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COVID-19 epidemic as the second stage of the crisis of neoliberalism

COVID-19 epidemic is another nail in the coffin of neoliberal globalization.
"Neoliberalism ignores or misvalues the role of healthcare:
 it convert it into machine for extracting profits from sufferings "

Profound lack of human decency’ is a immanent feature of neoliberalism, especially the neoliberal elite (financial oligarchy)
News COVID-19 Epidemic Recommended Links  COVID-19 prevention measures The threat of "Coronavirus recession" COVID-19 hoarding epidemics SARS-CoV-2 origins and a "bioengineered virus" hypothesis
COVID-19 fearmongering COVID-19 epidemic as the second stage of the crisis of neoliberalism  COVID-19 epidemic handing in the USA Absurdity of bureaucracies Federal bureaucracy blunders in handling COVID-19 epidemic in the USA Diamond Princess epidemics of COVID-19 Medical workers problems
Trump's impulsivity and incompetence Groupthink Manufactured consent Media as a weapon of mass deception Nation under attack meme Trumpcare scam The Real War on Reality
 Stability is destabilizing: The idea of Minsky moment Nineteen Eighty-Four Casino Capitalism The importance of controlling the narrative Propaganda Quotes Humor Etc

Introduction

The USA handing of the coronarovirus epidemic is interesting by the stale of its incompetence, because the performance of the neoliberal state i recent times has been anything but competent. The incompetence is a symptom of a morally-degenerate managerial class Infected with neoliberal ideas and having no sense of responsibility to anyone other than themselves. The bank bailout in 2008 buried neoliberal ideology (the preachers of the neoliberal agenda suddenly found themselves without an audience)  but also exposed the level of hijacking of the state by financial oligarchy.  It is hard to distinguish between incompetence and fraud.  Much that looks incompetent conceals fraud (stock buybacks, Boeing fiasco, etc). And note that Boeing moved its headquarters to Chicago “to be more like GE”. Well they’ve destroyed the company to be more like the looters and liars and cheats. Along with GE there are some other notable poster-children of how private enterprise has committed suicide through the wanton bloodletting of its skilled employees (Boeing being a recent case-in-point).

this same phenomena can be found in universities, colleges  where faculties are no longer bolstered by a strong bench of tenured staff, contract and non-tenured hire-and-fire disposable staff are now the norm. No matter how many “systems” and “quality functions” they put in place, experience matters

One of the problems is that financialization and securitization of everything revealed during this epidemic is that has effectively separated the managerial class in both private and public sector from knowledge and experience of actual logistics and execution. Transferring securities with the push of a button is not the same as getting an industrial plant or phone center built, trained, and running efficiently. Companies and organizations with a history of doing this well manage to lost that capability in only a couple of years after financial shark CEO was installed (e.g. IBM, CDC, FEMA, numerous companies taken over by private equity ).  They know the price of everything and the value of nothing

The rise of the FIRE sectors as a percentage of GDP has been obvious. the USA economy is over-financialized. All this has done is with layer after layers of  debt and interest payments  to the detriment of the real economy.  Financialization creates a positive feedback loop. Every system with positive feedback loop will crash, sooner or later. Neoliberals worked really hard to remove not just the negative feedback,  but any traces of the negative feedback on financial sector.

The idea that “never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence” (Hanlon's razor - Wikipedia ) is not longer true. The neoliberal America has a lot of corruption. Some obviously stupid actions are explainable for short term greed motives. That explains much of what we are seeing now.

CDC botched testing program during COVID-19 epidemic became a textbook example of bureaucratic incompetence.  They do not do competence in Washington. You need to start holding people responsible and that's impossible with the new neoliberal aristocracy (financial oligarchy), which inherited all vices of the old but none of its virtues.

Epidemic control is not something in which a neoliberal society excels

Epidemic control is not something in which a neoliberal society, based on the idea that profit is the king ("Greed is good")  motives and "homo homily lupus est" style of promotion of competition excels. It requires cooperation, which is discouraged under neoliberalism. See Neoliberal rationality  The neoliberalized healthcare is clearly rotten for 90% of the population  (truthdig)

“I was born in 1936. My father lost his job the day I was born,” recalls the Truthdig editor in chief. “Roosevelt was the hero in our house. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Why? Because the ruling class in our country, the robber barons, the rich people — and he was from a rich family — they undermined their own system. They were so consumed with greed and short-term profit and swindling, the market and everything else that they forgot about stability in society.”

We can add that the US political system after 2008 crash entered prolong crisis and its economy -- "secular stagnation" phase -- neoliberal ideology is dead, but neoliberalism marches on like a zombie. Actually pretty bloodthirsty zombie.

In case of COVD-19 the relevant public health officials may know what needs to be done, but they’re not doing it because of the reflexive reliance on neoliberal, market-based solutions is also at fault. At least in part, because state resources are simply not available. It’s also due to the way we the authority for such problems was pushed down from federal to the state and local level.  There are some things government is uniquely positioned to provide, but neoliberals are not capable of recognizing that simple fact.

As Dr. Sarah Borwein stated in her Exclusive Interview on COVID-19 with SARS Veteran  published on MedLink:

The most important thing we learned from SARS was that infectious diseases do not respect borders or government edicts, and cannot be hidden. It requires international cooperation, transparency and sharing of information to control an epidemic.

We also learned the importance of providing good, balanced, reliable information to the public. In any epidemic, there is the outbreak of disease and then there is the epidemic of panic. And nowadays, there is also what the WHO has termed the Infodemic, the explosion of information about the epidemic. Some of it is good information, but some of it is rumour, myth, speculation and conspiracy theory, and those things feed the anxiety. It can be hard to sort out which information to believe, so it is important to choose trustworthy sources. Panic and misinformation make controlling the outbreak more difficult.

Neoliberalism as a social system based on lies and disinformation so this is impossible under neoliberalism. So the fact that Trump administration is lying about the epidemic is not a bug, it is a feature (BTW Chine is a neoliberal society too; although the remnants of socialism still are visible; the same is even more true for  Russia - it is typical and rather cruel neoliberal society)

In the USA  the neoliberal policies undermined the healthcare system  to the extent that dealing with the epidemic like COVID-19 in privatized healthcare system represent tremendous challenges.  Neoliberalism takes privatization of social services such as government hospitals and health facilities to the extreme.  Privatization is the exact opposite of making health services more affordable and accessible to the public

“The first rule of public health is to gain the trust of the population.” Neoliberalism is doing exactly opposite: population distrust providers of medical services which often abuse ill patients for profit (surprise ambulance billing,  surprise hospital billing, unnecessary medical procedures like insertion of stents, unnecessary surgeries, etc). The CoVid19 is about to expose millions without health insurance, more millions with enormous deductibles and co-pays that discourage doctor visits, and still more millions who can't afford to stay home when they're sick if they want to avoid eviction and homelessness.  

TE Lawrence countykerry a month ago
Well, hygiene is fine, but that's only a secondary issue, the proverbial lock on the barn door after the horse is stolen. And clearly, we can have nationalism without having epidemics. The problem is that the current form of Capitalism is built on looong supply chains to countries with cheap labor and lots of government support. I worked for a large aircraft manufacturer for many years,whose modus operandi was to avoid outsourcing parts and structures to American companies, and it worked pretty well for quite a long time for them. But now the weak links in the 'chain' come to the foreground. Rule #1 (and the only rule!) of Capitalism is 'there is no such thing as too much profit'.

A CEO's corporate life expectancy is about 3 years, so he (usually a 'he') has to plunder fast and make a good severance deal while they have the chance. Nationalism only deals with national matters.

Meanwhile, the financial and business world could care less about the welfare of any nation, whose citizens exist merely to contribute to quarterly profits. Any given corporation does not make lightbulbs, cars, air conditioners or any other thing. The entire enterprise exists to provide huge salaries to a few hundred executives. Nations supposedly exist to provide security to their citizens, among other services, such as infastructure and public health. They have failed, badly, because of the corruption of our leadership, which now consists of elevator boys and room service for the Wealthy.

Add to this weakened emergency response capabilities and it looks like another Katrina moment. SNAFU started with CDC botching the development of virus test kits (and producing 10 time more expensive kits that China and Korea used)  and then trying to hide this by maximum restrictions on "eligible" for testing patients.  Typical for all neoliberals Trump preoccupation with the health of stock market, not so much with the health of the USA people also played some role (Although one positive thing about Trump's behaviour is that he opposed MSM panic  about the virus) The USA could benefit from replication China and South Korea path to suppressing the virus, but choose not to do so. Moreover  Trump administration created fiasco with tests which was notable, painful and will have negative consequences for the duration of the epidemics in the USA The Coronavirus Debacle The American Conservative

The president has been unwilling to tell the public the truth about the situation because he evidently cares more about the short-term political implications than he does about protecting the public:

Even as the government’s scientists and leading health experts raised the alarm early and pushed for aggressive action, they faced resistance and doubt at the White House — especially from the president — about spooking financial markets and inciting panic.

“It’s going to all work out,” Mr. Trump said as recently as Thursday night. “Everybody has to be calm. It’s going to work out.”

Justin Fox comments on the president’s terrible messaging:

The biggest problem, though, is simply the way that the president talks about the disease. His instinct at every turn is to downplay its danger and significance.

Minimizing the danger and significance of the outbreak ensured that the government’s response was less urgent and focused than it could have been. It encouraged people to take it less seriously and thus made it more likely that the virus would spread. Then when the severity of the problem became undeniable, the earlier discredited happy talk makes it easier for people to disbelieve what the government tells them in the future.

Neoliberalism  decimated social protection of workers (sick days, sick leaves, etc) and forces workers to come to the job even while having symptoms.  Part time workers (which are the fastest growing part of the US work force)  are generally treated like slaves in the USA. The vast majority of hourly employees in the hospitality business don’t have health insurance. "Average working class folks cannot afford to voluntary quarantine themselves. Or to stay home from work for any reason. Even if they have symptoms. They will continue going to work. They have to, in order to economically survive." https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/03/09/covid-19-and-the-working-class/

Consider the typical scenario in the US: there are literally tens of millions of workers who have no more than $400 for an emergency. As many perhaps as half of the work force of 165 million. They live paycheck to paycheck. They can’t afford to miss any days of work. Millions of them have no paid sick leave. The US is the worst of all advanced economies in terms of providing paid sick leave. Even union workers with some paid sick leave in their contracts have, at best, only six days on average. If they stay home sick, they’ll be asked by their employer the reason for doing so in order to collect that paid sick leave. And even when they don’t have sick leave. Paid leave or not, many will be required to provide a doctor’s slip indicating the nature of the illness. But doctors are refusing to hold office visits for patients who may have the virus. They can’t do anything about it, so they don’t want them to come in and possibly contaminate others or themselves. So a worker sick has to go to the hospital emergency room.

That raises another problem. A trip to the emergency room costs on average at least a $1,000. More if special tests are done. If the worker has no health insurance (30 million still don’t), that’s an out of pocket cost he/she can’t afford. They know it. So they don’t go to the hospital emergency room, and they can’t get an appointment at the doctor’s office. Result: they don’t get tested, refuse to go get tested, and they continue to go to work. The virus spreads.

... ... ...

Then there’s the further complication concerning employment if they do go to the hospital. The hospital will (soon) test them. If found infected, they will send them home…for voluntary quarantine for 14 days! Now the financial crises really begins. The hospital will inform their employer. Staying at home for 14 days will result in financial disaster, since the employer has no obligation to continue to pay them their wages while not at work, unless they have some minimal paid sick leave which, as noted, the vast majority don’t have. Nor does the employer have any obligation legally to even keep them employed for 14 days (or even less) if the employer determines they are not likely to return to work after 14 days (or even less). They therefore get fired if they go to the hospital after it reports to the employer they have the virus. Just another good reason not to go to the hospital.

In other words, here’s all kind of major economic disincentives to keep an illness confidential, to go to work, not go to the hospital (and can’t go to the doctor). That risks passing on the highly contagion bug to others–which has been happening and will continue to happen.

McJobs in service sector are in especially bad shape because they already have a third world country conditions imposed on them.  Ask Wal-Mart workers about their sick leaves problems; and Wal-Mart is not the worst retailer in the USA as for the personnel abuse.  This backfire during virus epidemics and makes the USA a third world country as for the prognosis of the severity of this epidemics in the country.  https://www.bangladeshpost.net/posts/neoliberalism-and-the-coronavirus-25315

capitalism is all about externalizing costs. “Some people” (because corporations are legally people) don’t take responsibility for their carbon footprint. “Some people” scrape the surface off the earth to get at “their” lithium. Some polluters don’t take responsibility for the health costs of their effluent.

The shorthand definition of neoliberalism is capitalism on steroids. No longer does capital have to exploit workers in its own country. It can scour the world for the cheapest, most exploitable labor. No longer does capital have to fret about environmental regulations in its own country.

Just manufacture those goods someplace where the government says air that you can’t see through, or water that is green from algae is A-OK. Those goods end up a continent away, but as long as the shipping costs are cheap (burn, baby, burn), it makes more profit than employing local people for what they think is a livable wage.

... ... ...

In sum, the strategy of wringing every last dollar out of child, prison, and slave labor for the sake of private profit is nearing the point of diminishing returns. Unleashing a fatal virus from bats into humans is a negative return. By wrecking the neoliberal-driven global economy, SARC-CoV-2 may just push the world into embodying that final section of the post-climate catastrophe, post-Ebola, post-rat fever world of David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. The question is, do you find the final section pessimistic or optimistic?

Another factor is that the working class families in the USA lack any significant savings to shoulder work disruption. Presence of homeless on the streets of cities such as San Francisco is another aggravating factor.  The vulnerability of the US in the current political environment comes because the gerantocratic neoliberal regime is concerned only about the prosperity of the top 10% (and especially top`1%) of the population; all other are treated as "deplorables" (Truthdig) :

Nowhere, though, is the rusty, rickety nature of America’s civic society more recently evident than in the hilariously, harrowingly inept response to the advent of the COVID-19 virus as a global contagion. Whether it is more or less dangerous and deadly than the media portrays is quite beside the point.

The abject incapacity of any government, least of all the feds, to offer even simple, sensible guidance, much less mobilize national resources to examine, investigate and ameliorate the potential threat to human health and well-being is astonishing, even to a tired old cynic like me.

At present, the most proactive step has been to pressure the Federal Reserve into goosing the stock market — the sort of pagan expiation of dark spirits that you’d expect in a more primitive world, when a volcano blew or an earthquake hit.

Some compensating factors

One positive factor in this story is that "God has a special providence for fools, drunkards, and the United States of America.."(attributed to Otto von Bismarck) -- epidemics in the USA actively started in March and warm weather usually halts such epidemics. If this is true, then Northern Europe/Russia/Canada/Northern USA will have at only the extra 1-2 months vulnerability, if there is a pandemic, as warm weather in those regions often comes as late as May.

Also despite feredal authorities stance, considerable aprt of the population bought masks and were using them in public places.


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Old News ;-)

[Oct 24, 2020] Great COVID-19 reset

Oct 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Down South , Oct 22 2020 20:29 utc | 21

@2 @16

Although many details about the Great Reset won't be rolled out until the World Economic Forum meets in Davos in January 2021, the general principles of the plan are clear: The world needs massive new government programs and far-reaching policies comparable to those offered by American socialists such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in their Green New Deal plan.

Or, put another way, we need a form of socialism - a word the World Economic Forum has deliberately avoided using, all while calling for countless socialist and progressive plans.

"We need to design policies to align with investment in people and the environment," said the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, Sharan Burrow. "But above all, the longer-term perspective is about rebalancing economies."

One of the main themes of the June meeting was that the coronavirus pandemic has created an important "opportunity" for many of the World Economic Forum's members to enact their radical transformation of capitalism, which they acknowledged would likely not have been made possible without the pandemic.
https://www.google.co.za/amp/s/thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/504499-introducing-the-great-reset-world-leaders-radical-plan-to%3famp

[Sep 26, 2020] As for the 'rules-based international order,' at best it is a euphemism for privately-controlled financial capitalism on a global scale

Sep 26, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , Sep 23 2020 15:56 utc | 84

Escobar reviews the UNGA's first day that revealed Trump's desperation a few alluded to above. Psychohistorian will be pleased to read Pepe's channeling his #1 premise:

" As for the 'rules-based international order,' at best it is a euphemism for privately-controlled financial capitalism on a global scale ." [My Emphasis]

As I wrote yesterday, every national leader I read backed a Multilateral UN and its Charter while including various degrees of reproach for the illegalities of the Outlaw US Empire and its vassals, even the Emir of Qatar :

"The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us that we live on the same planet, and that multilateral cooperation is the only way to address the challenges of epidemics, climate and the environment in general, and it's also preferable to remember this when dealing with the issues of poverty, war and peace, and realizing our common goals for security and stability....

"And during the unjust and unlawful blockade it is going through it also has securely established its policy founded on respecting the rules and principles of international law and the United Nations Charter, especially, the principle of respecting the sovereignty of states and rejecting intervention in their internal affairs.

"And based on our moral and legal responsibilities towards our peoples, we have affirmed, and we will continue to reaffirm, that unconditional dialogue based on common interests and respect for the sovereignty of states is the way to solve this crisis which had started with an illegal blockade, and whose solution starts with lifting this blockade."

If the Saudi blockade is "unjust and unlawful," then all those imposed by the Outlaw US Empire are also.

Pepe apparently doesn't agree with Lieven's essay and writes:

"Sinophobia is the perfect tool for shifting blame -- for the abysmal response to Covid-19, the extinction of small businesses and the looming New Great Depression -- to the Chinese 'existential threat.'

"The whole process has nothing to do with 'moral defeat' [Lieven] and complaints that 'we risk losing the competition and endangering the world.'

"The world is not 'endangered' because at least vast swathes of the Global South are fully aware that the much-ballyhooed 'rules-based international order' is nothing but a quite appealing euphemism for Pax Americana -- or exceptionalism [Neocolonialism].

"What was designed by Washington for post-World War II, the Cold War and the 'unilateral moment' does not apply anymore."

As the dirty domestic underwear of the Outlaw US Empire becomes more visible to nations, they are emboldened to stand up for themselves and join the Strategic Partnership's Eurasian project.

[Sep 18, 2020] The New Year Gift, by Israel Shamir

Israel raises an important question about the role on neoliberal MSM is spreading COVID-19 panic.
Notable quotes:
"... Sinaisky claims that they brought the pandemics upon us because of the high debt problem, or by their inability to continue colonial plunder. Alternatively, a notable commenter to his text suggests that it was done because of overproduction of capital. In other words, the bank-lending rate is so close to zero, or even negative, that the whole machinery of capitalism was deluged in a flood of capital, and needed a major war, or indeed a global pandemic, to use it up. ..."
"... Because of this freak combination of forces, Sweden left its health policy in the hands of local professionals and remained free, while its neighbouring countries transferred the responsibility to globalist politicians and embraced quarantine. ..."
"... Thus the liberal Blairite media (beginning with the NY Times and the Guardian) played a key part in the Corona crisis. They were the piper; but who ordered the piper? ..."
Sep 18, 2020 | www.unz.com

...Do the US plutocrats (that is, the American über-wealthy) control all that? I think they would be amazed to learn that, especially "for generations", bearing in mind that the US was not a very significant factor before the WWI. In my view, the rich are not that smart. But the network exists; I have called its obscure controllers The Masters of Discourse .

Sinaisky claims that they brought the pandemics upon us because of the high debt problem, or by their inability to continue colonial plunder. Alternatively, a notable commenter to his text suggests that it was done because of overproduction of capital. In other words, the bank-lending rate is so close to zero, or even negative, that the whole machinery of capitalism was deluged in a flood of capital, and needed a major war, or indeed a global pandemic, to use it up.

Finally, Sinaisky claims that "atomization of society, breaking up community solidarity, eroding all non-monetary connections between people, destroying family relations and weakening blood ties, is a long-standing plutocratic project. Now, using this fake pandemic, the plutocrats have gone even further, now they train us to see each other not as friend, not as brother, not even as a source of profit, but mainly as a source of mortal infection." I wonder what makes him think that is an object of plutocratic desire? Certainly rich people want to make money and have more power, agreed. Is it necessary for them to atomise society? Who will they and their kids socialize with in such a ruined world?

I am not sure that there is a human agency with such goals. A non-human factor is a much more suitable culprit. In the old days, such a culprit was called Satan, and there were mighty organisations aka churches that fought Satan. In a charming movie, Luc Besson's Fifth Element, 'Love' defeats 'the Shadow', the personified evil that was about to obliterate Earth. Call it Satan, call it Shadow, the thing surely has human collaborationists in the mainstream media. I wrote about it in a piece called The Shadow of Zog . Indeed media should be sorted out in order to deal with it.

Sweden, this lucky country that avoided lockdown and its consequences, was saved by a rare media misstep. (This story has never been published though it is known to many Swedes.) Corona propaganda was carried out by the same liberal Bonnier-owned newspaper, DN (Dagens Nyheter), that played up Greta Thunberg. (Sinaisky's senses served him right: indeed Covid is a new Greta multiplied by a factor of 50). The Greta campaign had as its favourite high horse flygskam , or flight-shaming. Stop taking flights to lower carbon emissions , was the idea. Now we have no flights at all, so this movement disappeared after achieving its goals.

In February 2020, the DN organised a week-long sleeper train culture trip to North Italy for the Greta-following liberal elite. A berth on this train was priced starting at ten thousand Euros. The group went up to the Italian Alps and down to the Carnival in Venice and finally returned home, full to the brim with interesting experiences and coronavirus infections. A few days after the train returned to Stockholm, the disease broke out at large. Many of the liberal journalists that travelled on the Corona Express (as the train became known) fell sick, and their close relatives suffered, too. This incident caused the death of many elderly Jews, parents or uncles of those liberal journalists. It was a media phenomenon, and the Jewish media reported that the death rate among Swedish Jews was 14 times higher than their share of the population (well, it is not as bad as it sounds; only nine very old Jews died, all over 80).

As the people in authority knew all about the Corona Express, the liberal lobby was too ashamed to call for quarantine against the disease they has carried to Sweden. (Or they did call, but in sotto voce.) Furthermore, the DN was their only significant liberal media outlet, as Bonnier had sold his TV channel to a state-owned company in December 2019, making heaps of money but losing his ability to influence people.

Because of this freak combination of forces, Sweden left its health policy in the hands of local professionals and remained free, while its neighbouring countries transferred the responsibility to globalist politicians and embraced quarantine.

Thus the liberal Blairite media (beginning with the NY Times and the Guardian) played a key part in the Corona crisis. They were the piper; but who ordered the piper?

Israel Shamir can be reached at adam@israelshamir.net

[Sep 11, 2020] Funny how "new normals" are rushing at us .9-11 was the new normal only 19 years ago, and 19 years later going on 20, a new "new normal" is upon us.

Sep 11, 2020 | www.unz.com

Priss Factor , says: Website Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 4:09 am GMT

911 Truth for Grown ups

https://www.youtube.com/embed/7B7Tn2T5VDk?feature=oembed

omegabooks , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 4:44 am GMT

Funny how "new normals" are rushing at us .9-11 was the new normal only 19 years ago, and 19 years later going on 20, a new "new normal" is upon us. The next "new normal" will only be a few years away, 9 at the most Agenda 2030 and all that. By then, AI-enhanced RNA/DNA altered "new humanity" will be upon us, and anyone not in this new "new normal" will be outcast, shunned, shamed, and unemployed and if retired will not be able to get their SS and MC.

I don't care, screw the Great Reset!

Ralph B. Seymour , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 4:50 am GMT

"As it stands, there's only one thing we do know: the establishment at the core of the Hegemon and the drooling orcs of Empire will only adopt a Great Reset if that helps to postpone a decline accelerated on a fateful morning 19 years ago."

What?

I thought Covid 19 was a tool that the establishment is using to spark a Reset. And that Agenda 21 is part of a Reset.

So why would the establishment object to a "decline"?

Pft , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 5:12 am GMT

9/11 was just the first operation of the 21st century designed to accelerate the disintegration of society and economy to achieve Agenda 21 . It was actually a continuation of the 1975 TLC Project Democracy (sardonically named) that was kicked off by the Carter administration in 1977 and went into warp speed under Reagan/Bush. Its continued ever since but is picking up speed with the agreement of Agenda 21 in the 90's and its update Agenda 2030 in 2015. 2020 is the start of the final phase which will accomplish all of the Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030, which is basically means total control over every individual and all resources.

Its pretty much been an Open Conspiracy. Those who refused to question 9/11 will double up on their blue pills to deny the Plandemic and expect a return to normal, dooming their descendants to a life of serfdom should they be lucky enough to avoid the culling.

The new Normal will make some dystopian films seem like utopia. Watch some old movies and TV series to remind you of old normal. They wont be available much longer unless you have the DVD or VHS and a machines to play it. The tapes and discs age so don't last forever. Books will last longer but those with digital collections will one day fund them disappeared

Miro23 , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 5:26 am GMT

The beating heart of this matrix is – what else – the Strategic Intelligence Platform, encompassing, literally, everything: "sustainable development", "global governance", capital markets, climate change, biodiversity, human rights, gender parity, LGBTI, systemic racism, international trade and investment, the – wobbly – future of the travel and tourism industries, food, air pollution, digital identity, blockchain, 5G, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI).

Since the US is a global has-been with most of its industry gone and living on debt – it's probably useful for it to claim leadership of a "Strategic Intelligence Platform". It can bury US problems internationally (same as it did with the dollar reserve) but in a more comprehensive way than simple Globalization (only economic). If the USA NWO claims international leadership of everything on all fronts, then they become the arbiters (in their opinion) of everything everywhere on the grounds of a higher morality.

It actually looks more like the folie de grandeur of a old alcoholic than the foundation of a new religion – and not something to pay attention to – apart from the fact that he tends to get violent with anyone who disagrees.

Intelligent Dasein , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 5:41 am GMT

Regarding your 50 questions, the fact that German and Russian intelligent warned the FBI about an imminent Muslim terrorist attack is not compatible with the idea that there was a controlled demolition.

Majority of One , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 5:46 am GMT

Ah yes, the Beast reveals itself as a sensurround global hamster cage with a plethora of control mechanisms hardwired through emergent software memes in celebration of the planned future of total abstraction. Abstract reality. The hubris of the plutocratic, oligarchic and technocratic elites is of a Promethean orgasm of trans humanistic values systematically gorging itself on their perceived future of an enserfed humanity comprised of those who will compromise truth, honor, justice, beauty and love–all in the service of mammon.

Not only is human nature to be subsumed to a mechanistic mindset gone ballistic in the visions of absolute domination, but the ongoing assault on the natural world will be a by-product of this Re-set. Stated simply, these schemers are playing God and have assembled the tool-kit, which in their minds, will allow for no compromise, no mistakes. These people are either spiritually vacuous or are imbued with an evil that totally negates a natural order which is cosmic and universal in scope. Ultimately their dreams and schemes will implode like the legendary Tower of Babel. Creation is not about to be undone by those who have convinced themselves that they can control everything.

Mother Nature is not a mere lump of matter. She is a sentient being who is cosmically connected and connective. Consider the storms, the blizzards, the fires and the systematic destruction of our very atmospheres, to say nothing of oceanic life in all its magnificent manifestations. Mama is not in a good mood and when she has had all she can take ..

R.C. , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 5:59 am GMT

"Strategic Intelligence Platform" should be renamed something like "s Strategic Intelligence Millennial Platform" (SIMP)
R.C.

TheTrumanShow , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 7:37 am GMT
@Intelligent Dasein

" the fact that German and Russian intelligent (sic) warned the FBI about an imminent Muslim terrorist attack is not compatible with the idea that there was a controlled demolition."

How so? The US architects of a controlled demolition could have quite easily created fake "chatter" and fake "intelligence" about an imminent Muslim terrorist attack.

Thomasina , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 8:15 am GMT
@Intelligent Dasein be found on Youtube titled "Former NIST Employee Speaks Out On World Trade Centre Towers Collapse Investigation". It's 31 minutes long, but he says the following at approximately 18 minutes in:

"Look at the symmetry. These buildings come straight down, or almost straight down.

Asymmetric damage does not lead to symmetric collapse. It's very difficult to get something to collapse symmetrically because it is the Law of Physics that things tend towards chaos. Collapsing symmetrically represents order, very strict order.

It is not the nature of physics to gravitate towards order for no reason. It will gravitate towards chaos. It is very difficult to get a building to collapse symmetrically."

dimples , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 8:25 am GMT

I can't make any sense out of this article. It reads like a lot of stock sentences jumbled together by a computer program.

Nancy Pelosi's Latina Maid , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 8:35 am GMT
@PetrOldSack actor/author, how could he be, our cherished "thinkers" are as few and making up as they go, seconded by the crude second tier public domain politicians, the corporate mongers, them being even less prone to visionary skill. This "thing" can go wrong in all kinds of ways, but real it is, and some derivative globally altered reality is there to stay. Brusquely, genuinely."


The Atlantic
tells us that "Overall, bots are responsible for 52 percent of web traffic" and I think we're looking at Exhibit A.

https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/01/bots-bots-bots/515043/

skrik , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 8:48 am GMT
@Intelligent Dasein

an imminent Muslim terrorist attack is not compatible with the idea that there was a controlled demolition

Q: Why not? In fact, just as the 3 WTC towers were pre-loaded with explosives, so the alleged hijacker-piloted a/cs and resulting photogenic explosions were pre-planned 'Hollywood special effects' as critical components. How else to convince the insouciant punters, except with a well-scripted and executed 'whiz-bang?' Then, see the reports of putative Muslim hijackers doing dope and/or booze with lap-dancing bar-girls beforehand. You do yourself a disservice by denying *humongously obvious* controlled demolition. Tip: Try not to be silly.

EL PMIS , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 8:52 am GMT

To unravel the enigma i wonder if one does not need to go completely eurocentric.
1848 unraveling the empires or at last a planting of the seeds.

1948 the new_world order is established. With its counterpart in the east. Essentially a ynraveling of 1848 which was a crystallisation of the 30 year was and the peace of westphalia. Neither established empire being a nation while a very different nationbuiling started in europe compared to the pre-great war.

2048, no doubt some kind of replacing the new_world order with a new world_order.
One way or anothr to serve europes plutocrats. And with an eye on unraveling the previous 1948 situation. Soviets are gone, so now the disunited states of america has to go and be reduced to a new balkans.
Perhaps sweeping away europe too this time. Arabobantustan unable to sustain a developed economy certainly is on the timeline for europe.

Now. Regardless of whether the ghost of Herr Weishaupt is hanging around, the timeline is awfully useful for anyone like the anglozionist cabal of assorted late 1800s multimillionaires and their respective business empires cross inheritances into socalled NGOs. The names being quite well known like rockefeller, carnegie, rhodes etc.

Then again maybe no one really knows what they are doing anymore and there is no plan at all, just many very confused very badly planned plans. And all that will ensue is chaos and destruction and no order afterwards worthy of the name. 150 years of pisspoor mismanagement tends to have such consequences.

Alfred , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 9:34 am GMT
@Robert White billion from its Term Securities Lending Facility. It wasn't until May 31, 2008, when JPMorgan Chase closed its deal with Bear Stearns. However, the GAO reported that Bear Stearns "was consistently the largest PDCF borrower until June 2008." The Fed shows that Bear Stearns continued to receive funds until June 23, 2008.

Did the Fed Begin Secret Bailouts in 2007 Before Anyone Knew of the Pending Crisis? | Armstrong Economics

gotmituns , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 9:49 am GMT

9/11 – inside job – implosion.

Timur The Lame , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 10:05 am GMT

This article pretty much sums it up as best as I can understand. I had often stated to people of similar mind to watch for the next major 'move' after 9/11, it will be a dandy because with possibly a few white knuckle moments, the Masters will have concluded that they can get away with ANYTHING, internet or no. Truth simply fails to get traction in the minds of the majority of 'screen zombies' and the majority is all they ever needed.

Now where things might get really scary is if/when they decide to implement the great cull. From a dispassionate perspective, it is something they simply have to do. In 1950 the world population was about 2 billion. Now it is about 8 billion. If a population graph was drawn from say, 50,000 years ago it would be long and flat and then it would shoot up near vertically at the end.

The problem now of course is that with technology and agricultural machinery of all sorts the system doesn't even require the population of 1950. I recall one Master being on record as mentioning 500 million as being ideal. That is somewhat more than a cull.

Some fools say that a war is imminent for that express purpose. Sorry wars (even nuclear, which would affect the Masters too), won't result in the butcher's bill required. Only a global pandemic could conceivably attain the goal and like a neutron bomb, leave the infrastructure intact.

But this Covid is a hoax you say. Probably so, but what about this proverbial 'second wave' that is repeated like a Hare Krishna mantra everywhere. What if they released a REAL nasty virus (which we know they have somewhere) that has a proven vaccine for the 1% and then let the fun begin knowing full well that they would not be fingered for it because a pandemic is already on the move?

If it doesn't happen this fall then I may be wrong in my speculation. I always hope to be wrong when dealing with topics of unfathomable evil.

Cheers-

Liza , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 10:18 am GMT
@Majority of One

Mama is not in a good mood and when she has had all she can take ..

Or, as some folks like to say, "God is mad". But it's all the same thing. Maybe the schemers should be forced to read The Fisherman's Wife. However, they probably won't have any little hovel to go back to.

Robjil , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 10:51 am GMT
@skrik neither eyewitness testimony nor a visual documentation of the boarding process.

19 hijackers myth taken as " fact" by the 9/11 Commission. Any contradictions of this myth were ignored by this Commission.

•By ignoring the numerous and glaring contradictions regarding the identities of the alleged hijackers, the 9/11 Commission manifested its intent to maintain the official myth of 19 Muslim terrorists.

•By refusing to allow interviews with personnel who were responsible for passengers boarding the four aircraft of 9/11, the airlines manifested their intent to conceal evidence about the circumstances of the aircraft boarding.

Svevlad , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 11:30 am GMT

Sooo

Torch the power plants, you say?

Abdul Alhazred , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 11:38 am GMT

When 9/11 occurred my immediate thoughts went back to an January 2001 when Lyndon LaRouche warned that if John Ashcroft were to become Attorney General that then one could look forward to a new Reichstag fire type situation occurring within the context of the fact that the world financial system was finished and that the financial oligarchy was prepared to throw over the chess board so to speak.

LaRouche was right and because his understanding of history was correct as it is based upon a method of hypothesis that had already demonstrated the trajectories of economic collapse and attendant political operations long before, with an understanding of how to get out of the mess as demonstrated in history, particularly the Renaissance.

Of note here is a recent article of interest, which helps tell why LaRouche is hated!

https://larouchepac.com/20200908/antifa-back-future-1967-68-counterintelligence-primer-further-investigation-and-action

Hank Rearden678 , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 11:58 am GMT

This is a very interesting, all encompassing article, well done indeed. For a simpler and perhaps more digestible and more narrowly focused look at the SARS-Cov2 issue specifically, this is a worthwhile video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQE7S6c-SCk&t=50s

Alfred , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 12:16 pm GMT
@gotmituns

9/11 – inside job – implosion.

Lots of micro nukes. Plenty of distractions from alleged "conspiracy theorists" in the pay of you know who.

The nanothermite theory was a psyop from the beginning to hide the nuclear event at the towers.

Startling: The Story of the 9/11 Breath-though that Solved it all and debunked the 'truthers' forever

annamaria , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 12:21 pm GMT
@PetrOldSack ght in wars or participated in other combat operations in at least 24 countries. The destruction inflicted by warfare in these countries has been incalculable for civilians and combatants Between 2010 and 2019, the total number of refugees and IDPs globally has nearly doubled from 41 million to 79.5 million .

These babies-loving American X-tians and other Samantha Powers and Obamas, have arranged quite a spectacular mass slaughter of children of all ages to please the "deciders" (Masters of the Universe).
None of the murderous idiots has been punished, yet Assange the truthteller is in a high-security prison Belmarsh, handled by the same murderous scum. Kali , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 12:24 pm GMT

@PetrOldSack

My annotations are incomplete, but a mere "what comes to mind".

I would be interested to read them complete.
I appreciate your comment.

Thanks.

With love,
Kali.

Kali , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 12:53 pm GMT
@Majority of One eation is not about to be undone by those who have convinced themselves that they can control everything.

I couldn't agree more with this.

The intelligence of Existance Itself, the very Nature of Being is anathema to to those specs of dirt who would attempt to determine the will of God.

The same sentience which is manifest in Man is repeated and applified throughout all of existance. How could it be any other way when everything we experience is fractal? Just as God may be experience at the centre of our very Being, so the same God is observed within the All of Everything.

Thank you for your comment.

With love,
Kali. Johnny Walker Read , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 12:55 pm GMT

A great look into what is going on, and what is still to come. Yet the sleeping, brain dead, face diapered, mind controlled masses of the global corporation formerly known as he United States spend every waking hour saying "hooray for our guy". Never once does it occur to the sheeple both are puppets, controlled by the international banksters and their minions.

One of these morons has undeniable ties to the Russian mob, while the other has deep ties to the Chinese Communist Party. If that weren't bad enough, they both swear undying loyalty to that little shit stain in the Middle East which seems to project more influence on world politics than the two formerly mentioned giants.

I know it is no accident the printing of this article occurred on the anniversary date of the last, greatest mind fuck to hit America since Dec. 7th, 1941. I guess the infidels have been shown a lesson and the world is now safe for a one world government technocratic Corporatocracy.

So here's to 3/11/2020(my official date for the roll out of the CV hoax), the ushering in of a new slave system, and the idiocy and gullibility of the global citizenry.

So enjoy your new bosses, as they are going to be far more tyrannical than your old.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/Un5oEdfrm_A?feature=oembed

skrik , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 1:01 pm GMT
@Robjil ry:'
[I see that the 1st image is not visible, kindly try this link:
alleged 'recovered' flight recorder ]
Q: How soft was that ground, anyway? Does anyone 'believe' that part of the official 9/11 narrative? Haw. Only the 'insouciant punters' were ever hoodwinked by such offensive, lying rubbish, all faithfully echoed by the 'lame-stream media.' rgds
ploni almoni , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 1:04 pm GMT
@Intelligent Dasein

Condoleeza Rice resisting at Congressional enquiry "N-o-o-o" and then admitting in a faint there was an "intelligence report" that said said "Ben Laden planning to use airplanes in terrorist attack" was play acting to confirm what they wanted people to believe. You will remember that you were taught to prepare in advance "red herrings" and leave deliberate confusions behind you to cover your trail.

Johnny Walker Read , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 1:18 pm GMT
@Majority of One

Here's hoping you're right, but I must say I have my doubts.

Getaclue , says: Next New Comment September 11, 2020 at 1:29 pm GMT
@Robert White traitors and infiltrated enemies not by any brilliance of the vicious Chinese Communist mass murderers -- if you like the idea of taking a van ride for expressing your anti-Government thoughts you'll love the ChiCom "Model" being installed here now on all of us -- Ron Unz would be one of the first for the van ride if he tried to run a site like this in China by the way -- there is zero disputing this fact. David Rockefeller gave us the CFR, Trilateral Commission etc. and of course the WHO and: https://vigilantcitizen.com/latestnews/the-true-agenda-of-the-who-a-new-world-order-modeled-after-china/
skrik , says: September 11, 2020 at 1:45 pm GMT
@Alfred Haw. Or was that suppressed as well, along with the bulk-wreckage [=crime-scene evidence] which was destroyed by being exported as scrap? Haw again.

Nitty-gritty: There is no need to posit any 'exotics,' from nukes to DEW; standard explosives [both with OR without thermite/mate; only the 'best' tools = most suitable would have been deployed]; standard explosives could quite easily do the job, for example det-cord threaded into the floor-slab conduits can fully explain both the absence of floor in the rubble plus the billowing pyroclastic white dust-clouds [incidentally, explaining scorched vehicles]. And so it goes. A term for such reasoning = Occam's razor.

[Aug 24, 2020] I think its economy, stupid! in 2020 and it will decide the elections

Aug 24, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
Likbez, August 24, 2020 10:58 pm

I think "its' economy, stupid!" in 2020.

To be clear; none more deserving of dignity than the working people of America; they keep the nation running; they are America's better angels; and, they deserve to be better paid.

Those are lofty words. But what to do when there is not enough cookies for everybody. That's when economic ruptures occur (with one form being Minsky moments)

IMHO we need another Keynes now. Here is a quote from Keynesianism, Social Conflict and Political Economy, By Massimo De Angelis

In a sense, going back to Joan Robinson, the idea of rupture within the notion of historical time can also be found in Keynes, although with an important difference. Here the emphasis put on irreversibility implies of course qualitative change, and indeed the emphasis is put on the changing conditions underlying economic phenomena. Thus, for example, Joan Robinson discusses the notion of scarcity in relation to historical time:

The question of scarce means with alternative uses becomes self‐ contradictory when it is set in historical time, where today is an ever-moving break between the irrevocable past and the unknown future. At any moment, certainly, resources are scarce, but they have hardly any range of alternative uses.

The workers available to be employed are not a supply of "labor", but a number of carpenters or coal miners. The uses of land depend largely on transport; industrial equipment was created to assist the output of particular products.

To change the use of resources requires investment and training, which alters the resources themselves. As for choice among investment projects, this involves the whole analysis of the nature of capitalism and of its evolution through time. (Robinson 1977: 8)

Although the emphasis on rupture is introduced, in this historical time, "where today is an ever moving break between the irrevocable past and the unknown future," the sense of the "break," of rupture, is confined within the problems of capitalist accumulation, of the problems posed by the right proportions of, following Robinson's example, carpenters and coal miners.

History here does not present alternatives and defines itself clearly and simply as "historical objectivism" in the continuum of the capitalist relation, as contemplation of "what really was," that is, the "irrevocable [capitalist] past," and speculations about an "unknown [capitalist] future."

In Keynes, the unknown character of this future is translated in the status of the long run expectations of the investors which, to emphasize the difficulty of their modeling, in turn depends on their "animal spirits."

In Keynes, rupture as revolutionary, transcendental, rupture exists only in the form of a threat, implicit in the theoretical apparatus, in the difficulty to endogenize variables, in the reliance on "psychological factors," on investors' animal spirits which mysteriously respond to hints of this historical rupture, in the recognition of the difficulty to model behavioral functions, etc.

This threat is recognized through the status of long run expectations of the investors.

In the case of the liquidity trap, in which the infinitely elastic demand for money curve is used to portray a situation of hoarding that is, of capital's refusal to put people to work the threat is hanging over investors who perceive a gloomy future without hope for their profit.

The truly unknown future from the capitalists' perspective, the true moment of rupture in their temporal dimension, is recognized in order to be avoided, to organize the rescue of the capitalist relation of work. For this reason Keynes is not talking about given functional relations, and is presupposing a moving marginal efficiency of capital schedule (Minsky 1975.

The future is there to puzzle the investors in the present. The aim of economic theory is to inform economic policy to limit the puzzle within the borders of the capitalist relation of work. Although Keynes' theoretical apparatus is presupposing uncertainty for the future, this uncertainty is seen with the sense of urgency typical of a world in transition. In the discussion of the postwar Keynesian orthodoxy, it will be seen how this sense of urgency was lost, and the concept of time in economic theory changed, although it was far from returning to the "timeless models" of the classical period.

[Aug 24, 2020] Another rolling stone that illuminates the US necrotic process...unregulated dumping of radwaste onthe roads

Aug 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Walter , Aug 24 2020 14:11 utc | 99

@ 95 another rolling stone that illuminates the US necrotic process...unregulated dumping of radwaste

tinyurl[dot]com/v3pva55

Evidently they actually spray the stuff on roads and, well, it's puckininsane stupid.

"..thing in this stuff and ingesting it are the worst types of exposure," Stolz continues. "You are irradiating your tissues from the inside out." The radioactive particles fired off by radium can be blocked by the skin, but radium readily attaches to dust,..."

(Honestly, I know it's hard to believe, but several immediate neighbors, possibly 1/3 of the town, actually expect to be levitated to heaven in "rapture". Thus, according to their a priori assumption, the poisoning is perfectly ok."

Anyway, both the bizarre beliefs and the idiotic actions (including with radwaste) are, like Trump, a product, a manifestation. We agree.

About Rockefeller - Corbett Report has a very deep examination of that family and their less well-known policy set.

[Aug 19, 2020] How Covid-19 Signals the End of the American Era - Rolling Stone

Aug 19, 2020 | www.rollingstone.com

The Unraveling of America

Anthropologist Wade Davis on how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era

By WADE DAVIS
,

[Jul 30, 2020] What Will Happen to Neoliberalism after the COVID-19 Crisis -- Will It Survive by Prof. Joseph H. Chung

Notable quotes:
"... Some of the neoliberal countries may be at the stage of the collusion; some of them may find themselves at the stage of oligarchy; some of them may be at the stage of corruption culture. ..."
"... In Japan, since 1957, there were twenty-one prime ministers of whom 75% were one-year or two-year prime ministers despite the four-year term of prime ministers. The short life span of Japanese prime ministers is essentially due to the short term interest pursued by the corrupted golden triangle composed of big business, bureaucrats and politicians. Unless, Japan uproots the corruption culture, it will be difficult to save the Japanese economy from perpetual stagnation. ..."
"... In the U.S. the big companies are spending a year no less than $2.6 billion lobbying money for the promotion of their interests, while the Congress spends $ 2.9 billion and the Senate, $860 million for their respective annual operation. Some of the big companies deploy as many as 100 lobbyists. ..."
"... It is unbelievable that the amount of lobbying is as much as 70% of the annual budget of the whole legislative of the U.S. ..."
"... Under such lobbying system, each group should deploy lobbyists to promote their interests. The immigrants, the native Indians, the Afro Americans, the alienated white people and other marginal groups cannot afford lobbyists and they are often excluded from fair treatment in the process of making laws and policies ..."
"... In the case of the U.S. its rank increased from 18 in 2016 to 22 in 2019. Thus in three years, the degree of corruption increase by 22.2% ..."
"... The U.S. is the richest country in the world, but it is also a country where income inequality is the most pronounced. I will come back to this issue in the next section. In relation to the corona virus crisis, income inequality means an army of those who are most likely to be infected and who are unable to follow CDC guidelines of testing, self quarantine and social distancing. Finally, the privatization of public health services has made the whole country unprepared for the onslaught of the virus. ..."
"... The experience of Japan shows how this can happen. The economic depression after the bubble burst of 1989, Japan had to endure 30-year deflation. The government of Japan has flooded the country with money to restore the economy, but the money was used for the bail-out of big corporations neglecting the healthy development of the SMEs and impoverishing the ordinary Japanese people. South Korea could have experienced the Japanese-type economic stagnation, if the conservative government ruled the country ten more years. ..."
"... The neoliberal pro-big company policy of Washington has greatly depleted consumer demand and SMEs even before the onslaught of the coronavirus. ..."
"... Fourth, the U.S. economy is shaken up so much that the neoliberal regime will not able to recover the economy. Thus, the survival of neo-liberalism looks uncertain. But, if the coronavirus crisis continues and destroys SMEs and if only the big corporations survive owing to bailout money, neo-liberalism may survive and we may end up with authoritarian governance ruled by the business-politics oligarchy. ..."
Jul 27, 2020 | www.globalresearch.ca

For the last forty years, neo-liberalism has dominated economic thinking and the formulation of economic policies Worldwide.

But the corona virus crisis has exposed, in a dramatic way, its internal contradictions, its incapacity to deal with the corona crisis and its incompetence to restore the real economy ruined by the crisis.

In this article, we will focus on the relationship between Neoliberalism and the Corona Crisis:

To save democracy and the global economy, We need a new economic model which supports the future of humanity, which sustains human livelihood Worldwide.

1. Neoliberalism and the initial Outbreak of the Corona Virus

The most important part of neoliberalism is the relation -often of a corrupt nature- between the government and large corporations. By corruption, we mean illegal or immoral human activities designed to maximize profit at the expense of people's welfare. In this relation, the government may not be able to control and govern the large corporations. In fact, in the present context, the corporations govern and oversee national governments.

Hence, when the corona virus broke out, it was difficult for the government to take immediate actions to control the virus break-out to save human lives; It was quite possible that the price of stocks and large corporations' profit had the priority.

The theory known as neoliberalism distinguishes itself from the old liberalism prevailing before the Great Depression.

It became widely accepted mainly because of its adoption, in the 1970s and 1980s, by Ronald Reagan , president of the U.S. and Margaret Thatcher , prime minister of Great Britain as an economic policy agenda applied nationally and internationally.

The justification of neoliberalism is the belief that the best way to ensure economic growth is to encourage "supply activities" of private sector enterprises.

Now, the proponents of neoliberalism argue that public goods (including health and education) can be produced with greater efficiency by private companies than by the State. Therefore, "it is better" to let the private enterprises produce public goods.

In other words, the production of public goods should be "privatized". Neoliberals put profit as the best measure of efficiency and success. And profit can be sustained with government support. In turn, the private companies' policy is that of reducing the labour costs of production.

Government assistance includes reduction of corporate taxes, subsidies and anti-labour policies such as the prohibition of labour unionization and the abolition of the minimum wage.

Reduction of labour cost can be obtained by the automation of the production of goods

Under such circumstances, close cooperation between the government and the private corporations is inevitable; even it may be necessary.

But, such cooperation is bound to lead to government-business collusion in which the business receives legal and illegal government support in exchange of illicit money such as kick-backs and bribes given to influential politicians and the people close to the power.

As the collusion becomes wider and deeper, an oligarchy is formed; it is composed of corporations, politicians and civil servants. This oligarchy's raison d'être is to make money even at the expense of the interests of the people.

Now, in order to protect its vested interests, the oligarchy expands its network and creates tight-knit political community which shares the wealth and privileges obtained.

In this way, the government-business cooperation can be evolved by stage to give birth to the corruption culture.

Some of the neoliberal countries may be at the stage of the collusion; some of them may find themselves at the stage of oligarchy; some of them may be at the stage of corruption culture.

South Korea

When the progressive government of Moon Jae-in took over power in 2017, South Korea under the 60-year neo-liberal rule by the conservatives was at the stage of corruption culture.

The progressive government of Moon Jae-in has declared a total war against the corruption culture, but it is a very long way to go before eliminating corruption.

In South Korea, of six presidents of the conservative government, four presidents were or are in prison for corruption and abuse of power. This shows how deeply the corruption has penetrated into the fabrics of the Korea society

In Japan, since 1957, there were twenty-one prime ministers of whom 75% were one-year or two-year prime ministers despite the four-year term of prime ministers. The short life span of Japanese prime ministers is essentially due to the short term interest pursued by the corrupted golden triangle composed of big business, bureaucrats and politicians. Unless, Japan uproots the corruption culture, it will be difficult to save the Japanese economy from perpetual stagnation.

Lobbying and "Corruption Culture"

Many of the developed countries in the West are also the victims of corruption culture. In the U.K. the City (London's Wall Street) is the global center of money laundry.

In the U.S. the big companies are spending a year no less than $2.6 billion lobbying money for the promotion of their interests, while the Congress spends $ 2.9 billion and the Senate, $860 million for their respective annual operation. Some of the big companies deploy as many as 100 lobbyists.

It is unbelievable that the amount of lobbying is as much as 70% of the annual budget of the whole legislative of the U.S.

True, in the U.S., lobbying is not illegal, but it may not be morally justified. It is a system where the law makers give privileges to those who spend more money, which can be considered as bribes

Under such lobbying system, each group should deploy lobbyists to promote their interests. The immigrants, the native Indians, the Afro Americans, the alienated white people and other marginal groups cannot afford lobbyists and they are often excluded from fair treatment in the process of making laws and policies

Some of the developed European countries are also very corrupted. The international Transparency Index rank, in 2019, was 23 for France, 30 for Spain and 51 for Italy.

In the case of the U.S. its rank increased from 18 in 2016 to 22 in 2019. Thus in three years, the degree of corruption increase by 22.2%

What is alarming is that, in the corruption culture, national policies are liable to be dictated by big businesses.

In South Korea, under the conservative government, it was suspected that the national policies were determined by the Chaebols (large industrial conglomerates), not by the government.

As matter of fact, during the MERS crisis in 2015, the anti-virus policy was dictated by the Samsung Group. In order to save its profit, Samsung Hospital in Seoul hid the infected so that the number of non-MERS patients would not decrease.

In Japan, the Abe government made the declaration of public health emergency as late as April 6, 2020 despite the fact that the infections were detected as early as January, 2020.

This decision was, most likely, dictated by Keiretsu members (grouping of large enterprises) in order to save investments in the July Olympics. Nobody knows how many Japanese had been infected for more than three months.

Similarly, Trump was well aware of the sure propagation of the virus right form January, but he waited until March 13, 2020 before he declared the state of effective public health emergency. The obvious reason was the possible fear of free fall of stock price and the possible loss of big companies' profits.

The interesting question is: "The delayed declaration of public health emergency, was it Trump's decision or that of his corporate friends?" It doesn't matter whose decision it was, because the government under neoliberal system is controlled the big businesses.

So, as in Japan, Italy, Spain, France and especially, the U.K, Trump lost the golden time to save human lives to keep profit of enterprises.

God knows how many American lives were sacrificed to save stock price and company profit!

Thus, the neoliberal governments have lost the golden chance to prevent the initial outbreak of the dreadful virus.

2. Neo-liberalism and the Propagation of Corona-Virus

We saw that the initial outbreak of the virus was not properly controlled leading to the loss to golden time of saving human lives, most likely because of the priority given to business and political interests.

The initial outbreak of the virus was transformed into never-ending propagation and, even now, in many states in the U.S. the wave of the virus is getting higher and wider.

This tragic reality can be explained by four factors:

  1. people's mistrust in the government,
  2. unbounded competition,
  3. inequitable income distribution,
  4. the absence of public health system.

These four factors (above) are all the legacies of neoliberalism.

The people know well that the corrupted neoliberal government's concern is not the welfare of the people but the interest of a few powerful and the rich. The inevitable outcome is the loss of people's trust in the unreliable government.

This is demonstrated by Trump's indecision, his efforts of ignoring the warning of the professionals, his fabricates stories and above all, his perception of who should be given the right to receive life-saving medical care at the hospital.

Under such circumstances, Americans do not trust the government directives and guidelines, allegedly implemented to protect people from the virus.

The guideline of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) for self quarantine, social distancing and wearing face masks has little effect. There is another product of neoliberalism which is troublesome. I mean its credo of unbounded competition.

It is true that competition promotes efficiency and better quality of products. However, as competition continues, the number of winners decreases, while that of losers rises. The economy ends up being ruled by a handful of powerful winners. This leads to the segregation of losers and leads to the discrimination of people by income level, religion, race and colour of skin.

In the present context, largely as a result of government policy, there is little to no social solidarity; each individual has to solve his or her own problems. I was sad when I saw on TV a young lady in California saying:

"To be killed by the COVID-19 or starve to death is the same to me. I open my shop to eat!"

This shows how American citizens are left alone to fight the coronavirus. Furthermore, neoliberalism has another unhappy legacy; it is the widening and deepening income inequality.

The U.S. is the richest country in the world, but it is also a country where income inequality is the most pronounced. I will come back to this issue in the next section. In relation to the corona virus crisis, income inequality means an army of those who are most likely to be infected and who are unable to follow CDC guidelines of testing, self quarantine and social distancing. Finally, the privatization of public health services has made the whole country unprepared for the onslaught of the virus.

In fact, in the U.S. there is no public health system. For three months after the first breakout of the virus, the country lacked everything needed to fight the virus.

Thus, neoliberalism has made the U.S not only to lose the golden time to prevent the initial breakout but also it has let the wave of virus to continue. Nobody knows when it will calm down. As a matter of fact, on July 4, there were 2.9 million infected and 132,000 deaths; this gives a death rate of 4.6%. Given U.S. population of 328 million, we have 402.44 deaths per million inhabitants which is one of highest among the developed countries. The trouble is that the wave of virus is still going higher and wider. On July 4, the confirmed cases increased by 50% in two weeks in 12 states and increased 10% to 50% in 22 states.

3. Neo-liberalism and the very Foundation of the U.S. Economy

The message of this section is this. The foundation of the American economy is the purchasing power of the consumers and the job creation by small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The consumer demand is 70% of the GDP, the SMEs create 66% of jobs. Unfortunately, because of neoliberalism, the consumers have become very poorer and the SMEs have been neglected in the pro-big-company government policies. The COVID-19 has destroyed the SMEs and impoverished the consumers. Nobody would deny the contribution of neo-liberalism to globalization of finance, the creation of the global value chain and, especially the free trade agreement.

All these activities have allowed GDP to grow in developed countries and some of new industrial countries. However, the wealth created by the growth of GDP has gone to countries already developed, some developing countries and a small number of multinational enterprises (MNE). The rich produced by GDP growth has led to the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few privileged. What is more serious is this. If the skewed income distribution in favour of a decreasing number of people continues for long, the GDP will stop growing and decades-long deflation is quite possible, as it has happened in Japan.

According to the OECD data, in the period, 1975-2011, the GDP share of labour income in OECD countries fell by 13.8% from 65% to 56%. In the case of the U.S., in the same period, 1970-2014, it fell by 11%. The falling labour-income share is necessarily translated into unequal household income distribution. There are two popular ways of measuring income distribution: the decile ratio and the Gini coefficient.

The decile ratio is obtained by dividing the income earned by the top 10% income earners by the income earned by the bottom 10% income earners . The decile ratio in 2019 was 18.5 in the U.S. as compared to 5.6 in Finland. The decile ratio of the U.S. was the highest among the developed countries. Thus, in the U.S. the top 10 % has an income 19 times more than the bottom 10%, while, in Finland, the corresponding ratio is only 6 times. This shows how serious the income gap is in the country of Uncle Sam.

The Gini coefficient varies from zero to 100. As the value of the Gini increases, the income distribution becomes favourable to the high-income households. Conversely, as the value of the Gini decreases, the income distribution becomes favourable to low-income households. There are two types of Gini: the gross Gini and the net Gini. The former refers to Gini before taxes and transfer payment, while the latter refers to Gini after taxes and transfer payment. The difference between the gross and the net Gini shows the government efforts to improve the equality and fairness of income distribution The gross U.S.- Gini coefficient in 2019 was 48.6, one of the highest among the developed countries.

Its net Gini was 38.0 so that the difference between the gross and the net Gini was 12.3%. In other words, the U.S. income distribution improved only by 12.3% by government efforts as against, for example, an improvement of 42.9% in the case of Germany, where the gross Gini was 49.9 while the net Gini was 28.5 The net Gini of the U.S. was the highest among the developed countries. The implication is clear. The income distribution in the U.S. was the most unequal. To make the matter worse, the government's effort to improve the unequal income distribution was the poorest among the developed countries. There are countless signs of unfortunate impacts of the inequitable income distribution in the country called the U.S. which Koreans used to admire describing it as "mi-gook- 美國미국 – Beautiful Country". Now, one wonders if it is still a "mi-gook".

The following data indicates the seriousness of poverty in the U.S. (data below prior to the Coronavirus crisis).

These data give us an idea on how so many people have to suffer from poverty in a country where per capita GDP is $65,000 (2019 estimate), the richest country in the world. Most of the Americans work for small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs). In the U.S., there are 30 million SMEs. They create 66% of jobs in the private sector. The SMEs are more severely hit than big companies by the coronavirus.

In fact, 66% of SMEs are adversely affected by the virus against 40% for big firms. As much as 20% of SMEs may be shut down for good within three months, because of the virus. Under the forty years of neoliberal pro-big corporation policies, available financial resources and the best human resources have been allocated to big firms at the expense of the development of SMEs.

The most damaging by-product of neoliberalism is no doubt the widening and deepening unequal income distribution for the benefit of the big corporations and the uprooting of SMEs. This trend means the shrinking domestic demand and the disappearance of jobs for ordinary people.

The destruction of the domestic market caused by the shrinking consumer demand and the disappearance of SMEs can mean the uprooting of the very foundation of the economy.

The experience of Japan shows how this can happen. The economic depression after the bubble burst of 1989, Japan had to endure 30-year deflation. The government of Japan has flooded the country with money to restore the economy, but the money was used for the bail-out of big corporations neglecting the healthy development of the SMEs and impoverishing the ordinary Japanese people. South Korea could have experienced the Japanese-type economic stagnation, if the conservative government ruled the country ten more years.

The neoliberal pro-big company policy of Washington has greatly depleted consumer demand and SMEs even before the onslaught of the coronavirus. But, the COVID-19 has given a coup de grâce to consumer demand and SMEs To better understand the issue, let us go back to the ABC of economics. Looking at the national economy from the demand side, the economy consists of private consumer demand (C), the private investment demand (I), the government demand (G) and Foreign demand represented by exports of domestic products (X) minus domestic demand for imported foreign products (M).

GDP=C + I + G + (X-M)

In 2019, the consumer expenditure (C) in the U.S. was 70% of GDP, whereas the government's spending (G) was 17%. The investments demand (I) was 18%. The net exports demand (X-M) was -5%.

In 2019 the composition of Canadian GDP was: C=57%; I=23 %; G=21 %; X-M=-1%.

Thus, we see that the U.S. economy heavily depends on the private domestic consumption, which represents as much as 70% of GDP compared to 57% in Canada. The government's contribution to the national demand is 17% as against 21% in Canada. In the U.S. a small government is a virtue according to neoliberals. In the U.S. the private investments account for only 18% of GDP as compared to as much as 23% in Canada. In the U.S., off-shoring of manufacturing jobs and the global value chain under neo-liberalism have decreased the need for business investments at home. It is obvious then that to save the American economy, we have to boost the consumers' income. But, the consumer income comes mainly from SMEs. We must remember that the SMEs create 66% of all jobs in the U.S. Therefore, if consumer demand falls and if SMEs do not create jobs, the US economy may have to face the same destiny as the Japanese economy. This is happening in the U.S. The corona virus crisis is destroying SMEs and taking away the income of the people.

The coronavirus crisis is about to demolish the very foundation of the American economy.

4. Corona Virus Crisis and the Survival of Neoliberalism

The interesting question is this. Will neo-liberalism as economic system survive the corona virus crisis in the U.S.?

There are at least four indications suggesting that it will not survive.

  1. First, to overcome major crisis such as the corona virus invasion, we need strong central government and people-loving leader. One of the reasons for the successful anti-virus policy in South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore was the strong central government's role of determining and coordinating the anti-virus policies. As we saw, the gospel of neo-liberalism is the minimization of the central government's role. Having little role in economic policies, the U.S. federal government has proved itself as the most incompetent entity to fight the crisis. It is more than possible that the U.S. and all the neoliberal countries will try to get away from the traditional neoliberal governance in which the government is almost a simple errand boy of big business.
  2. Second, the people's trust in the neoliberal leaders has fallen on the ground. It will be difficult for the neoliberal leaders to be able to lead the country in the post-corona virus era.
  3. Third, the corona virus crisis has made the people aware of the abuse of power by the big companies; the people now know that these companies are interested only in making money. So, it may be more difficult for them to exploit the people in the era of post-COVID-19.
  4. Fourth, the U.S. economy is shaken up so much that the neoliberal regime will not able to recover the economy. Thus, the survival of neo-liberalism looks uncertain. But, if the coronavirus crisis continues and destroys SMEs and if only the big corporations survive owing to bailout money, neo-liberalism may survive and we may end up with authoritarian governance ruled by the business-politics oligarchy.

5. Search for a New Economic Regime: Just-Liberalism

One thing which the corona-virus crisis has demonstrated is the fact that the American neo-liberalism has failed as sustainable regime capable of stopping the virus crisis, restore the economy and save the democracy. Hence, we have to look for a new regime capable of saving the U.S. economy and democracy. We would call this new regime as "Just-liberalism " mission of which is the sustainable economic development and, at the same time, the just distribution of the benefits of economic development. Before we get into the discussion of the main feature of the new regime, there is one thing we should discuss. It is the popular perception of large corporation. Many believe that they make GDP grow and create jobs. It is also the popular view that the success of these large corporations is due to the innovative managing skills of their founders or their CEOs. Therefore, they deserve annual salary of millions of dollars. This is the popular perception of Chaebols in South Korea.

But, a great part of Chaebols income is attributable to the public goods such as national defence, police protection, social infrastructures, the education system, enormous sacrifice of workers and, especially tax allowances, subsidies and privileges. In other words, a great part of the Chaebols' income belongs to the society, not the Chaebols. Many believe that the Chaebols create jobs, but, in reality, they crate less than 10% of jobs in Korea. We may say the same thing about large corporations in the U.S. In other words, much of the company's income is due to public goods. Hence, the company should equitably share its income with the rest of the society. But do they?

The high ranking managers get astronomical salaries; some of them are hiding billions of dollars in tax haven islands.

We ask. Are large corporations sharing equitably their income with the society? Are the corporate tax allowances they get too much? Is the wage they pay too low? Is CEO's income is too high?

It is difficult to answer these questions.

But we should throw away the mysticism surrounding the merits of large corporations; we should closely watch them so that they do not misuse their power and wealth to dictate national policies for their own benefit at the expense of the welfare of the people. The new regime, just-liberalism, should have the following eight features.

First, we need a strong government which is autonomous from big businesses; there should be no business-politics collusion; there should be no self-interest oligarchy of corruption.

Second, it is the time we should reconsider the notion of human right violation. There are several types of human right violation in developed countries including the U.S. For example, the racial discrimination, the inequality before the law, the violation of the right of social security and the violation of the right of social service are some cases of violation of human rights defined by the U.N. The Western media have been criticizing human right violation in "non-democratic countries", but, in the future, they should pay more attention to human right violation in "democratic countries."

Third, the criterion of successful economy should not be limited to the GDP growth; the equitable distribution of the benefits of GDP growth should also be a criterion; proper balance between the growth and the distribution of growth fruits should be maintained.

Fourth, market should not be governed by "efficiency" alone; it must be also "equitable". Efficiency may lead to the concentration of resources and power in the hands of the few at the expense of social benefit; it must be also equitable. As an example, we may refer to the Chaebols (big Korean industrial conglomerates) which kill the traditional village markets which provide livelihood to a great number of poor people. The Chaebols may make the market efficient but not equitable. The Korean government has limited Chaebols' penetration into these markets to make them more equitable.

Fifth, we need a partial direct democracy. The legislative translates people's wish into laws and the executive makes policies on the basis of laws. But, in reality, the legislative and the executive may pass laws and policies for the benefit of big companies or specific group of individuals and institutions close to the power. Therefore, it is important to provide a mechanism through which the people – the real master of the country – should be allowed to intervene all times. In South Korea, if more than 200,000 people send a request to the Blue house (Korean White House) to intervene in matters judged unfair or unjust, the government must intervene.

Sixth, those goods and services which are essential for every citizen must be nationalized. For example, social infrastructure such as parks, roads, railways, harbours, supply of electricity should not be privatized. Education including higher education should be made public goods so that low income people should get higher education as do high income group.

This is the best way to maximize the mass of innovative minds and creative energy to develop the society. Above all, the health service should be nationalized. It is just unbelievable to see that, in a country where the per capita GDP is $63,000, more than 30 million citizens have no medical insurance, just because it is too expensive. Politicians know quite well that big companies related to insurance, pharmaceutical products and medical professions are preventing the nationalization of medical service in the U.S. But, the politicians don't seem to dare go over these vested interests groups and nationalize the public health system. Remember this. There are countries which are much poorer than the U.S. But, they have accessible universal health care insurance system.

Seventh, the economy should allow the system of multi- generational technologies in which not only high-level technologies but also mid-level technologies should be promoted in such a way that both high- tech large corporations and middle-tech SMEs can grow. This is perhaps only way to insure GDP growth and create jobs.

Eighth, in the area of international relations, it is about the time to stop wasteful ideological conflict. The difference among ideologies is narrowing; the number of countries which have abandoned the U.S. imposed democracy has been rising; the ideological basis of socialism is weakening. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, 48% of countries are democratic, while 52% are not. According to Freedom House, in 2005, 83 countries had net gain in democracy, while 52 countries had net loss in democracy.

But in 2019, only 37 countries had net gain while 64 countries had net loss. Between 2005 and 2018, the number of countries which were not free increased by 26%, while those which were free fell by 44%. On the other hand, it is becoming more and more difficult to find authentic socialism. For example, Chinese regime has lost its pure socialism long time ago. Thus, the world is becoming non-ideological; the world is embracing ideology-neutral pragmatism.

To conclude, the corona virus pandemic has given us the opportunity to look at ourselves; it has given us the opportunity to realize how vulnerable we are in front of the corona virus attack.

Many more pandemics will come and challenge us. We need a world better prepared to fight the coming pandemics. It is high time that we slow down our greedy pursuit for GDP growth; it is about the time to stop a wasteful international ideological conflict in support of multibillion dollar interests behind Big Money and the Military industrial complex.

It is therefore timely to find a system where we care for each other and where we share what we have .

***

Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

Professor Joseph H. Chung is professor of economics and co- director of the Observatoire de l'Asie de l'Est (ODAE) of the Centre d'Études de l'Intégration et la Mondialisation (CEIM), Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM). He is Research Associate of the Center of Research on Globalization (CRG). Growing Social and Wealth Inequality in America

[Jun 29, 2020] Gilead Will Charge More Than $3,000 For A Course Of COVID-19 Drug Remdesivir

Highly recommended!
Corrupt Fauci, stupid customers. IT the same neoliberal story of profiteering as a virtue all over again.
The government bought by Big Pharma, and Big Pharma out or control with questionable drugs and methods are two side of the same coin
Jun 29, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

On Monday, Gilead disclosed its pricing plan for Gilead as it prepares to begin charging for the drug at the beginning of next month (several international governments have already placed orders). Given the high demand, thanks in part due to the breathless media coverage despite the drug's still-questionable study data, Gilead apparently feels justified in charging $3,120 for a patient getting the shorter, more common, treatment course, and $5,720 for the longer course for more seriously ill patients. These are the prices for patients with commercial insurance in the US, according to Gilead's official pricing plan.

As per usual, the price charged to those on government plans will be lower, and hospitals will also receive a slight discount. Additionally, the US is the only developed country where Gilead will charge two prices, according to Gilead CEO Daniel O'Day. In much of Europe and Canada, governments negotiate drug prices directly with drugmakers (in the US, laws dictate that drug makers must "discount" their drugs for Medicare and Medicaid plans).

But according to O'Day, the drug is priced "far below the value it brings" to the health-care system.

However, we'd argue that this actually isn't true. Remdesivir was developed by Gilead to treat Ebola, but the drug was never approved by the FDA for this use, which caused Gilead to shelve the drug until COVID-19 presented another opportunity. Even before the first study had finished, the company was already pushing propaganda about the promising nature of the drug. Meanwhile, the CDC, WHO and other organizations were raising doubts about the effectiveness of steroid medications.

Months later, the only study on the steroid dexomethasone, a cheap steroid that costs less than $50 for a 100-dose regimen, has shown that dexomethasone is the only drug so far that has proven effective at lowering COVID-19 related mortality. Remdesivir, despite the fact that it has been tested in several high quality trials, has not.

So, why is the American government in partnership with Gilead still pushing this questionable, and staggeringly expensive, medication on the public?

[Jun 15, 2020] Ending Emergency Unemployment Insurance Supplements

Jun 15, 2020 | angrybearblog.com
  1. anne , June 14, 2020 4:47 pm

    https://cepr.net/ending-emergency-unemployment-insurance-supplements/

    June 10, 2020

    Ending Emergency Unemployment Insurance Supplements
    By DEAN BAKER

    The Republicans have been working hard to ensure that the $600 weekly supplement to unemployment insurance benefits, which was put in place as part of the pandemic rescue package, is not extended beyond the current July 31 cutoff. They argue that we need people to return to work.

    They do have a point. The supplement is equivalent to pay of $15 an hour for someone working a 40-hour week, and this is in addition to a regular benefit that is typically equal to 40 to 50 percent of workers' pay. The supplement translates into an even larger hourly pay rate for workers putting in shorter workweeks, which was the case for most laid off workers in the restaurant and retail sectors.

    It is hard for employers in traditionally low paying sectors to match these pay rates. Even those of us who are big proponents of higher minimum wages would not advocate a jump to more than $20 an hour at a point when businesses are crippled by the pandemic.

    However, there is also the point that we don't want workers to have to expose themselves to the coronavirus. That was the reason for the generous supplement. We wanted to make sure that workers, who in many cases were legally prevented from working, did not suffer as a result.

    There is an obvious solution here. Suppose we reduce or end the supplement in areas where the pandemic is under control.

    This would not be determined by some Trumpian declaration that the pandemic is over, but by solid data. The obvious metric would be positive test rates. Suppose that the supplement was reduced or eliminated in states or counties where the positive test rate is less than 5 percent. (This may not be the right rate.) This would mean that workers going back to work would face relatively little risk of contracting the virus. It would also give states incentive to conduct vigorous testing programs, as well as other control measures, in order to get their positive rates down.

    Our unemployment insurance system is badly broken and it would be desirable to have more generous benefits, and also to focus more on work sharing, as other countries have done. We can recognize this point and still agree that an arbitrary supplement to all benefits is not the right long-term fix even if it was very good policy in the pandemic.

[Jun 02, 2020] During Coronavirus epidemic, the US has shown itself incompetent and dysfunctional. That threatens the USA status a world hegemon and as the center of neoliberal empire

Notable quotes:
"... The western response to the Coronavirus spoke loudly: The U.S. and Europe have appeared powerful because they projected the illusion of competence; of being able to act effectively; of being strategic in their actions. On Coronavirus, the U.S. has shown itself incompetent, dysfunctional, and indifferent to human affliction. ..."
Jun 02, 2020 | www.strategic-culture.org

The western response to the Coronavirus spoke loudly: The U.S. and Europe have appeared powerful because they projected the illusion of competence; of being able to act effectively; of being strategic in their actions. On Coronavirus, the U.S. has shown itself incompetent, dysfunctional, and indifferent to human affliction.

Trump is fighting an existential war: on the one hand, the coming Election is not merely the most important in the U.S.' history. It will be existential. No more is Blue/Red a contrived theatre for the electorate – this is deadly serious.

For an important segment of the population (no longer the majority), to lose in this coming election would signify their ejection from power and politics, and their substitution by a culturally different class of Americans, with different cosmopolitan and diversity values. It is the tipping point – two irreconcilable visions of American life believe that they can continue only if they own the whole order, and the other side be utterly crushed.

And on the other hand, Trump sees the U.S. fighting a similarly existential war, albeit at a global plane. He is fighting a hidden 'war' to retain America's present dominance over global money (the dollar) – the source of its true power. For Americans to lose this parallel competition to the EU's and China's multilateral values of global co-operation and financial governance, would imply Americans' (i.e. white Anglo Saxon's) ejection from control over the global financial system, and (again) their substitution by a quite different vision (i.e. a Soros-Gates-Pelosi vision), advocating the 'progressive' values of ecological and financial, global governance.

Again – two irreconcilable visions of the global order, with each party believing that it must own the whole order to survive.

Hence Trump's full-spectrum disruption of China (and the whole multilateral ideology) to maintain dollar hegemony. Europe, on one side, exemplifies the shift towards a transnational regulatory and monetary super-state. And China , on the other, is not only Europe's willing partner, but the only power capable of sitting atop this globalist ambition, giving it the (required) financial weight and substance. This constitutes the existential threat to the U.S.' exceptional control of the global financial system – and therefore over global political power.

A sovereignty-ist Russia may not be as drawn to this cosmopolitan vision as China, but really it has little choice. Because, as President Putin repeatedly points out, the dollar constitutes the toxic problem plaguing the world trading system. And in this, Russia cannot stand aloof. The dollar is the problem for the Middle East too, with its noxious corollaries of oil, currency, trade and sanctions wars. The region will not long be able to sit on the fence, keeping distant from this struggle for the global financial order.

The Middle East, as deference to the U.S. illusion of power wanes, has as little choice as has Russia: It will be pushed to view the U.S. as its past, and to 'Look East' for its future.

And Israel will cease to be the pivot around which the Middle East revolves.

[Jun 02, 2020] We re In The Thick Of It Now – What Happens Next

Riots are not a political movement and they will dissipate soon. Leaving just strengthened the national-security state. That's what will happen next.
Notable quotes:
"... If the combination of peaceful protesting, looting and violence witnessed across American cities over the past few days completely caught you off guard, you're likely to come to the worst possible conclusion about what to do next. The knee-jerk response I'm already seeing from many is to crush the dissent by all means necessary, but that's exactly how you give the imperial state and oligarchy more power. Power it will never relinquish. ..."
"... On the one hand, you can't pillage the public so blatantly and consistently for decades while telling them voting will change things and not expect violence once people realize it doesn't. On the other hand, street violence plays perfectly into the hands of those who would take the current moment and use it to advocate for a further loss of civil liberties, more internal militarization, and the emergence of an overt domestic police state that's been itching to fully manifest since 9/11. ..."
Jun 02, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

It's with an extremely heavy heart that I sit down to write today's post.

Although widespread civil unrest was easy to predict, it doesn't make the situation any less sad and dangerous. We're in the thick of it now, and how we respond will likely determine the direction of the country for decades to come.

If the combination of peaceful protesting, looting and violence witnessed across American cities over the past few days completely caught you off guard, you're likely to come to the worst possible conclusion about what to do next. The knee-jerk response I'm already seeing from many is to crush the dissent by all means necessary, but that's exactly how you give the imperial state and oligarchy more power. Power it will never relinquish.

What's happening in America right now is what happens in a failed state.

The U.S. is a failed state. Now the imperial national security state is going to flex at home like never before.

I spent the last decade of my life trying to spread the word to avoid this, but here we are.

-- Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) May 31, 2020

I don't think people understand the significance of the President declaring "Antifa" a "terrorist organization". The Patriot Act and provisions of the NDAA of 2012 make this frightening. Because Antifa is informal it puts all protestors in danger--like declaring them un-citizens.

-- Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) June 1, 2020

GOP @SenTomCotton : "If local politicians will not do their most basic job to protect our citizens, let's see how these anarchists respond when the 101st Airborne is on the other side of the street." pic.twitter.com/NyojLoOEAT

-- The American Independent (@AmerIndependent) June 1, 2020

The pressure cooker situation that erupted over the weekend has been building for five decades, but really accelerated over the past twenty years. After every crisis of the 21st century there's been this "do whatever it takes mentality," which resulted in more wealth and power for the national security state and oligarchy, and less resources, opportunities and civil liberties for the many. If anything, it's surprising it took so long to get here, partly a testament to how skilled a salesman for the power structure Obama was.

Your election was a chance to create real change, but instead you chose to protect bankers while looting the economy on behalf of oligarchs.

You and Trump aren't much different when it comes to the big structural problems, you were just better at selling oligarchy and empire. https://t.co/QuSQNApeLY

-- Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) June 1, 2020

The covid-19 pandemic, related societal lockdown and another round of in your face economic looting by Congress and the Federal Reserve merely served as an accelerant, and the only thing missing was some sort of catalyst combined with warmer weather. Now that the eruption has occurred, I hope cooler heads can prevail on all sides.

On the one hand, you can't pillage the public so blatantly and consistently for decades while telling them voting will change things and not expect violence once people realize it doesn't. On the other hand, street violence plays perfectly into the hands of those who would take the current moment and use it to advocate for a further loss of civil liberties, more internal militarization, and the emergence of an overt domestic police state that's been itching to fully manifest since 9/11.

It's my view we need to take the current moment and admit the unrest is a symptom of a deeply entrenched and corrupt bipartisan imperial oligarchy that cares only about its own wealth and power. If people of goodwill across the ideological spectrum don't take a step back and point out who the real looters are, nothing's going to improve and we'll put another bandaid on a systemic cancer as we continue our longstanding march toward less freedom and more authoritarianism

... ... ...

[May 31, 2020] Our Grim Future by Pepe Escobar

A pretty silly rant, but some point might worth your attention...
Notable quotes:
"... I don't believe Marxist Social/Communism is the answer, as it has proven to always fail, as it is at complete odds with human nature. It drains creativity and productivity because they aren't rewarded ..."
"... Protests and Maidan open up fabulous opportunities for protest leaders. Chocolate oligarch Poroshenko became president. The little-known leader of the party faction in the parliament, Yatsenyuk, became prime minister. ..."
May 31, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Meanwhile, what is going to happen to assorted fascisms? Eric Hobsbawm showed us in Age of Extremes how the key to the fascist right was always mass mobilization: "Fascists were the revolutionaries of the counter-revolution".

We may be heading further than mere, crude neofascism. Call it Hybrid Neofascism. Their political stars bow to global market imperatives while switching political competition to the cultural arena.

That's what true "illiberalism" is all about: the mix between neoliberalism – unrestricted capital mobility, Central Bank diktats – and political authoritarianism. Here's where we find Trump, Modi and Bolsonaro.

...Even if neoliberalism was dead, and it's not, the world is still encumbered with its corpse – to paraphrase Nietzsche a propos of God.

And even as a triple catastrophe – sanitary, social and climatic – is now unequivocal, the ruling matrix – starring the Masters of the Universe managing the financial casino – won't stop resisting any drive towards change.

... Realpolitik once again points to a post-Lockdown turbo-capitalist framework, where the illiberalism of the 1% – with fascistic elements – and naked turbo-financialization are boosted by reinforced exploitation of an exhausted and now largely unemployed workforce.

Post-Lockdown turbo-capitalism is once again reasserting itself after four decades of Thatcherization, or – to be polite – hardcore neoliberalism. Progressive forces still don't have the ammunition to revert the logic of extremely high profits for the ruling classes – EU governance included – and for large global corporations as well.


-- ALIEN -- , 2 minutes ago

Allowing the continued uncontrolled exploitation of planetary resources will lead to global ecosystem collapse, killing most humans.

Cheap Chinese Crap , 10 minutes ago

Good God, it 's like this guy is giving a seminar in technocratic buzzword salad recognition.

"It takes someone of Marx's caliber to build a full-fledged, 21st century eco-socialist ideology, and capable of long-term, sustained mobilization. Aux armes, citoyens."

Aux armes, indeed. But not to erect an oligarchy of self-appointed experts to rule us with an iron hand. I rather prefer the idea of pulling them off their comfy, government-compensated sinecures and dragging them down into the mud with everyone else.

Anyone who thinks they are better qualified to run your life than you yourself is an enemy of the Enlightenment. Away with them all.

Leguran , 1 hour ago

Something worthwhile to note is missing among Pepe's carnage....

What has happened is that every imaginable organized group from doctors to pilots to lawyers, to farmers, to pharma companies, etc. has carved out a special slice of the economy especially for themselves.

In Feudal times rivers could not be navigated because cockroach lords would charge fees to use the rivers. That is exactly the same arrangement today but instead of using force of arms, laws are used. Our economy is choking on all these impediments.

mtumba , 2 hours ago

I agree that we need a revolution, and that the .01% globalist "elites" have proven to be not only craven, arrogant and greedy - but also stupid beyond redemption.

But I don't believe Marxist Social/Communism is the answer, as it has proven to always fail, as it is at complete odds with human nature. It drains creativity and productivity because they aren't rewarded, and it rewards laziness and inertia, because the absolute minimum of effort results in the barest level needed to survive, which - oddly - is enough for many.

I think it would be great to give actual capitalism a try, with extremely limited govt - a govt that ONLY provides for the common defense and enforcement of contract laws and protection against crimes of violence and property theft. NOT crony-capitalism that takes command over the resources of a nation's klepotcratic govt by the .01% richest and their sycophantic bottom feeder lawyers, lobbyists, corrupt politicians and other enablers.

Snout the First , 3 hours ago

That was sure a lot of words, needlessly making something simple difficult. Here's what it all boils down to:

  • - Who do you want setting prices? The market or a central planner?
  • - What percent of the economy do you want the government to own or control?
  • - What percent of your annual income do you want the government to take? Some small amount to be used for valid purposes, the rest to be pissed away against your better interests?
PKKA , 3 hours ago

Protests and Maidan open up fabulous opportunities for protest leaders. Chocolate oligarch Poroshenko became president. The little-known leader of the party faction in the parliament, Yatsenyuk, became prime minister.

You know that on the project of an epic wall between Ukraine and Russia, Yatsenyuk stole $ 1 billion but did not build a wall. A moron with a certificate from a psycho hospital Andrei Parubiy became the speaker of parliament. You did not know that Parubiy had a certificate of moronity from a psycho hospital? Now you know. Boxer Vitali Klitschko became mayor of Kiev. Vitaly pronounces the words in syllables and wrinkles his forehead for a long time before expressing a thought. You can even physically hear the creak of gears as they spin and creak in Klitschko's head. Do you know what rabble passed in the Ukrainian parliament? Bandits, crooks, nazis, morons, thieves and idiots! So the protests open up fabulous career opportunities and enrichment!

play_arrow
Phillyguy , 4 hours ago

The American public has a front row seat, watching US economic decline. This process has been ongoing since the mid 1970's, as corporate profits slumped. In response the ruling elite enacted a series of Neo-liberal economic policies- multiple tax cuts for the wealthy, attacks on the poor and labor, job outsourcing, financial de-regulation, lack of spending on public and private infrastructure and spending $ trillions of taxpayer money on the Pentagon and strategic debacles in Afghanistan (longest war in US history), Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. In total, these policies have been a disaster for the average American family.

The ruling elite are well aware of American economic decline, accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic. Fascism comes to the fore when capitalism breaks down, and under extreme conditions, the ruling elite use fascism as an ideological rationale to harness state power- Legislature and police, to maintain class structure and wealth distribution. Western capitalism is incapable of reversing its economic decline and as a result, we are seeing fascism reemerging in the US, EU and Brazil. Donald Trump is the face of American fascism. Michael Parenti provides an excellent historical analysis of fascism. See: Michael Parenti- Functions of Fascism (Real History) 1 of 4 Jan 27, 2008; Link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0Bc4KJx2Ao

Vigilante , 4 hours ago

How come 'fascist' Trump is being attacked 24/7 by the Deep State though?

They should be on his side if your assertions are correct

Fascism resides mostly on the Left end of the spectrum...and 'Woke' capital is throwing its lot with the 'progressives' these days

bshirley1968 , 4 hours ago

It's your perception he is being attacked. Dude, wake up.

The best the deep state has to run against Trump is Joe Biden? They are that stupid? They are that weak? If they are that stupid and weak, how can they be a conceivable, real threat.

You are being played. You imagine there are good guys that you can trust......and that is why you are being played.

HomeOfTheHypocrite , 3 hours ago

The ruling class is currently divided between those who are ready to prepare fascism and those who want to continue on with neoliberalism. Trump represents one faction of the ruling class. His political opponents in the Deep State represent another. None of them have any genuine concern for the fate of the American worker. Trump, if judged by his actions and not his words, is nothing but a charlatan who mouths populist phrases while appointing billionaire aristocrats to political positions and lavishing investment bankers with trillions of tax dollars.

CatInTheHat , 2 hours ago

This is the problem with both sides cult followers: the insanity behind the idea that these elite somehow have their hands tied behind their backs as they ALL move is toward fascism.

The 2 party system is a ONE party right wing fascist one. Trump is merely a figure head. People listen to what a politician says and NOT what he does behind their backs.

Trump is 1000% Zionazi just like the rest of them

HomeOfTheHypocrite , 2 hours ago

"basically it looks alot like the age old battle between fascism and communism"

Perhaps on the streets, but not within the ruling class. The ruling class, including the Democrats, are utterly opposed to communism or socialism. Every Democratic congressperson with maybe one exception stood and applauded Trump's anti-socialist rants during his State of the Union addresses. Nancy Pelosi: "We're capitalist and that's just the way it is." Elizabeth Warren (supposedly a radical): "I'm capitalist to my bones."

"Let's say for example these protesters managed to organize well enough to stage a coup d'etat and take over - what next ?"

There's little chance of that. They are completely disorganized and lack any sort of political program. But, if you're giving me the task of developing a political program for them, I'll try to offer some suggestions that could be accomplished without a Pinochet or Stalin-style bloodletting.

1. Busting up the monopolies and cartels
2. Raising taxes on the rich
3. A government jobs program to combat unemployment
4. A massive curtailment of the military budget
5. A massive curtailment of the policing and prison budget
6. Free government healthcare (without banning private-sector healthcare)

The first three of these political tasks were accomplished in the US in the 1930s without the need for "black ops, gulags, secret police, and all the rest of it." Major policy changes have not always required mass repression. But they do require a serious enough political party to disassociate itself entirely from the ruling class Democrats and Republicans. During the 30s there was a significant rise in various populist and socialist parties. Much of FDR's policies and statements were a response to the threat they posed to established power. There is a famous quote where he talks about having to "throw a few of these [millionaires] to the wolves" in order to save America from the crackpot ideas of the "communists" and "Huey Longians."

I completely share your concern related to the use of repression to implement social and economic policies. Neither the fascists nor the communists have a thing to offer a free people so long as they rely on tyranny to enforce their program. Above all democracy and the natural rights of individuals must be preserved.

Jedclampetisdead , 5 hours ago

If this country has any chance, we have to execute the Zionist bankers and their minions

new game , 5 hours ago

What is and will be: Corporate Fascism.

I defy anyone to explain other wise.

Go to the World Economic Forum web page and meet your masters.

Billionaires shaping YOUR future with their fortunes from corporations.

Their wealth was had by joint ventures with bought and paid for politicians and lobbyist

crafted legislation to maximize their wealth. This fakdemic absolutely consolidates more wealth

to fewer corporations by design. Serf and kings/queens. The club personified by immense wealth disparity.

In a continuing process, the social scoring via digital systems will limit freedoms to state approved corporate diktats

that clamp like a boot to the neck. **** here, 6 tissue sections and recycled bug **** for food.

brave new gatsy world right now with the roll out out of 3 pronged vaccine controlling your brains emotions.

It is all so obvious to anyone with an ability to see two steps into the future. navigate the future accordingly.

They are in control, the first denial that must be removed to see clearly the next step. sad but true.

simple **** maynard...

[May 29, 2020] Interview Jeff Sessions on Trump, Tuberville, and Free Trade 'Religion'

May 29, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

TAC: Looking forward, if you do go back to Washington, what issues would you champion, and what do you think America in 2021 should really focus on?

Sessions: Well, I have come to understand that the neocon foreign policy, the libertarian free market ideology, beyond common sense, was not healthy, and resulting in damage to families and to American citizens . It's our duty as public officials to protect American citizens from damage from unfair foreign competition and other tactics. That's a big deal. I think our Republican agenda has got to be more focused on helping American people fight back against unfair attacks on our businesses, closing our factories, losing our jobs, transporting our jobs. I'll be an advocate for that.

We have a nation, and the government's job is to protect the nation. President Trump said it simply: Other nations protect their interests, why aren't we protecting ours? We don't ever use a tariff? When people cheat you every day, how do you fight back, are you going to drop bombs on them? Why don't you use tariffs, which Alexander Hamilton and George Washington did at the very beginning of the republic, that's a perfectly normal response to an adverse attack on your people. So those are the kind of things that I feel strongly about. I believe in markets, competition, and international trade, but we can no longer sit quietly while are savaged by very clever, devious mercantilists who want to advance their interests and weaken the United States, while we sit there, based on some theory , that we can't impose a tariff. Give me a break!

Also, we need to reestablish a foreign policy for this time in our country's history, and it has to be really bipartisan. You remember the Kennan Long Telegram that laid the foundation for the containment policy against the Soviet Union. It lasted for 40 years with basic bipartisan support. That's the kind of thing we need to be rethinking today.

We cannot continue, as the president has warned us, getting involved in endless wars all over the globe, thinking that we can just remake humanity. That's not conservatism. Conservatism, as Bob Tyrell said, is a cast of mind, it's a thought process, about, 'wait, is this realistic?

You sure this theory is going to work? Are you trying to put a square peg in a round hole? It's just not going there. Aren't you getting feedback from reality, don't you adjust to it?' Our fundamental goals are to make the American people happy, prosperous, and stable. Family, traditions, culture, those kinds of things have got to be defended. And this ideological view that we're not a nation, we're an idea, somehow our constitution is supposed to apply worldwide, is ridiculous.

We have borders, and we have a right to defend those borders, to establish good, healthy conditions within our country. Not just for the billionaires, wages need to go up for working people. For example, for 20 years wages for average Americans did not increase. GDP was going up, that seemed to be all the economists cared about, CEOs were making more and more money, but the wages for the core American people were not going up. They have, under President Trump, some, and we need to focus on that.

TAC: In both military and economic terms, how should we begin confronting China?

For starters, we need to take off the rose-colored glasses. This is a communist regime. We can wish it weren't so, people hoped they would moderate when they got wealthier, but actually the opposite is occurring. Xi Jinping is using technology to repress his people even more ruthlessly. And they are not free market people. They are not free market people, they're communists! They are using our free-market theories -- religion -- against us, to destroy us, to gain market share, and they've been highly successful.

President Trump and I talked about it on the airplane a number of times during the campaign, and he understands one thing: China needs our markets more than we need their products.

We can make those products in the United States, we can make our drugs here, we can buy them from Mexico, our neighbors like that, we can buy them from the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, India, Vietnam, places that aren't threats to us strategically, and who will deal honestly with us.

So we absolutely need to alter that supply chain system that has given China an advantage over all the other nations of the world, and we can do that in a way that does not harm our economy significantly.

[May 29, 2020] They Motherfkers Need To Go Home! - Locals Rage At Rioters As Minneapolis Burns

May 29, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

As Summit News reports , a video clip shows a black woman and former NAACP chapter president trying to collect medication for her daughter outside a Target store in St. Paul telling rioters "these motherf**kers need to go home!"

"Leave this shit alone – "these motherf**kers need to go home!" she shouts, "these people don't give a damn about George Floyd."

Diane Binns, 70, of St. Paul is angry at the people here. Binns came here to get medication for her daughter. pic.twitter.com/GA1EJpx4XL

-- Ricardo Lopez (@rljourno) May 28, 2020

The woman subsequently identified herself as Diane Binns, former president of the NAACP St. Paul from 2016-2018.

Critically, for the narrative-minded among you, she says she attended the initial protest against the killing of Floyd but after 30 minutes realized "it was going to be a riot, so I left."

America is quickly descending into chaos as social unrest could spread to other major cities this weekend. Wealth inequality in many inner cities is at record levels. More than 40 million people are unemployed with a crashed economy, and people are already furious about virus lockdowns. This all suggests a perfect storm of unrest could flare up across the country.

We warned of the possibility of this in late March, " West Faces "Social Bomb" As Pandemic Sparks Unrest Among Poorest . "

[May 29, 2020] vaxxter.com

May 29, 2020 | vaxxter.com

What's of particular interest is back in 2005, the PREP Act was brought into existence.
In essence the PREP Act provides for unlimited funding for drug companies to develop 'counter measures' , should a Notice of Declaration of National Emergency be declared. Such declaration was made back in March of this year.

Under the PREP Act, drug companies are given COMPLETE IMMUNITY FROM ALL ACCOUNTABILITY, ALL LIABILITY & ALL LAWSUITS.

By her latest count, there are 119 Covid19 vaccines under development worldwide.

2) CDC and AMA have been in cahoots over the flu and vaccines for years!
Read the start of paragraph 3 and all of 4.

https://aspe.hhs.gov/cdc-%E2%80%94-influenza-deaths-request-correction-rfc

[May 29, 2020] The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish neoliberal mentality

May 29, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

DontBelieveEitherPr. , May 28 2020 18:48 utc | 3

"The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality."

And this is sadly the biggest challenge of all. After many decades of neoliberal doctrine, coupled with shunning positive patriotism (e.g. serving for the common good of a nation) as "semi-fascist", we now reap what has been sowed.
But it must be the focus point of our work. Without it, every other effort regarding reviving democracy, social security, and even changing the crazy geopolitics of our nations is futile.

Caliman , May 28 2020 19:47 utc | 9

"The "western" cultures allow for more selfishness of the individual. But over the longer timeframe [neoliberal] cultures that emphasizes personal liberty and ignore the common good are likely to see their empire fail.

The probably biggest lesson we will learn from this pandemic is that we must work to change that selfish mentality."

Ah, yes ... the common good ... the Great Leap Forward ... the Brave New World ... individual rights reported as selfishness ... really?

Perhaps it's better to live with some risk and the admitted limited liberty and individual rights afforded by a system of limited government (not that our governors are currently acting in accordance to the laws they have sworn to uphold)?

Or perhaps one would rather have the false security of guaranteed life in a prison?

Btw, "empire failing" would be a great thing ... and individual rights and limited governance are antithetical to empire.

[May 28, 2020] A small request after COVID-19 epidemic: Please tell the ruling class to 'go fck themselves'

Voting it still is a way to raise the middle finger to the organized crime ring that currently serves the oligarchs
May 28, 2020 | caucus99percent.com

The easiest way to register your disapproval is with your vote. Will it change things? Absolutely not.
But I'm only asking for you to send a message. Asking you for more than that would be presumptuous of me.

The media is quick to tell you that you only have two choices in our "democracy" - Red Team or Blue Team.
That is a lie. The reality is that you have four choices.

Choice #1) Vote Team Neofeudalism
Do you enjoy being a serf? Then vote for the MSM-endorsed Republican or Democrat. Go Team!
If you think there is any real difference then you aren't paying attention .

Choice #2) Don't Vote
The game is rigged, so why participate?
Well, you got the first part right. It's all rigged, but you obviously don't understand the game if you think you can opt out. We are all trapped in this system, and not voting is a choice.
Think of it this way. Half of all eligible voters don't vote. Do you think that the political class is worried about their legitimacy? Not in the slightest. If the voting rate dropped to just 10% they still wouldn't care.
In fact, a disengaged, apathetic public is a close second preference to Choice #1 for the ruling elite. Want proof? When is the last time (outside of the Sanders campaign) has any politician done anything to increase the electorate? Historically the ruling class has always tried to limit participation.
So the only message that you send by not voting is "I don't care" or "I give up."

Choice #3) Vote for someone you like
A.K.A. Throwing away your vote.
A.K.A. Helping Putin.
A.K.A. Voting for Trump (for people that flunked both math and civics).
The purpose of democracy is to vote for someone that represents your interests. The fact that this logical, rational act has been demonized by the MSM is proof that the ruling elites don't approve of this choice.
So if you want to tell the ruling class FU on their choices, this is an easy way to do it.
It's not the best way, but it is a way.
The reason that it's not the best way to send a message is because the Democratic Party truly doesn't care if it loses to the GOP. The wealthy donors still win.
So as long as only a token number of voters vote for a 3rd party, then the ruling elite still win. They just don't win in a manner that they would prefer, and that slightly annoys them.

Choice #4) Get Active. Get In Their Faces
The only way to really piss off the ruling elites is to threaten their power.
The Democratic Party establishment and the media will always be against everyone on the left.
However, that isn't even the most important parts of the establishment, and it's something that the Left absolutely must fix regardless of whether the strategy is to take over the Democratic Party or jump to another party.

For starters, let's look at the one place where the Left should dominate - Labor Unions.
No left-wing movement worth a damn fails to have labor behind it. The rank-and-file are generally economic leftists, but union leadership has often been totally corrupted.
That has to change.
The same goes for civil rights and enviromentalist groups.
Failure to do this will doom any leftist economic movement or party.

However, changing things > sending a message.

Halfway in between changing things and sending a message is primarying incumbents.
The political establishment gets furious when the grassroots challenges them.
You can tell by all the ways that they'll break every rule and violate every value when this happens.
It's a true FU to the ruling class. It makes them fight over something they thought that they had already won.

While Bernie's defeat (and abandonment of his own movement) was discouraging, there are still people fighting the good fight.
For example, Justice Democrats have a 3 - 2 record in 2020 so far.
The DSA has 13 primary challengers coming up.

This is only a request. You should only do what you are ready to do.
But I think it's not a bad strategy to act in a way most contrary to the wishes of the ruling class.

[May 26, 2020] The severity of coronavirus epidemic in the USA is indirectly connected with neoliberal decimation of healthcare and social safety net

May 26, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

VietnamVet , May 25 2020 23:36 utc | 23

The top nine nations with the most coronavirus cases were members of the Western Empire (former democracies weakened by corporations and oligarchs to promote global trade) or the Elite reaching an understanding with Authoritarians. "Profit over lives" was the result. Endless wars, offshoring, corruption, exploitation and despair led to the decreased life expectancy in the USA and England.

The novel coronavirus pandemic is the direct result of these dysfunctional governments. Corporations see the epidemic as a profit center for their magical treatment or vaccine. There is no US national public health system. US hospitals and nursing homes primary purpose is to make money for stockholders and mangers. It is of no matter that nearly 100,000 Americans have died so far with many more to come. No great wealth will be spent to fight the pandemic nationally in the USA using the proven public health practices of universal testing, contact tracing and isolation of the ill.

This is now a bipolar world. The USA and UK are pariah nations quarantined from the nations that have controlled the virus. The Western Empire has fallen.

The Democrats are just as responsible for the mess as the Republicans. I have yet to receive my mail-in ballot for the postponed June 2nd Maryland primary. Besides being incarcerated at home, it looks like I am also disenfranchised. Yet, I am very lucky, once again, but for how long?

Either a democratic constitutional government retakes control of the USA or a second civil war between the credentialed and the left-behind is inevitable. The aristocracy always loses but with wholesale chaos, major loss of life and redistribution of wealth.

This is an extraordinary dangerous time for Homo sapiens due the Pandemic and the resulting Greatest Depression leading to unrest, scapegoating and confrontation which could result in the use of nuclear weapons. Plus, climate change looms ahead. How can this possibly be addressed if the developed world is unable to control a once in a century pandemic; let alone, evolve a sustainable civilization that can survive on a finite planet.

Jackrabbit , May 26 2020 0:31 utc | 26

Big Pharma colluding with Government. Just as some of us have been warning of.

The sense that we are being f*cked with is papable:

  • The virus is only a mild illness (trust us).
  • Masks are not needed (trust us).
  • Stay at home if you're sick (trust us).
  • We're doing tons of testing (trust us).
  • Don't use unproven medicines/treatments (trust us).
  • We'll have a vaccine (trust us).
  • The economy will come roaring back (trust us).
  • Trillions of dollar of loans to wall street and big companies was necessary (trust us).
  • China is to blame (trust us).
  • We're in this together (trust us).

That's what we get when we let asshats run rampant (no accountability whatsoever). Only genuine Movements for Democratic reform will change anything.

!!

[May 26, 2020] Have governments given any thought to the implication of the financial crisis spreading to the middle classes, for whom often their only cushion in life is the inflated value of the house in which they live, but whose price may collapse?

May 26, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 25 2020 19:24 utc | 104

At the end of his essay today , Alastair Crooke asks a series of questions that many of us have already pondered and mostly written about:

"Have governments given any thought to the implication of the financial crisis spreading to the middle classes, for whom often their only cushion in life is the inflated value of the house in which they live, but whose price may collapse? And if not, do they imagine that their citizens will acquiesce to losing their homes because of Coronavirus? And that the middle classes will still side with the élites?

"So much hangs on the evolutionary course of the virus. But judging this wrongly, risks much. People will not so readily handover their homes and cars to the banks this time, as in they did the wake of great financial crisis of 2008. Why would they? It was not their fault [It wasn't their fault in 2008 either; it was massive Fraud that was never prosecuted and I'm getting rather tired of that fact not being aired]. Convulsions ahead? The decay of an era, and the inevitability of social and political mutation?"

IMO, within the Outlaw US Empire, the issue of state solvency will become paramount thanks to the massive unanticipated shortfalls in revenue, an issue Hudson talks about in the video I linked above. IMO, that issue has the power to cleave the states from the Union given the Union's complete lack of interest in the wellbeing of citizens. It's very much like an abusive marriage--When does the repeatedly beaten wife finally leave home or attempt to kill her spouse? Aside from the very meager benefits from Social Security and Medicare, what ties serve to promote loyalty to Washington, DC over your individual state? If the Union isn't going to work for the goals articulated in the Constitution's Preamble, then why support it any longer?

[May 25, 2020] BIG PHARMA steered public money away from pandemic research and into PROFIT-MAKING projects for years watchdog -- RT World New

Notable quotes:
"... EU money intended for underfunded public-benefit research such as preparing for a pandemic has been diverted by the pharmaceutical industry into areas where it can make more money, according to a scathing new report. ..."
"... The target of the criticism is the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership that was equally funded, between 2008 and 2020, by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) lobbying group and the European Commission to the tune of 5.3 billion euros (US$5.8 billion). The money is supposed to go to areas of "unmet medical or social need," ..."
"... "We were outraged to find evidence that the pharmaceutical industry lobby EFPIA not only did not consider funding biopreparedness (ie, being ready for epidemics such as the one caused by the new coronavirus, COVID-19) but opposed it being included in IMI's work when the possibility was raised by the European Commission in 2017, ..."
"... "The research proposed by the EC in the biopreparedness topic was small in scope," ..."
"... "IMI's projects have contributed, directly or indirectly, to better prepare the research community for the current crisis, the Ebola+ programme or the ZAPI project." ..."
"... "belated interventions when an epidemic is already underway," ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
May 25, 2020 | www.rt.com
EU money intended for underfunded public-benefit research such as preparing for a pandemic has been diverted by the pharmaceutical industry into areas where it can make more money, according to a scathing new report. Officials in Brussels wanted to co-fund research that would have ensured the European Union (EU) was better prepared for a pandemic akin to the one we are experiencing today. But their partners, the big pharmaceutical companies, rejected the proposal, ensuring that taxpayer money would go instead into studies with more potential for commercial application. In short big-pharma lobbyists were allowed to steer billions of euros of public funds as they saw fit, a damning new report claims.

The target of the criticism is the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a public-private partnership that was equally funded, between 2008 and 2020, by the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) lobbying group and the European Commission to the tune of 5.3 billion euros (US$5.8 billion). The money is supposed to go to areas of "unmet medical or social need," but, in practice, corporate priorities dominate the decision-making, according to the non-governmental organization Corporate Observatory Europe (COE).

"We were outraged to find evidence that the pharmaceutical industry lobby EFPIA not only did not consider funding biopreparedness (ie, being ready for epidemics such as the one caused by the new coronavirus, COVID-19) but opposed it being included in IMI's work when the possibility was raised by the European Commission in 2017, " a new COE report said.

Also on rt.com Head of EU's top science body quits after Covid-19 response plans get bogged down by Brussels bureaucracy

The rejected proposal would have directed money into refining computer simulations and the analysis of animal testing models, potentially speeding up regulatory approval of vaccines, according to the Guardian. But a spokeswoman for the IMI called the report "misleading".

"The research proposed by the EC in the biopreparedness topic was small in scope," she said. "IMI's projects have contributed, directly or indirectly, to better prepare the research community for the current crisis, the Ebola+ programme or the ZAPI project."

ZAPI, or the Zoonotic Anticipation and Preparedness Initiative, was launched in 2015 with a budget of 20 million euros (US$21.8 million) after the Ebola epidemic a year prior. The COE report said it exemplifies a pattern of "belated interventions when an epidemic is already underway," much like this year's emergency funding of coronavirus research.

Also on rt.com Hotly-touted Oxford coronavirus VACCINE trial has only 50 percent chance of success, project leader warns

The think tank questioned whether EU public money was well applied through IMI. Much of it went into research into cancer, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes – areas that are potentially profitable and thus are given close attention by private business. But epidemic preparedness, HIV/AIDS, and poverty-related and neglected tropical diseases have been overlooked by the initiative, the report said.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

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

May 24, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 24 2020 20:52 utc | 29

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

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

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

... ... ...

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

... ... ...

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oil

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Food

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post-Pandemic Economics

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 24, 2020 | www.unz.com

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

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

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

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

PEACE

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

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

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

May 23, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

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

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

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

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

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

May 22, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 22, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My recent books:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 22, 2020 | www.commondreams.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How do you think this reflects on the European Union?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there a possibility of disintegration here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Josep , May 19, 2020 at 02:04

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

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

Thorben Sunkimat , May 20, 2020 at 13:45

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

So why did france want the euro?

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

OlyaPola , May 21, 2020 at 05:30

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

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

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

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

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

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

mkb29 , May 18, 2020 at 16:33

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

Linda J , May 18, 2020 at 13:21

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

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

Part 1
see:youtu(dot)be/cP15Ehx1yvI

Part 2
see:youtu(dot)be/IYvvEn_N1sE

worldblee , May 18, 2020 at 12:26

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

Drew Hunkins , May 18, 2020 at 11:03

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

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

chris , May 18, 2020 at 04:46

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

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

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

Sam F , May 17, 2020 at 17:45

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

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

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

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

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:40

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

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

Drew Hunkins , May 17, 2020 at 15:10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron , May 17, 2020 at 14:18

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

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

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

AnneR , May 17, 2020 at 13:42

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

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

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

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

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

Randal Marlin , May 18, 2020 at 13:00

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

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

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

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

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:23

"They did not depart any of their colonies happily"

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

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

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

OlyaPola , May 20, 2020 at 04:32

" .. their colonies "

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

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

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

Lolita , May 17, 2020 at 12:05

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

Dave , May 17, 2020 at 11:27

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

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

PEG , May 17, 2020 at 09:11

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

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

Herman , May 17, 2020 at 09:00

Interesting comparison between the aspirations of De Gaulle and Putin.

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

Agree with Johnstone.

OlyaPola , May 19, 2020 at 11:55

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

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

May 20, 2020 | www.unz.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 19, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

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

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

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

May 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 18 2020 17:14 utc | 36

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

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

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

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

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

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


karlof1 , May 18 2020 17:29 utc | 39

Thomas Briggs @35--

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

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

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

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

May 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

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

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

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

karlof1 , May 18 2020 18:38 utc | 54

Nancy E. Sutton @40--

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

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

May 17, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

... ... ...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Hypersonic Arms Race

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

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

Truth is the first casualty in an arms race.

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

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

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

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

"No Advantage Whatsoever"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guns or Vaccines

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

Why is everyone building them?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

karlof1 , May 15 2020 19:04 utc | 9

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FDR's Forgotten Anti-Colonial Vision Revited

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

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

[ ]

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

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

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

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

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

The Post 1945 Takeover of the Modern Deep State

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

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

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

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

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

In his 1946 Soviet Asia Mission, Wallace said:

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

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

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

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

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

Originally published on The Saker

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wealth v. "illth"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Visible Hand

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Bsoder , May 15, 2020 at 9:34 am

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

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

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

Clive , May 15, 2020 at 10:28 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

RBHoughton , May 15, 2020 at 8:48 pm

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

SAKMAN , May 15, 2020 at 10:29 am

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

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

Neo-transcendentalism please.

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

The Sun
mary oliver

Have you ever seen
anything
in your life
more wonderful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rod , May 15, 2020 at 9:59 am

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

Human beings have a religious impulse.

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

Petter , May 15, 2020 at 3:12 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bsoder , May 15, 2020 at 9:43 am

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

McKillop , May 15, 2020 at 3:00 pm

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

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

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

rob , May 15, 2020 at 7:42 am

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

rob , May 15, 2020 at 9:02 am

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

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

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

Now back to Ruskin.

shinola , May 15, 2020 at 10:02 am

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

Because Markets / Go Die

anon2 , May 15, 2020 at 11:26 am

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

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

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

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

JBird4049 , May 15, 2020 at 2:14 pm

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

They remind me of today's times.

Dwight , May 15, 2020 at 2:32 pm

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

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

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

Hepativore , May 15, 2020 at 11:00 pm

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

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

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

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

It's an old problem.

Chris , May 15, 2020 at 10:01 pm

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

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

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

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

eg , May 16, 2020 at 4:59 am

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

rob , May 16, 2020 at 8:15 am

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

DHG , May 16, 2020 at 4:25 pm

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

Karen , May 16, 2020 at 5:46 pm

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

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

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

May 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , May 16 2020 15:31 utc | 104

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

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

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


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

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

May 16, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , May 16 2020 13:39 utc | 87

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

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

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

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

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

[May 13, 2020] What The Pandemic Revealed A Morally Bankrupt [Neoliberal] Culture by Charles Hugh Smith

Notable quotes:
"... What was "normal" for the past two decades was to turn a blind eye to the moral and financial bankruptcy of the American culture, the rot at the heart of its social, political and economic orders. The pandemic has shredded the putrid facade and revealed the rot, much to the dismay of the multitude of minions tasked with sanitizing the rot behind narratives promoting the normalization of predation, fraud and exploitation. ..."
"... As for winner takes all , this legalized looting is presented as a form of economic Darwinism that is nothing but the healthy manifestation of a free market. This is the Devil's handiwork, of course, presenting legalized looting that only benefits the few as the inevitable result of open markets. ..."
"... The greater the outrage of the technocrats and monopolists at being called what they are--evil--the greater the confirmation that the accusation is spot-on. The predators, looters and exploiters must strip away any moral assessment of their actions, as even the smallest shred of moral or karmic justice threatens their empires. And so economics has been reduced to bloodless quantifications of profits, costs and sales and obfuscatory mathematics designed to drain the risk of moral consequences from the parasitic pillage. ..."
May 13, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Charles Hugh Smith via OfTwoMinds blog,

Monopolies, quasi-monopolies and cartels are inherently exploitive and thus evil.

What was "normal" for the past two decades was to turn a blind eye to the moral and financial bankruptcy of the American culture, the rot at the heart of its social, political and economic orders. The pandemic has shredded the putrid facade and revealed the rot, much to the dismay of the multitude of minions tasked with sanitizing the rot behind narratives promoting the normalization of predation, fraud and exploitation.

What's been absolutely verboten is to call legalized pillage and predation what they really are: evil. We've normalized exploitation and predation by the usual means: denial, legal justifications, making excuses for the predators and the system that defends predation, and by erasing the memory of a time when moral bankruptcy, predation and institutionalized fraud were not yet normalized.

People have always been self-absorbed and greedy, so goes the excuse; or, greed is good because that's the magic of the invisible hand at work.

By stripping fraud and predation of moral consequence, we've covered the putrid rot with a thoroughly modern amorality which we can summarize as anything goes and winner takes all. Monopoly, quasi-monopoly and cartels (i.e. Warren Buffett's entire portfolio) are presented as the natural order of things rather than an evil construct of predation and exploitation that benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Nothing outrages the apologists and the lackeys enriching themselves in the dens of thieves more than accusations of evil, or indeed, anything smacking of moral standards or judgments. Anything goes not just for individual choices, but for capital's choices as well, and so it's simply not PC to question the morality of capital's predations.

As for winner takes all , this legalized looting is presented as a form of economic Darwinism that is nothing but the healthy manifestation of a free market. This is the Devil's handiwork, of course, presenting legalized looting that only benefits the few as the inevitable result of open markets.

The greater the outrage of the technocrats and monopolists at being called what they are--evil--the greater the confirmation that the accusation is spot-on. The predators, looters and exploiters must strip away any moral assessment of their actions, as even the smallest shred of moral or karmic justice threatens their empires. And so economics has been reduced to bloodless quantifications of profits, costs and sales and obfuscatory mathematics designed to drain the risk of moral consequences from the parasitic pillage.

... ... ...

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[May 11, 2020] COVID-Contagion by Patrick Armstrong

May 11, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Sun, 05/10/2020 - 22:00 Authored by Patrick Armstrong via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Washington deflects its failure by blaming China. But here too it's lost its competence: here's U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo asserting at the same time that it's manmade and that it isn't :

POMPEO: Look, the best experts so far seem to think it was manmade. I have no reason to disbelieve that at this point.

RADDATZ: Your -- your Office of the DNI says the consensus, the scientific consensus was not manmade or genetically modified.

POMPEO: That's right. I -- I -- I agree with that. Yes. I've -- I've seen their analysis. I've seen the summary that you saw that was released publicly. I have no reason to doubt that that is accurate at this point.

To say nothing of Fauci's money in the Wuhan lab . China may not even be the point of origin: France has just discovered a case from December and there may be a U.S. case from November . The breathlessly reported Five-Eyes assessment blaming China is fast collapsing: " mostly based on news reports and contained no material from intelligence gathering " says one of the Eyes. Washington may lash its minions into a coffle, but the rest of the world will scorn it as a pitiful attempt to distract. There will be increased rejection of the West's assumption of competence and veracity. And, in the West itself, more will doubt the words of "experts" (especially those from Imperial College and its professors ), "authorities and "trusted media sources".

Most of the West is still shut down but China is opening. Observers know that China is becoming the world's top economy – the World Bank had already given it that title in PPP terms in 2013 – and COVID-19 is sure to accelerate the process by giving it a head start out of the economic slowdown. With cheap energy too .

" Soft power " is a useful term that describes the appeal of a given culture to others. For many years this was a potent arrow in the America quiver – I often think of the character played by Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday as the exemplar: open, honest, honourable and modern, but content to be an example and never to take advantage of her. Propaganda, to be sure, but effective propaganda. COVID-19 shows something else: in the simplest terms China has given assistance to many countries and the " U.S. accused of 'modern piracy' after diversion of masks meant for Europe ". Piffle like "T he United States and President Trump are leading the global effort to combat this pandemic " or " America remains the world's leading light of humanitarian goodness " just make it more obvious. From the EU we get word salads: reaffirms/recognises/supports/recalls . And only three months ago the " West is winning ". It has be-clowned itself.

Of the downstream effects of the COVID-19 black swan, we can see at least three:

  1. great and possibly fatal damage to the assumption of American and Western competence;
  2. a widening of the economic gap with China;
  3. a further change in the world soft power balance.

The "blame China" diversion (not forgetting the rest of the current Enemy Package – Russia and Iran ) is childish and will earn disgust.

None of these changes is to the benefit of the Imperium Americanum.

[May 11, 2020] Neoliberalism Is Over. Welcome to the Era of Neo-Illiberalism!

May 11, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Neoliberalism Is Over. Welcome to the Era of Neo-Illiberalism! Posted on May 10, 2020 by Lambert Strether Lambert here: This is an interesting, broad-gauge piece. I don't know about "Neo-Illiberalism" as a neologism; it's not euphonious. Just spitballing here, but perhaps "geo-fascism" or "globo-fascism" might do better. Perhaps debt + the platforms (both global, by the way) provide a functional replacement for the beatdowns of the " mass-based party of committed nationalist militants ." Scholars and students of fascism please comment!

By Reijer Hendrikse, a postdoctoral researcher based at Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. Originally published at Open Democracy .

Crisis Redux

As the coronavirus and its political combatants hold the world hostage, it is pertinent to scrutinize the (geo) political and economic context within which the pandemic has emerged. Many analyses view neoliberalism as the culprit, having given rise to a dismantling and marketization of public services such as healthcare for which we are now paying the price. The virus confirms the bankruptcy of neoliberal capitalism, based upon global production networks of western corporations and Chinese factories, allowing the virus to spread across the globe. Alas, neoliberalism is in trouble once again, perhaps terminally ill.

That said, the death of neoliberalism has been pronounced before, not least in the wake of the 2007-08 financial crisis, from which it however quickly resurfaced stronger than before. Moreover, western neoliberalism has witnessed a significant mutation over the last years, not least to better accommodate the changing logics of global capitalism.

The coronavirus offers an opening to change the world for the better, not least by undoing decades of neoliberalization to give vital professions in health care and education the appreciation they deserve. Unfortunately, as detailed in Naomi Klein's ' The Shock Doctrine ', crises also offer ample opportunity for the established order to realize ambitions which are inconceivable in normal times. The global political economy before the outbreak of corona was defined by the rise of a global billionaire class, tech platforms, and illiberal(izing) nationalist politics, having jointly propelled a novel wave of (geo) political-economic restructuring which I have called neo-illiberalism . What will be the effects of coronavirus on this new status quo?

The New Normal

Alongside the 2008 financial crisis, the votes for Brexit and Trump have often been described as ruptures to the neoliberal status quo. But as in the wake of 2008, the aftermath of 2016 also brought about more of the same: more tax cuts for corporations and the rich, more environmental and financial deregulation, more cuts in public services i.e. more policies of neoliberal signature. That said, the politics peddling the same neoliberal policies has substantially changed. Where preceding waves of neoliberalization have been variably executed by centrist parties, seeing the center right commit itself to progressive politics in exchange for center-left support for economic neoliberalization, since 2016 a new alliance has emerged between center and far right, seeing the latter mainstream as center-right parties such as the US Republicans and UK Conservatives have steadily radicalized themselves, thereby forsaking their erstwhile commitment to what Tariq Ali has called 'the extreme center' . Notwithstanding the fact that center-right parties co-produced the neoliberal world order, they have since come to reinvent themselves as nationalist challengers to the 'globalist' status quo, which they habitually present as leftist.

Where preceding waves of neoliberalization resulted in the limitation of democratic control over economic policymaking, the present nationalist wave captained by Donald Trump and his copycats is defined by efforts of political illiberalization , brazenly seeking to undo the institutional setup of liberal-democratic checks and balances, seeing legislative and judicial branches of government subjected to a power-hungry executive. Wider societal counter-powers are also under attack, from academia and media to NGOs, along with attacks on a range of constitutional basic and/or fundamental rights constraining the illiberal exercise of absolute power. While this development heralds the end of progressive neoliberalism , political illiberalization ultimately still protects the encasement of global capitalism , the core aim of the neoliberal project.

The rise of neo-illiberalism might be compared to a virus, whereby western liberal democracies increasingly come to resemble illiberal democracies and (competitive) authoritarian regimes elsewhere. Where illiberalizing regimes in Hungary and Poland are infecting the neoliberal European Union (EU) as a whole, not least because of center-right political cover offered by the European Peoples Party (EPP), neo-illiberalism constitutes a fundamentally global phenomenon. For example, Brazil and India have recently embraced political illiberalization without rejecting neoliberal economics, whereas illiberal China and Russia have equally tightened their authoritarian rule. Amongst others, what unites these and other regimes is the mobilization of divisive nationalisms, seeing variegated 'strongmen' adapt state constitutions to their will, typically bulldozering pluralist political space whilst shielding the respective neoliberal interfaces between national economy and global capitalism.

Global Capitalism

To grasp the rise of neo-illiberalism we need to go back to the turn of the millennium, a time in which the various developments culminating in the neo-illiberal synthesis were put in motion. Next to the terrorist attacks on US soil which ignited the gradual mainstreaming of far-right narratives , the year 2001 is characterized by the entry of illiberal China into the neoliberal World Trade Organization (WTO). Meeting in serene Doha following the riots of Seattle, China's WTO entrance heralded a larger geographical shift captured by the famous BRIC acronym (Brazil, Russia, India, China) coined that year by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill. O'Neill foresaw stronger economic growth in the non-west, and called upon western leaders to incorporate leading non-western states into key governance platforms, which was realized later that decade by elevating the Group of Twenty (G20) as the world's leading forum on global governance.

Alongside the search for new markets and cheap labor, the 2000s were characterized by the ascent of the financial offshore world – a legal realm comprised of tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions where corporations and the rich stash their cash and property – which became global capitalism's central operating system by the turn of the millennium. Since then, offshore money from Russia and elsewhere flooded into cities like London, igniting a spending spree on real estate, football clubs, media conglomerates, and political influence. Amongst others things, the offshore world enabled spectacular corporate fraud, such as that which led to the collapse of US energy giant Enron, whose accounting gimmicks were copy-pasted by western banks, setting the stage for the financial crisis later that decade.

The final key development traced back to the turn of the millennium is the birth of digital platforms. Invented by Google as what Susanna Zuboff calls 'an automated architecture functioning as a one-way mirror', surveillance capitalism has since grown into a worldwide machine dedicated to behavioral observation, manipulation and modification, steadily enmeshing itself with the core logics of capital accumulation. Crucially, digitization accelerated the aforementioned trends: not only has digitization fueled global capital flight into offshore anonymity, it also augmented the mainstreaming of far-right narratives via YouTube and Facebook algorithms. Much like the invisible offshore world, the rise of surveillance capitalism largely went unnoticed, assisted by anti-terrorism legislation like the 2001 Patriot Act enabling far-reaching surveillance.

Growing up under the radar of the war on terror and financial turmoil, the first decade of the twenty-first century saw the birth of a fundamentally global, offshore, digitized and financialized hyper capitalism. Descriptions like shadow banks, phantom investments and dark money do not do justice to their role as fundamental building blocks of the new world. Amongst others factors, the offshore world was the ground zero of the financial crisis, where banks kept their toxic investments. This new world is the 'home' of trillion-dollar tech companies, who with other (shell) companies form an integrated web of corporate structures whose chief ultimate owners constitute a global billionaire class of approximately two thousand individuals and families. As such, this is also the world where neoliberal technocracy is increasingly fused with oligarchy. Due to the spectacular growth of income and wealth inequality worldwide, oligarchic enmeshment of the superrich and state power does not only define elites in Russia or the Gulf, but increasingly defines western states such as the US, where multibillionaire activists like the Koch brothers have effectively taken over the Republican Party.

Next to the economic recovery, the 2010s were defined by the increasing coalescence of financial and technology sectors. Within a development model labeled The Wall Street Consensus by political economist Daniela Gabor, an adaption of the neoliberal Washington Consensus within the framework of the G20, banks and financial institutions worldwide have come to embrace financial technology (fintech), driven by an insatiable hunger for personal data as raw materials for financialized surveillance capitalism. Crucially, where Silicon Valley long enjoyed a global tech monopoly, the 2010s saw the arrival of Chinese bigtech vying for global dominance. The western financial lobby has voiced its fears of Chinese platforms like Alibaba and Tencent, which they describe as all American bigtechs 'rolled into one' operating under tight control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). These fears are not unfounded: where Facebook encountered many difficulties in building a global cryptocurrency, the Chinese central bank has developed its own alternative, and the CCP has recently ordered China's banks and tech platforms to adopt it. In the words of Mark Zuckerberg: the American state has to play a more active role 'otherwise our financial leadership is not guaranteed'.

Whilst the rest of the world has steadily bought into Chinese technology, the other BRICs have embraced (parts of) China's digital strategy. For example, where a small minority of India's 1.4 billion population had a bank account in 2014, this number has since risen beyond a billion. That said, these bank accounts are coupled to biometric personal data, and critics identify this policy as part of Narenda Modi's political agenda to transform India into a Hindu nationalist surveillance state. Taken together, around the time the coronavirus made the first news headlines, the New York Times identified three competing visions on the future of surveillance capitalism: where the Chinese are 'moving fast and breaking things' without any regard for privacy and citizen rights, and the EU tries to make a moral point around privacy and consent, with the US caught in the middle.

Nationalist Leninism

Although 'moving fast and breaking things' is a good description for Xi Jinping's China, it should be remembered that this philosophy has long guided Silicon Valley, where asking for forgiveness trumps begging for permission. The disruption of established industries, practices and processes defines platforms like Uber, operating without any regard for the law or basic decency. With the rise of western neo-illiberalism, moreover, this philosophy has also entered into government. Brexit, for example, is best understood as a process of continuous disruption of established political practices and procedures, from shunning press conferences to unlawfully closing down parliament. As The Economist noted: 'The Tories' disruptive strategies would not be out of place in Silicon Valley'.

Where rampant digitization has disrupted a range of established industries since the turn of the millennium, and set its sights on incumbent finance in the wake of the financial crisis, the 2010s are marked by tech's infiltration of established politics. Where Facebook and Google place their own employees in US political campaigns ever since the rise of Barack Obama, an entire ecosystem of techno-metapolitical players has since grown up around these platforms: next to dedicated bots and troll farms there now exists a media network dedicated to mainstream far-right narratives, of which Breitbart News – financed by US billionaire Robert Mercer, captained by the identitarian demagogue Steve Bannon – is the most prominent. The adoption of far-right narratives by established media, whether global corporate players like NewsCorp or national public broadcasters, brought right-wing culture wars into the established arena of mass-mediated politics.

Other crucial players in this ecosystem are data analytics firms, like Cambridge Analytica (CA), again featuring Mercer and Bannon, as well as Palantir Technologies owned by US tech billionaire Peter Thiel. Where CA founder Alexander Nix was schooled at the elitist Eton College alongside David Cameron and Boris Johnson, Thiel not only enjoys the ear of Trump as advisor, but also those of Mark Zuckerberg as Facebook board member, where he kept the company from fact checking political advertisements. Where US journalist Jane Mayer speaks of 'the Fox News White House' to highlight the close relationship between Trump and the world's second most powerful media magnate, in the digital age the world's first Twitter presidency might equally be labeled the Facebook White House to emphasize the ways in which Trump has become a digitally mass-mediated virus enabled by the world's most powerful media magnate. As argued by Trump's digital campaign manager: 'without Facebook we wouldn't have won'.

The global rise of neo-illiberalism is covered with the fingerprints of tech firms: where WhatsApp-mediated memes helped Jair Bolsonaro assume power in Brazil, the Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte was an early adopter of Facebook's political capabilities. Once in power, moreover, these 'strongmen' act like disruptive tech CEOs whilst demolishing liberal democracy, and embrace surveillance tools to anchor their rule: in India, for example, encrypted WhatsApp was recently found to be hacked, allowing Modi to track his political opponents. But although Israeli spyware and Russian hackers play an important role in the cross-border spread of neo-illiberal politics, to fully grasp the political possibilities of the digital age we need to redirect our gaze to Beijing , where digital technology is paramount in the exercise of social control.

In combining economic neoliberalization with illiberal political control since the late 1970s, the CCP has been one of the world's neo-illiberal vanguards. Experts describe the governing ideology of the CCP as a curious combination of nationalism and Leninism , following China's ideological rejection of both the French and Russian revolutions, which according to Wang Hui shaped up after the Cultural Revolution and was settled on Tiananmen Square. Crucially, the rejection of 'two major emancipation movements – socialism and liberalism' – is exactly what the western far right is after. In other words, what emerges under neo-illiberalism is a global ideological convergence. Just consider this: at the height of the so-called European 'refugee crisis' in 2015, which accelerated the mainstreaming of far-right narratives across the west, neo-illiberal China also saw the emergence of its own Alt-Right lingo for 'libtards' or 'regressive liberals', with derogatory terms like baizuo (白左) i.e. 'white left' popping up across the blogosphere.

Since 2016, this cocktail of nationalism and Leninism has put its mark on the west, with nationalist projects like America First! and Brexit being guided by self-proclaimed Leninists, like Bannon or Boris Johnson' advisor Dominic Cummings. Enabled by far-right culture wars informed by another communist – Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci – these disruptive Leninists have set their eyes on breaking down liberal democracy and the rule of law. To do so, they pretend to represent 'the will of the people', and relentlessly discredit the core infrastructure of liberal democracy, framing its key institutions as 'enemies of the people', 'saboteurs', and 'traitors'. In the words of Bannon , the identitarian toyboy of the billionaire class: 'Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that's my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment'.

Alibamazonia

Where economist Branko Milanovic foresees a global clash between two ideal type political operating systems in the twenty-first century – liberal capitalism captained by the US, versus political capitalism championed by China – in reality the two have already substantially converged. Reduced to its core, where China and the non-western world opened up economically in the image of the US and the west in the closing decades of the twentieth century, today you can tentatively argue that the US and the wider west are politically closing up in the image of China. The new synthesis is neo-illiberalism, which speaks to what Thomas Piketty views as 'merchant nativism' i.e. the marriage between neoliberalism and identitarian nationalism. Besides emphasizing a process of reglobalization rather than deglobalization, the rise of neo-illiberalism also suggests that the center of capitalist gravity has shifted: where parts of the traditional periphery have steadily assumed characteristics of traditional core countries, the west has witnessed a reverse process of what the late Immanuel Wallerstein calls semi-peripheralization. In the words of Martin Wolf : 'as western economies have become more Latin American in their distribution of incomes, their politics have also become more Latin American'.

Where historian Neill Ferguson once spoke of 'Chimerica' to emphasize the co-dependent relationship between the world's two superpowers, today we can identify the contours of what you might call 'Alibamazonia': a twenty-first century imperial federation of techno-nationalist states, i.e. a global alliance between nationalist 'strongmen' and digital platforms. The relationship is symbiotic, as the rollout of digital surveillance requires the rollback of liberal democracy by design, which in turn strengthens illiberal political rule. In the words of Susanna Zuboff: 'surveillance capitalism takes an even more expansive turn toward domination than its neoliberal source code would predict Though still sounding like Hayek, and even Smith, its antidemocratic collectivist ambitions reveal it as an insatiable child devouring its aging fathers'. Indeed, digitization and surveillance not only disrupt Smithian competitive markets, but also Lockean notions of private property, and ultimately threaten to undo all liberal guarantees of individual freedom.

Besides heralding a territorial shift from west to east, amongst others symbolized by the United Nations' (UN) recent contract with China's WeChat (Tencent) to streamline its digital communication, neo-illiberalism also heralds a fundamental reconstitution between national and global scales, respectively understood as public and private spaces, whereby decades of neoliberalization transformed the former in the image of the latter, whilst the latter has witnessed an extraterritorial shift into digital and offshore domains, giving rise to private capitalist power of vast proportions, eating away at national states and international state systems. This is the most banal explanation for the western rise of neo-illiberalism: where decades of neoliberalism effectively put up the west for sale, neo-illiberalism heralds the moment when neoliberalism's ultimate winners seek to buy up and privatize government itself: 'neoliberalism's final frontier' .

Pandemic

Although coronavirus might be the final death knell to neoliberalism, it should be remembered that neoliberalism is a highly mutable ideology – well equipped to utilize its own failure for its advancement. Put differently, if neoliberalism is dying, we are looking at a slow-motion demise: where some identified its imminent death after the dotcom crash at the turn of the millennium, neoliberalism certainly lost its self-explanatory aura after the financial crisis of 2008. Accordingly, although still carried forward by a centrist consensus, western neoliberalism became more authoritarian. And where 2016 saw the centrist consensus collapse, seeing neoliberalism's core economic project carried on by a decisive illiberal politics, the question is whether today's coronavirus will bring an end to the economic project. For example, the key pillars of that project, such as global capital mobility and central bank independence, are still standing. Furthermore, although non-neoliberal policies might well be enacted to stem the virus, like introducing capital controls, these might be temporary measures to save the project in the long run.

That said, if coronavirus proves to be the final death knell to neoliberalism, which even the Financial Times alludes to, it still might prove a blessing for core features of neo-illiberalism. For example, where the virus is regarded as an indictment of neoliberal globalization, it nonetheless fuels the rollback of liberal democracy and rollout of digital surveillance. Indeed, for the world's faux Leninists and tech billionaires the virus is the ultimate disruptive event to be exploited. Where the US Republicans have used the pandemic to legislate neoliberal tax breaks and deregulation, as part of a rescue package that trumps the 2008 financial bailout, we should not underestimate the extent to which Trump might exploit the pandemic for his own benefit, not least to escape the prospect of electoral loss and prosecution. Many 'strongmen' are embracing the virus to anchor their rule, not least Victor Orbán cynically exploiting the virus to accelerate Hungary's transformation from liberal democracy towards illiberal dictatorship, with the EU once again looking the other way, thereby confirming its own neo-illiberal corrosion.

Where many countries have yet to setup mass testing capabilities to track the virus and create viable paths out of societal lockdowns, a whole range of states have watered down privacy legislation to digitally track the virus, including left coalition governments like Spain. In this sense, the virus has led to a reboot of neoliberalism's famous TINA mantra – there is no alternative – because who cares about far-reaching surveillance when lives are at stake? As argued by Jamie Bartlett, 'the looming dystopia to fear is a shell democracy run by smart machines and a new elite of 'progressive' but authoritarian technocrats'.

Mimicking core features of China's fin-tech-state integration, Apple and Google have joined forces to allow governments to track the virus, whereas the US government has promised to rollout a digital dollar and wallet as part of its coronavirus rescue package. Indeed, the virus is a financial bonanza for tech companies, not least Thiel's Palantir having signed a contract with the British National Health Service (NHS) to optimize data management. In one of his first acts to tackle the virus, Dominic Cummings invited all bigtechs to Downing Street. As noted in Wired magazine: 'for Cummings it's big tech versus bad virus' . Palantir is currently in talks with governments across Europe.

Across the globe, the virus is spurring the development of digital apps, using locational data and facial recognition technologies to track population health and whereabouts. In India, Modi's henchmen are forcing citizens to take hourly selfies to track the virus through their whereabouts, and non-compliance will result in enforced mass quarantine, where catching the virus seems all but certain. In so doing, coronavirus threatens to deepen the ugly face of neo-illiberalism, defined by mass incarceration programs, from Uighurs in China's Xijiang to refugees indefinitely locked up along the Mediterranean and the US-Mexican border. And whilst the pandemic has yet to reach the world's favelas and slums, threatening the lives of the most vulnerable, lax responses to the virus in the developed world characterized by defunded health care systems are making neoliberalism's implicit social Darwinist inclinations shockingly explicit.

As the rise of neo-illiberalism signals profound geopolitical and economic shifts, the pandemic might well be utilized to rewire the world's legacy operating systems. Are we moving towards a financial reset, which was due in 2008 but was postponed via monetary gymnastics? Will China liquidate its massive holding of US treasuries? Will the world's superpowers ramp up the threat of war or will they compromise, or are we already looking at the contours of a new settlement? Furthermore, with the world economy falling off a cliff, and the worst still to come, many small-and-medium-sized enterprises are facing bankruptcy, whilst Amazon and a handful other bigtechs are massively expanding their businesses. What will the post-corona world look like? Will capitalism survive?

While we anticipate what might be coming, one of the biggest societal disruptions is the loss of conventional social exchange, of physical closeness and contact, as we are all locked up in our homes, forcing into digital interfaces, continuously leaking data into the expanding machine of surveillance capitalism. Although there momentarily is no alternative, we'd better make sure we seize the moment: the disruptive virus offers an incredible prospect for societal reprogramming, for better and for worse. Lest we forget that this crisis is not merely biological – it is deeply political.


PlutoniumKun , May 10, 2020 at 8:29 am

Meaty stuff to digest on a Sunday. But very interesting. As to the 'name', I would suggest crypto-neoliberalism.

One key take for me from the events of the last few months is that its increasingly clear that when centrist/neoliberals are forced to make a choice between the far nationalistic right and the populist left or Greens, they will pick the former every time. It's that simple.

I think its an interesting idea that political movements are being shaped by the techno-nationalism. Its certainly true that Tencent and Alibaba and Amazon and FB/Google have a lot in common, and will see their own futures as mutually enmeshed with nationalist right wing political movements. In China its very hard to see where Tencent ends and the CPP begins – if Biden wins I think we'll see a similar enmeshing accelerate in the US (Trump being too slow to realise that he needed those companies as his friends). In a smaller scale, the same thing is happening in countries like South Korea. Europe is at a crossroads, simply because it doesn't have those big data companies, so will face the prospect of keeping them at arms length, or becoming enmeshed in their tentacles, and so becoming a battleground for a sort of Huawai/Amazon battle.

I wonder if we are seeing a new schism developing between the large nations becoming variants of techno-nationalisms, with mid sized countries from South Korea to New Zealand to Norway to Canada and Chile, all trying to stay out of the fray, and perhaps co-operating in a sort of Hanseatic league of smaller States trying to maintain some degree of progressiveness.

JEHR , May 10, 2020 at 9:56 am

PK: your last sentence is very interesting. I see those countries you mentioned as not yet being "cryto-neoliberalist." I would like to think that they would co-operate in order "to maintain some degree of progressiveness." However, our (Canada's) proximity to the US makes it highly unlikely to last. Everything is so uncertain what with viruses running amok and climate change marching onward. Who knows what is next?

Susan the other , May 10, 2020 at 2:22 pm

There is an optimum size. It's not big and it's not small. It's somewhere in between. Gotta have something to do with the maximum maintainable human synergy – aka politics. Evolution seeks a central place to mutate, so for the sake of control, the wizards of our new crypto-neoliberalism might want to do a massive project to issue citizenship rights to the entire world. Digitally of course. For one thing, without individual human rights there can be no local or regional sovereignty. And there will never be a global sovereignty until human rights are guaranteed – traditionally by democracy but we have seen that it has it's limits. But because there is a watershed whereby politics (sovereignty) always follows money it would be smart to look to the actual source of "money" which is people. Whichever way they are grouped. A smart crypto neoliberal, smarter than Zuckerberg, would first shuffle the world's nations, then shuffle all their citizens, and then, blindfolded, reach into the mix and pull out a name. Repeat until all the names are revealed – and each one is randomly put in a group to be called their "peer group" or stg. like that. And all groups are organizations of global peers with equal rights. And while that is being chopped up, a global system of civil/environmental justice can be established gee this is sounding like a big project maybe we should just stick with nations and give the smaller ones handicaps. This is making me tired.

JBird4049 , May 10, 2020 at 10:35 pm

Open uncontrollable boarders are a neoliberal goal partly for labor arbitrage, but also to reduce the power, by reducing its existence, of a nation-state to interfere with the creation and domination of powerful international organizations like the IMF, or those agreements like NAFTA. A new kind of economic colonization as ultimately it is being done by non-nation-states. An economic Westphalia done in reverse.

Bsoder , May 10, 2020 at 2:03 pm

How about klepto-neoliberalism. In fact I think neoliberalism has accomplished about everything it can, so it's straight back to medieval times, with climate chaos leaving us as a failed world, thus we get the dark ages. Unless of course people/citizens decided to take action. As far as the post, ah, you just can't write like that. If he was a postdoc in my lab that never would have seen the light of day. I have no idea who the intended audience is, perhaps economists? The only thing missing was string theory. Historically, I do not believe that the history of neoliberalism rolled that way. It didn't get better bigger & stronger after 2008 not based on any risk analysis I've read – everything become deeply destabilizing. Look kids in this country before the pandemic didn't have enough food now many don't have any short of begging and handouts. The guy confuses nationalism vs. Nationalist because he's working his argument backward. Obtuse and sensational at the same time. While I'm at it, the only problem with democracy is there's not enough of it. Fascism? Where? China? The EU? Nah.

Susan the other , May 10, 2020 at 2:31 pm

Yes to all of the above.

Jeremy Grimm , May 10, 2020 at 4:15 pm

Besides possessing even amplifying all the off-putting qualities of the term 'Neoliberalism' -- its smeared meanings and usages, its inherent oxymoronity, its ill-coinage -- the term 'Neo-Illiberalism' is quite unnecessary given that Neoliberalism is anything but dead. I believe the aftermath of the pandemic shows most uncomfortable promise of a great new age of Neoliberalism. As currently configured the 'pandemic' policies in the US will result in obliterating small and medium business, in widespread mortgage foreclosures, in personal bankruptcies, in evictions and homelessness, and in a permanent loss of jobs with resulting high levels of unemployment. The ruins will be grabbed up and consolidated by the large Cartels, banks, and financial corporations.

The rest of this post interweaves dozens of themes and sub-themes without a coherence I can perceive. The "key development" "the birth of digital platforms" sounds cool -- but what is a digital platform when you strip away the 'cool'? It is marketing and media outlet. Are the "behavioral observation, manipulation and modification" really so novel or so much more effective? Is it more effective than the techniques of the Church practiced through early education and socially enforced worship? Does it really lead to more sales, or the formation of opinion any more effectively than radio or public speeches? Are the impacts of the 'digital platform' really as great and effective as Goggle and Facebook claim in their advertising sales literature?

Mass surveillance was well underway long before the pandemic. I don't believe the pandemic offers any better excuse for extending mass surveillance than the excuses already used. The Internet and our phone systems offer ample hidden means to extend mass surveillance that need no excuses since no one notices them. The post riffs on about "rampant digitization" and "data analytics firms" as if they were critical tools of Neoliberalism. We live under the watchful eyes of government panopticons, created to maintain control over the Populace. But these panopticons are neither necessary for spreading Neoliberalism nor inherently Neoliberal in their uses. The panopticons are enabled by digitization but they are hardly necessary to control a population. The Gestapo was adequately served by neighbors, even family members informing on each other.

Neoliberalism is alive and well and flourishing. Neoliberalism is an ideology created for the Big Money by a large well-funded thought collective. It is designed to include multiple layers and contradictions. The "key development" was not the development of digital platforms -- the "key development" was the sale of Government to Big Money. This purchase enabled the re-monopolization and consolidation of US Business, the Globalization of production, the complete enthrallment of Labor, purchase of Education, Science, and the Media -- including the Internet highways.

rkka , May 10, 2020 at 9:32 pm

" One key take for me from the events of the last few months is that its increasingly clear that when centrist/neoliberals are forced to make a choice between the far nationalistic right and the populist left or Greens, they will pick the former every time"

That has been true since 23 March 1933, when the German center decided it would rather back the most vile, violent, radical Right rather than compromise with a moderate democratic Left. That's the day that every single political party in Germany at the national level, except the Social Democrats and the (banned & illegal, and therefore absent from the vote) Communists decided it would be a good idea to give The Mustache the power to legislate by decree.

The Centrists backed Nixon, Reagan, & Shrub, the Trumps of their respective times, all manifestly unfit to govern.

And that's how we got where we are.

tracy , May 10, 2020 at 8:47 am

As far as the name goes, I've got to pipe up from the peanut gallery and say, 'neoliberalism' has never been a good handle. After these many years, the average person is not familiar with it. It implies 'some kind of liberal' and it implies 'no-harm-no-foul'. At this point progressives know it means Bad Stuff but nobody else does. We have gone from bad to worse by labeling 'centrism' as a bogeyman too, while most people find it a harmless descriptor of reasonable people whose views are neither leftist nor rightist. So it is no good as a better descriptor than 'neoliberal'.

The enemy, across the whole spectrum, is corruption. Call the DNC brand of it something which the average person/voter can grasp.

Daniel Raphael , May 10, 2020 at 9:39 am

'Illiberalism' is nothing new, but it is a useful term employed as it is here, in describing the drive toward globalized fascism. Fascism has been described as "the iron hoop that keeps the capitalist barrel from falling apart," and the steady steps of regimes to circumscribe resistance today, paves the road towards crushing opposition tomorrow.

Bsoder , May 10, 2020 at 2:11 pm

That may be one definition, but clearly it doesn't work that way as in operate and to implement. Hitler and Mussolini didn't have skin heads doing the heave lifting they had all unions buying into the master plan. And there was a master plan. Japan relied on a national code of conduct based on the Bushidō Way and a real hatred of the Chinese.

Clive , May 10, 2020 at 9:44 am

Yup, you can't really argue with the substance of this. But the usual Open Democracy blindspot is visible for all onlookers to see, even if the author is apparently oblivious to it (although given the fancy footwork they need to employ to avoid it, you have to wonder if they aren't all-too-well aware of it, but don't want to risk disclosure and the resultant amplification).

Which is: somehow or other (and I really aren't sure how the non-authoritarian left ended up being enmeshed and embroiled with the authoritarian left on this) the left as a whole has become synonymous with being some sort of Lockdown Taliban. Only the purest, hardline-ist, longest, unwavering-ist, toughest most lockdown-ey lockdown ev-ah is to be considered.

And it gets worse, folks. Having participated in the politicising of COVID-19 across national boundaries, demonising dissenting approaches such as Sweden's and turning the rag bag of current-knowledge and scientific theories into weaponisable collateral to be factionalised and then acquired by and deployed by the right and the left in an ideological turf war, the left has collectively painted itself into an ideological corner from which it has no path to walk back from.

Proffering a policy response that is little more than lockdowns as far as the eye can see is hardly likely to have voters flocking to political parties which have hitched themselves to this wagon.

Or, they can try to wriggle their way out of this "There Is No Alternative" humanity-under-house-arrest position without obviously surrendering to the opposing stand-off with humanity-as-a-lab-experiment contrarians.

More likely, though, is the left will get bogged down, as it is continuing to do, in a war of attrition. Yes, the Lockdown Fetish left can wave shrouds at the "gramps will just have to jolly well take his chances if we are to be free" right. Neither is any better than the other. Neither is going to make a breakthrough in popular opinion.

Honestly, I've been involved in the left side of politics for ages. Ending up, apparently in perpetuity, as having set itself up for this sort of can't-win self-imposed rigid positioning is as depressing as it is familiar.

Carolinian , May 10, 2020 at 10:45 am

Sounds like you are saying that the left has become intellectually stale and consumed with petty quarrels. Hard to disagree and I also think the obsession with, say, insisting that Sweden is wrong and that the lockdown consensus is right is an example of this. We are in a whole new situation with the novel coronavirus and therefore experimentation is necessary without reproach.

Left in Wisconsin , May 10, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Yup, it's just like the border conversation – no solution on offer, just critique with no dissent allowed. I keep thinking the cognitive dissonance will kick in at some point. But for now at least the "solution" is just to keep narrowing the scope of acceptable discourse.

What I find truly hilarious (and sad) is the faith in voting/democracy with the consternation about voters continuing to vote "incorrectly."

m sam , May 10, 2020 at 1:31 pm

Sorry to be the lone dissent on this, but the lockdown being turned into a "political weapon:" that is s curious way of looking at the situation. If it is a weapon, who is it being used against? (And by the left? Where is this left that is using the lockdown to attack its enemies?) I guess I don't understand that part of it and perhaps I am completely ignorant of the situation. But it seems to me the lockdown is more the result of public health decisions, not some attempt to weaponize the situation and get even with anyone's enemies.

I do think the pandemic response has been politicized though, but it seems to me politicization is being generated by those who encouraged fascist militias to carry assault rifles to lockdown protests at state houses, like in Wisconsin and Michigan. The politicization seems far stronger to me from people like Chris Christie, who want to force open the economy and claim everyone should just accept mass deaths (which will definitely include those we can consider our loved ones).

And maybe the pandemic response has also been politicized a little by some economists, who seem to think that because they know how to read a spreadsheet they can do this public health thing themselves far better than any old clutch of medical doctors.

Clive , May 10, 2020 at 2:44 pm

The left are using the COVID-19 to bash the right ("you want to end lockdowns and kill people!") and the right are using COVID-19 to bash the left ("you want to continue the lockdowns and kill people's livelihoods and freedoms so life isn't worth living!").

The public -- who are the voters, after all -- are merely caught in the crossfire.

In the absence of political credibility and media credibility, public opinion will simply bypass both estates and make their own minds up. This is a societal lose-lose-lose. Neither the left nor the right look like they are capable of leading opinion or providing good governance. The media goes through the motions of ridiculing either the left or the right but ends up merely looking ridiculous itself.

This is the stuff of failed states.

The ultimate loser in this scenario is always the left. While the right may be deranged, the left is not only deranged, it's deranged in a internal dissent-riven, factionalist and screeching banshee sort of a way. The right, which is merely deranged in an internally-consistent and unified way looks the least-worst by comparison.

m sam , May 10, 2020 at 3:15 pm

This sounds more like bothsiderism. Where is the left "using COVID-19 to bash the right?" Do you mean some Twitter thing? Because if it is, this is definitely a case of "the right are doing something bad so therefore the left must be doing something too," i.e. bothsiderism, which I would consider a mirage.

Like I mentioned above, the right is showcasing fascist militias in state houses, and their national politicians are calling for everyone to accept mass deaths so the economy can get back to growth. And what is the left doing, by your description it sounds like they are just getting behind the non-partisan public health response: the lockdown and social distancing. I mean, is there really more to it than that? I am trying to consider your argument carefully, but I'm not seeing the logic of it.

And besides, what do you mean, "the public" is caught in the crossfire? I would consider myself a leftist, am I not a member of "the public?" And as a member of the public I find the right is a palpable threat in this situation. A threat to me, my family, and my community. And as a member of the public I too find the lockdown hard, oppressive, and worrying, but not such a deadly threat. The lockdown is pretty much the only tool we have (and is not some scheme concocted by the left), and still simply do not see how this is some weapon being used to attack the right on any level that actually matters.

So the difference between the left/right "political responses" here: I don't think those things are equivalent. And whether "the left is the ultimate loser", you haven't made clear what they should be doing that they aren't already (should they have armed militias intimidating elected politicians and calling for mass death too?). You seemed to mention they should be "more open to options," but you didn't actually make a good case that they aren't (again, is this some twitter thing? Because that is just the kind of mirage this looks like). I have simply not hear any leftists do anything by accept policies put forward by medical specialists.

Clive , May 10, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Yes it is a Twitter thing. Or a comments section on websites thing . That's where politics happens these days.

Have a read of those or pick some random websites of your own choosing. Then come back and try to tell me the left isn't using COVID-19 to ding the right and vice versa.

And yes, it is bothsidesism. Because both sides are being as bad as the other.

Just because you don't like it (and I don't like it either) doesn't unfortunately mean it's not true.

m sam , May 10, 2020 at 5:44 pm

No, it is an illusion of centrism (and face it: the Twitters is very much a factory of illusions): following the advice of public health specialists simply isn't partisan "weaponization". In fact, I would say the politicking involved here, which includes insisting that listening to medical experts in equivalent to armed fascists marching through state houses, is particularly egregious. As if centrists agree with those fascists and "mass deaths" are called for at least that's the only conclusion I can come to after such "bothersider" mystification. And that is exactly what this is, mystification of what is really happening. And when that is the case, one can only ask who really wins here? I think you're right, it isn't "the left," and I would also say it isn't the public alt large either.

Waking Up , May 10, 2020 at 5:03 pm

As mentioned in the following article at Naked Capitalism:

https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/05/the-false-dawn-of-ending-coronavirus-lockdowns.html

The results of a survey of 23,000 people in 50 states and the District: 93% of Americans do not think the economy should reopen immediately.

Should we assume 93% of Americans are now considered "Left"? Regardless of how much some people want to yell at each other on Twitter or the internet in general, this really is about life and death. For some people, simply leaving their homes can be a death sentence. Maybe they don't feel suicidal, yet.

JBird4049 , May 10, 2020 at 10:47 pm

Ideology does not conform with sanity or common sense, but some people would have you to think different; facts also should agree with the approved ideology or else they are wrong. The authoritarians, left and right, have doing this for a few years now.

I bet some well paid consultants are figuring out how to label the 93% as liberal moochers or something.

Ultrapope , May 10, 2020 at 2:50 pm

And by the left? Where is this left that is using the lockdown to attack its enemies?

Yes, can someone please tell me what the hell constitutes the left? It is incredibly frusturating to read broad critiques of "the left" in a world when everyone from Nancy Pelosi to George Soros to Bernie Sanders to Tony Blair to Xi Jinping fall under the heading of "the left"

JB4049 , May 10, 2020 at 11:23 pm

That is deliberate. The American left is mainly the DSA, the Greens with some other bits. Bernie Sanders could be considered part of its rightwing. As the left was slowly destroyed starting with the American Communist Party, then rolling rightward, what was acceptably leftist or even liberal was gradually constricted. Now Senator Sanders is labeled a socialist, which is a lie, but he labeled as such to smear his proposals as communism.

Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and G. H W. Bush would all be, or at perceived to be, to moderate or even leftist . (Pardon me, I might be dying of laughter.)

In American politics, until a few years ago, there was no left since its remnants was crushed by President Clinton.

The Democratic Party is now at best center-right and getting more so. It is a conservative party much like the old Republic Party of the 1960s without a spine, more pro-war, more authoritarian and comfortable using and being part of the police state and much more corrupt.

The Republican Party is something new for the United States. It has a spine, it's fanatically pro- wealth, and insane. Otherwise, it is much like the Democratic Party.

The differences in social issues are like the shell of a hermit crab. As soon as the money is threatened they are discarded with the right soothing lies to quiet the true believers.

A similar, but I guess less violent, process happened in Europe.

Bsoder , May 10, 2020 at 2:22 pm

Clive, I beg to differ. Your own guy, at question time asked Borris "How on earth did we get here?" Well, how did we? The post explains nothing. Your comments are all outcomes / conclusions but not the mechanics of how it happened. I say with all due respect. Having two incompetents as leaders is a start but not by far the whole answer.

Clive , May 10, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Yes, if you can successfully pull off the line of attack you're suggesting the left tries to pull off against the right, then you're definitely on to something.

But if this approach doesn't work (and it isn't -- read it and weep ; I certainly do) how long do you want the left to keep going with it? Yes, sometimes persistence pays off and repetition eventually yields results. However, sometimes it doesn't and it is just flogging a dead horse.

How much longer should I give it? And if public perception is that your line of criticism is only another variation on coulda-woulda-shoulda and England Derangement Syndrome, when does what sounds like broken record'ing get to be simply annoying people rather than converting them?

Put as simply as I can, is it worth my asking if the left seriously wants to govern or does it just want to whinge?

pjay , May 10, 2020 at 9:58 am

An impressive description of world-historical developments. But there are some important, I would say crucial, elements missing in this account. Here are a few of them:

1. What alternative would the author advocate? Is it a return to the "extreme center"? Though the "center-left" is identified as "co-producers" of this world with the "center-right," it is the latter, along with the various international representatives of "Illiberalism" (China, Russia, Bolsonaro, etc.) that get almost all of the criticism. I gather that the author is not advocating socialism. So what is the preferred model? Or, worded differently, where is the *resistance* to this next stage of neoliberalism to come from? The Obama or Clinton wings of the Democratic party? The "adults" on the Council on Foreign Relations? A more authentic "mixed" economy or Social Democracy? I can't tell – which keeps me from knowing how to interpret this.

2. Along those lines, completely missing from the framing of this article is the degree to which the "illiberal" states of China, Russia, Iran, and others are attempting to *resist* being swallowed up by US-led neoliberal globalization, and that an important part of what is going on reflects this struggle between the old unipolar hegemon and the rest of the world. This article collapses important distinctions between the US/West and the non-West in their historical relation to neoliberal globalization. For most NC readers this is probably obvious in the case of Russia, at least. Whatever we think of Putin's "authoritarianism," it does *not* stand in the same relationship to global capitalism as that of Trump.

3. Similarly, while there is a lot here about the dangers of the Surveillance State (and rightly so), I don't see much about how this might relate to global geopolitical conflict and the military-industrial-intelligence complex. For example, I don't see anything about the US military bases that surround China, Russia, Iran, etc., the steady expansion of NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union, the role of US intelligence in the return of fascism to Brazil, the destruction of lesser states that had the audacity to resist being absorbed by Western Neoliberal advance (Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc.). Yeah, Steve Bannon is a right-wing s**t. But he didn't do any of this -- he is just the political beneficiary.

There are several other missing elements in this story, but I'd settle for a discussion of these.

Dwight , May 10, 2020 at 10:05 am

Thank you for an interesting read. Shoshana Zuboff's name is written "Suzanna" two times.

a different chris , May 10, 2020 at 10:11 am

The King is dead. Long live the King!

Ep3 , May 10, 2020 at 10:29 am

You seem to leave out how the virus will change "personal rights". Rights for businesses to disobey govt orders. In Michigan, it is rising to a collision between the right to disobey the law in the name of freedom versus govt acting to protect its citizens. So that what we will have at the end is businesses being able to operate outside the law while individuals will have their rights stripped.
One example, which has been fought repeatedly in the past, is the right for businesses to serve who they want. Michigan businesses are saying they don't have to follow rules put in place due to COVID. Then, citizens are saying they don't have to follow those rules if they don't want to. So businesses don't have to serve minorities if they don't want to. Doctors don't have to care for/accept patients that may not be able to afford a premium price & premium services. Where will it stop?

JEHR , May 10, 2020 at 11:14 am

During a pandemic the rules for staying alive and staying healthy are not put into law or made legal–that is the difference.

Bsoder , May 10, 2020 at 2:27 pm

They have been made legal alright. By decree and proclamation. End? People are angry and it goes way beyond Covid-19. It's never going to end.

stefan , May 10, 2020 at 10:35 am

The virus is a bright light is casting in bold relief the deficiencies of society: the replacement of minimum wage workers with prisoners, the loss of healthcare for the unemployed, the forfeiture of education to inadequate broadband, the replacement of humanism with AI but above all, the absence of true statesmen.

Rod , May 10, 2020 at 2:22 pm

but above all, the absence of true statesmen.

imo, there is no lack of solutions available, only your statement.

Bsoder , May 10, 2020 at 2:30 pm

Not without the will and consent of the governed. But I mean that in a positive way. Protect the people.

shinola , May 10, 2020 at 12:34 pm

The Koch bro's & their ilk fancy themselves as Libertarian which is, essentially, plutocratic social Darwinism. Ya know, that "Because markets / Go die" thing.

Now the the tech. billionaires present themselves as benign saviors of humanity. They propose that a Public Private Partnership for a total surveillance state is the way to go. (See 'The Intercept' article "New Screen Deal" in yesterday's Links – a must read). PPP's are an essential "feature" of fascism. It appears to me that this is the direction the US is headed.

(Neo-illiberalism is kinda awkward sounding)

Olivier , May 10, 2020 at 1:13 pm

I think much of this discussion will be upended by climate change and the ongoing collapse of our high-tech, high-manufacturing, high-consumption societies. The surveillance dystopia in particular, although looking fearsome at the moment, is especially fragile: in order for mass digital surveillance like that to be possible it is not enough for governments and a handful of corps to have big computers, rather the surveillance technology must be ubiquitous and woven into the fabric of everyone's life. That means, inter alia, cranking out hundreds of millions of smartphones, home appliances and sundry digital gadgets every year, distributing them, keeping them powered and networked etc etc. Will we retain that capacity? Highly doubtful IMO, although I won't attempt to predict a timeline.

Jonathan Holland Becnel , May 10, 2020 at 2:15 pm

Yay Private Companies ruling the world!!! Woohoooo

not.

Susan the other , May 10, 2020 at 2:45 pm

Sorry to rant, but this post lit my short fuse when it started talking, out of the blue, about national crypto currencies. That's a total oxymoron. All mixed up with offshoring and secret capital stashed away on Pirate Island – they tossed in almost a nonsequitir: national crypto currency. No. It is not crypto. It is digital. Digital currency and Crypto currency are light years apart. They have nothing in common. Except that certain people are interested in stripping democracy and nations of their sovereignty to control their money. With an article like this the death of sovereignty is sneaking in the back door. And money – its actual value – cannot be separated from sovereignty. Unless there is a greater sovereignty to include it. And that requires a lot of work because if it is not accomplished "neoliberalism" will eat up the planet, all its resources, starve anybody who gets in their way, and jet off to Mars.

And the red herring about financialized surveillance is crypto-speak. Taking away our privacy and human rights. Right. Well, the underlying reality which we might not notice, is our national democratic sovereignty. I am not happy with the casual insouciance of this post.

John Hemington , May 10, 2020 at 3:04 pm

I have to say that I was rather disappointed (though not totally surprised given the source) that the role of the Democratic Party establishment in supporting the move to neo-illiberalism via its dedication to its Wall Street and Big tech clients and total antipathy to any minor move to the left within the Party. This has served as an enabler to the Republican right in their move into Neo-fascism and away from any semblance of participative democracy in this country.

john halasz , May 10, 2020 at 4:35 pm

This screed is just a mess. Neo-liberalism has always been a thoroughly authoritarian doctrine; it's initial laboratory was Pinochet's Chile. And '"liberal democracy" has always been a contradiction in terms,- (what's the name of Japan's perennial ruling party?) Electoral systems, if that"s the minimal criterion of "democracy," have been increasingly hollowed out of what little popular efficacy they once had after 40 years of neo-liberal ascendancy. CF. Colin Crouch's "post-democracy" or Sheldon Wolin's "inverted totalitarianism". So the screed just combines nostalgia for nothing, for what never was, with sub-Foucaultian paranoia, in the name of the vanity of being an academic intellectual. There's no mention of the global debt load, 320% of global gdp, which had reached its limits even before Covid-19, and which will collapse in the aftermath of the Covid-19 induced depression. That would be the real start of any serious analysis, as the coming terrain of future contention, rather than imagining that the masters of the universe could continue their predatory reign in the absence of any sustainable basis for it.

VietnamVet , May 10, 2020 at 7:33 pm

This post suffers from both their and our cognitive dissonance and corporate propaganda. But this graph posted at Automatic Earth is clear:
https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EXnFaoeXkAIN2oC?format=jpg&name=medium

The failed nations of USA, UK, Canada and Sweden haven't controlled the Wuhan coronavirus. They are identified in the center in red. These neo-liberal governments won't spend money to hire contact tracers, provide universal testing and quarantine the infected in safe secure facilities. Instead they've come up with herd immunity, freedom and other nonsense to gloss over the fact that the excess deaths are of absolutely no concern to the ruling aristocracy.

The cure is to restore democracy. Halt the pandemic. Rebuild sustainable societies, infrastructure and nations. This will be difficult unless the truth is recognized that the reigning elite's ideology of profit over anything else is destructive and quite deadly.

[May 11, 2020] Welcome to the Military-Industrial Pandemic

May 11, 2020 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Before coronavirus came to dominate the headlines, one of the most important stories of the year was the signing of an agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban. The deal signed in Doha on February 29 is a first step toward ending the U.S.'s longest war. After nearly two decades, thousands of lost lives on all sides, and an estimated $1.5 trillion, the Trump administration is finally acting on knowledge the U.S. government has long possessed: the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable.

The parallels between the war in Afghanistan and the Vietnam War are striking. In the Afghanistan Papers that were acquired by the Washington Post , the senselessness of the war is laid bare by U.S. government officials. The papers are reminiscent of the Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers and show that for years, the U.S. government has known that the war in Afghanistan is a costly and deadly exercise in futility. Afghanistan's terrain, tribal politics, and culture have long thwarted invaders. This is something that the British and the Soviets, to the delight of U.S. officials in 1979, learned the hard way.

Yet despite clear lessons from the past and what should have been some institutional memory, U.S. policymakers pursued financially and strategically ruinous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Estimated expenditures on these two wars and the larger open ended "war on terror" now exceed $6.5 trillion. Rather than having made the U.S. more secure, these wars, and the unchecked defense spending that they demand, make the U.S. more vulnerable to a host of internal and external threats.

America's interventionist policies abroad and the cancerous growth of defense budgets, the most recent of which is nearly $800 billion, compromise Washington's ability to grapple with threats like crumbling infrastructure, an educational system that fails to deliver, and true national preparedness for a crisis like the coronavirus. It is useful to think about what even a small portion of the $6.5 trillion spent on failed wars could have done had it been spent on infrastructure, world-class public education, accessible healthcare, and emergency preparedness. If it had been spent intelligently and strategically, it could have been transformative.

Instead, the U.S. public, as has so often been the case, continues to allow the military-industrial complex to exercise undue influence. The companies that make up the vast military-industrial complex in the U.S. spend millions lobbying Congress. These lobbying efforts probably have the highest return of any investment on the planet. In exchange for comparatively paltry campaign donations, members of Congress are persuaded to pass legislation that yields billions in revenue for these companies.

Those who stand up to the calls for increased defense spending are said to be "soft on defense" or even called "unpatriotic" by rival politicians and the platoon of retired colonels and generals who act as paid cheerleaders for defense contractors. In his 1961 Farewell Address, President Eisenhower presciently warned Americans about the power of the military-industrial complex. In the often-quoted speech, Eisenhower argued that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex." Eisenhower went on to say that a failure to guard against this influence could lead to a "disastrous rise of misplaced power" that could "endanger our liberties or democratic processes."

Americans have ignored Eisenhower's warning, and we are living with the consequences. The insidious influence of the military-industrial complex infects both Congress and much of the U.S. news media. Never was this more apparent than after September 11, when those who questioned the march to war in Afghanistan and Iraq were demeaned or silenced. Real debate about how to best respond to the threat posed by al-Qaeda and, more generally, militant Salafism was quashed. Instead, the U.S. pursued the most expensive and, as time would prove, counterproductive policies imaginable.

Nearly 20 years on, Afghanistan is slowly reverting to Taliban control. The invasion of Iraq spawned the Islamic State and turned the country into an Iranian satellite. Neither of these wars achieved their aims, but they did make hundreds of billions of dollars for defense contractors. Low-cost and effective ways to combat terrorism are rarely considered. Such methods do exist and often consist of little more than empowering local communities via very specific tailored development projects. But such methods do not require hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of drones and Predator-borne missiles. Thus, they receive little attention and even less funding.

Now, as the U.S. winds down its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the "war on terror" is passé. The new threats are the old threats: Russia and China. The pivot away from the war on terror to renewed preparations for combatting China and Russia will be even more profitable for the defense industry because this means increased funding for big-ticket legacy weapons systems. The defense budget just passed by Congress is one of the largest in the country's history and even funds the creation of a sixth military branch, the Space Force. The demands for ever more defense spending ignore the fact that the combined defense budgets of China and Russia equal a little more than a quarter of what the U.S. spends on defense. Nor is there much discussion of the fact that a war between great powers is as unlikely as it is unthinkable due to the threat of mutually assured nuclear annihilation.

In the same speech in which he warned Americans about the rise of the influence and power of the military-industrial complex, Eisenhower argued that the only real check on this would be "an alert and knowledgeable citizenry." One can only hope now that the U.S., and indeed the world, face the threat of a global pandemic, that Americans will begin to question soaring defense budgets and endless wars that contribute little to real security. Real security, as this pandemic will demonstrate, is dependent on internal resiliency. This kind of resiliency is built on sound infrastructure, accessible healthcare, a well-educated and healthy populace, localized supply chains, and responsive and responsible government. The coronavirus pandemic may finally force a rethink of how the U.S. government spends its citizens' money and how willing it is to continue funding and fighting counterproductive wars.

Michael Horton is a foreign policy analyst who has written for numerous publications, including The National Interest , West Point CTC Sentinel, The Economist , and the Christian Science Monitor .

[May 10, 2020] 'Murica From Overstretch To Collapse by Daniel Lazare

May 09, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Daniel Lazare via Off-Guardian.org,

In less than three decades, a mere blink of the eye in historical terms, the United States has gone from the world's sole superpower to a massive foundering wreck that is helpless before the coronavirus and intent on blaming the rest of the world for its own shortcomings. As the journalist Fintan O'Toole noted recently in the Irish Times:

"Over more than two centuries, the United States has stirred a very wide range of feelings in the rest of the world: love and hatred, fear and hope, envy and contempt, awe and anger. But there is one emotion that has never been directed towards the U.S. until now: pity."

Quite right. But how and why did this pitiable condition come about? Is it all Donald Trump's fault as so many now assume? Or did the process begin earlier?

The answer for any serious student of imperial politics is the latter. Indeed, a fascinating email suggests that the tipping point occurred in early to mid-2014, long before Trump set foot in the Oval Office.

Sent from U.S. General Wesley Clark to Philip Breedlove, Clark's successor as NATO commander in Europe, the email is dated Apr. 12, 2014, and concerns events in the Ukraine that had recently begun spinning out of control. A few weeks earlier, the Obama administration had been on top of the world thanks to a nationalist insurrection in Kiev that had chased out a mildly pro-Russian president named Viktor Yanukovych. Champagne glasses were no doubt clinking in Washington now that the Ukraine was solidly in the western camp. But then everything went awry. First, Vladimir Putin seized control of the Crimean Peninsula, site of an all-important Russian naval base at Sevastopol. Then a pro-Russian insurgency took off in Donetsk and Luhansk, two Russian-speaking provinces in the Ukraine's far east. Suddenly, the country was coming apart at the seams, and the U.S. didn't know what to do.

It was at that moment that Clark dashed off his note. Already, he informed Breedlove, "Putin has read U.S. inaction in Georgia and Syria as U.S. 'weakness.'" But now, thanks to the alarming turn of events in the Ukraine, others were doing the same. As he put it:

"China is watching closely. China will have four aircraft carriers and airspace dominance in the Western Pacific, within 5 years, if current trends continue. And if we let Ukraine slide away, it definitely raises the risks of conflict in the Pacific. For, China will ask would the U.S. then assert itself for Japan, Korea, Taiwan the Philippines the South China Sea?

...[I]f Russia takes Ukraine, Belarus will join the Eurasian Union, and, presto, the Soviet Union (in another name) will be back...

...Neither the Baltics nor the Balkans will easily resist the political disruptions empowered by a resurgent Russia and what good is a NATO 'security guarantee' against internal subversion?

...And then the U.S. will find a much stronger Russia, a crumbling NATO and [a] major challenge in the Western Pacific. Far easier to [hold] the line now in Ukraine than elsewhere later" [emphasis in the original].

The email speaks volumes about the mentality of those in charge. Conceivably, the Obama administration still had time to turn things around – if, that is, it had shown a bit of flexibility, a willingness to compromise, and a willingness as well to stand up to the ultra-nationalists who had led the anti-Yanukovych upsurge and opposed anything smacking of an even-handed settlement.

But instead it did the opposite. Back in the 1960s, cold warriors had argued that if Vietnam "fell" to the Communists, then Thailand, Burma, and even India would follow suit. But the proposition that Clark now advanced was even more extreme, a super-Domino Theory holding that a minor ethnic uprising in a part of the world that few people in Washington could find on the map was intolerable because it could cause the entire international structure to unravel. NATO, U.S. control of the western Pacific, victory over the Soviets – all would be lost because a few thousand people insisted on speaking their native Russian.

Why such rigidity? The real problem was not so much a confrontation mindset as a phenomenon that the historian Paul Kennedy had identified in the late 1980s: "imperial overstretch." Like other empires before it, the U.S. had allowed itself to become so over-extended after twenty-five years of "unipolarity" that strategists had their hands full keeping an increasingly rickety structure together. Nerves were on edge, which is why an ethnic uprising that might have been accommodated at an earlier stage of U.S. imperial development was no longer tolerable. Because the rebels had run afoul of U.S. imperial priorities, they constituted a fundamental threat and therefore had to be bulldozed out of the way.

Except for one thing: the structure was so weak that each new bulldoze operation only made matters worse. Insurgents continued to hold their ground in Donetsk and Luhansk thanks to Russian backing while the government grew more and more corrupt and unstable back in Kiev. In the Middle East, the situation was so confused that U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar were channeling money and arms to ISIS as it rampaged through eastern Syria and northern Iraq and advanced on Baghdad. Thanks to the turmoil that U.S. policies were unleashing, millions of desperate refugees would soon make their way to Europe where they would spark a powerful nativist reaction that continues to this day. U.S. hegemony was turning into a nightmare.

It was no different in an America shaken by Wahhabist terrorism and dismayed by wars in the Middle East that went nowhere yet never seemed to end. Donald Trump rode a wave of discontent into the White House by promising to "drain the swamp" and bring the troops home. Conceivably, he could have done just that once he was in office – if, that is, he had been serious about downsizing U.S. imperialism and was capable of standing up to the CIA. But the "intelligence community" struck back by launching a classic destabilization campaign based on the theme of Russian collusion while Trump's foreign-policy ideas turned out be even more of a mess than Obama's.

So the collapse intensified, which is why America is now such a helpless giant. A crazy man is at the helm, yet the best Democrats can do is put up a candidate suffering from the early stages of senile dementia, who may be a rapist to boot. No one knows how things will play out from this point on.

But two things are clear. One is that the process d id not start under Trump, and the other is that it will undoubtedly continue regardless of who wins in November. Once collapse sets in, it's impossible to stop.

[May 10, 2020] Neoliberalims with probably survive COVI-19 with minor modifications

Highly recommended!
May 10, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

likbez , May 10 2020 3:51 utc | 50

@bevin | May 9 2020 21:17 utc | 28

>The capitalists have painted themselves into a corner. There is no way out from this crisis which does not
> involve the end of fifty years of neo-liberalism (and two centuries of the liberal Political Economy).

I thought the same in 2008. Did not happen.

> Neo-liberalism, allied to warmongering in the MIC and dominating the political process through its ownership
> of both its own party and the Opposition's, has so dominated US life that the kind of reforms that Keynes saw
> as necessary to preserve the system from itself are unthinkable.

That's true but neoliberalism evolved in different direction: Trumpism ("national neoliberalism") is essentially neoliberalism without neoliberal globalization. Domestically it looks more and more like a unique "Americanized" flavor of neofascism. The latter historically proved to be a resilient social system (Spain)

> The current policy of giving money in unlimited quantities to corporations, virtually without condition,
> and invoicing the working class by pledging future tax revenues to repay the cost of financing, is unsustainable.

OK. But what is the countervailing force ? There is none. By definition creating a viable political opposition in a national security state is impossible. Note that the USSR crumbled only when KGB changed sides. And that Nazi Germany did not crumbed until Soviets took Berlin, and, despite all the misery of the last year of war, there were fierce fight for Berlin (and heavy losses for Soviets)

> Neo-liberalism, the ideology of capitalist rule, has had its chance. The crisis that we are in
> is showing how useless it is, how dangerous a society devoted to the profit of a few, rather than the welfare
> of the many is. With every new twist and turn it demonstrates its inability to govern.

Neoliberalism will most probably survive COVID-19 epidemic like it survived the crisis of 2008. You can argue whether quarantine was necessary or not and about the level of incompetence of Trump administration, but you can't deny that the measures taken by the USA government somewhat softened the blow and the social system remains intact.

Again, there is no viable countervailing force to MIC and financial oligarchy, and the two party system is very resilient and essentially guarantee that the internal political situation will stay this way. Looks like only external shocks or disintegration of the country under the pressure from far right nationalists can crumble this system.

> What this adds up to- mass unemployment and increasing immiseration with no organised voice to represent tens
> of millions of desperate workers and their families is the likelihood of a series of explosions, riots,
> strikes, boycotts and direct actions.

In the USA the family of three can survive when each of the adults earn just $10 per hour (which means income around $40K a year). Real misery is reserved mostly to single mothers and unemployed. You can't compare the situation in the USA to the situation in "neoliberalized" xUSSR countries where it is really about physical survival and large percentage of population live of ~$2 a day. Do we see riots in those countries ?

> There is nobody to press reforms on the ruling class

Now you are on something.

[May 07, 2020] Michael Hudson's book killing the host is great in explaing that current economic situation in the USA

The key idea is the financial industry is by-and-large a parasitic industry.
May 07, 2020 | www.unz.com

Anon [417] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 11:15 am GMT

@Hibernian That is angument for bailing out just " the payment system/ real economy and per mark Blyth or John Kay( other people's money book) is like approximately 5% of the economy ,the test is just incredible leverage and fool Hardy financialization.

Watch one of John Kay's talks on YouTube or mark Blyth talk about 2008.

Glass- steagall was not the sole cause of 2008, but it does need to be reinstated. Also when the banks were recapitalized on the backs of savers, by cutting interest rates , to almost nothing, the rational response was to take your money out, they make loans of ten dollars on deposits of one dollar and barely even pay you for the privilege.

A jubilee is needed , during certain reigns in Egypt and china , Jubilee's / debt forgiveness would happen as frequently as every 18 months.

Kings basically used to make the agreement , I'll give you a monopoly on banking but in exchange don't think if the world's goes to hell , don't think you are getting 100 cents on the dollar. Not running my kingdom for you to be made whole. It's worse nowadays because they print the money put of thin air and expect to be repaid in full, austerity is a vicious cycle, every dollar that goes to debt is one less to spend on consumption , so demand has to go down, and it creates a vicious cycle.
Another thing china gets right is they owe money to themselves, not oligarchs like us, if they want to they just agree not to pay themselves back.

Michael Hudson's book killing the host is also great.

https://newworldeconomics.com/category/how-banks-work/

Anon [417] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 11:53 am GMT
That is an argument for bailing out just " the payment system/ real economy and per mark Blyth or John Kay( other people's money book) that is like approximately 5% of the economy ,the rest is just incredible leverage and fool hardy financialization. America has ones and zeros , and china has gold reserves , a better nuclear arsenal, competent leadership, more human capital, infrastructure, means of production, antibiotics, rare Earth's, is the greatest creditor nation I believe as opposed to the greatest debtor nation and approximately 82% of American weapon systems require at least one input from China.( Please don't argue America has competent leadership , because competent leadership would have never allowed it to get 10% this bad, the main argument against tariffs, is that they kick off a retaliatory cycle, except the U.S. didn't retaliate until extremely recently.

Those factories were built initially by Rockefellers , Sam Walton, Kissinger and other American oligarchs to get away from American labor, you reap what you sow, but globalists could care less.

You don't have to like China but please realize the extra Herculean task of trying to lift 1.4 billion people out of poverty, and realize it will necessitate some tough decisions, unlike America where the bottom 90-95% haven't gotten raises adjusted for inflation since 1983( the great decoupling)
And Americans love to cry about the Chinese not having political freedom, well when most dissent is disingenious like tienneman square which was the CIA ( google tienneman myth, the journalists admit it) and Hong Kong was the CIA and Soros ( you really think those people organically waved American flags, stupid?)
who is a front man for the CIA if you didn't know, the uyghurs are Muslims that the US has been cultivating since the 80s under Reagan and the national endowment for democracy( per William engdahl) who have been knighted to sabotage one belt one road because the US is mad at it's Navy getting end run arounded similar to how the British got mad at the Germans pre world war 1 for building a railroad to Baghdad, so they could get oil without dealing with the British Navy ( guess mackinder and Brzezinski aren't as smart as they think)
On top of that political freedom is somewhat of a dead weight loss, look at the division it's caused in the US, I'd rather have clean water.( 3800+ US areas have water at least 2x worse than Flint/ Google it)
We build more prisons, china just kills all the prisoners and people who love the killing of unborn children bemoan the killing of actual child molestors.

Also please be aware the one child policy was imposed on china by the Rockefellers just like they sterilized a third of Puerto Rican women by 1965 , by tying their tubes without consent and telling them it was reversible.

How many people even know how Britain got Hong kong,? They fought two wars over the right of court Jews( Sassoon) in Britain to flood china with opium, and when China lost not only did they have to give up Hong Kong, they had to allow opium to flood their country and had to pay for every dollar spent by both sides.( I'm pretty sure if I was Chinese, k would hate the west on that fact alone)

Watch one of John Kay's talks on YouTube or mark Blyth talk about 2008.

Glass- steagall was not the sole cause of 2008, but it does need to be reinstated. Also when the banks were recapitalized on the backs of savers, by cutting interest rates , to almost nothing, the rational response was to take your money out, but they make loans of ten dollars on deposits of one dollar and barely even pay you for the privilege.

A jubilee is needed , during certain reigns in Egypt and china , Jubilee's / debt forgiveness would happen as frequently as every 18 months on average.

Kings basically used to make the agreement , I'll give you a monopoly on banking but in exchange don't think if the world's goes to hell , don't think you are getting 100 cents on the dollar. Not ruining my kingdom for you to be made whole. It's worse nowadays because they print the money put of thin air and expect to be repaid in full, austerity is a vicious cycle, every dollar that goes to debt is one less to spend on consumption , so demand has to go down, and it creates a vicious cycle.
Another thing china gets right is they owe money to themselves, not oligarchs like us, if they want to they just agree not to pay themselves back.

Michael Hudson's book killing the host is also great.

https://newworldeconomics.com/category/how-banks-work/

Godfree Roberts , says: Show Comment May 6, 2020 at 11:54 am GMT

In France, a team of researchers has found the disease was already spreading there in late December, one month before the first official cases were confirmed. The revelation followed a study of 14 stored respiratory samples of patients who were admitted to intensive care units with influenza-like symptoms in December and January.

The researchers identified a 42-year-old patient, whose last overseas trip had been to Algeria in August, who developed symptoms after one of his children had a flu-like illness. The patient, who had pre-existing asthma and Type 2 diabetes, was admitted to the ICU for antibiotic therapy and discharged after two days.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3083081/britains-coronavirus-cases-came-mainly-europe-not-china

Wuhan detected it in late December, too. But was that the earliest French case, or will further testing–perhaps some postmortems–reveal earlier cases?

[May 07, 2020] America's Design Causes It To Fail The COVID-19 Challenge by Eric Zuesse

This is a weak article. Indignation as for excesses of neoliberal social system that exists in the USA is a good thing only if there is a plan to change the system. Eric Zuesse has none. Also for top 10% the US healthcare is very efficient; it is probably the best on the planet.
OK neoliberalism is bad. But what is the alternative? Return to the New Deal capitalism is impossible as management now is allied with the capital owners and that destroyed fragile coalition of trade unions and apart of professional management that existed during the new deal as a countervailing force for political power of the capital. Such coalition could exist if financial oligarchy is suppressed and if taxes of millionaires income (especially income from stocks) were around 80%. As soon as JFK lowered the taxed that was a writing on the wall: the New Deal is doomed. Financial oligarchy was suppressed and it did not like it. So in 20180 they staged coup d'état and the New Deal was over.
The question is: what political coalition can take on financial oligarchy. There is no such coalition yet.
Notable quotes:
"... Americans generally are desperate to go to work even if they might be spreading the coronavirus-19. They need the pay and the insurance coverage in order to be able to buy medical care. If they don't pay for it they won't get it. So: whomever does show up for work might reasonably be especially inclined to fear likely to catch the disease from a co-worker there. This is one of the many reasons why socializing the healthcare function is vastly more efficient than leaving it to market forces . ..."
"... Furthermore, prisons are among the institutions that especially increase the spread of an epidemic such as Covid-19. And the United States has a higher percentage of its residents in prison than does any other country in the world . In fact, almost all of the Americans who are in prison are poor (since 100% of the poor cannot afford a lawyer), and the poorer a person is, the likelier that the individual is to get coronavirus-19. ..."
"... America has 655 per 100,000, or 4.5 prisoners for every 1.0 prisoner in the entire world), America has vastly more production of coronavirus-19 that's generated by its being a police-state than any other country does -- and this isn't even taking into consideration the rotten, overburdened, health-care system, and the billionaire-propagandized public contempt for the poor, that characterize America's culture, and that make those prisons, perhaps, the worst amongst industrialized nations. ..."
"... Furthermore, in America, "Approximately 95 percent of criminal cases are plea-bargained, in part because public defenders are too overwhelmed to take them to trial. 'That means the state never even has to prove you did anything. They hold all the cards.'" So, the Constitutional protections, such as trial-by-jury and all of the other on-paper protections, don't even apply, in reality, to at least 95% of criminal defendants. And, in many U.S. states, convicts -- and even ex -convicts -- aren't allowed to vote. America's billionaires also use many other ways to keep down the percentage of the poor who vote. ..."
"... In addition, prior to the coronavirus challenge, both America and UK have been reducing, instead of increasing, their social protections; and, therefore, they were the only industrialized nations where life-expectancies were declining even before the coronavirus-19 hit. The recognition and concern about this decline started in UK, but has now started to be published even in the U.S. ..."
"... In other words: coronavirus hit UK at a time when the Government was already moving away from socializing and into privatizing health care; and, as a consequence, the death-rates had already started increasing in 2015. Coronavirus kills mainly people who already have bad health; and, so, their population were maximally vulnerable to it at the time when this epidemic struck. ..."
"... Even prior to 2015, the U.S. was wasting around half of its entire public-and-private spending for health care -- it was the most inefficient healthcare system on the planet -- and therefore had significantly lower life-expectancies than all other industrialized countries did. But, now, those remarkably low life-spans are actually getting even lower. ..."
"... This is the reason why America is designed so as to fail the coronavirus-19 challenge. The power of big-money (concentrated wealth) is destroying this country. It controls both Parties and their respective media, so the public don't know (and certainly cannot understand) the types of realities that are being reported (and linked-to) here. ..."
"... The fact [the existence of ] corporate prisons exist is pretty much an open declaration that we're a kleptocracy, run by the uniparty. ..."
"... We give an EQUAL vote to children, imbeciles, hostiles, and those who don't even speak the language ..."
"... Democracy is not about efficiency but to keep a check on those in power. It preventing the concentration of powers. It all about checks and balances to preserve the citizens freedoms. ..."
May 06, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Eric Zuesse via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

America isn't the only country which is so corrupt as to stand at or near the top of the global coronavirus-infection rankings , but, as the June 2020 issue of The Atlantic headlines, "We Are Living in a Failed State: The coronavirus didn't break America. It revealed what was already broken." Why did this happen?

Virtually all other industrialized countries have social-welfare systems in place, such as health-insurance covering 100% of the population; and, consequently, the residents there don't lose their health insurance if they lose their job -- they therefore aren't desperate to show up for work even when they are sick or can spread an epidemic.

Americans generally are desperate to go to work even if they might be spreading the coronavirus-19. They need the pay and the insurance coverage in order to be able to buy medical care. If they don't pay for it they won't get it. So: whomever does show up for work might reasonably be especially inclined to fear likely to catch the disease from a co-worker there. This is one of the many reasons why socializing the healthcare function is vastly more efficient than leaving it to market forces .

On April 23rd, Reuters reported that, "U.S. workers who refuse to return to their jobs because they are worried about catching the coronavirus should not count on getting unemployment benefits, state officials and labor law experts say."

In such states, the unemployment-benefits system is being used as a cudgel so as to force employees back to work, and therefore to increase the percentage of the population who will become infected by the coronavirus-19.

Furthermore, prisons are among the institutions that especially increase the spread of an epidemic such as Covid-19. And the United States has a higher percentage of its residents in prison than does any other country in the world . In fact, almost all of the Americans who are in prison are poor (since 100% of the poor cannot afford a lawyer), and the poorer a person is, the likelier that the individual is to get coronavirus-19.

This is yet another reason why prisons are a prime place for the spread of the disease. And on April 26th, the New York Times headlined "As Coronavirus Strikes Prisons, Hundreds of Thousands Are Released: The virus has spread rapidly in overcrowded prisons across the world, leading governments to release inmates en masse." Since America has more of its population in prison than any other country does (lots more: whereas "The world prison population rate, based on United Nations estimates of national population levels, is 145 per 100,000" , America has 655 per 100,000, or 4.5 prisoners for every 1.0 prisoner in the entire world), America has vastly more production of coronavirus-19 that's generated by its being a police-state than any other country does -- and this isn't even taking into consideration the rotten, overburdened, health-care system, and the billionaire-propagandized public contempt for the poor, that characterize America's culture, and that make those prisons, perhaps, the worst amongst industrialized nations.

Furthermore, in America, "Approximately 95 percent of criminal cases are plea-bargained, in part because public defenders are too overwhelmed to take them to trial. 'That means the state never even has to prove you did anything. They hold all the cards.'" So, the Constitutional protections, such as trial-by-jury and all of the other on-paper protections, don't even apply, in reality, to at least 95% of criminal defendants. And, in many U.S. states, convicts -- and even ex -convicts -- aren't allowed to vote. America's billionaires also use many other ways to keep down the percentage of the poor who vote.

Taken all together (and to list the other details would fill a book), America's systematized intense discrimination against the poor constitutes virtually an invitation to this country's having exceptional vulnerability to any epidemic. The fact that America now has 33.3% of the world's coronavirus-19 cases , though only 4.2% of the world's population, is actually systemic, and not merely particular to this moment in this country, and in the entire world. Donald Trump, and the current U.S. Congress, are part of a system of oppression, not really exceptions to it (such as the billionaires' media pretend -- with Democratic billionaires blaming "the Republicans," and Republican billionaires blaming "the Democrats"). The way this Government performs is actually somewhat normal for this country since at least 1980 .

In addition, prior to the coronavirus challenge, both America and UK have been reducing, instead of increasing, their social protections; and, therefore, they were the only industrialized nations where life-expectancies were declining even before the coronavirus-19 hit. The recognition and concern about this decline started in UK, but has now started to be published even in the U.S.

British healthcare scholar Danny Dorling headlined at his "Political Insight" blog on 16 July 2016, "Austerity, Rapidly Worsening Public Health across the UK" and reported that "the UK's Office for National Statistics (ONS) released its latest annual mortality figures – on schedule. An unprecedented rise in mortality was reported which was revealed to have risen across all the countries of the UK." Then, on 8 July 2018, London's Daily Express bannered "Britain is the ONLY European country with a declining life expectancy – inquiry launched" . Then, on 8 March 2019, the blog of the British Medical Journal headlined "The deepening health crisis in the UK requires society wide, political intervention" and reported that UK's life-expectancy had been plunging since 2014. The BMJ then issued an article on 27 March 2020, "Things Fall Apart: the British Health Crisis 2010–2020" .

In other words: coronavirus hit UK at a time when the Government was already moving away from socializing and into privatizing health care; and, as a consequence, the death-rates had already started increasing in 2015. Coronavirus kills mainly people who already have bad health; and, so, their population were maximally vulnerable to it at the time when this epidemic struck.

Meanwhile, the same shortening of life-spans was also occurring in the U.S. On 29 November 2018, London's Daily Mail bannered "American life expectancy DROPS as suicides and drug overdoses soar and progress against heart disease grinds to a halt, CDC data reveal" . A year later, the JAMA Network headlined on 26 November 2019, "Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017" and reported that "Between 1959 and 2016, US life expectancy increased from 69.9 years to 78.9 years but declined for 3 consecutive years after 2014." So: both UK and U.S. life-spans peaked in 2014. Unlike virtually all other nations, these two were declining in health.

Even prior to 2015, the U.S. was wasting around half of its entire public-and-private spending for health care -- it was the most inefficient healthcare system on the planet -- and therefore had significantly lower life-expectancies than all other industrialized countries did. But, now, those remarkably low life-spans are actually getting even lower.

Political-science studies that are based upon decades of reliably reported data have established that ever since around 1980, the United States has been a dictatorship: what the public wants (and even needs ) is basically ignored, but what the super-rich (the country's actual dictators) simply want becomes reflected in governmental policies. That's the very definition of a "dictatorship." The U.S. national Government is responsive to the wants of its billionaires, not to the needs of the public (such as protecting their health, education, and welfare, even when the billionaires don't want it to).The findings in one of these studies are summarized well in a six-minute video, here .

Although the billionaires who fund America's liberal Party, the Democratic Party, oppose the billionaires who fund the Republican Party (the conservative Party -- the one that's overtly in favor of the existing wealth-inequality), this is purely for PR purposes. Whenever the issue becomes their own wealth versus improving the wealth and economic opportunity for the poor, they all go for expanding their own empire (sometimes by funding a tax-exempt 'charity' that will increase, even more, their personal control over the total empire -- by using that tax-exemption to leverage the operation, which will be controlled by themselves instead of by the public tax-funded government). Such 'charities' are mainly tax-dodges.

However, in all countries, the people who are the most vulnerable to epidemics are the poor. This also means that the infection-rates and spreading of the disease are the highest amongst the poorest. And, in this epidemic, the interests of the super-rich are opposite to the interests of everybody else . And, since the U.S. Government has, for decades now, been serving predominantly the super-rich, instead of the public , the people who are the most at risk are also the most ignored.

This is even proud policy ('fiscal responsibility', etc.) in the Republican Party. Bailing-out investors is 'necessary', but bailing out employees and consumers is 'fiscally irresponsible'. For example, on April 27th, the Democrat David Sirota headlined "Red States Owe Workers More Than $500 Billion -- The GOP Is Trying to Steal The Money: Trump is boosting a McConnell plan to help states renege on promised retirement and health benefits to millions of workers and retirees." And he is correct.

However, his Party is going to be compromising with that (instead of adamantly refuse to accept it and then go on the political hustings shaming the Republican President and Congress-members so as to break them on their blatantly scandalous whoring to the entire billionaire-class, who want their investments to be bailed out before the public is -- which might turn out to be never). It's a "good cop, bad cop," routine, to protect the super-rich. It accepts holding the public hostage to what the big political donors want, instead of focuses against that as being the central political issue of the moment, and of at least post-1980 America.

This is 'democracy'-as-political-scam. For example: some of the Democratic billionaires, who fund anti-Trump ads, pretend to be Republicans , in order to be able to peel off some of Trump's Republican voters, and so are blaming Trump alone for America's catastrophically bad performance in the coronavirus-crisis .

They're just trying to deceive their suckers into voting for Joe Biden, or else not voting at all; and, so, their ad doesn't even so much as just mention Biden. It's a Biden ad that makes no mention of Biden. It hides its true motive. That's typical.

This is the reason why America is designed so as to fail the coronavirus-19 challenge. The power of big-money (concentrated wealth) is destroying this country. It controls both Parties and their respective media, so the public don't know (and certainly cannot understand) the types of realities that are being reported (and linked-to) here.

It's also the reason why Joe Biden's "plan" for dealing with the coronavirus epidemic is just as bad a joke on the voters as Trump's is. This is a failing country, which is failing in a bipartisan (both Republican and Democratic Party) way.

A "good cop, bad cop" government is, in reality, all bad cop.

(I therefore proposed an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in order to rectify some of the reasons behind this structural failure of the U.S. Government. Perhaps the only alternative to that would be violent revolution, but it would probably make things even worse, not better.)


desertboy , 23 minutes ago

The fact [the existence of ] corporate prisons exist is pretty much an open declaration that we're a kleptocracy, run by the uniparty.

Reign in Fact, 28 minutes ago

" The power of big-money (concentrated wealth) is destroying this country... This is 'democracy'-as-political-scam... "

No the scam is democracy itself. We give an EQUAL vote to children, imbeciles, hostiles, and those who don't even speak the language, while allowing wholesale vote-buying bribery of public unions.

No such system has ever thrived anywhere in the animal kingdom - equality without merit, or rule by will of the laziest, weakest and dumbest - no matter how small the "society", team, family, gang, union, band, corporation, religion or nation.

It can't and won't end well.

youshallnotkill , 15 minutes ago

Democracy is not about efficiency but to keep a check on those in power. It preventing the concentration of powers. It all about checks and balances to preserve the citizens freedoms.

The fact that you don't understand these where basics of why we have a republic is testament to our failed school system.

Deep In Vocal Euphoria , 30 minutes ago

Demoracy...usa was a constitutional republic..........

AVmaster , 30 minutes ago

This hasn't been the american "design" since 23DEC1913......

Dragonlord , 1 minute ago

America's design to disable the freedom of state secession has ruined it. As a result, we are facing the possibility of another civil war.

[May 06, 2020] The Coronavirus Revealed America's Failures by George Packer

May 06, 2020 | archive.fo

W hen the virus came here, it found a country with serious underlying conditions, and it exploited them ruthlessly. Chronic ills -- a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public -- had gone untreated for years. We had learned to live, uncomfortably, with the symptoms. It took the scale and intimacy of a pandemic to expose their severity -- to shock Americans with the recognition that we are in the high-risk category. The crisis demanded a response that was swift, rational, and collective. The United States reacted instead like Pakistan or Belarus -- like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering. The administration squandered two irretrievable months to prepare. From the president came willful blindness, scapegoating, boasts, and lies . From his mouthpieces, conspiracy theories and miracle cures. A few senators and corporate executives acted quickly -- not to prevent the coming disaster, but to profit from it. When a government doctor tried to warn the public of the danger, the White House took the mic and politicized the message. Every morning in the endless month of March, Americans woke up to find themselves citizens of a failed state. With no national plan -- no coherent instructions at all -- families, schools, and offices were left to decide on their own whether to shut down and take shelter . When test kits, masks, gowns, and ventilators were found to be in desperately short supply, governors pleaded for them from the White House, which stalled, then called on private enterprise, which couldn't deliver. States and cities were forced into bidding wars that left them prey to price gouging and corporate profiteering. Civilians took out their sewing machines to try to keep ill-equipped hospital workers healthy and their patients alive. Russia, Taiwan, and the United Nations sent humanitarian aid to the world's richest power -- a beggar nation in utter chaos.
Donald Trump saw the crisis almost entirely in personal and political terms. Fearing for his reelection, he declared the coronavirus pandemic a war, and himself a wartime president. But the leader he brings to mind is Marshal Philippe Pétain, the French general who, in 1940, signed an armistice with Germany after its rout of French defenses, then formed the pro-Nazi Vichy regime. Like Pétain, Trump collaborated with the invader and abandoned his country to a prolonged disaster. And, like France in 1940, America in 2020 has stunned itself with a collapse that's larger and deeper than one miserable leader. Some future autopsy of the pandemic might be called Strange Defeat , after the historian and Resistance fighter Marc Bloch's contemporaneous study of the fall of France . Despite countless examples around the U.S. of individual courage and sacrifice, the failure is national. And it should force a question that most Americans have never had to ask: Do we trust our leaders and one another enough to summon a collective response to a mortal threat? Are we still capable of self-government? This is the third major crisis of the short 21st century. The first, on September 11, 2001, came when Americans were still living mentally in the previous century, and the memory of depression, world war, and cold war remained strong. On that day, people in the rural heartland did not see New York as an alien stew of immigrants and liberals that deserved its fate, but as a great American city that had taken a hit for the whole country. Firefighters from Indiana drove 800 miles to help the rescue effort at Ground Zero. Our civic reflex was to mourn and mobilize together. Partisan politics and terrible policies, especially the Iraq War, erased the sense of national unity and fed a bitterness toward the political class that never really faded. The second crisis, in 2008, intensified it. At the top, the financial crash could almost be considered a success. Congress passed a bipartisan bailout bill that saved the financial system. Outgoing Bush-administration officials cooperated with incoming Obama administration officials. The experts at the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department used monetary and fiscal policy to prevent a second Great Depression. Leading bankers were shamed but not prosecuted; most of them kept their fortunes and some their jobs. Before long they were back in business. A Wall Street trader told me that the financial crisis had been a "speed bump." All of the lasting pain was felt in the middle and at the bottom, by Americans who had taken on debt and lost their jobs, homes, and retirement savings. Many of them never recovered, and young people who came of age in the Great Recession are doomed to be poorer than their parents. Inequality -- the fundamental, relentless force in American life since the late 1970s -- grew worse. This second crisis drove a profound wedge between Americans: between the upper and lower classes, Republicans and Democrats, metropolitan and rural people, the native-born and immigrants, ordinary Americans and their leaders. Social bonds had been under growing strain for several decades, and now they began to tear. The reforms of the Obama years, important as they were -- in health care, financial regulation, green energy -- had only palliative effects. The long recovery over the past decade enriched corporations and investors, lulled professionals, and left the working class further behind. The lasting effect of the slump was to increase polarization and to discredit authority, especially government's. Both parties were slow to grasp how much credibility they'd lost. The coming politics was populist. Its harbinger wasn't Barack Obama but Sarah Palin, the absurdly unready vice-presidential candidate who scorned expertise and reveled in celebrity. She was Donald Trump's John the Baptist. [ David Frum: Americans are paying the price for Trump's failures ] Trump came to power as the repudiation of the Republican establishment. But the conservative political class and the new leader soon reached an understanding. Whatever their differences on issues like trade and immigration, they shared a basic goal: to strip-mine public assets for the benefit of private interests. Republican politicians and donors who wanted government to do as little as possible for the common good could live happily with a regime that barely knew how to govern at all, and they made themselves Trump's footmen. Like a wanton boy throwing matches in a parched field, Trump began to immolate what was left of national civic life. He never even pretended to be president of the whole country, but pitted us against one another along lines of race, sex, religion, citizenship, education, region, and -- every day of his presidency -- political party. His main tool of governance was to lie. A third of the country locked itself in a hall of mirrors that it believed to be reality; a third drove itself mad with the effort to hold on to the idea of knowable truth; and a third gave up even trying. Trump acquired a federal government crippled by years of right-wing ideological assault, politicization by both parties, and steady defunding. He set about finishing off the job and destroying the professional civil service. He drove out some of the most talented and experienced career officials, left essential positions unfilled, and installed loyalists as commissars over the cowed survivors, with one purpose: to serve his own interests. His major legislative accomplishment, one of the largest tax cuts in history, sent hundreds of billions of dollars to corporations and the rich. The beneficiaries flocked to patronize his resorts and line his reelection pockets. If lying was his means for using power, corruption was his end. [ Read: It pays to be rich during a pandemic ] This was the American landscape that lay open to the virus: in prosperous cities, a class of globally connected desk workers dependent on a class of precarious and invisible service workers; in the countryside, decaying communities in revolt against the modern world; on social media, mutual hatred and endless vituperation among different camps; in the economy, even with full employment, a large and growing gap between triumphant capital and beleaguered labor; in Washington, an empty government led by a con man and his intellectually bankrupt party; around the country, a mood of cynical exhaustion, with no vision of a shared identity or future. If the pandemic really is a kind of war, it's the first to be fought on this soil in a century and a half. Invasion and occupation expose a society's fault lines, exaggerating what goes unnoticed or accepted in peacetime, clarifying essential truths, raising the smell of buried rot. The virus should have united Americans against a common threat. With different leadership, it might have. Instead, even as it spread from blue to red areas, attitudes broke down along familiar partisan lines. The virus also should have been a great leveler. You don't have to be in the military or in debt to be a target -- you just have to be human. But from the start, its effects have been skewed by the inequality that we've tolerated for so long. When tests for the virus were almost impossible to find, the wealthy and connected -- the model and reality-TV host Heidi Klum, the entire roster of the Brooklyn Nets, the president's conservative allies -- were somehow able to get tested, despite many showing no symptoms . The smattering of individual results did nothing to protect public health. Meanwhile, ordinary people with fevers and chills had to wait in long and possibly infectious lines, only to be turned away because they weren't actually suffocating. An internet joke proposed that the only way to find out whether you had the virus was to sneeze in a rich person's face. When Trump was asked about this blatant unfairness, he expressed disapproval but added, " Perhaps that's been the story of life ." Most Americans hardly register this kind of special privilege in normal times. But in the first weeks of the pandemic it sparked outrage, as if, during a general mobilization, the rich had been allowed to buy their way out of military service and hoard gas masks. As the contagion has spread, its victims have been likely to be poor, black, and brown people . The gross inequality of our health-care system is evident in the sight of refrigerated trucks lined up outside public hospitals. [ Ibram X. Kendi: Stop blaming black people for dying of the coronavirus ] We now have two categories of work: essential and nonessential. Who have the essential workers turned out to be? Mostly people in low-paying jobs that require their physical presence and put their health directly at risk: warehouse workers, shelf-stockers, Instacart shoppers, delivery drivers, municipal employees, hospital staffers, home health aides, long-haul truckers. Doctors and nurses are the pandemic's combat heroes, but the supermarket cashier with her bottle of sanitizer and the UPS driver with his latex gloves are the supply and logistics troops who keep the frontline forces intact. In a smartphone economy that hides whole classes of human beings, we're learning where our food and goods come from, who keeps us alive . An order of organic baby arugula on AmazonFresh is cheap and arrives overnight in part because the people who grow it, sort it, pack it, and deliver it have to keep working while sick. For most service workers, sick leave turns out to be an impossible luxury. It's worth asking if we would accept a higher price and slower delivery so that they could stay home. The pandemic has also clarified the meaning of nonessential workers. One example is Kelly Loeffler, the Republican junior senator from Georgia, whose sole qualification for the empty seat that she was given in January is her immense wealth. Less than three weeks into the job, after a dire private briefing about the virus, she got even richer from the selling-off of stocks , then she accused Democrats of exaggerating the danger and gave her constituents false assurances that may well have gotten them killed. Loeffler's impulses in public service are those of a dangerous parasite. A body politic that would place someone like this in high office is well advanced in decay. The purest embodiment of political nihilism is not Trump himself but his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. In his short lifetime, Kushner has been fraudulently promoted as both a meritocrat and a populist. He was born into a moneyed real-estate family the month Ronald Reagan entered the Oval Office, in 1981 -- a princeling of the second Gilded Age. Despite Jared's mediocre academic record, he was admitted to Harvard after his father, Charles, pledged a $2.5 million donation to the university. Father helped son with $10 million in loans for a start in the family business, then Jared continued his elite education at the law and business schools of NYU, where his father had contributed $3 million. Jared repaid his father's support with fierce loyalty when Charles was sentenced to two years in federal prison in 2005 for trying to resolve a family legal quarrel by entrapping his sister's husband with a prostitute and videotaping the encounter. [ Adam Serwer: Trump is inciting a coronavirus culture war to save himself ] Jared Kushner failed as a skyscraper owner and a newspaper publisher, but he always found someone to rescue him, and his self-confidence only grew. In American Oligarchs , Andrea Bernstein describes how he adopted the outlook of a risk-taking entrepreneur, a "disruptor" of the new economy. Under the influence of his mentor Rupert Murdoch, he found ways to fuse his financial, political, and journalistic pursuits. He made conflicts of interest his business model. So when his father-in-law became president, Kushner quickly gained power in an administration that raised amateurism, nepotism, and corruption to governing principles. As long as he busied himself with Middle East peace, his feckless meddling didn't matter to most Americans. But since he became an influential adviser to Trump on the coronavirus pandemic, the result has been mass death. In his first week on the job, in mid-March, Kushner co-authored the worst Oval Office speech in memory, interrupted the vital work of other officials, may have compromised security protocols, flirted with conflicts of interest and violations of federal law, and made fatuous promises that quickly turned to dust. " The federal government is not designed to solve all our problems ," he said, explaining how he would tap his corporate connections to create drive-through testing sites. They never materialized. He was convinced by corporate leaders that Trump should not use presidential authority to compel industries to manufacture ventilators -- then Kushner's own attempt to negotiate a deal with General Motors fell through. With no loss of faith in himself, he blamed shortages of necessary equipment and gear on incompetent state governors. To watch this pale, slim-suited dilettante breeze into the middle of a deadly crisis , dispensing business-school jargon to cloud the massive failure of his father-in-law's administration, is to see the collapse of a whole approach to governing. It turns out that scientific experts and other civil servants are not traitorous members of a "deep state" -- they're essential workers , and marginalizing them in favor of ideologues and sycophants is a threat to the nation's health. It turns out that "nimble" companies can't prepare for a catastrophe or distribute lifesaving goods -- only a competent federal government can do that . It turns out that everything has a cost, and years of attacking government, squeezing it dry and draining its morale, inflict a heavy cost that the public has to pay in lives. All the programs defunded, stockpiles depleted, and plans scrapped meant that we had become a second-rate nation. Then came the virus and this strange defeat. [ Read: Trump's coronavirus message is revisionist history ] The fight to overcome the pandemic must also be a fight to recover the health of our country, and build it anew, or the hardship and grief we're now enduring will never be redeemed. Under our current leadership, nothing will change. If 9/11 and 2008 wore out trust in the old political establishment, 2020 should kill off the idea that anti-politics is our salvation. But putting an end to this regime, so necessary and deserved, is only the beginning. We're faced with a choice that the crisis makes inescapably clear. We can stay hunkered down in self-isolation, fearing and shunning one another, letting our common bond wear away to nothing. Or we can use this pause in our normal lives to pay attention to the hospital workers holding up cellphones so their patients can say goodbye to loved ones; the planeload of medical workers flying from Atlanta to help in New York ; the aerospace workers in Massachusetts demanding that their factory be converted to ventilator production; the Floridians standing in long lines because they couldn't get through by phone to the skeletal unemployment office; the residents of Milwaukee braving endless waits, hail, and contagion to vote in an election forced on them by partisan justices . We can learn from these dreadful days that stupidity and injustice are lethal; that, in a democracy, being a citizen is essential work; that the alternative to solidarity is death. After we've come out of hiding and taken off our masks, we should not forget what it was like to be alone.
This article appears in the June 2020 print edition with the headline "Underlying Conditions." We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.
George Packer is a staff writer at The Atlantic . He is the author of Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century and The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America .

[May 04, 2020] Neoliberalism and neoconservatism are the two sides of the one political coin that Americans are allowed to choose

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... the nations CEO's become sort of one big club, and the top of the club is the head parasites pulling the strings on the stock market (outfits like Goldman Sachs). ..."
"... NO ONE wants to cross the head parasites, the corrupt political class turns to them as their economic brain trust, and the propaganda class (MSM) spin narratives that comport to the corrupt political class' interests and the corrupt status quo. ..."
May 04, 2020 | www.unz.com

Chris Moore says: Website Show Comment April 30, 2020 at 7:38 pm GMT 400 Words

As our guest puts it, the recently passed Trump "Bank and Landlord Relief" bill, mistakenly named the Coronavirus bill, starts by providing banks with an even larger giveaway of wealth than they received from Obama in 2008. Helping the banks, financial and real estate sectors in a so-called free market system is conflated with helping the industrial economy and general living standards for most Americans. The essence of a parasite is not only to drain the host's nourishment, but to dull the host's brain so that it does not recognize that the parasite is there.

One of the ways it does this is to entice most of the biggest companies onto the stock markets, which in turn subordinates them to the financial sector -- more specifically, the investment bankers. And then the nations CEO's become sort of one big club, and the top of the club is the head parasites pulling the strings on the stock market (outfits like Goldman Sachs).

NO ONE wants to cross the head parasites, the corrupt political class turns to them as their economic brain trust, and the propaganda class (MSM) spin narratives that comport to the corrupt political class' interests and the corrupt status quo.

This is why [neo]liberalism and neoconservatism are the two sides of the one political coin that Americans are allowed to choose. Lean left? You'll get a liberal who mostly uses identity politics to divide and rule. Lean right? You'll get a neocon who mostly uses foreign affairs to divide and rule. But increasingly, the two cross-over, hence you'll see liberals harping 24/7 about Russiagate and neocons harping 24/7 about Iran, Islam and now China.

None of this is to say that Russia, China and Iran aren't competitors, because they are. But the liberal and neocon fanatics turn them into existential, kill or be killed competitors...

... ... ...

[May 03, 2020] Geopolitics Post-COVID-19

May 03, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Before the coronavirus caused governments to impose lockdowns, whole economies, markets and even currencies were already on course to be destroyed by a vicious downturn in bank lending at a time of contracting trade and record debt. The additional strains from the virus have intensified the crisis further and quickened the pace of all aspects of monetary destruction.

The coronavirus has permitted America and other Western nations to adopt a war footing by restricting personal freedom in the interest of the state. As tensions against China rise and the global economic crisis escalates, these freedoms will be not be returned, being deemed to be against national interest.

This is an election year for America and the political system is already ramping up blame for the virus and her economic misfortunes against China. We are entering dangerous territory when politics mobilises hate against a supposed enemy by using propaganda tactics which are designed to stir up xenophobic anger.

How China responds will be crucial. Its leadership can defuse the situation with a few simple changes to its foreign policy, isolating America from her allies in the process. But does a highly bureaucratic communist leadership have the imagination to do so? Introduction

One thing is for sure: the world will be different when it emerges from the coronavirus crisis. Doubtless, on pain of likely death those over seventy years of age must remain prisoners in their own homes while the younger generations are tasked with the return to normality. All this is meant to be under government guidance of course. Over the coming months governments intend to save swathes of business sectors, such as banking, energy production, utilities and the rest, first by lending the money to pay the bills, and then by rescuing the failures, taking them into public ownership in many cases.

That is what the post-coronavirus environment can be expected to look like, if, as governments hope, the recovery is V-shaped. If not, then greater interventions will be visited on the population to protect it from itself.

While not necessarily intentioned, there has been and will continue to be a dramatic transfer of freedom from individuals to the state, which the state is always reluctant to let go when the crisis passes. The evocation of a war against the virus is to facilitate the transfer of peoples' freedom to the state, because that is what is required to fight a war. But when it's over, the bureaucrats' instincts are never to return freedoms.

In the vast majority of cases, win or lose, following a war it is usual for a nation to retain the measures adopted, dropping none of them. It might be called a transitional economy, kept in place with all the war-time restrictions until an exit path, inevitably to greater socialism, can be devised. And for America there is a war still to be fought against China for global domination, justifying yet more control.

Nanny meets fascist socialism

Welcome to the new post-coronavirus intensified socialism. As individuals we have given the state enormous power over our lives, which will almost certainly be consolidated. The direction of travel is clear. Not only can big brother censor us, but it can now track our movements more effectively than the old KGB. If you leave your home, leave your smartphone behind. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and change your gait, avoiding the cameras. Your money in the bank, or more correctly in your about-to-be-nationalised bank's money credited to your account, can only be disposed of for state-regulated products by means of traceable transactions instead of old-fashioned cash.

Instead of the soviet, we have the nanny state. Nanny knows best. This is the real world of the 2020s. It is unnatural and will therefore eventually fail. In previous articles I have written about one aspect of its failure, and that is the impending collapse of unbacked state currencies. I have pointed out that central banks, and especially the Fed responsible for the world's reserve currency, are embarking on an exercise in inflation designed, above all, to uphold the state by maintaining the values of its debt and therefore all other financial assets. If they fail, and they will because the task is too great, the currencies will fail as well, and remarkably quickly. Until then, free markets are a primal threat to the system and must not prevail.

Doubtless, deep state operatives everywhere believe that the threats from their own people can be contained. Taking that for granted, they are now moving on to contain threats from other states that don't conform to the West's democratic model. There is now much more propaganda coming out of America and the UK about the evil Chinese than the evil Chinese are disseminating about America and Britain.

The story being managed is of a devious state, somehow stealing our souls by selling us their technology. Mobile 5G puts China into our homes and controls our internet of everything. It will allow the Chinese to control us . What is not explained is why it is in China's interest to abuse its customers in this way. What is not explained is why we, as individuals, will be better off not having Chinese goods and technology. And when Britain's GCHQ intelligence and security division took Hua Wei's equipment apart, they couldn't find any evidence of Chinese state spyware anyway.

The irony in all this is that our democratic model, the nanny state, is cover for the same internal policies as those deployed by the Chinese, admittedly less vicious; but that is changing. Rather than communist-socialist, both Chinese communism and Western democracies are, properly defined, fascist-socialist. With communism, the state owns your cow and tells you what to do with it. With fascism, you own the cow and the state tells you what to do with it. In these simplistic, but not inaccurate terms, our governments increasingly follow the fascist creed adopted by the Chinese Communist Party after Mao's death. Give it time and the intense Chinese-style suppression of free speech could become the defining feature of nanny's management style as well.

Here we must note a fundamental truth. Socialists of either extreme do not see free markets as a rival, because they believe they are useful for progressing socialism towards desired ends. The true rival to your socialism is someone else's socialism. Newly energised Western state socialism is to be pitted against Chinese state socialism. The World is about to get more dangerous.

US is upping the propaganda stakes

Last week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China caused an enormous amount of pain and will pay a price for what they did with the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, President Trump threatened to seek reparations from China for infecting Americans. This follows a 57-page memorandum, entitled Main Messages dated April 17, briefing Republican senators, which was headed by the following bullet points:

Clearly, the propaganda war being waged by America against China is undergoing a new lease of life. And it's not just America: anti-Chinese belligerence is being ramped up through other national intelligence agencies. Even senior MPs in the UK's Conservative Party and "useful idiots" in the media are now spouting renewed anti-Chinese propaganda.

On one level, American propaganda can be taken as a defense of President Trump, on the simplistic basis of finding someone else to blame for his administration's increasingly desperate economic plight. But the danger is that the White House train has left the station in the direction of policy escalation with no means of stopping. In this election year someone must be blamed. To improve his ratings and following an established political tradition of diverting attention from the domestic scene, Trump must blame foreigners and China is the easiest target. We are rapidly moving in the direction of unintended consequences.

Meanwhile, we have to hope that President Xi does not take the American bait and escalate tensions from his side. Xi's equanimity has set the pattern so far. He has made mistakes, and will almost certainly continue to do so, but his Sun Tzu strategy is making it difficult for the Americans: "If [the enemy] is in superior strength, evade him".

Of one thing we can be reasonably certain, and that is in a new attack the Trump administration will escalate trade protectionism against China. It is a policy which will backfire on America. Assuming no change in the American people's savings habits, the budget deficit leads almost directly to a trade deficit, the twin deficit syndrome. The trade deficit is not caused by unfair foreign competition, but as a simple matter of national accounting it is linked to inflationary funding of government spending. The temporary offset with respect to the inflationary effect on prices is the expansion of foreign production which ends up as imports at less inflated prices. Meanwhile, the US's budget deficit is now set to grow substantially from its trillion-dollar baseline and in the light of recent economic developments it could easily more than double.

If the trade deficit is to be contained, then measures must be introduced to prevent import substitution. This is in accordance with enhanced nationalism, typified by Trump's Make America Great Again slogan. Therefore, the likelihood of America extending trade protectionism beyond China as the economic crisis progresses is greater than it may currently appear.

Without lower prices for imported goods and consumption generally restricted to domestic production, inevitably prices for everything will rise at a faster pace. Therefore, at a time when food prices will almost certainly be rising sharply and causing political difficulties for Trump, price inflation for all aspects of consumer spending will be getting beyond the managed control of government statisticians.

Domestically, the combination of an escalating budget deficit and rising consumer prices will lead to higher interest rates and therefore increased US Treasury borrowing costs. The Fed will then be unable to control financial asset prices, the dollar will slide, and it could turn out to be electoral suicide. Trump may not realise it but in this election year he is conflating two opposing objectives: a geopolitical one against China to improve his political ratings and an economic one which can be expected to destroy them.

In the past, politicians in this position have responded by clamping down even further on free markets and personal freedom, evoking Hayek's prophecy of the call for stronger leadership in his The Road to Serfdom . And with respect to foreign policy, imperialistic motivation intensifies, which we are already seeing.

Meanwhile, we must hope President Xi stays calm in the face of American self-harm.

[May 03, 2020] Covid-19 Was Just The Pin That Shattered The Fantasy Fueled By Soaring Debts, Rampant Asset Inflation Windfalls To The Wealthy by David Stockman

May 03, 2020 | www.davidstockmanscontracorner.com

... ... ...

Dear Reader,

The coronavirus is now exposing a far more deadly disease: Namely, the poisonous brew of easy money, cheap debt, sweeping financialization and unbridled speculation that has been injected into the American economy by the Fed and Washington politicians.

It has turned Wall Street into a dangerous gambling casino while leaving Main Street buried under mountainous debts, faltering investment in growth and productivity and the hand-to-mouth economics of spending more than you earn.

It has also left the American economy exceedingly vulnerable to external shocks like the thundering blow of Lockdown Nation.

That's because 80% of households have no appreciable rainy-day funds and businesses have hollowed out their balance sheets and artificially extended their supply chains to the four corners of the earth in order to goose short-run profits and share prices.

However, this unprecedented fragility has become starkly evident after public health authorities essentially shut down normal commerce and economic function. Workers have been separated from their workplaces, consumers from the malls, diners from the restaurants, travelers from the airlines, hotels and resorts -- with many more like and similar disruptions to the supply-side of the economy.

In turn, these disruptions are causing production and incomes to fall abruptly. Shrunken household incomes and business cash flows are literally pulling the legs out from under the edifice of debt and speculation that has been piled atop the American economy.

So both a renewed financial and economic crisis and an abrupt change of course lie dead ahead. The 30-year party of False Prosperity is over.

Accordingly, even if the Covid-19 hysteria eventually abates and Lockdown Nation is lifted, the 2020s will be a decade when the chickens come home to roost.

It will be a time when the cans of delay and denial may no longer be kicked down the road to tomorrow. Today's economic and political fantasies will be crushed by America's accumulated due bills.

Bubbles will be burst. Speculators will get carried out on their shields. Easy money wealth will evaporate.

[May 01, 2020] ONE IN SEVEN Americans would avoid Covid-19 treatment for fear of cost, even as pricey new pill shows promise against virus

May 01, 2020 | www.rt.com

Some 14 percent of US adults would forgo medical care for Covid-19 symptoms because they couldn't pay for it, a new poll has found – yet oblivious health authorities act as if the epidemic will be solved by drugs alone. One in seven American adults would avoid seeking healthcare if they or a family member experienced symptoms of Covid-19, out of concern they would be unable to afford treatment, according to a Gallup poll published on Tuesday. Even if they specifically believed themselves to be infected with the coronavirus, nine percent would forgo care for financial reasons, the poll found. Their fears are well-founded – the average cost of coronavirus treatment in an intensive care unit runs over $30,000, according to a study released earlier this month by insurance industry group America's Health Insurance Plans. Even for those who avoid the ICU, American healthcare is the most expensive in the world, and stories of coronavirus patients being whacked with gargantuan medical bills are a dime a dozen two months into the pandemic.

Making matters worse is the unemployment crisis, as about 55 percent of Americans receive healthcare through their jobs. Upwards of 30 million have filed for unemployment in the last five weeks, adding an unprecedented number of families to the ranks of the uninsured – which were already estimated in December to include 27.5 million people, more than the population of Australia. Even those lucky enough to have kept their jobs and insurance may face steep co-pays or other surprise costs.

After a handful of highly-publicized cases in which Americans died of the virus after being turned away by hospitals for lack of money, President Donald Trump ordered hospitals to pay for the cost of Covid-19 treatment, and several large insurers promised at the beginning of the month to waive all co-pays for coronavirus testing for 60 days. However, those coverage pledges do not include other costs associated with hospitalization, like ambulance transportation; outpatient treatment; or treatment for non-Covid-19 patients. Individuals seeking treatment have been tested and received the good news that they don't have the virus – only to be hit shortly thereafter with the bad news that they're on the hook for thousands of dollars in costs. Low-income respondents were much more likely to report they would not seek care for financial reasons. Perhaps more troublingly, respondents with annual income under $40,000 were almost four times as likely as those with incomes over $100,000 to report that they or a family member had been turned away from a hospital for reasons related to overcrowding or high patient volume, the Gallup poll found.

[May 01, 2020] The big question that we should be addressing, and which we lose sight of when playing statistical trivia with idiots, is the question of neoliberalism

May 01, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Apr 30 2020 23:13 utc | 214

The big question that we should be addressing, and which we lose sight of when playing statistical trivia with idiots, is the question of capitalism. This crisis is a direct result of living under capitalism. Every aspect of it from the way it spread like wildfire across the world, to the fragility of food supply chains (I am surrounded by farmers growing corn crops to be converted into ethanol!), to the failures to stockpile protective equipment and ventilators, to the contracting of the business of fighting the virus to for profit businesses, to the precarious existences lived by millions of people thrown out of work and reduced to misery by the crisis- every aspect of this complex and massive socio-economic crisis calls into question the fundamental nature of our class society.

That is what we should be talking about. Unless of course, like I suspect most of the quibblers, we are so invested in the religion of Thatcherism and the mysteries of class exploitation and oligarchy that anything is preferable to the dangerous blasphemy of questioning cannibalism/capitalism.


karlof1 , Apr 30 2020 23:53 utc | 218

bevin @214--

Yes, the problem lies with Neoliberal Capitalism, which is a hocus-pocus form of Finance Capitalism whose rise I've been trying to trace along with Hudson to a point between 1865 and 1885. Dr. Hudson's exposed most of it, but its roots lie outside the USA and connect to that era's Outlaw Empire--the British. It's very easy to say Capitalism's the problem, but people want specifics and also need to have their generations of indoctrination upended so they're capable of clear thinking. IMO, Richard Wolff's thin primer Understanding Socialism is perfect for that job, and he's been in great demand to talk about Capitalism's failure during the pandemic. Here's a recent essay he wrote for Raw Story .

But yeah, we need to get the discussion out into the open, into the public mainstream--somehow.

Jen , May 1 2020 0:06 utc | 219
I will start the discussion the subject of which was suggested by Bevin @ 214:
... For example there is no doubt that old peoples homes-call them what you will- have been slaughterhouses in the past few weeks. There are all sorts of reasons-all non medical- why this has happened and we would do well to discuss what they are. And insist that nothing like it recur in future years ...

I would add that not only are significant COVID-19 outbreak clusters centring around nursing homes and aged care facilities, they have also centred around passenger cruise ships. In Australia there is currently a criminal investigation being undertaken into the actions of Carnival Australia with regard to the decision made by NSW state health authorities to allow passengers to disembark from the Ruby Princess in Sydney in late March even though the results of the tests they had taken were not yet known.

We might ask what do aged care places and passenger cruise ships might have in common. Apart from often being closed systems - residents in aged care places usually don't move about much and may not have access to fresh air, and passengers on certain levels of a cruise ship and many of the crew (especially kitchen staff, cleaners, technical people) may also have limited access to fresh air - what else might favour the circulation of COVID-19 in those environments? We ought to look at airconditioning systems, water supply systems, and the conditions of the people working in nursing homes and cruise ships and how their conditions influence their work and give rise to situations in which they may be transferring viruses and bacteria from one patient or passenger to the next.

These environments are microcosms of capitalist society in action.

[May 01, 2020] Hospitals are reimbursed based on diagnosis of MDs:

May 01, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

xxx LolitaExpressPizzaGate, 4/28/2020, 12:11:34 AM (Edited)

Hospitals are reimbursed based on diagnosis of MDs:

- Typical pneumonia - $5,000
- COVID19 + pneumonia $13,000
- COVID19 + ventilator - $39,000

Do you know why the numbers are inflated? This is a complete FRAUD...with death rate = a common flu BECAUSE it is a FLU...

[Apr 30, 2020] Society will need to learn what's useful and what's pointless, which costs are important to bear and which are disastrous beyond reason

Apr 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Grieved , Apr 30 2020 4:02 utc | 106

I trust history and events to come will show these things:

1. When the US economy crashed (which is still happening and yet to come with its full force), it wasn't the "virus" that crashed it. It was the US economy that crashed the US economy. As noted above, the economy couldn't take a health shock to its workers.

2. The people of the US did not enter into distancing and self-quarantining because they were obeying the dictates of any of their governments - they were not cowed unto this, at least not by government. They chose voluntarily to do this as a survival measure, knowing that the governments were unable or unwilling to help them. And if, moving forward, governments attempt to keep an unreasonable control over the people - as if they the governments had actually been in control through this crisis - those unreasonable controls will be flouted wholesale by the people.

3. As US society feels its way into a "reopening" - still without testing or affordable treatment - there will be many nuances to explore and figure out. Society will need to learn what's useful and what's pointless, which costs are important to bear and which are disastrous beyond reason. At the first stage of the crisis, one universal hammer for one universal nail was all that the people had. Now they have masks, at least. The people made those masks, not the governments, and the people made them work. The people will make the re-opening work, and do the exploration of how to adapt the culture to what works in an age of bio-danger.

4. As everyone in the US can agree, what a shit-show it's been.

[Apr 30, 2020] Perverse incentives: the financial interests and COVID-19

Apr 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Pft , Apr 30 2020 2:24 utc | 95

Lol. So now we talk about C to debunk claims. Take a look at the financial interests of public health agencies like Fauci, FDA, CDC, etc, WHO, Big Pharma, Gates, etc

Do you know hospitals can charge medicare 15% more if they have a covid-19 diagnosis, and CDC helps out by saying a test is not required?

Also, as for antibody tests indicating the level of Covid-19 exposure/immunity. Thats not true. Only those who are exposed and can not clear the virus via their innate and cellular immune cells go on to develop antibodies (it takes 7-10 days from infection/exposure to antibody protection), and subsequently test seropositive in antibody test. These people are naturally immune. They don't get sick. Most of those who cant fight it off without antibodies don't get very sick. In other cases the antibodies worsen their condition since it activates another complement pathway which increases inflammation and cytokines.

As the Bronx doctor said, many of the deaths are occurring there in people not because of Covid-19 but because they aren't getting medical care due to suspension of services or fear of going to hospital. They die at home or in ambulances. Some may die with covid-19 , not because of it.

[Apr 30, 2020] Covid-19 epidemic will produce large social changes

Apr 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Ric G , Apr 29 2020 16:53 utc | 3

That the lock down is working is the same reasoning that I use with my anti-tiger statue on my verandah. As I have seen no tigers, then the statue is working perfectly and it was worth the $100,000 I paid for it!

It is estimated that half the world will lose their jobs by the time this lock down is finished.

Boeing is buried ten metres deep, they just have not realised it yet. Airbus will soon be filing for bankruptcy. Hertz is going over the abyss as we speak. AirBnb is toast! The food chains will soon be breaking down as much of the food industry is geared for the fast food, restaurant, and hotel business.

Lots of tourist places now have 70% unemployment.

The housing market will soon start to collapse as no-one can pay rents and mortgages.

Then the manufacturing plants that supply the spare parts for the water treatment and sewerage plants can no longer supply replacements.

The electric grid goes down as their no parts for the turbines, transformers, etc.

How you going now in your house with no food, water, and electricity? Still happy to sit in the dark, thinking this is all worth it?

And this is covoid-19, wait for covid-20/21/22/23

How long before we say enough, let's approach this another way, for a pandemic which does not even touch anyone under thirty!

Sweden is trying something different and seem to be no worse, probably better than the UK approach.

Meanwhile some are making out like bandits!

https://www.zerohedge.com/markets/americas-super-rich-see-their-wealth-rise-282-billion-three-weeks-pandemic

And we haven't paid our recent 'restaurant bill' now owed to the bankers, payable in about three years, when we are going to be drained of several pints of financial blood!

And in Australia, with about eighty deaths, the panic borders on the insane!

[Apr 30, 2020] Excess deaths because people are afraid to go to the hospital

Apr 30, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

red1chief , Apr 29 2020 19:21 utc | 29

Allen @#1:

Great comment. My anecdotal observation is that there are excess deaths because people are afraid to go to the hospital. In New York, deaths at home are much higher than before.

Yes, there are some wild conspiracy theories out there. But the fact that Covid is indeed worse than the flu is not necessarily an argument that the cure is not worse than the disease. The new depression is just getting going, as are pending food shortages. As governments increasingly print money so the jobless can buy things, this will cause inflation as there will be too much money chasing too few goods (especially food) being produced. This will necessitate more printing, causing a vicious circle of increasing inflation.

The poor economy will cause many more problems and excess deaths, in ways we don't yet understand.

[Apr 27, 2020] Neoliberalism was waged against the US populace as it was unleashed on the world at large

Apr 27, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

lex talionis , Apr 24 2020 18:51 utc | 28

@ 13 "Atlanticist" may not have a lot of meaning to most people out there, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good word to describe the US and Western European power center. The first time I heard it was from Kees van Der Pijl in his book "The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class." And the term Anglo Zionist is a very good description of the US / Western Europe / Israeli power block. I don't understand your dislike for the Saker, but it doesn't matter to me. I agree that Atlanticist and globalist are more or less interchangeable. I guess globalist would include Japan, too. Would you rather use the term Tri-lateralist?

I am from the United States. I agree that my country has been a large purveyor of much evil in the world. And a lot of it has been directed at its own subjects. There are many good people in this country who are just trying to get by.

Neoliberalism was waged against the US populace as it was unleashed on the world at large. It seems like it really began to gather steam when the dollar was taken off the gold standard. That was the start of the second Cold War according to Kees van Der Pijl, at least in my understanding of what he has written. I learned that in his book MH 17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. The powers that be began to outsource US jobs. Then austerity and privatization.

I don't know why I am commenting. I always regret doing it. Pregret is a word I have coined for this sense. I know everyone here is a lot smarter than I am, and lately I have noticed that the commenters have become a lot less civil.

I did feel that your dismissiveness of the term Atlanticist merited a response though. As well as the hatred by a lot of people toward a the citizens of the US. The powers that be are treat us like subjects here. There is not much any of can do about the situation in reality. I'm sure most of you out there are aware we have a huge prison population. Filled with the descendants of slaves. We did a real genocide against the native people. The majority of people can't afford health care. I am one of them.

So for what it's worth, that's my take on the sad state of this country. Sorry for all the hell we have created.

[Apr 27, 2020] Neoliberalism is on Life Support due to coronavirus

Notable quotes:
"... In truth is this is a familiar pattern over the past century where the economy is continually salvaged from ruin by the government at the expense of ordinary workers, small businesses and taxpayers. ..."
"... The system typically privatizes profit for an elite while socializing the losses for the mass of people. It has always been a version of "socialism for the rich". ..."
"... As Eric Zuesse commented in an-depth analysis published in our journal this week, the Covid-19 "top-down bailout" in the U.S. will result in even more social inequality and ultimately more dysfunction in the American economy going forward. ..."
"... Ironically, a virus is exposing the pathological system ..."
Apr 27, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

Via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The Covid-19 pandemic is unleashing obscene bailouts of Western industries and companies, as well as lifelines for billionaire business magnates.

It is grotesque that millions of workers are being laid off by corporations which are in turn receiving taxpayer funds. Many of these corporations have stashed trillions of dollars away in tax havens and have contributed zero to the public treasury. Yet they are being bailed out due to shutdowns in the economy over the Covid-19 crisis.

Why aren't the banks and corporations being forced by governments to pay for their workers on sick leave or in lockdown?

It's because the governments are bought and paid-for servants of the top one per cent. Some political leaders are the embodiment of the one per cent, like Donald Trump and senior members of the U.S. Congress.

The biggest orgy of funny money is seen in the U.S. where the Trump administration and Congress have approved the printing of trillions of dollars to prop up corporations and banks. Meanwhile crumbs are being thrown at millions of workers and their families.

In just five weeks, unemployment has hit a staggering 26.4 million people in the U.S. – and that's the official figure. The real level is doubtless much higher. It is reported that the job losses have wiped out all the employment gains made over the past decade since the last financial crisis in 2008. As with the present crisis, the U.S. government arranged trillion-dollar bailouts for banks and industries back in 2008-2009. It didn't last long until the next binge.

In truth is this is a familiar pattern over the past century where the economy is continually salvaged from ruin by the government at the expense of ordinary workers, small businesses and taxpayers.

The recurring rescue is proof that the system of private capital and supposed free markets is a myth.

The system typically privatizes profit for an elite while socializing the losses for the mass of people. It has always been a version of "socialism for the rich".

In the distant past the salvaging of broken-down capitalism was at least conducted with a certain degree of democratization and social progress. In the New Deal era of Roosevelt in the 1930s at least government intervention went a long way to restoring workers and their rights, despite bitter opposition from capitalists. Over recent decades, however, the rescuing of capitalism has seen an ever-increasing emphasis on plying money and loans to corporations and investors while ordinary workers are neglected. This process of embezzlement reached new heights in the 2008 crash. Now under Trump the larceny has become legendary. It should be underscored though that the corruption has bipartisan endorsement from Republicans and Democrats. They are really one party beholden to big business.

As Eric Zuesse commented in an-depth analysis published in our journal this week, the Covid-19 "top-down bailout" in the U.S. will result in even more social inequality and ultimately more dysfunction in the American economy going forward.

"The outcome will therefore be economic collapse, and perhaps even revolution," notes Zuesse.

It is indisputable that capitalism is a failed system both in the U.S. and Europe. The Covid-19 pandemic and its disastrous social impact of sickness and deaths shows that such an economy cannot organize societies based on satisfying human needs. Instead, it functions to continually enrich the already wealthy while creating ever-greater numbers of impoverished and deprived. This chronic polarization of wealth has been pointed out by many critics of capitalism, including Karl Marx, and more contemporaneously by progressive economists like Richard Wolff and Thomas Picketty.

It is fair to describe corporate capitalism (or socialism for the rich) as a pathology which produces many other pathologies, including deprivation, crime, insecurity, ecological damage, militarism, imperialism and ultimately war.

Ironically, a virus is exposing the pathological system. And it is, inevitably, forcing a cure to arise.

It's time to abolish the parasitical system and implement something more civilized, effective, sustainable and democratic. That is the task of people organized to fight for their interests. The delusion of bailing out a failed and sick system must be shaken off once and for all.

[Apr 25, 2020] The end of the American dream Amid Covid-19 crisis, US super-rich flee to BUNKERS in New Zealand

Apr 25, 2020 | www.rt.com

Nonetheless, it's been suggested that a number of Silicon Valley elites have already escaped the US and sought refuge in New Zealand. And unlike the rest of us, the super-rich aren't hoarding food and fighting each other for toilet paper and hand sanitizer in the supermarket. They're not posting up poorly constructed, badly edited renditions of 'Imagine', then patting themselves on the back and saying, "I made a difference today." US businessman Mihai Dinulescu and his wife are seeing out the pandemic on New Zealand's Waiheke Island, where he quipped to the press that they planned to go "billionaire hunting." God forbid that they might actually meet a poor or middle-class person during their attempt to escape the fate destined for many of their fellow men, women and children.

Apparently, a refugee fleeing a catastrophe who doesn't feel safe enough to avail themselves of the protection of their own country is acceptable in a Western nation as long as they are uber-wealthy

[Apr 25, 2020] Now isn't the time to push for nuclear modernization

Apr 25, 2020 | www.defensenews.com

If the new coronavirus pandemic has taught us one thing, it is that we need to rethink what we need to do to keep America safe. That's why Secretary of Defense Mark Esper's recent tweet calling modernization of U.S. nuclear forces a "top priority ... to protect the American people and our allies" seemed so tone deaf.

COVID-19 has already killed more Americans than died in the 9/11 attacks and the Iraq and Afghan wars combined, with projections of many more to come. The pandemic underscores the need for a systematic, sustainable, long-term investment in public health resources, from protective equipment , to ventilators and hospital beds, to research and planning resources needed to deal with future outbreaks of disease.

As Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, has noted : "We're going to see enormous downward pressure on defense spending because of other urgent American national needs like health care." And that's as it should be, given the relative dangers posed by outbreaks of disease and climate change relative to traditional military challenges.

... ... ...

ICBMs are dangerous because of the short decision time a president would have to decide whether to launch them in a crisis to avoid having them wiped out in a perceived first strike -- a matter of minutes . This reality greatly increases the prospect of an accidental nuclear war based on a false warning of attack. This is a completely unnecessary risk given that the other two legs of the nuclear triad -- ballistic missile submarines and nuclear-armed bombers -- are more than sufficient to deter a nuclear attack, or to retaliate, should the unlikely scenario of a nuclear attack on the United States occur.

... ... ...

Eliminating ICBMs and reducing the size of the U.S. arsenal will face strong opposition in Washington, both from strategists who maintain that the nuclear triad should be sacrosanct, and from special interests that benefit from excess spending on nuclear weapons. The Senate ICBM Coalition , composed of senators from states with ICBM bases or substantial ICBM development and maintenance work, has been particularly effective in fending any changes in ICBM policy, from reducing the size of the force to merely studying alternatives, whether those alternatives are implemented or not. Shimizu Randall Personally I don't see why the Trident subs cannot be refurbished and have a extended life. I think the Minuteman missiles need to be replace. But I don't understand why the cost is exorbitant. Terry Auckland OMG.....what a sensible idea..Other nuclear capable countries will fall into line if this is adopted....peace could thrive and flourish ...sadly it could never happen..too much money at state...too many careers truncated...and too many lobbyists and thinktank type's and loyalist senators to cajole and appease..

A pipe dream I think. ..situation normal will continue to annhilation...

[Apr 24, 2020] Real options and social distancing

Apr 24, 2020 | angrybearblog.com

likbez , April 24, 2020 2:07 pm

In a country with Gilded Age level of inequality implementing any meaningful social distancing is next to impossible. Ghettos prevents that and became permanent hotspots. See discussion of this problem at

https://consortiumnews.com/2020/04/23/covid-19-how-to-destroy-america-from-the-top-down/

IMHO the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the category "younger then 55" in a given country correlated well with the level of obesity. In other words the virus hits already deprive and weakened underclass -- the main consumer of junk food.

So what we see in the USA is far from surprising taking into account the level of neoliberalization of the country and a large permanent uninsured underclass including contractors and perma-temps.

Existence of nursing homes is another unsolvable problem. Like ships, they also automatically became hotspots and medical personnel involved became inflected spreading the infection in the vicinity.

Here is one interesting comment that I found:

The Grim Joker , says: Show Comment April 23, 2020 at 6:52 pm GMT

... ... ...

Yesterday's Action

My bank now has traffic pylons outside the door. They ask the following questions if you want to enter:

  • Have you been out of the country? Answer; How am I going to be out of the country when the airport is closed?
  • Do you have any symptoms? Answer: If I had I would be at the hospital
  • Have you associated with anyone who has the symptoms? Answer: If I thought they did I would ask them to go to the hospital and so would I.
  • Sir! There is no need to be rude. Answer: Far from it. You are asking questions parrot fashion. Questions that do not make any sense.

After getting MY money out of THEIR pockets I proceeded to the auto mechanic for front brakes.

Joker: Am I allowed to come inside ?

70 Year old Mechanic Unmasked: Sure, you are the only customer today. You can keep me company while I do the work. I cannot afford to lose customers.

[Apr 23, 2020] It looks like neoliberals firs bury the New Deal and the coronavirus buried them too

Apr 23, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

JohnH , Apr 22 2020 18:47 utc | 21

NYTmes and Vox both have articles about tha anti-quarantine/pro-virus crowd. Mostly the protests are being instigated by the usual anti-government oligarchs who are terrorized that people might actually conclude that government has an important role to play in addressing problems.

" Among those fighting the orders are FreedomWorks and Tea Party Patriots, which played pivotal roles in the beginning of Tea Party protests starting more than a decade ago. Also involved are a law firm led partly by former Trump White House officials, a network of state-based conservative policy groups, and an ad hoc coalition of conservative leaders known as Save Our Country that has advised the White House on strategies for a tiered reopening of the economy." [found at Gale, not on NYT website!]

In an interview with Theda Skocpol: " For the elite conservative groups sponsoring this stuff behind the scenes, I think it's driven by a firm belief that if Americans become used to trusting government and relying on social benefits from government, then that's dangerous to the victory they think they have almost won in destroying the New Deal and the Great Society reforms in this country." https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/4/22/21227928/coronavirus-social-distancing-lockdown-trump-tea-party

And, of course, the oligarch-owned media just gobble it up, practically begging for an apocalypse.

IMO we should just label them the pro-COVID crowd in any discussion of the matter.

[Apr 21, 2020] A Government Against the People by Philip Giraldi

Notable quotes:
"... To be sure, Trump has good reason to hate the intelligence and national security community, which utterly rejected his candidacy and plotted to destroy both his campaign and, even after he was elected, his presidency ..."
"... While it is not unusual for presidents to surround themselves with devoted yes-men, as Trump does with his spectacularly unqualified son-in-law Jared Kushner, his administration is nevertheless unusual in its tendency to apply an absolute loyalty litmus test to nearly everyone surrounding the president ..."
"... Most damaging to consumer interests, the rot has also affected the so-called regulatory agencies that are supposed to monitor the potentially illegal activities of corporations and industries to protect the public. As University of Chicago economist George Stigler several times predicted, under both Obama and Trump advocates of ostensibly "regulated" corporations have taken over every U.S. federal regulatory agency . The captured U.S. government regulators now represent the interests of the corporations, not the public. This is more like government by a criminal oligarchy rather than of, by and for The People. ..."
Apr 21, 2020 | www.unz.com

The 24/7 intensified media coverage of the coronavirus story has meant that other news has either been ignored or relegated to the back pages, never to be seen again. The Middle East has been on a boil but coverage of the Trump administration's latest moves against Iran has been so insignificant as to be invisible. Meanwhile closer to home, the declaration by the ubiquitous Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that current president of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro is a drug trafficker did generate somewhat of a ripple, as did dispatch of warships to the Caribbean to intercept the alleged drugs, but that story also died.

Of more interest perhaps is the tale of the continued purge of government officials, referred to as "draining the swamp," by President Donald Trump as it could conceivably have long-term impact on how policy is shaped in Washington. Prior to the virus partial lockdown, some of the impending shakeup within the intelligence community (IC) and Pentagon were commented on in the media, but developments since that time have been less reported, even when several inspectors-general were removed.

To be sure, Trump has good reason to hate the intelligence and national security community, which utterly rejected his candidacy and plotted to destroy both his campaign and, even after he was elected, his presidency. Whether one argues that what took place was due to a "Deep state" or Establishment conspiracy or rather just based on personal ambition by key players, the reality was that a number of top officials seem to have forgotten the oaths they swore to the constitution when it came to Donald Trump.

Be that as it may, beyond the musical chairs that have characterized the senior level appointments in the first three years of the Trump administration, there has been a concerted effort to remove "disloyal" members of the intelligence community, with disloyal generally being the label applied to holdovers from the Bush and Obama administrations. The February appointment of U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard "Ric" Grenell as interim Director of National Intelligence (DNI), a position that he will hold simultaneously with his ambassadorship, has been criticized from all sides due to his inexperience, history of bad judgement and partisanship. The White House is now claiming that he will be replaced by Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe after the interim appointment is completed.

Criticism of Grenell for his clearly evident deficiencies misses the point, however, as he is not in place to do anything constructive. He has already initiated a purge of federal employees in the White House and national security apparatus considered to be insufficiently loyal, an effort which has been supported by National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Many career officers have been sent back to their home agencies while the new appointees are being drawn from the pool of neoconservatives that proliferated in the George W. Bush administration. Admittedly some prominent neocons like Bill Kristol have disqualified themselves for service with the new regime due to their vitriolic criticism of Trump the candidate, but many others have managed to remain politically viable by keeping their mouths shut during the 2016 campaign. To no one's surprise, many of the new employees being brought in are being carefully vetted to make sure that they are passionate supporters of Israel.

While it is not unusual for presidents to surround themselves with devoted yes-men, as Trump does with his spectacularly unqualified son-in-law Jared Kushner, his administration is nevertheless unusual in its tendency to apply an absolute loyalty litmus test to nearly everyone surrounding the president, even several layers down into the administration where employees are frequently apolitical. As the Trump White House has not been renowned for its adroit policies and forward thinking, the loss of expertise will be hardly noticeable, but there will certainly be a reduction in challenges to group think while replacing officials in the law enforcement and inspector general communities will mean that there will be no one in a high enough position to impede or check presidential misbehavior. Instead, high officials will be principally tasked with coming up with rationalizations to excuse what the White House does.

... ... ...

Subsequent to the defenestration of Atkinson, Trump went after another inspector general Glenn Fine, who was principal deputy IG at the Pentagon and had been charged with heading the panel of inspectors that would have oversight responsibility to certify the proper implementation of the $2.2 trillion dollar coronavirus relief package. As has been noted in the media, there was particular concern regarding the lack of transparency regarding the $500 billion Exchange Stabilizing Fund (ESF) that had been set aside to make loans to corporations and other large companies while the really urgently needed Small Business Loan allocation has been failing to work at all except for Israeli companies that have lined up for the loans. The risk that the ESF would become a slush fund for companies favored by the White House was real, and several investigative reports observed that Trump business interests might also directly benefit from the way it was drafted.

Four days after the firing of Atkinson, Fine also was let go to be replaced by the EPA inspector general Sean O'Donnell, who is considered a Trump loyalist. On the previous day the tweeter-in-chief came down on yet another IG, the woman responsible for Health and Human Services Christi Grimm, who had issued a report stating that the her department had found "severe" shortages of virus testing material at hospitals and "widespread" shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. Trump quipped to reporters "Where did he come from, the inspector general. What's his name?"

On the following day, Trump unleashed the tweet machine, asking "Why didn't the I.G., who spent 8 years with the Obama Administration (Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?), want to talk to the Admirals, Generals, V.P. & others in charge, before doing her report. Another Fake Dossier!"

A comment about foxes taking over the hen house would not be amiss and one might also note that the swamp is far from drained. A concerted effort is clearly underway to purge anyone from the upper echelons of the U.S. government who in any way contradicts what is coming out of the White House. Inspectors general who are tasked with looking into malfeasance are receiving the message that if they want to stay employed, they have to toe the presidential line, even as it seemingly whimsically changes day by day. And then there is the irony of the heads at major agencies like Environmental Protection now being committed to not enforcing existing environmental regulations at all.

Most damaging to consumer interests, the rot has also affected the so-called regulatory agencies that are supposed to monitor the potentially illegal activities of corporations and industries to protect the public. As University of Chicago economist George Stigler several times predicted, under both Obama and Trump advocates of ostensibly "regulated" corporations have taken over every U.S. federal regulatory agency . The captured U.S. government regulators now represent the interests of the corporations, not the public. This is more like government by a criminal oligarchy rather than of, by and for The People.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org .


Exile , says: Show Comment April 21, 2020 at 2:28 am GMT

I yield to no one in my contempt for the fraud-failure of God Emperor Bush III but the author has to be aware that talk of "impeachable" offenses is meaningless in American politics.

There has never been and never will be an impeachment effort that's not primarily political rather than process-motivated. It's an up-or-down vote based on a partisan head-counting and opportunism and public dissatisfaction. All the Article-this-and-that is Magic Paper Talmudry.

Trump is a somewhat rogueish, somewhat rival Don and faction-head in the same criminal (((Commission))) that's been running America for well over a century. He's Jon Gotti to their Carlo Gambino, and his gauche nouveaux-elite style offends the sensibilities of the more snobbish Davoise, but he's just angling for a seat at the table and a cut of the spoils, not a return of power to the people.

Impeachment would serve no purpose but what we've seen so far with Russiagate, etc.. – a sideshow distraction from the real backroom, long-knife action going down, ala the "settling scores" montage in Godfather III.

Getaclue , says: Show Comment April 21, 2020 at 5:48 am GMT
"To be sure, Trump has good reason to hate the intelligence and national security community, which utterly rejected his candidacy and plotted to destroy both his campaign and, even after he was elected, his presidency." -- Yes to this. This is OBVIOUS to all but the dullest rubes or those who are in on it and trying to escape what they tried to do in attempting to over throw the US Government. The rest?

Once you have this stated– that an actual Coup which was certainly plotted/sprung by the last occupant of the Presidency along with Clinton, Brennan, Comey, and many other NWO Globalists throughout the Government (FBI, CIA, DOJ ) and outside of it (the Globalist NWO MEDIA) the rest is drivel -- they tried to take him out–JFK they used a bullet, here not yet– so to say he shouldn't put in people he absolutely trusts at this time into any position he can? Are you kidding or what? You can't be serious– I've actually had someone try and kill me they were quite serious about it– my reaction after was not anything like what I see you suggesting or mirrored in your "analysis". This is how the CIA "counsels" in response to a murderous Coup -- an attempt to overthrow the duly elected Government?

How do you overreact to a group of the most powerful people in the World getting together to try to murder you? That's your argument basically– he's over reacting to that? He shouldn't have "Loyalists". He needs to work with these other people -- the ones who want to murder him -- keep some of those "non-Loyalists" on board who time after time have plotted against him in every way possible during the last nearly 4 years?

You seem to be one strange dude from my life's vantage point any way, what a perspective .Maybe you would actually deal with people of this magnitude trying to destroy you in the way you state but no sane/fairly intelligent person would -- I can't get past you have that sentence in there and then follow it with all the rest -- you seem to live in some alternate reality where when someone tries to murder you the right reaction is to blow it off and work with them– give them another few shots at you– say what? You learned this from your years at the CIA– this is how they train/advise things like this should be dealt with up at Langley? Or is it just wishful thinking on your part that they get another shot at him?

mark green , says: Show Comment April 21, 2020 at 6:33 am GMT

While it is not unusual for presidents to surround themselves with devoted yes-men, as Trump does with his spectacularly unqualified son-in-law Jared Kushner, his administration is nevertheless unusual in its tendency to apply an absolute loyalty litmus test to nearly everyone surrounding the president

True enough. Trump has also injected into Washington his own nest of swamp creatures and Wall St. bigwigs. However it is also true that Trump has been under unrelenting attack since the day he announced his candidacy. This is not fair. With the possible exception of Nixon, I've never seen a more ruthless campaign by political insiders to demean a public figure.

But to whom must Trump show ceaseless and attentive loyalty to?–no matter what?

https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-days-remembrance-victims-holocaust-2020/

chris , says: Show Comment April 21, 2020 at 6:51 am GMT
@onebornfree Absolutely!

I can't get too worked up about the firing of the prison guards; I rather enjoy the charade.

The real problem is that: 'It's the system, stupid!' and no amount of tinkering or puting the 'right' people in these positions will ever do anything more than just changing the illusion that something is being done.

It reminds me a little of that late Soviet Union film "Burned by the Sun" about Stalin's purges of the criminals that had ridden his coat tails to power. Try as the movie makers did, I could not and would not feel an ounce of sorrow for those (these) scumbags who had wielded immoral, arbitrary, and disproportionate power over their subjects.

gotmituns , says: Show Comment April 21, 2020 at 10:17 am GMT
The government has been against the people for my entire lifetime (I'm an old man now). One of the only glimmers of light in that time, JFK was snuffed out. After all, who did he think he was, trying to stop the elites from having their war in Vietnam?
Z-man , says: Show Comment April 21, 2020 at 10:24 am GMT
He (Trump) should have purged all of the Obama appointees on day one.
The Vindman twins are a perfect example of the Deep State.
While I can understand your loathing of Trump's middle East policies, I do also, what he has blatantley done vis a vis the Zionist Entity is very little different than what slick Obama did under the table, outside of the Iran deal.
And to tell you the truth, as much as I loathe Israel the Iran deal was definitely flawed and should have been more advantageous to America and the West. Iran should have seen the advantages of totally relinquishing nuclear weapons even with mad Zionists in their neighborhood. They could have still kept their ballistic missiles, sans nuclear tips.
Realist , says: Show Comment April 21, 2020 at 11:31 am GMT
@Getaclue The idea that Trump is fighting the Deep State is ludacris this is a charade if the Deep State didn't want Trump to be President he wouldn't be. Trump is a Deep State minion. No matter the existential threat to the US the 1% get richer and the 99% get poorer.
Realist , says: Show Comment April 21, 2020 at 11:40 am GMT
@Z-man

He (Trump) should have purged all of the Obama appointees on day one.

That supposes that Trump is not a Deep Stater as was Obama this is a poor supposition.

Iran should have seen the advantages of totally relinquishing nuclear weapons even with mad Zionists in their neighborhood. They could have still kept their ballistic missiles, sans nuclear tips.

Ballistic missiles, sans nuclear tips are useless. Did anybody care when North Korea had ballistic missiles before they had something worthwhile to put on the tip? Hell no.

fatmanscoop , says: Show Comment April 21, 2020 at 12:29 pm GMT
Trump has had two open coup attempts in three years, and a constant barrage of leaks etc. His purges are clearly at least three years too late.

Also, to an outsider, it's strange how some right-wing American journalists write in a way which indicates that they have faith in the due process, checks-and-balances etc afforded by the American system. I don't understand how any American right-winger could maintain their faith in the U.S. political system, it seems corrupt approaching the point that it is beyond-repair.

A123 , says: Show Comment April 21, 2020 at 12:51 pm GMT
Barack Hussein was Against The People

Trump's MAGA For The People efforts, must take steps to undo the damage done by the prior criminal admistration.

Here is an detailed explanation of how Barack Hussein intentionally undermined the rule of law:(1)

Aside from the date the important part of the first page is the motive for sending it. The DOJ is telling the court in July 2018: based on what they know the FISA application still contains "sufficient predication for the Court to have found probable cause" to approve the application. The DOJ is defending the Carter Page FISA application as still valid.

However, it is within the justification of the application that alarm bells are found. On page six the letter identifies the primary participants behind the FISA redactions:

DOJ needed to protect evidence Mueller had already extracted from the fraudulent FISA authority. That's the motive.

In July 2018 if the DOJ-NSD had admitted the FISA application and all renewals were fatally flawed Robert Mueller would have needed to withdraw any evidence gathered as a result of its exploitation. The DOJ in 2018 was protecting Mueller's poisoned fruit.

If the DOJ had been honest with the court, there's a strong possibility some, perhaps much, of Mueller evidence gathering would have been invalidated and cases were pending. The solution: mislead the court and claim the predication was still valid.

I am not sure why Giraldi is defending Barack Hussein and Hillary Clinton's behaviour & staff choices. All rational human beings see the damage that Hillary created at the State Department.

PEACE
_______

(1) https://theconservativetreehouse.com/2020/04/17/declassified-doj-letter-to-fisa-court-highlights-severe-institutional-corruption-doj-blames-fbi-for-spygate/

[Apr 20, 2020] The state is always capable of obtaining an absolutely unprecedented obedience from the population

Boucheron's conclusion is that the state is always capable of obtaining an absolutely unprecedented resignation and obedience from the population.
Apr 20, 2020 | asiatimes.com

"What's complicated is that even if what everything we say about the society of surveillance is scary and true, the state obtains this obedience in the name of its most undisputed function, which is to protect the population from creeping death.

That's what plenty of serious studies define as 'biolegitimacy'."

And I would add, today, a biolegitimacy boosted by widespread voluntary servitude.

[Apr 19, 2020] The shadow of previous pagues over neoliberal world and chances for the USA of abandoning of the neoliberal empire they built since 1980

Apr 19, 2020 | www.unz.com

Dr. Robert Morgan , says: Show Comment April 19, 2020 at 2:21 am GMT

Linh Dinh: "Diogenes, "I am a citizen of the world.""

Nobody knows exactly what he meant by this. He had previously been stripped of his citizenship in Sinope, so it may have simply been a way a expressing that fact. Also, it's worth pointing out that he was a contemporary of Alexander the Great, whose conquests up to 323 BC, the year both men died, included all of the known world. According to some, Alexander once went to meet Diogenes, who was sunning himself on a nearby hill. Diogenes, unimpressed with the conqueror, asked him to step out of the way, as he was blocking the sun. Departing, Alexander is reputed to have said that if he hadn't been Alexander, then he would have liked to have been Diogenes.

Linh Dinh: "The coronavirus crisis is a turning point in this escalating war between globalists and us dumb hicks."

Not really a turning point, certainly not in the sense of a reversal. And there's no war, because for a war you need two sides. The dumb hicks may rail against shadowy "globalists", but are too stupid to realize that they themselves are globalists. The hicks want their cheap computers, and the thousands of other things manufactured by slave labor in China, and the globalists are happy to provide them. Yet the same dopes chanting USA! USA! (the forces of nationalism, at least in America) don't understand that empire has downsides as well as advantages. The coronavirus pandemic is an example of the cost of empire, the white man's technological empire that has come to cover the whole world. In that way, it resembles previous plagues, such as the plague of Justinian in the sixth century, and the Black Death in the fourteenth, both of which are also thought to have originated in China and infected the white world by means of global commerce.

Linh Dinh: "It will be a world of ubiquitous surveillance, universal snitching, curtailed movement, suffocated speech and enforced, increasingly absurd dogmatism, with a lockdown to be sprung on us at any time, since we already know the drill."

The hicks themselves will beg for it, because they're always for more law and order. They're born badgelickers and just can't get enough of it. You can hear their excuses already. "If it saves only one life it will be worth it." "If it prevents another 9/11, it will be worth it." "If it allows countries and races to coexist in harmony, it will be worth it." "I'm not doing anything wrong, so I have nothing to hide. Surveill me all you like." Besides, what remains of privacy anyway? It's been abolished. Technological innovation has made universal surveillance a fait accompli . The hicks themselves have voluntarily installed listening devices and spy cameras in their own homes. Every street corner and shopping mall is equipped with cameras. Drones and satellites oversee everything. Government supercomputers collate the data; identify threats.

Linh Dinh: "To avoid this fate, we must assert our regional autonomy and resist each diktat. This will take much clarity, composure and courage. We shouldn't worry about what foreign hicks are up to, but simply band with neighboring hicks, to defend our precious hickdom. We must liberate our home turf first."

People will never voluntarily abandon high technology and the empire to which it has given rise. To do so would cost billions of lives and cause extreme hardship for any survivors. The technological trap has snapped shut.

Marshall Lentini , says: Show Comment April 19, 2020 at 5:40 am GMT
@Dr. Robert Morgan

The coronavirus pandemic is an example of the cost of empire, the white man's technological empire that has come to cover the whole world. In that way, it resembles previous plagues, such as the plague of Justinian in the sixth century, and the Black Death in the fourteenth, both of which are also thought to have originated in China and infected the white world by means of global commerce.

We could push that logic a bit father and arrive at: occasional viral outbreaks are the cost of civilization to begin with, so "lockdowns" are madness. No evolution without biological exploitation.

Totally agree with your remarks. As rousing as this piece is, it isn't the reality. We have existed on this arc since fire.

[Apr 19, 2020] US neoliberalism vs China neoliberalism

Apr 19, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

David KNZ , Apr 18 2020 21:56 utc | 71

I was in Shenzhen China when the epidemic officially started.

I watched closely when Xi Jinping appeared publicly and assumed leadership
(ie put HIS neck on the line) for the outbreak.
Also reassuring was his declaration of open and factual reporting.
He periodically reappears on the hundreds of state controlled TV channels
calling on delegated officials to meet required standards. Fail in this and you are gone

Most of the official TV/Net information was mostly optimistic, and frequently nationalistic.

By way of contrast, I was able to access via cellphone the banned western
The Economist, The Guardian. It was like two different worlds.
The western reporting was almost all negative,, ,disparaging, damming with faint praise
or making unsourced statements about draconian authoritarianism in China..

Worse still, Trump had slashed the CDC budget, appointed evangelical Mike Pence as point man
for the battle against CoVid in the US and indicated at that point
"The markets will determine the cost of CV testing"

So it is worth following the US closely for details of how
Capitalism deals with a communal disease called COVID

WET MARKETS
I did a grid survey of our 50 Block hi-rise by walking around the apartments .
All had shops at the ground level - around 20 per building, and over a third of them were eateries.
They require a hi-turnover and low-markup for survival . They were in part
supplied by open air markets, where meat is laid out on unrefrigerated wooden blocks
to be cut on demand throughout the day. Yes, the fish are fresh - from swimming
( in distinctly unhygienic water ) into plastic bags within 5 minutes.
Chopping block just given a quick wipe.. Hmm.. I thought this is pandemic country...

[Apr 18, 2020] 'Never in my country': COVID-19 and American exceptionalism by Jeanne Morefield

Apr 07, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org
This March, as COVID-19's capacity to overwhelm the American healthcare system was becoming obvious, experts marveled at the scenario unfolding before their eyes. "We have Third World countries who are better equipped than we are now in Seattle," noted one healthcare professional, her words echoed just a few days later by a shocked doctor in New York who described "a third-world country type of scenario." Donald Trump could similarly only grasp what was happening through the same comparison. "I have seen things that I've never seen before," he said . "I mean I've seen them, but I've seen them on television and faraway lands, never in my country."

At the same time, regardless of the fact that "Third World" terminology is outdated and confusing, Trump's inept handling of the pandemic has itself elicited more than one "banana republic" analogy, reflecting already well-worn, bipartisan comparisons of Trump to a " third world dictator " (never mind that dictators and authoritarians have never been confined solely to lower income countries).

And yet, while such comparisons provoke predictably nativist outrage from the right, what is absent from any of these responses to the situation is a sense of reflection or humility about the "Third World" comparison itself. The doctor in New York who finds himself caught in a "third world" scenario and the political commentators outraged when Trump behaves "like a third world dictator" uniformly express themselves in terms of incredulous wonderment. One never hears the potential second half of this comparison: "I am now experiencing what it is like to live in a country that resembles the kind of nation upon whom the United States regularly imposes broken economies and corrupt leaders."

Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World."

In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. This is a globe-spanning military and security apparatus organized into regional commands that resemble the "proconsuls of the Roman empire and the governors-general of the British." In other words, this apparatus is built not for deterrence, but for primacy.

The U.S.'s global primacy emerged from the wreckage of World War II when the United States stepped into the shoes vacated by European empires. Throughout the Cold War, and in the name of supporting "free peoples," the sprawling American security apparatus helped ensure that 300 years of imperial resource extraction and wealth distribution – from what was then called the Third World to the First – remained undisturbed, despite decolonization.

Since then, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow the governments of approximately 50 countries, many of which (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile) had elected leaders willing to nationalize their natural resources and industries. Often these interventions took the form of covert operations. Less frequently, the United States went to war to achieve these same ends (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq).

In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit.

Trump's claim that Obama had "hollowed out" defense spending was not only grossly untrue, it masked the consistency of the security budget's metastasizing growth since the Vietnam War, regardless of who sits in the White House. At $738 billion dollars, Trump's security budget was passed in December with the overwhelming support of House Democrats.

And yet, from the perspective of public discourse in this country, our globe-spanning, resource-draining military and security apparatus exists in an entirely parallel universe to the one most Americans experience on a daily level. Occasionally, we wake up to the idea of this parallel universe but only when the United States is involved in visible military actions. The rest of the time, Americans leave thinking about international politics – and the deaths, for instance, of 2.5 million Iraqis since 2003 – to the legions of policy analysts and Pentagon employees who largely accept American military primacy as an "article of faith," as Professor of International Security and Strategy at the University of Birmingham Patrick Porter has said .

Foreign policy is routinely the last issue Americans consider when they vote for presidents even though the president has more discretionary power over foreign policy than any other area of American politics. Thus, despite its size, impact, and expense, the world's military hegemon exists somewhere on the periphery of most Americans' self-understanding, as though, like the sun, it can't be looked upon directly for fear of blindness.

Why is our avoidance of the U.S.'s weighty impact on the world a problem in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? Most obviously, the fact that our massive security budget has gone so long without being widely questioned means that one of the soundest courses of action for the U.S. during this crisis remains resolutely out of sight.

The shock of discovering that our healthcare system is so quickly overwhelmed should automatically trigger broader conversations about spending priorities that entail deep and sustained cuts in an engorged security budget whose sole purpose is the maintenance of primacy. And yet, not only has this not happened, $10.5 billion of the coronavirus aid package has been earmarked for the Pentagon, with $2.4 billion of that channeled to the "defense industrial base." Of the $500 billion aimed at corporate America, $17.5 billion is set aside "for businesses critical to maintaining national security" such as aerospace.

To make matters worse, our blindness to this bloated security complex makes it frighteningly easy for champions of American primacy to sound the alarm when they even suspect a dip in funding might be forthcoming. Indeed, before most of us had even glanced at the details of the coronavirus bill, foreign policy hawks were already issuing dark prediction s about the impact of still-imaginary cuts in the security budget on the U.S.'s "ability to strike any target on the planet in response to hostile actions by any actor" – as if that ability already did not exist many times over.

On a more existential level, a country that is collectively engaged in unseeing its own global power cannot help but fail to make connections between that power and domestic politics, particularly when a little of the outside world seeps in. For instance, because most Americans are unaware of their government's sponsorship of fundamentalist Islamic groups in the Middle East throughout the Cold War, 9/11 can only ever appear to have come from nowhere, or because Muslims hate our way of life.

This "how did we get here?" attitude replicates itself at every level of political life making it profoundly difficult for Americans to see the impact of their nation on the rest of the world, and the blowback from that impact on the United States itself. Right now, the outsized influence of American foreign policy is already encouraging the spread of coronavirus itself as U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran severely hamper that country's ability to respond to the virus at home and virtually guarantee its spread throughout the region.

Closer to home, our shock at the healthcare system's inept response to the pandemic masks the relationship between the U.S.'s imposition of free-market totalitarianism on countries throughout the Global South and the impact of free-market totalitarianism on our own welfare state .

Likewise, it is more than karmic comeuppance that the President of the United States now resembles the self-serving authoritarians the U.S. forced on so many formerly colonized nations. The modes of militarized policing American security experts exported to those authoritarian regimes also contributed , on a policy level, to both the rise of militarized policing in American cities and the rise of mass incarceration in the 1980s and 90s. Both of these phenomena played a significant role in radicalizing Trump's white nationalist base and decreasing their tolerance for democracy.

Most importantly, because the U.S. is blind to its power abroad, it cannot help but turn that blindness on itself. This means that even during a pandemic when America's exceptionalism – our lack of national healthcare – has profoundly negative consequences on the population, the idea of looking to the rest of the world for solutions remains unthinkable.

Senator Bernie Sanders' reasonable suggestion that the U.S., like Denmark, should nationalize its healthcare system is dismissed as the fanciful pipe dream of an aging socialist rather than an obvious solution to a human problem embraced by nearly every other nation in the world. The Seattle healthcare professional who expressed shock that even "Third World countries" are "better equipped" than we are to confront COVID-19 betrays a stunning ignorance of the diversity of healthcare systems within developing countries. Cuba, for instance, has responded to this crisis with an efficiency and humanity that puts the U.S. to shame.

Indeed, the U.S. is only beginning to feel the full impact of COVID-19's explosive confrontation with our exceptionalism: if the unemployment rate really does reach 32 percent, as has been predicted, millions of people will not only lose their jobs but their health insurance as well. In the middle of a pandemic.

Over 150 years apart, political commentators Edmund Burke and Aimé Césaire referred to this blindness as the byproduct of imperialism. Both used the exact same language to describe it; as a "gangrene" that "poisons" the colonizing body politic. From their different historical perspectives, Burke and Césaire observed how colonization boomerangs back on colonial society itself, causing irreversible damage to nations that consider themselves humane and enlightened, drawing them deeper into denial and self-delusion.

Perhaps right now there is a chance that COVID-19 – an actual, not metaphorical contagion – can have the opposite effect on the U.S. by opening our eyes to the things that go unseen. Perhaps the shock of recognizing the U.S. itself is less developed than our imagined "Third World" might prompt Americans to tear our eyes away from ourselves and look toward the actual world outside our borders for examples of the kinds of political, economic, and social solidarity necessary to fight the spread of Coronavirus. And perhaps moving beyond shock and incredulity to genuine recognition and empathy with people whose economies and democracies have been decimated by American hegemony might begin the process of reckoning with the costs of that hegemony, not just in "faraway lands" but at home. In our country.

[Apr 17, 2020] The New Fault Lines in a Post-Globalized World

Apr 17, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on April 16, 2020 by Yves Smith Yves here. It would be better if I were wrong, but I have doubts about this scenario. It appears to assume some orderliness in the responses to the coronavirus, both in terms of businesses and governments cooperating. I don't see this as possible in the US. Not only is there an absence of public spiritedness, government is not trusted. And that's not an uninformed view. The US in incapable of mounting a New Deal or war mobilization level response. It lacks the operational capacity. And too many people in power are in it for themselves. Things may be better in a lot of the rest of the world in terms of social and political cohesiveness, but few countries are as close to being an autarky as the US (Russia is probably the best candidate), and so the breakdown of global supply chains is likely to hit them even harder.

Similarly, if concerns that getting Covid-19 confers only short-term immunity (say a year or less), then investing in tracking who has contacted it for the purpose of deeming individuals to be safe from a travel/visa standpoint is a waste of effort.

I suspect Grasmsci is the best seer:

The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator and Jan Ritch-Frel, the executive director of the Independent Media Institute . Produced by Economy for All , a project of the Independent Media Institute

The coronavirus pandemic has upended the global economic system, and just as importantly, cast out 40 years of neoliberal orthodoxy that dominated the industrialized world.

Forget about the " new world order ." Offshoring and global supply chains are out; regional and local production is in. Market fundamentalism is passé; regulation is the norm. Public health is now more valuable than just-in-time supply systems. Stockpiling and industrial capacity suddenly make more sense, which may have future implications in the recently revived antitrust debate in the U.S.

Biodata will drive the next phase of social management and surveillance, with near-term consequences for the way countries handle immigration and customs. Health care and education will become digitally integrated the way newspapers and television were 10 years ago. Health care itself will increasingly be seen as a necessary public good, rather than a private right, until now in the U.S. predicated on age, employment or income levels. Each of these will produce political tensions within their constituencies and in the society generally as they adapt to the new normal.

This political sea change doesn't represent a sudden conversion to full-on socialism, but simply a case of minimizing our future risks of infection by providing full-on universal coverage. Beyond that, as Professor Michael Sandel has argued , one has to query the "moral logic" of providing "coronavirus treatment for the uninsured," while leaving "health coverage in ordinary times to the market" (especially when our concept of what constitutes "ordinary times" has been upended).

Internationally, there will be many positive and substantial international shifts to address overdue global public health needs and accords on mitigating climate change. And it is finally dawning on Western-allied economic planners that the military price tag that made so-called cheap oil and cheap labor possible is vastly higher than investment in advanced research and next-generation manufacturing.

This also means that the old North (developed world) versus South (emerging world) division that long preoccupied scholars and policymakers in the post–World War II period will become increasingly stark again, particularly for those emerging economies that have hitherto attracted investment largely on the grounds of being repositories of low-cost labor. They will now find themselves picking sides as they seek assistance in an increasingly divided and multipolar world.

The fault lines of the next economic era have already begun to surface, creating friction with the previous international structure of banking and finance, trade and industry. There is a force beyond elites and critical industries driving this: The proletariat has literally become the "precariat."

In the U.S. and Europe, the staggering number of service economy workers are going to be quickly politicized by the shortfalls: People have seen a collapse in income, and big failures in education, and health care. Union-busting, pension fleecing, and austerity budgets and new technologies that concentrate wealth away from labor have created a circumstance where ownership and profit models must be revisited to sustain stability. The needs are too acute to be distracted by the lies of Trump, or the inadequate responses in other parts of the industrialized world. The current crisis will likely prompt geopolitical and economic shifts and dislocations we haven't seen since World War II.

Death of Chimerica, the Rise of New Production Blocs

One of the biggest casualties of the current order is the breakdown of " Chimerica ," the decades-old nexus between the U.S. and Chinese economies, along with other leading countries' partnerships with Chinese manufacturing. While the geopolitics of blame for the origins of coronavirus continue to shake out, the process that saw a decrease in exports from China to the U.S. from $816 billion in 2018 to $757 billion in 2019 will accelerate and intensify over the next decade.

While a decoupling is unlikely to lead to armed conflict, a Cold War style of competition could emerge as a new global fault line. Much as the Cold War did not preclude some degree of collaboration between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union, so too today there may still be areas of cooperation between Washington and Beijing from climate to public health, advanced research to weapons proliferation.

Nor does this shift necessarily spell the sudden collapse of Chinese power or influence -- it has a colossal and still-growing domestic market and is on the international leaderboard for a wide range of advanced indicators. But its status as the world's most desirable offshore manufacturing hub is a thing of the past, along with the economic stability that steady inflows of foreign capital brought with it. It does show a susceptibility to domestic stress, with the Hong Kong protests last year providing a hint of what is in store as the party leadership can't pivot to new realities that include slower economic growth and declining foreign investment.

As investment flows turn inward back to industrialized countries, there will likely be corresponding diminution of the global labor arbitrage emanating from the emerging world. In general, that's a negative for the global South, but potentially a positive factor for workers elsewhere, whose wages and living standards have stagnated for decades as they lost jobs to competing overseas low-cost manufacturing centers (the increase in inequality is principally a product of 40 years of sustained attacks on unions). The jobs won't be the same, but to be sure, manufacturing incomes exceed those of the service industry.

As each country adopts a " sauve-qui-peut " mentality, businesses and investors are drawing the necessary conclusions. Coronavirus has been a wake-up call, as countries trying to import medical goods from existing global supply chains face a shortage of air and ocean freight options to ship goods back to home markets. Already, the Japanese government has announced its plans "to spend over $2 billion to help its country's firms move production out of China," according to the Spectator Index . The EU leadership is publicly indicating a policy of subsidy and state investment in companies to prevent Chinese buyouts or undercutting prices.

Two billion dollars is small potatoes compared to what is likely to be spent by the U.S. and other countries going forward. And it can't simply be done via research and development tax credits. The state can and must drive this redomiciling process in other ways: via local content requirements (LCRs) , tariffs, quotas and/or government procurement local sourcing requirements. And with a $750-billion-plus budget, the U.S. military will likely play a role here, as it ponders disruptions from overseas supply sources .

Of course, if the U.S. does this, other parts of the world -- China, the EU, Japan -- will likely do the same, which will accelerate the regionalization trends in trade. This may mean that some U.S. firms will have to operate in foreign markets through local subsidiaries with local content preferences and local workforces (that is how it worked in the 1920s -- Ford UK was a mostly local British company, different from the U.S. Ford Motor Company, but with shared profits).

An examination of U.S. planning for the post-1945 world reveals the emphasis was on free trade in raw materials mostly, not finished goods. (The U.S. only adopted one-way "free trade" with its Asian and European allies later as a Cold War measure to accelerate their development and keep them in the American orbit.)

Domestically within the U.S., as Dalia Marin writes , the coming declines in interest rates will accelerate "robot adoption" by 75.7 percent, with concentration "in the sectors that are most exposed to global value chains. In Germany, that means autos and transport equipment, electronics, and textiles -- industries that import around 12 percent of their inputs from low-wage countries. Globally, the industries where the most reshoring activity is taking place are chemicals, metal products, and electrical products and electronics."

As the coronavirus pandemic is illustrating, a viable industrial ecosystem cannot work effectively if it is dispersed to too many geographic extremities or there are insufficient redundancies built into the transportation of goods back into the home market (rail, highway, etc.). Proximity has become a significant competitive advantage for manufacturers, and a strategic advantage for governments. But the U.S. government must play an expanded role in the planning process. The U.S. is still a leader in many high-tech areas, but is suffering the consequences of a generation-long effort to undermine the government's natural role as an economic planner.

In the form of the regionalized blocs that are being sketched, in the Americas, Mexico is likely to be one of the leading recipients of American foreign direct investment (FDI). It already has a $17 billion medical device industry and is sure to absorb much more capacity from China. This has already started to happen as a result of the U.S.–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA, or new NAFTA) . Furthermore, the Washington Post reports that "[a]s demand soars for medical devices and personal protective equipment in the fight against the coronavirus, the United States has turned to the phalanx of factories south of the border that are now the outfitters of many U.S. hospitals." This is in addition to the thousands of assembly plants already in place in Mexico since the establishment of NAFTA. Indeed, if the jobs that had moved to China move to Mexico, Central America, and South America, this likely addresses many long-standing social tensions in regard to immigration management, currency imbalances and corresponding black market industries (ironically, it also likely means the end of Trump's wall, as the industrial ecosystem of the Americas becomes more cohesive and widespread).

Big Business Is Good Business

But this will also have significant impacts closer to home: Much as Franklin Delano Roosevelt ultimately prioritized domestic ramp-ups in wartime production over trust-busting , so too national champions are likely to feature more prominently today, as domestic scale and balance sheet strength are given precedence to accommodate the drive to revive employment quickly, and work collaboratively to halt the spread of the coronavirus . The scale of companies will not be regarded as a political problem if they can both deliver for consumers and show the capacity of following political direction for what the public's needs are. Tech companies like Apple and Google are stepping up to fill the void left by massive federal government dysfunction . The " break up Big Tech " voices are nowhere to be heard at the moment.

We still need a more robust form of regulation for these corporate behemoths, but via a system of regulation that is "function-centric," rather than size-centric. As co-author Marshall Auerback has written before , this kind of regulation "restricts the range of corporate activities (e.g., structural separation so as to prevent companies like Amazon and Google from owning both the platform as well as participating as a seller on that platform), or the prices such companies can charge (as regulators often do for utilities or railways). These considerations would be 'size neutral': they would apply independently of corporate size per se."

Capitalism has always had its plutocrats, but scaling back America's overly financialized model (by preventing stock buybacks, to cite one example) would represent a useful reform and prevent a lot of economic waste. Instead of going to enrich executives and shareholders beyond the dreams of Croesus , that measure might help to ensure that the profits of these companies will be directed to the workers' wages (which also means supporting increased unionization), or plowed back into investment (e.g., increased robotics).

Biodata, Privacy, and an End to Pandemic Profiteering

And there are fault lines in the business world. The pharmaceutical and medical research industries face immense pressure from other businesses to end the pandemic so they can get back to profitability. That means temporarily setting aside profits and pooling intellectual property to encourage collaborative efforts on the part of biotech and pharmaceutical companies to find proper treatments for COVID-19, and make them freely available, especially if governments were to waive antitrust scrutiny in exchange for all of the data Big Pharma companies collectively hold. As the Guardian reports , "[t]here is a precedent. Last June, 10 of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies -- including Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline -- announced they would pool data for an AI-based search for new antibiotics, which are urgently needed as antibiotic-resistant bacteria have proliferated across the world, threatening the growth of untreatable disease."

Privacy advocates are already expressing concerns about a growing and overweening medical surveillance state. These surveillance concerns lack historical context: From the 19th century on, serious health problems were met by hardline government policies to reduce them. Policies ranging from quarantine to vaccine were not always mandatory, but there was an understanding that personal concessions had to be made to manage a huge population and an advanced society; the Constitution was not a suicide pact. We can further alleviate those concerns today by ensuring that the information uncovered does not become a precondition or additional cost of receiving insurance coverage. In light of coronavirus, cost savings of incorporating biodata into immigration and customs are a no-brainer for governments, and are certain to cause friction with individuals who may not want to give blood or saliva to get a visa or work permit, and agribusiness leaders who know that safety measures cut into profitability. But the scales have tipped in the other direction.

North Versus South

What about the other countries in the developing world that don't have close geographic proximity to a home market, or abundant supplies of key commodities required for 21st-century manufacturing needs, or even a well-developed manufacturing base (in other words, the countries that have hitherto been large recipients of investment solely on the grounds of cheap labor)? Many of them have faced immediate pressure with the collapse in global trade, unprecedented capital flight that is sure to grow as the coronavirus spreads, all the while coping with COVID-19 with highly inadequate health systems.

In the meantime, the multi-trillion-dollar market for emerging market debt , both sovereign bonds and commercial paper, has collapsed. Many of these countries, via their state pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, have become the ultimate endpoint for many of the newer asset-backed securities that finally revived years after the 2008 financial crisis. This has become the potential new stress point in the $52 trillion " shadow banking " market. The U.S. Federal Reserve has sought to ease the funding stresses of much of the developing economies by offering central bank swap lines. It has also broadened prime dealer collateral acceptance rules, and set up commercial paper swap facilities, all of which have eased short-term funding pressures in these economies that have incurred substantial dollar liabilities.

As the emerging world central banks then start to lend on those lines to their own banks, it should start to alleviate the shortage of dollars in the offshore dollar funding markets. We are starting to see some easing of stresses, notably in Indonesia -- because it's an exporter of resources more than a cheap labor price economy.

But whereas in previous emerging markets crises, China was able to buttress these economies via initiatives such as the " Belt and Road Initiative ," Beijing itself is likely to be buffeted by the twin shocks of declining global trade and a reversal of foreign direct investment, which declined 8.6 percent in the first two months of this year .

Longer-term, many other countries face comparable challenges to China: Capital controls, collapsing domestic currencies, and widespread debt defaults are likely to become the norm. That's already happened to serial defaulter Argentina again . South Africa has been downgraded to junk status . Turkey remains vulnerable. The so-called "BRICS" economies -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- are all sinking like bricks. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that coronavirus and likely future pandemics will create additional stresses on developing economies that depend on their labor price advantage in the international marketplace to survive.

By contrast, countries like South Korea and Taiwan have had a "good crisis." Both have vibrant manufacturing sectors and created successful multiparty democracies. Foreign investment in South Korea continued to grow in the first quarter of this year, as it rapidly moved to contain the spread of COVID-19 through an extensive testing regime (while keeping its economy open). Similarly in Taiwan, by activating a national emergency response system launched in 2004 (following the SARS virus), that country has mounted a thoroughly competent coronavirus intervention of unprecedented effectiveness . The results speak for themselves: as of April 15, in South Korea, a mere 225 deaths , while in Taiwan, an astonishingly low total of six deaths in a country of 24 million people -- this despite far more exposure to infected Chinese visitors than Italy, Spain or the U.S.

Of course, the very success of Taiwan's response revives another potential fault line, namely the tension underlying the "One China" policy. Before COVID-19, it is noteworthy that the WHO "even refused to publicly report Taiwan's cases of SARS until public pressure prompted numbers to be published under the label of 'Taiwan, province of China,'" according to Dr. Anish Koka . At the very least, Taiwan's divergent approach and success at fighting the pandemic will bolster its pro-independence factions.

The question of foreign nations upholding Taiwan's sovereignty with regard to China is increasingly thorny, given Beijing's growing military capacities. This will present an ongoing diplomatic challenge to Western parties who seek to increase engagement with Taipei without heightening tensions in the region.

A Recalculation of 'Economic Value'

We have outlined many fault lines likely to be exposed or exacerbated as a consequence of COVID-19. Happily, there is one fault line likely to be slammed shut: namely, the false dichotomy that has long existed between economic growth and environmentalism. The Global Assessment from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services reports that "land degradation has reduced the productivity of 23 percent of the global land surface, up to US$577 billion in annual global crops are at risk from pollinator loss and 100-300 million people are at increased risk of floods and hurricanes because of loss of coastal habitats and protection." Likewise, the study cites the fact that as of 2015, 33 percent of marine fish stocks "were being harvested at unsustainable levels," and notes the rise of plastic pollution (which "has increased tenfold since 1980 "), both of which play a key role in degrading ecosystems in a manner that ultimately destroys economic growth.

Finally, repeated pandemics over the past few decades have shown these are not blips, but recurrent features of today's world. Hence, there is an increasing public appetite for regulation to deal with this ongoing problem. Some industries, such as agribusinesses, won't like this, but the concerns are well-founded. According to expert Josh Balk , 75 percent of new diseases start in domestic and wild-caught animals, and 2.2 million people die each year from illnesses transferred from animals. The majority of these are transferred from poorly regulated factory farm chickens, cows and pigs; still, the " wet markets" of Asia and Africa, and the trade in potential " transfer species ," such as pangolins, a major driver of the $19 billion-a-year global trade in illegal wildlife, must also be addressed. Beijing has suggested it will ban trade in illegal wildlife and seek tighter regulation of the wet markets . The latter in particular may be easier said than done, according to Dr. Zhenzhong Si , a research associate at Canada's University of Waterloo who specializes in Chinese food security, sustainability, and rural development. Dr. Si argued that "[b]anning wet markets is not only going to be impossible, but will also be destructive for urban food security in China as they play such a pivotal role in ensuring urban residents' access to affordable and healthy food."

To be fair, this isn't the first time that the sacred tenets of the global economic framework have dealt with a crisis that seemed to usher in a new era. The same thing happened in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008. But that was largely seen as a financial crisis, a product of faulty global financial plumbing that nobody truly understood, as opposed to a widespread social collapse closely approximating the conditions of the Great Depression as we have today.

Not only has the current lockdown put the entire global economy into deep freeze, but it also came amidst a backdrop of widespread political and social upheaval, and a faux recovery whose fruits were largely restricted to the top tier. A collateralized debt obligation is not intuitively easy to grasp. By contrast, being forced to stay at home, deprived of vital income and isolated from loved ones, while health care workers perish from overwork and lack of protective gear, is a different order of magnitude.

Even as we re-integrate, it is hard to envisage a return to the "old normal." Trade patterns will change. Self-sufficiency and geographic proximity will be prioritized over global integration. There will be new winners and losers, but it is worth noting that the model of capitalism we are describing -- one that does not feature obscenely overcompensated CEO pay co-existing with serf labor and the widespread offshoring of manufacturing -- has existed in different forms in the U.S. from 1945 into the 1980s, and still exists in parts of Europe (Germany) and East Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan) to this day.

Our everyday lives will be impacted as selective quarantines and some forms of social distancing become the new normal (much as they were when we dealt with tuberculosis epidemics). All of this has implications for a multitude of industries: restaurants, leisure, travel, tourism, sporting events, entertainment, and media, as well as our evolving definition of "essential" industries. Even our concept of personal privacy will likely have to be amended, especially in regard to medical matters. Concerns about medical surveillance -- stigma (STDs, alcoholism, mental illness) and denial of insurance -- can be alleviated if everyone is guaranteed treatment regardless of ability to pay, which will mean greater government intrusion into the lives of citizens and activities of businesses as the public sector seeks to socialize costs.

Taken in aggregate, we are about to experience the most profound social, economic and political changes since World War II.

[Apr 17, 2020] The desperation with which the oligarchy seeks to preserve the neo-liberal dispensation, and particularly on 'the left' which, historically, opposed its anti-egalitarianism, may be explicable in very simple terms: between 1980 and 2018, the taxes paid by America's billionaires, when measured as a percentage of their wealth, decreased a staggering 79 percent.

Apr 17, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Apr 16 2020 13:36 utc | 142

The desperation with which the oligarchy seeks to preserve the neo-liberal dispensation, and particularly on 'the left' which, historically, opposed its anti-egalitarianism, may be explicable in very simple terms:

"A new Institute for Policy Studies Inequality briefing paper, authored by Bob Lord, reveals that between 1980 and 2018, the taxes paid by America's billionaires, when measured as a percentage of their wealth, decreased a staggering 79 percent.

"The only appropriate metric by which to measure the tax burden on billionaires, the briefing paper explains, is the rate of tax they pay on their wealth. Unlike the rest of us, the living expenses of billionaires do not constrain their accumulation of wealth. Nor do they rely on their work to generate additional wealth. For billionaires, the accumulation of wealth is driven forward almost exclusively by the growth of their existing wealth and constrained almost exclusively by the tax they are required to pay. No matter how the taxes imposed on billionaires are determined – by income, consumption, property ownership, transfers by gift or bequest – they function only as a tax on wealth.

"By allowing the tax burden of billionaires, as a percentage of their wealth, to plummet since 1980, policy makers have caused the nation's wealth to concentrate obscenely at the very top. In the 12 years between 2006 and 2018, IPS reports, nearly 7 percent of America's real increase in wealth, measured in 2018 dollars, went to the top 400 billionaires. If the pattern of the past four decades does not change, an even greater share of the nation's newly created wealth over the next 12 years will flow to the billionaire class..."

https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/04/16/taxes-paid-by-billionaires-decreased-79-percent-since-1980-as-percentage-of-their-wealth/

[Apr 15, 2020] American collusion with kleptocracy comes at a terrible cost for the rest of the world

Apr 15, 2020 | www.theatlantic.com

exquirentibus veritatem 4 hours ago

"American collusion with kleptocracy comes at a terrible cost for the rest of the world. All of the stolen money, all of those evaded tax dollars sunk into Central Park penthouses and Nevada shell companies, might otherwise fund health care and infrastructure. (A report from the anti-poverty group One has argued that 3.6 million deaths each year can be attributed to this sort of resource siphoning.)

Thievery tramples the possibilities of workable markets and credible democracy. It fuels suspicions that the whole idea of liberal capitalism is a hypocritical sham: While the world is plundered, self-righteous Americans get rich off their complicity with the crooks.

The Founders were concerned that venality would become standard procedure, and it has. Long before suspicion mounted about the loyalties of Donald Trump, large swaths of the American elite -- lawyers, lobbyists, real-estate brokers, politicians in state capitals who enabled the creation of shell companies -- had already proved themselves to be reliable servants of a rapacious global plutocracy.

"Richard Palmer was right: The looting elites of the former Soviet Union were far from rogue profiteers. They augured a kleptocratic habit that would soon become widespread.

One bitter truth about the Russia scandal is that by the time Vladimir Putin attempted to influence the shape of our country, it was already bending in the direction of his."

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2019/03/how-kleptocracy-came-to-america/580471/

[Apr 15, 2020] The Egregious Lie Americans Tell Themselves by Jacob Bacharach

Nov 15, 2018 | www.truthdig.com
There's a verbal tic particular to a certain kind of response to a certain kind of story about the thinness and desperation of American society; about the person who died of preventable illness or the Kickstarter campaign to help another who can't afford cancer treatment even with "good" insurance; about the plight of the homeless or the lack of resources for the rural poor; about underpaid teachers spending thousands of dollars of their own money for the most basic classroom supplies; about train derailments, the ruination of the New York subway system and the decrepit states of our airports and ports of entry.

"I can't believe in the richest country in the world. "

This is the expression of incredulity and dismay that precedes some story about the fundamental impoverishment of American life, the fact that the lived, built geography of existence here is so frequently wanting, that the most basic social amenities are at once grossly overpriced and terribly underwhelming, that normal people (most especially the poor and working class) must navigate labyrinths of bureaucracy for the simplest public services, about our extraordinary social and political paralysis in the face of problems whose solutions seem to any reasonable person self-evident and relatively straightforward.

It is true that, as measured by GDP, or by the size of the credit and equity markets, or even just by the gaudy presence of our Googles, Amazons and Apples, the United States is the greatest machine for the production of money in the modern history of the world.

But this wealth is largely an abstraction, a trick of the broad and largely meaningless aggregations of numbers that makes up most of what the business pages call "economics." The American commonwealth is shockingly impoverished. Ask anyone who's compared the nine-plus-hour train ride from Pittsburgh to New York with the barely two-hour journey from Paris to Bordeaux, an equidistant journey, or who's watched the orderly, accurate exit polls from a German election and compared them with the fizzling, overheating voting machines in Florida .

Now, it is true that bridges collapse in Europe , too, although this past summer's tragedy was in Italy, whose famously ungovernable corruption may be the closest continental analogue to our own United States. American liberals and leftists tend to over-valorize the Western European model, but there is no doubt that the wealthy countries at the core of the EU have far more successfully mitigated the most extreme social inequalities and built systems for health and transportation that far outstrip anything in the U.S. Even in their poor urban suburbs or, say, the disinvested industrial north of France, you will find nothing like the squalor that we still permit -- that we accept as ordinary -- in the USA . Meanwhile, in our ever-declining adversary-of-convenience, the Moscow subway runs on time.

The social wealth of a society is better measured by the quality of its common lived environment than by a consolidated statistical approximation like GDP, or even an attempt at weighted comparisons like so-called purchasing power parity . There is a reason why our great American cities, for all of our supposed wealth, often feel and look so shabby. The money goes elsewhere. Seville, a pretty, modest city of less than a million people in the south of Spain, built 80 kilometers of bike lanes for $40 million in less than two years, and eliminated a lot of ugly, on-street parking in the process. Imagine a commensurate effort in New York City, a far wealthier place on paper. Well, its supposedly liberal mayor is going to give Amazon $1.5 billion in tax breaks instead.

To be fair, New York City and state, mired in graft and corruption, cannot build a single mile of subway for less than $2 billion.

Elsewhere, the con artists running America's military-industrial complex are worried that the hundreds of billions we sink every year into planes that cannot fly in the rain and ships that cannot steer have left the United States virtually unable to win any wars . The United States spends perhaps a trillion dollars every year on its military and wars.

Poverty -- both individual and social -- is a policy, not an accident, and not some kind of natural law. These are deliberate choices about the allocation of resources. They are eminently undoable by modest exercises of political power, although if the state- and city-level Democratic leaders of New York and northern Virginia are the national mold, then our nominally left-wing party is utterly, hopelessly beholden to the upward transfer of social wealth to an extremely narrow cadre of already extremely rich men and women.

I voted last week, an exercise that now feels like mouthing polite prayers at someone else's church. The line snaked out the door of the tiny, hot basement room and into the cold rain. There were only three voting machines. One was broken, and one seemed to be working only intermittently. A young woman with a baby in a stroller was in line in front of me. After we'd waited for 10 minutes without moving, she looked at me and rolled her eyes. "Can you believe this is how we do this?" she said. "In 2018."

I smiled. I shrugged. I waved at her cute kid. I did not say, "Yes. I can believe it."

[Apr 15, 2020] Why It's Going to be Much Harder for Neoliberals to Prevent Government Spending by Subin Dennis

Apr 14, 2020 | www.counterpunch.org

It is a sign of how bad things are when the editorial board of the Financial Times, the world's leading business newspaper, carries an editorial calling for "radical reforms reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades." The FT editorial of April 3 has advocated , among other things, a more active role for governments in the economy, ways to make labor markets less insecure, and wealth taxes. The FT's editorial board, increasingly concerned about saving capitalism from itself, had written about the need for "state planning" and a "worker-led economy" last year in August. But the April 3 editorial has garnered much more attention since it comes amidst a massive crisis.

By now it has become obvious that substantial state intervention in the economy -- frowned upon by the apostles of neoliberal economics -- is back to the center stage across the world.

The situation is such that the public sector, long maligned by neoliberal economists and weakened by governments beholden to neoliberalism, is playing a major role in the fight against coronavirus. Its role would have been much more effective and wide-ranging if it hadn't been hit hard by decades of fund cuts and waves of privatization. Nevertheless, with the ineffectiveness of private production with profit motive as its driving force to handle a crisis becoming more evident, the public sector, production with state direction, and some amount of planning are making a major comeback.

Public Health Care

The case of the sectors that are directly concerned with health care provision is the most conspicuous, with the inadequacies of private health care during a crisis becoming evident to even right-wing leaders.

We see Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the UK, repeatedly talking about the need to protect the National Health Service (Britain's publicly funded health care system). He even said , "there really is such a thing as society," contradicting Margaret Thatcher, his conservative predecessor who batted for pure individualism in 1987 by saying "There is no such thing as society."

Britain and many other countries in Western Europe have had relatively robust public health care systems. In many of these countries, such as Italy , Spain and the UK , public health care systems have suffered in recent years because of fund cuts and privatization of public facilities. Apart from the policy vision of the leaders of these countries themselves, they also came under pressure from the technocrats of the European Commission, who repeatedly demanded spending cuts on health care. Along with the easy-going attitude displayed by many of the Western governments in the early weeks of the coronavirus outbreak, such weakening of the public health care systems have made their response to the coronavirus outbreak a more arduous task. For now, the governments of Spain and Ireland have temporarily taken over their private hospitals to deal with the crisis.

The case of the United States, with its private, insurance-based health care system, is far worse. Not only was a sufficient number of testing kits unavailable in the United States for months, but the costs of testing and treatment remain prohibitive for a large section of the population , particularly to the 30 million uninsured and 44 million underinsured. This means that many people simply wouldn't be able to afford to get tested and treated, endangering the health and lives of themselves and others.

The difference between the United States on the one hand, and China and South Korea on the other, comes readily into the picture here. Testing and treatment for coronavirus is free in China, which was crucial in the country's success in bringing the epidemic under control. South Korea has done extensive testing , which was made available for free. Treatment costs were covered by the government and the insurance companies.

The Importance of the Public Sector, However, Goes Much Further

In times of crises such as the present one, which is comparable to war, the ability of economies to produce (or at least source) and distribute things becomes critical. Two kinds of things assume particular importance:

1) Essential things that are necessary for the immediate sustenance of the people. These include food and medicines, and in turn, the things necessary to produce them. If there are large gaps in the supply and distribution of these things, there would be a famine. If the gap is smaller, there would still be many unnecessary deaths. Even leaders who are otherwise callous about starvation deaths would be concerned about such an eventuality during a crisis, because social tensions that could rise as a result of this would make it even more difficult to tide over the crisis, whether it is a war or a pandemic. During the Second World War, Britain resorted to rationing to solve this problem. The people of India were squeezed to finance the Allies' war in South Asia with Japan, and the result was the Bengal Famine, which took the lives of 3 million people.

2) The kind of things that are necessary to tide over the crisis. During times of war, armaments would be the most crucial among these. In the case of the coronavirus crisis, the main things would be items like ventilators, masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and medicines to treat the symptoms. Large gaps in the supply of these things would be disastrous. In the case of a war, such gaps could lead to defeat in war. In the case of a lethal pandemic, people would die in huge numbers, as we see right now. We could say this is an industrial famine of sorts contributing to the casualties, with countries unable to make ICUs, ventilators and masks fast enough in adequate quantities, and in many cases, to set up hospitals and quarantine facilities quickly enough.

It is in this context that leaders of government who ideologically disagree with state intervention in the economy are seen taking direct action in commandeering private companies to produce necessary things.

Thus we see Donald Trump, who had initially resisted the pressure to use the Defense Production Act -- a wartime law -- to mobilize private industry, finally using the law to direct General Motors to produce ventilators.

The government of Italy directed its only producer of ventilators, Siare Engineering, to ramp up the production of ventilators for the country, and sent engineers and other staff members from the Ministry of Defense to help with production. The company canceled all its orders from abroad to produce for the country.

Countries with a large public sector, robust industrial capacity, and the ability to effectively intervene in the market would be at a considerable advantage here. That is the case with China , which put the state-owned China State Construction Engineering to work to construct two emergency quarantine hospitals at breath-taking speed. The state ensured the flow of products such as grain, meat and eggs into the Hubei province while it was under lockdown, and coordinated the production and distribution of masks and other medical products. Once the outbreak within the country was under control, it began supplying masks and ICU equipment to other countries in need.

India, a large country with a poor health care system, does not have enough masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for its health workers. The number of ICU beds and ventilators available in the country is very low. For a population of 1.34 billion, it only has 31,900 ICU beds available for COVID-19 patients, according to the country's Health Ministry officials. To compare, Germany, with 82.8 million people, had 28,000 ICU beds as of mid-March.

If the number of COVID-19 patients in India surges, hospitals and their critical care facilities will be overwhelmed. The public sector Bharat Electronics Limited has been asked to produce 30,000 ventilators to meet the urgent need. Hindustan Lifecare (another public sector company) and the Rail Coach Factory under the Indian Railways are going to manufacture ventilators. The public sector Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), which the government has tried continuously to weaken in the recent years, is now producing masks, sanitizer and coveralls for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It has also developed a ventilator prototype and is preparing for production.

Within India, it is the state of Kerala that has dealt with the pandemic in the most effective manner. In the Left-ruled state, which has resisted the policy of privatization pushed by successive central governments, public sector companies are manufacturing hand sanitizer and gloves , and have raised the production of essential medicines . Kudumbashree, a massive government-backed organization of women's collectives with 4.5 million members, is making masks , which the public sector is helping distribute. Mass organizations of youth and popular science activists are pitching in by making hand sanitizer. Volunteers supported by a state-led initiative have developed a respiratory apparatus that could free up ventilators.

It is not as if making masks, sanitizers and gloves requires advanced technology. But industrial capacity is needed to churn them out in large numbers, or at least large mass organizations, class organizations or collectives that can mobilize people to manufacture them. The inability of the United States to even ensure the supply of such items stands out in this regard. Four decades of neoliberalism seem to have led not only to the undermining of industrial capacity useful for public purposes, but also to the hollowing out of collective energies.

Need for Production Capabilities and Societal Control Over Them

In short, the lesson is that in times such as these, a society needs two things.

1) It needs production capabilities. During a time of crisis, if a country doesn't have the necessary industrial capacity, it will be in trouble even if it has money to buy if the other countries that do have the production capabilities block the export of the required goods. This is what is happening right now to so many countries, such as Italy and Serbia. (In the mad scramble for resources, there have even been reports of countries offering higher amounts to buy masks ordered by other countries, and of some countries even seizing shipments for themselves.) Not only is industrial capacity needed, but some excess capacity is also required in some crucial areas. As the public health expert T. Sundararaman pointed out recently, the public health care system needs to have unused capacity, which will allow it to expand and take on the extra load when there is an emergency. Excess industrial capacity in China, which is often seen as a problem (including by sympathetic observers ), turned out to be useful, with the country being able to manufacture essential goods to not just meet its own demands, but also that of other countries.

But relying on market forces doesn't give any guarantee of industrial capacity being built up. The kind of production capabilities built without planning would be haphazard, and may not cover the needs of an emergency when it presents itself. India, which adopted a strategy of substantial economic planning during the first few decades after independence, only to abandon it in the recent decades, is witnessing this to its peril right now.

2) The society, or the state as the representative of society, needs to be able to control the production facilities. When a crisis hits a country with production capabilities in the private sector, the state can invoke emergency powers to bring them under control. But it would be a painful process, especially in countries where the private corporate sector is not used to submit to discipline. Given the enormous influence that the corporates have over the state itself, the state might try to prolong having to invoke such emergency powers, as was seen in the United States, and that could have disastrous consequences. India has the worst of all possible worlds -- cronyism is rampant, industrialization has not taken off (whether it is because of cronyism or in spite of it need not detain us here), and the public sector has been undermined.

Even when the state is trying to play a more active role, its efforts could be undermined by private firms acting in their own self-interest of maximizing profits. This was seen in the United States, where private companies were engaging in price gouging, by selling masks that are normally sold for 85 cents for $7, leading to the New York state governor to call upon the federal government to nationalize the acquisition of medical supplies. He said that the U.S. government should order factories to produce masks, gowns and ventilators; otherwise the situation would be impossible to manage. The state using private facilities can be costly as well, as was seen in Britain, where the National Health Service is paying 2.4 million pounds per day as rent to private hospitals for 8,000 beds.

Does calling for more domestic production capabilities that the state can control mean that every country should be left to fend for itself? Certainly not -- every country cannot produce everything; smaller countries would find it particularly difficult. International trade would be needed for countries to procure things that they cannot produce for themselves. But as the developments of the recent months show, today's trade regime has nothing to do with solidarity, and it provides no guarantee of countries being able to access goods during an emergency. This is no accident. Lack of solidarity is embedded in the way capitalism has developed, with the bulk of the world's wealth concentrated in the hands of a few countries, and within countries, in the hands of the super-rich. This system has to be overhauled for a regime of solidarity to emerge. Production and its fruits becoming less concentrated in some regions of the world and in the hands of a minority would pave the way for power relations to be less unequal, which is a precondition for real solidarity among people and societies.

Along with socialized health care, an immediate stop to privatization, and a stronger, expanded public sector should become part of the transitional demands of the left as we search for an exit from the pandemic crisis.

Subin Dennis is an economist and a researcher at Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research . He was the Delhi State vice president of the Students' Federation of India.

This article was produced by Globetrotter , a project of the Independent Media Institute.

[Apr 13, 2020] It seems to me that the Trump Administration delayed a response to the virus so as to ensure that they could declare an emergency which allowed them to 'play' the virus in a way that benefited special interests and furthered imperial goal

Apr 13, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Jackrabbit , Apr 12 2020 16:09 utc | 3

"No matter how long I live, I don't think I will ever get over how the U.S., with all its wealth and technological capability and academic prowess, sleepwalked into the disaster that is unfolding," says Kai Kupferschmidt, a German science writer.

I am continuously amazed at how incompetence is always assumed so as to give elites a pass.

It seems to me that the Trump Administration delayed a response to the virus so as to ensure that they could declare an emergency which allowed them to 'play' the virus in a way that benefited special interests and furthered imperial goals:

  • soft-landing for Wall Street;
  • bail-out favored corporations;
  • increase Big Pharma profits;
  • blame China.

Why are people not more skeptical?

<> <> <> <> <>

See my at jackrabbit.blog

!!

[Apr 13, 2020] COVID-19 Shutdown The End Of Globalization And Planned Obsolescence Enter Multipolarity by Joaquin Flores

Notable quotes:
"... Authored by Joaquin Flores via The Strategic Culture Foundation, ..."
"... the declining rate of profit necessitated by automation, with the increasingly irrational policies, in all spheres, being pursued to salvage the ultimately unsalvageable. ..."
"... Because the present system is premised on a production-consumption and financial model, the solutions to crises are presented as population reduction and what even appears, at least in the case of Europe, as population replacement. As cliché as this may seem, this also appeared to be the policy of the Third Reich when capitalism faced its last major crises culminating in WWII. ..."
Apr 12, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Joaquin Flores via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

The coronavirus pandemic has shown that the twin processes of globalization and planned obsolescence are deficient and moribund. Globalization was predicated on a number of assumptions including the perpetuity of consumerism, and the withering away of national boundaries as transnational corporations so required.

What we see instead is not a globalization process, but instead a process of rising multipolarity and a rethinking of consumerism itself.

Normally a total market crash and unemployment crisis would usher in a period of militant labor activity, strikes, walk-outs and community-labor campaigns. We've seen some of this already . But the 'medical state of emergency' we are in, has effectively worked like a 'lock-out' . The elites have effectively flipped-the-script. Instead of workers now demanding a restoration of wages, hours, and work-place rights, they are clamoring for any chance to work at all, under any conditions handed down. Elites can 'afford' to do this because they've been given trillions of dollars to do so. See how that works?

All our lives we've been misinformed over what a growing economy means, what it looks like, how we identify it. All our lives we've been lied to about what technical improvement literally means.

A growing economy in fact means that all goods and services become less expensive. That cuts against inflation. Rather all prices should be deflating – less money ought to buy the same (or the same money ought to buy more). Technical innovation means that goods should last longer, not be planned for obsolescence with shorter lifespans.

Unemployment is good if it parallels price deflation. If both reached a zero-point, the problems we believe we have would be solved.

In a revealing April 2nd article that featured on the BBC's website, Will coronavirus reverse globalisation? it is proposed that the pandemic exposes the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of a global supply-chain and manufacturing system, and that this in combination with the over-arching US-China trade war would see a general tendency towards 're-shoring' of activities. These are fair points.

But the article misses the point of the underlying problem facing economics in general: the declining rate of profit necessitated by automation, with the increasingly irrational policies, in all spheres, being pursued to salvage the ultimately unsalvageable.

The Karmic Wheel of Production-Consumption

The shut-downs – which seem unnecessary in the numerous widely esteemed experts in virology and epidemiology – appear to be aimed at stopping the production-consumption cycle. When we look at the wanton creation of new 'money', to bailout the banks, we are told that this will not cause inflation/debasement so long as the velocity of money is kept to a minimum. In other words – so long as there is not a chain reaction of transactions, and the money 'stays still' – this won't cause inflation. It's a specious claim, but one which justifies the quarantine/lock-down policy which today destroys thousands of small businesses every day. In the U.S. alone, unemployment claims will pass 30 million by mid April .

Likewise, this money appears real, it sits digitally as new liquidity on the computer screens of tran-Atlantic banks – but it cannot be spent, or it tanks the system with hyper-inflation. More to the point, the BBC piece erroneously continues to assume the necessity of the production-consumption cycle, spinning wheat into gold forever.

The elites were not wrong to shut-down the cycle per se. The problem is that they cannot offer the correct hardware in its place – for it puts an end to the very way that they make money. It is this, which in turn is a major source for the maintenance of their dopamine equilibrium and narcissist supply.

This is not an economic problem faced by 'the 1%' (the 0.03%) . It is an existential crisis facing the meaning of their lives, where satisfaction can only be found in ever greater levels of wealth and control, real or imagined – chasing that dragon, in search of that ever-elusive high.

So naturally, their solutions are population reduction and other such quasi-genocidal neo-Malthusian plans. Destruction of humanity – the number one productive-potential force – resets the hands of time, back to a period where profit levels were higher. The algorithmically favored coronavirus Instagram campaign of seeing city centers without people and declaring these 'beautiful' and 'peaceful' is an example of this misanthropic principle at play.

That the elites have chosen to shut-down the western economy is telling of an historic point we have reached. And while we are told that production and consumption will return somewhat 'after quarantine', we also hear from the newly-emerged unelected tsars – Bill Gates et al – that things will never return to normal .

What we need to end is the entire theory and practice of globalization itself, including UN Agenda 21 and the dangerous role of 'book-talking' philanthropists like Gates and his grossly unbalanced degree of power over policy formation in the Western sphere.

In place of waning globalization, we are seeing the reality of rising multipolarity and inter-nationalism. With this, the end of the production-consumption cycle, based upon off-shore production and international assembly, and at the root of it all: planned obsolescence towards long-term profitability.

The Problem of Globalization Theory

Without a doubt, globalization theory satisfied aspects of descriptive power. But as time marched forward, its predictive power weakened. Alternate theories began to emerge – chief among these, multipolarity theory.

The promotion of globalization theory also raises ethical problems. Like a criminologist 'describing' a crime-wave while being invested in new prison construction, globalization theory was as much theory as it was a policy forced upon the world by the same institutions behind its popularization in academia and in policy formation. Therefore we should not be surprised with the rise of solutions like those of Gates. These involve patentable 'vaccines' by for-profit firms at the expense of buttressing natural human immunities, or using drugs which other countries are using with effectiveness.

The truth? Globalization is really just a rebrand of the Washington Consensus – neo-liberal think-tanks and the presumed eternal dominance of institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which in turn are thinly disguised conglomerates of the largest trans-Atlantic banking institutions.

So while globalization was often given a humanist veneer that promised global development, modernization, the end of 'nation-states' which presumably are the source of war; in reality globalization was premised on continuing and increasing concentration of capital towards the 19th century zones – New York, London, Berlin, and Paris.

'Internationalism' was once rooted in the existence of nations which in turn are only possible with the existence of culture and peoples, but was hi-jacked by the trans-Atlanticist project. Before long, the new-left 'internationalists' became champions of the very same process of imperialism that their forbearers had vehemently opposed. Call it 'globalization' and show how it's destroying 'toxic nationalism' and creating 'microfinance solutions for women and girls' – trot out Malala – and it was bought; hook, line and sinker.

This was not the new era of 'globalization', but rather the usual suspects going back to the 19th century; a 'feel-good' rebranding of the very same 19th century imperialism as described in J.A Hobson's seminal work from 1902, Imperialism. Its touted 'inevitability' rested not on the impossibility of alternate models, but on the authority that flows forth from gunboat diplomacy. But sea power has given way to land power.

In many ways it aligned with the era of de-colonialization and post-colonialism. New nations could wave their own flags and make their own laws, so long as the traditionally imperialist western banking institutions controlled the money supply.

But what is emerging is not Washington Consensus 'globalization', but a multipolar model based in civilizational sovereignty and difference, building products to last – for their usefulness and not their repeatable retail potential. This cuts against the claims that global homogenization in all spheres (moral, cultural, economic, political, etc.) was inevitable, as a consequence of mercantile specialization.

Therefore, inter-nationalism hyphenated as such, reminds us that nations – civilizations, sovereignty, and their differences – make us stronger as a human species. Like against viruses, some have stronger natural immunity than others. If people were identical, one virus could wipe-out all of humanity.

Likewise, an overly-integrated global economy leads to global melt-down and depression when one node collapses. Rather than independent pillars that could aid each other, the interdependence is its greatest weakness.

Multipolarity is Reality

This new reality – multipolarity – involves processes which aspects of globalization theory also suggest and predict for, so there are some honest reasons why experts could misdiagnose multipolarity as globalization. Overlooked was that the concentration of capital nodes in various and globally diverse regions by continent, were not exclusively trans-Atlantic regions as in the standard globalization model of Alpha ++ or Alpha+ cities. This capital concentration along continental lines was occurring alongside regional economic development and rising living standards which tended to promote the efficiency of local transportation as opposed to ocean-travel in the production process. As regional nodes by continent had increasingly diversified their own domestic production, a general tendency for transportation costs to increase as individual per capita usage increased, worked against the viability of an over-reliance on global transit lines.

But among many problems in globalization theory was that the US would always be the primary consumer of the world's goods, and with it, the trans-Atlantic financial sector. It was also contingent on the idea that mercantilist conceptions of specialization (by nation or by region) would always trump autarkic models and ISI (income substitution industrialization). Again, if middle-class consumer bases are rising in all the world's inhabited continents as multipolarity explains and predicts, then a global production regimen rationalized towards a trans-Atlantic consumer base as globalization theory predicts isn't quite as apt.

Because the present system is premised on a production-consumption and financial model, the solutions to crises are presented as population reduction and what even appears, at least in the case of Europe, as population replacement. As cliché as this may seem, this also appeared to be the policy of the Third Reich when capitalism faced its last major crises culminating in WWII.

Breaking the Wheel

The shutdown reveals the karmic wheel of production-consumption is in truth already broken. We have already passed the zenith point of what the old paradigm had to offer, and it has long since entered into a period of decay, economic and moral destruction.

Like the Christ who brings forth a new covenant or the Buddha who emerges to break the wheel of karma, the new world to be built on the ruins of modernity is a world that liberates the productive forces, realizing their full potential, and with it the liberation of man from the machine of the production-consumption cycle.

Planned obsolescence and consumerism (marketing) are the twin evils that have worked towards the simultaneous time-wasting enslavement of 'living to work' , and have built globalization based on global assembly and global mono-culture.

What is important for people and their quality of life is the time to live life, not be stuck in the grind. We hear politicians and economists talking about 'everyone having a job', as if what people want is to be away from their families, friends, passions, or hobbies. What's more – people cannot invent, innovate, or address the greater questions of life and death – if their nose is to the grindstone.

Now that we are living under an overt system of control, a 'medical state of emergency' with a frozen economy, we can see that another world is possible. The truth is that most things which are produced are intentionally made to break at a specific time, so that a re-purchase is predictable and profits are guaranteed. This compels global supply chains and justifies artificially induced crashes aimed at upward redistribution and mass expropriations.

Instead of allowing Bill Gates to tour the world to tout a police-state cum population reduction scheme right after a global virus pandemic struck, one which many believe he owns the patent for , we can instead address the issues of multipolarity, civilizational sovereignty, and ending planned obsolescence and the global supply chain, as well as the off-shoring it necessitates – which the BBC rightly notes, is in question anyhow.

[Apr 12, 2020] Weimar America, here we come! Virus Hysteria adds $10 trillion to the National Debt by Mike Whitney

Apr 12, 2020 | www.unz.com

There's no doubt that the Coronavirus is a serious infection that can lead to severe illness or death. There's also no doubt that 'virus hysteria' has been used for other purposes. Wall Street, for example, has used virus-panic to advance its own agenda and get another round of trillion dollar bailouts. In fact, it took less than a week to get the pushover congress to ram through a massive $2.2 trillion boondoggle without even one lousy congressman offering a peep of protest. That's got to be some kind of record.

In 2008, at the peak of the financial crisis, Congress voted "No" to the $700 billion TARP bill. Some readers might recall how a number of GOP congressmen bravely banded together and flipped Wall Street "the bird". That didn't happen this time around. Even though the bill is three times bigger than the TARP ( $2.2 trillion), no one lifted a finger to stop it. Why?

Fear, that's why. Everyone in congress was scared to death that if they didn't rush this debt-turd through the House pronto, the economy would collapse while tens of thousands of corpses would be stacking up in cities across the country. Of course the reason they believed this nonsense was because the goofy infectious disease experts confidently assured everyone that the body-count would be "in the hundreds of thousands if not millions." Remember that fiction? The most recent estimate is somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 total. I don't need to tell you that the difference between 60,000 and "millions" is a little more than a rounding-error.

So we've had the wool pulled over our eyes, right? Not as bad as congress, but, all the same, we've been hoodwinked and we've been fleeced. And the people who have axes to grind have been very successful in taking advantage of the hysteria and promoting their own agendas. Maybe you've noticed the reemergence of creepy Bill Gates and the Vaccine Gestapo or NWO Henry Kissinger warning us that, "the world will never be the same after the coronavirus".

What do these people know that we don't know? Doesn't it all make you a bit suspicious? And when you see nonstop commercials on TV telling you to "wash your hands"or "keep your distance" or "stay inside" and, oh yeah, "We're all in this together", doesn't it leave you scratching your head and wondering who the hell is orchestrating this virus-charade and what do they really have in mind for us unwashed masses??

At least in the case of Wall Street, we know what they want. They want money and lots of it.

Have you looked over the $2.2 trillion CARES bill that Trump just signed into law a couple weeks ago? It's pretty grim reading, so I'll save you the effort. Here's a rough breakdown:

$250 billion will go for the $1,200 checks that most of us will receive in a couple weeks. And $250 billion will be provided for extended unemployment insurance benefits.

That's $500 billion.

Working people will get $500 billion while Wall Street and Corporate America will get 3 times that amount. ($1.7 trillion) And even that's a mere fraction of the total sum because– hidden in the small print– is a section that allows the Fed to lever-up the base-capital by 10-to-1 ($450 billion to $4.5 trillion) which means the Fed can buy as many "toxic" bonds and garbage assets as it chooses. The Fed is turning itself into a hedge fund in order to buy the sludge that has accumulated on the balance sheets of corporations and financial institutions for the last decade. It's another gigantic ripoff that's being cleverly concealed behind the ridiculous coronavirus hype. It's infuriating.

So here's the question: Do you think Congress knew that working people would only get a pittance while the bulk of the dough would go to Wall Street?

It's hard to say, but they certainly knew that the economy was cratering and that $500 billion wasn't going to put much of a dent in a $20 trillion economy. In other words, even if everyone goes out and blows their measly $1,200 checks on Day 1, we're still going to experience the sharpest economic contraction on record, a second Great Depression.

Maybe they should have talked about that in congress before they voted for this trillion-dollar turkey? Maybe they should have thought a little more about how the money should be distributed: Should it go to the people who actually buy things, generate activity and produce growth, or to the parasite class that blows up the system every decade and drags the economy down a black hole? That seems like something you might want to know before you pass a multi-trillion dollar bill that's supposed to fix the economy.

It's also worth noting that the $5.8 trillion is not nearly the total amount that Wall Street will eventually get. The Fed has already spent $2 trillion via its QE program (to shore up the dysfunctional repo market) and Fed chair Jay Powell announced on Thursday that another $2.3 trillion in loans and purchases would be used to buy municipal bonds, corporate bonds and loans to small businesses. The allocation for small businesses, which falls under the, Main Street Lending Program, has been widely touted as a sign of how much the Fed really cares about struggling Mom and Pop businesses that employ the majority of working Americans. But, once again, it's a sham and a boondoggle. The program is on-track to get $600 billion funding of which the US Treasury will provide the base-capital of $75 billion. The rest will be levered-up by 9-to-1 by the Fed, which means it's just more smoke and mirrors.

What readers need to realize is that the Treasury has accepted the credit risk for all of the loans that default . In other words, the American people are now on the hook for 100% of all of the loans that go south, and there's going to be alot of them because the banks have no reason to find creditworthy borrowers. They get a 5% cut off-the-top whether the loans blow up or not. And, that, my friend, is how you incentivize fraud which, as Bernie Sanders noted, "is Wall Street's business model."

It also helps to explain why Trump has repeatedly rejected congressional oversight of the various bailout programs. He's smart enough to know a good swindle when he sees one, and this one is a corker. The government is essentially waving trillions of dollars right under the noses of the world's most ravenous hyenas expecting them not to act in character. But of course they will act in character and hundreds of billions of dollars will be siphoned off by scheming sharpies who figure out how game the system and turn the whole fiasco into another Wall Street looting operation. You can bet on it.

So, what is the final tally?

Well, according to Trump's chief economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, the first bailout installment is $6.2 trillion (after the Fed ramps up the Treasury's contribution of $450 billion.). Then there's the $2.3 trillion in additional programs the Fed announced on Thursday. Finally, the Fed's QE program adds another $2 trillion in bond purchases since September 17, when the repo market went haywire.

Altogether, the total sum amounts to $10.5 trillion.

You know what they say, "A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon you're talking real money."

Of course, no one on Capitol Hill worries about trivialities like money because, "We're the United States of America, and our dollar will always be King." But there's a fundamental flaw to this type of thinking. Yes, the dollar is the world's reserve currency, but that's a privilege that the US has greatly abused over the years, and it's certainly not going to survive this latest wacky helicopter drop. No, I am not suggesting the US would ever default on its debt, that's not going to happen. But, yes, I am suggesting that the US will have to repay its debts in a currency that has lost a significant amount of its value. You don't have to be Einstein to figure out that you can't willy-nilly print-up $10 or $20 trillion dollars without eroding the value of the currency. That's a no-brainer. Central bankers around the world are now looking at their piles of USDs thinking, "Hmmm, maybe it's time I traded some of these greenbacks in for a few yen, euros or even Swiss francs?"

So how does this end? Can the Fed continue to write trillion dollar checks on an account that is already $23 trillion overdrawn? Will Central banks around the world continue to stockpile dollars when the Fed is printing them up faster than anyone can count? And what about China? How long before China realizes that US Treasuries are grossly overvalued, that US equities markets are unreformable, that the dollar is backed by nothing but red ink, and that Wall Street is the biggest and most corrupt cesspit on earth?

Not long, I'd wager. So, how does this end? It ends in a flash of monetary debasement preceded by a violent and destabilizing currency crisis. It's plain as the nose on your face. The Fed knows that when a nation's sovereign debt exceeds 100% of GDP, "there's almost no mathematical way to service that debt in real terms." Well, the US passed that milestone way-back in 2019 before this latest drunken spending-spree even began. It's safe to say, we've now entered the financial Twilight Zone, the Land of No Return. If we add the Fed's bulging balance sheet to the final estimate, (after all, it's just another shady Enron-type Special Purpose Vehicle) the national debt will be somewhere north of $33 trillion by year-end, which means that Uncle Sam will be the greatest credit risk on Planet Earth. Imagine how jaws will drop on the day that Moodys and Fitch slash the ratings on US Treasuries to Triple B "junk" status . That should turn a few heads.

So what can we expect in the months to come?

First, the economy is going to slip into a deflationary period as people get back to work and slowly resume their spending. But once demand picks up and the Fed's liquidity starts to kick in, the economy will rebound sharply followed by steadily rising prices. That's the red flag that will signal a weakening dollar. Similar to 1933, when Roosevelt took the U.S. off the gold standard and printed money like crazy, economic activity picked up but the value of the dollar dropped by 40%. A similar scenario seems likely here as well. Economist Lyn Alden Schwartzer summed it up like this in an article at

Seeking Alpha:

"One of the common debates is whether all of this debt, counteracted by a tremendous monetary expansion by the Federal Reserve in response, will cause a deflationary bust or an inflationary problem .. Fundamentally, evidence points to a period of deflation due to this global shutdown and demand destruction shock, likely followed in the coming years by rising inflation .

In the coming years, the United States will be effectively printing money to fund large fiscal deficits , while also having a large current account deficit and negative net international investment position. This is one of the main variables for my view that the dollar will likely decrease in value relative to a basket of foreign currencies in the coming years ." ( "Why This Is Unlike The Great Depression" , Seeking Alpha)

So, after decades of lethal low interest rates, relentless meddling and gross regulatory malpractice, the Fed has led us to this final, fatal crossroads: Inflate or default. From the looks of things, the choice has already been made. Wiemar America, here we come!

[Apr 12, 2020] Mike Davis on the pandemic and economic globalization. It is very very good.

Apr 12, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Apr 12 2020 13:26 utc | 9

Mike Davis on the pandemic. It is very very good.
This is a small sample from the interview:
".....MM: Is capitalist globalization biologically sustainable?

"...MD: Only by accepting a permanent triage of humanity and dooming part of the human race to eventual extinction.

"Economic globalization -- that is to say, the accelerated free movement of finance and investment within a single world market where labor is relatively immobile and deprived of traditional bargaining power -- is different from economic interdependence regulated by the universal protection of the rights of labor and small producers. Instead, we see a world system of accumulation that is everywhere breaking down traditional boundaries between animal diseases and humans, increasing the power of drug monopolies, proliferating carcinogenic waste, subsidizing oligarchy and undermining progressive governments committed to public health, destroying traditional communities (both industrial and preindustrial) and turning the oceans into sewers. Market solutions leave in place Dickensian social conditions and perpetuate the global shame of income-limited access to clean water and sanitation.

"The present crisis does force capital, large and small, to confront the possible breakdown of its global production chains and the ability to constantly re-source cheaper supplies of overseas labor. At the same time, it points to important new or expanding markets for vaccines, sterilization systems, surveillance technology, home grocery delivery and so on. The combined dangers and opportunities will lead to a partial fix: new products and procedures that reduce the health risks of constant disease emergence while simultaneously spurring the further development of surveillance capitalism. But these protections will almost certainly be limited -- if left up to markets and authoritarian nationalist regimes -- to rich countries and rich classes. They will reinforce walls, not pull them down, and deepen the divide between two humanities: one with resources to mitigate climate change and new pandemics and the other without...."

https://madamasr.com/en/2020/03/30/feature/politics/mike-davis-on-pandemics-super-capitalism-and-the-struggles-of-tomorrow/?fbclid=IwAR1IpLGS0IfrxvTNSr8G0CdouC0VsMTYk-M6kvhljN_Zu7vkDFFyuC5rUIs

[Apr 11, 2020] The country that glorifies profit at any cost and ruthless unethical competition will fare bad in case of any virus epidemic. That includes "Typhoid Mary" cases of selfish anti-social behaviour

Highly recommended!
Ideologically COVID-19 is another nail in the coffin of neoliberalism.
Apr 11, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org
bevin , Apr 10 2020 23:06 utc | 92
Diane Johnstone gets it right:

"...Today, quite a number of alternative media commentators are ready to believe in the absolute power not of God but of Mammon, of the powers of Wall Street and its partners in politics, the media and the military. In this view, nothing major happens that hasn't been planned by earthly powers for their own selfish interest.

"Mammon is wrecking the economy so a few oligarchs will own everything. Or else Mammon created the hoax Coronavirus 19 in order to lock us all up and deprive us of what little is left of our freedom. Or finally Mammon is using a virus in order to have a pretext to vaccinate us all with secret substances and turn us all into zombies.

"Is this credible? In one sense, it is. We know that Mammon is unscrupulous, morally capable of all crimes. But things do happen that Mammon did not plan, such as earthquakes, floods and plagues. Dislike of our ruling class combined with dislike of being locked up leads to the equation: They are simply using this (fake) crisis in order to lock us up!

"But what for? To whom is there any advantage in locking down the population? For the pleasure of telling themselves, "Aha, we've got them where we want them, all stuck at home!" Is this intended to suppress popular revolt? What popular revolt? Why repress people who aren't doing anything that needs to be repressed?...

"What is the use of locking up a population – and I think especially of the United States – that is disunited, disorganized, profoundly confused by generations of ideological indoctrination telling them that their country is "the best" in every way, and thus unable to formulate coherent demands on a system that exploits them ruthlessly? Do you need to lock up your faithful Labrador so he won't bite you?...

"....Mammon is blinded by its own hubris, often stupid, incompetent, dumbed down by getting away with so much so easily. Take a look at Mike Pompeo or Mike Pence – are these all-powerful geniuses? No, they are semi-morons who have been able to crawl up a corrupt system contemptuous of truth, virtue or intelligence – like the rest of the gangsters in power in a system devoid of any ethical or intellectual standards.

"The power of creatures like that is merely the reflection of the abdication of social responsibility by whole populations whose disinterest in politics has allowed the scum to rise to the top.

The lockdown decreed by our Western governments reveals helplessness rather than power. They did not rush to lock us down. The lockdown is disastrous for the economy which is their prime concern. They hesitated and did so only when they had to do something and were ill-equipped to do anything else. They saw that China had done so with good results. But smart Asian governments did even more, deploying masks, tests and treatments Western governments did not possess..."

https://consortiumnews.com/2020/04/10/covid-19-coronavirus-and-civilization/

[Apr 11, 2020] Coronavirus exposed fragility of offshored supply chains

Apr 11, 2020 | finance.yahoo.com

From toilet paper shortages to computer chips, the novel coronavirus pandemic has exposed many weak links in the highly globalized supply chains that enable goods to move around the world.

Now, many companies are taking a long, hard look at their models to see if the status quo still works. If the coronavirus broke the supply chain, how do you fix it? What should be changed, and what should not be changed?

There are three parts of the supply chain that have been thrown into question: offshoring, just-in-time inventory, and diversification -- and every company reliant on manufacturing is likely examining these factors.

What the coronavirus won't change: offshoring

From clothing to electronics and much more, things in the United States usually come from really far away, often from China, where the new coronavirus originated. For many companies, this is often unavoidable, because many goods would be prohibitively expensive if made in regions where labor costs are high. Offshoring and outsourcing exploded after 1979, when China adopted its Open Door Policy, allowing foreign companies to access its vast and inexpensive labor market, enabling far cheaper goods than before.

Taiwan-based Foxconn is best known as the assembler of the iPhone, with many factories in China like this one in Shenzhen. But going forward, companies will have to diversify their supply chains to ensure that they can still function if one country goes offline. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

"Anything that was labor intensive -- footwear, apparel, assembly of electronics -- moved to China," said Marshall Fisher , a professor of operations, information, and decisions at Wharton. "In 1960, 5% of the world's physical products crossed boundaries. That's grown to about 50%."

The trade-off from offshoring is lead time. A widget produced in China takes a long time to sail to the West, unless you put it on a plane, which eats up much of the cost savings. For many companies, that means nailing predictions to make sure they don't make too much product or too little, which isn't easy.

The key aspect with international trade, during the pandemic, is politics. It can be good and bad for business.

Rob Siegel, a Stanford professor who studies supply chains and has created them for businesses, recalled as a business school student in the fall 1993 when former Intel ( INTC ) CEO Andy Grove told his class that there will never be war with China because "you will never invade the country that has the factories that make all your things."

Unfortunately, when it comes to pandemics, politics don't help. Taiwan, a manufacturing powerhouse, banned mask exports in late January as the coronavirus surged. (Taiwan later lifted the ban and donated many masks to other countries.) Dozens of countries -- including much of Europe, the U.S., and Brazil -- followed, either banning or restricting exports due to coronavirus.

This, perhaps greater than anything else, has prompted the question: Do you really want to rely on X country during an emergency?

However, this is more of a question for governments than businesses, which are more focused on making money than national security.

For many companies, making stuff abroad is the only viable option, but they do need to continue functioning if something bad happens. That's why Fisher thinks the question companies will be asking isn't "is our supply chain too long?," but rather "should we be investing in resilience of the [complex, international] supply chain?"

The 'just-in-time' model cracks

Companies don't just buy stuff from far away, but they have been buying the least amount of stuff possible -- running lean inventory and only buying when they need to.

That's called the "just-in-time" inventory model, and like predicting months in advance when buying from afar, companies have gotten really good at creating models that allow them to run extremely efficiently. The downside of this model is it's fragile: If something goes wrong, companies will be in a bind.

So, when the coronavirus hit, some companies and consumers experienced supply issues.

But what should a company do if they operate under this model?

"Largely speaking [just-in-time] isn't going to be redesigned for a 100-year crisis," said Siegel. "It's almost impossible to plan for something that happens every 100 years."

This may sound like a gamble, but for many companies, changing the entire model just doesn't make sense. As Yossi Sheffi, director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, told Yahoo Finance, there are just too many advantages of "just-in-time" that go beyond cost. There's more speed and agility, but also more quality.

When an auto production line experiences a problem with a part, for example, you have a pile of parts and swap a new one in. But with just-in-time, "you stop the line, find out what's wrong, and fix it," Sheffi said. "Low inventory helps people find out what's wrong."

For some stuff, however, we may see significant changes in inventory management. The pandemic has shown that the critical strategic reserves of products like ventilators and personal protective equipment are simply not adequate during a global emergency. The U.S., unable to import ventilators quickly due to other countries' export laws, resorted to deputizing General Motors ( GM ) to make ventilators.

For many, that wasn't quick enough, and shifting the permanent production domestically may not be feasible either in the future. But what might be more practical is planning for more inventory.

"If you have 100,000 ventilators that you could pull out at a moment's notice, that'd be easier [than it would be] to nationalize GM via the Defense Protection Act," said Siegel.

Going forward, the government may choose to mandate that certain companies run with more inventory for critical items like ventilators, just in case, and keep their own warehouses better stocked.

What will change: diversification

For the most part, however, just-in-time inventory is here to stay, and low-cost offshoring isn't going anywhere. But what Yossi, Siegel, and Fisher agree will change is diversification.

"The first line of defense is to make your components in multiple places," said Fisher. "The idea is at least two companies making it in two geographic locations."

"I expect companies to have at least a secondary supplier," said Sheffi. "Not 50%, maybe 20-30%."

Rising wages in China have forced some companies to move their manufacturing away from the country, said Fisher, but many companies are still exposed.

Fisher noted that the 2011 Tsunami in Japan taught many companies, like Apple, the lesson to be more robust in the face of disruption, but that as the disaster faded into memory, so did the calls to diversify.

"Apple [has] foregone the few millions of costs to make the supply chain more robust and lost $100 billion in market cap," he said. "The needle has tipped too much to efficiency from robustness."

Since then, the volleys of tariffs and uncertainty during the trade war with China caused companies to realize that relying solely on that country for manufacturing exposed them to big risks. Many companies, including Apple ( AAPL ), decided it would be a good idea to get more baskets to put their eggs in . Inadvertently, the U.S.-China trade war prepared some companies for the coronavirus pandemic. But few had made any big moves by the time the coronavirus hit.

This, Fisher said, is a wakeup call.

"What companies will do is map their supply chain, look at everything that goes in," said Fisher. "And those supply chains can be 10 layers deep. Foxconn gets things from other suppliers, which get them from another."

What you get from this is a figure called "revenue at risk," which helps underscore the amount of money that is at stake should one link break in the chain. By adding other suppliers, that number can be brought down, avoiding a catastrophic stoppage for a business.

But given that this is somewhat of a 100-year storm -- literally, the last major pandemic was in 1918 -- the question remains: how many companies will simply roll the dice instead?

--

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumer issues, personal finance, retail, airlines, and more. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann .

[Apr 11, 2020] 'Never in my country': COVID-19 and American exceptionalism by Jeanne Morefield

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World." ..."
"... In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. ..."
"... Since then, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow the governments of approximately 50 countries, many of which (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile) had elected leaders willing to nationalize their natural resources and industries. Often these interventions took the form of covert operations. Less frequently, the United States went to war to achieve these same ends (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq). ..."
"... In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit. ..."
Apr 07, 2020 | responsiblestatecraft.org

This March, as COVID-19's capacity to overwhelm the American healthcare system was becoming obvious, experts marveled at the scenario unfolding before their eyes. "We have Third World countries who are better equipped than we are now in Seattle," noted one healthcare professional, her words echoed just a few days later by a shocked doctor in New York who described "a third-world country type of scenario." Donald Trump could similarly only grasp what was happening through the same comparison. "I have seen things that I've never seen before," he said . "I mean I've seen them, but I've seen them on television and faraway lands, never in my country."

At the same time, regardless of the fact that "Third World" terminology is outdated and confusing, Trump's inept handling of the pandemic has itself elicited more than one "banana republic" analogy, reflecting already well-worn, bipartisan comparisons of Trump to a " third world dictator " (never mind that dictators and authoritarians have never been confined solely to lower income countries).

And yet, while such comparisons provoke predictably nativist outrage from the right, what is absent from any of these responses to the situation is a sense of reflection or humility about the "Third World" comparison itself. The doctor in New York who finds himself caught in a "third world" scenario and the political commentators outraged when Trump behaves "like a third world dictator" uniformly express themselves in terms of incredulous wonderment. One never hears the potential second half of this comparison: "I am now experiencing what it is like to live in a country that resembles the kind of nation upon whom the United States regularly imposes broken economies and corrupt leaders."

Because behind today's coronavirus-inspired astonishment at conditions in developing or lower income countries, and Trump's authoritarian-like thuggery, lies an actual military and political hegemon with an actual impact on the world; particularly on what was once called the "Third World."

In physical terms, the U.S.'s military hegemony is comprised of 800 bases in over 70 nations – more bases than any other nation or empire in history. The U.S. maintains drone bases, listening posts, "black sites," aircraft carriers, a massive nuclear stockpile, and military personnel working in approximately 160 countries. This is a globe-spanning military and security apparatus organized into regional commands that resemble the "proconsuls of the Roman empire and the governors-general of the British." In other words, this apparatus is built not for deterrence, but for primacy.

The U.S.'s global primacy emerged from the wreckage of World War II when the United States stepped into the shoes vacated by European empires. Throughout the Cold War, and in the name of supporting "free peoples," the sprawling American security apparatus helped ensure that 300 years of imperial resource extraction and wealth distribution – from what was then called the Third World to the First – remained undisturbed, despite decolonization.

Since then, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow the governments of approximately 50 countries, many of which (e.g. Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, and Chile) had elected leaders willing to nationalize their natural resources and industries. Often these interventions took the form of covert operations. Less frequently, the United States went to war to achieve these same ends (e.g. Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq).

In fiscal terms, maintaining American hegemony requires spending more on "defense" than the next seven largest countries combined. Our nearly $1 trillion security budget now amounts to about 15 percent of the federal budget and over half of all discretionary spending. Moreover, the U.S. security budget continues to increase despite the Pentagon's inability to pass a fiscal audit.

Trump's claim that Obama had "hollowed out" defense spending was not only grossly untrue, it masked the consistency of the security budget's metastasizing growth since the Vietnam War, regardless of who sits in the White House. At $738 billion dollars, Trump's security budget was passed in December with the overwhelming support of House Democrats.

And yet, from the perspective of public discourse in this country, our globe-spanning, resource-draining military and security apparatus exists in an entirely parallel universe to the one most Americans experience on a daily level. Occasionally, we wake up to the idea of this parallel universe but only when the United States is involved in visible military actions. The rest of the time, Americans leave thinking about international politics – and the deaths, for instance, of 2.5 million Iraqis since 2003 – to the legions of policy analysts and Pentagon employees who largely accept American military primacy as an "article of faith," as Professor of International Security and Strategy at the University of Birmingham Patrick Porter has said .

Foreign policy is routinely the last issue Americans consider when they vote for presidents even though the president has more discretionary power over foreign policy than any other area of American politics. Thus, despite its size, impact, and expense, the world's military hegemon exists somewhere on the periphery of most Americans' self-understanding, as though, like the sun, it can't be looked upon directly for fear of blindness.

Why is our avoidance of the U.S.'s weighty impact on the world a problem in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic? Most obviously, the fact that our massive security budget has gone so long without being widely questioned means that one of the soundest courses of action for the U.S. during this crisis remains resolutely out of sight.

The shock of discovering that our healthcare system is so quickly overwhelmed should automatically trigger broader conversations about spending priorities that entail deep and sustained cuts in an engorged security budget whose sole purpose is the maintenance of primacy. And yet, not only has this not happened, $10.5 billion of the coronavirus aid package has been earmarked for the Pentagon, with $2.4 billion of that channeled to the "defense industrial base." Of the $500 billion aimed at corporate America, $17.5 billion is set aside "for businesses critical to maintaining national security" such as aerospace.

To make matters worse, our blindness to this bloated security complex makes it frighteningly easy for champions of American primacy to sound the alarm when they even suspect a dip in funding might be forthcoming. Indeed, before most of us had even glanced at the details of the coronavirus bill, foreign policy hawks were already issuing dark prediction s about the impact of still-imaginary cuts in the security budget on the U.S.'s "ability to strike any target on the planet in response to hostile actions by any actor" – as if that ability already did not exist many times over.

On a more existential level, a country that is collectively engaged in unseeing its own global power cannot help but fail to make connections between that power and domestic politics, particularly when a little of the outside world seeps in. For instance, because most Americans are unaware of their government's sponsorship of fundamentalist Islamic groups in the Middle East throughout the Cold War, 9/11 can only ever appear to have come from nowhere, or because Muslims hate our way of life.

This "how did we get here?" attitude replicates itself at every level of political life making it profoundly difficult for Americans to see the impact of their nation on the rest of the world, and the blowback from that impact on the United States itself. Right now, the outsized influence of American foreign policy is already encouraging the spread of coronavirus itself as U.S. imposed sanctions on Iran severely hamper that country's ability to respond to the virus at home and virtually guarantee its spread throughout the region.

Closer to home, our shock at the healthcare system's inept response to the pandemic masks the relationship between the U.S.'s imposition of free-market totalitarianism on countries throughout the Global South and the impact of free-market totalitarianism on our own welfare state .

Likewise, it is more than karmic comeuppance that the President of the United States now resembles the self-serving authoritarians the U.S. forced on so many formerly colonized nations. The modes of militarized policing American security experts exported to those authoritarian regimes also contributed , on a policy level, to both the rise of militarized policing in American cities and the rise of mass incarceration in the 1980s and 90s. Both of these phenomena played a significant role in radicalizing Trump's white nationalist base and decreasing their tolerance for democracy.

Most importantly, because the U.S. is blind to its power abroad, it cannot help but turn that blindness on itself. This means that even during a pandemic when America's exceptionalism – our lack of national healthcare – has profoundly negative consequences on the population, the idea of looking to the rest of the world for solutions remains unthinkable.

Senator Bernie Sanders' reasonable suggestion that the U.S., like Denmark, should nationalize its healthcare system is dismissed as the fanciful pipe dream of an aging socialist rather than an obvious solution to a human problem embraced by nearly every other nation in the world. The Seattle healthcare professional who expressed shock that even "Third World countries" are "better equipped" than we are to confront COVID-19 betrays a stunning ignorance of the diversity of healthcare systems within developing countries. Cuba, for instance, has responded to this crisis with an efficiency and humanity that puts the U.S. to shame.

Indeed, the U.S. is only beginning to feel the full impact of COVID-19's explosive confrontation with our exceptionalism: if the unemployment rate really does reach 32 percent, as has been predicted, millions of people will not only lose their jobs but their health insurance as well. In the middle of a pandemic.

Over 150 years apart, political commentators Edmund Burke and Aimé Césaire referred to this blindness as the byproduct of imperialism. Both used the exact same language to describe it; as a "gangrene" that "poisons" the colonizing body politic. From their different historical perspectives, Burke and Césaire observed how colonization boomerangs back on colonial society itself, causing irreversible damage to nations that consider themselves humane and enlightened, drawing them deeper into denial and self-delusion.

Perhaps right now there is a chance that COVID-19 – an actual, not metaphorical contagion – can have the opposite effect on the U.S. by opening our eyes to the things that go unseen. Perhaps the shock of recognizing the U.S. itself is less developed than our imagined "Third World" might prompt Americans to tear our eyes away from ourselves and look toward the actual world outside our borders for examples of the kinds of political, economic, and social solidarity necessary to fight the spread of Coronavirus. And perhaps moving beyond shock and incredulity to genuine recognition and empathy with people whose economies and democracies have been decimated by American hegemony might begin the process of reckoning with the costs of that hegemony, not just in "faraway lands" but at home. In our country.

[Apr 10, 2020] NWO, globalism and US leadership RIP by The Saker

Apr 10, 2020 | www.unz.com

...The quality and sheer size of the AngloZionist propaganda machine was very successful in keeping most of the people in the West in total ignorance of these realities. The faster the Empire was collapsing, the more Obama or Trump peppered their patriotic flag-waving ceremonies (aka "press conferences") with references to an "indispensable nation" providing "vital leadership" thanks to its "the best economy in history", the "best military in history" and even "unbelievable CEOs", "incredible politicians" and even "incredible conversations". The message was simple: we are the best, better than all the rest and we are invincible.

Then COVID19 happened.

... ... ...

First , the imperial propaganda machine is simply unable to conceal the magnitude of the disaster, even in countries like the US or the UK. Oh sure, initially doctors and even USN ship commanders were summarily fired for speaking the truth, but even those cases proved impossible to conceal and public opinion got even more suspicious of official assurances and statements. The truth is that most of the entire planet already realized that this is a huge crisis and that countries like Russia or China responded better than the US. The planet also knows that the US "health not care" system is broke, corrupt, and mostly dysfunctional and that Trump's initial optimism was based on nothing. BTW – Trump haters have immediately instrumentalized the crisis to bash Trump. The sad thing is that while they are no better (and most definitely not the braindead Uncle Joe), they are right about Trump being completely out of touch with reality. In the age of the Internet this is a reality which even the US propaganda machine is unable to conceal from the US public forever.

Second , and that is now quite obvious, it is becoming clear that the capitalist ideology of free markets, globalism, consumerism, extreme individualism and, above all, greed, is totally unable to cope with the crisis. Even more offensively to those who still believed in an ideology based on the assumption that the sum of our greeds will create an optimal society, countries with stronger collectivist traditions of solidarity (whether "enhanced" by Marxist or Socialist ideas or not) did much better. China for starters, but also Cuba and even Russia (which is neither Marxist nor Socialist, but which has very strong collectivist traditions) or South Korea or Singapore (both non-Marxists with strong collectivist traditions). Even tiny Venezuela, embattled and under siege by the Empire, managed to do much better than the US or the UK . Not only did these countries all fare much better than much richer, and putatively much "freer", countries, they did so while under US sanctions. And, finally, just to add insult to injury, these supposedly "bad" countries proved much more generous than those incorporated into the Empire: they sent many tons of vitally needed equipment and hundred of specialized scientists and even military personnel to help those countries most in need (Italy, Spain, Serbia, etc.).

... ... ...

Third , then we all saw the ugly sight of various western "democracies" literally stealing vital medical gear from each other, over and over again. In fact, under a purely capitalistic logic, this kind of "competition" was both inevitable (true) and even desirable (false): major Med & Pharma companies all have used this financial windfall to maximize their profits (which is, after all, what all corporations have to do in a capitalist system: get as much money as possible for their shareholders).

... ... ...

Fourth , we also witness the raw nastiness of the imperial propaganda machine in articles about how "Russia sent useless gear to Italy", that "Chinese equipment did not work" or about how all the countries which responded better and sooner were all lying about the real numbers (which is utter nonsense, the Chinese have been very open, as have the Russians: the truth is that in the early phases of a pandemic it is impossible to get real numbers, that can only be done much later). This is as false as the "Iraqi incubators", "genocidal Serbs" or "Gaddafi's Viagra" and time will prove it.

Fifth , then there is the issue of poverty. We see the first signs that this pandemic (like all pandemics) is affecting the poor much harder than the rich. Hardly a surprise For example, in the US cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit, Miami or New Orleans have a lot of poor neighborhoods and that people there are getting hit very hard.

... ... ...

Sixth , just like the Empire itself, NATO and the EU are also in free fall, both clueless as to what to do and in a panic about doing anything proactive. Besides the flag-waving Idiot-in-Chief, I also took the time to listen to both Macron and Merkel. They are both in a full-freak-out mode, Macron speaks over and over about a "war" while Merkel declared that the pandemic is the most serious challenge facing Germany since WWII!

... ... ...

Seven , in the US, the contrast between the Federal government and the state authorities is quite startling. As much as the Federal government is terminally dysfunctional, state governors have often had to use a lot of out of the box thinking to get supplies and specialists

Anon [189] Disclaimer , says: Show Comment April 8, 2020 at 2:43 am GMT

Solid article!

I can only wish good luck to trump on this examination of WHO-it is riddled with fraud, corruption, massive conflicts of interest. The same applies to CDC, which is a revolving door for Big Pharma.

[Apr 09, 2020] Coronavirus Means No More Money for Forever Wars by Daniel L. Davis

Notable quotes:
"... This pandemic we are facing represents the greatest challenge our country has faced in generations. It will take every ounce of energy and focus we have to navigate these troubled waters. We must wisely use our limited resources to support our domestic needs–and end our addiction to fighting unnecessary forever-wars. ..."
"... After all, American lawmakers are owned and operated by the corporate sector, led by the petrochemical industry. ..."
Apr 07, 2020 | nationalinterest.org

For the better part of the past two decades, the United States has indulgently and counterproductively wasted over $6 trillion and thousands of lives on unnecessary wars abroad. The towering costs imposed on our country by coronavirus now exposes how Washington's skewed priorities left the nation fragile internally and vulnerable to a crisis. For our own security, it is time to end these pointless drains on our resources and prioritize strengthening America.

The most egregious examples of our expensive and unnecessary military deployments abroad are the combat operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Africa. The Department of Defense will receive $165 billion in overseas contingency operations funding for Fiscal Year 2020 alone. These operations will include a total of over 93,000 troops (including regional support troops). Those are staggering numbers.

They are also wholly unnecessary. There are no security threats to America in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan or Africa that in any way justify such expenses. Up until now, these costs have had virtually no impact on the population at large. With the mounting costs as a result of coronavirus, however, it is clear we can no longer afford the luxury of burning money on peripheral military missions.

Even after Congress passed an unprecedented $2 trillion stimulus package in response to COVID-19, the hit to our economy will not be quickly repaired.

This stimulus package barely addresses the huge and expanding problem of a health care system struggling to cope with the exploding costs of providing care for so many seriously ill people. There are shortages of personal protective equipment necessary for medical professionals, large-scale testing remains a challenge, and in some locations finding enough hospital beds for ICU patients is almost at the breaking point.Despite the clear and present danger coronavirus poses to millions of our citizens, there are some in Washington who want to continue pushing the thoroughly discredited "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, unnecessarily inflaming tensions with a country that poses a minimal threat to America. This situation is even worse than the possibility of wasting resources desperately needed at home, it puts American servicemen and women in Iraq and Syria at almost daily risk of their lives–and the potential to get us dragged into a new war.

The architects of the maximum pressure campaign against Tehran have long promised that it would moderate Iran's behavior, that it would compel them to restrain their malevolent behavior, and that it would increase the chances of crafting a new, better deal. The result has been precisely and dramatically the opposite.

Despite the crippling sanctions and the devastation caused to their economy, Iran is now openly ramping up its nuclear development activities, is engaging in risky behavior in the region, and is presently unwilling even to consider diplomacy until we relieve sanctions. The more we push, the further from a resolution we get and the higher the chances that a miscalculation on someone's part inadvertently drags America into a war it neither needs nor wants.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been exceedingly expensive, but a conflict with Iran would be considerably worse and require our country–when it could least afford it–to divert enormous resources and manpower to fighting a wholly unnecessary conflict that would likely drag on many years. Such a war–in the current economic straits–could plunge our country into a depression .

Flatly stated, Iran is no more than a middling power in the region that is more than balanced by its neighbors. Our conventional military and nuclear deterrent could overpower any unprovoked attack Iran may ever consider. There is no justification, therefore, in maintaining this pointless pressure campaign and risking a war we don't need.

This pandemic we are facing represents the greatest challenge our country has faced in generations. It will take every ounce of energy and focus we have to navigate these troubled waters. We must wisely use our limited resources to support our domestic needs–and end our addiction to fighting unnecessary forever-wars.

Daniel L. Davis is a Senior Fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after 21 years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1 .


Carroll Price an hour ago • edited ,

The sole purpose behind the Forever Wars is creating the prophesied Greater Isreal by destroying it's competitors and rivals in the region.

Dario Seventi 2 hours ago ,

Is the fact that we are insolvent stopping the Pentagon from requesting increased military spending? Is the fact that we are broke stopping the neo-cons for war preparations with Iran and Venezuela? I'm convinced that the only thing that will put an end to our insane foreign policy is when some other country finally says enough, and gives us a taste of our own medicine.

deliaruhe 18 hours ago ,

...After all, American lawmakers are owned and operated by the corporate sector, led by the petrochemical industry.

The "expert" quoted at the top of this essay is quite right: war is an American addiction. Whether they are regime-changing, or wagging the dog, or going abroad to slay dragons, Washington will never get this monkey off its back---unless it's forced to go cold turkey. Only a deep economic depression can do that---and that looks to me as if it's on the horizon. It will be one that takes the whole of the North Atlantic world with it.

Ahson rightiswrong rightiswrong 17 hours ago ,

Well, mammy's basement aren't so bad these days. And what's so cowardly about pulling out due to Iranian/ PMU pressure? justifying it on the pandemic? You know you're time's up in Iraq. Any excuse will do.

[Apr 08, 2020] The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults: The blanket dissemination of the ideology of free market capitalism through the media and the purging, especially in academia, of critical voices have permitted our oligarchs to orchestrate the largest income inequality gap in the industrialized world

Apr 08, 2020 | www.truthdig.com

"The rich are different from us," F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have remarked to Ernest Hemingway, to which Hemingway allegedly replied, "Yes, they have more money."

The exchange, although it never actually took place, sums up a wisdom Fitzgerald had that eluded Hemingway. The rich are different. The cocoon of wealth and privilege permits the rich to turn those around them into compliant workers, hangers-on, servants, flatterers and sycophants. Wealth breeds, as Fitzgerald illustrated in "The Great Gatsby" and his short story "The Rich Boy," a class of people for whom human beings are disposable commodities. Colleagues, associates, employees, kitchen staff, servants, gardeners, tutors, personal trainers, even friends and family, bend to the whims of the wealthy or disappear. Once oligarchs achieve unchecked economic and political power, as they have in the United States, the citizens too become disposable.

The public face of the oligarchic class bears little resemblance to the private face. I, like Fitzgerald, was thrown into the embrace of the upper crust when young. I was shipped off as a scholarship student at the age of 10 to an exclusive New England boarding school. I had classmates whose fathers -- fathers they rarely saw -- arrived at the school in their limousines accompanied by personal photographers (and at times their mistresses), so the press could be fed images of rich and famous men playing the role of good fathers. I spent time in the homes of the ultra-rich and powerful, watching my classmates, who were children, callously order around men and women who worked as their chauffeurs, cooks, nannies and servants. When the sons and daughters of the rich get into serious trouble there are always lawyers, publicists and political personages to protect them -- George W. Bush's life is a case study in the insidious affirmative action for the rich. The rich have a snobbish disdain for the poor -- despite well-publicized acts of philanthropy -- and the middle class. These lower classes are viewed as uncouth parasites, annoyances that have to be endured, at times placated and always controlled in the quest to amass more power and money. My hatred of authority, along with my loathing for the pretensions, heartlessness and sense of entitlement of the rich, comes from living among the privileged. It was a deeply unpleasant experience. But it exposed me to their insatiable selfishness and hedonism. I learned, as a boy, who were my enemies.

The inability to grasp the pathology of our oligarchic rulers is one of our gravest faults. We have been blinded to the depravity of our ruling elite by the relentless propaganda of public relations firms that work on behalf of corporations and the rich. Compliant politicians, clueless entertainers and our vapid, corporate-funded popular culture, which holds up the rich as leaders to emulate and assures us that through diligence and hard work we can join them, keep us from seeing the truth.

"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy," Fitzgerald wrote of the wealthy couple at the center of Gatsby's life. "They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."

Aristotle, Niccolò Machiavelli, Alexis de Tocqueville, Adam Smith and Karl Marx all began from the premise there is a natural antagonism between the rich and the masses. "Those who have too much of the goods of fortune, strength, wealth, friends, and the like, are neither willing nor able to submit to authority," Aristotle wrote in "Politics." "The evil begins at home; for when they are boys, by reason of the luxury in which they are brought up, they never learn, even at school, the habit of obedience." Oligarchs, these philosophers knew, are schooled in the mechanisms of manipulation, subtle and overt repression and exploitation to protect their wealth and power at our expense. Foremost among their mechanisms of control is the control of ideas. Ruling elites ensure that the established intellectual class is subservient to an ideology -- in this case free market capitalism and globalization -- that justifies their greed. "The ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships," Marx wrote, "the dominant material relationships grasped as ideas."

The blanket dissemination of the ideology of free market capitalism through the media and the purging, especially in academia, of critical voices have permitted our oligarchs to orchestrate the largest income inequality gap in the industrialized world. The top 1 percent in the United States own 40 percent of the nation's wealth while the bottom 80 percent own only 7 percent, as Joseph E. Stiglitz wrote in "The Price of Inequality." For every dollar that the wealthiest 0.1 percent amassed in 1980 they had an additional $3 in yearly income in 2008, David Cay Johnston explained in the article "9 Things the Rich Don't Want You to Know About Taxes." The bottom 90 percent, Johnson said, in the same period added only one cent. Half of the country is now classified as poor or low-income. The real value of the minimum wage has fallen by $2.77 since 1968. Oligarchs do not believe in self-sacrifice for the common good. They never have. They never will. They are the cancer of democracy."We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are," Wendell Berry writes. "Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all -- by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians -- be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us. How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing."

The rise of an oligarchic state offers a nation two routes, according to Aristotle. The impoverished masses either revolt to rectify the imbalance of wealth and power or the oligarchs establish a brutal tyranny to keep the masses forcibly enslaved. We have chosen the second of Aristotle's options. The slow advances we made in the early 20th century through unions, government regulation, the New Deal, the courts, an alternative press and mass movements have been reversed. The oligarchs are turning us -- as they did in the 19th century steel and textile factories -- into disposable human beings. They are building the most pervasive security and surveillance apparatus in human history to keep us submissive.

This imbalance would not have disturbed most of our Founding Fathers. The Founding Fathers, largely wealthy slaveholders, feared direct democracy. They rigged our political process to thwart popular rule and protect the property rights of the native aristocracy. The masses were to be kept at bay. The Electoral College, the original power of the states to appoint senators, the disenfranchisement of women, Native Americans, African-Americans and men without property locked most people out of the democratic process at the beginning of the republic. We had to fight for our voice. Hundreds of workers were killed and thousands were wounded in our labor wars. The violence dwarfed the labor battles in any other industrialized nation. The democratic openings we achieved were fought for and paid for with the blood of abolitionists, African-Americans, suffragists, workers and those in the anti-war and civil rights movements. Our radical movements, repressed and ruthlessly dismantled in the name of anti-communism, were the real engines of equality and social justice. The squalor and suffering inflicted on workers by the oligarchic class in the 19th century is mirrored in the present, now that we have been stripped of protection. Dissent is once again a criminal act. The Mellons, Rockefellers and Carnegies at the turn of the last century sought to create a nation of masters and serfs. The modern corporate incarnation of this 19th century oligarchic elite has created a worldwide neofeudalism, where workers across the planet toil in misery while corporate oligarchs amass hundreds of millions in personal wealth.

Class struggle defines most of human history. Marx got this right. The sooner we realize that we are locked in deadly warfare with our ruling, corporate elite, the sooner we will realize that these elites must be overthrown. The corporate oligarchs have now seized all institutional systems of power in the United States. Electoral politics, internal security, the judiciary, our universities, the arts and finance, along with nearly all forms of communication, are in corporate hands. Our democracy, with faux debates between two corporate parties, is meaningless political theater. There is no way within the system to defy the demands of Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry or war profiteers. The only route left to us, as Aristotle knew, is revolt.

It is not a new story. The rich, throughout history, have found ways to subjugate and re-subjugate the masses. And the masses, throughout history, have cyclically awoken to throw off their chains. The ceaseless fight in human societies between the despotic power of the rich and the struggle for justice and equality lies at the heart of Fitzgerald's novel, which uses the story of Gatsby to carry out a fierce indictment of capitalism. Fitzgerald was reading Oswald Spengler's "The Decline of the West" as he was writing "The Great Gatsby." Spengler predicted that, as Western democracies calcified and died, a class of "monied thugs" would replace the traditional political elites. Spengler was right about that.

"There are only two or three human stories," Willa Cather wrote, "and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before."

The seesaw of history has thrust the oligarchs once again into the sky. We sit humiliated and broken on the ground. It is an old battle. It has been fought over and over in human history. We never seem to learn. It is time to grab our pitchforks.

[Apr 06, 2020] For the central attribute is symmetry: the balancing of incentives and disincentives, people should also penalized if something for which they are responsible goes wrong and hurts others: he or she who wants a share of the benefits needs to also share some of the risks.

Apr 06, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Steve H. , April 6, 2020 at 8:22 am

Taleb Nassim on Skin in the Game:

For the central attribute is symmetry: the balancing of incentives and disincentives, people should also penalized if something for which they are responsible goes wrong and hurts others: he or she who wants a share of the benefits needs to also share some of the risks.

. . .

And in the absence of the filtering of skin in the game, the mechanisms of evolution fail: if someone else dies in your stead, the built up of asymmetric risks and misfitness will cause the system to eventually blow-up.

[medium.com/incerto/what-do-i-mean-by-skin-in-the-game-my-own-version-cc858dc73260]

vlade , April 6, 2020 at 8:38 am

Taleb's skin in the game ignores the disincentives the skin-in-the-game creates, which are often fat-tailed.

Feedback is not the same as skin-in-the-game.

Steve H. , April 6, 2020 at 9:30 am

I read your use of feedback as >reference to external stimuli (the real world).

With Taleb, I'm reading disincentives as penalties, and that lack of penalty/punishment warps the selection process of evolution. With respect to the post, that has created a lack of respect for risk by those who make decisions.

It can be taken a step farther, that the selection process has created perverse incentives. For example, the bailouts from 2008 made the FIRE sector qliphotically antifragile. In that scenario, risk becomes rewarding.

I want to be careful here about using the word feedback, its ambiguities could be confusing. Given that, I'm interested in knowing what you mean about ignoring the disincentives skin-in-the-game creates. Could you please expand on that?

vlade , April 6, 2020 at 10:07 am

Feedback as reference to external stimuli is ok.

My problem with Taleb's skin in the game is that, as he well knows, it's hard to distinguish luck (good or bad) and skill. How can we punish for luck though?

Think of a judge, who gets, through his skill, 99 out of 100 cases right. But the 100th – which, by pure luck, could be really large case – he gets wrong.

Or, even simpler. Technically, if you do one decision a day, and have 99% success rate, every three months you get somethign wrong (1-0.99^60 = 0.54) more likely than not. Should you be punished for this? If we yes, then people will start takin decisions where alternate history is hard to prove, i.e. you create a selection bias towards "do nothing". You can then be punished for "doing nothing" but most of the time "do nothing" is a safe choice. (it's a specific case of "go with the crowd")

Also, in decision making, context is extremely important (which is why courts go to super lenghts to establish it in judical cases). Taleb should know it, and he should also know that unless context is taken into account _in_full_ then the skin-in-the-game will not be seen as fair. But the problem is, the context can never be fully established, and rarely w/o the participation of the major decision maker. Who will have no incentive to participate. Which will hamper learning from it.

Skin in the game makes sense when you can clearly separate luck and skill, and clearly establish context. Even one of those is rare occasion, both is extremely so.

That said, you can often establish post fact when someone blew up (this is what the various enuiries do). And then you'd treat accordingly. But that's not skin-in-the-game, because again, the enquiry can establish that you acted in good faith, as most people would act at the time – and so assign no blame. So you may "fail honourably".

Skin in the game does not let you fail honourably – because it's not skin in the game anymore (because it can let you game the system again, via doing just enough to pass any future enquiry as "more could have been done, but there's no clear knowing dereliction of duty).

TLDR; skin-in-the-game is an attempt at simplictic solution to a complex problem. Taleb should know better.

Steve H. , April 6, 2020 at 10:58 am

Thanks, vlade. I shall ponder this.

[Apr 06, 2020] I wish it were so simple to merely say "private sector bad, government good". But the rot has set in from top to bottom across all aspects of how we manage our society and whether or not it started in the private sector, it has well and truly spread to infect the public sector, too.

Apr 06, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Clive , April 6, 2020 at 11:02 am

If only it was as simple as saying that services operated by the state were fine, it's private capital where the problem lies.

It's not. This is a societal and cultural problem.

There are employer "pushes" towards the deskilling and degrading of levels of operational competence. One is employers ( both public sector and private sector) do not want to pay for training and to retain a body of experienced employees because both of these cost money up-front with a payoff (in the form of competent, knowledgeable staff) that comes only slowly, later. And a churn of staff is seen as the sign, wrongly, but this is what the MBAs sell as snake oil, of a dynamic, healthy organization which is bringing in (through a process which never seems to be adequately explained) new talent.

Plus, of course, most obviously, younger and newer employees are cheaper so your average headcount cost is lower which is usually a management metric -- often one which is incentive-ised through reward.

There are also employee "pulls" -- and again, these are not just observed in the private sector. You see them in medicine, academia and even, most bizarrely, the arts. An example of these employee-instigated causes of a reduction in capability is that it becomes in-cultural-ated that if you spend too long in the same place, you're only doing so out of necessity because you're so useless, no-one else will employ you. So even if don't really want to move onto a different organization or a different field of work outside your skillset, you feel you have to, in order to avoid looking "stale", "resistant to change", "stuck in your comfort zone" or any other of the myriad of thought-crimes which you don't want, in today's job market, to be seen to having evidence of committing. And also, as collective union bargaining has gone the way of the dinosaur, more often than not, if you want a raise you have to threaten to quit to get one. But again, more often than not, your current employer will call your bluff and let you leave. So you have to have another job lined up to to go to, if you're not to fall into a trap of flouncing off in a huff but having no other work to walk straight into. While your current employer might not, if they were honest, want to lose you, the dynamics of the workplace being what they are, neither side can then climb down from the ultimatums they've just served.

Yes, there are some notable poster-children of how private enterprise has committed suicide through the wanton bloodletting of its skilled employees (Boeing being a recent case-in-point). But even if you cast your gaze in the direction of public employers, this same phenomena can be found in universities, colleges and K-12 schools (where faculties are no longer bolstered by a strong bench of tenured staff, contract and non-tenured hire-and-fire disposable staff are now the norm, I won't even go there on the effect of charter schools) healthcare (even in the UK's entirely public sector NHS, there is huge reliance on contract and agency staff which the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted and the government is trying, belatedly and without any clear indication it can do so in the short term to redress this and avoid being price-gouged). Or federal and state regulators which now simply do not understand the businesses they are supposed to be regulating and have to buy-in external "expertise" (and merely exacerbate the revolving door problem).

In summary, I wish it were so simple to merely say "private sector bad, government good". But the rot has set in from top to bottom across all aspects of how we manage our shared organizational maturity (or, should I say, now, fix our shared organizational immaturity) and whether or not it started in the private sector, it has well and truly spread to infect the public sector, too. This was the unmistakable point of the post, so it bears re-reading it again with a particular emphasis on understanding why this is the case.

[Apr 06, 2020] More about Bill Gates and hs efforts

Apr 06, 2020 | www.moonofalabama.org

Prof K , Apr 5 2020 14:55 utc | 1

Another angle in your post is the interesting role of "enlightened" capitalists -- the Krafts, Bill Gates, and soon to be others.

They are trying to fill the chasm in infrastructure, supplies and social cohesion created by the capitalist state and private capital.

Some of their efforts might pan out and be useful.

But they represent the wrong politics.

The crisis is not just about a virus and the lack of a medical cure; it is systemic: the social, political and economic order of America is institutionally and culturally unable to mobilize for virus prevention and suppression.

It literally takes a peoples' war. China wasn't lying.

And the billionaire philanthropists actually don't want us to think and act that way. Don't praise them. They want us to return to the old normal of grotesque neoliberal capitalism that made them rich beyond words.

Living in a quiet Boston suburb, I can see this clearly. The poor are still going out to work, dying, or suffering at home. The rich are off to the Cape, having food deliveries from uninsured, precarious workers, and have no concept of a collective effort as they continue to work for themselves from home.

There is no peak coming soon any time soon.

[Apr 05, 2020] John Maynard Keynes quote Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady...

As we see that during coronavirus epidemic Keynes some saying are more true then ever.
Apr 05, 2020 | www.azquotes.com

Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men, for the nastiest of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill done.

[Apr 05, 2020] Under neoliberalism the goverment failed to perform the most basic duty of any economic system: to protect and maintain public health and safety. U.S. capitalism's response to the coronavirus was too little, too late

Apr 05, 2020 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

In short, capitalism had built up vulnerabilities to another crash that any number of possible triggers could unleash. The trigger this time was not the dot.com meltdown of 2000 or the sub-prime meltdown of 2008/9; it was a virus. And of course, mainstream ideology requires focusing on the trigger, not the vulnerability. Thus mainstream policies aim to reestablish pre-virus capitalism. Even if they succeed, that will return us to a capitalist system whose accumulated vulnerabilities will soon again collapse from yet another trigger.

​In the light of the coronavirus pandemic, I focus criticism on capitalism and the vulnerabilities it has accumulated for several reasons. Viruses are part of nature. They have attacked human beings -- sometimes dangerously -- in both distant and recent history. In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed nearly 700,000 in the United States and millions elsewhere. Recent viruses include SARS, MERS andEbola. What matters to public health is each society's preparedness: stockpiled tests, masks, ventilators, hospital beds, trained personnel, etc., to manage dangerous viruses. In the U.S., such objects are produced by private capitalist enterprises whose goal is profit. It was not profitable to produce and stockpile such products, that was not and still is not being done.

Nor did the U.S. government produce or stockpile those medical products. Top U.S. government personnel privilege private capitalism; it is their primary objective to protect and strengthen. The result is that neither private capitalism nor the U.S. government performed the most basic duty of any economic system: to protect and maintain public health and safety. U.S. capitalism's response to the coronavirus pandemic continues to be what it has been since December 2019: too little, too late. It failed. It is the problem.

The second reason I focus on capitalism is that the responses to today's economic collapse by Trump, the GOP and most Democrats carefully avoid any criticism of capitalism. They all debate the virus, China, foreigners, other politicians, but never the system they all serve. When Trump and others press people to return to churches and jobs -- despite risking their and others' lives -- they place reviving a collapsed capitalism ahead of public health.

The third reason capitalism gets blame here is that alternative systems -- those not driven by a profit-first logic -- could manage viruses better. While not profitable to produce and stockpile everything needed for a viral pandemic, it is efficient. The wealth already lost in this pandemic far exceeds the cost to have produced and stockpiled the tests and ventilators, the lack of which is contributing so much to today's disaster. Capitalism often pursues profit at the expense of more urgent social needs and values. In this, capitalism is grossly inefficient. This pandemic is now bringing that truth home to people.

A worker-coop based economy -- where workers democratically run enterprises, deciding what, how and where to produce, and what to do with any profits -- could, and likely would, put social needs and goals (like proper preparation for pandemics) ahead of profits. Workers are the majority in all capitalist societies; their interests are those of the majority. Employers are always a small minority; theirs are the "special interests" of that minority. Capitalism gives that minority the position, profits and power to determine how the society as a whole lives or dies. That's why all employees now wonder and worry about how long our jobs, incomes, homes and bank accounts will last -- if we still have them. A minority (employers) decides all those questions and excludes the majority (employees) from making those decisions, even though that majority must live with their results.

Of course, the top priority now is to put public health and safety first. To that end, employees across the country are now thinking about refusing to obey orders to work in unsafe job conditions. U.S. capitalism has thus placed a general strike on today's social agenda. A close second priority is to learn from capitalism's failure in the face of the pandemic. We must not suffer such a dangerous and unnecessary social breakdown again. Thus system change is now also moving onto today's social agenda.


Mark , April 5, 2020 at 5:28 am

Don't blame capitalism. Blame the mistakes of our govenments and "leaders". Blaming 'capitalism' is misses the real failings of our governments.

Isotope_C14 , April 5, 2020 at 5:57 am

Capitalism requires continual growth. That isn't possible on a world of finite resources. No government operating under a capitalist dogma can solve this inherent predicament.

You can blame the leaders all you like, but they are constrained by the system that can't see beyond the next quarterly profit projection.

Jane , April 5, 2020 at 6:23 am

The "real" failing of government is that they value capitalism over public good forgetting that if there is no public there is no capitalism.

cnchal , April 5, 2020 at 7:01 am

The word "capitalism" is a euphemism for "totally corrupt system".

The totally corrupt system has failed.

For example, were this an honest system, Goldman 666 would have been wiped out in the GFC and Blankfein would be living in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass instead of bragging and gloating about doing gawd's work while soaking in his looted billion dollars.

[Apr 05, 2020] If there's one industry where private equity has done the most to directly harm American public, it's health care

Apr 05, 2020 | www.zerohedge.com

This KKR-Backed Healthcare Firm Just Slashed Doctors' Pay In The Middle Of An Unprecedented Pandemic

Even if they aren't exactly certain how the business model works, Twitter blue checks and the rest of the mainstream media - having been whipped into an anti-banker fervor by Bernie Sanders and the last glowing embers of Occupy - never pass up an opportunity to kick private equity in the nuts.

And if there's one industry where private equity has done the most to directly harm American public, it's health care.

Envision's Colorado headquarters

During the latter part of the Democratic primary campaign, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren primed the pump by extolling the evils of private equity to the public every chance they got, helping impress the term into the memory banks of legions of twentysomethings how the industry had contributed to America's health-care crisis, along with a multitude of other societal ills. Now, with the world in the grip of an unprecedented crisis, the industry is about to get pilloried once again - but this, much, much bigger than before, we suspect - as private equity-backed health-care companies, loaded down from their LBO debt binges, are forced to make cutbacks including slashing pay for doctors and nurses in the middle of a pandemic that has already killed nearly 9,500 Americans.

And now the KKR-backed Envision Healthcare Corp., one of the biggest medical providers backed by private equity, is poised to become the poster-child for Wall Street greed as it informs hundreds of doctors in its employ will not be receiving the bonus checks they had been expecting in April. Though we suspect this isn't a complete surprise, the cuts will deprive hundreds of doctors of roughly one-third of their total comp during an already extremely difficult time for them and their families. The company has promised to repay them at a later date once their financial situation has improved.

The move risks igniting a blowback that could make KKR one of "the most hated companies in the world. Just ask Martin Shkreli.

But the reason the company's financial position is so poor in the first place is because Envision carries more than $7 billion of debt. This debt was amassed during what was, according to data compiled by Bloomberg , the third-largest health-care LBO ever.

In a statement, Envision said it's "100% focused" on saving lives during this crisis, even though its business (ambulatory surgical centers and medical staffing) shrank more than 75% in two weeks, Bloomberg said. With so many Americans hiding at home and fearful of entering hospitals and doctor's offices, people are delaying elective and non-emergency care at unprecedented rates.

"We are on the front lines caring for patients during this unprecedented public health and economic crisis," the Nashville, Tennessee-based company said. "Envision Healthcare is 100 percent focused on saving lives and sustaining the nation's fragile health-care system. The safety net we provide for millions of patients must remain fully intact for when we get to the other side of this national crisis."

Like many companies, Envision completely drew down its two credit lines to provide financial flexibility in recent weeks (apparently it didn't listen to Larry Kudlow and Mnuchin). The company spends about $1.5 billion on compensation for physicians quarterly, an insider reportedly told BBG. The company has about $140 million to $150 million in debt payments due in the next two weeks, according to Mike Holland of Bloomberg Intelligence, and has $650 million of cash on its balance sheet. It has warned investors that it might need to raise more financing if circumstances continue to deteriorate.

The biggest problem for KKR, is that some of the physician groups are planning to sue the company; litigation could draw unwanted attention to KKR at a time when public anger is dangerously high.

But as the 'cockroach' theory suggests, Envision isn't alone: The boom in LBOs (part of the binge on corporate debt that also fueled the surge in buybacks) left many companies, especially in the health-care space, where many companies were built via a series of costly mergers and acquisitions.

[Apr 05, 2020] Did Bill Gates Just Reveal the Reason Behind the Lock-Downs

Apr 05, 2020 | off-guardian.org

Jane In summary, all who were rich will be infinitely richer, But we will also have a flood-tide of people who will always be poorer. This will be another consequence of this fake epidemic, perhaps, who knows, created on purpose.

A comment on Peter Hitchens' article in today's Mail on Sunday (5th April) provided a link to an interview with Italian nano-pathologist Dr Stefano Montanari. Since he doesn't appear in OffG among the first twelve or subsequent ten scientists questioning the official Covid-19 narrative I am providing the link here in case anyone is interested. The site itself seems to have a save white identity bias, but in these strange times, politics makes strange bedfellows. https://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2020/04/04/the-coronavirus-and-galileo-an-interview-with-a-italian-nano-pathologist-dr-stefano-montanari/ 2 0 Reply Apr 5, 2020 1:38 PM

George Mc ,

Interesting interview. This bit especially:

There is one point we did not touch -- the economic, which is not part of my competence. We are now blocking the world and, as for Italy, the economy was already at a low point. What do they do? They freeze all activities but keep the stock exchange open. Stocks reach a low bottom. What does it mean? The ultra billionaire can easily purchase companies that are now worth pennies.

When eventually it will be decided that the (coronavirus) farce is ended -- and nothing will end because this virus will continue undaunted to do what it's doing now (or its evolving strains will do), the ultra-billionaires will own everything. The rich (a degree below the billionaires) will have bought, say, 3–4 restaurants and/or 10 stores that had to close.

In summary, all who were rich will be infinitely richer, But we will also have a flood-tide of people who will always be poorer. This will be another consequence of this fake epidemic, perhaps, who knows, created on purpose.

[Apr 05, 2020] The Death of American Competence by Stephen M. Walt

Notable quotes:
"... John Allen , Nicholas Burns , Laurie Garrett , Richard N. Haass , G. John Ikenberry , Kishore Mahbubani , Shivshankar Menon , Robin Niblett , Joseph S. Nye Jr. , Shannon K. O'Neil , Kori Schake , Stephen M. Walt ..."
Mar 23, 2020 | foreignpolicy.com

No matter how the federal government responded, the United States was never going to escape COVID-19 entirely. Even Singapore, whose response to the virus seems to be the gold standard thus far, has several hundred confirmed cases . Nonetheless, U.S. President Donald Trump's administration's belated, self-centered, haphazard, and tone-deaf response will end up costing Americans trillions of dollars and thousands of otherwise preventable deaths. Even if the view that the dangers may have been exaggerated due to a lack of accurate data turns out to be correct, Trump's entire approach to governing and the administration's erratic response squandered public confidence and made a more measured reaction untenable. Despite his denials, he is still responsible for where the country is today.

But that's not the only damage the United States will suffer. Far from making "America great again," this epic policy failure will further tarnish the United States' reputation as a country that knows how to do things effectively.

For over a century, the United States' outsized influence around the world rested on three pillars. The first was the its awesome combination of economic and military strength. The United States had the world's largest and most sophisticated economy, the world's best universities and research centers, and a territory blessed with bountiful natural resources. These features eventually enabled the United States to create and maintain military forces that none of its rivals could match. Taken together, these combined assets gave the United States the loudest voice on the planet.

The second pillar was support from an array of allies. No country every agreed with everything Washington wanted to do, and some states opposed almost everything the United States sought or stood for, but many countries understood that they benefited from U.S. leadership and were usually willing to go along with it. Although the United States was almost always acting in its own self-interest, the fact that others had similar interests made it easier to persuade them to go along.

[ Mapping the Coronavirus Outbreak: Get daily updates on the pandemic and learn how it's affecting countries around the world.]

A third pillar, however, is broad confidence in U.S. competence. When other countries recognize the United States' strength, support its aims and believe U.S. officials know what they are doing, they are more likely to follow the United States' lead. If they doubt its power, its wisdom, or its ability to act effectively, U.S. global influence inevitably erodes. This reaction is entirely understandable: If the United States' leaders reveal themselves to be incompetent bunglers, why should foreign powers listen to their advice? Having a reputation for competence, in short, can be a critical force multiplier.

The glowing reputation that Americans used to enjoy was built up over many decades. It was partly a reflection of the United States' industrial might and world-class infrastructure: the network of highways, roads, railways, bridges, skyscrapers, dams, harbors, and airports that used to dazzle foreign visitors upon their arrival. Victory in World War II, the creation of the Bretton Woods economic institutions, innovative acts such as the Marshall Plan, and the successful moon landing all reinforced an image of the United States as a place where people knew how to set ambitious goals and bring them successfully to fruition.

Even blunders such as the Vietnam War did not fully tarnish the aura of competence that surrounded the United States. Indeed, the peaceful and victorious end of the Cold War and the smashing U.S. victory in the 1990-1991 Gulf War exorcized the ghosts of Vietnam and made the United States' model of liberal democratic capitalism seem like the obvious model for others to emulate. Add to that a continued stream of technological innovations -- the personal computer, the smartphone, and all those fancy weapons -- and one can understand why people around the world still looked upon the United States as a meritocratic, accomplished, and above all, competent country. Small wonder pundits such as Tom Friedman began to portray the United States as the only viable model for an increasingly globalized world , telling aspiring countries that if they wanted to succeed, they had to don the "Golden Straitjacket" and become more like the United States.

Over the past 25 years, however, the United States has done a remarkable job of squandering that invaluable reputation for responsible leadership and basic competence. The list of transgressions is long: there is former President Bill Clinton's irresponsible dalliance with a White House intern, former President George W. Bush's administration's failure to heed warnings of a terrorist attack before 9/11, the Enron and Madoff scandals, the bungled responses to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Maria in 2017, the inability to either win or end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the ill-advised interventions in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere, the Wall Street meltdown of 2008, the Boeing 737 Max debacle, the Republican-led gridlock in Washington, and so on. Nor should we forget the long-concealed criminal misdeeds of Harvey Weinstein (and many others) and the sordid tale of the very well-connected Jeffrey Epstein, whose conveniently timed demise in a New York jail may prevent us from ever knowing the full extent of his -- and others' -- misconduct.

Read More

How the World Will Look After the Coronavirus Pandemic

The pandemic will change the world forever. We asked 12 leading global thinkers for their predictions.

Analysis | John Allen , Nicholas Burns , Laurie Garrett , Richard N. Haass , G. John Ikenberry , Kishore Mahbubani , Shivshankar Menon , Robin Niblett , Joseph S. Nye Jr. , Shannon K. O'Neil , Kori Schake , Stephen M. Walt

And all the while the United States told itself it was the greatest country in the world, with the ablest officials, the best-run businesses, the most sophisticated financial firms, and the most virtuous leaders. Instead, former Soviet Premier Nikolai Ryzhkov's description of life in the Soviet Union may be a more accurate description of American life than Americans would like to admit: "[We] stole from ourselves, took and gave bribes, lied in the reports, in newspapers, from high podiums, wallowed in our lies, hung medals on one another. And all of this -- from top to bottom and from bottom to top."

Then came COVID-19. Trump's handling of the crisis has been an embarrassing debacle from the start -- despite repeated warnings -- but it was also utterly predictable. His long business career has shown that he was more of a showman than a leader, better at conning people out of money and evading responsibility than at managing complex business operations. His tawdry personal life offered equally clear warnings. Since taking office, Trump has perfected the art of the lie, while gradually purging his administration of people with genuine expertise and relying instead on B-list hacks, sycophants, and his unqualified son-in-law. When suddenly faced with a complicated problem requiring grown-up leadership, it was inevitable that Trump would mishandle it and then deny responsibility . It is a failure of character unparalleled in U.S. history, and it could not have come at a worse time . The amazing thing is that anyone is even remotely surprised.

How did the United States get here? How did it squander its reputation for knowing what it is doing, and for being able to get the right things done as well or better than anyone else? I'm not sure, but let me venture a few guesses.

Part of the problem is the hubris that comes from the United States' remarkably favorable hi