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Neoliberalism

The ideology that dare not speak it's name is actually a New, More Dangerous, Form of Corporatism. This "religion of freedom" (redefinition of the meaning of the word "freedom" and sophisticated speculation on it is at the center of neoliberal religion) is a coercive cult enforced by corrupt, deceitful elite with the explicit goal of milking the adherents

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Skepticism and Pseudoscience > Who Rules America > Neoliberal Brainwashing

News An introduction to Neoliberalism Recommended books Recommended Links Neoliberalism war on 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
Neocon stooge formerly known as Anti-Globalist and Trump betrayal of his voters Is national security state in the USA gone rogue ? The problem of control of intelligence services in democratic societies 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
Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neocons New American Militarism Media domination strategy Libertarian Philosophy Frederick Von Hayek Neoliberal Deregulation
Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few YouTube on neoliberalism History of neoliberalism PseudoScience Related Humor Politically Incorrect Humor 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."

- New York Times

Make no mistake, the neo-Liberal fuckers are just as bad as the Stalinists

May '68 and its Afterlives [Review]

Neoliberal ideology acted as a smokescreen that enabled the financially powerful to rewrite the rules and place themselves beyond the law.

Church , 10 Jun 2013 17:21


Introduction

The terms Neoliberalism and Casino Capitalism are used interchangeably. They define the same phenomenon. The term "Casino Capitalism" stresses that neoliberalism glorifies stock market, promotes "financialization" of the economy and creates powerful incentives for financial speculation and excessive risk-taking on the part of the public ("Greed is good"). By a masterstroke of introducing 401K large part of the US population became stock owners are mercilessly fleeced by bog and small financial intermediaries. Mass ownership of stock 401K plans created stable rent rest for financial intermediaries, which increase in size and importance in the economy approximately 100 times. Add to this introduction of "gambling style" financial instruments such as derivatives, "naked" commodity futures (settled in dollars, not in product), currency speculations, intentional blowing of bubbles and even talking public "no-profit" Main Street entrepreneurs (dot-com crisis on 2000). That's why neoliberalism is also "casino capitalism" as markets, especially stock market play in it outsize role.

Like feudalism neoliberalism stipulate existence of three main classes (under feudalism they were aristocracy, merchants and serfs). simplifying we can defined them as billionaires, millionaires and the rest:

  1. "Inner party" members (aka the "New Class" -- neoliberal Nomenklatura similar to Busheviks nomenklatura. Inner party consists of mostly consists of billionaires and bought by them politicians. To the New Class the law "protects but does not apply." They are above the law like aristocracy was under feudalism. Catholic church and Clintons family is a good example here (Clinton cash, Bill Clinton sexapades, Hillary email scandal, etc). Other notable examples include McCain (member of Keating Five), Lloyd Blankfein (financial crash of 2018), and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein (of Lolita Express fame) are another examples here. Amorality and criminality of the US neoliberal elite became a political issue in 2016 campaign (Podesta personality and Epstein are two most recent examples. Looks like Church is also affected by  neoliberalism: just look at pedophile scandal in Catholic church, in Great Britain and Scandinavian countries. ) The "Inner Party" is dominated by financial oligarchs but several new groups are added to the elite as well. Among them are intelligence agencies brass (with intelligence agencies becoming the real political force, the core of the Deep State) and Silicon Valley moguls who are still short of becoming billionaires, but who run important companies (with top firms became interconnected with surveillance apparatus of the state and Wall Street) and top managers of multinationals and MIC.

  2. The upper 10% who represent the class of people who benefit form neoliberal globalization and on whom neoliberalism rely for its support and defense. Along with top 1% they are the group which income increased since 1980th, although in much lesser scale then for financial oligarchy. They consist of top level professionals (so called "creative class" in neoliberal New Speak): lawyers, sportsmen, programmers, doctors, engineers, actors, successful entrepreneurs, "lesser" politicians, MSM personalities, top journalists, scientists, university professors, upper military brass, etc.

    They can be tentatively called the class of millionaires as their net worth often exceeds one million dollars (in 2019 dollars). They also can be considered the upper middle class. The them law apply but with exceptions and sentences are usually very lenient. Here are the data for 2016 How Many Millionaires Are There in America Decamillionaires -DQYDJ

    We estimate that there are 14,814,453 millionaires in the United States. Our estimate puts the millionaire net worth goal at the 88.24% wealth bracket in the US in 2016, or 11.76% of all households.

  3. The bottom 90% of population so called deplorables. The income and standard of living of this group decreased under neoliberalism. Social security net (especially job security) evaporated. There is a definitely a switch to temporary and contract jobs in this segment, which make their situation even worse. Unemployment is running high with U6 measure above 10% most of the time. In other words they are the main loser of neoliberal globalization. Too them the law applies, but does not protect...

The key social goal of neoliberalism is redistribution of wealth up at the expense of the working class and lower middle class (the bottom 90% of population). It is political project designed to curb the power of labor (see Neoliberalism war on labor). So stagnation of wages and deterioration of the standard of living is not an aberration, but a key feature of neoliberalism. Suppression of wages is done under the false flag of austerity. Important for neoliberals sectors such as MIC (especially intelligence community), law enforcement, financial firm brass bonuses, and tax cuts for rich are not affected by austerity, only worker wages and social programs are.

The key social goal of neoliberalism is redistribution of wealth up. So stagnation of wages and deterioration of the standard of living is not an aberration, but a key feature of neoliberalism.

A new secular religion

Neoliberalism positions itself as a secular religion (which in its core is hostile to Christianity, much like Bolshevism) with the compliance enforced by the state. Somewhat similar God-Building trend in Marxism.  For example, the prominent member of Bolsheviks Party Lunacharsky "saw Marxism as having religious components, including its faith in the inevitable victory of socialism."; according to Trotsky(1923) in some of the southern republics around 15% percent of party members were believers in Islam. Developing this insight Erich Voegelin’s on his controversial Political Religions (1938, see discussion at Stalinist Ritual and Belief System- Reflections on ‘Political Religion’) suggested that ideologies can function as secular religions.  Amy person who lived in the Soviet block instantly would recognize elements of this secular religion and corresponding elements  of security apparatus that enforces it) in the USA( Andre Vltchek, Sep 03, 2019):  

What the West used to accuse the Soviet Union of, is now actually clearly detectable in the United States and the United Kingdom themselves: surveillance is at every step, these days; in New York, London, Sydney, and even in the countryside. Every move a person makes, every purchase, every computer click, is registered; somewhere, somehow. And this monitoring is, mostly, not even illegal.

Speech is controlled by political correctness. Someone behind the scenes decides what is acceptable and what is not, what is desirable or not, and even what is permissible. You make one 'mistake' and you are out; from the teaching positions at the universities, or from the media outlets.

...No punches can be administered intuitively. Everything has to be calculated in advance. No 'outrageous' political fiction can pass the 'invisible censorship' ...

Both neoliberalism and Bolshevism are deficient in terms of empirical evidence that supports their postulates (or symbols of faith, to be more correct) and had to be accepted on faith.  The difference is that Bolshevism (as well as national socialism) generated a sense of devotion and mass mobilization with the emphasis on the personal sacrifice, reminiscent of religious zeal. This is not the case for neoliberalism which adopted "inverted totalitarism" model that demobilize the citizens to the level of consumers. dissidence are not physically repressed and send to the GULAG, but just ostracized, isolated and deprived of their usual sources of income. The enforcement of ideology is no less rigid than under bolshevism with MSM, but the idea is to capture academy first and spread those false, reactionary idea with the veneer of academic respectability. 

The "market" under neoliberalism is a kind of "all powerful deity"

Gramsci stands vindicated: just capture the academies and the rest of us follow, often willingly. Nothing competes with  the coalition of universities and MSM as neoliberalism indoctrination tools ( Andre Vltchek, Sep 03, 2019):

While Hollywood and the mass media keep producing, relentlessly, all sorts of highly insulting and stereotypical racist junk (mainly against the Chinese, Russians, Arabs, Latinos and others), great writers and filmmakers who want to ridicule the Western [neoliberal] regime and its structure, have already been silenced.

You can only humiliate non-Westerners in a way that is approved (again: somewhere, somehow), but God forbid, you dare to criticize the pro-Western [neoliberal] elites who are ruining their countries on behalf of London and Washington, in the Gulf, Southeast Asia or Africa – that would be 'patronizing' and 'racist'... The Cold War era appears to be relatively 'tolerant', compared to what is taking place now.

Social media constantly represses 'uncomfortable' individuals, 'unacceptable' media outlets, and too 'unorthodox' thoughts.

... ... ...

... 'they' will use double-speak to let you know that all this is for your own good. It will not be pronounced, but you would be made to sense it: 'you are being protected from those horrible Third World monsters, madmen, perverts.' ... The [neoliberal]  regime is fighting for you, it cares for you, it is protecting you.

In other words neoliberals proved to be very creative followers of Academician Lysenko. That fact that their theories were false (and they were constructed as false from the beginning)  did not bother them one bit. The ability to capture the academy, and then via power of the state to enforce them on the population in the only thing that matters for them. They demonstrated this very convincingly convincingly in Chile's neoliberal coupe detat. Milton Freidman's "Chicago boys" played a prominent role in this CIA sponsored and directed regime change effort.  

Thereafter, Chilean economic policy “deregulated and privatized,” including the breakdown of state-controlled pension systems, state industries, and state banks (sound familiar, Southern Europe?) And, of course, taxes were reduced. Forthwith, Chile unfettered itself from state control and turned the economy lose into the lair of “the freedom of the markets.”

Thereafter, Milton Friedman never stopped grinning, and Henry Kissinger smiled for the first time ever, he once remarked: “I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.” (Source: Timothy David Clark, Dept. of Political Science, Putting the Horse Before the Cart: Neoliberalism and Post-Neoliberalism in Chile, York University, June 15, 2012.

Like Stalinists who protected their narrow interpretation of Marxism from any challenges by power of the intelligence agencies, neoliberals are people who believe that “the market does not and cannot take care of itself,” and indeed the state under neoliberalism takes the form of the national security state — one in which power of the state intelligence agencies insulates the unregulated markets (and financial oligarchy which those markets enrich) from democratic attempts to regulate them, as well as from economic nationalism, which threatens neoliberal globalization. As such neoliberalism can be viewed as a dictatorship of financial oligarchy with the key difference that the role of enforcer of the will of financial oligarchy is performed by intelligence agencies (which at birth were closely connected to Wall Street; look at Allen Dulles biography.) And as soon as the USA and other western states absolved their secret police from accountability, they naturally became subservient to their power.  This is the same dynamics that happened with KGB in the USSR.  Intelligence agencies play the role of enforcers of neoliberalism both at home and abroad (often via color revolutions coup d'état ).  From this point of view the real father of neoliberalism was Truman who created CIA and NSA.

Neoliberals are people who believe that “the market does not and cannot take care of itself,”  and indeed the state under neoliberalism takes the form of the national security state — one in which power of the state intelligence agencies insulates the unregulated markets (and financial oligarchy which those markets enrich) from democratic attempts to regulate them, as well as from economic nationalism, which threatens neoliberal globalization. Intelligence agencies play the role of enforcers of neoliberalism both at home and abroad (often via color revolutions coup d'état ).

At the center of neoliberalism as a civic religion is a pretty vile and, at the same time, shrewd  redefinition of the word "freedom" as freedom from any kind of coercion (compare with FDR four freedoms). That sophistry resonated very well within Americans and British people and became a "universal opener" using which neoliberal elite opens the door for any harmful for population actions/legislation, including but not limited to the restoration of the power of financial oligarchy. All in the name of freedom ;-). Dirty, but a very effective trick.

Those guys are real masters of deception and elevated it into the art form. In a way society under neoliberalism is the society that is living in one giant illusion. In a way neoliberalism can be called the "religion of freedom," a yet anther coercive cult (not that dissimilar for the Church of Scientology) enforced by corrupt, deceitful elite with the explicit goal of milking the adherents.

Neoliberal ideology is offering a closed, coherent belief system explaining the whole world via unverifiable and unsubstantiated by scientific testing system of dogmas, beliefs and rituals. Deification of markets is just slightly less fantastic then the idea of Paradise. Obviously, neoclassical economics are far removed from what is ordinarily regarded as valid scientific procedure. It is, essentially, a pseudo theory, and it was this way from the very beginning. In this sense neoclassical economics  which constitute an important part of neoliberal ideology (along with Randism as the philosophy and Neoconservatism in foreign policy) is a new flavor of Lysenkoism, if you wish.

As core dogmas of neoliberalism are indefensible from scientific point of view if stated openly, neoliberalism has always been surrounded by an aura of secrecy and "esoteric teaching" (for elite only) which reminds Scientology. Even the name is suppressed in neoliberal MSM (US neoliberal MSMs rarely, if at all, mention this term "neoliberalism"; In UK the only exception is probably Guardian). To protect deplorables from discovering the ugly truth, elaborate pseudo theoretical smoke screen including mathiness was created. Exactly like in Marx famous quote "Religion is the opium of the people." This is actually the first instance when ideology conceived as a secular religion uses perverted mathematics (mathiness, Number racket) to justifies itself (I think Ancient Egypt priests might be the only analogy). As such this is a blatantly dishonest ideology. Like Bolshevism in the past, it also plays dirty tricks with the language in best 1994 style, creating neoliberal NewSpeak: compare for example how "economic freedom" is defined by neoliberals ("freedom of entrepreneurs and financial speculators from coercion and regulation") and how it was defined by FDR ("freedom [of working people and lower middle class] from want"). Indoctrination into "neoliberal newspeak" is done at the Universities using for brainwashing neoclassical economy and "business courses." Much like Soviet students were brainwashed with Marxism-Leninism and Marxist political economy. In both cases you can't graduate without passing mark for those courses. Again like Marxism neoliberalism is hostile to Christianity; some postulates of neoliberalism are closer to Judaism (entrepreneurs and financiers as a higher caste of the society, the inner party), some to Satanism.

Like Bolshevism neoliberalism is striving to rewrite history in the favorable light, or, even better, create conditions that people do not know the history at all. Neoliberalism even more then Bolshevism in the past is profoundly hostile to history. Which is actually a feature of all new cults. But the method neoliberalism uses is suppressing of education and coverage in MSM -- which is methods that characterize it as "inverted totalitarism". How many Us citizens know who Sheldon Wolin was? probably one in hundred or less. But most know who this corrupt stooge of financial oligarchy, "Chicago boy" Milton Friedman was because he is a saint of the church of neoliberalism. Or who was this plagiarist of Nietzschean philosophy, a Russia emigrant Ann Rand was?

Neoliberalism redistributes wealth up, justifying it with another key neoliberal myth -- the so called "trickle down economics" voodoo: the idea is that if the State directly helps the rich by redistributing wealth up, enforcing "market discipline", opening markets were they never existed (healthcare, education), as well as privatizing state assets, the poor will be better off as a by-product. Or as John Kenneth Galbraith quipped: “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.” In other words, neoliberalism is welfare for the top 1% or 0.1% of entrepreneurs and parasitic financial oligarchy (which state protects), and, at the same time, the "free market" jungle for the rest ("socialism for rich").

It is both an ideological assault, but also an economic assault on the power of labor (and especially organized labor) a political project to squash labor wages. On intuitive level neoliberalism emerged as the result of thinking like “We gotta crush labor, how do we do it?” And they found that neoliberalism can be a legitimizing theory for such a squash. Which again makes it similar to Bolshevism, which despite noble slogans kept working class wages at a very low level (which was noted by Orwell in his Animal Farm parable, and famous John Kenneth Galbraith quote "Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite")

And, again, like Bolshevism, this is a self-reassuring, self-gratifying and self-explanatory high demand cult -- a pretty sophisticated and very deceptive ideological rosy glasses, which creates (and then enforces on lemmings) a distorted image of reality. Important part of "reproduction" mechanism if this ideology is that it is deliberately propagated by neoliberal MSM and in neoliberal universities And neoliberal MSM (which are the only game in town in many countries now) as neoliberalism eliminated other forms of press via monopolization mechanism. In the USA lion share of MSM is owned by just six corporations. Along with domination in MSM, neoliberalism creates sophisticated and effective system of indoctrination of population which rivals the same under Bolsheviks in the USSR.

At the same time the cult of greed and denial of tenets of Christian morality like in case of Bolshevism tend to produce monsters. In the absence of a moral filter, as Martha Stout observed in her book The Sociopath Next Door (2006) "Politicians are more likely than people in the general population to be sociopaths... That a small minority of human beings literally have no conscience was and is a bitter pill for our society to swallow -- but it does explain a great many things, shamelessly deceitful political behavior being one." Recent information about child abuse among the neoliberal elite suggests that the proportion of sociopaths among neoliberal politicians is much higher that it was under the New Deal Capitalism. Such neoliberal politicians as Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton (sexscapades , connection to Jeffrey Epstein's Lolita Express, "Clinton Cash" Scandal), Hillary Clinton ("We came, we saw, he died"), Dick "Vice" Cheney, Donald Trump might well be malignant narcissists. Discovery of pedophilia rings that involve politicians in several Western countries (such as Britain, Vatican, Norway ) is just another manifestation of the same trend: Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite. And this is not a bug, this is a feature of neoliberalism, connected with neoliberalism core value "personal gratification above everything else". There is no cure for the infiltration of malignant narcissists and outright sociopaths into high echelons of government until moral character is valued by the society and is once again assessed before key promotion decisions are made. Typical for narcissists megalomania, the idea that after the collapse of the USSR the USA can and should rule the globe was a decisive force in the USA foreign policy (which was at the core a neocon foreign policy) since 1990th and precipitates the current decline of the USA as the world power due to overextension typical for all empires.

The neoliberal state justifies its decisions, policies, and rules by deification of the markets and by perversion of the meaning of the term the "freedom". In this Hayek inspired sophistry the negative definition is used as in "freedom from coercion" and interpreted mainly in economic space ( as the freedom of unlimited enrichment of talented and/or ruthless entrepreneurs.) Compare with "Four Freedoms" definition used Roosevelt administration during the New Deal: "freedom from want" and "freedom from fear" are not included in neoliberal definition. Those freedoms are simply denied under neoliberalism for everybody, but the top 10% of population.

Neoliberalism might therefore be defined as the elevation of market-based principles to the level of state religion. Or more correctly the techniques of elevation of market principles to the level of state-endorsed norms and state-sponsored secular religion which displaces Christianity (aka neoliberal rationality). This theological dimension of neoliberalism is very important (some researchers called neoliberalism "perverted Buddhism" in institualized suffering of lower classes ) and like in Marxism, the economics (in the form of neoclassical economics) is used for indoctrination on university students into this ideology. Neoliberals (in a form of adherents to neoclassical economics) dominate economics departments of major universities and not by some chance -- this is result of deliberate policy (borrowed from Trotskyism) of acquiring and maintaining the political power ("Quite coup").

This secular religion in which "market" and "competition" are new deities ("market fundamentalism") is especially visible in university education, were alternative approaches were mercilessly crushed. It is not an exaggeration to say that the main goal of teaching of economics in universities is the indoctrination, and it has very little in common with teaching economic as a complex and contradictory science. Mathematics serves as powerful smoke screen for hiding the neoliberal ideological core (mathiness)

Like neofascism, neoliberalism radically transforms the "welfare state" which was created by the New Deal, prioritizing big corporations over common people.  The idea of welfare that was the core of New Deal Capitalism is not completely abolished. But under neoliberalism only corporations are desirable welfare recipients and the bigger they are, the more handouts they suck up. But at the same time neoliberalism and neofascism are mortal enemies: neofascism is at its core a flavor of far right nationalism (cultural or ethnic), while neoliberalism is based on globalism. Only in imperial nations like the USA they can partially merge and intervene (Trump's national neoliberalism is one example).

In labor relations neoliberal pursue a staunch anti-union 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".

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.

Amorality and cult of personal enrichment as a defining feature of neoliberalism

Neoliberalism explicitly reject Christian moral norms, replacing it with the cult of personal enrichment "Greed is good" and making competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. The value of the person under neoliberalism is by-and-large defined by the assets it controls plus his social position (which also implicitly provides access to accepts).  In a way neoliberalism revived Soviet Nomenkatura system. In this sense to speak about the USA as Christian country is a cruel joke: it sees to be such from the moment neoliberal came to power.

The cult of competition gave a rise of various (often stupid) "performance metrics" and proliferation of  "performance reviews".

From political standpoint neoliberalism 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 or via government programs.

Which is definitely untrue for military contractors (which represent that ultimate case of "corporate socialism" within the neoliberal system). 

As the "market" under neoliberalism is a kind of "all powerful deity" making neoliberalism, like Marxism before, is 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

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations, and greed as a virtue

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 in Central and Eastern Europe for workers was far superior that existed in the USSR and start to understand that "state socialism" as practiced in the USSR can't deliver promised higher standard of living for ordinary citizens and that Soviet "nomenklatura" is not that different from the capitalist class in appropriation in Marx terms of "surplus value of labor".

Inverted totalitarism and power of intelligence agencies under neoliberalism

Recent spy scandals demonstrated that neoliberal elite (like financial oligarchy in general) is aware of the loss of power of neoliberal ideology and is afraid of losing power. They no longer fully believe in the power brainwashing of population (at least after 2008). Neoliberal ideology started losing its grip on the population, much like Marxism in the USSR in1960th.

So they switched to coercion innovating in this area too: by introducing so called "inverted totalitarism" template of social coercion. This term was introduced by Professor Sheldon Wolin in his famous book ( see kettering.org which provides an introduction to the book for free).

This template updates Bolsheviks-style repressive mechanisms by relying more the power of intelligence agencies as an enforcement squad of neoliberal agenda and the power of MSM for brainwashing of the population. Dissidents are no longer jailed or killed; they allow them to linger in obscurity carefully "cutting the oxygen" -- and access to media for popularization of their ideas and money for a decent standard of living. You can be a dissident under neoliberalism but prepare to end your life in poverty. So the explicit censorship by the state used under Bolshevism is replaced by a more several private censorship of MSM controlled by neoliberal oligarchs, who provided to be as good in this area if not better as Bolsheviks (six corporations in the USA control all major MSM).

This development reveals another (and pretty alarming) commonality with Bolshevism -- historically Cheka (OGPU/NKVD/KGB) played prominent, if not decisive, role in defending and ensuring the survival of Bolsheviks' regime. It was betrayal of KCB brass that doomed the USSR in late 1991 -- starting from Andropov they switched sides and started to propagate the conversion of the country to neoliberalism. This negative trend is amplified by appointment, "not so bright", deeply conformist "ladder climbers" as the heads of intelligence agencies. For example, Brennan and Clapper represent the same category of people as a typical Soviet bureaucrat -- a ruthless (and most often corrupt and amoral) careerist with limited intellectual capacities, but devoted to the defense of the ruling oligarchy. Such people understand very well from which side his bread is buttered. Neoliberalism operates differently and does not require, or support mobilization of population. That's why it is viewed by some political scientists as a new mutation of corporatism called "inverted totalitarism" (the term introduced by Sheldon Wolin in his magnificent book and further developed by Wendy Brown in her essay Neoliberalism and the end of liberal democracy and the book Undoing the Demos- Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution (2017). Internet as a distributed and democratic system supports mobilization of population. It also makes more difficult to control information flow and free flow of information and existence of critical to neoliberalism websites which summarize and presents in readable form the available information is a threat to neoliberalism. Which, being a secular religion, flourished on ignorance and brainwashing. That's why there is systematic propaganda campaign to associate critics of neoliberalism with Russians (which were chosen as a very convenient scapegoat due to Cold War past). That's why neo-McCarthyism witch hunt was launched after Trump elections with such fierce force.

Like Bolsheviks neoliberals are statists par excellence, using state to enforce and support the neoliberal dogma. In other words, neoliberals believe that "the market does not and cannot take care of itself" In this sense we can view neoliberalism is a form of state enforced regulation -- one that insulates the markets from challenges of democratic forces (with the ideological smoke screen of neoclassical economy, which is pure sophistry) as well as from economic nationalism. The recent Deep State attack on Trump is typical, classic neoliberal reaction on such a challenge from economic nationalism.

While hypocritically shouting "free market", "free market"... neoliberals like Bolsheviks in the past conspire to achieve power via iether by deceiving electorate with "carrots" in regular election mechanism (which after they came to power is neutered ) or by stealth coup d'état (or regime change via color revolution in weaker countries, first in Latin America (Chile, Brazil, Argentina) and then post Soviet republics (Baltic republics, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia) as well as infiltrating and subverting key institutions of the state via IMF and World Bank ("debt slavery") and, especially, intelligence agencies. CIA considered neoliberalism as a useful tool for their "fight against communism" and was onboard with neoliberalism starting with Pinochet coup in Chile in 1973 done using fifth column of USA educated (read indoctrinated) "Chicago boys".

After coming to power neoliberals behave like Bolsheviks and openly and blatantly use government as an enforcer of their ideology and intelligence agencies as the ultimate repressive apparatus that help to keep the power and to crush any dissent. Intelligence agencies are also instrumental in controlling MSM (directly but placing operatives posing as journalist -- typical for foreign correspondents, especially is such countries as Russia and China, and indirectly buying and/or threatening journalists as was documented  in the book Journalists for Hire How the CIA Buys the News by Dr. Udo Ulfkotte), which under neoliberalism are strictly limited to regurgitation of neoliberal propaganda. In a way they are more tightly controlled then in the USSR.

 

Trotskyism for the rich

Neoliberals are statist par excellence which is not surprising as neoliberalism can be defined as Troskyism for the rich. The role of state in support of neoliberalism includes bailing out financial oligarchy to prevent of meltdown of financial system during Minsky moments. Which are inevitable under neoliberalism as decimation of regulation (especially for financial sector) eliminated the negative feedback loop introduced by the New Deal, while financial institutions create a strong positive feedback loop in economics gradually sliding to more and more reckless behaviour as more time from the previous crisis elapses until the new financial crash hits them (and the society as whole) in the head ("stability is destabilizing" as quipped Minsky). At this point neoliberal state bails then our at the expense of ordinary taxpayers and traditional manufactures ("socialism for the financial oligarchy") who bare the main blunt of the crisis.

Like Trotskyites and Bolsheviks in the USSR they exaggerate threats to the USA sovereignty in order to cement the cracks in the neoliberal regime. Russiagate can be viewed as a page borrowed from the Stalinist period of the USSR. In the USSR people were accused being British spies. Now in the USA dissidents from neoliberal ideology (even such highly placed as Trump ;-) are, by definition, Russian intelligence service collaborators, or assets.

This primitive witch hunt is very useful for defenders of the neoliberal regime and the level of paranoia now extends even to contacts with the Ambassador of Russia by any US official which bring us to the set of behaviors at the peak of the USSR Great Terror. In a sense Mueller looks exactly like one of Stalin's henchmen -- he tried to justify the view that is almost totally misguided, for the sake of defense of declining neoliberal ideology and protecting officials in the Democratic Party from their political fiasco with Hillary.  In other words he perform political functions that are not that different from functions performed by the head of Gestapo or Stasi -- suppression of the political dissent to neoliberalism.

Like in the USSR for intelligence officials it is safer to flow with the neo-McCarthyism trend: the current atmosphere of paranoia makes it difficult for remnants of honest service members in the intelligence agencies to present the evidence that contradicts Russian spymania vision. The essence of which is identical to the vision of Stalinist Russia: that the USA is surrounded by two hostile powers (Russia and China) hell-bent on creating political crisis in the country and/or "regime change" and salivating to steal or dismantle the US global neoliberal empire. Which are engaged in stealing technological and military secrets.

Like Soviets, neoliberal policymakers are deeply troubled by the specter of the enemy at the gate, not realizing that the current social crisis in the USA is ultimately connected with the crisis of neoliberalism both as an ideology and the system of governance. Add to this faulty, ideologically distorted system of intelligence gathering and ruthless but intellectually second-rate careerists at the agencies (just look at Strzok, Brennan and Clapper). Like with the discovery of British spies in the USSR, the most obvious motive for Russiagate witch hunt is to cement cracks in neoliberal faced which appeared after 2008 by using for this purpose the external threat.

While many think about neoliberalism as "Ubercapitalism" or return to "Robber Barons" era on a new level, I would like to stress that ideologically Neoliberalism is much closer to Trotskyism ( and thus can be called Neo-Trotskyism ). It stresses the role of state as the enforcement power, the solidarity of neoliberal elite across the countries, with the dominant role of Anglo-Saxon elite. As well as the role of subversive methods and intelligence agencies in instituting the "regime change" (Trotskyite idea of permanent revolution mutated under neoliberalism into the idea of "permanent color revolution") . In the famous slogan "Proletarians of all countries, Unite!" neoliberalism substituted the word "proletarians" with the word "elites" (as in "Transnational elites, Unite!" ).

The slogan "All Power to [Workers] Councils" is replaced with "All power to financial oligarchy councils", and such clubs as Bilderberg Group, US Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and similar organization are playing the role of hidden centers of power of the neoliberal regime.

Like Trotskyism neoliberalism in the ideology of "permanent expansion", ideology of neo-colonialism. The idea of "Permanent Revolution" was substituted with the idea of permanent "Color revolutions." Methods used remain a variation and enhancement of methods used by Trotskyites for destabilizing the government, with a special emphasis on use of the students, acquiring the control of mass media, implanting NGO (especially in the area various polls and "control over the legitimacy of elections". ) The latter is pretty nasty trick as people tend to believe the rumors that elections were hijacked. Stalin dictum: it does not matter how they vote, what matters is who is counting the votes is used here in a pretty innovative way. The neoliberal version sounds like: It does not matter how that vote, if elections are close all that matter is who is performing exit polls and cries louder about "irregularities" in the elections in the MSM.

Add to this various financial injection to "dissidents" via network of NGO and you get the picture. Caste of "professional revolutionaries" now consists of well-paid functionaries sitting in comfortable chairs in various, lavishly financed think tanks and NGO. In the USA they constitute the core of both parties which cares very little about the interest of rank-and-file members with "bait and switch" maneuver as the major tool for election success (Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump). Marx is probably rolling in his grave.

Despite being a flavor of Trotskyism, Neoliberalism is still a very interesting, unique social system which by-and-large defeated and replaced both New Deal capitalism and various flavors of socialism (as well as 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 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 Wolin mentioned neoliberalism tries to use violence selectively, as overuse of state violence undermines the social system, see Inverted Totalitarism).

Neoliberalism is the only social system in which the name of the system is prohibited (or at least suppressed) in MSM.

Like Bolshevism and national socialism neoliberalism lifted intelligence services into full fledged political player (which means that later stage of neoliberal state always evolves into the national security state). They also almost completely control the MSM , major commerce (Amazon), search (Google). and social sites (Facebook). For example, Google was created with the help of intelligence agencies at the initial state. Which means that the regime of total electronic surveillance, reminiscent of STASI is the "new normal" (see, Privacy is dead, get over it).

As we can see in color revolution launched by them against Trump (Trump is the proponent of a newer version of neoliberalism, which can be called "national neoliberalism" or "neocolonization instead of globalization") intelligence agencies now position themselves as "king makers" or Praetorian Guard that de-facto controls the election of the President of the USA. And the color revolution against Trump is not the isolated case when the USA intelligence agencies have gone rogue. It is just a step in natural evolution of neoliberalism and along with total surveillance is a "new normal".

Like Bolshevism and national socialism neoliberalism lifted intelligence services into full fledged political player,
no less important politically then judiciary, or legislative branch.

Instead of regulating predatory tendencies of capitalism like under New Deal, state under neoliberalism became just a corrupt policeman that serve interests of the large corporations and financial institutions (especially the latter) and, in most cases, at the expense of the standard of living of the common people. Standard of living of working class and lower middle class typically slides under neoliberalism (this fact is never accepted by neoliberals and hotly disputed).

Standard of living of working class and lower middle class typically slides under neoliberalism. In the USA this is the case since 1980th (this face is not accepted by neoliberals and hotly disputed). But this is a direct result of redistribution of wealth up, which is sine qua non of neoliberalism. Like Feudalism before neoliberalism promotes the notion of aristocracy masqueraded by the smoke screen on "creative class", but in essence consisting mainly of financial oligarchy, with substantial role of inheritance.

In this sense any neoliberal country is to a certain extent is an "occupied country", and the neoliberal regime is the occupying regime, much like Bolsheviks (with their theocratic state) were in USSR space. Or like the return on the new level to the Robber Barons era, when the state helped to squash West Virginia miner upraising in 1912-21 by military force.

Foreign policy under neoliberalism is marked by rampant militarism and constant wars for expanding of the global, USA-led neoliberal empire. Neocons dominate the USA foreign policy since early 70th (Chilean putsch and then Carter administration support of mujahedeen against Soviets).

Neoliberalism as an unstable social system with a strong built-in positive feedback loop;
the coming crisis and possible collapse of neoliberalism

Systems with a strong positive feedback loop are known to be unstable. So bailing out private institutions using public money (like happened in the US and Europe in 2008-2010) is not an aberration, but a quintessential feature of neoliberalism -- the result of stron positive feedback loops that  exit within the financial system.

And the crisis of 2008 which caused the regime of "secular stagnation" in Western societies will probably be repeated on a new level in 2020th (we can only guess about possible triggers; might the price of oil, or the size of derivatives market). Simplifying, we can call neoliberalism "Banks uber alles" regime and as such it is unstable social system prone to periodic devastating financial crisis. Like Bolshevism before it, neoliberalism proved to be unstable social system and the collapse of neoliberalism is not question of "if", but "when". 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 financial 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. The latter led to the Great Recession from which the USA never fully recovered.

The economic inefficiency of the USSR "state capitalism" model (one state -- one giant corporation) helped to undermine the validity and effectiveness of communist propaganda. And once the ideology is undermined, the elite can't restore the trust of population, which start viewing it with suspicion and contempt. The process of irreversible deterioration started and proceed rather slowly. After WWII Bolshevism survived for another 40 years or so, but eventually failed as the elite (aka Soviet nomenklatura) changed sides and joined neoliberal camp.

Neoliberal elite now experience similar "crisis of legitimacy" which already demonstrated itself in two major events: Brexit in the UK and election of Trump in the USA. That did not mean that neoliberalism became completely toothless. It managed to stage comeback in several Latin American countries (the USA backyard) such as Argentina and Brazil.  But 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 "national 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 believe in the "World Revolution" mantra.

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.

At the same time like theocratic regimes based on other religions (for example, Bolshevism before WWII and Islam in Iran after Islamic revolution ) neoliberalism had shown great resilience after 2008 crisis. Even in the situation when its ideology is completely discredited, neoliberalism managed somewhat recover after 2008 debacle, and even successfully counterattacked in some Latin American and European countries (Argentina, Brazil, Greece).

But the Great Recession still left of huge and ugly scar on the neoliberal face. In any case, the glory days of triumphal march of neoliberalism all over globe are over. Crisis of neoliberalism also logically led to increase of share of "guard labor" in economics. On state level this resulted in hypertrophied growth of repressive apparatus including intelligence agencies. So when in 2016 neoliberalism in the USA experienced its first political crisis (when electorate rejected Hillary Clinton and elected Trump, creating the legitimacy crisis of the USA ruling neoliberal elite) the Deep State (the core of which consists of intelligence agencies and "Wall Street" ) launched a "color revolution" to depose him. Fake changes of falling under Russian control concocted by intelligence agencies in order to depose Trump which collectively are called "Russiagate" (which properly should be called Intelligence-gate) is the defining feature of this "color revolution".

With lower standard of living of the middle class is no longer possible to hide that "it 's not enough cookies for everybody" under neoliberal and the myth that rising tide lifts all boats" ( Trickle-down economics ) is not applicable.

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith noted that "trickle-down economics" had been tried before in the United States in the 1890s under the name "horse and sparrow theory", writing:

Mr. David Stockman has said that supply-side economics was merely a cover for the trickle-down approach to economic policy—what an older and less elegant generation called the horse-and-sparrow theory: 'If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.'

Resentment of working class and lower middle class reached in 2016 unprecedented level, creating a real political crisis in the USA. Which was not unexpected. As Pope Francis aptly noted:

... Such an [neoliberal] economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “disposable” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

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. Among the more than 72,000 drug overdose deaths estimated in 2017, the sharpest increase occurred among deaths related to fentanyl and fentanyl analogs (synthetic opioids) with nearly 30,000 overdose deaths ( Overdose Death Rates National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) (

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 naturally generated far right nationalism splash much like Gilded Age and the market crash of Sept 4, 1929 capitalism created precondition for the rise of national socialism. Reading NDSAP 25 points program (adopted in 1920) we can instantly feel that many problem that existed then are now replayed on the new level. After approximately 40 years of global dominance neoliberalism facade 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, he essentially 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" and has the same social roots.

Neoliberal "permanent revolution" as new version of Trotsky idea of Permanent revolution

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, as we mentioned before, makes is similar to Trotskyism). Opening new markets is vital for the interests of transnational corporations and that means that the USA government supports the war for the expansion of the USA-led global neoliberal empire 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 of the "nomenklatura" as a ruling class in the USSR is now replayed on a new level. The fact the Ann Rand was a Soviet émigré tells you something ;-)

On "lesser" countries level IMF and World banks does the heavy lifting of converting countries into debt-slaves. Sometimes with the help of Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs. Organizing and financing the "death squads" also helps ( moonofalabama.org ):

Under international law, a state is accountable for the unlawful actions of a proxy only if an organ of the state ordered the proxy to commit the act. It is not sufficient simply to have provided material support or even encouraged the unlawful act. For example, in the 1980s, the International Court of Justice found the United States not liable for Contra violations of international humanitarian law, even after concluding that the United States had “financed, organized, trained, supplied, equipped and armed” the Contras, even to the point of providing training materials that discussed “shoot civilians attempting to leave a town, neutralize local judges and officials, hire professional criminals to carry out ‘jobs,’ and provoke violence at mass demonstrations to create ‘martyrs’.”

Like Trotskyism, neoliberalism is a militaristic creed. The only difference is that dream of global Communist empire led from Moscow was replaced by the dream of global neoliberal empire led by Washington. that's why in the foriegn policy neoliberals morph into neocons --" 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.

In this sense neoliberals are as "internationalists" as communists were at their time, and may be even more (the 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 a 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.

As a proverb say "One is a bad student, if he can't exceed the level of his teacher". Or "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires" (William Arthur Ward). Neoliberals proved to be a very good students of Trotskyite methods of subversion of elected governments, as many of them were actually former Trotskyites.

Neoliberals also have more money and that matters. This fact alone allows them 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. Including the existence of a paid "party core" typical for Bolsheviks, and instrumental to the success of their coup d'état in October 1917 against Provisional government by Kerensky. Under neoliberalism this idea transformed into the network of think tanks 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 figureheads who are controlled by "invisible hand" (honorable politician is the one who after he was bought stays bought). Some important theoretical work in this direction was done USA renegade Trotskyites (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.

The control of MSM is another idea borrowed from Bolsheviks.

Neoliberal Newspeak. Perversion of the word freedom

Like Bolshevism, neoliberalism 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

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

As neoliberalism inherited consumerism of the New Deal Capitalism, it adapted it for it own purposes. One distinct feature is trying to get into dent the majority of the population of the country as well as "lesser" countries (neo-colonialism)/

On the individual workers levels neoliberalism has sophisticated mechanisms of enforcing excessive debt on unsuspecting population with such mechanisms as credit card companies, mortgages, student debt, etc. 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.

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. "

Evolution of classic neoliberalism into Trump's "National neoliberalism"

Like all other social systems neoliberalism evolved with time ( much like Bolshevism evolved from Leninism to Stalinism, then to Brezhnev's socialism and at last to Gorbachov's  "perestroika" ). Recently in the USA it morphed into "national neoliberalism" (neoliberalism that stresses the colonial model and direct economic and military pressure of vassals, instead of treaties based globalization model used in "classic" neoliberalism) which has uncanny similarities with "national socialism". This flavor was not well accepted by the current US neoliberal elite and attempts to stage the color revolution against Trump followed (Russiagate).

It can morph into slightly different "regimes", despite the common "market fundamentalism" core. But in all cases it is "socialism for the upper strata of population and corporations, especially transnationals". It favors professionals (programmers, lawyers, doctors, university professors, etc), upper level managers and capital owners, so this social system acts strictly in the interests of top 10% of population, with the special emphasis on interests of top 1% or even top .01%. For the rest of population it serves austerity as the only available dish. That's why it is often compared with feudalism.

Currently in the USA we can observe morphs of neoliberalism into what can be called National neoliberalism. The latter rejects classic neoliberal globalization in favour of bilateral relations (which in  case of the USA means highly favoring the bigger country) total rejection of the United Nations as the key international institutions and open gangsterism in foreign policy ("might makes right"). It is personified by Trump with his low level understanding of international affair, impulsivity, permanent bulling and threats as the negotiation tactics, and apparent narcissism. 

Many observers are appaled by the fact that it looks like the USA  (and it's allies in Neoliberal Zombies in Europe) are indeed led by the stupid, corrupt, and ignorant.

Neoliberalism in Depth

This is the end of the introduction. Due to the size the main article was moved to a separate page -- Neoliberalism in depth


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[Sep 18, 2019] Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge?

Iran has incentives to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
Sep 18, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Do you really want to be a one term president? Pompeo can talk big now and then go back to Kansas to run for senator. Where will you be able to take refuge? Don't let the neocons like Pompeo sell you on war.

Make the intelligence people show you the evidence in detail. Make your own judgments. pl


Vegetius , 17 September 2019 at 08:37 PM

Whatever else he knows, Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people.
confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 03:51 AM
Vegetius,
re " Trump knows that he can't sell a war to the American people "

Are you sure? I am not.

Reflection, self criticism or self restraint are not exactly the big strengths of Trump. He prefers solo acts (Emergency! Emergency!) and dislikes advice (especially if longer than 4 pages) and the advice of the sort " You're sure? If you do that the the shit will fly in your face in an hour, Sir ".

A good number of the so called grownups who gave such advice were (gameshow style) fired, sometimes by twitter.

Trump can order attacks and I don't expect much protest from Mark Esper and it depends on the military (which likely will obey).

These so called grownups have been replaced by (then still) happy Bolton (likely, even after being fired, still war happy) and applauders like Pompeo and his buddy Esper.

Israel could, if politically just a tad more insane, bomb Iran and thus invite the inevitable retaliation. When that happens they'll cry for US aid, weapons and money because they alone ~~~

(a) cannot defeat Iran (short of going nuclear) and ...
(b) Holocaust! We want weapons and money from Germany, too! ...
(c) they know that ...
(d) which does not lead in any way to Netanyahu showing signgs of self restraint or reason.

Netanyahu just - it is (tight) election time - announced, in his sldedge hammer style subtlety, that (he) Israel will annect the palestinian west jordan territory, making the Plaestines an object in his election campaign.

IMO that idea is simply insane and invites more "troubles". But then, I didn't hear anything like, say, Trump gvt protests against that (and why expect that from the dudes who moved the US embassy to Jerusalem).

confusedponderer -> Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 07:28 AM
Vegetius,
as for Trump and Netanyahu ... policy debate ... I had that here in mind, which pretty speaks for itself. And I thought Trumo is just running for office in the US. Alas, it is a Netanyaho campaign poster from the current election:

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/a6e60efd3bde0befbcb8b0a95a42bf4c2624e017/57_296_5123_3074/master/5123.jpg?width=1920&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=1958b9e7cf24d7a3a7b024845de08f7e

As a thank you to Trump calling the Israel ocupied Golan a part of Israel Netanyahu called an (iirc also illegal) new Golan settlement "Ramat Trump"

https://cdn.mdr.de/nachrichten/mdraktuell-golan-hoehen-trump-hights-100-resimage_v-variantSmall24x9_w-704.jpg?version=0964

I generously assume that things like that only happen because of the hard and hard ly work of Kushner on his somewhat elusive but of course GIGANTIC and INCREDIBLE Middle East peace plan.

Kushner is probably getting hard and hard ly supported by Ivanka who just said that she inherited her moral compass from her father. Well ... congatulations ... I assume.

Stueeeeeeee said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 08:31 AM
I disagree. Trump maybe the only person who could sell a war with Iran. What he has cultivated is a rabid base that consists of sycophants on one extreme end and desperate nationalists on the other. His base must stick with him...who else do they have?

The Left is indifferent to another war. Further depleting the quality stock of our military will aid there agenda of international integration. A weaker US military will force us to collaborate with the world community and not lead it is their thinking.

The rest of the nation will follow.

prawnik said in reply to Vegetius... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
Need I trot out Goering's statement regarding selling a war once more?

Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.

Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

turcopolier , 17 September 2019 at 09:31 PM
jonst

We have been so thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea that Iran and Russia are intrinsically and immutable evil and hostile that the thought of actual two sided diplomacy does not occur. IMO neither of these countries are what we collectively think them. So, we could actually give it a try rather than trying to beggar them and destroy their economies. If all fails than we have to be prepared to defend our forces. DOL

Matt said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 12:54 AM
I agree with your reply 100%

Iranophobia goes back to 1979,

Russophobia goes back to at least 1917 if not further, especially in the UK,

Sinophobia for the US reaches back to the mid to late 1800's

these phobias are so entrenched now they're a huge obstacle to overcome,

Mark Twain: "It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled."

William Casey: "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false"

Christian Chuba , 18 September 2019 at 05:22 AM
The 'ivestigations are a formality. The Saudis (with U.S. backing) are already saying that the missiles were Iranian made and according to them, this proves that Iran fired them. The Saudis are using the more judicious phrase 'behind the attack' but Pompeo is running with the fired from Iran narrative.

How can we tell the difference between an actual Iranian manufactured missile vs one that was manufactured in Yemen based on Iranian designs? We only have a few pictures Iranian missiles unlike us, the Iranians don't toss them all over the place so we don't have any physical pieces to compare them to.

Perhaps honest investigators could make a determination but even if they do exist they will keep quiet while the bible thumping Pompeo brays and shamelessly lies as he is prone to do.

PRC90 said in reply to Christian Chuba... , 18 September 2019 at 10:36 AM
These kinds of munition will leave hundreds of bits scattered all over their targets. I'm waiting for the press conference with the best bits laid out on the tables.
I doubt that there will be any stencils saying 'Product of Iran', unless the paint smells fresh.
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 07:22 AM
1. I am still waiting to read some informed discussion concerning the *accuracy* of the projectiles hitting their targets with uncanny precision from hundreds of miles away. What does this say about the achievement of those pesky Eye-rainians? https://www.moonofalabama.org/images9/saudihit2.jpg

2. "The US Navy has many ships in the Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The Iranian Navy and the IRGC Navy will attack our naval vessels until the Iranian forces are utterly destroyed.: Ahem, Which forces are utterly destroyed? With respect colonel, you are not thinking straight. An army with supersonic land to sea missiles that are highly accurate will make minced meat of any fool's ship that dare attack it. The lesson of the last few months is that Iran is deadly serious about its position that if they cannot sell their oil, no one else will be able to either. And if the likes of the relatively broadminded colonel have not yet learned that lesson, then this can only mean that the escalation ladder will continue to be climbed, rung by rung. Next rung: deep sea port of Yanbu, or, less likely, Ra's Tanura. That's when the price of oil will really go through the roof and the Chinese (and possibly one or two of the Europoodles) will start crying Uncle Scam. Nuff Sed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
nuff Sed

It sounds like you are getting a little "help" with this. You statement about the result of a naval confrontation in the Gulf reflects the 19th Century conception that "ships can't fight forts." that has been many times exploded. You have never seen the amount of firepower that would be unleashed on Iran from the air and sea. Would the US take casualties? Yes, but you will be destroyed.

Nuff Sed -> turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:18 AM
We will have to agree to disagree. But unless I am quite mistaken, the majority view if not the consensus of informed up to date opinion holds that the surest sign that the US is getting ready to attack Iran is that it is withdrawing all of its naval power out of the Persian Gulf, where they would be sitting ducks.

Besides, I don't think it will ever come to that. Not to repeat myself, but taking out either deep sea ports of Ra's Tanura and/ or Yanbu (on the Red Sea side) will render Saudi oil exports null and void for the next six months. The havoc that will play with the price of oil and consequently on oil futures and derivatives will be enough for any president and army to have to worry about. But if the US would still be foolhardy enough to continue to want to wage war (i.e. continue its strangulation of Iran, which it has been doing more or less for the past 40 years), then the Yemeni siege would be broken and there would be a two-pronged attack from the south and the north, whereby al-Qatif, the Shi'a region of Saudi Arabia where all the oil and gas is located, will be liberated from their barbaric treatment at the hands of the takfiri Saudi scum, which of course is completely enabled and only made possible by the War Criminal Uncle Sam.

Go ahead, make my day: roll the dice.

scott s. said in reply to Nuff Sed ... , 18 September 2019 at 11:32 AM
AFAIK the only "US naval power" currently is the Abraham Lincoln CSG and I haven't seen any public info that it was in the Persian Gulf. Aside from the actual straits, I'm not sure of your "sitting ducks" assertion. First they wouldn't be sitting, and second you have the problem of a large volume of grey shipping that would complicate the targeting problem. Of course with a reduced time-of-flight, that also reduces target position uncertainty.
CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:55 AM
Forts are stationary.
Nothing I have read implies that Iran has a lot of investment in stationary forts.
Millennium Challenge 2002, only the game cannot be restarted once the enemy does not behave as one hopes. Unlike in scripted war simulations, Opfor can win.
I remember the amount of devastation that was unleashed on another "backwards nation" Linebackers 1 - 20, battleship salvos chemical defoliants, the Phoenix program, napalm for dessert.
And not to put to fine a point on it, but that benighted nation was oriental; Iran is a Caucasian nation full of Caucasian type peoples.
Nothing about this situation is of any benefit to the USA.
We do not need Saudi oil, we do not need Israel to come to the defense of the USA here in North America, we do not need to stick our dick into the hornet's nest and then wonder why they sting and it hurts. How many times does Dumb have to win?
Nuff Sed , 18 September 2019 at 08:07 AM
3. Also, I can't imagine this event as being a very welcome one for Israeli military observers, the significance of which is not lost on them, unlike their US counterparts. If Yemen/ Iran can put the Abqaiq processing plant out of commission for a few weeks, then obviusly Hezbollah can do the same for the giant petrochemical complex at Haifa, as well as Dimona, and the control tower at Ben Gurion Airport.
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/239251

https://www.timesofisrael.com/haifa-municipal-workers-block-refinery-access-for-2nd-day/

These are the kinds of issues which are germane: the game has changed. What are the implications?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:08 AM
nuff sed

I have said repeatedly that Hizbullah can destroy Israel. Nothing about that has changed.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:17 AM
Yeah, right

It was late at night when I wrote this. Yeah, Right. the Iranians could send their massive ground force into Syria where it would be chewed up by US and Israeli air. Alternatively they could invade Saudi arabia.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 08:38 AM
Thank you for the reply but actually I was thinking that an invasion of Afghanistan would be the more sensible ploy.

To my mind if the Iranian Army sits on its backside then the USAF and IAF will ignore it to roam the length and breadth of Iran destroying whatever ground targets are on their long-planned target-list.

Or that Iranian Army can launch itself into Afghanistan, at which point all of the USA plans for a methodical aerial pummelling of Iran's infrastructure goes out the window as the USAF scrambles to save the American forces in Afghanistan from being overrun.

Isn't that correct?

So what incentive is there for that Iranian Army to sit around doing nothing?

Iran will do what the USAF isn't expecting it to do, if for no other reason that it upsets the USA's own game-plan.

johnf , 18 September 2019 at 08:41 AM
There seems to be a bit of a hiatus in proceedings - not in these columns but on the ground in the ME.

Everyone seems to be waiting for something.

Could this "something" be the decisive word fron our commander in chief Binyamin Netanyahu?

The thing is he has just pretty much lost an election. Likud might form part of the next government of Israel but most likely not with him at its head.

Does anyone have any ideas on what the future policy of Israel is likely to be under Gantz or whoever? Will it be the same, worse or better?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:51 AM
Yeah Right

The correct US move would be to ignore an Iranian invasion of Afghanistan and continue leaving the place. The Iranian Shia can then fight the Sunni jihadi tribesmen.

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 09:29 AM
Oh, I completely agree that if the Iranians launch an invasion of Afghanistan then the only sensible strategy would be for the US troops to pack up and get out as fast as possible.

But that is "cut and run", which many in Washington would view as a humiliation.

Do you really see the beltway warriors agreeing to that?

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:53 AM
Stueee

A flaw in your otherwise sound argument is that the US military has not been seriously engaged for several years and has been reconstituting itself with the money Trump has given them.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 08:57 AM
Nuff Sed

Re-positioning of forces does not indicate that a presidential decision for war has been made. The navy will not want to fight you in the narrow, shallow waters of the Gulf.

Lars , 18 September 2019 at 09:53 AM
I would think that Mr. Trump would have a hard time sell a war with Iran over an attack on Saudi Arabia. The good question about how would that war end will soon be raised and I doubt there are many good answers.

The US should have gotten out of that part of the world a long time ago, just as they should have paid more attention to the warnings in President Eisenhower's farewell address.

turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:12 AM
CK

The point was about shore based firepower, not forts. don't be so literal.

CK said in reply to turcopolier ... , 18 September 2019 at 10:34 AM
The Perfumed Fops in the DOD restarted Millennium Challenge 2002,because Gen Van Riper had used 19th and early 20th century tactics and shore based firepower to sink the Blue Teams carrier forces. There was a script, Van Riper did some adlibbing. Does the US DOD think that Iran will follow the US script? In a unipolar world maybe the USA could enforce a script, that world was severely wounded in 1975, took a sucking chest wound during operation Cakewalk in 2003 and died in Syria in 2015. Too many poles too many powers not enough diplomacy. It will not end well.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:16 AM
lars

We would crush Iran at some cost to ourselves but the political cost to the anti-globalist coalition would catastrophic. BTW Trump's "base" isn't big enough to elect him so he cannot afford to alienate independents.

prawnik , 18 September 2019 at 10:32 AM
Even if Rouhani and the Iranian Parliament personally designed, assembled, targeted and launched the missiles (scarier sounding version of "drones"), then they should be congratulated, for the Saudi tyrant deserves every bad thing that he gets.
turcopolier , 18 September 2019 at 10:49 AM
prawnik (Sid) in this particular situation goering's glittering generalization does not apply. Trump needs a lot of doubting suburbanites to win and a war will not incline them to vote for him.
Bill Wade , 18 September 2019 at 10:53 AM
Looks like President Trump is walking it back, tweet: I have just instructed the Secretary of the Treasury to substantially increase Sanctions on the country of Iran!
PRC90 , 18 September 2019 at 11:34 AM
I doubt there will be armed conflict of any kind.
Everything Trump does from now (including sacking the Bolton millstone) will be directed at winning 2020, and that will not be aided by entering into some inconclusive low intensity attrition war.
Iran, on the other hand, will be doing everything it can to increase the chance of a Democrat administration, bearing in mind the great deal they got from the last one and the lack of anything they can expect from Trump Term Two.
This may be a useful tool for determining their next move, but the limit of their actions would be when some Democrats begin making the electorally damaging mistake of critising Trump for not retaliating against Iranian provocations.
Terence Gore , 18 September 2019 at 11:35 AM
Pros and cons of many options considered against Iran

https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/06_iran_strategy.pdf

[Sep 18, 2019] FAA Hoist on Its Own Boeing 737 Max Petard Multiagency Panel to Issue Report Criticizing Agency Approval Process, Call for Cer

Notable quotes:
"... The aim of the panel, called the Joint Authorities Technical Review, was to expedite getting the 737 Max into the air by creating a vehicle for achieve consensus among foreign regulators who had grounded the 737 Max before the FAA had. But these very regulators had also made clear they needed to be satisfied before they'd let it fly in their airspace. ..."
"... The FAA hopes to give the 737 Max the green light in November, while the other regulators all have said they have issues that are unlikely to be resolved by then. The agency is now in the awkward position of having a body it set up to be authoritative turn on the agency's own procedures. ..."
"... the FAA had moved further and further down the path of relying on aircraft manufactures for critical elements of certification. Not all of this was the result of capture; with the evolution of technology, even the sharpest and best intended engineer in government employ would become stale on the state of the art in a few years. ..."
"... Although all stories paint a broadly similar picture, .the most damning is a detailed piece at the Seattle Times, Engineers say Boeing pushed to limit safety testing in race to certify planes, including 737 MAX ..The article gives an incriminating account of how Boeing got the FAA to delegate more and more certification authority to the airline, and then pressured and abused employees who refused to back down on safety issues . ..."
"... In 2004, the FAA changed its system for front-line supervision of airline certification from having the FAA select airline certification employees who reported directly to the FAA to having airline employees responsible for FAA certification report to airline management and have their reports filtered through them (the FAA attempted to maintain that the certification employees could provide their recommendations directly to the agency, but the Seattle Times obtained policy manuals that stated otherwise). ..."
"... On Monday, the Post and Courier reported about the South Carolina plant that produced 787s found with tools rattling inside that Boeing SC lets mechanics inspect their own work, leading to repeated mistakes, workers say. These mechanic certifications would never have been kosher if the FAA were vigilant. Similarly, Reuters described how Boeing weakened another safety check, that of pilot input. ..."
"... As part of roughly a dozen findings, these government and industry officials said, the task force is poised to call out the Federal Aviation Administration for what it describes as a lack of clarity and transparency in the way the FAA delegated authority to the plane maker to assess the safety of certain flight-control features. The upshot, according to some of these people, is that essential design changes didn't receive adequate FAA attention. ..."
"... But the report could influence changes to traditional engineering principles determining the safety of new aircraft models. Certification of software controlling increasingly interconnected and automated onboard systems "is a whole new ballgame requiring new approaches," according to a senior industry safety expert who has discussed the report with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic. ..."
"... For instance, the Journal reports that Canadian authorities expect to require additional simulator training for 737 Max pilots. Recall that Boeing's biggest 737 Max customer, Southwest Airlines, was so resistant to the cost of additional simulator training that it put a penalty clause into its contract if wound up being necessary. ..."
"... Patrick Ky, head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told the European Parliament earlier this month, "It's very likely that international authorities will want a second opinion" on any FAA decision to lift the grounding. ..."
"... Most prominently, EASA has proposed to eventually add to the MAX a third fully functional angle-of-attack sensor -- which effectively measures how far the plane's nose is pointed up or down -- underscoring the controversy expected to swirl around the plane for the foreseeable future. ..."
"... It's hard to see how Boeing hasn't gotten itself in the position of being at a major competitive disadvantage by virtue of having compromised the FAA so severely as to have undercut safety. ..."
"... has Boeing developed a plan to correct the trim wheel issue on the 787max? i haven't seen a single statement from them on how they plan to fix this problem. is it possible they think they can get the faa to re-certify without addressing it? ..."
"... Don't forget that the smaller trim wheels are in the NG as well. any change to fix the wheels ripples across more planes than just the Max ..."
"... The self-inflicted wound caused by systematic greed and arrogance – corruption, in other words. Boeing is reaping the wages of taking 100% of their profits to support the stock price through stock buybacks and deliberately under-investing in their business. Their brains have been taken over by a parasitic financial system that profits by wrecking healthy businesses. ..."
"... Shareholder Value is indeed the worst idea in the world. That Boeing's biggest stockholder, Vanguard, is unable to cleanup Boeing's operations makes perfect sense. I mean vanguards expertise is making money, not building anything. Those skills are completely different. ..."
"... One maxim we see illustrated here and elsewhere is this: Trust takes years to earn, but can be lost overnight. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The FAA evidently lacked perspective on how much trouble it was in after the two international headline-grabbing crashes of the Boeing 737 Max. It established a "multiagency panel" meaning one that included representatives from foreign aviation regulators, last April. A new Wall Street Journal article reports that the findings of this panel, to be released in a few weeks, are expected to lambaste the FAA 737 Max approval process and urge a major redo of how automated aircraft systems get certified .

The aim of the panel, called the Joint Authorities Technical Review, was to expedite getting the 737 Max into the air by creating a vehicle for achieve consensus among foreign regulators who had grounded the 737 Max before the FAA had. But these very regulators had also made clear they needed to be satisfied before they'd let it fly in their airspace.

The JATR gave them a venue for reaching a consensus, but it wasn't the consensus the FAA sought. The foreign regulators, despite being given a forum in which to hash things out with the FAA, are not following the FAA's timetable. The FAA hopes to give the 737 Max the green light in November, while the other regulators all have said they have issues that are unlikely to be resolved by then. The agency is now in the awkward position of having a body it set up to be authoritative turn on the agency's own procedures.

The Seattle Times, which has broken many important on the Boeing debacle, reported on how the FAA had moved further and further down the path of relying on aircraft manufactures for critical elements of certification. Not all of this was the result of capture; with the evolution of technology, even the sharpest and best intended engineer in government employ would become stale on the state of the art in a few years.

However, one of the critical decisions the FAA took was to change the reporting lines of the manufacturer employees who were assigned to FAA certification. From a May post :

Although all stories paint a broadly similar picture, .the most damning is a detailed piece at the Seattle Times, Engineers say Boeing pushed to limit safety testing in race to certify planes, including 737 MAX ..The article gives an incriminating account of how Boeing got the FAA to delegate more and more certification authority to the airline, and then pressured and abused employees who refused to back down on safety issues .

As the Seattle Times described, the problems extended beyond the 737 Max MCAS software shortcomings; indeed, none of the incidents in the story relate to it.

In 2004, the FAA changed its system for front-line supervision of airline certification from having the FAA select airline certification employees who reported directly to the FAA to having airline employees responsible for FAA certification report to airline management and have their reports filtered through them (the FAA attempted to maintain that the certification employees could provide their recommendations directly to the agency, but the Seattle Times obtained policy manuals that stated otherwise).

Mind you, the Seattle Times was not alone in depicting the FAA as captured by Boeing. On Monday, the Post and Courier reported about the South Carolina plant that produced 787s found with tools rattling inside that Boeing SC lets mechanics inspect their own work, leading to repeated mistakes, workers say. These mechanic certifications would never have been kosher if the FAA were vigilant. Similarly, Reuters described how Boeing weakened another safety check, that of pilot input.

One of the objectives for creating this panel was to restore confidence in Boeing and the FAA, but that was always going to be a tall order, particularly after more bad news about various 737 Max systems and Boeing being less than forthcoming with its customers and regulators emerged. From the Wall Street Journal :

As part of roughly a dozen findings, these government and industry officials said, the task force is poised to call out the Federal Aviation Administration for what it describes as a lack of clarity and transparency in the way the FAA delegated authority to the plane maker to assess the safety of certain flight-control features. The upshot, according to some of these people, is that essential design changes didn't receive adequate FAA attention.

The report, these officials said, also is expected to fault the agency for what it describes as inadequate data sharing with foreign authorities during its original certification of the MAX two years ago, along with relying on mistaken industrywide assumptions about how average pilots would react to certain flight-control emergencies .

The FAA has stressed that the advisory group doesn't have veto power over modifications to MCAS.

But the report could influence changes to traditional engineering principles determining the safety of new aircraft models. Certification of software controlling increasingly interconnected and automated onboard systems "is a whole new ballgame requiring new approaches," according to a senior industry safety expert who has discussed the report with regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

If the FAA thinks it can keep this genie the bottle, it is naive. The foreign regulators represented on the task force, including from China and the EU, have ready access to the international business press. And there will also be an embarrassing fact on the ground, that the FAA, which was last to ground the 737 Max, will be the first to let it fly again, and potentially by not requiring safety protections that other regulators will insist on. For instance, the Journal reports that Canadian authorities expect to require additional simulator training for 737 Max pilots. Recall that Boeing's biggest 737 Max customer, Southwest Airlines, was so resistant to the cost of additional simulator training that it put a penalty clause into its contract if wound up being necessary.

It's a given that the FAA will be unable to regain its former stature and that all of its certifications of major aircraft will now be second guessed subject to further review by major foreign regulators. That in turn will impose costs on Boeing, of changing its certification process from needing to placate only the FAA to having to appease potentially multiple parties. For instance, the EU regulator is poised to raise the bar on the 737 Max:

Patrick Ky, head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told the European Parliament earlier this month, "It's very likely that international authorities will want a second opinion" on any FAA decision to lift the grounding.

Even after EASA gives the green light, agency officials are expected to push for significant additional safety enhancements to the fleet. Most prominently, EASA has proposed to eventually add to the MAX a third fully functional angle-of-attack sensor -- which effectively measures how far the plane's nose is pointed up or down -- underscoring the controversy expected to swirl around the plane for the foreseeable future.

A monopoly is a precious thing to have. Too bad Boeing failed to appreciate that in its zeal for profits. If the manufacturer winds up facing different demands in different regulatory markets, it will have created more complexity for itself. Can it afford not to manufacture to the highest common denominator, say by making an FAA-only approved bird for Southwest and trying to talk American into buying FAA-only approved versions for domestic use only? It's hard to see how Boeing hasn't gotten itself in the position of being at a major competitive disadvantage by virtue of having compromised the FAA so severely as to have undercut safety.


kimyo , September 17, 2019 at 4:42 am

Boeing Foresees Return Of The 737 MAX In November – But Not Everywhere

Even if Boeing finds solutions that international regulators can finally accept, their implementation will take additional months. The AoA sensor and trim wheel issues will likely require hardware changes to the 600 or so existing MAX airplanes. The demand for simulator training will further delay the ungrounding of the plane. There are only some two dozen 737 MAX simulators in this world and thousands of pilots who will need to pass through them.

has Boeing developed a plan to correct the trim wheel issue on the 787max? i haven't seen a single statement from them on how they plan to fix this problem. is it possible they think they can get the faa to re-certify without addressing it?

marku52 , September 17, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Don't forget that the smaller trim wheels are in the NG as well. any change to fix the wheels ripples across more planes than just the Max

divadab , September 17, 2019 at 8:36 am

The self-inflicted wound caused by systematic greed and arrogance – corruption, in other words. Boeing is reaping the wages of taking 100% of their profits to support the stock price through stock buybacks and deliberately under-investing in their business. Their brains have been taken over by a parasitic financial system that profits by wrecking healthy businesses.

It's not only Boeing – the rot is general and it is terrible to see the destruction of American productive capacity by a parasitic finance sector.

Dirk77 , September 17, 2019 at 9:12 am

+1

Shareholder Value is indeed the worst idea in the world. That Boeing's biggest stockholder, Vanguard, is unable to cleanup Boeing's operations makes perfect sense. I mean vanguards expertise is making money, not building anything. Those skills are completely different.

Noel Nospamington , September 17, 2019 at 10:41 am

Shareholder value does what it intended to do, which is to maximise stock value in the short term, even if it significantly cuts value in the long term.

By that measure allowing Boeing to take over the FAA and self-certify the 737-MAX was a big success, because of short term maximization of stock value that resulted. It is now someone else's problem regarding any long term harm.

Dirk77 , September 17, 2019 at 8:59 am

Having worked at Boeing and the FAA, this report is very welcome. One thing: federal hiring practices in a way lock out good people from working there. Very often the fed managing some project has only a tenuous grasp is what is going on.

But has the job bc they were hired in young and cheap, which is what agencies do with reduced budgets. That and job postings very often stating that they are open only to current feds says it all.

So deferring to the airline to "self-certify" would be a welcome relief to feds in many cases. At this point, I doubt the number of their "sharpest and best intended" engineers is very high.

If you want better oversight, then increase the number and quality of feds by making it easier to hire, and decrease the number of contractors.

Arthur Dent , September 17, 2019 at 10:54 am

I deal with federal and state regulators (not airplane) all the time. Very well meaning people, but in many cases are utterly unqualified to do the technical work. So it works well when they stick to the policy issues and stay out of the technical details.

However, we have Professional Engineers and other licensed professionals signing off on the engineering documents per state law. You can look at the design documents and the construction certification and there is a name and stamp of the responsible individual.

The licensing laws clearly state that the purpose of licensing is to hold public health and safety paramount. This is completely missing in the American industrial sector due to the industrial exemptions in the professional engineering licensing laws. Ultimately, there is nobody technically responsible for a plane or a car who has to certify that they are making the public safe and healthy.

Instead, the FAA and others do that. Federal agencies and the insurance institute test cars and give safety ratings. Lawyers sue companies for defects which also helps enforce safety.

Harry , September 17, 2019 at 1:44 pm

But how can individuals take responsibility? Their pockets arn't deep enough,.

XXYY , September 17, 2019 at 2:57 pm

One maxim we see illustrated here and elsewhere is this: Trust takes years to earn, but can be lost overnight.

Boeing management and the FAA, having lost the trust of most people in the world through their actions lately, seem to nevertheless think it will be a simple matter to return to the former status quo. It seems as likely, or perhaps more likely, that they will never be able to return to the former status quo. They have been revealed as poseurs and imposters, cheerfully risking (and sometimes losing) their customers' lives so they can buy back more stock.

This image will be (rightfully) hard for them to shake.

notabanker , September 17, 2019 at 9:24 pm

So people are going to quit their jobs rather than fly on Boeing planes? Joe and Marge Six-Pack are going to choose flights not based on what they can afford but based on what make of plane they are flying on? As if the airlines will even tell them in advance?

There are close to zero consequences to Boeing and FAA management. Click on the link to the Purdue Sacklers debacle. The biggest inconvenience will be paying the lawyers.

Tomonthebeach , September 17, 2019 at 11:29 am

FAA & Boeing: It's deja vu all over again.

From 1992 to 1999 I worked for the FAA running one of their labs in OKC. My role, among other things, was to provide data to the Administrator on employee attitudes, business practice changes, and policy impact on morale and safety. Back then, likely as now, it was a common complaint heard from FAA execs about the conflict of interest of having to be both an aviation safety regulatory agency and having to promote aviation. Congress seemed fine with that – apparently still is. There is FAA pork in nearly every Congressional district (think airports for example). Boeing is the latest example of how mission conflict is not serving the aviation industry or public safety. With its headquarters within walking distance of Capitol Hill, aviation lobbyists do not even get much exercise shuttling.

The 1996 Valuejet crash into the Florida swamps shows how far back the mission conflict problem has persisted. Valuejet was a startup airline that was touted as more profitable than all the others. It achieved that notoriety by flying through every FAA maintenance loophole they could find to cut maintenance costs. When FAA started clamping down, Senate Majority Leader Daschle scolded FAA for not being on the cutting edge of industry innovation. The message was clear – leave Valuejet alone. That was a hard message to ignore given that Daschle's wife Linda was serving as Deputy FAA Administrator (the #2 position) – a clear conflict of interest with the role of her spouse – a fact not lost on Administrator Hinson (the #1 position). Rather than use the disaster as an opportunity to revisit FAA mission conflict, Clinton tossed Administrator Hinson into the volcano of public outcry and put Daschle in charge. Nothing happened then, and it looks like Boeing might follow Valuejet into the aviation graveyard.

Kevin , September 17, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Boeing subsidies:

Mike , September 17, 2019 at 3:22 pm

Nothin' like regulatory capture. Along with financialized manufacturing, the cheap & profitable will outdo the costly careful every time. Few businesses are run today with the moral outlook of some early industrialists (not enough of them, but still present) who, through zany Protestant guilt, cared for their reputations enough to not make murderous product, knowing how the results would play both here and in Heaven. Today we have PR and government propaganda to smear the doubters, free the toxic, and let loose toxins.

From food to clothing, drugs to hospitals, self-propelled skateboards to aircraft, pesticides to pollution, even services as day care & education, it is time to call the minions of manufactured madness to account. Dare we say "Free government from Murder Inc."?

VietnamVet , September 17, 2019 at 3:57 pm

This is an excellent summary of the untenable situation that Boeing and the Federal Government have gotten themselves into. In their rush to get richer the Elite ignored the fact that monopolies and regulatory capture are always dangerously corrupt. This is not an isolated case. FDA allows importation of uninspected stock pharmaceutical chemicals from China. Insulin is unaffordable for the lower classes. Diseases are spreading through homeless encampments. EPA approved new uses of environmentally toxic nicotinoid insecticide, sulfoxaflor. DOD sold hundreds of billions of dollars of armaments to Saudi Arabia that were useless to protect the oil supply.

The Powers-that-be thought that they would be a hegemon forever. But, Joe Biden's green light for the Ukraine Army's attack against breakaway Donbass region on Russia's border restarted the Cold War allying Russia with China and Iran. This is a multi-polar world again. Brexit and Donald Trump's Presidency are the Empire's death throes.

RBHoughton , September 17, 2019 at 8:40 pm

NC readers know what the problem is as two comments above indicate clearly. Isn't the FAA ashamed to keep conniving with the money and permitting dangerous planes to fly?

Boeing just got a WTO ruling against Airbus. It seems that one rogue produces others. Time to clean the stable and remove the money addiction from safety regulation

The Rev Kev , September 17, 2019 at 11:26 pm

I think that I can see an interesting situation developing next year. So people will be boarding a plane, say with Southwest Airlines, when they will hear the following announcement over the speakers-

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. On behalf of myself and the entire crew, welcome aboard Southwest Airlines flight WN 861, non-stop service from Houston to New York. Our flight time will be of 4 hours and 30 minutes. We will be flying at an altitude of 35,000 feet at a ground speed of approximately 590 miles per hour.

We are pleased to announce that you have now boarded the first Boeing 737 MAX that has been cleared to once again fly by the FAA as being completely safe. For those passengers flying on to any other country, we regret to announce that you will have to change planes at New York as no other country in the world has cleared this plane as being safe to fly in their airspace and insurance companies there are unwilling to issue insurance cover for them in any case.

So please sit back and enjoy your trip with us. Cabin Crew, please bolt the cabin doors and prepare for gate departure."

Arizona Slim , September 18, 2019 at 6:32 am

And then there's this -- Southwest is rethinking its 737 strategy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoRPhfARWkg

[Sep 18, 2019] Gee, didn't we have this advantage once? Thanks, neoliberals!

Sep 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Trade

"The Trade War Spurs China's Technology Innovators Into Overdrive" [ Industry Week ]. "In Shenzhen's glitzy financial district, a five-year-old outfit creates a 360-degree sports camera that goes on to win awards and draw comparisons to GoPro Inc. Elsewhere in the Pearl River Delta, a niche design house is competing with the world's best headphone makers. And in the capital Beijing, a little-known startup becomes one of the biggest purveyors of smartwatches on the planet. Insta360, SIVGA and Huami join drone maker DJI Technology Co. among a wave of startups that are dismantling the decades-old image of China as a clone factory -- and adding to Washington's concerns about its fast-ascending international rival.

Within the world's No. 2 economy, Trump's campaign to contain China's rise is in fact spurring its burgeoning tech sector to accelerate design and invention. The threat they pose is one of unmatchable geography: by bringing design expertise and innovation to the place where devices are manufactured, these companies are able to develop products faster and more cheaply ." •

Gee, didn't we have this advantage once? Thanks, neoliberals!

[Sep 18, 2019] Jerry Nadler is aiming to become the Rachael Maddow of Adam Schiffs

Humor aside Corey Lewandowski Opening statement deserves to be listened. Just 5 min.
This was obviously a Dog & Pony show by Nadler and his gang who can't shoot strait
Sep 18, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Seminole Nation , 5 hours ago

"Jerry Nadler is aiming to become the Rachael Maddow of Adam Schiffs" – Dan Bongino (3-24-19)

Gilbert Perea , 9 hours ago

You have to laugh , I wonder if Mr. Cowen has a chicken wing in his jacket pocket.

RIC shady , 7 hours ago

"The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all." - Valery Legasov, Soviet chemist

ZENIGMATV , 3 hours ago

Nadler:Corey what time is it? Corey :It's 2pm. Nadler: The clock shows 1:59 . Charge Corey for lying to Congress! All a gotcha game by a group of angry haters.

ZENIGMATV , 3 hours ago

Nadler:Corey what time is it? Corey :It's 2pm. Nadler: The clock shows 1:59 . Charge Corey for lying to Congress! All a gotcha game by a group of angry haters.

Jim Carpenter , 6 hours ago

Nadler provides so much comic relief!!!! He is definitely one of my all time favorite oafs.

Forever Joy , 9 hours ago

40 million tax payer dollars wasted...boom! Pathetic, thanks Democrats!

Bobwehada Babyitzaboy , 3 hours ago

3rd time. If that were good for the left they wouldn't shut up about it. This is another witch hunt with attempt to deceive

Dr.Roberto Rodriguez Jr. , 5 hours ago

What a joke. Democratic live in a fantasy world

Ricky Alfaro , 5 hours ago

Corey is toast!

Teresa Upchurch , 8 hours ago

This is obviously a Dog & Pony show by the Nadler nerd group of Demonrats! Can't even follow the House rules. Sickening !!!

[Sep 18, 2019] Neoliberalism in action: Another School Leadership Disaster Private Companies Work an Insider Game to Reap Lucrative Contracts

Notable quotes:
"... By Jeff Bryant, a writing fellow and chief correspondent for Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a communications consultant, freelance writer, advocacy journalist, and director of the Education Opportunity Network, a strategy and messaging center for progressive education policy. His award-winning commentary and reporting routinely appear in prominent online news outlets, and he speaks frequently at national events about public education policy. Follow him on Twitter @jeffbcdm. produced by Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. ..."
"... One of the first school districts to become entangled in the conglomeration of firms Wise and Sundstrom assembled was Nashville, which in 2016 chose Jim Huge and Associates to help with hiring a new superintendent. The following year the board hired Shawn Joseph, whom Huge had recommended. ..."
"... Shortly after Joseph arrived in Nashville, according to local News Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams, he began pushing the district to give $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to Performance Matters, a Utah-based technology company that sells "software solutions" to school districts. ..."
"... In addition to pushing Performance Matters, Williams reported, Joseph gave an "inside track" to Discovery Education, a textbook and digital curriculum provider and another company he and his team had ties to from their work in Maryland. ..."
"... By June 2018, Nashville school board member Amy Frogge was questioning Joseph about possible connections these vendors might have to ERDI. A district audit would confirm that ERDI's affiliated companies -- including Performance Matters, Discovery Education, and six other companies -- had signed contracts totaling more than $17 million with the district since Joseph had been hired. ..."
"... "Too often, national search firms are also driven by money-making motives and/or connections with those seeking profit," Frogge contended. That conflict of interest is a concern not only in Nashville but also in other districts where school leaders with deep ties to education vendors and consultants have resulted in huge scandals that traumatized communities and cost taxpayers millions. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on September 18, 2019 by Lambert Strether

Lambert here: More corruption in the professional class.

By Jeff Bryant, a writing fellow and chief correspondent for Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is a communications consultant, freelance writer, advocacy journalist, and director of the Education Opportunity Network, a strategy and messaging center for progressive education policy. His award-winning commentary and reporting routinely appear in prominent online news outlets, and he speaks frequently at national events about public education policy. Follow him on Twitter @jeffbcdm. produced by Our Schools , a project of the Independent Media Institute.

In July 2013, the education world was rocked when a breaking story by Chicago independent journalist Sarah Karp reported that district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had pushed through a no-bid $20 million contract to provide professional development to administrators with a private, for-profit company called SUPES Academy, which she had worked for a year before the deal transpired. Byrd-Bennett was also listed as a senior associate for PROACT Search, a superintendent search firm run by the same individuals who led SUPES.

By 2015, federal investigators looked into the deal and found reason to charge Byrd-Bennett for accepting bribes and kickbacks from the company that ran SUPES and PROACT. A year-and-a-half later, the story made national headlines when Byrd-Bennett was convicted and sentenced to prison for those charges. But anyone who thought this story was an anomaly would be mistaken. Similar conflicts of interest among private superintendent search firms, their associated consulting companies, and their handpicked school leaders have plagued multiple school districts across the country.

In an extensive examination, Our Schools has discovered an intricate web of businesses that reap lucrative school contracts funded by public tax dollars. These businesses are often able to place their handpicked candidates in school leadership positions who then help make the purchasing decision for the same businesses' other products and services, which often include professional development, strategic planning, computer-based services, or data analytics. The deals are often brokered in secrecy or presented to local school boards in ways that make insider schemes appear legitimate.

As in the Byrd-Bennett scandal, school officials who get caught in this web risk public humiliation, criminal investigation, and potential jail time, while the businesses that perpetuate this hidden arrangement continue to flourish and grow.

The results of these scandals are often disastrous. School policies and personnel are steered toward products that reward private companies rather than toward research-proven methods for supporting student learning and teacher performance. School governance becomes geared to the interests of well-connected individuals rather than the desires of teachers and voters. And when insider schemes become public, whole communities are thrown into chaos, sometimes for years, resulting in wasted education dollars and increased disillusionment with school systems and local governance.

While media accounts generally frame these scandals as examples of corrupt school leaders who got caught and brought to justice, reporters rarely delve into the corporate-operated enterprises that undergird the whole system.

A Potent Business Model

Months before Byrd-Bennett's conviction, another individual connected to the Chicago scandal, SUPES co-owner Gary Solomon, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges related to a scheme that diverted over $5 million in public money from the Chicago contracts into his private pocket.

Solomon, who had been forced out of a previous job as a high school administrator after he was accused of racist comments and "preying" on female students, cofounded SUPES -- along with sister companies PROACT Search and Synesi Associates -- with his former student Thomas Vranas, who also pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the Chicago deals.

Although Solomon and Vranas got caught and were convicted for their scheme, they nevertheless stumbled on a potent business model that combined PROACT's superintendent search services with SUPES Academy professional development programs and consulting by Synesi Associates to help districts "implement reform strategies." Combining leader recruitment with leadership training and consulting gave Solomon and Vranas three ways into a business relationship with a school district and multiple ways to upsell clients into more expensive new contracts.

New administrators PROACT helped place in leadership roles could be reliable allies for pitching professional development services to the district. School districts that had employed SUPES might be more inclined to hire PROACT for a leadership search. And Synesi would have an inside track for its consulting services. Further, any of the firm's school leader contacts who became idle between full-time jobs, which often happens in this profession, would be able to work for the firm as "associates."

School districts may have welcomed this arrangement as a form of "one-stop shopping" for their needs, but it's not hard to see how it could lead to conflicts of interest and a veil for fraud.

Chicago was not the only district that fell for the pitch. Shortly after news of the Byrd-Bennett scandal broke, school districts in DeKalb County , Illinois; Fayette County (Lexington), Kentucky; and Lancaster , Pennsylvania ended their contracts with PROACT.

In Iowa City, Iowa, a local reporter found the district had a contract with Synesi Associates to conduct an audit of the district and then hired PROACT to recruit candidates for a vacant director position. At the same time, superintendent Stephen Murley took 34 days off work to do paid consulting for those two organizations and for SUPES Academy.

In St. Louis , superintendent Kelvin Adams started consulting for SUPES shortly after the school board awarded a $125,000 contract to the firm, Sarah Karp and Melissa Sanchez reported. The district also awarded a $16,500 no-bid deal to Synesi.

But Solomon and Vranas did not invent this money-making strategy, nor did it die when they were convicted and sent to jail.

From Retail Store to Mega-Mall

In June 2016, the Chicago Sun Times reported that in the wake of the Byrd-Bennett scandal, parts of SUPES Academy were purchased by Joseph Wise and his partner David Sundstrom. Their Chicago-based firm Atlantic Research Partners (ARP) had already gotten at least $5 million in recent business from Chicago schools. (Sundstrom would later contend ARP rescinded the agreement to acquire SUPES and that the "only remaining connection between the companies" was a licensing of training material.)

Wise founded ARP with Sundstrom in 2007 after both had been ousted from their jobs in the Duval County, Florida, school district due to alleged "serious misconduct." According to the ARP website, the project's mission was to launch a "teacher-training program focused on instructional coaching and school capacity-building."

Around the same time ARP was acquiring parts of SUPES, the company also merged with Jim Huge and Associates, a firm with deep experience in school superintendent and other talent searches. Huge had also served as chief strategy officer for PROACT Search. The announced rationale of the merger was "to maximize seamless delivery of the intensive executive services to schools and school leaders."

Undoubtedly, what Wise and Sundstrom assembled was similar to the three-part business model Solomon and Vranas put together. What was different, though, was Wise and Sundstrom would expand on the model with their subsequent acquisition of Education Research and Development Institute (ERDI).

According to Louisiana school teacher and wily blogger Mercedes Schneider , Sundstrom registered an entity called ERDI Partners as a business with a Florida address in 2017.

But an entity called ERDI had been in existence since at least 2005 when an article in Education Week described the company as an intermediary organization bringing together school administrators and education vendors to help companies improve the products and services they offer school systems. Specifically, ERDI arranged get-togethers by paying superintendents consulting fees plus expenses to travel to conferences at luxury resorts where they would meet with company representatives. The companies, in turn, underwrote the conferences with substantial fees paid to ERDI.

Critics of ERDI argue that the company's model for paying school administrators for their advice on education products inevitably leads to conflict of interest issues when those administrators are presented with offers to purchase products promoted by ERDI.

Byrd-Bennett had a relationship with ERDI dating back to at least 2014 and was listed as senior advisor on the firm's website while she was employed as Chicago schools' CEO.

With the acquisition of ERDI, Wise and Sundstrom could transform their business model from a lone retail operation to a mega-mall of education vendors of all kinds.

'The Search Was Manipulated'

One of the first school districts to become entangled in the conglomeration of firms Wise and Sundstrom assembled was Nashville, which in 2016 chose Jim Huge and Associates to help with hiring a new superintendent. The following year the board hired Shawn Joseph, whom Huge had recommended.

Shortly after Joseph arrived in Nashville, according to local News Channel 5 investigative reporter Phil Williams, he began pushing the district to give $1.8 million in no-bid contracts to Performance Matters, a Utah-based technology company that sells "software solutions" to school districts.

Williams found Joseph had spoken at the company's conference and he had touted the company's software products in promotional materials while he was employed in his previous job in Maryland. Williams also unearthed emails showing Joseph began contract talks with Performance Matters two weeks before he formally took office in Nashville. What also struck Williams as odd was that despite the considerable cost of the contract, district employees were not required to use the software.

In addition to pushing Performance Matters, Williams reported, Joseph gave an "inside track" to Discovery Education, a textbook and digital curriculum provider and another company he and his team had ties to from their work in Maryland. With Joseph's backing, Discovery Education received an $11.4 million contract to provide a new science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) program even though a smaller company came in with a bid that was a fraction of what Discovery proposed.

By June 2018, Nashville school board member Amy Frogge was questioning Joseph about possible connections these vendors might have to ERDI. A district audit would confirm that ERDI's affiliated companies -- including Performance Matters, Discovery Education, and six other companies -- had signed contracts totaling more than $17 million with the district since Joseph had been hired.

Frogge also came to realize that all these enterprises were connected to the firm who had been instrumental in hiring Joseph -- Jim Huge and Associates.

"The search that brought Shawn Joseph to Nashville was clearly manipulated," Frogge told Our Schools in an email, "and the school board was kept in the dark about Joseph's previous tenure in Maryland and his relationships with vendor companies."

Frogge said some of the manipulation occurred when the search firm told school board members that disputes among current board members -- over charter schools, school finances, and other issues -- indicated the district was "'too dysfunctional' to hire top-level superintendents and therefore needed to hire a less experienced candidate."

But previous investigations of school leadership search firms conducted by Our Schools have found companies like these frequently forego background checks of prospective candidates they recommend, promote favored candidates regardless of their experience or track record, and push board members to keep the entire search process, including the final candidates, confidential from public scrutiny.

"Too often, national search firms are also driven by money-making motives and/or connections with those seeking profit," Frogge contended. That conflict of interest is a concern not only in Nashville but also in other districts where school leaders with deep ties to education vendors and consultants have resulted in huge scandals that traumatized communities and cost taxpayers millions.

In the Youngstown City School District in Ohio, CEO Krish Mohip became mired in questions about his role as a paid consultant for ERDI while the district had a $261,914 contract with a partner company of ERDI. Under calls for his resignation, Mohip left before his contract was up.

Beaufort County School District in South Carolina became the subject of an FBI investigation because of contracts with ERDI and 30 other companies connected to the firm while superintendent Jeff Moss worked as a paid consultant for ERDI. He resigned from the district two years before his contract was up.

In Pittsburgh, superintendent Anthony Hamlet drew scrutiny when reporters found the district spent more than $14 million on dozens of no-bid contracts to firms connected to ERDI at the same time Hamlet was serving as a paid consultant with the company.

In Baltimore County, Maryland, Shaun Dallas Dance made national headlines when he was convicted of perjury committed during his time as superintendent of the district. Dance had concealed $4,600 he'd been paid by ERDI. After Dance participated in confidential meetings with vendors at an ERDI conference, the district extended contracts from companies connected to the firm.

Obviously, school board members could avoid these conflicts by avoiding leadership search firms and consultants connected to ERDI. But that is easier said than done.

After Baltimore County's troubles with Dance, it hired the independent firm Ray and Associates to conduct a search to find an interim leader. The search resulted in six finalists, from which the board chose Verletta White. Shortly after she took the job, the board's ethics review panel found she had violated financial disclosure rules and "used the prestige of her office or public position for private gain" by accepting compensation from ERDI.

Indeed, superintendent search firms frequently fail to find conflicts of interest and other problems in the candidate background checks they conduct. And some of these firms operate side businesses that also lead to conflict of interest issues.

A Revolving Door of Business Deals Funded by Taxpayers

One of the largest superintendent search firms in the United States, Schaumburg, Illinois-based Hazard, Young, and Attea (HYA), is part of the ECRA Group , a consulting firm providing an array of services to schools.

ECRA claims to have worked with over 1,000 districts, but a close examination of how the company worked with a number of school districts in Illinois reveals how the firm uses a revolving-door business model in which its search service rotates administrators into and out of leadership positions while the company uses those leadership connections to successfully upsell districts into expensive long-term consulting contracts funded by taxpayers.

ECRA's business relationships with Oak Park Elementary District 97 in Illinois go back to at least 2010 when it was hired to help replace outgoing superintendent Constance Collins. With HYA's help , the district hired Albert Roberts. In 2013, during Roberts' tenure, school board minutes show the district considered a plan to hire ECRA to analyze the district's achievement data at a cost of $74,000 a year. The following year, the district hired ECRA to produce an analysis of the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students in the district. Board minutes from 2015 show the district continuing to work with ECRA.

When Roberts retired, District 97 used HYA again for a superintendent search that resulted in hiring Carol Kelley. Kelley currently appears in ECRA's marketing literature touting the firm's Strategic Dashboard, which District 97 apparently employs.

Former superintendent Collins was hired to lead Round Lake District 116, also in Illinois, just before HYA and ECRA acquired the district's superintendent search and strategic planning contracts. Under her tenure, Round Lake paid ECRA $75,918 for consulting services in 2016 , 2017 , and 2018 . Collins retired from Round Lake in 2018, but, according to her LinkedIn page, she became an HYA associate in 2017. She also serves on the advisory board of ECRA, according to her bio at a nonprofit for developing school leaders.

Another Illinois district, Niles Township High School District 219, placed its superintendent on administrative leave after it became known she was the daughter of the president of ECRA, which had a contract with the district worth $149,419 and $120,389 in the final two years of her tenure. (She claimed that relationship with ECRA dated to before she was made superintendent, but she decided to resign anyway.)

Huntley Community School District 158, also in Illinois, had contractual arrangements with ECRA dating to at least 2009 when John Burkey was superintendent. When Burkey resigned in 2017, District 158 hired HYA to find a new superintendent at a cost of $17,500. At the end of a hiring process in which HYA kept all finalists confidential , District 158 announced it had hired Scott Rowe. Under his leadership, District 158 spent $94,980.11 on ECRA in 2018 alone.

One more example in Illinois: Evanston/Skokie School District 65 has hired ECRA for a variety of consulting services since at least 2010 when it paid the firm $22,737.50, according to state records, to survey the district's administrators. By 2013, Evanston/Skokie considered ECRA a "long-standing partner" and hired the firm to help pick its new superintendent. Outgoing superintendent Hardy Murphy also recommended the district hire the firm for teacher appraisal work.

Based on HYA's recommendations , Evanston/Skokie hired Paul Goren in 2014, and under his tenure, checks continued to flow to ECRA's consulting business, including $129,855.92 in 2015 . However, Goren's tenure was troubled and brief, and in 2019 he resigned with a $100,000 severance package. A local reporter noticed that unmentioned in the district's settlement statement was that under his leadership "the district's own progress reports [showed] declines in test scores across all groups of students and district losing ground against its own five-year targets."

ECRA's own leadership has also been embroiled in conflict of interest issues. Current ECRA president Glenn "Max" McGee resigned from his last superintendent job, in Palo Alto, California after an outside investigation found the district had mishandled claims of sexual assault. With a payout of roughly $150,000, McGee, on his way out the door, recommended the district hire HYA to conduct the search for his replacement, just after he had accepted the offer to become leader of ECRA. The district went with McGee's recommendation.

When asked whether this relationship among McGee, ECRA, and the Palo Alto district was a possible conflict of interest, McGee told Our Schools in a phone call that he "stayed out of the search" to fill his old position. Of his replacement, Don Austin from nearby Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District in California, McGee admitted being an acquaintance of "many years."

Who's to Blame?

When controversies arise over superintendents and contracts with outside services, private firms that are responsible for pushing these hiring and outsourcing decisions are quick to blame school board members who signed off on the decisions. And critics of public schools frequently use these scandals to argue that democratically elected school boards are dysfunctional and need to be scrapped for other governance structures.

These criticisms leave a lot of context out.

First, being a school board member is customarily a part-time job paying very little money. And school board members are elected to serve as representatives of parents and voters, not to be experts on school finance and administration.

"School board members, although often well intentioned, are sometimes too unqualified and uninformed to exercise effective oversight of spending, and board members are not aware of the personal relationships and personal interests that may be driving decisions by administrative leaders," Nashville board member Frogge explained.

Also, there are multiple ways superintendents can keep board members in the dark about the inner workings of contractor relationships and district operations.

"From the beginning, Joseph surrounded himself with those who promoted him, including organizations he hired to 'train' the board," Frogge explained. "Joseph also prohibited all district employees from speaking to school board members, which prevented board members from recognizing leadership problems during the early days of his tenure. When board members finally began to confront Joseph about problems, including disturbing financial irregularities and his failure to follow board policy, Joseph lied to board members, exacted retribution from those questioning him, and stirred up controversy to distract from the issues at hand."

That said, Frogge noted school boards have alternatives to using private search firms that promote tainted candidates willing to feed the search firms' side businesses.

"School board members need to become better informed and more savvy about profit motives and organizations that seek to influence their selection," she wrote. "School boards can instead opt to hire a local school boards association (for example, the Tennessee School Boards Association) or a local recruiter with a reputation for personal integrity to conduct a search. They can also choose to hire from within."

How school boards decide to avoid conflicts of interest with school leaders and outside consulting firms is "critical" according to Frogge because decisions that are driven by these insiders "can lead to catastrophic outcomes for students and staff."

Among those negative outcomes are increased community acrimony, wasted education funds, and career debacles for what could perhaps have been promising school leaders.

In the case of Joseph and Nashville, controversies with his leadership decisions strongly divided the city's black community, and taxpayers were stuck with a $261,250 bill for buying out the rest of his contract. As a result of the fallout, Joseph lost his state teaching license, and he vowed never to work in the state again.

In the meantime, HYA continues to win contracts for high-profile superintendent searches, and ERDI's conferences bringing school leaders and vendors together continue to sell out .

[Sep 18, 2019] China did the right thing: it shut down "free market" theologician maskeraling as economics from the academia

After 2008 free market economists should be treated at their face value: as academic charlatans. Now they are treated as goods which are past their shelf life in China and that's a progress.
Notable quotes:
"... The Chinese don't need, and don't want, a bunch of arrogant pro-US intellectuals giving them lectures. I can't say I blame them. ..."
"... No, that is because after WW2 the US was the only major economy left standing that hadn't been wrecked, and they were in the box seat to set the agenda post Bretton-Woods (and cement for themselves the leading dominant role). The USD is being used increasingly as a cudgel to enforce US hegemony, and that will lead much of the world to seek alternatives. It's happening now, slowly at first, and will only gain speed from here. ..."
Sep 18, 2019 | nationalinterest.org

During my last visit I stopped by the offices of what remained of the Unirule Institute of Economics. The well-respected organization was formed in 1993 by six economists, most importantly Mao Yushi (no relation to Mao Zedong) and Sheng Hong. My organization, the Cato Institute, gave the former the 2012 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty to honor his work on behalf of human freedom. Now retired at the age of ninety, Mao Yushi paid a price for activism. Noted his award citation, Mao "has faced severe punishment, exile, and near starvation for remarks critical of a command-based economy and society." The late Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel laureate, said of Mao: his "bravery is worthy of our respect."

However, despite the hardship of its founder, Unirule was no revolutionary political organization. Its name stood for "universal rules," essentially the rule of law. Its focus was moving toward a more market-oriented economy. The group's work was scholarly, performed by economists and academics. Its publications were high-brow, its books often published in China. Unirule's international contacts were mainstream and focused on economic reform.

That Unirule prospered demonstrated how far the PRC had come from the bad old days under Mao Zedong. Economic integration with the West by no means delivered a libertarian China. Still, the increasingly vibrant private economy expanded personal autonomy, opening up space absent since the PRC's founding seventy years ago.

As for politics, other than the question of the Chinese Communist Party's monopoly of power, most issues could be at least discussed and sometimes debated in academic and other settings. A vaguely independent media developed, which reported on misdeeds of local governments and officials. Although this slightly diluted authoritarianism might have appeared to be weakness to a few who pined for the days of the Cultural Revolution, the system offered a release valve for people who had no control over their rulers.

That gave CCP officials additional ideas to consider and solutions to employ. Unirule sponsored lectures, ran conferences, and published books. The group consulted with both local governments and state companies. Even the national authorities appeared to respect if not necessarily love Unirule. (In 1980 the government even invited Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman to Beijing to get his advice.) Asked Jude Blanchette, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies: "Without independent voices offering alternative viewpoints, how can China's leaders make effective decisions."

Allowing discussion -- if not exactly dissent -- also might have drained away some of the dissatisfaction that otherwise would have accumulated against the regime. The pervasiveness of corruption and intensity of resulting public disgust highlighted the threat both from and to Communist rule, which came much more from the natural consequences of the monopoly of power rather than from the expression of discontent with that monopoly.

However, Xi Jinping's ascension to head of both party and government became a dramatic political inflexion point...

... ... ...

The state agency which sponsored it dropped the affiliation. Newspapers stopped running articles by its staffers. Discussions of its activities on social media, including the Chinese phenomenon WeChat, were blocked. Venues cancelled Unirule events. The website was closed down. Then the organization was twice pushed out of professional spaces. Last year the landlord, under pressure from regulators, welded the office door shut with staffers still inside; they had to call the police for rescue. About ten employees and a mass of books, papers and files ultimately crammed into a small apartment ten floors up in an aged apartment building in a distant suburb.

The group's latest book, a collection of academic papers, is ready for publication but was rejected by the PRC's information overseers. The process has been transferred from state to party, ensuring that everything will be assessed for its propaganda value. More seriously, Unirule's business license was cancelled, a move the group was fighting. Sheng said he planned to focus on economic research if the CCP interdict took hold.

... ... ...

A few weeks after my visit Unirule's life appears to have run out. The group announced that the local government had declared it to be "unregistered and unauthorized." Although Unirule plans to fight the diktat in court, Sheng admitted that it had essentially no chance of prevailing and has begun the liquidation process. "We no longer have any space for survival," Sheng told the Wall Street Journal . He previously noted that Unirule had been careful to follow the rules, so the Xi regime wished for the reformers to "disappear by ourselves." Apparently Xi or someone else high up grew tired of waiting.

... ... ...

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. A former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is the author of several books, including Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire .


jonathanpulliam 2 days ago ,

Come to think of it, why ISN'T Boeing's CEO in jail??

Gary Sellars 3 days ago ,

The Chinese don't need, and don't want, a bunch of arrogant pro-US intellectuals giving them lectures. I can't say I blame them.

... ... ...

Mephisto 3 days ago ,

Nixon's initiative to integrate China with the USA was the biggest strategic mistake the US ever did. It did not lead to democratization, but rather helped build a powerful totalitarian Orwellian state.

China clearly has a long term strategic plan how to become the world leader, and to this end, it steals western technology, locks other nations into dept traps, builds fifth columns in other countries, uses propaganda and cultural subversion. It is not yet too late to withdraw all western investment from China and to isolate the country. Due to the behavior of the CCP, it has very few actual friends.

jonathanpulliam Mephisto 2 days ago ,

PRC China & the U.S. share one thing at least in common, they lack dignity

Rudi Matich Mephisto 2 days ago ,

The strategic plan and task to defeat capitalism had been handed over to China after the Soviet Union has failed in this endeavor because economically it was no match for capitalist USA, plus it did not integrate science and technological innovation which without it capitalism can not be defeated.

China has achieved economic quantity and quality, and is heading towards full scientific and technological superiority over capitalist USA in the long run.

In this way socialism through science defeats and overtakes capitalism. Science and more science, the only way to defeat capitalism.

Swift Laggard II Rudi Matich 2 days ago ,

China is a hard core capitalist state. Even state ownership is state capitalism

Gary Sellars Mephisto 3 days ago ,

"Due to the behavior of the USA, it has very few actual friends."

Thats better...

Mephisto Gary Sellars 3 days ago ,

out of the 3 countries - USA, Russia, China - most of the world is clearly happy with USA having the leading role, because it is the least evil. Yes, USA is not perfect, Trump is not a great leader (to say it diplomatically), they have made mistakes (the invasion of Iraq etc), but they are still much better than USSRv2.0 or totalitarian China.

Even in Asia, China is widely disliked due to its arrogant and bullying behavior. The Japanese, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, the Indonesians, none of them really like China.

The fact, that US dollar is the leading currency has much to do with the world public perception of the stability of the country. Ie all countries believe the US is the most stable country. So China will have real trouble convincing the world that yuan is better. I do not believe that China will become a leading power anytim soon.

Gary Sellars Mephisto 2 days ago • edited ,

You can keep telling yourself that, but its a crock and we non-Americans know it only too well. Dishonesty and an inability to face truth seems to be an American trait, and the corruption is only growing worse as the US declines.

"The Japanese, the Koreans, the Vietnamese, the Indonesians, none of them really like China"

News for you buddy. None of these nations like each other... LOL!! You ever hear Koreans talking about the Japanese? Now that's hatred...

" The fact, that US dollar is the leading currency has much to do with the world public perception of the stability of the country."

No, that is because after WW2 the US was the only major economy left standing that hadn't been wrecked, and they were in the box seat to set the agenda post Bretton-Woods (and cement for themselves the leading dominant role). The USD is being used increasingly as a cudgel to enforce US hegemony, and that will lead much of the world to seek alternatives. It's happening now, slowly at first, and will only gain speed from here.

Pound Sterling used to dominate the world, now where is it? In the future, people will say the same of the greenback.

Swift Laggard II Mephisto 2 days ago ,

speak for yourself; don't speak for Asian nations. How many have joined AIIB, or BRI? What you believe about China is irrelevant

Mephisto Swift Laggard II 2 days ago ,

https://www.pewresearch.org...
it is interesting, that China is least popular in Asia with its direct neighbors

commit Mephisto 2 days ago ,

It would be interesting to know how the research was made and who they ask.

Mephisto commit 2 days ago ,

I traveled for 1 year across Asia - SE Asia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia and 5 months across china. China is almost universally disliked all over Asia due to its arrogant behavior. And even the famous Chinese investments are increasingly being perceived as a form of Chinese neocolonialism and rejected
https://www.washingtonpost....

Redmond Mephisto 2 days ago ,

You know how African-Americans commit all sorts of violent crimes, hate speech, and racist slurs just because they were victims of racial discrimination in America decades ago? It's the same justification for violence Chinese mainlanders commit against everyone else just because they suffered from century of humiliation. I'm suspecting that the CCP/PLA is being coached by the black lefists in the US who have deep hatred against their perceived WASP establishment. The pattern of angst and diatribes are almost the same.

commit Redmond 2 days ago • edited ,

IDK, the trade war and other US actions against China are pretty recent. They have good reasons to hate your establishment. No need to look into past.

commit Mephisto 2 days ago • edited ,

> universally disliked all over Asia

In the survey you posted above, China is more popular than the USA in Indonesia. Other countries like Malaysia, Laos, Bangladesh, North Korea are missing. Also, people generally tell to English speaking foreigners what they expect they want to hear. If the survey was made by Chinese, the results would be different.

Redmond 3 days ago ,

The answer is simple and obvious. Democracy and rule of law means that they all go to jail. In all post-authoritarian shifts, the judicial branch of the government goes into overdrive, prosecuting past leaders for their crimes. They're really stuck to authoritarianism no-matter how hard they want democracy.

The CCP is just like a mafia. You won't get in unless you have blood in your hands, and death is the only way out (unless you can defect to another country and if you can stomach your immediate family members going to jail for you).

Swift Laggard II Redmond 3 days ago ,

what rule of law are you talking about? do you practice it in your own country?

Gary Sellars Swift Laggard II 3 days ago ,

Law of the Jungle. It's all that the Washingtonian primitives understand...

Walter Tseng 3 days ago ,

China is doing just great. Its citizens are enjoying a quality of life unprecedented in China's history (even the author do not dispute this). So why should a democratic majority 89% (PEW) happy individuals must suffer for the selfish few?

History has shown that intellectuals make lousy leaders but great at fomenting chaos + rebellions. And everyone knows that "soft-spoken criticisms", when weaponized, can kill millions just as effectively as a nuclear bomb!

[Sep 17, 2019] U.S. And Russia Battle It Out Over This Huge Iraqi Gas Field

Sep 17, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Simon Watkins via OilPrice.com,

With the U.S, Russia, and China all jostling for position in Iraq's oil and gas industry both north and south, Iraq's oil ministry last week reiterated its desire to have one or more foreign partners in the Mansuriya gas field. Situated in Diyala province, close to the Iran border, Mansuriya is estimated to hold around 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, with plateau production projected at about 325 million standard cubic feet per day .

For the U.S., encouraging Iraq to optimise its gas flows so that it reduces its dependency for power from Iran is the key consideration.

For Russia, Rosneft essentially bought control of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq in November 2017, so power in southern Iraq figuratively will complete the set.

Securing oil and gas contracts across all of Iraq will allow Russia to establish an unassailable political sway across the entire Shia crescent of power in the Middle East, stretching from Syria through Lebanon (by dint of Iran), Jordan, Iraq (also helped by Iran), Iran itself, and Yemen (via Iran). From this base, it can effectively challenge the U.S.'s vital oil, gas, and political ally in the region – Saudi Arabia. China, in the meantime, is operating to its own agenda in South Pars Phase 11 and its West Karoun holdings.

Iraq, like Turkey, is still – nominally at least – not committing to either the Russia or the U.S., preferring to play each off against the other for whatever they can get, and the same applies in microcosm to the field of Mansuriya. Turkey itself was a key player in this gas field through its national oil company Turkiye Petrolleri Anonim Ortakligi (TPAO) until the middle of last year – holding a 37.5 per cent stake – along with the Oil Exploration Company (25 per cent), Kuwait Energy (22.5 per cent), and South Korea's KOGAS (15 per cent).

TPAO had signed the original development deal for Mansuriya back in 2011, promising Iraq's oil ministry that it could be trusted to reach plateau production within 10 years at most, a senior figure in the ministry told OilPrice.com last week. This was not an unreasonable schedule, for which TPAO would be remunerated US$7.00-7.50 per barrel of oil equivalent, a relatively generous amount compared to many of the previous awards from the ministry. TPAO agreed that the first phase would mean production of at least 100 million cubic feet a day within 12 months from the signing date.

[Sep 17, 2019] A Requiem for the Fiscal Theory of the Price Level by Roger E. A. Farmer

Sep 17, 2019 | www.rogerfarmer.com

Our results have profound implications for the idea that the financial markets are Pareto efficient which I explore here in my paper on asset pricing in perpetual youth models. In that paper I assume that monetary and fiscal policy are passive to generate realistic asset market volatility. My paper with Pawel shows that the same results can be generated in a realistic OLG model even when monetary and fiscal policy are active.

The way out of this apparent degeneracy of theory is to adopt an idea I first advocated in my book on self-fulfilling prophecies . The way that people form beliefs must be modeled as a new fundamental with the same methodological status as preferences, technologies and endowments.

Our paper makes a mockery of the attempt to ground neoclassical theory in 'fundamentals'.

[Sep 17, 2019] Warren scoops an important endorsement from The New York Times:

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

EMichael , September 16, 2019 at 10:28 AM

Let's hope the Sanders campaign does not play this card.

"Senator Professor Warren continues to play error-free baseball in this here presidential campaign. Not only does she schedule a certified Big Speech in Washington Square Park in New York on Monday night to talk about the contributions of women to the labor movement not far from the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, but also, in the afternoon, she scoops an important endorsement across town. From The New York Times:

'The party endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont during the last presidential cycle, at which time he described Working Families as "the closest thing" to "my vision of democratic socialism." The group's endorsement of Ms. Warren on Monday, one of the few by a prominent progressive organization this early in the primary, is sure to turn heads among left-leaning Democrats who are desperate to defeat the current front-runner, Mr. Biden, in a primary election where their party's ideological future is at stake.

Mr. Mitchell brushed off the possibility that the group's endorsement would be seen as a sign of a splintering of the progressive left. The vote among "tens of thousands" of party members resulted in a commanding majority for Ms. Warren, a party spokesman said; she received more than 60 percent of the votes on the first ballot.'

The Sanders camp is already raising holy hell. They will now position SPW as a tool of her corporate masters. (That's been going on for a while now among some of the more enthusiastic adherents of the Sanders campaign. My guess is that it will become more general now.) The WFP endorsement is an important and clarifying one. If there is a liberal lane, there's some daylight open now."

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a29071011/elizabeth-warren-working-families-party-endorsement/

[Sep 17, 2019] Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) slammed President Donald Trump for turning the nation into "Saudi Arabia's bitch" after he assured the kingdom that the U.S. is "locked and loaded" as it waits to hear who may be behind an attack on its oil supply.

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

EMichael , September 17, 2019 at 05:55 AM

Voice of reason and authority on this one.

"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) slammed President Donald Trump for turning the nation into "Saudi Arabia's bitch" after he assured the kingdom that the U.S. is "locked and loaded" as it waits to hear who may be behind an attack on its oil supply.

"Trump awaits instructions from his Saudi masters," the Democratic presidential candidate tweeted Sunday. "Having our country act as Saudi Arabia's bitch is not 'America First.'"

Gabbard previously accused Trump of making the U.S. "Saudi Arabia's bitch" last November for his failure to take action against Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who, according to the U.S. intelligence community, directed the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi."

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tulsi-gabbard-donald-trump-saudi-arabia-oil-attack_n_5d7fc275e4b077dcbd622d5b

"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has doubled down attacking President Donald Trump over his response to the weekend's drone attacks on major oil sites in Saudi Arabia.

Trump assured Saudi Arabia via Twitter that the U.S. is "locked and loaded" and awaiting its direction following the strikes, which were claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels but which Trump claimed were backed by Iran.

The Democratic presidential candidate -- a combat veteran and a major in the Army National Guard ― called Trump's response "disgraceful" in a new video shared online Monday.

"Mr. President, as you know, I have never engaged in hateful rhetoric against you or your family and I never will," said Gabbard. "But your offering our military assets to the dictator of Saudi Arabia to use as he sees fit is a betrayal of my brothers and sisters in uniform who are ready to give our lives for our country."

Gabbard said Trump's belief he can "pimp out our proud servicemen and women to the prince of Saudi Arabia is disgraceful and it once again shows that you are unfit to serve as our commander in chief."

"My fellow service members and I, we are not your prostitutes," she concluded. "You are not our pimp."

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tulsi-gabbard-donald-trump-doubles-down-saudi-arabia_n_5d809229e4b077dcbd63a808

ilsm -> EMichael... , September 17, 2019 at 09:02 AM
Make a note, I agree with you here.
Paine -> ilsm... , September 17, 2019 at 09:10 AM
She is a gem
House of Saud butt port
Donald the double down
cheeks of Araby
RC (Ron) Weakley said in reply to ilsm... , September 17, 2019 at 09:57 AM
Most of our disagreements here are not on either economic or political principles, but rather the awarding of style points with considerable confusion regarding the (sometimes remotely) possible, the plausible, and the actual.

[Sep 17, 2019] Where does Joe Biden stand on raising taxes on the wealthy to level the Wealth Gap?

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

ilsm , September 16, 2019 at 04:46 AM

TV debates are better than fiction!

"These people are aware that Biden is losing his mind, but they are pushing him toward the White House anyway."...

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/09/16/bidens-brain-is-swiss-cheese-and-its-creepy-that-were-not-talking-about-it/

The Biden comment about poor kids needing to hear words is pap I heard at a Hillary event in 2015 from Bill himself. Make sure the 'record player' the kids listen to for hours has the approved subliminal messages.

While insisting that schools raise kids tends toward the Brave New World.

When the DNC handlers free US from racism and "unfairness" we will be theirs.

And the handlers wants you [in to their "reality"] to do a 25th Amendment on Trump!

So much to be outraged about that is not Trump!

im1dc , September 16, 2019 at 04:46 AM
Where does Joe Biden stand on raising taxes on the wealthy to level the Wealth Gap?

https://thehill.com/policy/finance/461368-progressive-tax-the-rich-push-gains-momentum

"Progressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum"

By Naomi Jagoda...09/16/19...06:00 AM EDT

"The progressive push to raise taxes on the rich is gaining new momentum."...

[Sep 17, 2019] Detailed satellite photos show extent of 'surgical' attack damage to Saudi Aramco oil facilities CNBC - Sic Semper Tyrannis

Notable quotes:
"... I get a big kick out of those of you who think someone faked this attack for, what; An excuse to go to war with Iran? ..."
"... Or, maybe the Izzies blew it up to start a war?Will wonders never cease? ..."
Sep 17, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"Detailed satellite photos show extent of 'surgical' attack damage to Saudi Aramco oil facilities" CNBC

"Satellite photos released by the U.S. government and DigitalGlobe reveal the surgical precision with which Saudi Aramco's oil facilities were struck in attacks early Saturday.

The strikes, which unidentified U.S. officials have said involved at least 20 drones and several cruise missiles, forced Saudi Arabia to shut down half its oil production capacity, or 5.7 million barrels per day of crude -- 5% of the world's global daily oil production.

The images, first obtained by The Associated Press, show that at least 19 strikes were launched and 17 actually hit targets." CNBC

------------ --

I get a big kick out of those of you who think someone faked this attack for, what; An excuse to go to war with Iran?

An opening gambit to get the Iranians to talk to Trump at the UN? If so, that did not work. Khamenei has said unequivocally that they are not going to talk to the US.

Mikey Pompeo is now going to travel to Saudi Arabia to see if he can jawbone the Saudis into saying that it was undoubtedly the Iranians who done it. Would that be going on if the Saudis had been in the plot?

So, some of you think that the Saudis blew up their own processing plant for some nefarious reason.

Or, maybe the Izzies blew it up to start a war?Will wonders never cease? I mean you, not the attack. pl

[Sep 17, 2019] Much has justifiably been made of President Trump's blustering, bullying approach to trade policy, which has already had catastrophic effects on many American farmers. Now, Trump's trade war with China is having similarly disastrous repercussions internationally. One need look no further than longtime US ally Germany, a prosperous country now facing its first major recession since Chancellor Angela Merkel took power 13 years ago.

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs , September 16, 2019 at 08:39 AM

A German recession made with American parts
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2019/09/16/german-recession-made-with-american-parts/MMcb6eH26Awy7KUs5ewZ5L/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

Elizabeth Schumacher - September 16

COLOGNE, Germany

Much has justifiably been made of President Trump's blustering, bullying approach to trade policy, which has already had catastrophic effects on many American farmers. Now, Trump's trade war with China is having similarly disastrous repercussions internationally. One need look no further than longtime US ally Germany, a prosperous country now facing its first major recession since Chancellor Angela Merkel took power 13 years ago.

A bit of context: Germans value stability above all else. That the German word for debt – Schuld – is also the word for guilt, is a linguistic testament to a deep cultural truth. Debt is considered so shameful that Germans don't have real credit cards, will rent for decades instead of buying property, and are comfortable living with a rapidly decaying infrastructure that simply would not fly in other wealthy European countries.

Part of the reason behind Merkel's record-tying four electoral victories is that Germans are not prone to asking questions when everything seems to be working fine, and their economy -- built on excessive exports and domestic austerity -- has, thus far, served them well. The 2008 financial crisis hit German businesses hard, but unemployment barely increased. For nearly two decades now, Germany has survived by capitalizing on other countries' spending and exporting job cuts to its trade partners.

Indeed, Germany's trade surplus in 2018 was the largest in the world for the third year running, reaching $299 billion and accounting for over 8 percent of GDP. ...

With the US-China spat driving the cost of materials up and the number of orders for exported goods down, the key German sectors of manufacturing, trade, services, and construction have contracted so quickly and sharply that business leaders could hardly believe the numbers were true.

Yet, according to Germany's highly-regarded IFO Institute's Business Climate Index, there is good reason to believe these sectors have "not a single ray of light" for the immediate future.

( https://www.ifo.de/sites/default/files/2019-08/ku-2019-08-pm-gesch%C3%A4ftsklima-EN_0.pdf )

Despite Washington's justifiable concerns over data security, Merkel's government has invited Huawei to build up Germany's woeful digital infrastructure and is planning a massive EU-China summit for when Berlin takes over the rotating European presidency in 2020. ...

[Sep 17, 2019] Saudi claim capacity back soon.

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

ilsm -> ilsm... , September 17, 2019 at 09:00 AM

Saudi claim capacity back soon.

WTI (oil) fall back, a bit.

Small, precise bombs do small precise damage which is mostly easy to fix.... sort of like US in Vietnam doing large imprecise bombing doing in consequential damage outside of the selling by the US airplane builders.

If the attack was "low flying cruise missiles" from a land site somewhere near Kuwait..... someone near Kuwait is technically very sophisticated.

Paine -> ilsm... , September 17, 2019 at 09:06 AM
Let us hope the sophistication of technique is match by sophistication of strategy

So far so good

Point made and well made

House of said your nuts are exposed

[Sep 17, 2019] Amid the settlement of Treasury coupon auctions and the influx of quarterly corporate tax payments, the rate on overnight repurchase agreements soared by 153 basis points to 3.80%, the largest daily increase since December, based on ICAP pricing.

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Joe , September 16, 2019 at 12:11 PM


https://www.bloomberg.com/markets/rates-bonds/government-bonds/us

One of the key U.S. borrowing markets saw a massive surge Monday, a sign the Federal Reserve is having trouble controlling short-term interest rates.

Amid the settlement of Treasury coupon auctions and the influx of quarterly corporate tax payments, the rate on overnight repurchase agreements soared by 153 basis points to 3.80%, the largest daily increase since December, based on ICAP pricing.

---------
The would be Treasury trying to tilt the curve, deposit short borrow long. Finance, in general, is rescaling to accommodate the next 2 trillion in debt while rolling over trillions of 'Uncle can do it later' debt. A quick downturn, readjustment, and the 'Uncle do it later' payments to the wealthy will continue.

This is common, our progressive tribe has moles who suddenly rush off and do a deal with the wealthy leaving the rest of us in the dark.

Paine -> Joe... , September 16, 2019 at 02:01 PM
The end time nears
Joe , September 17, 2019 at 06:08 AM
https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/461692-cost-for-recent-government-shutdowns-estimated-at-4b

Repo Squeeze Threatens to Spill Over Into Funding Markets
By Stephen Spratt
September 17, 2019, 3:19 AM PDT Updated on September 17, 2019, 5:24 AM PDT
Cross-currency basis, FX forwards, eurodollar futures shift
Sale of $78 billion in Treasuries led to sudden cash squeeze
----------------

Treasury is ahead of finance in paying for the 'Uncle do it later' trick. The short rate has jumped 10 basis points, not much but there was a reading on the overnight market of 7%. This may mean nothing, but more likely means higher consumer credit charges. W have to pay for 'Uncles later'.

[Sep 17, 2019] Elizabeth Warren releases sweeping anti-corruption plan

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Fred C. Dobbs , September 16, 2019 at 08:22 AM

Elizabeth Warren releases sweeping anti-corruption plan
https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2019/09/16/elizabeth-warren-releases-sweeping-anti-corruption-plan-central-her-campaign/SXm5u4AadbvrKDcXfJPEHI/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

Steve Peoples and Will Weissert - AP - September 16

NEW YORK -- Elizabeth Warren has released a sweeping anti-government corruption proposal, providing a detailed policy roadmap for a fight she says is at the core of her presidential campaign.

( https://elizabethwarren.com/plans/end-washington-corruption )

The Democratic senator from Massachusetts is announcing the plan Monday in Manhattan's Washington Square Park, near the site of the Triangle Shirtwaist Co., which caught fire in 1911, killing 140-plus workers. Many of those deaths later were attributed to neglected safety features, such as doors that were locked inside the factory.

Warren's plan would ban lobbyists from many fundraising activities and serving as political campaign bundlers, tighten limits on politicians accepting gifts or payment for government actions and bar senior officials and members of Congress from serving on nonprofit boards. ...

Fred C. Dobbs said in reply to Fred C. Dobbs... , September 16, 2019 at 08:29 AM
Elizabeth Warren says she has
a plan for that. Here's a running list
https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2019/07/11/elizabeth-warren-says-she-has-plan-for-that-here-running-list/EHsPJR7JCSs3tBYe7sXxEN/story.html?event=event25 via @BostonGlobe

Christina Prignano - September 16

Senator Elizabeth Warren is blitzing the 2020 Democratic primary field with a series of ambitious policy proposals covering everything from student loans to the use of federal lands.

Her proposals have become a signature part of her campaign, solidifying her reputation as a policy wonk and spurring a new campaign slogan: "I have a plan for that."

Big Tech breakup
Child care
Clean energy
Criminal justice
Economic patriotism
Electoral college
Farmers
Filibuster
Green energy
Gun control
Higher education
Housing
Immigration
Minority entrepreneurship
Native American issues
Opioids
Pentagon ethics
Public lands
Puerto Rico
Racial wage disparities
Reparations
Roe v. Wade
Rural communities
State Department
Tax plans
Trade
Voting rights
Wall Street regulation

(more detail at the link)

im1dc -> Fred C. Dobbs... , September 16, 2019 at 05:10 PM
S. Warren proposal is AWESOME and NEEDED

Here's another journalist take on it...

https://www.thedailybeast.com/maryanne-trump-barry-elizabeth-warren-goes-after-president-trumps-sister-as-part-of-anti-corruption-plan

"Warren Goes After Trump's Sister in Anti-Corruption Push"

"The Massachusetts Democrat, who had already introduced a massive anti-corruption bill, is adding some new aspects to her plan"

by Gideon Resnick, Political Reporter...09.16.19 12:06PM ET

[Sep 17, 2019] TV debates are better than fiction!

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

ilsm , September 16, 2019 at 04:46 AM

TV debates are better than fiction!

"These people are aware that Biden is losing his mind, but they are pushing him toward the White House anyway."...

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/09/16/bidens-brain-is-swiss-cheese-and-its-creepy-that-were-not-talking-about-it/

The Biden comment about poor kids needing to hear words is pap I heard at a Hillary event in 2015 from Bill himself. Make sure the 'record player' the kids listen to for hours has the approved subliminal messages.

While insisting that schools raise kids tends toward the Brave New World.

When the DNC handlers free US from racism and "unfairness" we will be theirs.

And the handlers wants you [in to their "reality"] to do a 25th Amendment on Trump!

So much to be outraged about that is not Trump!

im1dc , September 16, 2019 at 04:46 AM
Where does Joe Biden stand on raising taxes on the wealthy to level the Wealth Gap?

https://thehill.com/policy/finance/461368-progressive-tax-the-rich-push-gains-momentum

"Progressive tax-the-rich push gains momentum"

By Naomi Jagoda...09/16/19...06:00 AM EDT

"The progressive push to raise taxes on the rich is gaining new momentum."...

[Sep 17, 2019] Johnstone Biden's Brain Is Swiss Cheese And It's Creepy That We're Not All Talking About It

Sep 17, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Johnstone: Biden's Brain Is Swiss Cheese And It's Creepy That We're Not All Talking About It

by Tyler Durden Mon, 09/16/2019 - 09:10 0 SHARES Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

I didn't watch the last Democratic presidential primary debates because I figured that without Tulsi Gabbard in there shaking things up it would be a boring, vapid parade of insubstantial verbal foam, and I love myself too much to go through such a horrible ordeal. By all accounts my prediction was correct, but I did miss one thing that's been making the rounds in video clips for the last couple of days which I find absolutely bizarre.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/4AYVwgcAOMY

Most of you have probably heard about Biden's infamous "record player" comment by now, but for those of you who missed it, Biden was asked by debate moderator Linsey Davis to defend some comments he made about America's problems with racism in the 1970s, and he responded by essentially saying that Black people don't know how to raise their kids so they need to be taught how by social workers. Biden has been receiving mainstream criticism for his racist and paternalistic position, along with plenty of mockery for saying that parents need to be told to "make sure you have the record player on at night" so that kids hear enough words in early childhood.

It is pretty clear that Biden was trying to communicate an idea that is premised on a deeply racist and condescending worldview, so it's to be expected that people would want to talk about that. It's also to be expected that people would be making jokes about how the cute old man said "record player" like a grandpa. But what isn't being discussed nearly enough is the fact that what Biden said was also a barely coherent, garbled word salad stumbling out of a brain that is clearly being eaten alive by a very serious neurological disease.

I've typed out a transcript of what Biden actually said, verbatim. There are no typos. I've also noted where Biden closes his eyes, probably to concentrate, which he does whenever he seems to be struggling especially hard to string words together. Try to read through it slowly, word-for-word, resisting the instinct to mentally re-frame it into something more coherent:

"Well they have to deal with the -- Look, there is institutional segregation in this country. And from the time I got involved I started dealing with that. Redlining. Banks. Making sure that we're in a position where -- Look, talk about education. I propose that what we take is those very poor schools, the Title 1 schools, triple the amount of money we spend from 15 to 45 billion a year. Give every single teacher a raise that equal [ closes eyes ] raise to getting out -- the sixty-thousand dollar level.

"Number two: make sure that we bring into the help the -- [ closes eyes ] the student, the, the teachers deal with the problems that come from home. The problems that come from home. We need -- We have one school psychologist for every fifteen hundred kids in America today. It's crazy. The teachers are reca -- Now, I'm married to a teacher. My deceased wife is a teacher. They have every problem coming to them. [ Closes eyes briefly ] We have make sure that every single child does in fact have three, four, and five year-olds go to school -- school, not daycare. School. We bring social workers into homes of parents to help them deal with how to raise their children. It's not that they don't wanna help, they don't want -- they don't know quite what to do. Play the radio, make sure the television, [ closes eyes tightly ] the -- 'scuse me, make sure you have the record player on at night, the-the-the-the phone, make sure the kids hear words. A kid coming from a very poor school, [ closes eyes ] a very poor background, will hear four million words fewer spoken by the time they get there."

Notice how it gets more garbled the longer he speaks. The response I transcribed was about eighty seconds in length. That was just one small part of a debate in which the former vice president performed no better and forgot three of his fellow candidates' names .

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

Compare this befuddled, incoherent mess with footage of a younger Biden, like his famous quip about how Rudy Giuliani only ever mentions "a noun and a verb and 9/11" in a sentence, or this clip where he said if Israel didn't exist America would have to invent it to protect its interests in the Middle East. Biden has always been notoriously gaffe-prone , but he was also sharp, alert, and articulate enough to deliver a punchline. As journalist Michael Tracey has been pointing out , what we're consistently seeing over and over again from the former vice president now are not "gaffes", but clear signs of cognitive decline. Contrast the difference between Biden's younger footage and what was seen at the last debate with footage of Bernie Sanders throughout the decades , who has remained virtually identical save for appearance and hoarseness. Age does not account for this difference. Biden's brain is dying.

It is certainly understandable that people are concerned about the presidential frontrunner having a racist worldview. But what's really weird and creepy is how few people are discussing the obvious fact that the presidential forerunner is also clearly suffering from the early stages of some kind of dementia. The brain that spouted the gibberish transcribed above would probably score poorly on a basic test for the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, yet discussion of his inability to complete a coherent sentence is relegated to the margins of political discourse. This is someone who is campaigning to have access to the nuclear codes, yet we're only talking about how he's kind of racist and not about the fact that his brain is turning into Swiss cheese right before our eyes. It's freaky.

It's freaky, but it kind of makes sense. One common difficulty in getting early treatment for people with Alzheimer's disease is that those suffering from it often go to great lengths to hide their impairments , and another difficulty is that their families are often deeply in denial about their loved one's mental decline. According to the Mayo Clinic , "Some people hide their symptoms, or family members cover for them. That's easy to understand, because Alzheimer's dementia is associated with loss, such as loss of independence, loss of a driving privileges and loss of self."

I think we're seeing precisely this happening, both with Biden, and with his supporters. Biden himself is clearly doing everything he can to feign mental competency, and as a powerful politician aiming to accomplish a lifelong ambition to become the US president he'd certainly have a lot egoically invested in doing so. His supporters seem to be doing all kinds of denial mental gymnastics around his cognitive decline as well; just check out the responses to this Washington Post tweet for its article about Biden's "record player" response.

me title=

Here are a few examples:

"Don't pretend you didn't understand what he was saying."

"Actually, I recently saw a turntable for sale at Best Buys & vinyl records are back on the market. Try to keep up, WaPo."

"My 22 year old son and all his friends play records on record players these days. If you're insinuating that Joe is out of touch, you're out of touch."

"Actually currently, there are some people playing record players because they find the vinyl record has better sound quality. I think you are just picking and choosing who to go after."

"He was saying they not hearing enough words. We did. We were read to. We listened to children's albums. We had conversations. He was trying to get at the importance of those things. He didn't do a great job on communicating it but he was right."

"Twitter snark aside, there are studies to back up that claim."

"He got 80% of the way through the debate without an embarrassing gaffe that highlights his age. Of course, Trump couldn't get halfway through a debate without threatening his opponent with imprisonment."

"Honestly so what. I got the sentiment."

"Not sure why people are being so condescending. Vinyl outsold CD last year, so, you know, record players are everywhere these days. You could say he's stuck in the past or you could say he's trending. Be kind."

We saw this same impulse to protect and compensate for Biden's mental decline from audience members during the debate, who gasped out loud when Julian Castro suggested that Biden had forgotten what he'd said two minutes ago. Many rank-and-file Democrats are so desperate for an end to an administration that is making them increasingly anxious and neurotic that they find it cognitively easier to compartmentalize away from the obvious fact that Biden is in a state of mental decline than to turn and face that reality. So they make excuses and pretend that his demented word salads are perfectly rational, hip references to the resurging popularity of vinyl records.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/dtJ34wycgwk

The only people who are absolutely acutely aware of Biden's cognitive decline and yet still want him to become president are his handlers. There is no way his consistent pattern of verbal unintelligibility has gone unnoticed by those who are responsible for facilitating his election, and indeed The Hill reports that his "allies" have been floating the idea of scaling back his campaign appearances and scheduling them for earlier in the day when he's not tired to help minimize his "verbal flubs". These people are aware that Biden is losing his mind, but they are pushing him toward the White House anyway.

If Biden supporters were really intellectually honest with themselves about what's going on, they'd see that they don't actually want Joe Biden to be president, they want his unelected, unaccountable handlers to be president. From a position of intellectual honesty they'd be taking the position of arch neocon Bill Kristol, who once said he'd "prefer the deep state to the Trump state."

And of course that wouldn't be a first among US presidents even in recent history. Ronald Reagan had early signs of Alzheimer's disease during his presidency according to his own son , and George W Bush was infamously just a puppet of his handlers like Dick Cheney. Indeed it would be possible to have an actual, literal Jim Henson puppet as president of the United States without America's unelected power establishment skipping a single beat.

But that's exactly the point: having a real human being in there with even a semi-functional mind can put some inertia on the most sociopathic impulses of America's unelected permanent government. Both Trump and Obama are of course horrible presidents who have continued and expanded the Bush administration's most evil agendas, but Obama slowed down the push to arm Ukraine against Russia and slammed the brakes on a full-scale bombing campaign on Syria, while Trump was unable to get along with John Bolton and is losing interest in Venezuela while resisting the push to start new wars. Despite all their flaws, they've resisted the permanent government's worst impulses in some key ways. If it's just Biden's handlers and the unelected power establishment, there's no humanity anywhere near the brake pedal.

me title=

So this makes sense to talk about no matter how you look at it. But we're not. In mainstream discourse we're speaking as though this is just a charmingly gaffe-prone old man who makes a few controversial statements from time to time but would still make a fine president, when really he shouldn't even be allowed a driver's license.

And I just find that really creepy and uncomfortable. As someone who's never been able to leave elephants in rooms alone, the fact that the leading presidential contender is neurologically incapable of speaking coherently for eighty seconds sticks out like dog's balls and it's absolutely freakish that this isn't front and center of our political discourse right now. Biden's dementia should be the very first thing we discuss whenever his name comes up, not the last.

* * *

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RBNJ , 5 hours ago link

??? It's not "weird" or "creepy" - it's completely understandable and explainable. The media drive the narrative in Washington. They are completely biased and will work tirelessly to insure the Democrat nominee evicts Trump in 2020. Biden is the current front-runner so they will speak no ill of him. If he were a fringe candidate, only getting in the way of their goal, then you can be damn sure the media would be talking about his obvious senility. If and when he's no longer the front-runner then we'll begin seeing stories about his mental decline, but not before then - not 1 damn second before then.

stinkypinky , 6 hours ago link

To be fair Trump's transcripts don't look great either. Both men seem to switch gears mid-sentence like they basically want you to get the idea of what they're talking about, and then move on without nailing down the details, and can't wait to get the **** out of the room.

from_the_ashes , 7 hours ago link

Can't help but agree with the swiss cheese diagnosis...

Corn Pop? Seriously?

https://townhall.com/tipsheet/timothymeads/2019/09/16/biden-tells-the-tale-of-the-one-time-he-took-on-a-black-dude-named-corn-pop-n2553113

whatisthat , 9 hours ago link

I would observe joe biden is simply another corrupt moron bureaucrat candidate who is running for president - sponsored by the DNC

[Sep 17, 2019] Russia Absolutely Pwn3d The FBI During Obama Years Report

Sep 17, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Transmedia001 , 8 minutes ago link

Another media spin in preparation of the public proof that the Steale dossier and Russia Gate was a soft coup and media hoax. Articles like this allow the traitors to argue that they didn't know it was fake or that certain assets were not Russian because the Russians were several steps ahead manipulating the situation using FBI hacked coms.

Time to start setting fire to every MSM outlet and making s'mores as we watch it all burn.

Koba the Dread , 21 minutes ago link

What a terrible typographical error. Somehow the word "Russian" was inserted in this text when the word "Israeli" was supposed to be used. Hey, typographers, pay more attention.

MaxThrust , 25 minutes ago link

"The technical break-through allowed Russian spies in American cities, key insights into how FBI surveillance teams were operating. "

The Russians learned how the FBI goes about lying to cover up for it's actions. How "False Flag" operations are coordinated and how entrapment schemes are run.

NiggaPleeze , 31 minutes ago link

We didn't understand that they were at political war with us already in the second term

Spying is not political war, moron. But fact is the Evil Empire never stopped its war against Russia - under Yeltsin they just moved it inside the country with their *** oligarch traitors, getting Russia to dismantle its industry, etc.

beemasters , 47 minutes ago link

According to a report this week, Israel has been spying on the White House. While that news itself isn't shocking, the Trump administration's response – or lack thereof – has taken many in DC by surprise.

But, unlike past administrations, the Trump team has not taken any action against surveillance by one of its closest allies, and spying on US soil has had no real consequences for Israel, American officials said.

Israeli spying is not new – but the Trump administration's response is

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/israel-trump-spy-white-house-netanyahu-surveillance-a9104776.html

They are now voting for the next POTUS in Israhell, as we speak. Will it be Netanyahu again?

Neochrome , 52 minutes ago link

We didn't understand that they were at political war with us

Is that why US was (is) spying on Merkel?

youshallnotkill , 54 minutes ago link

Russia Absolutely Pwn3d The FBI During Obama Years

And this headline makes abundantly clear which side the Tylers cheer for.

(Not that there was any doubt about it).

Joiningupthedots , 1 hour ago link

So the FBI wants more money for "integrated" communications or something?

This **** is not dissimilar to the CIA/MI6 pet rock trasmitters in the Moscow parks.

Spy agencies spy on each other....its their job LOL

Heroic Couplet , 1 hour ago link

"Shortly before the Obama administration approved a deal granting Russia 20% of America's uranium," LInk? If Russia mines uranium in the Western Hemisphere, it cannot export it. See Forbes Magazine, 13Dec2018, the article debunking Hillary-Uranium One.

booboo , 1 hour ago link

All roads lead to that neocon infested festering cesspool of anti American shitlips called the State Department. With friends like that who needs "the Russians"

truthalwayswinsout , 1 hour ago link

How can you believe this?

If the Russians did crack certain communications and the US knew it, they would use that to really screw the Russians and let them think they had us by the balls.

And they certainly would no be admitting any of it in an article.

Totally_Disillusioned , 1 hour ago link

And all the while the FBI / DOJ was running cover for the Clintonn Foundation and the Clintons, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the Awan brothers and surveilling American citizens with help of contractors. NOT ONE FBI whistle blower came forward...

I have been asking "Why?" At first I thought perhaps the threats to self/family may be the reason, but I'm now convinced THEY WERE ALL IN ON THE CORRUPTION. This agency is totally and thoroughly corrupt and beyond redemption. This is why Wray continues to carry water for the corrupt FBI leadership. Time to completely dismantle and re-engineer into the US Marshalls office.

[Sep 17, 2019] Now and again, both in professional political writings and here as I read, the term Trotskyism is used but though I have looked up the term a few times I have no real idea what it is supposed to mean.

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 02:32 PM

Correcting my punctuation:

Now and again, both in professional political writings and here as I read, the term Trotskyism is used but though I have looked up the term a few times I have no real idea what it is supposed to mean. Possibly a reader could explain. After all, the term tankie was explained by a prominent economist at the University of California only a few days ago and I realized the term was absurd, simply an empty personal insult. Possibly Trotskyism is as empty.

likbez -> anne... , September 16, 2019 at 09:32 PM
Hi Anne,

You are in a bad position. Generally this needs some acquaintance with Marxism as Trotskyism is one of the most influential "deviation" from Classic Marxism (Bolshevism was yet another).

Both used to believe in the special role of "proletariat" as the new class that will depose older ruling classes all over the globe. Both believed in "class struggle" as the main force of historical development of humanity. One of the key ideas of Trotskyism was the idea of Permanent revolution -- forceful introduction of socialist regimes using subversion, external financial injections, and armed struggle (kind of "regime change" strategy that the USA practices now for introduction of neoliberal regimes.)

The idea of class struggle transposed as the struggle within the elite and between states for supremacy was borrowed by the US turncoats from Trotskyism (see for example -- renegade Trotskyite James Burnham book THE MACHIAVELLIANS: THE DEFENDERS OF FREEDOM ) who later formed the core of the neocon movement.

Still you might try to read some sources on the WEB like:

http://www.softpanorama.org/Skeptics/Political_skeptic/Neoliberalism/neoliberalism_as_trotskyism_for_the_rich.shtml

Or something from one of the few remaining Forth International (Trotskyite) sites like wsws.org:

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/09/13/lec6-s13.html

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/08/23/rowe-a23.html

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/05/10/mdbv-m10.html

[Sep 17, 2019] The reincarnation of the idea of Soviet Nomenklatura on a new level in a different social system

Highly recommended!
Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 15, 2019 at 11:33 AM

https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204669356740608

Branko Milanovic‏ @BrankoMilan

Homoploutia, a concept I introduce in "Capitalism, Alone". In today's liberal capitalism, it is common that the same people are rich *both* in terms of capital they own and earnings they receive. This was almost unheard of in classical capitalism where capitalists seldom doubled as wage workers.

4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019

anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 11:47 AM
https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204677611196416

Branko Milanovic‏ @BrankoMilan

So here, using @lisdata, you have a nice illustration of advanced capitalist countries where people in the top decile by capital and labor income increasing coincide (right end) and Brazil and Mexico where they do not.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EEgPbuWXsAEays-.jpg:large

4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019

anne -> anne... , September 15, 2019 at 11:49 AM
https://twitter.com/BrankoMilan/status/1173204681184751617

Branko Milanovic‏ @BrankoMilan

Note the ambivalence * of homoploutia: in some sense it is desirable (and risk-reducing) that capitalists also work, or that high earners possess capital too. But in another way, it makes inequality-reducing policies more difficult.

* Contradiction

4:59 AM - 15 Sep 2019

likbez -> anne... , September 16, 2019 at 09:03 PM
Yes, under neoliberalism like under Bolshevism, your social position is not determined solely by the capital you own. It is also determined by the position you hold in the industry or government (and your earnings/wages are derivative of that).

So we see the reincarnation of the idea of Soviet Nomenklatura on a new level in a different social system. The term can still serve its purpose, and IMHO is better than "Homoploutia."

It is also interesting that older middle-class folk, who due to their private savings, 401K, Roth and ISA accounts, SS pension (say $6K-7K a month for a couple), and sometimes government or industry pension are formally millionaires (with some multimillionaires) are not generally viewed as belonging to the upper 10%. They are looked at as an aberration by the most sociologists.

That's because they are now retired and no longer hold any meaningful for the upper 10% level position in the industry or government. In other words, they do not belong to Nomenklatura. Or more correctly no longer belong to Nomenklatura (for those who retired from high level positions)

And, correspondingly, often are treated as junk in the neoliberal society.

[Sep 17, 2019] IMF conversion of Argentina into debt slave presented as an anomany by some neoliberal stooge

Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 15, 2019 at 03:06 PM

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-09-14/Will-the-IMF-finally-learn-from-Argentina--JYsMESNh4I/index.html

September 14, 2019

Will the IMF finally learn from Argentina?
Although evidence of the deficiencies in the International Monetary Fund's standard approach has been piling up for years, old habits evidently die hard. But now that Argentina is once again in trouble under the IMF's watch, the need for institutional self-reflection can no longer be ignored.
By STEPHEN GRENVILLE

Argentina's politically intractable foreign-debt crisis serves as a powerful reminder that the International Monetary Fund still has no answer for dealing with the volatility of international capital flows to emerging economies. It also underscores the need for reform at the Fund itself.

Given that debt defaults have littered Argentina's history, we need to go back at least two decades to understand the current situation. For most of the 1990s, Argentina had successfully implemented a fixed exchange rate, which the IMF saw as a sensible option for containing inflation. The approach proved so successful that Argentina attracted substantial international capital inflows, allowing it to fund a large external deficit.

But by 1998, the exchange rate was looking overvalued in the context of adverse terms of trade, a strong U.S. dollar, and capital-flow crises in Asia and Russia. It seemed that some flexibility should be added to the exchange-rate regime, but it wasn't clear how to do it. Departing from a fixed rate is always a traumatic experience, with obvious winners and losers.

Meanwhile, the IMF remained sympathetic to Argentina's woes, because the country had followed its recommendations and had friends in Washington, DC. Enjoying the benefit of the doubt, Argentina clung to the fixed-rate regime. The IMF extended generous support, and urged its usual all-purpose policy prescription: fiscal tightening.

Austerity might have worked if the only problem had been temporary illiquidity. But Argentina had borrowed too much, and its lenders realized that its exchange-rate regime was unsustainable. In December 2001, the IMF reluctantly ended its support. Argentina's then-president, Fernando de la Rúa, made a dramatic helicopter departure as the economy descended into chaos. Amid bank closures, 20 percent unemployment, and a 28 percent decline in GDP, the country defaulted on its foreign debt.

By 2010, the mess had been sorted out and the foreign debt rescheduled. With the arrival of a new business-oriented president, Mauricio Macri, in 2015, the cycle could start again. This time, at the IMF's urging, Argentina adopted a pure floating exchange rate. With the external debt trimmed by rescheduling, foreign capital flowed in once again. Investors were willing to buy even 100-year bonds from a country with eight sovereign defaults in the last two centuries.

Investor enthusiasm, and the domestic political honeymoon, lasted as long as the international environment remained benign. But when inflows faltered in 2018, the IMF had to step in once again, closing the external funding gap with a stunning 50 billion U.S. dollars loan program (later raised to 57 billion U.S. dollars).

But, again, the external funding problem was not a temporary phenomenon, and the Argentinian electorate soon began to bristle at the reforms demanded by the IMF. With accumulated foreign debt over 100 billion U.S. dollars and most of the Fund's money already disbursed, Argentina announced a unilateral debt "reprofiling" late last month.

For the Argentine people, this is grim news; for the IMF, it represents a fundamental policy failure. It is now clear that fiscal austerity and a floating exchange rate are inadequate to cope with capital-flow volatility. The only question is what should come next, not just for Argentina, where the IMF will struggle to salvage its loan program, but for the Fund itself.

For starters, the IMF must devise better ways of resolving unsustainable sovereign debt burdens. Unsustainable domestic debt can always be resolved through rescheduling or bankruptcy. But international debt is another matter, and here the IMF's record leaves much to be desired. In the 1998 Asian crisis, the Fund strongly resisted rescheduling. In the 2010 Greek crisis, it allowed creditors (mainly foreign banks) to protect themselves from their own foolishness. And in Argentina's case, it refused to use its clout to override vulture bondholders who had subverted the 2010 rescheduling, even as it rolled out a massive loan program.

Second, the IMF should face up to the fact that unconstrained international capital flows are too volatile for fragile emerging economies. Having long opposed capital controls, it has belatedly – and unenthusiastically – endorsed "capital flow management," but only as a last resort when all other measures (namely, painful austerity) have been exhausted.

Rather than being at the bottom of the policy toolbox, inflow constraints should be routine for many emerging economies. The IMF should articulate its support when countries apply such constraints to fickle portfolio inflows. Emerging economies should not run substantial external deficits just because foreign investors feel euphoric. The same investors will depart en masse when conditions change.

Third, instead of reluctantly tolerating exchange-market intervention, the IMF should actively promote it when market volatility is clearly disruptive. A number of Asian economies have demonstrated the benefits of well-disciplined market intervention. The Fund should use their experiences to develop operational guidance.

Fourth, IMF shareholders need to review the organization's internal governance. The Argentine program is merely the latest in a series of decisions in which larger members' politically motivated interests seem to prevail, while the unwieldy Executive Board is largely sidelined.

Traditionally, Argentina has been treated favorably in Washington, DC (relative to, say, the Asian crisis countries in 1997-98). The swift approval of the 50 billion U.S. dollars program, and its casual enlargement to 57 billion U.S. dollars, has added to the impression that the country receives special treatment despite its chronic inability to manage its debt.

When the time comes for a postmortem, the victim will be blamed. Argentina's political and governance deficiencies will be held up as evidence of what went wrong, and not without justification. But that is beside the point. It is the IMF's job to operate in challenging environments. To do so effectively, it must reform itself alongside Argentina's troubled economy.

[Sep 17, 2019] The roots of the criminogenic environment go much deeper. Where was the DOJ in the prosecution of the massive banking fraud that led to the great financial crisis ? Busy prosecuting poor people while the big fish criminals were rescued by the corrupt institutions.

Clintonism was the introduction of mafia style in the US justice system and conversion of the key law enforcement agency -- FBI -- in mafia style organization.
Sep 17, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

Mr. Bill , September 15, 2019 at 06:14 PM

Re: Krugman's article on the death of American Democracy he asserts: " In less than three years it has been transformed from an agency that tries to enforce the law to an organization dedicated to punishing Trump's opponents."

I think that I agree with Bill Black that the roots of the criminogenic environment go much deeper. Where was the DOJ in the prosecution of the massive banking fraud that led to the great financial crisis ? Busy prosecuting poor people while the big fish criminals were rescued by the corrupt institutions. I agree that Democracy dies when the institutions become corrupt and the beneficiaries of the same corrupt institutions become smugly comfortable in control of the narrative.

A troubling article by the New Yorker, "Clarence Thomas's Radical Vision of Race",

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/essay/clarence-thomass-radical-vision-of-race

Points to a real world example: The profound corruption of the conservative SCOTUS that led to Citizens United. The angst of the entitled bemoaning their good fortune, like spoiled children.

[Sep 16, 2019] Incentives (And Sociopaths) Rule The World

Sep 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Skip to main content

https://www.dianomi.com/smartads.epl?id=4777 Incentives (And Sociopaths) Rule The World

by Tyler Durden Mon, 09/16/2019 - 22:25 0 SHARES Authored by Michael Krieger via The Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Ryan Murphy, an economist at Southern Methodist University, recently published a working paper in which he ranked each of the states by the predominance of -- there's no nice way to put it -- psychopaths. The winner? Washington in a walk. In fact, the capital scored higher on Murphy's scale than the next two runners-up combined.

"I had previously written on politicians and psychopathy, but I had no expectation D.C. would stand out as much as it does," Murphy wrote in an email

On a national level, it raises the troubling question as to what it means to live in a country whose institutions are set up to reward some very dubious human traits. Like it or not, we're more likely than not to wind up with some alarming personalities in positions of power.

– From last year's Politico article, Washington, D.C.: the Psychopath Capital of America

One of the most frustrating aspects of modern American politics - and the culture in general - is our all encompassing fixation on the superficial. It's also one of the main reasons I have very little interest in presidential politics, which basically consists of a bunch of billionaire friendly puppets auditioning to become the next public face of imperial oligarchy. Though I understand the desire for quick fixes, our focus on highlighting and mitigating only the symptoms of societal decay as opposed to the root causes, ensures we'll never achieve the sort of positive paradigm-level shift necessary to bring humankind forward.

The truth of the matter is incentives rule the world, and if we look at some of the most pernicious and predatory areas of our socio-economic reality, including (but not limited to) the financial sector, the defense industry, intelligence agencies and healthcare, we find a slew of incentives that handsomely reward sociopathic behavior, while penalizing ethical, conscious action beneficial to society at large. Notice it's always the whistleblowers who end up imprisoned or hunted down.

In the economic realm, if we think about the idea of a competitive free market, the primary reason the profit incentive exists and is widely accepted is the implicit understanding that people should be incentivized to create a product or service that benefits the public at large. While we still have remnants of this at play within the modern U.S. economy, much of the "wealth" attained these days is a direct consequence of rent-seeking, parasitic behavior and corruption of one kind or another. The reason is pretty simple. It's incentivized.

When you have a financial fraud crime spree like the one witnessed earlier this century and your response is to bail out the criminals and ensure no executives go to jail, it's essentially a gigantic bell ringing in the ears of every scoundrel on the planet. It's open season for sociopaths. The Obamas weren't super wealthy when Barack became President, yet they're now worth an estimated $40 million (likely more given the size of their real estate purchases). The same thing happened to the Clintons. They've reportedly earned $240 million since Lolita express frequent flier Bill left office.

The most surefire way to succeed in America today is to be a high-functioning sociopath who scratches the backs of other high-functioning sociopaths. As such, the most pressing problem at a root level is that our economy and society incentivizes sociopathic behavior by systematically funneling sociopaths into positions of unaccountable power. If this sounds insane it's because it is. The very structure of how our society functions is in fact insane.

These are the people running the show. They infect every country, every industry, every government. All the halls of power. Until we figure out a way to marginalize humanity's sociopaths rather than hand them the reins of power globally, we'll continue to repeat the current pointless, destructive cycle.

me title=

I'm certain the current mainstream political discussion in the U.S. isn't serious because so few people are focused on the structure of society itself. There's very little focus on incentives, on the fact that our entire economy functions as a promotion mechanism for sociopaths. No amount of tinkering around the edges is going to dramatically transform the human experience into something more positive until we figure out a way to make society itself resistant to sociopath takeover.

Significantly, one of the most in your face examples of sociopath dominance relates to imperial military policy, which has nothing to do with national defense and everything to do with national offense. It's simply about utilizing state murder to advance power and profit for a few. The incentives are completely backwards, which is why it never gets better.

There are few things a human being can do more evil and depraved than lying a nation into war, yet that's precisely what the proponents of the Iraq war did. More significantly, what consequences have befallen the proponents of that war? Increased fame and fortune in most cases. In fact, one of them is currently the leading contender for the Democratic Party nomination for President.

When you incentivize murderous behavior, you get more of it. Those who stand to benefit most from war should also have the most to lose, but our current system functions in the exact opposite way.

me title=

All that said, perhaps the most concerning instance of perverse incentives in society today can be found in the relationship between the national security state and average citizens. The way it works, and it's rapidly getting worse, is you the individual have zero right to privacy while the national security state can classify what the CIA director ate for lunch. Those with the most power are subject to the least transparency, while the powerless masses are subject to mass surveillance. This unaccountable, authoritarian structure will continue to ensure the worst people alive end up in the highest echelons of power. What self-respecting sociopath wouldn't be attracted to a system where you get to exercise total dominance over hundreds of millions of people with zero accountability? It's like bees to honey.

If you build a house with a bad foundation you're going to have problems. The same thing can be said about civilizations. We need to admit we live a world that incentivizes the worst amongst us to attain all meaningful positions of power.

Begging a sociopath for scraps of food might help you survive another day, but it won't result in sustainable long-term progress. We need to see sociopaths for the societal cancer they are and completely reorient our incentive structure in order to reward conscious, cooperative behavior as opposed to ruthless parasitism. Change the incentives and you'll change the outcome.

* * *

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besnook , 17 minutes ago link

the sackler family of purdue pharma fame epitomizes the mindset of true sociopathic behavior necessary for success in western capitalism. the family has killed tens of thousands of their customers for want of a few more shekels. Their first response to the hundreds of lawsuits holding them responsible for their behavior was a warning that if a settlement they can agree to is not met then they will declare bankruptcy and no one will get any money. They just declared bankruptcy and are still selling murder.

Betrayed , 17 minutes ago link

Funny how stories like this skate all around the perimeter of who's running this psychopathic **** show but can't mention the name.

(((They)) own the Banks, Media, all political Whores including Trump, the educational brainwashing system, are knee deep in treason against our country.

...

darteaus , 27 minutes ago link

"Incentives (And Sociopaths) Rule The World"

I hope this is not news to anyone on this forum.

[Sep 16, 2019] DOJ Sued For Docs On FBI-CIA Informant Who Spearheaded Trump Tower Moscow Scheme

Notable quotes:
"... Judicial Watch notes that "The Mueller report mentions Sater more than 100 times but fails to mention that he was an active undercover informant for the FBI/CIA for more than two decades. In 2017, Sater was the subject of two interviews conducted under a proffer agreement with Mueller's office according to page 69, footnote 304 of Mueller's report on his Russian collusion investigation." ..."
"... As such, their lawsuit seeks all communications with Sater - including the FBI's 302 interview reports and offer agreements between Mueller and Sater. ..."
"... So we're clear - and FBI/CIA informant attempted to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin right as "Russiagate" began heating up - perhaps in an effort to take Trump down for the so-called "deep state" he worked for. ..."
"... " Was a Russian real estate deal being pushed on the Trump Organization part of a set-up by a FBI/CIA informant? " asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. ..."
Sep 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

A Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit filed on Monday by Judicial Watch against the Department of Justice seeks all records of communications regarding Felix Sater - a former Trump organization official known to US intelligence as "The Quarterback," who was recently confirmed to be an informant for both the FBI and CIA .

Sater went from a "Wall Street wunderkind" working at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, to getting barred from the securities industry over a barroom brawl which led to a year in prison, to facilitating a $40 million pump-and-dump stock scheme for the New York mafia, to working telecom deals in Russia - where the FBI and CIA tapped him in the late 1990s as an undercover intelligence asset who was told by his handler " I want you to understand: If you're caught, the USA is going to disavow you and, at best, you get a bullet in the head, " according to BuzzFeed.

Sater reportedly "began working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1998, after he was caught in a stock-fraud scheme." It was Andrew Weissmann who, as supervising assistant U.S. attorney, signed the agreement that brought Sater on as a government informant. Federal prosecutors wrote a letter to Sater's sentencing judge on August 27, 2009, in an effort to get him a lighter sentence: "Sater's cooperation was of a depth and breadth rarely seen." - Judicial Watch

Sater also spearheaded the failed Trump Tower Moscow scheme with former Trump attorney Michael Cohen according to the same report (which BuzzFeed walked back months later, saying instead that the project was Cohen's idea) .

Judicial Watch notes that "The Mueller report mentions Sater more than 100 times but fails to mention that he was an active undercover informant for the FBI/CIA for more than two decades. In 2017, Sater was the subject of two interviews conducted under a proffer agreement with Mueller's office according to page 69, footnote 304 of Mueller's report on his Russian collusion investigation."

As such, their lawsuit seeks all communications with Sater - including the FBI's 302 interview reports and offer agreements between Mueller and Sater.

A Sater Setup?

Interestingly, Judicial Watch chief investigative reporter Micah Morrison noted in June that "Beginning in late 2015, Sater repeatedly tried to arrange for [Trump attorney Michael] Cohen and candidate Trump, as representatives of the Trump Organization, to travel to Russia to meet with Russian government officials and possible financing partners."

The Trump campaign appears to have rejected Sater's attempts - however the Mueller report notes that "Sater and Cohen continued to discuss a trip to Moscow" into the spring of 2016 - and tried to arrange a meeting between Putin and Trump .

So we're clear - and FBI/CIA informant attempted to arrange a meeting between Trump and Putin right as "Russiagate" began heating up - perhaps in an effort to take Trump down for the so-called "deep state" he worked for.

" Was a Russian real estate deal being pushed on the Trump Organization part of a set-up by a FBI/CIA informant? " asked Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

As we noted last March of Sater's assistance to the US government:

During the course of his work for the agencies, all unpaid, BuzzFeed confirmed the following exploits:

And how did he get bin Laden's sat phone numbers? He tricked his Northern Alliance source into believing he would become the "Alan Greenspan of Afghanistan" - running the country's federal reserve after the U.S. invasion .

Sater said he set up Delaware LLCs in the US -- for the "Bank of Kabul" and the "Bank of Afghanistan." He registered websites to convince the Northern Alliance source that he was serious about his intentions, going so far, he said, as to print out the corporate registrations, adorn them with ribbons, and use a wax stamp to make them seem more official. He said he mailed the documents, and a satellite phone, to the source.

Two former Justice Department officials said Sater took these steps without the FBI's knowledge or authorization, telling his handlers about it only after the fact. - BuzzFeed

We have a feeling that even if Judicial Watch is successful in their legal action, all we're going to learn from the US government about Felix Sater is [redacted].


June 12 1776 , 4 minutes ago link

Bread 'n Circus Kabuki theater by controlled "Court Jester" opposition: "Judicial Watch," for its National uniPARTY plantation slaves!

Trump's direct ties to Jewish-Russian mob. Jewish Chabad Lubavitch mobster Felix Sater (Trump's Bayrock partner) , "King of Diamonds" Lev Leviev, and other Jewish-Russian mobsters like Semion Mogilevich and Alex Sapir.

https://fitzinfo.wordpress.com/2018/05/13/trump-controlled-by-mossad-part-iv/

TheLastMan , 5 minutes ago link

Informants perform their duties in order to lessen criminal charges. Sater appears to have continued services after his charges were commuted/modified.

Maybe he is not an informant - maybe he is an employee.

Fiscal Reality , 13 minutes ago link

Wake me up when someone (other than Manafort, Flynn and George Papa) are in handcuffs .This was a seditious, pre-planned coup involving HRC, BHO, CIA, FBI, MI6 and Italian Intelligence.

desertboy , 11 minutes ago link

...Unintended consequences are a wonderful thing.

Fiscal Reality , 13 minutes ago link

Wake me up when someone (other than Manafort, Flynn and George Papa) are in handcuffs .This was a seditious, pre-planned coup involving HRC, BHO, CIA, FBI, MI6 and Italian Intelligence.

Drop-Hammer , 16 minutes ago link

Most likely was a *** trap/set-up.

Meme Iamfurst , 20 minutes ago link

"Was a Russian real estate deal being pushed on the Trump Organization part of a set-up by a FBI/CIA informant? "

ASK Obama, for God's sake, he got daily briefings.

JoeTurner , 23 minutes ago link

The Democrat party has made it clear they will stoop to Coups to seize power when their Wall St approved puppets are not "elected"

artvandalai , 25 minutes ago link

Was it a set-up? You mean to tell me that there's somebody out there that has to even ask that question?

[Sep 16, 2019] Manhattan DA Subpoenas 8 Years Of Trump Tax Returns

Looks like very polarized decision: to friends everything, to enemies the law. And treatment by NY of Epstein and Harvey Weinstein supports this hypothesis.
Sep 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Manhattan DA Subpoenas 8 Years Of Trump Tax Returns

by Tyler Durden Mon, 09/16/2019 - 16:45 0 SHARES

It never ends.

New York state prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed President Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, demanding eight years of his personal and corporate tax returns according to the New York Times , citing "several people with knowledge on the matter" - the gold standard in modern sources.

The subpoena was issued by the Manhattan DA's office last month following the launch of a criminal investigation into hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) by former Trump attorney Michael Cohen - who pleaded guilty last year to eight charges; seven of which were unrelated to the Trump campaign, and one for breaking federal campaign finance laws. He is currently serving a three-year prison sentence.

At issue - Democratic Manhattan D.A. Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (whose daddy was Jimmy Carter's Secretary of State - and who took money from Harvey Weinstein while declining to prosecute him for sexual assault - and who sought a reduced sex-offender status for Jeffrey Epstein) wants to see if Trump's reimbursement of Cohen violated any laws in New York , and whether Trump's accounting firm falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense.

In New York, filing a false business record can be a crime.

But it becomes a felony only if prosecutors can prove that the false filing was made to commit or conceal another crime, such as tax violations or bank fraud. The tax returns and other documents sought from Mazars could shed light on whether any state laws were broken . Such subpoenas also routinely request related documents in connection with the returns. - New York Times

Congressional Democrats have been hunting down Trump's tax returns for years after the billionaire refused to do so, citing an ongoing IRS audit as well as the position that Trump Organization competitors would then have access to industry secrets.

Congressional Democrats have taken an aggressive approach, subpoenaing six years of Mr. Trump's tax returns from the Treasury Department, as well as personal and corporate financial records from Deutsche Bank, Capital One and Mazars USA.

The president has fought back to keep his finances under wraps, challenging the subpoenas in federal court. He has also sued to block a New York state law, passed this year, that authorized state officials to provide his state tax returns in response to certain congressional inquiries. By tying up the requests in court, Mr. Trump's team has made it diminishingly likely that Democrats in Washington will get the chance to review them before the election next year . - New York Times

And while Trump and the Treasury Department have proven thus far successful in thwarting Democratic lawmakers' inquiries, it may not be as easy to fend off a subpoena in Manhattan .

According to Mazars, they will "will respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations," adding that the company was legally prohibited from commenting on its work.

If the Manhattan DA is able to obtain Trump's tax returns, the Times notes that "the documents would be covered by secrecy rules governing grand juries, meaning they would not become public unless they were used as evidence in a criminal case."

The Times does not note, however, that the records would likely be leaked within 30 minutes to the Washington Post or similar.

State prosecutors also subpoenaed the Trump Organization in early August for records of the payments to Daniels and Cohen's reimbursement - a request which has been complied with according to the report.

"It's just harassment of the president, his family and his business, using subpoenas as weapons," said Trump Org attorney, Marc L. Mukasey in a statement last month.

As part of its investigation, prosecutors from Mr. Vance's office visited Mr. Cohen in prison in Otisville, N.Y., to seek assistance with their investigation, according to people briefed on the meeting, which was first reported by CNN.

Mr. Cohen also helped arrange for American Media Inc., the publisher of The National Enquirer, to pay Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who also said she had an affair with the president. Prosecutors in the district attorney's office subpoenaed American Media in early August, as well as at least one bank. - New York Times

Will the Democrats' gambit pay off? Or will the ongoing "witch hunts" into President Trump backfire and turn him into a martyr?


Tachyon5321 , 43 minutes ago link

There is no evidence that any crimes of any type has been committed.

There is no legal grounds for a subpoena to be issued without evidence that a crime has been committed.

Cearly, the Manhattan DA is violating the civil right of a citizen for asking for 8 years of tax records with no indication of a crime. Trump should sue the DA and the jutice department should look into the DA violation of due process and legal rights of a citizen.

rgraf , 53 minutes ago link

Has he subpoenaed Epstein's docs? Is he going to claim tax fraud is worse than child molestation? Why don't Trump supporters file a class action lawsuit and RICO against this clown?

William Dorritt , 3 hours ago link

Perfect

"Democratic Manhattan D.A. Cyrus R. Vance Jr.

wants to see if Trump's reimbursement of Cohen violated any laws in New York , and whether Trump's accounting firm falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. "

Love to see the Bio on the Judge that approved the Subpeona

DBAustin , 3 hours ago link

How many people reading this think that the IRS never reviewed Trump's tax returns?

How many people reading this think that Obama's IRS did NOT make a special effort to go over Trump's taxes in great detail, even as Obama's FBI and DOJ spied on Trump and his campaign?

How many people reading this think that Obama's IRS would NOT have charged Trump with tax evasion even if they could have?

How many people reading this think that making Trump's tax return public is NOT an effort to twist, distort, and misinterpret complex tax returns in an attempt to make Trump look bad as bad as possible for taking legitimate, legal, but large tax deductions?

How many people reading this think that it is perfectly fine for democrat leaders, such as Pelosi, Schumer, and multimillionaire Maxine Waters NOT to have to release their tax returns while Trump has to release his?

beemasters , 4 hours ago link

Why did Weinstein and Epstein get such special treatment?

Both did get the same treatment- in escaping from justice. Oh, you mean not producing tax returns? No one is demanding them, for one plus they are not public servants. All government officials should submit their tax returns to ensure they are not compromised by those who have access to them.

[Sep 16, 2019] The Four Dynamics Of Bubbles

Notable quotes:
"... In our current economy, corporations have sunk $2.5 trillion in buying back their own stocks because this generates the highest work-free return. This reflects two realities: ..."
"... Thanks to the Federal Reserve and other central banks injecting trillions of dollars of nearly free credit into the financial sector, corporations can borrow billions of dollars to play with at near-zero rates that are historically unprecedented. ..."
"... Recall the basic mechanism of stock buybacks: By reducing the number of shares outstanding, sales and profits go up on a per share basis -- not because the company generated more revenues and profits, but because the number of shares has been reduced by the buybacks. ..."
"... A bubble economy is a sick economy, for bubbles are proof there is too much capital chasing too few productive uses for that capital. ..."
Sep 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Mon, 09/16/2019 - 17:45 0 SHARES Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via The Daily Reckoning,

Financial bubbles manifest three dynamics :

The one we're most familiar with is simple human greed , the desire to exploit a windfall and catch a work-free ride to riches.

The second dynamic gets much less attention. Financial manias arise when there is no other more productive, profitable use for capital. And these periods occur when there is an abundance of credit available to inflate the bubbles .

Humans respond to the incentives the system presents: If dealing illegal drugs can net $20,000 a month compared with $2,000 a month from a regular job, a certain percentage of the workforce is going to deal drugs.

In our current economy, corporations have sunk $2.5 trillion in buying back their own stocks because this generates the highest work-free return. This reflects two realities:

  1. Corporations can't find any other more productive, profitable use for their capital than buying back their own shares (enriching the managers via stock options and the 10% of American households who own 93% of the stocks).
  2. Thanks to the Federal Reserve and other central banks injecting trillions of dollars of nearly free credit into the financial sector, corporations can borrow billions of dollars to play with at near-zero rates that are historically unprecedented.

So borrow billions at 2.5%, pour it all into buying back your own stock and reap the gains as your stock rises 10%.

Recall the basic mechanism of stock buybacks: By reducing the number of shares outstanding, sales and profits go up on a per share basis -- not because the company generated more revenues and profits, but because the number of shares has been reduced by the buybacks.

(Note to New Green Deal advocates: If corporations reckoned they could earn more by investing the $2.5 trillion in alternative energy projects rather than stock buybacks, they would have done so.)

As various sources have outlined, corporate stock buybacks have been the primary driver of higher stock prices.

This is driving the third dynamic of bubbles :

As the bubble continues inflating beyond any rational valuation, rational investors throw in the towel and join the frenzy . Once again, this willingness to abandon rationality is partly fueled by greed and also by a dearth of other more attractive investments.

A bubble economy is a sick economy, for bubbles are proof there is too much capital chasing too few productive uses for that capital.

The Fed and other central banks have created trillions of dollars, yuan, euros and yen for corporations and financiers to play with and, to a lesser degree, for homebuyers to play with via low mortgage rates and federal guarantees on mortgages.

As a result, the housing bubble is the one regular folks can play. And despite claims that it's not a bubble because of organic demand, housing is definitely in a bubble, along with stocks and bonds, art, etc.

When you create trillions of dollars, yuan, euros and yen out of thin air, you create the incentives to inflate bubbles. When your real economy is sick and offers few productive uses for all this excess capital, that only adds fuel to the speculative fire.

Here's the problem : All bubbles burst, regardless of other conditions. Creating more trillions won't change this, adding more gamblers to the casino won't change this, claiming a bubble economy is healthy won't change this and promising a trade deal with China won't change this.

All of America's bubbles will pop, and sooner rather than later. The stock market moves a bit faster than the housing and bond markets, but the bubbles that are visible in every market will all burst, much to everyone's dismay.

We can add a fourth dynamic of bubbles: Nobody believes bubbles can burst until it's too late to get out unscathed.

[Sep 16, 2019] When Students Melt Down Over a 'B'

Sep 16, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

When Students Melt Down Over a 'B' Rampant grade anxiety is a reflection of deeper American social dysfunction, with our children the biggest victims. By David Masciotra September 17, 2019

By Marjan Apostolovic /Shutterstock The library on campus of a small Catholic university in Illinois was largely empty. Since the administrators had replaced most of the bookshelves with plush furniture, conference tables, and chairs, it better resembled an airport terminal just before a redeye. A handful of students were staring intensely into computer screens, while another pair talked loudly -- no more than 10 feet from the silent, visibly demoralized librarian -- about the rap song that one of them had just played moments earlier. Not one student was near a book. There wasn't a single newspaper or journal in sight. The university had canceled its subscriptions and removed the periodical section a few semesters earlier.

I was making my way toward the front door when one of the students from my Intro to Literature course stopped me, tears rolling down her cheeks, her body nearly convulsing as she attempted to suppress her sobs. Because any human contact is potentially criminal, I ignored my impulse to offer a consoling hand to the shoulder, and asked what was wrong. Expecting her to tell me about a personal tragedy -- perhaps the terminal diagnosis of a loved one -- I almost began to weep myself when she said, "You gave me a 'B' on the paper."

Her crying made the harangue that followed difficult to fully comprehend, but it seemed that she must maintain a certain GPA to remain in athletics. When I countered that a "B" is a good grade and that she would have plenty of time to aspire towards an "A" on other assignments, she began pleading with me for opportunities to "bring up the grade." I declined, and asked if some other, more personal factor was contributing to her stress over a passing grade on one paper in a course entirely unrelated to her major. She insisted that there was not. Helpless and baffled, I wished her well, offered her reassurance, and proceeded out of the library and into the parking lot.

Fielding an existential meltdown, complete with a crying jag, is not part of my professional training. Yet rarely does a semester go by without some kind of grade-related complaint, appeal for mercy, and panic attack. When a student appears as if he has just undergone a life-altering trauma because he's realized he is hanging over the edge of a "C," I think of my father, who at around the same age was in Vietnam. We all have our crosses to bear, whether surviving guerrilla warfare or dealing with a professor who will not give extra credit.

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"Grade anxiety," to use the more popular term, is not unique to my students or school of employment. Studies from Penn State and reports from Psychology Today , Boston University , and many other sources have confirmed that debilitating anxiety is now the leading mental health problem for college students. A quick Google search of "grade anxiety" reveals endless pages of advice to students apoplectic about their exam scores, the professors on the receiving end of their complaints and concerns, and the parents who cannot cope with anything other than perfection.

In all fairness, contemporary college students, contrary to Baby Boomer sanctimony, do have a tougher task than their predecessors. More of them work, often full-time, while completing their degree requirements, and must shoulder heavy financial burdens to acquire their education -- which they understand they will carry, in the form of student debt not dischargeable in bankruptcy, for the majority of their working lives.

Yet even acknowledging the peculiar injustice that exists in American higher education, there is no avoiding the conclusion that 20-year-old adults obsessing and crying over their grades is not a sign of societal health. It's a tornado siren blasting 100 yards away from a trailer park.

As tempting as it is to ridicule the students for their inability to put their lives in mature perspective, it's more instructive to recognize that they are products of American families, institutions, and culture. The overwhelming prevalence of severe grade anxiety indicts a society that is failing to strengthen children into thoughtful and resilient adults. As Gore Vidal once quipped, "I've never met a boring six-year-old in America, and I've never met an interesting 16-year-old."

Even before reaching the age of six, children are under the constant influence of their families. Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff document in their important book The Coddling of the American Mind how "helicopter parenting" has weakened us all. Paranoid about safety, aggressively committed to their children's achievement, parents aspire to protect their sons and daughters from all potential hardship, pushing them into closely monitored extracurricular activities. They treat school work as an accountant treats an actuarial table. The wealthier the parents, the more likely they are to enter their children into the vigilant competition of meritocracy. Some families even send their kids to elite preschools, believing that failure to do so will keep them off the Ivy League university trajectory.

The self-esteem movement has ensured that children will not only aspire to the materialistic measurement of the "best," but believe that they are innately worthy of it. Hearing for their entire lives that they are flawless specimens of Da Vinci-esque brilliance and creativity leaves them unprepared for even the mildest form of criticism. One of the most common rebuttals to a low grade from a student is an indignant "I think I did a great job," spoken as if the teacher should receive a pupil's opinion about his own work as a Catholic priest receives a papal encyclical.

Since the move toward standardized testing as the ultimate metric for student and school success, educational institutions in both rich and poor neighborhoods have relegated the learning experience to high stakes exam preparation, indoctrinating children to believe that they can reduce the value of their intellectual pursuits to a number on a results sheet. The testing model of education complements the American adult's inevitable entrance into a consumer culture with a hierarchy of social status and purchasing power. The earning power of the Kardashians or Waltons allows them to accrue more political influence and cultural value than the typical family in a city without a "Real Housewives" franchise.

Too many conservatives insist on demoting education to nothing more than job training, encouraging the prevalent anti-intellectualism in the United States with suspicion, or outright derision, towards the "impractical" liberal arts. Liberals don't help matters by too often transforming the humanities into conduits of leftist social theory, and before that making elementary and secondary schools too bureaucratic. Formulaic lesson plans and mechanical approaches to pedagogy prevent teachers from developing fruitful bonds with their students, or adjusting their class agendas according to student need and interest.

The Atlantic has run informative but also demoralizing reports on how elementary schools in Finland allow children plenty of free time for play, while also encouraging them to indulge their curiosities in the classroom. In the United States, organic and unrestrained learning is a privilege for children whose parents pay the high prices of a Montessori school. An American kindergartener has an average of 30 minutes of homework per night.

One of my favorite assignments as a child, at the Lutheran elementary school I attended from first through eighth grade, was the book report. Our teacher would walk us to the library and tell us to pick any book, read it, and write a page on it. Depriving children of choice robs them of any joy they might associate with learning. I now teach students in perpetual panic over their grades, and more times than not, the only questions I receive after attempting to facilitate a discussion on a masterpiece of literature is "Will this be on the test?" or "How long does the paper have to be?"

Standards of evaluation are necessary. But I often try to inculcate in my students the knowledge that, in any walk of life and in comparison with the development of passions and the need to sharpen one's ability to look at a complex world, grades are not that important.

This is a tough sell -- pun intended -- in a country that has so thoroughly degraded its public vision of life to an endless quest for wealth and power. There is now a handy measurement of everything. Are you successful? Check your bank account. Are you important? Check your social media followers. Are you attractive? Check the likes on your latest profile picture.

Grades, with the weight of an institution behind them, act as a final judgment in the minds of too many students. They equate A's not only with immediate academic success, but also the chance of having a successful life. Anything less than the optimum might lead to unhappiness.

All lives have moments of failure, pain, and agony. Real adversity is not a "B" on a paper, but your best friend in a coffin, your child's frightening medical condition, your injury that leads to a permanent disability. Education at its best can bequeath what Albert Murray called "equipment for living."

Students who panic and cry over less than perfect grades demonstrate that America has not given them equipment that is helpful and durable. America, in that respect, is worthy of an "F."

David Masciotra is the author of four books, including Mellencamp: American Troubadour (University Press of Kentucky) and Barack Obama: Invisible Man (Eyewear Publishing).

[Sep 16, 2019] The continual plundering and looting of Iranian resources

Sep 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

camfree , 26 minutes ago link

Bibi is desperate for war with Iran to avoid election defeat and prison and Bolton is fired/resigns only to predict "Iranian deception" on the way out the door.

Insurrexion , 33 minutes ago link

Zeroes,

Re: $100/Bl Oil...

Today, Brent climbed as much as 12% towards $70 per barrel and the US crude oil rose 10% to nearly $61. Historically, Brent crude oil reached an all time high of 147.50 in July of 2008. Remember what happened next?

Qui Bono?

Who suffers?

Iraq, Libya, Venezuela and Iran are a mess and cannot produce to make a difference.

This will be the catalyst for the economic downturn.

attah-boy-Luther , 39 minutes ago link

Trumptards locked and loaded....sigh and now this:

https://www.henrymakow.com/2019/09/disgrace-canadas-theft-of-ir.html

So the continual plundering and looting of Iranian resources never ceases to amaze me.

[Sep 16, 2019] President Macron's Amazing Admission by The Saker

Sep 16, 2019 | www.unz.com

Interestingly, one of the people the Ukrainians gave up in this exchange was Vladimir Tsemakh, a native of the Donbass who was kidnapped by the Ukie SBU in Novorussia (our noble "Europeans" did not object to such methods!) and declared the "star witness" against Russia in the MH-17 (pseudo-)investigation. Even more pathetic is that the Dutch apparently fully endorsed this load of crapola . Finally, and just for a good laugh, check out how the infamous' Bellingcat presented Tsemakh . And then, suddenly, everybody seem to "forget" that "star witness" and now the Ukies have sent him to Russia. Amazing how fast stuff gets lost in the collective western memory hole

Thus we see these apparently contradictory developments taking place: on on hand, the Ukraine finally agreed to a prisoner swap with Russia (a painful one for Russia as Russia mostly traded real criminals, including a least two bona fide Ukie terrorist, against what are mostly civilian hostages, but Putin decided – correctly I think – that freeing Russian nationalists from Ukie jails was more important in this case) while on the other hand, the Ukronazi armed forces increased their shelling, even with 152mm howitzers which fire 50kg high explosive fragmentation shells, against the Donbass. Whatever may be the case, this prisoner swap, no matter how one-sided and unfair, is a positive development which might mark the beginning of a pragmatic and less ideological attitude in Kiev.

Some very cautious beginnings of a little hint of optimism might be in order following that exchange, but the big stuff seems to be scheduled for the meeting of the Normandy Group (NG), probably in France. So far, the Russians have made it very clear that they will not meet just for the hell of meeting, and that the only circumstance in which the Russians will agree to a NG meeting would be if it has good chances of yielding meaningful results which, translated from Russian diplomatic language simply means "if/when Kiev stops stonewalling and sabotaging everything". Specifically, the Russians are demanding that Zelenskii commit in writing to the so-called " Steinmeier formula " and that the Ukrainian forces withdraw from the line of contact. Will that happen? Maybe. We shall soon find out.

Here is my informal translation of these words:

The international order is being shaken in an unprecedented manner, above all with, if I may say so, by the great upheaval that is undoubtedly taking place for the first time in our history , in almost every field and with a profoundly historic magnitude . The first thing we observe is a major transformation, a geopolitical and strategic re-composition. We are undoubtedly experiencing the end of Western hegemony over the world . We were accustomed to an international order which, since the 18th century, rested on a Western hegemony, mostly French in the 18th century, by the inspiration of the Enlightenment; then mostly British in the 19th century thanks to the Industrial Revolution and, finally, mostly American in the 20th century thanks to the 2 great conflicts and the economic and political domination of this power. Things change. And they are now deeply shaken by the mistakes of Westerners in certain crises, by the choices that have been made by Americans for several years which did not start with this administration, but which lead to revisiting certain implications in conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, and to rethinking a deep, diplomatic and military strategy, and sometimes elements of solidarity that we thought were intangible for eternity, even if we had constituted together in geopolitical moments that have changed. And then there is the emergence of new powers whose impact we have probably underestimated for a long time. China is at the forefront, but also the Russian strategy, which has, it must be said, been pursued more successfully in recent years . I will come back to that. India that is emerging, these new economies that are also becoming powers not only economic but political and that think themselves, as some have written, as real "civilizational states" which now come not only to shake up our international order but who also come to weigh in on the economic order and to rethink the political order and the political imagination that goes with it, with much dynamism and much more inspiration than we have. Look at India, Russia and China. They have a much stronger political inspiration than Europeans today. They think about our planet with a true logic, a true philosophy, an imagination that we've lost a little bit.

... ... ...

6) " Look at India, Russia and China. They have a much stronger political inspiration than Europeans today. They think about our planet with a true logic, a true philosophy, an imagination that we've lost a little bit."

This is the "core BRICS" challenge to the Empire: China and Russia have already established what the Chinese call a "Comprehensive Strategic Partnership of Coordination for the New Era". If they can now extend this kind of informal but extremely profound partnership (I think of it as "symbiotic") to India next, then the BRICS will have a formidable future (especially after the Brazilian people give the boot to Bolsonaro and his US patrons). Should that fail and should India chose to remain outside this unique relationship, then the SCO will become the main game in town. And yes, Macron is spot on: China and, especially, Russia have a fundamentally different worldview and, unlike the western one, theirs does have "much stronger political" goals (Macron used the word "aspirations"), "a real philosophy and imagination" which the West has lost, and not just a "little bit" but, I would argue, completely. But one way or the other, and for the first time in 1000 years, the future of our planet will not be decided anywhere in the West, not in Europe (old or "new"), but in Asia, primarily by the Russian-Chinese alliance. As I explained here , the AngloZionist Empire is probably the last one in history, definitely the last western one.

... ... ...

PS: the latest rumor from the Ukraine: Zelenskii supporters are saying that Poroshenko is preparing a coup against Zelenskii and that he is preparing a special force of Ukronazi deathsquads to execute that coup. Dunno about a real coup, but they have already blocked the Rada . Never a dull moment indeed

[Sep 16, 2019] Oil Explodes 20% Higher, Biggest Jump On Record

Sep 16, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

As Bloomberg notes, "for oil markets, it's the single worst sudden disruption ever, surpassing the loss of Kuwaiti and Iraqi petroleum supply in August 1990, when Saddam Hussein invaded his neighbor. It also exceeds the loss of Iranian oil output in 1979 during the Islamic Revolution, according to data from the U.S. Department of Energy."

Furthermore, in light of news that the Saudi outage could last for months , this could be just the start. As a reminder, according to Morningstar research director, Sandy Fielden, "Brent could go to $80 tomorrow, while WTI could go to $75... But that would depend on Aramco's 48-hour update. The supply problem won't be clear right away since the Saudis can still deliver from inventory."

Of course, should Aramco confirm that the outage - which has taken some 5.7mmb/d in Saudi output after 10 drones struck the world's biggest crude-processing facility in Abqaiq and the kingdom's second-biggest oil field in Khurais - will last for weeks, expect the crude juggernaut to continue until the price hits $80, and keeps moving higher. Finally, here is the price summary from Goldman commodity strategist Damien Courvalin, who earlier today laid out four possible shutdown scenarios, and the price oil could hit for each:

What are the broader implications from this move? According to Ole Hansen, head of commodities strategy at Saxo Bank A/S in Copenhagen, "the global economy can ill afford higher oil prices at a time of economic slowdown." But Peter Boockvar's hot take may be the best one.

camfree , 26 minutes ago link

Bibi is desperate for war with Iran to avoid election defeat and prison and Bolton is fired/resigns only to predict "Iranian deception" on the way out the door. This is obviously another Mossad/CIA/Saudi false flag on the anniversity of 9/11 to serve multiple interests: Bibi's re-election, the central bankers, the MIC's aspirations for war with Iran & Trump has an economic scapegoat ensuring a free pass for 2020.

[Sep 15, 2019] Neoliberal version of oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called "the cash nexus." ..."
"... Similar attitudes can be seen in virtually all other culturally dominant institutions, starting with Hollywood. Over 99 percent of all major entertainment executives' donations went to [neoliberal] Democrats in 2018 ..."
"... The great bastion of both the financial Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media. ..."
"... In his assessment in "Democracy in America ," Alexis de Tocqueville suggests a new form of tyranny -- in many ways more insidious than that of the monarchical state -- that grants favors and entertainments to its citizens but expects little in obligation. Rather than expect people to become adults, he warns, a democratic state can be used to keep its members in "perpetual childhood" and "would degrade men rather than tormenting them." ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | dailycaller.com

The role of the Clerisy

The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called "the cash nexus." Like the church in Medieval times, the Clerisy sees itself as anointed to direct human society, a modern version of what historian Marc Bloch called the "oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven."

This modern-day version of the old First Estate sets down the [neoliberal] ideological tone in the schools, the mass media, culture and the arts. There's also a Clerisy of sorts on the right, and what's left of the center, but this remains largely, except for Fox, an insignificant remnant.

Like their predecessors, today's Clerisy embraces a [neoliberal] orthodoxy, albeit secular, on a host of issues from race and gender to the environment. Universities have become increasingly dogmatic in their worldview. One study of 51 top colleges found the proportion of [neo]liberals to conservatives as much as 70:1, and usually at least 8:1.

At elite [neo]liberal arts schools like Wellesley, Swarthmore and Williams, the proportion reaches 120:1.

Similar attitudes can be seen in virtually all other culturally dominant institutions, starting with Hollywood. Over 99 percent of all major entertainment executives' donations went to [neoliberal] Democrats in 2018, even though roughly half the population would prefer they keep their politics more to themselves. (RELATED: Here Are Reactions From Democrats, [neo]liberal Celebrities To The Mueller Testimony)

The increasing concentration of media in ever fewer centers -- London, New York, Washington, San Francisco -- and the decline of the local press has accentuated the elite Clerisy's domination. With most reporters well on the left, journalism, as a 2019 Rand report reveals, is steadily moving from a fact-based model to one that is dominated by predictable [neoliberal] opinion. This, Rand suggests has led to what they called "truth decay."

The new geography of feudalism

The new feudalism increasingly defines geography not only in America but across much of the world. The great bastion of both the financial Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media.

Yet these cities are not the progressive, egalitarian places evoked by great urbanists like the late Jane Jacobs, but more closely resemble the "gated" cities of the Middle Ages, and their equivalents in places as diverse as China and Japan. American cities now have higher levels of inequality, notes one recent study , than Mexico. In fact, the largest gaps ( between the bottom and top quintiles of median incomes are in the heartland of progressive opinion, such as in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, New York, San Jose, and Los Angeles. (RELATED: Got Income Inequality? Least Affordable Cities Are Also the Bluest)

... ... ...

... In his assessment in "Democracy in America ," Alexis de Tocqueville suggests a new form of tyranny -- in many ways more insidious than that of the monarchical state -- that grants favors and entertainments to its citizens but expects little in obligation. Rather than expect people to become adults, he warns, a democratic state can be used to keep its members in "perpetual childhood" and "would degrade men rather than tormenting them."

With the erosion of the middle class, and with it dreams of upward mobility, we already see more extreme, less liberally minded class politics. A nation of clerics, billionaires and serfs is not conducive to the democratic experiment; only by mobilizing the Third Estate can we hope that our republican institutions will survive intact even in the near future.

Mr. Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and the executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His next book, "The Coming Of Neo-Feudalism," will be out this spring.

[Sep 15, 2019] The USA is like the Hotel California, you can check out, but you can never leave.

Sep 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Paralentor , 40 minutes ago link

Perfect time for Texas to secede from the Union and return to being a Lone Star Nation State. Price for barrels start at $95 and that's only a former friends and family rate.

just the tip , 33 minutes ago link

why would the blue state of texas do such a thing?

Dzerzhhinsky , 33 minutes ago link

The USA is like the Hotel California, you can check out, but you can never leave.

Last time you tried to leave they gave you a warning, this time they would kill you all.

[Sep 15, 2019] Conflicting groups within the elite often represent difficult types of capital

Sep 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

sad canuck , Sep 15 2019 21:29 utc | 36

@1 steven t johnson

Agree with respect to points 1 and 2 but is at least Kotkin's is a bit more insightful than the recent Markovits book on meritocracy. In the latter, Markovits divides the entire country into middle class and elites, with the owners and Kotkin's clerisy combined and subject to the same structure, rewards and stresses.

Never a mention of capital or ownership of the means of production. Guess one should not be shocked that a Yale professor considers himself elite, but a little surprising that he does not understand that he serves at the pleasure of the owners. That's a club and he's not in it as the comic-laureate Carlin would say. A little class consciousness goes a long way.

[Sep 15, 2019] Americar real Conflict in Trump era is between the two factions of neoliberal elites: financial oligarchy (and associated with them Silicon Valley Moduls) and old manufacturing elite

This is the conflict between financial elite and Silicon Valley modules against traditional manufactures and extractive industries like oil, gas, coil, iron ore, etc.
Notable quotes:
"... The First Estate, once the province of the Catholic Church, has morphed into what Samuel Coleridge in the 1830s called "the Clerisy," a group that extends beyond organized religion to the universities, media, cultural tastemakers and upper echelons of the bureaucracy. The role of the Second Estate is now being played by a rising Oligarchy, notably in tech but also Wall Street, that is consolidating control of most of the economy. ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | dailycaller.com

A recent OECD report , is under assault, and shrinking in most places while prospects for upward mobility for the working class also declines.T

he anger of the Third Estate, both the growing property-less Serf class as well as the beleaguered Yeomanry, has produced the growth of populist, parties both right and left in Europe, and the election of Donald Trump in 2016. In the U.S., this includes not simply the gradual, and sometimes jarring, transformation of the GOP into a vehicle for populist rage, but also the rise on the Democratic side of politicians such as Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, each of whom have made class politics their signature issue.

(RELATED: Bernie Sanders Says Middle Class Will Pay More In Taxes)

The Rise of Neo-Feudalism

Today's neo-feudalism recalls the social order that existed before the democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th Century, with our two ascendant estates filling the roles of the former dominant classes.

The First Estate, once the province of the Catholic Church, has morphed into what Samuel Coleridge in the 1830s called "the Clerisy," a group that extends beyond organized religion to the universities, media, cultural tastemakers and upper echelons of the bureaucracy. The role of the Second Estate is now being played by a rising Oligarchy, notably in tech but also Wall Street, that is consolidating control of most of the economy.

Together these two classes have waxed while the Third Estate has declined. This essentially reversed the enormous gains made by the middle and even the working class over the past 50 years. The top 1% in America captured just 4.9 percent of total U.S. income growth in 1945-1973, but since then the country's richest classes has gobbled up an astonishing 58.7% of all new wealth in the U.S., and 41.8 percent of total income growth during 2009-2015 alone.

In this period, the Oligarchy has benefited from the financialization of the economy and the refusal of the political class in both parties to maintain competitive markets. As a result, American industry has become increasingly concentrated. For example, the five largest banks now account for close to 50 percent of all banking assets, up from barely 30 percent just 20 years ago. (RELATED: The Biggest Bank You've Never Heard Of)

Warren Buffett, Jeffrey Immelt, Charles Schwab and Jamie Dimon, at Georgetown University. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

Warren Buffett, Jeffrey Immelt, Charles Schwab and Jamie Dimon, at Georgetown University. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The concentration numbers in tech are even more frightening. Once a highly competitive industry, it is now among the most concentrated . Like the barbarian chieftains who seized land after the fall of Rome, a handful of companies -- Facebook , Google , Apple, Microsoft and Amazon -- have gained total control over a host of markets, from social media to search, the software operating systems, cloud computing and e-commerce. In many key markets such as search, these companies enjoy market shares reaching to eighty or ninety percent.

As they push into fields such as entertainment, space travel, finance and autonomous vehicles, they have become, as technology analyst Izabella Kaminska notes, the modern-day "free market" equivalents of the Soviet planners who operated Gosplan, allocating billions for their own subjective priorities. Libertarians might point out that these tech giants are still privately held firms but they actually represent , as one analyst put it, "a new form of monopoly power made possible by the 'network effect' of those platforms through which everyone must pass to conduct the business of life."

The role of the Clerisy

The new feudalism, like the original, is not based simply around the force of arms, or in this case what Marx called "the cash nexus." Like the church in Medieval times, the Clerisy sees itself as anointed to direct human society, a modern version of what historian Marc Bloch called the "oligarchy of priests and monks whose task it was to propitiate heaven." This modern-day version of the old First Estate sets down the ideological tone in the schools, the mass media, culture and the arts. There's also a Clerisy of sorts on the right, and what's left of the center, but this remains largely, except for Fox, an insignificant remnant.

Like their predecessors, today's Clerisy embraces an orthodoxy, albeit secular, on a host of issues from race and gender to the environment. Universities have become increasingly dogmatic in their worldview. One study of 51 top colleges found the proportion of liberals to conservatives as much as 70:1, and usually at least 8:1. At elite liberal arts schools like Wellesley, Swarthmore and Williams, the proportion reaches 120:1.

Similar attitudes can be seen in virtually all other culturally dominant institutions, starting with Hollywood. Over 99 percent of all major entertainment executives' donations went to Democrats in 2018, even though roughly half the population would prefer they keep their politics more to themselves. (RELATED: Here Are Reactions From Democrats, Liberal Celebrities To The Mueller Testimony)

The increasing concentration of media in ever fewer centers -- London, New York, Washington, San Francisco -- and the decline of the local press has accentuated the elite Clerisy's domination. With most reporters well on the left, journalism, as a 2019 Rand report reveals, is steadily moving from a fact-based model to one that is dominated by predictable opinion. This, Rand suggests has led to what they called "truth decay."

The new geography of feudalism

The new feudalism increasingly defines geography not only in America but across much of the world. The great bastion of both the Oligarchy and high reaches of the Clerisy lies in the great cities, notably New York, London, Paris, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. These are all among the most expensive places to live in the world and play a dominant role in the global media.

Yet these cities are not the progressive, egalitarian places evoked by great urbanists like the late Jane Jacobs, but more closely resemble the "gated" cities of the Middle Ages, and their equivalents in places as diverse as China and Japan. American cities now have higher levels of inequality, notes one recent study , than Mexico. In fact, the largest gaps ( between the bottom and top quintiles of median incomes are in the heartland of progressive opinion, such as in the metropolitan areas of San Francisco, New York, San Jose, and Los Angeles. (RELATED: Got Income Inequality? Least Affordable Cities Are Also the Bluest)

In some of the most favored blue cities, such as Seattle , Portland and San Francisco , not only is the middle class disappearing, but there has been something equivalent of "ethnic cleansing" amidst rising high levels of inequality, homelessness and social disorder. Long-standing minority communities like the Albina neighborhood in Portland are disappearing as 10,000 of the 38,000 residents have been pushed out of the historic African-American section. In San Francisco, the black population has dropped from 18% in the 1970s to single digits and what remains, notes Harry Alford , National Black Chamber of Commerce president, "are predominantly living under the poverty level and is being pushed out to extinction."

This exclusive and exclusionary urbanity contrasts with the historic role of cities. The initial rise of the Third Estate was tied intimately to the " freedom of the city . " But with the diminishing prospects for blue-collar industries, as well as high housing costs, many minorities and immigrants are increasingly migrating away from multi-culturally correct regions like Chicago , New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco for less regulated, generally less "woke" places like Phoenix, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Houston, Atlanta and Las Vegas.

Yet even as the middle-class populations flee, poverty remains deeply entrenched in our big cities, with a rate roughly twice that of the suburbs. The much-celebrated urban renaissance has been largely enjoyed by the upper echelons but not the working classes. In the city of Philadelphia , for example, the "center city" income rose, but citywide between 2000 and 2014, for every district that, like downtown, gained in income, two suffered income declines. Similarly, research shows that the number of high poverty (greater than 30 percent below the poverty line) neighborhoods in the U.S. has tripled since 1970 from 1,100 to 3,100.

Undermining the Third Estate

The impact of the rising Clerisy and Oligarchs poses a direct threat to the future of the Third Estate. On the economic side, relentless consolidation and financialization has devastated Main Street. In the great boom of the 1980s, small firms and start-ups powered the economy, but more recently the rates of entrepreneurship have dropped as mega-mergers, chains and on-line giants slowly reduced the scope of opportunities. Perhaps most disturbing of all has been the decline in new formations among younger people.

This phenomenon is most evident in the tech world. Today is not a great time to start a tech company unless you are in the charmed circle of elite firms with access to venture and private equity funds. The old garage start-up culture of Silicon Valley is slowly dying, as large firms gobble up or crush competitors. Indeed, since the rise of the tech economy in the 1990s, the overall degree of industry concentration has grown by 75 percent.

Like the peasant farmer or artisan in the feudal era, the entrepreneur not embraced by the big venture firms lives largely at the sufferance of the tech overlords. As one online publisher notes on his firm's status with Google:

If you're a Star Trek fan, you'll understand the analogy. It's a bit like being assimilated by the Borg. You get cool new powers. But having been assimilated, if your implants were ever removed, you'd certainly die. That basically captures our relationship to Google.

The Clerisy's War on the Middle Class

For generations, the Clerisy has steadfastly opposed the growth of suburbia, driven in large part by the aesthetic concerns –the conviction that single-family homes are fundamentally anti-social– and, increasingly, by often dubious assertions on their environmental toxicity. In places like California, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, government policies discourage peripheral construction where home ownership rates tend to be higher, in favor of dense, largely rental housing.

This marks a dramatic turnaround. During the middle of the 20th Century, ownership rates in the United States leaped from 44 percent in 1940 to 63 percent in the late 1970s. Yet in the new generation this prospect is fading. In the United States, home ownership among post-college millennials (aged 25-34) has dropped from 45.4 percent in 2000 to 37.0 percent in 2016, a drop of 18 percent from the 1970s, according to Census Bureau data . In contrast, their parents and grandparents witnessed a dramatic rise of homeownership from 44 percent in 1940 to 63 percent 30 years later.

But the Clerisy's war on middle- and working-class aspiration goes well beyond housing. Climate change policies already enacted in California and Germany have driven millions into "energy poverty." If adopted, many of the latest proposals for such things as the Green New Deal all but guarantee the rapid reduction of millions of highly productive and often well-paying energy, aerospace, automobile and logistics jobs.

Political implications

The war of the Estates is likely to shape our political landscape for decades to come. Parts of the Third Estate –those working with their hands or operating small businesses– increasingly flock to the GOP, according to a recent CityLab report. Trump also has a case to make with these workers, as real wages for blue-collar workers are now rising for the first time in decades. Unemployment is near record lows not only for whites but also Latinos and African-Americans. Of course, if the economy weakens, he may lose some of this support. (RELATED: Trump Blasts Media For 'Barely' Covering 'Great' Economy, Low Unemployment)

But the emergence of neo-feudalism also lays the foundation for a larger, more potent and radicalized left. As opportunities for upward mobility shrink, a new generation, indoctrinated in leftist ideology sometimes from grade school and ever more predictably in undergraduate and graduate school, tilts heavily to the left, embracing what is essentially an updated socialist program of massive redistribution, central direction of the economy and racial redress.

Antifa members in Berkeley, California. AFP/Getty/Amy Osborne.

Antifa members in Berkeley, California. AFP/Getty/Amy Osborne.

In France's most recent presidential election, the former Trotskyite Jean-Luc Melenchon won the under-24 vote, beating the "youthful" Emmanuel Macron by almost two to one. Similarly in the United Kingdom, the birthplace of modern capitalism, the Labour Party , under the neo- Marxist Jeremy Corbyn , won over 60 percent of the vote among voters under 40, compared to just 23 percent for the Conservatives. Similar trends can be seen across Europe, where the Red and Green Party enjoys wide youth support.

The shift to hard-left politics also extends to the United States– historically not a fertile area for Marxist thinking. In the 2016 primaries , the openly socialist Bernie Sanders easily outpolled Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined. A 2016 poll by the Communism Memorial Foundation found that 44 percent of American millennials favored socialism while another 14 percent chose fascism or communism. By 2024, these millennials will be by far the country's biggest voting bloc .

In the current run-up to the Democratic nomination these young voters overwhelming tilt toward Sanders and his slightly less radical colleague Warren, while former Vice President Joe Biden retains the support of older Democrats. The common themes of the "new" Left, with such things as guaranteed annual incomes, rent control, housing subsidies, and free college might prove irresistible to a generation that has little hope of owning a home, could remain childless, and might never earn enough money to invest in much of anything. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders Says 'Health Care For All' Will Require Tax Increases)

At the end, the war of the estates raises the prospect of rising autocracy, even under formally democratic forms. In his assessment in "Democracy in America ," Alexis de Tocqueville suggests a new form of tyranny -- in many ways more insidious than that of the monarchical state -- that grants favors and entertainments to its citizens but expects little in obligation. Rather than expect people to become adults, he warns, a democratic state can be used to keep its members in "perpetual childhood" and "would degrade men rather than tormenting them."

With the erosion of the middle class, and with it dreams of upward mobility, we already see more extreme, less liberally minded class politics. A nation of clerics, billionaires and serfs is not conducive to the democratic experiment; only by mobilizing the Third Estate can we hope that our republican institutions will survive intact even in the near future.

Mr. Kotkin is the Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and the executive director of the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His next book, "The Coming Of Neo-Feudalism," will be out this spring.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.

[Sep 15, 2019] Trump's new world disorder: competitive, chaotic, conflicted by

The key to understanding the c
The collapse of neoliberalism naturally lead to the collapse of the US influence over the globe. and to the treats to the dollar as the world reserve currency. That's why the US foreign policy became so aggressive and violent. Neocons want to fight for the world hegemony to the last American.
Notable quotes:
"... US foreign policy is ever more unstable and confrontational ..."
"... Bolton's brutal defenestration has raised hopes that Trump, who worries that voters may view him as a warmonger, may begin to moderate some of his more confrontational international policies. As the 2020 election looms, he is desperate for a big foreign policy peace-making success. And, in Trump world, winning matters more than ideology, principles or personnel. ..."
"... Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has not merely broken with diplomatic and geopolitical convention. He has taken a wrecking ball to venerated alliances, multilateral cooperation and the postwar international rules-based order. ..."
"... The resulting new world disorder – to adapt George HW Bush's famous 1991 phrase – will be hard to put right. Like its creator, Trump world is unstable, unpredictable and threatening. Trump has been called America's first rogue president. Whether or not he wins a second term, this Trumpian era of epic disruption, the very worst form of American exceptionalism, is already deeply entrenched. ..."
"... driven by a chronic desire for re-election, Trump's behaviour could become more, not less, confrontational during his remaining time in office, suggested Eliot Cohen, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins university. ..."
"... "The president has proved himself to be what many critics have long accused him of being: belligerent, bullying, impatient, irresponsible, intellectually lazy, short-tempered and self-obsessed," Cohen wrote in Foreign Affairs journal . "Remarkably, however, those shortcomings have not yet translated into obvious disaster. But [that] should not distract from a building crisis of US foreign policy." ..."
"... This pending crisis stems from Trump's crudely Manichaean division of the world into two camps: adversaries/competitors and supporters/customers. A man with few close confidants, Trump has real trouble distinguishing between allies and enemies, friends and foes, and often confuses the two. In Trump world, old rules don't apply. Alliances are optional. Loyalty is weakness. And trust is fungible. ..."
"... The crunch came last weekend when a bizarre, secret summit with Taliban chiefs at Camp David was cancelled . It was classic Trump. He wanted quick 'n' easy, primetime credit for a dramatic peace deal, pushed ahead blindly, then changed his mind at the last minute. Furious over a debacle of his own making, he turned his wrath on others, notably Bolton – who, ironically, had opposed the summit all along. ..."
"... With Trump's blessing, Israel is enmeshed in escalating, multi-fronted armed confrontation with Iran and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Add to this recent violence in the Gulf, the disastrous Trump-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen, mayhem in Syria's Idlib province, border friction with Turkey, and Islamic State resurgence in northern Iraq, and a region-wide explosion looks ever more likely. ..."
"... "the bipartisan consensus forged in the 1990s – in which the US towered over the world and, at low cost, sought to remake it in America's image – has failed and cannot be revived", ..."
Sep 14, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

With John Bolton dismissed, Taliban peace talks a fiasco and a trade war with China, US foreign policy is ever more unstable and confrontational

It was by all accounts, a furious row. Donald Trump was talking about relaxing sanctions on Iran and holding a summit with its president, Hassan Rouhani, at this month's UN general assembly in New York. John Bolton, his hawkish national security adviser, was dead against it and forcefully rejected Trump's ideas during a tense meeting in the Oval Office on Monday.

...Bolton's brutal defenestration has raised hopes that Trump, who worries that voters may view him as a warmonger, may begin to moderate some of his more confrontational international policies. As the 2020 election looms, he is desperate for a big foreign policy peace-making success. And, in Trump world, winning matters more than ideology, principles or personnel.

The US president is now saying he is also open to a repeat meeting with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, to reboot stalled nuclear disarmament talks. On another front, he has offered an olive branch to China, delaying a planned tariff increase on $250bn of Chinese goods pending renewed trade negotiations next month. Meanwhile, he says, new tariffs on European car imports could be dropped, too.

Is a genuine dove-ish shift under way? It seems improbable. Since taking office in January 2017, Trump has not merely broken with diplomatic and geopolitical convention. He has taken a wrecking ball to venerated alliances, multilateral cooperation and the postwar international rules-based order. He has cosied up to autocrats, attacked old friends and blundered into sensitive conflicts he does not fully comprehend.

The resulting new world disorder – to adapt George HW Bush's famous 1991 phrase – will be hard to put right. Like its creator, Trump world is unstable, unpredictable and threatening. Trump has been called America's first rogue president. Whether or not he wins a second term, this Trumpian era of epic disruption, the very worst form of American exceptionalism, is already deeply entrenched.

The suggestion that Trump will make nice and back off as election time nears thus elicits considerable scepticism. US analysts and commentators say the president's erratic, impulsive and egotistic personality means any shift towards conciliation may be short-lived and could quickly be reversed, Bolton or no Bolton.

Trump wanted quick 'n' easy, primetime credit for a dramatic peace deal in Afghanistan with the Taliban, pushed ahead blindly, then changed his mind at the last minute

Trump is notorious for blowing hot and cold, performing policy zigzags and suddenly changing his mind. "Regardless of who has advised Mr Trump on foreign affairs all have proved powerless before [his] zest for chaos," the New York Times noted last week .

Lacking experienced diplomatic and military advisers (he has sacked most of the good ones), surrounded by an inner circle of cynical sycophants such as secretary of state Mike Pompeo, and driven by a chronic desire for re-election, Trump's behaviour could become more, not less, confrontational during his remaining time in office, suggested Eliot Cohen, professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins university.

"The president has proved himself to be what many critics have long accused him of being: belligerent, bullying, impatient, irresponsible, intellectually lazy, short-tempered and self-obsessed," Cohen wrote in Foreign Affairs journal . "Remarkably, however, those shortcomings have not yet translated into obvious disaster. But [that] should not distract from a building crisis of US foreign policy."

This pending crisis stems from Trump's crudely Manichaean division of the world into two camps: adversaries/competitors and supporters/customers. A man with few close confidants, Trump has real trouble distinguishing between allies and enemies, friends and foes, and often confuses the two. In Trump world, old rules don't apply. Alliances are optional. Loyalty is weakness. And trust is fungible.

As a result, the US today finds itself at odds with much of the world to an unprecedented and dangerous degree. America, the postwar global saviour, has been widely recast as villain. Nor is this a passing phase. Trump seems to have permanently changed the way the US views the world and vice versa. Whatever follows, it will never be quite the same again.

Clues as to what he does next may be found in what he has done so far. His is a truly calamitous record, as exemplified by Afghanistan. Having vowed in 2016 to end America's longest war, he began with a troop surge, lost interest and sued for peace. A withdrawal deal proved elusive. Meanwhile, US-led forces inflicted record civilian casualties .

Facebook Twitter Pinterest The US and Israeli flags are projected on the walls of Jerusalem's Old City in May, marking the anniversary of the US embassy transfer from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/Getty

The crunch came last weekend when a bizarre, secret summit with Taliban chiefs at Camp David was cancelled . It was classic Trump. He wanted quick 'n' easy, primetime credit for a dramatic peace deal, pushed ahead blindly, then changed his mind at the last minute. Furious over a debacle of his own making, he turned his wrath on others, notably Bolton – who, ironically, had opposed the summit all along.

All sides are now vowing to step up the violence, with the insurgents aiming to disrupt this month's presidential election in Afghanistan. In short, Trump's self-glorifying Afghan reality show, of which he was the Nobel-winning star, has made matters worse. Much the same is true of his North Korea summitry, where expectations were raised, then dashed when he got cold feet in Hanoi , provoking a backlash from Pyongyang.

The current crisis over Iran's nuclear programme is almost entirely of Trump's making, sparked by his decision last year to renege on the 2015 UN-endorsed deal with Tehran. His subsequent "maximum pressure" campaign of punitive sanctions has failed to cow Iranians while alienating European allies. And it has led Iran to resume banned nuclear activities – a seriously counterproductive, entirely predictable outcome.

Trump's unconditional, unthinking support for Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's aggressively rightwing prime minister – including tacit US backing for his proposed annexation of swathes of the occupied territories – is pushing the Palestinians back to the brink, energising Hamas and Hezbollah, and raising tensions across the region .

With Trump's blessing, Israel is enmeshed in escalating, multi-fronted armed confrontation with Iran and its allies in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Add to this recent violence in the Gulf, the disastrous Trump-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen, mayhem in Syria's Idlib province, border friction with Turkey, and Islamic State resurgence in northern Iraq, and a region-wide explosion looks ever more likely.

The bipartisan consensus forged in the 1990s – in which the US towered over the world and, at low cost, sought to remake it in America's image – has failed and cannot be revived

Stephen Wertheim, historian

Yet Trump, oblivious to the point of recklessness, remains determined to unveil his absurdly unbalanced Israel-Palestine "deal of the century" after Tuesday's Israeli elections. He and his gormless son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may be the only people who don't realise their plan has a shorter life expectancy than a snowball on a hot day in Gaza.

... ... ...

...he is consistently out of line, out on his own – and out of control. This, broadly, is Trump world as it has come to exist since January 2017. And this, in a nutshell, is the intensifying foreign policy crisis of which Professor Cohen warned. The days when responsible, trustworthy, principled US international leadership could be taken for granted are gone. No vague change of tone on North Korea or Iran will by itself halt the Trump-led slide into expanding global conflict and division.

Historians such as Stephen Wertheim say change had to come. US politicians of left and right mostly agreed that "the bipartisan consensus forged in the 1990s – in which the US towered over the world and, at low cost, sought to remake it in America's image – has failed and cannot be revived", Wertheim wrote earlier this year . "But agreement ends there " he continued: "One camp holds that the US erred by coddling China and Russia, and urges a new competition against these great power rivals. The other camp, which says the US has been too belligerent and ambitious around the world, counsels restraint, not another crusade against grand enemies."

This debate among grownups over America's future place in the world will form part of next year's election contest. But before any fundamental change of direction can occur, the international community – and the US itself – must first survive another 16 months of Trump world and the wayward child-president's poll-fixated, ego-driven destructive tendencies.

Survival is not guaranteed. The immediate choice facing US friends and foes alike is stark and urgent: ignore, bypass and marginalise Trump – or actively, openly, resist him.

Here are some of the key flashpoints around the globe

United Nations

Trump is deeply hostile to the UN. It embodies the multilateralist, globalist policy approaches he most abhors – because they supposedly infringe America's sovereignty and inhibit its freedom of action. Under him, self-interested US behaviour has undermined the authority of the UN security council's authority. The US has rejected a series of international treaties and agreements, including the Paris climate change accord and the Iran nuclear deal. The UN-backed international criminal court is beyond the pale. Trump's attitude fits with his "America First" isolationism, which questions traditional ideas about America's essential global leadership role.

Germany

Trump rarely misses a chance to bash Germany, perhaps because it is Europe's most successful economy and represents the EU, which he detests. He is obsessed by German car imports, on which protectionist US tariffs will be levied this autumn. He accuses Berlin – and Europe– of piggy-backing on America by failing to pay its fair share of Nato defence costs. Special venom is reserved for Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, most likely because she is a woman who stands up to him . Trump recently insulted another female European leader, Denmark's Mette Frederiksen, after she refused to sell him Greenland .

Israel

Trump has made a great show of unconditional friendship towards Israel and its rightwing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who has skilfully maximised his White House influence. But by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, officially condoning Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights, and withdrawing funding and other support from the Palestinians, the president has abandoned the long-standing US policy of playing honest broker in the peace process. Trump has also tried to exploit antisemitism for political advantage, accusing US Democrat Jews who oppose Netanyahu's policies of "disloyalty" to Israel.

... ... ...

[Sep 15, 2019] TuckerCalson: Elizabeth Warren wrote one of the best books I've ever read on economics (The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke)

Notable quotes:
"... By that point, he'd already warned his audience about the perils of "monopoly power" and declared that income inequality, which the right had long been trained to believe is "just a pure invention of some diabolical French intellectual to destroy America," is actually "completely real" and "totally bad." ..."
"... The reimagining is playing out not just on Carlson's show or in conservative journals, but among a small batch of young, ambitious Republicans in Congress led by senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida. ..."
"... Their populist -- or "nationalist" or "post-liberal" -- prescriptions sometimes smack of opportunism. And it's still not clear how far they're willing to stray from their party. But it looks like there are places where the new nationalists could find common cause with an energized left. ..."
"... And one of the speakers, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax, seemed to do just that -- suggesting that "cultural compatibility" should play a role in deciding which migrants are allowed into the country. "In effect," she said, this "means taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites." But Wax's speech, however discomfiting, stood out because it was so discordant. Conference organizers took pains to prevent hate-mongers from attending -- ultimately rejecting six applicants. ... "Your ideas," he said, "are not welcome here." ... ..."
Sep 06, 2019 | www.bostonglobe.com

David Scharfenberg - September 6

...But he also spoke, in admiring tones and at substantial length, about "The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke," the book Warren wrote with her daughter in 2004.

"Elizabeth Warren wrote one of the best books I've ever read on economics," he said.

(The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke
https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-Two-Income-Trap%3A-Why-Middle-Class-Parents-Are-Tyagi-Warren/9e71e947ba3ba9f8a993eb39699b9d9baacff235 )

By that point, he'd already warned his audience about the perils of "monopoly power" and declared that income inequality, which the right had long been trained to believe is "just a pure invention of some diabolical French intellectual to destroy America," is actually "completely real" and "totally bad."

His Bolshevist pronouncements were probably not a surprise to anyone who'd watched Carlson's show closely in the months leading up to his speech. But Fox, despite its outsize influence, has a relatively small audience.

And it's not just Carlson's evolution that's escaped notice. It's hard to keep track of what most of the key players on the right are saying these days, with President Trump soaking up so much attention.

But while the commander-in-chief thrashes about, something important is taking shape in his shadow -- the outlines of a new conservatism inspired, or at least elevated, by his rise to power.

It's a conservatism that tries to wrestle with the post-Cold War, post-industrial angst that fired his election -- dropping a reflexive fealty to big business that dates back to the Reagan era and focusing more intently on the struggles of everyday Americans.

"There are many downsides, I will say, to Trump," Carlson said, in his speech this summer. "But one of the upsides is, the Trump election was so shocking, so unlikely ... that it did cause some significant percentage of people to say, 'wait a second, if that can happen, what else is true?' "

The reimagining is playing out not just on Carlson's show or in conservative journals, but among a small batch of young, ambitious Republicans in Congress led by senators Josh Hawley of Missouri and Marco Rubio of Florida.

Their populist -- or "nationalist" or "post-liberal" -- prescriptions sometimes smack of opportunism. And it's still not clear how far they're willing to stray from their party. But it looks like there are places where the new nationalists could find common cause with an energized left.

Whether the two sides can actually forge a meaningful alliance in the glare of our hyperpartisan politics is an open question. But a compact -- even a provisional one -- may offer the country its best shot at building a meaningful, post-Trump politics.

. . .

CARLSON DELIVERED HIS speech at the National Conservatism Conference -- the first major gathering aimed at forging a new, right-of-center approach in the age of Trump.

"This is our independence day," said Yoram Hazony, an Israeli political theorist and chief organizer of the event, in his spirited opening remarks. "We declare independence from neoconservatism, from libertarianism, from what they call classical liberalism." "We are national conservatives," he said. Any effort to build a right-of-center nationalism circa 2019 inevitably runs into questions about whether it will traffic in bigotry.

And one of the speakers, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax, seemed to do just that -- suggesting that "cultural compatibility" should play a role in deciding which migrants are allowed into the country. "In effect," she said, this "means taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites." But Wax's speech, however discomfiting, stood out because it was so discordant. Conference organizers took pains to prevent hate-mongers from attending -- ultimately rejecting six applicants. ... "Your ideas," he said, "are not welcome here." ...

* At the National Conservatism Conference, an 'Intellectual Trumpist' Movement Begins to Take Shape

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/07/national-conservatism-conference-intellectual-trumpist-movement/

Reply Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 06:59 AM

[Sep 15, 2019] The words "Government of the People, by the People, for the People" is an ideological logo that never materialized on any large scale nor over any long time-span anywhere on earth.

Sep 15, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

laodan , September 14, 2019 at 5:40 am

Democracy is a loaded word. Reasoning about it in a public discussion is thus fraught with lots of difficulties. This comment is to highlight some crucial factors that are rarely mentioned.

1. democracy is the particular political outcome of centuries of struggles within the context of Early-Modernity in Western European societies (14th to 18th centuries). Three forces were in competition for the control of power: the clergy, the nobility, and the new rich merchants (those who in France were living in the "bourgs" and were thus called the bourgeoisie. They were also the one's who were owning the capital). The gradual expansion of the right to vote, to all adult citizens along the 19th and 20th centuries, was calibrated by big capital holders to act as a system serving their interests through the manipulation of the public's opinions. And man how successful the West is at this game

2. the history of the other people, outside of western territories, is rich with their own experiences. Even if they are largely unknown to Westerners these histories offer viable alternatives to the Western model of democracy. But Westerners are not interested to learn about these other models. They firmly believe that their own system is the best and they are always ready to impose it by force

3. Western political science is relatively young (1 or 2 centuries at best). This compares with Chinese political science that spans over 3 millennia as a written matter that finds its origin through oral transmission from earlier times.
_________

The words "Government of the People, by the People, for the People" is an ideological logo that never materialized on any large scale nor over any long time-span anywhere on earth.

The shift of the center of gravity of the economy-world' to East Asia and more particularly to China is a 'fait accompli' that still has to register in the West. The longer it takes the West to come to its senses the more painful the downfall will be and the more totalitarian the governance system will become

David , September 14, 2019 at 6:42 am

The issue isn't really democracy, and in any event not liberal democracy, which is close to an oxymoron, given that liberalism creates imbalances of power and wealth inimical to democracy. And the argument is a bit incoherent : voting rights in most countries were based on property ownership, not wealth as such, and much of the political conflict of the 19th century was between traditional landowners and the emerging middle classes, who had the wealth and wanted the power. Likewise, the move to neoliberalism had begun before the end of the 1970s' and slower economic growth was a consequence of it, not a cause.
The real issue is that people expect political leaders, whom they elect and pay, to do things. But modern political leaders have for the last generation or so developed the art of saying that nothing can be done, or at least nothing that will make life better. So a political figure who proposes to actually do something that people want is a dangerous and disruptive force. Irrespective of their precise views and policies, they are a danger to the current political class, which resolutely refuses to do anything useful.

Redlife2017 , September 14, 2019 at 7:02 am

+1000
The allergy to actually enacting policies that have been proven in the past to be beneficial to the citizenry of a country is impressive in its almost pathological implementation. No matter how bad the outcomes of neoliberal economics is, we can't possibly change those policies. This goes beyond TINA. I look at people like Joe Biden and Jo Swinson and marvel at their innate ability to defend the worst excesses of policies like bailing out the banks and austerity and yet still cry crocodile tears for the people.

Ignacio , September 14, 2019 at 1:39 pm

But if you cannot expect to elect a leader that migth do something this is another way of saying democracy is in trouble. The result is that democracy is constrained by a dominant ideology and this undermines democracy. Everything becomes technocratical and obscure, particularly –but not only– monetary policy. I wonder by how much this already short room of maneuver has to be reduced to allow claiming democracy is already dead. There are many candidates that go with the discourse that "I will do the only thing that can be done" so you know from the very beginning that business will go as usual an nothing will be done. For instance, Joe Incremental Biden. A very good example in US is Health Care. A good majority wants H.C. for all, but we migth find again that candidates that promise it are effectively blocked because "it cannot be done (too expensive etc.)". I really think democracy is in trouble if this occurs again.

Carla , September 14, 2019 at 6:13 pm

Democracy is an idea with potential. We should try it!

rob , September 14, 2019 at 10:50 am

Why should "science" have anything to do with democracy?

As someone from the united states, I live in a republic.
Our founding fathers rejected democracy as a form of government.Some of them, like alexander hamilton loathed democracy Which is one reason I think he was an ass but that is besides the point..

Democracy, as an ideal to be promoted in this republic with democratic assumptions . is just something that stands on its own in the sphere of "civics"
democracy is just a practice of engaging with others. it is a discipline.

science may exemplify practical thinking and action as expressed in the scientific method .. but democracy isn't just about what is the "most likely to be true" . it is just what "most people choose" Now education is what lies between what those people know, how they know it and then their choices as to what they really want . but science is a discipline that is really to be exalted in a free society . but has no real place in the democratic institution. IMO
People make democracy not science . and "people" is a tough nut to crack

Hitler was keen on science, to explain his motives his perversions of truth became state mandated axioms of truth . despite being pure BS..

notabanktoadie , September 14, 2019 at 9:44 am

Under neo-liberalism, the state does little more than maintain the rights of ownership and internal and external security through criminal justice and armed services – notwithstanding, the state may bail out financial services if they require public aid. Kevin Albertson [bold added]

It does more than just bail out financial services, the state PRIVILEGES them beforehand by failing to provide something so simple, so obvious as, for example, inherently risk-free debit/checking accounts for all citizens at the Central Bank (or National Treasury) itself.

The result is nations have a SINGLE* payment system that MUST work through the banks or not at all – making their economies hostage to what are, in essence, government-privileged usury cartels.

We can have nations that are for their citizens or ones which privilege banks and other depository institutions but not both.

*apart from mere physical fiat, paper bills and coins.

The Rev Kev , September 14, 2019 at 11:02 am

The problem may not be so much with democracy as with "representative" democracy. I believe that it was Harvard that did a study that found that the wishes of the bulk of the electorate were habitually ignored unless it aligned with the wishes of the wealthier portion of society. In other words, after the elections were over, voter's wishes were not a factor. Perhaps more imaginative ideas need to be adopted. We have secret balloting right now so how about secret ballots in the Senate and the House of reps – on pieces of paper counted in public under the watch of several parties. No digital crap allowed. No donor would be able to tell what his purchased politician actually voted in any session. Every vote would then become a conscience vote. When you think about it, there is nothing to say that how things are now should also be the way that things always are.

General Jinjur , September 14, 2019 at 1:29 pm

Did you mean the Gilens and Page Princeton Univ study?

The Rev Kev , September 14, 2019 at 7:14 pm

Thanks for that. That is the one. It was called "Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens."

shinola , September 14, 2019 at 11:41 am

" the promotion of the neo-liberal political economic paradigm need not result from a conspiracy."

Just because it "need not" doesn't mean it does not. There is a playbook for privatization:

1) Identify a government function that could provide a profit opportunity.
2) Deprive the dept. that provides that function of the funds needed to adequately do a proper job of it.*
3) Point out, loudly & publicly, what a crappy job the gov't is doing.
4) Announce that "We have a solution for that" – which, of course, involves privatization.*

*Note: steps 2 & 4 require co-operation of gov't representatives which is obtained through lobbying & briber.. er, campaign contributions.

kiwi , September 14, 2019 at 12:33 pm

Well, now governments just 'restructure' and pass out contracts to justify laying off employees. There is no need to starve a department of funds first.

My experience is that the contracted 'service' is oversold and mostly goes to pot, and the gov will still renew the contracts for the crappy service providers over and over.

Carey , September 14, 2019 at 1:54 pm

Thanks for this comment. A good succinct video on the topic:

https://hooktube.com/watch?v=5tu32CCA_Ig

Off The Street , September 14, 2019 at 9:16 pm

In simpler times, democracy was viewed at risk if citizens could vote themselves money. Now citizens are at risk when pirates can dispense with the voting to get money.
A cruel twist is where those pirates and their paid pols stick the citizens with the downside.

JCC , September 14, 2019 at 11:58 am

It seems to me, including all the above comments, underlying all of this is the pursuit of "economic growth", which ultimately means the pursuit of economic wealth by the most powerful of the ownership class at the expense of everyone else. And they are the group that buy and install the politicians to ensure that pursuit remains as unimpeded as possible.

Examples of this off-the-rails philosophical and social justification of "modern" capitalism are apparent to everyone (I hope); Shareholder Primacy, Intellectual "Property" Laws, Health Care as a Profit Center replacing health care of citizenry, abstract legal entities, Corporations, given the same rights (and few responsibilities) as individual people, the taking over of education systems by this same ownership class, again primarily for profit and propaganda, increasing for-profit, and control, surveillance, and more rule the day.

Historically, and unfortunately, the prime reset has often been violent revolution. Mike Duncan's Revolutions podcast teaches us many examples throughout history and should be required listening for today's ownership class and politicians everywhere and High School history classes.

Rod , September 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm

THE MORAL CONSEQUENCES OF ECONOMIC GROWTH by Benjamin Friedman in the HarvardScholar link was a thought provoking read about the linkages between affective economic growth and morality– and visa versa.
I believe he was arguing that a cultures adopted values directs the benefits of that cultures economic growth and applications(without direct outside meddling). And that can become a reinforcing feedback loop–for both the held values and values had about economic growth.
Economic Growth is often compiled in numbers in Lamberts Water Cooler at least weekly–however, like Inflation Stats, often a lot of critical things are not considered in the compilation(gas price in inflation and happiness in economic growth–as two simple i.e.)
imo, We need more progress in expanding the term Economic Growth beyond consumption and production to be pertinent in 2019.

Susan the other` , September 14, 2019 at 12:04 pm

I think this is a really good analysis in that it comes to the conclusion that we need more democracy; we are not democratically "liberal" at all. We were just hoodwinked for about the last 50 years. We need to be socially democratic. It will bring an end to the obscene inequalities we see and stabilize civilization. So the apotheosis of unregulated growth and the free-range consumer is over. Tsk tsk. That was imposed on society by the mandate for profits (which they never wanted to admit, but it depended entirely on demand). I guess the consumer is headed for the bone yard of Idols. We will, by necessity, have something entirely different. A form of social demand; a cooperative of some sort. Hanging on to old worn out ideas is all that is left – kind of like nostalgia. Like the Donald pandering to "business" by gutting the EPA now when manufacturing has been decimated and methods of mitigating pollution are a market in themselves. Trump is just campaigning like an old fool; but it's probably working.

Tomonthebeach , September 14, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Finally, an article on Neolib Capitalism that a 5th-grader can grasp – maybe granny too. I already shared it with a dozen friends (ironically – most with doctorates as the choir can never be too big).

Now let's all rise and sing a rousing chorus of Dude Where's My Democracy.

Cal2 , September 14, 2019 at 2:16 pm

After reading about the failure of the F.D.A. to regulate pharma and protect us, after witnessing our military going into losing war after losing stalemate, after seeing homelessness explode, drug use, the failure of schools supposedly controlled by the Department of Education, an eroding environment, etc.

At what point do citizens stop voluntarily paying taxes and complying with federal laws?

stan6565 , September 14, 2019 at 4:16 pm

After the collapse of NHS care, after the oversubsciption of our local schools by a factor of n, after there being no police in the streets to curb the harassment rowdiness and burglary, after a complete collapse of democracy following people's vote for liberty from shackles of giant EU squid, after the horrific waste of local councils monies on sucking up to the terror of minorities (racial, ethnic, sexual), after our own councils ramming the extreme numbers of noninvited imported alien population down the throats of hitherto taxpaying funders of the target occupation environment, and so on, can I have a separate TV station to tell you, the only thing left for the sitting target taxpayers paying for all this largesse, abuse, and outright extortion is indeed to abandon any of the previously normal concepts of tax, duty and bills payments, and let the local and state governments get into the costly business of corralling each and every hitherto low lying fruit taxpayer, and forcing monies out of them at a great expense to the target and the enforcer.

What a way to go forward in life.

RBHoughton , September 14, 2019 at 10:14 pm

Read all the way through and never encountered the names Reagan or Thatcher. As the principal enablers of the financial / economic disaster called the Washington Consensus, their names should be right up there. We need an annual festival with bonfires and fireworks when we can burn the rogues in effigy.

The author is right that prolonged peace allows power to concentrate. He does not indicate the end result that Rome and Constantinople experienced when deprived citizens declined to fight for the empire and the Goths / Crusaders were able to take over. We study Greek and Roman history in school but somehow its relevance to our declining state means nothing to us.

David in Santa Cruz , September 14, 2019 at 10:44 pm

I've always been a huge fan of the Haynes Guides . A finer series of "how-to" books has never been published.

Gratified to read the phrase "carrying capacity" in a political discussion. One of the central drivers of elite power and asset hoarding is the perception of scarcity and the compulsion to ration (i.e. cut-off supplies of "nice things" to the proles and dusky-hued people).

Looking forward to the Haynes Guide to Eating the Rich .

The Rev Kev , September 14, 2019 at 10:53 pm

Will it be entitled To Serve The Rich ?

[Sep 15, 2019] Dude! Where's My Democracy naked capitalism

Sep 15, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

https://eus.rubiconproject.com/usync.html

https://acdn.adnxs.com/ib/static/usersync/v3/async_usersync.html

https://c.deployads.com/sync?f=html&s=2343&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nakedcapitalism.com%2F2019%2F09%2Fdude-wheres-my-democracy.html <img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" /> Legitimate Government

Recently, Foa & Mounk argued that many citizens in supposed advanced democracies have become rather disillusioned with the workings of the political system in their nation. There is good reason to suppose the current political economic paradigm is skewed against the people. So-called democratic deficits exist in the USA and elsewhere . In the UK, for example, the electorate disapprove and have disapproved of four decades of tax and welfare and privatisation policies – yet are apparently powerless to influence these policies.

As politicians and the donors who support them become less responsive to voters' wishes it is hardly surprising many, perhaps the majority, of the populace will view government as illegitimate . In consequence, voters seem increasingly inclined to elect (so-called) populist leaders, political outsiders who may change the rules in favour of the people .

The Left and the Right

Legitimate government, so Abraham Lincoln observes, is that which does for a community that which the community cannot do (or cannot do so well) for themselves. With this it is difficult to disagree. However, political theory differs on who might make up that community.

Broadly speaking, those on the (so-called) economic "right" argue government should enact policy for the benefit of those who own the nation, while those (so-called) economic "left" consider policy should prioritise the interests of citizens. By definition, therefore, capitalist governments will take up positions on the right – particularly in nations, such as the UK, which are increasingly owned by foreign interests . Conversely democratically accountable governments must take positions economically to the left, prioritising the preferences of citizens.

Universal Adult Suffrage

At the dawn of democracy, only the wealthy could vote. Thus, there was less conflict between the aspirations of the powerful and of voters. Following the extension to the adult population of the right to vote in the late 19th and early 20th century, politicians became answerable to a wider range of stakeholders.

In particular, from the middle of the 20th century until the late 1970s, legitimate democratic governments held markets to account in the interests of the demos. An increasingly affluent society facilitated profit making opportunities and thus economies grew; the interests of capital and citizens coincided.

However, since the late 1970s, global economic growth has broadly slowed . It is likely that economic stabilisation has occurred as a result of the slowing pace of innovation and the world reaching (or indeed overshooting) its carrying capacity . However, many were persuaded that the slowdown in growth occurred because governments interfered too much in markets.

In response, to preserve or increase their own income growth, elites are motivated to argue for the "freeing" of markets . Rather than markets being held accountable to citizens through democratic governance, it was suggested that holding governments (and through them the citizenry) to account through reliance on market forces would facilitate a return to economic growth.

The Washington Consensus

The economic paradigm which promotes the small state and reliance on market forces is generally known as neo-liberalism, or the Washington Consensus . Under neo-liberalism, the state does little more than maintain the rights of ownership and internal and external security through criminal justice and armed services – notwithstanding, the state may bail out financial services if they require public aid. In the UK and the USA politicians from both main parties adopted this point of view, often in sincere, if misguided, belief in its validity. Thus, neo-liberalism maintains the appearance of democracy, in that citizens may vote for political leaders, but limits the range of policies on offer to those which are acceptable to markets – or rather, those who command market forces.

It should be emphasised that the promotion of the neo-liberal political economic paradigm need not result from a conspiracy . History indicates that, in any prolonged period of peace, power and wealth tend to accumulate to fewer and fewer individuals . If markets were sufficient to facilitate improvement in the prospects of citizens in general, there would have been few calls for universal suffrage in the first place.

Neoliberalism: Government of the People, by the Market, for the Profit

Since the introduction of neo-liberal socio-economic policies, inequality has increased amongst the citizens of the world's advanced democratic nations . As it has not addressed the root cause of economic stabilisation, the adoption of the neo-liberal political paradigm has not improved the prospects of growth , or stabilised global ecosystems . The growth in incomes of the elites – those who wield market power – has come at the expense of the electorate in general .

Because liberal social attitudes are undermined in increasingly unequal societies , neo-liberal policies have destabilised the social equilibrium of those nations which have adopted them. Reliance on market forces has, paradoxically, even undermined the market; for example, through the Global Financial Crisis and the Eurozone crisis . Curiously, despite these failings, yet more reliance on markets is suggested as the cure .

Democracy: Government of the People, by the People, for the People

Those citizens whose prospects are undermined by the neo-liberal paradigm see it in their interests to support a "strong man" who may change the rules back in their favour. This is a risky strategy; such strong men may rather change the rules in their own favour , or in favour of their supporters. In consequence some have suggested we might consider further tempering democracy . However, we suggest it is the reduction in democratic accountability which has led to this so-called "populist" state of affairs. The solution is rather to increase democratic accountability , not just in central government , but in local government and in our places of employment .

[Sep 15, 2019] Israeli Attacks On Syria Halted After Russia Threatened To Shoot Down Jets

Sep 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

According to reports in both Israeli and Arabic regional media, Israel this past week was preparing to expand major airstrikes against "Iran-backed" targets in Syria, but Moscow imposed its red line. The Independent has published a story describing that Russia's military in Syria threatened to shoot down any invading Israeli warplanes using fighter jets or their S-400 system .

The Jerusalem Post , citing sources in the UK Independent (Arabia) , writes just after the latest meeting in Sochi between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin:

According to the report, Moscow has prevented three Israeli airstrikes on three Syrian outposts recently, and even threatened that any jets attempting such a thing would be shot down, either by Russian jets or by the S400 Anti-aircraft missiles . The source cited in the report claims a similar situation has happened twice, and that during August, Moscow stopped an airstrike on a Syrian outpost in Qasioun, where a S300 missile battery is placed.

Netanyahu's hasty trip to meet with Putin on Thursday - even in the final days before Tuesday's key election - was reportedly with a goal to press the Russian president on essentially ignoring Israel's attacks in Syria.

Image via The Jerusalem Post

Citing further sources in the British-Arabic Independent Arabia , The Jerusalem Post continues :

According to the Russian source, Putin let Netanyahu know that his country will not allow any damage to be done to the Syrian regime's army, or any of the weapons being given to it...

Israel sources cited by the Arabic newspaper described Netanyahu's attempts to persuade Putin as "a failure" . This in spite of Netanyahu telling reporters after the meeting that his relations with Moscow were stronger than ever.

Moscow is said to be particularly resistant given the Israeli military's recent spate of attacks on targets in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria.

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Sources in the report claimed further that Putin in a somewhat unprecedented moment raised the issue of Lebanon :

The Russian source said: "Putin has expressed his dissatisfaction from Israel's latest actions in Lebanon" and even emphasized to Netanyahu that he "Rejects the aggression towards Lebanon's sovereignty" something which has never been heard from him. Putin further stated that someone is cheating him in regards to Syria and Lebanon and that he will not let it go without a response. According to him, Netanyahu was warned not to strike such targets in the future.

It could also be simply that Putin understands that Netanyahu, now desperate to extend his political career to a record fifth term as prime minister as next week's elections loom, could be ready to risk a major and very unnecessary Middle East conflagration in order to continue to appeal to Israeli right wing and nationalist voters.


shortingurass , 24 minutes ago link

Say what you want about Putin, this guy has balls. I wish we had a leader like him. it's been way too long we're being governed by weak zio puppets pussies.

naro , 22 minutes ago link

Putin is a good man and loves the Judean people.

naro , 19 minutes ago link

SUPPORT FROM PUTIN IN SOCHI

Netanyahu traveled to the Black Sea resort to meet the Russian leader – just five days before the election – in a move widely seen as an effort to woo elder Russian-speaking immigrants.

Noob678 , 40 minutes ago link

US, Israel talk about mutual defense treaty – Trump - Trump is anti-establishment ZOG-Rothschild lol

The US and Israel are discussing a mutual defense treaty that would further cement the already "tremendous" alliance between the two countries, President Donald Trump has revealed.

"I had a call today with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the possibility of moving forward with a Mutual Defense Treaty, between the United States and Israel, that would further anchor the tremendous alliance between our two countries," Trump tweeted.

Wahooo , 37 minutes ago link

OrangeZioPedo at his finest. MIGA!

Brazen Heist II , 36 minutes ago link

The US has become a bad Jewish comedy sketch and kvetch.

petroglyph , 5 minutes ago link

And just two days ago, Israel was caught again places spy devices in Wash. But today the POTUS is going to sign on for sacrificing what's left of our sovereignty to Israel so they can go around MENA pounding their chest and threatening everyone. https://www.israellobbyus.org/transcripts/1.1Grant_Smith.htm

ADB , 45 minutes ago link

Einstein101: "Well, so far the Joos are those who are throwing the punches ..."

Only because you can run to America the moment anyone fights back. Until now.

How does it feel to have the whole Oded Yinon/ Greater Israel project crumbling before your eyes?

I am Groot , 49 minutes ago link

I hope Putin gives Iran one of those Tsar Bomba's to drop on Israel. Or one of those Satan 2's that can wipe out an area the size of Texas.

Et Tu Brute , 46 minutes ago link

Not sure option 2 would be such good idea, with Damascus being only a few kms from the Israeli border and all...

Airstrip1 , 1 hour ago link

Interesting body language/facials -- Nutty still with the smirk, but VVP and background say a grave/serious word has gone out ... similar as the Izzies bend to listen very carefully to the erect and confident-looking Russkies ...

********'s over, Bibi, where it goes from here depends on your nasty little country ... maybe others in your region looking for 70-odd years payback for your murders terrorism land-confiscation cruelty against those weaker than your miserable selves.

Einstein101 , 53 minutes ago link

********'s over, Bibi, where it goes from here depends on your nasty little country

Not so fast, Israel will try not to step on Putin's tows but it can't afford the Iranians to build that ring of missiles around Israel. It's not that Israel does not have leverage too, it can make things complicated for Putin, like one small bomb on Assad's resident in Damascus.

Airstrip1 , 22 minutes ago link

... one small bomb on Assad's resident in Damascus.

You can certainly shoot out the ******** yourself, Einstein.

Surely you must be aware that your namesake condemned the founding of Israel in 1948, which has turned out to be the all-round disaster he predicted. Not alone, many Jewish voices round the world continue to condemn it. How inconvenient for you and your bombs on Assad's house ... lol ...

Airstrip1 , 7 minutes ago link

"I am in favor of Palestine being developed as a Jewish Homeland but not as a separate State. It seems to me a matter for simple common sense that we cannot ask to be given the political rule over Palestine where two thirds of the population are not Jewish. What we can and should ask is a secured bi-national status in Palestine with free immigration. If we ask more we are damaging our own cause and it is difficult for me to grasp that our Zionists are taking such an intransigent position which can only impair our cause," Einstein said in a letter in 1946, according to the Shapell Manuscript Foundation.


Read Newsmax: Israel: 5 Albert Einstein Quotes About Zionism | Newsmax.com

ThomasEdmonds , 1 hour ago link

In as delicate and diplomatic phrasing as I can attempt, Netanyahu needs to go.

[Sep 15, 2019] Democracy is an idea with potential. The USA should try it one day !

Sep 15, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Unfortunately, Joe neoliberal Biden does not qualify. He wants to serve only the rich.

Gratified to read the phrase "carrying capacity" in a political discussion. One of the central drivers of elite power and asset hoarding is the perception of scarcity and the compulsion to ration (i.e. cut-off supplies of "nice things" to the proles and dusky-hued people).

[Sep 15, 2019] Wall Street Ignores Cyclical Jobs Growth Downturn As Employment Indicator Hits Great Recession Levels

Notable quotes:
"... Most of the ads for good jobs are fake. ..."
"... Instead of submitting a general application, as used to be the case in the past, and have the ability to work with the company to find the role that works best. HR has ruined a lot of good companies and their recruiting processes by going to rigid job descriptions instead of just hiring smart people and letting them work. ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

The Economic Cycle Research Institute's (ECRI) Lakshman Achuthan recently sat down with CNBC's Michael Santoli to discuss the jobs growth downturn. Keep in mind, this conversation was held on Wednesday, several days before Friday's disappointing jobs report.

Achuthan told Santoli there's a " very clear cyclical downturn in jobs growth, there's really no debating that, and it looks set to continue ."

Achuthan said January 2019 marked the cyclical peak in jobs growth, has been moving lower ever since, and the trend is far from over. Both nonfarm payrolls and the household survey year-over-year growth are in cyclical downturns, he said. While the economic narratives via the mainstream financial press continue to cheerlead that the consumer will lift all tides thanks to the supposedly strong jobs market, Achuthan believes the downturn in jobs growth will start to "undermine consumer confidence." And it's the loss in consumer confidence that could tilt the economy into recession.

He also said when examining cyclically sensitive sectors of the economy, there are already "questionable jobs numbers," such as a significant surge in the construction unemployment rate.

Achuthan said nonfarm payroll growth has plunged to a 17-month low, and the household survey is even weaker. He said the top nonfarm payroll line would be revised down by half a million jobs in the coming months, which would underline the weakness in employment.

Achuthan emphasized to Santoli that ECRI's recession call won't be "taken off the table. We've been talking about a growth rate cycle slowdown. We're slow-walking toward -- some recessionary window of vulnerability -- we're not there today -- but this piece of the puzzle [jobs growth downturn] is looking a bit wobbly. This is the main message that Wall Street is missing."

As Wall Street bids stocks to near-record highs on "trade optimism" and the belief that the consumer will save the day, in large part because of solid jobs growth. ECRI's Leading Employment Index, which correctly anticipated this downturn in jobs growth, is at its worst reading since the Great Recession .

And Wall Street's bet today is that the Fed can achieve a soft landing – as in 1995-96 – when it started the rate cut cycle the same month the inflation downturn was signaled by the U.S. Future Inflation Gauge (USFIG) turning lower.

However, this time around, the inflation downturn signal arrived in September 2018, the moment when the Fed should have started the cut cycle. With a ten-month lag in the cut cycle, belated rate cuts have always been associated with recession.

And now it should become increasingly clear to readers why President Trump has sounded the alarm about the need for 100bps rate cuts, quantitative easing, and emergency payroll tax cuts - it's because he's been briefed about the economic downturn that has already started.


GotAFriendInBen , 15 minutes ago link

Actually, MSM cheerleads rate cuts as the cure-all, instead of throwing shoes at Powell

Keyser , 41 minutes ago link

How do you continue to have jobs growth when the country is at full employment?

Typical ******** from C-NBC...

Alex Droog , 19 minutes ago link

The network that employs dotards like Jim Cramer to cheerlead the lemmings.

Build-It-Well , 1 hour ago link

Have we learned anything?

https://soundcloud.com/daniel-sullivan-505714723/little-saigon-report-170-have-we-learned-anything

Art_Vandelay , 1 hour ago link

I don't agree with him that the Fed can do anything to correct this, nor do they have an incentive to do so. The Fed is not on the consumer's side. They will appropriate funds to whoever they want to, just like 08, and give the middle finger to everyone else.

pitz , 1 hour ago link

Job quality is horrible, particularly for US citizen STEM workers. This has been the case since the downturn that began in the late 1990s. Trump needs to fully cancel the OPT program and almost eliminate the H-1B program. Major employers don't even bother considering US citizen STEM talent before they hire foreign nationals.

pump and dump , 1 hour ago link

Most of the ads for good jobs are fake.

pitz , 1 hour ago link

Yes, but they don't bother to come out and tell you its a fake ad. One of the tragedies of the online job application process is that it forces a person, with little to no knowledge of a company and its internals, to pick, out of potentially hundreds of roles, which one would be best for them.

Instead of submitting a general application, as used to be the case in the past, and have the ability to work with the company to find the role that works best. HR has ruined a lot of good companies and their recruiting processes by going to rigid job descriptions instead of just hiring smart people and letting them work.

ZD1 , 1 hour ago link

Congress first established the H-1B program with the The Immigration Act of 1990. It was supposed to be temporary.

Congress needs to abolish it.

Future Jim , 2 hours ago link

This seems to contradict the labor participation rate.

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CIVPART

J S Bach , 2 hours ago link

"Wall Street Ignores Cyclical Slave Growth Downturn As Enslavement Indicator Hits Great Recession Levels"

Ahhh... what truth a few seconds of editing can convoke.

The EveryThing Bubble , 2 hours ago link

It's all rigged folks

don't believe anything you read

[Sep 15, 2019] What People Say About the Economy Can Set Off a Recession

Notable quotes:
"... The probability that a recession will come soon -- or be severe when it does -- depends in part on the state of ever-changing popular narratives about the economy. These are stories that provide a framework for piecing together the seemingly random bits of information that one picks up from friends, the news or social media. ..."
"... The last recession 10 years ago was exceptionally severe, and it is worth examining closely for insights into how the spread of economic narratives drove human behavior. ..."
"... It now appears that while Sept. 15, 2008, was a logical moment for the start of a panic, that's not really what happened. That was when Lehman Brothers, an old-line investment bank, failed, and while this was a major economic event, the evidence suggests that it did not foster a viral narrative among the broad population. ..."
"... Since Lehman was an investment bank, and did not accept deposits from small savers, most people weren't much moved by its demise. Instead, the big change seems to have come on Sept. 25, 2008. That was when the government seized Washington Mutual -- a giant savings and loan association, known as WaMu, that had suffered a sudden mass exodus of depositors -- and sold its assets to JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion. ..."
"... Roosevelt's memorable words, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," became, in Mr. Bush's Rose Garden speech, "Anxiety can feed anxiety." The New York Times noted that parallel then. It seemed to many people, in real time, that the Great Depression might be repeating itself. ..."
"... Even before Mr. Bush's speech, Great Depression narratives had been emerging strongly. For example, the number of articles in the ProQuest News & Newspapers database containing the words "Great Depression" rose fivefold from 2007 to 2008. The term, with its emotional resonance, had exploded into an epidemic. ..."
"... But the Great Depression narrative is still alive, though it does not dominate at the moment. President Trump's exuberant speeches, if one believes them, still encourage big spending and confidence. Yet older, troubling narratives are waiting to become viral again. ..."
"... New crises that shake up the economy often surprise economists because no exogenous cause appears to be a sufficient explanation for a downturn. People begin to suddenly frame current events in the context of stories they had heard many times before. ..."
"... This may seem puzzling until we realize that an old narrative has renewed itself in an epidemic, and people have begun to respond reflexively in their day-to-day decisions. If enough people begin to act fearfully, their anxiety can become self-fulfilling, and a recession, sometimes a big one, may follow. ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 13, 2019 at 06:59 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/business/recession-fear-talk.html?emc=rss&partner=rss

September 12, 2019

What People Say About the Economy Can Set Off a Recession
By Robert J. Shiller

When will the next recession arrive?

Economists are evaluating such factors as President Trump's endlessly shifting tariff policy, the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve and other central banks, and such "leading indicators" as the yields in the bond market.

It is good to look at these things. They provide insights about the state of the markets and the economy, but they have severe limitations as forecasting tools. This approach will not produce a definitive advance reading of a major shift from growth to contraction: a recession.

Forecasting such a shift is extremely difficult. But if we are to have a chance at success, it is critical to insert into the discussion another factor entirely: an examination of the popular narratives that may be infecting individual economic decision-making.

The probability that a recession will come soon -- or be severe when it does -- depends in part on the state of ever-changing popular narratives about the economy. These are stories that provide a framework for piecing together the seemingly random bits of information that one picks up from friends, the news or social media.

For consumers these narratives affect decisions on whether to spend or save, whether to take a demanding or an easy job, whether to take a risk or stick with something safer. For businesspeople the prevailing narratives affect deliberations on whether to hire more help or lay off employees, whether to expand or retrench or even start a new enterprise.

For most people, such important decisions are fraught with ambiguity and uncertainty. Hardly any of us have precise formulas to decide our plans. So we allow ourselves to be influenced by the emotions, theories and scripts suggested in the stories we hear from others.

Fortunately, the widespread digitization of text, combined with enhanced capabilities for natural-language processing, is beginning to give us new insights into the history of economic narratives. We are beginning to develop a new economics, one that studies these changing economic stories and metaphors systematically.

In my new book, I describe narratives that can periodically surge into epidemics and are capable of changing the economy's direction or of turning small booms and recessions into big ones.

These narratives cluster around several issues:

Changes in the current environment may cause a subtle mutation in these perennial stories, causing them to go viral and sometimes increasing their contagious effects or extending the period in which they expand. Much as epidemiologists study infectious diseases, we economists can study the spread and transformation of these powerful stories.

The last recession 10 years ago was exceptionally severe, and it is worth examining closely for insights into how the spread of economic narratives drove human behavior.

It now appears that while Sept. 15, 2008, was a logical moment for the start of a panic, that's not really what happened. That was when Lehman Brothers, an old-line investment bank, failed, and while this was a major economic event, the evidence suggests that it did not foster a viral narrative among the broad population.

Since Lehman was an investment bank, and did not accept deposits from small savers, most people weren't much moved by its demise. Instead, the big change seems to have come on Sept. 25, 2008. That was when the government seized Washington Mutual -- a giant savings and loan association, known as WaMu, that had suffered a sudden mass exodus of depositors -- and sold its assets to JPMorgan Chase for $1.9 billion.

That event was often seen to resemble the Great Depression and the collapse of the banking system in 1933. People feared the possibility of spreading bank failures and therefore of personal tragedies.

The public was transfixed when President George W. Bush spoke from the White House Rose Garden on Oct. 10, 2008, about the risk of a serious economic downturn.

While Mr. Bush did not utter the word "depression," he used language that closely resembled that of the first inaugural address of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, perhaps the worst time of the Great Depression.

Roosevelt's memorable words, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," became, in Mr. Bush's Rose Garden speech, "Anxiety can feed anxiety." The New York Times noted that parallel then. It seemed to many people, in real time, that the Great Depression might be repeating itself.

Even before Mr. Bush's speech, Great Depression narratives had been emerging strongly. For example, the number of articles in the ProQuest News & Newspapers database containing the words "Great Depression" rose fivefold from 2007 to 2008. The term, with its emotional resonance, had exploded into an epidemic.

In contrast, other big historical events, like the panic of 1907, have been almost totally forgotten by the public and are unlikely to develop into a big new epidemic.

But the Great Depression narrative is still alive, though it does not dominate at the moment. President Trump's exuberant speeches, if one believes them, still encourage big spending and confidence. Yet older, troubling narratives are waiting to become viral again.

New crises that shake up the economy often surprise economists because no exogenous cause appears to be a sufficient explanation for a downturn. People begin to suddenly frame current events in the context of stories they had heard many times before.

This may seem puzzling until we realize that an old narrative has renewed itself in an epidemic, and people have begun to respond reflexively in their day-to-day decisions. If enough people begin to act fearfully, their anxiety can become self-fulfilling, and a recession, sometimes a big one, may follow.

Robert J. Shiller is Sterling Professor of Economics at Yale.

[Sep 15, 2019] Thomas Piketty's New Book Brings Political Economy Back to Its Sources

Sep 15, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 13, 2019 at 06:38 PM

https://promarket.org/thomas-piketty-new-book-brings-political-economy-back-to-its-sources/

September 6, 2019

Thomas Piketty's New Book Brings Political Economy Back to Its Sources
In the same way that Capital in the Twenty-First Century transformed the way economists look at inequality, Piketty's new book Capital and Ideology will transform the way political scientists look at their own field.
By Branko Milanovic

Thomas Piketty's books are always monumental. Some are more monumental than others. His Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901–1998 (published in French as Les hauts revenus en France au XXe siècle) covered more than two centuries of income and wealth inequality, in addition to social and political changes in France. His international bestseller Capital in the Twenty-First Century (Le capital au XXI siècle) broadened this approach to the most important Western countries (France, the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany). His new book Capital and Ideology (to be published in English in March 2020; already published in France as Capital et idéologie) broadens the scope even further, covering the entire world and presenting a historical panorama of how ownership of assets (including people) was treated, and justified, in various historical societies, from China, Japan, and India, to the European-ruled American colonies, and feudal and capitalist societies in Europe. Just the mention of the geographical and temporal scope of the book suffices to give the reader an idea of its ambition.

Before I review Capital and Ideology, it is worth mentioning the importance of Piketty's overall approach, present in all three of his books. His approach is characterized by the methodological return of economics to its original and key functions: to be a science that illuminates the interests and explains the behaviors of individuals and social classes in their quotidian (material) life. This methodology rejects the dominant paradigm of the past half-century, which increasingly ignored the role of classes and heterogeneous individuals in the process of production and instead treated all people as abstract agents that maximize their own income under certain constraints. The dominant paradigm has emptied almost all social content from economics and presented a view of society that was as abstract as it was false.

The reintroduction of actual life into economics by Piketty and several other economists (not entirely coincidentally, most of them are economists interested in inequality) is much more than just a return to the sources of political economy and economics. This is because today, we have vastly more information (data) than was available to economists a century ago, not only about our own contemporary societies but also about past societies. This combination between political economy's original methodology and big data is what I call "turbo-Annales," after the French group of historians that pioneered the view of history as a social science focusing on the broad social, economic, and political forces that shape the world. The topics that interested classical political economy and the authors associated with the Annales School can now be studied empirically, and even econometrically and experimentally -- things which they could not do, both because of the scarcity of data and unavailability of modern methodologies.

It is within this context that, I believe, we ought to consider Piketty's Capital and Ideology. How successful was his approach, applied now to the world and over a very long time-horizon?

"The dominant paradigm has emptied almost all social content from economics and presented a view of society that was as abstract as it was false."

For the purposes of this review, I divide Piketty's book into two parts: the first, which I already mentioned, looks at ideological justifications of inequality across different societies (Parts 1 and 2 of the book, and to some extent Part 3); the second introduces an entirely new way of studying recent political cleavages in modern societies (Part 4). I am somewhat skeptical about Piketty's success in the first part, despite his enormous erudition and his skills as a raconteur, because success in discussing something so geographically and temporally immense is difficult to reach, even by the best-informed minds who have studied different societies for the majority of their careers. Analyzing each of these societies requires an extraordinarily high degree of sophisticated historical knowledge regarding religious dogmas, political organization, social stratification, and the like. To take two examples of authors who have tried to do it, one older and one more recent: Max Weber, during his entire life (and more specifically in Economy and Society), and Francis Fukuyama in his two-volume masterpiece on the origins of the political and economic order. In both cases, the results were not always unanimously approved by specialists studying individual societies and religions.

In his analysis of some of these societies, Piketty had to rely on somewhat "straightforward" or simplified discussions of their structure and evolution, discussions which at times seem plausible but superficial. In other words, each of these historical societies, many of which lasted centuries, had gone through different phases in their developments, phases which are subject to various interpretations. Treating such evolutions as if they were a simple, uncontested story is reductionist. It is a choice of one plausible historical narrative where many exist. This compares unfavorably with Piketty's own rich and nuanced narrative in Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century.

While I am somewhat skeptical about that first part of the book, I am not skeptical about the second. In this part, we find the Piketty who plays to his strength: bold and innovative use of data which produces a new way of looking at phenomena that we all observe but were unable to define so precisely. Here, Piketty is "playing" on the familiar Western economic history "terrain" that he knows well, probably better than any other economist.

This part of the book looks empirically at the reasons that left-wing, or social democratic parties have gradually transformed themselves from being the parties of the less-educated and poorer classes to become the parties of the educated and affluent middle and upper-middle classes. To a large extent, traditionally left parties have changed because their original social-democratic agenda was so successful in opening up education and high-income possibilities to the people who in the 1950s and 1960s came from modest backgrounds. These people, the "winners" of social democracy, continued voting for left-wing parties but their interests and worldview were no longer the same as that of their (less-educated) parents. The parties' internal social structure thus changed -- the product of their own political and social success. In Piketty's terms, they became the parties of the "Brahmin left" (La gauche Brahmane), as opposed to the conservative right-wing parties, which remained the parties of the "merchant right" (La droite marchande).

To simplify, the elite became divided between the educated "Brahmins" and the more commercially-minded "investors," or capitalists. This development, however, left the people who failed to experience upward educational and income mobility unrepresented, and those people are the ones that feed the current "populist" wave. Quite extraordinarily, Piketty shows the education and income shifts of left-wing parties' voters using very similar long-term data from all major developed democracies (and India). The fact that the story is so consistent across countries lends an almost uncanny plausibility to his hypothesis.

It is also striking, at least to me, that such multi-year, multi-country data were apparently never used by political scientists to study this phenomenon. This part of Piketty's book will likely transform, or at least affect, how political scientists look at new political realignments and class politics in advanced democracies in the years to come. In the same way that Capital in the Twenty-First Century has transformed how economists look at inequality, Capital and Ideology will transform the way political scientists look at their own field.


Branko Milanovic is a senior scholar at the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

[Sep 14, 2019] How to lose 100 millions trying to enter the USA subway cars mar anne ,

Sep 14, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/14/business/chinese-train-national-security.html

September 14, 2019

Fearing 'Spy Trains,' Congress May Ban a Chinese Maker of Subway Cars
By Ana Swanson

CHICAGO -- America's next fight with China is unfolding at a glistening new factory in Chicago, which stands empty except for the shells of two subway cars and space for future business that is unlikely to come.

A Chinese state-owned company called CRRC Corporation, the world's largest train maker, completed the $100 million facility this year in the hopes of winning contracts to build subway cars and other passenger trains for American cities like Chicago and Washington.

But growing fears about China's economic ambitions and its potential to track and spy on Americans are about to quash those plans. Congress is soon expected to approve legislation that would effectively bar the company from competing for new contracts in the United States, citing national security and economic concerns. The White House has expressed its support for the effort.

Washington's attempt to block a Chinese company from selling train cars inside America is the latest escalation in a trade war that has quickly expanded from a spat over tariffs and intellectual property to a broader fight over economic and national security.

President Trump and lawmakers from both parties are increasingly anxious about the economic and technological ambitions of China, which has built cutting-edge global industries, including those that produce advanced surveillance technology. Those fears have prompted Washington to take an expansive view of potential risks, moving beyond simply trying to curtail Chinese imports.

In addition to slapping tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese products, the administration has banned Chinese companies like Huawei, the telecom giant, from buying sensitive American technology. It is moving to curb the ability of firms to export technology like artificial intelligence and quantum computing from the United States to China. And Congress has given the administration expansive power to block Chinese investment on national security grounds.

Now lawmakers have added a provision to a military spending bill that would prevent the use of federal grants to buy subway trains from state-owned or state-controlled companies, a measure that would effectively block CRRC's business.

The bill has gained bipartisan support from lawmakers who say companies like CRRC pose a threat to the United States. Part of the concern is economic: Flush with cash from its rapid growth, China has pumped money into building globally competitive businesses, often creating overcapacity in markets like steel, solar panels and trains.

That has lowered prices for consumers -- including American taxpayers who pay for subway cars. While a subway car has not been manufactured solely by an American company in decades, CRRC's low prices have raised concerns among American freight train companies that the company could ultimately move into -- and demolish -- their business.

CRRC has consistently underbid its competitors, winning over urban transit agencies that are saddled with aging infrastructure and tight budgets. For the Chicago L, CRRC's Chicago subsidiary bid $1.55 million per car, compared with a bid of $1.82 million per car by Bombardier, the Canadian manufacturer. And CRRC also proposed to build the Chicago facility and create 170 new jobs.

Legislators argue that Chinese state-owned companies are not pursuing profit, but the policy aims of the Chinese government to dominate key global industries like electric cars, robotics and rail.

"When you can subsidize, when you can wholly own an enterprise like China does, you can create a wholly unlevel playing field," said Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat who is a co-sponsor of the legislation. "We're used to that unlevel playing field existing between the U.S. and China, but now it's happening in our own backyard."

Another more nefarious worry is also at play. Lawmakers -- along with CRRC's competitors -- say they are concerned that subway cars made by a Chinese company might make it easier for Beijing to spy on Americans and could pose a sabotage threat to American infrastructure, though CRRC says it surrenders control of all technology in the cars to its buyers. Nonetheless, critics speculate that the Chinese firm could incorporate technology into the cars that would allow CRRC -- and the Chinese government -- to track the faces, movement, conversations or phone calls of passengers through the train's cameras or Wi-Fi.

Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which represents manufacturers and the United Steelworkers, said the risks of giving a Chinese company the ability to monitor or control American infrastructure could not be understated given recent laws requiring Chinese companies to turn over data to Beijing upon request.

"I just think it would be irresponsible to assume the Chinese government to which this firm must answer would be a reliable security partner, given its well documented track record," Mr. Paul said.

Whether those fears are justified remains uncertain. Proponents of the bill have not made clear how subway cars manufactured by a Chinese company would pose a greater espionage threat than everything else that China makes and sells in the United States, including laptops, phones and home appliances.

Dave Smolensky, a spokesman for CRRC, said the company was being unfairly targeted by companies that wanted to legislate a competitor out of business under the guise of national security. He said the firm was a victim to "an aggressive multimillion-dollar media disinformation campaign," funded mostly by domestic freight train companies, intended to play on popular fears about China's rise.

Employees at the Chicago factory also dismissed the concerns, saying they had not seen any evidence that they were working to construct "spy trains."

"I haven't seen any secret wires yet," said Perry Nobles, an electrician for CRRC who was rigging wires in the interior of the trains. "With the world full of cellphones and computers, I'd think there's an easier way to get information."

Rising fears of China's ambitions in Washington have prompted officials to adopt an unsparing view, with policymakers and national security officials warning domestic and foreign governments not to trust Chinese equipment.

American officials have waged a global offensive against Huawei, telling other countries that allowing a Chinese company to build the world's next generation of wireless networks would be akin to handing national secrets to a foreign agent.

Like CRRC, the fear surrounding Huawei is largely based on concerns about technological dominance by China's authoritarian government. No one has yet disclosed finding a backdoor in Huawei's products that would allow it to snoop -- but officials say by the time one is discovered, it may be too late.

"The Chinese are working to put their systems in networks all across the world so they can steal your information and my information," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview in May. "This administration is prepared to take this on."

As Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, introduced the provision in March, he said, "China poses a clear and present danger to our national security and has already infiltrated our rail and bus manufacturing industries."

Representative Kevin McCarthy, a Republican whose California district is home to a Chinese bus maker, BYD, had opposed a version of the provision that would apply to buses as well as trains. House lawmakers dropped the bus provision, but the Senate bill would apply to both. Congress will take the issue up again in the coming weeks as part of the annual defense bill.

The legislation would not affect the thousands of American subway cars that CRRC previously won contracts to build, including an 846-car order for the Chicago L. But it would block the company from future contracts, such as those under consideration by the Chicago Metra and the Washington Metro.

The Chicago facility is the company's second in the United States. A factory in Massachusetts that employs more than 150 people is already building trains for Boston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, prompting concerns that the company plans to expand rapidly in the United States as it has in other foreign markets.

Like many Chinese state enterprises, CRRC is guided by Beijing's Made in China 2025 plan, which lays out an agenda to dominate key industries.

In its 2018 annual report, Liu Hualong, the company's chairman and party secretary, pledged to pursue the dual goals of "Party construction as well as developing into a world-leading company with global competitiveness."

"We conscientiously followed the important instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping," the report said, referring to the Chinese president and Communist Party leader.

The last American firm to make passenger rail cars, the Pullman Company, produced its final car in 1981. Since then, major American cities have bought subway cars from Bombardier and Japanese manufacturers like Kawasaki, Hyundai and Hitachi.

But American manufacturers of freight rail cars, including the Greenbrier Companies and TrinityRail, which is based in Mr. Cornyn's home state of Texas, say CRRC could use its footing in the United States to steal its business. Together with unions and others, they have mounted a lobbying campaign against CRRC under an umbrella group known as the Rail Security Alliance.

The group says American taxpayer dollars should not be spent in China, where the empty rail cars are made before being shipped to the United States for further work at the company's facilities in Illinois or Massachusetts.

"We think those dollars should stay here," said Erik Olson, the vice president of the Rail Security Alliance.

CRRC sends over experts from its giant headquarters in Qingdao, China, to plants in other countries. In Chicago, the American employees call these Chinese citizens "shifu," a polite term for a skilled worker meaning "master" or "teacher."

On a sunny day in July, the company break room was split between shifus, wearing white jumpsuits and eating stuffed buns, and American workers, many of whom had joined the company in the last few months. The gleaming concrete factory floor was bare, save for a few dozen people installing wiring, air ducts and other components into the empty shells of two rail cars.

"We are a little concerned because it's our livelihood," said Mr. Nobles, who was hired in March from a previous factory job making frames for the Ford Explorer.

This summer, CRRC replaced the Chinese flag outside the factory with a Chicago flag. It has also retained two Washington lobbying firms, Squire Patton Boggs and Crossroads Strategies, to plead its case in Congress.

It may be too late. Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, said he helped sponsor the bill to prevent the American transit system from being "controlled by a foreign country that is not particularly friendly to us."

"They spell out in black and white they're going to use foreign investment as a weapon, and we're taking action to defend ourselves," Mr. Brown said.

[Sep 14, 2019] Behind the escalating global conflict over trade and technology is a larger breakdown of the postwar rules-based order, which was based on a belief that any country's growth benefits all. Now that China is threatening to compete directly with the United States, support for the system that made that possible has disappeared.

Clinton attempts to bankrupt and subdue Russia as well as his criminal (in a sense of no permission form the UN) attack on Yugoslavia backfired. Russia became permanently hostile. The fact he and his coterie were not yet tried by something like Nuremberg tribunal is only due to the USA dominance at this stage of history. And he probably will manage to die before such opportunity might materialize.
Sep 14, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> Paine ... , September 14, 2019 at 04:43 PM
https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-trade-war-damage-by-raghuram-rajan-2019-09

September 5, 2019

The True Toll of the Trade War
Behind the escalating global conflict over trade and technology is a larger breakdown of the postwar rules-based order, which was based on a belief that any country's growth benefits all. Now that China is threatening to compete directly with the United States, support for the system that made that possible has disappeared.
By RAGHURAM G. RAJAN

CHICAGO – Another day, another attack on trade. Why is it that every dispute – whether over intellectual property (IP), immigration, environmental damage, or war reparations – now produces new threats to trade?

For much of the last century, the United States managed and protected the rules-based trading system it created at the end of World War II. That system required a fundamental break from the pre-war environment of mutual suspicion between competing powers. The US urged everyone to see that growth and development for one country could benefit all countries through increased trade and investment.

Under the new dispensation, rules were enacted to constrain selfish behavior and coercive threats by the economically powerful. The US served as a benevolent hegemon, administering the occasional rap on the knuckles to those acting in bad faith. Meanwhile, the system's multilateral institutions, especially the International Monetary Fund, helped countries in dire need of funds, provided they followed the rules....

likbez -> anne... , September 14, 2019 at 08:30 PM

"The US served as a benevolent hegemon, administering the occasional rap on the knuckles to those acting in bad faith"

USA foreign policy since 70th was controlled by neocons who as a typical Trotskyites (neoliberalism is actually Trotskyism for the rich) were/are hell-bent of world domination and practice gangster capitalism in foreign policy.

Bolton attitude to UN is very symptomatic for the neocons as a whole.

Madeline "not so bright" Allbright was the first swan. As well as Clinton attempts to bankrupt and subdue Russia and criminal (in a sense of no permission from the UN) attack on Yugoslavia. Both backfired: Russia became permanently hostile. The fact he and his coterie were not yet tried by something like Nuremberg tribunal is only due to the USA dominance at this stage of history.

The truth is that after the dissolution of the USSR the USA foreign policy became completely unhinged. And inside the country the elite became cannibalistic, as there was no external threat to its dominance in the form of the USSR.

The USA stated to behave like a typical Imperial state (New Rome, or, more correctly, London) accepting no rules/laws that are not written by themselves (and when it is convenient to obey them) with the only difference from the classic imperial states that the hegemony it not based on the military presence/occupation ( like was the case with British empire)

Although this is not completely true as there are 761 US Military Bases across the planet and only 46 Countries with no US military presence. Of them, seven countries with 13 New Military Bases were added since 09/11/2001.In 2001 the US had a quarter million troops posted abroad.

Still as an imperial state and the center of neoliberal empire the USA relies more on financial instruments and neoliberal comprador elite inside the country.

I recently learned from https://akarlin.com/2010/04/on-liberasts-and-liberasty/ that the derogatory term for the neoliberal part of the Russian elite is "liberasts" and this term gradually slipping into English language ( http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/liberast ;-)

With the collapse of neoliberal ideology in 2008 the USA centered neoliberal empire experiences first cracks. Brexit and election of Trump widened the cracks in a sense of further legitimizing the ruling neoliberal elite (big middle finger for Hillary was addressed to the elite as whole)

If oil price exceed $100 per barrel there will yet another crack or even repetition of the 2008 Great Recession on a new level (although we may argue that the Great Recession never ended and just entered in Summers terms "permanent stagnation: phase)

Although currently with a bully at the helm the USA empire still going strong in forcing vassals and competitors to reconsider their desire to challenge the USA that situation will not last. Trump currently is trying to neutralize the treat from China by rejecting classic neoliberal globalization mechanism as well as signed treaties like WTO. He might be successful in the short run but in the "long run" that undermines the USA centered neoliberal empire and speed up its demise. .

In the long run the future does not look too bright as crimes committed by the USA during triumphal period of neoliberalism hangs like albatross around the USA neck.

EU now definitely wants to play its own game as Macron recently stated and which Merkel tacitly supports. If EU allies with Russia it will became No.1 force in the world with the USA No. 2. With severe consequences for the USA.

If Russia allied with China the USA Np.1 position will hinge of keeping EU vassals in check and NATO in place. Without them it will became No.2 with fatal consequences for the dollar as world reserve currency and sudden change of the USA financial position due to the level of external debt and requires devaluation of the dollar.

Looks like 75 year after WWII the world started to self-organize a countervailing force trying to tame the USA with some interest expressed by such players as EU, Russia, China, India, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and even Saudi Arabia. As well as ( in the past; and possibly in the future as neoliberal counterrevolutions in both countries probably will end badly) by Brazil and Argentina.

Only Canada, Australia and probably UK can be counted as the reliable parts of the USA empire. That's not much.

[Sep 14, 2019] when the US puts economic pressure on trade with China, it affects US trade with China, but not necessarily China's trade with other countries of Asia or patterns of US trade with the Asian region as a whole.

Sep 14, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 14, 2019 at 04:27 PM

http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2019/09/china-and-india-build-internal-supply.html

September 7, 2019

China and India Build Internal Supply Chains

One of the key questions in the escalating US trade disputes with China and other countries is how much the economy of other countries depends on trade. The answer helps to determine how much leverage the US has in trade disputes. Thus, it's interesting to note that starting about a decade ago, both India and China started reducing their dependence on exports as a source of growth, while doing more to build internal supply chains and relying more on domestic products.

A group of authors from McKinsey Global Institute published "Asia's future is now" * in July 2019, including Oliver Tonby, Jonathan Woetzel, Wonsik Choi, Jeongmin Seong and Patti Wang. Here's a figure showing how the reliance of China and India on exports has been falling.

[Graph]

The authors also note:

"As consumption rises, more of what gets made in these countries is now sold locally instead of being exported to the West. Over the decade from 2007 to 2017, China almost tripled its production of labor-intensive goods, from US$3.1 trillion to US$8.8 trillion. At the same time, the share of gross output China exports has dramatically decreased, from 15.5 percent to 8.3 percent. India has similarly been exporting a smaller share of its output over time. This implies that more goods are being consumed domestically rather than exported. Furthermore, as the region's emerging economies develop new industrial capabilities and begin making more sophisticated products, they are becoming less reliant on foreign imports of both intermediate inputs and final goods. The previous era of globalization was marked by Western companies building supply chains that stretched halfway around the world as they sought out the lowest possible labor costs -- and often their supply chains ran through Asia. Now labor arbitrage is on the wane. Only 18 percent of today's goods trade now involves exports from low-wage countries to high-wage countries -- a far smaller share than most people assume and one that is declining in many industries. ....

"Asian consumers have long had a strong preference for foreign luxury goods and brands. But things are changing. The post-90's generation is starting to lose this bias against domestic brands; in fact, they are starting to choose them over foreign brands more often. ..."

Wages in China have risen substantially in the last couple of decades. As a result, the rising manufacturing hubs in Asia are now in places like Vietnam and Indonesia. In addition, many of the international economic ties are within Asian countries, rather than being between China and the United States.

"Historically China was known as the 'factory to the world.' But while low-cost labor was its original competitive advantage, the wage gap between China and the rest of Asia is closing. In 1996, wages in Japan were 46 times higher than in China; by 2016, they were only four times higher. China is moving up the value chain, and as it transitions, other locations around Asia are stepping into some of its former niches. Vietnam, in particular, has become a hub of labor-intensive manufacturing for export. The country has attracted a flood of greenfield investment into cities such as Hai Phong. In addition to Hai Phong (Vietnam), Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Bekasi (Indonesia), and Xi'an (China) are rising makers of electronics. As new places assume new roles in industry value chains, a new set of cities begins to benefit from the influx of capital. Investment in factories leads to new roads, new jobs, and urbanization. Much of the capital flowing into Vietnam comes from South Korea and Japan. These new manufacturing hubs speak not only to the rise of emerging Asian countries but also to a region that is more connected and co-invested."

This helps to explain why, when the US puts economic pressure on trade with China, it affects US trade with China, but not necessarily China's trade with other countries of Asia or patterns of US trade with the Asian region as a whole.

* https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Featured%20Insights/Asia%20Pacific/Asias%20future%20is%20now/Asias-future-is-now-final.ashx

-- Timothy Taylor

[Sep 14, 2019] Women in theocratic state are usually slaves but the degree of oppression varies beween different states. One extreme definitely is Saudi Arabia but how far Iran is form it is unclear

Sep 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

See Women's rights in Iran - Wikipedia . Iran ranked 116 out of the 153 countries in terms of legal discrimination against women. 90% of women in Iran use cellphones and have "access to financial accounts" in Iran. In other South Asian regions, "less than 2 in 5" have this access, and a similar high share of women using cellphones

Under Reza Shah women were banned the wearing of the Islamic hijab in public. It was announced that in the beginning of 2018, women would no longer be arrested for wearing 'bad hijab' in public. In August 2019, Iranian civil rights activist Saba Kord Afshari was sentenced to 24 years behind bars, including a 15-year term for taking off her hijab in public, which Iranian authorities say promoted "corruption and prostitution." [30] [31]

WTFUD , 8 minutes ago link

You're Crackers!

Persian women are FREE. Saudi women are SLAVES.

Einstein101 , 6 minutes ago link

Persian women are FREE

I heard Persian women are not allowed to attend stadium sports events, like soccer games. Is this true?

[Sep 14, 2019] Our pundit class view that universal Medicare will require a tax increase and the ability to stay alive without a brain have something in common

Sep 14, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 14, 2019 at 12:38 PM

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/health-care-premiums-and-taxes

September 14, 2019

Health Care Premiums and Taxes
By Dean Baker

There's an old joke about a lawyer who is questioning a doctor on an autopsy they had done on someone who was allegedly a murder victim.

The lawyer asked the doctor, "did you check whether the patient was breathing?"

The doctor answers "no."

The lawyer then asks "did you check whether the patient had a pulse?"

The doctor again answers "no."

The lawyer then asks, "so how did you know that the patient was dead," to which the doctor responds, "because his brains were sitting in a jar on my desk."

The lawyer then triumphantly asks, "so he could have still been alive?" To which the doctor responds, "I suppose he could have been practicing law somewhere."

Our doctor may want to amend their answer to allow for the possibility that the patient could be a political pundit for a leading news outlet.

Our pundit class have to decided to make a crusade out of forcing Senators Warren and Sanders into saying that their proposals for universal Medicare will require a tax increase. Both have repeatedly responded by saying that total costs for the vast majority of people will fall, since Medicare for All will lead to a large reduction in costs by all accounts, because it reduces waste in the health care system.

[Sep 14, 2019] Is it better to be poor in a rich country or rich in a poor country?

Sep 14, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 13, 2019 at 06:31 PM

https://news.cgtn.com/news/2019-09-11/Should-we-worry-about-income-gaps-within-or-between-countries--JTDcnKWvII/index.html

September 10, 2019

Should We Worry About Income Gaps Within or Between Countries?
The rise of populist nationalism throughout the West has been fueled partly by a clash between the objectives of equity in rich countries and higher living standards in poor countries. Yet advanced-economy policies that emphasize domestic equity need not be harmful to the global poor, even in international trade.
By DANI RODRIK

At the beginning of classes every autumn, I tease my students with the following question: Is it better to be poor in a rich country or rich in a poor country? The question typically invites considerable and inconclusive debate. But we can devise a more structured and limited version of the question, for which there is a definitive answer.

Let's narrow the focus to incomes and assume that people care only about their own consumption levels (disregarding inequality and other social conditions). "Rich" and "poor" are those in the top and bottom 5 percent of the income distribution, respectively. In a typical rich country, the poorest 5 percent of the population receive around 1 percent of the national income. Data are a lot sparser for poor countries, but it would not be too much off the mark to assume that the richest 5 percent there receive 25 percent of the national income.

Similarly, let's assume that rich and poor countries are those in the top and bottom 5 percent of all countries, ranked by per capita income. In a typical poor country (such as Liberia or Niger), that is around 1,000 U.S. dollars, compared to 65,000 U.S. dollars in a typical rich country (say, Switzerland or Norway). (These incomes are adjusted for cost-of-living, or purchasing-power, differentials so that they can be directly compared.)

Now, we can calculate that a rich person in a poor country has an income of 5,000 (1,000 x 0.25 x 20) U.S. dollars while a poor person in a rich country earns 13,000 (65,000 x 0.01 x 20) U.S. dollars. Measured by material living standards, a poor person in a rich country is more than twice as well off as a rich person in a poor country.

This result surprises my students, most of whom expect the reverse to be true. When they think of wealthy individuals in poor countries, they imagine tycoons living in mansions with a retinue of servants and a fleet of expensive cars. But while such individuals certainly exist, a representative of the top 5 percent in very poor countries is likely to be a mid-level government bureaucrat.

The larger point of this comparison is to underscore the importance of income differences across countries, relative to inequalities within countries.

At the dawn of modern economic growth, before the Industrial Revolution, global inequality derived almost exclusively from inequality within countries. Income gaps between Europe and poorer parts of the world were small. But as the West developed in the 19th century, world economy underwent a "great divergence" between the industrial core and the primary-goods-producing periphery. During much of the postwar period, income gaps between rich and poor countries accounted for the greater part of global inequality.

From the late 1980s onward, two trends began to alter this picture. First, led by China, many parts of the lagging regions began to experience substantially faster economic growth than the world's rich countries. For the first time in history, the typical developing-country resident was getting richer at a faster pace than his or her counterparts in Europe and North America.

Second, inequalities began to increase in many advanced economies, especially those with less-regulated labor markets and weak social protections. The rise in inequality in the United States has been so sharp that it is no longer clear that the standard of living of the American "poor" is higher than that of the "rich" in the poorest countries (with rich and poor defined as above).

These two trends went in offsetting directions in terms of overall global inequality – one decreased it while the other increased it. But they have both raised the share of within-country inequality in the total, reversing an uninterrupted trend observed since the 19th century.

Given patchy data, we cannot be certain about the respective shares of within- and between-country inequality in today's world economy. But in an unpublished paper based on data from the World Inequality Database, Lucas Chancel of the Paris School of Economics estimates that as much as three-quarters of current global inequality may be due to within-country inequality. Historical estimates by two other French economists, François Bourguignon and Christian Morrison, suggest that within-country inequality has not loomed so large since the late 19th century.

These estimates, if correct, suggest that the world economy has crossed an important threshold, requiring us to revisit policy priorities. For a long time, economists like me have been telling the world that the most effective way to reduce global income disparities would be to accelerate economic growth in low-income countries. Cosmopolitans in rich countries – typically the wealthy and skilled professionals – could claim to hold the high moral ground when they downplayed the concerns of those complaining about domestic inequality.

But the rise of populist nationalism throughout the West has been fueled partly by the tension between the objectives of equity in rich countries and higher living standards in poor countries. Advanced economies' increased trade with low-income countries has contributed to domestic wage inequality. And probably the single best way to raise incomes in the rest of the world would be to allow a massive influx of workers from poor countries into rich countries' labor markets. That would not be good news for less educated, lower-paid rich-country workers.

Yet advanced-economy policies that emphasize domestic equity need not be harmful to the global poor, even in international trade. Economic policies that lift incomes at the bottom of the labor market and diminish economic insecurity are good both for domestic equity and for the maintenance of a healthy world economy that provides poor economies a chance to develop.


Dani Rodrik is Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Paine -> anne... , September 14, 2019 at 07:22 AM
Yes yes yes


Trade and income distribution are related but the relationship can be determinative lay shaped by domestic institutions and country wide foreign trade policy

We need institutions run by and for common workng people

And foreign trade policy to shape impact patterns on domestic households in a pro common working people pattern

Too many well meaning Cosmo humanists assume the corporate message to be binding

A r
Trade off between foreign poor and domestic wage earners
Was part of global progress

Nope
Not necessarily so

Dani has several popularly written papers on tis point

Let's hope Anne can link to some of hem for us

likbez -> anne... , September 14, 2019 at 06:38 PM
Dani Rodrik is wrong. The idea that poor in the USA live better then top 5% in the most poor counties is a kind of persistent neoliberal myth that needs to dispelled.

1. Purchase party essentially means that in poor countries dollar is overvalued twice or more. Which means that $5K in poorest countries is close to $10 or even $15K in the USA and other Western countries.

2. Access to education and medical care is incomparable. In the USA most poor live without medical insurance. That put them in severe disadvantage with top 5% of a poor country.

3. Top 5% in poor countries typically own very comfortable apartments, in many cases far superior to what is available in the USA even for middle income families. Cost of the rent on two bedroom apartment in the large city in poor countries is typically 5-10 times less then in the USA. Taking into account very low quality of apartment complexes in the USA, the apartments in poor countries for top 5% might well belong to luxury apartment class in the USA. I know for sure that in the capital of Tajikistan (2017 GDP per Capita: $777) they are better.

The low 5% in the USA actually live in the third world country with considerable level of segregation from the rest of population as for apartments in which they live (look housing of the low paid retail and WalMart employees for actual data; their standard of living is just horrible, especially for single mothers with children)

3. Level of education. Top 5% in poor country are mostly university educated or better. Low 5% in the USA and other Western countries usually are functionally illiterate.

https://brandongaille.com/us-literacy-rate-and-illiteracy-statistics/

1. 32 million adults can not read in the United States equal to 14% of the population.
2. 21% of US adults read below the 5th grade level.
3. 19% of high school graduates can not read.
4. 85% of juveniles who interact with the juvenile court system are considered functionally illiterate.
5. 70% of inmates in America's prisons can not read above the fourth grade level.

4. Military industrial complex and Wall Street had taken ordinary Americans for a ride much like in the UK during the days of British Empire.

Which for one thing means that due to lack of affordable public transportation you need to own a car outside major metropolises. Which drops you standard of living. You will be fleeced three times: first by used car dealerships, then by insurance companies (low credit rating and high risk of default means high premium) and then repair shops which in some cases are really criminal enterprises exploiting the most poor and vulnerable parts of the population. Parts who has no access to quality cars.

Top 5% in poor countries has access to new small and midsize Japanese models (like Corolla, Nissan Juke, etc )

Also Rodrik method of calculation of income of top 5% of population is highly questionable. He never tried to verify his calculation with actual statistic of distribution of incomes in say top 10 poorest countries in the world (the list includes three the xUSSR "stans"; for them top 5% earns probably at least $20K a year, if not more )

IMHO for poor countries the income of the top 5% is probably two to four times higher then Rodrick estimate due to extreme values of GINI coefficient for such countries. Top 5% on such countries are mostly represented by people working for foreign companies (compradors), high level professionals and high level government employees. For the latter the salary is just the top of the iceberg of the real income.

[Sep 14, 2019] Oil To Hit $100 Pompeo Blames Iran For Unprecedented Drone Attack That Crippled Largest Saudi Oil Processing Facility

Sep 14, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Update 2 : In a sharp, if perhaps not unexpected, escalation, US Secretary of State - now without John Bolton by his side - tweeted at 4pm on Saturday, that contrary to earlier reports, "there is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen" and instead accused Iran of launching today's "unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply" which has now indefinitely taken offline as much as 5mmb/d in Saudi crude production.

In a follow up tweet, Pompeo said that he calls "on all nations to publicly and unequivocally condemn Iran's attacks" which is odd as not even Saudi Arabia accused Iran of today's aggression (which many speculated could have been a Saudi false flag in hopes of sending the price of oil soaring ahead of the Aramco IPO). Pompeo concluded that "the United States will work with our partners and allies to ensure that energy markets remain well supplied and Iran is held accountable for its aggression."

Will this pivot away from Houthis to Iran as the "origin" of the attack be sufficient grounds to re-inflame tensions between the US and Iran, especially following last week's news that one of the reasons Bolton was fired was due to his hard-line stance on Iran even as Trump was willing to sit down with the Tehran regime for negotiations. Since the deep state stands to make much more money from war rather than peace, our guess is that the answer is a resounding "yes." Update: The WSJ is out with an update hinting at just how much the price of oil is set to soar when trading reopens late on Sunday after the Saudi Houthi false-flag drone attack on the largest Saudi oil processing plant:

Saudi Arabia is shutting down about half of its oil output after apparently coordinated drone strikes hit Saudi production facilities, people familiar with the matter said, in what Yemen's Houthi rebels described as one of their largest-ever attacks inside the kingdom.

The production shutdown amounts to a loss of about five million barrels a day , the people said, roughly 5% of the world's daily production of crude oil . The kingdom produces 9.8 million barrels a day.

And while Aramco is assuring it can restore output quickly, in case it can't the world is looking at a production shortfall of as much as 150MM barrels monthly, which - all else equal - could send oil soaring into the triple digits. Just what the Aramco IPO ordered.

What appears to be the most devastating Yemen Houthi rebel attack on Saudi Arabia to date, took place overnight on the world's largest oil processing facility as stunning videos emerged of massive explosions rocking the major Aramco Buqyaq facility .

Fires burned into the morning daylight hours, with explosions also reported at the Khurais oil field, in what the Houthis said was a successful attack involving ten drones . "These attacks are our right, and we warn the Saudis that our targets will keep expanding," a rebel military spokesman said on Houthi-operated Al Masirah TV .

Saudi authorities -- initially slow or reluctant to identify the cause of the major blaze -- on Saturday issued a confirmation via the Saudi Press Agency: "At 4.00am (01:00 GMT) the industrial security teams of Aramco started dealing with fires at two of its facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais as a result of... drones," an interior ministry statement said , which further claimed the fires were "under control" .

However, the Saudis have stopped short of acknowledging the Houthis were behind the attack, which Riyadh is also likely to blame on Iran , which has lately promised that if it can't export its oil then "no one will".

It remains unclear according to early statements whether there were injuries or casualties in the twin oil facility attacks.

The impact on global oil markets - closed for the weekend - could be significant given the Khurais field produces about 1% of all the world's oil (estimated at over 1M bpd and reserves of over 20BN bpd) and more importantly Abqaiq, which based on the stunning local footage bore the brunt of the drone attacks, remains the most crucial of the kingdom's processing plants.

Located 37 miles southwest of Aramco's Dhahran headquarters, it controls all the flows from fields like the giant Ghawar field to coastal export terminals like Ras Tanura. Saudi Aramco describes the Buqyaq facility as "the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world."

Meanwhile, the United States was quick to "strongly condemn" the attack amid already soaring tensions in the gulf after a summer of "tanker wars" and Iranian threats of walking away altogether from the 2015 nuclear deal (JCPOA).

The U.S. envoy to Saudi Arabia issued a statement saying , "The U.S. strongly condemns today's drone attacks against oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais. These attacks against critical infrastructure endanger civilians, are unacceptable, and sooner or later will result in innocent lives being lost."

According to Reuters reports the drone attacks will impact up to 5 million bpd of oil production, which suggests that the price of oil - already severely depressed by the recent news that John Bolton is out, making de-escalation with Iran far more likely - is set to soar when trading reopens late on Sunday, just what the upcoming Aramco IPO desperately needs , which in turn has prompted some to wonder if the "Yemen" attack on Saudi Arabia wasn't in fact orchestrated by Saudi interests. 18 years after Sept 11, this shouldn't sound all that outlandish...


funkyfreddy , 47 seconds ago link

What price does American shale need it to be to make a profit?

Ms No , 1 minute ago link

The Sauds lie about everything. Right now they appear to be minimizing it.

Thordoom , 2 minutes ago link

The houthis also said that this operation was coordinated with a cell that is inside of Saudi Arabia.

The already paranoid saudis idiots must be now completely out of their minds.

If it is not false flag they must be shitting them self.

The whole f..king arab world must be laughing and worshiping Houthis right now.

This is what happens when you get in bet with Israel and US.

holycrap , 5 minutes ago link

Oil companies want higher prices. Israel wants US to war with Iran. Jews want Bolt-on to be proven right. Hmm, how can we get all those things with one shot. Oy-vey, I have an idea.

herbivore , 8 minutes ago link

If the U.S. attacks Iran, it will only raise oil prices even more. If the Houthis have the ability to destroy Saudi oil infrastructure, then Iran has the ability to wipe it out for years to come. How can the U.S. protect Saudi oil production? If there was a simple way to do it, you'd think it would have already been implemented. It's looking like Iran wasn't kidding when they said if they can't sell their oil then neither will the Saudis.

Thordoom , 7 minutes ago link

So the mighty US MIC was not able to even detect sandals wearing Houthis fighter's drones and missile?

It is either terrible and unbelievably embarrassing event for US military industrial complex or it is false flag to escalate tensions with Iran.

Kinskian , 9 minutes ago link

No comment yet from our Commander in Tweets? $100 oil should get a market crash going.

funkyfreddy , 4 minutes ago link

$100 oil might get people more interested in electric vehicles that all manufacturers have been forced to invest billions in that the public dont want.

Einstein101 , 12 minutes ago link

What appears to be the most devastating Yemen Houthi rebel attack on Saudi Arabia to date

What is missing from that article is the fact that actually this attack was not performed by the Houthi rebels themselves, and not from Yemen. This attack was actually performed by another Iranian proxy, the PMU, and the drones were sent into Saudi Arabia's territory from Iraq, North West of the country, not from Yemen.

This just underscores the way Iran's ring of proxy terror militias are all connected and acts in tandem under the control of Iran,

Out of its twisted interpretation of Islam's Quran, Iran's mission is to bring about a regime change to moderate Islamic countries (including allies of the US), forcing them into its extremist, US hateful, Shia Islam. The way they do it is by arming and financing terrorist proxy militias in various regions, spreading death and destruction. Iran arms and finances the Houthis in Yemen, The Islamic Jihad in Gazza, Hashd Al-Shaabi in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Fatemeyoun Brigades in Syria, various terrorist groups in Africa, and more.

Iran has perfected the art of gradually conquering a country without replacing its flag by planting cancer cells in the form of terror proxy militias.

Meet the Proxies: How Iran Spreads Its Empire through Terrorist Militias

Iran spends billions of Dollars on those militias, at the expense of the well being of common Iranian people. All this money is deprived from their own people, cutting food and gas subsidies. Iran has abundance of oil reserves but a large chunk of the oil revenues goes to support insurgent groups in other countries while Iran's citizens live in misery and hunger. Heck, just on Lebanon's Hezbollah, Iran spends one Billion Dollars each year.

Iran's aim is to directly hurt our national interests by turning friendly Muslim countries against the US. Iran is not shy of demonstrating its hatred to the US. Iran states openly, and with great force, "Death to America!" They burn American flags in their parliament.

Iranian Lawmakers Burn U.S. Flag In Parliament

Iran's regime despises our Western free democratic society and strives to impose on all of us their dark extremist Islamic Sharia law.

Iranian women & girls as young as 9 who don't wear hijab face jail

Meatballs , 11 minutes ago link

Pompeo is a FAT STOOGE. Bibi is playing here. ******* psychos.

[Sep 14, 2019] Patents and Copyright: Protection Racket for Intellectuals

Sep 14, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 13, 2019 at 06:48 PM

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/patents-and-copyright-protection-racket-for-intellectuals

September 12, 2019

Patents and Copyright: Protection Racket for Intellectuals
By Dean Baker

Last week I was asked on Twitter why proposals for replacing patent monopoly financing of prescription drugs with direct public financing have gained so little traction. After all, this would mean that drugs would be cheap; no one would have to struggle with paying tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars for drugs that are needed for their health or to save their life. (This is discussed in Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer - it's free. * )

Public funding would also eliminate the incentive to misrepresent the safety and effectiveness of drugs in order to maximize sales at the patent monopoly price. Without patent monopolies, the drug companies would not have had the same incentive to push opioids, as well as many other drugs of questionable safety and effectiveness.

The idea of direct funding of biomedical research also should not seem strange to people. We currently spend close to $45 billion a year on research through the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. The idea of doubling or tripling this funding to replace the roughly $70 billion of patent supported research now done by the pharmaceutical industry, should not appear outlandish, especially since the potential savings from free market drugs would be close to $400 billion annually (1.9 percent of GDP).

So why is there so little interest in reforming the prescription drug industry along these lines? I can think of two plausible answers. The first is a self-serving one for the elites who dominate policy debates. They don't like to have questions raised about the basic underpinnings of the distribution of income.

The second is perhaps a more simple proposition. Intellectuals have a hard time dealing with new ideas, and paying for innovation outside of the patent system, or creative work outside of the copyright system is a new idea that most intellectual types would rather not wrestle with.

Starting with the first one, the elites who dominate public policy debates are among the winners in the upward redistribution of the last four decades. While there are plenty of journalists struggling to keep their jobs or working as free lancers, and there are plenty of adjunct faculty who can't pay the rent, these are not the people setting the agenda in policy debates. Rather we are talking about columnists who enjoy high six or even seven figure incomes from their writings and speaking fees and top university faculty who can count on comparable pay.

These people do not want to entertain the idea that they didn't end up as big winners through a combination of skill, hard work, and perhaps a dose of good luck. Even the progressives in this group, who support redistributive tax and transfer policy, would rather see this as an expression of their generosity than a refusal to take part in theft.

The issue can be seen as a distinction between someone who wins a big pile of money in a lottery and someone who slips in a fake card to win the poker pot. If we recognize that patent and copyright monopolies are government policies, that could be completely restructured or even eliminated altogether, it destroys the idea that technology has been responsible for upward redistribution or even a major factor in upward redistribution.

If Bill Gates got very rich because of Windows and other Microsoft software, it was not because of the technology, but rather because the government gave him copyright and patent monopolies on this software. All the high-paying jobs in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics sector are not the result of technological change creating new opportunities, but rather the large incentives the government provides with long and strong intellectual property protections.

This is a direction that many, perhaps most, elite types would rather not go. They might be open to coughing up more money in taxes to reduce inequality and provide opportunities for the poor, but they are not open to the idea that they never should have had the money in the first place.

Motivated reasoning is common in public debates, and this seems a plausible story. However, there is also the alternative option, that questioning patent and copyright monopolies is a new idea to most elite types, and they would rather not expend any mental energy on the effort.

If it had not been for my experiences during the housing bubble, and subsequent collapse and recession, I might be reluctant to accept that intellectual types would have a hard time thinking seriously about patent and copyright monopolies. That experience taught me that some ideas can be too simple for intellectuals to understand.

I first noticed that house sale prices were running far out of line with other prices and with historical experience in 2002. House sale prices had generally moved more or less in step with overall inflation. In the years from 1996 to 2002 they hugely outpaced inflation.

Furthermore, this did not seem to be driven by the fundamentals in the market. Rents were pretty much moving in line with inflation. And, vacancy rates were actually very high, not the story you expect when prices are rising rapidly.

Making the matter even more worrisome, the bubble was clearly driving the economy. Residential construction was growing rapidly as a share of the economy and consumption was soaring as people took advantage of the newly created equity in their homes to increase spending. The construction boom would clearly end when prices came back down to earth and the home equity driven consumption surge would hit a wall when the home equity disappeared.

All of this was very straightforward. The analysis could be constructed from summary data in publicly available series, it didn't require any sophisticated econometric analysis.

Nonetheless, I couldn't get any economists to take my concerns seriously. (Paul Krugman was a notable exception.) It wasn't that they had any counter-arguments. It basically boiled down to "we haven't seen anything like that before."

Incredibly, even after the fact economists could not own up to their mistake. They insisted the story was not the housing bubble, but rather the financial crisis.

This gave them an out, since credit default swaps and collaterized debt obligations can get complicated. Looking at the growth of residential construction and the fall in the savings rate in the GDP data is pretty damn simple. Rather than own up to being too lazy to look at the data that was right in front of their face, economists and their followers in policy circles whipped up a cock and bull story to conceal their incredible incompetence and/or negligence.

Anyhow, having seen first-hand the laziness and narrow-mindedness of economists in refusing to take the risks of the housing bubble seriously, I certainly can find it plausible that they simply don't want to entertain the idea that we could have alternative mechanisms to patents and copyrights to finance research and innovation. Furthermore, they don't want to have to alter their view of the government and the economy to incorporate the fact that these forms of property are determined by policy and can be altered pretty much any way we like.

I have two accounts that are certainly consistent with this view. In one case, I had written an article for a major progressive publication, arguing that we should have publicly funded research for pharmaceuticals, rather than supporting the research through patent monopolies. After it had been the through the editing process, the editor sent me a note asking whether I was arguing for "short patents" or no patents.

I wrote back clarifying that I meant no patents. I explained that short patents wouldn't even make any sense. Since the government had paid for the research, who would get the patent?

When the piece was published it said "short patents." Apparently the editor could not even conceive of an innovative new drug being sold in the free market without some form of patent monopoly.

In the other case, I asked an editor at the Atlantic, for whom I just written another piece, whether they would be interested in an article that made the point that patents and copyrights were tools of public policy, and that there are alternative mechanisms for financing innovation and creative work. I indicated that the piece would focus on prescription drugs, given the enormous financial and health consequences at stake in the sector.

The editor responded that, although they personally were sympathetic to my argument, the magazine doesn't publish opinion pieces. If it's not obvious, nothing that I proposed was opinion. I was giving facts and logic, but apparently this editor could not make the distinction.

The takeaway here is that thinking about patents and copyrights as policy tools that can be altered, as opposed to being natural features of the market, requires more reflection than most people in policy debates are prepared to do. After all, it is not as though any of them will lose their job, or even see their career advancement jeopardized, by not considering the implications of this obvious truth, just as none of them suffered any consequence from ignoring the housing bubble.

So, how do we get the idea of replacing patent monopolies with public funding of prescription drug research into the public debate? Wish I had an answer. I couldn't get the housing bubble into the public debate before its collapse sank the economy or, even after the fact.

Anyhow, I'm open to suggestions. I will keep trying.

* https://deanbaker.net/images/stories/documents/Rigged.pdf

[Sep 14, 2019] 48 States to Investigate Google Anti-Trust or Politicking

the important side effect of dominance in advertizing is a huge surveillance mechanism of Big Brother type that come with it. Google essentially is able to see what particular individual is viewing, unless special steps like blocking Google advertizing server IPs, modifying the page of the fly or disabling Javascript are taken. It does not need access to web server logs, his own advertizing servers produce logs that are equitant if not better.
Sep 14, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Fifty Attorney Generals from 48 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico announced on Monday that they are launching an anti-trust investigation into Google. This investigation would be in addition the one that the Justice Department's already conducting. Here's what Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who's leading the case, had to say when he made the announcement on Monday.

KEN PAXTON: This is a company that dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet and searching on the internet as they dominate the buyer side, the seller side, the auction side and even the video side with YouTube. And right now, we're looking at advertising, but the facts will lead to where the facts lead. And even as we speak, been up here about a minute, there'll be 3.8 million searches and a lot of advertising dollars just made in every minute that one of these people speaks.

GREG WILPERT: Other major tech companies that have come into the crosshairs of various state and federal government agencies for anti-trust investigations are Facebook, Apple and Amazon. According to a New York Times analysis, Google is facing five major investigations, Facebook eleven, and Apple and Amazon are each facing three. Each area of anti-competitive behavior is different, depending on the market that each one of these companies dominates.

Joining me now to discuss the wave of anti-trust investigations against Google and other tech companies is Bill Black. He is a white-collar criminologist, former financial regulator, and Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He's also the author of the book The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One . Thanks for joining us again, Bill.

BILL BLACK: Thank you.

GREG WILPERT: So it's interesting that a Republican State Attorney General is taking the lead on this, Ken Paxton. And that California isn't even a part of the case, along with Alabama. What's going on here? What's your analysis?

BILL BLACK: Okay, so the reason the state AGs are getting involved in general in lots of different things, and going all the way back to the runup to the great financial crisis, is that the United States Department of Justice has basically abandoned cracking down significantly on elite white-collar crimes in general and anti-trust in particular. Now, there's an exception -- cartels. They actually are moderately vigorous until the Trump administration, but in lots of other areas, not so. And so the states felt that the only way that you could have any effective action was to have the states take the lead. But the states lack the capacity to take the lead.

They just don't have -- All the 50 states plus Puerto Rico and DC together do not have the resources in anti-trust, for example, that the federal government has just in its anti-trust division. And that's not even mentioning the FBI, which does the real investigations, and which the states have no real counterpart to. And so the only way the states could even try to be effective was to link together. And they did this in the runup to the great financial crisis sufficiently, effectively, that the federal government actually sought to block the states from bringing this action, claiming that it was preempted, so this is continuing that practice.

They weren't able to get California and they weren't able to get Alabama. So they weren't able to get Alabama on the usual conservative grounds of "why should we sue anybody, the powerful?" But they weren't able to get California of course in part because the state AG is a Democrat, and his leading source of contributions, or among his three leading sources of contributions is Google. And this is one of the real problems with state AGs. They're statewide races, you have to get elected, and they're expensive races, so you're always seeking political contributions and such. That, of course, is something that the US Attorney General doesn't have to do and allows him or her to be more independent.

Then the next question is the states have to face the question always in these kinds of cases that the federal government doesn't face. And that's "who's going to be in charge?" It's obviously that the US Attorney General, unless he has to recuse himself, is in charge at the federal level. But the state level, it's a matter of negotiation. For reasons that pass all understanding, they put Paxton, one of the absolute most notorious state Attorney Generals in the United States, in charge. Paxton is trying to raise political contributions on the basis of this investigation. He sent out an email seeking funds, and I quote "we will continue to fight for your rights and to protect you from monopolistic practices by liberal elites in DC or in Silicon Valley." Now here's a hint, Attorney Generals are not supposed to go after liberals or conservatives or moderates.

That is completely antithetical to the idea of justice, but Paxton is not functioning like an independent, honest person. He's someone who is intensely politically ambitious, who hates anybody who he perceives as even moderate -- much less, liberal or progressive and such -- and he wants to use this investigation as a weapon to go after his political opponents. And on top of that, get paid off, to get a fine that he can use to tout as a success, and to use that resources to do the same type of thing in going after other folks. So again, I have no idea why the state AGs who are Democrats were willing to allow Paxton to take the lead role because it's going to discredit the entire investigation.

GREG WILPERT: I think that's really interesting to see this kind of battle going on, essentially within the elite circles of the United States. It's really breaking out into the open in this case, if that's the real motivation behind -- Well, he said it himself. His real motivation is to go after the liberal elites, which he sees Google and Facebook as being a part of. But I want to turn to the actual issue of anti-trust and monopolies. Now, clearly Google dominates the search market. There's no doubt about that. It's practically the only search engine anyone uses. However, in advertising, Google is not actually a monopoly, at least if one looks at its market share by revenues, where it has a 38% share of digital advertising revenues and Facebook has 22%. Now, give us an idea as to why Google's dominance in search and advertising should actually perhaps be a concern. Is that concern real? And also, if advertisers can simply go elsewhere if they feel that Google isn't treating them fairly, why should their practices in this area be of concern?

BILL BLACK: Okay, so one of the things I teach is anti-trust and such. Monopoly is not the same thing as monopoly power. When we use the word "monopoly," we typically mean one entity that controls nearly everything. There are cases, but they're rare in life where there is actually a monopoly. Long before you have exclusive control over a market, however, you have some degree of market power. How much is incredibly complex and depends on the inner play. But one of the things is, say, use your numbers, we have somewhere around 30 to 40% of control here. We've got a competitor who has 20 and another competitor who has 20. Well then that makes it pretty easy for the three of us to collude. And we can collude implicitly, right? Just don't rock the boat. Anybody that really tries to undercut on fees, then we rush in and we match that and maybe we even cut a little more to show them how vigorous we're going to be. So economists have long been concerned anytime a company gets even close to the degree of market domination that you talked about, so it's not silly in the least that they're worried about it.

Now here's the kicker: people may remember Bork and the phrase "to be Borked." Well one of the reasons he was not approved by the Senate to be a Supreme Court Justice is that he was leading the right-wing movement to say that essentially we should get rid of anti-trust. In the specific context of Silicon Valley and any high tech entity in which numbers matter, penetration matters, the argument from the Right is that there are "network effects." In other words, when I use my email, it's much more valuable if I can talk to everybody than if I can just talk to the 10,000 people who have to be subscribers, in the old days, of some particular email service. And those kind of network effects are fairly common within tech, typically because of this desire to communicate and to search, in this case, much more broadly. So that leads to something close to what, in the old days in economics we would refer to as a "natural monopoly." A natural monopoly just means that there are so many economies of scale, that whoever gets big actually gets cheaper, and they have a competitive advantage over any rivals in those circumstances.

But we want the efficiency of that network and the conservatives are unwilling to do a hybrid, saying, "Okay, we'll have a network that covers everybody, but we'll treat it like a common carrier, and we'll make sure that the private entity doesn't become the multi-billionaire because of the profit from these things." So the conservatives want us just to walk away and let some people become extraordinarily rich and then use their market power, if they choose, to say "I actually don't want those people spreading their views, so I'm going to make life difficult for them." So there's also a political rationale, political science rationale, freedom rationale for saying "you shouldn't let a private company that is not subject at least to the duties of treating everyone fairly have this kind of monopoly power position."

GREG WILPERT: I want to dig a little bit deeper exactly on that issue actually. In the past, major anti-trust cases simply broke up the monopoly; such as, happened with Standard Oil in 1911 and AT&T in 1982. But is that even an option in cases for Facebook and Google? You're speaking about the network effects and they're obviously quite strong in the case of Facebook and Google. That is, do we really want a dozen different search engines or a dozen different baby Facebooks? In other words, wouldn't turning over the company to its users or to some other -- What would a possible alternative look like instead of breaking it up, or is that the only solution?

BILL BLACK: I don't think it is the only solution, but it's been the only solution that the Right has been willing to contemplate and to oppose as well, by the way. Again, their position is "we should just allow this network to be created and allow private parties to gain supernormal profits." In economic jargon, that just means a hell of a lot of money. This is why these people are multi-multi-billionaires, is they control something that has immense monopoly power, and therefore is able to charge more than they should, and that's inefficient. So the efficiency condition should be, "Yes, you create the network, but you don't allow a particular party to become immensely rich from it. You run it instead as essentially a regulated public utility." That says, "No, you can just get a normal return out of all of this. But yes, we'll allow a fully efficient network to be created,"

When you treat it like a public utility, then it has traditionally at law, doctrines of fairness and such that you can't discriminate against the use, that you can't use it as a weapon against your enemies and such, so you have to take all customers on the same terms whether they're big customers or little customers and such. Of course, that harks back to an earlier dispute and one of the first things that the Trump administration sought to eliminate, was any duty on the part of these private monopolies to treat people fairly. So it's quite interesting that the Trump administration is now investigating that which it previously blessed. And of course, the Trump administration has announced that it's going to use the anti-trust laws as a weapon against their political enemies -- the car companies, for daring to agree with California to produce fewer greenhouse gases.

GREG WILPERT: Yeah. I just want to return to the issue of this particular case now with Ken Paxton and Google because obviously, or not obviously, but presumably, he would probably favor a decision that would actually weaken the power of Google and Facebook by breaking it up, which I would think the Democratic state Attorney Generals that are behind this case probably wouldn't necessarily favor. So how are they ever going to come to a resolution in this case, or is this just going to be tied up in the courts forever?

BILL BLACK: So this issue actually cuts across all kinds of ideological dimensions. You have the Texas AG, arguably the most conservative state AG in the country, someone who doesn't care about anti-trust at all, suddenly becoming the great enforcer of antitrust because it's his political opponents. You've got Democrats who often think that monopoly power has gone too far going, "Okay, I'll do a deal with the devil -- Paxton -- on this."

But now, and I mean just like today, the Koch Brothers Foundation has gotten involved. And it's sending out this major effort to get the population to turn against their state AGs because of this very investigation and the Facebook investigation as well. The Koch brothers fear that if this precedence gets created, of actually reinvigorating the anti-trust laws, they could be in the sights of particular Attorney Generals as well. I don't want to say that only conservative or Republican AGs use these laws against their political opponents because there have been a series of scandals involving Democrats as well and it's not so much political there. It's fundraisers. Whoever raises money for them, they help out. You draw the money largely from plaintiff's lawyers and the plaintiff lawyers would really, really, really love it if the state AGs would bring an action against the very folks that they too are suing. That would help their litigation a great deal. So, there are a series of scandals involving Democrats and Republicans in these Attorney General-type suits.

[Sep 13, 2019] Something to thank Russians for

Sep 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Robert McGregor , September 13, 2019 at 3:43 pm

I'm no fan of Trump, but I would like to see a comparison of the total "US instigated foreign fatalities" for his last 2 & 1/2 years compared with Obama's last 2 & 1/2 years, and what we guess the number would have been under Hillary. I'm sorry, but I think Trump's number would be the lowest. In coming up with an explanation, I like to use the "Reality Show Entertainment Value" theory which many have described. In this case, people like to watch Trump bullshitting and freaking out the establishment, but they really don't like watching dead bodies burn up or be carried away in body bags. That reality is not attractive entertainment, despite the fantasy of it being bankable entertainment when Tarantino flame throws a teenager at the end of "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood."

Obama and Hillary are not "reality TV fans." They are more immersed in their megalomaniac view of themselves as world actors, and will willfully kill a few hundred thousand if they think it advances their misguided objectives.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , September 13, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Whoa there, buddy.

Spoiler alert.

-Tarantino fan :)

P.S. 'It 2' is def one of the best movies of the year. Still need to see Parasite and the Joker.

Punxsutawney , September 13, 2019 at 7:21 pm

Well, the "Liberal" excuse for this is that Putin is controlling him. Well if so, that's one thing to thank the Russians for.

[Sep 13, 2019] Tucker Carlson Pushes for End of the Neo-cons Reuters and Haaretz

Notable quotes:
"... Yes, people tend to forget that Bolton and all the other neocons are worshipers at the altar of a secular religion imported to the US by members of the Frankfurt School of Trotskyite German professors in the 1930s. These people had attempted get the Nazis to consider them allies in a quest for an ordered world. Alas for them they found that the Nazi scum would not accept them and in fact began preparations to hunt them down. ..."
"... Thus the migration to America and in particular to the University of Chicago where they developed their credo of world revolution under that guidance of a few philosopher kings like Leo Strauss, the Wohlstetters and other academic "geniuses" They also began an enthusiastic campaign of recruitment of enthusiastic graduate students who carefully disguised themselves as whatever was most useful politically. ..."
Sep 13, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

"Carlson concluded by warning about the many other Boltons in the federal bureaucracy, saying that "war may be a disaster for America, but for John Bolton and his fellow neocons, it's always good business."

He went on to slam Trump's special representative for Iran and contender to replace Bolton, Brian Hook, as an "unapologetic neocon" who "has undisguised contempt for President Trump, and he particularly dislikes the president's nationalist foreign policy." Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif echoed Carlson hours later in a tweet, arguing that "Thirst for war – maximum pressure – should go with the warmonger-in-chief." Reuters and Haaretz

-------------

Yes, people tend to forget that Bolton and all the other neocons are worshipers at the altar of a secular religion imported to the US by members of the Frankfurt School of Trotskyite German professors in the 1930s. These people had attempted get the Nazis to consider them allies in a quest for an ordered world. Alas for them they found that the Nazi scum would not accept them and in fact began preparations to hunt them down.

Thus the migration to America and in particular to the University of Chicago where they developed their credo of world revolution under that guidance of a few philosopher kings like Leo Strauss, the Wohlstetters and other academic "geniuses" They also began an enthusiastic campaign of recruitment of enthusiastic graduate students who carefully disguised themselves as whatever was most useful politically.

They are not conservative at all, not one bit. Carlson was absolutely right about that.

They despise nationalism. They despise the idea of countries. In that regard they are like all groups who aspire to globalist dominion for their particular ideas.

They should all be driven from government. pl

https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-trump-bolton-neo-cons-iran-fox-news-tucker-carlson-1.7833399?=&ts=_1568393219979b

[Sep 13, 2019] Me First and the Loss of Compassion by Volker Franke

Neoliberalism explicitly denies the value of compassion. It considers "wolf eats wolf" type of competition as the key component of human society that the moral value in itself.
Sep 13, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

One of the crucial lessons we often fail to impart to our children is that life is not a zero-sum game; that is, the success of another child is not a corresponding failure for me. Children ought to learn how to help one another so they can take joy in crossing the finish line together, building closeness instead of separation, segregation and adversarialism.

And the incessant use of digital media often exacerbates this development.

In a society where we are rewarded for thinking about ourselves first, we disconnect from one another. Just go to the mall and look for shopping carts and trash strewn across the parking lot, oversized trucks and SUVs parked across multiple parking spots, non-handicap vehicles in handicap spots and cars parked in dedicated motorcycle spaces. No consideration for others.

Gone are the days of compassionate conservatism. "America first" finds a ready breeding ground in this "me first" mentality. It is finally time to catch up for those left behind by social progress made in the name of equality. After all, they too are better than others, better than those abroad and better than those from abroad. The new aMEricaFIRST echoes that sentiment, segregates American society and separates us from friends and allies around the world.

How can we get our compassion back? How can we reconnect with each other and engage with the world? At the personal level, take small steps and start a conversation with someone different from you, expose yourself to the diversity that makes this country so unique–and involve your children in that exposure to pluralism, normalizing it, modeling it. Put yourself in the shoes of someone less fortunate and find the "things that unite."

At the social level, we – including our children – must recognize that the rights and freedoms we cherish and enjoy also come with responsibilities. Success in America has focused on maximizing individual freedoms limited only when their exercise encroaches on the freedoms of others. Today, we need to reconnect and rebuild our communities by focusing on the needs of others. To achieve this, let's reconsider the idea of mandatory public service: citizens serving others in need. A public service requirement between the end of high school and the beginning of college – fulfilled in many ways, including such service opportunities as AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps, Meals on Wheels or other freely helpful initiatives – brings those in service in contact with those from whom they have been disconnected, both at home and abroad. Only through connection will we regain compassion and only then will we be able to make America great again. More articles by: Volker Franke

[Sep 13, 2019] Chile's Neoliberal Flip-Flop - CounterPunch.org

Notable quotes:
"... Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com . ..."
Sep 13, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

As for the gory details of CIA involvement in the Chilean coup d'état of 1973, Costa-Gavras' film "Missing" (Universal Pictures, 1982) staring Jack Lemmon and Sissy Spacek exposes the surreptitious U.S. involvement via CIA operatives, supportive of Pinochet's cold-bloodied massacre of students and other innocent bystanders. Not surprisingly, the film was removed from the U.S. market following a lawsuit against the director and Universal Pictures by former ambassador Nathaniel Davis for defamation of character. When Davis lost his lawsuit, the film was re-released by Universal in 2006.

The face of neoliberalism in Chile today is disheartened, reflecting deep losses for the wealthy class as the people of the country reject Milton Friedman's neoliberal policies, including clever tax evasion techniques by the business class. Could this be the start of a worldwide movement against neoliberalism?

After all, Chile is the country that neoliberal advocates crowned their "newborn" in the battle against big government, "get government off our backs," according to Milton Friedman (and, Reagan picked up on the adage.) But, au contraire, according to the film "Missing," fascism took control over Chile. Is it possible that Friedman and Kissinger secretly cherished a fascist empire, where control would be complete, disguised as "the land of individual economic freedom?" Whatever their motives, that's what they got, and they never hesitated to revere Chile's remarkable economic achievements, fascism and all, which is powerfully expressed in the film "Missing," from end to end the heavy hand of fascism is ever-present.

Today is a new day as the people of Chile abandon decades of rotting neoliberal policies. They've had enough of Milton Freidman. The people have decided that the "state" is a beneficial partner for achievement of life's dreams. The "state" is not the menacing force of evil preached by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.

The people of Chile are embracing an anti-neoliberalistic nation/state for the first time in over four decades. Will the world follow in their footsteps similar to the world adopting the principles of the "Miracle of Chile" these past four decades?

As for the new way forward, it's all about student debt. Yes, student debt was the catalyst behind Chile's repudiation of neoliberalism. In 2011 students in Chile made headlines by launching nationwide strikes over high tuition costs that drove their families into debt (sound familiar?) The strike lasted for eight months.

Over time, the student marches gained recognition by other like-minded organizations like trade unions and protests of environmental degradation. According to Tasha Fairfield, an assistant professor for the London School of Economics' Department of International Development, the strikes were pivotal: "The student movement played a critical role in creating political space," according to Fairfield, it "dramatically changed the political context in Chile and helped to place the issues of Chile's extreme inequalities centrally on the national agenda," Sebastian Rosemont, Chilean Activists Change the Rules of the Game, Foreign Policy In Focus, Dec. 2, 2014.

Subsequently, the national election of 2013 swept the left wing into power with a huge wave of public support, gaining strong majorities in both houses of the National Congress as well as electing Michelle Bachelet president. The big leftward sweep came as over two thirds of the population grew to support student demands for free university tuition.

Ever since the 2013 election, neoliberal policies have crumbled like a decrepit equestrian statue of Pinochet, who carried the stigma of brutal criminality to, and beyond, the grave.

In stark contrast to 40 years ago, today, when students, armed with only stones clashed with police equipped with full regalia of riot gear, tear gas, and armored vehicles, the harsh police activity drew heavy international criticism. That, combined with more than two-thirds of the population in support of the student movement, led to a new politics, Nueva Mayoria (New Majority), a center-left coalition made up of Bachelet's Socialist Party, the Christian Democratic Party, and the Party for Democracy.

Whereupon, Nueva Mayoria, turning up its nose to neoliberalism, raised corporate taxes from 20 percent to 25 percent and closed tax loopholes for companies and wealthy business owners. Those changes added $8.3 billion annually to government coffers, thus, serving as a source of funds to provide free education to all Chileans by 2020, as well as improved health care, and including a roll back of the for-profit schools that emerged under Pinochet's dictatorship, which is another neoliberal fascination, witness the U.S. for-profit schools listed on the New York Stock Exchange honestly, what's with that? In order to achieve success, the new Chilean politics astutely employed a key tactical move by applying the corporate tax hikes to only the largest corporations. As a result, nearly 95% of businesses are not be affected by higher taxation. This, in fact, served to secure a broad base of support for the new politics by having those who can afford to pay Pay.

Along those same lines, the new government removed a tax dodge employed by large business owners that allowed them to mostly escape taxes on $270 billion of profits (similar to the U.S. 15% "carried interest" for private equity entities, e.g., Mitt Romney's 15% tax rate).

Thus, it's little wonder that public backlash is challenging neoliberalism, especially considering the conditions throughout the Pinochet regime, as described in the meticulously structured documentary film, "The Pinochet Case," (Icarus Films, 2002), which opens with scenes of ordinary Chileans scouring the desert for the remains of family members who were tortured and killed decades previous.

Chile, "The Babe of Neoliberalism," came to life as an experiment for the "Chicago School" of economic thought. It worked. Today neoliberal theory rules the world, laissez-faire capitalism as practiced from China to the United States, privatization, open markets, slash government, and deregulation, in short, "whatever works best for profits works best for society." But, does it?

Forty years of neoliberal thought and practice has changed the world's socio-economic landscape, but it only really, truly works for the same class of people today as it did 800 years ago for the nobility of the Middle Ages.

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com .

[Sep 13, 2019] Does the end of neoliberalism coinside with the end of "Western hegemony"? by John Wright

Not so fast. The West still has the technological edge. And huge ultural influence. Most probably those will be two separate events, if they happen at all.
Sep 13, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

John Wright , September 12, 2019 at 16:43

Mr. Lawrence –

The Russia question is a very interesting and useful way to approach the much larger question which is how to manage the "end of Western hegemony".

Mackinder, Brzezinski and other geo-strategic thinkers have long posited that in order to control the world, one much control Eurasia.

The alliance between China and Russia, by definition, secures their dominance of Eurasia. Even forty years of U.S. trouble-making in Afghanistan, the geographic heart of Eurasia, has only proved to be an annoyance slowing the inevitable partnership of China and Russia, and the growing courtship of India. Recent U.S. interference in the Ukraine was a desperate, rather ham-handed attempt to deny Russia access to its historic, and only warm water, port in Crimea (and interfere with Russian gas pipelines to Europe). The Ukrainians seem to be now coming back to their senses a bit.

[ I may add a comment elucidating some of the long history of Western elite (primarily British, then U.S.) interference in the affairs of both Russia and China, but most CN readers should already be aware of the highlights.]

The EU and the euro, both created to prolong the dominance of the U.S., are now clearly faltering. The EU created a common market and allowed for the expansion of NATO eastward after the breakup of the Soviet Union and Russia's loss of the Warsaw Pact countries. The euro, directly tied to the U.S. PetroDollar at its creation, facilitated the greater transfer of U.S. debt instruments into the European banks, giving the debt addicted U.S. economy more capacity to expand its financial bubble and extend the era of U.S. dominance. The European central banks are now at their breaking point.

Thus, the era of U.S. PetroDollar supremacy, and with it U.S. dominance, is now coming to an end and the scramble for places in the new global system is heating up. The Greeks, Italians, Germans and Dutch have already signed deals with the Chinese, will the French be far behind?

Russia, the ambitious junior partner to China, can be seen to be both a cultural and geographic buffer between the Chinese juggernaut and Western Europe. The Russians have energy and consumer markets that the Western Europeans need access to if they are going to maintain any semblance of their present standard of living as U.S. economic dominance recedes. The nuclear armed U.S. presence on the continent keeps the Europeans cautious; as does their very precarious debt co-dependency with Wall Street, the Federal Reserve Bank and the U.S. Treasury.

The northern Europeans don't want to freeze or go broke, so Nord Stream 2 will go ahead. Trump is truly delusional if he thinks he can keep that from happening. Trump's trade war has only accelerated the Chinese shift away from the U.S. and toward its well-planned future in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America. China and Russia are both stockpiling gold in anticipation of rolling out a new global monetary system to replace the failing U.S. PetroDollar and SWIFT.

... ... ...

[Sep 13, 2019] The USA foreign policy has been run by hubristic idiots with delusions of grandeur. Its foreign policy 101 that you never, never, set policy to drive your 2 largest rivals to alliance.

Sep 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

marku52 , , September 13, 2019 at 3:48 pm

It seems since about the Vietnam war era, US FP has been run by hubristic idiots with delusions of grandeur. Its foreign policy 101 that you never, never, set policy to drive your 2 largest rivals to alliance.

Yet these morons did exactly that. Since Trump, there have been many retirements from the State Dept. And maybe that's not such a bad thing. They show no evidence of competence.

[Sep 13, 2019] Wallace against the USA neocolonialism

Leopard can't change its spots...
Notable quotes:
"... After he became vice president in 1940, as Roosevelt was increasingly ill, Wallace promoted a new vision for America's role in the world that suggested that rather than playing catch up with the imperial powers, the United States should work with partners to establish a new world order that eliminated militarism, colonialism and imperialism. ..."
"... In diplomacy, Wallace imagined a multi-polar world founded on the United Nations Charter with a focus on peaceful cooperation. In contrast, in 1941 Henry Luce, publisher of Time Magazine, had called for an 'American century,' suggesting that victory in war would allow the United States to "exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit." ..."
"... Foreign aid for Wallace was not a tool to foster economic dominance as it was to become, but rather "economic assistance without political conditions to further the independent economic development of the Latin American and Caribbean countries." He held high "the principle of self-determination for the peoples of Africa, Asia, the West Indies, and other colonial areas." He saw the key policy for the United States to be based on "the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations and acceptance of the right of peoples to choose their own form of government and economic system." ..."
"... The United States should be emulating China, its Belt and Road Initiative and Community of Common Destiny, as a means of revitalizing its political culture and kicking its addiction to a neo-colonial concept of economic development and growth. Rather than relying on militarization and its attendant wars to spark the economy, progressives should demand that the US work in conjunction with nations such as China and Russia in building a sustainable future rather than creating one failed state after another. ..."
Sep 13, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

Stephen M , September 10, 2019 at 15:14

This is as good a time as any to point to an alternative vision of foreign policy. One based on the principle of non-interference, respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, and, above all, international law. One based on peaceful coexistence and mutual cooperation. A vision of the world at peace and undivided by arbitrary distinctions. Such a world is possible and even though there are currently players around the world who are striving in that direction we need look no further than our own history for inspiration. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you one Henry A. Wallace, for your consideration.

(The following excerpts from an article by Dr. Dennis Etler. Link to the full article provided below.) --

The highest profile figure who articulated an alternative vision for American foreign policy was the politician Henry Wallace, who served as vice president under Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1940-1944 and ran for president in 1948 as the candidate of the Progressive Party.

After he became vice president in 1940, as Roosevelt was increasingly ill, Wallace promoted a new vision for America's role in the world that suggested that rather than playing catch up with the imperial powers, the United States should work with partners to establish a new world order that eliminated militarism, colonialism and imperialism.

Wallace gave a speech in 1942 that declared a "Century of the Common Man." He described a post-war world that offered "freedom from want," a new order in which ordinary citizens, rather than the rich and powerful, would play a decisive role in politics.

That speech made direct analogy between the Second World War and the Civil War, suggesting that the Second World War was being fought to end economic slavery and to create a more equal society. Wallace demanded that the imperialist powers like Britain and France give up their colonies at the end of the war.

In diplomacy, Wallace imagined a multi-polar world founded on the United Nations Charter with a focus on peaceful cooperation. In contrast, in 1941 Henry Luce, publisher of Time Magazine, had called for an 'American century,' suggesting that victory in war would allow the United States to "exert upon the world the full impact of our influence, for such purposes as we see fit and by such means as we see fit."

Wallace responded to Luce with a demand to create a world in which "no nation will have the God-given right to exploit other nations. Older nations will have the privilege to help younger nations get started on the path to industrialization, but there must be neither military nor economic imperialism." Wallace took the New Deal global. His foreign policy was to be based on non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries and mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Sadly, since then, despite occasional efforts to head in a new direction, the core constituency for US foreign policy has been corporations, rather than the "common man" either in the United States, or the other nations of the world, and United States foreign relations have been dominated by interference in the political affairs of other nations. As a result the military was transformed from an "arsenal for democracy" during the Second World War into a defender of privilege at home and abroad afterwards.

-- -
Foreign aid for Wallace was not a tool to foster economic dominance as it was to become, but rather "economic assistance without political conditions to further the independent economic development of the Latin American and Caribbean countries." He held high "the principle of self-determination for the peoples of Africa, Asia, the West Indies, and other colonial areas." He saw the key policy for the United States to be based on "the principles of non-interference in the internal affairs of other nations and acceptance of the right of peoples to choose their own form of government and economic system."

--

Wallace's legacy suggests that it is possible to put forth a vision of an honest internationalism in US foreign policy that is in essence American. His approach was proactive not reactive. It would go far beyond anything Democrats propose today, who can only suggest that the United States should not start an unprovoked war with Iran or North Korea, but who embrace sanctions and propagandist reports that demonize those countries.

Rather than ridiculing Trump's overtures to North Korea, they should go further to reduce tensions between the North and the South by pushing for the eventual withdrawal of troops from South Korea and Japan (a position fully in line with Wallace and many other politicians of that age).
Rather than demonizing and isolating Russia (as a means to score political points against Trump), progressives should call for a real détente, that recognizes Russia's core interests, proposes that NATO withdraw troops from Russia's borders, ends sanctions and reintegrates Russia into the greater European economy. They could even call for an end to NATO and the perpetuation of the dangerous global rift between East and West that it perpetuates.
Rather than attempt to thwart China's rise, and attack Trump for not punishing it enough, progressives should seek to create new synergies between China and the US economically, politically and socioculturally.
-- -
In contrast to the US policy of perpetual war and "destroying nations in order to save them," China's BRI proposes an open plan for development that is not grounded in the models of French and British imperialism. It has proposed global infrastructure and science projects that include participants from nations in Africa, Asia, South and Central America previously ignored by American and European elites -- much as Wallace proposed an equal engagement with Latin America. When offering developmental aid and investment China does not demand that free market principles be adopted or that the public sector be privatized and opened up for global investment banks to ravish.
--
The United States should be emulating China, its Belt and Road Initiative and Community of Common Destiny, as a means of revitalizing its political culture and kicking its addiction to a neo-colonial concept of economic development and growth. Rather than relying on militarization and its attendant wars to spark the economy, progressives should demand that the US work in conjunction with nations such as China and Russia in building a sustainable future rather than creating one failed state after another.

Link to the full article provided below.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/henry-wallaces-internationalism-path-american-foreign-policy-could-have-taken-still-can/5683683

[Sep 13, 2019] Support and attend the People's Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet, September 20 through 23, in New York City.

Sep 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Expat2uruguay , September 13, 2019 at 5:59 pm

"Support and attend the People's Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet, September 20 through 23, in New York City. Christian liberationist intellectual Cornel West and Omali Yeshitela, chairman of the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will speak, and much of the Black Agenda Report team are participating.

Only a mass movement of the streets can begin to dismantle the twin imperial policies of endless austerity and war, end the military occupations of Africa and Black America, and save the world from a wounded and angry ecosphere."
https://www.blackagendareport.com/what-does-boltons-ouster-mean-victims-us-imperial-aggression

[Sep 13, 2019] Clowns, AI and layoffs

Sep 13, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

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

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

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

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

[Sep 12, 2019] While the case of the Dancing Israelis has long been treated as an outlier in the aftermath of September 11, what is often overlooked is the fact that hundreds of Israeli nationals were arrested in the aftermath of the attacks.

Sep 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Lumberjack , 1 hour ago link

This is new:

https://www.mintpressnews.com/newly-released-fbi-docs-shed-light-on-apparent-mossad-foreknowledge-of-9-11-attacks/258581/

A crowded dance floor

While the case of the “Dancing Israelis” has long been treated as an outlier in the aftermath of September 11, what is often overlooked is the fact that hundreds of Israeli nationals were arrested in the aftermath of the attacks.

According to a FOX News report from December 2001, 60 Israelis were apprehended or detained after September 11, with most deported, and a total of 140 Israelis were arrested and detained in all of 2001 by federal authorities. That report claimed that the arrests, ostensibly including the “Dancing Israelis,” were in relation to an investigation of “an organized [Israeli] intelligence gathering operation designed to ‘penetrate government facilities.’”

The report also added that most of those arrested, in addition to having served in the IDF, had “intelligence expertise” and worked for Israeli companies that specialized in wiretapping. Some of those detained were also active members of the Israeli military; and several detainees, including the “Dancing Israelis,” had failed polygraph tests when asked if they had been surveilling the U.S. government.

Lumberjack , 45 minutes ago link

More:

note the head of urban moving systems fled to Israel on Sept. 14, when all airspace was shut down over CONUS., Did he cross the border into Canada to flee?

The FBI presence at the Urban Moving Systems search site drew the attention of the local media and was later reported on both television and in the local press. A former Urban Moving Systems employee later contacted the Newark Division with information indicating that he had quit his employment with Urban Moving Systems as a result of the high amount of anti-American sentiment present among Urban’s employees. The former employee stated that an Israeli employee of Urban had even once remarked, “Give us twenty years and we’ll take over your media and destroy your country” (page 37 of the FBI report ).

The FBI returned to search the premises of Urban Moving Systems a month later, but by that time found:

The building and all of its contents had been abandoned by…the owner of Urban Moving Systems. This [was] apparently being done to avoid criminal prosecution after the 09/11/2001 arrest of five of his employees and subsequent seizure of his office computer systems by members of the FBI-NK on or around 09/13/2001.”

The company’s owner — Dominik Otto Suter, an Israeli citizen — had fled to Israel on September 14, 2001, two days after he had been questioned by the FBI. The FBI told ABC News that “Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation.” Surprisingly, since at least 2016, Suter has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he works for a contractor for major tech companies like Google and Microsoft. According to the public records database Intelius, in 2006 and 2007 Suter also worked for a telecommunications company — Granite Telecommunications — that works for the U.S. military and several other U.S. government agencies.

Lumberjack , 36 minutes ago link

Clip on the "5 Dancing Israelis"

https://mobile.twitter.com/zogistani99/status/907121866317467648

Barry Madingo-Odongo , 1 hour ago link

They did it. And if the American people do understand that, israel's going to disappear. israel will flat-*** disappear from this Earth.
- Dr. Alan Sabrosky

[Sep 12, 2019] Was Benjamin Frankin anti-Semite by today's standard? Yes he was. But that does not diminish accuracy of some of his observations if we replace Jews with Zionists and/or "financial oligarchy"

Notable quotes:
"... According to a FOX News report from December 2001, 60 Israelis were apprehended or detained after September 11, with most deported, and a total of 140 Israelis were arrested and detained in all of 2001 by federal authorities. That report claimed that the arrests, ostensibly including the “Dancing Israelis,” were in relation to an investigation of “an organized [Israeli] intelligence gathering operation designed to ‘penetrate government facilities.’” ..."
"... The report also added that most of those arrested, in addition to having served in the IDF, had “intelligence expertise” and worked for Israeli companies that specialized in wiretapping. Some of those detained were also active members of the Israeli military; and several detainees, including the “Dancing Israelis,” had failed polygraph tests when asked if they had been surveilling the U.S. government. ..."
"... The FBI presence at the Urban Moving Systems search site drew the attention of the local media and was later reported on both television and in the local press. A former Urban Moving Systems employee later contacted the Newark Division with information indicating that he had quit his employment with Urban Moving Systems as a result of the high amount of anti-American sentiment present among Urban’s employees. The former employee stated that an Israeli employee of Urban had even once remarked, “Give us twenty years and we’ll take over your media and destroy your country” (page 37 of the FBI report ). ..."
"... The company’s owner — Dominik Otto Suter, an Israeli citizen — had fled to Israel on September 14, 2001, two days after he had been questioned by the FBI. The FBI told ABC News that “Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation.” Surprisingly, since at least 2016, Suter has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he works for a contractor for major tech companies like Google and Microsoft. According to the public records database Intelius, in 2006 and 2007 Suter also worked for a telecommunications company — Granite Telecommunications — that works for the U.S. military and several other U.S. government agencies. ..."
Sep 12, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

ExposeThem511 , 58 minutes ago link

Quote memorialized by Jean Patrice in "Communism Unmasked" first edition in the 1940s:

The author used the following quote in the referenced book at pp. 257-258 because the topic of Appendix II on p. 257 was "Jews and Vatican II." The author was questioning why the Jews would have been invited to Vatican II as if anyone invites a corporate adversary to a board meeting. Appendix II beginning on p. 257 is a worthwhile read.

Author's prefacing statement:

Let me here quote the warning issued by Benjamin Franklin. He is reported as being very hostile to the Jews. According to the diaries of Charles Pinckney of South Carolina, one of the framers of the American Constitution, Franklin protested very strongly against the Jews. He is reported as saying at the Constitutional Convention:

In whatever country Jews have settled in any great numbers, they have lowered its moral tone, depreciated its commercial integrity, and segregated themselves and not been assimilated; have sneered at and tried to undermine the Christian religion and upon which that nation is founded, by objecting to its restrictions; have built up a State within a State, and, when opposed, have tried to strangle that country to death financially, as in the case of Spain and Portugal. . .

If you do not exclude them from the United States in this Constitution, in less than 200 years they will have swarmed in such great numbers that they will dominate and devour the land and change our form of Government for which we Americans have shed our blood, given our life and substance and jeopardised our liberty. If you do not exclude them, in less than 200 years our descendants will be working in the fields to furnish them substance, while they will be in the counting houses rubbing their hands. I warn you, gentlemen, that if you do not exclude the Jews for all time, your children will curse you in your grave, Jews, gentlemen, are Asiatics. Let them be born where they will never be otherwise.

Interesting how Franklin mentioned "a State within a State" just like today's "the Deep State."

History has been significantly veiled to hide these truths.

Lumberjack , 1 hour ago link

This is new:

https://www.mintpressnews.com/newly-released-fbi-docs-shed-light-on-apparent-mossad-foreknowledge-of-9-11-attacks/258581/

A crowded dance floor

While the case of the “Dancing Israelis” has long been treated as an outlier in the aftermath of September 11, what is often overlooked is the fact that hundreds of Israeli nationals were arrested in the aftermath of the attacks.

According to a FOX News report from December 2001, 60 Israelis were apprehended or detained after September 11, with most deported, and a total of 140 Israelis were arrested and detained in all of 2001 by federal authorities. That report claimed that the arrests, ostensibly including the “Dancing Israelis,” were in relation to an investigation of “an organized [Israeli] intelligence gathering operation designed to ‘penetrate government facilities.’”

The report also added that most of those arrested, in addition to having served in the IDF, had “intelligence expertise” and worked for Israeli companies that specialized in wiretapping. Some of those detained were also active members of the Israeli military; and several detainees, including the “Dancing Israelis,” had failed polygraph tests when asked if they had been surveilling the U.S. government.

Lumberjack , 45 minutes ago link

More:

note the head of urban moving systems fled to Israel on Sept. 14, when all airspace was shut down over CONUS., Did he cross the border into Canada to flee?

The FBI presence at the Urban Moving Systems search site drew the attention of the local media and was later reported on both television and in the local press. A former Urban Moving Systems employee later contacted the Newark Division with information indicating that he had quit his employment with Urban Moving Systems as a result of the high amount of anti-American sentiment present among Urban’s employees. The former employee stated that an Israeli employee of Urban had even once remarked, “Give us twenty years and we’ll take over your media and destroy your country” (page 37 of the FBI report ).

The FBI returned to search the premises of Urban Moving Systems a month later, but by that time found:

The building and all of its contents had been abandoned by…the owner of Urban Moving Systems. This [was] apparently being done to avoid criminal prosecution after the 09/11/2001 arrest of five of his employees and subsequent seizure of his office computer systems by members of the FBI-NK on or around 09/13/2001.”

The company’s owner — Dominik Otto Suter, an Israeli citizen — had fled to Israel on September 14, 2001, two days after he had been questioned by the FBI. The FBI told ABC News that “Urban Moving may have been providing cover for an Israeli intelligence operation.” Surprisingly, since at least 2016, Suter has been living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he works for a contractor for major tech companies like Google and Microsoft. According to the public records database Intelius, in 2006 and 2007 Suter also worked for a telecommunications company — Granite Telecommunications — that works for the U.S. military and several other U.S. government agencies.

Lumberjack , 36 minutes ago link

Clip on the "5 Dancing Israelis"

https://mobile.twitter.com/zogistani99/status/907121866317467648

Barry Madingo-Odongo , 1 hour ago link

They did it. And if the American people do understand that, israel's going to disappear. israel will flat-*** disappear from this Earth.
- Dr. Alan Sabrosky

[Sep 12, 2019] Where we are now in Afghanistan- Editorial Opinion by PL

This is all false. The goal was establish military bases in former soviet republics to encircle Russia and this goal was achieved. Putin was probably not so wise giving 100% support to Bush invasion, which was a typical false flag invasion.
Taliban was the creation of the USA to fight Soviets, like political Islam in general so any complains are just pure hypocity.
Notable quotes:
"... Afghanistan borders China. For that reason alone, we are never leaving whatever the cost in blood or treasure. The country is a very forward, strategic military base that can be used to launch air attacks on Chinese assets and impede China's Belt and Road initiative. ..."
"... Despite his bluster, Trump is very weak and knows the Taliban is winning and fears they will try to drive us out before the election, ushering in his defeat. Most of his time is spent cowering in his golf resorts, ranting and raving on a tiny little cellphone. ..."
"... The Blob will not allow any of his fears to shake the resolve of the Deep State to make Afghanistan a colony for a thousand years. ..."
"... American's negotiating position in every instances with rival nations is to dictate the terms for surrender regardless of the circumstances on the ground. It's an untenable position and guarantees perpetual war and occupation which is precisely the point. ..."
"... It seems to me that if one parsed reports from the Special Inspector General Afghanistan Reconstruction along with the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime's "Afghanistan Opium Survey", any illusions as to what the reasons for the West's intervention in that country were, should dissipate rather speedily. ..."
"... we invaded Afghanistan so that we could steal the foreign aid money that we would give them and could sponsor the opium trade. ..."
"... Gramsci and his like stand vindicated. Capture the academies and the rest of us follow, often willingly. ..."
"... And just a few, of those in the public eye, standing up true and declaring "This emperor has no clothes!" ..."
Sep 12, 2019 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Where we are now in Afghanistan- Editorial Opinion by PL

(Lt. Hamilton VC at Kabul where he commanded Sir Louis Cavangnari's escort)

A year or so after the US intervention in Afghanistan began in 2001 I perceived that there was a danger that US public and government opinion might begin to favor the idea of "nation building" in Afghanistan. From long experience in and study of the area of Islamicate civilization and its history it seemed clear to me that such an effort would be doomed to failure at any price that one should be willing to pay in; expended effort over time, money and blood shed on all sides.

The basic problem with Afghanistan is that there "is no there there." Afghanistan is really a geographical expression rather than a country in the sense understood of the word in the post-Westphalian system of independent states.

Across the Islamicate world from Mauritania to BanglaDesh and beyond to Oceania there is a pronounced tendency to atomization in group perception of identity. Arabs do not identify with Berbers, etc., Tribes and clans within these groups regard all others as rivals and often enemies unless they are needed as temporary allies.

The Islamic religion which holds unity to be an ideal is often thought to be a unifier against the atomizing tendency in these cultures, but in fact there are many, many varieties of Islam, each one believing that it is uniquely favored by God. This often cancels out whatever unifying effect Islam, as religion, can have.

Afghanistan, created as a buffer between imperial Russia and British India, is an extreme case of atomization among the inhabitants of a state which has recognition in the world political system including membership in the UN. In spite of that status , a status that might deceive one into believing that there is such a thing as "the Afghan People,"the population of Afghanistan is actually made up of a number of different ethnic nations; Pushtuns, Hazzara, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turcomans, Arabs, etc. These different peoples all speak mutually unintelligible languages which often have such extreme separation in dialect that this amounts to uninteligibility as well. Some of these groups are Sunni and others Shia. This is yet another factor in the separation of the segments of the population.

The country has little substantial physical infrastructure. What there is was largely constructed in the 50s and 60s as part of Cold War competition between the USSR and the US. There is very little legal or governmental infrastructure. A commercial company investing its own or borrowed money in Afghanistan is taking a great risk of never being able to recover its investment from the local "pirates." Government is generally predatory in its attitude toward foreign investment funds. I tried to find a safe haven in Afghanistan for some of my company's funds and could find none. Senior Afghan government people would typically respond to questions about legal infrastructure with exhortations to "bring your project, all will be well." Needless to say ...

US intervention in this place was inevitable after 9/11, but what was not necessary or wise were repeated US decisions for a COIN nation building campaign. As this tendency began to be evident I argued for a much more limited goal in which the US would keep about 20K troops in country to maintain a government controlled enclave around Kabul and Bagram. This would enable pursuit of located international terrorist groups through raiding operations from that base area. The basis for this strategy was my conclusion that the US could never "pacify" all of the territory of Afghanistan and that we would "break our teeth" trying.

I pressed this belief in various fora and with various individuals within the Obama Administration even as Obama endlessly contemplated the entreaties of the COINista generals, Petraeus, Mattis, McChrystal etc. for a country wide nation building COIN campaign. The most interesting of these encounters was at an IQ2 debate at NYU in 2009 where I (and teammates) argued that "The US can never win in Afghanistan." My side lost on points but the leader of the other team recently told me that he knows now that we were completely correct. Obama gave in to the generals, and gave them the COIN war that they wanted. I suppose that for "Barry" it was immensely flattering to have them "butter him up."

It is cl