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Neoliberal rationality

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Like Marxism before neoliberalism provides its own ethics and its own rationality.  Or may I say irrationality.   It enforces a new fake "economic rationalism", which should displace old, "outdated" and more humane rationality of the New Deal capitalism.

"Neoliberal rationality" is heavily tilted toward viewing people as "homo economicus".  Like Marxism (and Troskyism) it " articulates crucial elements of  the language, practice and subjectivity according to a specific image of the economics" Like Trotskyism before it directly assaults the idea of democratic governance and the rule of the law proving noting erringly similar to the ideas of "proletarian justice",  "proletarian media"  and "permanent revolution". 

It rejects the idea of social solidarity (emphasizing "individual responsibility")  replacing it with class solidarity of top 1% or even 0.1% (Transnational elite unite"). They also pervert the idea of the rule of the law, which animated so much of modernity, hollowing out democratic practices and institutions while at the same time catalyzing radical, brutal forces of the elite dominance, promoting Nietzsche separation of mankind into two caste: Undermensch ("despicables" in Hillary Clinton words) and Ubermensch  ("creative class").

In the book Undoing the Demos Neoliberalism's Stealth Revolution   Professor Wendy Brown   shows how close  "neoliberal rationality" is to the rationality which governed communism parties of the USSR and Eastern Block. Here are some quotes from Wendy Brown interview What Exactly Is Neoliberalism  to  Dissent Magazine (Nov 03, 2015):

"... I treat neoliberalism as a governing rationality through which everything is "economized" and in a very specific way: human beings become market actors and nothing but, every field of activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly, this is not simply a matter of extending commodification and monetization everywhere-that's the old Marxist depiction of capital's transformation of everyday life. Neoliberalism construes even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising-in market terms, submits them to market metrics, and governs them with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as human capital who must constantly tend to their own present and future value. ..."
"... The most common criticisms of neoliberalism, regarded solely as economic policy rather than as the broader phenomenon of a governing rationality, are that it generates and legitimates extreme inequalities of wealth and life conditions; that it leads to increasingly precarious and disposable populations; that it produces an unprecedented intimacy between capital (especially finance capital) and states, and thus permits domination of political life by capital; that it generates crass and even unethical commercialization of things rightly protected from markets, for example, babies, human organs, or endangered species or wilderness; that it privatizes public goods and thus eliminates shared and egalitarian access to them; and that it subjects states, societies, and individuals to the volatility and havoc of unregulated financial markets. ..."
"... with the neoliberal revolution that homo politicus is finally vanquished as a fundamental feature of being human and of democracy. Democracy requires that citizens be modestly oriented toward self-rule, not simply value enhancement, and that we understand our freedom as resting in such self-rule, not simply in market conduct. When this dimension of being human is extinguished, it takes with it the necessary energies, practices, and culture of democracy, as well as its very intelligibility. ..."
"... For most Marxists, neoliberalism emerges in the 1970s in response to capitalism's falling rate of profit; the shift of global economic gravity to OPEC, Asia, and other sites outside the West; and the dilution of class power generated by unions, redistributive welfare states, large and lazy corporations, and the expectations generated by educated democracies. From this perspective, neoliberalism is simply capitalism on steroids: a state and IMF-backed consolidation of class power aimed at releasing capital from regulatory and national constraints, and defanging all forms of popular solidarities, especially labor. ..."
"... The grains of truth in this analysis don't get at the fundamental transformation of social, cultural, and individual life brought about by neoliberal reason. They don't get at the ways that public institutions and services have not merely been outsourced but thoroughly recast as private goods for individual investment or consumption. And they don't get at the wholesale remaking of workplaces, schools, social life, and individuals. For that story, one has to track the dissemination of neoliberal economization through neoliberalism as a governing form of reason, not just a power grab by capital. There are many vehicles of this dissemination -- law, culture, and above all, the novel political-administrative form we have come to call governance. It is through governance practices that business models and metrics come to irrigate every crevice of society, circulating from investment banks to schools, from corporations to universities, from public agencies to the individual. It is through the replacement of democratic terms of law, participation, and justice with idioms of benchmarks, objectives, and buy-ins that governance dismantles democratic life while appearing only to instill it with "best practices." ..."
"... Progressives generally disparage Citizens United for having flooded the American electoral process with corporate money on the basis of tortured First Amendment reasoning that treats corporations as persons. However, a careful reading of the majority decision also reveals precisely the thoroughgoing economization of the terms and practices of democracy we have been talking about. In the majority opinion, electoral campaigns are cast as "political marketplaces," just as ideas are cast as freely circulating in a market where the only potential interference arises from restrictions on producers and consumers of ideas-who may speak and who may listen or judge. Thus, Justice Kennedy's insistence on the fundamental neoliberal principle that these marketplaces should be unregulated paves the way for overturning a century of campaign finance law aimed at modestly restricting the power of money in politics. Moreover, in the decision, political speech itself is rendered as a kind of capital right, functioning largely to advance the position of its bearer, whether that bearer is human capital, corporate capital, or finance capital. This understanding of political speech replaces the idea of democratic political speech as a vital (if potentially monopolizable and corruptible) medium for public deliberation and persuasion. ..."
"... My point was that democracy is really reduced to a whisper in the Euro-Atlantic nations today. Even Alan Greenspan says that elections don't much matter much because, "thanks to globalization . . . the world is governed by market forces," not elected representatives. ..."

 

Neoliberalism and the end of liberal democracy by Wendy Brown

Reprinted from http://lchc.ucsd.edu/cogn_150/Readings/brown.pdf

It is a commonplace to speak of the present regime in the United States as a neoconservative one, and to cast as a consolidated “neocon” project present efforts to intensify U.S. military capacity, increase U.S. global hegemony, dismantle the welfare state, retrench civil liberties, eliminate the right to abortion and affirmative action, re-Christianize the state, deregulate corporations, gut environmental protections, reverse progressive taxation, reduce education spending while increasing prison budgets, and feather the nests of the rich while criminalizing the poor. I do not contest the existence of a religious-political project known as Neoconservatism or challenge the appropriateness of understanding many of the links between these objectives in terms of a neoconservative agenda. However, I want to think to one side of this agenda in order to consider our current predicament in terms of a neoliberal political rationality, a rationality that exceeds particular positions on particular issues and that undergirds important features of the Clinton decade as well as the Reagan-Bush years. Further, I want to consider the way that this rationality is emerging as governmentality—a mode of governance encompassing but not limited to the state, and one that produces subjects, forms of citizenship and behavior, and a new organization of the social.

Economic Liberalism, Political Liberalism, and What Is the Neo in Neoliberalism

In ordinary parlance, neoliberalism refers to the repudiation of Keynesian welfare state economics and the ascendance of the Chicago School of political economy—von Hayek, Friedman, and others. In popular usage, neoliberalism is equated with a radically free market: maximized competition and free trade achieved through economic deregulation, elimination of tariffs, and a range of monetary and social policies favorable to business and indifferent toward poverty, social deracination, cultural decimation, long-term resource depletion, and environmental destruction. Neoliberalism is most often invoked in relation to the Third World, referring either to NAFTA-like schemes that increase the vulnerability of poor nations to the vicissitudes of globalization or to International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies that, through financing packages attached to “restructuring” requirements, yank the chains of every aspect of Third World existence, including political institutions and social formations.

For progressives, neoliberalism is thus a pejorative not only because it conjures economic policies that sustain or deepen local poverty and the subordination of peripheral to core nations, but also because it is compatible with, and sometimes even productive of, authoritarian, despotic, para-militaristic, and corrupt state forms as well as agents within civil society.

While these referents capture important effects of neoliberalism, they also reduce neoliberalism to a bundle of economic policies with inadvertent political and social consequences: they fail to address the political rationality that both organizes these policies and reaches beyond the market. Moreover, these referents do not capture the neo in neoliberalism, tending instead to treat the contemporary phenomenon as little more than a revival of classical liberal political economy.

Finally, they obscure the specifically political register of neoliberalism in the First World: that is, its powerful erosion of liberal democratic institutions and practices in places like the United States. My concern in this essay is with these neglected dimensions of neoliberalism.

One of the more incisive accounts of neoliberal political rationality comes from a surprising quarter: Michel Foucault is not generally heralded as a theorist of liberalism or of political economy. Yet Foucault’s 1978 and 1979 Collège de France lectures, long unpublished,2 consisted of his critical analysis of two groups of neoliberal economists: the Ordo-liberal school in postwar Germany (so named because its members, originally members of the Freiburg School, published mainly in the journal Ordo) and the Chicago School that arose midcentury in the United States. Thanks to the German sociologist Thomas Lemke, we have an excellent summary and interpretation of Foucault’s lectureson neoliberalism; in what follows I will draw extensively from Lemke’s work.

It may be helpful, before beginning a consideration of neoliberalism as a political rationality, to mark the conventional difference between political and economic liberalism—a difference especially confusing for Americans for whom “liberal” tends to signify a progressive political viewpoint and, in particular, support for the welfare state and other New Deal institutions, along with relatively high levels of political and legal intervention in the social sphere.4 In addition, given the contemporary phenomena of both neoconservatism and neoliberalism, and the association of both with the political right, ours is a time of often bewildering political nomenclature.5 Briefly, then, in economic thought, liberalism contrasts with mercantilism on one side and Keynesianism or socialism on the other; its classical version refers to a maximization of free trade and competition achieved by minimum interference from political institutions. In the history of political thought, while individual liberty remains a touchstone, liberalism signifies an order in which the state exists to secure the freedom of individuals on a formally egalitarian basis. A liberal political order may harbor either liberal or Keynesian economic policies—it may lean in the direction of maximizing liberty (its politically “conservative” tilt) or of maximizing equality (its politically “liberal” tilt), but in contemporary political parlance, it is no more or less a liberal democracy because of one leaning or the other. Indeed, the American convention of referring to advocates of the welfare state as political liberals is especially peculiar, given that American conservatives generally hew more closely to both the classical economic and the political doctrines of liberalism—it turns the meaning of liberalism in the direction of liberality rather than liberty. For our purposes, what is crucial is that the liberalism in what has come to be called neoliberalism refers to liberalism’s economic variant, recuperating selected pre-Keynesian assumptions about the generation of wealth and its distribution, rather than to liberalism as a political doctrine, as a set of political institutions, or as political practices. The neo in neoliberalism, however, establishes these principles on a significantly different analytic basis from those set forth by Adam Smith, as will become clear below. Moreover, neoliberalism is not simply a set of economic policies; it is not only about facilitating free trade, maximizing corporate profits, and challenging welfarism. Rather, neoliberalism carries a social analysis that, when deployed as a form of governmentality, reaches from the soul of the citizen-subject to education policy to practices of empire. Neoliberal rationality, while foregrounding the market, is not only or even primarily focused on the economy; it involves extending and disseminating market values to all institutions and social action, even as the market itself remains a distinctive player.

This essay explores the political implications of neoliberal rationality for liberal democracy—the implications of the political rationality corresponding to, legitimating, and legitimated by the neoliberal turn.

While Lemke, following Foucault, is careful to mark some of the differences between Ordo-liberal thought and its successor and radicalizer, the Chicago School, I will be treating contemporary neoliberal political rationality without attending to these differences in some of its source material. A rich genealogy of neoliberalism as it is currently practiced—one that mapped and contextualized the contributions of the two schools of political economy, traced the ways that rational choice theory differentially adhered and evolved in the various social sciences and their governmental applications, and described the interplay of all these currents with developments in capital over the past half century—would be quite useful. But this essay is not such a genealogy. Rather, my aim is to consider our current political predicament in terms of neoliberal political rationality, whose chief characteristics are enumerated below.

  1. The political sphere, along with every other dimension of contemporary existence, is submitted to an economic rationality; or, put the other way around, not only is the human being configured exhaustively as homo oeconomicus, but all dimensions of human life are cast in terms of a market rationality. While this entails submitting every action and policy to considerations of profitability, equally important is the production of all human and institutional action as rational entrepreneurial action, conducted according to a calculus of utility, benefit, or satisfaction against a microeconomic grid of scarcity, supply and demand, and moral value-neutrality. Neoliberalism does not simply assume that all aspects of social, cultural, and political life can be reduced to such a calculus; rather, it develops institutional practices and rewards for enacting this vision. That is, through discourse and policy promulgating its criteria, neoliberalism produces rational actors and imposes a market rationale for decision making in all spheres. Importantly, then, neoliberalism involves a normative rather than ontological claim about the pervasiveness of economic rationality and it advocates the institution building, policies, and discourse development appropriate to such a claim. Neoliberalism is a constructivist project: it does not presume the ontological givenness of a thoroughgoing economic rationality for all domains of society but rather takes as its task the development, dissemination, and institutionalization of such a rationality. This point is further developed in (2) below. 

  2. In contrast with the notorious laissez-faire and human propensity to “truck and barter” stressed by classical economic liberalism, neoliberalism does not conceive of either the market itself or rational economic behavior as purely natural. Both are constructed—organized by law and political institutions, and requiring political intervention and orchestration. Far from flourishing when left alone, the economy must be directed, buttressed, and protected by law and policy as well as by the dissemination of social norms designed to facilitate competition, free trade, and rational economic action on the part of every member and institution of society. In Lemke’s account, “In the Ordo-liberal scheme, the market does not amount to a natural economic reality, with intrinsic laws that the art of government must bear in mind and respect; instead, the market can be constituted and kept alive only by dint of political interventions. . . . [C]ompetition, too, is not a natural fact. . . . [T]his fundamental economic mechanism can function only if support is forthcoming to bolster a series of conditions, and adherence to the latter must consistently be guaranteed by legal measures” (193). 

    The neoliberal formulation of the state and especially of specific legal arrangements and decisions as the precondition and ongoing condition of the market does not mean that the market is controlled by the state but precisely the opposite. The market is the organizing and regulative principle of the state and society, along three different lines: 

    1. The state openly responds to needs of the market, whether through monetary and fiscal policy, immigration policy, the treatment of criminals, or the structure of public education. In so doing, the state is no longer encumbered by the danger of incurring the legitimation deficits predicted by 1970s social theorists and political economists such as Nicos Poulantzas, Jürgen Habermas, and James O’Connor.6 Rather, neoliberal rationality extended to the state itself indexes the state’s success according to its ability to sustain and foster the market and ties state legitimacy to such success. This is a new form of legitimation, one that “founds a state,” according to Lemke, and contrasts with the Hegelian and French revolutionary notion of the constitutional state as the emergent universal representative of the people. As Lemke describes Foucault’s account of Ordo-liberal thinking, “economic liberty produces the legitimacy for a form of sovereignty limited to guaranteeing economic activity . . . a state that was no longer defined in terms of an historical mission but legitimated itself with reference to economic growth” (196).

    2. The state itself is enfolded and animated by market rationality: that is, not simply profitability but a generalized calculation of cost and benefit becomes the measure of all state practices. Political discourse on all matters is framed in entrepreneurial terms; the state must not simply concern itself with the market but think and behave like a market actor across all of its functions, including law. 7

    3. Putting (a) and (b) together, the health and growth of the economy is the basis of state legitimacy, both because the state is forthrightly responsible for the health of the economy and because of the economic rationality to which state practices have been submitted. Thus, “It’s the economy, stupid” becomes more than a campaign slogan; rather, it expresses the principle of the state’s legitimacy and the basis for state action—from constitutional adjudication and campaign finance reform to welfare and education policy to foreign policy, including warfare and the organization of “homeland security.”
       
  3. The extension of economic rationality to formerly noneconomic domains and institutions reaches individual conduct, or, more precisely, prescribes the citizen-subject of a neoliberal order. Whereas classical liberalism articulated a distinction, and at times even a tension, among the criteria for individual moral, associational, and economic actions (hence the striking differences in tone, subject matter, and even prescriptions between Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and his Theory of Moral Sentiments), neoliberalism normatively constructs and interpellates individuals as entrepreneurial actors in every sphere of life. It figures individuals as rational, calculating creatures whose moral autonomy is measured by their capacity for “self-care”—the ability to provide for their own needs and service their own ambitions. In making the individual fully responsible for her- or himself, neoliberalism equates moral responsibility with rational action; it erases the discrepancy between economic and moral behavior by configuring morality entirely as a matter of rational deliberation about costs, benefits, and consequences. But in so doing, it carries responsibility for the self to new heights: the rationally calculating individual bears full responsibility for the consequences of his or her action no matter how severe the constraints on this action—for example, lack of skills, education, and child care in a period of high unemployment and limited welfare benefits. Correspondingly, a “mismanaged life,” the neoliberal appellation for failure to navigate impediments to prosperity, becomes a new mode of depoliticizing social and economic powers and at the same time reduces political citizenship to an unprecedented degree of passivity and political complacency. The model neoliberal citizen is one who strategizes for her- or himself among various social, political, and economic options, not one who strives with others to alter or organize these options.

    A fully realized neoliberal citizenry would be the opposite of public-minded; indeed, it would barely exist as a public. The body politic ceases to be a body but is rather a group of individual entrepreneurs and consumers . . . which is, of course, exactly how voters are addressed in most American campaign discourse.8 Other evidence for progress in the development of such a citizenry is not far from hand: consider the market rationality permeating universities today, from admissions and recruiting to the relentless consumer mentality of students as they consider university brand names, courses, and services, from faculty raiding and pay scales to promotion criteria.9 Or consider the way in which consequential moral lapses (of a sexual or criminal nature) by politicians, business executives, or church and university administrators are so often apologized for as “mistakes in judgment,” implying that it was the calculation that was wrong, not the act, actor, or rationale.

    The state is not without a project in the making of the neoliberal subject. It attempts to construct prudent subjects through policies that organize such prudence: this is the basis of a range of welfare reforms such as workfare and single-parent penalties, changes in the criminal code such as the “three strikes law,” and educational voucher schemes. Because neoliberalism casts rational action as a norm rather than an ontology, social policy is the means by which the state produces subjects whose compass is set entirely by their rational assessment of the costs and benefits of certain acts, whether those acts pertain to teen pregnancy, tax fraud, or retirement planning. The neoliberal citizen is calculating rather than rule abiding, a Benthamite rather than a Hobbesian. The state is one of many sites framing the calculations leading to social behaviors that keep costs low and productivity high. This mode of governmentality (techniques of governing that exceed express state action and orchestrate the subject’s conduct toward himor herself) convenes a “free” subject who rationally deliberates about alternative courses of action, makes choices, and bears responsibility for the consequences of these choices. In this way, Lemke argues, “the state leads and controls subjects without being responsible for them”; as individual “entrepreneurs” in every aspect of life, subjects become wholly responsible for their well-being and citizenship is reduced to success in this entrepreneurship (201). Neoliberal subjects are controlled through their freedom—not simply, as thinkers from the Frankfurt School through Foucault have argued, because freedom within an order of domination can be an instrument of that domination, but because of neoliberalism’s moralization of the consequences of this freedom. Such control also means that the withdrawal of the state from certain domains, followed by the privatization of certain state functions, does not amount to a dismantling of government but rather constitutes a technique of governing; indeed, it is the signature technique of neoliberal governance, in which rational economic action suffused throughout society replaces express state rule or provision. Neoliberalism shifts “the regulatory competence of the state onto ‘responsible,’ ‘rational’ individuals [with the aim of] encourag[ing] individuals to give their lives a specific entrepreneurial form” (Lemke, 202).

  4. Finally, the suffusion of both the state and the subject with economic rationality has the effect of radically transforming and narrowing the criteria for good social policy vis-à-vis classical liberal democracy. Not only must social policy meet profitability tests, incite and unblock competition, and produce rational subjects, it obeys the entrepreneurial principle of “equal inequality for all” as it “multiples and expands entrepreneurial forms with the body social” (Lemke, 195). This is the principle that links the neoliberal governmentalization of the state with that of the social and the subject.

Taken together, the extension of economic rationality to all aspects of thought and activity, the placement of the state in forthright and direct service to the economy, the rendering of the state tout court as an enterprise organized by market rationality, the production of the moral subject as an entrepreneurial subject, and the construction of social policy according to these criteria might appear as a more intensive rather than fundamentally new form of the saturation of social and political realms by capital. That is, the political rationality of neoliberalism might be read as issuing from a stage of capitalism that simply underscores Marx’s argument that capital penetrates and transforms every aspect of life—remaking everything in its image and reducing every value and activity to its cold rationale. All that would be new here is the flagrant and relentless submission of the state and the individual, the church and the university, morality, sex, marriage, and leisure practices to this rationale. Or better, the only novelty would be the recently achieved hegemony of rational choice theory in the human sciences, self-represented as an independent and objective branch of knowledge rather than an expression of the dominance of capital. Another reading that would figure neoliberalism as continuous with the past would theorize it through Weber’s rationalization thesis rather than Marx’s argument about capital. The extension of market rationality to every sphere, and especially the reduction of moral and political judgment to a cost-benefit calculus, would represent precisely the evisceration of substantive values by instrumental rationality that Weber predicted as the future of a disenchanted world. Thinking and judging are reduced to instrumental calculation in Weber’s “polar night of icy darkness”—there is no morality, no faith, no heroism, indeed no meaning outside the market.

Yet invaluable as Marx’s theory of capital and Weber’s theory of rationalization are in understanding certain aspects of neoliberalism, neither brings into view the historical-institutional rupture it signifies, the form of governmentality it replaces and the form it inaugurates, and hence the modalities of resistance it renders outmoded and those that must be developed if it is to be effectively challenged. Neoliberalism is not an inevitable historical development of capital and instrumental rationality; it is not the unfolding of laws of capital or of instrumental rationality suggested by a Marxist or Weberian analysis but represents instead a new and contingent organization and operation of both. Moreover, neither analysis articulates the shift neoliberalism heralds from relatively differentiated moral, economic, and political rationalities and venues in liberal democratic orders to their discursive and practical integration. Neoliberal governmentality undermines the relative autonomy of certain institutions—law, elections, the police, the public sphere—from one another and from the market, an independence that formerly sustained an interval and a tension between a capitalist political economy and a liberal democratic political system. The implications of this transformation are significant. Herbert Marcuse worried about the loss of a dialectical opposition within capitalism when it “delivers the goods”—that is, when, by the mid–twentieth century, a relatively complacent middle class had taken the place of the hardlaboring impoverished masses Marx depicted as the negating contradiction to the concentrated wealth of capital—but neoliberalism entails the erosion of oppositional political, moral, or subjective claims located outside capitalist rationality yet inside liberal democratic society, that is, the erosion of institutions, venues, and values organized by nonmarket rationalities in democracies. When democratic principles of governance, civil codes, and even religious morality are submitted to economic calculation, when no value or good stands outside of this calculus, then sources of opposition to, and mere modulation of, capitalist rationality disappear. This reminds us that however much a left analysis has identified a liberal political order with legitimating, cloaking, and mystifying the stratifications of society achieved by capitalism (and achieved as well by racial, sexual, and gender superordinations), it is also the case that liberal democratic principles of governance— liberalism as a political doctrine—have functioned as something of an antagonist to these stratifications. As Marx himself argued in “On the Jewish Question,” formal political principles of equality and freedom (with their attendant promises of individual autonomy and dignity) figure an alternative vision of humanity and alternative social and moral referents to those of the capitalist order within which they are asserted. This is the Janus-face or at least Janus-potential of liberal democracy vis-à-vis a capitalist economy: while liberal democracy encodes, reflects, and legitimates capitalist social relations, it simultaneously resists, counters, and tempers them.

Put simply, what liberal democracy has provided over the past two centuries is a modest ethical gap between economy and polity. Even as liberal democracy converges with many capitalist values (property rights, individualism, Hobbesian assumptions underneath all contracts, etc.), the formal distinction it establishes between moral and political principles on the one hand and the economic order on the other has also served to insulate citizens against the ghastliness of life exhaustively ordered by the market and measured by market values. It is this gap that a neoliberal political rationality closes as it submits every aspect of political and social life to economic calculation: asking not, for example, what liberal constitutionalism stands for, what moral or political values it protects and preserves, but rather what efficacy or profitability constitutionalism promotes . . . or interdicts. Liberal democracy cannot be submitted to neoliberal political governmentality and survive.

There is nothing in liberal democracy’s basic institutions or values — from free elections, representative democracy, and individual liberties equally distributed to modest power-sharing or even more substantive political participation — that inherently meets the test of serving economic competitiveness or inherently withstands a cost-benefit analysis. And it is liberal democracy that is going under in the present moment, even as the flag of American “democracy” is being planted everywhere it can find or create soft ground. (That “democracy” is the rubric under which so much antidemocratic imperial and domestic policy is enacted suggests that we are in an interregnum—or, more precisely, that neoliberalism borrows extensively from the old regime to legitimate itself even as it also develops and disseminates new codes of legitimacy. More about this below.) Nor is liberal democracy a temporary casualty of recent events or of a neoconservative agenda. As the foregoing account of neoliberal governmentality suggests, while post-9/11 international and domestic policy may have both hastened and highlighted the erosion of liberal democratic institutions and principles, this erosion is not simply the result of a national security strategy or even of the Bush administration’s unprecedented indifference to the plight of the poor, civil liberties, law valued as principle rather than tactic, or conventional liberal democratic criteria for legitimate foreign policy.10

My argument here is twofold. First, neoliberal rationality has not caused but rather has facilitated the dismantling of democracy during the current national security crisis. Democratic values and institutions are trumped by a cost-benefit and efficiency rationale for practices ranging from government secrecy (even government lying) to the curtailment of civil liberties. Second, the post-9/11 period has brought the ramifications of neoliberal rationality into sharp focus, largely through practices and policies that progressives assail as hypocrisies, lies, or contradictions but that may be better understood as neoliberal policies and actions taking shape under the legitimating cloth of a liberal democratic discourse increasingly void of substance.

The Bush administration’s imperial adventures in Afghanistan and Iraq clearly borrowed extensively from the legitimating rhetoric of democracy. Not only were both wars undertaken as battles for “our way of life” against regimes said to harbor enemies (terrorists) or dangers (weapons of mass destruction) to that way of life, but both violations of national sovereignty were justified by the argument that democracy could and ought to take shape in those places—each nation is said to need liberation from brutal and despotic rule. The standard left criticism of the first justification is that “our way of life” is more seriously threatened by a politics of imperialism and by certain policies of homeland security than by these small nations. But this criticism ignores the extent to which “our way of life” is being figured not in a classically liberal democratic but in a neoliberal idiom: that is, as the ability of the entrepreneurial subject and state to rationally plot means and ends and the ability of the state to secure the conditions, at home and abroad, for a market rationality and subjectivity by removing their impediments (whether Islamic fundamentalism or excessive and arbitrary state sovereignty in the figure of Saddam Hussein). Civil liberties are perfectly expendable within this conception of “our way of life”; unlike property rights, they are largely irrelevant to homo oeconomicus. Their attenuation or elimination does not falsify the project of protecting democracy in its neoliberal mode.

The Left criticized the second justification, that the United States could or ought to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban and Iraq from Hussein, as both hypocritical (the United States had previously funded and otherwise propped up both regimes) and disingenuous (U.S. foreign policy has never rested on the principle of developing democracy and was not serious about the project in these settings). Again, however, translated into neoliberal terms, “democracy,” here or there, does not signify a set of independent political institutions and civic practices comprising equality, freedom, autonomy and the principle of popular sovereignty but rather indicates only a state and subjects organized by market rationality.

Indeed, democracy could even be understood as a code word for availability to this rationality; removal of the Taliban and Baath party pave the way to that availability, and democracy is simply the name of the regime, conforming to neoliberal requirements, that must replace them. When Paul Bremer, the U.S.-appointed interim governor of Iraq, declared on May 26, 2003 (just weeks after the sacking of Baghdad and four days after the UN lifted economic sanctions), that Iraq was “open for business,” he made clear exactly how democracy would take shape in post- Saddam Iraq. Duty-free imported goods poured into the country, finishing off many local Iraqi businesses already damaged by the war. Multinationals tumbled over themselves to get a piece of the action, and foreign direct investment to replace and privatize state industry was described by the corporate executives advising the Bush administration as the “answer to all of Iraq’s problems.”11 The question of democratic institutions, as Bremer made clear by scrapping early plans to form an interim Iraqi government in favor of installing his own team of advisers, was at best secondary to the project of privatizing large portions of the economy and outsourcing the business of policing a society in rubble, chaos, and terror occasioned by the combination of ongoing military skirmishes and armed local gangs.12

It is not news that replacements for the Taliban and the Baath regimes need not be rights-based, formally egalitarian, representative, or otherwise substantively democratic in order to serve the purposes of global capitalism or the particular geopolitical interests of the United States. Nor is it news that the replacements of these regimes need not be administered by the Afghans or Iraqis themselves to satisfy American and global capitalist purposes and interests, though the residues of old-fashioned democracy inside the legitimation project of neoliberalism make even puppet or faux rule by an appointed governing council, or by officials elected in severely compromised election conditions, ideologically preferable to full-fledged directorship by the American occupation. What is striking, however, is the boldness of a raw market approach to political problem solving, the extent to which radical privatization schemes and a flourishing market economy built on foreign investment are offered not simply as the path to democracy but as the name and the measure of democracy in these nations, a naming and measuring first appearing in post-1989 Eastern Europe a decade earlier. Not only are democratic institutions largely irrelevant— and at times even impediments—to neoliberal governmentality, but the success of such governmentality does not depend on the question of whether it is locally administered or externally imposed. Market rationality knows no culture or country, and administrators are, as the economists say, fungible. Indeed, at this juncture in the displacement of liberal democracy by neoliberal governmentality, the question is how much legitimacy neoliberal governance requires from a democratic vocabulary—how much does neoliberalism have to cloak itself in liberal democratic discourse and work with liberal democratic institutions?

This is less a theoretical than a historical-empirical question about how deeply and extensively neoliberal rationality has taken hold as ideology, that is, how much and where neoliberal governance can legitimate itself in its own terms, without borrowing from other discourses. (Neoliberalism can become dominant as governmentality without being dominant as ideology—the former refers to governing practices and the latter to a popular order of belief that may or may not be fully in line with the former, and that may even be a site of resistance to it.) Clearly, a rhetoric of democracy and the shell of liberal democratic institutions remain more important in the imperial heartland than in recently “liberated” or conquered societies with few if any democratic traditions of legitimacy. However, the fact that George W. Bush retains the support of the majority of the American people, despite his open flaunting of democratic principles amid a failing economy and despite, too, evidence that the public justification for invading Iraq relied on cooked intelligence, suggests that neoliberalism has taken deep hold in the homeland. Particularly striking is the number of pundits who have characterized this willful deceit of the people as necessary rather than criminal, as a means to a rational end, thereby reminding us that one of the more dangerous features of neoliberal evisceration of a non-market morality lies in undercutting the basis for judging government actions by any criteria other than expedience.13

Just as neoliberal governmentality reduces the tension historically borne by the state between democratic values and the needs of capital as it openly weds the state to capital and resignifies democracy as ubiquitous entrepreneurialism, so neoliberalism also smooths an old wrinkle in the fabric of liberal democratic foreign policy between domestic political values and international interests. During the cold war, political progressives could use American sanctimony about democracy to condemn international actions that propped up or installed authoritarian regimes and overthrew popularly elected leaders in the Third World. The divergence between strategic international interests and democratic ideology produced a potential legitimation problem for foreign policy, especially as applied to Southeast Asia and Central and Latin America. Neoliberalism, by redefining democracy as thoroughgoing market rationality in state and society, a redefinition abetted by the postcommunist “democratization” process in Eastern Europe, largely eliminates that problem. Certainly human rights talk is ubiquitous in global democracy discourse, but not since Jimmy Carter’s ill-fated efforts to make human rights a substantive dimension of foreign policy have they served as more than window dressing for neoliberal adventures in democracy.

Mourning Liberal Democracy

An assault on liberal democratic values and institutions has been plainly evident in recent events: civil liberties undermined by the USA Patriot Acts and the Total Information Awareness (later renamed Total Terror Awareness) scheme, Oakland police shooting wood and rubber bullets at peaceful antiwar protesters, a proposed Oregon law to punish all civil disobedience as terrorism (replete with twenty five-year jail terms), and McCarthyite deployments of patriotism to suppress ordinary dissent and its iconography. It is evident as well in the staging of aggressive imperial wars and ensuing occupations along with the continued dismantling of the welfare state and the progressive taxation schemes already diluted by the Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, and Clinton administrations. It has been more subtly apparent in “softer” events, such as the de-funding of public education that led eighty four Oregon school districts to sheer almost a month off the school year in spring 2003 and delivered provisional pink slips to thousands of California teachers at the end of the 2002–03 academic year.14

Or consider the debate about whether antiwar protests constituted unacceptable costs for a financially strapped cities—even many critics of current U.S. foreign policy expressed anger at peaceful civil disobedients over the expense and disruption they caused, implying that the value of public opinion and protest should be measured against its dollar cost.15 Together these phenomena suggest a transformation of American liberal democracy into a political and social form for which we do not yet have a name, a form organized by a combination of neoliberal governmentality and imperial world politics, shaped in the short run by global economic and security crises. They indicate a form in which an imperial agenda is able to take hold precisely because the domestic soil has been loosened for it by neoliberal rationality.

This form is not fascism or totalitarian as we have known them historically, nor are these labels likely to prove helpful in identifying or criticizing it.16 Rather, this is a political condition in which the substance of many of the significant features of constitutional and representative democracy have been gutted, jettisoned, or end-run, even as they continue to be promulgated ideologically, serving as a foil and shield for their undoing and for the doing of death elsewhere. These features include civil liberties equally distributed and protected; a press and other journalistic media minimally free from corporate ownership on one side and state control on the other; uncorrupted and unbought elections; quality public education oriented, inter alia, to producing the literacies relevant to informed and active citizenship; government openness, honesty, and accountability; a judiciary modestly insulated from political and commercial influence; separation of church and state; and a foreign policy guided at least in part by the rationale of protecting these domestic values. None of these constitutive elements of liberal democracy was ever fully realized in its short history—they have always been compromised by a variety of economic and social powers, from white supremacy to capitalism. And liberal democracies in the First World have always required other peoples to pay—politically, socially, and economically—for what these societies have enjoyed; that is, there has always been a colonially and imperially inflected gap between what has been valued in the core and what has been required from the periphery. So it is important to be precise here. Ours is not the first time in which elections have been bought, manipulated, and even engineered by the courts, the first time the press has been slavish to state and corporate power, the first time the United States has launched an aggressive assault on a sovereign nation or threatened the entire world with its own weapons of mass destruction.

What is unprecedented about this time is the extent to which basic principles and institutions of democracy are becoming nothing other than ideological shells concealing their opposite as well as the extent to which these principles and institutions even as values are being abandoned by large parts of the American population. Elements in this transformation include the development of the most secretive government in fifty years (the gutting of the Freedom of Information Act was one of the quiet early accomplishments of the G. W. Bush administration, the “classified” status of its more than 1,000 contracts with Halliburton one of its more recent); the plumping of corporate wealth combined with the reduction of social spending for limiting the economic vulnerability of the poor and middle classes; a bought, consolidated, and muffled press that willingly cooperates in its servitude (emblematic in this regard is the Judith Miller (non)scandal, in which the star New York Times journalist wittingly reported Pentagon propaganda about Iraqi WMDs as journalistically discovered fact); and intensified policing in every corner of American life— airports, university admissions offices, mosques, libraries, workplaces— a policing undertaken both by official agents of the state and by an interpellated citizenry.

A potentially permanent “state of emergency” combined with an infinitely expandable rhetoric of patriotism overtly legitimates undercutting the Bill of Rights and legitimates as well abrogation of conventional democratic principles in setting foreign policy, principles that include respect for nation-state sovereignty and reasoned justifications for war. But behind these rhetorics there is another layer of discourse facilitating the dismantling of liberal democratic institutions and practices: a governmentality of neoliberalism that eviscerates nonmarket morality and thus erodes the root of democracy in principle at the same time that it raises the status of profit and expediency as the criteria for policy making. There is much that is disturbing in the emergence of neoliberal governmentality and a great deal more work to do in theorizing its contribution to the organization and possibilities in current and future political life in the United States. In particular, as I suggested at the outset of this essay, filling in the contemporary political picture would require mapping the convergences and tensions between a (nonpartisan) neoliberal governmentality on the one hand and the specific agendas of Clintonian centrists and Reagan-Bush neoconservatives on the other. It would require exploring the continued efficacy of political rhetorics of morality and principle as neoliberalism voids the substance of and undercuts the need for extramarket morality.

It would require discerning what distinguishes neoliberal governmentality from old-fashioned corporatism and old-fashioned political realism. It would require examining the contradictory political imperatives delivered by the market and set as well by the tensions between nationstate interests and globalized capitalism indifferent to states and sovereignty. And it would require examining the points at which U.S. imperial policies converge with and diverge from or even conflict with neoliberal governmentality.

By way of conclusion, however, I leave aside these questions to reflect briefly on the implications for the Left of neoliberalism’s erosion of liberal democracy. While leftists of the past quarter century were rarely as antagonistic to liberal democracy as the Old Left, neither did we fully embrace it; at times we resented and railed against it, and certainly we harbored an aim to transform it into something else—social democracy or some form of radical democracy. So the Left is losing something it never loved, or at best was highly ambivalent about. We are also losing a site of criticism and political agitation—we criticized liberal democracy not only for its hypocrisy and ideological trickery but also for its institutional and rhetorical embedding of bourgeois, white, masculinist, and heterosexual superordination at the heart of humanism. Whatever loose identity we had as a Left took shape in terms of a differentiation from liberalism’s willful obliviousness to social stratification and injury that were glossed and hence secured by its formal juridical categories of liberty and equality.

Still, liberalism, as Gayatri Spivak once wrote in a very different context, is also that which one “cannot not want” (given the other historical possibilities, given the current historical meaning of its deprivation). Even here, though, the desire is framed as roundabout and against itself, as Spivak’s artful double negative indicates. It indicates a dependency we are not altogether happy about, an organization of desire we wish were otherwise. What might be the psychic/social/intellectual implications for leftists of losing this vexed object of attachment? What are the possible trajectories for a melancholic incorporation of that toward which one is openly ambivalent; or perhaps even hostile, resentful, rebellious?\

Freud posits melancholy as occasioned by ambivalence, though the ambivalence may be more unconsciously sustained than I am suggesting is the case for the Left’s relationship to liberal democracy. More precisely, Freud’s focus in theorizing melancholy is love that does not know or want to avow its hostility, whereas the task before us is to consider hostility that does not know or want to avow its love or dependency. Still, Freud’s thinking about melancholia remains useful here as a theory of loss amid ambivalent attachment and dependence and a theory of identity formation at the site of an ungrievable passion or attachment. It reminds us to consider how left melancholia about liberal democracy would not just be a problematic affect but would constitute a formation of the Left itself.

Incorporating the death of a loathed object to which one was nonetheless attached often takes the form of acting out the loathed qualities of the object. I once had an acquaintance whose muchdespised and abusive father died. While my friend overtly rejoiced at his passing, in the ensuing months she engaged in extraordinary outbursts of verbal and physical abuse toward friends and colleagues, even throwing things at them as she had described her father throwing household objects during her childhood. Another friend buried, after years of illness, a childish, hysterical, histrionic, and demanding mother, one who relentlessly produced herself as a victim amid her own aggressive demands. Relieved as my friend was to have done with this parent, what should emerge over the following year but exactly such tendencies in her own relationships? So this is one danger: that we would act out to keep alive those aspects of the political formation we are losing, that we would take up and perform liberal democracy’s complacencies, cruelties, or duplicities, stage them in our own work and thinking. This behavior would issue in part from the need to preserve the left identity and project that took shape at the site of liberal democracy, and in part from ambivalence about liberal democracy itself. In response to the loss of an object both loved and loathed, in which only the loathing or contempt is avowed, melancholy sustains the loved object, and continues to provide a cover for the love—a continued means of disavowing it—by incorporating and performing the loathsomeness.

There are other ways ambivalently structured loss can take shape as melancholic, including the straightforward possibility of idealizing a lost object as it was never idealized when alive. Straightforward, perhaps, but not simple, for this affect also involves remorse for a past of not loving the object well enough and self-reproach for ever having wished for its death or replacement. As idealization fueled by guilt, this affect also entails heightened aggression toward challenges or challengers to the idealization. In this guilt, anxiety, and defensiveness over the loss of liberal democracy, we would feel compelled to defend basic principles of liberalism or simply defend liberalism as a whole in a liberal way, that is, we would give up being critical of liberalism and, in doing so, give up being left. Freud identifies this surrender of identity upon the death of an ambivalent object as the suicidal wish in melancholia,17 a wish abetted in our case by a more general disorientation about what the Left is or stands for today. Evidence for such a surrender in the present extends from our strikingly unnuanced defenses of free speech, privacy, and other civil liberties to the staging of antiwar protests as “patriotic” through the iconography of the American flag. Often explained as what the Left must do when public discourse moves rightward, such accounts presume a single political continuum, ranged from extreme left to extreme right, in which liberals and conservatives are nothing more than the moderate versions of the extremes (communists and fascists). Not only does the model of the continuum reduce the variety of political possibility in modernity to matters of degree rather than kind, it erases the distinctiveness of a left critique and vision. Just as today’s neoliberals bear little in common with traditional conservatives, so the Left has traditionally stood for a set of values and possibilities qualitatively different from those of welfare state liberals. Times of alliance and spheres of overlap obviously exist, but a continuum does not capture the nature of these convergences and tactical linkages any better than it captures the differences between, for example, a liberal commitment to rights-based equality and a left commitment to emancipating the realm of production, or between a liberal enthusiasm for the welfare state and a left critique of its ideological and regulatory dimensions. So the idea that leftists must automatically defend liberal political values when they are on the ropes, while sensible from a liberal perspective, does not facilitate a left challenge to neoliberalism if the Left still wishes to advocate in the long run for something other than liberal democracy in a capitalist socioeconomic order.

Of course, there are aspects of liberal democracy that the Left has come to value and incorporate into its own vision of the good society—for example, an array of individual liberties that are largely unrelated to the freedom from domination promised by transforming the realm of production. But articulating this renewed left vision differs from defending civil liberties in liberal terms, a defense that itself erases a left project as it consigns it to something outside those terms. Similarly, patriotism and flag-waving are surely at odds with a left formulation of justice, even as love of America, represented through icons other than the flag or through narratives other than “supporting the troops,” might well have a part in this formulation. Finally, not only does defending liberal democracy in liberal terms sacrifice a left vision, but this sacrifice discredits the Left by tacitly reducing it to nothing more than a permanent objection to the existing regime. It renders the Left a party of complaint rather than a party with an alternative political, social, and economic vision.

Still, if we are slipping from liberalism to fascism, and if radical democracy or socialism is nowhere on the political horizon, don’t we have to defend liberal democratic institutions and values? Isn’t this the lesson of Weimar? I have labored to suggest that this is not the right diagnosis of our predicament: it does not grasp what is at stake in neoliberal governmentality—which is not fascism—nor on what grounds it might be challenged. Indeed, the left defense of the welfare state in the 1980s, which seemed to stem from precisely such an analysis—“if we can’t have socialism, at least we should preserve welfare state capitalism”—backfired from just such a misdiagnosis. On the one hand, rather than articulating an emancipatory vision that included the eradication rather than regulation of poverty, the Left appeared aligned with big government, big spending, and misplaced compassion for those construed as failing to give their lives proper entrepreneurial shape. On the other hand, the welfare state was dismantled on grounds that had almost nothing to do with the terms of liberal democracy and everything to do with neoliberal economic and political rationality. We are not simply in the throes of a right-wing or conservative positioning within liberal democracy but rather at the threshold of a different political formation, one that conducts and legitimates itself on different grounds from liberal democracy even as it does not immediately divest itself of the name. It is a formation that is developing a domestic imperium correlative with a global one, achieved through a secretive and remarkably agentic state; through corporatized media, schools, and prisons; and through a variety of technologies for intensified local administrative, regulatory, and police powers. It is a formation made possible by the production of citizens as individual entrepreneurial actors across all dimensions of their lives, by the reduction of civil society to a domain for exercising this entrepreneurship, and by the figuration of the state as a firm whose products are rational individual subjects, an expanding economy, national security, and global power.

This formation produces a twofold challenge for the Left. First, it compels us to consider the implications of losing liberal democracy and especially its implications for our own work by learning what the Left has depended on and demanded from liberal democracy, which aspects of it have formed the basis of our critiques of it, rebellions against it, and identity based on differentiation from it. We may also need to mourn liberal democracy, avowing our ambivalent attachment to it, our need for it, our mix of love and hostility toward it. The aim of this work is framed by the second challenge, that of devising intelligent left strategies for challenging the neoliberal political-economic formation now taking shape and an intelligent left countervision to this formation. Ahalf century ago, Marcuse argued that capitalism had eliminated a revolutionary subject (the proletariat) representing the negation of capitalism; consequently, he insisted, the Left had to derive and cultivate anticapitalist principles, possibilities, and agency from capitalism’s constitutive outside. That is, the Left needed to tap the desires— not for wealth or goods but for beauty, love, mental and physical well-being, meaningful work, and peace—manifestly unmet within a capitalist order and to appeal to those desires as the basis for rejecting and replacing the order. No longer could economic contradictions of capitalism inherently fuel opposition to it; rather, opposition had to be founded in an alternative table of values. Today, the problem Marcuse diagnosed has expanded from capitalism to liberal democracy: oppositional consciousness cannot be generated from liberal democracy’s false promises and hypocrisies. The space between liberal democratic ideals and lived realities has ceased to be exploitable, because liberal democracy itself is no longer the most salient discourse of political legitimacy and the good life. Put the other way around, the politically exploitable hollowness in formal promises of freedom and equality has largely vanished to the extent that both freedom and equality have been redefined by neoliberalism. Similarly, revealed connections between political and economic actors—not merely bought politicians but arrangements of mutual profiteering between corporate America and its political elite—do not incite outrage at malfeasance, corruption, or injustice but appear instead as a potentially rational set of linkages between state and economy. Thus, from the “scandal” of Enron to the “scandal” of Vice President Cheney delivering Iraq to Halliburton to clean up and rebuild, there is no scandal. There is only market rationality, a rationality that can encompass even a modest amount of criminality but also treats close state-corporate ties as a potentially positive value—maximizing the aims of each—rather than as a conflict of interest. 18 Similarly, even as the Bush administration fails to come up with WMDs in Iraq and fails to be able to install order let alone democracy there, such deficiencies are irrelevant to the neoliberal criteria for success in that military episode. Indeed, even the scandal of Bush’s installation as president by a politicized Supreme Court in 2000 was more or less ingested by the American people as business as usual, an ingestion that represents a shift from the expectation that the Supreme Court is independent of political influence to one that tacitly accepts its inclusion in the governmentality of neoliberalism. Similarly, John Poindexter, a key figure in the Iran-Contra affair and director of the proposed “Terrorism Information Awareness” program that would have put all Americans under surveillance, continued to have power and legitimacy at the Pentagon until the flap over the scheme to run a futures market on political violence in the Middle East. All three of these projects are instances of neoliberalism’s indifference to democracy; only the last forced Poindexter into retirement.

These examples suggest that not only liberal democratic principles but democratic morality has been largely eviscerated—in neoliberal terms, each of these “scandals” is framed as a matter of miscalculation or political maneuvering rather than by right and wrong, truth or falsehood, institutional propriety or impropriety. Consequently, the Left cannot count on revealed deception, hypocrisies, interlocking directorates, featherbedding, or corruption to stir opposition to the existing regime. It cannot count on the expectation that moral principle undergirds political action or even on consistency as a value by which to judge state practices or aims. Much of the American public appeared indifferent to the fact that both the Afghan and Iraqi regimes targeted by Bush had previously been supported or even built by earlier U.S. foreign policy. It also appeared indifferent to the touting of the “liberation” of Afghan women as one of the great immediate achievements of the overthrow of the Taliban while the overthrow of the Baath regime set into motion an immediately more oppressive regime of gender in Iraq. The inconsistency does not matter much, because political reasons and reasoning that exceed or precede neoliberal criteria have ceased to matter much. This is serious political nihilism, which no mere defense of free speech and privacy, let alone securing the right to gay marriage or an increase in the minimum wage, will reverse.

What remains for the Left, then, is to challenge emerging neoliberal governmentality in Euro-Atlantic states with an alternative vision of the good, one that rejects homo economicus as the norm of the human and rejects this norm’s correlative formations of economy, society, state, and (non)morality. In its barest form, this would be a vision in which justice would center not on maximizing individual wealth or rights but on developing and enhancing the capacity of citizens to share power and hence to collaboratively govern themselves. In such an order, rights and elections would be the background rather than token of democracy; or better, rights would function to safeguard the individual against radical democratic enthusiasms but would not themselves signal the presence or constitute the principle of democracy. Instead, a left vision of justice would focus on practices and institutions of popular power; a modestly egalitarian distribution of wealth and access to institutions; an incessant reckoning with all forms of power—social, economic, political, and even psychic; a long view of the fragility and finitude of nonhuman nature; and the importance of both meaningful activity and hospitable dwellings to human flourishing. However differently others might place the accent marks, none of these values can be derived from neoliberal rationality or meet neoliberal criteria for the good. The drive to develop and promulgate such a counterrationality—a different figuration of human beings, citizenship, economic life, and the political—is critical both to the long labor of fashioning a more just future and to the immediate task of challenging the deadly policies of the imperial American state.


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Old News ;-)

[Jul 13, 2019] The return of Weimar Berlin - Lawlessness, Inequality, Extremism, Divisiveness and Crime

Notable quotes:
"... You hypocrites! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors , we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of His messengers ..."
"... this entire Russian collusion meme seems as though it is an hysterical reaction to the spin put out by the Clinton political faction and their neoliberal enablers after their shocking loss in the 2016 Presidential election. ..."
"... the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there ..."
"... We are reassured and misled by the same kinds of voices that have always served the status quo and the monied interests, the think tanks, the so-called 'institutes,' and the web sites and former con men who offer a constant stream of thinly disguised propaganda and misstatements of principle and history. We are comforted by their lies. ..."
"... We wish to strike a deal with the Lord, and a deal with the Devil -- to serve both God and Mammon as it suits us. It really is that cliché. And it is so finely woven into the fabric of our day that we cannot see it; we cannot see that it is happening to us and around us. ..."
"... It has always been so, especially in times of such vanity and greed as are these. Then is now. There is nothing new under the sun. And certainly nothing exceptional about the likes of us in our indulgent self-destruction. ..."
Feb 13, 2019 | jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com

"He drew near and saw the city, and he wept for it saying, 'If you had only recognized the things that make for peace. But now you are blinded to them. Truly, the days will come when your enemies will set up barriers to surround you, and hem you in on every side. Then they will crush you into the earth, you and your children. And they will not leave one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the way to your salvation.'"

Luke 19:41-44

"You hypocrites! You build monuments for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of His messengers.'"

Matthew 23:29-30

...the results of the Senate GOP finding no evidence of 'collusion' with Russia by the Trump Administration to influence the results of the presidential election..

This last item is not surprising, because this entire Russian collusion meme seems as though it is an hysterical reaction to the spin put out by the Clinton political faction and their neoliberal enablers after their shocking loss in the 2016 Presidential election.

Too bad though, because the financial corruption and private pilfering using public power, money laundering and the kind of soft corruption that is rampant amongst our new elite is all there. And by there we mean on both sides of the fence -- which is why it had to take a back seat to a manufactured boogeyman.

... ... ...

There is a long road ahead before we see anything like a resolution to this troubling period in American political history.

We look back at other troubled periods and places, and either see them as discrete and fictional, a very different world apart, or through some rosy lenses of good old times which were largely benign and peaceful. We fail to see the continuity, the similarity, and the commonality of a dangerous path with ourselves. As they did with their own times gone by. Madness blinds its acolytes, because they wish it so. They embrace it to hide their shame.

We are reassured and misled by the same kinds of voices that have always served the status quo and the monied interests, the think tanks, the so-called 'institutes,' and the web sites and former con men who offer a constant stream of thinly disguised propaganda and misstatements of principle and history. We are comforted by their lies.

People want to hear these reassuring words of comfort and embrace it like a 'religion,' because they do not wish to draw the conclusions that the genuine principles of faith suggest (dare we say command in this day and age) in their daily lives. They blind themselves by adopting a kind of a schizoid approach to life, where 'religion' occupies a discrete, rarefied space, and 'political or economic philosophy' dictates another set of everyday 'practical' observances and behaviors which are more pliable, and pleasing to our hardened and prideful hearts.

We wish to strike a deal with the Lord, and a deal with the Devil -- to serve both God and Mammon as it suits us. It really is that cliché. And it is so finely woven into the fabric of our day that we cannot see it; we cannot see that it is happening to us and around us.

And so we trot on into the abyss, one exception and excuse and rationalization for ourselves at a time. And we blind ourselves with false prophets and their profane theories and philosophies.

As for truth, the truth that brings life, we would interrupt the sermon on the mount itself, saying that this sentiment was all very well and good, but what stocks should we buy for our portfolio, and what horse is going to win the fifth at Belmont? Tell us something useful, practical! Oh, and can you please fix this twinge in my left shoulder? It is ruining my golf game.

"Those among the rich who are not, in the rigorous sense, damned, can understand poverty, because they are poor themselves, after a fashion; they cannot understand destitution. Capable of giving alms, perhaps, but incapable of stripping themselves bare, they will be moved, to the sound of beautiful music, at Jesus's sufferings, but His Cross, the reality of His Cross, will horrify them. They want it all out of gold, bathed in light, costly and of little weight; pleasant to see, hanging from a woman's beautiful throat."

Léon Bloy

No surprise in this. It has always been so, especially in times of such vanity and greed as are these. Then is now. There is nothing new under the sun. And certainly nothing exceptional about the likes of us in our indulgent self-destruction.

Are you not entertained?

[Jul 06, 2019] It always seems very odd to me that so many people who think like that profess to be Christian. 'Poverty equals moral failure' is the complete opposite of what Jesus Christ got into so much trouble for saying.

Notable quotes:
"... The idea of the 'American dream' seems to have morphed into a nasty belief that if you're poor it's your own fault. You didn't 'want it enough'. You must be secretly lazy and undeserving, even if you're actually working three jobs to survive, or even if there are no jobs. ..."
"... It always seems very odd to me that so many people who think like that profess to be Christian. 'Poverty equals moral failure' is the complete opposite of what Jesus Christ got into so much trouble for saying. ..."
Jul 06, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

zephirine -> josephinireland

The idea of the 'American dream' seems to have morphed into a nasty belief that if you're poor it's your own fault. You didn't 'want it enough'. You must be secretly lazy and undeserving, even if you're actually working three jobs to survive, or even if there are no jobs.

This view has taken hold in the UK too, where the tabloids peddle the view that anyone who claims state benefits must be a fraud. But at least, people here and in mainland Europe have the direct experience of war within living memory and we understand that you can lose everything through no fault of your own. In the US, even when there's a natural disaster like Katrina it seems to be the poor people's fault for not having their own transport and money to go and stay somewhere else.

It always seems very odd to me that so many people who think like that profess to be Christian. 'Poverty equals moral failure' is the complete opposite of what Jesus Christ got into so much trouble for saying.

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

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

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

slorter, 27 Apr 2018 01:37

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

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

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

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

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

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

bryonyed -> slorter , 27 Apr 2018 01:41

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

[Jun 30, 2019] Life Expectancy Falters In The UK Slow Death But Fast Profits For The Agrochemical Sector by Colin Todhunter

Notable quotes:
"... "We are being poisoned by weedkiller and other pesticides in our food and weedkiller sprayed indiscriminately on our communities. The media remain silent." ..."
"... Mason notes that the agency repeatedly failed to hold Monsanto accountable for its role in the pollution (a role that Monsanto denied from the outset) and consistently downplayed the dangers of the chemicals themselves. ..."
"... In a report prepared for the agency and the local authority in 2005 but never made public, the sites contain at least 67 toxic chemicals. Seven PCBs have been identified, along with vinyl chlorides and naphthalene. The unlined quarry is still leaking, the report says: ..."
"... Apart from these events in Wales, Mason outlines the overall toxic nature of Monsanto in the UK. For instance, she discusses the shockingly high levels of weedkiller in packaged cereals. Samples of four oat-based breakfast cereals marketed for children in the UK were recently sent to the Health Research Institute, Fairfield, Iowa, an accredited laboratory for glyphosate testing. Dr Fagan, the director of the centre, says of the results: ..."
"... "These results are consistently concerning. The levels consumed in a single daily helping of any one of these cereals, even the one with the lowest level of contamination, is sufficient to put the person's glyphosate levels above the levels that cause fatty liver disease in rats (and likely in people). ..."
"... Another study notes neurotransmitter changes in rat brain regions following glyphosate exposure. The highlights from that study indicate that glyphosate oral exposure caused neurotoxicity in rats; that brain regions were susceptible to changes in CNS monoamine levels; that glyphosate reduced 5-HT, DA, NE levels in a brain regional- and dose-related manner; and that glyphosate altered the serotoninergic, dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems. ..."
"... "Our children are growing up exposed to a toxic cocktail of weedkillers, insecticides, and fungicides. It's on their food and in their water, and it's even doused over their parks and playgrounds. Many governments insist that our standards of protection from these pesticides are strong enough. But as a scientist and a lawyer who specialises in chemicals and their potential impact on people's fundamental rights, I beg to differ. Last month it was revealed that in recommending that glyphosate – the world's most widely-used pesticide – was safe, the EU's food safety watchdog copied and pasted pages of a report directly from Monsanto , the pesticie's manufacturer. Revelations like these are simply shocking. ..."
"... At that stage, PCBs, DDT, chlordane, lindane, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, toxaphene, heptachlor, dioxin, atrazine+ and dacthal were shown to be EDCs. Many of these residues are found in humans in the UK. ..."
"... Of course, the chickens are now coming home to roost for Bayer, which bought Monsanto. Mason refers to attorneys revealing Monsanto's criminal strategy for keeping Roundup on the market and the company being hit with $2 billion verdict in the third 'Roundup trial'. ..."
"... Attorney Brent Wisner has argued that Monsanto spent decades suppressing science linking its glyphosate-based weedkiller product to cancer by ghost-writing academic articles and feeding the EPA "bad science". He asked the jury to 'punish' Monsanto with a $1 billion punitive damages award. On Monday 13 May, the jury found Monsanto liable for failure to warn claims, design defect claims, negligence claims and negligent failure to warn claims. ..."
"... "Perhaps more ominously for Bayer, Monsanto also faces cascading scientific evidence linking glyphosate to a constellation of other injuries that have become prevalent since its introduction, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer's, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts. Strong science suggests glyphosate is the culprit in the exploding epidemics of celiac disease, colitis, gluten sensitivities, diabetes and non-alcoholic liver cancer which, for the first time, is attacking children as young as 10. ..."
"... Rosemary Mason shows that the health of the UK populations already lags behind other countries in Western Europe. She links this to the increasing amounts of agrochemicals being applied to crops. If the UK does a post-Brexit deal with the US, we can only expect a gutting of environmental standards at the behest of the US and its corporations and much worse to follow for the environment and public health. ..."
Jun 30, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Colin Todhunter via Counterpunch.org,

A special report in the Observer newspaper in the UK on 23 June 2019 asked the question: Why is life expectancy faltering? The piece noted that for the first time in 100 years, Britons are dying earlier. The UK now has the worst health trends in Western Europe.

Aside from the figures for the elderly and the deprived, there has also been a worrying change in infant mortality rates. Since 2014, the rate has increased every year: the figure for 2017 is significantly higher than the one in 2014. To explain this increase in infant mortality, certain experts blame it on 'austerity', fewer midwives, an overstrained ambulance service, general deterioration of hospitals, greater poverty among pregnant women and cuts that mean there are fewer health visitors for patients in need.

While all these explanations may be valid, according to environmental campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason, there is something the mainstream narrative is avoiding. She says:

"We are being poisoned by weedkiller and other pesticides in our food and weedkiller sprayed indiscriminately on our communities. The media remain silent."

The poisoning of the UK public by the agrochemical industry is the focus of her new report – Why is life expectancy faltering: The British Government has worked with Monsanto and Bayer since 1949 .

What follows are edited highlights of the text in which she cites many official sources and reports as well as numerous peer-reviewed studies in support of her arguments. Readers can access the report here .

Toxic history of Monsanto in the UK

Mason begins by offering a brief history of Monsanto in the UK. In 1949, that company set up a chemical factory in Newport, Wales, where it manufactured PCBs until 1977 and a number of other dangerous chemicals. Monsanto was eventually found to be dumping toxic waste in the River Severn, public waterways and sewerage. It then paid a contractor which illegally dumped thousands of tons of cancer-causing chemicals, including PCBs, dioxins and Agent Orange derivatives, at two quarries in Wales – Brofiscin (80,000 tonnes) and Maendy (42,000 tonnes) – between 1965 and 1972.

Monsanto stopped making PCBs in Anniston US in 1971 because of various scandals. However, the British government agreed to ramp up production at the Monsanto plant in Newport. In 2003, when toxic effluent from the quarry started leaking into people's streams in Grosfaen, just outside Cardiff, the Environment Agency – a government agency concerned with flooding and pollution – was hired to clean up the site in 2005.

Mason notes that the agency repeatedly failed to hold Monsanto accountable for its role in the pollution (a role that Monsanto denied from the outset) and consistently downplayed the dangers of the chemicals themselves.

In a report prepared for the agency and the local authority in 2005 but never made public, the sites contain at least 67 toxic chemicals. Seven PCBs have been identified, along with vinyl chlorides and naphthalene. The unlined quarry is still leaking, the report says:

"Pollution of water has been occurring since the 1970s, the waste and groundwater has been shown to contain significant quantities of poisonous, noxious and polluting material, pollution of waters will continue to occur."

The duplicity continues

Apart from these events in Wales, Mason outlines the overall toxic nature of Monsanto in the UK. For instance, she discusses the shockingly high levels of weedkiller in packaged cereals. Samples of four oat-based breakfast cereals marketed for children in the UK were recently sent to the Health Research Institute, Fairfield, Iowa, an accredited laboratory for glyphosate testing. Dr Fagan, the director of the centre, says of the results:

"These results are consistently concerning. The levels consumed in a single daily helping of any one of these cereals, even the one with the lowest level of contamination, is sufficient to put the person's glyphosate levels above the levels that cause fatty liver disease in rats (and likely in people). "

According to Mason, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Commission colluded with the European Glyphosate Task Force and allowed it to write the re-assessment of glyphosate. She lists key peer-reviewed studies, which the Glyphosate Task Force conveniently omitted from its review, from South America where GM crops are grown. In fact, many papers come from Latin American countries where they grow almost exclusively GM Roundup Ready Crops.

Mason cites one study that references many papers from around the world that confirm glyphosate-based herbicides like Monsanto's Roundup are damaging to the development of the foetal brain and that repeated exposure is toxic to the adult human brain and may result in alterations in locomotor activity, feelings of anxiety and memory impairment.

Another study notes neurotransmitter changes in rat brain regions following glyphosate exposure. The highlights from that study indicate that glyphosate oral exposure caused neurotoxicity in rats; that brain regions were susceptible to changes in CNS monoamine levels; that glyphosate reduced 5-HT, DA, NE levels in a brain regional- and dose-related manner; and that glyphosate altered the serotoninergic, dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems.

Little wonder, Mason concludes, that we see various degenerative conditions on the rise. She turns her attention to children, the most vulnerable section of the population, and refers to the UN expert on toxicity Baskut Tuncak. He wrote a scathing piece in the Guardian on 06/11/2017 on the effects of agrotoxins on children's health:

"Our children are growing up exposed to a toxic cocktail of weedkillers, insecticides, and fungicides. It's on their food and in their water, and it's even doused over their parks and playgrounds. Many governments insist that our standards of protection from these pesticides are strong enough. But as a scientist and a lawyer who specialises in chemicals and their potential impact on people's fundamental rights, I beg to differ. Last month it was revealed that in recommending that glyphosate – the world's most widely-used pesticide – was safe, the EU's food safety watchdog copied and pasted pages of a report directly from Monsanto , the pesticie's manufacturer. Revelations like these are simply shocking.

" Exposure in pregnancy and childhood is linked to birth defects, diabetes, and cancer. Because a child's developing body is more sensitive to exposure than adults and takes in more of everything – relative to their size, children eat, breathe, and drink much more than adults – they are particularly vulnerable to these toxic chemicals. Increasing evidence shows that even at "low" doses of childhood exposure, irreversible health impacts can result.

" In light of revelations such as the copy-and-paste scandal, a careful re-examination of the performance of states is required. The overwhelming reliance of regulators on industry-funded studies, the exclusion of independent science from assessments, and the confidentiality of studies relied upon by authorities must change."

Warnings ignored

It is a travesty that Theo Colborn's crucial research in the early 1990s into the chemicals that were changing humans and the environment was ignored. Mason discusses his work into endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs), man-made chemicals that became widespread in the environment after WW II.

In a book published in 1996, 'The Pesticide Conspiracy', Colborn, Dumanoski and Peters revealed the full horror of what was happening to the world as a result of contamination with EDCs.

At the time, there was emerging scientific research about how a wide range of man-made chemicals disrupt delicate hormone systems in humans. These systems play a critical role in processes ranging from human sexual development to behaviour, intelligence, and the functioning of the immune system.

At that stage, PCBs, DDT, chlordane, lindane, aldrin, dieldrin, endrin, toxaphene, heptachlor, dioxin, atrazine+ and dacthal were shown to be EDCs. Many of these residues are found in humans in the UK.

Colborn illustrated the problem by constructing a diagram of the journey of a PCB molecule from a factory in Alabama into a polar bear in the Arctic. He stated:

"The concentration of persistent chemicals can be magnified millions of times as they travel to the ends of the earth... Many chemicals that threaten the next generation have found their way into our bodies. There is no safe, uncontaminated place. "

Mason describes how EDCs interfere with delicate hormone systems in sexual development. Glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor and a nervous system disruptor. She ponders whether Colborn foresaw the outcome whereby humans become confused about their gender or sex.

She then discusses the widespread contamination of people in the UK. One study conducted at the start of this century concluded that every person tested was contaminated by a cocktail of known highly toxic chemicals that were banned from use in the UK during the 1970s and which continue to pose unknown health risks: the highest number of chemicals found in any one person was 49 – nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of the chemicals looked for.

Corruption exposed

Mason discusses corporate duplicity and the institutionalised corruption that allows agrochemicals to get to the commercial market. She notes the catastrophic impacts of these substances on health and the NHS and the environment.

Of course, the chickens are now coming home to roost for Bayer, which bought Monsanto. Mason refers to attorneys revealing Monsanto's criminal strategy for keeping Roundup on the market and the company being hit with $2 billion verdict in the third 'Roundup trial'.

Attorney Brent Wisner has argued that Monsanto spent decades suppressing science linking its glyphosate-based weedkiller product to cancer by ghost-writing academic articles and feeding the EPA "bad science". He asked the jury to 'punish' Monsanto with a $1 billion punitive damages award. On Monday 13 May, the jury found Monsanto liable for failure to warn claims, design defect claims, negligence claims and negligent failure to warn claims.

Robert F Kennedy Jr., another attorney fighting Bayer in the courts, says Roundup causes a constellation of other injuries apart from Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma:

"Perhaps more ominously for Bayer, Monsanto also faces cascading scientific evidence linking glyphosate to a constellation of other injuries that have become prevalent since its introduction, including obesity, depression, Alzheimer's, ADHD, autism, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, kidney disease, and inflammatory bowel disease, brain, breast and prostate cancer, miscarriage, birth defects and declining sperm counts. Strong science suggests glyphosate is the culprit in the exploding epidemics of celiac disease, colitis, gluten sensitivities, diabetes and non-alcoholic liver cancer which, for the first time, is attacking children as young as 10.

In finishing, Mason notes the disturbing willingness of the current UK government to usher in GM Roundup Ready crops in the wake of Brexit. Where pesticides are concerned, the EU's precautionary principle could be ditched in favour of a US-style risk-based approach, allowing faster authorisation.

Rosemary Mason shows that the health of the UK populations already lags behind other countries in Western Europe. She links this to the increasing amounts of agrochemicals being applied to crops. If the UK does a post-Brexit deal with the US, we can only expect a gutting of environmental standards at the behest of the US and its corporations and much worse to follow for the environment and public health.


Sinophile , 54 minutes ago link

If a chemical is deadly to a plant, it could not possibly be deadly to anything else. Right?

******* idiots. This comment section is full of ******* idiots.

Check out this clip from the CBC:

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

Anyway, it ain't just glyphosates. We live in a toxic world today. They sicken us with their chemicals and then reap profit from their pharmaceuticals used to treat our symptoms. Never a cure. No profit in that. Keep us alive and sick and using their pharmaceuticals to mask the symptoms. Die before you can collect SS. That's the plan.

Stormblessed , 1 hour ago link

Noise. People live for roughly 80 years, big deal. That's way longer than in the '50's or earlier.

kbohip , 4 hours ago link

Blaming glyphosate, which has been used for decades for a decline in life expectancy that began only in 2014 doesn't make any sense. If glyphosate really was that cancer causing, it would have led to a decline decades ago I would think. That being said, I have a bunch of hard to kill weeds in my backyard (not in the lawn) that I want to get rid of. One in particular is a real problem as it's not actually a weed but a plant that was put in before I moved here. It can't easily be pulled or even touched by my weed eater as it has a poison inside that burns the skin and lungs. I intend to use glyphosate if I have to, but I'm open to other suggestions from people here that would also get the job done.

AGuy , 3 hours ago link

" If glyphosate really was that cancer causing, it would have led to a decline decades ago I would think. "

Monasanto was just stupid to claim Glyphosate didn't have an pontential toxic properties. It would have just been wise to put on the label: "Do not ingest or inhale, May contain toxic and carcinogens. where protective gloves and clothing when handling. Do not apply near streams, ponds or other sources of fresh water."

If someone gets sick, they are not liable or have limited liability.

" I intend to use glyphosate if I have to, but I'm open to other suggestions from people here that would also get the job done. "

Just use protective clothing & gloves when handling what ever herbicide you use. Avoid spraying in a way that you might inhale or get exposure. FWIW: I have a hogweed growing on my property. Way too dangerous to touch of get near. I am going try using Glyphosate to kill it, if that does do it, I try another herbicide.

Hogweed is very dangerous: Like poison ivy only about 1000 times worse. Even lightly touching it can cause very nasty skin lesions. Herbicide is the only safe way to get rid of it.

Ignore This , 4 hours ago link

Weedkiller is killing people because ... we said so!
But what if it isn't weedkiller? What if it is plastic bottles or food preservative or over the counter pain remedies? We would never know because ZH says it's weed killer. It could be a combination of many things. Since this is affecting people in their late 80's, anything that generation was exposed to in the past 80 years could be to blame including during World War II. I realize that rational thought is frowned upon on ZH but have a little skepticism. This is the Internet after all.

delmar Jackson , 5 hours ago link

Roundup was sold to farmers for 30 years as a safe way to help harvest their crops and reduce the growth of mold which can be much more toxic then many man made chemicals. I am less worried about monsanto than I am drug overdoses that are killing over 70,000 people a year. Instead of bombing Iran we need to bomb China and mexico for all of the death causing drugs they have imported into our country. Over a quarter of a million people are dead from drugs like heroin and fentanyl in the last 4 years.

AGuy , 3 hours ago link

" Roundup was sold to farmers for 30 years as a safe way to help harvest their crops and reduce the growth of mold which can be much more toxic then many man made chemicals. "

Nope, its used as a herbicide to kill everything before they plant a crop so the weeds don't compete with the crop.

" I am less worried about monsanto than I am drug overdoses that are killing over 70,000 people a year. "

ODs aren't as terrible as food\water contamination. Any sane person will not abuse opioids. Look at this way: there are 70K less people living on welfare or some other gov't subsidy. However Food\Water contamination is a big deal since its difficult for even the sanest people to avoid it. OD is usually a life choice, Food\Water contamination is not.

Xena fobe , 7 hours ago link

Same in the US. Lowered standard of living. Mass migrations and elite 1% burdening the poor and middle class.

[Jun 29, 2019] The Forever War Is So Normalized That Opposing It Is Isolationism by Caitlin Johnstone

Notable quotes:
"... More importantly, Ryan's campaign using the word "isolationism" to describe the simple common sense impulse to withdraw from a costly, deadly military occupation which isn't accomplishing anything highlights an increasingly common tactic of tarring anything other than endless military expansionism as strange and aberrant instead of normal and good. ..."
"... Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. This removal of a desirable opposite of war from the establishment-authorised lexicon causes war to always be the desirable option. ..."
"... A few months after Bush's address, Antiwar 's Rich Rubino wrote an article titled " Non-Interventionism is Not Isolationism ", explaining the difference between a nation which withdraws entirely from the world and a nation which simply resists the temptation to use military aggression except in self defense. ..."
"... "Isolationism dictates that a country should have no relations with the rest of the world," Rubino explained. "In its purest form this would mean that ambassadors would not be shared with other nations, communications with foreign governments would be mainly perfunctory, and commercial relations would be non-existent." ..."
"... "A non-interventionist supports commercial relations," Rubino contrasted. "In fact, in terms of trade, many non-interventionists share libertarian proclivities and would unilaterally obliterate all tariffs and custom duties, and would be open to trade with all willing nations. In addition, non-interventionists welcome cultural exchanges and the exchange of ambassadors with all willing nations." ..."
"... "A non-interventionist believes that the U.S. should not intercede in conflicts between other nations or conflicts within nations," wrote Rubino. "In recent history, non-interventionists have proved prophetic in warning of the dangers of the U.S. entangling itself in alliances. The U.S. has suffered deleterious effects and effectuated enmity among other governments, citizenries, and non-state actors as a result of its overseas interventions. The U.S. interventions in both Iran and Iraq have led to cataclysmic consequences." ..."
"... Calling an aversion to endless military violence "isolationism" is the same as calling an aversion to mugging people "agoraphobia". ..."
"... Another dishonest label you'll get thrown at you when debating the forever war is "pacifism". "Some wars are bad, but I'm not a pacifist; sometimes war is necessary," supporters of a given interventionist military action will tell you. They'll say this while defending Trump's potentially catastrophic Iran warmongering or promoting a moronic regime change invasion of Syria, or defending disastrous US military interventions in the past like Iraq. ..."
"... All Wars Are Evil. Period. "Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy." – Henry Kissinger ..."
"... Can you imagine Jesus firing a machine gun at a group of people? Can you picture Jesus in an F-16 lobbing missiles at innocents? ..."
"... instead of getting us out of Syria, Trump got us further in. Trump is driving us to ww3. ..."
"... funny how people, fresh from the broken promises "build that wall" etc, quickly forget all that and begin IMMEDIATELY projecting trustworthiness on yet ANOTHER candidate. I'Il vote for Tulsi when she says no more Israeli wars for America. ..."
"... if there's even a small chance Tulsi can get us out of the forever wars i will be compelled to vote for her, as Trump clearly has no intention on doing so. yes, it is that important ..."
"... As for this next election? Is Ron Paul running as an independent? No? Well then, 'fool me once...' Don't get me wrong: I hope Gabbard is genuine and she's absolutely right to push non-interventionism...but the rest of her platform sucks. There's also the fact that she's a CFR member ..."
"... Just as they did with Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Pat Buchanan, the MSM and the swamp have already effectively buried Gabbard. It's unlikely that she'll make the next debate cut as the DNC and MSM will toss her out. ..."
"... All the MSM is talking about post-debates, even on Faux Noise, is Harris's race-baiting of old senile Biden. ..."
Jun 29, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Caitlin Johnstone via Medium.com,

After getting curb stomped on the debate stage by Tulsi Gabbard, the campaign for Tim "Who the fuck is Tim Ryan?" Ryan posted a statement decrying the Hawaii congresswoman's desire to end a pointless 18-year military occupation as "isolationism".

"While making a point as to why America can't cede its international leadership and retreat from around the world, Tim was interrupted by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard," the statement reads.

"When he tried to answer her, she contorted a factual point Tim was making  --  about the Taliban being complicit in the 9/11 attacks by providing training, bases and refuge for Al Qaeda and its leaders. The characterization that Tim Ryan doesn't know who is responsible for the attacks on 9/11 is simply unfair reporting. Further, we continue to reject Gabbard's isolationism and her misguided beliefs on foreign policy . We refuse to be lectured by someone who thinks it's ok to dine with murderous dictators like Syria's Bashar Al-Assad who used chemical weapons on his own people."

Ryan's campaign is lying. During an exchange that was explicitly about the Taliban in Afghanistan, Ryan plainly said "When we weren't in there, they started flying planes into our buildings." At best, Ryan can argue that when he said "they" he had suddenly shifted from talking about the Taliban to talking about Al Qaeda without bothering to say so, in which case he obviously can't legitimately claim that Gabbard "contorted" anything he had said. At worst, he was simply unaware at the time of the very clear distinction between the Afghan military and political body called the Taliban and the multinational extremist organization called Al Qaeda.

More importantly, Ryan's campaign using the word "isolationism" to describe the simple common sense impulse to withdraw from a costly, deadly military occupation which isn't accomplishing anything highlights an increasingly common tactic of tarring anything other than endless military expansionism as strange and aberrant instead of normal and good.

Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. This removal of a desirable opposite of war from the establishment-authorised lexicon causes war to always be the desirable option.

This is entirely by design. This bit of word magic has been employed for a long time to tar any idea which deviates from the neoconservative agenda of total global unipolarity via violent imperialism as something freakish and dangerous. In his farewell address to the nation , war criminal George W Bush said the following:

"In the face of threats from abroad, it can be tempting to seek comfort by turning inward. But we must reject isolationism and its companion, protectionism. Retreating behind our borders would only invite danger. In the 21st century, security and prosperity at home depend on the expansion of liberty abroad. If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led."

A few months after Bush's address, Antiwar 's Rich Rubino wrote an article titled " Non-Interventionism is Not Isolationism ", explaining the difference between a nation which withdraws entirely from the world and a nation which simply resists the temptation to use military aggression except in self defense.

"Isolationism dictates that a country should have no relations with the rest of the world," Rubino explained. "In its purest form this would mean that ambassadors would not be shared with other nations, communications with foreign governments would be mainly perfunctory, and commercial relations would be non-existent."

"A non-interventionist supports commercial relations," Rubino contrasted. "In fact, in terms of trade, many non-interventionists share libertarian proclivities and would unilaterally obliterate all tariffs and custom duties, and would be open to trade with all willing nations. In addition, non-interventionists welcome cultural exchanges and the exchange of ambassadors with all willing nations."

"A non-interventionist believes that the U.S. should not intercede in conflicts between other nations or conflicts within nations," wrote Rubino. "In recent history, non-interventionists have proved prophetic in warning of the dangers of the U.S. entangling itself in alliances. The U.S. has suffered deleterious effects and effectuated enmity among other governments, citizenries, and non-state actors as a result of its overseas interventions. The U.S. interventions in both Iran and Iraq have led to cataclysmic consequences."

Calling an aversion to endless military violence "isolationism" is the same as calling an aversion to mugging people "agoraphobia". Yet you'll see this ridiculous label applied to both Gabbard and Trump, neither of whom are isolationists by any stretch of the imagination, or even proper non-interventionists. Gabbard supports most US military alliances and continues to voice full support for the bogus "war on terror" implemented by the Bush administration which serves no purpose other than to facilitate endless military expansionism; Trump is openly pushing regime change interventionism in both Venezuela and Iran while declining to make good on his promises to withdraw the US military from Syria and Afghanistan.

Another dishonest label you'll get thrown at you when debating the forever war is "pacifism". "Some wars are bad, but I'm not a pacifist; sometimes war is necessary," supporters of a given interventionist military action will tell you. They'll say this while defending Trump's potentially catastrophic Iran warmongering or promoting a moronic regime change invasion of Syria, or defending disastrous US military interventions in the past like Iraq.

This is bullshit for a couple of reasons. Firstly, virtually no one is a pure pacifist who opposes war under any and all possible circumstances; anyone who claims that they can't imagine any possible scenario in which they'd support using some kind of coordinated violence either hasn't imagined very hard or is fooling themselves. If your loved ones were going to be raped, tortured and killed by hostile forces unless an opposing group took up arms to defend them, for example, you would support that. Hell, you would probably join in. Secondly, equating opposition to US-led regime change interventionism, which is literally always disastrous and literally never helpful, is not even a tiny bit remotely like opposing all war under any possible circumstance.

Another common distortion you'll see is the specious argument that a given opponent of US interventionism "isn't anti-war" because they don't oppose all war under any and all circumstances. This tweet by The Intercept 's Mehdi Hasan is a perfect example, claiming that Gabbard is not anti-war because she supports Syria's sovereign right to defend itself with the help of its allies from the violent extremist factions which overran the country with western backing. Again, virtually no one is opposed to all war under any and all circumstances; if a coalition of foreign governments had helped flood Hasan's own country of Britain with extremist militias who'd been murdering their way across the UK with the ultimate goal of toppling London, both Tulsi Gabbard and Hasan would support fighting back against those militias.

The label "anti-war" can for these reasons be a little misleading. The term anti-interventionist or non-interventionist comes closest to describing the value system of most people who oppose the warmongering of the western empire, because they understand that calls for military interventionism which go mainstream in today's environment are almost universally based on imperialist agendas grabbing at power, profit, and global hegemony. The label "isolationist" comes nowhere close.

It all comes down to sovereignty. An anti-interventionist believes that a country has the right to defend itself, but it doesn't have the right to conquer, capture, infiltrate or overthrow other nations whether covertly or overtly. At the "end" of colonialism we all agreed we were done with that, except that the nationless manipulators have found far trickier ways to seize a country's will and resources without actually planting a flag there. We need to get clearer on these distinctions and get louder about defending them as the only sane, coherent way to run foreign policy.

* * *

The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website , which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported , so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook , following my antics on Twitter , throwing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypal , purchasing some of my sweet merchandise , buying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone , or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers . For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I'm trying to do with this platform, click here . Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I've written) in any way they like free of charge.

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Vitor , 31 minutes ago link

It's like someone being labeled anti-social for stopping to bully and pick up fights.

Aussiekiwi , 49 minutes ago link

"If America does not lead the cause of freedom, that cause will not be led."

Fascinating belief, has he been to Libya lately, perhaps attended an open air slave Market in a country that was very developed before the US decided to 'free' it.

Quivering Lip , 57 minutes ago link

Until Tulsi pimp slapped that Ryan guy I never heard of him. I would imagine I'll never here about him in another 2 months.

Toshie , 1 hour ago link

yeah , keep at it US Govt ;- keep fighting those wars overseas on behalf the 5th foreign column.

Keep wasting precious lives ,and the country's wealth while foreign rising powers like China are laughing all the way to the bank.

may you live in interesting times !

onasip123 , 1 hour ago link

War forever and ever, Amen.

Dr Anon , 1 hour ago link

When we weren't there, they flew planes into our buildings?

Excuse me mutant, but I believe we paid Israel our jewtax that year like all the others and they still flew planes into our buildings. And then danced in the streets about it. Sick people.

thisguyoverhere , 1 hour ago link

All Wars Are Evil. Period. "Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy." – Henry Kissinger

Picture if you will Jesus. Seriously? Can you imagine Jesus firing a machine gun at a group of people? Can you picture Jesus in an F-16 lobbing missiles at innocents?

Do you see Jesus piloting a drone and killing Muslims, other non-believers, or anyone for that matter? Can you picture Jesus as a sniper?

Impossible.

Dougs Decks , 2 hours ago link

Soooo,,, If my favorite evening activity, is to sit on the front porch steps, while the dog and the cats run around, with my shotgun leaning up next to me,,, Is that Isolationist, or Protectionist,,,

Brazen Heist II , 2 hours ago link

You know the system is completely broken when they want to silence/kill/smear anybody talking sense and peace.

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

and isis are referred to as freedom fighters

Herdee , 2 hours ago link

The CIA and MI6 staged all the fake chemical incidents in Syria as well as the recent one in England. False Flags.

ardent , 2 hours ago link

What America needs is to get rid of all those Jewish Zionist Neocons leading us into those forever wars.

ALL MidEast terrorism and warmongering are for APARTHEID Israhell.

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

instead of getting us out of Syria, Trump got us further in. Trump is driving us to ww3. we can't do **** if we're glazed over in a nuclear holocaust. maybe Tulsi is lying through her teeth, but i am so pissed Trump went full neocon

Wild Bill Steamcock , 2 hours ago link

"Won't Get Fooled Again"- The Who

JD Rock , 2 hours ago link

funny how people, fresh from the broken promises "build that wall" etc, quickly forget all that and begin IMMEDIATELY projecting trustworthiness on yet ANOTHER candidate. I'Il vote for Tulsi when she says no more Israeli wars for America.

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

she did slam Netanyahu

WillyGroper , 2 hours ago link

saying & doing are different animals. she's powerless. more hope n chains.

KnightsofNee , 2 hours ago link

www.tulsigabbard.org

If you read her positions on various issues, a quick survey shows that she supports the New Green Deal, more gun control (ban on assault rifles, etc.), Medicare for all. Stopped reading at that point.

White Nat , 2 hours ago link

We refuse to be lectured by someone who thinks it's ok to dine with murderous dictators like Syria's Bashar Al-Assad who used chemical weapons on his own people.

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. ~ Joseph Goebbels

New_Meat , 2 hours ago link

- Edward Bernays, relative of Sigmund Fraud, propagandist for Woodrow Wilson.

Back then, being a "propagandist" held no stigma nor antipathy.

fify

Debt Slave , 1 hour ago link

The better educated among us know exactly as to who Goebblels was referring to. Even a dullard should be able to figure out who benefits from all of our Middle East adventures.

LOL123 , 3 hours ago link

"Under our current Orwellian doublespeak paradigm where forever war is the new normal, the opposite of war is no longer peace, but isolationism. "

Under military might WAS the old world order... Under the new world order the strength is in cyber warfare .

If under technology the profiteers can control the masses through crowd control ( which they can-" Department of Defense has developed a non-lethal crowd control device called the Active Denial System (ADS) . The ADS works by firing a high-powered beam of 95 GHz waves at a target that is, millimeter wavelengths. Anyone caught in the beam will feel like their skin is burning.) your spending power ( they can through e- commetce and digital banking) and isolation cells called homes ( they can through directed microwaves from GWEN stations).... We already are isolated and exposed at the same time.

That war is an exceptable means of engagement as a solution to world power is a confirmation of the psychological warfare imposed on us since the creation of our Nation.

Either we reel it in and back now or we destroy ourselves from within.

"

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.

Abraham Lincoln

vienna_proxy , 2 hours ago link

if there's even a small chance Tulsi can get us out of the forever wars i will be compelled to vote for her, as Trump clearly has no intention on doing so. yes, it is that important

metachron , 2 hours ago link

Idiot, Tulsi is a sovereign nationalist on the left. You have just never seen one before. If you were truly anti-globalist you'd would realize left and right are invented to divide us. The politics are global and national, so wake the **** up

Hurricane Baby , 3 hours ago link

Actually, I don't see where a few decades of US isolationism would be all that bad.

Fred box , 3 hours ago link

""War Is the U.S. Racket!"" They are not good at it, there "great at it". My entire life 63yrs,they been fighting someone or something. When times where rough in the 1800s,Hell! they fought themselves(Civil War. As I said b4 No one seems to ask, Where does the gold go of the vanquished foe? Truly Is A Well Practiced Racket.

Malleus Maleficarum , 3 hours ago link

Good article with several salient points, thought I would ask "what's wrong with a little isolationism?" Peace through internal strength is desirable, but good fences make good neighbors and charity begins at home!

The gradual twisting of language really is one of most insidious tactics employed by the NWO Luciferians. I think we'd all like to see the traitorous Neocons gone for good. Better yet, strip them of their American citizenship and ill-gotten wealth and banish them to Israel. Let them earn their citizenship serving in a front-line IDF rifle company.

As for this next election? Is Ron Paul running as an independent? No? Well then, 'fool me once...' Don't get me wrong: I hope Gabbard is genuine and she's absolutely right to push non-interventionism...but the rest of her platform sucks. There's also the fact that she's a CFR member and avowed gun-grabber, to boot. Two HUGE red flags!

She almost strikes me as a half-assed 'Manchurian Candidate.' So, if she's elected (a big 'if' at this point) I ask myself 'what happens after the next (probably nuclear) false flag?' How quickly will she disavow her present stance on non-interventionism? How quickly and viciously will the 2nd Amendment be raped? Besides, I'm not foolish enough to believe that one person can turn the SS Deep State away from it's final disastrous course.

dunlin , 2 hours ago link

What's cfr? Duck duck gives lots of law firms.

tardpill , 2 hours ago link

council on foreign relations

tardpill , 2 hours ago link

the whos who of globalist satanists..

Sinophile , 32 minutes ago link

Mal, she is NOT a CFR member. You are misinformed.

Justapleb , 3 hours ago link

These word games were already in use looong ago. Tulsi Gabbard is using Obama's line about fighting the wrong war. She would have taken out Al Qaeda, captured Bin Laden, and put a dog leash on him. So that she could make a green economy, a new century of virtue signalling tyranny. No thanks.

Smi1ey , 3 hours ago link

Great article.

Go Tusli!

Go Caitlin!

I am Groot , 3 hours ago link

You beat me to that. Thanks for saving my breath.

Rule #1 All politcians lie

Rule #2 See Rule #1

Boogity , 3 hours ago link

Just as they did with Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, and Pat Buchanan, the MSM and the swamp have already effectively buried Gabbard. It's unlikely that she'll make the next debate cut as the DNC and MSM will toss her out.

All the MSM is talking about post-debates, even on Faux Noise, is Harris's race-baiting of old senile Biden.

I went to some of the so-called liberal websites and blogs and the only mention of Gabbard is in the context of her being a Putin stooge. This combined with the fact that virtually all establishment Republicans are eager to fight any war for Israel clearly shows that it will take something other than the ballot box to end Uncle Scam's endless wars.

[Jun 27, 2019] Private Equity and Institutional Investor Owned UK Utility Engaged in Massive Fraud, Regulatory Evasions, Worker Coercion

Notable quotes:
"... The result has been a disaster for consumers, the environment and the condition of the infrastructure which was sold off as a result of the privatization. Wikipedia provides a helpful list of the past history of awful, depressing headlines the company has generated: ..."
Jun 27, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Of all the inhabitants of the Little Shop of Horrors that is neoliberalism, surely the most gruesome cohort must be privatization of monopoly public services. And then within this best-worst category, privatization of potable water and wastewater treatment utilities can't be anything other than an outright winner of this ugly competition.

Where I live in southern England, the Thatcher administration – who else? – privatized the previously state-owned company which has a monopoly, as all water supply and sewage treatment inevitably requires, on providing potable water and treating wastewater which flows into the sewer system and eventually, via treatment plants, back into the watercourses.

The result has been a disaster for consumers, the environment and the condition of the infrastructure which was sold off as a result of the privatization. Wikipedia provides a helpful list of the past history of awful, depressing headlines the company has generated:

In 2007 Southern Water was fined £20.3 million for 'deliberate misreporting' and failing to meet guaranteed standards of service to customers. Southern Water Chief Executive Les Dawson said: "Today's announcement draws a line under a shameful period in the company's history".

In 2011 Southern Water Ltd was fined £25,000 when sewage flooded into Southampton water.

The company was ordered to pay £10,000 in fines and costs after sewage seeped into a stream at Beltinge in Kent.

A leak of sewage from Southern Water's plant at Hurstpierpoint pumping station, West Sussex, lead to fines and costs of £7,200 in 2011.

Southern Water was fined £50,000 in April 2011 for two offences relating to unscreened discharges into Langstone Harbour, Hampshire, between November 2009 and April 2010.

In June 2010 Southern Water was fined £3,000 after it admitted polluting 2 km of a Sussex stream with raw sewage, killing up to a hundred brown trout and devastating the fish population for the second time in five years. Crawley Magistrates' Court heard that the Environment Agency received calls from members of the public after dead fish were seen in the Sunnyside Stream in East Grinstead on 30 August 2009.

In November 2014 Southern Water were fined £500,000 and agreed to pay costs of £19,224 at Canterbury Crown Court after an Environment Agency investigation found that untreated sewage was discharged into the Swalecliffe Brook, polluting a 1.2 kilometre stretch of the watercourse and killing local wildlife. (www.gov.uk/government/news)

In December 2016 Southern Water was fined a record £2,000,000 for flooding beaches in Kent with raw sewage, leaving them closed to the public for nine days. The Environment Agency called the event "catastrophic", while the judge at Maidstone crown court said that Southern Water's repeat offending was "wholly unacceptable " . The company apologised unreservedly, as it did when fined £200,000 in 2013 for similar offences. Due to health concerns, Thanet district council was forced to close beaches for nine consecutive days, including the Queen's diamond jubilee bank holiday weekend. (The Guardian, 19 December 2016)

You would have thought, perhaps in hope rather than realism, that after this deluge of crap (literally), Southern Water (and their investors) might have, if you'll forgive the pun, wondered if it wasn't time to clean up their act. If so, you'd be, uncharacteristically for Naked Capitalism readers, rather naive. Southern Water has made their previous civil violations look like a spot of mustard on a necktie.

Southern Water was fined by the regulators here £126M on June 25th, which sounds a lot but is in reality in slap on the wrists territory in view of their latest misconduct.

Before delving into the details of that, to provide some context, the utility is the usual PE-orchestrated financial-engineering asset-sweating systematical reduction of a former public service to a hollowed out husk.

Here's the ownership structure, as explained by Southern Water :

Southern Water is owned by a consortium, which came together

Clive again, momentarily interrupting the flow, like a blocked sewer. The use of language there is almost an art form. "came together". Did they all hook up on Tinder or something? Not a bit of it. The "consortium" was a Private Equity instigated lash up of yield-hungry investors chasing, like everyone else these days, above-average rates of return. Why didn't they simply buy chunks of the publicly-traded equity tranches of the company to give themselves exposure to this particular asset class (public utilities)? Because this wouldn't have given them sufficient leverage and control over the institution to do their financial raping and pillaging. Back, reluctantly, to Southern Water

in 2007 solely for this purpose.

The consortium members are shareholders in Greensands Holdings Limited, the top holding company. [ ]

The Greensands consortium members comprise a mixture of infrastructure investment funds, pension funds and private equity. The infrastructure funds are managed by JP Morgan Asset Management, UBS Asset Management and Hermes Investment Management.

The pension funds are represented by JP Morgan Asset Management, UBS Asset Management, Hermes Investment Management and Whitehelm Capital or are self-managed. Cheung Kong Infrastructure and The Li Ka Shing Foundation are direct investors.

What have these fine upstanding custodians of our water supply been up to, then? Lying, cheating, bullying and polluting. Ofwat, the UK water industry regulator, started peering more closely at Southern Water in 2018. They didn't like the look of what they saw .

A board which was asleep at the wheel:

Water resources management plan and market information

What we found

Overall, we had serious concerns in key areas of this assessment such as options costing, Board involvement, assurance and leakage reduction presentation. The draft water resources management plan option costs were not presented clearly and a limited description of assurance was provided for both the plan and market information table. The late provision of the market information and the time taken to update option cost information did not provide confidence in the company's management of this data. The leakage reduction target, a key plan metric, was not consistently presented in the plan and there was no evidence of Board involvement or sign off.

Our assessment: serious concerns

A company that deliberately obfuscated the regulators:

What we found

[ ] We currently have four open cases – an enforcement case, a sewer requisition case and two requests to appoint an arbitrator.

[ ]

In terms of the enforcement case, we do not consider that the company has met our expectations and we have serious concerns. This is based on Southern Water not responding fully to our requests for information (for example, by providing documents with missing pages and/or text), not responding in a timely manner and providing relevant information that was unclear. This has affected our ability to rely on the information provided and has required us to take steps to seek further clarifications and grant extensions to previous deadlines for responses, impacting our ability to progress the investigation as quickly and efficiently as we would have liked.

Our assessment: serious concerns

These failings led the regulator to conduct a much wider-reaching inquiry. The full regulatory report has to be read in its entirety to convey the awfulness that went on. But edited highlights, or maybe that should be low-lights, were:

・Falsification of regulatory reporting for effluent discharge quality to avoid fines:

In summary, as a consequence of now restating past WwTW performance data, we have calculated that Southern Water has avoided price review penalties in past years amounting to a total of £75 million (in 2017-18 prices). This has arisen as a direct consequence of the practices in place within the company to implement ANFs at its WwTW (Clive: Waste-water Treatment Works) over 2010 to 2017. The total amount of avoided price review penalties reflects the restated figures that Southern Water has now provided about the numbers of WwTW that were potentially non-compliant with permit conditions relating to final effluent quality.

・Deliberate attempts at evasion -- government agencies monitor water treatment plants but the operator predicted when the inspections and sampling was due and intentionally halted to flow from treatment plants ("Artificial No Flow or ANF" events) so there was no output to sample:

The Sampling Compliance Report provides evidence (mostly in the form of email extracts between employees of Southern Water between 2010 and 2017), of staff anticipating the timing of planned OSM (Clive: On Site Monitoring) samples across numerous WwTW, in order to ensure that no effluent was available for sampling purposes. This deliberate practice (which took place through a number of different methods) of creating an artificial "no flow" event (described as an "Artificial No Flow or ANF") meant that a sample under the OSM regime could not be taken thus ensuring that the sample (and as a consequence the relevant WwTW) would be deemed as being compliant with permit conditions. As a result of this manipulation, a false picture of Southern Water's WwTW performance (and how this was being achieved) was provided internally within the company, to the Environment Agency (Clive: the UK's equivalent of the EPA, similarly gutted, but that's another story for another time ) and to Ofwat

・They even took waste water discharges away by tanker so nothing could be measured at the outfall pipes.

Staff then used the knowledge about sample dates to put in place ANFs. This included, for example, through the improper use of tankering (i.e. by tankering wastewater from one WwTW to another to cause an ANF). Another method included 'recirculating' effluent within a WwTW again to ensure there was no final effluent available for sampling.

・Senior management hassled and pressured employees to obfuscate performance measures.

The report also highlighted occasions where employees felt pressured by senior managers to create ANFs.

・The whistleblowing policy for employees actually started with a big red frightener threatening dismissal for using the wrongdoing reporting mechanisms:

Southern Water has acknowledged in its Action Plan that there were deficiencies in its organisational culture which prevented employees from being comfortable with speaking out about inappropriate or non-compliant behaviours. This included having in place ineffective whistleblowing processes which resulted in no staff coming forward to report their concerns despite certain staff being obviously uncomfortable about the implementation of ANFs and feeling pressured to act in an improper manner (as evidenced by emails we have seen that are referenced in the Sampling Compliance Report).

The whistleblower policy Southern Water had in place at the time included on its first page and highlighted in bold the following text: "Should any investigation conclude that the disclosure was designed to discredit another individual or group, prove to be malicious or misleading then that worker concerned would become the subject of the Disciplinary Procedure or even action from the aggrieved individual."

By pretending that waste water being discharged into watercourses was of a higher quality than it was, the investors pocketed profits that should have gone on infrastructure improvements and staffing to enable treatment plants to be safely operated and checked effectively.

Criminal investigations are pending . But we've seen this movie many times before. Protected by the best corporate lawyers money (public consumers' money, that is) can buy, a defence shield of auditors, layers of management on whom the blame can be pinned and a complex legal argument which has to be constructed to a high evidence threshold allowing jurors to be thrown off the scent to a degree that a reasonable doubt emerges, we shouldn't hold our breaths.

So we're left with the penalties imposed. Unfortunately there's less here than meets the eye initially from the headline figure. From the regulatory report:

This is a notice of Ofwat's intention to issue Southern Water with a financial penalty amounting to £37.7 million reduced exceptionally to £3 million for significant breaches of its licence conditions and its statutory duties. This is on the basis that Southern Water has undertaken to pay customers about £123 million over the next five years, some of which is a payment of price review underperformance penalties the company avoided paying in the period 2010 to 2017 and some of which is a payment to customers for the failures set out in this notice, paid in lieu of a penalty.

This means the regulator reduced the up-front cost (which would have come out of the profits for fiscal 2019-20 in one hit) for an arrangement which allows Southern Water eee-zee payment terms and to spread the cost over five years through a customer rebate initiative. And some of the rebate is itself merely penalties which would have been levied if the wrongdoing -- environmental pollution and missed targets for waste processing quality -- had been identified at the time. They are trying to bribe me with my own money.

The whole sorry saga shows how the entire publicly-overseen but privately-owned regulated utility model is completely broken. The system is a sitting-duck for gaming and, at best, the issues are uncovered well after the fact. If ever.

There is, however, a final failsafe currently still in place. Water quality standards in the EU are mandated by EU Directive with redress available through the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). A Member State government can be fined and ordered to implement better oversight and governance of the utilities. Thus, any temptation which the U.K. government might succumb to, to "fix" problems like those entrenched in Southern Water by slackening off the potable and wastewater standards, are prohibited by the threat of EU / CJEU referral.

The U.K. government has promised that, post-Brexit, environmental protections will be "equivalent or better than" those specified in the EU Directive. I -- and similarly cynical readers -- might well harbour a few doubts about that.


Westken Tim , June 27, 2019 at 6:25 am

Mmm. I can't help but think that non-government ownership is not (necessariliy) the problem, but PE (an industry that has made a lot of people rich in the last 20y by pricing the same asset off ever-lower discount rates) certainly is.
Government ownership often results in unaccountable, faceless monopolies (I'm old enough to remember British Rail, which felt that it was an entirely acceptable plan to raise fares to push travellers off rail and onto the roads when the trains got too full) and the "taking private" of steady-state utility businesses, with cashflows that were "ripe" for securitisation and other smoke and mirrors moves, pushed accountability back into the dark ages.
There have been a number of cases of assets like this bought by JVs of PE and public pension plans. I wonder, were the latter just solicited to make the actions of the former look more respectable ?

lyman alpha blob , June 27, 2019 at 1:02 pm

The government certainly doesn't always do a bang up job with everything it controls, but when the government runs things, citizens at least theoretically have some recourse.

When a private corporation runs it, citizens can, literally in the case above, eat s**t.

PlutoniumKun , June 27, 2019 at 6:29 am

There is, however, a final failsafe currently still in place. Water quality standards in the EU are mandated by EU Directive with redress available through the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). A Member State government can be fined and ordered to implement better oversight and governance of the utilities. Thus, any temptation which the U.K. government might succumb to, to "fix" problems like those entrenched in Southern Water by slackening off the potable and wastewater standards, are prohibited by the threat of EU / CJEU referral.

I do believe that the combination of Water Quality Framework Directives , along with the Habitats and Birds Directives , are a major 'hidden' driver behind the people behind Brexit. These Directives are written in such a way as to provide almost no wiggle room for national regulators to escape hitting hard quantitative targets for water and habitat improvements. The Fracking industry is a very significant example – the Water Frame Work Directive also sets standards for groundwater, and its exceptionally difficult for the industry to meet the standards of proof that they will not degrade the quality of these water bodies. The ECJ is dominated by judges from northern European jurisdictions, which tend to take a far more 'literal' approach to Directives and their associated national laws and regulations. They provide zero room to massage failures to hit targets.

Escaping those Directives will be worth billions to those two industries at the very least. Well worth shoving a bit of money to the various campaigns. There are plenty of other industries that likewise feel they will benefit from what will be an upcoming bonfire of the Regulations.

Clive , June 27, 2019 at 8:37 am

I think too that the wriggle-room on water quality -- wastewater especially, potable is generally not something that anyone would risk meddling with; well, unless you live in Flint, Michigan, anyway -- has not escaped the notice of or despicable elites here.

The temptation by government to play along, grant "temporary" "exemptions" in response to industry whining, sorry, lobbying, will prove difficult to resist, more than ever when the U.K. government will be in a position to know that its word is final (it can simply make new laws if it decides it doesn't like the old ones).

Will the U.K. as a society end up doing the right thing, or simply backsliding and acquiescence because it's just easier? At least in the short term. I wish I had a definitive answer to that one. Ask me again when we know for sure, although I suspect you'll have to dig me up and open the coffin first.

Susan the other` , June 27, 2019 at 10:16 am

International racketeering. First they hide the real "persons of interest" within a consortium of consortiums of funds of funds – much like some special purpose "vehicle" for wealthy investors – and then they lobby governments bye gaslighting them, saying 'We can do this economically and efficiently' and you are clearly running our of money, so sell this water district to us and we'll get it back on track.' Right. Makes me wonder if Bojo and his cronies are heavy into waste management. Pun intended.

pretzelattack , June 27, 2019 at 6:34 am

almost too depressing to read. thanks, though.

The Rev Kev , June 27, 2019 at 6:37 am

I can only see a change when laws are adjusted so that executives can face actual jail time. Spending a few months, if not a few years, in HMP Berwyn or HMP Bronzefield would definitely not look good on either a resume or on LinkedIn so would concentrate their minds wonderfully about the hazards of breaking laws. Till then, any penalties are merely costs-of-doing -business and so are not a great risk.

EoH , June 27, 2019 at 10:15 am

Prison time for top executives and board members. Real cash on the nail fines, to be paid in lump sums. Right to recover bonuses and distributions made to shareholders. Forfeiture of company ownership to the Crown. For starters.

Jesper , June 27, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Limited liability is a privilege not a right and if the terms for limited liability isn't fulfilled then the limited liability can, in some countries under certain conditions, become unlimited liability. An example, trading while insolvent in Sweden (in Swedish, as the laws are in Swedish and only concerns Sweden then it is unlikely to be found in many other languages):

https://home.kpmg/se/sv/home/nyheter-rapporter/2017/11/se-news-kontrollbalansrakning-ett-skydd-mot-personligt-betalningsansvar.html

In practice it seems to only happen for smaller companies .

Craig H. , June 27, 2019 at 11:18 am

How do you put people who sat around a conference table in a corporation committee meeting in jail? The entire process is designed and perfected to evade responsibility. Anytime I see something like this I class it as a complete fluke:

Former head of Volkswagen could face 10 years in prison

Is that scumbag really behind bars? I suspect it is total fake news.

Ignacio , June 27, 2019 at 8:16 am

While I was reading this I was feeling increasingly obfuscated by the similarities I find in the publicly-owned privately-managed sewage and waste plants in Madrid. I can easily understand the frustration of the regulator with managers opacity. Imagine how bored must I be sometimes, that I annually take a look at the reports that the managers of those plants produce. These are rubbish reports. You have to spend a lot of time, first trying to understand the real meaning of some concepts, second to gather the truly relevant variables in order to assess the real performance of the plants.

I have to say that the situation in Spain must be worse than in the UK because regulators, if they exist, never come up with auditing results, not to mention noticing misconducts. We are miles away from being able to even fine those misconducts of which only a few have been brougth to the public by NGOs.

Ignacio , June 27, 2019 at 12:21 pm

Interestingly the former progressive Major of Madrid Carmena, now replaced with conservatives in alliance with xenophobe populists, ordered the first audit (i believe it is the first) of the waste treatment plant, a huge facility called Valdemingómez. I guess that the current Major, whose name I don't want to recall, will hide audit results to the public given that his party set years ago the current model for waste management.

Tom Stone , June 27, 2019 at 10:20 am

Corporate motto "Eat shit and die".

Susan the other` , June 27, 2019 at 10:32 am

Good waste management/recycling is going to be the industry of the future. Instead of being publicly contrite about their excessive wealth, the Billionaires should all focus their resources on fixing what will otherwise be an overwhelming mess. We will all be, as the military says, "Overtaken by events" someday soon unless we get on top of this. Pollution, garbage and sewage are the byproducts of our irresponsibility. Coupled with overpopulation. Not good. Andrew Carnegie donated his money away on good things. Every little town in America was a beneficiary, with a "Carnegie Library" among other things. But it made us all laugh out loud when San Francisco named its new water treatment facility the "George W. Bush Sewage and Water Treatment Facility" (or stg. like that). Unfortunately, the joke is really on us unless we start demanding improvements and responsibility. The problem is already almost too big to fix, Houston.

Joe Well , June 27, 2019 at 10:52 am

I knew an English guy circa 1999 who was then 35 years old and a hard Thatcherite in his opinions (didn't do any actual political activism, of course) because the previous Labour governments had ruined everything to the point that the country had to go to the IMF. He was no fan of the NHS, either. NHS-reimbursed dentists had done a ton of unnecessary fillings on him and his young friends as children. Worse, NHS doctors had misdiagnosed a life-threatening illness for years until American emergency room doctors did a bunch of expensive tests and cured him.

I wonder what he would have to say 20 years later now that the faults of privatization on both sides of the Atlantic have been laid bare?

I don't think there is any alternative to constant watchdogging and activism by the general public.

Cal2 , June 27, 2019 at 12:45 pm

Sewage treatment is part of health care. Places without adequate sewage treatment suffer rampant diseases in potable water, fish, animals and people exposed to it. Sewage treatment facilities are the only example of publicly run health care in the U.S. Each homeowner, and renter, pays a certain amount for it and it is handled to scientific standards without a profit motive.

dk , June 27, 2019 at 12:58 pm

+100
And well done Clive.

[Jun 26, 2019] Book Review John Patrick Leary's Keywords The New Language of Capitalism

Jun 26, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Late last year, I linked to a review of John Patrick Leary's Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism (Haymarket Books), and put it on my list of "one more book to read." And now I've finally gotten around to it! Which is no reflection on the book, or its cover; merely on my own scattered-brained schedule.

Leary describes (page 180) the genesis of Keywords as follows:

The project began when I was walking through a downtown Chicago food court with Lara Cohen and Christine Evans, complaining at length about how the word "innovation" seemed to be everywhere.

Who among us! More:

Christine suggested that instead of just getting mad, I make some small effort at getting even by writing up my criticisms this turned into a blog chronicling the other terms that celebrated profit and the rule of the market with guileless enthusiasm. This book is the product of her suggestion. Lara has been the first reader of virtually everything in book and its most important critic.

"Getting even" is certainly a strange motivation for starting a blog! MR SUBLIMINAL [snort!] And, after the usual list of thank-yous that befit an Acknowledgements section, this:

Thank you to my Wayne State students for your hopeful example of a generation unimpressed by the promises of an innovation economy.

Let us, indeed, hope! Here is the list of terms that Leary, er, curated; I am sure, readers, that many will provoke a thrill -- or shudder -- of recognition in you all:

Table 1: Leary's Word List

Accountability Grit
Artisanal Hack
Best practices Human capital
Brand Innovation
Choice Leadership
Coach Lean
Collaboration Maker
Competency Market
Conversation Meritocracy
Content Nimble
Creative Outcome
Curator Passion
Data Pivot
Design Resilience
Disruption Robust
DIY Share
Ecosystem Smart
Empowerment Solution
Engagement Stakeholder
Entrepreneur Sustainable
Excellence Synergy
Fail Thought leader
Flexible Wellness
Free

Continuing along with those who have not run screaming from the room: From Leary's list, I have picked three words: Our favorite, innovation , and then market , and smart . I'll provide an extract of the definition of each term, followed by a brief comment. I'll conclude with some remarks on the book as a whole.

Innovation

From page 114 et seq.:

For most of its early life, "innovation" was a pejorative, used to denounce false prophets and political dissidents. Thomas Hobbes used innovator in the seventeenth century as a synonym for a vain conspirator [Joseph Schumpeter], in his 1911 book The Theory of Economic Development used "innovation" to describe capitalism's tendnecy toward tumult and and transformation. He understood innovation historically, as a process of economic transformation, but for him this historical process relied upon a creative, private agent to carry it out [T]he entrepreneur. s

Other than mystifying creativity [another term] itself -- which now looks like an intuitive blast of inspiration, like a epiphany, and less like work -- "innovation" gives creativity a specific professional, class dimension. It almost always applies to white-collar and profit-seeking activities Rarely do we hear of the innovative carpenter, plumber, or homemaker .

The innovator is a model capitalist citizen for our times. But the object of most innovations today is more elusive [than in the days of Bell and Edison]: you can touch a telephone or a phonograh, but who can lay hands on an Amazon algorithm, a credit default swap, a piece of proprietary Uber code, or an international free trade agreement? As an intangible, individualistic, yet strictly white-collar trait, innovation reframes the cruel fortunes of an unequal global economy as the logical products of a creative, visionary brilliance. In this new guise, the innovator retains both a touch of the prophet and the hint of the confidence man.

That's the stuff to give the troops! I especially like the part about innovative plumbing; after all, potable water and indoor plumbing have probably saved more lives than all the Lords of Silicon Valley combined! However, I could wish for the class analysis to be sharpened with respect to finance: For credit default swaps, to the executives (not just "white collar" workers) who committed accounting control fraud; for Uber, the executive crooks and liars who run the never-to-be profitable business. The intangibles are listed without being categorized in terms of political economy.

Market

From page 132 et seq.:

The market is both a widely dispersed metaphor of exchange and an economic term often used a a shorthand for capitalist forms of exchange, especially when modified by the word free [another term].

The word's oldest meaning is its simplest: "A place where trade is conducted," a meaning that appears in Old English as far back as the twelfth century. This spatial menaing of the market place obviously persists in farmer's markets, stock markets, and supermarkets, but today the market is something more abstract. The most recent definition given by the OED is "the competive free market; the operation of supply and demand." Its first example of this usage comes from 1970, at the rough beginning of the neoliberal era .

When politicians speak of "market forces" they presume their autonomy; we are creatures of the market rather than the other way around. [But] in key moments of recent economic history -- the United States Troubled Asset Relief Program, the European austerity measures to enforce "market discipline" on Greece -- market autonomy is nowhere to be seen

A synonym for exchange, whether intellectual or economic, an ontological feature of human social, an implacable natural force, or a cybernetic network reliant on a strong state: The market can be whatever you need it to be.

Once again, I would quarrel with the financial detail of the glossary item; the Treasury's TARP, at $700 billion, was dwarfed by the real bailout outlay from the Fed , which has been estimated at $7.7 (Bloomberg) to $29 trillion (Levy Institute). Further, European austerity measures damaged not only Greece, but the EU's entire southern tier, most definitely including Italy and Spain. Finally -- although this may seem like a debater's point -- if "market" can be "whatever you need it to be," then why can't the left repurpose it? Leary himself instances the Communist Party of the USA's ludicrous coinage of "the marketplace of ideas"; on the editorial pages of the New York Times, no less!) So "market" may be malleable, but it's not that malleable. Why?

Smart

Finally, from page 158 et seq.:

Smart, used as an adjective modifying a technology, connotes an efficeint, clean, orderly pragmatism . Smartness just works . Smart technologies, from munitions to ID cards to refrigerators to mattresses, usually do one of three related things, and often all three: they allow (or require) a user to remotely access a computer-linked network, they generate data [a term] about that user, and they act autonomously, or seem to do so . In addition, smart means moderr. The six thousand dollar smart refrigerator that tells you when you're out of milk shows that the key to a smart technology isn't whether it is, in fact, a wise idea. To be smart is simply to belong ti the new age, . Smart therefore presumes the political neutrality of the technologies we use.

I think Leary could have leaned a little harder on how crapified most "smart" technology is; readers will be familiar with the material we periodically post on the Internet of Sh*t. More centrally, I'm a bit stunned that Leary has limited smart to technology, foregoing the opportunity to perform a class analysis, as Thomas Frank did in Listen, Liberal! . From page 22:

Professionals are a high-status group, but what gives them their lofty position is learning, not income. They rule because they are talented, because they are smart . A good sociological definition of professionalism is "a second hierarchy" -- second to the main hierarchy of money, that is -- "based on credentialed expertise

presumed to be politically neutral, exactly as smart technology is. I think expanding the glossary to "smart" in Frank's sense would have enriched the book. (Frank goes on to use "smart" throughout the book, with varying degrees of scorn and derision; used without irony, it's a veritable tocsin of bad faith.)

Conclusion

Leary's Keywords is definitely stimulating and well worth a read (and at $16.00, within reach for most). At the very least, you should run a mile from any public figure -- whether executive or politician -- who takes the words listed in Leary's keywords (see Table 1) seriously.

My criticism takes the form of Table 2, which is the list of terms from the great Raymond Williams, whose book, also entitled Keywords ( PDF ), was published in 1977, in the Eoneoliberal Period, and which Leary describes as a "classic". Here are the terms defined by Williams:

Table 2: Williams' Word List

Aesthetic Exploitation Originality
Alienation Family Peasant
Anarchism Fiction Personality
Anthropology Folk Philosophy
Art Formalist Popular
Behaviour Generation Positivist
Bibliography Genetic Pragmatic
Bourgeois Genius Private
Bureaucracy Hegemony Progressive
Capitalism History Psychologica
Career Humanity Racial
Charity Idealism Radical
City Ideology Rational
Civilization Image Reactionary
Class Imperialism Reader's
Collective Improve Realism
Commercialism Individual References
Common Industry Reform
Communication Institution Regional
Communism Intellectual Representative
Community Interest Revolution
Consensus Isms Romantic
Consumer Jargon Science
Conventional Labour Select
Country Liberal Sensibility
Creative Liberation Sex
Criticism Literaturw Socialist
Culture Man Society
Democracy Management Sociology
Determine Masses Standards
Development Materialism Status
Dialect Mechanical Structural
Dialectic Media Subjective
Doctrinaire Mediation Taste
Dramatic Medieval Technology
Ecology Modern Theory
Educated Monopoly Tradition
Elite Myth Unconscious
Empirical Nationalist Underprivileged
Equality Native Unemployment
Ethnic Naturalism Utilitarian
Evolution Nature Violence
Existential Notes Wealth
Experience Ordinary Welfare
Expert Organic Western
Work

If you compare the tables, you will see that Williams' list of keywords is both more abstract and more powerful, although some that we would expect to see today ("identity," "rentier") are missing. Of course, it's extremely unfair of me to make compare Leary's and Williams' lists in this way; in fact, I admonish others not to complain that the author did not write a book about penguins, when the author plainly intended to write a book about crows. Leary promised a "field guide to the capitalist present, and he has delivered. Nevertheless, it would be nice to have a second edition of Keywords , written with Leary's clarity, knowledgeability, and verve, and containing more powerful terms[1], most of which have been erased. Starting, perhaps, with "class."

NOTES

[1] To be fair, Leary writes (page 5): "The words in my collection are generally more specific to the contemporary moment. They can also be understood as blockages -- that is, they are the words we use when we aren't calling things by their proper name. William's collection has "management" and "labor"; this one has "leadership" and "human capital." Tacklage is, I suppose, what happens, in addition to blockage, if some prole of an analyst uses the wrong (that is, the right) words. That said, can the truth be reverse engineered out of bullshit? One for the judges.


Tom , June 25, 2019 at 7:38 pm

What happened to " vibrant "? Did it go out of fashion?

Plenue , June 25, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Have you considered audio books? We already know you listen to podcasts.

Carolinian , June 25, 2019 at 8:02 pm

What, no "muscular"? Hillary probably like muscular because it made her sound more threatening. Nikki Haley took up the same gig with her stilletto heels.

flora , June 25, 2019 at 8:36 pm

Thanks for this post. Leary's list looks like TED talk word cloud, imo. Ad speak. ha.

I don't know if Williams' word list was based on ad speak of the 1970s. Maybe not.

Many of Williams' words place people in relation to each other or to the society, within society. Not getting that same larger society idea from the words in Leary's ad speak list; it's more 'rational man' alone against the world. Maybe that's the essence of ad speak. "Army of one." "Be all YOU can be." etc.

Or now: Be all the smart, innovative, creative, nimble, passionate leader YOU can be." ;)

a different chris , June 25, 2019 at 9:25 pm

>Continuing along with those who have not run screaming from the room

After the first couple words I averted my eyes and scrolled madly. So I'm still here!

Socal Rhino , June 25, 2019 at 9:30 pm

I think I've seen powerpoint presentations composed of just those words, almost.

"Cadence" is one i do not see here.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 12:46 am

Power corrupts. PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.

Steve Ruis , June 26, 2019 at 8:35 am

If you just coined this phrase, you are brilliant, sir! If not thanks for passing it along.

hunkerdown , June 26, 2019 at 10:08 am

Edward Tufte, 2003. Still brilliant.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:33 am

I am not 100% certain of this; everybody should read Tufte's ESSAY:
THE COGNITIVE STYLE OF POWERPOINT: PITCHING OUT CORRUPTS WITHIN
, but the exact quote does not appear in there. The quote does occur in Tufte's 2003 Wired essay , but as a deck beneath the headline, and not in the body of the article. Therefore, I am not sure whether Tufte coined the phrase, or some anonymous editor. Can any readers clarify?

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:28 am

I should have added the cite, but I was in a rush. However, this quote should be propagated as widely as possible.

JEHR , June 26, 2019 at 10:51 am

+1

ShamanicFallout , June 25, 2019 at 10:23 pm

I like 'leverage' and 'drive'. I hear that a lot. Like 'leveraging innovation to drive sales'. So smart!

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 12:42 am

Man, I hate that usage of "drive." To be fair, the nice thing is that you can leverage sales to drive innovation, too.

Tom , June 26, 2019 at 9:49 am

To leverage sth. means to use it, afaict.

There's something taboo about use . Even reasonable people will prefer usage over use .

Amfortas the hippie , June 25, 2019 at 10:25 pm

please include in yer Language things like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbWRfBZY-ng

for those who need it spelled out:
https://www.thenation.com/article/we-cant-make-it-here/

"And that's how it is
That's what we got
If the president wants to admit it or not
You can read it in the paper
Read it on the wall
Hear it on the wind
If you're listening at all
Get out of that limo
Look us in the eye
Call us on the cell phone
Tell us all why"

read the whole fucking thing.
https://genius.com/James-mcmurtry-we-cant-make-it-here-anymore-lyrics

more than ten years ago.
things are much worse, now
LISTEN

Hopelb , June 26, 2019 at 12:10 am

They play this on wyep quite often and I am always thankful that my daughter is familiar with it because of that.

Susan the other` , June 25, 2019 at 10:34 pm

Thank you Lambert. You manage to keep me sane. This exposure to and of nonsense is very timely now. In the end all we have is a set of words which allow us to trust each other. We need to find them.

LifelongLib , June 25, 2019 at 10:58 pm

Most of Leary's list is familiar from events I occasionally attended as a government IT specialist. "Wellness" overlaps with what I call the language of therapy (don't know the "correct" term) e.g. "conversation", "healing" which if anything is even more grating

The Rev Kev , June 25, 2019 at 11:00 pm

Never thought about it before but in the use of the word 'market' today, it is like it is trying to replace the word 'society' and how it was used before. Is that what Thatcher meant? That there was no society but a 'market' instead?

Alfred , June 25, 2019 at 11:43 pm

I'd say yes, exactly.

ShamanicFallout , June 25, 2019 at 11:22 pm

I was just thinking that maybe we need rehabilitate the phrase (which appears in some famous document which we in theory revere) 'promote the general welfare'. This connotes of course citizenship, commons, community. Everything that we desperately need.

Arizona Slim , June 26, 2019 at 9:02 am

Nowadays, "community" really means something that you pay for. Or, if you're not paying for it, well, you're the product.

Take, for example, online groups. They're often called communities. You may have to pay to belong, but if you don't, the data that you and your fellow "members" produce is being sold and resold.

In the offline world, there are businesses that refer to their customers as members. And what are they members of? Well, my dear, that is a community.

So, add these two words to the list of words that need to be taken outside and shot:

Community
Member

Alfred , June 25, 2019 at 11:40 pm

Sounds like a great book; anyhow a superb post. I'd have liked to see what Mr Leary has to say about 'associate' (noun; see also employee [archaic]) and service (noun; as in "software as a service"). Perhaps also "industry" (as in "the payday loans industry") – which now I think has senses that Williams could not have imagined. Oh, and why not "Crapification?" On a more serious note, there is "Inequality." (Hat tip to Tom, above, for the peerless "Vibrant.")

Hopelb , June 26, 2019 at 12:05 am

I love you Lambert. Thanks for always sharing your unearthed treasures.

dbk , June 26, 2019 at 4:27 am

Perhaps worth adding: "gig economy," "[education/health care, etc.] reform."

Yesterday I read a story in the NYT ["Love" section, formerly "Weddings"] about an Instagram "Influencer couple."

Some terms are euphemisms; others are buzzwords for the increasing privatization / shrinking of public space/services/goods (what was once known in some circles as the "theft of the commons," but hey, I'm old).

Such terms deserve to be called out repeatedly, with their actual meaning helpfully provided in (). Thus "ed reformers" (i.e. privatizers through various means such as ESAs, ETCs, vouchers) or "right to work," which I finally decided to define as "right to fire at will." Far-right think tanks are great sources of such terms; the bills ALEC writes for state legislatures are, too.

My own special bugbear is "grit" (someone who still demonstrates faith in the system which has betrayed them).

OTOH, such words are helpful in identifying the ideological perspective an author is coming from.

Jack Lifton , June 26, 2019 at 4:54 am

I was wondering where the use of the phrase, "We need to have a conversation about " In place of " we should discuss" or "let's talk about" came from. I find it " to be a given" that anything that Kamala Harris says is meaningless noise these days. She seems to have acquired this mea!y mouth way of avoiding taking a position after only a short time in the Senate. She's well on her way to being permanently inconsequential.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:08 am

"We need to" or "you need to" is one of my pet peeves, because of the power-tripping assumption that my interlocutor gets to determine my needs (all for the greater good , of course! Always for the good!)

herman_sampson , June 26, 2019 at 6:54 am

Need to add "competition": the competitors implied are other businesses but what management means are their own employees.

La Peruse , June 26, 2019 at 6:56 am

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard was both pilloried and held in uncertain awe for his contribution to the English lexicon of 'incentivising', as in 'incentivising and rewarding hard work'.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:07 am

Or "prioritize." By which I mean "center." (A supplementary glossary for the non-profit industrial complex would be welcome.)

Steve H. , June 26, 2019 at 7:18 am

Etymology shows that word meanings can change and even invert over time. Floyd Merrell looked at the poetics of ambiguity, where 1:1 is unambiguous, 1:2 can have two meanings (a dog growling may be warning or playing), to n:n where meaning is entirely contextual.

There are people, and places, and objects which have changed in affect for me, usually through an aversive experience. We see this with words; for example, 'socialist' will always carry resonances of fascism since Adolph called his thing 'National Socialism'. As useful as 'class' is it, carries Marxist overtones, which causes reflexive affect for some. 'Well' carries positive connotation in some evangelical circles.

Words can get stink on them from dogwhistles. Will you argue about old words, or avoid quagmires with Smart Innovative people by creating clever and fresh new words with less historical accretion? That's what Shakespeare did and we're still looking at him four hundred years later. As a friend said to me in a conversation about demented mothers, "You've got to let'em go." You can still love them, but if they control the conversation, there madness lies.

Svante , June 26, 2019 at 8:04 am

All the BEST werds?

I'm guessing: aside from acceptance, involvement & touch from loving, comforting, equanamous parents (community integration amongst disparate peers), the sociopathic/ somatic neuroses evinced in this addiction to euphamism, platitude and obfuscatory pleonasm as glib, off-handed, day-to-day BS subterfuge, reflects cytokine imbalances, resulting from unresolved childhood trauma and fast-food diets, deficient in pre-biotics? Not enough roughage, huh?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507254/

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/7b7xz9/the-unbearable-neurosis-of-the-modern-eater

Alexandra , June 26, 2019 at 8:28 am

The ones that turn my stomach the most are "influencer," "maker," and "ask" as a noun (as in, "Hey, I know it's a big ask, but I'm gonna need you to come in on Saturday "). Oh! And also "content" used to mean information. A friend who is a university professor said the administration are now referring to faculty as "content distributors." Barf.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:05 am

> A friend who is a university professor said the administration are now referring to faculty as "content distributors."

First thing we do, let's kill all the college administrators. Or take away their titles, perks, and money, which will do worse than kill them.

bob , June 26, 2019 at 10:11 am

Take away their drivers, leave them stranded and entitled.

https://www.syracuse.com/syracuse-university/2019/06/ex-su-chancellor-sorry-after-yelling-im-the-chancellor-at-cops-video.html

Mael Colium , June 26, 2019 at 8:28 am

Ever had a conversation with a Teacher? Oh excuse me; an "educator" LOL. They use so many sucky phrases and words that you can't even remember what the discussions were about in the first place. It's bad enough in secondary schools but now in pre-school (early learning centres) you need an interpretation booklet to make any sense of what your child is up to in the damn place. I must confess that my MBA taught me a whole bunch of weasel words and obscure terminology so that my management reports were rarely tested for veracity. And therein lies the issue. Words were once used to impart knowledge, whereas now, as the article alludes to, words and phrases are redesigned and reoriented to avoid, obfuscate, marginalise, confuse etc you get the picture.. Look no further than your local politician for tricky word speak – it makes Trump's burbling seem almost sensible by contrast. At least we know what a pussy is now!

JCC , June 26, 2019 at 8:42 am

Here is one left off the list: handcrafted

I took a trip last weekend to Palm Springs, CA. and Laughlin, NV. and everywhere I went I was inundated with offers for "handcrafted" margaritas and coffees and various food stuffs.

It is right up there with artisanal.

Arizona Slim , June 26, 2019 at 9:07 am

No need to order this book from the Evil River, aka Amazon. Here's the publisher's page:

https://www.haymarketbooks.org/books/1227-keywords

HomoSapiensWannaBe , June 26, 2019 at 9:09 am

They left out "sound", as in "sound science," which is, of course, "science" which supports profit seeking.

For example, "Pesky environmental regulations are an undue, unfair burden on business, and aren't backed by sound science."

Ka-Ching!

Barry Fay , June 26, 2019 at 9:13 am

I´m thinking "going forward" belongs in this discussion as well!

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:10 am

Thanks for being part of our team.

Wukchumni , June 26, 2019 at 9:54 am

Words are what you make of them.

Lambert Strether Post author , June 26, 2019 at 10:03 am

"Men make their own history vocabulary, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living."

Mike Mc , June 26, 2019 at 10:18 am

21st century version(s) of this classic:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Devil%27s_Dictionary

[Jun 23, 2019] Neoliberalism promised freedom instead it delivers stifling control by George Monbiot

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. ..."
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.

The Amazon warehouse in Swansea – the company has patented a wristband that can track workers' movements.

Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images

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

[Jun 23, 2019] Theory and practice of neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... Friedrich von Hayek, one of the creed's most revered economic gurus, spent his productive years railing against government old age pension and medical insurance schemes. When he became old and infirm, he signed on for both social security and medicare. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

murielbelcher , 6 Mar 2012 09:40

Friedrich von Hayek, one of the creed's most revered economic gurus, spent his productive years railing against government old age pension and medical insurance schemes. When he became old and infirm, he signed on for both social security and medicare.

Love it. When push comes to shove all those ideologies and beliefs crumble into the dust of practical needs. Another individual who cloaked the self-interest of the rich and powerful into some kind of spurious ideology.

George wrote a rather good article about Von Hayek a few years ago I seem to remember.

[Jun 23, 2019] It never stops to amaze me how the US neoliberals especially of Republican variety claims to be Christian

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Republicanism and true Christianity are mutually exclusive. There is nothing for them to quote. Sharing your wealth? Giving to the poor? Egalitarianism? Loving your neighbour? The Good Samaritan? ..."
"... Best to pretend that Christianity is about extreme right wing economic policy (and fascist social mores), even though it is the opposite. ..."
"... And Tea Partiers like Ayn Rand? The most anti-Christian and anti-American lunatic you can find? The corporate agenda and Wall Street interests trump everything else. No news there. ..."
"... A lot of these people describe themselves as Christian, makes you wonder which part of Jesus' message they loved more, the part that said the poor should rot without help, or the part where he said violence was justified and the chasing of wealth is to be lauded. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

JohannesL , Mar 6, 2012

It never stops to amaze me how the American Republican Right claims to be Christian. Have you noticed that they NEVER quote the words of Jesus Christ? I don't blame them, Republicanism and true Christianity are mutually exclusive. There is nothing for them to quote. Sharing your wealth? Giving to the poor? Egalitarianism? Loving your neighbour? The Good Samaritan?

Dirty words all. Best to pretend that Christianity is about extreme right wing economic policy (and fascist social mores), even though it is the opposite.

If Jesus came to the US today, he would not like Republicans and they would not like him. Santorum, Palin, Limbaugh etc. would strap him to the electric chair and pull the lever if they could, no doubt.

And Tea Partiers like Ayn Rand? The most anti-Christian and anti-American lunatic you can find? The corporate agenda and Wall Street interests trump everything else. No news there.

acorn7817 -> PeaceGrenade , 6 Mar 2012 06:21

The most bizarre aspect of the rights infatuation with Ayn Rand is that she was an ardent Atheist who's beliefs are diametrically opposite to those of Jesus & the Bible.

A lot of these people describe themselves as Christian, makes you wonder which part of Jesus' message they loved more, the part that said the poor should rot without help, or the part where he said violence was justified and the chasing of wealth is to be lauded.

richmanchester -> anindefinitearticle , 6 Mar 2012 05:40

"the only way you're gonna be able to sleep at night (and go to heaven in the afterlife) is to believe that the system has some moral justification based on the laws of nature"

I think this is one of the drivers in the shift from Catholicism to Protestanism, especially in Northern Europe.

For Medieval Catholics everyone was where God had put them, so the rich were rich and the poor poor as part of Gods plan, and anyone trying to change it was going against God.

Which is handy if you are a Baron or Bishop living the high life surrounded my thousands of starving peasants (having armed retainers also helped).

Come the industrial revolution and the rise of the business and trade classes that's not so appealing, so now God rewards the virtuous and hard working, who naturally rise to the top.

[Jun 23, 2019] Communism and neoliberalism were never as far apart as people imagined. Two sides of a coin. A theological dispute.

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

twiglette , 11 Apr 2019 05:13

Communism and neoliberalism were never as far apart as people imagined. Two sides of a coin. A theological dispute.

[Jun 23, 2019] The Right have been absolutely brilliant at media control and obfuscation.

Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

macfeegal , 6 Mar 2012 03:56

Another very informative article from one of the few writers with any sense of having a 'finger on the pulse.'

It's sad that it's taken over 30 years for the real shaping influences behind the current system to be identified and discussed outside the boundaries of a few university conferences.

The Right have been absolutely brilliant at media control and obfuscation. Their gurus have been camouflaged and the whole process of influencing Reagan and Thatcher's governments from the late 1970's has escaped exactly the kind of scrutiny that George gives Rand.

We might also investigate the influence of John Nash's (A Beautiful Mind) 'Gameplay' experiments in a similar fashion along with the economic gurus who followed Hayek so slavishly.

It has been known for years that the neo liberal project was designed not just to under mine democracy and convert people into passive cloned market junkies, but to put an end to the whole of the Enlightenment Project, which perhaps naively saw human development,. growth and other human qualities totally savaged and defeated by this poisonous evil, which emulates all the worst aspects of Fascism without the flags and theatre.

Sadly, this is not a 'this is happening' phenomenon; it's a 'this has happened phenomenon.' The taint and viral effect of its impact on uk and usa political structures has already caused major damage. All three major political parties in the uk have for 30 years subscribed to its tenets though they were no doubt not presented in such a flagrant form as Rand's writing.

How problematic is it to now look at the polity and rescue it from such a major ideological shift? Certainly, the major parties cannot shuck off the cape of their key beliefs after promoting Right wing ideologies for so long, and the traditional Left is no more.

However, it is good to see some pithy journalism that goes to the heart of the matter - those of us who have been pleading for less x factor celebrity worshipping of politicians can at least feel as though this shifts the spectrum to real and significant issues that have affected the lives of everyone for so long.

Spot on George; one of your best.

[Jun 23, 2019] These submerged policies obscure the role of government and exaggerate that of the market. As a result, citizens are unaware not only of the benefits they receive, but of the massive advantages given to powerful interests, such as insurance companies and the financial industry.

Highly recommended!
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

Kikinaskald , 6 Mar 2012 14:14

I wonder how many would continue to worship at the shrine of Ayn Rand if they knew that towards the end of her life she signed on for both Medicare and social security.

In case nobody mentioned this book before, which is relevant to the theme:

The Submerged State by Suzanne Mettler

From the Amazon book description:

These submerged policies, Mettler shows, obscure the role of government and exaggerate that of the market. As a result, citizens are unaware not only of the benefits they receive, but of the massive advantages given to powerful interests, such as insurance companies and the financial industry. Neither do they realize that the policies of the submerged state shower their largest benefits on the most affluent Americans, exacerbating inequality.

[Jun 23, 2019] The return of fundamentalist nationalism is arguably a radicalized form of neoliberalism

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... 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. ..."
"... The market is no longer an enabler of private enterprise, but something more like a medieval religion, conferring ultimate authority on a demagogue. ..."
"... 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. ..."
"... 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. ..."
Jun 23, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

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.

Pinkie123 -> economicalternative , 12 Apr 2019 02:57

Yes, the EU is an ordoliberal institution - the state imposing rules on the market from without. Thus, it is not the chief danger. The takeover of 5G, and therefore our entire economy and industry, by Huawei - now that would be a loss of state sovereignty. But because Huawei is nominally a corporation, people do not think about is a form of governmental bureaucracy, but if powerful enough that is exactly what it is.
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.
subtropics , 11 Apr 2019 13:51
Neoliberalism allows with impunity pesticide businesses to apply high risk toxic pesticides everywhere seriously affecting the health of children, everyone as well as poisoning the biosphere and all its biodiversity. This freedom has gone far too far and is totally unacceptable and these chemicals should be banished immediately.
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.

[Jun 23, 2019] Two things characterize neo-liberalism. Deception and repression of labor.

Apr 11, 2019 | discussion.theguardian.com

mi Griffin , 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.

[Jun 19, 2019] America s Suicide Epidemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Worrisome Numbers

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

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

Alas, the news only gets grimmer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Economics of Stress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Race Enigma

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

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

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

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

Trump's Faux Populism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 8:55 am

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

JCC , June 19, 2019 at 9:25 am

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

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

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

sparagmite , June 19, 2019 at 10:13 am

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

dcblogger , June 19, 2019 at 12:20 pm

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

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:00 am

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

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

Svante , June 19, 2019 at 7:55 am

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

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

DanB , June 19, 2019 at 9:29 am

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

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

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

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

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

Christy , June 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm

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

jrs , June 19, 2019 at 1:58 pm

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

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

obese cracker

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

rd , June 19, 2019 at 10:53 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Jun 16, 2019] The Neoliberal Rearguard: The potshot intelligentsia take aim at the far left

Jun 16, 2019 | dissidentvoice.org

by Jason Hirthler / June 14th, 2019

Once declared by The New York Times to be, "the most important intellectual alive," a quote it surely regrets, prolific gadfly Noam Chomsky has said that, "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." How true. However, the same dictator might find the sloppy, often incoherent work of that uniform press to be a problem in need of a solution, especially at a time when it finds itself assaulted on all sides by alternative media. The mainstream finds itself desperately waging rearguard actions as it stumbles beyond the shadow of respectability. As it retreats into a shell of reactionary conformity, the mainstream has become a parody of itself. Once, its propaganda was well-crafted and replete with nuance and high-quality dissimulation, such that the average American reader could be duped regardless of his or her preconceived notions.

That is no longer the case. The demise of authority in the mainstream is thanks largely to the relentless round-the-clock news cycle and a deep bias in favor of sound bytes and sensationalism. How ironic that the collapse of faith in western media is caused by its own relentless fealty to profitability. The corporate press has now become, for vast segments of the population, a transparently deceitful congeries of second-rate pseudo-journalists who traffic in base fictions at the behest of elite capital. Meanwhile, ranks of first-rate independent journalists now dot the coarse hide of the staggering beast of the mainstream, more woodpeckers than parasites, slowly penetrating the dense carapace of falsehood that coarsens the consciousness of western citizenry. Only relentless infusions of capital are keeping the beast alive. Quantitative easing for the propaganda class.

If you want a nice index of the abysmal depths to which modern political discourse has sunk, there are dozens of pristine examples on YouTube. In fact, the site is in some sense a junk-strewn wasteland of western cultural debris, each piece of trash boasting thousands of views. I recently watched an episode of the BBC's, "The Daily Politics", now mercifully discontinued after 15 years of spreading disinformation disguised as "in depth" coverage of political events. Last July, just before being shuttered for good,, the show hosted the communist Aaron Bastani. (Perhaps this was another effort to align Labour's Jeremy Corbyn with the fraudulent effigies of Stalin and Mao.)

This show is a particularly good example of what happens when a freethinker is for some reason permitted time on a mainstream network and utters viewpoints that are well outside the Overton Window of acceptable opinion. The airing of such thinkers is not, as most suspect, an example of an open press, but rather a calculated effort to censor unacceptable ideas. On a psychological level, it serves the same purpose of unifying the herd as burning witches did in the medieval epoch. There is some sort of malign catharsis in communal attacks on ideological enemies. Just look at the vicious historical Hindu violence against minority Muslims in India. Communalism, they call it. In any event, this collection of pseudo-journalists, arrayed around a table in comfortable chairs, was an especially nice representation of the idiocy of our current political dialogue. Four neoliberals had to be brought on to collectively mock, browbeat, and quiz the good-natured YouTube host of "The Bastani Factor" on his bizarre communist politics.

Theater of the Absurd

The stage is set by show producers when they cast a giant image of a yellow hammer and sickle against a vast background of red (gulag blood, no doubt). This farcical backdrop covers half the set. The "guest" Bastani is first mocked for handing out a t-shirt that says, "I'm literally a communist." Then he is asked by moderator Jo Coburn, a haughty establishment tool with a penchant for constant interruptions, whether or not Bastani is simply whitewashing "a murderous ideology."

After Bastani finishes describing communism for the panel, Laura Hughes of the highly esteemed Financial Times declares that she felt like she'd just sat through her high school history class all over again, and that what was really needed was, "a new word" other than communism, since the latter was obviously so freighted with capitalist propaganda (she didn't exactly say that). Political pundit and Tory Matthew Parris then jumps in to say he's perfectly comfortable with the current word, and that Marx was perfectly clear about what he meant by it. Hughes gazes at Parris, nodding with a condescending smile, before Coburn leaps in to ask again about the supposedly nine million slaughtered at the hands of Stalin's purges, gulags, and induced famines. Parris laughs uncomfortably and defensively remarks, "Well, I'm not a communist!" But the bloodthirsty Coburn isn't satisfied. Is understanding communism not, in effect, trivializing its crimes? Parris then confirms for all and sundry that the practice of communism will most certainly require mass slaughter.

Coburn jumps back to Bastani, asking whether it requires violence. Rather than say it requires the seizure of property from the ruling class, and that this act might inspire violent resistance, as it did from the kulaks following the Bolshevik revolution, Bastani attempts to smooth it all over with an anecdote from the 14th century, which appeases no one and distracts everyone. Here another conservative journalist, Suzanne Evans, declares, in reference to the disturbing t-shirt, to say, "I'm literally a communist" is tantamount to saying, "I'm literally a fascist." Hughes bounces up and down in her chair and reminds the panel that communism "didn't work!" She then reiterates her call for "a new word." Someone then asks whether Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn would wear Bastani's communist t-shirt, prompting Bastani to point out that Corbyn isn't actually a communist. Evans smugly replies, "He's 90 percent a communist" (to guffaws in the gallery).

Parris has by this point recovered from the dreadful insinuation that he was a tankie. He then announces that one of the main problems with communism, aside from the mass slaughter, is that it still has a "student Che Guevara mystique about it." This insight is met with knowing nods and throaty growls from the panel. He then bafflingly adds that free marketers (like himself) "haven't been robust enough in defending what we believe in." Bastani might have noted that a century of nonstop laissez faire propaganda from the business press should surely have squelched a few noisy gangs of undergrads in Che t-shirts. Alas, the show then dribbled to a close, everyone declining the offer of the t-shirt as though it were smallpox-infested blanket from colonial times.

The comments section beneath the YouTube video was largely sympathetic to Bastani, but in places typically descended into an intra-communist debate about what communism actually is, with one ideologue insisting that, "The USSR was not remotely Marxist!" Several naysayers chimed in with the usual boilerplate about how everything we enjoy today is a product of capitalism and how capitalism is "by far" the best system ever conceived for human prosperity, etc. As usual, the capitalists take credit for everything except the death toll.

Punching Back

Unfortunately, this is garden variety stuff on mainstream television. One hardly utters a non-mainstream perspective before opposition pundits have their hackles up and are firing off stock phrases about the glories of the free market. There are numberless responses to this kind of commercial pablum, of which a handful come to mind.

First, no one is saying capitalism isn't a great engine of material production. Even Marx praised it on that count. But we should never tire of pointing out that capitalism isn't about markets; it's the division of resources between capital and labor, the latter of which get brutally exploited by the former. As for markets, there were plenty of slave markets in the ancient world, and plenty of markets under feudalism, and there have been plenty of markets in socialist economies. Second, the numerous social advances made in the US were made in spite of capitalism, not because of it. It's not as though the franchise, the eight-hour work day, or the social safety net were commodities distributed by profit-seeking capitalists in some magically humane laissez faire agora.

Third, the Soviet Union was a demonstrable success, achieving some remarkable industrial gains during just the Thirties alone, before western jackals watched while the Nazi Wehrmacht rolled into Russia, and was finally unraveled by pro-western factions within the Soviet state. The German Democratic Republic is another example of a profoundly different, and generally more humane, kind of social organization, that is continuously given the short shrift by ideologues hurling their "Stasi state" jibes into the bristling ether of social media. Fourth, we'd have never even begun to exit the Great Recession of 2008 without China's command economy, with its various socialist aims and government controlled production.

Fifth, no one bothers to investigate the propaganda surrounding communism, referred to in this awful BBC show as a "murderous ideology". The purge and gulag and famine death figures were popularly disseminated largely by Robert Conquest, a British propagandist, and are suspect at best, and at worst fraudulent. The majority of the left won't even go there for fear of crossing the threshold into pariah status, and being thrust into that burgeoning cultural pen of actual socialists and communists. Sixth, there are thought to be some 20 million people since the end of WWII who have died at the hands of imperial capitalism, and its unquenchable thirst for new markets. Those figures are not likely to be falsified, at least partially because they are not the product of a ferociously anti-Communist propaganda system, but rather independent alternative journalists without a bourgeois mandate to romanticize neoliberalism and demonize communism. Nor are those numbers likely to stall; the implacable drive for hegemony promises much more slaughter, with many more million brown men, women, and children adding to the figures, plenty of them doubtless LGBTQ+ and trans. Seventh, India, for instance, is hardly better off than it was before the capitalist invasion by Britain. Same goes for the Congo or anyplace else capital has reached for market access. Life in the metropole is considerably different than life in the ransacked provinces.

Eighth, when you argue for the current system, you're arguing for a capitalist oligarchy in which 1 percent of humanity controls more than half the world's wealth, and 30 percent control 95 percent of the wealth, leaving 70 percent of the world's population to support itself on 5 percent of the world's resources, access to which are nevertheless being hotly contested by capital. Ninth, recent studies have shown marked rises in suicides as neoliberal austerity takes hold in the metropole itself, while hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers have taken their own lives thanks to neoliberal structural reforms in a story that provoked meager interest in western capitals. Tenth, it's been conclusively shown that we are heading into the sixth mass extinction event in history, produced by capitalist industrialization. Yet almost all of us are in denial, either as Republicans hastily summoning their liberal conspiracy talking points, or as neoliberal Democrats who still cling to the meager thread of the Obama era and the Paris Accords, as if Obama and Paris were really going to address climate change the way it needs to be addressed.

Alas, these responses might have short-circuited the hive mind of the BBC panel. Facts, hurled into a pandemonium of deceits, can have that effect. Of course, Bastani was shuttled away before any of these considerations were tabled, the benighted doxies of imperialism happy to have had another go at the far left before decamping for their next bourgeois dinner party, anxious to don their own 'most important intellectual' attire and regale placid peers of the intelligentsia with tales of ideology run amuck.

Jason Hirthler is a writer, political commentator, and veteran of the communications industry. He has written for many political communities. He is the recent author of Imperial Fictions , a collection of essays from between 2015-2017. He lives in New York City and can be reached at jasonhirthler@gmail.com . Read other articles by Jason .

This article was posted on Friday, June 14th, 2019 at 8:23pm and is filed under Capitalism , Communism/Marxism/Maoism , Corporate media , Media , Media Bias , Social media .

[Jun 11, 2019] Globalists: The End of Empire and the Birth of Neoliberalism by Quinn Slobodian

The author is a very fuzzy way comes to the idea that neoliberalism is in essence a Trotskyism for the rich and that neoliberals want to use strong state to enforce the type of markets they want from above. That included free movement of capital goods and people across national borders. All this talk about "small government" is just a smoke screen for naive fools.
Similar to 1930th contemporary right-wing populism in Germany and Austria emerged from within neoliberalism, not in opposition to it. They essentially convert neoliberalism in "national liberalism": Yes to free trade by only on bilateral basis with a strict control of trade deficits. No to free migration, multilateralism
Notable quotes:
"... The second explanation was that neoliberal globalization made a small number of people very rich, and it was in the interest of those people to promote a self-serving ideology using their substantial means by funding think tanks and academic departments, lobbying congress, fighting what the Heritage Foundation calls "the war of ideas." Neoliberalism, then, was a restoration of class power after the odd, anomalous interval of the mid-century welfare state. ..."
"... Neoliberal globalism can be thought of in its own terms as a negative theology, contending that the world economy is sublime and ineffable with a small number of people having special insight and ability to craft institutions that will, as I put it, encase the sublime world economy. ..."
"... One of the big goals of my book is to show neoliberalism is one form of regulation among many rather than the big Other of regulation as such. ..."
"... I build here on the work of other historians and show how the demands in the United Nations by African, Asian, and Latin American nations for things like the Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources, i.e. the right to nationalize foreign-owned companies, often dismissed as merely rhetorical, were actually existentially frightening to global businesspeople. ..."
"... They drafted neoliberal intellectuals to do things like craft agreements that gave foreign corporations more rights than domestic actors and tried to figure out how to lock in what I call the "human right of capital flight" into binding international codes. I show how we can see the development of the WTO as largely a response to the fear of a planned -- and equal -- planet that many saw in the aspirations of the decolonizing world. ..."
"... The neoliberal insight of the 1930s was that the market would not take care of itself: what Wilhelm Röpke called a market police was an ongoing need in a world where people, whether out of atavistic drives or admirable humanitarian motives, kept trying to make the earth a more equal and just place. ..."
"... The culmination of these processes by the 1990s is a world economy that is less like a laissez-faire marketplace and more like a fortress, as ever more of the world's resources and ideas are regulated through transnational legal instruments. ..."
Mar 16, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 16, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0674979524
ISBN-13: 978-0674979529

From introduction

...The second explanation was that neoliberal globalization made a small number of people very rich, and it was in the interest of those people to promote a self-serving ideology using their substantial means by funding think tanks and academic departments, lobbying congress, fighting what the Heritage Foundation calls "the war of ideas." Neoliberalism, then, was a restoration of class power after the odd, anomalous interval of the mid-century welfare state.

There is truth to both of these explanations. Both presuppose a kind of materialist explanation of history with which I have no problem. In my book, though, I take another approach. What I found is that we could not understand the inner logic of something like the WTO without considering the whole history of the twentieth century. What I also discovered is that some of the members of the neoliberal movement from the 1930s onward, including Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, did not use either of the explanations I just mentioned. They actually didn't say that economic growth excuses everything. One of the peculiar things about Hayek, in particular, is that he didn't believe in using aggregates like GDP -- the very measurements that we need to even say what growth is.

What I found is that neoliberalism as a philosophy is less a doctrine of economics than a doctrine of ordering -- of creating the institutions that provide for the reproduction of the totality [of financial elite control of the state]. At the core of the strain I describe is not the idea that we can quantify, count, price, buy and sell every last aspect of human existence. Actually, here it gets quite mystical. The Austrian and German School of neoliberals in particular believe in a kind of invisible world economy that cannot be captured in numbers and figures but always escapes human comprehension.

After all, if you can see something, you can plan it. Because of the very limits to our knowledge, we have to default to ironclad rules and not try to pursue something as radical as social justice, redistribution, or collective transformation. In a globalized world, we must give ourselves over to the forces of the market, or the whole thing will stop working.

So this is quite a different version of neoliberal thought than the one we usually have, premised on the abstract of individual liberty or the freedom to choose. Here one is free to choose but only within a limited range of options left after responding to the global forces of the market.

One of the core arguments of my book is that we can only understand the internal coherence of neoliberalism if we see it as a doctrine as concerned with the whole as the individual. Neoliberal globalism can be thought of in its own terms as a negative theology, contending that the world economy is sublime and ineffable with a small number of people having special insight and ability to craft institutions that will, as I put it, encase the sublime world economy.

To me, the metaphor of encasement makes much more sense than the usual idea of markets set free, liberated or unfettered. How can it be that in an era of proliferating third party arbitration courts, international investment law, trade treaties and regulation that we talk about "unfettered markets"? One of the big goals of my book is to show neoliberalism is one form of regulation among many rather than the big Other of regulation as such.

What I explore in Globalists is how we can think of the WTO as the latest in a long series of institutional fixes proposed for the problem of emergent nationalism and what neoliberals see as the confusion between sovereignty -- ruling a country -- and ownership -- owning the property within it.

I build here on the work of other historians and show how the demands in the United Nations by African, Asian, and Latin American nations for things like the Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources, i.e. the right to nationalize foreign-owned companies, often dismissed as merely rhetorical, were actually existentially frightening to global businesspeople.

They drafted neoliberal intellectuals to do things like craft agreements that gave foreign corporations more rights than domestic actors and tried to figure out how to lock in what I call the "human right of capital flight" into binding international codes. I show how we can see the development of the WTO as largely a response to the fear of a planned -- and equal -- planet that many saw in the aspirations of the decolonizing world.

Perhaps the lasting image of globalization that the book leaves is that world capitalism has produced a doubled world -- a world of imperium (the world of states) and a world of dominium (the world of property). The best way to understand neoliberal globalism as a project is that it sees its task as the never-ending maintenance of this division. The neoliberal insight of the 1930s was that the market would not take care of itself: what Wilhelm Röpke called a market police was an ongoing need in a world where people, whether out of atavistic drives or admirable humanitarian motives, kept trying to make the earth a more equal and just place.

The culmination of these processes by the 1990s is a world economy that is less like a laissez-faire marketplace and more like a fortress, as ever more of the world's resources and ideas are regulated through transnational legal instruments. The book acts as a kind of field guide to these institutions and, in the process, hopefully recasts the 20th century that produced them.


Mark bennett

One half of a decent book

3.0 out of 5 stars One half of a decent book May 14, 2018 Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase This is a rather interesting look at the political and economic ideas of a circle of important economists, including Hayek and von Mises, over the course of the last century. He shows rather convincingly that conventional narratives concerning their idea are wrong. That they didn't believe in a weak state, didn't believe in the laissez-faire capitalism or believe in the power of the market. That they saw mass democracy as a threat to vested economic interests.

The core beliefs of these people was in a world where money, labor and products could flow across borders without any limit. Their vision was to remove these subjects (tariffs, immigration and controls on the movement of money) from the control of the democracy-based nation-state and instead vesting them in international organizations. International organizations which were by their nature undemocratic and beyond the influence of democracy. That rather than rejecting government power, what they rejected was national government power. They wanted weak national governments but at the same time strong undemocratic international organizations which would gain the powers taken from the state.

The other thing that characterized many of these people was a rather general rejection of economics. While some of them are (at least in theory) economists, they rejected the basic ideas of economic analysis and economic policy. The economy, to them, was a mystical thing beyond any human understanding or ability to influence in a positive way. Their only real belief was in "bigness". The larger the market for labor and goods, the more economically prosperous everyone would become. A unregulated "global" market with specialization across borders and free migration of labor being the ultimate system.

The author shows how, over a period extending from the 1920s to the 1990s, these ideas evolved from marginal academic ideas to being dominant ideas internationally. Ideas that are reflected today in the structure of the European Union, the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the policies of most national governments. These ideas, which the author calls "neoliberalism", have today become almost assumptions beyond challenge. And even more strangely, the dominating ideas of the political left in most of the west.

The author makes the point, though in a weak way, that the "fathers" of neoliberalism saw themselves as "restoring" a lost golden age. That golden age being (roughly) the age of the original industrial revolution (the second half of the 1800s). And to the extent that they have been successful they have done that. But at the same time, they have brought back all the political and economic questions of that era as well.

In reading it, I started to wonder about the differences between modern neoliberalism and the liberal political movement during the industrial revolution. I really began to wonder about the actual motives of "reform" liberals in that era. Were they genuinely interested in reforms during that era or were all the reforms just cynical politics designed to enhance business power at the expense of other vested interests. Was, in particular, the liberal interest in political reform and franchise expansion a genuine move toward political democracy or simply a temporary ploy to increase their political power. If one assumes that the true principles of classic liberalism were always free trade, free migration of labor and removing the power to governments to impact business, perhaps its collapse around the time of the first world war is easier to understand.

He also makes a good point about the EEC and the organizations that came before the EU. Those organizations were as much about protecting trade between Europe and former European colonial possessions as they were anything to do with trade within Europe.

To me at least, the analysis of the author was rather original. In particular, he did an excellent job of showing how the ideas of Hayek and von Mises have been distorted and misunderstood in the mainstream. He was able to show what their ideas were and how they relate to contemporary problems of government and democracy.

But there are some strong negatives in the book. The author offers up a complete virtue signaling chapter to prove how the neoliberals are racists. He brings up things, like the John Birch Society, that have nothing to do with the book. He unleashes a whole lot of venom directed at American conservatives and republicans mostly set against a 1960s backdrop. He does all this in a bad purpose: to claim that the Kennedy Administration was somehow a continuation of the new deal rather than a step toward neoliberalism. His blindness and modern political partisanship extended backward into history does substantial damage to his argument in the book. He also spends an inordinate amount of time on the political issues of South Africa which also adds nothing to the argument of the book. His whole chapter on racism is an elaborate strawman all held together by Ropke. He also spends a large amount of time grinding some sort of Ax with regard to the National Review and William F. Buckley.

He keeps resorting to the simple formula of finding something racist said or written by Ropke....and then inferring that anyone who quoted or had anything to do with Ropke shared his ideas and was also a racist. The whole point of the exercise seems to be to avoid any analysis of how the democratic party (and the political left) drifted over the decades from the politics of the New Deal to neoliberal Clintonism.

Then after that, he diverts further off the path by spending many pages on the greatness of the "global south", the G77 and the New International Economic Order (NIEO) promoted by the UN in the 1970s. And whatever many faults of neoliberalism, Quinn Slobodian ends up standing for a worse set of ideas: International Price controls, economic "reparations", nationalization, international trade subsidies and a five-year plan for the world (socialist style economic planning at a global level). In attaching himself to these particular ideas, he kills his own book. The premise of the book and his argument was very strong at first. But by around p. 220, its become a throwback political tract in favor of the garbage economic and political ideas of the so-called third world circa 1974 complete with 70's style extensive quotations from "Senegalese jurists"

Once the political agenda comes out, he just can't help himself. He opens the conclusion to the book taking another cheap shot for no clear reason at William F. Buckley. He spends alot of time on the Seattle anti-WTO protests from the 1990s. But he has NOTHING to say about BIll Clinton or Tony Blair or EU expansion or Obama or even the 2008 economic crisis for that matter. Inexplicably for a book written in 2018, the content of the book seems to end in the year 2000.

I'm giving it three stars for the first 150 pages which was decent work. The second half rates zero stars. Though it could have been far better if he had written his history of neoliberalism in the context of the counter-narrative of Keynesian economics and its decline. It would have been better yet if the author had the courage to talk about the transformation of the parties of the left and their complicity in the rise of neoliberalism. The author also tends to waste lots of pages repeating himself or worse telling you what he is going to say next. One would have expected a better standard of editing by the Harvard Press. Read less 69 people found this helpful Helpful Comment Report abuse

Jesper Doepping
A concise definition of neoliberalism and its historical influence

5.0 out of 5 stars A concise definition of neoliberalism and its historical influence November 14, 2018 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase Anybody interested in global trade, business, human rights or democracy today should read this book.

The book follow the Austrians from the beginning in the Habsburgischer empire to the beginning rebellion against the WTO. However, most importantly it follows the thinking and the thoughts behind the building of a global empire of capitalism with free trade, capital and rights. All the way to the new "human right" to trade. It narrows down what neoliberal thought really consist of and indirectly make a differentiation to the neoclassical economic tradition.

What I found most interesting is the turn from economics to law - and the conceptual distinctions between the genes, tradition, reason, which are translated into a quest for a rational and reason based protection of dominium (the rule of property) against the overreach of imperium (the rule of states/people). This distinction speaks directly to the issues that EU is currently facing.

Jackal
A historian with an agenda

3.0 out of 5 stars A historian with an agenda October 22, 2018 Format: Hardcover Author is covering Mises, Hayek, Machlup in Vienna. How to produce order once the Habsburg empire had been broken after 1918? They pioneered data gathering about the economy. However, such data came to be used by the left as well. This forced the people mentioned to become intellectual thinkers as opposed to something else(??). I like how the author is situating the people in a specific era, but he is reading history backwards. The book moves on, but stays in Central Europe. Ordocapitalism followed after Hitler. It was a German attempt to have a both strong state and strong by market, which given Europe's fragmentation required international treaties. This was seen as a way to avoid another Hitler. Later, international organisations like IMF and TWO became the new institutions that embedded the global markets. The book ends in the 90s. So in reading history backwards, the author finds quotations of Mises and Hayek that "prove" that they were aiming to create intellectual cover for the global financial elite of the 2010s.

Nevertheless, the book is interesting if you like the history of ideas. He frames the questions intelligently in the historical context at the time. However a huge question-mark for objectivity. The book is full of lefty dog whistles: the war making state, regulation of capitalism, reproducing the power of elites, the problem [singular] of capitalism. In a podcast the author states point blank "I wanted the left to see what the enemy was up too". I find it pathetic that authors are so blatantly partisan. How can we know whether he is objective when he doesn't even try? He dismissively claims that the neoliberal thinkers gave cover to what has become the globalist world order. So why should we not consider the current book as intellectual cover for some "new left" that is about to materialise? Maybe the book is just intellectual cover for the globalist elite being educated in left-wing private colleges.

[Jun 05, 2019] Taking a long view it was very astute and cleverly conceived plan to to present counter-revolution as revolution; progress as regress; the new order 1980- (i.e., neoliberalism) was cool, and the old order 1945-1975 (welfare-capitalism) was fuddy-duddy.

Highly recommended!
Jun 05, 2019 | off-guardian.org

Francis Lee says May 5, 2019

Taking a long view it was very astute and cleverly conceived plan to to present counter-revolution as revolution; progress as regress; the new order 1980- (i.e., neoliberalism) was cool, and the old order 1945-1975 (welfare-capitalism) was fuddy-duddy.

Thus:

Capital controls = fuddy duddy Capital Account liberalisation = cool Worker's Rights = fuddy duddy Flexible Labour markets = cool World Peace -- fuddy duddy War = Cool National Sovereignty = fuddy duddy Globalization = Cool Social Mobility = fuddy duddy Inequality = cool Respect for elections/referenda = fuddy-duddy Flexible referenda/elections = cool Social solidarity = fuddy-duddy Rampant nihilistic invidualism = cool Respect for human rights and the UN International Law = fuddy-duddy Blatant Imperialism = cool

And so the agenda goes on. Counter-revolution qua revolution

[Jun 05, 2019] Trump Admin's Latest Rail Safety Rollback Sets up Industry to Make Its Own Rules

Jun 05, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

May 31, 2019 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield By Justin Mikulka, a freelance writer, audio and video producer living in Trumansburg, NY. Originally published at DeSmog Blog

This week, the Trump administration's Department of Transportation (DOT) withdrew another rail safety recommendation originally proposed during the Obama administration. In the process, the agency made quite clear that it has no plans to further regulate the rail industry, especially the dangerous and continued transportation of oil and ethanol in unsafe tank cars.

The latest proposed rule to be withdrawn would have required two-person crews on trains. Supporters of this rule argue that two-person crews are safer because the job of operating a train is too demanding for one person, new technologies are making the job more complex, and fatigue becomes a more serious issue with only one crew member. Since 2017, the Trump administration has already repealed a regulation requiring modern brakes for oil trains and canceled a plan requiring train operators to be tested for sleep apnea.

In announcing this decision, the DOT's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) stated it was "providing notice of its affirmative decision that no regulation of train crew staffing is necessary or appropriate for railroad operations to be conducted safely at this time."

Buried on page 21 of the 25 page document explaining the decision, the FRA spells out the broader department attitude toward rail safety:

"DOT's approach to achieving safety improvements begins with a focus on removing unnecessary barriers and issuing voluntary guidance, rather than regulations that could stifle innovation."

As we've documented on DeSmog before , that translates to removing existing safety requirements and allowing the rail industry to volunteer when and how to improve safety. When the head of the FRA is a former rail company CEO , corporate capture of the U.S.regulatory system should come as no surprise. The rail industry's main opposition to this rule is that it will increase costs while claiming it will not improve safety. This is the same basic argument used to support the industry's opposition to other safety regulations.

FRA Overriding States' Rights to Regulate Rail Safety

North Dakota oil train. Credit: Jerry and Pat Donaho , CC BY-ND2.0

In addition, this FRA memo contained several statements clarifying that not only will the agency back off of regulating rail safety, it also will use the power of "pre-emption" to make sure states can't fill the resulting regulatory gaps either.

As we have explained before , rail companies are essentially only accountable to federal regulators (should they choose to regulate) due to a legal doctrine known as "pre-emption," which exempts interstate rail companies from observing local or state laws where they operate.

This is important in this instance because several states have passed laws regarding train crew staffing, and other states are considering such regulation. The FRA notes in detail these state efforts and then says that its decision not to regulate crew size preempts any such rules at the state level:

"FRA intends this notice of withdrawal to cover the same subject matter as the state laws regulating crew size and therefore expects it will have preemptive effect."

The document goes on to cite Supreme Court case law in an attempt to justify this approach and then reiterates the point in its final line, saying that "no regulation of train crew staffing is appropriate and that FRA intends to negatively preempt any state laws concerning that subject matter."

On December 31, 2013, part of the tank car pileup and residual fire resulting from the train collision near Casselton, North Dakota. Credit: National Transportation Safety Board , public domain

With this document, the FRA likely is setting up a precedent to follow for regulating the volatility and vapor pressure of crude oil transported by rail. DeSmog has covered in detail the issue of oil volatility , which appears to be the key for turning oil trains into "bomb trains," as rail operators have dubbed them.

The last remaining rail safety proposal on the books from the Obama administration concerns the vapor pressure of oil in rail tank cars, but that was proposed in 2017 and the DOT website lists the status of this proposed rule as "undetermined."

Meanwhile, the state of Washington has passed a law regulating the vapor pressure of oil for rail transport. This law is being challenged by North Dakota -- the source of many of the bomb trains involved in fiery accidents, including the Lac-Mégantic, Canada, disaster that killed 47 people in 2013 and helped inspire the proposed rule requiring two-person crews that the Trump adminstration just withdrew this week.

Based on the FRA's strategy with the rail staffing rule, expect to see the Trump administration withdraw the proposed regulation on oil vapor pressure and say this move preempts Washington state's law.

me title=

A Case Study in the Corporate Capture of American Regulation

The FRA's decision to withdraw the train crew rule is a great case study of a failed regulatory system in America.

The public is supposed to have a say in the regulatory process via the public comment process. In this case, approximately 1,500 comments supported the regulation -- including comments from members of Congress -- and 39 opposed it. The opposition highlighted by the DOT was from rail lobbying groups the Association of American Railroads and the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association. While the public can have its say, it may not have any impact in the current regulatory process.

The FRAdocument also notes that the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC reviewed the issue but "was unable to reach consensus on any recommendation." RSAC was established by the FRA but is dominated by industry members, including the Association of American Railroads and the American Petroleum Institute , the latter of which is the nation's largest oil lobby and has repeatedly misrepresented basic facts about crude oil volatility and rail transport.

This advisory committee doesn't have the membership to make an independent recommendation that goes against its members' interests.

Screen shot of RSAC members from the Federal Railroad Administration website.

Another key point in the FRA's withdrawal decision is that it claims there is no evidence that two-person crews are safer than single-person crews on trains. The agency cites industry-funded studies, which make this claim and say the regulation would "greatly reduce U.S.railroads' ability to control operating costs." Because the FRAitself does not collect data on the use and safety of single-person crews versus two-person crews, it can't provide any information one way or the other.

The one clear scenario where two-person crews increase safety is in accident situations, a point made by many commenters and acknowledged by the FRA. In the 2013 BNSF oil train derailment and explosion in Casselton, North Dakota , crew members were able to separate many of the oil tank cars from the rest of the train, likely preventing a much larger oil spill and fire (which were still large). The FRA argues that while this is true, the same role can be played by first responders:

"While FRA acknowledges the BNSF key train crew performed well, potentially saving each other's lives, it is possible that one properly trained crewmember, technology, and/or additional railroad emergency planning could have achieved similar mitigating actions."

Despite making this assertion, the agency provided no evidence of how these alternatives are possible. In the case of oil train accidents, there are no examples of first responders arriving in time to do anything other than back away from the often-explosive trains and let them burn.

In the case of Casselton, the city fire chief Tim McLean said, "I'm glad the crew made it out of the engine because I don't know if we would have been able to get in there and get them." Casselton's first responders were working to evacuate the city, not deal with the exploding train cars.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/FLfOQcmD868

'Keeping their Profits'

Two years ago, I wrote about the Trump administration's and Congress's plans to de-regulate the oil-by-rail industry , and featured a quote from Rep. Bill Shuster, who championed finding ways to "allow the railroad industry to keep more of their profits" at a hearing on pipeline and rail regulations .

With rail companies now comfortably positioned to self-regulate under the Trump administration, the industry can continue its long (and, at times, bloody ) history of putting profits over safety. The Department of Transportation's latest move makes this approach official government policy.

On July 9, 2014, 350 Sacramento joins California Assemblymember Roger Dickinson for an oil-by-rail protest at the Federal Railroad Administration. Credit: Stand , CC BY 2.0


VietnamVet , May 31, 2019 at 3:45 am

Mile long trains manned by one crew member are accidents waiting to happen. This will kill and maim people. Commercial airliners have a two-person cockpit crews for a good reason. An improperly tied down train by the sole engineer killed 43 in Canada. A conductor not calling out signals and signs contributed to killing three in Amtrak's 2017 Talgo crash onto I-5 in Washington State. A single engineer is subject to fatigue and distraction with no one to snap them out of it. A second crew member can check for problems, set brakes, and switch tracks while the engineer stays on board the running locomotive. This is solely a safety issue.

Each new death will be on the corporations and regulators pushing this to increase their profits. If promulgated, they deserve jail time for manslaughter with the next inevitable death.

The Rev Kev , May 31, 2019 at 5:35 am

If the two-driver rule is being withdrawn, then I see one major reason for this. Those companies must be planning on using autonomous trains down the track, so to say. The driver would then become more a monitor than a driver and perhaps be done away with altogether due to the fact that the job would be too fatiguing for a single driver. This is happening elsewhere. Here in Oz, the Rio Tito Group has been using autonomous trains since last July to transport iron ore using its "AutoHaul" system. Last I heard, they were running about three dozen of these robot trains a day. Here is a short clip showing the initial run-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSMl1O9xxp4

Of course there are two major differences between Oz and the US with the use of these trains if the US brings them in. The ones in Oz go through the Pilbara and from that film clip, you can see that it is pretty barren country people-wise. An autonomous train in the US would run through a lot of small towns and perhaps cities. The ones in the US would also be transporting oil and that film clip from Casselton, North Dakota shows what happens when they go bump. The ones in Oz are use for transporting iron ore and after intense internet research, I have found that there is no situation in which they will ever explode in a train crash/derailment.

Jeremy Grimm , May 31, 2019 at 12:55 pm

I think you're right about the a plan to replace human drivers with autonomous trains monitored by a human. I didn't realize human train drivers [R.R. engineers?] were so very expensive that using one instead of two and eventually one 'monitor' instead of one driver were such a great savings. Are the railroad companies going to be indemnified against accident risks in some other pending deregulations? Maybe they could contract out for the train-monitors and hang any accident risk on fly-by-night contracting firms and any train-monitor who is so lucky as to survive an accident. What of the rails? I road trains cross-country last year and a lot of the ride was wavy and bumpy. How smart are the autonomous trains?

Synoia , May 31, 2019 at 4:07 pm

How smart are the autonomous trains?

Smart enough to do precisely what management tells them to do.

Edward , May 31, 2019 at 7:00 am

"Because the FRAitself does not collect data on the use and safety of single-person crews versus two-person crews, it can't provide any information one way or the other."

Other countries might have studied this question.

This sounds like what happened with Boeing and the FAA. Now all we need is for the railroad CEO's to have backgrounds in the military-industrial complex.

Svante , May 31, 2019 at 7:01 am

I'm waiting for 15-20 cars full of dilute bitumen to derail & explode directly across from Manhattan. There're ALWAYS bomb trains shunted alongside AMTRAK's NE Corridor where 130mph Acela are passing 80-90mph trains on decrepit infrastructure. Just waiting to happen, like any shithole kleptocracy.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.northjersey.com/amp/1492902002

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2015/05/14/us/sub14TRAIN/sub14TRAIN-superJumbo.jpg?quality=90&auto=webp

Edward , May 31, 2019 at 7:10 am

"I'm waiting for 15-20 cars full of dilute bitumen to derail & explode directly across from Manhattan."

Hopefully next to a Trump property. Is this rule actually going to save the train companies money? How expensive are these accidents? Perhaps the real question is how many CEO bonuses can be milked from this rule.

Svante , May 31, 2019 at 7:30 am

Well, we've been TOLD, there'll be another (fracked PA CNG fired?) power plant going into North Bergen, we hear trains across the Hudson all night. Heavy cars, here, usually means tankers, heading to NJ refineries? I was in Huston with Texas Eastern's GREAT old inspection boss when they blew up part of Edison, NJ. A failed tie-in weld, cracked by a backhoe or something, in cold weather. They had windows breaking up here, in the UWS? A 36″ line, rolled at Bethlehem/ Steelton, or some damn thing? Shit happens? Don't live in a valley!

Ptb , May 31, 2019 at 8:10 am

Score one for Warren Buffet

anarcheopteryx , May 31, 2019 at 10:20 am

One of the more irritating indirect developments from this is that people can now say that 1) we are still reliant on oil 2) that oil needs to be transported 3) trains clearly aren't safe as a means of transportation 4) therefore pipelines are a better idea. It's gussied-up NIMBYism because pipelines usually don't travel through highly populated areas and only destroy the local environment for decades/centuries upon leaking rather than killing people directly. Obviously I'm all for tanker cars not exploding in the middle of communities, but I'm also not a great fan of the long-term loss of fresh water and the exporting of negative consequences to poor/rural/indigenous people.

Carolinian , May 31, 2019 at 12:34 pm

This is similar to this morning's glyphosate issue. Once again, where is Congress? The administration enforces the laws but Congress is supposed to oversee. To busy fretting over Mueller?

Jeremy Grimm , May 31, 2019 at 1:16 pm

Where is Congress? Gathering campaign contributions everyone and assuring a lucrative job for later. The administration enforces the laws and Congress oversees that process with the same careful attention to the public good we enjoy from the administration's efforts. Mueller is purely for entertainment.

It isn't bad enough that we face multiple threats to our future, endless wars, nuclear war, Climate Chaos, resource depletion, crumbling infrastructure Neoliberalism seems intent on constructing as much fragility as possible into our already fragile Society.

Synoia , May 31, 2019 at 4:08 pm

And determining when we go to war ..Right?

Svante , June 1, 2019 at 1:25 pm

The Legislature, (especiallyTHIS Executive), Judiciary & Media are at work, as most of us knew by draft age. Trump is the Boogieman this time, like Obama & Shrub before him. He's distracting the 10% Pussyhat hordes as Barack did with CNBC/ FOX's totally spontaneous baggers. Poisoned air, water, food: RussiaRussiaRussia; National Healthcare including longterm homecare & price/quality control on meds: RussiaRussiaRussia; Run-away global warming, worse than anticipated: RussiaRussiaRussia; Police shooting down folks in their motor vehicles or home, at WILL, without repercussions You guessed it: RussiaRussiaRussia! Thi IS their job!

https://www.gq.com/story/democratic-leadership-base

[May 27, 2019] To deny debate.. they simply engineer language

Notable quotes:
"... put some trigger words than inhibit zombies brains: racist, antisemite, populist, fascist, white, sexist, ..."
"... There can be no debates without first pointing out objective reality (factual observations). Long logical expositions often turn out to be dissimulation.. ..."
"... Objective reality, based on history, suggests that human beings are irrational at best, and depraved at worst. The issue is not one of swaying folks, it's one of asking them to place themselves in the shoes of their opponents. ..."
May 27, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Julot_Fr , 10 hours ago link

To deny debate.. they simply engineer language.. and put some trigger words than inhibit zombies brains: racist, antisemite, populist, fascist, white, sexist, ...

Scipio Africanuz , 10 hours ago link

There can be no debates without first pointing out objective reality (factual observations). Long logical expositions often turn out to be dissimulation..

Objective reality, based on history, suggests that human beings are irrational at best, and depraved at worst. The issue is not one of swaying folks, it's one of asking them to place themselves in the shoes of their opponents.

It's not about religion either, but about what's been proven to work, and what's not worked. Neither is it about winning arguments, that's just ego stroking.

What it's about, is how to get along even when there's disagreement on issues, and that requires the maturity to first, acknowledge when one may be wrong, questioning one's assumptions, and allowing others their beliefs provided it reduces or prevents harm to others.

Concisely, the core issue is about the minimization of harm to others, especially conscious harm. Everything else is just details. Expositions that rely extensively on theory are dissimulations, stories, short stories, are way more effective especially when they're relatable.

Technical expositions are for professional debaters (academics), stories are for people, those who truly wish to get along..

Assumptions exist to be questioned, cheers...

[May 18, 2019] Americans are good at Doublethink.

Notable quotes:
"... You point out that our entertainment industry focuses its plots on strong leaders, and Good Guys vs Bad Guys, and we definitely internalize that, especially when our overlords want to demonize another country, and use our entertainment-induced perspective as a shortcut. ..."
"... But, at the same time, on another level, Americans understand that the president is a puppet and must obey orders, or have his brains blown out in bright daylight, in the town square. ..."
"... We hold both these views simultaneously, hence, as Orwell called it, Doublethink. ..."
May 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

wagelaborer , May 17, 2019 6:33:45 PM | link

Jen @25. Americans are good at Doublethink.

You point out that our entertainment industry focuses its plots on strong leaders, and Good Guys vs Bad Guys, and we definitely internalize that, especially when our overlords want to demonize another country, and use our entertainment-induced perspective as a shortcut.

They tell us that the leader of the targeted country is a Bad Guy and we must kill the people in order to save them. And Americans nod and comply. Except for the 5% that prefers peace, and they argue that the leader is not a Bad Guy, so we shouldn't kill the people to save them.
No American ever thinks to argue international law or basic morality, we just argue about the plot lines.

But, at the same time, on another level, Americans understand that the president is a puppet and must obey orders, or have his brains blown out in bright daylight, in the town square.

We hold both these views simultaneously, hence, as Orwell called it, Doublethink.

[May 17, 2019] Shareholder Capitalism, the Military, and the Beginning of the End for Boeing

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Like many of its Wall Street counterparts, Boeing also used complexity as a mechanism to obfuscate and conceal activity that is incompetent, nefarious and/or harmful to not only the corporation itself but to society as a whole (instead of complexity being a benign byproduct of a move up the technology curve). ..."
"... The economists who built on Friedman's work, along with increasingly aggressive institutional investors, devised solutions to ensure the primacy of enhancing shareholder value, via the advocacy of hostile takeovers, the promotion of massive stock buybacks or repurchases (which increased the stock value), higher dividend payouts and, most importantly, the introduction of stock-based pay for top executives in order to align their interests to those of the shareholders. These ideas were influenced by the idea that corporate efficiency and profitability were impinged upon by archaic regulation and unionization, which, according to the theory, precluded the ability to compete globally. ..."
"... "Return on Net Assets" (RONA) forms a key part of the shareholder capitalism doctrine. ..."
"... If the choice is between putting a million bucks into new factory machinery or returning it to shareholders, say, via dividend payments, the latter is the optimal way to go because in theory it means higher net returns accruing to the shareholders (as the "owners" of the company), implicitly assuming that they can make better use of that money than the company itself can. ..."
"... It is an absurd conceit to believe that a dilettante portfolio manager is in a better position than an aviation engineer to gauge whether corporate investment in fixed assets will generate productivity gains well north of the expected return for the cash distributed to the shareholders. But such is the perverse fantasy embedded in the myth of shareholder capitalism ..."
"... When real engineering clashes with financial engineering, the damage takes the form of a geographically disparate and demoralized workforce: The factory-floor denominator goes down. Workers' wages are depressed, testing and quality assurance are curtailed. ..."
May 17, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the corresponding end of the Soviet Empire gave the fullest impetus imaginable to the forces of globalized capitalism, and correspondingly unfettered access to the world's cheapest labor. What was not to like about that? It afforded multinational corporations vastly expanded opportunities to fatten their profit margins and increase the bottom line with seemingly no risk posed to their business model.

Or so it appeared. In 2000, aerospace engineer L.J. Hart-Smith's remarkable paper, sardonically titled "Out-Sourced Profits – The Cornerstone of Successful Subcontracting," laid out the case against several business practices of Hart-Smith's previous employer, McDonnell Douglas, which had incautiously ridden the wave of outsourcing when it merged with the author's new employer, Boeing. Hart-Smith's intention in telling his story was a cautionary one for the newly combined Boeing, lest it follow its then recent acquisition down the same disastrous path.

Of the manifold points and issues identified by Hart-Smith, there is one that stands out as the most compelling in terms of understanding the current crisis enveloping Boeing: The embrace of the metric "Return on Net Assets" (RONA). When combined with the relentless pursuit of cost reduction (via offshoring), RONA taken to the extreme can undermine overall safety standards.

Related to this problem is the intentional and unnecessary use of complexity as an instrument of propaganda. Like many of its Wall Street counterparts, Boeing also used complexity as a mechanism to obfuscate and conceal activity that is incompetent, nefarious and/or harmful to not only the corporation itself but to society as a whole (instead of complexity being a benign byproduct of a move up the technology curve).

All of these pernicious concepts are branches of the same poisoned tree: " shareholder capitalism ":

[A] notion best epitomized by Milton Friedman that the only social responsibility of a corporation is to increase its profits, laying the groundwork for the idea that shareholders, being the owners and the main risk-bearing participants, ought therefore to receive the biggest rewards. Profits therefore should be generated first and foremost with a view toward maximizing the interests of shareholders, not the executives or managers who (according to the theory) were spending too much of their time, and the shareholders' money, worrying about employees, customers, and the community at large. The economists who built on Friedman's work, along with increasingly aggressive institutional investors, devised solutions to ensure the primacy of enhancing shareholder value, via the advocacy of hostile takeovers, the promotion of massive stock buybacks or repurchases (which increased the stock value), higher dividend payouts and, most importantly, the introduction of stock-based pay for top executives in order to align their interests to those of the shareholders. These ideas were influenced by the idea that corporate efficiency and profitability were impinged upon by archaic regulation and unionization, which, according to the theory, precluded the ability to compete globally.

"Return on Net Assets" (RONA) forms a key part of the shareholder capitalism doctrine. In essence, it means maximizing the returns of those dollars deployed in the operation of the business. Applied to a corporation, it comes down to this: If the choice is between putting a million bucks into new factory machinery or returning it to shareholders, say, via dividend payments, the latter is the optimal way to go because in theory it means higher net returns accruing to the shareholders (as the "owners" of the company), implicitly assuming that they can make better use of that money than the company itself can.

It is an absurd conceit to believe that a dilettante portfolio manager is in a better position than an aviation engineer to gauge whether corporate investment in fixed assets will generate productivity gains well north of the expected return for the cash distributed to the shareholders. But such is the perverse fantasy embedded in the myth of shareholder capitalism.

Engineering reality, however, is far more complicated than what is outlined in university MBA textbooks. For corporations like McDonnell Douglas, for example, RONA was used not as a way to prioritize new investment in the corporation but rather to justify disinvestment in the corporation. This disinvestment ultimately degraded the company's underlying profitability and the quality of its planes (which is one of the reasons the Pentagon helped to broker the merger with Boeing; in another perverse echo of the 2008 financial disaster, it was a politically engineered bailout).

RONA in Practice

When real engineering clashes with financial engineering, the damage takes the form of a geographically disparate and demoralized workforce: The factory-floor denominator goes down. Workers' wages are depressed, testing and quality assurance are curtailed. Productivity is diminished, even as labor-saving technologies are introduced. Precision machinery is sold off and replaced by inferior, but cheaper, machines. Engineering quality deteriorates. And the upshot is that a reliable plane like Boeing's 737, which had been a tried and true money-spinner with an impressive safety record since 1967, becomes a high-tech death trap.

The drive toward efficiency is translated into a drive to do more with less. Get more out of workers while paying them less. Make more parts with fewer machines. Outsourcing is viewed as a way to release capital by transferring investment from skilled domestic human capital to offshore entities not imbued with the same talents, corporate culture and dedication to quality. The benefits to the bottom line are temporary; the long-term pathologies become embedded as the company's market share begins to shrink, as the airlines search for less shoddy alternatives.

You must do one more thing if you are a Boeing director: you must erect barriers to bad news, because there is nothing that bursts a magic bubble faster than reality, particularly if it's bad reality.

The illusion that Boeing sought to perpetuate was that it continued to produce the same thing it had produced for decades: namely, a safe, reliable, quality airplane. But it was doing so with a production apparatus that was stripped, for cost reasons, of many of the means necessary to make good aircraft. So while the wine still came in a bottle signifying Premier Cru quality, and still carried the same price, someone had poured out the contents and replaced them with cheap plonk.

And that has become remarkably easy to do in aviation. Because Boeing is no longer subject to proper independent regulatory scrutiny. This is what happens when you're allowed to " self-certify" your own airplane , as the Washington Post described: "One Boeing engineer would conduct a test of a particular system on the Max 8, while another Boeing engineer would act as the FAA's representative, signing on behalf of the U.S. government that the technology complied with federal safety regulations."

This is a recipe for disaster. Boeing relentlessly cut costs, it outsourced across the globe to workforces that knew nothing about aviation or aviation's safety culture. It sent things everywhere on one criteria and one criteria only: lower the denominator. Make it the same, but cheaper. And then self-certify the plane, so that nobody, including the FAA, was ever the wiser.

Boeing also greased the wheels in Washington to ensure the continuation of this convenient state of regulatory affairs for the company. According to OpenSecrets.org , Boeing and its affiliates spent $15,120,000 in lobbying expenses in 2018, after spending, $16,740,000 in 2017 (along with a further $4,551,078 in 2018 political contributions, which placed the company 82nd out of a total of 19,087 contributors). Looking back at these figures over the past four elections (congressional and presidential) since 2012, these numbers represent fairly typical spending sums for the company.

But clever financial engineering, extensive political lobbying and self-certification can't perpetually hold back the effects of shoddy engineering. One of the sad byproducts of the FAA's acquiescence to "self-certification" is how many things fall through the cracks so easily.

[Apr 30, 2019] Elizabeth Warren s Big Ideas on Big Tech by Kenneth Rogoff

Notable quotes:
"... Although the causal relationships are difficult to untangle, there are solid grounds for believing that the rise in monopoly power has played a role in exacerbating income inequality, weakening workers' bargaining power, and slowing the rate of innovation. ..."
"... The debate about how to regulate the sector is eerily reminiscent of the debate over financial regulation in the early 2000s. Proponents of a light regulatory touch argued that finance was too complicated for regulators to keep up with innovation, and that derivatives trading allows banks to make wholesale changes to their risk profile in the blink of an eye. And the financial industry put its money where its mouth was, paying salaries so much higher than those in the public sector that any research assistant the Federal Reserve System trained to work on financial issues would be enticed with offers exceeding what their boss's boss was earning. ..."
"... It is a problem that cannot be overcome without addressing fundamental questions about the role of the state, privacy, and how US firms can compete globally against China, where the government is using domestic tech companies to collect data on its citizens at an exponential pace. And yet many would prefer to avoid them. ..."
"... At this point, ideas for regulating Big Tech are just sketches, and of course more serious analysis is warranted. An open, informed discussion that is not squelched by lobbying dollars is a national imperative. ..."
Apr 01, 2019 | www.project-syndicate.org
Kenneth Rogoff

The debate about how to regulate the tech sector is eerily reminiscent of the debate over financial regulation in the early 2000s. Fortunately, one US politician has mustered the courage to call for a total rethink of America's exceptionally permissive merger and acquisition policy over the past four decades.

CAMBRIDGE – Displaying a degree of courage and clarity that is difficult to overstate, US senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren has taken on Big Tech, including Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. Warren's proposals amount to a total rethink of the United States' exceptionally permissive merger and acquisition policy over the past four decades. Indeed, Big Tech is only the poster child for a significant increase in monopoly and oligopoly power across a broad swath of the American economy. Although the best approach is still far from clear, I could not agree more that something needs to done, especially when it comes to Big Tech's ability to buy out potential competitors and use their platform dominance to move into other lines of business.

Warren is courageous because Big Tech is big money for most leading Democratic candidates, particularly progressives, for whom California is a veritable campaign-financing ATM. And although one can certainly object, Warren is not alone in thinking that the tech giants have gained excessive market dominance; in fact, it is one of the few issues in Washington on which there is some semblance of agreement . Other candidates, most notably Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, have also taken principled stands

Although the causal relationships are difficult to untangle, there are solid grounds for believing that the rise in monopoly power has played a role in exacerbating income inequality, weakening workers' bargaining power, and slowing the rate of innovation. And, perhaps outside of China, it is a global problem, because US tech monopolies have often achieved market dominance before local regulators and politicians know what has happened. The European Union, in particular, has been trying to steer its own course on technology regulation . Recently, the United Kingdom commissioned an expert group, chaired by former President Barack Obama's chief economist (and now my colleague) Jason Furman , that produced a very useful report on approaches to the tech sector.

The debate about how to regulate the sector is eerily reminiscent of the debate over financial regulation in the early 2000s. Proponents of a light regulatory touch argued that finance was too complicated for regulators to keep up with innovation, and that derivatives trading allows banks to make wholesale changes to their risk profile in the blink of an eye. And the financial industry put its money where its mouth was, paying salaries so much higher than those in the public sector that any research assistant the Federal Reserve System trained to work on financial issues would be enticed with offers exceeding what their boss's boss was earning.

There will be similar problems staffing tech regulatory offices and antitrust legal divisions if the push for tighter regulation gains traction. To succeed, political leaders need to be focused and determined, and not easily bought. One only has to recall the 2008 financial crisis and its painful aftermath to comprehend what can happen when a sector becomes too politically influential. And the US and world economy are, if anything, even more vulnerable to Big Tech than to the financial sector, owing both to cyber aggression and vulnerabilities in social media that can pervert political debate.

Another parallel with the financial sector is the outsize role of US regulators. As with US foreign policy, when they sneeze, the entire world can catch a cold. The 2008 financial crisis was sparked by vulnerabilities in the US and the United Kingdom, but quickly went global. A US-based cyber crisis could easily do the same. This creates an "externality," or global commons problem, because US regulators allow risks to build up in the system without adequately considering international implications.

It is a problem that cannot be overcome without addressing fundamental questions about the role of the state, privacy, and how US firms can compete globally against China, where the government is using domestic tech companies to collect data on its citizens at an exponential pace. And yet many would prefer to avoid them.

That's why there has been fierce pushback against Warren for daring to suggest that even if many services seem to be provided for free, there might still be something wrong. There was the same kind of pushback from the financial sector fifteen years ago, and from the railroads back in the late 1800s. Writing in the March 1881 issue of The Atlantic , the progressive activist Henry Demarest Lloyd warned that,

"Our treatment of 'the railroad problem' will show the quality and caliber of our political sense. It will go far in foreshadowing the future lines of our social and political growth. It may indicate whether the American democracy, like all the democratic experiments which have preceded it, is to become extinct because the people had not wit enough or virtue enough to make the common good supreme."

Lloyd's words still ring true today. At this point, ideas for regulating Big Tech are just sketches, and of course more serious analysis is warranted. An open, informed discussion that is not squelched by lobbying dollars is a national imperative.

The debate that Warren has joined is not about whether to establish socialism. It is about making capitalist competition fairer and, ultimately, stronger.

Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Harvard University and recipient of the 2011 Deutsche Bank Prize in Financial Economics, was the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund from 2001 to 2003. The co-author of This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly , his new book, The Curse of Cash , was released in August 2016.

[Apr 30, 2019] Boeing Kept Mum to Customers, FAA About Disabling of 737 Max Warning System

Apr 30, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

... ... ...

This basic fact pattern has been revealed to be worse than it first appeared by virtue of Boeing not having been explicit that the angle of attack sensor alerts had been disabled on the 737 Max. Why should Boeing have cleared its throat and said something? Recall that the sales pitch for the 737 Max was that it was so much like existing 737s that it didn't require FAA recertification or pilot simulator training. But the angle of attack sensor alert had been a standard feature in all previous 737s, meaning buyers would assume it was part of the plane unless they were told otherwise. And on top of that, the non-upgraded 737 Max did have lights in the pilots' controls for this alert. But they didn't work unless the buyer had purchased the package of safety extras.

And the proof that Boeing was playing way too cute with its pointed silence about its deactivation of what had been a standard feature? The biggest customer for the 737 Max, Southwest Airlines, had inaccurate information in its pilots' manual because the airline had mistakenly assumed the angle of attack sensor alerts worked as they had on earlier 737s.

From the Wall Street Journal:

Boeing Co. didn't tell Southwest Airlines Co. and other carriers when they began flying its 737 MAX jets that a safety feature found on earlier models that warns pilots about malfunctioning sensors had been deactivated, according to government and industry officials.

Federal Aviation Administration safety inspectors and supervisors responsible for monitoring Southwest, the largest 737 MAX customer, also were unaware of the change, the officials said.

The alerts inform pilots whether a sensor known as an "angle-of-attack vane" is transmitting errant data about the pitch of a plane's nose .

Southwest's management and cockpit crews didn't know about the lack of the warning system for more than a year after the planes went into service in 2017, industry and government officials said. They and most other airlines operating the MAX learned about it only after the Lion Air crash in October led to scrutiny of the plane's revised design.

"Southwest's own manuals were wrong" about the availability of the alerts, said the Southwest pilots union president, Jon Weaks.

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allan , April 29, 2019 at 10:16 am

C-suite still in denial:

Boeing suppliers ramp up schedule for MAX: 52/mo by July, 57/mo by August [Leeham News]

Boeing reduced the production rate on the 737 line in mid-April from 52/mo to 42/mo in response to the grounding of the airplane by regulators worldwide.

The company and others said they didn't know how long the airplane would be grounded.

But Boeing told suppliers to keep producing parts, components and the fuselage at rate 52.

Boeing already had a ramp-up plan in place;

According to the information LNA learned at the, this is the schedule for ramping back up:

• Rate 42/mo, April and May;
• Rate 47, June;
• Rate 51.5, July and August; and
• Rate 57, September.

Boeing originally planned to go to 57/mo in June or July.

Good luck with that. The upside is that this corporate controlled flight into terrain
will someday make a great B-school case study.

Edit: If you Captcha-train an autonomous vehicle not to run into bicycles, and it gets into an accident,
are you legally liable? Asking for a friend.

The Rev Kev , April 29, 2019 at 10:55 am

Oh man, this is bad. Really bad. This story just gets worse and worse over time. It's like one of those Russian Matryoshka dolls – just when you think that you have a handle on what happened, you find that there is a whole new layer of ugliness underneath. When the hell did safety become an optional extra on Boeing aircraft? After reading this, I think that it was a minor miracle that there were no 737 MAX crashes in the continental United States. By the sounds of this article, it would have likely been a Southwest airliner if it had happened. I am wondering what else will come out of this saga that we don't know about yet.

flora , April 29, 2019 at 12:33 pm

+1.

Self-regulation/certification is a sham.
and
Boeing is toast, imo.

Arizona Slim , April 29, 2019 at 1:21 pm

I agree, flora. I also think that the Max is about to become the Chevy Corvair of airliners. As in, unsafe at any speed.

Wyoming , April 29, 2019 at 1:47 pm

I would say that Boeing easily falls into the 'Too big to fail.' category.

So no matter what happened they will be either made whole (more defense contracts, taxpayer bailout if necessary, whatever is needed) or protected in some way tbd. They are a 100 billion a year company with 150,000+ employees and untold numbers of other contractors and jobs depending on their existence. Going away is just not going to happen.

ex-PFC Chuck , April 29, 2019 at 4:02 pm

Never underestimate the MICC's* capability & inclination to look after its own.

*Military Industrial Congressional Complex

737 Pilot , April 29, 2019 at 10:55 am

Okay, Boeing screwed the pooch again, and they should have been more clear in their communications to the airlines. However, let me add some perspective as a 737 operator.

Given the AOA malfunction in either the Lion Air or Ethiopian accidents, an "AOA Disagree" warning annunciation would have possibly been helpful, but not really crucial to the safe recovery of the aircraft. There were plenty of other indications that the AOA's were disagreeing – namely that only one of the stick shakers was activated. Once you get over the initial surprise, it shouldn't have been that hard to determine this fact. The lack of the AOA display and disagree annunciator is not what doomed these crews.

vlade , April 29, 2019 at 11:04 am

I sort of agree and disagree.

I've never had a flight emergency as a pilot, but had a few as a diver. I suspect that for both of those, when they hit, you need to resolve things quickly and efficiently, with panic being the worst enemy.

Panic in my experience stems from a number of things here, but two crucial ones are:
– input overload
– not knowing what to do, or learned actions not having any effect

Both of them can be, to a very large extent, overcome with training, training, and more training (of actually practising the emergency situation, not just reading about it and filling questionairres).

So, if the crews were expecting to see AoA disagree but it wasn't there, they could have easily be misled and confused. The crews weren't (from what I've seen) hugely experienced. So any confusion would have made a bad situation even worse. How big an impact it made is hard to judge w/o any other materials.

marku52 , April 29, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Well it is rarely just one thing that causes an "accident". There are multiple contributors here. But the one basic overarching cause was Boeing's insistence that there-will-not-be-any-additional-training.

Without that management decree, the Max could be flown without the hack of MCAS, just that the pilots be trained on the new pitchup characteristics.

And releasing MCAS into the wild without even alerting pilots to its existence, well, that is manslaughter, if not outright murder.

CraaaaaaaaaazyChris , April 29, 2019 at 4:02 pm

My takeaway from the IEEE article was that the AOA sensor is almost a red herring. The dog that didn't bark was a pitch sensor, and the cardinal sin (from a software perspective) was that the MCAS algo did not consider pitch sensor values when deciding whether or not to angle the plane towards ground.

Synoia , April 29, 2019 at 11:09 am

Blame the pilots then? Is that your point?

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 1:50 pm

I suggest reading some of the other pieces on the 737 debacle on NC. There's been extensive discussion of the details, and yes the pilots may be partially to blame, but are the least culpable out of all parties involved.

GooGooGaJoob , April 29, 2019 at 12:03 pm

Given that story states that Boeing was more or less silent on the disabling of the sensor alerts, it's is reasonable to posit that any 737 pilot stepping into a 737 MAX would expect the sensor to be active.

I can understand the position that a pilot still needs to be skilled enough to not be 100% reliant on sensors, warning lights etc. to fly the plane. However, if I already assume that a sensor is active and it's not providing a signal that I would be potentially anticipating, it's going to seed doubt in my mind in a scenario where you don't have much time at all to think things through.

flora , April 29, 2019 at 12:44 pm

On the other hand: a safety light that is deactivated without telling the airlines and pilots gives false negatives to pilots at a critical juncture. They assume it's active, check it, and see a false negative they don't realize is false.

Imagine having a 'check engine' or 'oil' light on your car's dashboard that's been deactivated. They never come on. But they're still there. The driver assumes they'll light if there's engine trouble that needs attention.

Boeing's actions don't pass the 'reasonable man' test.

Jim A. , April 29, 2019 at 1:23 pm

Yeah, normally if a mechanical gauge "knows" that it isn't working there will be a little flag that pops up across the display. Leaving the light there but inoperative instead of either removing the light or covering it up with an "inoperative" cover is a really bad idea. It is EVEN WORSE than making safety features optional, and that is bad enough.

John k , April 29, 2019 at 1:30 pm

Let's see
First, they didn't know MCAS existed, so had no idea or training in what to do when it was erroneously engaged by system.
Then, they think both Aos sensors are working properly.
And, Boeing tells everybody plane is just like previous versions, no need for simulations.
I'm glad I'm not one of the dead pilots you're blaming.
By the way, it's apparently just chance that the bad sensors affected foreign and not domestic flights, no public reports that superior domestic pilots had no problem when it hit the fan on their watch although some domestic airlines were told (warned) that bad sensor light was optional extra so possibly a domestic plane cancelled flight on account of bad sensor.
But imagine a really experienced pilot would have saved the day so Boeing should say only really experienced pilots should fly the plane? Maybe simulators help you get really experienced, especially with unexpected emergencies?
Personally, I'll avoid the plane for a few years if simulators aren't required hate to have a pilot not experienced with what we now know is not such a rare event.

Old Jake , April 29, 2019 at 3:22 pm

We seem to be forgetting that, in the Lion Air case, a really experienced pilot did save the day the previous day on the same aircraft . The issue was reported, the airline neglected to repair the issue and nobody seems to have told the new aircrew about the issue. This seems to support 737 Pilot's position. It is also another egregious failure, this time on the part of the airline.

dcrane , April 29, 2019 at 3:42 pm

That pilot was a third set of eyes. Since he didn't have to fly the plane, he was free to observe and fortunately his attention eventually focused on the repeating trim wheel movements. A standard two-person crew doesn't have this luxury. Worth keeping in mind.

That lion crew also seems to have written up the problem incompletely. They didn't mention, for example, that they had the stick shaker going for the entire flight.

JerryDenim , April 29, 2019 at 4:51 pm

Your point is legitimate but without the benefit of a CVR recording I think you may be affording too much credit to the jumpseating pilot who is rumored to have provided the flight crew with the excellent advice of disabling the electric stabilizer trim motor. Even if the story is entirely true it's not like turning off the Stab trim motor was esoteric knowledge, maybe 737 pilot can correct me on this but I thought that procedure was a memory item for trim runaway emergencies, meaning the pilots were supposed to have that bit of knowledge firmly committed to memory and they were supposed to execute that procedure without any checklists or undue delay as soon as the condition was recognized. If not a memory item it was in the 737 QRC or QRH emergency procedures guide that is always present for immediate reference on the flight deck. The most important thing the crew of Lion Air 43(?) did (the flight previous to 610 that managed not to crash) was to simply not let themselves become so frazzled they forgot to pull the thrust levers out of the take-off detent after they reached a safe altitude, and not overspeeding an out of trim airplane making a bad situation worse. Maybe the jumpseating pilot had to scream at the crew to reduce thrust and maybe he had to slap the Captain and reduce the thrust levers himself, but absent a CVR recording to verify this slightly far-fetched scenario I would say the previous crew deserves the Lion's share (sorry couldn't resist) of the credit for landing safely.

You are absolutely 100% correct when you point out the non-crashing Captain was far from exemplary. He laid an absolutely vicious trap for the ill-fated crew of flight 610 by failing to mention a great number of things he experienced, especially the uncommanded and unwanted nose down trimming that necessitated turning off the stab trim motor which he also failed to communicate. Not a shining moment for Lion Air pilots, mechanics or Boeing. Despite the obvious and multiple shortcomings and blunders of the Captain/crew of Lion Air 43, I believe that flight proves what the airline pilot commenters here have been saying all along, which is the 737 Max flaws were serious but survivable with a competent crew. That's not the same thing as calling the airplane safe or airworthy and it's certainly not excusing Boeing. They delivered a death trap. Perhaps a bad analogy, but a professional body guard should be able to easily disarm a five year with a knife, but that doesn't mean a murderous five year with a knife isn't dangerous or isn't capable of killing you. Airplanes are machines which inevitably fail and mechanics are humans who make mistakes which is why pilots need to know how to hand fly airplanes absent automation. Reducing thrust during an emergency to avoid overspeeding your airplane really isn't a tall ask for a professional pilot. Pilots get this, non-pilots don't, and it's a point I've grown quite weary of making.

shtove , April 29, 2019 at 1:32 pm

There's been interesting points made back and forth on NC – what do you make of this from Karl Denninger: basically, "You can't fix the problems the 737Max has with software alone"?
https://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=235578

JerryDenim , April 29, 2019 at 2:27 pm

I made the exact same argument here a couple of days ago, but I will say IF the system was engineered in a way it could have given the Ethiopians a warning prior to eighty knots or V1 (depending on training and pilot judgement) on takeoff, maybe they could have aborted and kept the plane on the ground avoiding the disaster. Having that disagree light or indication immediately after rotation on climbout could have soothed the nerves of the pilots and made them feel more confident trusting the perfectly normal instrumentation on the FO's side of the airplane. But if the high speed clacker, the airspeed tape and the thrust settings aren't enough information to convince a overwhelmed, elevator control fixated pilot that he/she has more than adequate speed to avoid stalling, and they should slow down, then it stands to reason a secondary warning indication would also not break through the mental logjam of two very overwhelmed pilots bombarded by warnings and data. In the case of Lion Air 610 the malfunctioning AOA vane had already caused multiple instrument malfunctions and improper nose down MCAS trimming on three other flights, so it seems like those guys were hellbent on flying that plane no matter what. Even if Lion Air would have had the optional warning system onboard the mechanics most likely would have deferred the warning system as broken. "Ops checks good". They probably would have removed the bulb or stuck a placard on top of it.

And before anyone feels the need to point it out, yes, I'm engaging in speculation, but so is everyone claiming this optional safety system would have made a difference in the two aforementioned tragedies. I'm engaging in speculation as a guy who has reviewed thousands of logbooks and had hundreds, possibly thousands of interactions with airline maintenance technicians. Some of those interactions include contentious debates over what is safe to defer or what can actually legally be deferred so I do have a bit of experience in this department.

Boeing screwed up. They were hasty, they were greedy, they were cavalier, the MCAS trim system with a single point of failure was a terrible design that was most likely criminal. I'm just weighing in on 737 pilot's contention. With a system as poorly designed as the MCAS stall protection trimming, every safety feature available should have come standard from Boeing, but sadly additional fault indications don't always matter in emergency situations. Proper fault diagnosis is only part of any successful emergency outcome. Pilots still have to possess the knowledge and skill required to follow procedures and fly the airplane.

vlade , April 29, 2019 at 10:56 am

The only planes I ever flew you'd fly w/o pretty much any instrumentation (WW2 trainers, hoping to fly a Spitfire or Mustang one day.. ).

But in a modern plane, I'd think that _any_ instrument that is doubled or more (which implies some sort of criticality) should have an automatic "inputs disagree" indicator, which would not be possible to turn off.

Not that you'll have to buy it as a special feature.

JBird4049 , April 29, 2019 at 1:16 pm

I have been thinking about the modern 737. My completely uninformed guess is that the original model, while less "safe" was more informative in a real way than the current one.

In modern cars, especially something like a hybrid, there is not much "feel" to it. In an older old fashion gasoline engine car, there is. I could use the Volkswagen as an example, because it only had some colored lights and the speedometer, and none of the safety features of a modern car. However, I could sense, smell, see just about everything, often subconsciously, even before something went kablowie because there was nothing isolating me from the vehicle and the road. Today, I have to depend on my car's sensors because it has been designed to be quiet and isolating as possible.

John , April 29, 2019 at 11:06 am

The downward slide of corrupt predatory capitalism is not a pretty picture. These cases will continue as long as the responsible executives know they have nothing to lose.

campbeln , April 29, 2019 at 12:30 pm

Just more proof that self regulation works, just look to our favorite sporting events!
There's no need to have refs on the field because everyone involved is a professional and would never cheat, disrespect the sport or do something against the rules because the fans would punish them!
If our sports don't need refs, then surely our markets don't need regulators! Checkmate, big government stooges!

Synoia , April 29, 2019 at 1:20 pm

Absolutely correct. Throw away the huge NFL rule-book, and revert to the rules the of the Roman arena.

It would save the NFL team owners huge amounts of money.

StarryGordon , April 29, 2019 at 12:20 pm

I suppose I am naive, but I am shocked that the behavior of Boeing's management and the FAA are not being treated as a criminal matter. What happened was not a business mistake, it was a crime in which a number of persons deliberately and knowingly decided to risk other people's lives in order to increase profits, as a result of which hundreds of people were killed. I believe the term is 'negligent homicide', upon conviction of which lesser beings than high management and bureaucrats go to jail. In some countries their next of kin would already have received a bill for bullets and services rendered.

Synoia , April 29, 2019 at 1:15 pm

It would be interesting in Ethiopia issues a criminal arrest warrant on these grounds for the Executives of Boeing.

That being the country with jurisdiction for this second crash.

Is there an extradition treaty between Ethiopia and the US?

John k , April 29, 2019 at 1:36 pm

The term used to be criminally negligent homicide, but this no longer applies to those wearing white collars.
Otherwise we would see charges against bankers, opioid pushers, and others.

JBird4049 , April 29, 2019 at 1:30 pm

But Boeing, as part of a duopoly, recognizes that its customers have nowhere to go .at least for the next few years, which might as well be eternity as far as MBAs are concerned.

Even if it meant drastically reducing flights why would any airline buy airplanes that are not guaranteed to be safe? Losing money through fewer paying customers because you are choosing to have fewer flights is better than being boycotted or bankrupted by lawsuits, or arrested and criminally charged.

EoH , April 29, 2019 at 2:00 pm

It is inexplicable that Boeing shut off an indicator system for the Max that had been standard on earlier versions of the 737, when that AoA sensor disagreement indicator was even more important for safe flight.

Turning it on in the Max version was possible but was made part of an extra-cost safety package. How would a purchaser know to buy it when Boeing downplayed its importance so as not to suggest how different the Max was from supposedly similar earlier versions of the 737?

The more that comes out about the conduct of Boeing and its senior management's decisions, the more they look criminally reckless.

WestcoastDeplorable , April 29, 2019 at 4:02 pm

The FAA is mostly responsible for this fiasco because they have a misguided mission. Safety should be their only concern, but over the years that's eroded into a "sort of safety" attitude but mostly being a cheerleader for the aviation industry.
And you can't trust bastards like Boeing to "self-certify" anything, apparently!

Carey , April 29, 2019 at 4:06 pm

Scott Hamilton at Leeham News on Boeing's CEO:

"..It took months before Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg issued a video in which, among other things, he said, "We own it." He was referring to safety of the MAX.

This was widely interpreted as Boeing stepping up and taking responsibility for at least some of the causes of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes.

Last Wednesday, he took it all back.

On the first quarter earnings call, Muilenburg denied there was any "technical slip or gap" in designing the now famous MCAS system. He said "actions not taken" contributed to the crash, a thinly veiled reference once again to pilot error.."

https://leehamnews.com/2019/04/29/pontifications-we-own-it-but/

VietnamVet , April 29, 2019 at 7:03 pm

Boeing and FAA are criminally negligent especially for the Ethiopian Airline crash. The recovered horizontal stabilizer screw jack from the Lion Air crash was found in the full nose down position that forced the plane to dive into the sea. It should have never be in this is flight critical position. Grounding the fleet should have been immediate until the cause and fix were found. On top of all this, it is simply criminal for Boeing to charge Southwest Airlines for additional safety features and then turn them off not telling the airline.

It is tragic that it appears that Americans will have to rely on China to force Boeing to actually fix MCAS and along with Canada to shame the FAA into requiring pilot training on Flight Simulators before flying passengers on the Max.

A Boeing C-Suite executive has to go to jail. If not, there is no chance for the United States of America to survive. With government run by and for profiteers, long term planning is dead. Profit over people. A plague, an economic crash, a world war, a middle-class revolt, flooded coasts, or an autocratic Caesar become inevitable.

[Apr 29, 2019] Let's rename Boeing to BidenAir

Apr 29, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Late Introvert , , April 28, 2019 at 9:19 pm

I noticed that Boeing is incorporated in the great state of Delaware. Ah-hem.

dearieme , , April 29, 2019 at 11:46 am

Oh well, change their name to BidenAir.

[Apr 29, 2019] Ralph Nader Calls Out Boeing for 737 MAX Lack of Airworthiness, Stock Buybacks, and Demands Muilenburg Resign by Lambert Strether

Apr 28, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Ralph Nader has published an open letter to Dennis A. Muilenburg, current CEO of Boeing, which is worth reading in full . There's a personal connection :

[Nader's] niece, 24-year-old Samya Stumo, was among the 157 victims of an Ethiopian Airlines flight crash last month, less than six months after a flight on the same aircraft, the Boeing 737 Max 8, crashed in Indonesia.

Nader comments, in Stumo's obituary in the Berkshire Eagle :

"She was compassionate from the get-go. She'd be 8 years old and she'd get a pail of hot water and go to her great-grandmother and soak her feet and rub her feet and dry them. She was always that way."

Clifford Law has brought suit on behalf of the Stumo family in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. From the complaint :

Blinded by its greed, BOEING haphazardly rushed the 737 MAX 8 to market, with the knowledge and tacit approval of the United States Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA"), while BOEING actively concealed the nature of the automated system defects. Numerous decisions by BOEING's leadership substantially contributed to the subject crash and demonstrate BOEING's conscious disregard for the lives of others, including but not limited to BOEING's role in: designing an aircraft with a powerful automated flight control system [the MCAS] susceptible to catastrophic failure in the event a single defective sensor; failing to properly inform pilots of the existence of the new flight control system and educate and train them in all aspects of its operation; failing to properly address the new system in the aircraft's flight manual; refusing to include key safety features as standard in the aircraft rather than optional upgrades; delivering 737 MAX aircraft with a version of the flight control system that was materially different from the version presented to the FAA during certification; and failing to take appropriate action after BOEING learned that the 737 MAX aircraft was not performing as intended or safety, as was made tragically clear with the crash of Lion Air Flight JT 610.

BOEING's decision to put profits over safety is further evident in BOEING's repeated claims that the 737 MAX 8 is so similar to its earlier models that it does not require significant retraining for those pilots familiar with the older generation of 737s.

All pretty much conventional wisdom at this point! The suit also calls for exemplary (punitive) damages ; I've embedded the complaint at the end of the post, in case any readers care to dig into it. I'm not going to examine the case in this post; rather, I'm going to focus on three items from Naders letter that I think advance the story: His framing for 737 MAX airworthiness; his highlighting of Boeing's stock buybacks; and his call for Boeing CEO Muilenburg's defenestration.

Nader on 737 MAX Airworthiness

From Nader's letter :

Aircraft should be stall-proof, not stall-prone.

(Stalling, in Nader's telling, being the condition the defective MCAS system was meant to correct.) Because aircraft that are aerodynamicallly unstable, llke fighter jets, have ejection seats! Now, a pedant would point out that Nader means commercial aircraft , but as readers know, I eschew pedantry in all contexts. That said, Nader manages to encapsulate the problem in a single sentence (using antithesis , isocolon , and anaphora ). Now, we have pilots in the commentariat who will surely say whether Nader's formulation is correct, but to this layperson it seems to be. From 737 MAX, a fan/geek site, on the business and technical logic of the MCAS system :

The LEAP engine nacelles are larger and had to be mounted slightly higher and further forward from the previous NG CFM56-7 engines to give the necessary ground clearance. This new location and larger size of nacelle cause the vortex flow off the nacelle body to produce lift at high AoA [Angle of Attack]. As the nacelle is ahead of the C of G, this lift causes a slight pitch-up effect (ie a reducing stick force) which could lead the pilot to inadvertently pull the yoke further aft than intended bringing the aircraft closer towards the stall. This abnormal nose-up pitching is not allowable under 14CFR §25.203(a) "Stall characteristics". Several aerodynamic solutions were introduced such as revising the leading edge stall strip and modifying the leading edge vortilons but they were insufficient to pass regulation. MCAS was therefore introduced to give an automatic nose down stabilizer input during elevated AoA when flaps are up.

Nader on Stock Buybacks

From Nader's letter , where he is addressing Muilenberg ("you") directly:

Boeing management's behavior must be seen in the context of Boeing's use of its earned capital. Did you use the $30 billion surplus from 2009 to 2017 to reinvest in R&D, in new narrow-body passenger aircraft? Or did you, instead, essentially burn this surplus with self-serving stock buybacks of $30 billion in that period? Boeing is one of the companies that MarketWatch labelled as "Five companies that spent lavishly on stock buybacks while pension funding lagged."

Incredibly, your buybacks of $9.24 billion in 2017 comprised 109% of annual earnings . As you well know, stock buybacks do not create any jobs. They improve the metrics for the executive compensation packages of top Boeing bosses [ka-ching]. Undeterred, in 2018, buybacks of $9 billion constituted 86% of annual earnings .

To make your management recklessly worse, in December 2018, you arranged for your rubberstamp Board of Directors to approve $20 billion more in buybacks. Apparently, you had amortized the cost of the Indonesian Lion Air crash victims as not providing any significant impact on your future guidance to the investor world.

Holy moley, that's real money! Nader's detail on the stock buybacks (see NC here , here , and here ) interested me, because it bears on Boeing's 2011 decision not to build a new narrow-body aircraft in 2011. I summarized the decision-making back in March:

(2) Choice of Airframe : The Air Current describes the competitive environment that led Boeing to upgrade the 737 to the 737 MAX, instead of building a new plane:

Boeing wanted to replace the 737. The plan had even earned the endorsement of its now-retired chief executive. "We're gonna do a new airplane," Jim McNerney said in February of that same year. "We're not done evaluating this whole situation yet, but our current bias is to not re-engine, is to move to an all-new airplane at the end of the decade." History went in a different direction. Airbus, riding its same decades-long incremental strategy and chipping away at Boeing's market supremacy, had made no secret of its plans to put new engines on the A320. But its own re-engined jet somehow managed to take Boeing by surprise. Airbus and American forced Boeing's hand. It had to put new engines on the 737 to stay even with its rival .

Why? The earlier butchered launch of the 787:

Boeing justified the decision thusly: There were huge and excruciatingly painful near-term obstacles on its way to a new single-aisle airplane. In the summer of 2011, the 787 Dreamliner wasn't yet done after billions invested and years of delays. More than 800 airplanes later here in 2019, each 787 costs less to build than sell, but it's still running a $23 billion production cost deficit. . The 737 Max was Boeing's ticket to holding the line on its position -- both market and financial -- in the near term. Abandoning the 737 would've meant walking away from its golden goose that helped finance the astronomical costs of the 787 and the development of the 777X.

So, we might think of Boeing as a runner who's tripped and fallen: The initial stumble, followed by loss of balance, was the 787; with the 737 MAX, Boeing hit the surface of the track.

So, Dennis. How's that workin' out for ya? How does the decision not to build a new plane look in retrospect? Ygeslias writes in Vox, in April:

Looking back, Boeing probably wishes it had just stuck with the "build a new plane" plan and toughed out a few years of rough sales, rather than ending up in the current situation. Right now the company is, in effect, trying to patch things up piecemeal -- a software update here, a new warning light there, etc. -- in hopes of persuading global regulatory agencies to let its planes fly again.

What Nader's focus on stock buybacks shows, is that Boeing had the capital to invest in developing a new plane . From Bloomberg in 2019 :

For Boeing and Airbus, committing to an all-new aircraft is a once-in-a-decade event. Costs are prohibitive, delays are the norm and payoff can take years to materialize. Boeing could easily spend more than $15 billion on the NMA, according to Ken Herbert, analyst with Canaccord Genuity, and Airbus may be forced into a clean-sheet design if sales take off.

The sales force has been fine-tuning the design with airlines for at least five years, creating a "will it or won't it?" drama around the decision on whether to make the plane, known internally at Boeing as the NMA, for new, middle-of-market airplane.

Now, it is true that the "huge and excruciatingly painful near-term obstacles" referred to by the Air Current are sales losses that Boeing would incur from putting a bullet into it's cash cow, the 737, before it turned into a dog (like now?). Nevertheless, Beoing was clearly capable, as Yglesias points put, of "tough[ing]out a few years of rough sales." So what else was "excruciatingly painful"? Losing the stock buybacks (and that sweet, sweet executive compensation). Readers, I wasn't cynical enough. I should have given consideration to the possibility that Muilenburg and his merry men were looting the company!

Nader on Muilenburg

Finally, from Nader's letter :

Consider, in addition, the statement of two Harvard scholars -- Leonard J. Marcus and Eric J. McNulty, authors of the forthcoming book, You're It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most. These gentlemen did not achieve their positions by using strong language. That is why, the concluding statement in their CNN article on March 27, 2019, merits your closer attention:

"Of course, if Boeing did not act in good faith in deploying the 737 Max and the Justice Department's investigation discovers Boeing cut corners or attempted to avoid proper regulatory reviews of the modifications to the aircraft, Muilenburg and any other executives involved should resign immediately. Too many families, indeed communities, depend on the continued viability of Boeing."

These preconditions have already been disclosed and are evidentially based. Your mismanagement is replete with documentation, including your obsession with shareholder value and executive compensation. There is no need to wait for some long-drawn out, redundant inquiry. Management was criminally negligent, 346 lives of passengers and crew were lost. You and your team should forfeit your compensation and should resign forthwith.

All concerned with aviation safety should have your public response.

I can't find anything to disagree with here. However, I'll quote from commenter Guido at Leeham News, March 29, 2019 :

What I don't understand: Muilenburg was the CEO when the MCAS code was implemented. Muilenburg was the CEO when Boeing "tweaked" the certification of the B737Max. It was the Boeing management that decided, that the B737Max must under no circumstances trigger simulator training for pilots.

Muilenburg has for sure not written the code for MCAS by himself, but as the CEO he is responsible for the mess. He is responsible, that the first version of MCAS was cheap and fast to implement, but not safe. It was basically Muilenburg, who allowed a strategy, that was basically: Profits and Quickness before safety. Muilenburg has the responsibility for 346 dead people. You can't kill 346 people with your new product and still be the highly paid CEO of the company. There have to be consequences.

Why are there no calls, that Muilenburg must step down?

Nader has now issued such a call. As [lambert preens modestly] did Naked Capitalism on March 19 .

Conclusion

Wrapping up, Muilenberg has plenty of other lawsuits to worry about :

However, a search of court documents and news reports shows the company is facing at least 34 claims from victims' families and one claim seeking class certification on behalf of shareholders. The claims allege Boeing is responsible for losses after installing an unsafe anti-stall system, called "MCAS" (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), on its 737 Max 8 planes, suspected to have played a role in both crashes. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said it was "apparent" the system had been activated in both crashes.

Added to the uncertainty of potential expenses for Boeing are pending regulator probes. The U.S. Justice Department initiated a criminal investigation into Boeing's Federal Aviation Administration certification, as well as how it marketed its 737 Max 8 planes. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Inspector General is also conducting an inquiry.

On April 9, the lawsuit seeking class certification was brought on behalf of shareholders who purchased Boeing stock between January 8, 2019 and March 21, 2019. The proposed class period covers a time frame beginning after the Lion Air crash, and extending beyond the Ethiopian Airlines crash, when Boeing's stock experienced a steep decline.

But then again, Muilenberg may know -- or think -- that Boeing, as a national champion, is too big to fail. So, if Boeing gracefully exits from the commercial aviation business, it may find the warm embrace of government contracting more comfortable. Perhaps that's why propaganda like this suddenly started showing up in my Twitter feed:

me title=

I suppose it's too much to ask that the CEO of a too-big-to-fail company be asked to resign, even if he did kill a lot of people. But if Nader can do with the 737 MAX, at the end of his career, what he did with the Corvair ("a one-car accident") , when he was coming up, everybody except for a cabal of looters and liars in Boeing's Chicago C-suite will be a lot better off. So we can hope.

APPENDIX 1: The Rosy Scenario

From Ask the Pilot :

I keep going back to the DC-10 fiasco in the 1970s.

In 1974, in one of the most horrific air disasters of all time, a THY (Turkish Airlines) DC-10 crashed after takeoff from Orly Airport outside Paris, killing 346 people. The accident was traced to a faulty cargo door design. (The same door had nearly caused the crash of an American Airlines DC-10 two years earlier.) McDonnell Douglas had hurriedly designed a plane with a door that it knew was defective, then, in the aftermath of Paris, tried to cover the whole thing up. It was reckless, even criminal. Then, in 1979, American flight 191, also a DC-10, went down at Chicago-O'Hare, killing 273 -- to this day the deadliest air crash ever on U.S. soil -- after an engine detached on takeoff. Investigators blamed improper maintenance procedures (including use of a forklift to raise the engine and its pylon), and then found pylon cracks in at least six other DC-10s, causing the entire fleet to be grounded for 37 days. The NTSB cited "deficiencies in the surveillance and reporting procedures of the FAA," as well as production and quality control problems at McDonnell Douglas.

That's two of history's ten deadliest air crashes, complete with design defects, a cover-up, and 619 dead people. And don't forget the 737 itself has a checkered past, going back to the rudder problems that caused the crash of USAir flight 427 in 1994 (and likely the crash of United flight 585 in 1991). Yet the DC-10, the 737, and America's aviation prestige along with them, have persevered. If we survived the those scandals we can probably manage this. I have a feeling that a year from now this saga will be mostly forgotten. Boeing and its stock price will recover, the MAX will be up and flying again, and on and on we go.

This is how it happens.

Maybe. But in 1974, the United States was commercial aviation. Airbus had launched its first plane, the A300 , only in 1972. We were also an imperial hegemon in a way we are not now. For myself, I can't help noticing that it was Boeing's takeover of a wretched, corrupt McDonnell Douglas -- the famous reverse takeover -- that ultimately turned Boeing from an engineering company into a company driven by finance. With resulits that we see.

APPENDIX 2: The Stumo Complaint

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ChristopherJ , April 28, 2019 at 4:20 pm

The fact that the CEO and the Board have not resigned just shows everyone that they lack all the essential characteristics of human beings.
Stock buybacks should be illegal. Profits should only be distributed via dividends or reinvested. The fact that companies can do this shows how corrupted our governments are.
The rest of the world may forget this one. I won't and there are millions like me who will never step aboard a boeing plane again.
The only thing that will save this company now is the US govt, which is likely.

JBird4049 , April 28, 2019 at 5:00 pm

Boeing's management is not going to jail and likely will keep their jobs. The deaths of over three hundred people means nothing. They are not even American and probably only middle class so they don't have connections to use. The "American" company Boeing has both money and connections.

Money gives you rights and if you don't have it, you are not even a human being.

Just look at 2008. The Vampiric Octopus called Wall Street was saved by the Feds with almost no one going to jail, or even criminally prosecuted. The exceptions of an innocent small community bank in NYC and some low level employees of a very few loan companies. The entire planetary economy came to with in hours of freezing and then collapsing. Millions of Americans lost homes, often through questionably legal foreclosures, with many millions more losing their jobs.

Nothing going to change and I wish I could believe otherwise.

DHG , April 28, 2019 at 5:33 pm

So I should just fire up my own money press then as should everyone else Money was invented as a limiter by the ancient church then adopted by governments.. Money isnt necessary to live and it will b thrown overboard soon enough.

Plenue , April 28, 2019 at 9:03 pm

"Money was invented as a limiter by the ancient church then adopted by governments"

Er, what?

JBird4049 , April 28, 2019 at 11:42 pm

I think money as a concept arose in Sumer about 6-7 thousand years ago with the clay receipts given by the temple of the local city's patron god for livestock and grain stored there.

But my knowledge of money's history is limited. If anyone wants to correct or clarify, please do.

animalogic , April 29, 2019 at 5:34 am

Might be wrong but think (if my memory of Gerber serves) you refer to credit/debt. Actual money (coin) I think arose along side the use of large scale Armies (armies are both highly mobile & inherently amorphous -- ie people come & go, die, are wounded, loot must be traded etc, all of which is difficult in the absence of currency)

The Rev Kev , April 28, 2019 at 8:37 pm

Stock buybacks were once illegal because they are a type of stock market manipulation. But then Reagan got in and wanted to do his banker buddies a favour-

https://mavenroundtable.io/theintellectualist/news/stock-buybacks-were-once-illegal-why-are-they-legal-now-sHh6HZjtyk2styG-qLgnQg/

To think that Boeing has Ralph Nader of all people on their case. With apologies to Liam Neeson, Nader might be saying to Muilenberg right now: "If you are looking for (forgiveness), I can tell you I don't have (forgiveness). But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you go now, that'll be the end of it."
That sounds like good advice that.

drumlin woodchuckles , April 28, 2019 at 9:03 pm

Re-outlawing the "Stock Buyback" would be one useful reNew The Deal reform. Outlawing compensation in stocks, options, or etc. of any kind except money would be another useful Newer Deal reform. Both together would force-multiply each other's effect.

I hope the four Old Real Democrats have people reading these threads and taking any possibly-good ideas back to headquarters. I hope the New Catfood Democrats and their people aren't spying or eavesdropping on these threads.

JerryDenim , April 28, 2019 at 4:52 pm

Wow. Great post Lambert and nice job Mr Nader!

I love how Nader brings stock buy-backs into his letter and basically connects the dots from a recklessly designed aircraft system full circle to an indictment of our current shareholder value system of capitalism and its perverse incentive structure which includes safety shortcuts and runaway executive compensation. Such a perfect case study for this site!

I think Nader really should beat the drum heavily on the perverse incentive structure at Boeing and how executives shortchanged safety to grab more money for themselves because that's an easy story for a jury to understand. I see where Nader is going with the inherently "stall prone" aerodynamic design stuff, and he's not wrong, but I think he may be treading on dangerous ground. Automatic stabilizer trimming systems designed to overcome the negative aerodynamic attributes of the new 737 Max wing/engine design is a confusing rabbit hole for the lay person. Boeing attorneys and expert witnesses may be able to twist the jury's head into a pretzel on this issue. The debate and discussion here concerning process, decision making, design philosophy etc at Boeing has generally been of very high quality, but has a tendency to go off the rails when the discussion dives too deeply into the subject matter of aerodynamics and aircraft systems. I could see the same dynamic playing out in the courtroom. Nader is the master class-action consumer advocacy attorney not me, but I think he should go heavy buybacks and whistle blower warnings while avoiding unforced errors arguing over the not-so-important point of whether or not the 737 Max crashed because it was stall prone or because it was too stall adverse. Two brand new Boeings crashed, people died, Boeing was greedy, Boeing was hasty, the MCAS trim system was garbage and probably criminal. He's got a slam dunk case arguing the MCAS trim system with a single point of failure was poorly designed and recklessly conceived, I think he should just stick to that and the greed angle and avoid the stall prone vs. stall adverse debate. I wish him luck.

Darius , April 28, 2019 at 10:19 pm

They screwed up the plane design then thought an extra layer of software would ameliorate the problem enough. It sucks but it's probably just good enough. Seems pretty simple.

Darius , April 28, 2019 at 10:40 pm

They effed up the hardware and thought they could paper it over with more software. But at least the shareholders and executives did well.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 1:15 am

As JerryDenim touched on, a good defense lawyer would probably be able to defeat this argument in front of a jury. There are too many examples of successful and safe commercial aircraft with aerodynamic compromises (the hardware, as you call it) that use software fixes to overcome these limitations. The focus in this case would need to be on the implementation of that software and how criminal neglect occurred there.

JerryDenim , April 29, 2019 at 3:31 am

Boeing's attorneys are going to try and make any lawsuits a question of why the airplanes ultimately crashed. I hate to spoil it for anyone, but I can tell you Boeing's attorneys are going to blame it all on the pilots. Airlines and airplane manufactures always do. Nothing new. Dead pilots can't defend themselves, their families don't have millions in the bank and they aren't going to be placing any billion dollar aircraft orders in the future. If anyone has read my frequently maligned comments, you already know the line of attack. Not following the runaway trim procedures and overspeeding the aircraft with takeoff thrust set. That's why Nader or anyone else pursuing Boeing would do well to sidestep the "why did two Boeing 737 Max Jets crash" question and stick to the details surrounding the horribly flawed MCAS trim system and the Boeing corporate greed story. Steer clear of the pilots' actions and the potentially confusing aerodynamics of modern jetliners, keep the focus squarely on the MCAS trim system design process and executive greed.

animalogic , April 29, 2019 at 5:55 am

Anyone prosecuting Boeing will have to deal with Boeing's defence, which as noted, will play up the commoness of such technical compromises. I do wonder whether Boeing will go after the pilots, though.
Any pilots argument naturally raises Boeing's negligence re : training, flight manuals & communication. The prosecution case will naturally play up the greed aspect as cause/motivation/
context for the crashes & Boeing's direct responsibility /negligence.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 7:49 am

The defense would likely also pull in the airlines and FAA as targets for liability, as both have some responsibility for these matters. Attacking the FAA would be fodder for the de-regulators (Privatize it! Government is incompetent!). The airlines would complain that competition forces them to cut costs, and that they meet all of the (gutted) legal requirements.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 1:44 am

I agree with focusing on the greed aspect. Nader's letter has some technical errors such as stating the engines were tilted (they were moved horizontally and vertically, not rotated) that show he hasn't fully understood the details. It doesn't help that many of the changes made to the 737 MAX from previous generations are actually quite subtle, and can't really be discussed individually for this context. It is the sum of these changes that made it an extremely deadly aircraft.

Norb , April 29, 2019 at 8:55 am

The other failure/business feature is the concept of modularity. The software designed to fix the aerodynamic complexities is broken down into modular components, and then sold off as "options". Once again greed sabotages the system. Modularity is a great way to gouge customers and lock in higher profits. The level of technical competence needed to properly evaluate what modules are essential complicates the outcome. But then again, this can be rationalized as a feature not a bug. Blame for failure can be passed around- the customer should have purchased the entire package.

The runaway externalities emanating from the current form of capitalism as practiced in the US must be reigned in. Voluntary compliance to some sort of moral code is useless- worse than useless in that corrupt operators can hide behind lame excuses for failure.

The bigger problem is that Government regulations could solve these problems quickly, as in throwing people in jail and confiscating their property. A strong argument can be made for ill-gotten gains. I surely would vote for that if given the chance. Deal drugs and you can loose your home. What about conscious business decisions
leading to harm?

You need a strong force external to these business concerns for this to happen. The separation of government and business. Business should operate at the will of the government. When the government is run with the wellbeing of the people foremost, then issues like crashing planes can be rectified.

When the interests of business and government merge, then what you have is fascism. American fascism will have a happy face. These unfortunate problems of crashing planes and polluted environments will trundle along into the future. Billionaires will continue to accumulate their billions while the rest of us will trundle along.

But one day, trundling along won't be an option. Maybe only outsiders to the US system can see this clearly.

Ray Duray , April 28, 2019 at 7:07 pm

You ask: "So when the original 737 was designed, did the engineers have the option of using these larger engines? Did they decline to do so because it was a flawed design?"

The larger engines currently in use on the 737 Max 8 were not designed until recently. They did not decline because the current engine wasn't even invented.

Here's an abbreviated design history: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737#Engines

Edward , April 28, 2019 at 7:31 pm

I guess what I am wondering is if the original designers of the 737 had the option of designing a more powerful engine similar to that used in the 737 MAX but declined to do so. No doubt engine technology has advanced during the 50 years since the first 737's were built. Could the engineers 50 years ago have designed engines like those on the 737 MAX? If so, what were there reasons for not doing so?

I also have a second question. I have been told that stalling can be prevented by placing small wings at the front of an airplane. Would such a design have resolved the problems with the 737 MAX?

Plenue , April 28, 2019 at 9:14 pm

Fifty years of technological improvement, yes. The new engines aren't more powerful, they're more fuel efficient. Airbus had put more fuel efficient engines on its planes, so Boeing rushed new engines of its own into service to compete.

But they're really too large to be mounted on the 737; they mess up the center of gravity. MCAS was a janky software fix to solve a fundamental hardware problem, because Boeing didn't want to design a new plane.

And it didn't want to lose money by requiring airlines to retrain pilots, it sold the plane with the new engines as being exactly the same as the old, a painless upgrade.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 4:48 am

Canards, as the small wings at the front of aircraft are sometimes called, would likely not have been a fix in this case. There are some light aircraft that use these for stall prevention by utilizing the aerodynamic properties of the wing. Since a stall (absence of lift) is often caused by the nose of aircraft being too high, you can design the canard so that it stalls before the main wing. Thus it's difficult for the whole plane to stall, since the nose will sink when the canard loses lift first and returns the plane to a more appropriate attitude. An example here:

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

And explanation of canards here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canard_(aeronautics)

In high performance aircraft canards are used to increase maneuverability by providing another control surface.

We generally don't see them in commercial aircraft for a few reasons:

These are of course all very coarse generalizations – engineering is all about making technical and economic trade-offs.

A radical example of what can be accomplished by a combination of aerodynamics and software is the B-2 bomber – only one main wing, no tail or canards. I know, it has ejection seats but I sincerely doubt any aeronautical engineer has ever sat down and thought, "Hm, well, that's a sketchy design, but screw it, they can just eject if I messed up".

Edward , April 29, 2019 at 9:56 am

Thanks for this clear explanation. Would it make sense to locate the canards on the cockpit roof?

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 10:44 am

Possibly, here's an example, although these fold as well:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_Tu-144

There have been many concept aircraft that also had them mounted high.

Edward , April 29, 2019 at 1:58 pm

So would Boeing have to design a new plane to use canards? It would probably require the 737 MAX pilots to have new training. Boeing also seemed to want to hide the instability problem and the canards would be visual evidence for the problem.

Synoia , April 28, 2019 at 7:14 pm

The 737 Was designed in the '60. High bypass turbo fan engines had yet to be developed then. Upgrading the 737 is like adding a plug in hybrid engine to a Ford F100.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 4:19 am

The original 737 was designed to be quite low to the ground, to allow for easier boarding in an era before widespread jetway use (models have even been offered with integrated pull out boarding stairs), and to allow for more accessible servicing.

This worked well with the engines of the time, which were often low bypass turbofans, and thus smaller in diameter. This combination of height and engines made sense for the market it was designed.

Most modern commercial engines are high bypass turbofans, and therefore larger in diameter. The move to larger fan diameters has been enabled by advances in materials, manufacturing technology, and simulation software, with the goal of increasing engine power and efficiency.

Another factor influencing the engine size that can be used without extensive redesign is the landing gear operation. Because it folds towards the centerline of the plane, and into pockets in the bottom of the fuselage, there is a limit on how long it can be before it becomes too long and each side would collide with the other. And one would need to redesign the wing box structure to accommodate the moved wheels.

VietnamVet , April 28, 2019 at 6:24 pm

Exactly. This is a textbook case of the looting of America.

The $30 billion dollars made by cutting costs including quality inspection, using an existing airframe, tax cuts and ignoring safety went directly to stock buybacks that benefited stockholders and C-suite compensation.

Just like 2008 Boeing is "too big to fail and jailing the executives would cause it to collapse". Unless Americans demand an end to the corruption and the restoration of the rule of law; the plundering will continue until there is nothing left to live on. Boeing could have designed two brand new safe airliners with that cash that would have provided jobs and efficient transportation into the future but instead the money went into the pockets of the connected rich and killed 346 people.

JBird4049 , April 28, 2019 at 8:39 pm

What really gets me is that ultimately that would have given the fools more money because the orders would have kept on coming and probably increase, which would mean more profit and more compensation for everyone. Of course that would have taken a few years instead of immediately. So now the compensation is going to crash. Oh wait! They will just sell again to themselves, strip the company, and sell the nameplate still affixed to some ruin.

I am starting to understand why the Goths had no resistance when in Italy and during the sack the city of Rome. Centuries earlier the Republic and then the Empire routinely raised multiple armies and dealt with catastrophes both natural and man made. At the end, not only could they not readily create an another army, they could not repair the aqueducts. Like we are becoming, Rome became a hollow shell.

drumlin woodchuckles , April 28, 2019 at 9:09 pm

And probably the only stockholders who even benefited would be the individual or family-dynasty rich stockholders who own many thousands to millions of shares of a particular stock at a time. It takes ownership of that many shares for a tiny benefit-per-share to add up to thousands or millions of tiny little benefits-per-share.

People with pensions or 401ks or whatever may well involuntarily "own" 2 or 3 or maybe 10 shares "apiece" of Boeing. But they derived no benefit from the tiny little benefit per share this maneuver gained for the shares.

ChrisPacific , April 28, 2019 at 7:13 pm

Re: appendix 3, over-steer is counter-intuitive as hell. Once it's underway you have to steer left during a right turn and vice versa. I have watched race drivers do it (very skillfully) at the track, but there is no way I would want to be in a car that did that in a pressure or potential accident situation without a lot of training beforehand.

dearieme , April 28, 2019 at 7:19 pm

"your obsession with shareholder value": shareholder value is not being attended to if the company is driven into the ground by virtue of its planes being driven into the ground.

Clearly the definition of "shareholder value" that these bozos use is as defective as their engineering decision-making.

Hang a few of them pour encourager les autres . And hang a few of the regulators who thought it would be a dandy idea to let the firm regulate itself.

drumlin woodchuckles , April 28, 2019 at 9:11 pm

And hang a few of the lawmakers and lawbuyers who legislatively de-budgeted and money-starved FAA into this " turn it over to the plane-makers" corner as well.

Late Introvert , April 28, 2019 at 9:19 pm

I noticed that Boeing is incorporated in the great state of Delaware. Ah-hem.

dearieme , April 29, 2019 at 11:46 am

Oh well, change their name to BidenAir.

oaf , April 28, 2019 at 9:15 pm

There is another case of air disaster often referred to in what is known as *Human Factors* training a L-1011 which *descended* into the glades; while the crew tried to sort out a problem with a light bulb. I suggest familiarizing with it for perspective. (not to exonerate Boeing; just to encourage keeping an open mind)

JerryDenim , April 29, 2019 at 3:09 am

Ahhh, the infamous Captain Buddy. Immortal tyrant of early CRM training fame

Lambert's mention of the DC-10 and it's fatally flawed, explosive decompressing cargo door sent me down a hole of DC-10 disasters and accident reports. Some of those DC-10 incidents like America Airlines flight 96 could have been major tragedies but were saved by level heads and airmanship that by today's standards would be considered exceptional. The AA 96 crew landed safely with no fatalities after an explosive decompression, a partially collapsed floor and severely compromised flight controls. The crew had to work together and use non-standard asymmetrical thrust and control inputs to overcome the effects of a stuck, fully deflected rudder and a crippled elevator. The pilots of the ill fated United flight 232, another DC-10, are celebrated exemplars of the early CRM case studies, both crew members and a United DC-10 instructor pilot who happened to be occupying the jumpseat all worked together to heroically crash land their horribly stricken craft in Sioux City Iowa with only partial aileron control and assymetrical thrust to control the airplane. No elevator, no rudder control. A good number of passengers perished but most lived. Those pilots in the two instances I mentioned were exceptional, and they had to resort to exceptional means to control their aircraft, but in light of airmanship of that caliber from just a few decades ago, it blows my mind that in 2019 the mere suggestion that professional airline pilots should probably still be capable of moving the thrust levers during a trim emergency is somehow controversial enough to expose oneself to charges of racism and bias?! Different times indeed.

Boeing 737 Max aside, airplanes seem to be a lot safer these days than they were in the 1970's and 80's. Widespread acceptance and adoption of CRM/TEM has made personalities like Captain Buddy and many bad cockpit automation practices relics from the past, but automation itself still looks to be increasingly guilty of deskilling professional pilot ranks. In light of that trend, it's a really good thing passenger jets in 2019 are more reliable than the DC-10 and easier to land than the MD-11.

The Rev Kev , April 29, 2019 at 12:53 am

Two more links on the saga of the 737 MAX-

"The Boeing 737 Max crashes show that 'deteriorating pilot skills' may push airlines to favor Airbus" at https://www.businessinsider.com/boeing-737-max-crashes-deteriorating-pilot-skills-airbus-2019-4/?r=AU&IR=T

"Southwest and FAA officials never knew Boeing turned off a safety feature on its 737 Max jets, and dismissed ideas about grounding them" at https://www.businessinsider.com.au/boeing-737-max-safety-features-disable-southwest-grounding-discussions-2019-4

JerryDenim , April 29, 2019 at 3:55 am

Deteriorating pilot skills. Yep. Now you're getting it. Problem is, more automation equals more pilot skill degradation. Everything is just peachy with highly automated "idiot proof" airplanes until something breaks, then who is supposed to fly the plane if the pilots can't? The flight attendants? Whoever is sitting in 1A? Airbus airplanes malfunction too, as documented in a number of well publicized disasters and not-so-well publicized near disasters, so while this may be an effective marketing pitch to an airline executive not able or not willing to pay for highly skilled, experienced pilots, it's not a solution to a pilot skill crisis. Long term, it makes the situation worse.

The Rev Kev , April 29, 2019 at 10:05 am

Personally I believe in training the hell out of pilots because if I get into a plane, I want a pilot at the controls and not an airplane-driver. I would bet that even I could be trained to fly an aircraft where most of the functions are automated but when things go south, that is when you want a pilot in control. Training is expensive but having an ill-trained pilot in the cockpit is even more expensive.

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 1:09 am

A thought . A completely fresh plane design is not necessarily safer. There is aways a trade off between innovation and proven reliability. It is surprisingly rare for an entirely new aircraft family to be introduced without at least one problem that threatens (but does not always take) lives.

tim , April 29, 2019 at 3:28 am

787 and 737 MAX are not the only problems Boeing have had.

The 737 NG (Next Generation) airplane using composite materials for the aircraft body, was also outsourced, The idea was that the Body parts would be built to exacting specifications, so they could be connected at the stage of final assembly. However, the sub-contractor couldn't live up to the specifications, so Boeing had to manually re-drill holes to connect the fuselage parts.

Not long after we had a series of crashes, where the fuselage broke up into its parts, something almost never seen before in airplanes.

youtube documentary from Australian SBS News:

Alex V , April 29, 2019 at 6:29 am

For clarity, the 737 NG does not have a composite fuselage.

http://www.b737.org.uk/production.htm

skippy , April 29, 2019 at 5:37 am

Umm the investors and market demanded the executive suite too engage in such behavior or suffer the consequences aka hyper reporting et al.

oaf , April 29, 2019 at 9:18 am

There are other Human Factors at play; regarding pilot ability Measuring ability by simply looking at *hours flown* (often referred to as *experience*) is misleading. Relevant details might include just what types of experience. It is possible to get airline positions *ab initio*, or in-house, if you will (with 500 hours, (IIRC) OR:
Prospective pilots from private sector, or military, may be more likely to have diverse backgrounds; including Flight Instructor background, Upset Recovery training; Aerobatic flying; and Glider or sailplane background. These are not necessarily prerequisites for airline hires. Do they make a difference? in emergencies???

The change in Part 135 minimums for non ab-initio applicants has done little or nothing to improve safety. It did financially squeeze some very competent and capable career minded pilots out of the pipeline to the left front seat. (thanks chuck.)(f.u.) His feel-good legislation:*We're doing something about it!*

James McRitchie , April 29, 2019 at 9:22 am

It isn't just Boeing that is using share buybacks to goose CEO pay. Shareholders of American Express have an opportunity to vote to Deduct Impact of BuyBacks on Pay. See American Express 2019 Proxy Vote Recommendations

DJG , April 29, 2019 at 9:25 am

And lest we forget what a good corporate citizen Boeing is now that it has moved to Chicago to take advantage of the many, errrrr, advantages:

https://chicagoist.com/2017/04/28/boeing_pays_just_01_of_its_profits.php

Carolinian , April 29, 2019 at 10:03 am

But, but Nader made Al Gore lose in 2000. Good to see him out of the shadows (he has a podcst BTW).

While Boeing deserves every form of condemnation and Muilenberg should resign I do think the facts that were all laid out in that should-be-Pulitzer-winning Seattle Times series are being stretched a bit. The problem seems to be, not that the plane is prone to fall out of the sky, but that its handling characteristics differ from the earlier, ubiquitous, 737 models. MCAS is the defective part, and Boeing will pay plenty

tempar555510 , April 29, 2019 at 10:22 am

' But, but Nader made Al Gore lose in 2000. ' Please elucidate .

Tom , April 29, 2019 at 12:23 pm

Florida's presidential election in 2000 was expected to be close and likely to be decisive in the electoral college vote. Nader was a fairly popular third-party candidate for president in that election. Many supporters of Gore over Bush pleaded for Nader to exit that race and ask his supporters to vote for Gore. He did neither. In the end the margin of Bush's win in Florida was tiny, if it existed at all, so there was reason to be angry at Nader, as I was at the time, since if he had quit the race in that state, Gore would very likely have become president instead of Bush.

If you're into counterfactual teleology then you might say Nader's stubborn vanity therefore led to the Iraq and Afghan wars. I don't but it's worth being aware that some people do.

GF , April 29, 2019 at 1:52 pm

I can't find the link right now; but, it stated that after close study, most of the voters who voted for Nadar would not have voted for Gore and would have just sat out the election resulting in an even more pronounced victory for Bush. Gore's defeat came from his inability to win his home state of TN.

Carolinian , April 29, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Should have included the /sarc tag.

EoH , April 29, 2019 at 12:24 pm

Concurrence and causation are not the same.

The claim ignores other factors. Gore's lackadaisical campaign, for one, and its poor response to the BushCheney campaign's misuse of the legal system to stop the Florida recount.

It's not Gore's fault the Supreme Court's conservative majority chose to not let the FL supreme court determine what FL law means, and chose to decide the election itself. But his response to the Florida debacle was weak, like his campaign. That might be one reason so many people voted for Nader. That's on Al and on BushCheney.

Nels Nelson , April 29, 2019 at 11:42 am

Some additional information and clarification about the Corvair.

The Corvair had a rear mounted engine and rear wheel drive. This is a poor design from a handling perspective as the rear weight bias produces a pendulum effect making the Corvair prone to oversteer. This tendency was exacerbated by the Corvair's swing axle independent rear suspension with its inherent camber changes as the wheel moved up and down. These characteristics of the Corvair were deadly in that while cornering if you let off the accelerator, the engine brakes the rear wheels creating a condition called "throttle lift oversteer". Under this situation the counterintutive reaction should be to put your foot on the accelerator and not the brakes. Some of you may recall that comedian Ernie Kovacs was killed when his Corvair spun off the road in wet weather and hit a utility pole.

A paradox here is that the Porsche 911 has a design very similar to the Corvair, rear wheel drive, rear mounted engine and rear weight bias and is praised for its handling. The Corvair was sometimes referred to as a poor man's 911. It too was prone to severe and violent oversteer if the throttle was lifted while cornering but in the case of the 911 it was expected that the driver know that while cornering your foot stayed on the accelerator. As the horsepower of 911s increased over the years the tendency to oversteer was tamed by fitting larger tires on the rear wheels. With the advent of technologies like antilock braking systems ,traction control and advanced computers employing torque vectoring to control vehicle stablity, cars today do have their versions of MCAS and the Porsche can be referred to as a triumph of engineering over design.

marku52 , April 29, 2019 at 3:27 pm

The 911 had pivots at both ends of the stub axles. It would lift throttle oversteer (boy would it lift throttle oversteer -lots of fun if you knew what you were doing), but it would not do the jacking rear-end lift that the corvair (pivots only at the differential end of the half shaft) would do.

Oddly, the VW bug had the exact same layout but Ralph never went after it.

EoH , April 29, 2019 at 12:15 pm

Nader is right to point out the design flaws, which seem to have the potential to cascade into failure.

The new engine nacelles create unusual lift. Being placed forward of the center of lift, that causes the nose of the aircraft to rotate vertically upward. If uncorrected, that would cause the aircraft inappropriately to rise in altitude and/or to approach a stall.

The nacelle-induced lift increases with an increase in engine thrust. That increases speed and/or reduces the time the pilot has to react and to correct an inappropriate nose-up attitude.

Boeing seemed unable to correct that design problem through changes in the aircraft's shape or control surfaces. It corrected it, instead, by having the computer step in to fly the aircraft back into the appropriate attitude. Works when it works.

But Boeing seems to have forgotten a CompSci 101 problem: shit in, shit out. If the sensors feeding the computer report bad data, the computer will generate a bad solution. Boeing also seems to have designed the s/w to reset after manual attitude correction by the pilot, forcing a correction loop the pilots would not always win.

Boeing elected not to inform aircraft purchasers or their flight crews of their automated fix to their new aircraft's inherent instability problem. Murphy's Law being what it is – if something can go wrong, it will – the pilots should have been made aware of the recommended fix so that when something went wrong it, they would have a chance of fixing it with a routine response.

Boeing elected not to do that. In the short run, it avoided the need for expensive additional pilot training. In the long run, Boeing would have hoped to increase sales. When hoping for the best, it is normal practice to plan for the worst. Boeing seems not to have done that either.

The Heretic , April 29, 2019 at 4:41 pm

All this talk of CEO and top managment resignation . honestly they probably don't care. They have made millions, if not tens of millions of dollars on bonuses; they can retire once they walk out the door. To change the behaviour of the C-suite you must affect the C-suite directly, charge convict them with at least criminal negligence or worse.. A drunk driver who causes the accident will most likley go to jail if someone dies in the accident, how come a CEO and his mgmt team, can wilfully go against decades of engineering and aviation best practices that are codified, and still only have to resign??

Pat , April 29, 2019 at 7:07 pm

Reality check. Even with all this news . BA closed at:

$379.05 29 April 2019
$342.79 31 August 2018

Yeap the stock price is up from before the crashes. There are good reasons for the Boeing board to be indifferent – there is no punishment.

[Apr 28, 2019] Boeing Didn't Tell Southwest Or FAA That It Had Disabled Critical Safety Alerts On 737 MAX

Notable quotes:
"... The article also discusses how some frontline FAA safety inspectors wanted to ground the MAXes until the "AoA Disagree" indicators were re-enabled, but were overridden by higher-ups who insisted that it was not a primary safety feature. ..."
Apr 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Zachary Smith , Apr 28, 2019 3:58:25 PM | link

Here is a headline from a couple of days ago:

FAA could clear Boeing 737 MAX to fly again within weeks

Yes, the very last country to pull the 737-MAX out of use is going to be the first to put it back. There is some serious money being lost by Boeing and the Airlines, and they want to put a stop to it. This is all about millions and millions of Benjamins, for "they" are taking a shortct to save even more money.

A draft report by an FAA-appointed board of pilots, engineers and other experts concluded that pilots only need additional computer-based training to understand MCAS, rather than simulator time.

Simulators are EXPENSIVE, so the plan is to give the pilots a joystick and a computer, and maybe throw in some lectures and videos of other pilots using a real flight simulator. Are you ready to rush to reserve a flight?

This isn't a bad deal just for the flight crews and passengers, but the pure stench of it is contaminating other arenas. A Denier site I'm not going to link has managed to leverage the lack of regulator oversight by the FAA to lots of other places.

Planes, Automobiles, Bicycles, Homes, Hospitals, Schools, and Sidewalks Can All Be Made Unsafe by Mad Science, Rush to Market, and Corrupt Regulators

They don't include "vaccines" in that list because their readers understand perfectly well that if the FAA is a crap agency, why not the FDA as well? Much as I hate to admit it, the Deniers didn't have to break a sweat to score these perfectly valid points.

Does anyone imagine Volkswagen could have gotten away with all those years of cheating on their emissions if the regulators had been doing their jobs?

How did China get away with shipping that cancer-causing blood pressure medicine to the US for so many years? It's safe to assume some bored "regulator" was just waving the stuff on past without doing a single test.

This is going to cost us. I'm out of links, but here is a headline to consider.

Russia's Irkut aircraft manufacturer has posted the first video of a direct flight by its MS-21-300 airliner from Irkutsk to Ulyanovsk-Vostochny Airfield.

The brand-new Russian passenger craft is designed to transport up to 211 people over a distance of 6,400 kilometres.

There are competitors out there, and they can't be fended off by "sanctions" forever. Allowing unwatched & unregulated companies to run amok is going to hurt us all in the long term.

S , Apr 28, 2019 5:21:07 PM | link

There is a brand new Boeing piece at Naked Capitalism.

Ralph Nader Calls Out Boeing for 737 MAX Lack of Airworthiness, Stock Buybacks, and Demands Muilenburg Resign

Boeing management's behavior must be seen in the context of Boeing's use of its earned capital. Did you use the $30 billion surplus from 2009 to 2017 to reinvest in R&D, in new narrow-body passenger aircraft? Or did you, instead, essentially burn this surplus with self-serving stock buybacks of $30 billion in that period? Boeing is one of the companies that MarketWatch labelled as "Five companies that spent lavishly on stock buybacks while pension funding lagged. "

Feathering the Corporate Nest while stiffing the workers. Just what Wall Street loves. "Ugly" at Boeing isn't a 'skin deep' issue - it's that way clear to the bone!

Zachary Smith | Apr 28, 2019 4:28:00 PM

Boeing Didn't Tell Southwest Or FAA That It Had Disabled Critical Safety Alerts On 737 MAX

The article also discusses how some frontline FAA safety inspectors wanted to ground the MAXes until the "AoA Disagree" indicators were re-enabled, but were overridden by higher-ups who insisted that it was not a primary safety feature.

[Apr 27, 2019] Hate speach and neoliberal concept of utility

The concept of hate speech is a form of censorship, but censorship is not 'one size fit all" phenomenon. Something is is justified and even necessary. Sometimes it is just a demonstration of raw political power ("Might makes right") and suppressing of the dissent.
In any case the neoliberal interpretation of "hurt feelings" as justification for censorship is open to review.
Notable quotes:
"... It’s the greatest power of an ideology that it can seep into the worldview of those who claim to oppose it. ..."
Apr 27, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

I’m reading another article about debates over free speech on campus, this time at Williams College, an elite school in the northwestern corner of Massachusetts. A faculty petition asks to formalize and tighten the college’s policy on free speech by adopting the Chicago Principles, which state that “concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.” Over three hundred students, however, have signed a counterpetition arguing that speech which harms minorities should not be allowed.

... ... ...


Peter Dorman

I fear my post was overly subtle. Let me be more explicit and see if that helps. My argument was not about “free speech versus social justice warriors” or anything of the sort. It was about a relatively new response to politics I saw first hand at Evergreen and have read about at other institutions.

I lived through the experience of hearing activists protesting against emails and statements at public meetings on the grounds they (the activists) were being subjected to emotional distress. Even more remarkably, no one else openly questioned the basis on which this argument rested. The whole tenor of discussion had shifted, and the line between public and private had apparently been redrawn such that the private criterion of “how does this make me feel” could be employed as a reason to suppress, or at least discourage, political action.

It struck me that this was the characteristic shift of neoliberalism, reinterpreting the public sphere as simply another venue for applying the hedonic calculus of individual pleasure/pain. (Virginia-style public choice theory does something similar but in a very different way.) I grant that much more was entailed at Evergreen, just as neoliberalism entails far more than this one characteristic; nevertheless, the it-makes-me-feel-bad argument for narrowing the public sphere is historically new—yes?—and coincides with the more general neoliberal view that “the political is personal”.

Our feelings of personal well-being become political criteria of what is right and wrong for the community, just as our political agency is reduced to personal choice. (What am I not supposed to buy? What is the right language for me to use when talking to someone of identity X?)

I don’t want to add more to the stew, but one further point is relevant. The stories, all of them, that have been disseminated about what happened at Evergreen during 2017 and the runup to those events are incomplete if not simply false. This includes the testimony of Bret Weinstein, who is factually correct about the direct experiences he underwent but has no clue about the forces and interests that instigated them. Suffice it to say that the faculty and perhaps students of the political left were mostly bystanders in this imbroglio. (Anecdotal evidence: my radical students were not involved, and my students who were involved were not the radicals.)

They may have taken sides after the event, but the conflict was not about leftism, Marxism, radicalism or even social justice in any substantive sense. That’s worth pointing out because it provides a further dimension to the argument I made in my post. No significant political change was either proposed during or eventuated from the 2017 protests, except the ongoing dismantling of some of the college’s more experimental features in the face of a devastating budget crisis.

I am trying to understand how an ostensibly political event could be so deeply anti-political. There are structural aspects I haven’t brought up and don’t have time or space for: who did what and through what institutional mechanisms, etc. In this post I am simply trying to identify some of the underlying assumptions behind the rhetoric.

Jeremy Grimm , April 26, 2019 at 3:50 pm

This post makes an interesting encapsulation of Neoliberalism: “life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility”. I am not convinced this formulation is sufficient to characterize Neoliberalism. How well would this formulation distinguish between Neoliberals and Epicures?

“Although Epicureanism is a form of hedonism insofar as it declares pleasure to be its sole intrinsic goal, the concept that the absence of pain and fear constitutes the greatest pleasure, and its advocacy of a simple life, make it very different from “hedonism” as colloquially understood.” [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epicureanism]

Is ‘utility’ greatly different than ‘pleasure’ as Epicures frame that word?

I do like the last sentence of the post: “It’s the greatest power of an ideology that it can seep into the worldview of those who claim to oppose it.”...

Jeremy Grimm , April 26, 2019 at 4:57 pm

The topic of free speech per se free speech was excellently covered by Howard Zinn in his talk “Second Thoughts on the First Amendment”. [I received a copy of the mp3 of this speech as a premium from my contribution to Pacifica Radio WBAI. The lowest price mp3 or written transcript for the speech was at https://www.alternativeradio.org/products/zinh006/ transcript for $3 or mp3 download for $5.]

Zinn’s speech made it clear that free speech was no simple matter contained within the meaning of the words ‘free speech’. There are questions of the intent of speech — the effects of a speech … bad feelings? … inciting a riot — capacity for speech that spreads fear … spreading unwarranted panic the classic yelling “Fire” in a crowded building — questions of the forum? There is free speech on a street corner and free speech on television, and they differ greatly in kind, and there is defamatory and slanderous speech.

...The equation between speech and money our ‘Supremes’ made is little short of the complete debasement of the Supreme Court as a forum of jurisprudence. The ‘prudence’ must be expunges from any characterizations of their judgements FAVORABLE or otherwise. The Supreme Court does not interpret the laws of the land. Like our Legislatures they are ‘bought’ and ‘bot’ to the whims of money.


Adam Eran April 26, 2019 at 7:06 pm

I’d suggest the dispute is theological. Everyone wants a “higher power” to bless their particular approach. The neoliberal preference for comparing measurable effects, scoring them as costs or benefits, is the standard MBA religion. Why if you can’t measure it, it mustn’t exist!

The whole approach doesn’t require too much thinking, and has the imprimatur of “science” and “reason” both… Excellent gods, all. Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years makes a good case for the way our confusion of monetary with ethical comparisons has managed to bamboozle humanity for literally thousands of years. You see rich people deserve their wealth. They are good, and you can tell by the amount of money they have. See!

Code Name D, April 26, 2019 at 7:14 pm

Some speech has as its primary purpose making others suffer, through insult or instigating fear, and has little or no persuasive intent. That’s hate speech, and I don’t see a problem with curtailing it.

The problem is just about anything “becomes” “hate speach” as a means of censorship. Calling out Isrial’s influence on US politics becomes antisimitism. Being critical of Hillary is misogany. Hell, not liking Campain Marvel is an example of hate speach. Recently negative reviews of the movie were removed from Rotten Tomatos as an example.

You might imagin that a line could be drawn some where. But when ever you draw that line, it always migrates over time.

Sound of the Suburbs , April 27, 2019 at 6:58 am

Neoliberalism destroys itself, don't panic. A ridiculous economic model was rolled out globally that had no long term future. The standard debt fuelled growth model of neoliberalism. The UK:

https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.53.09.png

Japan, UK, US, Euro-zone and China: At 25.30 mins you can see the super imposed private debt-to-GDP ratios.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAStZJCKmbU&list=PLmtuEaMvhDZZQLxg24CAiFgZYldtoCR-R&index=6

China has seen their Minsky Moment coming and the debt fuelled growth model can no longer be used. Adair Turner took over at the FSA when Lehman Brothers collapsed and this gave him the incentive to find out what was going on.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCX3qPq0JDA

Adair Turner has looked at the situation prior to the crisis where advanced economies were growing by 4 – 5%, but the debt was rising at 10 – 15%. This always was an unsustainable growth model; it had no long term future.

After 2008, the emerging markets adopted the unsustainable growth model and they too have now reached the end of the line. We are trying to maintain an economic model that never had a long term future as it only worked by adding more and more debt in an unsustainable way. The debt didn't grow with GDP. How can banks grow GDP with bank credit?

The UK: https://cdn.opendemocracy.net/neweconomics/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2017/04/Screen-Shot-2017-04-21-at-13.53.09.png

Before 1980 – banks lending into the right places that result in GDP growth (business and industry, creating new products and services in the economy)

After 1980 – banks lending into the wrong places that don't result in GDP growth (real estate and financial speculation)

What happened in 1979?

The UK eliminated corset controls on banking in 1979 and the banks invaded the mortgage market and this is where the problem starts.

This is the key to a sustainable economic model that has a long term future as debt and GDP rise together.

Steve Ruis , April 27, 2019 at 8:57 am

I have a problem with any argument based upon hurt feelings. Just what the heck are "hurt feelings?" How do we tell when someone is sincere or faking said? How do we tell when someone is emotionally fragile? How do we tell when someone has distorted values (But Hitler is my hero!)? How do we shock college students out of their complacency? How do we challenge them with new ideas? Are we to stop talking about the theory of evolution because someone's religious sensibilities are offended?

Having said that it is my generation that jettisoned good manners and we are now suffering the affects of that. The foundation of communication is knowing your audience and how much information that can receive at a time and some forgoe any consideration of that effect to make a controversy where there is none. And political free speech is absolutely necessary if we are to be a country that governs ourselves.

The Heretic , April 27, 2019 at 2:41 pm

The free exchange of ideas, and the evolution of ideas via exposure of new facts and interpretations and disagreements is vitally important; all progress comes from this. However fake news, bullshit arguments, and its long lasting effects cannot be underestimated. An easy example of is the 'the measles vaccine causes autism' bullshit debacle, which both caused numerous children and adults to now needlessly contract measles and more importantly, caused ordinary people to doubt the integrity of the medical professionals, and even science in general.. the discussion needs to expand from between speaker and the hurt listener, to third parties who are listening, who may or may not have their agendas, but whose opinion can be shifted based on the debate.

Btw, tobacco industry bullshit, climate change denial bullshit, are other huge sources of untruth which has polluted the discussions of today

We need to have a discussion/teaching on how we can again have truthful debate, however painful, and be able to distinguish from bald lies , false narratives or bullshit which unfortunately clouds many debates.

We need to accept that the truth exists and that we must seek to discern it. We need a deep discussion on what is truth and how to search for it and understand it, realizing that although the truth exists, that one person's perception and experience of it may differ from that of Another persons. And we need this discussion and skill set to be widely distributed, in a sense like a mental vaccine to help combat against the Bullshit virus that pervades the discussion today.

martell , April 27, 2019 at 3:01 pm

I too have noticed a shift in rhetoric. A recent incident at my own institution comes to mind. A letter appeared in the student newspaper complaining about an awards ceremony for university athletes. Apparently, a male tennis player of color had given a speech in which he thanked the university for having provided him with the opportunity to sleep with lots of white women. The author of the letter of complaint, a female student-athlete of color who'd attended the ceremony, claimed that this made her feel "unsafe," and wondered why the university president, who was in attendance, had not put a stop to the offending speech. In the course of the discussion which followed publication of the letter, no university official publicly questioned whether the complaining student should have felt afraid in that setting (an awards ceremony on a university campus with hundreds of people, including the university president, in attendance). No university official publicly questioned whether feelings of fear, reasonable or not, are grounds for stopping a speech. Some faculty members did however create a circular letter supporting the complaining student and at least strongly suggesting official punitive actions against the offending student and his coaches. Debate then focused on whether his coaches should be fired.

Note that in this case the feelings in question are not just any unpleasant feelings. The problem with the offending speech was not that it provoked anger or sorrow. The problem was that it made her afraid. So, I'm skeptical of the explanation for the shift in rhetoric offered above, the one having to do with neoliberal habits of thought. Its not specific enough.

Peter Dorman , April 27, 2019 at 5:36 pm

Thanks for giving me a chance to take up a tangent I left out of the post in the interest of curtailing sprawl. The safety version of the I-feel-bad argument is interesting.

Here is one interpretation, very provisional. Despite its increasing popularity, the general claim that certain types of political debate or social expression should be off limits because it makes me feel uncomfortable has an uncertain status. Institutions don't have an explicit obligation to promote the moment-to-moment subjective well-being of participants. (Even neoliberal approaches to governance, like cost-benefit analysis, avoid this by basing their justification on postulates that identify current and prospective "utility", however dicey they may be in practice.)

Into the breach jumps the safety trope. Institutions do have an obligation to protect the safety of those they include and touch. Movements against rape and domestic violence as well as pathological police violence have invoked this responsibility, and rightly so. And student movements, in an apparent effort to establish a parallel, have expressed the feeling-bad argument as feeling-unsafe.

The problem, as you point out, is the difference between feeling and being unsafe. I'm not in a position to question whether you feel bad (I'm sure I would have felt furious if I had been in the awards ceremony you describe and heard a predatory remark like the athlete's), but I can question whether you really are as unsafe as you claim. (I agree with your point about the objective safety of being in the awards audience.) The catch, however, is that there is another cultural trope at work, the conflation of belief and knowledge. This is now firmly ensconced in the worldview of much of the left, or "left" as I would put it. It underlies the doctrine of positionality, transforming it from a version of ideology theory (which I respect) to an epistemology (which is preposterous). Come to think of it, its failure to admit the enormous sphere of intersubjectivity, the portion of reality we share and is subject to the rules of evidence, has a sort of neoliberal (specifically Hayekian) tinge to it.

So no, you don't get to say, "Actually, you are quite safe here." There is no shared reality to examine that could possibly overrule someone's feeling that they are unsafe. I have had this exact conversation with several students, but I also see versions of it in the popular media and even in a lot of "scholarly" work. The mantra of those faculty and administrators supporting (or in some cases collaborating with) protesters at Evergreen was "listen to the students", as if what we hear -- and yes, of course we should listen to them -- was thereby the factual state of the college we had to respond to. It's also a reason why about a tenth of the student body, which excluded many or most of the radicals (see above), had to be referred to as "the students". The "subjective perception = reality" formulation is incoherent in the face of competing, incompatible subjective perceptions.

There's always more, but I should stop here.

[Apr 27, 2019] Why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally

Highly recommended!
Apr 27, 2019 | angrybearblog.com

My reading is that the core psychological principle of neoliberalism, that life is an accumulation of moments of utility and disutility, is alive and well within certain sectors of the "left". A speech (or email or comment at a meeting) should be evaluated by how it makes us feel, and no one should have the right to make us feel bad.

Not sure about this "utility/disutility" dichotomy (probably you mean market fundamentalism -- belief that market ( and market mechanisms) is a self regulating, supernaturally predictive force that will guide human beings to the neoliberal Heavens), but, yes, neoliberalism infected the "left" and, especially, Democratic Party which was converted by Clinton into greedy and corrupt "DemoRats' subservient to Wall Street and antagonistic to the trade unions. And into the second War Party, which in certain areas is even more jingoistic and aggressive then Republicans (Obama color revolution in Ukraine is one example; Hillary Libya destruction is another; both were instrumental in unleashing the civil war on Syria and importing and arming Muslim fundamentalists to fight it).

It might make sense to view neoliberalism as a new secular religion which displaced Marxism on the world arena (and collapse of the USSR was in part the result of the collapse of Marxism as an ideology under onslaught of neoliberalism; although bribes of USSR functionaries and mismanagement of the economy due to over centralization -- country as a single gigantic corporation -- also greatly helped) .

Neoliberalism demonstrates the same level of intolerance (and actually series of wars somewhat similar to Crusades) as any monotheistic religion in early stages of its development. Because at this stage any adept knows the truth and to believe in this truth is to be saved; everything else is eternal damnation (aka living under "authoritarian regime" ;-) .

And so far there is nothing that will force the neoliberal/neocon Torquemadas to abandon their loaded with bombs jets as the tool of enlightenment of pagan states ;-)

Simplifying, neoliberalism can be viewed an a masterfully crafted, internally consistent amalgam of myths and pseudo theories (partially borrowed from Trotskyism) that justifies the rule of financial oligarchy and high level inequality in the society (redistribution of the wealth up). Kind of Trotskyism for the rich with the same idea of Permanent Revolution until global victory of neoliberalism.

That's why neoliberals charlatans like Hayek and Friedman were dusted off, given Nobel Prizes and promoted to the top in economics: they were very helpful and pretty skillful in forging neoliberal myths. Especially Hayek. A second rate economist who proved to be the first class theologian .

Promoting "neoliberal salvation" was critical for the achieving the political victory of neoliberalism in late 1979th and discrediting and destroying the remnants of the New Deal capitalism (already undermined at this time by the oil crisis)

Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.

This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.

Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions. And neoliberalism survived in Russia under Putin and Medvedev as well, despite economic rape that Western neoliberals performed on Russia under Yeltsin with the help of Harvard mafia.

That's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .

Neoliberalism has led to the rise of corporate (especially financial oligarchy) power and an open war on labor. New Deal policies aimed at full employment and job security have been replaced with ones that aim at flexibility in the form of unstable employment, job loss and rising inequality.

This hypotheses helps to explain why neoliberalism as a social system survived after its ideology collapsed in 2008 -- it just entered zombie stage like Bolshevism after WWII when it became clear that it can't achieve higher standard of living for the population then capitalism.

Latest mutation of classic neoliberalism into "national neoliberalism" under Trump shows that it has great ability to adapt to the changing conditions.

that's why despite widespread criticism, neoliberalism remains the dominant politico-economic theory amongst policy-makers both in the USA and internationally. All key global neoliberal global institutions, such as the G20, European Union, IMF, World bank, and WTO still survived intact and subscribe to neoliberalism. .

[Apr 25, 2019] Mish Boeing 737 Max Unsafe To Fly, New Scathing Report By Pilot, Software Designer

Apr 25, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk,

A pilot with 30 years of flying experience and 40 years of design experience rips decisions made by Boeing and the FAA.

Gregory Travis, a software developer and pilot for 30 years wrote a scathing report on the limitations of the 737, and the arrogance of software developers unfit to write airplane code.

Travis provides easy to understand explanations including a test you can do by sticking your hand out the window of a car to demonstrate stall speed.

Design shortcuts meant to make a new plane seem like an old, familiar one are to blame.

This was all about saving money. Boeing and the FAA pretend the 737-Max is the same aircraft as the original 737 that flew in 1967, over 50 years ago.

Travis was 3 years old at the time. Back then, the 737 was a smallish aircraft with smallish engines and relatively simple systems. The new 737 is large and complicated.

Boeing cut corners to save money. Cutting corners works until it fails spectacularly.

Aerodynamic and Software Malpractice

Please consider How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer . Emphasis is mine.

The original 737 had (by today's standards) tiny little engines, which easily cleared the ground beneath the wings. As the 737 grew and was fitted with bigger engines, the clearance between the engines and the ground started to get a little um, tight.

With the 737 Max, the situation became critical. The engines on the original 737 had a fan diameter (that of the intake blades on the engine) of just 100 centimeters (40 inches); those planned for the 737 Max have 176 cm. That's a centerline difference of well over 30 cm (a foot), and you couldn't "ovalize" the intake enough to hang the new engines beneath the wing without scraping the ground.

The solution was to extend the engine up and well in front of the wing. However, doing so also meant that the centerline of the engine's thrust changed. Now, when the pilots applied power to the engine, the aircraft would have a significant propensity to "pitch up," or raise its nose. This propensity to pitch up with power application thereby increased the risk that the airplane could stall when the pilots "punched it"

Worse still, because the engine nacelles were so far in front of the wing and so large, a power increase will cause them to actually produce lift, particularly at high angles of attack. So the nacelles make a bad problem worse.

I'll say it again: In the 737 Max, the engine nacelles themselves can, at high angles of attack, work as a wing and produce lift. And the lift they produce is well ahead of the wing's center of lift, meaning the nacelles will cause the 737 Max at a high angle of attack to go to a higher angle of attack. This is aerodynamic malpractice of the worst kind.

It violated that most ancient of aviation canons and probably violated the certification criteria of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. But instead of going back to the drawing board and getting the airframe hardware right, Boeing relied on something called the "Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System," or MCAS.

It all comes down to money , and in this case, MCAS was the way for both Boeing and its customers to keep the money flowing in the right direction. The necessity to insist that the 737 Max was no different in flying characteristics, no different in systems, from any other 737 was the key to the 737 Max's fleet fungibility. That's probably also the reason why the documentation about the MCAS system was kept on the down-low.

Put in a change with too much visibility, particularly a change to the aircraft's operating handbook or to pilot training, and someone -- probably a pilot -- would have piped up and said, "Hey. This doesn't look like a 737 anymore." And then the money would flow the wrong way.

When the flight computer trims the airplane to descend, because the MCAS system thinks it's about to stall, a set of motors and jacks push the pilot's control columns forward. It turns out that the Elevator Feel Computer can put a lot of force into that column -- indeed, so much force that a human pilot can quickly become exhausted trying to pull the column back, trying to tell the computer that this really, really should not be happening .

MCAS is implemented in the flight management computer, even at times when the autopilot is turned off, when the pilots think they are flying the plane. I n a fight between the flight management computer and human pilots over who is in charge, the computer will bite humans until they give up and (literally) die . Finally, there's the need to keep the very existence of the MCAS system on the hush-hush lest someone say, "Hey, this isn't your father's 737," and bank accounts start to suffer.

Those lines of code were no doubt created by people at the direction of managers.

In a pinch, a human pilot could just look out the windshield to confirm visually and directly that, no, the aircraft is not pitched up dangerously. That's the ultimate check and should go directly to the pilot's ultimate sovereignty. Unfortunately, the current implementation of MCAS denies that sovereignty. It denies the pilots the ability to respond to what's before their own eyes.

In the MCAS system, the flight management computer is blind to any other evidence that it is wrong, including what the pilot sees with his own eyes and what he does when he desperately tries to pull back on the robotic control columns that are biting him, and his passengers, to death.

The people who wrote the code for the original MCAS system were obviously terribly far out of their league and did not know it. How can they can implement a software fix, much less give us any comfort that the rest of the flight management software is reliable?

So Boeing produced a dynamically unstable airframe, the 737 Max. That is big strike No. 1. Boeing then tried to mask the 737's dynamic instability with a software system. Big strike No. 2. Finally, the software relied on systems known for their propensity to fail (angle-of-attack indicators) and did not appear to include even rudimentary provisions to cross-check the outputs of the angle-of-attack sensor against other sensors, or even the other angle-of-attack sensor. Big strike No. 3.

None of the above should have passed muster. It is likely that MCAS, originally added in the spirit of increasing safety, has now killed more people than it could have ever saved. It doesn't need to be "fixed" with more complexity, more software. It needs to be removed altogether .

Numerous Bad Decisions at Every Stage

Ultimately 346 people are dead because of really bad decisions, software engineer arrogance, and Boeing's pretense that the 737 Max is the same aircraft as 50 years ago.

It is incredible that the plane has two sensors but the system only uses one. A look out the window was enough to confirm the sensor was wrong.

Boeing also offered "cheap" versions of the aircraft without some controls. The two crashed flights were with the cheaper aircraft.

An experienced pilot with adequate training could have disengaged MACS but in one of the crashed flights, the pilot was desperately reading a manual trying to figure out how to do that.

Flight Stall Test

If you stick you hand out the window of a car and your hand is level to the ground. You have a low angle of attack. There is no lift. Tilt your hand a bit and you have lift. Your arm will rise.

When the angle of attack on the wing of an aircraft is too great the aircraft enters aerodynamic stall. The same thing happens with your hand out a car window.

At a steep enough angle your arm wants to flop down on the car door.

The MACS software overrides what a pilot can see by looking out the window.

Useless Manuals

If you need a manual to stop a plane from crashing mid-flight, the manual is useless. It's already too late. The pilot had seconds in which to react. Yet, instead of requiring additional training, and alerting pilots of the dangers, Boeing put this stuff in a manual.

This was necessary as part of the pretense that a 737 is a 737 is a 737.


Swamidon , 2 minutes ago link

In my day Pilot's were repeatedly cautioned not to fly the aircraft to the scene of an accident since nobody survives a high speed crash or a stall. Non-pilots can vote me down but the proper action at the second the pilot lost control of his aircraft that close to the ground should have been to pull power, drop flaps, and make a soft field landing that some passengers would have survived.

wide angle tree , 2 minutes ago link

Sure it's a flying turd, but it will be back in the air soon. The CEO can spew buzzwords at the speed of sound. The FAA will approve any fix Boeing pukes forth cause nobody has the moral courage to stand in the way of making the big money.

I Write Code , 8 minutes ago link

I saw that article in Spectrum and while it makes some points about software development he mixes it up with generic claims way beyond his expertise. Editors at Spectrum should be fired.

Hope Copy , 10 minutes ago link

Cirrus Jet got grounded due to this MACS problem.. This CODE is all over the place and probably in AIRBUS also [(.. I'm betting that it was stolen from AIRBUS] Computer controlled fly by wire is death-in-a-box as it can always be hacked.

arby63 , 17 minutes ago link

Scary stuff there.

paul20854 , 18 minutes ago link

Boeing thinks it will fix the problem with its "MCAS" software. While it may do so on paper, there remains the problem of the weight distribution of engines, cargo and fuel which is placing the center of gravity behind the center of pressure for this modified aircraft during flight near the stall point. That problem is faulty aerodynamics. Any aircraft that is inherently aerodynamically unstable should never be flown in a commercial setting. Ground them all. Fire the stupid fools who allowed this beast to fly, including those at the FAA. And finally, sell your Boeing stock.

N3M3S1S , 12 minutes ago link

Sell your Boeing Stock FIRST

Born2Bwired , 19 minutes ago link

Recommend reading entire missive which was sent to me by a retired Aircraft Captain this morning.

ZH link didn't work for me.

https://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/how-the-boeing-737-max-disaster-looks-to-a-software-developer.amp.html

The guy is a very clear writer and explains things quite well.

edit: looks like there is now a sign in wall that wasn't there from my tablet.

Scaliger , 20 minutes ago link

Wing fences (see: wikipedia, for photos) are the only solution to the Leading Edge Extension,

that the upwards and wider jet engine cowling imposes.

This extension causes the wing stall problem.

Wing fences improve the longitudinal flow, on the expense of lateral flow,

thus delay border layer separation, thus curb wing stall.

robertocarlos , 38 minutes ago link

There's a picture of a man who jet skied over Niagara Falls. He wore a parachute but it failed to open in time. I think he needed more height.

jewish_master , 42 minutes ago link

Glorified Tesla.

oobilly , 43 minutes ago link

Single point failure designed into the plane isnt much of a business plan.

piavpn , 46 minutes ago link

Just remember to fart well.

Have a nice farty day.

robertocarlos , 49 minutes ago link

It's a POS and they are going to ram it down our throats in July. If you have to fly then you have to take this plane.

Ohanzee , 40 minutes ago link

Not really. Don't fly with Boeing.

Aubiekong , 52 minutes ago link

Hiring engineers for diversity and not for ability has consequences...

bluskyes , 39 minutes ago link

.gov gravy requires diversity

arby63 , 10 minutes ago link

Can you say EEO. That's causing all sorts of issues throughout the economy--especially in manufacturing.

[Apr 22, 2019] Boeing s 737 Max Debacle The Result of a Dangerously Pro-Automation Design Philosophy

Notable quotes:
"... "One of the problems we have with the system is, why put a system like that on an airplane in the first place?" said Slack, who doesn't represent any survivors of either the Lion Air or Ethiopia Airlines crashes. "I think what we're going to find is that because of changes from the (Boeing 737) 800 series to the MAX series, there are dramatic changes in which they put in controls without native pitch stability. It goes to the basic DNA of the airplane. It may not be fixable." ..."
"... But it's also important that the pilots get physical feedback about what is going on. In the old days, when cables connected the pilot's controls to the flying surfaces, you had to pull up, hard, if the airplane was trimmed to descend. You had to push, hard, if the airplane was trimmed to ascend. With computer oversight there is a loss of natural sense in the controls. There is only an artificial feel, a feeling that the computer wants the pilots to feel. And sometimes, it doesn't feel so great. ..."
"... An airplane approaching an aerodynamic stall cannot, under any circumstances, have a tendency to go further into the stall. This is called "dynamic instability," and the only airplanes that exhibit that characteristic -- fighter jets -- are also fitted with ejection seats. ..."
"... The airframe, the hardware, should get it right the first time and not need a lot of added bells and whistles to fly predictably. This has been an aviation canon from the day the Wright brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk. ..."
"... When the flight computer trims the airplane to descend, because the MCAS system thinks it's about to stall, a set of motors and jacks push the pilot's control columns forward. It turns out that the flight management computer can put a lot of force into that column -- indeed, so much force that a human pilot can quickly become exhausted trying to pull the column back, trying to tell the computer that this really, really should not be happening. ..."
"... MCAS is implemented in the flight management computer, even at times when the autopilot is turned off, when the pilots think they are flying the plane. In a fight between the flight management computer and human pilots over who is in charge, the computer will bite humans until they give up and (literally) die ..."
"... Like someone with narcissistic personality disorder, MCAS gaslights the pilots. And it turns out badly for everyone. "Raise the nose, HAL." "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." ..."
"... Travis also describes the bad business incentives that led Boeing to conceptualize and present the 737 Max as just a tweak of an existing design, as opposed to being so areodynamically different as to be a new plane .and require time-consuming and costly recertification. To succeed in that obfuscation, Boeing had to underplay the existence and role of the MCAS system: ..."
"... Travis also explains why the FAA allows for what amounts to self-certification. This practice didn't result from the usual deregulation pressures, but from the FAA being unable to keep technical experts from being bid away by private sector players. Moreover, the industry has such a strong safety culture (airplanes falling out of the sky are bad for business) that the accommodation didn't seem risky. ..."
"... The 737 Max saga teaches us not only about the limits of technology and the risks of complexity, it teaches us about our real priorities. Today, safety doesn't come first -- money comes first, and safety's only utility in that regard is in helping to keep the money coming. The problem is getting worse because our devices are increasingly dominated by something that's all too easy to manipulate: software ..."
Apr 22, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Even though Boeing is scrambling to fix the software meant to counter the 737 Max's increased propensity to stall as a result of the placement of larger, more fuel=efficient engines in a way that reduced the stability of the plane in flight, it's not clear that this will be adequate in terms of flight safety or the public perception of the plane. And even though the FAA is almost certain to sign off on Boeing's patch, foreign regulators may not be so forgiving. The divergence we've seen between the FAA and other national authorities is likely to intensify. Recall that China grounded the 737 Max before the FAA. In another vote of no confidence, even as Boeing was touting that its changes to its now infamous MCAS software, designed to compensate for safety risks introduced by the placement of the engines on the 737 Max, the Canadian air regulator said he wanted 737 Max pilots to have flight simulator training, contrary to the manufacturer's assertion that it isn't necessary. Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that American Airlines is developing 737 Max flight simulator training .

But a fundamental question remains: can improved software compensate for hardware shortcomings? Some experts harbor doubts. For instance, from the Spokane Spokesman-Review :

"One of the problems we have with the system is, why put a system like that on an airplane in the first place?" said Slack, who doesn't represent any survivors of either the Lion Air or Ethiopia Airlines crashes. "I think what we're going to find is that because of changes from the (Boeing 737) 800 series to the MAX series, there are dramatic changes in which they put in controls without native pitch stability. It goes to the basic DNA of the airplane. It may not be fixable."

"It is within the realm of possibility that, if much of the basic pitch stability performance of the plane cannot be addressed by a software fix, a redesign may be required and the MAX might not ever fly," [aviation attorney and former NASA aerospace engineer Mike] Slack said.

An even more damming take comes in How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer in IEEE Spectrum (hat tip Marshall Auerback). Author Greg Travis has been a software developer for 40 years and a pilot. He does a terrific job of explaining the engineering and business considerations that drove the 737 Max design. He describes why the plane's design is unsound and why the software patch in the form of MCAS was inadequate, and an improved version is unlikely to be able to compensate for the plane's deficiencies.

Even for those who have been following the 737 Max story, this article has background that is likely to be new. For instance, to a large degree, pilots do not fly commercial aircraft. Pilots send instructions to computer systems that fly these planes. Travis explains early on that the As Travis explains:

In the 737 Max, like most modern airliners and most modern cars, everything is monitored by computer, if not directly controlled by computer. In many cases, there are no actual mechanical connections (cables, push tubes, hydraulic lines) between the pilot's controls and the things on the wings, rudder, and so forth that actually make the plane move ..

But it's also important that the pilots get physical feedback about what is going on. In the old days, when cables connected the pilot's controls to the flying surfaces, you had to pull up, hard, if the airplane was trimmed to descend. You had to push, hard, if the airplane was trimmed to ascend. With computer oversight there is a loss of natural sense in the controls. There is only an artificial feel, a feeling that the computer wants the pilots to feel. And sometimes, it doesn't feel so great.

Travis also explains why the 737 Max's engine location made the plane dangerously unstable:

Pitch changes with power changes are common in aircraft. Even my little Cessna pitches up a bit when power is applied. Pilots train for this problem and are used to it. Nevertheless, there are limits to what safety regulators will allow and to what pilots will put up with.

Pitch changes with increasing angle of attack, however, are quite another thing. An airplane approaching an aerodynamic stall cannot, under any circumstances, have a tendency to go further into the stall. This is called "dynamic instability," and the only airplanes that exhibit that characteristic -- fighter jets -- are also fitted with ejection seats.

Everyone in the aviation community wants an airplane that flies as simply and as naturally as possible. That means that conditions should not change markedly, there should be no significant roll, no significant pitch change, no nothing when the pilot is adding power, lowering the flaps, or extending the landing gear.

The airframe, the hardware, should get it right the first time and not need a lot of added bells and whistles to fly predictably. This has been an aviation canon from the day the Wright brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk.

Travis explains in detail why the MCAS approach to monitoring the angle of attack was greatly inferior to older methods .including having the pilots look out the window. And here's what happens when MCAS goes wrong:

When the flight computer trims the airplane to descend, because the MCAS system thinks it's about to stall, a set of motors and jacks push the pilot's control columns forward. It turns out that the flight management computer can put a lot of force into that column -- indeed, so much force that a human pilot can quickly become exhausted trying to pull the column back, trying to tell the computer that this really, really should not be happening.

Indeed, not letting the pilot regain control by pulling back on the column was an explicit design decision. Because if the pilots could pull up the nose when MCAS said it should go down, why have MCAS at all?

MCAS is implemented in the flight management computer, even at times when the autopilot is turned off, when the pilots think they are flying the plane. In a fight between the flight management computer and human pilots over who is in charge, the computer will bite humans until they give up and (literally) die

Like someone with narcissistic personality disorder, MCAS gaslights the pilots. And it turns out badly for everyone. "Raise the nose, HAL." "I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

Travis also describes the bad business incentives that led Boeing to conceptualize and present the 737 Max as just a tweak of an existing design, as opposed to being so areodynamically different as to be a new plane .and require time-consuming and costly recertification. To succeed in that obfuscation, Boeing had to underplay the existence and role of the MCAS system:

The necessity to insist that the 737 Max was no different in flying characteristics, no different in systems, from any other 737 was the key to the 737 Max's fleet fungibility. That's probably also the reason why the documentation about the MCAS system was kept on the down-low.

Put in a change with too much visibility, particularly a change to the aircraft's operating handbook or to pilot training, and someone -- probably a pilot -- would have piped up and said, "Hey. This doesn't look like a 737 anymore."

To drive the point home, Travis contrasts the documentation related to MCAS with documentation Cessna provided with an upgrade to its digital autopilot, particularly warnings. The difference is dramatic and it shouldn't be. He concludes:

In my Cessna, humans still win a battle of the wills every time. That used to be a design philosophy of every Boeing aircraft, as well, and one they used against their archrival Airbus, which had a different philosophy. But it seems that with the 737 Max, Boeing has changed philosophies about human/machine interaction as quietly as they've changed their aircraft operating manuals.

Travis also explains why the FAA allows for what amounts to self-certification. This practice didn't result from the usual deregulation pressures, but from the FAA being unable to keep technical experts from being bid away by private sector players. Moreover, the industry has such a strong safety culture (airplanes falling out of the sky are bad for business) that the accommodation didn't seem risky. But it is now:

So Boeing produced a dynamically unstable airframe, the 737 Max. That is big strike No. 1. Boeing then tried to mask the 737's dynamic instability with a software system. Big strike No. 2. Finally, the software relied on systems known for their propensity to fail (angle-of-attack indicators) and did not appear to include even rudimentary provisions to cross-check the outputs of the angle-of-attack sensor against other sensors, or even the other angle-of-attack sensor. Big strike No. 3.

None of the above should have passed muster. None of the above should have passed the "OK" pencil of the most junior engineering staff, much less a DER [FAA Designated Engineering Representative].

That's not a big strike. That's a political, social, economic, and technical sin .

The 737 Max saga teaches us not only about the limits of technology and the risks of complexity, it teaches us about our real priorities. Today, safety doesn't come first -- money comes first, and safety's only utility in that regard is in helping to keep the money coming. The problem is getting worse because our devices are increasingly dominated by something that's all too easy to manipulate: software

I believe the relative ease -- not to mention the lack of tangible cost -- of software updates has created a cultural laziness within the software engineering community. Moreover, because more and more of the hardware that we create is monitored and controlled by software, that cultural laziness is now creeping into hardware engineering -- like building airliners. Less thought is now given to getting a design correct and simple up front because it's so easy to fix what you didn't get right later .

It is likely that MCAS, originally added in the spirit of increasing safety, has now killed more people than it could have ever saved. It doesn't need to be "fixed" with more complexity, more software. It needs to be removed altogether.

There's a lot more in this meaty piece . Be sure to read it in full.

And if crapification by software has undermined the once-vanuted airline safety culture, why should we hold out hope for any better with self-driving cars?


Fazal Majid , April 22, 2019 at 2:11 am

Automation is not the issue. Boeing cutting corners and putting only one or two angle of attack sensors is. Just like a man with two clocks can't tell the time, if one of the sensors malfunctions, the computer has no way of knowing which one is wrong. That's why Airbus puts three sensors in its aircraft, and why Boeing's Dreamliner has three computers with CPUs from three different manufacturers to get the necessary triple redundancy.

Thus this is really about Boeing's shocking negligence in putting profits above safety, and the FAA's total capture to the point Boeing employees did most of the certification work. I would add the corrosion of Boeing's ethical standards was completely predictable once it acquired McDonnell-Douglas and became a major defense contractor.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 8:08 am

I beg to differ since it looks like you didn't read the article in full, as a strongly recommended. The article has a section on the cost of fixing hardware problems versus software problems. Hardware problems are enormously costly to fix.

The plane has a hardware problem resulting from Boeing not being willing to risk having to recertify a fuel efficient 737. So rather than making the plane higher off the ground (new landing gear, which other articles indicate was a non-starter since it would lead to enough other changes so as to necessitate recertification) and trying to fix a hardware problem with software. That has two knock-on problems: it's not clear this will ever be adequate (not just Travis' opinion) and second, it's risky given the software industry's propensity to ship and patch later. Boeing created an additional problem, as Travis stresses, by greatly underplaying the existence of MCAS (it was mentioned after page 700 in the documentation!) and maintaining the fiction that pilots didn't need simulator training, which some regulators expect will be the case even after the patch.

You also miss the point the article makes: the author argues (unlike in banking), the FAA coming to rely on the airlines for certification wasn't a decision they made, but an adaptation to the fact that they could no longer hire and retain the engineers they needed to do the work at the FAA on government pay scales. By contrast, at (say) the SEC, you see a revolving door of lawyers from plenty fancy firms. You have plenty of "talent" willing to work at the SEC, but with bad incentives.

Susan the other` , April 22, 2019 at 10:57 am

Thank you for reviewing this. 700+ pages! I thought it was paywalled bec. so slow to download. The resistance to achieving fuel efficiency is front and center these days. One thing I relate it to is the Macron attitude of punishing the fuel consumer to change the market. Cart before horse. When the FAA sent down fuel efficiency requirements it might have been similarly preemptive, now in hindsight. There should have been legislation and regulation which adjusted the profitability of the airline industry via better tax breaks or regulations against aggressive competition. The safety of airlines would have been upheld if the viability of the company were protected. So even domestic protectionism when it comes to safety. And in so doing, the FAA/congress could also have controlled and limited airline use which tries to make up in volume for all the new costs it incurs. It's a serious problem when you are so carefree as a legislator that you let the free market do it. What a mess. Quality is the first thing to go.

foppe , April 22, 2019 at 11:41 am

reminds me of what was said about risk departments inside banks -- deliberately lowly paid, so that anyone with skills would move on or easily be hired away. Was it you? Bill Black? Luyendijk? I don't remember. Either way..

Marley's dad , April 22, 2019 at 11:45 am

I did read the article completely and I was an aircraft commander of a C-141A during the Viet Nam war and I am a degreed electrical engineer.

Having flown the C-141A for several thousand hours I am very familiar with the aircraft pitching up almost uncontrollably. A favorite trick that C -141 flight instructors pulled on pilots new to aircraft was to tell the student pilot to "go around" (for the first time during his training) on an approach. The student pilot followed the flight manual procedure and started to raise the nose while advancing the throttles to full power. However, what wasn't covered in the flight manual was the fact that a HUGE trim change occurred when the engines went from near idle to full power. To regain control, it took both hands (arms) to move the yoke away from your chest while running nose down trim. While you were doing this the airplane was trying to stand on its tail. On the other hand none of us ever forgot the lesson.

The C-141 was not fly by wire; however all control surfaces were equipped with hydraulic assist and "feel springs" to mimic control feel without the hydraulics. The feel springs for the elevators must have been selected using a human subject like Arnold Schwarzenegger because (in my opinion) they were much stronger than necessary. The intent was to prevent the pilots from getting into excessive angles of pitch, which absolutely would occur if you weren't prepared for it on a "go around".

What Fazal & V have said is basically correct. The max has four angle of attack vanes. The MAIN problem was that Boeing decided to go cheap and only connect one of the vanes to the MCAS. If they had connected two, the MCAS would be able to determine that one of them was wrong and disconnect itself. That would have eliminated the pitch down problem that caused the two crashes.

Connecting that second AOA vane would not have created any certification issues and would have made Boeing's claim about the "Max" being the "same" as previous versions much closer to the truth. Had they done that we wouldn't be talking about this.

Another solution would have been to disable the MCAS if there was significant counter force on the yoke applied by the pilot. This has been used on autopilot systems since the 1960's. But not consistently. The proper programming protocol for the MCAS exists and should have been used.

I agree that using only one AOA vane and the programming weren't the only really stupid things that Boeing did in this matter. Insufficient information and training given to the pilots was another.

flora , April 22, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Yes.
second, it's risky given the software industry's propensity to ship and patch later.
-this is one of the main themes in the Dilbert cartoon strip.

the author argues (unlike in banking), the FAA coming to rely on the airlines for certification wasn't a decision they made, but an adaptation to the fact that they could no longer hire and retain the engineers they needed to do the work at the FAA on government pay scales.

-That's what happens when you make 'government small enough to drown in a bathtub' , i.e. starve of the funds necessary to do a good job.

My 2¢ . Boeing's decision to cut manufacturing corners AND give the autopilot MCAS system absolute control might have been done (just a guess here, based on the all current the 'self-driving' fantasies in technology ) to push more AI 'self-drivingness' into the airplane. (The 'We don't need expensive pilots, we can use inexpensive pilots, and one day we won't need pilots at all' fantasy.) Imo, this makes the MCAS system, along with the auto AI self-driving systems now on the road no better than beta test platforms And early beta test platforms, at that.

It's one thing when MS or Apple push out a not quite ready for prime time OS "upgrade", then wait for all the user feedback to know where it the OS needs more patches. No one dies in those situations (hopefully). But putting not-ready for prime time airplanes and cars on the road in beta test condition to get feedback? yikes . my opinion.

Anarcissie , April 22, 2019 at 3:31 pm

It is interesting that a software bug that appears in the field costs very roughly ten times as much as one caught in QA before being released, yet most managements continue to slight QA in favor of glitzy features. I suppose that preference follows supposed customer demand.

WestcoastDeplorable , April 22, 2019 at 2:14 pm

It's not only the 737 Max that endangers Boeing's survival; it's this:

https://www.aljazeera.com/investigations/boeing787/

15 workers at their N. Charleston SC assembly plant were asked if they would fly on the plane they build there; 10 said NO WAY!

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 3:23 am

Boeing, the FAA, and the airlines seriously screwed up the introduction of this aircraft so badly it cost lives. The article by Travis is however written by someone out of his depth, even though he has more familiarity with aircraft and software than the average person. There are numerous factual errors and misrepresentations, which many commenters (with more detailed knowledge of the subjects) on the article point out. One of the principles of aviation safety is to identify and fix failures without finger pointing, in order to encourage a culture of openness and cooperation. The tone of the article takes the opposite approach while trying to argue from (undeserved) authority. I agree with his critique that these incidents are a result capitalism run amok – that should, in my opinion, be separate from a discussion of the technical problems and how to fix them.

Thuto , April 22, 2019 at 4:51 am

If Boeing had adhered to that cardinal principle of openness, there might be no failure to fix via "a culture of openness and cooperation". These catastrophic failures were a result of Boeing not being open with its customers about the safety implications of its redesign of the 737 Max and instead choosing the path of obfuscation to sell the idea of seamless fleet fungibility to airlines.

Knifecatcher , April 22, 2019 at 5:00 am

Looking through the comments the complaints about the article seemed to be in one of three areas-

– Questioning the author's credentials (you're just a Cessna pilot!)
– Parroting the Boeing line that this was all really pilot error
– Focusing on some narrow technical element to discredit the article

The majority of comments were in agreement with the general tenor of the piece, and the author engaged politely and constructively with some of the points that were brought up. I thought the article was very insightful, and sometimes it does take an outsider to point out that the emperor has no clothes.

I'd like to see a reference for your assertion that the "principles of aviation safety" preclude finger pointing. Unless I'm very much mistaken the whole purpose of an FAA accident investigation is to determine the root cause, identify the responsible party, and, yes, point fingers if necessary.

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 5:57 am

This is one example:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crew_resource_management

The general point I was trying to make, perhaps poorly worded, is that the only goal is to identify the problem and fix it, and not to focus primarily on assigning blame as vigorously as possible. Mistakes occur for many reasons – some of them nefarious, some not. Excessive finger pointing, especially before a full picture of what went wrong has been developed, fosters a tendency to coverups and fear, in my opinion.

Regarding your other points, the technical details are vital to understand clearly in almost any aviation incident, as there is never one cause, and the chain of events is always incredibly complex. Travis' analysis makes the answers too easy.

skippy , April 22, 2019 at 6:23 am

From what I understand the light touch approach was more about getting people to honestly divulge information during the investigation period, of which, assisted in determining cause.

I think you overstate your case.

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 6:58 am

This "light touch" approach is used throughout the aviation industry, all the way from initial design to aircraft maintenance, as the purpose is to make sure that anyone, no matter the rank or experience, can bring up safety concerns before incidents occur without fear of repercussions for challenging authority. It's likely that this cornerstone of aviation culture was ignored at too many points along the way here.

I am not defending Boeing, the FAA, or the airlines. Serious, likely criminal, mistakes were made by all.

I however take issue with Travis' approach of assigning blame this early and vigorously while making errors in explaining what happened. He especially attacks the the development process at Boeing, since software is his speciality, although he makes no claims as to having worked with real time or avionics software, aside from using products incorporating it. These are quite different types of software from normal code running a website or a bank. He does not, and can not, know what occurred when the code was written, yet makes significant declarations as to the incompetence of the engineers and coders involved.

If he were leading the investigation, I believe the most likely outcome would be pushback and coverup by those involved.

flora , April 22, 2019 at 12:19 pm

It's likely that this cornerstone of aviation culture was ignored at too many points along the way here.

I am not defending Boeing, the FAA, or the airlines. Serious, likely criminal, mistakes were made by all.

I however take issue with Travis' approach of assigning blame this early

I don't disagree with your description of how it used to be. However, since the FAA has reduced its regulatory role, and by extension given aircraft manufactures more leash to run with ideas that shouldn't be followed, we're left with the situation that large, potentially crippling tort lawsuits are one of the only checks left on manufacturer stupidity or malfeasance. Think of the Ford Pinto bolt-too-long-causing-gas-tank-explosions case. If the FCC won't make manufacturers think twice when internal engineers say 'this isn't a good idea, isn't a good design', maybe the potential of a massive lawsuit will make them think twice.

And this is where we get into pointing the finger, assigning blame, etc. I'm assuming there are good engineers at Boeing who warned against these multiple design failure and were ignored, the FCC was see-no-evil here-no-evil, and the MCAS went forward. Now come the law suits. It's the only thing left to 'get Boeing's attention'. I don't know if Travis' is too early. It's likely there's been plenty of chatter among the Boeing and industry engineers already. imo.

charles 2 , April 22, 2019 at 3:35 am

Training a pilot is building a very complicated automation system : what kind of thought process do you expect within the short timeframe (few minutes) of a crisis in a cockpit ? Kant's critique of pure reason ?Somehow people seem more comfortable from death coming from human error (I.e. a bad human automation system) that death coming from a design fault, but a death is a death

The problem is not automation vs no automation, it is bad corner-cutting automation vs good systematic and expensive automation. It is also bad integration between pilot brain based automation and system automation, which also boils out to corner cutting, because sharing too much information about the real behaviour of the system (if only it is known accurately ) increases the complexity and the cost of pilot training.

Real safety comes from proven design (as in mathematical proof). It is only achievable on simple systems because proofing is conceptually very hard. A human is inevitably a very complex system that is impossible to proof, therefore, beyond a certain standard of reliability, getting the human factor out of the equation is the only way to improve things further. we are probably close to that threshold with civil aviation.

Also, I don't see anywhere in aircraft safety statistics any suggestion of "crapification" of safety see https://aviation-safety.net/graphics/infographics/Fatal-Accidents-Per-Mln-Flights-1977-2017.jpg Saying that the improvement is due only the better pilot training and not to more intrinsically reliable airplanes is a stretch IMHO.

Similarly, regarding cars, the considerable improvement in death per km travelled in the last 30 years cannot be attributed only to better drivers, a large part comes from ESP and ABS becoming standard (see https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811182 ). If this is not automation, what is ?

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 7:57 am

It looks as if you didn't read the piece. The problem, which the author makes explicit, is the "ship now, patch later" philosophy that is endemic in software design.

And it would be better to look at flight safety stats within markets. You have great swathes of the emerging world starting to fly on airplanes during this period. I'm not saying the general trend isn't correct, but I would anticipate it's to a significant degree attributable to the maturation of emerging economy air systems. For instance, I flew on Indonesia's Garuda in the early 1990s and was told I was taking a safety risk; I'm now informed that it's a good airline. Similarly, in the early 1980s I was doing business in Mexico, and the McKinsey partner I was traveling with (who as a hobby read black box transcripts from plane crashes) was very edgy on the legs of our travels when we had to use AeroMexico (as in he'd natter on in a way that was very out of character for a typical older WASP-y guy, he was close to white knuckle nervous).

Marley's dad , April 22, 2019 at 10:28 am

Garuda's transition from "safety risk" to "good airline" was an actual occurrence. At one point Garuda and all other Indonesian air lines were prohibited from flying in the EU because of numerous crashes that were the result of management issues, that forced the airline(s) to change their ways.

Darius , April 22, 2019 at 10:11 am

ABS is an enhancement. MCAS is a kludge to patch up massive weaknesses introduced into the hardware by a chain of bad decisions going back almost 20 years.

Boeing should have started designing a new narrow-body when they cancelled the 757 in 2004. Instead, they chose to keep relying on the 737. The end result is MCAS and 300+ deaths.

Harrold , April 22, 2019 at 11:16 am

I'm not sure Boeing can design a fresh aircraft any more.

Olga , April 22, 2019 at 4:17 am

"There are numerous factual errors and misrepresentations, which many commenters (with more detailed knowledge of the subjects) on the article point out."
Not sure why anyone would mis-characterise comments. The first comment points out a deficiency, and explains it. There was only one other commenter, who alleged errors – but without explaining what those could be. He was later identified by another person as a troll. Almost all other comments were complimentary of the article. So why make the above assertion?

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 7:43 am

We have a noteworthy number of newbie comments making poorly-substantiated digs at the Spectrum IEEE piece. We've also seen this sort of non-organic-looking response when we've put up pro-union pieces when political fights were in play, like Wisconsin's Scott Walker going after unions.

AEL , April 22, 2019 at 9:29 am

Travis does indeed play fast and loose with a number of things. For example, his 0-360 engine does *not* have pistons the size of dinner plates (at a 130mm bore it isn't even the diameter of a particularly large saucer). MCAS is a stability augmentation system not stall prevention system and the 737 MAX wasn't "unstable" it was insufficiently stable. The 737 trim system acts on the stabilizer not the elevator (which is a completely different control surface). etc.

For the most part, it doesn't affect the thrust of his arguments which are at a higher level. However it does get distracting.

Harrold , April 22, 2019 at 11:19 am

"the 737 MAX wasn't "unstable" it was insufficiently stable"

The passengers are not "dead", they are insufficiently alive.

Olga , April 22, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Thank you – I was beginning to wonder what the difference was between unstable and insufficiently stable. Not that this is a subject to make jokes about.

JBird4049 , April 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Not that this is a subject to make jokes about.

Yeah, but sometimes the choice is to laugh or cry, and after constantly going WTF!?! every time I read about this horror, even mordantly grim humor is nice.

Walt , April 22, 2019 at 2:30 pm

Yes, stabilizer trim on the 737 acts on the horizontal stabilizer, not the elevator or "pilots' control columns."

As a former "73" pilot, I too find the author's imprecision distracting.

ChristopherJ , April 22, 2019 at 5:21 am

Investigators pipe up, but my understanding of a proper investigation is: a. find out what happened; b. find out why the incident occurred; c. what can be done to prevent.

The public opinion has already sailed I think, against the company. If negligent, adverse-safety decisions were made, the head people should be prosecuted accordingly.

Yet, I feel this isn't going to happen despite the reality that billions of humans never want to fly a boeing jet again. Why would you risk it? Toast and deservedly imho

Ape , April 22, 2019 at 5:35 am

"Agile" "use-case driven" software development: very dangerous, takes the disruptive, crappification approach (under some hands) of trying to identify the minimum investment to hit the minimal requirements, particularly focusing on an 80/20 Pareto rule distribution of efforts.

Which may be good enough for video delivery or cell-phone function, but not for life-critical or scientifically-critical equipment

JeffC , April 22, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Many people here are assuming Boeing uses modern software-development methodology in spite of flaws that make such an approach iffy in this field. Why assume that?

When I worked, many years ago now, as a Boeing software engineer, their software-development practices were 15 years behind the rest of the world. Part of that was sheer caution and conservatism re new things, precisely because of the safety culture, and part of it was because they did not have many of the best software people. They could rarely hire the best in part because cautious, super-conservative code is boring. Their management approach was optimized to get solid systems out of ordinary engineers with a near incomprehensible number of review and testing steps.

Anyone in this audience worked there in software recently? If not, fewer words about how they develop code might be called for. Yes, the MCAS system was seriously flawed. But we do not have the information to actually know why.

False Solace , April 22, 2019 at 1:40 pm

> Anyone in this audience worked there in software recently? If not, fewer words about how they develop code might be called for.

4/16 Links included a lengthy spiel from Reddit via Hacker News by a software engineer who worked at Boeing 10 years ago (far more recently than you) which detailed the horrors of Boeing's dysfunctional corporate culture at length. This is in addition to many other posts covering the story from multiple angles.

NC has covered this topic extensively. Maybe try familiarizing yourself with their content before telling others to shut up.

JeffC , April 22, 2019 at 2:32 pm

Excuse me? Are ad hominem attacks fine now? I didn't tell anyone to "shut up" or contradict the great amount of good reporting on Boeing's management dysfunction.

I just pointed out that at one time, yes way back there, there was a logic to it and that the current criticism here of its software-development culture in particular seems founded on a combination of speculation and general disgust with the software industry.

Whatever else I am or however wrong I may sometimes be, I am an engineer, and real engineers look for evidence.

NN , April 22, 2019 at 5:50 am

Moving the engines in itself didn't introduce safety risks, this tendency to nose up was always there. The primary problem is Boeing wanted to pretend MAX is the same plane as NG (the previous version) for certification and pilot training purposes. Which is why the MCAS is black box deeply hardwired into the control systems and they didn't tell pilots about it. It was supposed to be invisible, just sort of translating layer between the new airframe and pilots commanding it as the old one.

And this yearning for pre-automation age, for directly controlling the surfaces by cables and all, is misguided. People didn't evolve for flying, it's all learned the hard way, there is no natural way to feel the plane. In fact in school they will drill into you to trust the instruments and not your pedestrian instincts. Instruments and computers may fail, but your instincts will fail far more often.

After all 737 actually is old design, not fly by wire. And one theory of what happened in the Ethiopian case is that when they disengaged the automatic thing, they were not able to physically overcome the aerodynamic forces pushing on the plane. So there you have your cables & strings operated machine.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 7:40 am

I don't see basis for your assertion about safety risks given the counter-evidence in the form of the very existence of the MCAS software. Every article written on it points out it was to prevent the possibility of the plane stalling out when "punching up". And as the article describes, there were two design factors, the placement of the engines and the nacelles, which led to it generating too much lift in certain scenarios.

And your argument regarding what happened when the pilot turned off the autopilot is yet another indictment of Boeing's design. This is not "Oh bad pilots," this is "OMG, evidence of another Boeing fuckup." This is what occurred when the pilots disabled MCAS per instructions.

Have you not heard of purely mechanical systems that allow for the multiplication of force? It's another Boeing design defect that the pilots couldn't operate the flight stabilizer when the plane was under takeoff stresses. That's a typical use case! And it was what Boeing told pilots to do and it didn't work! From Reuters (apparently written before the black box detail revealed that the pilots could not control the stabilizers):

Boeing pointed to long-established procedures that pilots could have used to handle a malfunction of the anti-stall system, regardless of whether the pilots knew MCAS existed.

That checklist tells pilots to switch off the two stabilizer trim cutout switches on the central console, and then to adjust the aircraft's stabilizers manually using trim wheels.

And that's one of they should worry about most, since that's one of highest risk times for flight, and the plane should have been engineered with that scenario in mind. This raises the possibility that the inability of the pilots to handle the plane manually in takeoff also somehow resulted from the changes to the aerodynamics resulting from the placement of the bigger engines.

This is his argument about how the reliance on software has led to undue relaxation of good hardware design principles:

The original FAA Eisenhower-era certification requirement was a testament to simplicity: Planes should not exhibit significant pitch changes with changes in engine power. That requirement was written when there was a direct connection between the controls in the pilot's hands and the flying surfaces on the airplane. Because of that, the requirement -- when written -- rightly imposed a discipline of simplicity on the design of the airframe itself. Now software stands between man and machine, and no one seems to know exactly what is going on. Things have become too complex to understand.

NN , April 22, 2019 at 9:08 am

I'll cite the original article:

Pitch changes with power changes are common in aircraft. Even my little Cessna pitches up a bit when power is applied. Pilots train for this problem and are used to it.

Again, the plane already had the habit of picthing up and the changes didn't add that. The question isn't if, but how much and what to do about it. Nowhere did I read MAX exceeds some safety limits in this regard. If Boeing made the plane to physically break regulations and tried to fix it with software then indeed that would be bad. However, I'm not aware of that.

As for the Ethiopian scenario, I was talking about this article . It says when they tried manual, it very well could be beyond their physical ability to turn the wheels and so they were forced to switch electrical motors back on, but that also turned up MCAS again. In fact it also says this seizing up thing was present in the old 737 design and pilots were trained to deal with it, but somehow the plane become more reliable and training for this failure mode was dropped. This to me doesn't look like good old days of aviation design ruined by computers.

JerryDenim , April 22, 2019 at 5:57 pm

You should read the Ethiopian Government's crash preliminary crash report. Very short and easy to read. Contains a wealth of information. Regarding the pilot's attempt to use the manual trim wheel, according to the crash report, the aircraft was already traveling at 340 knots indicated airspeed, well past Vmo or the aircraft's certified airspeed when they first attempted to manually trim the nose up. It didn't work because of the excessive control forces generated by high airspeeds well beyond the aircraft's certification. I'm not excusing Boeing, the automated MCAS nose down trim system was an engineering abomination, but the pilots could have made their lives much easier by setting a more normal thrust setting for straight and level flight, slowing their aircraft to a speed within the normal operating envelope, then working their runaway nose-down pitch emergency.

none , April 22, 2019 at 6:21 am

I didn't like the IEEE Spectrum piece very much since the author seemed to miss or exaggerate some issues, and also seemed to confuse flying a Cessna with being expert about large airliners or aerospace engineering. The title says "software engineer" but at the end he says "software executive". Executive doesn't always mean non-engineer but it does mean someone who is full of themselves, and that shows through the whole article. The stuff I'm seeing from actual engineers (mostly on Hacker News) is a little more careful. I'm still getting the sense that the 737 MAX is fundamentally a reasonable plane though Boeing fucked up badly presenting it as a no-retraining-needed tweak to the older 737's.

There's some conventional wisdom that Boeing's crapification stems from the McDonnell merger in 1997. Boeing, then successful, took over the failing and badly managed McDonnell. The crappy McDonnell managers then spent the next years pushing out the Boeing managers, and subsequently have been running Boeing into the ground. I don't know how accurate that is, but it's a narrative that rings true.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 7:20 am

You are misrepresenting the Hacker News criticisms, and IMHO they misrepresent the piece. They don't question his software chops. And if you really knew the software biz, "software executive" often = developer who built a company (and that includes smallish ones). The guy OWNS a Cessna, which means he's spent as much on a plane as a lot of people spend on a house. If he was a senior manager as you posit, that means at large company, and no large company would let an employee write something like this. He's either between gigs or one of the top guys in a smallish private company where mouthing off like this won't hurt the business. Notice also his contempt for managers in the article).

He's also done flight simulator time on a 757, and one commentor pointed out that depending on the simulator, it could be tantamount to serious training, as in count towards qualifying hours to be certified to fly a 757.

They do argue, straw manning his piece, that he claims the big failure is with the software. That in fact is not what the article says. It says that the design changes in the 737 Max made it dynamically unstable, which is an unacceptable characteristic in any plane, no matter what size. He also describes at length the problem of relying on only one sensor as an input to the MCAS and how that undermined having the pilots be able to act as a backup .by looking at each other's instrumentation results.

The idea that he's generalizing from a Cessna is absurd. He describes how Cessnas have the pilot having greater mechanical control than jets like the 737. He describes how the pilots read the instrument results from each side of the plane, something which cannot occur in a Cessna, a single pilot plane. He refers to the Cessna documentation to make the point that the norm is to over-inform pilots as to how changes in the software affect how they operate the plane, not radically under-inform them as Boeing did with the 737 Max.

As to the reasonableness of Travis' concerns, did you miss that a former NASA engineer has the same reservations? Are you trying to say he doesn't understand how aircraft hardware works?

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 8:02 am

A few points:

He owns a 1978 Cessna 172 , goes for about $70K, so not quite house prices, more like a nice Tesla, whose drive by wire systems he seems to trust far more for some reason.

In regard to "dynamic instability" being unacceptable, this is a red herring. Most modern airliners rely on flight characteristic augmentation systems in normal operation, trim systems being the most common. Additionally, there are aircraft designed to be unstable (fighters) but rely on computers to fly them stably, to greatly increase manoeuvrability.

In regard to Cessnas being single pilot planes, the presence of flight controls on both sides of the cockpit would somewhat bring into question this assertion .? Most 172s do however have only one set of instrumentation. When operating with two pilots (as with let's say a student pilot and instructor) you would still have the issue of two pilots trying to agree on possibly faulty readings from one set of non-redundant instruments.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 8:27 am

No, it's a 1979 Cessna, and you don't know when he bought it and how much use it had, since price is significantly dependent on flight hours. The listings I show it costs over $100K. A quick Google search says a plane with a new feel is closer to $300K. Even $100K in equity is more than most people put down when buying a house

He also glides, and gliders often own or co-own their gliders.

The author acknowledges your point re fighters. Did you miss that he also says they are the only planes where pilots can eject themselves from the aircraft? Arguing from what is acceptable for a fighter, where you compromise a lot on other factors to get maneuverability, to a commercial jet is dodgy.

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 9:39 am

According to the registration it became airworthy in 1978, so perhaps that is the model year.

https://uk.flightaware.com/resources/registration/N5457E

Regarding fighters and instability, I'm not the one that stated it's "an unacceptable characteristic in any plane, no matter the size".

I am completely on Travis' side when it comes to the issues with culture and business that brought on these incidents. Seeing however that these affected and overrode good engineering, I believe it's vitally important that the engineering is discussed as accurately as possible. Hence my criticism of the piece.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 1:08 pm

Had you looked at prices as you claimed to, Cessnsa 172s specify the year in the headline description. 1977 v. 1978 v 1979 on a page I got Googling for 1979.

You are now well into the terrain of continuing to argue for argument sake.

PlutoniumKun , April 22, 2019 at 8:34 am

I agree with you that the article is good and the criticisms I've read seem largely unmerited (quite a few of those btl on that article are clearly bad faith arguments), but just to clarify:

That in fact is not what the article says. It says that the design changes in the 737 Max made it dynamically unstable, which is an unacceptable characteristic in any plane, no matter what size.

My understanding (non-engineer, but long time aviation nerd) is that many aircraft, including all Airbus's are dynamically unstable and use software to maintain stability. The key point I think that the article makes is that there is a fundamental difference between designing hardware and software in synchronicity to make a safe aircraft (i.e Airbus), and using software as a fudge to avoid making hard decisions when the hardware engineers find they can't overcome a problem without spending a fortune in redesigns.

Hard engineering 'fudges' are actually really common in aircraft design – little bumps or features added to address stability problems encountered during testing – an example being the little fore planes on the Tupolev 144 supersonic airliner. But it seems Boeing took a short cut with its approach and a lot of people paid for this with their lives. Only time will tell if it was a deep institutional failure within Boeing or just a flaw caused by a rushed roll-out.

I've personal experience of a catastrophic design flaw (not one that could kill people, just one that could cost hundreds of millions to fix) which was entirely down to the personal hang-ups of one particular project manager who was in a position to silence internal misgivings. Of course, in aircraft design this is not supposed to happen.

Thuto , April 22, 2019 at 6:21 am

I'm reminded of the famous "software is eating the world" quote by uber VC Marc Andreessen. He posits that in an era where Silicon valley style, software led disruption stalks every established industry, even companies that "make things" (hardware) need a radical rethink in terms of how they see themselves. A company like Boeing, under this worldview, needs to think of itself as a software company with a hardware arm attached, otherwise it might have its lunch eaten by a plucky upstart (to say nothing of Apple or Google) punching above its weight.

It's not farfetched to imagine an army of consultants selling this "inoculate yourself from disruption" thinking to companies like Boeing and being taken seriously. With Silicon valley's obsession with taking humans out of the loop (think driverless cars/trucks, operator-less forklifts etc) one wonders whether these accidents will highlight the limitations of technology and halt the seemingly inexorable march towards complex automation reducing pilots to cockpit observers coming along for the ride.

jonst , April 22, 2019 at 6:41 am

so perhaps Trump lurched blindly into the truth?

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/03/12/trump-says-planes-too-complex-after-crash-of-boeing-jet-in-ethiopia.html

WobblyTelomeres , April 22, 2019 at 7:30 am

"native pitch stability"

Let me guess. The author prolly flies a Cessna 172. [checks article]. Yep.

The 172 is one of the most docile and forgiving private planes ever. Ignore that my Mom flew hers into a stand of trees.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 8:32 am

Ad homimem and therefore logically invalid. Plus reading comprehension problem. The "native pitch stability" comment was from Mike Slack, a former NASA engineer, and not Travis, the Cessna owner.

Mel , April 22, 2019 at 9:39 am

I think that the point is that there are aircraft that don't take over the controls and dive into the ground. It's possible to have these kinds of aircraft. These kinds of aircraft are good to have. It's like an existence proof.

Octopii , April 22, 2019 at 8:28 am

No, not dangerously pro-automation. More like dangerously stuck in the past, putting bandaids on a dinosaur to keep false profits rolling in. AF447 could be argued against excessive automation, but not the Max.

tegnost , April 22, 2019 at 9:13 am

i think they are real profits. And the automation that crashed two planes over a short time span and it wasn't excessive? Band aids on what was one of the safest planes ever made (how many 737's crashed pre 737 max? the hardware problem was higher landing gear along with engines that were larger and added lift to the plane. MCAS was intended to fix that. It made it worse. I won't be flying on a MAX.

Carolinian , April 22, 2019 at 8:29 am

Thanks for the article but re the above comments–perhaps that 737 pilot commenter should weigh in because some expert commentary on this article is badly needed. My impression from the Seattle Times coverage is that the MCAS was not implemented to keep the plane from falling out of the sky but rather to finesse the retraining issue. In other words a competent pilot could handle the pitch up tendency with no MCAS assist at all if trained or even informed that such a tendency existed. And if that's the case then the notion that the plane will be grounded forever is dubious indeed.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 8:44 am

This isn't quite correct, and I suggest you read the article in full.

The issue isn't MCAS. It is that MCAS was to compensate for changes in the planes aerodynamics that were so significant that it should arguably have been recerttified as being a different plane. That was what Boeing was trying to avoid above all Former NASA engineer Mike Slack makes that point as well. Travis argues that burying the existence of MCAS in the documentation was to keep pilots from questioning whether this was a different plane:

It all comes down to money, and in this case, MCAS was the way for both Boeing and its customers to keep the money flowing in the right direction. The necessity to insist that the 737 Max was no different in flying characteristics, no different in systems, from any other 737 was the key to the 737 Max's fleet fungibility. That's probably also the reason why the documentation about the MCAS system was kept on the down-low.

Put in a change with too much visibility, particularly a change to the aircraft's operating handbook or to pilot training, and someone -- probably a pilot -- would have piped up and said, "Hey. This doesn't look like a 737 anymore." And then the money would flow the wrong way.

Carolinian , April 22, 2019 at 9:30 am

I think you just said what I said. My contention is that the only reason the plane could ever be withdrawn is that the design is so inherently unstable that this extra gizmo–the MCAS–was necessary for it to fly. Whereas it appears the MCAS was for marketing purposes and if it had never been added to the plane the two accidents quite likely may never have happened–even if Boeing didn't tell pilots about the pitch up tendency.

But I'm no expert obviously. This is just my understanding of the issue.

Darius , April 22, 2019 at 11:48 am

From what I've read at related links in the last week, a significant element is common type rating. Manufacturers don't have to go through expensive recertification if their modifications are minor enough, earning a common type rating. Thus, the successive incarnations of the 737 over the decades.

I'm only a layman, but a citizen who tries to stay informed and devours material on this topic. The common type rating merry go round needs to stop. It seems at least that a new engine with a different position that alters the basic physics of the plane shouldn't qualify for common type rating, which should be reserved only for the most minor of modifications.

barrisj , April 22, 2019 at 12:30 pm

As one who has followed the entirety of the MAX stories as detailed by the Seattle Times aviation reporters, it all comes back to "first principles": a substantive change in aerodynamics by introduction of an entirely new pair of engines should have required complete re-engineering of the airframe. We know that Boeing eschewed that approach, largely for competitive and cost considerations, and subsequently tried to mate the LEAP engines to the existing 737 airframe by installing the MCAS, amongst other design "tweaks", i.e., "kludging" a fix. Boeing management recognized that this wouldn't be the "perfect" aircraft, but with the help of a compliant FAA and a huge amount of "self-assessment", got the beast certified and airborne -- -- until the two crashes, that is. Whether the airlines and/or the flying public will ever accept the redo of MCAS and other ancillary fixes is highly problematic, as the entire concept was flawed from the kick-off.
Also, it should be mentioned in passing that even the LEAP engines are having some material-wear issues:
https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/cfm-reviews-fleet-after-finding-leap-1a-durability-i-442669/

b , April 22, 2019 at 8:46 am

Th IEEE Spectrum piece is somewhat reasonable but the author obvious lacks technical knowledge of the 737. He also does not understand why MCAS was installed in the first place.

For example:
– "However, doing so also meant that the centerline of the engine's thrust changed. Now, when the pilots applied power to the engine, the aircraft would have a significant propensity to "pitch up," or raise its nose.
– The MAX nose up tendency is a purely aerodynamic effect. The centerline of the thrust did not change much.

– "MCAS is implemented in the flight management computer, "
– No. It is implemented in the Flight Control Computer of which there are two. (There is only on FMC unit.)

-" It turns out that the Elevator Feel Computer can put a lot of force into that column -- "
– The Elevator Feel unit is not a computer but a deterministic hydraulic-mechanical system.

– "Neither such [software] coders nor their managers are as in touch with the particular culture and mores of the aviation world as much as the people who are down on the factory floor, "
– The coders who make the Boeing and Airbus systems work are specialized in such coding. Software development for aircrafts It is a rigid formularized process which requires a deep understanding of the aviation world. The coders appropriately implement what the design engineers require after the design review confirmed it. Nothing less, nothing more.

and more than a dozen other technical misunderstandings and mistakes.

If the author would have read some of the PPRUNE threads on the issue or asked an 737 pilot he would have known all this.

Senator-Elect , April 22, 2019 at 10:35 am

This.

Harrold , April 22, 2019 at 11:28 am

And yet the fact remains that the 737MAX is grounded world wide and costing Boeing and airlines millions every day.

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Given what has happened with Boeing manufacture (787s being delivered with tools and bottles rattling around in them), you have no basis for asserting how Boeing does software in practice these days.

And you have incontrovertible evidence of a coding fail: relying on only one sensor input when the plane had more than one sensor. I'm sorry, I don't see how you can blather on about safety and coders supposedly understanding airplanes with that coded in.

JeffC who actually worked at Boeing years ago and said the coding was conservative (lots of people checked it) because they were safety oriented but also didn't get very good software engineers, since writing software at Boeing was boring.

johnf , April 22, 2019 at 9:05 am

I still have some trouble blaming the 737 losses, ipso facto, on using automation to extend an old design. There are considerably more complex aircraft systems than MCAS that have been reliably automated, and building on a thoroughly proven framework usually causes less trouble than suffering the teething problems of an all new design.

At the risk of repeating the obvious, a basic principle of critical systems, systems which must be reliable, is that they can not suffer from single point failures. You want to require at least two independent failures to disturb a system, whose combined probability is so low that other, unavoidable failure sources predominate, for example, weather or overwhelming, human error.

This principle extends to the system's development. The design and programming of a (reliable) critical system can not suffer from single point failures. This requires a good many, skilled people, paying careful attention to different, specific stages of the process. Consider a little thing I once worked on: the indicator that confirms a cargo door is closed, or arguably, that is neither open nor unlatched. I count at least five levels of engineers and programmers, between Boeing and the FAA, that used to validate, implement and verify the work of their colleagues, one or more levels above and/or below: to insure the result was safe.

I bet what will ultimately come out is that multiple levels of the validation and verification chain have been grievously degraded ("crapified") to cut costs and increase profits. The first and last levels for a start. I am curious and will ask around.

Darius , April 22, 2019 at 11:58 am

The MAX isn't a proven framework. Boeing fundamentally altered the 737 design by shifting the position of the engines. The MCAS fudge doesn't fix that.

The Rev Kev , April 22, 2019 at 9:10 am

My own impression is that there seems to be a clash between three separate philosophies at work here. The first is the business culture of Boeing which had supplanted Boeing's historical aviation-centric ways of doing things in aircraft design. The bean-counters & marketing droids took over, outsourced aircraft construction to such places as non-union workshops & other countries, and thought that cutting corners in aircraft manufacture would have no long-term ill effects. The second philosophy is that of software design that failed to understand that the software had to be good to go as it was shipped and had little understanding of what happens when you ship beta-standard software to an operational aircraft in service. This was to have fatal consequences. The third culture is that of the pilots themselves which seek to keep their skills going in an aviation world that wants to turn them into airplane-drivers. If there is any move afoot to have self flying aircraft introduced down the track, I hope that this helps kill it.
Boeing is going to take a massive financial hit and so it should. Heads should literally roll over this debacle and it did not help their case when they went to Trump to keep this plane flying in the US without thought as to what could have happened if a US or Canadian 737 MAX had augured in. The biggest loser I believe is going to be the US's reputation with aviation. The rest of the aviation world will no longer trust what the FAA says or advise without checking it themselves. The trust of decades of work has just been thrown out the door needlessly. Even in the critical field of aircraft crash investigation, the US took a hit as Ethiopia refused the demands that the black boxes be sent to the US but sent them instead to France. That is something that has flown under the radar. This is going to have knock-on effects for decades to come.

Susan the other` , April 22, 2019 at 11:56 am

Beginning to look like a trade war with the EU. airbus, boeing, vw, US cars; but haven't seen Japan drawn into this yet. Mercedes Benz is saying EV cars are nonsense, they actually create more pollution than diesel engines and they are recommending methane gasoline (that sounds totally suicidal), and hydrogen power. Hydrogen has always sounded like a good choice, so why no acclaim? It can only be the resistance of vested interests. The auto industry, like the airline industry, is frantically trying to externalize its costs. Maybe we should all just settle down and do a big financial mutual insurance company that covers catastrophic loss by paying the cost of switching over to responsible manufacturing and fuel efficiency. Those corporations cooperate with shared subsidiaries that manufacture software to patch their bad engineering – why not a truce while they look for solutions?

voislav , April 22, 2019 at 9:34 am

The whole 737 development reminds me of a story a GM engineer told me. Similarly to the aviation industry, when GM makes modifications to an existing part on a vehicle, if the change is small enough the part does not need to be recertified for mechanical strength, etc. One of the vehicles he was working on had a part failure in testing, so they looked at the design history of the part. It turns out that, similarly to 737, this was a legacy part carried over numerous generations of the vehicle.

Each redesign of the vehicle introduced some changes, they needed to reroute some cabling, so they would punch a new hole through the part. But because the change was small enough the engineering team had the option of just signing off on the change without additional testing. So this went on for years, where additional holes or slits were made in the original part and each change was deemed to be small enough that no recertification was necessary. The cumulative change from the original certification was that this was now a completely different part and, not surprisingly, eventually it failed.

The interesting part of the story was the institutional inertia. As all these incremental changes were applied to the part, nobody bothered to check when was the last time part was actually tested and what was the part design as that time. Every step of the way everybody assumed their change is small enough not to cause any issue and did not do any diligence until a failure occured.

Which brings me back to the 737, if I am not mistaken, 737 MAX is, for certification purposes, considered an iteration of the original 737. The aircraft though is very different than the original, increased wingspan (117′ vs 93′), length (140′ vs. 100′). 737 NG is similarly different.

So for me the big issue with the MAX is the institutional question that allowed a plane so different from the original 737 certification to be allowed as a variant of the original, without additional pilot training or plane certification. Upcoming 777X has the same issue, it's a materially different aircraft (larger wingspan, etc.) that has a kludge (folding wingtips) to allow it to pass as a variant of the original 777. It will be interesting to see, in the wake of the MAX fiasco, what treatment does the 777X get when it comes to certification.

Susan the other` , April 22, 2019 at 12:35 pm

The FAA needs to be able to follow these tweaks. Maybe we citizens need a literal social contract that itemizes what we expect our government to actually do.

Matthew G. Saroff , April 22, 2019 at 9:35 am

There are also allegations of shoddy manufacturing on the 787 at Boeing's South Carolina (union busting) facility .

BTW, I do not believe that the problems are insoluble, or as a result of a design philosophy, but rather it is a result of placing sales over engineering.

There are a number of aerodynamic tweaks that could have dealt with this issue (larger horizontal tail comes to mind, but my background is manufacturing not aerodynamics), but this would require that pilots requalify for a transition between the NG and the MAX, which would likely mean that many airlines would take a second look at Airbus.

Carolinian , April 22, 2019 at 10:37 am

Your link was fully discussed in yesterday's Links.

cm , April 22, 2019 at 10:41 am

Yeah, that was a fascinating (and scary) article. Worth reading!

vomkammer , April 22, 2019 at 9:41 am

We should avoid blaming "software" or "automation" for this accident. The B737 MAX seems to be a case of "Money first, safety second" culture, combined with insufficent regulatory control.

The root of the B737 MAX accidents was an erroneous safety hazard assessment: The safety asessment (and the FAA) believed the MCAS had a 0.6 authority limit. This 0.6 limit meant that an erroneous MCAS function would only have limited consequences. In the safety jargon, its severity was classifed as "Major", instead of "Catastrophic".

After the "Major" classification was assigned, the subsequente design decions (like using a single sensor, or perhaps insufficient testing) are acceptable and in line with the civil aviation standards.

The problem is that the safety engineer(s) failed to understand that the 0.6 limit was self-imposed by the MCAS software, not enforced by any external aircraft element. Therefore, the MCAS software could fail in such a way that it ignored the limit. In consequence, MCAS should have been classifed "Catastrophic".

Everybody can make mistakes. We know this. That is why these safety assessments should be reviewed and challenged inside the company and by the FAA. The need to launch the MAX fast and the lack of FAA oversight resources surely played a greater role than the usage of software and automation.

oaf , April 22, 2019 at 9:46 am

Yves: Thanks for this post; it has (IMO) a level-headed perspective. It is not about assigning *blame*, it is about *What, Why, and How to Prevent* what happened from re-occurring. Blame is for courts and juries. Good luck finding jurors who are not predisposed; due to relentless bombardment with parroted misinformation and factoids.

YY , April 22, 2019 at 10:13 am

I wonder how often MCAS kicked in on a typical 737MAX flight, in situation where the weather vane advising of angle attack was working as per normal. Since we are excluding the time when auto-pilot is working and also the time when the flaps are down, there is only a very small time window immediately after take off. I would venture to guess that the MCAS would almost always adjust the plane at least once. This is once too many, if one is to believe that the notion of design improvement includes improvement in aerodynamic behavior. The fact that MCAS could only be overridden by disabling the entire motor control of the trim suggests that the MCAS feature is absolutely necessary for the thing to fly without surprise stalls. There is no excuse in a series of a product for handling associated with basic safety becoming worse with a new model. Fuel efficiency is laudable and a marketable thing, but not when packaged together with the bad compromise of bad flight behavior. If the fix is only by lines of code, they really have not fixed it completely. We know they are not going to be able to move the engines or the thrust line or increase the ground clearance of the plane so the software fix will be sold as the solution. While it probably does not mean that there will be more planes being trimmed to crash into the ground, it does make for some anxiety for future passengers. Loss of sales would not be a surprise but more of a surprise will be the deliveries that will be completed regardless.

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 10:34 am

MCAS was intended to rarely if ever activate. It is supposed to nudge the aircraft to a lower angle of attack if AoA is getting high to cause instability in certain parts of the flight envelope. An overly aggressive takeoff climb would be an example. Part of the problem is that a faulty AoA sensor resulted in the system thinking it was at this extreme case, repeatedly, and in a way that was difficult for the pilots to identify since they had not been properly trained and the UX was badly implemented.

YY , April 22, 2019 at 10:52 am

Yes I've heard that. But do not believe it, given how it is implemented. So I really would like to know how it behaves in non-catastrophic situations. If so benign, why not allow it to turn off without turning off trim controls? Did not the earlier 737's not need this feature?

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 2:19 pm

In a non-catastrophic situation, and if functioning correctly, it's my understanding it would felt by the flight crew as mild lowering of the nose by the system. This is is to keep the plane from increasing angle of attack, which could lead to a stall or other instability.

It's my understanding MCAS should be treated as a separate system from the trim controls, although they both control the pitch of the stabilator. Trim controls are generally not "highly dynamic", in that the system (or pilot) sets the trim value only occasionally based primarily on things like the aircraft weight distribution (this could however change during a flight as fuel is burned, for example). MCAS on the other hand, while monitoring AoA continuously in flight modes where it is activated only kicks in to correct excessive inputs from the pilots, or as a result of atmospheric disturbances (wind shear would be one possible cause of excessive AoA readings).

Neither trim nor MCAS are required to manually fly the plane safely if under direct pilot control and the the pilot is fully situationally aware.

Earlier 737s did not need this feature due to different aerodynamic properties of the plane. They however still have assistive features such as stick shakers to help prevent leaving the normal flight envelope.

Some technical details here:

http://www.b737.org.uk/mcas.htm

Alex V , April 22, 2019 at 2:47 pm

I've read a bit more in regard to allowing MCAS to turn off without turning off trim, I have no idea why it was implemented as it was, since previous 737s allow separate control of trim and MCAS. More here:

https://feitoffake.wordpress.com/2019/04/06/overview-of-many-failures-by-boeing-in-designing-the-boeing-737-max/

This however still doesn't change the fact that neither is required to fly the plane, given proper training and communication, both of which were criminally lacking.

John , April 22, 2019 at 10:13 am

IBG, YBG corporate decisions by people who will probably never fly in these planes, complete regulatory capture and distract with the little people squabbling over technical details. In China there would probably already have been a short trial, a trip to the river bank, a bullet through the head, organ harvesting for the corporate jocks responsible. Team Amrika on the way down.

Synoia , April 22, 2019 at 10:27 am

On the subject of software, the underlying issue of ship and patch later is because the process of software is full of bad practice.

Two examples, "if" and "new".

If is a poor use of a stronger mechanism, FSMs, or Finite State Machines.
'new' is a mechanism that leads to memory leaks, and crashes.

I developed some middleware to bridge data between maineframs and Unix systems that ran 7×24 for 7 years continuously without a failure, because of FSMs and static memory use.

Anarcissie , April 22, 2019 at 5:14 pm

The problem of poor quality in software, like poor quality in almost anything else, is not technological.

BillC , April 22, 2019 at 10:50 am

In an email to me (and presumably to all AAdvantage program members) transmitted at 03:00 April 17 UTC ( i.e. , 11 PM April 16 US EDT), American Airlines states that it is canceling 737 MAX flights through August 19 (instead of June 5 as stated by the earlier newspaper story cited in this post).

Eliminating introductory and concluding paragraphs that are marketing eyewash (re. passenger safety and convenience), the two payload paragraphs state in their entirety:

To avoid last-minute changes and to accommodate customers on other flights with as much notice as possible before their travel date, we have made the decision to extend our cancellations for the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft through August 19, 2019, while we await recertification of the MAX.

While these changes impact only a small portion of our more than 7,000 departures each day this summer, we can plan more reliably for the peak travel season by adjusting our schedule now. Customers whose upcoming travel has been impacted as a result of the schedule change are being contacted by our teams.

I'm surprised this has not already appeared in earlier comments. Anybody else get this?

Yves Smith Post author , April 22, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Will update, thanks!

Peak BS , April 22, 2019 at 11:24 am

Now do Tesla & their bs Tesla Autonomy Investor Day please.

It appears to have it all from beta testing several ton vehicles on public roads, (like BA's beta testing of the MAX) to regulatory capture( of NTSB, & NTHSA as examples) and a currently powerful PR team.

Apparently they're going to show off their "plan" how one will be able to use their Tesla in full autonomous mode while every other OEM sez it can't be done by the end of this year let alone within a couple decades as the average person perceives autonomous driving.

Watch it live here at 11am PCT: https://livestream.tesla.com

737 Pilot , April 22, 2019 at 2:05 pm

First of all, I didn't read the article, so I'm not going to critique it. There were some comments in the excerpt that Yves provided that I think require some clarification and/or correction.

The 737 is not a fly-by-wire (FBW) aircraft. There are multiple twisted steel control cables that connect the flight control in the cockpit to the various control surfaces. The flight controls are hydraulically assisted, but in case of hydraulic (or electric) failure, the cable system is sufficient to control the aircraft.

In both the 737NG and the MAX, there are automation functions that can put in control inputs under various conditions. Every one of these inputs can be overridden by the pilot.

In the case of the recent MAX accidents, the MCAS system put in an unexpected and large input by moving the stabilizer. The crews attempted to oppose this input, but they did so mostly by using elevator input (pulling back on the control column). This required a great deal of arm strength which they eventually could not overcome. However, if either pilot had merely used the strength of their thumb to depress the stabilizer trim switch on the yoke, they could have easily opposed and cancelled out whatever input MCAS was trying to put in. Why neither pilot took this fairly basic measure should be one of the key areas of investigation.

These comments are not intended in any way to exonerate Boeing, the FAA, and the compromises that went into the MAX design. There is a lot there to be concerned about. However, we are not dealing with a case of an automation system that was so powerful and autonomous that pilots could not override what it was trying to do.

marku52 , April 22, 2019 at 5:13 pm

Bjorn over at Leeham had this analysis:
"the Flight Crew followed the procedures prescribed by FAA and Boeing in AD 2018-23-51. And as predicted the Flight Crew could not trim manually, the trim wheel can't be moved at the speeds ET302 flew."

In other words, the pilots followed the Boeing recommended procedure to turn off the automatic trim, but at the speeds they were flying and the large angle that MCAS has moved the stabilizer to, the trim wheels were bound up and could not be moved by human effort.

https://leehamnews.com/2019/04/05/bjorns-corner-et302-crash-report-the-first-analysis/

They then turned electric trim on to try to help their effort, and MCAS put the nose down again.

Also: Did no one ever test the humans factors of this in a simulator? At HP, when we put out a new printer, we had human factors bring in average users to see if using our documentation, they could install the printer.

It is mind-blowing to me that Boeing and the FAA can release an Air Worthiness Directive (The fix after the Lion crash) that was apparently never simulator tested to see if actual humans could do it.

stevelaudig , April 22, 2019 at 2:50 pm

The bureaucratic decision-making model is the same as that which gifted us with the Challenger 'accident' which was no accident.

ChrisPacific , April 22, 2019 at 4:13 pm

None of the above should have passed muster. None of the above should have passed the "OK" pencil of the most junior engineering staff, much less a DER [FAA Designated Engineering Representative].

That's not a big strike. That's a political, social, economic, and technical sin .

This is the thing that has been nagging me all along about this story. The "most junior engineering staff" thing is not an exaggeration – engineers get this drilled into them until it's part of their DNA. I read this and immediately thought that it points to a problem of culture and values (a point I was pleased to see the author make in the next paragraph). Bluntly, it tells us that the engineers are not the ones running the show at Boeing, and that extends even to safety critical situations where their assessment should trump everything.

One of two things needs to happen as a result of this. Either Boeing needs to return to the old safety first culture, or it needs to go out of business. If neither happens, we are going to see a lot more planes falling out of the sky.

VietnamVet , April 22, 2019 at 7:15 pm

I want to reemphasize that all airplane crashes are a chain of events; if one event does not occur there are no causalities. Lion Air flight should never have flow with a faulty sensor. But afterwards when the elevator jackscrew was found in the full nose down position that forced the plane to dive into the Java Sea, Boeing and FAA should have grounded the fleet until a fix was found. The deaths in Ethiopia are on them. The November 2018 737-8 and -9 Airworthiness Directive was criminally negligent. Without adequate training the Ethiopian Airline pilots were overwhelmed and not could trim the elevator after turning off the jackscrew electric motor with the manual trim control due to going too fast with takeoff thrust from start to finish. With deregulation and the end of government oversight, the terrible design of the 737 Max is solely on Boeing and politicians who deregulated certification. Profit clearly drove corporate decisions with no consideration of the consequences. This is popping up consistently now from VW to Quantitative Easing, or the restart of the Cold War. Unless the FAA requires pilot and copilot simulator training on how to manually trim the 737 Max with all hell breaking loose in the cockpit, the only recourse for customers is to boycott flying Boeing. Ultimately the current economic system that puts profit above all else must end if humans are to survive.

[Apr 22, 2019] Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet

Apr 22, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , April 21, 2019 at 01:21 AM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/business/boeing-dreamliner-production-problems.html

April 20, 2019

Claims of Shoddy Production Draw Scrutiny to a Second Boeing Jet
By Natalie Kitroeff and David Gelles

Workers at a 787 Dreamliner plant in South Carolina have complained of safety lapses, echoing broader concerns about the company.

Boeing is facing questions about rushed production on another jet, the 737 Max, which was involved in two deadly crashes.

ilsm -> anne... , April 21, 2019 at 04:02 AM
The Air Force has delayed delivery of new KC 46's, a B767 rigged to refuel other airplanes for "quality" issues.

[Apr 16, 2019] Boeing has called its 737 Max 8 'not suitable' for certain airports

Apr 16, 2019 | www.latimes.com

Before last month's crash of a flight that began in Ethiopia, Boeing Co. said in a legal document that large, upgraded 737s "cannot be used at what are referred to as 'high/hot' airports."

At an elevation of 7,657 feet -- or more than a mile high -- Addis Ababa's Bole International Airport falls into that category. High elevations require longer runways and faster speeds for takeoff.

[Apr 15, 2019] Trump Says You cannot break the laws of physics and then fix them with software.

Apr 15, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

remove Share link Copy Trump would have been better off Tweeting something like...

"The safety of the flying public worldwide is of the utmost importance to all of us. I have been in constant contact with Boeings CEO and have complete confidence that the improvements they are making will make the 737MAX one of the safest planes ever built. No 737 MAX will take to the skies that I would not put my own family member on".

Not everything is about BRANDING

play_arrow 4 play_arrow 3 Reply Report

DrBrown314 , 22 minutes ago link

See the problem with the max is it will never be safe. What boeing did was try and put a square peg in a round hole. To save costs both in certification and pilot training boeing decided to just take the 737 airframe and put bigger more fuel efficient engines on it so they wouldn't loose market share to airbus. That was a stupid mistake. The bigger engines hung so low they had to mount them higher and more forward thus creating aerodynamic issues. The new engine mounting causes air flow disruption over the inner wing during climb out. That is why they messed with the mcas. You cannot break the laws of physics and then fix them with software. Sorry that will never work.

Cobra Commander , 40 minutes ago link

Boeing is still delivering the 73NG and should make an offer to the airlines to replace each MAX order 1 for 1 with a 737-800 or -900 at cost. The traveling public will have immediate confidence, the airlines can fill schedules, and Boeing can clean house on the MAX "leadership" team.

Cobra!

[Apr 10, 2019] Boeing Sued For Defrauding Shareholders After Fatal Crashes

Notable quotes:
"... Boeing "effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty" by rushing the 737 MAX to market without "extra" or "optional" safety features - a practice that has outraged the company's critics - as it feared ceding market share to Airbus SE. Moreover, Boeing failed to disclose a conflict of interest surrounding its 'regulatory capture' of the FAA, which was revealed to have outsourced much of the approval process for the 737 MAX to Boeing itself. ..."
"... Of course, this shareholder lawsuit is only the tip of the legal iceberg for Boeing. The company will likely face a blizzard of lawsuits filed by family members of those killed during the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, the first of which has already been filed. ..."
Apr 10, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Boeing shareholders who lost money selling their stock after the Ethiopian Airlines crash are suing the company for concealing unflattering material information from the public, defrauding shareholders in the process, Reuters reports.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in Chicago, is seeking damages after the March 10 crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 wiped $34 billion off Boeing's market cap within two weeks. But if true, the crux of the lawsuit might have broader repercussions for the company as it tries to convince regulators to lift a grounding order that has kept the Boeing 737 MAX 8 grounded since mid-March.

In essence, the suit alleges that the company concealed safety concerns about the 737 MAX and its anti-stall software following the Lion Air crash in October that killed 189 people, but did nothing to alert the public or correct the issue.

Boeing "effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty" by rushing the 737 MAX to market without "extra" or "optional" safety features - a practice that has outraged the company's critics - as it feared ceding market share to Airbus SE. Moreover, Boeing failed to disclose a conflict of interest surrounding its 'regulatory capture' of the FAA, which was revealed to have outsourced much of the approval process for the 737 MAX to Boeing itself.

Lead plaintiff Richard Seeks bought 300 Boeing shares in early March and sold them at a loss after the shares dumped more than 12% in the weeks after the second crash, which would have left him with a loss between $15,000 and $20,000. The lawsuit seeks damages for Boeing investors who bought the company's shares from Jan. 8 to March 21. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and CFO Gregory Smith have also been named as defendants.

Of course, this shareholder lawsuit is only the tip of the legal iceberg for Boeing. The company will likely face a blizzard of lawsuits filed by family members of those killed during the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, the first of which has already been filed.

Though its shares have recovered from their post-grounding lows, they have hit another bout of turbulence this week after the company announced that it would slash production of the 737 MAX by 20%, before announcing that its aircraft orders in Q1 fell to 95 from 180 a year earlier.


Know thy enemy , 2 hours ago link

Having grown up in Seattle within 15 miles of Plant 2 on Boeing Field, I know a lot about The Boeing Company. I went to private high school with Bill Boeing III and during college had a great summer job at Troy Laundry delivering shop towels and uniforms to all of the Boeing plants in the region.

I used to laugh because, when I drove the laundries 20ft UPS style box van through those enormous sliding doors into Everett's 747 Plant to deliver fresh laundry and pickup soiled's, I would spend the next 4-hours driving around 'inside' the building. I got to know dozens of workers by name, who 'worked the line'.

After college, more than 20% of my graduating class went to work at 'the lazy B' as it was commonly known. Not me. I went into sales and started selling computers.....to Boeing and the FAA.

As the size my computer sales territory was increased to include the entire West Coast I began to fly Boeing aircraft almost everyday for 10-years. and on-board those aircraft I met and flew with many Boeing executives.

One day I happened to sit next the 'current' Boeing HR director, and after getting to know him confided that I frequently smoked marijuana after work. To which he replied, "I would gladly have the 15% of our work force that are alcoholics, or into hard drugs smoke pot because it's effects are short-term but when people come to work 'hung-over or jacked-up' that is when bad **** happens and mistakes are made".

Even though, I had been 'on the line' and met many Boeing employees I had not realized until that moment the seriousness of what he was saying. The HR guy went on to say, that they 'had to have redundancy at every step in the construction process to ensure bad workmanship didn't make it into the final product'.

Fast forward 20-years; and Boeing airplanes are falling from the sky......and it's not a surprise to me.

IronForge , 3 hours ago link

BA are better off ending the 737MAX; and replacing Orders with another Model Line.

Shockwave , 2 hours ago link

The legacy 737 "NG" is a solid aircraft, and its still being produced down the same build lines as the MAX. Just the previous generation. That plane drove the vast majority of Boeings sales. It woulndt be hard to scale down MAX production and just go back to producing the NG, but they wont do that.

They'll fix the MAX and move on, and as long as no more crashes occur, eventually the public will forget.

JustPastPeacefield , 56 minutes ago link

Thats a hard sell to airlines when the competing plane has a 15% lower operating cost.

silverer , 3 hours ago link

The FED can't let the stock price fall on a company of that size, so the FED trading desk will lend assistance. There is a certain evil in this, because the stock deserves to fall, and when it doesn't, it has the effect of vindicating the company for the events that occurred. This is why free markets should never be meddled with. It's actually immoral.

CatInTheHat , 3 hours ago link

This is utterly predictable and something I've already said repeatedly: Boeing did not tell pilots or its customers about the mechanism. Boeing is criminally liable for the MURDER of 300+ people. Families will sue and cancellations will follow.

Then this:

"In essence, the suit alleges that the company concealed safety concerns about the 737 MAX and its anti-stall software following the Lion Air crash in October that killed 189 people, but did nothing to alert the public or correct the issue.

Boeing "effectively put profitability and growth ahead of airplane safety and honesty"

Pilots complained about the problem and were IGNORED.

This is good to see. Boeing needs to be held accountable for MURDER. But instead Trump slaps tariffs on the competitor, AIRBUS, to pay for Boeing's criminality.

This will not stop companies choosing AIRBUS and its good safety record over a bunch of psychopathic murderers. If Boeing had put safety first, it's competitor would not be picking up business..ironic...

3-fingered_chemist , 3 hours ago link

I still don't understand the point of the MCAS. Clearly it causes the plane to do a face plant into the ground. However, like in that one situation where the jump seat pilot knew to turn it off, the plane flew fine. Boeing says the MCAS is to prevent the plane from stalling at steep angles of attack, but the plane seems to stay in the air better without it. So which is it? The fact is the Boeing neglected to put it in the manual suggests it was done on purpose. The fact that they sold a version with no redundancy to the AOC sensor seems to be have done on purpose. Since Boeing is basically an arm of the DOD, the question should be who was on the flights that crashed? That's the missing link in this debacle.

ArtOfIgnorance , 3 hours ago link

Check out " moonofalabama.org ", very good explanation, plus some further links to pilot forums.

From what I understand, the pilots get into some sort of "catch 22"....even if they switch of the MACS, they are doomed.

I'm not I anyway in the flying biz, but work in power generating control systems, and funny enough, use quite a lot of Rosemount sensors in ex areas. They are good sensors, but always use two in mission critical operations.

Why Boeing opted for just one, really blows my mind.

What would an extra sensor cost, 10.000USD?, altogether with new software..bla-bla.

Now look what this is costing them.

Well, this is what happens when MBA bean counters take over a former proud engineering company.

Tragic.

Urban Roman , 3 hours ago link

From what I understand, the pilots get into some sort of "catch 22"....even if they switch of the MACS, they are doomed.

Sort of like that. The flight surface is controlled by a big screw. Normally an electric motor spins the nut that drives the screw up and down. The switch cuts out the motor, and they have hand cranks to move the screw. But in this last crash, the too-clever-by-half software system had already run the screw all the way to the 'nose down' end, and it would have taken them several minutes of hand cranking to get it back to the center position. They didn't have several minutes, and the motor is capable of driving the screw the other way. Since the problem was intermittent (software kicks in on a time interval), they were hoping it would behave for a few seconds, and switched the motor back on. It didn't.

On a side note, the Airbus does not have these hand-crank controls. Everything is run by the computer -- so if anything goes wrong, the pilot must 'reason' with the computer to correct it. . . "Sorry Dave, I can't do that".

Well, this is what happens when MBA bean counters take over a former proud engineering company.

This reminds me of Feynman's analysis of what went wrong with the Space Shuttle Challenger. The engineers said the O-rings would be too stiff and brittle, and the launch should wait until it warmed up a bit. But a delay was costing the shuttle program a million dollars a minute, or whatever.

Feynman explained that the early space program was run by the pocket-protector guys with slide rules. And it worked. But over time the management had been replaced by people whose careers depended on influencing other people and not on matter, energy, and materials.

Shockwave , 2 hours ago link

Another thing, the pilots had commanded full throttle and never throttled back during the whole ordeal. So when they killed the trim motor, they couldn't overcome the aerodynamic force on the stab to move the trim screw back into position.

Apparently they could have got the trim corrected ENOUGH to make a difference if they could have moved it more easily, but at the speeds they were going, the airspeed over the stab was too high to manually move the screw fast enough to make a difference.

jerry-jeff , 1 hour ago link

another interesting point is that the system is deactivated when flaps are selected...only works when aircraft is in 'clean' config.

Shockwave , 1 hour ago link

Interesting. Did not know that.

Shockwave , 2 hours ago link

Sort of. When you kill the electric trim motor, you have to use a manual wheel to adjust trim. The issue came that their airspeed was so high that the load on the stab made it nearly impossible to move without the electric motor.

They had been at full throttle from rotation until they hit the dirt. The pilot had told the copilot to throttle back but it got lost in the chaos somewhere and never happened.

So when they killed the trim motor and tried to move it manually, they had to overcome all the aerodynamic force on the stab, and they just couldnt do it at those airspeeds without the electric motor to overcome the force.

MilwaukeeMark , 3 hours ago link

The bigger the fuselage the bigger the engines needed. The bigger the engines needed the more forward on the wing they go to keep from scraping on the ground. The more forward on the wing the more unbalanced then plane became. They've stretch a frame which was developed in the 60's beyond its original design.

MilwaukeeMark , 4 hours ago link

The executives who oversaw the fiasco that is now Boeing, long ago parachuted out with multi million dollar pensions and stock options while their Seattle workers had their pensions slashed. They're now assembling Dreamliners in NC with off the street non unionized labor, former TacoBell and Subway workers. They moved their Corp headquarters to Chicago away from where the actual work was being performed to pursue the "work" of stock buy backs and cozying up to the FAA. All the above a recipe for disaster. A perfect mirror of how the 1/10th of 1% operate in the Oligarchy we call America.

thunderchief , 4 hours ago link

Boeing is in full on crisis mode because of the 737 Max fiasco.

Anything else they say or do is pure show and fraud.

The are not to far from losing the entire narrowbody airline market, pretty much the meat and bones of Airline production.

Today Airbus still has the A-320 neo, and Russia and China are chomping at the bit with the MC21 and C919, all far more advanced and superior than a 1960's designed stretched pulled and too late 737 .

If Boeing loses market share and the narrow body airline market, shame on the USA.

This will become a text book expample of the fall of a nation and empire.

How can a Company like Boeing have technology like the B2 and everything the DOD gives them and lose the international market for narrowbody airliners..

To call this a national disgrace is a compliment to Boeing and the US aerospace industies complete disregard and hubris in such an important component of worldwide aviation.

This in not a sad chapter for Boeing, its sad for the USA

south40_dreams , 4 hours ago link

Boeing is headquartered in Shitcago, how fitting

wally_12 , 3 hours ago link

Don't forget K-Cars, Vega, Pinto, Aztec etc. Auto industry has the type of idiots as Boeing.

Government bailout on the horizon.

south40_dreams , 3 hours ago link

Not bailout, coverup and lots and lots of lipstick will be applied to this pig

IronForge , 2 hours ago link

BeanCounters, Parasitoids, and Bells-WhistlesMktg Types Running an Aerospace/Aviation Engineering and Defense Tech Conglomerate into the Ground - Literally.

Civil Aviation Div "Jumped the Shark" the moment they passed on a redesigned Successor to the 737 Base Model in the mid 2000s and decided to strap on Larger Engines and GunDeck the Revision and Certifications.

So Sad Too Bad. No Sympathies for BA.

Catullus , 4 hours ago link

Failure to disclose regulatory capture is a tough one. Do you issue an 8K on that one? Maybe bury it in the 10K in risk statements

"We maintain several regulatory relationships that will rubber stamp approvals for our aircraft. In the event of a major safety violation, those cozy relationships could be exposed and we be found to not only be negligent, but also nefariously so through regulatory capture."

You bought an airline manufacturer that had a malfunction. There's plenty of people to blame, but it's part of the business you own.

boooyaaaah , 4 hours ago link

Question?
Are the millennials too dishonest for freedom

Free markets, free exchange of ideas and information

The truth shall set you free

Arrow4Truth , 2 hours ago link

They have no comprehension of freedom, which translates to, they are incapable of seeing the truth. The indoctrination has worked swimmingly.

haley's_vomit , 4 hours ago link

Nikki 'luvsNetanyahu' Haley is Boeing's 'rabidjew' answer to their "look! up in the sky! it's Silverstein's Air Force"

[Apr 10, 2019] Boeing's 737 Max 1960s Design, 1990s Computing Power and Paper Manuals

Apr 10, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

The 737 Max is a legacy of its past, built on decades-old systems, many that date back to the original version. The strategy, to keep updating the plane rather than starting from scratch, offered competitive advantages. Pilots were comfortable flying it, while airlines didn't have to invest in costly new training for their pilots and mechanics. For Boeing, it was also faster and cheaper to redesign and recertify than starting anew.

But the strategy has now left the company in crisis, following two deadly crashes in less than five months. The Max stretched the 737 design, creating a patchwork plane that left pilots without some safety features that could be important in a crisis -- ones that have been offered for years on other planes. It is the only modern Boeing jet without an electronic alert system that explains what is malfunctioning and how to resolve it. Instead pilots have to check a manual.

The Max also required makeshift solutions to keep the plane flying like its ancestors, workarounds that may have compromised safety. While the findings aren't final, investigators suspect that one workaround, an anti-stall system designed to compensate for the larger engines, was central to the crash last month in Ethiopia and an earlier one in Indonesia.

"They wanted to A, save money and B, to minimize the certification and flight-test costs," said Mike Renzelmann, an engineer who worked on the Max's flight controls. "Any changes are going to require recertification." Mr. Renzelmann was not involved in discussions about the sensors.

... ... ...

On 737s, a light typically indicates the problem and pilots have to flip through their paper manuals to find next steps. In the doomed Indonesia flight, as the Lion Air pilots struggled with MCAS for control, the pilots consulted the manual moments before the jet plummeted into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people aboard.

"Meanwhile, I'm flying the jet," said Mr. Tajer, the American Airlines 737 captain. "Versus, pop, it's on your screen. It tells you, This is the problem and here's the checklist that's recommended."

Boeing decided against adding it to the Max because it could have prompted regulators to require new pilot training, according to two former Boeing employees involved in the decision.

The Max also runs on a complex web of cables and pulleys that, when pilots pull back on the controls, transfer that movement to the tail. By comparison, Airbus jets and Boeing's more modern aircraft, such as the 777 and 787, are "fly-by-wire," meaning pilots' movement of the flight controls is fed to a computer that directs the plane. The design allows for far more automation, including systems that prevent the jet from entering dangerous situations, such as flying too fast or too low. Some 737 pilots said they preferred the cable-and-pulley system to fly-by-wire because they believed it gave them more control.

In the recent crashes, investigators believe the MCAS malfunctioned and moved a tail flap called the stabilizer, tilting the plane toward the ground. On the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight, the pilots tried to combat the system by cutting power to the stabilizer's motor, according to the preliminary crash report.

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Once the power was cut, the pilots tried to regain control manually by turning a wheel next to their seat. The 737 is the last modern Boeing jet that uses a manual wheel as its backup system. But Boeing has long known that turning the wheel is difficult at high speeds, and may have required two pilots to work together.

In the final moments of the Ethiopian Airlines flight, the first officer said the method wasn't working, according to the preliminary crash report. About 1 minute and 49 seconds later, the plane crashed, killing 157 people.

Steve Lovelien Waukesha,WI 25m ago

The Seattle Times published what I consider a devastating article a few Sundays ago. It highlighted the depth to which Boeing and the FAA cut corners on the certification of the Max, more specifically the characterization of the impact of a failure of the new MCAS system. This allowed them to utilize the cheaper single sensor AOA vane instead of 2 or 3. The aircraft also got delivered with the MCAS system applying many more nose down units of trim than what was published in the certification process. Topping it off was the failure of Boeing to disclose to its customers that the MCAS system was installed or what abnormal or emergency procedures would accompany the system.


Catalin Iasi 2h ago

True, there are two kinds of pilots, and some are better. BUT no pilot should be put in a critical situation by bad and rushed design. What was Boeing thinking? `Yes, there is slight chance that things can go wrong... but if the pilot is experienced, if the weather is fine, if the FO is focused (and so on...) they will surely make it.' Why taking that risk? They should design a plane that even a drunk pilot can handle.
AeroEngineer Toronto 2h ago
The MCAS moves the entire horizontal tail (aka horizontal stabilizer) not just "a tail flap called the stabilizer". Normal stabilizer trim also moves the whole horizontal stabilizer. Presumably the "flap" being referred to here, incorrectly, is the elevator, a flight control surface on the trailing edge of the horizontal tail, which is control by pulling and pushing the flight control column. Both horizontal stabilizer trim and elevator affect the pitch (nose up, nose down) of the aircraft. Typically, horizontal stabilizer trim is used to maintain a particular attitude (e.g. level flight in cruise) without requiring the pilot to continously apply significant forces to the control column, which is tiring. When MCAS engages it effectively is attempting to "cancel out" the pilot's elevator command (pulling back on the control column to bring the nose up by ) by moving the horizontal stabilizer to counteract the pilots action (rotating the the horizontal stabilizer so that it's leading edge points down).
Tony Boston 2h ago
Boeing should have gone with a clean sheet of paper design. Look at the Airbus A220, previously known as Bombardier C Series. It has nearly similar seating, yet it carries less fuel, but has a longer range than the MAX8. Modern wing design. Heck, Boeing should have just bought Bombardier 10 years ago. Now they are in the arms of Airbus.
Ed N Southbury,CT 2h ago
Why doesn't BA just trash the entire max8 program and become a subcontractor for A320s instead? After all there is a demand for 5000 aircraft that now will not be fulfilled. Boeing management should be put on trial for criminal negligence.
Jim Mooney Apache Junction, AZ 2h ago
Finally, a comprehensive report that doesn't go on and on about software. The problem was a mechanical and training one, and instead of fixing the problems, the Bean Counters took over and went on the cheap.

[Apr 09, 2019] Boeing's 737 Max 1960s Design, 1990s Computing Power and Paper Manuals - The New York Times

Apr 09, 2019 | www.nytimes.com

Pilots start some new Boeing planes by turning a knob and flipping two switches.

The Boeing 737 Max, the newest passenger jet on the market, works differently. Pilots follow roughly the same seven steps used on the first 737 nearly 52 years ago: Shut off the cabin's air-conditioning, redirect the air flow, switch on the engine, start the flow of fuel, revert the air flow, turn back on the air conditioning, and turn on a generator.

The 737 Max is a legacy of its past, built on decades-old systems, many that date back to the original version. The strategy, to keep updating the plane rather than starting from scratch, offered competitive advantages. Pilots were comfortable flying it, while airlines didn't have to invest in costly new training for their pilots and mechanics. For Boeing, it was also faster and cheaper to redesign and recertify than starting anew.

But the strategy has now left the company in crisis, following two deadly crashes in less than five months . The Max stretched the 737 design, creating a patchwork plane that left pilots without some safety features that could be important in a crisis -- ones that have been offered for years on other planes. It is the only modern Boeing jet without an electronic alert system that explains what is malfunctioning and how to resolve it. Instead pilots have to check a manual.

The Max also required makeshift solutions to keep the plane flying like its ancestors, workarounds that may have compromised safety. While the findings aren't final, investigators suspect that one workaround, an anti-stall system designed to compensate for the larger engines, was central to the crash last month in Ethiopia and an earlier one in Indonesia.

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The Max "ain't your father's Buick," said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the American Airlines pilots' union who has flown the 737 for a decade. He added that "it's not lost on us that the foundation of this aircraft is from the '60s."

Dean Thornton, the president of Boeing, with an engine on the first 737-400 in 1988 in Seattle. The larger engines for Boeing's new Max line of jets prompted a number of design issues. Credit Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times, via Associated Press
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Dean Thornton, the president of Boeing, with an engine on the first 737-400 in 1988 in Seattle. The larger engines for Boeing's new Max line of jets prompted a number of design issues. Credit Benjamin Benschneider/The Seattle Times, via Associated Press

[Boeing was "go, go, go " to beat Airbus with the 737 Max.]

The Max, Boeing's best-selling model, with more than 5,000 orders, is suddenly a reputational hazard. It could be weeks or months before regulators around the world lift their ban on the plane, after Boeing's expected software fix was delayed . Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have canceled some flights through May because of the Max grounding.

The company has slowed production of the plane, putting pressure on its profits, and some buyers are reconsidering their orders. Shares of the company fell over 4 percent on Monday, and are down 11 percent since the Ethiopia crash.

"It was state of the art at the time, but that was 50 years ago," said Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing engineer who helped design the Max's cockpit. "It's not a good airplane for the current environment."

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The 737 has long been a reliable aircraft, flying for decades with relatively few issues. Gordon Johndroe, a Boeing spokesman, defended the development of the Max, saying that airlines wanted an updated 737 over a new single-aisle plane and that pilots were involved in its design.

"Listening to pilots is an important aspect of our work. Their experienced input is front-and-center in our mind when we develop airplanes," he said in a statement. "We share a common priority -- safety -- and we listen carefully to their feedback." He added that American regulators approved the plane under the same standards they used with previous aircraft.

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Boeing introduced the 737 Max as a reliable fuel- and cost-efficient solution to air travel in the 21st century. After two fatal Max crashes, all of the Max aircraft in the world are believed to have been grounded. Credit Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

[ Boeing announced that it was going to cut production of the 737 Max. ]

Boeing's chief executive, Dennis Muilenburg, said in a statement on Friday that the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia appeared to have been caused by the Max's new anti-stall system. "We have the responsibility to eliminate this risk, and we know how to do it," he said.

At a factory near Seattle on Jan. 17, 1967, flight attendants christened the first Boeing 737, smashing champagne bottles over its wing. Boeing pitched the plane as a smaller alternative to its larger jets, earning it the nickname the "Baby Boeing."

Early on, sales lagged Boeing's biggest competitor, McDonnell Douglas. In 1972, Boeing had delivered just 14 of the jets, and it considered selling the program to a Japanese manufacturer, said Peter Morton, the 737 marketing manager in the early 1970s. "We had to decide if we were going to end it, or invest in it," Mr. Morton said.

Ultimately, Boeing invested. The 737 eventually began to sell, bolstered by airline deregulation in 1978. Six years later, Boeing updated the 737 with its "classic" series, followed by the "next generation" in 1997, and the Max in 2017. Now nearly one in every three domestic flights in the United States is on a 737, more than any other line of aircraft.

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Each of the three redesigns came with a new engine, updates to the cabin and other changes. But Boeing avoided overhauling the jet in order to appease airlines, according to current and former Boeing executives, pilots and engineers, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the open investigations. Airlines wanted new 737s to match their predecessors so pilots could skip expensive training in flight simulators and easily transition to new jets.

Boeing 737 Max: What's Happened After Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air Crashes

Boeing has come under intense scrutiny after its best-selling 737 Max jet was involved in two deadly crashes in five months.

Boeing's strategy worked. The Federal Aviation Administration never required simulator training for pilots switching from one 737 to the next.

"Airlines don't want Boeing to give them a fancy new product if it requires them to retrain their pilots," said Matthew Menza, a former 737 Max test pilot for Boeing. "So you iterate off a design that's 50 years old. The old adage is: If it's not broke, don't fix it."

It did require engineering ingenuity, to ensure a decades-old jet handled mostly the same. In doing so, some of the jet's one-time selling points became challenges.

For instance, in the early years of the 737, jet travel was rapidly expanding across the world. The plane's low-slung frame was a benefit for airlines and airports in developing countries. Workers there could load bags by hand without a conveyor belt and maintain the engines without a lift, Mr. Morton said. In the decades that followed, the low frame repeatedly complicated efforts to fit bigger engines under the wing.

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By 2011, Boeing executives were starting to question whether the 737 design had run its course. The company wanted to create an entirely new single-aisle jet. Then Boeing's rival Airbus added a new fuel-efficient engine to its line of single-aisle planes, the A320, and Boeing quickly decided to update the jet again.

The 737 Max 8 at Boeing's plant in Renton, Wash. Nearly one in every three domestic flights in the United States is on a 737, more than any other line of aircraft. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
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The 737 Max 8 at Boeing's plant in Renton, Wash. Nearly one in every three domestic flights in the United States is on a 737, more than any other line of aircraft. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

"We all rolled our eyes. The idea that, 'Here we go. The 737 again,'" said Mr. Ludtke, the former 737 Max cockpit designer who spent 19 years at Boeing.

"Nobody was quite perhaps willing to say it was unsafe, but we really felt like the limits were being bumped up against," he added.

Some engineers were frustrated they would have to again spend years updating the same jet, taking care to limit any changes, instead of starting fresh and incorporating significant technological advances, the current and former engineers and pilots said. The Max still has roughly the original layout of the cockpit and the hydraulic system of cables and pulleys to control the plane, which aren't used in modern designs. The flight-control computers have roughly the processing power of 1990s home computers. A Boeing spokesman said the aircraft was designed with an appropriate level of technology to ensure safety.

When engineers did make changes, it sometimes created knock-on effects for how the plane handled, forcing Boeing to get creative. The company added a new system that moves plates on the wing in part to reduce stress on the plane from its added weight. Boeing recreated the decades-old physical gauges on digital screens.

As Boeing pushed its engineers to figure out how to accommodate bigger, more fuel-efficient engines, height was again an issue. Simply lengthening the landing gear to make the plane taller could have violated rules for exiting the plane in an emergency.

Boeing 737 engines at the company's factory in 2012. By 2011, Boeing executives were starting to question whether the 737 design had run its course. Credit Stephen Brashear/Associated Press
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Boeing 737 engines at the company's factory in 2012. By 2011, Boeing executives were starting to question whether the 737 design had run its course. Credit Stephen Brashear/Associated Press
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Instead, engineers were able to add just a few inches to the front landing gear and shift the engines farther forward on the wing. The engines fit, but the Max sat at a slightly uneven angle when parked.

While that design solved one problem, it created another. The larger size and new location of the engines gave the Max the tendency to tilt up during certain flight maneuvers, potentially to a dangerous angle.

To compensate, Boeing engineers created the automated anti-stall system, called MCAS, that pushed the jet's nose down if it was lifting too high. The software was intended to operate in the background so that the Max flew just like its predecessor. Boeing didn't mention the system in its training materials for the Max.

Boeing also designed the system to rely on a single sensor -- a rarity in aviation, where redundancy is common. Several former Boeing engineers who were not directly involved in the system's design said their colleagues most likely opted for such an approach since relying on two sensors could still create issues. If one of two sensors malfunctioned, the system could struggle to know which was right.

Airbus addressed this potential problem on some of its planes by installing three or more such sensors. Former Max engineers, including one who worked on the sensors, said adding a third sensor to the Max was a nonstarter. Previous 737s, they said, had used two and managers wanted to limit changes.

The angle of attack sensor, bottom, on a Boeing 737 Max 8. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
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The angle of attack sensor, bottom, on a Boeing 737 Max 8. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

"They wanted to A, save money and B, to minimize the certification and flight-test costs," said Mike Renzelmann, an engineer who worked on the Max's flight controls. "Any changes are going to require recertification." Mr. Renzelmann was not involved in discussions about the sensors.

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The Max also lacked more modern safety features.

Most new Boeing jets have electronic systems that take pilots through their preflight checklists, ensuring they don't skip a step and potentially miss a malfunctioning part. On the Max, pilots still complete those checklists manually in a book.

A second electronic system found on other Boeing jets also alerts pilots to unusual or hazardous situations during flight and lays out recommended steps to resolve them.

On 737s, a light typically indicates the problem and pilots have to flip through their paper manuals to find next steps. In the doomed Indonesia flight, as the Lion Air pilots struggled with MCAS for control, the pilots consulted the manual moments before the jet plummeted into the Java Sea, killing all 189 people aboard.

"Meanwhile, I'm flying the jet," said Mr. Tajer, the American Airlines 737 captain. "Versus, pop, it's on your screen. It tells you, This is the problem and here's the checklist that's recommended."

Boeing decided against adding it to the Max because it could have prompted regulators to require new pilot training, according to two former Boeing employees involved in the decision.

The Max also runs on a complex web of cables and pulleys that, when pilots pull back on the controls, transfer that movement to the tail. By comparison, Airbus jets and Boeing's more modern aircraft, such as the 777 and 787, are "fly-by-wire," meaning pilots' movement of the flight controls is fed to a computer that directs the plane. The design allows for far more automation, including systems that prevent the jet from entering dangerous situations, such as flying too fast or too low. Some 737 pilots said they preferred the cable-and-pulley system to fly-by-wire because they believed it gave them more control.

In the recent crashes, investigators believe the MCAS malfunctioned and moved a tail flap called the stabilizer, tilting the plane toward the ground. On the doomed Ethiopian Airlines flight, the pilots tried to combat the system by cutting power to the stabilizer's motor, according to the preliminary crash report.

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Once the power was cut, the pilots tried to regain control manually by turning a wheel next to their seat. The 737 is the last modern Boeing jet that uses a manual wheel as its backup system. But Boeing has long known that turning the wheel is difficult at high speeds, and may have required two pilots to work together.

In the final moments of the Ethiopian Airlines flight, the first officer said the method wasn't working, according to the preliminary crash report. About 1 minute and 49 seconds later, the plane crashed, killing 157 people.

Correction : April 8, 2019

An earlier version of this article transposed the death tolls in two crashes involving Boeing's 737 Max jets. In the Lion Air crash in Indonesia last year, 189 people died, not 157; 157 people were killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash last month, not 189. Rebecca R. Ruiz and Stephen Grocer contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research. A version of this article appears in print on April 9, 2019 , on Page A 1 of the New York edition with the headline: Boeing's 737 Max: '60s Design Meets '90s Computing Power. Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe

[Apr 08, 2019] Deregulation, financialization and Boeing crashes

Notable quotes:
"... The problem was that the marketing department has been totally divorced from production and works as instructed by the financiers in Chicago whose concern is only for the next quarter's profits. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.wsws.org

niveb -> Mcomment, 4 days ago

The safety violations and regulatory blindness in this case appear to be so flagrant that it is difficult to believe that any engineers would not have advised against selling the 'plane.'

The problem was that the marketing department has been totally divorced from production and works as instructed by the financiers in Chicago whose concern is only for the next quarter's profits.

Had the corporation been publicly owned the compulsion to put a flawed and dangerous 'plane into the air would have been greatly mitigated -- one imagines that as soon as it was deemed operational massive bonuses were paid out to key individuals. Which is incidentally something that ought to be revealed if there is a proper trial.

So far as democratic control-workers management- is concerned is there any doubt that the views and opinions of those who built and tested the Max would have made it impossible for the psychopath financiers to sell the 'product' in an unsafe condition?

[Apr 08, 2019] Trump deadly deregulation

Apr 04, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , April 05, 2019 at 01:50 PM

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/opinion/trump-deadly-deregulation.html

April 4, 2019

Donald Trump Is Trying to Kill You: Trust the pork producers; fear the wind turbines. By Paul Krugman

There's a lot we don't know about the legacy Donald Trump will leave behind. And it is, of course, hugely important what happens in the 2020 election. But one thing seems sure: Even if he's a one-term president, Trump will have caused, directly or indirectly, the premature deaths of a large number of Americans.

Some of those deaths will come at the hands of right-wing, white nationalist extremists, who are a rapidly growing threat, partly because they feel empowered by a president who calls them "very fine people."

Some will come from failures of governance, like the inadequate response to Hurricane Maria, which surely contributed to the high death toll in Puerto Rico. (Reminder: Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens.)

Some will come from the administration's continuing efforts to sabotage Obamacare, which have failed to kill health reform but have stalled the decline in the number of uninsured, meaning that many people still aren't getting the health care they need. Of course, if Trump gets his way and eliminates Obamacare altogether, things on this front will get much, much worse.

But the biggest death toll is likely to come from Trump's agenda of deregulation -- or maybe we should call it "deregulation," because his administration is curiously selective about which industries it wants to leave alone.

Consider two recent events that help capture the deadly strangeness of what's going on.

One is the administration's plan for hog plants to take over much of the federal responsibility for food safety inspections. And why not? It's not as if we've seen safety problems arise from self-regulation in, say, the aircraft industry, have we? Or as if we ever experience major outbreaks of food-borne illness? Or as if there was a reason the U.S. government stepped in to regulate meatpacking in the first place?

Now, you could see the Trump administration's willingness to trust the meat industry to keep our meat safe as part of an overall attack on government regulation, a willingness to trust profit-making businesses to do the right thing and let the market rule. And there's something to that, but it's not the whole story, as illustrated by another event: Trump's declaration the other day that wind turbines cause cancer.

Now, you could put this down to personal derangement: Trump has had an irrational hatred for wind power ever since he failed to prevent construction of a wind farm near his Scottish golf course. And Trump seems deranged and irrational on so many issues that one more bizarre claim hardly seems to matter.

But there's more to this than just another Trumpism. After all, we normally think of Republicans in general, and Trump in particular, as people who minimize or deny the "negative externalities" imposed by some business activities -- the uncompensated costs they impose on other people or businesses.

For example, the Trump administration wants to roll back rules that limit emissions of mercury from power plants. And in pursuit of that goal, it wants to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from taking account of many of the benefits from reduced mercury emissions, such as an associated reduction in nitrogen oxide.

But when it comes to renewable energy, Trump and company are suddenly very worried about supposed negative side effects, which generally exist only in their imagination. Last year the administration floated a proposal that would have forced the operators of electricity grids to subsidize coal and nuclear energy. The supposed rationale was that new sources were threatening to destabilize those grids -- but the grid operators themselves denied that this was the case.

So it's deregulation for some, but dire warnings about imaginary threats for others. What's going on?

Part of the answer is, follow the money. Political contributions from the meat-processing industry overwhelmingly favor Republicans. Coal mining supports the G.O.P. almost exclusively. Alternative energy, on the other hand, generally favors Democrats.

There are probably other things, too. If you're a party that wishes we could go back to the 1950s (but without the 91 percent top tax rate), you're going to have a hard time accepting the reality that hippie-dippy, unmanly things like wind and solar power are becoming ever more cost-competitive.

Whatever the drivers of Trump policy, the fact, as I said, is that it will kill people. Wind turbines don't cause cancer, but coal-burning power plants do -- along with many other ailments. The Trump administration's own estimates indicate that its relaxation of coal pollution rules will kill more than 1,000 Americans every year. If the administration gets to implement its full agenda -- not just deregulation of many industries, but discrimination against industries it doesn't like, such as renewable energy -- the toll will be much higher.

So if you eat meat -- or, for that matter, drink water or breathe air -- there's a real sense in which Donald Trump is trying to kill you. And even if he's turned out of office next year, for many Americans it will be too late.

ilsm -> anne... , April 05, 2019 at 03:56 PM
"uninsured" in the for profit system is a terrible measure!

US health outcomes in relation to OEDC remains sad.

point -> anne... , April 05, 2019 at 07:19 PM
One wonders how when expected deaths are 1/x and activity is x, then the product does not mean 1 expected death, and then ordinary legal consequences.
mulp -> anne... , April 06, 2019 at 03:25 AM
Trump does not want to go back to the 50s when government policy was to greatly increase costs by paying more workers more, while driving down prices, and elinimating rents and scarcity profits.

Trump wants to kill jobs that are paid, but force work that is unpaid.

Well, if you means 1850, by the 50s, that's when Trump would have excelled by raping his slaves to create more workers he would force to work, probably Brazil style, worked to death to cut costs, based on continued enslavement of slaves, ie, no ban on slave imports after 1808.

JohnH -> anne... , April 06, 2019 at 03:39 PM
Trump may be trying to kill us...but do Democrats have a plan to save us? So far, I can discern no coherent message or plan from corrupt, comatose Democrats other than 'Trump is guilty [of something or other.]
mulp -> JohnH... , April 07, 2019 at 03:11 PM
You are simply rejecting Democrats calls to reverse policies since 1970 to MAGA as failed liberal policies because its not new, never tried before, and not free.

The growth of the 50s and 60s was too costly, requiring people to work, save, and pay ever rising prices, taxes, and living costs.

You want economics where you can buy a million dollar home for $50,000 and have schools funded by modest property taxes on million dollar homes, but with low tax rates on houses assessed at $40,000.

TANSTAAFL

The only way working class families get better off is by paying higher costs.

Zero sum.

Christopher H. said in reply to anne... , April 07, 2019 at 11:00 AM
The Jungle was written about Chicago and Chicago just elected 5 (possibly 6) socialists to the City Council (which is made up of 50 total alderman).

Chicago also elected a black lesbian mayor but she's not that progressive.

I guess Krugman would dismiss this all as "purity" politics.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/news/andre-vasquex-democratic-socialist-pat-oconnor-40th-ward-aldermanic-election/

04/05/2019, 05:37pm

Meet the democratic socialist who sent Rahm's floor leader packing

By Mark Brown

There's never been a Chicago politician who quite fits the profile of Andre Vasquez, the former battle rapper and current democratic socialist who just took down veteran 40th Ward Ald. Patrick O'Connor, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's city council floor leader.

That probably scares some people.

But those folks might want to nod to the wisdom of the 54 percent of voters in the North Side ward who waded through an onslaught of attack ads and concluded they have nothing to fear from the 39-year-old AT&T account manager, his music or his politics.

I stopped by Vasquez's campaign office to satisfy my own curiosity about this new breed of aldermen. Vasquez will be part of a Chicago City Council bloc of at least five, probably six democratic socialists who, if nothing else, will alter the debate on a range of issues.

Vazquez said he understands democratic socialism as "just injecting a healthy dose of democracy in a system we already have.

"Where we see the influence of big money and corporations in our government, where we see the corruption in the council, where we see elected officials as bought and paid for, to me, democratic socialism is providing a counterbalance," he said.

Vasquez also reminded me that generalizing about democratic socialists is as foolish as generalizing about Democrats.

"I think even within democratic socialism there's such a spectrum of different folks, right? I tend to be a counterbalance to some of the louder stuff, the louder hardcore, what some would view as extreme," said Vasquez, noting that he sometimes takes flak within democratic socialist circles because he's never read Marx and doesn't "bleed rose red."

"Everyone's got their part to play," he said. "Somebody's going to be the loud one in the room because you need that kind of impetus to move things forward. And someone's got to be the one who's making deals on legislation. You can't have ideological fights and think you're going to come up with solutions."

Though Vasquez prefers the dealmaker role, his background suggests he also could get loud if the occasion demanded.

Until he decided it was time to do something else with his life around 2010, Vasquez was a battle rapper who performed under the stage name Prime. He had enough success to pay the bills for a while, touring nationally and appearing on MTV's "Direct Effect" and HBO's "Blaze Battle."

For old people like me who are unclear on the concept (begging the pardon of the rest of you), battle rapping involves performers trading insults in rhyme put to music.

"Then, imagine you have a crowd around you," Vasquez explained. "And now people are cheering you on, and the insults are getting more vicious and intricate, and it becomes a sporting match. Right? So, in that arena, you're getting heralded for how well you can insult the person in front of you while rhyming and improvising all as this stream of consciousness is coming out."

I suggested a battle rap might occasionally be just the antidote to the drudgery of a council meeting, but Vasquez wasn't amused.

The problem with battle rapping, as 40th Ward voters were reminded ad nauseam during the runoff campaign, is that the genre relies heavily on crude insults invoking disrespectful terms for women and LGBTQ individuals.

"The issue is toxic masculinity plagues everything," said Vasquez, who obliquely fronted an apology for his past verbal misdeeds early in the campaign -- and more directly when hit with a barrage of negative mailers detailing a greatest hits of his transgressions.

A lesser candidate would have been toast at that point, but Vasquez had girded himself in advance through his door-to-door organizing.

By then, enough 40th Ward residents knew who Vasquez really was -- the son of Guatemalan immigrants, a city kid from the neighborhoods who had become a family guy with two young kids and a late-discovered talent for politics -- that they couldn't be scared off.

Vasquez, who lives in Edgewater, was introduced to politics when he felt the Bern in 2014 and volunteered for Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. A left-leaning community group, Reclaim Chicago, then recruited Vasquez to expand upon his organizing talents -- and taught him how to build a classic grassroots campaign.

The result is a new Latino alderman in a ward where fewer than one-fifth of the voters are Latino. And a Democratic Socialist representing a ward previously ruled by Emanuel's floor leader.

"I'm not trying to plant a flag," Vasquez said. "I'm trying to make sure that people can live here and not be forced out."

Christopher H. said in reply to Christopher H.... , April 07, 2019 at 11:02 AM
"Vasquez, who lives in Edgewater, was introduced to politics when he felt the Bern in 2014 and volunteered for Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. A left-leaning community group, Reclaim Chicago, then recruited Vasquez to expand upon his organizing talents -- and taught him how to build a classic grassroots campaign."

I like the centrists like Krugman and liberals here like EMike who dismiss Bernie as a cult of personality. No he's spurring local organizing which doesn't revolve around him.

mulp -> Christopher H.... , April 07, 2019 at 03:34 PM
Will Bernie as president build walls around big cities like Chicago, build iron Curtains, to keep the rich inside these cities where all their wealth is taxed away every year, and they are prevented from moving to the towns outside Chicago city limits?

[Apr 08, 2019] A320 series vs B737 Max 8

Notable quotes:
"... In fact Airbus 320 series never had the same issue as it was properly designed from scratch and not like Max 8 retrofitted to carry bigger engines by that changing distribution of balance of the Aircraft and hence requiring steeper ascending angle and faster speed (for the same wing design) and hence by design more prone to stalling while in takeoff phase. ..."
"... So what is the same in B737 Max and A320 was response of AI software to sensor failures and specific external conditions of flight. In both cases such scenarios were never trained in simulators. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.wsws.org

Kalen4 days ago

Thanks for the report but I may add that AI auto pilot systems on Airbus are not same or similar to MCAS as they are all integrated in autopilot on A320 series while on B737 Max 8 they are completely separate from one another not communicating at all.

In fact Airbus 320 series never had the same issue as it was properly designed from scratch and not like Max 8 retrofitted to carry bigger engines by that changing distribution of balance of the Aircraft and hence requiring steeper ascending angle and faster speed (for the same wing design) and hence by design more prone to stalling while in takeoff phase.

The problem with A320 crash over Atlantic was failure of one or two of two sensors and while in cruise phase of flight autopilot AI software response was just inappropriate in fact detrimental as pilots were blinded disoriented during night over the ocean trying to figure out where they are as conflicting data was coming in.

It seems by some accounts they trusted autopilot decisions and suggestions and simply descended, hit into ocean almost horizontally.

So what is the same in B737 Max and A320 was response of AI software to sensor failures and specific external conditions of flight. In both cases such scenarios were never trained in simulators.

[Apr 08, 2019] Why aren't Boeing executives being prosecuted for the 737 Max 8 crashes

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Evidence has mounted implicating in both crashes an automated anti-stall system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was installed by Boeing in response to the new plane's tendency to pitch upward and go into a potentially fatal stall. On a whole number of fronts -- design, marketing, certification and pilot training -- information from the black boxes of the two planes points to a lack of concern for the safety of passengers and crew on the part of both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, reaching the level of criminality. ..."
"... Despite the presence on the plane of two angle-of-attack sensors, which signal a potential stall and trigger the automated downward pitch of the plane's nose, MCAS relied on data from only one of the sensors. This means the standard redundancy feature built into commercial jets to avert disasters resulting from a faulty sensor was lacking. Boeing's main rival to the 737 Max, the European-built Airbus A320neo, for example, uses data from three sensors to manage a system similar to MCAS. ..."
"... Pilot certification for a commercial plane typically requires hundreds of hours of training, both in simulators and in actual flights. Boeing itself is now mandating at least 21 days of training on new Max planes. ..."
"... There is no innocent explanation for these obvious safety issues. They point to reckless and arguably criminally negligent behavior on the part of Boeing executives, who rushed the new plane into service and marketed it against the Airbus A320neo on the basis of its cost-saving features. ..."
"... This is highlighted by a press release the day of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in which Boeing stated that "for the past several months and in aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610," the company "has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX." ..."
"... In other words, both Boeing and the FAA were aware, possibly even before the October 2018 Lion Air crash and certainly afterward, that a system critical to the safe operation of the aircraft needed to be fixed, and still allowed the plane to continue flying. The wording also suggests that the plane shouldn't have been certified for flight in the first place. ..."
"... This was aided and abetted by the Trump administration, which shielded Boeing as long as it could by not ordering the FAA to ground the plane immediately after the Ethiopian Airlines crash. There were no doubt immense concerns that such a move would cut into Boeing's multibillion-dollar profits and affect its stock price, which has nearly tripled since the election of Trump in November 2016, accounting for more than 30 percent of the increase in the Dow Jones index since then. ..."
"... The relationship between Trump and Muilenburg is only a symptom of the much broader collusion between the airline industry and the US government. Starting in 2005 and expanded during the Obama administration, the FAA introduced the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program, which allows the agency to appoint as "designees" airplane manufacturers' employees to certify their own company's aircraft on behalf of the government. ..."
"... This is the logical end of the deregulation of the airline industry as a whole that was spearheaded by the Democratic Carter administration, which passed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. With the help of liberal icon Edward Kennedy, the legislation disbanded the Civil Aeronautics Board, which up to that point treated interstate airlines as a regulated public utility, setting routes, schedules and fares. ..."
Apr 04, 2019 | www.wsws.org

It is nearly a month since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which slammed into the ground only six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa airport, killing all 157 people on board. That disaster came less than five months after the fatal crash of Lion Air Flight 610 only 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta airport, killing all 189 passengers and crew members.

Both crashes involved the same airplane, the Boeing 737 Max 8, and both followed wild up-and-down oscillations which the pilots were unable to control.

In the weeks since these disasters, there have been no calls within the media or political establishment for Boeing executives to be criminally prosecuted for what were evidently entirely avoidable tragedies that killed a total of 346 people. This speaks to the corrupt relationship between the US government and the aerospace giant -- the biggest US exporter and second-largest defense contractor -- as well as the company's critical role in the stock market surge and the ever-expanding fortunes of major Wall Street investors.

Black box recordings and simulations show that in the 60 seconds the pilots had to respond to the emergency, faulty software forced the Lion Air flight into a nose dive 24 separate times, as the pilots fought to regain control of the aircraft before plunging into the ocean at more than 500 miles per hour.

Evidence has mounted implicating in both crashes an automated anti-stall system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was installed by Boeing in response to the new plane's tendency to pitch upward and go into a potentially fatal stall. On a whole number of fronts -- design, marketing, certification and pilot training -- information from the black boxes of the two planes points to a lack of concern for the safety of passengers and crew on the part of both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, reaching the level of criminality.

The most recent revelations concerning the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash, based on preliminary findings from the official investigation, show that the pilots correctly followed the emergency procedures outlined by Boeing and disengaged the automated flight control system. Nevertheless, the nose of the plane continued to point downward. This strongly suggests a fundamental and perhaps fatal flaw in the design of the aircraft. Numerous questions have been raised about the design and certification process of the 737 Max 8 and MCAS, including:

Despite the presence on the plane of two angle-of-attack sensors, which signal a potential stall and trigger the automated downward pitch of the plane's nose, MCAS relied on data from only one of the sensors. This means the standard redundancy feature built into commercial jets to avert disasters resulting from a faulty sensor was lacking. Boeing's main rival to the 737 Max, the European-built Airbus A320neo, for example, uses data from three sensors to manage a system similar to MCAS.

Boeing Vice President Mike Sinnett admitted last November that cockpit warning lights alerting pilots of a faulty angle-of-attack sensor were only optional features on the Max 8. The MCAS system was absent from pilot manuals and flight simulators, including for the well-known flight training program X-Plane 11, which came out in 2018, one year after the first commercial flight of the 737 Max 8. Pilot training for the 737 Max 8, which has different hardware and software than earlier 737s, was a single one-hour computer course.

Pilot certification for a commercial plane typically requires hundreds of hours of training, both in simulators and in actual flights. Boeing itself is now mandating at least 21 days of training on new Max planes.

There is no innocent explanation for these obvious safety issues. They point to reckless and arguably criminally negligent behavior on the part of Boeing executives, who rushed the new plane into service and marketed it against the Airbus A320neo on the basis of its cost-saving features.

Threatened with a loss of market share and profits to its chief competitor, Boeing reduced costs by claiming that no significant training on the new Max 8 model, with the money and time that entails, was necessary for pilots with previous 737 experience.

Such imperatives of the capitalist market inevitably downgrade safety considerations. This is highlighted by a press release the day of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in which Boeing stated that "for the past several months and in aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610," the company "has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX."

In other words, both Boeing and the FAA were aware, possibly even before the October 2018 Lion Air crash and certainly afterward, that a system critical to the safe operation of the aircraft needed to be fixed, and still allowed the plane to continue flying. The wording also suggests that the plane shouldn't have been certified for flight in the first place.

This was aided and abetted by the Trump administration, which shielded Boeing as long as it could by not ordering the FAA to ground the plane immediately after the Ethiopian Airlines crash. There were no doubt immense concerns that such a move would cut into Boeing's multibillion-dollar profits and affect its stock price, which has nearly tripled since the election of Trump in November 2016, accounting for more than 30 percent of the increase in the Dow Jones index since then.

Trump himself received a call from Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg two days after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, during which Muilenburg reportedly continued to uphold the Max 8's safety. The FAA finally grounded the plane on March 13, after every other country in the world had done so.

The relationship between Trump and Muilenburg is only a symptom of the much broader collusion between the airline industry and the US government. Starting in 2005 and expanded during the Obama administration, the FAA introduced the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program, which allows the agency to appoint as "designees" airplane manufacturers' employees to certify their own company's aircraft on behalf of the government.

As a result, there was virtually no federal oversight on the development of the 737 Max 8. FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell told Congress, "As a result of regular meetings between the FAA and Boeing teams, the FAA determined in February 2012 that the [Max 8] project qualified [a] project eligible for management by the Boeing ODA." This extended to the MCAS system as well.

This is the logical end of the deregulation of the airline industry as a whole that was spearheaded by the Democratic Carter administration, which passed the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978. With the help of liberal icon Edward Kennedy, the legislation disbanded the Civil Aeronautics Board, which up to that point treated interstate airlines as a regulated public utility, setting routes, schedules and fares.

In a rational world, the ongoing Senate hearings and Department of Justice investigations would have already brought criminal charges against Muilenburg, Sinnett, Elwell and all those involved in overseeing the production, certification and sale of the 737 Max 8. This would include the executives at Boeing and all those who have helped to deregulate the industry at the expense of human lives.

Under capitalism, however, Boeing will get little more than a slap on the wrist. Experts estimate the company will likely be fined at most $800 million, less than one percent of the $90 billion Boeing expects in sales from the Max 8 in the coming years. As in Hurricane Katrina, the Wall Street crash in 2008, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 and Hurricanes Harvey and Maria in 2017, the brunt of this disaster will be borne by the working class.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 disasters point to the inherent incompatibility between safe, comfortable and affordable air transport and private ownership of the airline industry, as well as the division of the world economy between rival nation-states. These catastrophes were driven by both the greed of Boeing executives and big investors and the intensifying trade conflict between the United States and Europe.

The technological advances that make it possible for travelers to move between any two points in the world in a single day must be freed from the constraints of giant corporations and the capitalist system as a whole. Major airlines and aerospace companies must be expropriated on an international scale and transformed into publicly owned and democratically controlled utilities, as part of the establishment of a planned economy based on social need, not private profit.

Bryan Dyne

[Apr 07, 2019] The rejection of the USSA version of neoliberalism with its rampant deregulation and corruption has already started

Apr 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

To Hell In A Handbasket , 2 hours ago link

Too many hooray, we are the USSA, America is the best cheerleaders, have no idea of the gravity of the situation they will face, when the dollar and by extension the Petrodollar implodes.

The rejection of the USSA has already started, but the average Yank hasn't noticed. When Ethiopia, can reject a direct request from Uncle Scam and send the Black-Boxes to Europe, because the USSA cannot be trusted, says it all. It is the little things we miss, things that seem small and insignificant, that actually reveals a lot and the Ethiopian rejection was one.

The world has simply had enough of USSA diktats and subsidising them. The USSA is merely 4% of the worlds population, that consumes 24.8% of the worlds resources and this situation is totally untenable. A nation of exceptionalists. 5%? Yes. The rest? lol

[Apr 06, 2019] MAXimized danger Are 200+ new Boeing 737s plagued with glitch that led to crash in Indonesia -- RT World News

Apr 06, 2019 | www.rt.com

A technical issue that Boeing flagged in a safety warning after the deadly 737 MAX 8 crash in Indonesia could happen to any other aircraft, and it's "not unlikely" that the manufacturer knew about it, aviation experts told RT. Earlier this week, Boeing issued a safety update to pilots flying its newest 737 MAX airliner, warning of a possible fault in a sensor that could send the aircraft into a violent nosedive.

That sensor measures air flow over a plane's wings, but its failure can lead to an aerodynamic stall.

Boeing's new 737 MAX may 'abruptly dive' due to errors – media Boeing's new 737 MAX may 'abruptly dive' due to errors – media

International aviation experts told RT that a problem of this kind could doom aircraft of any type. The tragedy that happened to Lion Air's Boeing 737 MAX is not the first of its kind to involve a faulty

"Pitot tube" – a critical air-speed sensor that measures the flow velocity – explained Elmar Giemulla, a leading German expert in air and traffic law.

"This is not unusual in the way it happened before," he noted, mentioning incidents similar to the Lion Air crash. Back in 1996, a Boeing 757 operated by Turkey's Birgenair stalled and crashed in the Caribbean because of a blocked pitot tube. Likewise, erroneous air-speed indications, coupled with pilot errors, led to the crash of an Air France Airbus A330 over the Atlantic in 2009.

While the problem is not entirely new, it is unclear how Boeing had tackled it, according to Giemulla. "It is not very unlikely" that Boeing knew about the problem, he said, warning that "more than 200 planes are concerned and this could happen tomorrow again."

There is so much experience with [using Pitot tubes] that it surprises me very much that this could happen to a newly developed plane.

However, the expert doubted that there has been any cover-up of the issue, instead suggesting that "obviously gross negligence" had been involved.

A 737 MAX 8 servicing Lion Air flight 610 last week ploughed into the waters of the Java Sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board. Investigators say there is a possibility that inaccurate readings fed into the MAX's computer could have sent the plane into a sudden descent.

#FAA statement on the Emergency Airworthiness Directive (AD) for all @Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The AD can be found at https://t.co/FoRI5vOeby . pic.twitter.com/JDGdPfos6g

-- The FAA (@FAANews) November 7, 2018