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Neoliberalism

The ideology that dare not speak it's name is actually a New, More Dangerous, Form of Corporatism. It is completely and intentionally based on lies, on deception. In reality 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 financial oligarchy with the explicit goal of milking the common people (aka "deplorables"). They have money to hire intellectual prostitutes (aka  professors of economics) to do the dirty job of creating elaborate mathness and neoclassic economy based smoke screen over the lies

Version 7.20

Skepticism and Pseudoscience > Who Rules America > Neoliberal Brainwashing

News Who Rules America Recommended books Recommended Links An introduction to Neoliberalism Neoliberalism as Trotskyism for the rich Globalization of Financial Flows
Neoliberalism 101: 12 best articles on neoliberalism 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
Brexit as the start of the reversal of neoliberal globalization 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
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 Neoliberal 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

Due to the size the introduction was moved to a separate page: Neoliberalism: a primer 

NOTE: Best articles on neoliberalism can be found at Neoliberalism 101: 12 best articles on neoliberalism



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(Research materials to the paper Neoliberalism: an Introduction)

[May 24, 2020] The world is entering the period of instability and turbulence

May 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 24 2020 20:52 utc | 29

...China's Foreign Minister Yang Yi held a lengthy presser providing detailed answers to many differing questions. The topic of "Wolf Diplomacy" is in the news today and was asked about by CNN:

" Cable News Network : We've seen an increasingly heated 'war of words' between China and the US. Is 'wolf warrior' diplomacy the new norm of China's diplomacy?

Wang Yi : I respect your right to ask the question, but I'm afraid you're not framing the question in the right way. One has to have a sense of right and wrong. Without it, a person cannot be trusted, and a country cannot hold its own in the family of nations .

... ... ...

"The world is undergoing changes of a kind unseen in a century and full of instability and turbulence. Confronted by a growing set of global challenges, we hope all countries will realize that humanity is a community with a shared future. We must render each other more support and cooperation, and there should be less finger-pointing and confrontation. We call on all nations to come together and build a better world for all." [My Emphasis]

... ... ...

[May 24, 2020] The Black Death Killed Feudalism. What Does COVID-19 Mean for Capitalism - FPIF by John Feffer

Notable quotes:
"... The coronavirus crisis has thrown the global economy into cardiac arrest, and now you are acutely aware of the very markets that you had previously just assumed would function as normal. The first indication was the precipitous drop in the stock market that took place in late February. Then, as the United States began to enter quarantine, the labor market collapsed and hundreds of millions of people were suddenly out of work. Shortages in a few key commodities -- masks, ventilators, toilet paper -- began to appear. ..."
Apr 29, 2020 | fpif.org

How will the coronavirus transform the relationship between state and market? A look at oil, food, and finance.


You pay little attention to the systems of your body -- circulatory, digestive, pulmonary -- unless something goes wrong.

These automatic systems ordinarily go about their business, like unseen clockwork, while you think about a vexing problem at work, drink your morning cup of coffee, walk up and down stairs, and head out to your car to begin your morning commute. If you had to focus your attention on breathing, pushing blood through your veins, and metabolizing food, you'd have no time or energy to do anything else. The body abhors the micromanaging of the mind.

The same applies to the world's markets. They whir away in the background of your life, providing loans to your business, coffee beans to your nearby supermarket, labor to build your house, gas to fill your car. You take all of these markets for granted. All you have to concern yourself with is earning enough money to gain access to these goods and services. That's what it means to live in a modern economy. The days of hunting and gathering, of complete self-sufficiency, are long past.

And then, in a series of sickening shifts, the markets go haywire. As with a heart attack, you no longer can take the optimal performance of these systems for granted.

The coronavirus crisis has thrown the global economy into cardiac arrest, and now you are acutely aware of the very markets that you had previously just assumed would function as normal. The first indication was the precipitous drop in the stock market that took place in late February. Then, as the United States began to enter quarantine, the labor market collapsed and hundreds of millions of people were suddenly out of work. Shortages in a few key commodities -- masks, ventilators, toilet paper -- began to appear.

It is one of the central tenets of laissez-faire capitalism that markets behave like automatic systems, that an "invisible hand" regulates supply and demand. Market fundamentalists believe that the less the government interferes with these automatic systems, the better. They argue, to the contrary, that markets should increasingly take over government functions: a privatized post office, for instance, or Social Security accounts subjected to the stock market.

Market fundamentalists are like Christian Scientists. They refuse government intervention just as the faithful reject medical intervention. Much like God's grace, the invisible hand operates independent of human plan.

Then something happens, like a pandemic, which tests this faith. States around the world are now spending trillions of dollars to intervene in the economy: to bail out banks, save businesses, help out the unemployed. Countries are imposing export controls on key commodities. As in wartime, governments are directing manufacturers to produce critical goods to fill an unexpected demand for greater supply.

These are emergency interventions. The market fundamentalist looks forward to the day when stay-at-home restrictions are lifted, people go back to work, the stock market barrels back into bull mode, and the invisible hand, with perhaps a few Band-aids across the knuckles, returns to its job.

But some pandemics fundamentally alter the economy. In such emergencies, people realize that an economy is constructed and thus can be reconstructed. Are we now at just such a moment in world history? Will the coronavirus permanently transform the relationship between the state and the market?

Let's take a look at three key markets -- oil, food, and finance -- to measure the impact of the pandemic and the prospects for transformation.

Oil

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In 2007, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa offered to forgo digging for oil beneath the Yasuni national park in exchange for $3.6 billion from the international community. No one took him up on the offer.

When the U.S. price of oil went below zero last week, I immediately thought of Correa's offer. The mainstream scoffed at the Ecuadorian leader back in 2007. How on earth could you possibly propose to keep oil under the earth? The world economy runs on fossil fuels. You might as well ask your kid to keep her Halloween candy uneaten in the back of the cupboard.

Today, however, the world is glutted with oil. The global recession has radically reduced the need for oil and gas.

In the United States, transportation absorbs nearly 70 percent of oil consumption. With airplanes grounded, fewer trains and busses in operation, and highways uncongested, the demand for oil has dropped precipitously. Businesses, too, are using less energy. It's not just oil. Companies devoted to pumping natural gas out of shale deposits are filing for bankruptcy as their market value drops precipitously: the price of a share of fracking giant Whiting Petroleum fell from $150 a couple years ago to 67 cents on March 31.

It's gotten to the point that you almost can't give away the stuff.

After all, if you somehow found yourself with a bunch of barrels of oil, where would you store it? Oil-storage tanks in the United State are near capacity. "Oil supertankers are looking like petroleum paparazzi, crowding the Los Angeles shoreline, either as floating storage or waiting on some kind of turn in sentiment," Brian Sullivan writes at CNBC . "With prices higher in coming months, for now it pays to sit on oil and hope to sell it for more money down the pipeline."

Oil-producing nations, after years of boosting their supplies, finally agreed in mid-April to cut production by 10 percent -- about 10 million gallons a day. In other words, they are deciding to leave oil in the ground. Now, however, it doesn't even qualify as a half-measure, since demand has dropped by 35 percent. The oil producers are awaiting the end of recession, when the quarantined go back to work, and everyone jumps on their transport of choice to make up for lost travel. They are awaiting a return to normal.

But the market for fossil fuels is not normal. The notion that the invisible hand will steer economies in a sustainable direction is hogwash. We are long past the moment when we should have paid Correa and everyone else to leave the oil and gas in the ground and move toward a world powered entirely by clean energy. The market treats the environment either as a commodity like any other or as an "externality" that doesn't factor into the final price of goods and services. That is so nineteenth century.

Climate change demands an intervention into the energy markets with restrictions on production, subsidies for clean energies like solar, and government purchases of electric cars. Returning to "normal" after the pandemic is not a viable option.

Food

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Like the oil exporters, food producers in the United States are restricting production as well.

In Delaware and Maryland, chicken producers are euthanizing two million chickens because the processing plants don't have enough workers. Sickness and death in these facilities, which has caused closures that are disrupting the supply chain, has prompted Trump to classify such plants as "critical infrastructure" that needs to remain open. Meanwhile, thousands of acres of fruits and vegetables are rotting in the fields in Florida because of the suspension of bulk food sales to schools, theme parks, and restaurants. The shortage of pickers -- often migrant laborers whose mobility has been restricted -- is complicating harvests.

Unlike oil, however, the overall demand for food remains high. The grocery business is booming . Food banks are overwhelmed by a surge unlike any in recent decades. The U.S. Department of Agriculture ordinarily could swoop in and buy up surplus production -- as it did for soybean growers during the trade war with China -- for use in food banks and other distribution programs. But as with so many other government agencies in the Trump era, the USDA has been slow to act , despite repeated pleas from growers and governors.

The pandemic is highlighting all the problems that have long plagued the food supply. First, there is the mismatch between supply and demand. Around 820 million people globally didn't have enough to eat in 2018, a figure that had been rising for three years in a row, and contrasts with another rising number: the 672 million obese people in the world. In the United States, fully 40 percent of food goes to waste every year. So, obviously the invisible hand does a pretty poor job of achieving market equilibrium.

Second, despite a growing movement to eat locally and seasonally, the food system still eats up a huge amount of energy. The problem lies not so much with bananas arriving by cargo ship, which is relatively efficient, but with perishable items delivered by plane . And it's what we eat, rather than where the products come from, that matters most. "Regardless of whether you compare the footprint of foods in terms of their weight (e.g. one kilogram of cheese versus one kilogram of peas); protein content; or calories, the overall conclusion is the same," writes Hannah Ritchie. "Plant-based foods tend to have a lower carbon footprint than meat and dairy. In many cases a much smaller footprint."

Third, because of economies of scale and abysmal labor practices, food in the industrialized world is too often grown by agribusiness, processed by transnational corporations, and picked or handled by workers who don't even make close to a living wage.

Returning to this kind of food system after the pandemic fades would be truly unappetizing. The livable wage campaign must spread to the countryside, meat substitutes must get an additional lift through government and institutional purchases, and innovative programs like the Too Good to Go app in Europe -- which sells extra restaurant and supermarket food at a discount -- must be brought to the United States to cut down on food waste and get meals to those in need.

Finance global-financial-crisis-capitalism-globalization-finance

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The financial crisis of 2008-2009 exposed the fragility and fundamental inequality of the global financial system. But all along the invisible hand has been pickpocketing poor Peter to pay prosperous Paul. Bankers, stockbrokers, and financial gurus have constructed a casino-like system that occasionally doles out a few pennies to the people playing the slots even as it enriches the house -- the top 1-2 percent -- at every turn.

The most outrageous part of this scheme is that the financial crisis demonstrated just how bad the financiers were at their own game. Not only did they not go to prison for illegal activities, they were with a few exceptions not even punished economically for their market failures. They were either too big, too rich, or too powerful for the government to allow them to fail.

In The New Yorker , Nick Paumgarten quotes a prominent investment banker at a bond fund:

"In the financial crisis, we won the war but lost the peace." Instead of investing in infrastructure, education, and job retraining, we emphasized, via a central-bank policy of quantitative easing (what some people call printing money), the value of risk assets, like stocks. "We collectively fell in love with finance," he said.

After the last financial crisis, the wealthy, who are heavily invested in the stock market, did quite well, while everyone else took a hit. Explains Colin Schultz in Smithsonian magazine: "While families hovering around the average net worth lost 36 percent over the past decade -- dropping from $87,992 in 2003 to $56,335 in 2013 -- people in the top 95th percentile actually gained 14 percent in the same tumultuous period -- going from $740,700 in 2003 to $834,100 in 2013."

The Trump administration is clearly in love with finance. Even before the pandemic hit, Trump's tax reform provided the top six U.S. banks with $32 billion in savings . That's more than what the 2008 bank bailout provided (and remember, banks mostly paid back those earlier loans). The stock market also benefited from an unprecedented upswing in stock buybacks -- $2 trillion combined in 2018 and 2019 -- that enriched shareholders at the expense of workers.

The $2 trillion in initial stimulus funds that the U.S. government is providing this time around has gone to individuals (those Trump-signed checks in the mail), small businesses (except when it went to big businesses), hospitals, and unemployed workers. There's also money for farmers, schools, food stamps, and (alas) the Pentagon. Future rounds of stimulus spending might include infrastructure, more aid to states and localities, and funds for smaller banks.

There's not much enthusiasm, at least publicly, to bail out Wall Street. Stock buybacks were explicitly excluded from the stimulus package. Meanwhile, the stock market has begun to climb out of the basement in the last couple weeks, largely on the strength of the news of all this new money being pumped into the economy.

But just as the tax bill was a covert giveaway to financial institutions, so have been several of the administration's pandemic responses. Quantitative easing, by which the Federal Reserve buys bonds and mortgage-backed securities, has increased the amount of liquidity available to financial institutions.

In the latest effort, the Fed announced that it will buy $500 billion in corporate bonds, but without any of the strings attached to other assistance such as limits on stock buybacks or executive compensation. The banks are even nickel and diming people by seizing stimulus check deposits to cover overdrawn accounts.

Out of a total pie of around $6 trillion in potential stimulus spending, banks and major corporations are well-placed to grab the lion's share. Writes Nomi Prins at TomDispatch:

In the end, according to the president, that could mean $4.5 trillion in support for big banks and corporate entities versus something like $1.4 trillion for regular Americans, small businesses, hospitals, and local and state governments. That 3.5 to 1 ratio signals that, as in 2008, the Treasury and the Fed are focused on big banks and large corporations, not everyday Americans.

Invisible hand? Hardly. That's the very visible hand of government tilting the financial markets even more in favor of the rich. As for the invisible enrichment that goes on beneath the surface, otherwise known as corruption, the Trump administration has gutted the oversight mechanisms that could bring those abuses to light.

It's time to end America's love affair with finance. That means, in the short term, higher taxes on the very rich, limitations on CEO pay built into all bailouts, and reviving all the reasonable proposals for reforming the financial sector that were either left out of or didn't get full implemented in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act passed in the wake of the last financial crisis.

Post-Pandemic Economics

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The Black Death depopulated Europe, killing as much as 60 percent of the population in the middle of the fourteenth century. Feudalism depended on lots of peasants working the land to support the one percent of that era. By carrying off so many of these workers, the Black Death made a major contribution to eroding the foundations of the dominant economic system of the time.

The coronavirus will not kill anywhere near as many people as the Black Death did. But it may well contribute to exposing the failures of "free markets" and the scandal of governments intervening in the economy on behalf of this era's one percent. The pandemic is already, thanks to huge stimulus packages, undermining the "small government" canard. A state apparatus deliberately hobbled by the Trump administration -- after earlier "reforms" by both parties -- did a piss-poor job of dealing with this crisis. That doesn't bode well for dealing with the even larger challenge of climate change.

The short-term fixes described above in the oil, food, and finance sectors are necessary but insufficient. They shift the balance more toward the government and away from the "free" market. They're not unlike the New Deal: reforming capitalism to save capitalism. But this pandemic is pointing to an even more fundamental transformation, to a new definition of economics.

The tweaking of markets to achieve optimal performance is much like the rejiggering of earth-centric models of the universe that took place in the Middle Ages. These models became more and more complex to account for new astronomical discoveries. Then along came Copernicus with a heliocentric model that accounted for all the new data. It took some time, however, for the old model to lose favor, despite its obvious failures.

The global economy remains market-centered, even though the evidence has been mounting that these markets are failing us and the planet. Tweaking this model isn't good enough. We need a new Copernicus who will provide a new theory that fits our unfolding reality, a new environment-centered economics that can maximize not profit but the well-being of living things. John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus.

[May 24, 2020] Private Equity Is Ruining Health Care, Covid Is Making It Worse: Investors have been buying up doctor s offices, cutting costs, and, critics say, putting pressure on physicians by Heather Perlberg

Highly recommended!
So not only ambulance service was destroyed by private equity, they now added other specialties. I wonder is those criminals who insert unnecessary stents in patients are connected to private equity.
Images removed
Notable quotes:
"... "You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors" ..."
"... Morganroth's defense of pandemic Botox might seem odd, but it made perfect sense within the logic of the U.S. health-care system, which has seen Wall Street investors invade its every corner, engineering medical practices and hospitals to maximize profits as if they were little different from grocery stores. At the center of this story are private equity firms, which saw the explosive growth of health-care spending and have been buying up physician staffing companies, surgery centers, and everything else in sight. ..."
"... But some doctors say that the private equity playbook, which involves buying companies, drastically cutting costs, and then selling for a profit -- the goal is generally to make an annualized return of 20% to 30% within three to five years -- creates problems that are unique to health care. "I know private equity does this in other industries, but in medicine you're dealing with people's health and their lives," says Michael Rains, a doctor who worked at U.S. Dermatology Partners , a big private equity-backed chain. "You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors." ..."
"... Yet over the past decade, lawyers devised a structure that allows investors to buy a medical practice without technically owning it: the MSO, or management service organization. Today, when an investment firm buys a doctor's office, what it's actually buying are the office's "nonclinical" assets. In theory, physicians control all medical decisions and agree to pay a management fee to a newly created company, which handles administrative tasks such as billing and marketing. ..."
"... Businessweek ..."
"... When individual doctors sell, they generally receive $2 million to $7 million each, with 30% to 40% of that paid in equity in the group. After the acquisition, doctors get a lower salary and are asked to help recruit other doctors to sell their practices or to join as employees. ..."
"... Patients, for the most part, are in the dark. Unlike when your mortgage changes hands, you usually aren't notified when a big investment firm buys your doctor. Sometimes the sign on the door bearing the physician's name stays put, and subtle changes in operations or unfamiliar fees may be the only clues that anything has happened. ..."
"... At Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery , the largest private equity-backed group in the field, with more than 150 locations across the U.S., that sense of discomfort came shortly after Audax Group bought a controlling stake in what was then a much smaller chain in 2011. The new management team introduced a scorecard that rewarded offices with cash if they met daily and monthly financial goals, according to a lawsuit filed in 2013 against the company by one of its dermatologists. The doctor alleged that the bonus program encouraged staff to do as many procedures as possible, rather than strictly addressing patients' medical needs. ..."
"... Most dermatologists use outside labs and pathologists, but private equity-owned groups buy up existing labs and hire their own pathologists. Then doctors are encouraged to refer patients within the group and send biopsy slides to the company-owned labs, keeping the entire chain of revenue in-house. ..."
"... Now comes the cost-cutting. This is supposed to be the hallmark of private equity, and, done right, it can work to the benefit of doctors and patients. But there are pitfalls unique to medicine, where aggressive cuts can lead to problems, some of them merely inconvenient and some potentially dangerous. ..."
"... A doctor at Advanced Dermatology says that waiting for corporate approvals means his office is routinely left without enough gauze, antiseptic solution, and toilet paper. Even before the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, he would travel with a few rolls in the trunk of his car, to spare patients when an office inevitably ran out. The company declined to comment. ..."
"... One paradox of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that even as the virus has focused the entire country on health care, it's been a financial disaster for the industry. And so, while emergency room doctors and nurses care for the sick -- comforting those who would otherwise die alone, and in some cases dying themselves -- private equity-backed staffing companies and hospitals have been cutting pay for ER doctors. These hospitals, like the big medical practices, make a large portion of their money from elective procedures and have been forced into wrenching compromises. ..."
"... For investors with capital, on the other hand, the economic fallout from the virus is a huge opportunity. Stay-at-home orders have left small practices more financially strained than they've ever been. That will likely accelerate sales to private equity firms, according to Marc Cabrera, an investment banker focused on health-care deals at Oppenheimer & Co. Independent doctors or groups that previously rebuffed offers from deep-pocketed backers "will reconsider their options," he says. ..."
"... Many doctors may ultimately come to regret cashing out, but it's hard to get out once you're in. As part of an acquisition, the private equity groups typically require doctors to sign yearslong contracts, with noncompete clauses that prevent them from working in the surrounding area. ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.bloomberg.com

Not long after Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, ordered the state's 40 million residents to stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, Dr. Greg Morganroth called his team of doctors and said their dermatology group was staying open.

Morganroth is chief executive officer of the California Skin Institute , which he founded in 2007 as a single office in Mountain View. He's since expanded to more than 40 locations using a financing strategy that's become exceedingly common in American health care: private equity. In this case, he took out a loan from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. that could eventually convert to an equity stake. CSI is now the largest dermatology chain in California.

But the Covid-19 pandemic put Morganroth in a precarious position. Most medical procedures were characterized as nonessential by government officials and practitioners. Doctors were closing offices, and patients were staying away to limit their potential exposure to the virus.

CSI took a different approach. Morganroth explained his thinking on April 2 in a Zoom call with more than 170 dermatologists from around the country organized by the Cosmetic Surgery Forum, an industry conference. Contrary to what they might have heard, Morganroth told them, they should consider staying open during the pandemic. "Many of us are over-interpreting guidelines," he said.

For a moment there was an awkward silence. Doctors had thought they were signing up for advice on how to apply for government money that would help them meet payroll while they were shut down; they hadn't expected to be told not to shut down at all. Morganroth continued: "We are going to be in a two-year war, and we need to make strategic plans for our businesses that enable us to survive and to rebound."

Back at CSI, the company's front-office staff was working the phones, calling patients in some of the worst-hit areas and reminding them to show up for their appointments, even for cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections to treat wrinkles. During the videoconference, Morganroth argued that offering Botox in a pandemic wasn't so different from a grocery store allowing customers to buy candy alongside staples.

"If I had a food supply company and had to stay open, and I had meat, bread, and milk, would I stop making lime and strawberry licorice?" Morganroth asked. "I would make everything and go forward."

From a public-health point of view, some of the doctors believed, this was questionable. Common reasons for visiting a dermatologist's office -- skin screenings, mole removals, acne consultations -- aren't particularly time sensitive. Serious matters, such as suspected cancers and dangerous rashes, can be handled, at least initially, with telemedicine consultations . Then doctors can weigh the risks for their patients and determine who needs to come in. In a statement, CSI says that it followed local and state laws for staying open, while providing "necessary care" for patients, and that it had not required doctors to come to work.

"You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors"

Morganroth's defense of pandemic Botox might seem odd, but it made perfect sense within the logic of the U.S. health-care system, which has seen Wall Street investors invade its every corner, engineering medical practices and hospitals to maximize profits as if they were little different from grocery stores. At the center of this story are private equity firms, which saw the explosive growth of health-care spending and have been buying up physician staffing companies, surgery centers, and everything else in sight.

Over the past five years, the firms have invested more than $10 billion in medical practices, with a special focus on dermatology, which is seen as a hot industry because of the aging population. Baby boomers suffer from high rates of two potentially lucrative conditions: skin cancer and vanity. Some estimates suggest that private equity already owns more than 10% of the U.S dermatology market. And firms have started to expand into other specialties, including women's health, urology, and gastroenterology.

There's nothing inherently wrong with any of this. But some doctors say that the private equity playbook, which involves buying companies, drastically cutting costs, and then selling for a profit -- the goal is generally to make an annualized return of 20% to 30% within three to five years -- creates problems that are unique to health care. "I know private equity does this in other industries, but in medicine you're dealing with people's health and their lives," says Michael Rains, a doctor who worked at U.S. Dermatology Partners , a big private equity-backed chain. "You can't serve two masters. You can't serve patients and investors."

Investment firms, and the practices they fund, say these concerns are overblown. They point out that they're giving doctors a financial shelter from the rapidly changing medical environment, a particularly attractive prospect now, and that money from private equity firms has expanded care to more patients. But they've also made it next to impossible to track the industry's impact or reach. Firms rarely announce their investments and routinely subject doctors to nondisclosure agreements that make it difficult for them to speak publicly. Bloomberg Businessweek spoke to dozens of doctors at 10 large private equity-backed dermatology groups. Those interviews, along with information obtained from other employees, investors, lawyers, court filings, and company records, reveal how the firms operate, and why they sometimes fail patients.

The process is never exactly the same, but there are familiar patterns, which tend to play out in five steps.

Step 1: Marriage

The strange thing about private equity money in medicine is that for-profit investors have long been prevented from buying doctor's offices. Corporate ownership goes against a doctrine set by the American Medical Association , the main trade group for doctors in the U.S., and is prohibited by law in many states, including Texas and New Jersey. For most of the past 100 years, if you wanted to make money on a medical practice, you needed to have a medical license.

Yet over the past decade, lawyers devised a structure that allows investors to buy a medical practice without technically owning it: the MSO, or management service organization. Today, when an investment firm buys a doctor's office, what it's actually buying are the office's "nonclinical" assets. In theory, physicians control all medical decisions and agree to pay a management fee to a newly created company, which handles administrative tasks such as billing and marketing.

In practice, though, investors expect some influence over medical decision-making, which, after all, is connected to profits. "When we partner with you, it's a marriage," said Matt Jameson, a managing director at BlueMountain Capital, a $17 billion firm that recently invested in a women's health company, while speaking at a conference in New York in September. "We have to believe it. You have to believe it. It's not going to be something where clinical is completely not touched." (When contacted by Businessweek , Jameson asked to clarify his comments. "Doctors and other qualified healthcare professionals at the providers we've invested in make medical decisions," he said in a statement.)

The typical buyout starts with the acquisition of a big, popular practice, often with multiple doctors and several locations, for as much as $100 million. (Investors typically pay between 9 and 12 times annual profit.) This practice functions as an anchor, like a name-brand department store at a shopping mall, attracting patients and doctors to the new group as it expands. Then comes the roll-up: The private equity firm purchases smaller offices and solo practices, giving the group a regional presence.

As part of the new structure, investors deal with paperwork and save money by buying medical supplies in bulk. Crucially they also negotiate higher insurance reimbursement rates. One dermatologist who sold her practice to the California Skin Institute says she was surprised to find out the bigger group's payouts from insurers were $25 to $125 more per visit.

When individual doctors sell, they generally receive $2 million to $7 million each, with 30% to 40% of that paid in equity in the group. After the acquisition, doctors get a lower salary and are asked to help recruit other doctors to sell their practices or to join as employees.

At first, doctors are generally thrilled by all of this. They have financial security and can focus on treating patients without the stress of running a business. Patients, for the most part, are in the dark. Unlike when your mortgage changes hands, you usually aren't notified when a big investment firm buys your doctor. Sometimes the sign on the door bearing the physician's name stays put, and subtle changes in operations or unfamiliar fees may be the only clues that anything has happened.

Step 2: Growth

The promise of more patients is a big draw for doctors. By sharing marketing costs and adding locations, the new companies can advertise more and attract customers. Private equity-owned practices have been diligent users of social media, announcing newly added doctors and posting coupons on Twitter and Instagram. But these practices can be aggressive in ways that make some doctors uncomfortable.

At Advanced Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery , the largest private equity-backed group in the field, with more than 150 locations across the U.S., that sense of discomfort came shortly after Audax Group bought a controlling stake in what was then a much smaller chain in 2011. The new management team introduced a scorecard that rewarded offices with cash if they met daily and monthly financial goals, according to a lawsuit filed in 2013 against the company by one of its dermatologists. The doctor alleged that the bonus program encouraged staff to do as many procedures as possible, rather than strictly addressing patients' medical needs.

In some of the company's Florida offices, the doctor alleged, medical assistants responded to the bonus structure by ticking extra boxes on exam reports, stating that doctors checked many more areas of the body than they actually had. That led to higher patient bills, defrauding the government under its Medicare program, according to the lawsuit. The federal government declined to join the case, and it was dismissed about a year after it was filed. Advanced and Audax declined to comment.

One-Stop Skin Care

By buying up labs and adding specialists, private equity-owned dermatology groups get paid at every step of a patient's treatment.

Data: Estimated Medicare reimbursement rates for the Miami area, Sensus Healthcare sales presentation

Private equity-backed practices also try to increase revenue by adding more-lucrative procedures, according to doctors interviewed by Businessweek . In dermatology, this means more cosmetics, laser treatments, radiation, and especially Mohs surgeries -- a specialized skin cancer procedure that removes growths from delicate areas like the face and neck one layer at a time, to limit scarring. The surgery involves expensive equipment and specialized doctors, so some large medical groups keep costs down by assembling traveling Mohs teams, who fly in from other states. Others create mobile labs in vans that set up in clinics' parking lots.

Most dermatologists use outside labs and pathologists, but private equity-owned groups buy up existing labs and hire their own pathologists. Then doctors are encouraged to refer patients within the group and send biopsy slides to the company-owned labs, keeping the entire chain of revenue in-house. This takes advantage of a regulatory quirk that has made dermatology, and a handful of other specialties, attractive to private equity. Under the 1989 Stark Law, doctors aren't allowed to make patient referrals for their own financial gain. An exception was made for some fields because it's more convenient for patients, explains Dr. Sailesh Konda, a Mohs surgeon and professor at the University of Florida. "But that can be abused."

Step 3: Synergy

Now comes the cost-cutting. This is supposed to be the hallmark of private equity, and, done right, it can work to the benefit of doctors and patients. But there are pitfalls unique to medicine, where aggressive cuts can lead to problems, some of them merely inconvenient and some potentially dangerous.

A doctor at Advanced Dermatology says that waiting for corporate approvals means his office is routinely left without enough gauze, antiseptic solution, and toilet paper. Even before the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, he would travel with a few rolls in the trunk of his car, to spare patients when an office inevitably ran out. The company declined to comment.

At the country's second-biggest skin-care group, U.S. Dermatology Partners , a former doctor says a regional manager switched to a cheaper brand of needles and sutures without consulting the medical staff. The quality was so poor, she says, they would often break off in her patients' bodies. Mortified, she'd have to dig them out and start over. She complained to managers but couldn't get better supplies, she says. Paul Singh, U.S. Dermatology's CEO, says the company uses a "reputable, global vendor for medical supplies." "While our group may have standardized purchasing processes, individual providers have the autonomy to procure specific supplies that they need for a particular patient situation or patient population," he says in a statement.

Doctors who join a private equity-backed group generally sign contracts that state they'll never have to compromise their medical judgment, but some say that management began to intervene there, too. Dermatologists at most of the companies say they were pushed to see as many as twice the number of patients a day, which made them feel rushed and unable to provide the same quality of care. Others were forced to discuss their cases with managers or medical directors, who asked the doctors to explain why they weren't sending more patients for surgery. Multiple practices also encouraged doctors to send home Mohs surgery patients with open wounds and have them come back the next day for stitches -- or to have a different doctor do the closure the same day -- because that would allow the practice to collect more from insurers.

That's if doctors are performing the procedures at all. At Advanced Dermatology, several doctors say they were asked to claim that physician assistants, or PAs, were under their supervision when they weren't seeing patients in the same building, or even the same town. Because PAs are paid less than dermatologists, this allowed the company to keep costs low while growing the business. In a statement, Eric Hunt, Advanced's general counsel and chief compliance officer says that having PAs on staff enables the company to "provide access to quality dermatological care to more patients."

Step 4. Rolling Up the Roll-Up

Advanced Dermatology was sold in 2016 by Audax to Harvest Partners LP , following a pattern that's typical in the industry. At some point, after costs have been cut and profits maximized, most private equity-owned medical groups will be sold, often to another private equity firm, which will then try to somehow make the company even more profitable.

Having reduced most of the obvious costs, Advanced Dermatology began skimping on more important supplies, including Hylenex, according to doctors and other employees. The drug is an expensive reversal agent used when cosmetic fillers, which are supposed to make skin look plumper, go wrong. Not having enough is dangerous: Patients who get an injection that inadvertently blocks a blood vessel can be left with dead sections of skin or even go blind if they don't get enough Hylenex in a matter of hours. The company says that it stocks Hylenex in every office that performs cosmetic procedures, and that it "has no records of any provider being denied an order for this medication."

Advanced Dermatology also started giving even more authority to PAs, according to doctors and staff. Without enough oversight some were missing deadly skin cancers, they say. Others were doing too many biopsies and cutting out much larger areas of skin than necessary, leaving patients with big scars. Doctors who complained about the bad behavior say they saw PAs moved to other locations rather than fired or given more supervision. Hunt, the company's lawyer, says that all PAs get six months of training and are supervised by experienced doctors.

The staff coined a new medical diagnosis, "pre- pre- pre-cancer"

Advanced Dermatology also put more pressure on doctors to send biopsies to in-house labs. The move made sense financially, but some of the doctors didn't trust the lab. One of its two pathologists in Delray Beach, Fla., Steven Glanz, had a history of misdiagnosing benign tumors, which led patients to undergo surgeries that were later found to be unnecessary, according to doctors who worked with him. Dermatologists who warned that Glanz was a danger to patients say that their complaints to Dr. Matt Leavitt, the group's founder and CEO, were ignored. More procedures, doctors knew, brought in more money.

Glanz, who had been with the practice since its early days, was known to read slides under a microscope with a pistol on his desk. After he was arrested with a handgun, a folding knife, and a vial of methamphetamine crystals, he was fired and Florida's state medical board fined him $10,000, requiring him to complete a five-hour course on ethics before he could resume practicing. But his former colleagues were unsettled; they knew Glanz's signature was on years of reports that determined treatment for patients. Some slides were reevaluated, and pathologists noticed mistakes. Managers told some doctors and their staff that patients, even those who'd been misdiagnosed and had unnecessary procedures, were not to be told. Glanz pleaded guilty to stalking and a firearms violation and was sentenced to probation. When a reporter called his office and identified herself, the receptionist hung up. Further attempts to reach Glanz were unsuccessful. Advanced's Hunt says that he was "formally released from employment three years ago," but did not comment further.

Of course, some doctors pushed ethical boundaries long before private equity came into the picture. But critics of the industry, including doctors and investors, say management teams put in place by private equity firms tend to look the other way as long as a medical practice is profitable. Of the dermatologists with the highest biopsy rates in the country (between 4 and 11 per patient, per year), almost 25% were affiliated with private equity-backed groups, according to Dr. Joseph Francis, a Mohs surgeon and data researcher at the University of Florida.

Medical providers may have also been blurring ethical lines at U.S. Dermatology Partners, which was until recently on its second private equity owner, Abry Partners LLC . At four of the company's offices in Texas, a doctor and his PAs were doing more biopsies than necessary, according to employees. These employees say the staff routinely called patients with benign lichenoid keratosis, small brownish blotches that usually go away on their own, and told them the growths should be removed. Under instruction from the doctor, the staff coined a new medical diagnosis, "pre- pre- pre-cancer," and then talked patients into coming in for removal, employees say. Singh, the U.S. Dermatology CEO, says that the company trusts doctors to make the right decisions and that it monitors them through routine audits.

Step 5: Sell-Off

In some cases the cost-cutting either becomes impossible or leads to compromises in care too obvious to ignore. In 2016 a DermOne LLC office in Irving, Texas, had been using a faulty autoclave machine to sterilize surgical equipment -- the state and county health departments identified 137 patients that needed to get tested for blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis. By 2018, DermOne's backer, Westwind Investors, wanted out.

Westwind had been one of the earliest firms to build a big dermatology business -- with practices in five states -- but others had grown larger. After the debacle in Irving, the Nevada-based firm sold DermOne's medical records and patient lists, as well as some of its offices, to other groups. It dissolved the remaining offices, leaving some patients abruptly without care. Westwind did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Two other private equity-backed groups, TruDerm and Select Dermatology LLC, have also gone out of business in the past two years.

The surviving chains have been saddled with large piles of debt they're now struggling to repay. In January, U.S. Dermatology Partners defaulted on a $377 million loan, meaning the private equity backer, Abry Partners, had to hand over the keys to its lenders, Golub Capital , Carlyle Group , and Ares Management , which will now oversee a chain with almost 100 locations, receiving 1 million visits from patients a year. Abry did not respond to requests for comment .

For the medical groups that make it, the game plan is to eventually sell to the largest players, such as KKR , Blackstone Group , and Apollo Global Management . Pioneering investors, including Audax, are now buying practices in other fields -- a concerning development to critics who note that the areas that are currently attracting investment, such as urology, generally involve more invasive procedures. Should doctors performing vasectomies be thinking about the dollar-rate returns for KKR -- or any private investor?

"It's ultimately going to backfire," says Dr. Jane Grant-Kels, a veteran dermatologist and professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. "There's a limit to how much money you can make when you're sticking knives into human skin for profit."

One paradox of the Covid-19 pandemic has been that even as the virus has focused the entire country on health care, it's been a financial disaster for the industry. And so, while emergency room doctors and nurses care for the sick -- comforting those who would otherwise die alone, and in some cases dying themselves -- private equity-backed staffing companies and hospitals have been cutting pay for ER doctors. These hospitals, like the big medical practices, make a large portion of their money from elective procedures and have been forced into wrenching compromises.

For investors with capital, on the other hand, the economic fallout from the virus is a huge opportunity. Stay-at-home orders have left small practices more financially strained than they've ever been. That will likely accelerate sales to private equity firms, according to Marc Cabrera, an investment banker focused on health-care deals at Oppenheimer & Co. Independent doctors or groups that previously rebuffed offers from deep-pocketed backers "will reconsider their options," he says.

Many doctors may ultimately come to regret cashing out, but it's hard to get out once you're in. As part of an acquisition, the private equity groups typically require doctors to sign yearslong contracts, with noncompete clauses that prevent them from working in the surrounding area.

As governors throughout the nation ease restrictions on businesses, Advanced Dermatology is opening its most profitable offices first. The company received an undisclosed sum under the Cares Act, as part of the government relief package intended for health-care workers. Hunt, Advanced's chief compliance officer, told employees in an email earlier this month that the money would be used for protective gear, such as masks, and to replace "millions of dollars" in lost revenue.

The group had closed most of its offices since the stay-at-home orders were issued in March, cutting pay for doctors and furloughing staff. With cities and states beginning to consider reopening, doctors and PAs say they've been told they should be prepared for a full schedule. Hunt says the company is following the appropriate safety measures, but employees fear it will be nearly impossible to keep patients apart in waiting rooms. Opening in a reduced capacity, they understand, is not an option.

Read more: Private Equity Ate Finance, and Now It's Taking Over the World

[May 24, 2020] A lockdown in rgw USA seems to be justified on the basis of the fact that even if you are middle aged, the chances of hospitalization are still around 5 percent, and in the US going to the hospital for a several weeks can leave you bankrupt.

May 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

128 , says: Show Comment May 21, 2020 at 12:53 pm GMT

A lockdown in a lot of places seems to be justified on the basis of the fact that even if you are middle aged, the chances of hospitalization are still around 5 percent, and in the US going to the hospital for a week or weeks can leave you bankrupt.
A123 , says: Show Comment May 21, 2020 at 1:36 pm GMT
@AP The interesting & important thing to note is that fatalities are heavily tied to the related factors of pre-existing conditions and advanced age. For example:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/1107913/number-of-coronavirus-deaths-in-sweden-by-age-groups/

With CQ/AZ/ZN available everywhere, the bulk of the economy could reopen immediately with or without masks. Given that psychology is important, odds are mask wearing will make the restart more effective. However, masks provide partial protection at most.

PEACE

Bert , says: Show Comment May 21, 2020 at 5:34 pm GMT
@utu Epidemiology uses R0 for an initial reproductive rate when a pathogen first invades a naive host population. Re is the designation for later when immunity begins to exist and, for human beings in the current pandemic, host behavior changes.

https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/when-will-it-be-over-an-introduction-to-viral-reproduction-numbers-r0-and-re/

[May 24, 2020] US anti-china crusade started

May 24, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

After the Soviet collapse thirty years ago, that order expanded its jurisdiction. Proponents sought to subsume the old Eastern Bloc, including perhaps Russia itself, into the American sphere. And they wanted to do so firmly on Washington's terms. Even as the country began to deindustrialize and growth slowed, American leadership developed a taste for fresh crusades in the Middle East; exotic savagery, went the subtext, had to be brought finally to heel. China was a rising force, but its regime would inevitably crater or democratize. Besides, Beijing was a peaceful trading partner of the United States.

2008, 2016 and 2020 -- the financial crisis, Trump's election and now the Coronavirus and its reaction -- have been successive gut punches to this project, a hat trick which may seal its demise. Ask anyone attempting to board an international flight, or open a new factory in China, or get anything done at the United Nations: the world is de-globalizing at a speed almost as astonishing as it integrated. Post-Covid, U.S.-China confrontation is not a choice. It's a reality. The liberal international order is not lamentable. It's already dead.

This was the argument made by Bannon. It had other backers, of course, within both the academy and an emerging foreign policy counter-establishment loathe to repeat the mistakes of the past thirty years. But coming from the former top political advisor to the sitting president of the United States, it was provocative stuff. Bannon articulated a perspective which seemed to be on the tip of the foreign policy world's tongue. And it riled people up. The most fulsome rebuttal to the zeitgeist was perhaps The Jungle Grows Back , tellingly written by Robert Kagan, an Iraq War architect. The peripheral world was dangerous brush; the United States was the machete.

Trumpian nationalism has chugged along for nearly three years since -- stripped, some might say, of its Bannonite flair and intelligence. The most hysterical prophecies of what the president might do -- that he might withdraw from the geriatric North Atlantic Treaty Organization, for instance -- have not come to pass. Trump has howled and roared, true: but so far, his most disruptive foreign policy maneuver has been escalation against Iran.


MPC 3 days ago

It's very good to hear the right getting a little humility in them now and talking less empire, more multilateralism. Trump has been way too concerned with his MAGA personality cult to understand the value of humility.

The world's a big place. The reality is, America first will more and more mean working together with other nations for mutual benefit, and often their gain will indirectly be to our own also.

kouroi MPC 3 days ago
Working more and more, yes. This is why US is undercutting Germany's competitiveness, by blocking a cheap source of energy via NS2...

As Bush said, you are either with us or against us. Nothing has changed and nothing will change, but it will become uglier. If it were to desire multi-polarity, the US would tolerate not only states, like KSA, where the Royals own everything, but also states, like Iran, or Cuba, where the people (through the government/state) owns assets (land and productive facilities). But the US does not tolerate such type of multi-polarity, not open to US "investment" and ownership (bought with fiat money).

Cold War II started in 2007, with Putin. Popcorn & beer lads!

MPC kouroi 3 days ago
It does seem like there's a creeping idea, not just on dissident internet sites now like before, that the Russian rivalry is a luxury of the past. Even the liberals are going to have to reconcile with liberal hegemony not being workable and settle for something less. Owing to distance and mutual interest (common rivals Britain and Germany) Russia and America had a long history of friendship before the Cold war.

I sadly agree about the predatory nature of much of America does. I think it really is a reflection of partially, imperial arrogance, but even moreso a matter of who runs the country. Oligarchy is poorly checked in modern America. Maybe we can hope for a humbled oligarchy, at least.

DUNK Buhari2 2 days ago
Trump is indeed an empty suit and a demagogue, but he ran on a decent nationalist platform (probably thanks to Bannon, who is almost certainly a closeted gay. No joke... a deep-in-the-closet, self-hating gay. The navy can change a man, and he's a fraud in other ways: see Eric Striker's article "International Finance's Anti-China Crusade"). Trump does have an absurd ego, and he probably figured becoming president would impress Ivanka too.

Also, the Uyghurs are not totally innocent victims... Some of them are US-financed revolutionaries and some of them have committed terrorism: see Godfree Roberts at Unz Review: "China and the Uyghurs" (January 10, 2019) and Ajit Singh at The Grayzone: "Inside the World Uyghur Congress: The US-backed right-wing regime change network seeking the 'fall of China'" (March 5, 2020). Some of our pathetic propagandists make it seem like they're in concentration camps, but there is objective reporting that suggests it's more like job training programs and anti-jihad classes. Absurd lies have certainly been told about North Korea and many other countries, so be skeptical.

kirthigdon 3 days ago
Yeah, let's get that hate on for China - why they're as bad as Russia, Iran and Venezuela put together and there are so many more of them. Especially a lot are available right here in the US and have lots of restaurants that can be boycotted. Not that many Venezuelan restaurants around. Seriously, can Americans get over this childishness? When the US closes down its 800+ overseas bases and withdraws its fleet to its own shores instead of Iran's and China's, then maybe Americans will be entitled to complain about someone else's imperialism.
Collin Reid 3 days ago
Most of anti-China stuff Hawley, much like Trump, claims always feels empty populism for WWC voters.

1) It is reasonable to be against our Middle East endeavors and not be so anti-China.
2) I still don't understand how it is China fault for stealing manufacturing jobs when it is the US private sector that does it. (And Vietnam exist, etc.) So without Charles Koch and Tim Cook behind this trade stuff, it feels like empty populism.
3) The most obvious point on China to me is how little they do use military measures for their 'imperialism.'

One problem with all this populism emptiness, is there is a lot issues with China to work on:
1) This virus could have impact economies in Africa and South America a lot where the nations have to renegotiate their loans to China. I have no idea how this goes but there will be tensions here. Imperialism is tough in the long run.
2) There are nations banding together on China's reaction to the virus and it seems reasonable that US joining them would be more effective than Trump's taunting.
3) To prove Trump administration incompetence, I have no idea how he is not turning this crisis into more medical equipment and drugs manufacturing. (My guess is this both takes a lot of work and frankly a lot of manufacturing plants have risks of spreads so noone wants to invest.)

Feral Finster Collin Reid 3 days ago
Apparently it is now a form of aggression, imperialism, even, to work for lower wages than a comparable American worker.

I can understand some protectionist measures. But acting as if these measures were a response to an unprovoked attack is hyperventilating.

DUNK Collin Reid 2 days ago
Hawley is a "fake populist" according to Eric Striker's article "International Finance's Anti-China Crusade" and I just saw fake-patriot airhead Pete Hegseth claim China wants to destroy our civilization, on fake populist Tucker Carlson's show. It's well-established that Fox News and the GOP are still neocons and fake patriots... after all, the Trump administration is run by Jared Kushner, a protégé of Rupert Murdoch and Bibi Netanyahu.
dbjm 3 days ago
Hawley's speech on the Senate floor yesterday deserves much more criticism than it gets here. This article from Reason does a good job breaking down the speech and pointing out what's right AND wrong about it:

https://reason.com/2020/05/...

Collin Reid Kessler 2 days ago
What if there is reduced wars and civil wars n the world today than ever. (So say anytime before 1991?) I get all the Middle East & African Wars but look at the rest of the world. When in history have the major West Europe powers not had a major war in 75 years. After issues of post Cold War East Europe is probably more peaceful than ever. Look at South America. In the 1970s the Civil Wars raged in all those nations. Or the Pacific Rim? Japan, China, and other nations are fighting with Military right now.

This is certainly less than perfect but the number of people (per million) dieing in wars and civil wars are at historic lows.

kouroi Collin Reid 2 days ago
The fall of Soviet Union and weakening of Russia allowed US and Western Europe to attack Serbia in 1990s. A stronger Russia wouldn't have allowed that to happen (who's trying to get Crimea from Russia's control now?). But with US aggressiveness and bellicosity (including nuclear posture) at Russia's borders do not bode well.

But it is true, less important people are dying now...

chris chuba 3 days ago
Chinese imperialism? Uh ... other than shaking trees and drumming up fear can I get like one example of that.

Taiwan, part of China since the 1500's and they are have not issued any new threats since 1949.

Hong Kong - stolen from China and now reluctantly given back with lots of conditions. If they deserve the right of independence through referendum I'm all for it as long as we apply this standard uniformly including parts of Texas, San Diego, New Mexico, Arizona, any place that has a large foreign population will do.

DUNK chris chuba 2 days ago
Yeah, "Chinese imperialism" is complete nonsense, just like the claim that they definitely originated the coronavirus, caused Americans to be under house arrest, and caused a depression. In fact, the origin of the virus is far from clear, and it wasn't China who hyped up and exaggerated the danger and wrecked the economy. It was our superficial corporate media and government that did that (perhaps deliberately)... the same people who are desperately trying to deflect blame onto the CCP. The same people who have been mismanaging and ruining America for decades in order to enrich themselves.
Gregtown 3 days ago
Should we all start reading Chomsky books again?

"Neoliberal democracy. Instead of citizens, it produces consumers. Instead of communities, it produces shopping malls. The net result is an atomized society of disengaged individuals who feel demoralized and socially powerless."

Sidney Caesar Gregtown 3 days ago • edited
Most people would be well served to read Chomsky a first time.
However, it should be noted, Chomsky's critiques of neoliberalism aren't grounded in nationalism, xenophobia, and racism. So a lot of TAC readers (and especially writers) may be disappointed.
Gregtown Sidney Caesar 3 days ago
Ha...sadly true.

I just pulled On Anarchism off my bookshelf. Time to revisit my early 20's.

Tradcon 3 days ago
Hawley seems like the natural choice for the potential future of the GOP, that is a post-fusionist or post-liberal GOP. However the one thing that worries me is his foreign policy. He talks the talk, but I'm having trouble to see if he walks the walk. As Mills noted he didn't vote to end support for the genocidal war in Yemen, a war that serves purely the interests of Saudi Arabia and not our own. He has criticized David Petraeus before, but its important not to be fooled by just rhetoric. While accepting he'll be better than any Tom Cotton or (god forbid) Nikki Haley in 2024, his foreign policy needs to be examined more until then.
stevek9 3 days ago
Our response to the epidemic was 100% 'made in China'. The entire 'Western World' decided to copy Beijing. If that doesn't establish a new level of leadership for China, I don't know what would. I'm surprised this is not more widely recognized. You can run down the many parallels, including the pathetic photo-op attempt by the West to build those emergency hospitals (Nightingale in the UK, Javits Center, etc. all across the US), which were just to show 'hey we can build hospitals in a few weeks also' ... never mind they could never, and were never used for anything at all.
Kiyoshi01 3 days ago
At this point, Hawley is all talk. Further, much of his talking amounts to little more than expressing resentment. I agree that the US needs to follow a more nationalist pathway, which involved making itself less dependent on its chief geopolitical rival. But accomplishing this is going to require more than bashing China and asserting that cosmopolitan Americans are traitors. At this point, Hawley has no positive program to offer. Giving paid speeches that vilify coastal elites and China is not a political plan.

Further, I agree that we're probably moving away from the universalist order that's guided much of our thinking since the 1990s. But isolationism is not the answer. We need to begin building a multilateral order that takes full account of China's rise as a worthy rival. This means that we need to develop a series of smaller-scale agreements with strategic partners. The TPP is a good example of such an agreement. But where is the call to revive it?

Lastly, I find the article's reference to China's treatment of gays and lesbians to be curious. I'd first note that using the term "homosexual" in reference to people is generally viewed as an offensive slur. Further, China's treatment of gay people isn't so bad, and tends to be better than what Hawley's evangelical supporters would afford. Moreover, China is a multi-ethnic country. It's program in Xinjiang has more to do with maintaining political order than a desire to repress non-Han people.

MPC Kiyoshi01 2 days ago
The general chest puffing nature of the American right makes it hard for them to understand that America might need to work with other countries at a deep level, and not as vassals either.
DUNK MPC 2 days ago
It doesn't seem like they're able to understand anything, or learn anything.
Barry_II Kiyoshi01 11 hours ago
". We need to begin building a multilateral order that takes full account
of China's rise as a worthy rival. This means that we need to develop a
series of smaller-scale agreements with strategic partners. The TPP is a
good example of such an agreement. But where is the call to revive it?"

The thing is that the post-WWII liberal international order was good for things like that.
Trump and the GOP quite deliberately destroyed it. Before that, the US would have the trust of many other governments; now they don't trust the US - even if Biden is elected, the next Trump is on the way.

KevinS 3 days ago • edited
"We benefit if countries that share our opposition to Chinese imperialism -- countries like India and Japan, Vietnam, Australia and Taiwan -- are economically independent of China, and standing shoulder to shoulder with us,"

OK....then can someone explain why Hawley opposed the TPP, which was designed to accomplish just this. The TPP was supposed to create trading relationships between these countries and the United States in the context of an agreement that excluded China. In this instance people like Hawley were advancing China's position and interests (I suspect simply because it was a treaty negotiated under Obama, which apparently was enough to make it bad).

Kiyoshi01 KevinS 3 days ago
Probably because Hawley seems more interested in demagoguery than accomplishing anything productive. Never mind that 95% of the people who voted for him probably couldn't find Japan or Vietnam on a map.
kouroi KevinS 2 days ago
TPP was not geared against China as a blanket thing, as an entire exclusion of China. The perfidy of TPP was that it was against any economic interactions with State Owned Enterprises (didn't mention the origin, didn't have to). The ultimate goal wasn't to isolate China but to force privatization of said SOEs, preferably run from Wall Street.

Private property good and = Democracy; State property bad = Authoritarianism, dictatorship, etc. It is a fallacy here somewhere, cannot really put my finger on it...

calidus 3 days ago
Except this is all lies. On each chance to actually do something Hawley has sided with international corporations, as a good conservative will always do. Fixing globalism will never come form the right, this is all smoke and mirrors for the religious right, aka the rubes. And they are perpetual suckers and will keep buying into this crap as our nation is hollowed out and raided by the rich. And that, is TRUE conservatism.
TheSnark 3 days ago
"Now we must recognize that the economic system designed by Western policy makers at the end of the Cold War does not serve our purposes in this new era," proclaimed Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri. "And it does not meet our needs for this new day." He continued, perhaps too politely: "And we should admit that multiple of its founding premises were in error."

The "error" in the founding premises of the post-WWII economic system was that it assumed that the US would act in a responsible manner. Instead we have run huge budget deficits and borrowed the difference from foreigners, randomly invading other countries, undermined the institutions we set up, bullied smaller countries rather than working with them, and abused our control of the financial system.

No, that old economic system served our interests very well, as long as we respected the institutions we set up and kept our own house in order. We haven't been doing any of that for at least 20 years.

Kiyoshi01 Amicus Brevis 2 days ago
Let's bear in mind that the Republican leader of the Senate married into a wealthy Chinese family that makes its money from hauling Chinese exports to our shores and the shores of other developed nations.

This is all just hollow bravado meant to appeal to the right's nativist base.

Amicus Brevis Kiyoshi01 2 days ago • edited
I am not into the thinking that everyone whose politics I don't support is acting in bad faith. We are talking about the actions of literally millions of people. Accusing this or that person of acting in bad faith because of personal interest is just dirty politics dressed up as perceptiveness. I am not accusing any specific person of acting in bad faith, although some of the people who pushed opening up to China because more business in China would create a class of people who would eventually push for Democracy there, were indeed acting in bad faith. They wanted access to cheap labor with no rights.

Yet, no doubt many of them actually believed the propaganda, because it supposedly happened in South Korea, Taiwan and other places. And especially the ones who switched the line to "globalism" when it was clear that the supposed indigenous pressures for Democracy did not materialize also acted in bad faith. I only assume that some of were because once I understood the rationale of the CCCP it was clear to me that China was radically different, and there is no way that so many of those guys who are smarter and more knowledgeable about political systems than me, did not figure it out. But I am not going to behave as if it the Republicans alone who were pushing either of these two false messages.

phreethink 2 days ago
Criticizing China for "imperialism" is the height of hypocrisy on multiple levels. First, the United States has engaged in economic imperialism, sometimes enforced with military intervention, for a hundred years. Read Smedley Butler's "War is a Racket" if you doubt that. Second, this is the same guy who voted against our proxy war in Yemen. Third, one could very reasonably argue that China is simply applying the lessons it learned at the hands of Western imperialists since 1800s..

It's good that SOME Republicans are at least giving lip service to the idea of bringing back manufacturing in this country. But you have to thank Trump for that, not the GOP establishment. The offshoring of American manufacturing as part of "free trade" was strongly supported (if not led) by the GOP going back to the 1980s.

DUNK phreethink 2 days ago
And check out John Perkins's books ("Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", etc.) for up-to-date information. It's obviously true that criticizing China for "imperialism" is ridiculously hypocritical but people like Senator Hawley know they can get away with it because they understand how propaganda works on the dumbed-down masses.

They understand doublethink, repetition, appeal to patriotism, appeal to racism, appeal to fear, etc. People like Rupert Murdoch do this every day... poorly, but well enough to be effective on a lot of people.

Incidentally, the Republicans may talk about bringing manufacturing back to the US but they're actually planning on shifting it to India (see Eric Striker's article "International Finance's Anti-China Crusade").

[May 23, 2020] Neoliberal ideology is often presented as a natural state. This deception is a central feature of neoliberalism, acting as a way of abdicating responsibility for harmful and selfish actions of financial oligarchy, and to prevent challenges to the financial oligarchy rule and debt slavery

May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

hartebeest , 10 Apr 2019 18:42

Back in the Thatcher/Reagan years there were at people around who genuinely believed in the superiority of the market, or at least, made the effort to set out an intellectual case for it.

Now we're in a different era. After 2008, hardly anyone really believes in neoliberal ideas anymore, not to the point that they'd openly make the case for them anyway. But while different visions have appeared to some extent on both left and right, most of those in positions of power and influence have so internalised Thatcher's 'there is no alternative' that it's beyond their political horizons to treat any alternatives which do emerge as serious propositions, let alone come up with their own.

So neoliberalism stumbles on almost as a reflex action. Ben Fine calls it a 'zombie' but I think the better analogy is cannibalism. Unlike the privatisations of the 80s and 90s there's barely any pretence these days that new sell-offs are anything more than simply part of a quest to find new avenues for profit-making in an economy with tons of liquid capital but not enough places to profitability put it. Because structurally speaking most of the economy is tapped out.

Privatising public services at this point is just a way to asset strip and/or funnel public revenue streams to a private sector which has been stuck in neoliberal short-term, low skill, low productivity, low wage, high debt mode for so long that it has lost the ability to grow. So now it is eating itself, or at least eating the structures which hold it up and allow it to survive.

Apomorph -> GeorgeMonbiot , 10 Apr 2019 18:19
Right-wing ideology is often presented as a natural state and not ideological at all. This denial is a central feature, acting as a way of abdicating responsibility for harmful and selfish actions and providing means of fostering intellectual suspicion to prevent challenges or structured and coherent critiques like your own. The right engenders coalitions of people disinterested in politics and distrustful of politicians with those who feel intellectually superior but see politics as an amoral game in the pursuit of "enlightened" self-interest.

As a result, everything about it is disingenous. There is no alternative (that we want you to choose). It's not racist to (constantly, always negatively and to the expense of everything else) talk about immigration. Cutting taxes for the rich reduces inequality (because we change the criteria to exclude the richest from the calculations). This is also because there are dualities at play. Neoliberalism relies on immigration to increase worker competition and suppress wage demand but courts the xenophobic vote (which is why even with reduced EU migration Brexit has so far increased overall immigration and would continue to do so in the event of no deal or May's deal). Both Remainers and Leavers have accused the other of being a neoliberal project, and in certain aspects -because of these dualities - both sides are correct.

I also believe the disdain for "political correctness" is somewhat a result of neoliberalism, since marketisation is so fundamental to the project and the wedge of the market is advertising, the language of bullshit and manipulation. People railing against political correctness feel judged for their automatic thoughts that they identify as natural instead of culturally determined. Behavioural advertising encourages these thoughts and suppresses consideration. It is a recipe for resentment.

[May 23, 2020] Who are serfs

Money quote: ""Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd." -- that's definition of a serf -- a neoliberal serf
I feel a lot of people just use the term neoliberalism as a term of a specific abuse of labor via debt slavery. .
May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

TenTribesofTexas , 11 Apr 2019 01:15

2 simple points that epitomize neo liberalism.

1. Hayek's book 'The Road to Serfdom' uses an erroneous metaphor. He argues that if we allow gov regulation, services and spending to continue then we will end up serfs. However, serfs are basically the indentured or slave labourers of private citizens and landowners not of the state. Only in a system of private capital can there be serfs. Neo liberalism creates serfs not a public system.

2. According to Hayek all regulation on business should be eliminated and only labour should be regulated to make it cheap and contain it so that private investors can have their returns guaranteed. Hence the purpose of the state is to pass laws to suppress workers.

These two things illustrate neo-liberalism. Deception and repression of labour.

marshwren , 10 Apr 2019 22:29
As a matter of semantics, neo-liberalism delivered on the promise of freedom...for capitalists to be free of ethical accountability, social responsibility, and government regulation and taxes. And people can't understand why i'm a socialist.

[May 23, 2020] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

Highly recommended!
From comments: " neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation."
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
Notable quotes:
"... By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced. ..."
"... Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence. ..."
"... Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control. ..."
"... Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself. ..."
"... The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. ..."
"... Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt. ..."
"... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.theguardian.com

Thousands of people march through London to protest against underfunding and privatisation of the NHS. Photograph: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Images M y life was saved last year by the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, through a skilful procedure to remove a cancer from my body . Now I will need another operation, to remove my jaw from the floor. I've just learned what was happening at the hospital while I was being treated. On the surface, it ran smoothly. Underneath, unknown to me, was fury and tumult. Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning . They complained that the scanners the private company was offering were less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week , NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.

The dominant system of political thought in this country, which produced both the creeping privatisation of public health services and this astonishing attempt to stifle free speech, promised to save us from dehumanising bureaucracy. By rolling back the state, neoliberalism was supposed to have allowed autonomy and creativity to flourish. Instead, it has delivered a semi-privatised authoritarianism more oppressive than the system it replaced.

Workers find themselves enmeshed in a Kafkaesque bureaucracy , centrally controlled and micromanaged. Organisations that depend on a cooperative ethic – such as schools and hospitals – are stripped down, hectored and forced to conform to suffocating diktats. The introduction of private capital into public services – that would herald a glorious new age of choice and openness – is brutally enforced. The doctrine promises diversity and freedom but demands conformity and silence.

Much of the theory behind these transformations arises from the work of Ludwig von Mises. In his book Bureaucracy , published in 1944, he argued that there could be no accommodation between capitalism and socialism. The creation of the National Health Service in the UK, the New Deal in the US and other experiments in social democracy would lead inexorably to the bureaucratic totalitarianism of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany.

He recognised that some state bureaucracy was inevitable; there were certain functions that could not be discharged without it. But unless the role of the state is minimised – confined to defence, security, taxation, customs and not much else – workers would be reduced to cogs "in a vast bureaucratic machine", deprived of initiative and free will.

By contrast, those who labour within an "unhampered capitalist system" are "free men", whose liberty is guaranteed by "an economic democracy in which every penny gives a right to vote". He forgot to add that some people, in his capitalist utopia, have more votes than others. And those votes become a source of power.

His ideas, alongside the writings of Friedrich Hayek , Milton Friedman and other neoliberal thinkers, have been applied in this country by Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Theresa May and, to an alarming extent, Tony Blair. All of those have attempted to privatise or marketise public services in the name of freedom and efficiency, but they keep hitting the same snag: democracy. People want essential services to remain public, and they are right to do so.

If you hand public services to private companies, either you create a private monopoly, which can use its dominance to extract wealth and shape the system to serve its own needs – or you introduce competition, creating an incoherent, fragmented service characterised by the institutional failure you can see every day on our railways. We're not idiots, even if we are treated as such. We know what the profit motive does to public services.

So successive governments decided that if they could not privatise our core services outright, they would subject them to "market discipline". Von Mises repeatedly warned against this approach. "No reform could transform a public office into a sort of private enterprise," he cautioned. The value of public administration "cannot be expressed in terms of money". "Government efficiency and industrial efficiency are entirely different things."

"Intellectual work cannot be measured and valued by mechanical devices." "You cannot 'measure' a doctor according to the time he employs in examining one case." They ignored his warnings.

Their problem is that neoliberal theology, as well as seeking to roll back the state, insists that collective bargaining and other forms of worker power be eliminated (in the name of freedom, of course). So the marketisation and semi-privatisation of public services became not so much a means of pursuing efficiency as an instrument of control.

Public-service workers are now subjected to a panoptical regime of monitoring and assessment, using the benchmarks von Mises rightly warned were inapplicable and absurd. The bureaucratic quantification of public administration goes far beyond an attempt at discerning efficacy. It has become an end in itself.

Its perversities afflict all public services. Schools teach to the test , depriving children of a rounded and useful education. Hospitals manipulate waiting times, shuffling patients from one list to another. Police forces ignore some crimes, reclassify others, and persuade suspects to admit to extra offences to improve their statistics . Universities urge their researchers to write quick and superficial papers , instead of deep monographs, to maximise their scores under the research excellence framework.

As a result, public services become highly inefficient for an obvious reason: the destruction of staff morale. Skilled people, including surgeons whose training costs hundreds of thousands of pounds, resign or retire early because of the stress and misery the system causes. The leakage of talent is a far greater waste than any inefficiencies this quantomania claims to address.

New extremes in the surveillance and control of workers are not, of course, confined to the public sector. Amazon has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements and detect the slightest deviation from protocol. Technologies are used to monitor peoples' keystrokes, language, moods and tone of voice. Some companies have begun to experiment with the micro-chipping of their staff . As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han points out , neoliberal work practices, epitomised by the gig economy, that reclassifies workers as independent contractors, internalise exploitation. "Everyone is a self-exploiting worker in their own enterprise."

The freedom we were promised turns out to be freedom for capital , gained at the expense of human liberty. The system neoliberalism has created is a bureaucracy that tends towards absolutism, produced in the public services by managers mimicking corporate executives, imposing inappropriate and self-defeating efficiency measures, and in the private sector by subjection to faceless technologies that can brook no argument or complaint.

Attempts to resist are met by ever more extreme methods, such as the threatened lawsuit at the Churchill Hospital. Such instruments of control crush autonomy and creativity. It is true that the Soviet bureaucracy von Mises rightly denounced reduced its workers to subjugated drones. But the system his disciples have created is heading the same way.

George Monbiot is a Guardian columnist


Pinkie123 , 12 Apr 2019 03:23

The other point to be made is that the return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism. If 'free markets' of enterprising individuals have been tested to destruction, then capitalism is unable to articulate an ideology with which to legitimise itself.

Therefore, neoliberal hegemony can only be perpetuated with authoritarian, nationalist ideologies and an order of market feudalism. In other words, neoliberalism's authoritarian orientations, previously effaced beneath discourses of egalitarian free-enterprise, become overt.

The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. Individual entrepreneurs collectivise into a 'people' serving a market which has become synonymous with nationhood.

A corporate state emerges, free of the regulatory fetters of democracy. The final restriction on the market - democracy itself - is removed. There then is no separate market and state, just a totalitarian market state.

glisson , 12 Apr 2019 00:10
This is the best piece of writing on neoliberalism I have ever seen. Look, 'what is in general good and probably most importantly what is in the future good'. Why are we collectively not viewing everything that way? Surely those thoughts should drive us all?
economicalternative -> Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 21:33
Pinkie123: So good to read your understandings of neoliberalism. The political project is the imposition of the all seeing all knowing 'market' on all aspects of human life. This version of the market is an 'information processor'. Speaking of the different idea of the laissez-faire version of market/non market areas and the function of the night watchman state are you aware there are different neoliberalisms? The EU for example runs on the version called 'ordoliberalism'. I understand that this still sees some areas of society as separate from 'the market'?
economicalternative -> ADamnSmith2016 , 11 Apr 2019 21:01
ADamnSmith: Philip Mirowski has discussed this 'under the radar' aspect of neoliberalism. How to impose 'the market' on human affairs - best not to be to explicit about what you are doing. Only recently has some knowledge about the actual neoliberal project been appearing. Most people think of neoliberalism as 'making the rich richer' - just a ramped up version of capitalism. That's how the left has thought of it and they have been ineffective in stopping its implementation.
economicalternative , 11 Apr 2019 20:42
Finally. A writer who can talk about neoliberalism as NOT being a retro version of classical laissez faire liberalism. It is about imposing "The Market" as the sole arbiter of Truth on us all.
Only the 'Market' knows what is true in life - no need for 'democracy' or 'education'. Neoliberals believe - unlike classical liberals with their view of people as rational individuals acting in their own self-interest - people are inherently 'unreliable', stupid. Only entrepreneurs - those close to the market - can know 'the truth' about anything. To succeed we all need to take our cues in life from what the market tells us. Neoliberalism is not about a 'small state'. The state is repurposed to impose the 'all knowing' market on everyone and everything. That is neoliberalism's political project. It is ultimately not about 'economics'.
Pinkie123 , 11 Apr 2019 13:27
The left have been entirely wrong to believe that neoliberalism is a mobilisation of anarchic, 'free' markets. It never was so. Only a few more acute thinkers on the left (Jacques Ranciere, Foucault, Deleuze and, more recently, Mark Fisher, Wendy Brown, Will Davies and David Graeber) have understood neoliberalism to be a techno-economic order of control, requiring a state apparatus to enforce wholly artificial directives. Also, the work of recent critics of data markets such as Shoshana Zuboff has shown capitalism to be evolving into a totalitarian system of control through cybernetic data aggregation.


Only in theory is neoliberalism a form of laissez-faire. Neoliberalism is not a case of the state saying, as it were: 'OK everyone, we'll impose some very broad legal parameters, so we'll make sure the police will turn up if someone breaks into your house; but otherwise we'll hang back and let you do what you want'. Hayek is perfectly clear that a strong state is required to force people to act according to market logic. If left to their own devices, they might collectivise, think up dangerous utopian ideologies, and the next thing you know there would be socialism. This the paradox of neoliberalism as an intellectual critique of government: a socialist state can only be prohibited with an equally strong state. That is, neoliberals are not opposed to a state as such, but to a specifically centrally-planned state based on principles of social justice - a state which, to Hayek's mind, could only end in t totalitarianism. Because concepts of social justice are expressed in language, neoliberals are suspicious of linguistic concepts, regarding them as politically dangerous. Their preference has always been for numbers. Hence, market bureaucracy aims for the quantification of all values - translating the entirety of social reality into metrics, data, objectively measurable price signals. Numbers are safe. The laws of numbers never change. Numbers do not lead to revolutions. Hence, all the audit, performance review and tick-boxing that has been enforced into public institutions serves to render them forever subservient to numerical (market) logic. However, because social institutions are not measurable, attempts to make them so become increasingly mystical and absurd. Administrators manage data that has no relation to reality. Quantitatively unmeasurable things - like happiness or success - are measured, with absurd results.

It should be understood (and I speak above all as a critic of neoliberalism) that neoliberal ideology is not merely a system of class power, but an entire metaphysic, a way of understanding the world that has an emotional hold over people. For any ideology to universalize itself, it must be based on some very powerful ideas. Hayek and Von Mises were Jewish fugitives of Nazism, living through the worst horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism. There are passages of Hayek's that describe a world operating according to the rules of a benign abstract system that make it sound rather lovely. To understand neoliberalism, we must see that it has an appeal.

However, there is no perfect order of price signals. People do not simply act according to economic self-interest. Therefore, neoliberalism is a utopian political project like any other, requiring the brute power of the state to enforce ideological tenets. With tragic irony, the neoliberal order eventually becomes not dissimilar to the totalitarian regimes that Hayek railed against.

manolito22 -> MrJoe , 11 Apr 2019 08:14
Nationalised rail in the UK was under-funded and 'set up to fail' in its latter phase to make privatisation seem like an attractive prospect. I have travelled by train under both nationalisation and privatisation and the latter has been an unmitigated disaster in my experience. Under privatisation, public services are run for the benefit of shareholders and CEO's, rather than customers and citizens and under the opaque shroud of undemocratic 'commercial confidentiality'.
Galluses , 11 Apr 2019 07:26
What has been very noticeable about the development of bureaucracy in the public and private spheres over the last 40 years (since Thatcher govt of 79) has been the way systems are designed now to place responsibility and culpability on the workers delivering the services - Teachers, Nurses, social workers, etc. While those making the policies, passing the laws, overseeing the regulations- viz. the people 'at the top', now no longer take the rap when something goes wrong- they may be the Captain of their particular ship, but the responsibility now rests with the man sweeping the decks. Instead they are covered by tying up in knots those teachers etc. having to fill in endless check lists and reports, which have as much use as clicking 'yes' one has understood those long legal terms provided by software companies.... yet are legally binding. So how the hell do we get out of this mess? By us as individuals uniting through unions or whatever and saying NO. No to your dumb educational directives, No to your cruel welfare policies, No to your stupid NHS mismanagement.... there would be a lot of No's but eventually we could say collectively 'Yes I did the right thing'.
fairshares -> rjb04tony , 11 Apr 2019 07:17
'The left wing dialogue about neoliberalism used to be that it was the Wild West and that anything goes. Now apparently it's a machine of mass control.'

It is the Wild West and anything goes for the corporate entities, and a machine of control of the masses. Hence the wish of neoliberals to remove legislation that protects workers and consumers.

[May 23, 2020] Coronavirus had shown Brwzhnev socialism and the US neoliberalism ere never as far apart as people imagined

Highly recommended!
May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

Comment edited for clarity

Bolsheviks put ideology above and before the people needs; Neoliberals put capital above people. Neoliberals are the next-worst thing after Boslheviks (although nobody can match Bolsheviks as for excesses including Stalin terror) . That's why bothe now in the USA and in the USSR before the dissolution we have a lot of "death of despare" That said, why would anybody trust neolibral pols ?

twiglette , 11 Apr 2019 05:13

Coronavirus had shown Brezhnev socialism and the US neoliberalism were never as far apart as people imagined. Two sides of a coin. A theological dispute.

[May 23, 2020] Academies are unaccountable bureaucracies with very expensive layers of management while teachers are badly paid and are being laid off

Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile - as Public Services are devalued and denuded in this system the private sector becomes increasingly wealthy at the top while its workers become poorer and less powerful at the bottom ..."
"... Education is a prime example of where neoliberalism has had a negative effect. ..."
May 23, 2020 | discussion.theguardian.com

Luxgeoff , 11 Apr 2019 12:42

It's the same in education. Academies are unaccountable bureaucracies with very expensive layers of management while teachers are being laid off in some of the most deprived areas of the country, exemplified by this story from Sheffield

https://www.thestar.co.uk/news/latest/strike-at-sheffield-school-over-plans-to-make-15-teachers-redundant-1-9653749

JohnS58 , 11 Apr 2019 06:15
Only the greedy, selfish, well off, egotistical and share holders believe that Public Services should, could and would benefit from privatisation and deregulation.

Education and Health for example are (in theory) a universal right in the UK. As numbers in the population rise and demographics change so do costs ie delivery of the service becomes more expensive.As market force logic is introduced it also becomes less responsive - hence people not able to get the right drugs and treatment and challenging and challenged young people being denied an education that is vital for them in increasing numbers.

Meanwhile - as Public Services are devalued and denuded in this system the private sector becomes increasingly wealthy at the top while its workers become poorer and less powerful at the bottom.

With the introduction of Tory austerity which punishes the latter to the benefit of the former there is no surprise that this system does not work and has provided a platform for the unscrupulous greedy and corrupt to exploit Brexit and produce conditions which will take 'Neiliberalism' to where logic suggests it would always go - with the powerful rich protected minority exerting their power over an increasingly poor and powerless majority.

Olympia1881 -> Centrecourt , 11 Apr 2019 05:46
Education is a prime example of where neoliberalism has had a negative effect. It worked well when labour was pumping billions into it and they invested in early intervention schemes such as sure start and nursery expansion. Unfortunately under the tories we have had those progressive policies scaled right back. Children with SEND and/or in care are commodities bought and sold by local authorities. I've been working in a PRU which is a private company and it does good things, but I can't help but think if that was in the public sector that it would be in a purpose built building rather than some scruffy office with no playground. The facilities aren't what you would expect in this day in age. If we had a proper functioning government with a plan then what happens with vulnerable children would be properly organised rather than a reactive shit show.

[May 23, 2020] Underscoring 'Grotesque Nature of Unequal Sacrifice,' Richest Americans Have Added $434 Billion in Wealth Since Pandemic Hit

May 23, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

America's billionaires saw their combined net worth soar by $434 billion between March 18 and May 19 while the coronavirus pandemic killed tens of thousands of people and ravaged the U.S. economy, forcing more than 30 million out of work.

That's according to a new analysis released Thursday by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) titled " Tale of Two Crises: Billionaires Gain as Workers Feel Pandemic Pain ."

The report shows that the five wealthiest billionaires in the U.S. -- Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Bill Gates of Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, and Larry Ellison of Oracle -- saw their collective wealth grow by a total of $75.5 billion between March 18 and May 19, a 19% jump.

Bezos -- the world's richest man -- saw his wealth jump by nearly $35 billion in the two-month period. Yet even as Bezos' fortune continues to grow, Amazon announced last week that it will not extend $2-an-hour hazard pay for warehouse workers beyond the end of May.

[May 23, 2020] China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3

Highly recommended!
May 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , May 22 2020 21:02 utc | 28

China is still in great danger. Of the existing 30 or so high-tech productive chains, China only enjoys superiority at 2 or 3 (see 6:48).

It is still greatly dependent on the West to development and still is a developing country.

So, yes, the West still has a realistic chance of destroying China and inaugurating a new cycle of capitalist prosperity.

What happens with the "decoupling"/"Pivot to Asia" is that, in the West, there's a scatological theory [go to 10th paragraph] - of Keynesian origin - that socialism can only play "catch up" with capitalism, but never surpass it when a "toyotist phase" of technological innovation comes (this is obviously based on the USSR's case). This theory states that, if there's innovation in socialism, it is residual and by accident, and that only in capitalism is significant technological advancement possible. From this, they posit that, if China is blocked out of Western IP, it will soon "go back to its place" - which is probably to Brazil or India level.

If China will be able to get out of the "Toyotist Trap" that destroyed the USSR, only time will tell. Regardless, decoupling is clearly not working, and China is not showing any signs so far of slowing down. Hence Trump is now embracing a more direct approach.

As for the USA, I've put my big picture opinion about it some days ago, so I won't repeat myself. Here, it suffices to say that, yes, I believe the USA can continue to survive as an empire - even if, worst case scenario, in a "byzantine" form. To its favor, it has: 1) the third largest world population 2) huge territory, with excellent proportion of high-quality arable land (35%), that basically guarantees food security indefinitely (for comparison, the USSR only had 10% of arable land, and of worse quality) 3) two coasts, to the two main Oceans (Pacific and Atlantic), plus a direct exit to the Arctic (Alaska and, de facto, Greenland and Canada) 4) excellent, very defensive territory, protected by both oceans (sea-to-sea), bordered only by two very feeble neighbors (Mexico and Canada) that can be easily absorbed if the situation asks to 4) still the financial superpower 5) still a robust "real" economy - specially if compared to the micro-nations of Western Europe and East-Asia 6) a big fucking Navy, which gives it thalassocratic power.

I don't see the USA losing its territorial integrity anytime soon. There are separatist movements in places like Texas and, more recently, the Western Coast. Most of them exist only for fiscal reasons and are not taken seriously by anyone else. The Star-and-Stripes is still a very strong ideal to the average American, and nobody takes the idea of territory loss for real. If that happens, though, it would change my equation on the survival of the American Empire completely.

As for Hong Kong. I watched a video by the chief of the PLA last year (unfortunately, I watched it on Twitter and don't have the link with me anymore). He was very clear: Hong Kong does not present an existential threat to China. The greatest existential threat to China are, by far, Xinjiang and Tibet, followed by Taiwan and the South China Sea. Hong Kong is a distant fourth place.

Those liberal clowns were never close.

[May 22, 2020] Battle Covid-19, Not Medicare for All: Doctors Demand Hospital Industry Stop Funding Dark Money Lobby Group

May 22, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

A progressive organization of 23,000 physicians from across the U.S. demanded Thursday that the American Hospital Association (AHA) divest completely from a dark-money lobbying group that has spent millions combating Medicare for All and instead devote those financial resources to the fight against Covid-19 and to better support for patients and healthcare workers.

Dr. Adam Gaffney, president of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), said in a statement that "the Covid-19 pandemic has stretched hospitals' resources to the limit, and the AHA should not waste precious member hospitals' funds lobbying against universal health coverage" as a member of the Partnership for America's Health Care Future (PFAHCF).

Because Medicare for All would provide a lifeline to hospitals in underserved areas that have been hit hard by Covid-19, Gaffney argued, the AHA "cannot claim to represent hospitals while also opposing a single-payer system that would keep struggling hospitals open." The AHA represents around 5,000 hospitals and other healthcare providers in the U.S.

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, public health officials are accusing the Trump administration of directing billions of dollars in Covid-19 hospital bailout funds to high-revenue providers while restricting money to hospitals that serve low-income areas.

Tenet Healthcare, an investor-owned hospital company that has donated hundreds of thousands to PFAHCF, has received $345 million in Covid-19 bailout funds, Axios reported last month.

"The AHA should immediately leave the PFAHCF," Gaffney said, "and redirect that money to supporting patients and frontline healthcare workers."

"As physicians, we can no longer tolerate a health system that puts profits ahead of patients and public health," Gaffney added. "It's time for health professionals to hold accountable the organizations that claim to represent us."

Formed in the summer of 2018 by an alliance of pharmaceutical, insurance, and hospital lobbyists with the goal of countering the push for universal healthcare, PFAHCF's anti-Medicare for All " army " has grown rapidly since its founding, with the AHA joining the fray in 2019.

As The Intercept reported last October, the for-profit hospital industry has played an "integral role" in the corporate fight against single-payer.

[May 22, 2020] It is easy for chickenhawks to scream war war war but when their lives or their kid's lives on the line of fire most will ran away to Canada or Mexico

May 22, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

milomilo , May 23 2020 0:24 utc | 44

@vk , hilarious post trying to potray modern day USN as fhe same one who fought japanese.. after WW2 all USN did was doing tag with soviets and today even their skill lost in the current situation.. The good ole US navy is gone, all that left is aging airframes and ships and confused doctrine that focused on clearing endless brush fires from restless natives..

USN are not able to fight peer enemy naval force, its man power are not sustainable in such fight , thus they will resort to military draft system again and pray tell how many foolish ignorant gung ho flag waving american would enlist ? it is easy for chickenhawks to scream war war war but when their lives or their kid's lives on the line of fire most will ran away to canada or mexico

[May 22, 2020] Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. His policy was to foster friendly relations on equal terms with all parts of the world, regardless of ideological differences. I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar. It is clearly a concept that horrifies the exceptionalists

Notable quotes:
"... Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest. ..."
May 22, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

Herman , May 17, 2020 at 09:00

Interesting comparison between the aspirations of De Gaulle and Putin.

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. His policy was to foster friendly relations on equal terms with all parts of the world, regardless of ideological differences. I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar. It is clearly a concept that horrifies the exceptionalists."

Agree with Johnstone.

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:55

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. "

Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest.

The exceptions to such strategies lay within constructs of settler colonialism which were addressed primarily through warfare – "The United States of America", Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Kenya, Rhodesia, Mozambique, Angola refer – to facilitate such future strategies.

"I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar."

As outlined elsewhere the concept of a multi-polar world is not synonymous with the concept of colonialism except for the colonialists who consistently seek to encourage such conflation through myths of we-are-all-in-this-togetherness.

[May 22, 2020] Dear Corporate America Take Your Job Shove It by Charles Hugh Smith

May 22, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Dear Corporate America: maybe you remember the old Johnny Paycheck tune? Let me refresh your memory: take this job and shove it.

Put yourself in the shoes of a single parent waiting tables in a working-class cafe with lousy tips, a worker stuck with high rent and a soul-deadening commute --one of the tens of millions of America's working poor who have seen their wages stagnate and their income becoming increasingly precarious / uncertain while the cost of living has soared.

Unemployment and the federal stimulus bonus of $600 a week are far more than your regular wages, including tips. Exactly why do you want to go back to your miserable job and low pay? Why wouldn't you take time off and enjoy life a little, which is what you've been wanting to do for years?

Indeed--why not? The pandemic is giving many permission to get what they always wanted. Consider these examples:

1. The Federal Reserve has always pined for the power to bail out the top .01% / the New Nobility the way they deserve, with unlimited money-printing and the Fed being able to buy every rigged, fraudulent asset spewed by the New Nobility's financial and corporate predators and parasites.

Yee-haw, the pandemic genie granted your wish: there's no limits on how many trillions you can shove into the greedy maw of the top .01%, and bail out every single one of their predatory, exploitive, legalized looting bets that went south.

2. Local officials always wanted to commandeer some motels and shove the homeless into them, to clear the sidewalks and parks and then claim "homeless problem solved." Presto, your wish has been granted.

3. Central government authorities have always resented all those pesky civil liberties restraints on their unquenchable desires to control every tiny aspect of life, public and private, and now--voila, the doors to Petty Authoritarian Heaven have opened. Question our authority? A tenner in the gulag for you, Doubter of All That Is Great and Good.

4. Restaurant owners who on camera always have to say how much they love their customers and business, never mind the money, who secretly have come to loathe their over-entitled, self-absorbed, dilettante customers and are sick and tired of the soaring rent, business licenses, insurance, payroll taxes and costs of ingredients.

You know what, pal? Here's the keys, you can re-open whatever the heck you want, I'm outta here. I've been secretly wishing I could get out from underneath this crushing burden and get my life back. Yes, it was exciting way back when, but now it's nothing but an endless grind that wasn't making money even before the pandemic.

5. Since the financiers, Big Tech mini-gods and stock buyback crowd have looted and pillaged their way to immense fortunes by lying, cheating, conniving and gaming, why not follow the money just like the predators and parasites at the top of the heap?

Indeed, why not fudge the application for a federal small business loan and use the "free money" to lease that shiny new Rolls Royce you always desired? Well, haven't the authorities been begging us to borrow and spend like there's no tomorrow?

6. Dear Corporate America: maybe you remember the old Johnny Paycheck tune? Let me refresh your memory: take this job and shove it, I ain't working here no more. If there's a will, there's a way, and I'm stepping off the rat race merry-go-round, thank you very much. You can find some other sucker to do your dirty work and BS work, all for the greater glory and wealth of your New Nobility shareholders. I'm outta here. So I won't get rich, that dream died a long time ago. What I'm interested in now is getting my life back.

The pandemic might not follow the Central Casting script of a V-shaped return to debt-serf, BS-work wonderfulness. Everyone who was sick and tired of their pre-pandemic life and the endless exploitation has had time to think things over, and some consequential percentage of them will welcome "good-bye to all that" and others will decide not to go back, even if that is still an option.

It's called opting out, and it has always characterized the end of imperial pretensions, pillaging, propaganda and predation. Financial parasites, beware the second-order effects of your overweening dominance and limitless greed.

My recent books:

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[May 22, 2020] With 36 Million Newly Out of Work, Trump Says He s Willing to Let Boosted Unemployment Benefits Expire

Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
May 22, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

President Donald Trump told Republican senators during a private lunch Tuesday that he is willing to let expanded unemployment benefits expire at the end of July, a decision that would massively slash the incomes of tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs due to the Covid-19 crisis.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the president "privately expressed opposition to extending a weekly $600 boost in unemployment insurance for laid-off workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to three officials familiar with his remarks."

House Democrats passed legislation last week that would extend the beefed-up unemployment benefits through January of 2021 as experts and government officials -- including Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell -- warn the U.S. unemployment rate could soon reach 25%. The unemployment insurance boost under the CARES Act is set to expire on July 31, even as many people have yet to receive their first check.

"With nearly 1 in 5 Americans out of work, Donald Trump's plan is to cut off the boost to unemployment benefits and shower his wealthy buddies with more tax cuts," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), one of the architects of the unemployment insurance expansion, told HuffPost . "This is the worst economic crisis in 100 years and Donald Trump is doubling down on Herbert Hoover's economic playbook and pushing workers to risk their health for his political benefit."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) -- who declared earlier this month that Congress will only extend the boosted unemployment insurance "over our dead bodies" -- said after the private lunch that Trump believes the benefits are "hurting the economic recovery." Graham was one of several Republican senators who opposed the initial expansion of unemployment benefits as too generous.

An analysis released last week by the Hamilton Project, an initiative of the Brookings Institution, found that expanded unemployment benefits offset "roughly half of lost wages and salaries in April." Unemployment insurance has "been essential to families, and is vital for keeping the economy from cratering further," the authors of the analysis noted.

Ernie Tedeschi, a former Treasury Department economist, estimated that "come July 31, if the emergency UI top-up isn't extended, unemployed workers will effectively get a pay cut of 50-75% overnight."

"It's increasingly looking like there won't be enough labor demand to hire them all back at that point," Tedeschi tweeted.

The latest Labor Department statistics showed that more than 36 million people in the U.S. have filed jobless claims since mid-March as mass layoffs continue in the absence of government action to keep workers on company payrolls. Despite the grim numbers, the Post 's Jeff Stein reported Tuesday that the White House is " predicting a swift economic recovery " as it resists additional efforts to provide relief to frontline workers and the unemployed.

On top of rejecting an extension of enhanced unemployment insurance, Trump last month publicly voiced opposition to another round of direct stimulus payments, instead advocating a cut to the tax that funds Social Security and Medicare.

[May 22, 2020] McDonald's Workers Strike Across US to Demand Better Protections From Covid-19

May 22, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

Demanding McDonald's prioritize public health and worker safety over profits, hundreds of employees at the fast food chain went on strike Wednesday, a day before the company was set to hold its annual shareholders' meeting.

Instead of distributing dividends to its shareholders, the striking employees are calling for the company to use its massive profits to pay for safety and financial protections for workers, scores of whom have contracted Covid-19 in at least 16 states so far.

Employees and strike organizers at the fair wage advocacy group Fight for $15 are demanding hazard pay during the pandemic of "$15X2," paid sick leave, sufficient protective gear for workers, and company-wide policy of closing a restaurant for two weeks when an employee becomes infected, with workers being fully paid.

The strike is taking place at stores in at least 20 cities. Fight for $15 and the SEIU, which is also supporting the action, say it's the first nationwide coordinated effort targeting the company since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.

[May 21, 2020] The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion of labour in which Western societies could prosper from the ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks

Notable quotes:
"... In France, confinement has been generally well accepted as necessary, but that does not mean people are content with the government -- on the contrary. Every evening at eight, people go to their windows to cheer for health workers and others doing essential tasks, but the applause is not for President Macron. ..."
"... What we have witnessed is the failure of what used to be one of the very best public health services in the world. It has been degraded by years of cost-cutting. In recent years, the number of hospital beds per capita has declined steadily. Many hospitals have been shut down and those that remain are drastically understaffed. Public hospital facilities have been reduced to a state of perpetual saturation, so that when a new epidemic comes along, on top of all the other usual illnesses, there is simply not the capacity to deal with it all at once. ..."
"... The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion that advanced Western societies could prosper from their superior brains, thanks to ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks. The government let a factory that produced masks and other surgical equipment be sold off and shut down. Having outsourced its textile industry, France had no immediate way to produce the masks it needed. ..."
"... In late March, French media reported that a large stock of masks ordered and paid for by the southeastern region of France was virtually hijacked on the tarmac of a Chinese airport by Americans, who tripled the price and had the cargo flown to the United States. There are also reports of Polish and Czech airport authorities intercepting Chinese or Russian shipments of masks intended for hard-hit Italy and keeping them for their own use. ..."
"... The Covid–19 crisis makes it just that much clearer that the European Union is no more than a complex economic arrangement, with neither the sentiment nor the popular leaders that hold together a nation. For a generation, schools, media, politicians have instilled the belief that the "nation" is an obsolete entity. But in a crisis, people find that they are in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Belgium -- but not in "Europe." The European Union is structured to care about trade, investment, competition, debt, economic growth. Public health is merely an economic indicator. For decades, the European Commission has put irresistible pressure on nations to reduce the costs of their public health facilities in order to open competition for contracts to the private sector -- which is international by nature. ..."
"... Scapegoating China may seem the way to try to hold the declining Western world together, even as Europeans' long-standing admiration for America turns to dismay. ..."
"... The countries that have suffered most from the epidemic are among the most indebted of the EU member states, starting with Italy. The economic damage from the lockdown obliges them to borrow further. As their debt increases, so do interest rates charged by commercial banks. They turned to the EU for help, for instance by issuing eurobonds that would share the debt at lower interest rates. This has increased tension between debtor countries in the south and creditor countries in the north, which said nein . Countries in the eurozone cannot borrow from the European Central Bank as the U.S. Treasury borrows from the Fed. And their own national central banks take orders from the ECB, which controls the euro. ..."
"... The great irony is that "a common currency" was conceived by its sponsors as the key to European unity. On the contrary, the euro has a polarizing effect -- with Greece at the bottom and Germany at the top. And Italy sinking. But Italy is much bigger than Greece and won't go quietly. ..."
"... A major paradox is that the left and the Yellow Vests call for economic and social policies that are impossible under EU rules, and yet many on the left shy away from even thinking of leaving the EU. For over a generation, the French left has made an imaginary "social Europe" the center of its utopian ambitions. ..."
"... Russia is a living part of European history and culture. Its exclusion is totally unnatural and artificial. Brzezinski [the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration's national security adviser] spelled it out in The Great Chessboard : The U.S. maintains world hegemony by keeping the Eurasian landmass divided. ..."
"... But this policy can be seen to be inherited from the British. It was Churchill who proclaimed -- in fact welcomed -- the Iron Curtain that kept continental Europe divided. In retrospect, the Cold War was basically part of the divide-and-rule strategy, since it persists with greater intensity than ever after its ostensible cause -- the Communist threat -- is long gone. ..."
"... The whole Ukrainian operation of 2014 [the U.S.–cultivated coup in Kyiv, February 2014] was lavishly financed and stimulated by the United States in order to create a new conflict with Russia. Joe Biden has been the Deep State's main front man in turning Ukraine into an American satellite, used as a battering ram to weaken Russia and destroy its natural trade and cultural relations with Western Europe. ..."
"... I think France is likelier than Germany to break with the U.S.–imposed Russophobia simply because, thanks to de Gaulle, France is not quite as thoroughly under U.S. occupation. Moreover, friendship with Russia is a traditional French balance against German domination -- which is currently being felt and resented. ..."
"... "Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic." ..."
"... Since WWII the US has itself been occupied by tyrants, using Russophobia to demand power as fake defenders. ..."
"... " French philosophy .By constantly attacking, deconstructing, and denouncing every remnant of human "power" they could spot, the intellectual rebels left the power of "the markets" unimpeded, and did nothing to stand in the way of the expansion of U.S. military power all around the world " ..."
"... From her groundbreaking work on the NATO empire's sickening war on sovereign Serbia, the dead end of identity politics and trans bathroom debates, to her critique of unfettered immigration and open borders, and her dismissal of the absurd Russsiagate baloney, better than anyone else, Johnstone has kept her intellect carefully honed to the real genuine kitchen table bread and butter issues that truly matter. She recognized before most of the world's scholars the perils of rampant inequality and saw the writing on the wall as to where this grotesque economic system is taking us all: down a dystopian slope into penury and police-state heavy-handedness, with millions unable to come up with $500 for an emergency car repair or dental bill. ..."
"... The mask competition and fiasco shows the importance of a country simply making things in their own country, not on the other side of the world, it's not nationalism it's just a better way to logistically deliver reliable products to the citizens. ..."
"... Some hold that they never departed, but mutated tools including CFA zones and "intelligence" relations in furtherance of "changing" to remain qualitatively the same. Just as "The United States of America" is a system of coercive relations not synonymous with the political geographical area designated "The United States of America", the colonialism of former and present "colonial powers" continues to exist, since the "independence" of the colonised was always, and continues to be, framed within linear systems of coercive relations, facilitated by the complicity of "local elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest, and the acquiescence of "local others" for myriad reasons. ..."
"... After reading Circle in the Darkness, I have ordered and am now reading her books on Hillary Clinton (Queen of Chaos) and the Yugoslav wars (Fool's Crusade), which are very worthwhile and important. I would recommend that her many articles over the years, appearing in such publications such as In These Times, Counterpunch and Consortium News, be reprinted and published together as an anthology. Through Circle in the Darkness, we have Diana Johnstone's "Life", but it would be good also to have her "Letters". ..."
"... Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest. ..."
May 21, 2020 | consortiumnews.com

In France, confinement has been generally well accepted as necessary, but that does not mean people are content with the government -- on the contrary. Every evening at eight, people go to their windows to cheer for health workers and others doing essential tasks, but the applause is not for President Macron.

Macron and his government are criticized for hesitating too long to confine the population, for vacillating about the need for masks and tests, or about when or how much to end the confinement. Their confusion and indecision at least defend them from the wild accusation of having staged the whole thing in order to lock up the population.

What we have witnessed is the failure of what used to be one of the very best public health services in the world. It has been degraded by years of cost-cutting. In recent years, the number of hospital beds per capita has declined steadily. Many hospitals have been shut down and those that remain are drastically understaffed. Public hospital facilities have been reduced to a state of perpetual saturation, so that when a new epidemic comes along, on top of all the other usual illnesses, there is simply not the capacity to deal with it all at once.

The neoliberal globalization myth fostered the delusion that advanced Western societies could prosper from their superior brains, thanks to ideas and computer startups, while the dirty work of actually making things is left to low-wage countries. One result: a drastic shortage of face masks. The government let a factory that produced masks and other surgical equipment be sold off and shut down. Having outsourced its textile industry, France had no immediate way to produce the masks it needed.

Meanwhile, in early April, Vietnam donated hundreds of thousands of antimicrobial face masks to European countries and is producing them by the million. Employing tests and selective isolation, Vietnam has fought off the epidemic with only a few hundred cases and no deaths.

You must have thoughts as to the question of Western unity in response to Covid–19.

In late March, French media reported that a large stock of masks ordered and paid for by the southeastern region of France was virtually hijacked on the tarmac of a Chinese airport by Americans, who tripled the price and had the cargo flown to the United States. There are also reports of Polish and Czech airport authorities intercepting Chinese or Russian shipments of masks intended for hard-hit Italy and keeping them for their own use.

The absence of European solidarity has been shockingly clear. Better-equipped Germany banned exports of masks to Italy. In the depth of its crisis, Italy found that the German and Dutch governments were mainly concerned with making sure Italy pays its debts. Meanwhile, a team of Chinese experts arrived in Rome to help Italy with its Covid–19 crisis, displaying a banner reading "We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden." The European institutions lack such humanistic poetry. Their founding value is not solidarity but the neoliberal principle of "free unimpeded competition."

How do you think this reflects on the European Union?

The Covid–19 crisis makes it just that much clearer that the European Union is no more than a complex economic arrangement, with neither the sentiment nor the popular leaders that hold together a nation. For a generation, schools, media, politicians have instilled the belief that the "nation" is an obsolete entity. But in a crisis, people find that they are in France, or Germany, or Italy, or Belgium -- but not in "Europe." The European Union is structured to care about trade, investment, competition, debt, economic growth. Public health is merely an economic indicator. For decades, the European Commission has put irresistible pressure on nations to reduce the costs of their public health facilities in order to open competition for contracts to the private sector -- which is international by nature.

Globalization has hastened the spread of the pandemic, but it has not strengthened internationalist solidarity. Initial gratitude for Chinese aid is being brutally opposed by European Atlanticists. In early May, Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Springer publishing giant, bluntly called on Germany to ally with the U.S. -- against China. Scapegoating China may seem the way to try to hold the declining Western world together, even as Europeans' long-standing admiration for America turns to dismay.

Meanwhile, relations between EU member states have never been worse. In Italy and to a greater extent in France, the coronavirus crisis has enforced growing disillusion with the European Union and an ill-defined desire to restore national sovereignty.

Corollary question: What are the prospects that Europe will produce leaders capable of seizing that right moment, that assertion of independence? What do you reckon such leaders would be like?

The EU is likely to be a central issue in the near future, but this issue can be exploited in very different ways, depending on which leaders get hold of it. The coronavirus crisis has intensified the centrifugal forces already undermining the European Union. The countries that have suffered most from the epidemic are among the most indebted of the EU member states, starting with Italy. The economic damage from the lockdown obliges them to borrow further. As their debt increases, so do interest rates charged by commercial banks. They turned to the EU for help, for instance by issuing eurobonds that would share the debt at lower interest rates. This has increased tension between debtor countries in the south and creditor countries in the north, which said nein . Countries in the eurozone cannot borrow from the European Central Bank as the U.S. Treasury borrows from the Fed. And their own national central banks take orders from the ECB, which controls the euro.

What does the crisis mean for the euro? I confess I've lost faith in this project, given how disadvantaged it leaves the nations on the Continent's southern rim.

The great irony is that "a common currency" was conceived by its sponsors as the key to European unity. On the contrary, the euro has a polarizing effect -- with Greece at the bottom and Germany at the top. And Italy sinking. But Italy is much bigger than Greece and won't go quietly.

The German constitutional court in Karlsruhe recently issued a long judgment making it clear who is boss. It recalled and insisted that Germany agreed to the euro only on the grounds that the main mission of the European Central Bank was to fight inflation, and that it could not directly finance member states. If these rules were not followed, the Bundesbank, the German central bank, would be obliged to pull out of the ECB. And since the Bundesbank is the ECB's main creditor, that is that. There can be no generous financial help to troubled governments within the eurozone. Period.

Is there a possibility of disintegration here?

The idea of leaving the EU is most developed in France. The Union Populaire Républicaine, founded in 2007 by former senior functionary François Asselineau, calls for France to leave the euro, the European Union, and NATO.

The party has been a didactic success, spreading its ideas and attracting around 20,000 active militants without scoring any electoral success. A main argument for leaving the EU is to escape from the constraints of EU competition rules in order to protect its vital industry, agriculture, and above all its public services.

A major paradox is that the left and the Yellow Vests call for economic and social policies that are impossible under EU rules, and yet many on the left shy away from even thinking of leaving the EU. For over a generation, the French left has made an imaginary "social Europe" the center of its utopian ambitions.

" Europe" as an idea or an ideal, you mean.

Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic.

Two and a half months of coronavirus crisis have brought to light a factor that makes any predictions about future leaders even more problematic. That factor is a widespread distrust and rejection of all established authority. This makes rational political programs extremely difficult, because rejection of one authority implies acceptance of another. For instance, the way to liberate public services and pharmaceuticals from the distortions of the profit motive is nationalization. If you distrust the power of one as much as the other, there is nowhere to go.

Such radical distrust can be explained by two main factors -- the inevitable feeling of helplessness in our technologically advanced world, combined with the deliberate and even transparent lies on the part of mainstream politicians and media. But it sets the stage for the emergence of manipulated saviors or opportunistic charlatans every bit as deceptive as the leaders we already have, or even more so. I hope these irrational tendencies are less pronounced in France than in some other countries.

I'm eager to talk about Russia. There are signs that relations with Russia are another source of European dissatisfaction as "junior partners" within the U.S.–led Atlantic alliance. Macron is outspoken on this point, "junior partners" being his phrase. The Germans -- business people, some senior officials in government -- are quite plainly restive.

Russia is a living part of European history and culture. Its exclusion is totally unnatural and artificial. Brzezinski [the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Carter administration's national security adviser] spelled it out in The Great Chessboard : The U.S. maintains world hegemony by keeping the Eurasian landmass divided.

But this policy can be seen to be inherited from the British. It was Churchill who proclaimed -- in fact welcomed -- the Iron Curtain that kept continental Europe divided. In retrospect, the Cold War was basically part of the divide-and-rule strategy, since it persists with greater intensity than ever after its ostensible cause -- the Communist threat -- is long gone.

I hadn't put our current circumstance in this context. US-backed, violent coup in Ukraine, 2014.

The whole Ukrainian operation of 2014 [the U.S.–cultivated coup in Kyiv, February 2014] was lavishly financed and stimulated by the United States in order to create a new conflict with Russia. Joe Biden has been the Deep State's main front man in turning Ukraine into an American satellite, used as a battering ram to weaken Russia and destroy its natural trade and cultural relations with Western Europe.

U.S. sanctions are particularly contrary to German business interests, and NATO's aggressive gestures put Germany on the front lines of an eventual war.

But Germany has been an occupied country -- militarily and politically -- for 75 years, and I suspect that many German political leaders (usually vetted by Washington) have learned to fit their projects into U.S. policies. I think that under the cover of Atlantic loyalty, there are some frustrated imperialists lurking in the German establishment, who think they can use Washington's Russophobia as an instrument to make a comeback as a world military power.

But I also think that the political debate in Germany is overwhelmingly hypocritical, with concrete aims veiled by fake issues such as human rights and, of course, devotion to Israel.

We should remember that the U.S. does not merely use its allies -- its allies, or rather their leaders, figure they are using the U.S. for some purposes of their own.

What about what the French have been saying since the G–7 session in Biarritz two years ago, that Europe should forge its own relations with Russia according to Europe's interests, not America's?

At G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, Aug. 26, 2019. (White House)

I think France is likelier than Germany to break with the U.S.–imposed Russophobia simply because, thanks to de Gaulle, France is not quite as thoroughly under U.S. occupation. Moreover, friendship with Russia is a traditional French balance against German domination -- which is currently being felt and resented.

Stepping back for a broader look, do you think Europe's position on the western flank of the Eurasian landmass will inevitably shape its position with regard not only to Russia but also China? To put this another way, is Europe destined to become an independent pole of power in the course of this century, standing between West and East?

At present, what we have standing between West and East is not Europe but Russia, and what matters is which way Russia leans. Including Russia, Europe might become an independent pole of power. The U.S. is currently doing everything to prevent this. But there is a school of strategic thought in Washington which considers this a mistake, because it pushes Russia into the arms of China. This school is in the ascendant with the campaign to denounce China as responsible for the pandemic. As mentioned, the Atlanticists in Europe are leaping into the anti–China propaganda battle. But they are not displaying any particular affection for Russia, which shows no sign of sacrificing its partnership with China for the unreliable Europeans.

If Russia were allowed to become a friendly bridge between China and Europe, the U.S. would be obliged to abandon its pretensions of world hegemony. But we are far from that peaceful prospect.

Patrick Lawrence, a correspondent abroad for many years, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune , is a columnist, essayist, author and lecturer. His most recent book is "Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century" (Yale). Follow him on Twitter @thefloutist . His web site is Patrick Lawrence . Support his work via his Patreon site .


Josep , May 19, 2020 at 02:04

It recalled and insisted that Germany agreed to the euro only on the grounds that the main mission of the European Central Bank was to fight inflation, and that it could not directly finance member states.

I once read a comment elsewhere saying that, back in 1989, both Britain (under Margaret Thatcher) and the US objected to German reunification. Since they could not stop the reunification, they insisted that Germany accept the incoming euro. A heap of German university professors jumped up and protested, knowing fully well what the game was: namely the creation of a banker's empire in Europe controlled by private bankers.

Thorben Sunkimat , May 20, 2020 at 13:45

France and Britain rejected the german reunification. The americans were supportive, even though they had their demands. Mainly privatisation of german public utilities. After agreeing to those demands the americans persuaded the british and pressured the french who agreed to german reunification after germany agreed to the euro.

So why did france want the euro?

The German central bank crashed the European economy after reunification with high interest rates. This was because of above average growth rates mainly in Eastern Germany. Main function of the Bundesbank is to keep inflation low, which is more important to them than anything else. Since Germany's D Mark was the leading currency in Europe the rest of Europe had to heighten their interest rates too, witch lead to great economic problems within Europe. Including France.

OlyaPola , May 21, 2020 at 05:30

"namely the creation of a banker's empire in Europe controlled by private bankers."

Resort to binaries (controlled/not controlled) is a practice of self-imposed blindness. In any interactive system no absolutes exist only analogues of varying assays since "control" is limited and variable. In respect of what became the German Empire this relationship predated and facilitated the German Empire through financing the war with Denmark in 1864 courtesy of the arrangements between Mr. von Bismark and Mr. Bleichroder. The assay of "control of bankers" has varied/increased subsequently but never attained the absolute.

It is true that finance capital perceived and continues to perceive the European Union as an opportunity to increase their assay of "control" – the Austrian banks in conjunction with German bank assigning a level of priority to resurrecting spheres of influence existing prior to 1918 and until 1945.

One of the joint projects at a level of planning in the early 1990's was development of the Danube and its hinterland from Regensburg to Cerna Voda/Constanta in Romania but this was delayed in the hope of curtailment by some when NATO bombed Serbia in 1999 (Serbia not being the only target – so much for honesty-amongst-theives.)

This project was resurrected in a limited form primarily downstream from Vidin/Calafat from 2015 onwards given that some states of the former Yugoslavia were not members of the European Union and some were within spheres of influence of "The United States of America".

As to France, "Vichy" and Europa also facilitated the resurrection of finance capital and increase in its assay of control after the 1930's, some of the practices of the 1940's still being subject to dispute in France.

mkb29 , May 18, 2020 at 16:33

I've always admired Diana Johnstone's clear headed analyses of world/European/U.S./ China/Israel-Palestine/Russia/ interactions and the motivation of its "players". She has given some credence to what as been known as French rationalism and enlightenment. (Albeit as an American expat) Think Descartes, Diderot, Sartre , and She loves France in her own rationalist-humanist way.

Linda J , May 18, 2020 at 13:21

I have admired Ms. Johnstone's work for quite awhile. This enlightening interview spurs me to get a copy of the book and to contribute to Consortium News.

Others may be interested in the two-part video discovered yesterday featuring Douglas Valentine's analysis of the CIA's corporate backers and their global choke-hold on governments and their influencers in every region of the world.

Part 1
see:youtu(dot)be/cP15Ehx1yvI

Part 2
see:youtu(dot)be/IYvvEn_N1sE

worldblee , May 18, 2020 at 12:26

Not many have the long distance perspective on the world, let alone Europe, that Diana Johnstone has. Great interview!

Drew Hunkins , May 18, 2020 at 11:03

"Decades of indoctrination in the ideology of "Europe" has instilled the belief that the nation-state is a bad thing of the past. The result is that people raised in the European Union faith tend to regard any suggestion of return to national sovereignty as a fatal step toward fascism. This fear of contagion from "the right" is an obstacle to clear analysis which weakens the left and favors the right, which dares be patriotic."

Bingo! A marvelous point indeed! Quick little example -- Bernard Sanders should have worn an American flag pin on his suit during the 2020 Dem primary campaign.

chris , May 18, 2020 at 04:46

A very good analysis. As an American who has relocated to Spain several years ago, I am always disappointed that discussions of European politics always assume that Europe ends at the Pyrenees. Admittedly, Spanish politics is very complicated and confusing. Forty years of an unreconstructed dictatorship have left their mark, but the country´s socialist, communist and anarchic currents never went away. I like to say that the country is very conservative, but at least the population is aware of what is going on.

Perhaps what Ms. Johnston says about the French being just worn out, with no stomach for more violent conflict also applies to the Spanish since their great ideological struggle is more recent. The American influence during the Transition (which changed little – as the expression goes: The same dog but with a different collar) was very strong, and remains so. Even so, there is popular support for foreign and domestic policies independent of American and neoliberal control, but by and large the political and economic powers are not on board. I do not think Spain is willing to make a break alone, but would align itself with an European shift away from American control.

As Ms. Johnston says, Europe currently lacks leaders willing to take the plunge, but we will see what the coming year brings.

Sam F , May 17, 2020 at 17:45

Thank you Diana, these are valuable insights. Since WWII the US has itself been occupied by tyrants, using Russophobia to demand power as fake defenders.

1. Waving the flag and praising the lord on mass media, claiming concern with human rights and "Israel"; while
2. Subverting the Constitution with large scale bribery, surveillance, and genocides, all business as usual nowadays.
In the US, the form of government has become bribery and marketing lies; it truly knows no other way.

It may be better that Russia and China keep their distance from the US and maybe even the EU:
1. The US and EU would have to produce what they consume, eventually empowering workers;
2. Neither the US nor EU are a political or economic model for anyone, and should be ignored;
3. Neither the US nor EU produces much that Russia and China cannot, by investing more in cars and soybeans.

It will be best for the EU if it also rejects the US and its "neolib" economic and political tyranny mechanisms:
1. Alliance with Russia and China will cause substantial gains in stability and economic strength;
2. Forcing the US to abandon its "pretensions of world hegemony" will soon yield more peaceful prospects; and
3. Isolating the US will force it to improve its utterly corrupt government and society, maybe 40 to 60 years hence.

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:40

" French philosophy .By constantly attacking, deconstructing, and denouncing every remnant of human "power" they could spot, the intellectual rebels left the power of "the markets" unimpeded, and did nothing to stand in the way of the expansion of U.S. military power all around the world "

Brilliant. Exactly right. This was the progenitor to our contemporary I.D. politics which seems to be solely obsessed with vocabulary, semantics and non-economic cultural issues while rarely having a critique of corporate capitalism, militarism, massive inequality and Zionism. And it almost never advocates for robust economic populist proposals like Med4All, U.B.I., debt jubilee, and the fight for $15.

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:10

The book is phenomenal. I posted a customer review over on Amazon for this stupendous work. Below is a copy of my review:

(5 stars) One of the most important intellects pens her magisterial lasting legacy
Reviewed in the United States on March 31, 2020

Johnstone's been an idol of mine ever since I started reading her in the 1990s. She's clearly proved her worthiness over the decades by bucking the mainstream trend of apologetics for corporate capitalism, neoliberalism, globalism and imperialistic militarism her entire career and this astonishing memoir details it all in what will likely be the finest book of 2020 and perhaps the entire decade.

Her writing style is beyond superb, her grasp of the overarching politico-socio-economic issues that have rocked the world over the past 60 years is as astute and spot-on as you will find from any global thinker. She's right up there with Michael Parenti, James Petras, John Pilger and Noam Chomsky as seminal figures who have documented and brought light to tens of thousands (millions?) of people across the globe via their writings, interviews and speaking engagements.

Johnstone has never been one to shy away from controversial topics and issues. Why? Simple, she has the facts and truth on her side, she always has. Circle in the Darkness proves all this and more, she marshals the documentation and lays it out as an exquisite gift for struggling working people around the world.

From her groundbreaking work on the NATO empire's sickening war on sovereign Serbia, the dead end of identity politics and trans bathroom debates, to her critique of unfettered immigration and open borders, and her dismissal of the absurd Russsiagate baloney, better than anyone else, Johnstone has kept her intellect carefully honed to the real genuine kitchen table bread and butter issues that truly matter. She recognized before most of the world's scholars the perils of rampant inequality and saw the writing on the wall as to where this grotesque economic system is taking us all: down a dystopian slope into penury and police-state heavy-handedness, with millions unable to come up with $500 for an emergency car repair or dental bill.

Whenever she comes out with a new article or essay I immediately drop everything and devour it, often reading it twice to let her wisdom really soak in. So too Circle of Darkness is an extremely well written beautiful work that will scream out to be re-read every few years by those with a hunger to know exactly what was going on since the Korean War era through today regarding liberal thought, neocon and neoliberal dominance with its capitalist global hegemony and the take over of Western governments by the parasitic financial elite.

There will never be another Diana Johnstone. Circle in the Darkness will stand as her lasting legacy to all of us.

Bob Van Noy , May 17, 2020 at 14:43

"As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it" ~Albert Einstein

Many Thanks CN, Patrick Lawrence, and Joe Lauria. Once again I must commend CN for picking just the appropriate response to our contemporary dilemma.

The quote above leads Diana Johnstone's new book and succinctly describes both the universe and our contemporary experience with our digital age. President Kennedy and Charles de Gaulle of France would agree that colonialism was past and that a new world (geopolitical) approach would become necessary, but that philosophy would put them against some great local and world powers. Each of them necessarily had different approaches as to how this might be accomplished. They were never allowed to present their specific proposals on a world stage. Let's hope a wiser population will once again "see" this possibility and find a way to resolve it

Aaron , May 17, 2020 at 14:18

Well over the span of all of those decades, the consistent, inexorable theme seems to be a trend of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, a small number of individuals, not really states, gaining wealth and power, so everybody else fights over the crumbs, blaming this or that party, alliance, event or whatever, but behind it all there are two flower gardens, indeed the rich are all flowers of their golden garden, and the poor are all flowers of their garden.

It's like the Europeans and the 99 percent in America have all fallen for the myth of the American dream, that if we are just allowed more free, unfettered economic opportunity, it's just up to us to pick ourselves up by the bootstraps and become a billionaire.

The mask competition and fiasco shows the importance of a country simply making things in their own country, not on the other side of the world, it's not nationalism it's just a better way to logistically deliver reliable products to the citizens.

AnneR , May 17, 2020 at 13:42

Regarding French colonialism – as I recall the French were especially brutal in their forced withdrawal from Algeria, both toward Algerians in their homeland and to Algerians within France itself.

And the French were hardly willing, non-violent colonialists when being fought by the Vietnamese who wanted to be free of them (quite rightly so).

As for the French in Sub-Saharan Africa – they have yet to truly give up on their presumed right to have troops within these countries. They did not depart any of their colonies happily, willingly – like every other colonial power, including the UK.

And, as for WWII – she seems, in her reminiscences, to have mislaid Vichy France, the Velodrome roundups of French Jews, and so on ..

Ms Johnstone clearly has been looking backwards with rose-tinted specs on when it comes to France.

Randal Marlin , May 18, 2020 at 13:00

There may be some truth to AnneR's claim that Ms Johnstone has been looking with rose-tinted specs when it comes to France, but it is highly misleading for her to talk about "the French" regarding Algeria. I spent 1963-64 in Aix-en-Provence teaching at the Institute for American Universities and talked with some of the "pieds-noirs," (French born in Algeria).

After French President Charles de Gaulle decided to relinquish French control over Algeria, having previously reassured the colonial population that "Je vous ai compris" ("I have understood you"), there followed death threats to many French colonizers who had to flee Algeria immediately within 24 hours or get their throats slit – "La valise ou le cercueil" (the suitcase or the coffin).

In the fall of 1961, I saw Parisian police stations with machine-gun armed men behind concrete barriers, as an invasion by the colonial French paratroopers against mainland France was expected. The "Organisation Armée Secrète," OAS, (Secret Armed Organization) of the colonial powers, threatened at the time to invade Paris.

As an aside, giving a sense of the anger and passion involved, when the death of John F.Kennedy in November 1963 was announced in the historic, right-wing café in Aix, Les Deux Garçons, a huge cheer went up when the media announcer proclaimed "Le Président est assassinée. Only, that was because they thought de Gaulle was the president in question. A huge disappointment when they heard it was President Kennedy. To get a sense of the whole situation regarding France and Algeria I recommend Alistair Horne's "A Savage War of Peace."

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:23

"They did not depart any of their colonies happily"

Some hold that they never departed, but mutated tools including CFA zones and "intelligence" relations in furtherance of "changing" to remain qualitatively the same. Just as "The United States of America" is a system of coercive relations not synonymous with the political geographical area designated "The United States of America", the colonialism of former and present "colonial powers" continues to exist, since the "independence" of the colonised was always, and continues to be, framed within linear systems of coercive relations, facilitated by the complicity of "local elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest, and the acquiescence of "local others" for myriad reasons.

Despite the "best" efforts of the opponents and partly in consequence of the opponents' complicity, the PRC and the Russian Federation like "The United States of America" are not synonymous with the political geographical areas designated as "The People's Republic of China and The Russian Federation", are in lateral process of transcending linear systems of coercive relations and hence pose existential threats to "The United States of America".

The opponents are not complete fools but the drowning tend to act precipitously including flailing out whilst drowning; encouraging some to dispense with rose- tinted glasses, despite such accessories being quite fashionable and fetching.

OlyaPola , May 20, 2020 at 04:32

" .. their colonies "

Perception of and practice of social relations are not wholly synonymous. A construct whose founding myths included liberty, egality and fraternity – property being discarded at the last moment since it was judged too provocative – experienced/experiences ideological/perceptual oxymorons in regard to its colonial relations, which were addressed in part by rendering their "colonies" department of France thereby facilitating increased perceptual dissonance.

Like many, Randal Marlin draws attention below to the perceptions and practices of the pied-noir, but omits to address the perceptions and practices of the harkis whom were also immersed in the proselytised notion of departmental France, and to some degree continue to be.

This understanding continues to inform the practices and problems of the French state.

Lolita , May 17, 2020 at 12:05

The analysis is very much inspired from "Comprendre l'Empire" by Alain Soral.

Dave , May 17, 2020 at 11:27

Do not fail to read this interview in its entirety. Ms Johnstone analyzes and describes many issues of national and global importance from the perspective of an USA expat who has spent most of her career in the pursuit of what may be termed disinterested journalism. Whether one agrees or disagrees in whole or in part the perspectives she presents, particularly those which pertain to the demise (hopefully) of the American Empire are worthy of perusal.

Remember that this is not a polemic; it's a memoir of a lifetime devoted to reporting and analyzing and discussion of most of the significant issues confronting global and national politics and their social ramifications. And a big thanks to Patrick Lawrence and Consortium News for posting the interview.

PEG , May 17, 2020 at 09:11

Diana Johnstone is one of the most intelligent, clear-minded and honest observers of international politics today, and her book "Circle in the Darkness" – which expands on the topics and insights touched on in this interview – is certainly among the best and most compelling books I have ever read, putting the events of the last 75 years into objective context and focus (normally something which only historians can do, if at all, generations after the fact).

After reading Circle in the Darkness, I have ordered and am now reading her books on Hillary Clinton (Queen of Chaos) and the Yugoslav wars (Fool's Crusade), which are very worthwhile and important. I would recommend that her many articles over the years, appearing in such publications such as In These Times, Counterpunch and Consortium News, be reprinted and published together as an anthology. Through Circle in the Darkness, we have Diana Johnstone's "Life", but it would be good also to have her "Letters".

Herman , May 17, 2020 at 09:00

Interesting comparison between the aspirations of De Gaulle and Putin.

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. His policy was to foster friendly relations on equal terms with all parts of the world, regardless of ideological differences. I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar. It is clearly a concept that horrifies the exceptionalists."

Agree with Johnstone.

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:55

"Having a sense of history, de Gaulle saw that colonialism had been a moment in history that was past. "

Mr. de Gaulle like other "leaders" of colonial powers did understand that the moment of overt coercive relations of colonialism had passed and that colonialism to remain qualitatively the same, required covert coercive relations facilitated by the complicity of local "elites" on the basis of perceived self-interest.

The exceptions to such strategies lay within constructs of settler colonialism which were addressed primarily through warfare – "The United States of America", Vietnam/Laos/Cambodia, Indonesia, Algeria, Kenya, Rhodesia, Mozambique, Angola refer – to facilitate such future strategies.

"I think that Putin's concept of a multipolar world is similar."

As outlined elsewhere the concept of a multi-polar world is not synonymous with the concept of colonialism except for the colonialists who consistently seek to encourage such conflation through myths of we-are-all-in-this-togetherness.

[May 21, 2020] Covid-19 Straw Breaks Free Trade Camel's Back

Notable quotes:
"... After claiming that "economists have argued for centuries that trade is good for the economy as a whole", Goldberg has also noted that "trade generates winners and losers", with many losing out, and urges acknowledging "the evidence rather than trying to discredit it, as some do." Following Samuelson and others, she recommends compensating those negatively effected by trade liberalization, claiming "sufficient gains generated by open trade that the winners can compensate the losers and still be better off" without indicating how this is to be done fairly. ..."
"... "Free" trade means removing regulations and tariffs. As Michael Hudson reminds us, in Classical economics, it used to mean free of the unproductive burdens of the rentiers. ..."
"... There's a growing realisation on our continent that outsiders aren't going to lead us to the promised land. ..."
"... This redistribution never happens, the rich get richer in a role reversal of "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today". Any attempt to have the rich share the hamburger is greeted with a "not now!" and a assurance that if the rich stop continuously getting richer at this particular point in time then everything will collapse. ..."
"... The best understanding of what is going on in Africa I got from Jared Diamond – book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed". And for background – "Guns, Germs, and Steel". Global climate heating is going to destroy Africa, already is. The usual story, no water, no forests, too much heat and humidity. It's a terrible reckoning. And largely not of their making. ..."
May 20, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a former economics professor, who was Assistant Director-General for Economic and Social Development, Food and Agriculture Organization, and who received the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought in 2007. Originally published by Inter Press Service

Economic growth is supposed to be the tide that lifts all boats. According to the conventional wisdom until recently, growth in China, India and East Asian countries took off thanks to opening up to international trade and investment.

Such growth is said to have greatly reduced poverty despite growing inequality in both sub-continental economies and many other countries. Other developing countries have been urged to do the same, i.e., liberalize trade and attract foreign investments.

Doha Round 'Dead in Water'

However, multilateral trade negotiations under World Trade Organization (WTO) auspices have gone nowhere since the late 1990s, even with the so-called Doha Development Round begun in 2001 as developing countries rallied to support the US after 9/11.

After the North continued to push their interests despite their ostensible commitment to a developmental outcome, the Obama administration was never interested in completing the Round, and undermined the WTO's functioning, e.g., its dispute settlement arrangements, even before Trump was elected.

To be sure, the Doha Round proposals were hardly 'developmental' by any standards, with most developing countries barely benefitting, if not actually worse off following the measures envisaged, even according to World Bank and other studies.

GVC miracle?

According to the World Bank's annual flagship World Development Report (WDR) 2020 on Trading for Development in the Age of Global Value Chains , GVCs have been mainly responsible for the growth of international trade for two decades from the 1990s.

GVCs now account for almost half of all cross-border commerce due to 'multiple counting', as products cross more borders than ever. Firms' creative book-keeping may also overstate actual value added in some tax jurisdictions to minimize overall tax liability.

WDR 2020 claims that GVCs have thus accelerated economic development and even convergence between North and South as fast-growing poor countries have grown more rapidly, closing the economic gap with rich countries.

Automation, innovative management, e.g., 'just-in-time' (JIT), outsourcing, offshoring and logistics have dramatically transformed production . Labour processes are subject to greater surveillance, while piecework at home means self-policing and use of unpaid household labour.

WDR 2020 Out of Touch

WDR 2020 presumes trends that no longer exist. Trade expansion has been sluggish for more than a decade, at least since the 2008 global financial crisis when the G20 of the world's largest economies and others adopted protective measures in response.

GVC growth has slowed since, as economies of the North insisted on trade liberalization for the South, while abandoning their own earlier commitments as the varied consequences of economic globalization fostered reactionary jingoist populist backlashes.

Meanwhile, new technologies involving mechanization, automation and other digital applications have further reduced overall demand for labour even as jobs were 'off-shored'. Trump-initiated trade policies and conflicts have pressured US and other transnational corporations to 'on-shore' jobs after decades of 'off-shoring' .

Nonetheless, WDR 2020 urges developing countries to bank on GVCs for growth and better jobs. Success of this strategy depends crucially on developed countries encouraging 'offshoring', a policy hardly evident for well over a decade!

As the last World Bank chief economist , albeit for barely 15 months, Yale Professor Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg recently agreed , "the world is retreating from globalization". "Protectionism is on the rise -- industrialized countries are less open to imports from developing countries. In addition, there is by now a lot of competition".

The Covid-19 crisis has further encouraged 'on-shoring' and 'chain shortening', especially for food, medical products and energy. Although the Japanese and other governments have announced such policies, ostensibly for 'national security' and other such reasons, Goldberg has nonetheless reiterated the case for GVCs in Covid-19's wake .

Trade Does Not Lift All Boats

After claiming that "economists have argued for centuries that trade is good for the economy as a whole", Goldberg has also noted that "trade generates winners and losers", with many losing out, and urges acknowledging "the evidence rather than trying to discredit it, as some do." Following Samuelson and others, she recommends compensating those negatively effected by trade liberalization, claiming "sufficient gains generated by open trade that the winners can compensate the losers and still be better off" without indicating how this is to be done fairly.

Compensation and redistribution require transfers which are typically difficult to negotiate and deliver at low cost. Tellingly, like others, she makes no mention of international transfers, especially for fairly redistributing the unequal gains from trade among trading partners.

Interestingly, she also observes, "There are plenty of examples, especially in African countries, where wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few even when the tide rises, only very few boats rise. Growth doesn't trickle down and doesn't improve the lot of the poor."

Unlikely Pan-Africanist

After decades of World Bank promotion of the 'East Asian miracle' for emulation by other developing countries, especially in Africa, Greek-born American Goldberg insists that what worked for growth and poverty reduction in China will not work in Africa today.

Echoing long time Bank critics, she argues, "If trade with rich countries is no longer the engine of growth, it will be more important than ever to rely on domestic resources to generate growth that does trickle down and translates to poverty reduction."

Instead, as if supporting some contemporary pan-Africanists, she argues, "Africa needs to rely on itself more than ever. The idea that export-led industrialization as it happened in China or East Asia is going to lead growth in Africa becomes less and less plausible".

She argues that "the African market is a very large market with incredible potential. It has not been developed yet. So, regional integration might be one path forward. Rather than opting for global integration, which may be very hard to achieve these days when countries are retreating from multilateralism, it might be more feasible to push for regional trade agreements and create bigger regional markets for countries' goods and services".

Acknowledging "We are still a very long way from there because most countries are averse to this idea -- they see their neighbors as competitors rather than countries they can cooperate with", not seeming to recognize the historical role of the Bank and mainstream trade economists in promoting the 'free trade illusion' and discrediting pan-Africanism.


chuck roast , May 20, 2020 at 9:01 am

hear him, and hear him
Econospeak at its best. Filled with cliches and "on the one hand(s)." This articles perfectly describes why social distancing can ultimately be a boon to mankind. This fellow Sundaram can self isolate at home and still get a paycheck. He can begin puttering about in his garden and start growing his own food. Eventually, he will find this activity to be far more rewarding than cogitating on the various cost and benefits of the international value chains, and will be spending more and more time in his garden. UBI will kick in. He will decide to disengage from "globalization" and being a public nuisance and adopt this new, socially beneficial lifestyle permanently. By doing "piecework at home" he will add to real gross domestic product, and he, the economy and the rest of the planet will be immeasurably improved.

The Historian , May 20, 2020 at 10:49 am

Good analysis. But part of my confusion with this article started with the headline: "Covid-19 Straw Breaks Free Trade Camel's Back"

What free trade? Nothing in the article discusses free trade and I doubt that there has ever been free trade for a very long time. Is this more Econospeak?

I do agree with the author that the way trading is done now, however he defines it, has not risen all boats.

Amfortas the hippie , May 20, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Regarding the existence of "Free Trade"
I watched this in real time when Nafta passed(i was agin it, and voted for Perot accordingly, both times)
I knew a middle class mexican american guy father of a friend of mine. His business, pre-Nafta, was going to his extended familia's ranch/farm(100 acres) in Tamaulipas, and returning with fruits and veggies and vanilla and a whole bunch of "junk" like that metal yard art and terra cotta birdbaths and such.
had a dually pickup and a 20 foot trailer.
Post Nafta, this was suddenly illegal he wasn't part of the Club, and went to work as a cook along side me and his son.
since that time, I've heard essentially the same story from numerous mexican american folks who used to do similar stuff.
nafta killed that small time cross border trade and the only "Freedom" involved was for the Maquiladora-owners, US Welfare Corn Corporations and the Cartels.
anecdata, of course, but still
if "they" were really for "free trade", they'd allow me to legally sell a frelling egg or tomato or grow some weed, for that matter(high demand, low quality unstable supply).

Susan the other , May 20, 2020 at 2:24 pm

I voted for ross perot too. I even went across the street and talked to my neighbors – the last time I did that – as they always say, it's like staring into the eyes of a chicken – oh so "liberal" at the time – To them Ross Perot was just an insufferable hick. But I loved the guy. And he was right. I think he lived in the same neighborhood as little George in Dallas – but Ross didn't want us to spread our resources too thin whereas little George saw MidEast oil as our best security. So now that that has blown up, it's regionalism v. globalism. It's a brake on turbo trade. It's not a fix. We don't want to be lulled into thinking we've achieved something like a trade balance and an environmental balance – that will take a century – and only if we stop fibbing to ourselves.

Bsoder , May 20, 2020 at 3:28 pm

I worked for Ross, for a while post GM (1987). I liked him very much, although we fought quite a bit. Mostly, I agreed with his public policy outlook, when I didn't and it came up I told him. He didn't surround himself with the wights that the Orange Menace does. Striking -he was very loyal to people in his orbit. NAFTA had protections for labor, unions, & the environment they just never were enforced. There must be some 'law' that says anything neoliberal turns into a racket over time, so it was with NAFTA.

Left in Wisconsin , May 20, 2020 at 4:53 pm

The NAFTA protections for workers were just hand waves. Lance Compa, who is at Cornell, ran the US office trying to get the labor provisions (weak as they were) enforced. As I recall, they were never able to bring even a single case forward.

Adam Eran , May 20, 2020 at 2:32 pm

"Free" trade means removing regulations and tariffs. As Michael Hudson reminds us, in Classical economics, it used to mean free of the unproductive burdens of the rentiers.

As for NAFTA, one might figure shipping a bunch of subsidized Iowa corn down to Mexico would impair the income of Mexican farmers.. The NAFTA treaty compensates the big ones.

Corn is only arguably the most important food crop in the world. The little (uncompensated by NAFTA) Mexican farmers were only keeping the disease resistance and diversity of the corn genome alive with the varieties they grew .But they weren't making any money for Monsanto So they were hung out to dry and migration to "Gringolandia" increased dramatically not all of it "legal."

In the wake of NAFTA, not only did Mexico experience capital flight (remember the Clinton administration's $20 billion bank bailout?), Mexico's real median income declined 34%. (Source: Ravi Batra's Greenspan's Fraud ).

One has to go back to the Great Depression to find that kind of decline in the U.S. Of course that provoked no great migration Oh wait! The Okies!

Imagine the Okies exiting the dust bowl to go to California where they would be caged, separated from their families, and ultimately shipped back to Oklahoma, where they would either be very miserable or even starve. That's what we've been doing to the Mexican refugees U.S. actions created never mind the fact that U.S. military and political attacks on its southern neighbors have been going on for literally centuries. (Between 1798 and 1994, the U.S. is responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders).

Incidentally, the Harvard-educated neoliberal, Carlos Salinas Gotari, the Mexican president who signed NAFTA, was so despised he had to spend at least the initial years of his retirement in Ireland.

It's not for nothing that the guys who stand up to the Yanquis (Castro!) are heroes in the South.

taunger , May 20, 2020 at 6:47 am

It's amazing how economists can focus solely on economic activity, and the thought that something like climate change or politics might make their pronouncements useless isn't even rebutted.

John Wright , May 20, 2020 at 11:54 am

This reference: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-co2-isnt-falling-more-during-a-global-lockdown/

Has that one of the Covid-19 lockdown effects has been a fall in expected incremental CO2 added to the atmosphere in 2020 relative to 2019:

"Forecasters expect emissions to fall more than 5% in 2020, the greatest annual reduction on record. But it's still short of the 7.6% decline that scientists say is needed every year over the next decade to stop global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.*.

Yes, the earth's climate is one of the uncompensated losers of the world's current system of economic growth.

Economists seem to be forever optimizing for the GDP measure, while giving lip service to "uncompensated losers" such as workers and the earth's climate.

TomDority , May 20, 2020 at 8:16 am

Me, being a cynic and all – I thought the way trade worked in the real world (not the one described by well paid economists) was a multi step process

1) target developing country by undermining their core farming, self sustaining activity and export industries through cheap importation of grains and crops and other goods – thus making it impossible for locals to survive through their own industry

2) simultaneous loans (investment) to the country (economic aid) and corruption of political leaders designed to enable step three

3) Whence said country is indebted – force country to export whatever (mineral) wealth onto a glutted market to pay back its debts – this is easily done as the labor component is ripe for the picking/ fleecing

4) crush the country into economic austerity for as long as it takes to enslave its citizens and grab everything of value from the country

5) pretend that the IMF etc did such a great job – but the countries people (victims) or government did not do enough and must take care of themselves better

The Rev Kev , May 20, 2020 at 9:58 am

I think that you covered the Standard Operation Procedure here in better detail than I could. I would only add to point 2) that the bankers will go to these local leaders and show them how to hide their money and help them set up accounts in a place like the Caymans as part of the service.

And if that economist wants to find where all of Africa's wealth is going, he might want to start in the City of London and New York first.

David , May 20, 2020 at 8:43 am

I share the general sense of confusion. I'm not quite sure what the point of this essay is. It's full of wild generalisations like:
"According to the conventional wisdom until recently, growth in China, India and East Asian countries took off thanks to opening up to international trade and investment."
I don't think that's ever been conventional wisdom for Japan, Korea and China, for example, whose economies were (and in part still are) highly protected. Industrialisation in those countries was not "export-led".
It also confuses "trade" in the old sense, of countries importing things they couldn't produce and exporting what they could, with "trade" in the new sense of moving stuff around the world largely for financial reasons. Trade in the classic sense may have benefited the country as a whole (though this is debatable) but trade in the current sense was never intended to. Likewise I hadn't heard that globalisation had fostered a "jingoist backlash" – jingoism after all means aggressive calls for war. But then the whole article is clumsily written and badly constructed.
And the idea that Africa should rely on itself is fair enough, but runs counter to every piece of advice given to Africa since independence: remember, the World Bank master plan was for African countries to grow cash-crops for export to generate cash for industrial development? We know how that worked out. And yes the African market has enormous potential but it's desperately lacking in infrastructure, which makes trade between eve adjacent nations desperately difficult. You need to fix that first.

Thuto , May 20, 2020 at 4:37 pm

There's a growing realisation on our continent that outsiders aren't going to lead us to the promised land. The obstacles to effective intra-african trade that you identify will have to be cleared before Africa's potential can be realised, and as an African I have to believe they will be, challenging as that will be.

The overthrow of Omar Al Bashir in Sudan has shown that people in Africa are agitating for real, lasting changing, liberation from the rule of corrupt leaders and true, not pseudo independence from the West and increasingly China as well.

Other leaders have taken notice of this, as have ordinary citizens across the continent. It will take time, ther'll probably be a few false starts, we'll wobble a bit but in the end I believe we'll get there.

a different chris , May 20, 2020 at 9:24 am

"trade generates winners and losers", with many losing out, and urges acknowledging "the evidence rather than trying to discredit it, as some do."

I don't known who "discredits" it.

What I see is that everybody important acknowledges it, but does squat about it. This redistribution never happens, the rich get richer in a role reversal of "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today". Any attempt to have the rich share the hamburger is greeted with a "not now!" and a assurance that if the rich stop continuously getting richer at this particular point in time then everything will collapse.

The poor, of course, ain't got until this mythical "Tuesday".

HotFlash , May 20, 2020 at 11:23 am

"the African market has enormous potential"

Indeed! Very few Africans have IoT sous-vide sticks yet, or Smart doorbells. I'll bet they are way behind on fast fashion, too. Vast market to sell them things no-one needs and that wreck the earth on credit . Just gotta get those roads built so Jeff can deliver stuff to them in 2 days.

Bsoder , May 20, 2020 at 3:39 pm

The best understanding of what is going on in Africa I got from Jared Diamond – book, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed". And for background – "Guns, Germs, and Steel". Global climate heating is going to destroy Africa, already is. The usual story, no water, no forests, too much heat and humidity. It's a terrible reckoning. And largely not of their making.

[May 21, 2020] How free trade actually works

May 21, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

TomDority , , May 20, 2020 at 8:16 am

Me, being a cynic and all – I thought the way trade worked in the real world (not the one described by well paid economists) was a multi step process

1) target developing country by undermining their core farming, self sustaining activity and export industries through cheap importation of grains and crops and other goods – thus making it impossible for locals to survive through their own industry

2) simultaneous loans (investment) to the country (economic aid) and corruption of political leaders designed to enable step three

3) Whence said country is indebted – force country to export whatever (mineral) wealth onto a glutted market to pay back its debts – this is easily done as the labor component is ripe for the picking/ fleecing

4) crush the country into economic austerity for as long as it takes to enslave its citizens and grab everything of value from the country

5) pretend that the IMF etc did such a great job – but the countries people (victims) or government did not do enough and must take care of themselves better

The Rev Kev , , May 20, 2020 at 9:58 am

I think that you covered the Standard Operation Procedure here in better detail than I could. I would only add to point 2) that the bankers will go to these local leaders and show them how to hide their money and help them set up accounts in a place like the Caymans as part of the service.

And if that economist wants to find where all of Africa's wealth is going, he might want to start in the City of London and New York first.

[May 20, 2020] This Is Despotism, Plain Simple - Of Power-Drunk Politicians Sociopathic Oligarchs

Notable quotes:
"... Yes it took parasites, sociopathic oligarchs and a power drunk national security state to bring us to our current state of affairs, but it also took the rest of us. For far too long we as a people have been apathetic, hoodwinked spectators to the life unfolding around us. Voting for "the lesser of two evils" for decade upon decade thinking it might be different this time. Putting up with the economic game that's been put in front of us, despite the fact that it demonstrably and systematically rewards and incentivizes predatory and destructive behavior. As a people, we have been superficial, indifferent and gleefully ignorant of reality. It's time to change all that. ..."
"... I think one reason mass media puts so much emphasis on voting at the national level is the owners of these propaganda channels know voting will change absolutely nothing. The oligarchy and national security state are fully in charge, and they're not going to allow the pesky rabble to get in the way of such a lucrative racket by voting. Getting those who are politically inclined to spend all their time and energy on a rigged and completely corrupt phantom democracy in D.C. is a great way to keep them busy with nonsense. It's also a perfect way to demoralize that portion of the population which understands it's just theater. If you can be convinced that voting at the national level is the only way to change things, you're much more likely to recede into apathy and become intentionally disengaged. This happens to a lot of people, but it's a big mistake. ..."
May 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog, It's Time To Step Into The Arena

There's a passage in Teddy Roosevelt's famous 1910 "Citizenship in a Republic" speech I want to share with you today:

If a man's efficiency is not guided and regulated by a moral sense, then the more efficient he is the worse he is, the more dangerous to the body politic. Courage, intellect, all the masterful qualities, serve but to make a man more evil if they are merely used for that man's own advancement, with brutal indifference to the rights of others. It speaks ill for the community if the community worships those qualities and treats their possessors as heroes regardless of whether the qualities are used rightly or wrongly. It makes no difference as to the precise way in which this sinister efficiency is shown. It makes no difference whether such a man's force and ability betray themselves in a career of money-maker or politician, soldier or orator, journalist or popular leader. If the man works for evil, then the more successful he is the more he should be despised and condemned by all upright and far-seeing men. To judge a man merely by success is an abhorrent wrong; and if the people at large habitually so judge men, if they grow to condone wickedness because the wicked man triumphs, they show their inability to understand that in the last analysis free institutions rest upon the character of citizenship, and that by such admiration of evil they prove themselves unfit for liberty.

The above words strike me as a perfect description of the deep hole we find ourselves in presently throughout these United States of America. It takes a whole nation to screw things up as badly as we have, and boy have we ever.

Yes it took parasites, sociopathic oligarchs and a power drunk national security state to bring us to our current state of affairs, but it also took the rest of us. For far too long we as a people have been apathetic, hoodwinked spectators to the life unfolding around us. Voting for "the lesser of two evils" for decade upon decade thinking it might be different this time. Putting up with the economic game that's been put in front of us, despite the fact that it demonstrably and systematically rewards and incentivizes predatory and destructive behavior. As a people, we have been superficial, indifferent and gleefully ignorant of reality. It's time to change all that.

You can consider today's post a rallying cry to step into the arena. Stepping into the arena is often portrayed as becoming involved in national politics or some other large platform action, but I see it differently. If you think the only way to have a real impact is by voting or running for Congress, you're likely to give up and remain passive. The truth is your entire life can be repurposed to be an expression of increased kindness, wisdom and strength. It's the most impactful long-term action most of us can have on this earth, and anyone can do it.

Change yourself before trying to change the world. If enough people did this the world would change without you even trying.

-- Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) May 15, 2020

I think what keeps a lot of people on the sidelines of a conscious life is an inability to intimately process the above. Many people discount the little things, the countless actions of daily existence that impact those around you and cumulatively make you who you are.

I think one reason mass media puts so much emphasis on voting at the national level is the owners of these propaganda channels know voting will change absolutely nothing. The oligarchy and national security state are fully in charge, and they're not going to allow the pesky rabble to get in the way of such a lucrative racket by voting. Getting those who are politically inclined to spend all their time and energy on a rigged and completely corrupt phantom democracy in D.C. is a great way to keep them busy with nonsense. It's also a perfect way to demoralize that portion of the population which understands it's just theater. If you can be convinced that voting at the national level is the only way to change things, you're much more likely to recede into apathy and become intentionally disengaged. This happens to a lot of people, but it's a big mistake.

When I look back at my life thus far, it was during my decade on Wall Street when I was the most ignorant and superficial . So focused on stroking my ego, making a bunch of money and career advancement, I lost a lot of who I am at my core during that time. I often wonder if that's the case for a lot of people who achieve conventional success within the current paradigm. It's fortunate I removed myself from that situation and began thinking more deeply about who I am and what really matters.

Stepping up and getting into the arena will mean something different for each of us, but the one word that keeps popping into my head is resilience. There are several clear ways to become more resilient. There's mental and emotional resiliency, there's financial resiliency and there's physical resiliency (where and how you live). I see all three as fundamentally important and functioning best when working together. Resiliency starts at the most basic level because if you and your family aren't resilient, then you won't be much use to anyone else. If the people of a community or nation lack resiliency it provides the perfect space for authoritarianism and evil to manifest and flourish.

Case in point, see the following comments by Alan Dershowitz during a recent interview.

"You have no right not to be vaccinated, you have no right not to wear a mask... If you refuse to be vaccinated the state has the right to take you to a dr's office & plunge a needle in your arm." @AlanDersh take on vaccines & masks is vile & un-American. pic.twitter.com/j2C1Rk3d7h

-- Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) May 18, 2020

This is despotism plain and simple, and it's being expressed by a guy who still has considerable influence despite his many Jeffrey Epstein related controversies. It's going to take a resilient, courageous and ethical public to stand up to scoundrels like this and just say NO. No, you will not grab me, drag me off somewhere and inject something into my body without my consent. We've been passive spectators in the destruction of our society for far too long. It's time to both say no and to create something better.

When I walked away from New York City and Wall Street ten years ago it was clear what sort of trajectory the country was on, and it's only gotten worse since. We're now in the crucial period spanning 2020-2025 that will decide what the next several decades look like. The big battle for the future is here. Right now. If there's ever been a time in your life to step up, this is it.

* * *

Liberty Blitzkrieg is an ad-free website. If you enjoyed this post and my work in general, visit the Support Page where you can donate and contribute to my efforts.

[May 20, 2020] Our government and much of our industry, especially defense and fintec, appear to be incapable of maneuver. They're justself-seeking individuals with no loyalty to each other, their clients, citizenry, or their country.

May 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

Godfree Roberts , says: Show Comment May 8, 2020 at 12:43 am GMT

@Harold Smith There is an innocuous military term, incapable of maneuver , to describe an army which is nothing more than a group of people in uniforms. They look like an army but, when things go bad, they prove incapable of responding in a disciplined, purposive manner. Arab armies come to mind.

Our government and much of our industry, especially defense and fintec, appear to be incapable of maneuver. They're justself-seeking individuals with no loyalty to each other, their clients, citizenry, or their country.

If we don't want to suffer an interim dystopia, we need to start work on a new constitution because the old one is worn out and we're going over a cliff.

I keep harping on China because they read our Constitution and foundation documents and, in 1950, drafted a 20th century constitution which is well worth reading. They've convened every 10 years since then and amended it to keep it current. For them, the constitution is a living document, not a totem, and they take it very seriously.

[May 19, 2020] White House Vaccine Czar Sells $12 Million Slug Of Moderna Options For Massive Profit

May 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Last night, as dozens of biotech companies rushed to issue stock following the massive spike in Moderna shares on some extremely preliminary trial results inspired the biggest short-squeeze in US equities since the beginning of May, we warned that Moderna shareholders might be in for a bruising "bait-and-switch" as reports about insider share sales emerged, and Moderna, along with dozens of other biotech companies the company, seized on the demand to issue more shares.

But it's not only Moderna's billionaire founder/CEO Stephane Bancel - once compared to a post-scandal Elizabeth Holmes - who stands to profit from the action: the White House's new vaccine czar also holds - or rather, held - more than 150,000 options contracts on Moderna shares worht more than $12 million, and had resisted pressure to divest them despite the blatant conflict of interest. We were joking yesterday when we speculated that he would probably be glad to exercise these options at current prices. But just as every joke contains a nugget of truth, that one turned out to be prophetic, too.

[May 19, 2020] If the American Dream is alive and well, why would MSM need to repeat it again and again?

Notable quotes:
"... 1978 was the last year real wages showed significant growth in real terms in the USA. After that, came the great stagnation of the neoliberal era (1978-2008), 30 consecutive years of frozen earns for the American working classes. This era is not marked by a slow down in consumption, though. On the contrary: consumption continued to rise, but, this time, it was mainly debt-fueled. Americans wages stagnated, but they didn't want to give up their hyperconsumption privileges, so they contracted debt after debt. ..."
"... As the timeline shows, it is a myth neoliberalism begun in the USA only with Reagan's election in 1980. Most neoliberal reforms begun during Jimmy Carter's second half of his lonely term (1978-1980). It was Jimmy Carter, for example, who hired (nominated) Paul Volcker to the Fed. Other essential Acts that paved the way to neoliberalism were also passed during Jimmy Carter's later part of the reign. ..."
"... I heard some politician suggest that while many of the jobs will never come back that people can learn to code. We need drug testing for our politicians. I 'code' and I'm wetting my pants. It's not because I think that it's so easy I an be easily replaced but but we still need demand. If everyone is losing their jobs ... terrifies me. ..."
May 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
If it were true why would they need to repeat it again and again?

vk , May 19 2020 13:22 utc | 21

If it were true why would they need to repeat it again and again? The American Dream died in 1969 - the last year of the post-war miracle in the USA. For the following five years, the country continued to flourish, but at a clear slower pace. With the oil crisis of 1974-5, the American Dream definitely died, albeit some indicators (e.g. real wages) still showed some improvements.

1978 was the last year real wages showed significant growth in real terms in the USA. After that, came the great stagnation of the neoliberal era (1978-2008), 30 consecutive years of frozen earns for the American working classes. This era is not marked by a slow down in consumption, though. On the contrary: consumption continued to rise, but, this time, it was mainly debt-fueled. Americans wages stagnated, but they didn't want to give up their hyperconsumption privileges, so they contracted debt after debt.

As the timeline shows, it is a myth neoliberalism begun in the USA only with Reagan's election in 1980. Most neoliberal reforms begun during Jimmy Carter's second half of his lonely term (1978-1980). It was Jimmy Carter, for example, who hired (nominated) Paul Volcker to the Fed. Other essential Acts that paved the way to neoliberalism were also passed during Jimmy Carter's later part of the reign.


Jen , May 19 2020 10:58 utc | 6

Not only does the headline "The American Dream is Alive and Well" need to be repeated ad nauseam but also the narrative it promotes, of the immigrant family that succeeds through sheer hard work and dedication and nothing else - no help from government subsidies or relatives already in the country, no dependence on bank loans that help start a business or put teenagers through college, no discrimination whatsoever - has to be hammered constantly over and over, even when everyone can see that the story template no longer has any legs if it ever had any.

For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional.

William Gruff , May 19 2020 12:58 utc | 18
Jen @6: "For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional."

Nice observation that incompetence is pervasive even among the empire's most important servants. It must be asked, though, if better talent is really necessary? The propaganda and brainwashing may be ham fisted and blunt as a hammer, but it does seem to work nonetheless.

Anyway, the more sophisticated brainwashing is not in the infotainment field but rather in the supposedly pure entertainment domain. Redneck dynasties built upon the monster retail bonanza from selling duck lures, for example. Those implant "The American Dream" directly into the subconscious without the need for awkward capitalist ideological exposition, bypassing any potential bullshit filters that the typical media consumers might possess.

lizard , May 19 2020 12:56 utc | 17
I wonder what America would have become if sociopaths like Allen Dulles hadn't relocated to Nazi braintrust after WWII. maybe it was inevitable that we would become the 4th reich.

David Talbot's book The Devil's Chessboard should be required reading for all Americans.

William Gruff , May 19 2020 12:58 utc | 18
Jen @6: "For all the sophisticated techniques and tools of propaganda that the likes of Edward Bernays and his followers in the PR industry bequeathed to the US, the elites and their mass media lackeys can't even get the repetition to look and sound more than banal and one-dimensional."

Nice observation that incompetence is pervasive even among the empire's most important servants. It must be asked, though, if better talent is really necessary? The propaganda and brainwashing may be ham fisted and blunt as a hammer, but it does seem to work nonetheless.

Anyway, the more sophisticated brainwashing is not in the infotainment field but rather in the supposedly pure entertainment domain. Redneck dynasties built upon the monster retail bonanza from selling duck lures, for example. Those implant "The American Dream" directly into the subconscious without the need for awkward capitalist ideological exposition, bypassing any potential bullshit filters that the typical media consumers might possess.

Linda Amick , May 19 2020 12:59 utc | 19
We all know these main stream media outlets do little more than pump out propaganda to the ignorant masses who need someone to tell them what they want to hear.
Christian J Chuba , May 19 2020 13:01 utc | 20
May 2020, seriously???

Wow, those guys were phoning it in. 1. Their dreamland pieces were identical to the ones in 2015, 2. the bottom 20% who they claim either don't have it so bad or can easily improve their lot, have been gutted like a fish and left out to dry. Did people write these opinion pieces or robots, robots could easily replace their jobs, pity their jobs won't be automated but I really don't see why they couldn't be. Actually Neocons could be replaced by automatons.

Recent contributions, burger flippers => code slingers

I heard some politician suggest that while many of the jobs will never come back that people can learn to code. We need drug testing for our politicians. I 'code' and I'm wetting my pants. It's not because I think that it's so easy I an be easily replaced but but we still need demand. If everyone is losing their jobs ... terrifies me.

Richard Steven Hack , May 19 2020 12:02 utc | 15
As an aside that is nonetheless relevant, dealing as it does with issues of the responsibility that banks have for the mess in this world, I recommend watching the TV series, "Devils", described here on Wikipedia:

Devils (TV series)
https://tinyurl.com/yb8cbwsq


Plot

London, 2011. The Italian Massimo Ruggero is the head of trading at the banking giant American New York - London Bank (NYL). While the financial crisis is raging across Europe, Massimo is making hundreds of millions thanks to speculation. His mentor is Dominic Morgan, the American CEO of NYL and the closest thing to a father Massimo has ever had. He fully supports it, the talented trader seems to be the first choice in the run for vice-CEO. But when Massimo is unwillingly involved in a scandal that sees his ex-wife implicated as an escort, Dominic denies him the promotion, instead choosing the old school banker Edward Stuart.

Massimo is amazed: his father turns his back on him. Convinced that he has been set up, Massimo is determined to bring out the truth, but when Edward suddenly dies, Massimo realizes that something bigger is at stake. With the help of his team and a group of hackers, Massimo will discover the plot hidden behind apparently unrelated events such as the Strauss-Kahn scandal, the war in Libya and the PIIGS crisis. Finding himself in front of the Devils who pull the ropes of the world, Massimo will have to choose whether to fight them or join them.

The series is well-written and well-acted. If you have access to it (I get it off the Internet, but it does not appear to be available in the US market yet), it's well worth watching. It is in some ways better than "Deep State", the spy series that was on a season or two ago. It has already been renewed for a second season.

[May 19, 2020] The pretence that US and Europe have competent and resilient neoliberal political and economic structures is fake

May 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 18 2020 17:14 utc | 36

Alastair Crooke's in fine form today bringing Jung, Euripides, the Outlaw US Empire's Culture Wars, and Zionist Imperialism together to illustrate "Our Civilisational Quagmire" and the imperative of "Looking Truth in the Eye." But all that's initially hidden as he begins by intoning:

"First, the bottom line: If you don't solve the biology, the economy won't recover."

A Truth far too many mostly in the West don't seem capable of grasping:

"But the biology is not solved, and the tension of trying to point in opposite directions simultaneously is igniting a separate, raging political brushfire....

"The pretence that the U.S. and the global economy is about to snap back, as soon as virus mitigation is lifted; the pretence that Covid-19 is either a fake (just another 'flu); or, is 'over'; the pretence that U.S. and Europe have competent and resilient political and economic structures – and the pretence that once Covid is over, we will all return to a world, just as it was?"

I wrote awhile ago that the pandemic provided an opportunity to use an analytical tool known as the Franklin Reality Model to see the values and beliefs held by differing nations and their cultures and ideologies as it exposes them so graphically they cannot be hidden by any amount of spin or propaganda. The revelations provided my empirical basis for judging Trump's response specifically and the West's generally to be one of complete Moral Failure. And not just Trump, but Pelosi, Biden and the vast majority of Democrats, too--their shared Neoliberal ideology's Immoral basis and Parasitic nature being one of the main roots of the problem.


karlof1 , May 18 2020 17:29 utc | 39

Thomas Briggs @35--

I suggest you read this Atlantic article , "We Are Living in a Failed State: The coronavirus didn't break America. It revealed what was already broken." And either before or during, take a gander at this Real GDP graph that still understates the genuine amount of GDP shrinkage since parasitic financial "gains" are added to GDP instead of subtracted as a cost to the real economy. Essentially since GHW Bush's recession, the real economy of the Outlaw US Empire's shrunk about 1.5% annually or @45% overall with the vast majority of economic gains accruing to the top 10%. That grim reality is the #1 reason why Trump won in 2016, and why he stands a very good chance of losing in 2020--"It's the economy, stupid."

Nancy E. Sutton , May 18 2020 17:42 utc | 40
Re: Karl, did the 'West' (Anglo-Zionist world) buy (or actually promote) the 80's 'Greed is Good' line, and ignore what Greenspan supposedly learned..."I have found a flaw...I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organisations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."

Even the average American might be able to see that 'socialism' (i.e., Social Security, et al) is better than 'trickle down'... to put it in simple terms. Neo-liberalism appears to be killing many of us right now. The problem, seems to me, is how to turn the light bulb on for Amerian non-voters... obviously Bernie would have 'had a heart attack' if he'd gotten the nomination.

[May 19, 2020] Will coronavirus fasten the end of "shareholde vlue" mantra?

May 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Nancy E. Sutton , May 18 2020 17:42 utc | 40

Re: Karl, did the 'West' (Anglo-Zionist world) buy (or actually promote) the 80's 'Greed is Good' line, and ignore what Greenspan supposedly learned..."I have found a flaw...I made a mistake in presuming that the self-interests of organisations, specifically banks and others, were such that they were best capable of protecting their own shareholders and their equity in the firms."

Even the average American might be able to see that 'socialism' (i.e., Social Security, et al) is better than 'trickle down'... to put it in simple terms. Neo-liberalism appears to be killing many of us right now. The problem, seems to me, is how to turn the light bulb on for Amerian non-voters... obviously Bernie would have 'had a heart attack' if he'd gotten the nomination.

karlof1 , May 18 2020 18:38 utc | 54

Nancy E. Sutton @40--

Greenspan issued his belated and stupendously weak mea culpa long after the horse left the corral and had galloped several time around the planet. One vital component was already deeply emplaced prior to his tenure that allowed those entities to "protect" themselves--Regulatory Capture. Recall "Banking Crises" began to become regular occurrences during Reagan/Bush. One of Hudson's great contributions is looking into how political-economic theory was captured and transformed into just economic theory, which he castigates as "Junk Economics" in his book of that title. At his website, there're numerous essays that deal with that topic; out of the several dozen I might link to is this one from 2011 . Discovering how we were manipulated into the Neoliberal religion must be understood if we are to get out from under its boot, which is a tall task since millions must become informed, and the Neoliberals control the media. You asked How. My answer is for us to become informed such that we can inform others, which is why Hudson's written an excellent series of books that make it all easy to comprehend and transmit--I taught introductory college economics and know Hudson's works are vastly superior to the texts we used. The two pertinent books for debunking Neoliberalism are Killing the Host and J is for Junk Economics . For the overall historical perspective, his trilogy that begins with and forgive them their debts will be a must, the second book he says will be ready for publication by New Years.

[May 18, 2020] Farkas is definitely one of the fraudulent supporters of the Obama Russiagate witch hunt, but generally he is clueless pawn in a big and dirty gate played by Obama-Brennan tandem

May 18, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Atlantic Council senior fellow, Congressional candidate, and Russia conspiracy theorist Evelyn Farkas is desperately trying to salvage her reputation after recently released transcripts from her closed-door 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee revealed she totally lied on national TV .

In March of 2017, Farkas confidently told MSNBC 's Mika Brzezinski: " The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff dealing with Russians , that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would not longer have access to that intelligence ."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/dCMF94FX530?start=25

Except, during testimony to the House, Farkas admitted she lied . When pressed by former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on why she said 'we' - referring to the US government, Farkas said she "didn't know anything."

In short, she was either illegally discussing US intelligence matters with her "former colleagues," or she made the whole thing up.

Now, Farkas is in damage control mode - writing in the Washington Post that her testimony demonstrated "that I had not leaked intelligence and that my early intuition about Trump-Kremlin cooperation was valid.' She also claims that her comments to MSNBC were based on "media reports and statements by Obama administration officials and the intelligence community," which had "began unearthing connections between Trump's campaign and Russia."

Farkas is now blaming a 'disconcerting nexus between Russia and the reactionary right,' for making her look bad (apparently Trey Gowdy is part of the "reactionary right" for asking her who she meant by "we").

Attacks against me came first on Twitter and other social media platforms, from far-right sources. Forensics data I was shown suggested at least one entity had Russian ties . The attacks increased in quantity and ferocity until Fox News and Trump-allied Republicans -- higher-profile, and more mainstream, sources -- also criticized me .

...

Trump surrogates, including former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski , Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News hosts such as Tucker Carlson have essentially accused me of treason for being one of the "fraudulent originators" of the "Russia hoax." -Evelyn Farkas

She then parrots the Democratic talking point that the attacks she's received are part of Trump's larger "Obamagate" allegations - " a narrative that distracts attention from his administration's disastrous pandemic response and attempts to defect blame for Russian interference onto the Obama administration" (Obama told Putin to ' cut it out ' after all).

Meanwhile, Poor Evelyn's campaign staff has become " emotionally exhausted " after her Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts have been "overwhelmed with a stream of vile, vulgar and sometimes violent messages" in response to the plethora of conservative outlets which have called her out for Russia malarkey.

There is evidence that Russian actors are contributing to these attacks. The same day that right-wing pundits began pumping accusations, newly created Russian Twitter accounts picked them up. Within a day, Russian " disinformation clearinghouses " posted versions of the story . Many of the Twitter accounts boosting attacks have posted in unison, a sign of inauthentic social media behavior.

We assume Zero Hedge is included in said ' disinformation clearinghouses ' Farkas fails to expound on.

She closes by defiantly claiming "I wasn't silenced in 2017, and I won't be silenced now."

No Evelyn, nobody is silencing you. You're being called out for your role in the perhaps the largest, most divisive hoax in US history - which was based on faulty intelligence that includes crowdstrike admitting they had no proof of that Russia exfiltrated DNC emails, and Christopher Steele's absurd dossier based on his 'Russian sources.'


MrBoompi, 18 minutes ago

Lying is a common occurrence on MSNBC. Farkas was just showing her party she is qualified for a more senior position.

chubbar, 23 minutes ago

My opinion, based on zero facts, is that the lie she told was to Gowdy. She had to say she lied about having intelligence data or she'd be looking at a felony along with whomever she was talking to in the US gov't. You just know these cocksuckers in the resistance don't give a **** about laws or fairness, it's all about getting Trump. So they set up an informal network to get classified intelligence from the Obama holdovers out into the wild where these assholes could use it against Trump and the gov't operations. Treason. She needs to be executed for her efforts!

LetThemEatRand, 59 minutes ago

This whole thing reminds me of a fan watching their team play a championship game. If the ref makes a bad call and their team wins, they don't care. And if the ref makes a good call and their team loses, they blame the ref. No one cares about the truth or the facts. That in a nutshell is politics in the US. If you believe that anyone will "switch sides" or admit the ref made a bad call or a good call, you're smoking the funny stuff.

mtumba, 50 minutes ago

It's a natural response to a corrupt system.

When the system is wholly corrupt so that truth doesn't matter, what else is there to care about other than your side winning?

It's a travesty.

[May 17, 2020] The dark side of Obama's 'Rising Star' exposed

May 17, 2020 | www.youtube.com

God's Warrior , 3 weeks ago

44, the biggest fraudulent, groomed 'president' in USA history. Imagine if legal citizens knew the TRUTH about corruption within the political arena? Thank you, @TuckerCarlson

[May 17, 2020] The World is Round Shifting Supply Chains and a Fragmented World Order

May 17, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

... ... ...

Coronavirus has already begun to undermine the legitimacy of the European project in a greater manner that nationalist movements had hoped to achieve. European finance ministers have clashed over all EU nations sharing "corona bonds" debt, while France and Germany responded to Italy's request for ventilators with a refusal accompanied by closing their borders with Italy. At around the same time, the United States imposed a unilateral ban on commercial flights with the EU.

China's economic growth strategy and foreign policy aspirations are being frustrated in the wake of Coronavirus, as developing countries are likely to scrutinize China's Belt Road Initiative. Among Western policymakers anti-China sentiment is increasing. In the UK, there is mounting opposition to Huawei building its fifth-generation mobile networks. In late March, the United States abandoned its long-standing policy of maintaining a status quo vis a vis Taiwan. President Donald Trump signed into law The Taiwan Allies International Protection and Enhancement Initiative (TAIPEI) Act, which increases U.S. support for Taiwan and "alters" engagement with nations that undermine Taiwan's security or prosperity. Beijing responded that it would respond forcefully if the law was implemented, all the while China increases its military drills around Taiwan. This is increasingly likely to occur while the United States increasingly supports Hong Kong's independence movement and demonstrates willingness to confront China in the South China Seas. Similarly, Washington is likely to be drawn into a confrontation with North Korea as the collapse of North Korea's health system may threaten Kim Jong-un's regime leading him to militarily lash out.

The latest phase of globalization spearheaded by the West entailed that service economies were not responsible for the manufacture of the products they consumed. Instead, they depended upon outsourcing production of cheap goods in distant shores creating unprecedented levels of economic prosperity, which at its root was artificial. Liberal democracies did not reach "the end of history," where conflict was to be consigned to the dustbin of history, but could easily be unraveled by a virus emanating from a society it was reliant upon that did not share its norms. In a similar vein, the Roman Empire's apex contained the seeds of its decay as it had become overstretched and difficult to manage. The historian Edward Gibbon, in his 1776 book The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , notes that Romans had become weak and responded to the challenges of hyperinflation, civil wars and revolts by outsourcing their duties to defend their empire in far flung regions to "barbarian" mercenaries such as the Visigoths. Blowback occurred as these barbarians' increased economic production and their ability to conduct warfare, which led them, ultimately, to turn against their benefactors and sack the Roman Empire. Similarly, the West increased the prosperity of faraway nations and ironically, as a result their military assertiveness by being beholden to extended global supply chains. This along with the risk of globalization unravelling increases the prospects of inter-state and great power conflict. All it took was a virus to detonate the fuse that was shorter than anyone expected.

Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at  @BarakSeener .

[May 16, 2020] In a Pandemic, Military Spending Is an Extravagant Waste by Conn Hallinan

Notable quotes:
"... The US has spent over $200 billion on antimissile systems, and once they come off the drawing boards, none of them work very well, if at all. ..."
May 16, 2020 | original.antiwar.com

In the very near future, countries are going to have to choose whether they make guns or vaccines

"There have been as many plagues as wars in history, yet plagues and wars take people equally by surprise."
~ Albert Camus, "The Plague"

Camus' novel of a lethal contagion in the North African city of Oran is filled with characters all too recognizable today: indifferent or incompetent officials, short sighted and selfish citizens, and lots of great courage. What not even Camus could imagine, however, is a society in the midst of a deadly epidemic pouring vast amounts of wealth into instruments of death.

Welcome to the world of the hypersonic weapons, devices that are not only superfluous, but which will almost certainly not work. They will, however, cost enormous amounts of money. At a time when countries across the globe are facing economic chaos, financial deficits, and unemployment at Great Depression levels, arms manufacturers are set to cash in big.

A Hypersonic Arms Race

Hypersonic weapons are missiles that go five times faster than sound – 3,800 mph – although some reportedly can reach speeds of Mach 20, 15,000 mph. They come in two basic varieties. One is powered by a high-speed scramjet. The other, launched from a plane or missile, glides to its target. The idea behind the weapons is that their speed and maneuverability will make them virtually invulnerable to anti-missile systems.

Currently there is a hypersonic arms race going on among China, Russia, and the U.S., and, according to the Pentagon, the Americans are desperately trying to catch up with its two adversaries.

Truth is the first casualty in an arms race.

In the 1950s, it was the "bomber gap" between the Americans and the Soviets. In the 1960s, it was the "missile gap" between the two powers. Neither gap existed, but vast amounts of national treasure were nonetheless poured into long-range aircraft and thousands of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). The enormous expenditures on those weapons, in turn, heightened tensions between the major powers and on at least three occasions came very close to touching off a nuclear war.

In the current hypersonic arms race, "hype" is the operational word. "The development of hypersonic weapons in the United States," says physicist James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "has been largely motivated by technology, not by strategy. In other words, technologists have decided to try and develop hypersonic weapons because it seems like they should be useful for something, not because there is a clearly defined mission need for them to fulfill."

They have certainly been "useful" to Lockheed Martin , the largest arms manufacturer in the world. The company has already received $3.5 billion to develop the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (Arrow) glide missile, and the scramjet-driven Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (Hacksaw) missile.

The Russians also have several hypersonic missiles, including the Avangard glide vehicle, a missile said to be capable of Mach 20. China is developing several hypersonic missiles, including the DF-ZF, supposedly capable of taking out aircraft carriers.

"No Advantage Whatsoever"

In theory hypersonic missiles are unstoppable. In real life, not so much.

The first problem is basic physics: speed in the atmosphere produces heat. High speed generates lots of it. ICBMs avoid this problem with a blunt nose cone that deflects the enormous heat of re-entering the atmosphere as the missile approaches its target. But it only has to endure heat for a short time because much of its flight is in frictionless low earth orbit.

Hypersonic missiles, however, stay in the atmosphere their entire flight. That is the whole idea. An ICBM follows a predictable ballistic curve, much like an inverted U and, in theory, can be intercepted. A missile traveling as fast as an ICBM but at low altitude, however, is much more difficult to spot or engage.

But that's when physics shows up and does a Las Vegas: what happens on the drawing board stays on the drawing board.

Without a heat deflecting nose cone, high-speed missiles are built like big needles, since they need to decrease the area exposed to the atmosphere. Even so, they are going to run very hot. And if they try to maneuver, that heat will increase. Since they can't carry a large payload, they will have to be very accurate – but as a study by the Union of Concerned Scientists points out, that is "problematic."

According to the Union, an object traveling Mach 5 for a period of time "slowly tears itself apart during the flight." The heat is so great it creates a "plasma" around the craft that makes it difficult "to reference GPS or receive outside course correction commands."

If the target is moving, as with an aircraft carrier or a mobile missile, it will be almost impossible to alter the weapon's flight path to intercept it. And any external radar array would never survive the heat or else be so small that it would have very limited range. In short, you can't get from here to there.

Lockheed Martin says the tests are going just fine, but then Lockheed Martin is the company that builds the F-35, a fifth generation stealth fighter that simply doesn't work. It does, however, cost $1.5 trillion, the most expensive weapons system in US history. The company has apparently dropped the scramjet engine because it tears itself apart, hardly a surprise.

The Russians and Chinese claim success with their hypersonic weapons and have even begun deploying them. But Pierre Sprey, a Pentagon designer associated with the two very successful aircraft – the F-16 and the A-10 – told defense analyst Andrew Cockburn that he is suspicious of the tests.

"I very much doubt those test birds would have reached the advertised range had they maneuvered unpredictably," he told Cockburn. "More likely they were forced to fly a straight, predictable path. In which case hypersonics offer no advantage whatsoever over traditional ballistic missiles."

Guns or Vaccines

While Russia, China, and the US lead the field in the development of hypersonics, Britain, France, India, and Japan have joined the race too.

Why is everyone building them?

At least the Russians and the Chinese have a rationale. The Russians fear the US antimissile system might cancel out their ICBMs, so they want a missile that can maneuver. The Chinese would like to keep US aircraft carriers away from their shores.

But antimissile systems can be easily fooled by the use of cheap decoys, and the carriers are vulnerable to much more cost effective conventional weapons. In any case hypersonic missiles can't do what they are advertised to do.

For the Americans, hypersonics are little more than a very expensive subsidy for the arms corporations. Making and deploying weapons that don't work is nothing new. The F-35 is a case in point, but nevertheless, there have been many systems produced over the years that were deeply flawed.

The US has spent over $200 billion on antimissile systems, and once they come off the drawing boards, none of them work very well, if at all.

Probably the one that takes the prize is the Mark-28 tactical nuke, nicknamed the "Davy Crockett," and its M-388 warhead. Because the M-388 was too delicate to be used in conventional artillery, it was fired from a recoil-less rife with a range of 2.5 miles. Problem: if the wind was blowing in the wrong direction, the Crockett cooked its three-man crew. It was only tested once and found to be "totally inaccurate."

So, end of story? Not exactly. A total of 2,100 were produced and deployed, mostly in Europe.

While the official military budget is $738 billion, if one pulls all US defense related spending together, the actual cost for taxpayers is $1.25 trillion a year, according to William Hartung of the Center for International Policy. Half that amount would go a long way toward providing not only adequate medical support during the Covid-19 crisis – it would also pay jobless Americans a salary.

Given that there are more than 31 million Americans now unemployed and the possibility that numerous small businesses – restaurants in particular – will never reopen, building and deploying a new generation of weapons is a luxury the US and other countries cannot afford.

In the very near future, countries are going to have to choose whether they make guns or vaccines.

Foreign Policy In Focus columnist Conn Hallinan can be read at www.dispatchesfromtheedgeblog.wordpress.com and www.middleempireseries.wordpress.com .

[May 16, 2020] The next step from neoliberalisn can be neofeudalism

May 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 15 2020 19:04 utc | 9

And just in time, we have this essay, "How Biosecurity Is Enabling Digital Neo-Feudalism" by Pepe Escobar. Seven years ago, this prediction was made:

"In the worst-case scenario projected for a pandemic, Zylberman predicted that 'sanitary terror' would be used as an instrument of governance....

"Agamben did square the circle: it's not that citizens across the West have the right to health safety; now they are juridically forced (italics [Pepe's]) to be healthy. That, in a nutshell, is what biosecurity is all about.

"So no wonder biosecurity is an ultra-efficient governance paradigm. Citizens had it administered down their throats with no political debate whatsoever. And the enforcement, writes Agamben, kills 'any political activity and any social relation as the maximum example of civic participation.'"

Escobar's topic's been the subject of heated discussion here. How much of "reopening" in meant to combat the implied totalitarian potential? Perhaps an entire thread ought to be devoted? That such was a planned additional benefit of the COVID-19 attack seems very reasonable. Since it was thought of, discussed and had books published about it seems to indicate it ought to become a central topic at MoA.

[May 16, 2020] Putin's Call For A New System and the 1944 Battle Of Bretton Woods

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Our Job in the Pacific ..."
"... "supposed the President was more literate, economically speaking." ..."
"... General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money ..."
"... "contemplates the dismantling of the British and Dutch empires." ..."
May 16, 2020 | off-guardian.org

On the one side, figures allied to American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's vision for an anti-Imperial world order lined up behind FDR's champion Harry Dexter White while those powerful forces committed to maintaining the structures of a bankers' dictatorship (Britain was always primarily a banker's empire) lined up behind the figure of John Maynard Keynes[ 1 ].

John Maynard Keynes was a leading Fabian Society controller and treasurer of the British Eugenics Association (which served as a model for Hitler's Eugenics protocols before and during the war). During the Bretton Woods Conference, Keynes pushed hard for the new system to be premised upon a one world currency controlled entirely by the Bank of England known as the Bancor. He proposed a global bank called the Clearing Union to be controlled by the Bank of England which would use the Bancor (exchangeable with national currencies) and serve as unit of account to measure trade surpluses or deficits under the mathematical mandate of maintaining "equilibrium" of the system.

Harry Dexter White, on the other hand, fought relentlessly to keep the City of London out of the drivers' seat of global finance and instead defended the institution of national sovereignty and sovereign currencies based on long term scientific and technological growth.

Although White and FDR demanded that US dollars become the reserve currency in the new world system of fixed exchange rates, it was not done to create a "new American Empire" as most modern analysts have assumed, but rather was designed to use America's status as the strongest productive global power to ensure an anti-speculative stability among international currencies which entirely lacked stability in the wake of WWII.

Their fight for fixed exchange rates and principles of "parity pricing" were designed by FDR and White strictly around the need to abolish the forms of chaotic flux of the un-regulated markets which made speculation rampant under British Free Trade and destroyed the capacity to think and plan for the sort of long term development needed to modernize nation states. Theirs was not a drive for "mathematical equilibrium" but rather a drive to "end poverty" through REAL physical economic growth of colonies who would thereby win real economic independence.

As figures like Henry Wallace (FDR's loyal Vice President and 1948 3rd party candidate), Representative Wendell Wilkie (FDR's republican lieutenant and New Dealer), and Dexter White all advocated repeatedly, the mechanisms of the World Bank, IMF, and United Nations were meant to become drivers of an internationalization of the New Deal which transformed America from a backwater cesspool in 1932 to becoming a modern advanced manufacturing powerhouse 12 years later. All of these Interntional New Dealers were loud advocates of US-Russia –China leadership in the post war world which is a forgotten fact of paramount importance.

In his 1944 book Our Job in the Pacific , Wallace said:

It is vital to the United States, it is vital to China and it is vital to Russia that there be peaceful and friendly relations between China and Russia, China and America and Russia and America. China and Russia Complement and supplement each other on the continent of Asia and the two together complement and supplement America's position in the Pacific.

Contradicting the mythos that FDR was a Keynesian, FDR's assistant Francis Perkins recorded the 1934 interaction between the two men when Roosevelt told her:

"I saw your friend Keynes. He left a whole rigmarole of figures. He must be a mathematician rather than a political economist."

In response Keynes, who was then trying to coopt the intellectual narrative of the New Deal stated he had "supposed the President was more literate, economically speaking."

In his 1936 German edition of his General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money , Keynes wrote:

For I confess that much of the following book is illustrated and expounded mainly with reference to the conditions existing in the Anglo Saxon countries. Nevertheless, the theory of output as a whole, which is what the following book purports to provide, is much more easily adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state.

While Keynes represented the "soft imperialism" for the "left" of Britain's intelligentsia, Churchill represented the hard unapologetic imperialism of the Old, less sophisticated empire that preferred the heavy fisted use of brute force to subdue the savages. Both however were unapologetic racists and fascists (Churchill even wrote admiringly of Mussolini's black shirts) and both represented the most vile practices of British Imperialism.

FDR's Forgotten Anti-Colonial Vision Revited

FDR's battle with Churchill on the matter of empire is better known than his differences with Keynes whom he only met on a few occasions. This well documented clash was best illustrated in his son/assistant Elliot Roosevelt's book As He Saw It (1946) who quoted his father:

I've tried to make it clear that while we're [Britain's] allies and in it to victory by their side, they must never get the idea that we're in it just to help them hang on to their archaic, medieval empire ideas I hope they realize they're not senior partner; that we are not going to sit by and watch their system stultify the growth of every country in Asia and half the countries in Europe to boot.

[ ]

The colonial system means war. Exploit the resources of an India, a Burma, a Java; take all the wealth out of these countries, but never put anything back into them, things like education, decent standards of living, minimum health requirements – all you're doing is storing up the kind of trouble that leads to war. All you're doing is negating the value of any kind of organizational structure for peace before it begins.

Writing from Washington in a hysteria to Churchill, Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden said that Roosevelt "contemplates the dismantling of the British and Dutch empires."

Unfortunately for the world, FDR died on April 12, 1945. A coup within the Democratic establishment, then replete with Fabians and Rhodes Scholars, had already ensured that Henry Wallace would lose the 1944 Vice Presidency in favor of Anglophile Wall Street Stooge Harry Truman.

Truman was quick to reverse all of FDR's intentions, cleansing American intelligence of all remaining patriots with the shutdown of the OSS and creation of the CIA, the launching of un-necessary nuclear bombs on Japan and establishment of the Anglo-American special relationship.

Truman's embrace of Churchill's New World Order destroyed the positive relationship with Russia and China which FDR, White and Wallace sought and soon America had become Britain's dumb giant.

The Post 1945 Takeover of the Modern Deep State

FDR warned his son before his death of his understanding of the British takeover of American foreign policy, but still could not reverse this agenda. His son recounted his father's ominous insight:

You know, any number of times the men in the State Department have tried to conceal messages to me, delay them, hold them up somehow, just because some of those career diplomats over there aren't in accord with what they know I think. They should be working for Winston.

As a matter of fact, a lot of the time, they are [working for Churchill]. Stop to think of 'em: any number of 'em are convinced that the way for America to conduct its foreign policy is to find out what the British are doing and then copy that!" I was told six years ago, to clean out that State Department. It's like the British Foreign Office

Before being fired from Truman's cabinet for his advocacy of US-Russia friendship during the Cold War, Wallace stated:

American fascism" which has come to be known in recent years as the Deep State [ ] Fascism in the postwar inevitably will push steadily for Anglo-Saxon imperialism and eventually for war with Russia. Already American fascists are talking and writing about this conflict and using it as an excuse for their internal hatreds and intolerances toward certain races, creeds and classes.

In his 1946 Soviet Asia Mission, Wallace said:

Before the blood of our boys is scarcely dry on the field of battle, these enemies of peace try to lay the foundation for World War III. These people must not succeed in their foul enterprise. We must offset their poison by following the policies of Roosevelt in cultivating the friendship of Russia in peace as well as in war.

Indeed this is exactly what occurred. Dexter White's three year run as head of the International Monetary Fund was clouded by his constant attacks as being a Soviet stooge which haunted him until the day he died in 1948 after a grueling inquisition session at the House of Un-American Activities.

White had previously been supporting the election of his friend Wallace for the presidency alongside fellow patriots Paul Robeson and Albert Einstein.

Today the world has captured a second chance to revive the FDR's dream of an anti-colonial world . In the 21st century, this great dream has taken the form of the New Silk Road, led by Russia and China (and joined by a growing chorus of nations yearning to exit the invisible cage of colonialism).

If western nations wish to survive the oncoming collapse, then they would do well to heed Putin's call for a New International system, join the BRI, and reject the Keynesian technocrats advocating a false "New Bretton Woods" and "Green New Deal" .

Originally published on The Saker

[1] You may be thinking "wait! Wasn't FDR and his New Deal premised on Keynes' theories??" How could Keynes have represented an opposing force to FDR's system if this is the case? This paradox only exists in the minds of many people today due to the success of the Fabian Society's and Round Table Movement's armada of revisionist historians who have consistently created a lying narrative of history to make it appear to future generations trying to learn from past mistakes that those figures like FDR who opposed empire were themselves following imperial principles.

Another example of this sleight of hand can be seen by the sheer number of people who sincerely think themselves informed and yet believe that America's 1776 revolution was driven by British Imperial philosophical thought stemming from Adam Smith, Bentham and John Locke.

Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , a BRI Expert on Tactical talk , regular author with Strategic Culture, the Duran and Fort Russ and has authored 3 volumes of 'Untold History of Canada' book series. In 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide Foundation and can be reached at matt.ehret@tutamail.com

[May 16, 2020] America's Chilling Experiment in Human Sacrifice

Neoliberalism is a dangerous, evil secular religion.
May 16, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Since the days of Adam Smith, free market capitalists have held that human beings are rational actors who pursue economic gain for self-interested motives. But here is Patrick, a free marketer if there ever was one, talking about a gift-sacrifice economy model in which people – some people, at least – lay down their lives to keep the economic engines revved.

Patrick's words reveal an unspoken truth about capitalism. For the system to work smoothly, there have always been requirements of human sacrifice -- a certain portion of the population was expected to act not as self-serving homo economicus, but self-sacrificing homo communis , focused upon what benefits the collective at their own expense. If these people can't social distance at the workplace, they are expected to show up anyway. If there isn't enough safety equipment, they are declared essential workers who must put their lives and that of their families at risk for the greater good.

But for whom and for what is this sacrifice intended? How much dying will be figured into state budgets and gross domestic product (GDP)? When ranked by GDP, the U.S. is the wealthiest economy in the world, but is a country's wealth something totally separate from, or even contrary to, the health and life the majority of its citizens?

Wealth v. "illth"

To help us navigate these questions, it is useful turn to someone who offered potent challenges to the economic calculus of his day: John Ruskin , the 19 th -century art critic-turned-political economist. He was one of the most outspoken critics of capitalism and prevailing economic ideas of the Victorian era , and his work presciently points to shortcomings that have followed us into the present day.

Ruskin questions the premises on which free market capitalism is based, returning to first principles: what is wealth? What do we value? How should we understand the relationship between people, the economy, and the state?

In his view, economies are, above all, social systems whose true end is to benefit the people, and not, as the Texan politician would have it, the other way around. Anticipating the behavioral economics of our own day, Ruskin rejected the idea advocated by such economists as John Stuart Mill that there could be a deductive science of economics based on the assumption that the human being is "a covetous machine" that when applied to actual situations could take "the social affections," the non-rational aspects of human behavior, into account. Ruskin recognized that such a system implicitly removed the marketplace from the constraints of religion and morality that are supposed to apply to all human behavior. He compared it to an assumption that humans are essentially a skeleton with flesh, blood and consciousness as add-ons founding "an ossifiant theory of progress on this negation of a soul."

Ruskin defined wealth quite differently from many of his contemporaries, and ours. For him, wealth is anything that supports life and health, from the supplies in your storeroom to the song in your heart: "There is no wealth but life. Life, including all its powers of love, of joy, and of admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings; that man is richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence, both personal, and by means of his possessions, over the lives of others." ( Unto this Last ).

By that definition, America is looking increasingly impoverished. And it is not a virus which is stealing our wealth away.

Playing on the root of the word "wealth" from the Old English word "weal," signifying health, Ruskin proposed that while wealth was anything life-supporting that could be used and enjoyed, it had a dark counterpart that he called "illth" from the Old Norse word for bad – the things that make people ill, their lives stunted and despairing, their environment polluted. Wealth cannot be produced without illth, but great fortunes have been made by extracting the means of wealth without paying the cost of illth. To take a Ruskinian example, a factory that pollutes the water it uses, fouls the air and pays its workers below what a healthy life requires will be more profitable than a business that cleans up after itself and pays a living wage, but its illth becomes a form of national debt expressed in damage to the health of others and the environment. Think of something like a toxic Superfund site.

Economists have a term for Ruskin's concept of illth, referring to it as "negative externalities," even though they are not external to the capitalist economic system, but intrinsic to it. The most daunting problems of the current age, environmental disaster and inequality, are fueled by illth.

The Covid-19 crisis has merely amplified trends of rising illth, of despair, sickness, and alienation, which have been on the rise for decades as globalization, money-driven politics, decimated workers' rights, and privatization have tipped the economic balance far in favor of the very few. If we are to judge a country's health not by GDP, which rises in the face of a massive oil spill , but according to the criteria of the World Happiness Report (WHR), which measures things like social trust and faith in institutions, America is in bad shape when it comes to the ratio of wealth to illth. Scandinavian countries top the WHR, while the U.S. ranks a dismal 19 th .

According to the Columbia University study of the 2020 WHR report , the key factors that account for the relative happiness of Scandinavian countries -- what makes them wealthy in Ruskin's terms -- are precisely those that have been under pressure or cut back in the U.S. since the rise of neoliberalism: "emancipation from market dependency in terms of pensions, income maintenance for the ill or disabled, and unemployment benefits" together with labor market regulation such as a high minimum wage. Of course, no one likes to pay taxes, but Scandinavian "citizens' satisfaction with public and common goods such as health care, education, and public transportation that progressive taxation helps to fund," meets with approval at all income levels.

Pandemics are exacerbated by illth. We can see it in communities of color where the coronavirus strikes down those whose resources and access to health care have been limited by discriminatory policies and high contact employment. We can see it in factory farms where broken supply chains have caused farmers to euthanize livestock and plow under crops while people across the country go hungry. Airlines got immediate stimulus aid in the U.S., but there has been no subsidy for the restaurant supply chain that could be diverted for distribution by food banks and favorably located restaurants thus sustaining at least some of our much-vaunted small businesses. No one has to fly, but everyone must eat.

We sense illth accumulating in the comments of Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman, who, in her eagerness to get the casinos back in business, told an astonished Anderson Cooper on CNN that she would offer up the city's workers as a " control group " in a reopening experiment. If they weren't able to social distance, Goodman was unconcerned: "In my opinion, you have to go ahead," she said . "Every day you get up, it's a gamble."

Ruskin saw the capitalists of his day as gamblers heedless of the costs they foisted onto ordinary people: "But they neither know who keeps the bank of the gambling-house, nor what other games may be played with the same cards, nor what other losses and gains, far away among the dark streets, are essentially, though invisibly, dependent upon theirs in lighted rooms." ( Unto This Last ).

In other words, not only do capitalists gamble with other peoples' lives; they are oblivious to the fact that there are other ways to arrange society, to deal the cards differently, more fairly.

Witness the post-Covid reality imagined by Governor Cuomo. Instead of focusing on what changes could better support the health and lives of ordinary people, he has called in Google CEO Eric Schmidt to head a commission to reimagine New York state with more technology permanently inserted into every dimension of civic life. A better deal for Silicon Valley, to be sure. But what is in the cards for everyone else? When educational platforms and health protocols are mapped by gigantic and unaccountable corporations, who gets lost? Surely the answer is those who can least afford it.

President Trump says that it is time to move on from the coronavirus and get on with economy. Ruskin would have recognized the deity worshipped by country's leader, which he called the "Goddess of getting on." Only Ruskin recognized that she tended to favor "not of everybody's getting on – but only of somebody's getting on," -- what he called a "vital, or rather deathful, distinction." For capitalists, getting on post-Covid means executives working remotely while the rank and file return to the factory floor without adequate face masks, and large corporations, not public input, determines the blueprints for our lives.

The issue of worker safety does matter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but not because he fears that some will get sick or die, but for a potential " epidemic of litigation ." In the next pandemic relief legislation, McConnell is looking to solve the problem of worker safety by shielding corporations from lawsuits rather than supporting Centers for Disease Control (CDC) mandated regulations that would both promote safety and sort out what is and is not actionable.

The Visible Hand

Instead of Adam Smith's Invisible Hand, Ruskin advocated a Visible Hand of reasoned management, a government which could allocate resources effectively and create stores of what citizens most needed in a crisis. In our day this need not be a literal storehouse but surge capacity. The Obama administration, for example, contracted with Halyard Health to design a machine that could turn out 1.5 million N95 masks per day. They were ready to build the machine in 2018 when the Trump administration cancelled the program .

In Ruskin's view, the Visible Hand was the guardian of the lives of the citizens, especially the poor, whose health and lives were their essential property. Ruskin actually defined an economy as the wise management of labor, applying labor, carefully preserving what it produces, and wisely distributing those products. A country's wealth is in the people's strength and health, not their illness and death.

Ruskin's concepts of wealth and illth help us understand the centrality of ethics and responsibility to economic activity, and how economies are not an assemblage of atomistic human units but whole systems of people interacting, where the activities of some impact the lives of all. His work indicates the need for a whole systems approach to a crisis in which what happens on the beaches of Georgia impacts a nursing home in North Carolina, and visitors to New York City or New Orleans can carry the infection home. The decisions of one business in a complex international supply chain can impact the fate of millions.

In unregulated capitalism, Ruskin sussed out what Sigmund Freud might have recognized as the death drive. Decisions about the economy, he held, must be informed by the essential biologic basis of life itself: "The real science of political economy, which has yet to be distinguished from the bastard science, as medicine from witchcraft, and astronomy from astrology, is that which teaches nations to desire and labour for the things that lead to life; and which teaches them to scorn and destroy the things that lead to destruction" ( Unto This Last ).

The Covid crisis has exposed contradictions in market and America First ideology. Without federal aid to state and local governments, essential personnel are being laid off even as we declare them heroes. Employer based insurance is failing, but few American politicians are willing to fully embrace single payer insurance. Meat plant workers are declared essential, but still subject to deportation, as if famed Revolutionary patriot Nathan Hale had said, "I only regret that you have but one life to give for my country."

Ultimately, the most dangerous pestilence that threatens the country is not a packet of RNA called Covid-19 but an economic and political system that does not value true wealth, and promotes the life of the few while condemning the many to literal sickness unto death.


Henry Moon Pie , May 15, 2020 at 5:38 am

Excellent piece by Parramore. Ruskin is an interesting thinker whose ideas have direct application to our situation. This was central:

President Trump says that it is time to move on from the coronavirus and get on with economy. Ruskin would have recognized the deity worshipped by country's leader, which he called the "Goddess of getting on." Only Ruskin recognized that she tended to favor "not of everybody's getting on – but only of somebody's getting on," -- what he called a "vital, or rather deathful, distinction." For capitalists, getting on post-Covid means executives working remotely while the rank and file return to the factory floor without adequate face masks, and large corporations, not public input, determines the blueprints for our lives.

There's one thing I hope the Left learns before too long. Human beings have a religious impulse. It's not as powerful or as central to our existence as the sexual impulse, but it's there in all of us, even Richard Dawkins. Like the sexual impulse, the real question is where will this religious impulse lead us. For the Right, their twisted unChristian conception of Christianity is a powerful force within their political movement. In fact, it might be said to be what holds it together and provides the energy for their unfortunate efforts.

Meanwhile, the Left, considering itself too firmly ensconced in modernity to recognize the reality of the religious impulse despite modern science's identification of it, denies the existence of this basic and potentially powerful human trait. We saw some of the activists and organizers in Bernie's campaign employ deep organizing techniques which are basically spiritual exercises. We know Thomas Berry's calls for a new religion focused on humanity's relationship to the Earth and its creatures. The Left needs to acknowledge our spiritual aspects and work to turn our religious impulse away from patriarchalism, misogyny and homophobia of the Right and toward love for the Earth, our fellow humans and our fellow creatures. That's where reside the power and persistence necessary to overcome our religiously misinspired opponents.

Bsoder , May 15, 2020 at 9:34 am

There is a gene that creates within the brain a structure that either perceives 'god' (my view), or generates a sense of spirituality in [sic] reality. The university of Waterloo has been doing studies on this for at least thirty years. Anything we have evolved has a calorie cost to maintain, so it must serve purpose in furthering life. There have been many debates about this gene but no one can argue it's not about spirituality, and/or god, and/or what the Druids what call magic. To me there's always been, that question, we can go back and have data to 1/billion of 1/billion to 1/billion⁶⁶⁷(minus) of a second before the inflation singularity that created this universe. But then, why? As the said in the 'Little Prince', 'it's only with the heart one sees rightly'.

Susan the other , May 15, 2020 at 10:07 am

The little prince is right. What we call spirituality is intelligence above what is necessary our daily existence. Our "daily bread". Our sixth sense is probably more accurate and reliable than all our rationalizations combined. But it is a thing that can't be orchestrated by religion or politics. What happens between people in groups when fear is eliminated is a sudden change toward choices that are the most sensible. As long as the process isn't interfered with. That's the difficulty. It's like leaving nature alone long enough for it to recover from human devastation.

Clive , May 15, 2020 at 10:28 am

What we call spirituality is intelligence above what is necessary our daily existence.

(although if I was trying to do your comment complete justice, I would have to simply re-quote the whole thing, it was that good)

Sometimes Susan the other, you're so profound, it almost hurts!

Certainly for me, I've got very little, comparatively, in my life right. I've passed on opportunities which would made me rich beyond the dreams of avarice. And much else besides. Mostly because I've overanalysed and rationalised things away. What I've got right has been, conversely, down to following my intuition. If humanity could unlock that potential within us, just think what we could do.

Susan the other , May 15, 2020 at 1:21 pm

If I'm profound Clive it's because I look to you and a handful of other VSP for inspiration.

RBHoughton , May 15, 2020 at 8:48 pm

That's what makes NC unique – the sense of honor and respect amongst supporters.

SAKMAN , May 15, 2020 at 10:29 am

If we are talking about VMAT2 here, then its also been implicated in opiod dependence. . . just another example of god I guess? To some for sure.

Susan the other , May 15, 2020 at 9:58 am

Neo-transcendentalism please.

ChiGal in Carolina , May 15, 2020 at 10:41 am

The Sun
mary oliver

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful

than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon

and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again

out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower

streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance–
and have you ever felt for anything
such wild love–
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure

that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you

as you stand there,
empty-handed–
or have you too
turned from this world–

or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?

Henry Moon Pie , May 15, 2020 at 11:01 am

A response to Oliver's powerful poem from Thomas Berry:

The continuity between the human and the cosmic was experienced with special sensitivity in the Chinese world [A] sense of the sacred dimension of the Earth is involved, a type of awareness less available from our traditional Western religions. This lack of intimacy with the natural was further extended when Descartes proposed that the living world was best described as a mechanism, because there was no vital principle integrating, guiding, and sustaining the activities of what we generally refer to as the living world.

Yet, strangely enough, a new sense of the sacred dimension of the universe and the planet Earth is becoming available from our more recent scientific endeavors. The observational sciences, principally through the theories of relativity, quantum physics, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle, the sense of a self-organizing universe, and the more recent chaos theories have taken us beyond a mechanistic understanding of an objective world. We know there is a subjectivity in all our knowledge and that we ourselves, precisely as intelligent beings, activate one of the deepest dimensions of the universe. Once again, we realize that knowledge is less a subject-object relationship than it is a communion of subjects, .

Thomas Berry, "The Gaia Hypothesis: Its Religious Implications" in The Sacred Universe

Susan the other , May 15, 2020 at 1:26 pm

I'm reading Rovelli's The Order of Time right now and every few pages I just stop, my jaw drops and I get lost in the realization.

Rod , May 15, 2020 at 9:59 am

I'm glad you are making this point to acknowledge:

Human beings have a religious impulse.

From my direct experience, Native Americans seem to center their activism in a Spiritual Context. Prayer for Guidance–for courage–for wisdom–for compassion–before starting up on anything. imo, it keeps the priorities in focus.

Petter , May 15, 2020 at 3:12 pm

I'm posting in this thread even though I'm not sure it fits. The religious or spiritual impulse appears to be universal, there doesn't seem any doubt about that. Here's an interesting article on Big Gods, or moralizing Gods.
Big data analyses suggest that moralizing gods are rather the product than the drivers of social complexity:
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190320141116.htm
-- -- -- -- --
One prominent theory, the big or moralizing gods hypothesis, assumes that religious beliefs were key. According to this theory people are more likely to cooperate fairly if they believe in gods who will punish them if they don't. "To our surprise, our data strongly contradict this hypothesis," says lead author Harvey Whitehouse. "In almost every world region for which we have data, moralizing gods tended to follow, not precede, increases in social complexity." Even more so, standardized rituals tended on average to appear hundreds of years before gods who cared about human morality.

Such rituals create a collective identity and feelings of belonging that act as social glue, making people to behave more cooperatively. "Our results suggest that collective identities are more important to facilitate cooperation in societies than religious beliefs," says Harvey Whitehouse.
-- -- -- -

Amfortas the hippie , May 15, 2020 at 6:14 am

I can definitely recommend Ruskin's "Unto This Last". I obtained it(among several others that had been on my list(from NC) for a while) just before Covid.
short book wonderfully written.
and kicks you in the gut like some new revelation.
turns out that divorcing "Economics" from "Political Economy" was a mistake.
treating the former as if it were a natural science, like Physics or Chemistry let alone Pure Mathematics is deleterious.
It ignores and neglects all the amorphous and ephemeral things that make this Life worth living .how can you quantify a sunset or a moonrise or the smell of your newborn's hair or a first kiss?
the Economists have taken reductive essentialism to absurd extremes .and somehow convinced a great many of us to go along to our ultimate destruction.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHOhD0RT9NU

Marx called this sort of thing Reification .giving something a Quality it doesn't truly possess. Money as the Holy Cracker in the Temple of Moloch.
or, the morality of a Serpent: I shall Devour.(see: Joseph Campbell:"a serpent is a "motile alimentary canal")
we're expected to feed ourselves and our children into the flaming bronze maw of their idol( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moloch )
as if "The Economy" is some thunderstorm or Holy Mountain, instead of a Human Creation.
"There is no such thing as Society" .and "TINA" .and these moronic "protesters" holding signs that say "Arbiet macht frie" apparently unaware of the provenance of that phrase .after all , we stopped really teaching the Humanities like History quite a while ago.
we forget that "They" require our assent and consent to this "sacrifice"(L:"to make holy") that without that consent, they have nothing not even their precious wealth(which is what, these days? electrons moving in a database, somewhere?).

now, "They" have as much as admitted that things like the Stock Market are disconnected from Reality that the Casino doesn't need Main Street and Human Beings to function.
This, after decades of training us to believe just the opposite. Why else put a stock market ticker at the bottom of every cable news channel as if all that mattered to us'n's?
One of my favorite words is Eudaimonia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eudaimonia ) but you only learn about that from the Humanities.
another of my favorite words is Thaumazein "Wonder", or "Awe" also from ancient Greek Philosophy
we've allowed the most withered souls to define the Good for us
Now, when all their works lie in ruins around us .and their narrow and anti-humanist, mechanistic absurdity and cruelty are on full display has there ever been a better time to turn away? To sit and think about what matters?
Withdraw your Consent.

" O happiness! O happiness! Wilt thou perhaps sing, O my soul? Thou liest in the grass. But this is the secret, solemn hour, when no shepherd playeth his pipe.
Take care! Hot noontide sleepeth on the fields. Do not sing! Hush! The world is perfect.
Do not sing, thou prairie-bird, my soul! Do not even whisper! Lo- hush! The old noontide sleepeth, it moveth its mouth: doth it not just now drink a drop of happiness --
-- An old brown drop of golden happiness, golden wine? Something whisketh over it, its happiness laugheth. Thus -- laugheth a God. Hush! --
-- 'For happiness, how little sufficeth for happiness!' Thus spake I once and thought myself wise. But it was a blasphemy: that have I now learned. Wise fools speak better.
The least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard's rustling, a breath, a whisk, an eye-glance -- little maketh up the best happiness. Hush!
-- What hath befallen me: Hark! Hath time flown away? Do I not fall? Have I not fallen -- hark! into the well of eternity?
-- What happeneth to me? Hush! It stingeth me -- alas -- to the heart? To the heart! Oh, break up, break up, my heart, after such happiness, after such a sting!
-- What? Hath not the world just now become perfect? Round and ripe? Oh, for the golden round ring -- whither doth it fly? Let me run after it! Quick!"
( http://4umi.com/nietzsche/zarathustra/70 )

Bsoder , May 15, 2020 at 9:43 am

Good day it you sir, you are in rare and most excellent form, Amfortas. Amen.

McKillop , May 15, 2020 at 3:00 pm

Hey Amphortas the Hippie!
I enjoy reading your comments and the slices of your life served up to us – you are an interesting guy and a good antidote to me whenever I am disheartened by the stuff I am bombarded with by the exceptional Americans foisted upon the world as typical.
Who would believe that I read Thus spake Zarathustra 'cause of your comments? I sent the link on to my son who is 16 and has been physically separated from us for months caught in this vortex. We'll see how it is taken compared to Mnm.
Thanks

Amfortas the hippie , May 15, 2020 at 3:21 pm

Aww. Thanks, dude/dudette.
zarathustra is very accessible.
i've noticed that lots of people(like my wife) have been taught somehow that they can't read stuff like that, so don't even try.
just another crime against us all.
aristotle can be pretty dense as can a lot of the more familiar philosophers(hegel=ugh–) but Nietszche is pretty easy to get into, due to his style .although some translations are better than others(I like the translation linked above for Zarathustra the KJV Tone works for me.)
One shouldn't be intimidated by Marcus Aurelius, Herodotus or Boethius, either.

rob , May 15, 2020 at 7:42 am

Isn't it ironic, that ruskin was able to see our issues and spoke to people with such force as to effect our lives and in a sense is partly responsible for the world we have today.
When he spoke at oxford in 1870 cecil rhodes was so impressed he supposedly carried a copy of it with him in the future.
The ideas expressed by ruskin convinced rhodes that he needed to save "good english society" from "the masses"(the poor english and all the rest of the savages who wouldn't understand how to be proper."
Rhodes and his cohorts,in the british upper crust and media establishment created "the british rountable" in 1891. These roundtablers did lots of things..Both through official channels and by ways of running the largest newspapers who really perfected propaganda, decades before goebbels. Eventually they formed in 1919, "the royal institute of international relations" in britian. and "the council on foreign relations" in new york"
Generations of these members have really "made" the world that exists today. Which is why the "conspiracy theories" exist . when people look at the lists of who
Personally, I think there ought to be study in the relationships these people had with each other and with history. As with any family, they may be related, but not always on the same page but still have the power of the family name and the prestige.
The council on foreign relations is the wellspring of "neoliberalism" neo consevatism too , for that matter. Their place in history is central. This is the axis of the "anglo-american establishment"

rob , May 15, 2020 at 9:02 am

oops, that is "royal institute of international affairs" or as people refer to it "chatham house"

Off The Street , May 15, 2020 at 9:21 am

Upon first reading the headline about America's Chilling Experiment in Human Sacrifice , I wondered: Which one?

Now back to Ruskin.

shinola , May 15, 2020 at 10:02 am

Dan Patrick's attitude is a prime example of a principle that regular NC readers may have seen a time or two:

Because Markets / Go Die

anon2 , May 15, 2020 at 11:26 am

Hence the folly of an economy based on debt rather than equity: it must continue to run or risk cascading defaults.

Then why do we have government privileges for private debt creation in the first place? Because subtle theft is easier and more "efficient" than honest sharing?

Alex Cox , May 15, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Perhaps science is the religion of the PMC. An unquestioning belief in anything scientists/big pharma/tech wizzards throw on the table, whether it's GMOs, vaccines containing mercury, thalidomide, social media, driverless cars or trips to Mars.

JBird4049 , May 15, 2020 at 2:14 pm

I use to go to Nevada regularly and mostly via the Donner Pass. Just a roundabout way of suggesting that some might consider the Donner Party as the right way to have a society. They almost made it over the pass, missing it by a couple of days, despite taking a shortcut that was actually a longcut using bad information from a book, IIRC. They were told repeatedly by those who had gone West before not to do so, but

They remind me of today's times.

Dwight , May 15, 2020 at 2:32 pm

In Nashville, TN last month, a masked protester at the state capitol carried a sign "Sacrifice the Weak." I was shocked when a local news show reported on protesters and filmed this sign along with other signs and protesters, and the reporter did not comment on this horrible, Nazi-like statement.

p fitzsimon , May 15, 2020 at 4:32 pm

Have there been any prominent religious leaders who have given counsel on the sacrificial nature of a return to work to save the economy. At what point is the risk to human life and health compensated by an economic return?

Hepativore , May 15, 2020 at 11:00 pm

Come to think of it, does it not seem odd that with many prominent religious figures, none of them seem to be willing to speak up on how greed is destroying the world and all of the wealthy owners of capital that are its promoters? Greed is a major sin in almost every religion, yet you hardly ever see any religious clergy give sermons on how widespread and dangerous greed is or publicly admonish Wall Street if they hold themselves up to be the moral leaders of society.

Henry Moon Pie , May 15, 2020 at 7:20 pm

The great way is low and plain,
but people like shortcuts over the mountains.

From Ursula K. Le Guin's translation of the Tao te Ching #53

It's an old problem.

Chris , May 15, 2020 at 10:01 pm

The fundamental problem we have with all the "very smart people" who think economics is a science is that I can't write an equation that will convince these masters of the universe that they shouldn't be @$$holes.

I can't tell anyone that even if it doesn't profit you there's a reason to choose to help your fellow humans.

I also can't define a relationship that explains why even if you can figure out how to stay within the letter of the law and exploit a loop hole to make more money but only in way that hurts other people, you shouldn't do it. Or why you shouldn't write a law or lobby for a law that exists only so it can be abused.

These guys will never accept the concept of illth because it challenges their concept of wealth. And so it goes

eg , May 16, 2020 at 4:59 am

One of the best educated persons I know shared this with me: the most valuable thing is a hierarchy of values.

rob , May 16, 2020 at 8:15 am

I thought it was a trust fund in a tax haven.
Silly me.

DHG , May 16, 2020 at 4:25 pm

I dont gamble with my life. The shrewd will take the necessary precautions and keep themselves concealed as much as possible. The stupid will not take these precautions, likely get sick and some will perish .

Karen , May 16, 2020 at 5:46 pm

It amazes me that protesters and policymakers are still treating this as an impossible tradeoff -- a false dichotomy -- between life and money, when it's clear that success lies with practical solutions, of which there are many, to achieve both. Starting with masks!

I love the idea of billionaires leading the way, demonstrating the efficacy of their reopening plans through personal example.

[May 16, 2020] In the "brutal economics" of capitalism, the lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic are simply the cost of doing business. While trillions of dollars have been spent propping up financial markets, no serious efforts have been made to contain the pandemic

May 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , May 16 2020 15:31 utc | 104

An excellent article on the WSWS:
"...In the "brutal economics" of capitalism, the lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic are simply the cost of doing business. While trillions of dollars have been spent propping up financial markets, no serious efforts have been made to contain the pandemic, and whatever mitigation measures have been put in place, including the closure of businesses, are being rapidly abandoned.

"The efforts by the ruling class to counterpose workers' lives to livelihoods is an entirely false choice. Both can be defended with the necessary allocation of social resources to stop and eradicate COVID-19 and all other communicable diseases. Non-essential workplaces must remain closed for as long as it takes for these measures to be put in place.

"But containing the pandemic requires an investment in social infrastructure that the capitalist class is not willing to make. The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear the utter incompatibility of the capitalist system with the preservation of the most basic social right: the right to life."
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/05/16/pers-m16.html


"I also don't know why you would quote a Wapo article, uncritically, in response to fairleft. Why would I care what they say about anything? They represent power. I consider them no more reliable on pharma imperialism as they are on military imperialism."
oglalla@102
You answer the question yourself. Nobody is suggesting that anyone read the Washington Post uncritically. I am surprised that you should accuse b of having done so. The evidence is that he has read the Post critically-as we all have to do in a culture in which the major source of news, for everyone, is a media compromised enormously by its allegiances, particularly its allegiance to capitalism.
Read the Wapo critically and you will be left with a residue of information which can be cross checked by various means, once you have done that you can evaluate the importance of its conclusions. It is what we all have to do.

[May 16, 2020] "Three of the largest for-profit nursing home operators in Ontario, which have had disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, have together paid out more than $1.5 billion in dividends to shareholders over the last decade, the Star has found.

May 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , May 16 2020 13:39 utc | 87

Maybe this story from the Toronto Star will help explain why so many people are dying:

"Three of the largest for-profit nursing home operators in Ontario, which have had disproportionately high numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths, have together paid out more than $1.5 billion in dividends to shareholders over the last decade, the Star has found.

"This massive sum does not include $138 million paid in executive compensation and $20 million in stock buybacks (a technique that can boost share prices), according to the financial reports of the province's three biggest publicly traded long-term-care home companies, Extendicare, Sienna Senior Living and Chartwell Retirement Residences.

"That's a total of more than $1.7 billion taken out of their businesses."

Beneath all the uninformed, pretentious anecdote swapping about stats and panaceas, the drivelling over whether or not there is a pandemic or whether Bill Gates, Soros or the KKK planned and executed it on behalf of haute finance, something very simple is taking place.
Capitalism, which devours people and turns lives into capital, having made a pandemic disease of the sort now surrounding us inevitable, is protecting itself. Its major fear is that if there are too many victims-cf The Black Death- the price of labour may rise to the extent that it impinges on the rate of profit. It dare not consider the possibility that the working class will organise itself to put an end to the system, as an alternative to doing what men have done throughout the history of epidemics- blaming everything on an angry deity or an elite such as the Illuminati, the Council for Foreign Affairs or bloggers corrupted by money.

[May 16, 2020] Cultural domination of English in Brazil

May 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , May 16 2020 18:05 utc | 129

@ Posted by: hopehely | May 16 2020 17:27 utc | 126

Not the proletariat, but the Brazilian elite is entirely bilingual nowadays (Portuguese and English). Contrary to the myth, there are more English speakers in Brazil than Spanish speakers, that is, English is Brazil's de fact second language, not Spanish (as you would expect for a country circles by Spanish speakers).

In place of Spanish, Brazilians speak the so-called "Portunhol", which is essentially Portuguese with Spanish lexicon. The Brazilian elite - unless he/she "works" for something specifically Spanish (i.e. Santander Bank, or a Latin American subsidiary of an American giant HQd in Brazil) - is not educated in Spanish. Many of them are educated with English as their first language, Portuguese being the second, in specially prepared Anglophone schools which are only available to these same elite members. Those schools adopt the American national curriculum system, so when they graduate from high school, they can go directly to an American college without those genius-hunter mega-tests organized annually by the likes of the MIT: they enroll as normal, typical American citizens. Almost all of them have second homes in Miami or in some other city in Florida (e.g. Sarasota), where they usually (but not only) spend the Brazilian winter (June-August).

Most of the Brazilian elite share the same disgust the American elite has for the "Hispanics", and they abhor being confused with one by their American counterparts, so they avoid any connection with Spanish they can - including giving their children English or Anglicized names (e.g. Anthony instead of Antonio; Henry instead of Henrique; Mary instead of Maria - all of which are exactly the same in Spanish and Portuguese).

And those are just the "rich". The real Brazilian elite (the "billionaires") do not even live in Brazilian territory, and educate their children directly in the USA educational system. A concrete example of this is Eduardo Saverin, one of the founders of Facebook. He was spent the first years of his life in Rio de Janeiro to a billionaire Brazilian family, but quickly moved to the USA when he was just a kid because the Brazilian Intelligence (Abin) warned his parents he was on the list of the most likely to be kidnapped in Brazil. He was then raised as an American, and went to Harvard as a normal American (billionaire) citizen.

More extravagant examples exist, though. Lily Safra, widow of the banker who founded Safra Bank, chose to have her main home in London, as it probably fits her lifestyle better (she has a more "sophisticated" taste, preferring the likes of jewel collections and European architecture). Others (generally the ones who still have a strong cultural connection with their European ancestors) do the same, sending their children to be educated in Switzerland instead of the USA. But those are the exception that proves the rule, not the rule itself.

[May 16, 2020] Tucker Susan Rice and the origins of the Russia investigation

May 16, 2020 | www.youtube.com

Ed , 4 days ago (edited)

Farkas; "I'll come on the show any time and explain what you're missing."

Tucker: "You're invited on tonight."

Farkas: "Tonight? Oh, I can't make it tonight. Got a million other things to do. I'd come on any other time... But tonight?"

[May 16, 2020] Tucker Adam Schiff should resign

Highly recommended!
This act of sedition goes as high as (or as low as) Obama himself.
Notable quotes:
"... He should do more than resign. He should be prosecuted for his role in an attempted coup. Schiff for prisoner 2020. ..."
"... There's no willpower in the house to take action against him. ..."
May 16, 2020 | www.youtube.com

warchant59 , 1 week ago

He should do more than resign. He should be prosecuted for his role in an attempted coup. Schiff for prisoner 2020.

Shannon Moore , 2 days ago

Schiff probably practice his lies in his mirror every morning so he can convince himself of Russian interference. Biggest liar in America Adam Schifty schiff. Needs to be arrested immediately for treason and lying under oath. But as usual nothing will happen. These people are above the law. And are untouchable. Its enough to frustrate the hell out of normal sain Americans. 4 more years of Donald Trump

D LE , 3 days ago

Every person that went on television and knowingly lied should be tried for treason , sedition and attempted over throw of Trumps presidency.

TheFoolinthe rainn , 3 days ago

Folks need to take a much closer look at your own state legislature, district attorney, prosecutors, public defenders, social workers... especially your own town councils and school boards. They're stealing your lives and children at the Grassroots local level.

Norita Sanders , 5 days ago

Bill and Hillary Clinton sold the U.S. out years ago with the North American free trade agreement. And obama finished us off during g his last term.

CAPT. RICK ALLEN , 2 days ago

They should throw Schiff in jail and then give everything he owns to his victims who lost everything.

Joe Merkel , 1 day ago

Schiff absolutely SHOULD resign but he won't. Not only will he not but he'll cheat and win re-election along with his mom, Nancy Pelosi.

Tim Coleman , 3 days ago

Adam Schiff is not resigning. He's doubling down yet again! If you "want" him to resign, you need to understand he's staying in office until voted out. There's no willpower in the house to take action against him.

[May 15, 2020] The Illusion of 'Free Markets' and 'Free Trade' by George D. O'Neill

There is a cost and "True cost". The latter is often hidden and might higher the the cost.
Notable quotes:
"... The Price Mechanism Theory only works well when there is honest and accurate information to understand the true costs, but our leadership is corrupt and has not been honest with us. In order to protect both American interests and American citizens, it is important to develop mechanisms to fully understand the consequences of many of our policies and who is making them. Who ..."
May 15, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Our elites have been responding to incentives which are beneficial to their institutions, and China, but detrimental to America.

A shell of a piano in the lobby of the Lee Plaza Hotel. The decades-long decline of the U.S. automobile industry is acutely reflected in the urban decay of Detroit, the city lovingly referred to as Motor City. (Photo by Timothy Fadek/Corbis via Getty Images) George D. O'Neill Jr. We have come to a point in our nation's public discourse where there is a widespread realization that many of the economic policies pursued and promoted by our political, business and media elites have failed us in multiple ways. We have heard our trade policies called "Free Trade" and "Free Market", but those statements were often dishonest.

When crafting these agreements, our elites have been responding to incentives which are beneficial to their institutions but detrimental to the well-being of American citizens.

... ... ...

The same is true for manufacturing businesses. The closing of a factory has huge costs for a neighborhood: unemployed people. Not just those from the factory, but the people who work at companies which supply goods and services to that factory. The consequences of a factory closing cascades through the economy. The tax base for that neighborhood is also eroded, which reduces the community's ability to maintain and deliver essential services and support civic institutions.

We cannot just turn off a factory like a light switch and turn it back on at will when the Chinese decide to raise their prices at a later date.

None of this takes into account the quality of the goods that we receive. We have just become aware that more than 90% of our pharmaceutical antibiotics are manufactured in China. When you hear of the big drug recalls, keep in mind many of them are from China, which is famous for ubiquitous and flagrant corruption as well as a disregard for quality control. Do we really know if our antibiotics are safe?

Now, back to our leadership, which we have relied on to guide our nation. Their incentives often lead them to make choices which do not benefit the American people. The Chinese have famously made generous deals with a sitting vice-president's son and a Secretary of State's stepson that likely insured high level government silence about their predatory practices. The Chinese have purchased important media assets, such as the largest film distribution company in America and inked lucrative media deals with huge media companies to purchase silence about their predatory behavior. The same is true with many other industries.

... ... ...

The Price Mechanism Theory only works well when there is honest and accurate information to understand the true costs, but our leadership is corrupt and has not been honest with us. In order to protect both American interests and American citizens, it is important to develop mechanisms to fully understand the consequences of many of our policies and who is making them. Who is making the decisions is often just as important as what is being decided.

George D. O'Neill, Jr., an artist, is the founder of The Committee for Responsible Foreign Policy and a board member of The American Ideas Institute, the parent of The American Conservative. Mr. O'Neill has been in the mining industry for more than four decades. He and his wife reside in Florida.


Kessler 20 hours ago

Correct. The so called "free markets & trade" worked in conditions after WWII, when US goverment used it's military and political influence to set up favorable economic & trade conditions for US. It's an utopian vision, that has nothing to do with real world.
MPC 19 hours ago • edited
It's important to recognize that it's not realistic to do all manufacturing in America, at least in the short term. We consume too much. Before the virus, we were already running on all cylinders as employment was concerned and have been for a few years.

There is a significant difference however in our trade dependencies being on China, versus Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, or India. The former is a geopolitical rival, the latter are not. In fact, laying groundwork to move more of our trade to the latter builds up China's regional rivals at the expense of China, and at comparatively less expense to us.

It's not healthy for a future multipolar world for such a capable power projector as China to be so disproportionately profiting from declining hegemon America.

The Coolie MPC 10 hours ago • edited
If you think the hallowing of the US economy with it increasing wage inequalities, outsized wealth allocation to financial sectors, increasingly political divisions, etc. is because CHINA BAD, then you are no different than the other corporate profiteers who dug us in this hole in the first place. This is how the corporatists are trying to avoid blame for their fundamentalist policies over the past four decades. They lash out, "It's only the BAD Chinese, everything will be better if we just move it to Vietnam/Bangladesh/Ethiopia."
MPC The Coolie 10 hours ago • edited
You ascribe things to me that have nothing to do with what I said. The Chinese are not bad, just a competitor, and China is not responsible for America's own choices.

You're just replacing one utopian thinking about free trade, with another about economic protectionism. The world doesn't fit neatly around ideological dogma.

Until you square America's overconsumption you have to tolerate trade deficits. You can make strategic choices about where they come from at least. Free traders were not honest about impacts on domestic industry. Domestic protectionism is not being honest about the fact that for it to succeed, consumption of imported goods, and some domestic, to free up capacity to import substitute, has to tank, without the prospect of enough domestic production happening to replace them, and certainly not at anything like the price levels that exist currently.

In the long run overconsumption should be attacked. Strategic, mutually beneficial trade relationships will still exist. In the short run we should be more careful about the source of trade deficits. Overconsumption will not be solved overnight. But that's not a neat campaign slogan.

The Coolie MPC 8 hours ago
I don't disagree with the problems of an over-consumption reliant economy, which prefers we purchase new TVs every 3 years, smartphones every 2 years, and 3 new winter coats every season. But it's a huge fallacy to imagine that reallocating production to Vietnam or Bangladesh will reduce China's power. Who will be creating those factories? Sorry, Chinese investment. Where will the logistics chain need to connect? Sorry, all roads will lead to China - both for its 1.4 billion consumer and their ability to control the higher end of the manufacturing. When will they demand China's inclusion in a grouping like TPP? Sorry, within 1-2 years of signing that supposed "Keep China Out" agreement. Guess whose economies will be even more reliant on China? You guessed it, all those supposed U.S. allies who want no part in global decoupling.
Wally 17 hours ago • edited
It was ok to let low margin manufacturing move offshore because Americans were going to move up the value chain. These other countries, like China, would develop their economy, lift a few billion people out of poverty, and transform themselves into beacons of freedom and democracy across the developing world. The globalists told us this over and over again. China (and India) would make our plastic junk and we would sell them financial products and services like credit default swaps and make a killing!

And that's how it worked out. The bankers made out. No one cared about the displaced factory workers because it was their own fault they weren't smart enough to become Wall Street masters of the universe. Buying American, we were told way back in the 80s by Saint Ronald Reagan was a scam to support corrupt unions and lazy management. How dare they demand, for example, that Japanese car makers locate here in the US. We should just let them import what they want and let Ford go bankrupt. Union busting was more important than anything else.

MPC Wally 11 hours ago
What you want with trade is to keep it somewhat balanced, and watch employment. To continue the example Japan exports roughly twice to us what we export to them. Ideally that'd be more even, but who is going to make more products to export to Japan, or produce Japanese products here? You'll have to fight for workers already being employed elsewhere. And many on the right probably would not like the idea of more immigrants to help staff production, or to free up Americans to staff it.

America does suck up too many talented people into well paid jobs that do little to advance us, but certainly not enough to correct the trade imbalances of every country we trade with. Probably not even Japan whose imbalance is a tiny fraction of China's.

America's trade imbalances are a collaboration between foreign producers seeing opportunities, domestic elites seeing major profit, but most importantly Americans themselves whose consumption impulses are so, so lucrative. Americans cannot make all the stuff that Americans want right now. Enter immigrants. Enter outsourcing. Enter major trade deficits. People profit on the exchange, but this is a setup that America collectively has voted for with its wallet, over and over again.

kouroi MPC 10 hours ago
Also America makes/made products that other people don't want. From 2 by 4 lumber in inches and feet, when the rest of the world is in metric system, to oversize fridges and pick-up trucks that do not fit in the European or Japanese size houses and roads.
Kent 16 hours ago
"Deliver a good product at a price and quality acceptable to the customer."

LOL. Obviously a failed businessman. The purpose is to put your customer's money in your pocket. If your customer is making a profit off of your product, raise the price. If the customer balks and buys from a different vendor, buy all the vendors. Create a monopoly. Once you have a monopoly, stop paying whiney American workers who expect decent pay and respect, and have Chinese slaves make your product. The purpose of the "Free Market" is not about price. It's about maximizing shareholder value. It's not about creating good jobs, America or any of that other nostalgia from the pre-Free Market days.

It's about liberty. The liberty of the property and capital owning class to keep their wealth (their wealth is the same thing as your labor), in their hands and away from you and your stupid government's grubby, unwashed hands.

FND Kent 15 hours ago
The ideal market conditions result in happy customers and profitable businesses. Its true that ideal market conditions often don't prevail when a monopoly is created. But what makes it even worse is when government enables those conglomerates to become even larger by making it impossible for small businesses to compete due to onerous regulations and gobbletygook tax loopholes gained by conglomerate lobbyists.

I believe the economic policies based on the dominant economic theory in Germany is the best approach for a solid, competitive economy. That theory is Ordo-liberalism, which allows government to make sure a proper legal environment for the economy exists to maintain a healthy level of competition through measures that adhere to market principles.

The Ordo-liberalists believe if the state does not take active measures to foster competition, firms with monopoly power will emerge, which will not only subvert the advantages offered by the market economy, but also possibly undermine good government, since strong economic power can be transformed into political power. We have seen this happen in the US and it is BIPARTISAN. In fact some of the worst examples of unholy alliances between corporations and government come from the Dem side of the aisle.

joeo 14 hours ago
The open markets, open borders policy has been good for the elite but detrimental for the US. Millions of immigrants were let in as the jobs they could perform were outsourced to China and Asia in general. Consumer electronics,textiles,steel, appliances, automotive and manufacturing of all sorts were allowed to leave. Not everyone can be a coder, work on Wall Street, for the Government or Academia. This same elite is aghast at the rise of Trump, what else could anyone have reasonably expected?
Harry Huntington 14 hours ago
The problem is Milton Friedman was wrong about central planning. Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations was written when communication systems were poor, so localized information was better. With modern data collection, "big data" analysis, AI and other such tools central planning exists and works. We call the winners in that planning world companies like Walmart and Amazon. We also know that central planning in the US worked with less than perfect data. The War Production Board in the US in WWII did allocate production of all those things necessary to manufacture Milton Friedman's needle (or more likely a cotter pin). There were imperfections but we let those run over into the consumer segment of goods. Flash forward to today, the "free market" is the myth used to convince average American to allow hedge funds, private equity, and companies like Bain Captial ship their jobs overseas. Especially as we move to robots, there is no reason to import any manufactured goods. Likewise, those pesky environmental rules we have? There is no reason we don't apply those rules to things people seek to sell in the US market--meaning we could make an importer prove goods were manufactured according to US standards. Health and safety standards are not sources of "comparative advantage" in free market theories.
kouroi Harry Huntington 10 hours ago
And this is why the Chinese, Russians, Indians, Iranians, Japanese, Europeans, Koreans, don't want their economies run from Wall Street and carefully control the shares owned by outsiders.
Tradcon 13 hours ago • edited
I think on the topic of "planning" its important to clarify. Some call any government intervention an example of "central planning" while others apply that term only to Soviet-style Gosplan. Either way the "Knowledge Problem", while true to an extent, is incomplete. The fact of the matter is we don't need to know everything about the market to make correct decisions regarding what economic goals we want to set, and there is a scale, a difference, between something like the American System and Gosplan. Julius Krein's article in the American Compass was excellent, I'll link it below. One need only look to the success of the East Asian Tigers or to the US from 1791-1965 (dates vary) to see the success of a healthy sort of developmentalist "planning". Not all planning has to be adverse to private business, the most successful types are done in conjunction with it. There will be imperfections whether the government is involved or not, the fact that imperfections will exist or that mistakes might be made is no excuse for inaction, especially when that inaction leads to the situation we're currently in regarding pharmaceuticals.

https://americancompass.org...

kouroi Tradcon 10 hours ago
How about all the externalities that an unregulated free-market tends to forget?
Tradcon kouroi 5 hours ago
Yes Krein goes into that. A market does not take into account national security.
kouroi Tradcon 2 hours ago
Yes, interesting article. I liked how quickly in the article it started talking about risk and the important role government has in mitigating that risk.

What is also missing from this entire discussion about free markets, which is essential and it is eschewed or pooh-pooed or entirely not acknowledged by libertarians and conservatives alike (not that progressive / liberals talk about it), is what is the role of representative democracy in steering how economy (which is a means to an end, not an end to itself) should work, what is the role of government, and who's really the sovereign (We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.....).

Is the government by the people and for the people or it isn't? Are there proper mechanisms in place to oversee how well operations are conducted by government, according to approved budgets? Is government supposed to do forecasting and crystal balling solely by using think tank reports or should have internal professional and knowledgeable analysts doing this work (I swear on the constitution of the US to serve, etc., etc, etc.).

All this rabbit hole over which libertarians and conservatives starting with Reagan have been pooping on. Nixon nowadays, or Eisenhower wouldn't be accepted by Republicans, nor FDR by Democrats... And talking about free markets and democracy, it is puzzling to have just a duopoly entrenched in the marketplace of political ideas in the US. Everything else is literally killed.

HistoryProf 12 hours ago
It's too easy to just blame corrupt elites and therefore let the system itself completely off the hook. Any system that allows for a small number of private entities to twist everything to their personal advantage is a system with major structural flaws. The essential core of the problem is that any system pursued too rigidly and ideologically will lead to short-sighted decisions that ultimately lead to perverse and absurd outcomes.Offshoring most of our manufacturing wasn't a corrupt decision made by a small cabal of villains. It was a logical, yet ultimately destructive, result of blind and unthinking pursuit of pure "free trade."

Imagine a society (like the U.S.) to be like an organism with a heart, lungs, brain, limbs, etc. Now imagine that each part of the body is told to maximize its own benefit without any concern for the organism as a whole.

Those in charge of the brain say "We function better with more blood flow, so let's block off blood flow to the arms and legs so that we get more. Great idea!" Now the organism's brain is doing great, but its arms and legs wither and die.

"We are benefiting from the increased blood flow too," says the lungs, "but the heart just isn't producing enough for us to really flourish." What if we outsource blood pumping to an external entity that promises us more volume? So now the heart dies and what is left of the organism is now hooked to an external machine to keep it alive.

"Why do we have to rely on an inefficient mouth and teeth to give us our source material?" chimes the stomach. "How about a feeding tube to give us cheaper and faster raw materials?" Etc etc etc.

On and on it goes with some parts doing great from their perspective, but with the overall organism being hollowed out and weakened.

The best type of economic system in a country is a mixed one that blends together capitalism with some degree of central thinking and planning (egads, heresy!) about how decisions could adversely affect the long term health of the country as a whole.

kouroi HistoryProf 10 hours ago
Nice comparison. Are you letting us think and believe that one part of the body ends up thinking that is in fact totally independent and can leave all the rest wither and die? With deep psychopathic tendencies, that filters all the stimuli and the information received from the body, except its own?

No wonder revolutions happen...

Inn caritas 12 hours ago
"Libertarianism" was never about liberty: it's just swapping the dictatorship of the state for the dictatorship of the market.
Egyptsteve Inn caritas 9 hours ago
Libertarianism: Let me smoke my weed, have my gay sex, and don't make me pay any taxes.
L RNY 11 hours ago
The communists had said that capitalism would sell the seeds of its own destruction. Our elites came up with free trade but chose to ignore that free trade was merely a facade to export jobs and import goods with them skimming the profit. They chose to ignore all the financial (and political) machinations like currency rigging, state subsidies, forced state sharing or ownership of technology when off shored to China, they choise to ignore prison labor and others. This isnt about free trade or free markets because there is no such thing. Every nation has a different social welfare system, medical system, tax system, copyright and patent system, system of legal bribery and payoff, etc and each is meant to tip the scales of free markets and free trade to their advantage (and in the case of China a technological and monopolistic and militaristic advantage). We are now at a point where the game and the cards have been revealed though the Democrats have been profiting for so long that they want to keep the game going with the Chinese and other foreign nations (its easy money to line their pockets and their campaign funds since they dont have to listen to their constituents diverse views...they just need to manage them and listen to Chinese demands). Id say the american citizenry is boiling mad and arent far away from boiling over but we shall see where it goes or if it goes anywhere. To date Trumps restrictions on immigration and his trade deals are better than the nonexistent policies of the democrats but they are will woefully catering to the elites and lacking in spine and substance to do as Trump promised.
kouroi L RNY 10 hours ago
I think prison labour is more relevant and widespread in the US rather than China. China has all the political interest to provide work for all the free multitudes teaming in their cities and countryside, why to give that to prisoners?

Same as the story with the Uighur camps. Just seen recently a Reuters article on the Russian vessel arriving in Germany to finish laying down the NS2 pipeline, with satellite pictures, etc. Just a ship. However, there was no picture provided to the world to show the massive developments required to house 1 million people, not one, and I looked.

Sorry, just a pet peeve of mine to see statements that don't stand close scrutiny.

Mario Diana 8 hours ago • edited
The Price Mechanism Theory only works well when there is honest and accurate information to understand the true costs [ ]

You're conflating the economic with the political. There is nothing wrong with Mises' work on prices and how they coordinate an advanced, widely distributed, division-of-labor economy. It works in the "macro" as well as the "micro" -- because that is an artificial distinction (something Mises could tell you about, too).

The fallacy is imagining that economic theory is the be-all-end-all. When people think that, they ignore political considerations and consequences, to the detriment of society at large. The bottom line is there is nothing wrong with free trade among free countries in a peaceful world. The political situation of the present world, however, demands a somewhat more modified approach. If these are the "true costs" you're talking about, fine. But you've expressed it in such a way as to muddy the waters of what is an honest and accurate economic theory.

Amicus Brevis Mario Diana 2 hours ago • edited
That is because he doesn't understand what really happened in China. If you read this thread you also see many theories. They are all based on preconceptions and not actually reading about what happened China after the gang of four were ousted. They understand the consequences and they theorize about the cause. But they don't have to theorize. There is an actual history.

China was not selling cheap products to the United States until about three decades after the job transfers started and it was almost already done by then. The truth is, China had nothing to export but its labor. It did that by letting American and other companies set up in China for exploitative wages and protected them by denying its people any rights. They then built products under American management and training. The products were then shipped back to the US as "Chinese" products. But they really were American products made in China. The companies here were not protecting China. They were protecting themselves directly. The jobs transfer was not an unfortunate side effect. It was the whole point. China had nothing to trade. Mao had destroyed the economy.

Steveb 7 hours ago
I recall a long time ago when there was a documentary on this topic and one of the workers from a electric appliance manufacturing facility was interviewed. They were complaining about the Chinese manufactures taking over their product line with cheaper products and causing layoffs at the plant. The moderator asked them where they shopped, they replied "Walmart". When the moderator pointed out that Walmart was the leader in offshoring to get cheaper products, like the appliances they made, they just stared.

You are going to somehow have to make Americans pay more for the same thing they can get cheaper from China. Who is going to do that? Not going to be those workers you are trying to protect, they don't have the money to do that. Price is king to them, it is only those snobby liberal types that can afford to do that.

Lets say you manage to get our factory worker to buy 1 expensive American shirt instead of 3 cheap Chinese shirts for the same price. They are not going to get 3 times the life out of that shirt so they are in the hole for that purchase.

Lets say you are really persuasive and the workers really do change, what about all the rest of the people that were employed in the retail and supply chain? What are they going to do? You just put them out of business. You are just deciding to move around who is unemployed.

What about the exporters? Do you really think that China is going to buy American products if you don't buy theirs? How did Trumps trade war work out? Have we won yet? As I recall it cost the average consumer between 500 and 1000 dollars by the time all the tariffs were applied and the farmers and ranchers in the Midwest that exported there are now on government welfare because they could not sell their products. His new "deal" was panned by economists as being nothing more than a minor cosmetic change, the same as the updated NAFTA deal that really changed little.

It is fun to blame the elites but it is a bit simplistic as the american workers have not had a problem sacrificing a few other workers to save some of their own money. If you want to change that you are going to have to start at the bottom and work up.

− +

Gregtown Tradcon 5 hours ago

It should be mentioned that the cheap clothing we buy is rarely made in China. China has leveled up and no longer makes the general crap people buy. The shirt cheap t-shirt I'm wearing was made in Vietnam.
aha! 4 hours ago
A free market with foreign governments is an impossibility. We would have to know every single that is happening within their government and that will never happen. Indeed our internal free market is fading away due to cronyism and secrecy within our own governments. Tax breaks to lure businesses to your state are anti-free market (not to mention the taxes still have to be paid, by the people who are already there). Tax breaks and subsidies to companies already in your state (like windmills and solar panels) are anti-free market. So the conclusion that I draw is the Democrat and Republican parties are imbeciles and crooks and both parties must be destroyed.
Amicus Brevis 3 hours ago • edited
If you believe economic efficiency is the primary value, you would say, "if the Chinese are stupid enough to sell us products below their costs, we should be happy to take advantage of their stupidity." True enough .

But it is not true that is what is happening. It never happened. Chinese invited American companies to manufacture in China. China was selling labor. Not products. It had no products to sell. But when the American companies in China use Chinese labor to manufacture American products the products come to America marked "made in China". But all that the Chinese really sold was cheap labor without rights .

The second thing to know is that the Chinese forbid American companies to use their own brand names in China. They had to create Chinese companies that are 51% Chinese owned but wholly American managed with Chinese management in training. The Americans operated as if they were at home. The only difference is that they had Chinese under studies and the line workers were Chinese. The American companies didn't care because they were making money hand over foot. So when they spoke of "free trade" we were selling out America workers and bringing home cheap goods that our public loved. This was called globalism. That was phase one.

In the second stage, the Chinese quietly reminded the Americans that these were Chinese companies and it was time to begin to promote their Chinese understudies. The Americans didn't care because they still maintained control from America. And they could always find spots for the management back home. But from the Chinese point of view, they now had American technology in Chinese companies, run by Chinese. The technology was now theirs.

They felt free to grow their businesses with wholly owned and controlled subsidiaries since they now owned the technology. This was when the American companies began to scream about intellectual property. They cared because the interests of the rich were now being hurt. When they were stealing American jobs, that was Ok. Only then did our government see a problem. Shipping American jobs overseas is globalism, but shipping patents and copyrights is not. Globalism was always a con. It never existed. It was simply a smokescreen to exploit cheap, unprotected labor in the developing world. They knew from the start that it was not good for America. It was not a discovery. They didn't care because it made them rich.

Fletcher an hour ago
Though I largely agree with the premise of this article the assumptions latent in mr. O'Neill's thinking specifically the US government has to do anything in reflection to the Chinese Communist politburo misses the point of freedom and property rights, in an economy free of the regulatory burden that the oligarchs in pose on the market through their governmental collusion not to mention the tax burden that helps to maintain the shipping lanes to China the American manufacturer will be fine. It should also be said for me environmental point of view free of state protection the perpetrators of mountaintop removal coal mining,glyphosate manufacture etc. Would find themselves much more vulnerable to civil lawsuit/tort law.

[May 15, 2020] "Lifting all boats" was always a lie. It was simply a way to sell trickle down by claiming that the objectively observable inequality it produced would somehow help everyone, eventually, sort of

May 15, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

L , May 14, 2020 at 11:16 am

"Lifting all boats" was always a lie. It was simply a way to sell trickle down by claiming that the objectively observable inequality it produced would somehow help everyone, eventually, sort of. There was not and has never been a plan by the Conservative Movement to lift all boats. Only a plan to feign interest in doing so.

Synoia , May 14, 2020 at 11:36 am

The rich were riding on the Boats being lifted by the workers.

orlbucfan , May 14, 2020 at 11:42 am

That pattern has appeared throughout recorded world history. How is it peacefully stopped?

Ed Miller , May 14, 2020 at 7:45 pm

I see the current situation more like the sinking of the Titanic (whether caused by the virus or shady financial dealing, it doesn't matter). The rich passengers get the lifeboats and the rest of the passengers get the ice water. A few survived in the water, so it's time to look to the future. Crony capitalism in a nutshell.

Bsoder , May 14, 2020 at 5:40 pm

Lifting all yachts.

[May 14, 2020] Hollowing out the classic culture is what all Postmodernism is about

May 14, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anonymous [339] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 14, 2020 at 9:46 am GMT

@Rahan See:
https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=z4FPcXTKh1wC&oi=fnd&pg=PA4&dq=%22van+creveld%22++1996+Paramaters+%22Fate+of+the+State%22&ots=4D9yFjPkyO&sig=z2Hz5-E0Nz9vjv1QEzNFWYrsZck#v=onepage&q=%22van%20creveld%22%20%201996%20Paramaters%20%22Fate%20of%20the%20State%22&f=false

or search Google Scholar for: "van Creveld" Parameters 1996 "Fate of the State"

Classic article, and first mention of the "hollowing out". Current crackdowns are by a government that has lost most real power (e.g. can't even suppress retail theft and has given up by making it legal), and is trying to get public submission again by over-enforcing quarantine / isolation rules. The facade of even this level of control is cracking. The problem is not an overly controlling government, it is of a government that lacks legitimacy even from its supporters (one doesn't hear POC or even the Jewish establishments praising the American form of government, even when they control it; none of them regard it as legitimate. That's what Postmodernism, for example, is about.

[May 14, 2020] Libertarians who are extraordinarily sensitive to the least legal limitation on negative freedom are usually completely immune to the idea that structural features of capitalist society are coercive and freedom-limiting

May 14, 2020 | crookedtimber.org

Anarcho 05.06.20 at 3:18 pm 5

"Libertarians who are extraordinarily sensitive to the least legal limitation on negative freedom are usually completely immune to the idea that structural features of capitalist society are coercive and freedom-limiting. "

I think you will discover that those who coined the term libertarian (libertarie) which the propertarians knowning stole in the 1950s are well aware of those structural features -- as Proudhon argued, property is both theft and despotism.:

http://anarchism.pageabode.com/afaq/160-years-libertarian

Please don't let these defenders of private tyranny continue their abuse of the good left-wing word libertarian.

[May 14, 2020] Tucker on Obamagate

May 14, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Patient Observer May 11, 2020 at 8:50 am

Don't fuck with the Tuck:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/fHh19Baj_pM?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

The guy is on fire. Per Carlson, Obama orchestrated the Russian collusion propaganda. I suspect that the lovely Ms. Hilary was a conspirator as well.

Carlson has the number 1 television news show with 4.56 million viewers on average.

https://www.nytimes.com/svc/oembed/html/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2020%2F04%2F28%2Fbusiness%2Fmedia%2Fvirus-tucker-carlson-sean-hannity-fox-ratings.html

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Mark Chapman May 11, 2020 at 9:54 am
Absolutely remarkable; in fact, 'stunning', as he uses it, is not too much of a stretch. The 'liberal elites' just go right on lying even though the sworn testimony of FBI interviewers is available for anyone to read, as well as the chilling manipulations of Strozk and Page, both of whom should be in prison and perhaps will be. And that fucker Schiff should swing. I can't believe the transformation of Carlson from Bush shill to the reincarnation of Edward R. Murrow. He makes this case so compellingly that nobody could watch that clip and not believe that Flynn was railroaded from the outset. And what were they allegedly going to jail Flynn's son for? Does anyone know? Were they just going to make something up? That is terrifying, and almost argues for the disbanding of the FBI, although it demonstrably still contains honest agents – as Carlson asks rhetorically, how many times have they done this already, and gotten away with it?

It's hard to imagine anyone would vote Democrat now.

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Cortes May 11, 2020 at 10:10 am
The son was being lined up for prosecution for alleged FARA violations regarding work on Turkey, I think. The son was working with the General.

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Mark Chapman May 11, 2020 at 11:45 am
Couldn't have been too much of a crime, if they offered to let him go in exchange for Flynn pleading guilty to lying. Actually, you'd kind of think their business was prosecuting crimes whoever committed them, and that offering to excuse a crime in exchange for a guilty plea is .kind of a crime.

Man, they have to clean house at the FBI. And there probably are several other organizations that need it, too. Not the political culling based on ideology that was a feature of the Bush White House, but the crowd that's in now just cannot be allowed to get off with nothing.

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uncle tungsten May 12, 2020 at 2:55 am
Greetings Mark and all, I am a new arrival as Jen suggested the company is fine here for barflies to ponder the world. Can I surmise that if Flynn and son were the FBI targets for nefarious business dealings then surely Biden and son fall in to that same category. After all Biden and son filched millions after arranging a USA loan of $1Billion to Ukraine and then did it again after the IMF loaned a few million more. Carpetbagging and its modern day practice is a crime in the USA last I looked.

If that conspicuous bias isn't enough cause to dismember the FBI then consider the Uranium One deal that Hillary Clinton and family set up or perhaps the Debbie Wasserman Shultz fostering the Awan family spy and blackmail ring.

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Mark Chapman May 12, 2020 at 9:37 am
Good day, Uncle, and welcome! For some reason I can't fathom, the Democrats seem to own or control all the 'respectable' media in the USA. FOX News is an exception, and has been a mouthpiece for the Republicans since its inception. But the Democrats control the New York Times and the Washington Post, which together represent the bulk of American public feeling to foreigners, and probably to the domestic audience as well. They are extremely active on conflicts between the two parties, ensuring the Democratic perspective gets put forward in calm, reasonable why-wouldn't-a-sensible-person-think-this-way manner. At the same time they cast horrific aspersions at the Republicans. Not that either are much good; but the news coverage is very one-sided – the position of the Democrats on the sexual-assault furor over the Kavanaugh appointment compared with their wait-and-see attitude to very similar accusations against Biden is a classic example.

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rkka May 13, 2020 at 9:33 am
Mark,

I don't think its the Democrats that control the NYT &WP, so much as plutocrats. They're also the ones who fund both the Democrats & the Republicans. The only significant difference between the parties is largely in the arena of the social "culture war" issues. But on the issues plutocrats care about, like economic policy & foreign policy, the differences are shades of grey, rather than actual distinctions.

Just remember the coverage of both papers in the run up to George W Shrub's catastrophic Iraq war. They're stenographers, not journalists.

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Mark Chapman May 13, 2020 at 11:12 am
That may well be true, but the NYT and WP historically champion the Democrats, endorse the Democratic candidate for president, and pander to Democratic issues and projects. The Wall Street Journal is the traditional Republican print outlet, and there might be others but I don't know them. CNN is overwhelmingly and weepily Democratic in its content – Wolf Blitzer's eyes nearly roll back in his head with ecstasy whenever he mentions Saint Hillary – while FOX News is Repubican to the bone and openly contemptuous of liberals. It could certainly be, on reflection probably is, that the same cabal of corporatists control them all, and a fine joke they must think it. And I certainly and emphatically agree there is almost no difference between the parties in execution of external policy.

[May 14, 2020] The USA fake democracy vs inverted totalitarism with Chinese characteristics

Notable quotes:
"... Sad but true. We are all given our illusions. In US its the illusion of democracy which is a fake democracy cloaking our totalitarian reality. In China they give the people the illusion of moving towards socialism, a fake socialism to be sure, never mind all the billionaire party members (and they don't have universal health care either, its insurance based) .The people have long accepted the reality of totalitarianism so they are one step ahead. ..."
May 14, 2020 | www.unz.com

Pft , says: Show Comment May 14, 2020 at 6:41 am GMT

Sad but true. We are all given our illusions. In US its the illusion of democracy which is a fake democracy cloaking our totalitarian reality. In China they give the people the illusion of moving towards socialism, a fake socialism to be sure, never mind all the billionaire party members (and they don't have universal health care either, its insurance based) .The people have long accepted the reality of totalitarianism so they are one step ahead.

Since China doesn't have another party to blame they must blame external enemies like the US and we happily play along with tarrifs paid for by us dumb sheep who cry out in satisfaction "take that". Lol

A fake Cold War works for us too. Trump says we are in a race for 5G and AI/Robotics with China. We must win or all is lost to China. Social credit scores, digital ID and digital currency along with Total Information Awareness and Full Spectrum Dominance over the herd.

Health effects of 5G will be blamed on CoVID. Fake Science is a great tool. Scientists never lie, they can be trusted, just like Priests . They are the Priests of the New Technocratic World Order. Global Warming and COVID- We must believe. They say Vaccines and 5G are good for you, just like DDT and Tobacco were said to be Good by Scientists of another time. We must believe. Have Faith and you will earn social credit bonus points.

Reality is Fake Wrestling. Kayfabe all the way baby. Who is the face and who is the heel? We are free to choose. So who says we don't have freedom?

[May 14, 2020] 'I Didn't Know Anything': Former Obama Official Criticized After Classified Testimony Contradicts Her Public Statements by Jonathan Turley

Notable quotes:
"... One of the most embarrassing is the testimony of Evelyn Farkas, a former Obama Administration official who was widely quoted in her plea to Congress to gather the evidence that she knew was found in by the Obama Administration. In her testimony under oath Farkas repeatedly stated that she knew of no such evidence of collusion. ..."
"... Farkas, who served as the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia, was widely quoted when she said on MSNBC in 2017 that she feared that evidence she knew about would be destroyed by the Trump Administration. She stated: ..."
"... ...was urging my former colleagues, and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill Get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration, because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior people that left. So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy . . . the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their, the staff, the Trump staff's dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried, because not enough was coming out into the open, and I knew that there was more. ..."
"... 'You also didn't know whether or not anybody in the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, did you?' Gowdy later asked, getting to the point. ..."
"... "I didn't," Farkas responded. ..."
May 11, 2020 | ronpaulinstitute.org

The long-delayed release of testimony from the House Intelligence Committee has proved embarrassing for a variety of former Obama officials who have been extensively quoted on the allegedly strong evidence of collusion by the Trump campaign and the Russians. Figures like James Clapper, who is a CNN expert, long indicated hat the evidence from the Obama Administration was strong and alarming. However, in testimony, Clapper denied seeing any such evidence .

One of the most embarrassing is the testimony of Evelyn Farkas, a former Obama Administration official who was widely quoted in her plea to Congress to gather the evidence that she knew was found in by the Obama Administration. In her testimony under oath Farkas repeatedly stated that she knew of no such evidence of collusion.

Farkas, who served as the deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia, was widely quoted when she said on MSNBC in 2017 that she feared that evidence she knew about would be destroyed by the Trump Administration. She stated:

...was urging my former colleagues, and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill Get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration, because I had a fear that somehow that information would disappear with the senior people that left. So it would be hidden away in the bureaucracy . . . the Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about their, the staff, the Trump staff's dealing with Russians, that they would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that intelligence. So I became very worried, because not enough was coming out into the open, and I knew that there was more.
MSNBC never seriously questioned the statements despite the fact that Farkas left the Obama Administration in 2015 before any such investigation could have occurred. As we have seen before, the factual and legal basis for such statements are largely immaterial in the age of echo journalism. The statement fit the narrative even if it lacked any plausible basis.

Not surprisingly, the House Intelligence Committee was eager to have Farkas share all that she stated she "knew about ["the Trump folks"], their staff, the Trump's staff's dealing with Russian" and wanted to get "into the open." After all, she told MSNBC that "I knew that there was more."

She was finally put under oath in the closed classified sessions and there was nothing but classified crickets. Farkas was repeatedly asked to share that information that electrified the MSNBC hosts and audience. She repeatedly denied any such knowledge, telling then Rep. Trey Gowdy (R, S.C.), "I didn't know anything."

Gowdy noted that Farkas left the Obama administration in 2015 and asked "Then how did you know?" She repeated again "I didn't know anything."

Gowdy then asked "Well, then why would you say, we knew?"

He also asked:

'You also didn't know whether or not anybody in the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, did you?' Gowdy later asked, getting to the point.
"I didn't," Farkas responded.

MSNBC has said nothing about its prior headline story being untrue. Indeed, the media has barely acknowledged that the new documents reinforce that there was never any evidence of collusion and ultimately the allegations were rejected by the Special Counsel, Congress, and inspectors general.

For her part, Farkas has moved on. She is running for Congress . She is still citing her role in raising "the alarm" about Russian collusion:

'fter I left the Obama administration, I campaigned to help elect Secretary Clinton as our next President. When Russians interfered in that election, I was among the first to sound the alarm and urge Congress to take action. And I haven't let up since then.
She was indeed one of the first but it proved to be a false alarm based on nonexistent knowledge. Does that matter anymore?

Reprinted with permission from JonathanTurley.org .


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