition abroad and recession at home, also saw the crisis as both an opportunity to advance its interests and as a threat to its interests from an increasingly militant labour. "The upper classes had to move decisively if they were to protect themselves from political and economic annihilation." The ceasefire between labour and capital had held when times were good, but as soon as conditions started to sour, both sides went on the offensive. It was to be one or the other.
Sensing both the opportunity and the threat presented by the crisis, the capitalist class put aside its differences and united against the common enemy of labour. The 1970s marked the beginning of the right-wing think tank, with corporate dollars founding such now well-known beacons of neoliberal thought as the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institute, and the American Enterprise Institute. Lobbying efforts, though such umbrella organizations as the American Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Business Roundtable (a group of CEOs founded in 1972), were massively ramped up; business schools at Stanford and Harvard, established through corporation benefaction, " became centres of neoliberal orthodoxy from the very moment they opened" ; and "the supposedly 'progressive' campaign finance laws of 1971 [that] in effect legalized the financial corruption of politics," were followed by a series of Supreme Court decisions that established the right of corporations to make unlimited donations to political parties. "During the 1970s, the political wing of the nation's corporate sector staged one of the most remarkable campaigns in the pursuit of power in recent history."
The ideology adopted by capital during this remarkable drive to win the minds of the political leadership " had long been lurking in the wings of public policy." It emanated largely from the writings of the Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, around whom a collection of admirers (including Milton Friedman) called the Mont Pelerin Society had formed in 1947. This group's ideas became known as neoliberalism because of its adherence to such neoclassical economists of the latter half of the 19th Century as Alfred Marshall, William Stanley Jevons, and Leon Walras. Hayek had argued presciently that it might take a generation before they could win the battle of ideas; by the time he won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1974, followed by Friedman two years later, victory was indeed close at hand.
Why did capital " [pluck] from the shadows of relative obscurity [this] particular doctrine that went under the name of 'neoliberalism' "? Was it to save the world from the ravages of Keynesian stagnation and to free people from the heavy hand of bloated government? This was certainly part of the rhetoric used to sell neoliberalism to the public, but one need only look at who benefited from neoliberalism to get a strong sense of whose interests it really served. It was eventually quite successful in lowering inflation rates, and moderately successful in lowering unemployment, but failed to revive economic growth to pre-1970s levels; meanwhile, it resulted in levels of wealth inequality not seen since the 1920s in the US, stagnating real wages, and a decreased quality of life for those reliant on government services. Alan Budd, Thatcher's economic advisor, was candid about the real motives behind the neoliberal rhetoric when he said, "The 1980s policies of attacking inflation by squeezing the economy and public spending were a cover to bash the workers." Neoliberalism was capital's way of disciplining labour through unemployment, creating what Marx called an "industrial reserve army" that would break unions and drag wages down. Reagan facing down the air traffic controller's union, PATCO, during a bitter strike in 1981, paralleled across the Atlantic by Thatcher's similarly tough stance with the National Union of Mineworkers' year-long strike in 1984-85, was emblematic of the new hostile approach to labour reintroduced to state policy by neoliberalism. In short, neoliberalism was driven by class interests; it was the vehicle best suited " to restor[ing] the power of economic elites." The true point of neoliberalism is revealed by the fact that whenever the dictates of neoliberal theory conflicted with the interests of the capitalist class, such as when it came to running massive budgetary deficits to pay for military spending during peacetime, neoliberalism was discarded in favour of the interests of capital.
Before neoliberalism came to roost in the White House, however, there were several experiments conducted in the periphery. It is revealing to note that the first nationwide imposition of neoliberalism occurred under conditions of tyranny: Augusto Pinochet's Chile; it is likewise fitting that neoliberalism drove from Chile its antithesis, the communism of Salvador Allende, and that it was imposed through a US-backed coup. After the coup in 1973, Chile became a field school for graduates from the economics department of the University of Chicago, where disciples of Milton Friedman, who taught there, had formed their own monetarist/neoliberal school of thought. These economists attempted to remake the Chilean economy into the ideal neoliberal state (in the same way that US neoliberals are currently attempting in Iraq), a transformation that likely would not have been possible without the Chilean military ensuring a compliant labour. Despite lackluster economic results (particularly after the 1982 debt crisis in Latin America), Chile served as a model to neoliberals who wanted the rich countries to follow the same path.
There was another coup, of sorts – less known and less violent – that occurred in New York City in 1975. In that year, the city went bankrupt, and the subsequent bailout came with strict conditions attached, including budgetary rules and other institutional restructuring. "This amounted to a coup by the financial institutions against the democratically elected government of New York City, and it was every bit as effective as the military coup that had occurred in Chile." It was "an early, perhaps decisive battle in a new war," the purpose of which was "to show others that what is happening to New York could and in some cases would happen to them." "The management of the New York fiscal crisis pioneered the way for neoliberal practices both domestically under Reagan and internationally through the IMF in the 1980s."
While coups, either military or financial, were possible against developing countries and municipalities, neoliberalism would have to gain dominance in the US federal government through slightly more democratic means. As noted earlier, the intense drive to power through lobbying, think tanks, and academia convinced many in the elite of the virtues of neoliberalism, but ultimately this ideology would have to sway masses of people to actually vote in favour of it. In order to secure the broad base of support necessary to win elections, neoliberals formed an alliance in the 1970s with the religious right (a move that has forever since confused the terms "liberal" and "conservative"). While this significant segment of the American population had previously been largely apolitical, the counter-cultural revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s provoked many of these "neoconservatives" to enter the political arena to oppose the perceived moral corruption of American society – a movement that came to fruition with preacher Jerry Fallwell's so-called "moral majority" in 1978. While neoliberals and neoconservatives may seem like strange bedfellows, the coalition was likely facilitated by religious fundamentalists' relative indifference towards the material, economic world; according to their extremist Christian worldview, their material interests in this world would be well worth sacrificing to secure the spiritual interests of their nation in the next world. Furthermore, both religious and economic fundamentalists must have found a comforting familiarity in each other's simplistic extremism (the "invisible hand" of the neoliberals' free market is eerily similar to the Christians' God in its omnipotence, omnipresence, and inscrutability).
The Republican Party gathered under its banner these religious reactionaries, as well as those non-religious (largely white, heterosexual, male, and working-class) who simply feared the growing liberation of blacks, gays, and women, and who felt threatened by affirmative action, the emerging welfare state, and the Soviet Union. "Not for the first time, nor, it is to be feared, for the last time in history had a social group been persuaded to vote against its material, economic, and class interests for cultural, nationalist, and religious reasons." It was this alliance of social fear and economic opportunism that swept arch-neoliberal Ronald Reagan to the White House in 1980 – " a turning point in post-war American economic and social history." After a decade-long campaign, the neoliberals had come to Washington.
Of course, the crusade to reshape society along neoliberal ideals was far from won; Reagan faced a Democratic Congress, and was often forced to govern more pragmatically than ideologically when his supply-side policies failed. As Margaret Thatcher said, "Economics are the method, but the object is to change the soul," and it takes time to change people's souls.
There was also still a whole world to convert to the gospel of market liberalization. The crisis of stagflation that had opened the door to neoliberal ideas in the US had also created financial incentives for the dissemination of neoliberalism to other countries. With the impact of the first oil crisis flooding New York investment banks with petrodollars, and a depressed economy at home offering fewer places to spend them, the banks poured the money into developing countries. This created pressure on the US government to pry open new markets for investment, as well as to protect the growing investments overseas – helping to bring US-bred neoliberalism to foreign shores.
Yet these pressures were only a taste of what was to come; after the Iranian revolution in 1979 caused oil prices to suddenly double, inflation in the US returned with a vengeance. This in turn led the US Federal Reserve, under its new neoliberal-minded chairman Paul Volcker, to drastically raise interest rates. This "Volcker shock", resulting in nominal interest rates close to 20% by 1981, coming on the heels of the profligate lending of petrodollars during the 1970s, played a major part in the debt crisis that descended on the developing world during the 1980s. As countries defaulted on their debts, they were driven into the arms of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which, after what economist Joseph Stiglitz described as a "purge" of Keynesians in 1982, became a center " for the propagation and enforcement of 'free market fundamentalism' and neoliberal orthodoxy." Mexico, after its debt default of 1982-84, became one of the first countries to submit to neoliberal reforms in exchange for debt rescheduling, thus " beginning the long era of structural adjustment."
Many of the IMF economists who designed these Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs), as well as those who staffed the World Bank and the finance departments of many developing countries, were trained at the top US research universities, which by 1990 were dominated by neoliberal ideas – providing yet another avenue by which neoliberalism spread from the US to other parts of the world. By the mid-1990s, the process of neoliberal market liberalization (under the supervision of the World Trade Organization (WTO)) came to be known as the "Washington Consensus", in recognition of the origins of this ideological revolution.
THE REVOLUTION CONTINUES
Some authors have called neoliberalism the antithesis to Keynesianism , yet its real opposite is communism; Keynesianism represented a compromise between the two – a middle way. Yet this fragile balance did not survive the economic crucible of the 1970s. Neoliberalism's strategic political alliance with neoconservatism can be seen as a natural reaction to the rapid changes that had unfolded during the 1950s and 60s in both the US economy (with the growth of the welfare state) and society (with the rise of the counter-cultural revolution); at the same time, it can also be seen as an opportunist power grab by the capitalist class during a period of uncertainty about the foundations of the old order. The fear of communism – captured succinctly in the title of Hayek's famous work, The Road to Serfdom – drove neoliberals to the opposite extreme: the belief in the superiority of the unfettered marketplace as the guiding principle to human civilization. Neoliberalism, therefore, represents an extremist ideology that, if carried through to its end, will likely end up being as destructive to the societies it touches as extremist socialism was to the former Soviet bloc.
Although the neoliberal revolution is still winning many political battles, such as the growing attack on Medicare in Canada or on Social Security in the United States, evidence of an emerging counter-movement (such as the poorly named "anti-globalization movement" – anti-neoliberalization would be more apt) is growing. As Karl Polanyi described in his classic, The Great Transformation, the industrialization and economic liberalization of the 19th Century resulted in a reaction from society for more governmental intervention to protect people and communities from the destructive effects of unfettered markets. It is highly likely that we are now witnessing the first stages of a similar reaction to the latest round of rapid technological change and market liberalization. Hopefully, this reaction will lead to a society that better balances capitalism's creative destruction with the needs of humans and their communities for continuity and security.
Copyright Sean Butler 2006
Written for an Intro to Political Economy class at Carleton University in 2006
Dec 12, 2017 | www.weforum.org
World Economic ForumA similar trend can be seen at the organizational level. A recent study by Erling Bath, Alex Bryson, James Davis, and Richard Freeman showed that the diffusion of individual pay since the 1970s is associated with pay differences between, not within, companies. The Stanford economists Nicholas Bloom and David Price confirmed this finding, and argue that virtually the entire increase in income inequality in the US is rooted in the growing gap in average wages paid by firms. Such outcomes are the result not just of inevitable structural shifts, but also of decisions about how to handle those shifts. In the late 1970s, as neoliberalism took hold, policymakers became less concerned about big firms converting profits into political influence, and instead worried that governments were protecting uncompetitive companies. With this in mind, policymakers began to dismantle the economic rules and regulations that had been implemented after the Great Depression, and encouraged vertical and horizontal mergers. These decisions played a major role in enabling a new wave of globalization, which increasingly diffused growth and wealth across countries, but also laid the groundwork for the concentration of income and wealth within countries. The growing "platform economy" is a case in point. In China, the e-commerce giant Alibaba is leading a massive effort to connect rural areas to national and global markets, including through its consumer-to-consumer platform Taobao. That effort entails substantial diffusion: in more than 1,000 rural Chinese communities – so-called " Taobao Villages " – over 10% of the population now makes a living by selling products on Taobao. But, as Alibaba helps to build an inclusive economy comprising millions of mini-multinationals, it is also expanding its own market power. Policymakers now need a new approach that resists excessive concentration, which may create efficiency gains, but also allows firms to hoard profits and invest less. Of course, Joseph Schumpeter famously argued that one need not worry too much about monopoly rents, because competition would quickly erase the advantage. But corporate performance in recent decades paints a different picture: 80% of the firms that made a return of 25% or more in 2003 were still doing so ten years later. (In the 1990s, that share stood at about 50% .) Have you read?
Aug 19, 2012 | Corrente
I got to thinking today about how neocon and neoliberal are becoming interchangeable terms. They did not start out that way. My understanding is they are ways of rationalizing breaks with traditional conservatism and liberalism. Standard conservatism was fairly isolationist. Conservatism's embrace of the Cold War put it at odds with this tendency. This was partially resolved by accepting the Cold War as a military necessity despite its international commitments but limiting civilian programs like foreign aid outside this context and rejecting the concept of nation building altogether.
With the end of the Cold War conservative internationalism needed a new rationale, and this was supplied by the neoconservatives. They advocated the adoption of conservatism's Cold War military centered internationalism as the model for America's post-Cold War international relations. After all, why drop a winning strategy? America had won the Cold War against a much more formidable opponent than any left on the planet. What could go wrong?
America's ability not simply to project but its willingness to use military power was equated with its power more generally. If America did not do this, it was weak and in decline. However, the frequent use of military power showed that America was great and remained the world's hegemon. In particular, the neocons focused on the Middle East. This sales pitch gained them the backing of both supporters of Israel (because neoconservatism was unabashedly pro-Israel) and the oil companies. The military industrial complex was also on board because the neocon agenda effectively countered calls to reduce military spending. But neoconservatism was not just confined to these groups. It appealed to both believers in American exceptionalism and backers of humanitarian interventions (of which I once was one).
As neoconservatism developed, that is with Iraq and Afghanistan, the neocons even came to embrace nation building which had always been anathema to traditional conservatism. Neocons sold this primarily by casting nation building in military terms, the creation and training of police and security forces in the target country.
9/11 too was critical. It vastly increased the scope of the neocon project in spawning the Global War on Terror. It increased the stage of neocon operations to the entire planet. It effectively erased the distinction between the use of military force against countries and individuals. Individuals more than countries became targets for military, not police, action. And unlike traditional wars or the Cold War itself, this one would never be over. Neoconservatism now had a permanent raison d'ętre.
Politically, neoconservatism has become the bipartisan foreign policy consensus. Democrats are every bit as neocon in their views as Republicans. Only a few libertarians on the right and progressives on the left reject it.
Neoliberalism, for its part, came about to address the concern of liberals, especially Democrats, that they were too anti-business and too pro-union, and that this was hurting them at the polls. It was sold to the rubiat as pragmatism.
The roots of neoliberalism are the roots of kleptocracy. Both begin under Carter. Neoliberalism also known at various times and places as the Washington Consensus (under Clinton) and the Chicago School is the political expression for public consumption of the kleptocratic economic philosophy, just as libertarian and neoclassical economics (both fresh and salt water varieties) are its academic and governmental face. The central tenets of neoliberalism are deregulation, free markets, and free trade. If neoliberalism had a prophet or a patron saint, it was Milton Friedman.
Again just as neoconservatism and kleptocracy or bipartisan so too is neoliberalism. There really is no daylight between Reaganism/supply side economics/trickledown on the Republican side and Clinton's Washington Consensus or Team Obama on the other.
And just as we saw with neoconservatism, neoliberalism expanded from its core premises and effortlessly transitioned into globalization, which can also be understood as global kleptocracy.
The distinctions between neoconservatism and neoliberalism are being increasingly lost, perhaps because most of our political classes are practitioners of both. But initially at least neoconservatism was focused on foreign policy and neoliberalism on domestic economic policy. As the War on Terror expanded, however, neoconservatism came back home with the creation and expansion of the surveillance state.
At the same time, neoliberalism went from domestic to global, and here I am not just thinking about neoliberal experiments, like Pinochet's Chile or post-Soviet Russia, but the financialization of the world economy and the adoption of kleptocracy as the world economic model.jest on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 5:55amlambert on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 9:18am
I'm now under the opinion that you can't talk about any of the "neo-isms" without talking about the corporate state.
That's really the tie that binds the two things you are speaking of.
With neocons, it manifests itself through the military-industrial complex (Boeing, Raytheon, etc.), and with neolibs it manifests itself through finance and industrial policy.
For example, you need the US gov't to bomb Iraq (Raytheon) in order to secure oil (Halliburton), which is priced & financed in US dollars (Goldman Sachs). It's like a 3-legged stool; if you remove one of these legs, the whole thing comes down. But each leg has two components, a statist component and a corporate component.
The entity that enables all of this is the corporate state.
It also explains why economic/financial interests (neolib) are now considered national security interests (neocon). The viability of the state is now tied to the viability of the corporation.jest on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 1:37pm
Corporate/statist (not sure "corporate" captures the looting/rentier aspect though). We see it everywhere, for example in the revolving door.
I think the stool has more legs and is also more dynamic; more like Ikea furniture. For example, the press is surely critical in organizing the war.
But the yin/yang of neo-lib/neo-con is nice: It's as if the neo-cons handle the kinetic aspects (guns, torture) and the neo-libs handle the mental aspects (money, mindfuckery) but both merge (like Negronponte being on the board of Americans Select) over time as margins fall and decorative aspects like democratic institutions and academic freedom get stripped away. The state and the corporation have always been tied to each other but now the ties are open and visible (for example, fines are just a cost of doing business, a rent on open corruption.)
And then there's the concept of "human resource," that abstracts all aspects of humanity away except those that are exploitable.
First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma GandhiLex on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 8:28am
I like the term much better than Fascist, as it is 1) more accurate, 2) avoids the Godwin's law issue, and 3) makes them sound totalitarianist.
Yes, I would agree that additional legs make sense. The media aspect is essential, as it neutralizes the freedom of the press, without changing the constitution. It dovetails pretty well with the notion of Inverted Totalitarianism.
I think you could also make the argument that Obama is perhaps the most ideal combination of neolib & neocon. The two sides of him flow together so seamlessly, no one seems to notice. But that's in part because he is so corporate.Hugh on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 3:57pm
Actually, neoliberalism is an economic term. An economic liberal in the UK and EU is for open markets, capitalism, etc. You're right that neoliberalism comes heavily from the University of Chicago, but it has little to do with American political liberalism.
A reading of the classical liberal economists puts some breaks on the markets, corporations, etc. Neoliberalism goes to the illogical extremes of market theory and iirc, has some influence from the Austrian school ... which gives up on any pretense of scientific exposition of economics or rationality at the micro level, assuming that irrationality will magically become rational behavior in aggregate.
Therefore, US conservatives post Eisenhower but especially post Reagan are almost certainly economic neoliberals. Since Clinton, liberals/Democrats have been too (at least the elected ones). You nailed neoconservative and both parties are in foreign policy since at least Clinton ... though here lets not forget to go back as far as JFK and his extreme anti-Communism that led to all sorts of covert operations, The Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Remember, the Soviets put the missiles in Cuba because we put missiles in Turkey and they backed down from Cuba because we agreed to remove the missiles from Turkey; Nikita was nice enough not to talk about that so that Kennedy didn't lose face.
"Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr SolzhenitsynHugh on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 10:44pm
I agree that neoconservatism and neoliberalism are two facets of corporatism/kleptocracy. I like the kinetic vs. white collar distinction.
The roots of neoliberalism go back to the 1940s and the Austrians, but in the US it really only comes into currency with Clinton as a deliberate shift of the Democratic/liberal platform away from labor and ordinary Americans to make it more accommodating to big business and big money. I had never heard of neoliberalism before Bill Clinton but it is easy to see how those tendencies were at work under Carter, but not under Johnson.
This was a rough and ready sketch. I guess I should also have mentioned PNAC or the Project to Find a New Mission for the MIC.Lex on Mon, 08/20/2012 - 11:49pm
I have never understood this love of Clinton that some Democrats have just as I have never understood the attraction of Reagan for Republicans. There is no Clinton faction. There is no Obama faction. Hillary Clinton is Obama's frigging Secretary of State. Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, both of whom served as Bill Clinton's Treasury Secretary, were Obama's top financial and economic advisors. Timothy Geithner was their protégé. Leon Panetta Obama's Director of the CIA and current Secretary of Defense was Clinton's Director of OMB and then Chief of Staff.
The Democrats as a party are neoconservative and neoliberal as are Obama and the Clintons. As are Republicans.
What does corporations need regulation mean? It is rather like saying that the best way to deal with cancer is to find a cure for it. Sounds nice but there is no content to it. Worse in the real world, the rich own the corporations, the politicians, and the regulators. So even if you come up with good ideas for regulation they aren't going to happen.
What you are suggesting looks a whole lot another iteration of lesser evilism meets Einstein's definition of insanity. How is it any different from any other instance of Democratic tribalism?
Perhaps it should be pointed out that the Clintons became fabulously wealthy just after Bill left office, mostly on the strength of his speaking engagements for the financial sector that he'd just deregulated. Both he and Hillary hew to a pretty damned neoconservative foreign policy ... with that dash of "humanitarian interventionism" that makes war palatable to liberals.
But your deeper point is that there isn't enough of a difference between Obama and Bill Clinton to really draw a distinction, not in terms of ideology. What a theoretical Hillary Clinton presidency would have looked like is irrelevant, because both Bill and Obama talked a lot different than they walked. Any projection of a Hillary Clinton administration is just that and requires arguing that it would have been different than Bill's administration and policies.
The unfortunate fact of the matter is that at that level of politics, the levers of money and power work equally well on both party's nomenklatura. They flock to it like moths to porch light.
That the money chose Obama over Clinton doesn't say all that much, because there's no evidence suggesting that the money didn't like Clinton or that it would have chosen McCain over Clinton. It's not as if Clinton's campaign was driven into the ground by lack of funds.
Regardless, that to be a Democrat i would kind of have to chose between two factions that are utterly distasteful to me just proves that i have no business being a Democrat. And since i wouldn't vote for either of those names, i guess i'll just stick to third parties and exit the political tribalism loop for good.
"Don't believe them, don't fear them, don't ask anything of them" - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Dec 11, 2017 | www.unz.com
Under increasing pressure from a population angry about endless wars and the transfer of wealth to the one percent, American plutocrats are defending themselves by suppressing critical news in the corporate media they own. But as that news emerges on RT and dissident websites, they've resorted to the brazen move of censorship, which is rapidly spreading in the U.S. and Europe. I know because I was a victim of it.
At the end of October, I wrote an article for Consortium News about the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign paying for unvetted opposition research that became the basis for much of the disputed story about Russia allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election.
The piece showed that the Democrats' two paid-for sources that have engendered belief in Russia-gate are at best shaky. First was former British spy Christopher Steele's largely unverified dossier of second- and third-hand opposition research portraying Donald Trump as something of a Russian Manchurian candidate.
And the second was CrowdStrike, an anti-Putin private company, examining the DNC's computer server to dubiously claim discovery of a Russian "hack." CrowdStrike, it was later discovered, had used faulty software it was later forced to rewrite . The company was hired after the DNC refused to allow the FBI to look at the server.
My piece also described the dangerous consequences of partisan Democratic faith in Russia-gate: a sharp increase in geopolitical tensions between nuclear-armed Russia and the U.S., and a New McCarthyism that is spreading fear -- especially in academia, journalism and civil rights organizations -- about questioning the enforced orthodoxy of Russia's alleged guilt.
After the article appeared at Consortium News , I tried to penetrate the mainstream by then publishing a version of the article on the HuffPost, which was rebranded from the Huffington Post in April this year by new management. As a contributor to the site since February 2006, I am trusted by HuffPost editors to post my stories directly online. However, within 24 hours of publication on Nov. 4, HuffPost editors retracted the article without any explanation.
.... ... ...
Support from Independent Media
Like the word "fascism," "censorship" is an over-used and mis-used accusation, and I usually avoid using it. But without any explanation, I could only conclude that the decision to retract was political, not editorial.
I am non-partisan as I oppose both major parties for failing to represent millions of Americans' interests. I follow facts where they lead. In this case, the facts led to an understanding that the Jan. 6 FBI/NSA/CIA intelligence "assessment" on alleged Russian election interference, prepared by what then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper called "hand-picked" analysts, was based substantially on unvetted opposition research and speculation, not serious intelligence work.
The assessment even made the point that the analysts were not asserting that the alleged Russian interference was a fact. The report contained this disclaimer: "Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents."
Under deadline pressure on Jan. 6, Scott Shane of The New York Times instinctively wrote what many readers of the report must have been thinking: "What is missing from the public report is what many Americans most eagerly anticipated: hard evidence to back up the agencies' claims that the Russian government engineered the election attack. Instead, the message from the agencies essentially amounts to 'trust us.'"
Yet, after the Jan. 6 report was published, leading Democrats asserted falsely that the "assessment" represented the consensus judgment of all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies – not just the views of "hand-picked" analysts from three – and much of the U.S. mainstream media began treating the allegations of Russian "hacking" as fact, not as an uncertain conclusion denied by both the Russian government and WikiLeaks, which insists that it did not get the two batches of Democratic emails from the Russian government.
Yet, because of the oft-repeated "17 intelligence agencies" canard and the mainstream media's over-hyped reporting, the public impression has built up that the accusations against Russia are indisputable. If you ask a Russia-gate believer today what their faith is based on, they will invariably point to the Jan. 6 assessment and mock anyone who still expresses any doubt.
For instance, an unnamed former CIA officer told The Intercept last month, "You've got all these intelligence agencies saying the Russians did the hack. To deny that is like coming out with the theory that the Japanese didn't bomb Pearl Harbor."
That the supposedly dissident Intercept would use this quote is instructive about how unbalanced the media's reporting on Russia-gate has been. We have film of Japanese planes attacking Pearl Harbor and American ships burning – and we have eyewitness accounts of thousands of U.S. soldiers and sailors. Yet, on Russia-gate, we have only the opinions of "hand-picked" intelligence officials who themselves admit their opinions aren't fact. No serious editor would allow a self-interested and unnamed source to equate Russia-gate and Pearl Harbor in print.
In this atmosphere, it was easy for HuffPost editors to hear complaints from readers and blithely ban my story. But before it was pulled, 125 people had shared it. Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst, then took up my cause, being the first to write about the HuffPost censorship on his blog. McGovern included a link to a .pdf file that I captured of the censored HuffPost story. It has since been republished on numerous other websites.
Journalist Max Blumenthal tweeted about it. British filmmaker and writer Tariq Ali posted it on his Facebook page. Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams interviewed me at length about the censorship on their TV program. ZeroHedge wrote a widely shared piece and someone actually took the time, 27 minutes and 13 seconds to be exact, to read the entire article on YouTube. I began a petition to HuffPost 's Polgreen to either explain the retraction or restore the article. It has gained more than 2,000 signatures so far. If a serious fact-check analysis was made of my article, it must exist and can and should be produced.Watchdogs & Media Defending Censorship
Despite this support from independent media, a senior official at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, I learned, declined to take up my cause because he believes in the Russia-gate story. I also learned that a senior officer at the American Civil Liberties Union rejected my case because he too believes in Russia-gate. Both of these serious organizations were set up precisely to defend individuals in such situations on principle, not preference.
In terms of their responsibilities for defending journalism and protecting civil liberties, their personal opinions about whether Russia-gate is real or not are irrelevant. The point is whether a journalist has the right to publish an article skeptical of it. I worry that amid the irrational fear spreading about Russia that concerns about careers and funding are behind these decisions.
Perlberg posted the HuffPost statement on Twitter. I asked him if he inquired of the editors what those "multiple" errors and "misleading claims" were. I asked him to contact me to get my side of the story. Perlberg totally ignored me. He wrote nothing about the matter. He apparently believed the HuffPost and that was that. In this way, he acquiesced with the censorship.
BuzzFeed , of course, is the sensationalist outlet that irresponsibly published the Steele dossier in full, even though the accusations – not just about Donald Trump but also many other individuals – weren't verified. Then on Nov. 14, BuzzFeed reporter Jason Leopold wrote one of the most ludicrous of a long line of fantastic Russia-gate stories, reporting that the Russian foreign ministry had sent money to Russian consulates in the U.S. "to finance the election campaign of 2016." The scoop generated some screaming headlines before it became clear that the money was to pay for Russian citizens in the U.S. to vote in the 2016 Duma election.
That Russia-gate has reached this point, based on faith and not fact, was further illustrated by a Facebook exchange I had with Gary Sick, an academic who served on the Ford and Carter national security staffs. When I pressed Sick for evidence of Russian interference, he eventually replied: "If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck " When I told him that was a very low-bar for such serious accusations, he angrily cut off debate.
When belief in a story becomes faith-based or is driven by intense self-interest, honest skeptics are pushed aside and trampled. True-believers disdain facts that force them to think about what they believe. They won't waste time making a painstaking examination of the facts or engage in a detailed debate even on something as important and dangerous as a new Cold War with Russia.
This is the most likely explanation for the HuffPost 's censorship: a visceral reaction to having their Russia-gate faith challenged.Why Critical News is Suppressed
But the HuffPos t's action is hardly isolated. It is part of a rapidly growing landscape of censorship of news critical of American corporate and political leaders who are trying to defend themselves from an increasingly angry population. It's a story as old as civilization: a wealthy and powerful elite fending off popular unrest by trying to contain knowledge of how the elite gain at the others' expense, at home and abroad.
A lesson of the 2016 campaign was that growing numbers of Americans are fed up with three decades of neoliberal policies that have fabulously enriched the top tier of Americans and debased a huge majority of everyone else. The population has likewise grown tired of the elite's senseless wars to expand their own interests, which they to conflate with the entire country's interests.
America's bipartisan rulers are threatened by popular discontent from both left and right. They were alarmed by the Bernie Sanders insurgency and by Donald Trump's victory, even if Trump is now betraying the discontented masses who voted for him by advancing tax and health insurance plans designed to further crush them and benefit the rich.
Trump's false campaign promises will only make the rulers' problem of controlling a restless population more difficult. Americans are subjected to economic inequality greater than in the first Gilded Age. They are also subjected today to more war than in the first Gilded Age, which led to the launch of American overseas empire. Today American rulers are engaged in multiple conflicts following decades of post-World War II invasions and coups to expand their global interests.
People with wealth and power always seem to be nervous about losing both. So plutocrats use the concentrated media they own to suppress news critical of their wars and domestic repression. For example, almost nothing was reported about militarized police forces until the story broke out into the open in the Ferguson protests and now the story has been buried again.
Careerist journalists readily acquiesce in this suppression of news to maintain their jobs, their status and their lifestyles. Meanwhile, a growing body of poorly paid freelancers compete for the few remaining decent-paying gigs for which they must report from the viewpoint of the mainstream news organizations and their wealthy owners.
To operate in this media structure, most journalists know to excise out the historical context of America's wars of domination. They know to uncritically accept American officials' bromides about spreading democracy, while hiding the real war aims.
Examples abound: America's role in the Ukraine coup was denied or downplayed; a British parliamentary report exposing American lies that led to the destruction of Libya was suppressed ; and most infamously, the media promoted the WMD hoax and the fable of "bringing democracy" to Iraq, leading to the illegal invasion and devastation of that country. A recent example from November is a 60 Minutes report on the Saudi destruction of Yemen, conspicuously failing to mention America's crucial role in the carnage.
I've pitched numerous news stories critical of U.S. foreign policy to a major American newspaper that were rejected or changed in the editorial process. One example is the declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document of August 2012 that accurately predicted the rise of the Islamic State two years later.
The document, which I confirmed with a Pentagon spokesman, said the U.S. and its Turkish, European and Gulf Arab allies, were supporting the establishment of a Salafist principality in eastern Syria to put pressure on the Syrian government, but the document warned that this Salafist base could turn into an "Islamic State."
But such a story would undermine the U.S. government's "war on terrorism" narrative by revealing that the U.S.-backed strategy actually was risking the expansion of jihadist-held territory in Syria. The story was twice rejected by my editors and to my knowledge has never appeared in corporate media.
Another story rejected in June 2012, just a year into the Syrian war, was about Russia's motives in Syria being guided by a desire to defeat the growing jihadist threat there. Corporate media wanted to keep the myth of Russia's "imperial" aims in Syria alive. I had to publish the article outside the U.S., in a South African daily newspaper.
In September 2015 at the U.N. General Assembly, Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed my story about Russia's motives in Syria to stop jihadists from taking over. Putin invited the U.S. to join this effort as Moscow was about to launch its military intervention at the invitation of the Syrian government. The Obama administration, still insisting on "regime change" in Syria, refused. And the U.S. corporate media continued promoting the myth that Russia intervened to recapture its "imperial glory."
It was much easier to promote the "imperial" narrative than report Putin's clear explanation to French TV channel TF1, which was not picked up by American media.
"Remember what Libya or Iraq looked like before these countries and their organizations were destroyed as states by our Western partners' forces?" Putin said. "These states showed no signs of terrorism. They were not a threat for Paris, for the Cote d'Azur, for Belgium, for Russia, or for the United States. Now, they are the source of terrorist threats. Our goal is to prevent the same from happening in Syria."
But don't take Putin's word for it. Then Secretary of State John Kerry knew why Russia intervened. In a leaked audio conversation with Syrian opposition figures in September 2016, Kerry said: "The reason Russia came in is because ISIL was getting stronger, Daesh was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus, and that's why Russia came in because they didn't want a Daesh government and they supported Assad."
Kerry admitted that rather than seriously fight the Islamic State in Syria, the U.S. was ready to use its growing strength to pressure Assad to resign, just as the DIA document that I was unable to report said it would. "We know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate, but instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him." Kerry's comment suggests that the U.S. was willing to risk the Islamic State and its jihadist allies gaining power in order to force out Assad.Why Russia Is Targeted
Where are independent-minded Western journalists to turn if their stories critical of the U.S. government and corporations are suppressed? The imperative is to get these stories out – and Russian media has provided an opening. But this has presented a new problem for the plutocracy. The suppression of critical news in their corporate-owned media is no longer working if it's seeping out in Russian media and through dissident Western news sites.
Their solution has been to brand the content of the Russian television network, RT, as "propaganda" since it presents facts and viewpoints that most Americans have been kept from hearing.
As a Russian-government-financed English-language news channel, RT also gives a Russian perspective on the news, the way CNN and The New York Times give an American perspective and the BBC a British one. American mainstream journalists, from my experience, arrogantly deny suppressing news and believe they present a universal perspective, rather than a narrow American view of the world.
The viewpoints of Iranians, Palestinians, Russians, North Koreans and others are never fully reported in the Western media although the supposed mission of journalism is to help citizens understand a frighteningly complex world from multiple points of view. It's impossible to do so without those voices included. Routinely or systematically shutting them out also dehumanizes people in those countries, making it easier to gain popular support to go to war against them.
Russia is scapegoated by charging that RT or Sputnik are sowing divisions in the U.S. by focusing on issues like homelessness, racism, or out-of-control militarized police forces, as if these divisive issues didn't already exist. The U.S. mainstream media also seems to forget that the U.S. government has engaged in at least 70 years of interference in other countries' elections, foreign invasions, coups, planting stories in foreign media and cyber-warfare, which Russian media crucially points out.
Now, these American transgressions are projected exclusively onto Moscow. There's also a measure of self-reverence in this for "successful" people, like some journalists, with a stake in an establishment that underpins the elite, demonstrating how wonderfully democratic they are compared to those ogres in Russia.
The overriding point about the "Russian propaganda" complaint is that when America's democratic institutions, including the press and the electoral process, are crumbling under the weight of corruption that the American elites have created or maintained, someone else needs to be blamed.
The Jan. 6 intelligence assessment on alleged Russian election meddling is a good example of this. A third of its content is an attack on RT for "undermining American democracy" by reporting on Occupy Wall Street, the protest over the Dakota pipeline and, of all things, holding a "third party candidate debates," at a time when 71% of American millennials say they want a third party.
According to the Jan. 6 assessment, RT's offenses include reporting that "the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a 'sham.'" RT also "highlights criticism of alleged US shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties." In other words, reporting newsworthy events and giving third-party candidates a voice undermines democracy.
The assessment also says all this amounts to "a Kremlin-directed campaign to undermine faith in the US Government and fuel political protest," but those protests by are against privileges of the wealthy and the well-connected, a status quo that the intelligence agencies were in essence created to protect.
There are also deeper reasons why Russia is being targeted. The Russia-gate story fits neatly into a geopolitical strategy that long predates the 2016 election. Since Wall Street and the U.S. government lost the dominant position in Russia that existed under the pliable President Boris Yeltsin, the strategy has been to put pressure on getting rid of Putin to restore a U.S. friendly leader in Moscow. There is substance to Russia's concerns about American designs for "regime change" in the Kremlin.
Moscow sees an aggressive America expanding NATO and putting 30,000 NATO troops on its borders; trying to overthrow a secular ally in Syria with terrorists who threaten Russia itself; backing a coup in Ukraine as a possible prelude to moves against Russia; and using American NGOs to foment unrest inside Russia before they were forced to register as foreign agents.Accelerated Censorship in the Private Sector
The Constitution prohibits government from prior-restraint, or censorship, though such tactics were imposed, largely unchallenged, during the two world wars. American newspapers voluntarily agreed to censor themselves in the Second World War before the government dictated it.
In the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur said he didn't "desire to reestablish wartime censorship" and instead asked the press for self-censorship. He largely got it until the papers began reporting American battlefield losses. On July 25, 1950, "the army ordered that reporters were not allowed to publish 'unwarranted' criticism of command decisions, and that the army would be 'the sole judge and jury' on what 'unwarranted' criticism entailed," according to a Yale University study on military censorship.
After excellent on-the-ground reporting from Vietnam brought the war home to America, the military reacted by instituting, initially in the first Gulf War, serious control of the press by "embedding" reporters from private media companies. They accepted the arrangement, much as World War II newspapers censored themselves.
It is important to realize that the First Amendment does not apply to private companies, including the media. It is not illegal for them to practice censorship. I never made a First Amendment argument against the HuffPost , for instance. However, under pressure from Washington, even in peacetime, media companies can do the government's dirty work to censor or limit free speech for the government.
In the past few weeks, we've seen an acceleration of attempts by corporations to inhibit Russian media in the U.S. Both Google and Facebook, which dominate the Web with more than 50 percent of ad revenue, were at first resistant to government pressure to censor "Russian propaganda." But they are coming around.
Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, said on Nov. 18 that Google would "derank" articles from RT and Sputnik in the Google searches, making the stories harder for readers to find. The billionaire Schmidt claimed Russian information can be "repetitive, exploitative, false, [or] likely to have been weaponized," he said. That is how factual news critical of U.S. corporate and political leadership is seen by them: as a weapon threatening their rule.
"My own view is that these patterns can be detected, and that they can be taken down or deprioritized," Schmidt said. Though Google would essentially be hiding news produced by RT and Sputnik , Schmidt is sensitive to the charge of censorship, even though there's nothing legally to stop him. "We don't want to ban the sites. That's not how we operate," Schmidt said cynically. "I am strongly not in favor of censorship. I am very strongly in favor of ranking. It's what we do."
But the "deranking" isn't only aimed at Russian sites; Google algorithms also are taking aim at independent news sites that don't follow the mainstream herd – and thus are accused of spreading Russian or other "propaganda" if they question the dominant Western narratives on, say, the Ukraine crisis or the war in Syria. A number of alternative websites have begun reporting a sharp fall-off of traffic directed to their sites from Google's search engines.
Responding to a deadline from Congress to act, Facebook on Nov. 22 announced that it would inform users if they have been "targeted" by Russian "propaganda." Facebook's help center will tell users if they liked or shared ads allegedly from the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, which supposedly bought $100,000 in ads over a two-year period, with more than half these ads coming after the 2016 U.S. election and many not related to politics.
The $100,000 sum over two years compares to Facebook's $27 billion in annual revenue. Plus, Facebook only says it "believes" or it's "likely" that the ads came from that firm, whose links to the Kremlin also have yet to be proved.
Facebook described the move as "part of our ongoing effort to protect our platforms and the people who use them from bad actors who try to undermine our democracy." Congress wants more from Facebook, so it will not be surprising if users will eventually be alerted to Russian media reports as "propaganda" in the future.
While the government can't openly shut down a news site, the Federal Communications Commission's upcoming vote on whether to deregulate the Internet by ending net neutrality will free private Internet companies in the U.S. to further marginalize Russian and dissident websites by slowing them down and thus discouraging readers from viewing them.
Likewise, as the U.S. government doesn't want to be openly seen shutting down RT operations, it is working around the edges to accomplish that.
After the Department of Justice forced, under threat of arrest, RT to register its employees as foreign agents under the Foreign Agents Registration Act , State Department spokeswoman Heather Nuaert said that "FARA does not police the content of information disseminated, does not limit the publication of information or advocacy materials, and does not restrict an organization's ability to operate." She'd earlier said that registering would not "impact or affect the ability of them to report news and information. We just have them register. It's as simple as that."
The day after Nuaert spoke the Congressional press office stripped RT correspondents of their Capitol Hill press passes, citing the FARA registration. "The rules of the Galleries state clearly that news credentials may not be issued to any applicant employed 'by any foreign government or representative thereof.' Upon its registration as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), RT Network became ineligible to hold news credentials," read the letter to RT.
But Russia-gate faithful ignore these aggressive moves and issue calls for even harsher action. After forcing RT to register, Keir Giles, a Chatham House senior consulting fellow, acted as though it never happened. He said in a Council on Foreign Relations Cyber Brief on Nov. 27: "Although the Trump administration seems unlikely to pursue action against Russian information operations, there are steps the U.S. Congress and other governments should consider."
I commented on this development on RT America. It would also have been good to have the State Department's Nuaert answer for this discrepancy about the claim that forced FARA registrations would not affect news gathering when it already has. My criticism of RT is that they should be interviewing U.S. decision-makers to hold them accountable, rather than mostly guests outside the power structure. The decision-makers could be called out on air if they refuse to appear.Growing McCarthyite Attacks
Western rulers' wariness about popular unrest can be seen in the extraordinary and scurrilous attack on the Canadian website globalresearch.ca . It began with a chilling study by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization into the relatively obscure website, followed by a vicious hit piece on Nov. 18 by the Globe and Mail, Canada's largest newspaper. The headline was: "How a Canadian website is being used to amplify the Kremlin's view of the world."
"What once appeared to be a relatively harmless online refuge for conspiracy theorists is now seen by NATO's information warfare specialists as a link in a concerted effort to undermine the credibility of mainstream Western media – as well as the North American and European public's trust in government and public institutions," the Globe and Mail reported.
"Global Research is viewed by NATO's Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence – or StratCom – as playing a key accelerant role in helping popularize articles with little basis in fact that also happen to fit the narratives being pushed by the Kremlin, in particular, and the Assad regime." The website never knew it had such powers. I've not agreed with everything I've read on the site. But it is a useful clearinghouse for alternative media. Numerous Consortium News articles are republished there, including a handful of mine. But the site's typical sharing and reposting on the Internet is seen by NATO as a plot to undermine the Free World.
"It uses that reach to push not only its own opinion pieces, but 'news' reports from little-known websites that regularly carry dubious or false information," the he Globe and Mail reported. " At times, the site's regular variety of international-affairs stories is replaced with a flurry of items that bolster dubious reportage with a series of opinion pieces, promoted on social media and retweeted and shared by active bots."
The newspaper continued, "'That way, they increase the Google ranking of the story and create the illusion of multi-source verification,' said Donara Barojan, who does digital forensic research for [StratCom]. But she said she did not yet have proof that Global Research is connected to any government."
This sort of smear is nothing more than a blatant attack on free speech by the most powerful military alliance in the world, based on the unfounded conviction that Russia is a fundamental force for evil and that anyone who has contacts with Russia or shares even a part of its multilateral world view is suspect.
Such tactics are spreading to Europe. La Repubblica newspaper in Italy wrote a similar hit piece against L'Antidiplomatico, a dissident website. And the European Union is spending €3.8 million to counter Russian "propaganda." It is targeting Eurosceptic politicians who repeat what they hear on Russian media.
High-profile individuals in the U.S. are also now in the crosshairs of the neo-McCarthyite witch hunt. On Nov. 25 The Washington Post ran a nasty hit piece on Washington Capitals' hockey player Alex Ovechkin, one of the most revered sports figures in the Washington area, simply because he, like 86 percent of other Russians , supports his president.
"Alex Ovechkin is one of Putin's biggest fans. The question is, why?" ran the headline. The story insidiously implied that Ovechkin was a dupe of his own president, being used to set up a media campaign to support Putin, who is under fierce and relentless attack in the United States where Ovechkin plays professional ice hockey.
"He has given an unwavering endorsement to a man who U.S. intelligence agencies say sanctioned Russian meddling in last year's presidential election," write the Post reporters, once again showing their gullibility to U.S. intelligence agencies that have provided no proof for their assertions (and even admit that they are not asserting their opinion as fact).
Less prominent figures are targeted too. John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent who blew the whistle on torture and was jailed for it, was kicked off a panel in Europe on Nov. 10 by a Bernie Sanders supporter who refused to appear with Kiriakou because he co-hosts a show on Radio Sputnik .
At the end of November, Reporters Without Borders, an organization supposedly devoted to press freedom, tried to kick journalist Vanessa Beeley off a panel in Geneva to prevent her from presenting evidence that the White Helmets, a group that sells itself as a rescue organization inside rebel-controlled territory in Syria, has ties to Al Qaeda. The Swiss Press Club, which hosted the event, resisted the pressure and let Beeley speak.
But as a consequence the club director said its funding was slashed from the Swiss government.Russia-gate's Hurdles
Much of this spreading mania and intensifying censorship traces back to Russia-gate. Yet, it remains remarkable that the corporate media has failed so far to prove any significant Russian interference in the U.S. election at all. Nor have the intelligence agencies, Congressional investigations and special prosecutor Robert Mueller. His criminal charges so far have been for financial crimes and lying to federal authorities on topics unrelated to any "collusion" between the Trump campaign and Russians to "hack" Democratic emails.
There will likely be more indictments from Mueller, even perhaps a complaint about Trump committing obstruction of justice because he said on TV that he fired Comey, in part, because of the "Russia thing." But Trump's clumsy reaction to the "scandal," which he calls "fake news" and a "witch hunt," still is not proof that Putin and the Russians interfered in the U.S. election to achieve the unlikely outcome of Trump's victory.
The Russia-gate faithful assured us to wait for the indictment of retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, briefly Trump's national security adviser. But again there was nothing about pre-election "collusion," only charges that Flynn had lied to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador regarding policy matters during the presidential transition, i.e., after the election.
One of Flynn's conversations was about trying unsuccessfully to comply with an Israeli request to get Russia to block a United Nations resolution censuring Israel's settlements on Palestinian land.
As journalist Yasha Levine tweeted: "So the country that influenced US policy through Michael Flynn is Israel, not Russia. But Flynn did try to influence Russia, not the other way around. Ha-ha. This is the smoking gun? What a farce."
The media is becoming a victim of its own mania. In its zeal to push this story reporters are making a huge number of amateurish mistakes on stories that are later corrected. Brian Ross of ABC News was suspended for erroneously reporting that Trump had told Flynn to contact the Russians before the election, and not after.
There remain a number of key hurdles to prove the Russia-gate story. First, convincing evidence is needed that the Russian government indeed did "hack" the Democratic emails, both those of the DNC and Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta – and gave them to WikiLeaks. Then it must be linked somehow to the Trump campaign. If it were a Russian hack it would have been an intelligence operation on a need-to-know basis, and no one in the Trump team needed to know. It's not clear how any campaign member could have even helped with an overseas hack or could have been an intermediary to WikiLeaks.
There's also the question of how significant the release of those emails was anyway. They did provide evidence that the DNC tilted the primary campaign in favor of Clinton over Sanders; they exposed the contents of Clinton's paid speeches to Wall Street, which she was trying to hide from the voters; and they revealed some pay-to-play features of the Clinton Foundation and its foreign donations. But – even if the Russians were involved in providing that information to the American people – those issues were not considered decisive in the campaign.
Clinton principally pinned her loss on FBI Director James Comey for closing and then reopening the investigation into her improper use of a private email server while Secretary of State. She also spread the blame to Russia (repeating the canard about "seventeen [U.S. intelligence] agencies, all in agreement"), Bernie Sanders, the inept DNC and other factors.
As for vaguer concerns about some Russian group "probably" buying $100,000 in ads, mostly after Americans had voted, as a factor in swaying a $6 billion election, it is too silly to contemplate.
That RT and Sputnik ran pieces critical of Hillary Clinton was their right, and they were hardly alone. RT and Sputnik 's reach in the U.S. is minuscule compared to Fox News , which slammed Clinton throughout the campaign, or for that matter, MSNBC, CNN and other mainstream news outlets, which often expressed open disdain for Republican Donald Trump but also gave extensive coverage to issues such as the security concerns about Clinton's private email server.
Another vague Russia-gate suspicion stemming largely from Steele's opposition research is that somehow Russia bribed or blackmailed Trump because of past business with Russians. But there are evidentiary and logical problems with these theories, since some lucrative deals fell through (and presumably wouldn't have if Trump was being paid off).
Some have questioned how Trump could have supported detente with Russia without being beholden to Moscow in some way. But Jeffrey Sommers, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin, wrote a convincing essay explaining adviser Steve Bannon's influence on Trump's thinking about Russia and the need for cooperation between the two powers to solve international problems.
Without convincing evidence, I remain a Russia-gate skeptic. I am not defending Russia. Russia can defend itself. However, amid the growing censorship and the dangerous new McCarthyism, I am trying to defend America -- from itself.
An earlier version of this story appeared on Consortium News .
Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist. He has written for the Boston Globe, the Sunday Times of London and the Wall Street Journal among other newspapers. He is the author of How I Lost By Hillary Clinton published by OR Books in June 2017. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter at @unjoe .
Carlton Meyer , Website December 11, 2017 at 5:49 am GMT"Breaking News" – CNN's Fake News Exposed -- Again!AndrewR , December 11, 2017 at 6:40 am GMT
https://theintercept.com/2017/12/09/the-u-s-media-yesterday-suffered-its-most-humiliating-debacle-in-ages-now-refuses-all-transparency-over-what-happened/People believe what they want to. Evidence, or lack thereof, has little to do with it, so censorship, or lack thereof, is largely pointless.El Dato , December 11, 2017 at 6:53 am GMTjilles dykstra , December 11, 2017 at 7:34 am GMT
But Huffington stepped down as editor in August 2016 and has nothing to do with the site now. It is run by Lydia Polgreen, a former New York Times reporter and editor, who evidently has very different ideas. In April, she completely redesigned the site and renamed it HuffPost.
Ah, so HuffPo is now a NYT vehicle." It's a story as old as civilization: a wealthy and powerful elite fending off popular unrest by trying to contain knowledge of how the elite gain at the others' expense, at home and abroad. "Grandpa Charlie , December 11, 2017 at 7:42 am GMT
This is exactly what Howard Zinn writes. Alas it is the same at this side of the Atlantic. The British newspaper Guardian was independent, Soros bought it. Dutch official 'news' is just government propaganda.
But also most Dutch dicussion sites are severely biased, criticism of Israel is next to impossible. And of course the words 'populist' and 'extreme right' are propaganda words, used for those who oppose mainstream politics: EU, euro, globalisation, unlimited immigration, etc.
Despite all these measures and censorship, including self censorship, dissident political parties grow stronger and stronger. One could see this in the French presidential elections, one sees it in Germany where AfD now is in parliament, the Reichstag, one sees it in Austria, where the nationalist party got about half the votes, one sees it in countries as Poland and Hungary, that want to keep their cultures. And of course there is Brexit 'we want our country back'.
In the Netherlands the in October 2016 founded party FvD, Forum for Democracy, got two seats in the last elections, but polls show that if now elections were held, it would have some fourteen seats in our parliament of 150. The present ruling coalition, led by Rutte, has very narrow margins, both in parliament and what here is called Eerste Kamer.
Parliament maybe can be seen as House, Eerste Kamer as Senate. There is a good chance that at the next Eerste Kamer elections FvD will be able to end the reign of Rutte, who is, in my opinion, just Chairman of the Advance Rutte Foundation, and of course a stiff supporter of Merkel and Brussels. Now that the end of Merkel is at the horizon, I'm curious how Rutte will manoevre.Anonymous , Disclaimer December 11, 2017 at 9:32 am GMT
"The viewpoints of Iranians, Palestinians, Russians, North Koreans and others are never fully reported in the Western media although the supposed mission of journalism is to help citizens understand a frighteningly complex world from multiple points of view" -- Joe Lauria
Lauria's article is an excellent review of the hydra-headed MSM perversion of political journalism in this era of the PATRIOT Act, with special focus on 2016-2017. With one small exception that still is worth noting. Namely the inclusion of "North Koreans" along with Palestinians, Russians and Iranians as those whose viewpoints are never represented in the Western media.
It"s true, of course, that the viewpoints of North Koreans go unreported in MSM, but that's hardly the "whole truth and nothing but the truth." The problems confronting any journalist who might endeavor to report on public opinion in North Korea are incomparably more difficult than the problems confronting attempts to report on public opinion in Iran, in Russia or in Palestine. These three "theaters" -- so to speak –each with its own challenges, no doubt, should never be conflated with the severe realities of censorship and even forceful thought policing in North Korea.Vlad , December 11, 2017 at 10:12 am GMT
Despite this support from independent media, a senior official at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, I learned, declined to take up my cause because he believes in the Russia-gate story. I also learned that a senior officer at the American Civil Liberties Union rejected my case because he too believes in Russia-gate. Both of these serious organizations were set up precisely to defend individuals in such situations on principle, not preference.
I'm not even sure that they believe in Russia-gate. This could easily be cowardice or corruption. The globalists have poured untold millions into "fixing" the Internet wrongthink so it's only natural that we're seeing results. I'm seeing "grassroots" shilling everywhere, for instance.
This is not going to work for them. You can't force consent of the governed. The more you squeeze, the more sand slips through your fingers.Thank you for your steadfastness, honesty, courage and determination.cowardly troll , December 11, 2017 at 11:31 am GMTIt is worse than censorship. History, via web searches, are being deleted. Now, you have no hint what is missing. Example, in 1999 I read an article in a weekly tech newspaper – maybe Information Week – about university researchers who discovered that 64 bit encrypted phones were only using the first 56 bits and the last 8 were zeros. They suspected that the US government was responsible. Cannot find any reference to that online.Jim Bob Lassiter , December 11, 2017 at 12:54 pm GMTJoe Lauria may very well be a "victim", but certainly not one that I would parade around as some USDA table grade poster child victim of really egregious reprisals. He's a veteran in the establishment MSM milieu and certainly knew what kind of a shit bird operation it is that he chose to attempt to publish his piece in.Che Guava , December 11, 2017 at 2:19 pm GMT
Oh, lest I forget to mention, he didn't lose his livelihood, get ejected from his gym, have his country club membership revoked, get banned from AirB&B ad nauseum.It is an interesting article. I am curious about the '17 intellience agencies' thing, CIA, FBI, NSA, army and navy intel units, well that is making five or so. The latter two would likely having no connection with checking the 'Russia was hacking the election', likewise, air force sigint (which they obviously need and have). So, a list from a poster who is expert on the topic, what are the seventeen agencies which were agreeing on vicious Vlad having 'hacked' poor Hillary's campaign?jack ryan , Website December 11, 2017 at 2:24 pm GMT
Is anybody knowing? This is a very real, good, and serious question, from me, and have not seeing it before. Can anybody producing a list of the seventeen agencies? Parodic replies welcome, but it would be of interest to many if somebody could making a list of the seventeen lurching about in Hillary's addled mind.We're witnessing a huge closing of the American Liberal secular mind. There used to be secular liberal hard copy magazines like the Atlantic Magazine that published intelligent well written articles and commentary about foreign affairs, immigration, Islam from a principled secular, Liberal perspective – especially in the early 1990s. That's pretty much gone now as The Atlantic is mostly just a blog that puts out the party line. There are still, thankfully a few exceptions likeIlyana_Rozumova , December 11, 2017 at 3:01 pm GMT
Graeme Wood's "What ISIS Really Wants" https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/what-isis-really-wants/384980/
The Atlantic Magazine still allows a lot of free speech in the comment section, except in cases like articles written by the Ta-Nehisi Coates.
We try to use humor to deflate the humorless PC Lib Left thought police and the go alongs to get along in the Cuckservative, Conservative Inc.
Here's one of our/Farstar cartoons just noticing that too many people are just parroting CNN nonsense about Russian conspiracies.
http://www.occidentaldissent.com/2017/06/16/farstar-returns-parroting-the-tv-the-russians-are-behind-everything/jpg-parrot/Bias MSM. Censorship. These are affirmative sins of insecurity eventually leading to desperation, resulting in dictatorship.Joe Hide , December 11, 2017 at 4:06 pm GMTYour article seemed otherwise good, but lacked any humor early on to keep me reading. After all, it is 6000 words! I have a job, family, obligations, other readings, and only so much thinking energy in a day. I think You might try shortening such articles to maybe 2000 – 3000 words? Like I said though, You did present some good ideas.Julius n' Ethel , December 11, 2017 at 4:27 pm GMTMark James' modified limited hangout shows us the true purpose of his ICCPR-illegal statist war propaganda. James candidly jettisons Hillary, acknowledging the obvious, that she was the more repulsive choice in this duel of the titans. But James is still hanging on to the crucial residual message of the CIA line: Putin tripleplus bad.Don Bacon , December 11, 2017 at 4:41 pm GMT
Without factual support James calls Putin an organized criminal. US NGO staff who have actually dealt with Putin characterize him as a strict legalist. In fact, Putin's incorruptibility is what drives CIA up the wall. Ask any upper-echelon spook. Putin's cupidity deficit short-circuits CIA's go-to subversion method, massive bribes. Putin has an uneasy relationship with the kleptocrats CIA installed while their puppet Yeltsin staggered around blind drunk. But Putin has materially curbed kleptocratic corruption and subversion. Russians appreciate that.
James fantasizes that Putin is going to get ousted and murdered. However Putin has public approval that US politicians couldn't dream of. This is because Russia's government meets world human rights standards that the US fails to meet. The Russian government complies with the Paris Principles, world standard for institutionalized human rights protection under expert international review. The USA does not. The USA is simply not is Russia's league with respect to universally-acknowledged rights.
James can easily verify this by comparing the US human-rights deficiencies to corresponding Russian reviews, point-by-point, based on each article of the core human rights conventions.
Comprehensive international human rights review shows that the USA is not in Russia's league. Look at the maps if you can't be bothered to read the particulars – they put the US in an underdeveloped backwater with headchopping Arab princelings and a couple African presidents-for-life. CIA's INGSOC fixation on Putin is intended to divert your attention from the objectively superior human-rights performance of the Russian government as a whole, and the USA's failure and disgrace in public in Geneva, front of the whole world.
How did this happen? Turns out, dismantling the USSR did Russia a world of good. Now we see it's time to take the USA apart and do the same for America. That's the origin of the panic you can smell on the CIA regime.There is censorship on blogs.jilles dykstra , December 11, 2017 at 5:53 pm GMT
> I have been banned from The Atlantic blog for correcting a noted anti-Iran blogger.
> I have been banned from the National Interest blog for highlighting Pentagon's acquisition problems.
> I have been banned by Facebook for declaring that females don't belong in the infantry. I "violated community standards" with my opinion which was based somewhat on my time in the infantry, which my PC critic probably lacked.@Don BaconAlden , December 11, 2017 at 5:57 pm GMT
In hindsight I wish I would have made a list of sites where I was banned, some of them several times. In the USA Washpost and Christian Science Monitor, both sites were abolished, I suppose because censorship and banning became too expensive.
In UK War Without End was was one of the very few sites where was no censorship, UK laws forced the owner to close down. The site was near impossible to hack, the owner had a hand built interface in Linux between incoming messages and the site itself. At present there is not one more or less serious Dutch site where I can write.
On top of that, most Dutch sites no longer exist, especially those operated by newspapers.
It seems to be the same in Germany. The German journalist Udo Ulfkotte, he died maybe a year ago, he worked long for the prestigious newspaper FAZ, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, wrote a book about bought journalism. His explanation for the disappearence of discussion sites with newspapers is that the journalists discovered that the reactions got far more attention than the articles. Very annoying, of course. With us here, Follow The Money, and The Post Online behave as childish as German newspapers.@Jim Bob LassiterGreg Bacon , Website December 11, 2017 at 6:12 pm GMT
Your post is exactly what I wanted to write. Saved me the effort. I figured out the MSM was nothing but lies around 1966. I have no sympathy for any MSM journalist.Wouldn't it be scary if a nation's central bank was controlled and run by a group pretending to be loyal to their host nation, but was actually in league with a nation that was trying to gobble up huge chunks of ME land, doing this by controlling the host nation's media outlets, and forever posting psyop stories and actual lies to support the land thefts?Anon , Disclaimer December 12, 2017 at 1:02 am GMT
And if that same central bank would give out loans -- that never get repaid -- to the same ethnic gangsters that would then would use those loans to buy up over 90% of the host nations MSM outlets to forever ensure that a steady drip, drip, drip of propaganda went into the host nation's residents, ever so slowly turning them into mindless sheep always bleating for more wars to help the ethnic gangsters steal their way to an Eretz state?
Yes, it would be scary to live in a tyrant state like that.
Reminds me of a contemporary Russian joke: "Everything communists told us about socialism turned out to be a lie. However, everything they told us about capitalism is perfectly true".
Jul 13, 2017 | consortiumnews.com
Exclusive: A documentary debunking the Magnitsky myth, which was an opening salvo in the New Cold War, was largely blocked from viewing in the West but has now become a factor in Russia-gate, reports Robert Parry.
Near the center of the current furor over Donald Trump Jr.'s meeting with a Russian lawyer in June 2016 is a documentary that almost no one in the West has been allowed to see, a film that flips the script on the story of the late Sergei Magnitsky and his employer, hedge-fund operator William Browder.
The Russian lawyer, Natalie Veselnitskaya, who met with Trump Jr. and other advisers to Donald Trump Sr.'s campaign, represented a company that had run afoul of a U.S. investigation into money-laundering allegedly connected to the Magnitsky case and his death in a Russian prison in 2009. His death sparked a campaign spearheaded by Browder, who used his wealth and clout to lobby the U.S. Congress in 2012 to enact the Magnitsky Act to punish alleged human rights abusers in Russia. The law became what might be called the first shot in the New Cold War.
According to Browder's narrative, companies ostensibly under his control had been hijacked by corrupt Russian officials in furtherance of a $230 million tax-fraud scheme; he then dispatched his "lawyer" Magnitsky to investigate and – after supposedly uncovering evidence of the fraud – Magnitsky blew the whistle only to be arrested by the same corrupt officials who then had him locked up in prison where he died of heart failure from physical abuse.
Despite Russian denials – and the "dog ate my homework" quality of Browder's self-serving narrative – the dramatic tale became a cause celebre in the West. The story eventually attracted the attention of Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, a known critic of President Vladimir Putin. Nekrasov decided to produce a docu-drama that would present Browder's narrative to a wider public. Nekrasov even said he hoped that he might recruit Browder as the narrator of the tale.
However, the project took an unexpected turn when Nekrasov's research kept turning up contradictions to Browder's storyline, which began to look more and more like a corporate cover story. Nekrasov discovered that a woman working in Browder's company was the actual whistleblower and that Magnitsky – rather than a crusading lawyer – was an accountant who was implicated in the scheme.
So, the planned docudrama suddenly was transformed into a documentary with a dramatic reversal as Nekrasov struggles with what he knows will be a dangerous decision to confront Browder with what appear to be deceptions. In the film, you see Browder go from a friendly collaborator into an angry adversary who tries to bully Nekrasov into backing down.
Ultimately, Nekrasov completes his extraordinary film – entitled "The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes" – and it was set for a premiere at the European Parliament in Brussels in April 2016. However, at the last moment – faced with Browder's legal threats – the parliamentarians pulled the plug. Nekrasov encountered similar resistance in the United States, a situation that, in part, brought Natalie Veselnitskaya into this controversy.
Film director Andrei Nekrasov, who produced "The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes."
As a lawyer defending Prevezon, a real-estate company registered in Cyprus, on a money-laundering charge, she was dealing with U.S. prosecutors in New York City and, in that role, became an advocate for lifting the U.S. sanctions, The Washington Post reported.
That was when she turned to promoter Rob Goldstone to set up a meeting at Trump Tower with Donald Trump Jr. To secure the sit-down on June 9, 2016, Goldstone dangled the prospect that Veselnitskaya had some derogatory financial information from the Russian government about Russians supporting the Democratic National Committee. Trump Jr. jumped at the possibility and brought senior Trump campaign advisers, Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, along.
By all accounts, Veselnitskaya had little or nothing to offer about the DNC and turned the conversation instead to the Magnitsky Act and Putin's retaliatory measure to the sanctions, canceling a program in which American parents adopted Russian children. One source told me that Veselnitskaya also wanted to enhance her stature in Russia with the boast that she had taken a meeting at Trump Tower with Trump's son.
But another goal of Veselnitskaya's U.S. trip was to participate in an effort to give Americans a chance to see Nekrasov's blacklisted documentary. She traveled to Washington in the days after her Trump Tower meeting and attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, according to The Washington Post.
There were hopes to show the documentary to members of Congress but the offer was rebuffed. Instead a room was rented at the Newseum near Capitol Hill. Browder's lawyers. who had successfully intimidated the European Parliament, also tried to strong arm the Newseum, but its officials responded that they were only renting out a room and that they had allowed other controversial presentations in the past.
Their stand wasn't exactly a profile in courage. "We're not going to allow them not to show the film," said Scott Williams, the chief operating officer of the Newseum. "We often have people renting for events that other people would love not to have happen."
In an article about the controversy in June 2016, The New York Times added that "A screening at the Newseum is especially controversial because it could attract lawmakers or their aides." Heaven forbid!
So, Nekrasov's documentary got a one-time showing with Veselnitskaya reportedly in attendance and with a follow-up discussion moderated by journalist Seymour Hersh. However, except for that audience, the public of the United States and Europe has been essentially shielded from the documentary's discoveries, all the better for the Magnitsky myth to retain its power as a seminal propaganda moment of the New Cold War.
Financier William Browder (right) with Magnitsky's widow and son, along with European parliamentarians.
After the Newseum presentation, a Washington Post editorial branded Nekrasov's documentary Russian "agit-prop" and sought to discredit Nekrasov without addressing his many documented examples of Browder's misrepresenting both big and small facts in the case. Instead, the Post accused Nekrasov of using "facts highly selectively" and insinuated that he was merely a pawn in the Kremlin's "campaign to discredit Mr. Browder and the Magnitsky Act."
The Post also misrepresented the structure of the film by noting that it mixed fictional scenes with real-life interviews and action, a point that was technically true but willfully misleading because the fictional scenes were from Nekrasov's original idea for a docu-drama that he shows as part of explaining his evolution from a believer in Browder's self-exculpatory story to a skeptic. But the Post's deception is something that almost no American would realize because almost no one got to see the film.
The Post concluded smugly: "The film won't grab a wide audience, but it offers yet another example of the Kremlin's increasingly sophisticated efforts to spread its illiberal values and mind-set abroad. In the European Parliament and on French and German television networks, showings were put off recently after questions were raised about the accuracy of the film, including by Magnitsky's family.
"We don't worry that Mr. Nekrasov's film was screened here, in an open society. But it is important that such slick spin be fully exposed for its twisted story and sly deceptions."
The Post's gleeful editorial had the feel of something you might read in a totalitarian society where the public only hears about dissent when the Official Organs of the State denounce some almost unknown person for saying something that almost no one heard.
The Post's satisfaction that Nekrasov's documentary would not draw a large audience represents what is becoming a new paradigm in U.S. mainstream journalism, the idea that it is the media's duty to protect the American people from seeing divergent narratives on sensitive geopolitical issues.
Over the past year, we have seen a growing hysteria about "Russian propaganda" and "fake news" with The New York Times and other major news outlets eagerly awaiting algorithms that can be unleashed on the Internet to eradicate information that groups like Google's First Draft Coalition deem "false."
First Draft consists of the Times, the Post, other mainstream outlets, and establishment-approved online news sites, such as Bellingcat with links to the pro-NATO think tank, Atlantic Council. First Draft's job will be to serve as a kind of Ministry of Truth and thus shield the public from information that is deemed propaganda or untrue.
In the meantime, there is the ad hoc approach that was applied to Nekrasov's documentary. Having missed the Newseum showing, I was only able to view the film because I was given a special password to an online version.
From searches that I did on Wednesday, Nekrasov's film was not available on Amazon although a pro-Magnitsky documentary was. I did find a streaming service that appeared to have the film available.
But the Post's editors were right in their expectation that "The film won't grab a wide audience." Instead, it has become a good example of how political and legal pressure can effectively black out what we used to call "the other side of the story." The film now, however, has unexpectedly become a factor in the larger drama of Russia-gate and the drive to remove Donald Trump Sr. from the White House.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America's Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com ).
Joseph A. Haran, Jr. , July 13, 2017 at 2:13 pmRob Roy , July 13, 2017 at 2:45 pm
Why are so many people–corporate executives, governments, journalists, politicians–afraid of William Browder? Why isn't Andrei Nekrasov's film available via digital versatile disk, for sale on line? Mr. Parry, why can't you find it? Oh, wait: You did! Heaven forbid we, your readers, should screen it. Since you, too, are helping keep that film a big fat secret at least give us a few clues as to where we can find it. Throw us a bone! Thank you.ToivoS , July 13, 2017 at 4:01 pm
Parry isn't keeping the film viewing a secret. He was given a private password and perhaps can get permission to let the readers here have it. It isn't up to Parry himself but rather to the person(s) who have the rights to the password. I've come across this problem before.Lisa , July 13, 2017 at 6:28 pm
Parry wrote: I did find a streaming service that appeared to have the film available.
Any link?? I am willing to buy it.Lisa , July 13, 2017 at 6:31 pm
This may not be of much help, as the film is dubbed in Russian. If you want to look for the Russian versions on the internet, search for: "????? ?????? ????????? "????? ???????????. ?? ????????"
I'll keep looking for the film with translation into some other language.Lisa , July 13, 2017 at 6:45 pm
Sorry, the Russian text did not appear. Try with latin alphabet: Film Andreia Nekrasova "Zakon Magnitskogo. Za kulisami"Abe , July 13, 2017 at 5:21 pm
This is the same dubbed version, on youtube.backwardsevolution , July 13, 2017 at 5:51 pm
Hysterical agit-prop troll insists that world trembles in fear of "genuine American hero" William Browder. John McCain in 2012 was too busy trembling to notice that Browder had given up his US citizenship in 1998 in order to better profit from the Russian financial crisis.incontinent reader , July 13, 2017 at 6:24 pm
Abe – and to escape U.S. taxes.Vincent Castigliola , July 13, 2017 at 2:38 pm
Well stated.Anna , July 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm
Excellent report and analysis. Thanks for timely reminder regarding the Magitsky story and the fascinating background regarding Andrei Nekrasov's film, in particular its metamorphosis and subsequent aggressive suppression. Both of those factors render the film a particular credibility and wish on my part to view it.
Is there any chance you can share information regarding a means of accessing the forbidden film?
I am beginning to feel more and more like the citizens of the old USSR, who, were to my recollection and understanding back in the 50's and 60's:. Longing to read and hear facts suppressed by the communist state, dependent upon the Voice of America and underground news sources within the Soviet Union for the truth. RU, Consortium news, et. al. seem somewhat a parallel, and 1984 not so distant.
Last night, After watching Max Boot self destruct on Tucker Carlson, i was inspired to watch episode 2 of The Putin Interviews. I felt enlightened. If only the Establishment Media could turn from promoting its agenda of shaping and suppressing the news into accurately reporting it.
Media corruption is not so new. Yellow journalism around the turn of the 19th century, took us into a progression of wars. The War to End All Wars didn't. Blame the munitions makers and the Military Industrial Complex if you will, but a corrupt medial, at the very least enabled a progression of wars over the last 120 or so years.
Demonizing other countries is bad enough, but wilfully ignoring the potential for a nuclear war to end not only war, but life as we know it, is appalling.Vincent Castigliola , July 13, 2017 at 9:41 pm
"After watching Max Boot self destruct on Tucker Carlson "
Am I the only one who thinks that Max Boot should have been institutionalized for some time already? He is not well.Anna , July 14, 2017 at 9:31 am
Perhaps Max can share a suite with John McCain. Sadly, the illness is widespread and sometimes seems to be in the majority. Neo con/lib both are adamant in finding enemies and imposing punishment.
Finding splinters, ignoring beams. Changing regimes everywhere. Making the world safe for Democracy. Unless a man they don't like get electedorwell , July 14, 2017 at 3:44 pm
Max Boot parents are Russain Jews who seemingly instilled in him a rabid hatred for everything Russian. The same is with Aperovitch, the CrowdStrike fraudster. The first Soviet (Bolshevik) government was 85% Jewish. Considering what happened to Russia under Bolsheviks, it seems that Russians are supremely tolerant people.Cal , July 14, 2017 at 8:03 pm
Anna, Anti-Semitism will get you NOWHERE, and you should be ashamed of yourself for injecting such HATRED into the rational discussion here.Kiza , July 15, 2017 at 1:02 am
Its not anti Semitic if its true .and its true he is a Russian Jew and its very obvious he hates Russia–as does the whole Jewish Zionist crowd in the US.Taras77 , July 13, 2017 at 11:17 pm
orwell, I wonder why the truth always turns out to be so anti-semitic!?Zachary Smith , July 13, 2017 at 2:51 pm
I hope you caught the preceding tucker interview with Ralph Peters, who says he is a retired us army LTC. He came off as completely deranged and hysterical. The two interviews back to back struck me as neo con desperation and panic. My respect for Tucker just went up for taking on these two wackos.Dan Mason , July 13, 2017 at 6:42 pm
The fact that the film is being suppressed by everybody is significant to me. I don't know a thing about the "facts" of the Magnitsky case, and a quick look at the results of a Google search suggests this film isn't going to be available to me unless I shell out some unknown amount of money.
If the producers want the film to be seen, perhaps they ought to release it for download to any interested parties for a nominal sum. This will mean they won't make any profit, but on the other hand they will be able to spit in the eyes of the censors.orwell , July 14, 2017 at 3:48 pm
I went searching the net for access to this film and found that I was blocked at every turn. I did find a few links which all seemed to go to the same destination which claimed to provide access once I registered with their site. I decided to avoid that route. I don't really have that much interest in the Magnitsky affair, but I do wonder why we are being denied access to information. Who has this kind of influence, and why are they so fearful. I'm really afraid that we already live in a largely hidden Orwellian world. Now where did I put that tin foil hat?Drew Hunkins , July 13, 2017 at 2:53 pm
The Orwellian World is NOT HIDDEN, it is clearly visible.backwardsevolution , July 13, 2017 at 3:30 pm
Nekrasov, though he's a Putin critic, is a genuine hero in this instance. He ulitimately put his preconceptions aside and took the story where it truly led him. Nekrasov deserves boatloads of praise for his handling of Browder and his final documentary film product.BannanaBoat , July 13, 2017 at 6:12 pm
Drew – good comment. It's very hard to "turn", isn't it? I wonder if many people appreciate what it takes to do this. Easier to justify, turn a blind eye, but to actually stop, question, think, and then follow where the story leads you takes courage and strength.backwardsevolution , July 14, 2017 at 1:49 am
Especially when your bucking an aggressive billionaire.Zim , July 13, 2017 at 3:11 pm
BannanaBoat – that too!Virginia , July 13, 2017 at 6:13 pm
This is interesting:
"In December 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported that Hillary Clinton opposed the Magnitsky Act while serving as secretary of state. Her opposition coincided with Bill Clinton giving a speech in Moscow for Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank! for which he was paid $500,000.
"Mr. Clinton also received a substantial payout in 2010 from Renaissance Capital, a Russian investment bank whose executives were at risk of being hurt by possible U.S. sanctions tied to a complex and controversial case of alleged corruption in Russia.
Members of Congress wrote to Mrs. Clinton in 2010 seeking to deny visas to people who had been implicated by Russian accountant Sergei Magnitsky, who was jailed and died in prison after he uncovered evidence of a large tax-refund fraud. William Browder, a foreign investor in Russia who had hired Mr. Magnitsky, alleged that the accountant had turned up evidence that Renaissance officials, among others, participated in the fraud."
The State Department opposed the sanctions bill at the time, as did the Russian government. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pushed Hillary Clinton to oppose the legislation during a meeting in St. Petersburg in June 2012, citing that U.S.-Russia relations would suffer as a result."
More: http://observer.com/2017/07/natalia-veselnitskaya-hillary-clinton-magnitsky-act/Bart in Virginia , July 13, 2017 at 3:15 pm
Very interesting, Zim.Cal , July 13, 2017 at 3:31 pm
"[Veselnitskaya] traveled to Washington in the days after her Trump Tower meeting and attended a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, according to The Washington Post." The other day I saw photos of her sitting right behind Amb. McFaul in some past hearing. How did she get a seat on the front row?
Now I remember that Post editorial. I was one of only 20 commenters before they shut down comments. It was some heavy pearl clutching.BobH , July 13, 2017 at 3:35 pm
WOW..excellent reporting.BobH , July 13, 2017 at 3:38 pm
nice backgrounder for an ever evolving story censorship is censorship by any other name!Kiza , July 15, 2017 at 1:11 am
afterthought couldn't the film be shown on RT America?Abe , July 13, 2017 at 3:41 pm
Would that not enable Bowder's employees online to claim that this documentary is Russian state propaganda, which it obviously is not because it would have been made available for free everywhere already just like RT. I believe that Nekrasov does not like RT and RT probably still does not like Nekrasov. The point of RT has never been the truth then the alternative point of view, as they advertised: Audi alteram partem.Joe Tedesky , July 13, 2017 at 4:13 pm
"The approach taken by Brennan's task force in assessing Russia and its president seems eerily reminiscent of the analytical blinders that hampered the U.S. intelligence community when it came to assessing the objectives and intent of Saddam Hussein and his inner leadership regarding weapons of mass destruction. The Russia NIA notes, 'Many of the key judgments rely on a body of reporting from multiple sources that are consistent with our understanding of Russian behavior.' There is no better indication of a tendency toward 'group think' than that statement.
Moreover, when one reflects on the fact much of this 'body of reporting' was shoehorned after the fact into an analytical premise predicated on a single source of foreign-provided intelligence, that statement suddenly loses much of its impact.
"The acknowledged deficit on the part of the U.S. intelligence community of fact-driven insight into the specifics of Russian presidential decision-making, and the nature of Vladimir Putin as an individual in general, likewise seems problematic. The U.S. intelligence community was hard wired into pre-conceived notions about how and what Saddam Hussein would think and decide, and as such remained blind to the fact that he would order the totality of his weapons of mass destruction to be destroyed in the summer of 1991, or that he could be telling the truth when later declaring that Iraq was free of WMD.
'President Putin has repeatedly and vociferously denied any Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Those who cite the findings of the Russia NIA as indisputable proof to the contrary, however, dismiss this denial out of hand. And yet nowhere in the Russia NIA is there any evidence that those who prepared it conducted anything remotely resembling the kind of 'analysis of alternatives' mandated by the ODNI when it comes to analytic standards used to prepare intelligence community assessments and estimates. Nor is there any evidence that the CIA's vaunted 'Red Cell' was approached to provide counterintuitive assessments of premises such as 'What if President Putin is telling the truth?'
'Throughout its history, the NIC has dealt with sources of information that far exceeded any sensitivity that might attach to Brennan's foreign intelligence source. The NIC had two experts that it could have turned to oversee a project like the Russia NIA!the NIO for Cyber Issues, and the Mission Manager of the Russian and Eurasia Mission Center; logic dictates that both should have been called upon, given the subject matter overlap between cyber intrusion and Russian intent.
'The excuse that Brennan's source was simply too sensitive to be shared with these individuals, and the analysts assigned to them, is ludicrous!both the NIO for cyber issues and the CIA's mission manager for Russia and Eurasia are cleared to receive the most highly classified intelligence and, moreover, are specifically mandated to oversee projects such as an investigation into Russian meddling in the American electoral process.
'President Trump has come under repeated criticism for his perceived slighting of the U.S. intelligence community in repeatedly citing the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction intelligence failure when downplaying intelligence reports, including the Russia NIA, about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Adding insult to injury, the president's most recent comments were made on foreign soil (Poland), on the eve of his first meeting with President Putin, at the G-20 Conference in Hamburg, Germany, where the issue of Russian meddling was the first topic on the agenda.
"The politics of the wisdom of the timing and location of such observations aside, the specific content of the president's statements appear factually sound."
Throwing a Curveball at 'Intelligence Community Consensus' on Russia By Scott Ritter http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/did-17-intelligence-agencies-really-come-to-consensus-on-russia/Virginia , July 13, 2017 at 6:16 pm
Thanks Abe once again, for providing us with news which will never be printed or aired in our MSM. Brennan may ignore the NIC, as Congress and the Executive Branch constantly avoid paying attention to the GAO. Why even have these agencies, if our leaders aren't going to listen them?Skip Scott , July 14, 2017 at 9:08 am
Abe, I'm always amazed at how much you know. Thank you for sharing. If you have your comments in article form or on a site where they can be shared, I'd really like to know about it. I've tried, but I garble the many points you make when trying to explain historical events you've told us about.John V. Walsh , July 13, 2017 at 3:54 pm
Thanks Abe. You are a real asset to us here at CN.Roger Annis , July 13, 2017 at 4:02 pm
Very good article! The entire Magnitsky saga has become so convoluted and mired in controversy and propaganda that it is very hard to understand. I remember vaguely the controversy surrounding the showing of the film at the Newseum. it is especially impressive that Nekrasov changed his opinion as fcts unfolded.
I will now try to get the docudrama and watch it.
If anyone has suggestions on how to do this, please let me know via a response. here.
Thanks.John-Albert Eadie , July 13, 2017 at 5:01 pm
A 'Magnitsky Act' in Canada was approved by the (appointed) Senate several months ago and is now undergoing fine tuning in the House of Commons prior to a third and final vote of approval. The proposed law has the unanimous support of the parties in Parliament.
A column in today's Globe and Mail daily by the newspaper's 'chief political writer' tiptoes around the Magnitsky story, never once daring to admit that a contrary narrative exists to that of Bill Browder.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/when-it-comes-to-magnitsky-laws-its-clear-what-russia-is-looking-for/article35678618/backwardsevolution , July 13, 2017 at 5:56 pm
Magnitsky Act in Canada has been based on made-up `facts` as Globe & Mail reporting proves. Not news, but deepens my concern about Canada following the Cold War without examination.Britton , July 13, 2017 at 4:05 pm
Roger Annis – just little lemmings following the leader. Disgusting. I hope you posted a comment at the Globe and Mail, Roger, with a link to this article.Joe Average , July 13, 2017 at 5:06 pm
Browder is a Communist Jew, his father has a Communist past according to his background so I know I can't trust anything he says. Hes just one of many shady interests undermining Putin I've seen over the years. His book Red Notice is just as shady. Good reporting Consortium News. Fox News promotes Browder like crazy every chance they get especially Fox Business channel.ToivoS , July 13, 2017 at 6:02 pm
"Browder is a Communist " Hedge Fund managers are hardly Communist – that's an oxymoron.Joe Average , July 13, 2017 at 6:34 pm
Bill Browder's grandfather was Earl Browder, leader of the CPUSA from the the late 30s to late 40s. His father was also a communist. Bill jr parlayed those connections with the Soviet apparatchiks to gain a foothold in looting Russia of its state assets during the 1990s. No he was not a communist but neither were the leaders of the Soviet Union at the time of its dissolution (in name yes, but in fact not).backwardsevolution , July 13, 2017 at 6:21 pm
thank you for this background information.
My main intention had been to straighten out the blurring of calling a hedge fund manager communist. Nowadays everything gets blurred by people misrepresenting political concepts. Either the people have been dumbed-down by misinformation or misrepresenting is done in order to keep neo-liberalism the dominant economical model. On many occasions I had read comments of people seemingly believing that Nationalsocialism had been some variant of socialism. Even the ideas of Bernie Sanders had been misrepresented as socialist instead of social democratic ones.Dave P. , July 13, 2017 at 7:37 pm
Joe Average – Dave P. mentioned Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's book entitled "Two Hundred Years Together" the other day. I've been reading a long synopsis of this book. What Britton says appears to be quite true. I don't know about Browder, but from what I've read the Jews were instrumental in the communist party, in the deaths of so many Russians. It wasn't just the Jews, but they played a big part. It's no wonder Solzhenitsyn's book has been "lost in translation", at least into English, for so many years.
I've also heard that it was the Jewish commissars who, when the USSR fell apart, rushed off to grab everything they could (with the help of outside Jewish money) and became the Russian oligarchs we hear about today. This is probably what Britton is getting at: "His father has a communist past." You go from running the government to owning it. Anti-Putin because Putin put a stop to them.Bruce Walker , July 13, 2017 at 9:29 pm
backwardsevolution: I worked with a Soviet emigre engineer – Jewish – on the same project in an Engineering design and construction company during early 1990's. He immigrated with his family around 1991. In Soviet Union, there being no private financial institutions or lawyers so to speak , many Jews went into science and engineering. A very interesting person, we were close work place friends. His elder brother had stayed behind back in Russia. His brother was in Moscow and involved in this plunder going on there. He used to tell me all these hair raising first hand stories about what was going on in Russia during that time. All the plunder flowed into the Western Countries.
In recent history, no country went through this kind of plunder on a scale Russia went through during ten or fifteen years starting in 1992. Russia was a very badly ravaged country when Putin took over. Means of production, finance, all came to halt, and society itself had completely broken down. It appears that the West has all the intentions to do it again.backwardsevolution , July 14, 2017 at 12:38 am
I have read all the comments up to yours you have told it like it was in Russia in those years. Browder was the king of the crooks looting Russia. Then he got to John McCain with all his lies and bullshit and was responsible for the sanctions on Russia. All the comments aboutBrowders grandfather andCommunist party are all true but hardly important. Except that it probably was how Browder was able to get his fingers on the pie in Russia. And he sure did get his fingers in the pie BIG TIME.
I am a Canadian and am aware of Maginsky Act in Canada. Our Minister Chrystal Freeland met with William Brawder in Davos a few months ago both of these two you could say are not fans of Putin, I certainly don't know what they spoke about but other than lies from Browder there is no reason she should have been talking with him. I have made comments on other forums regarding these two meeting. Read Browders book and hopefully see the documentary that this article is about. When I read his book I knew instantly that he was a crook a charloten and a liar. Just the kind of folk John McCain and a lot of other folks in US politics love. You all have a nice Peacefull daybackwardsevolution , July 14, 2017 at 12:58 am
Joe Average – "I guess that this book puts blame for Communism entirely on the Jewish people and that this gave even further rise to antisemitism in the Germany of the 1930's."
No, it doesn't put the blame entirely on the Jews; it just spells out that they did play a large part. As one Jewish scholar said, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was too much of an academic, too intelligent to ever put the blame entirely on one group. But something like 40 – 60 million died – shot, taken out on boats with rocks around their necks and thrown overboard, starved, gassed in rail cars, poisoned, worked to death, froze, you name it. Every other human slaughter pales in comparison. Good old man, so civilized (sarc)!
But someone(s) has been instrumental in keeping this book from being translated into English (or so I've read many places online). Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago" and his other books have been translated, but not this one. (Although I just found one site that has almost all of the chapters translated, but not all). Several people ordered the book off Amazon, only to find out that it was in the Russian language. LOL
Solzhenitsyn does say at one point in the book: "Communist rebellions in Germany post-WWI was a big reason for the revival of anti-Semitism (as there was no serious anti-Semitism in the imperial [Kaiser] Germany of 1870 – 1918)."
Lots of Jewish people made it into the upper levels of the Soviet government, academia, etc. (and lots of them were murdered too). I might skip reading these types of books until I get older. Too bleak. Hard enough reading about the day-to-day stuff here without going back in time for more fun!
I remember reading Naomi Klein's "Shock Doctrine," but I just could not get through the chapter on the USSR falling apart. I started reading it, but I didn't want to finish it (and I didn't) because it just made me angry. The West was too unfair! Russia was asking for help, but instead the West just looted. I'd say that Russia was very lucky to have someone like Putin clean it up.
Keep smiling, Joe.Chucky LeRoi , July 14, 2017 at 9:56 am
Dave P. – I told you, you are a wealth of information, a walking encyclopedia. Interesting about your co-worker. Sounds like it was a free-for-all in Russia. Yes, I totally agree that Putin has done and is doing all he can to bring his country back up. Very difficult job he is doing, and I hope he is successful at keeping the West out as much as he can, at least until Russia is strong and sure enough to invite them in on their own terms.
Now go and tell your wife what I said about you being a "walking encyclopedia". She'll probably have a good laugh. (Not that you're not, but you know what she'll say: "Okay, smartie, now go and do the dishes.")Joe Average , July 13, 2017 at 8:10 pm
Just some small scale, local color kind of stuff, but living in the USA, west coast specifically, it was quite noticeable in the mid to late '90's how many Russians with money were suddenly appearing. No apparent skills or 'jobs', but seemingly able to pay for stuff. Expensive stuff.
A neighbor invited us to her 'place in the mountains', which turned out to be where a lumber company had almost terra-formed an area and was selling off the results. Her advice: When you go to the lake (i.e., the low area now gathering runoff, paddle boats rentals, concession stand) you will see a lot of men with huge stomachs and tiny Speedos. They will be very rude, pushy, confrontational. Ignore them, DO NOT comment on their rudeness or try to deal with their manners. They are Russians, and the amount of trouble it will stir up – and probable repercussions – are simply not worth it.
Back in town, the anecdotes start piling up quickly. I am talking crowbars through windows (for a perceived insult). A beating where the victim – who was probably trying something shady – was so pulped the emergency room staff couldn't tell if the implement used was a 2X4 or a baseball bat. When found he had with $3k in his pocket: robbery was not the motive. More traffic accidents involving guys with very nice cars and serious attitude problems. I could go on. More and more often somewhere in the relating of these incidents the phrase " this Russian guy " would come up. It was the increased use of this phrase that was so noticeable.
And now the disclaimer.
Before anybody goes off, I am not anti-Russian, Russo-phobic, what have you. I studied the Russian language in high school and college (admittedly decades ago). My tax guy is Russian. I love him. My day to day interactions have led me to this pop psychology observation: the extreme conditions that produced that people and culture produced extremes. When they are of the good, loving , caring, cultured, helpful sort, you could ask for no better friends. The generosity can be embarrassing. When they are of the materialistic, evil, self-centered don't f**k with me I am THE BADDEST ASS ON THE PLANET sort, the level of mania and self-importance is impossible to deal with, just get as far away as possible. It's worked for me.backwardsevolution , July 14, 2017 at 12:50 am
thanks for the info. I'll add the book to the list of books onto my to-read list. As far as I know a Kibbutz could be described as a Communist microcosm. The whole idea of Communism itself is based on Marx (a Jew by birth). A while ago I had started reading "Mein Kampf". I've got to finish the book, in order to see if my assumption is correct. I guess that this book puts blame for Communism entirely on the Jewish people and that this gave even further rise to antisemitism in the Germany of the 1930's.
The most known Russian Oligarchs that I've heard of are mainly of Jewish origin, but as far as I know they had been too young to be commissars at the time of the demise of the USSR. At least one aspect I've read of many times is that a lot of them built their fortunes with the help of quite shady business dealings.
With regard to President Putin I've read that he made a deal with the oligarchs: they should pay their taxes, keep/invest their money in Russia and keep out of politics. In return he wouldn't dig too deep into their past. Right at the moment everybody in the West is against President Putin, because he stopped the looting of his country and its citizens and that's something our Western oligarchs and financial institutions don't like.
On a side note: Several years ago I had started to read several volumes about German history. Back then I didn't notice an important aspect that should attract my attention a few years later when reading about the rise of John D. Rockefeller. Charlemagne (Charles the Great) took over power from the Merovingians. Prior to becoming King of the Franks he had been Hausmeier (Mayor of the Palace) for the Merovingians. Mayor of the Palace was the title of the manager of the household, which seems to be similar to a procurator and/or accountant (bookkeeper). The similarity of the beginnings of both careers struck me. John D. Rockefeller started as a bookkeeper. If you look at Bill Gates you'll realize that he was smart enough to buy an operating system for a few dollars, improved it and sold it to IBM on a large scale. The widely celebrated Steve Jobs was basically the marketing guy, whilst the real brain behind (the product) Apple had been Steve Wozniak.
Another side note: If we're going down the path of neo-liberalism it will lead us straight back to feudalism – at least if the economy doesn't blow up (PCR, Michael Hudson, Mike Whitney, Mike Maloney, Jim Rogers, Richard D. Wolff, and many more economists make excellent points that our present Western economy can't go on forever and is kept alive artificially).Miranda Keefe , July 14, 2017 at 5:48 am
Joe Average – somehow my reply to you ended up above your post. What? How did that happen? You can find it there. Thanks for the interesting info about John D. Rockefeller, Gates, Jobs and Wozniak. Some are good managers, others good at sales, while others are the creative inventors.
Yes, Joe, I totally agree that we are headed back to feudalism. I don't think we'll have much choice as the oil is running out. We'll probably be okay, but our children? I worry about them. They'll notice a big change in their lifetimes. The discovery and capture of oil pulled forward a large population. As we scale back, we could be in trouble, food-wise. Or at least it looks that way.
Charlemagne did not take over from the Merovingians. The Mayor of the Palace was not an accountant.
During the 7th Century the Mayor of the Place more and more became the actual ruler of the Franks. The office had existed for over a century and was basically the "prime minister" to the king. By the time Pepin of Herstal, a scion of a powerful Frankish family, took the position in 680, the king was ceremonial leader doing ritual and the Mayor ruled- like the relationship of the Emperor and the Shogun in Japan. In 687 Pepin's Austrasia conquered Neustria and Burgundy and he added "Duke of the Franks" to his titles. The office became hereditary.
When Pepin died in 714 there was some unrest as nobles from various parts of the joint kingdoms attempted to get different ones of his heirs in the office until his son Charles Martel took the reins in 718. This is the famous Charles Martel who defeated the Moors at Tours in 732. But that was not his only accomplishment as he basically extended the Frankish kingdom to include Saxony. Charles not only ruled but when the king died he picked which possible heir would become king. Finally near the end of his reign he didn't even bother replacing the king and the throne was empty.
When Charles Martel died in 741 he followed Frankish custom and divided his kingdom among his sons. By 747 his younger son, Pepin the Short, had consolidated his rule and with the support of the Pope, deposed the last Merovingian King and became the first Carolingian King in 751- the dynasty taking its name from Charles Martel. Thus Pepin reunited the two aspects of the Frankish ruler, combining the rule of the Mayor with the ceremon