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Money Is Power and Billionaires Can Subvert Democracy

2017 November 27

Money is the ability to tell other people how to spend their time: what to make, what to do. It is that simple.

The Washington Post has a story about how the Gates Foundation pushed the Common Core curriculum. The details are there, but the bottom line is that once they decided to do it, it happened fast:

The result was astounding: Within just two years of the 2008 Seattle meeting, 45 states and the District of Columbia had fully adopted the Common Core State Standards.

This wasn’t done “democratically,” it was done with money, which bought officials.

The biggest problem with vast wealth isn’t that it directly makes other people poor, it is that it makes rich people disproportionately powerful. They have so much money that they can buy the state.

When they do so, they usually do so in their self-interest. Sometimes, as with the Gates’s in this case, they do so out of a desire to good.

But their idea of good may not be the same other people’s idea of good. They have vastly more weight than ordinary people, and in an unequal society, they can buy people.

It is that simple.

One way vast inequality corrupts is that it makes some people powerful enough to overthrow democracy; in general (as with Citizen’s United), and in particular cases.

Most rich people are not good people. It is well established now, in the academic literature, that rich people have an empathy deficit, that they give less as a percentage of their wealth and income, and that (to put it unscientifically) they tend to become assholes. They don’t need to care what other people think, or about others’ welfare.

And even when they do try to do good, well, they don’t need to go through normal democratic processes; they just buy the results.

Nor are they effective. There is a weird myth that “the private sector” is why solar power is cheap now. That’s effectively a lie. Solar power is cheap now because countries subsidized the markets for years (Germany in particular), and because China pushed it as a policy as well.

The Internet exists because of the public sector. Also, for decades, the US government bought the vast majority of all low-to-high-end computers. If they had not, you would not have cheap, modern electronics. Anyone who says otherwise is either a liar or doesn’t know the actual history.

Money is power. When the government relies on rich individuals and corporations to do what should be done by government, it takes longer and produces less welfare than it should, and it leads to the capture of the government by the rich.

A 90 percent top marginal tax rate and punitive capital and estate taxes aren’t necessary because “government needs the money,” they are necessary so that the rich don’t become so rich they buy the State.

And that includes the ones who try to do some good, like Gates.

(More on rich states vs. rich individuals soon.)


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107 Responses leave one →
  1. Emma permalink
    November 28, 2017

    100%

    I always think it’s funny when people (on both sides!) seem to believe that the government exerting coercive power to enforce equality in public spaces is an ORWELL FASCISM 1984 CRISIS NIGHTMARE, but monolithic wealth-soaked corporations literally watching and policing every word their underpaid employees say anywhere on the internet is a small price to pay for true freedom. It almost seems like a form of mental illness.

    (Unrelated: I know a lot of people don’t think equality should be enforced anywhere, but that’s because they haven’t yet been privileged to have their human rights violated with impunity. The day may come, however, when America’s freedom fetishists will appreciate the existence of anti-discrimination policies; some population-trend experts believe that day is scheduled to arrive sometime in 2045.)

    Because America has such an intractably useless legislature, I think relieving these mega-donor fucks of their obscene wealth would solve a lot of problems that politicians like to pretend are beard-scratching conundrums with no real solution, like campaign finance reform and banking regulation. If rich fucks haven’t got the extra money to acquire pet politicians and manipulate markets after they buy their gold-played toilets, the issue is handled without requiring hard-to-write legislation.

    I would also like to see the estate tax raised to 100% of 100% of whatever the rich fucks leave their kids. And hiding money offshore ought to be heavily criminalized, and those laws enforced across the board. I’m sure there are lots of other ways to punish the people who steal and exploit their way to the top of the manufactured hierarchy that I haven’t got the background to imagine; a long time ago, psychiatrists used to call this sort of tactic “aversion therapy.” If there are no benefits to becoming disgustingly wealthy, perhaps fewer people will pursue unpleasant lifestyle choices and the world will improve in multifarious directions.

    How does anybody ‘earn’ a billion dollars?

    Two long comments in a row! Holiday exhilaration.

  2. Emma permalink
    November 28, 2017

    * GOLD-PLATED TOILETS

    Jesus Christ, I think my autocorrect just invented a new niche sex fetish.

  3. Rich permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Yeah, add At Will work contract enforcement by the courts no matter the severity of employer leveled abuse against their workers AND the courts unwavering support of Non-Compete clauses in employment contracts as the instruments of these devils. Both concepts complete the tools readily available for billionaires to sow economic and social disaster for billions of people.

  4. V. Arnold permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Yeah, yeah, yeah; and you’re not going to change that reality.
    The only thing you can change are your personal life’s decisions.
    First and foremost; get rid of your debt, asap, at all costs!
    Debt is slavery; oh you think slavery was banned?
    Never; it was just rejigged; slavery is alive and well in the U.S.A..
    Forget about the billionaire class; irrelevant to your life.
    If you can’t save money every month? Radically change your lifestyle; just do it!
    It’s your choice, really, it is; I know most won’t do it (change)…
    Pity really; freedom is just a choice/s away…

  5. highrpm permalink
    November 28, 2017

    @emma,
    makes for a quotable quote, How does anybody ‘earn’ a billion dollars?

    outlaw unearned income.

  6. V. Arnold permalink
    November 28, 2017

    highrpm
    November 28,
    Focused on the wrong target; a distraction away from the real problem; personal choices…

  7. Hugh permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Ban family foundations. All that happens is that Gates/Gates’ family gets to keep control of his money but doesn’t have to pay any taxes on it. People like Gates and DeVos are also big charter school promoters as part of a move to privatize/loot public education. And it is all so bizarre. Gates the college dropout thinks dropout rates are too high, which sort of gets to the heart of the matter. Gates knows squat about education, but his wealth (remember money is speech) means he can have an enormous influence on education or anything else. Look for instance at the Republican tax bill. The CBO (Congressional Budget Office) came out with its scoring of the bill and said that households making less than $75,000 would be hit hardest and those making above $100,000 would gain the most. And before you start slamming the CBO, remember that the majority party gets to name the head of the CBO. So he’s a Republican choice. Polling shows that pretty much everyone in the country knows the Republican plan is all about benefiting the rich. It’s just icing on the cake to watch all these erstwhile deficit hawks plugging a bill that will explode the deficit. So why are they doing it? because their rich donors want them to do it. The idea that this is because Republicans need a WIN to run in 2018 is nuts. If that were the goal, they would pass a bill that helped rather than looted ordinary Americans, the bottom 80% of the income scale and the vast majority of voters. But of course, they are doing the opposite. Why? because money is speech and Big Money talks a lot louder than you, me, and the rest of us not in the 1%.

    And to be clear, it isn’t just about pols looking to cement future campaign donations in the 2018 race. They are looking to service the corporations and the rich whose welfare/bribery system will take care of them and provide them with 6 figure incomes after they leave “public service”.

  8. Parzival permalink
    November 28, 2017

    >>The Internet exists because of the public sector. For decades, the American government bought >>the vast majority of all computers, if they had not, you would not have cheap modern >>electronics. Anyone who says otherwise is either a liar or doesn’t know the actual history.

    I have read bits and pieces of this story over the past two decades, but I would like to read a book on this precise topic. Does anyone know of a good history of government support of the electronics industry, the computer industry, and the interconnection of computers and networks in what became the Internet?

  9. Frank Stain permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Polling shows that pretty much everyone in the country knows the Republican plan is all about benefiting the rich. It’s just icing on the cake to watch all these erstwhile deficit hawks plugging a bill that will explode the deficit. So why are they doing it? because their rich donors want them to do it. The idea that this is because Republicans need a WIN to run in 2018 is nuts. If that were the goal, they would pass a bill that helped rather than looted ordinary Americans

    Yes, they are doing it for their rich donors, but there is also a clear political logic to what they are doing, which will unfold itself in the near-term future. Massive tax cuts, by blowing a big hole in the budget, are designed to create future pressure for deep cuts to the most sacred parts of the welfare state. Republicans understand that going directly for huge cuts to social security and medicare is political suicide. But they also understand that irresponsible tax cuts will generate massive pressure on a future democratic administration to adhere to some notion of ‘fiscal responsibility’. What Republicans want is for that pressure to force democrats to take the blame for savage cuts to the welfare state. Tax cuts set up this very scenario.
    Everything depends, of course, on how the public responds to what they are doing. The UK went through this when the general public simply bought wholesale Cameron’s lie that budget deficits were due to profligate spending rather than the recession. Does anyone really expect that the American public is going to be far wiser than their British counterparts? Pretty soon, the so-called ‘deficit hawks’ will be screaming again, the media will inevitably start fawning over them despite, or perhaps because of their shameless hypocrisy, and the general public will swallow whole the lie that we all must suffer punishment because deficits.

  10. zotter permalink
    November 28, 2017

    I would like to push back a bit on your example. The intent of common core is to give students several different ways to think about numbers, effectively helping them to eventually “intuit” the answers of complex calculations and increase their ease with numerology. Although confusing and infuriating to those that never went through the program (parents), it definitely works and is so much better than what we did before. Something like this was long overdue in modern schooling; we were operating off 19th-century ideals. Yes, it might have been pushed by the Gates Foundation, but the quick adoption isn’t necessarily due to money. If all 50 states were still using gas lights in public buildings and a corporation pushed moving to electric, it wasn’t so quickly adopted due to their ‘outsized’ influence but the fact that the change was so overdue that any change could have catalyzed the change.

    I do agree that corporations have WAY too much influence in the US govt and that “money talks and BS walks”. It’s just your example is not a great one IMHO. Look at fracking or FDA approvals of drugs instead, it’s not hard to locate massive purchase of govt decisions in the USA. Common core is the best (and most maligned) thing we’ve done for education in decades, it doesn’t need any more grief.

  11. November 28, 2017

    @emma A 100% estate tax is reasonable and fair?

    Joe builds a business. He works all of his life creating that business and making it successful. When his son, Bob, turns eighteen he joins his father in the business and works along with him, and the business grows to have a net worth of $55 million. It still belongs to Joe because it is a proprietorship. Joe dies when Bob is 38 years old, and the government takes the business due to the 100% estate tax. Bob, who has worked for twenty years to help grow the business, has nothing.

    Fair? You think that’s an unusual circumstance? Maybe in New York. I can tell you that in “flyover country” it is as common as the sun rising.

  12. edmondo permalink
    November 28, 2017

    “What Republicans want is for that pressure to force democrats to take the blame for savage cuts to the welfare state. Tax cuts set up this very scenario.”

    Of course, the Democrats – being entirely useless – would never, ever dream of raising taxes on the rich. (See Obama’s 2010 capitulation on W’s tax cuts that would have expired had he done nothing.)

  13. John permalink
    November 28, 2017

    On the way to complete neo feudalism there will be plenty of torches and pitchforks. It’s just getting started. The very greedy but not smart gazillionaires are too ignorant to have that one figured out. And their Eric Prince security team will never be enough.

  14. realitychecker permalink
    November 28, 2017

    @ Bill H

    Emma is more about unbridled passion than careful calibration.

    Charming, ain’t it?

    “rich fucks” says it all for some people. (sigh)

  15. November 28, 2017

    You may have read bits and pieces of this story over the past two decades, but I was a part of it. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and suggest you read up on the DoD (Dept.of Defense) ARPAA net. Yes, the government subsidized the development of the Internet, but not through the purchase of surplus computers.

  16. nihil obstet permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Gates’ “desire to do good” is aimed at “doing what Gates thinks is good.” As the post points out, that usually has a hefty component of self-interest. On education — yes, we want science and math workers, well trained at government expense. We’ll put in the money determining how to do it, but somebody else pays for doing it. We say what we want. You pay for it. With common core, there may be significant overlap (I’ve heard pretty strong arguments both ways, as with most reform programs that depend heavily on what’s the alternative, how is it implemented, what result do you want, and so on.)

    We (Gates thinking about himself and the society he believes in) also believe despite all evidence to the contrary that external incentives improve performance. We just haven’t figured out what the right incentives are. But I made my fortune because of a meritocracy that rewarded my efforts, so obviously the right way to run everything is to set it up as a meritocracy. Institute merit pay in the education system. When we do find the right incentives, we won’t get all the corruption in test scores and student expulsions and so on, so meanwhile let’s make teaching jobs accountable where “accountable” means “just as shitty as clerking in a big box store”, because accountability that we impose makes a good society.

  17. Zman1527 permalink
    November 28, 2017

    The current tax plan and the way it is being hustled through Congress demonstrates clearly that the oligarchy has full control. Why else would they push something that punishes so many to benefit the few who don’t need the help? And do it without comment or pushback? We are so fucked.

  18. wendy davis permalink
    November 28, 2017

    great comment, nihil obstet; exactly right. (i’d also been taken aback by ian’s “Sometimes, as with the Gates in this case, they do so out of a desire to good.”and hugh’s noting that (in effect) bill gates knows fuck-all about education, as well. but he’s dedicated to the proposition that HE knows how to fix amerikan education. most of his charters come w/ his technocratic school boards, cuz: they know best how to make little drones for the global workforce, and wire every single person on the planet to maximize their bidness efficiency. math, science, and reading, standardized tests.

    oh, yes, similar to arne duncan’s crap ‘race to the top’ and ‘no child left behind’ (in the coming ‘rapture’?). but here’s a bit of lovin’ on gates from a month ago (there’s much more, of course): ‘Laura Chapman on Bill Gates’ Hubris, Ignorance, and Folly’, diane ravitch, October 22, 2017

    “A couple of days ago, Bill Gates said he has a new plan to reform education. As I pointed out in a post, Bill Gates is batting 0 for 3. He dropped $2 Billion into breaking up large high schools and turning them into small schools. He started in 2000, didn’t see a big jump in test scores, and backed out in 2008. Then, having decided that the answer to high test scores was to punish teachers whose student scores didn’t go up, he pushed value-added Assessment, partnering with Arne Duncan and Race to the Top. Thousands of educators were fired and many schools were closed based on Gates’s fancy. That lasted from 2008 until now, and it has been written into state law in many states, although it has distorted the purpose of education and created massive demoralization among teachers and a national teacher shortage. Then he funded the Common Core, in its entirety.

    It is his pedagogical Frankenstein, his personal belief that education should be completely standardized, from standards to curriculum to teacher education to teacher evaluation. Speaking to the National Board for Certified Teachers a few years ago, he praised standardization and talked about the beauty of standard electrical plugs. No matter where you live, you can plug in an appliance and it works! Clearly, that was his metaphor for education. What did he spend on the creation and promotion of the Common Core? No one knows for sure, but estimates range from $200 Million to $2 Billion.”

    https://dianeravitch.net/2017/10/22/laura-chapman-on-bill-gates-hubris-ignorance-and-folly/

    and of course, schools aren’t totally responsible for what or how kids learn. ever-burgeoning youth homelessness, poverty, segregation, hunger, teacher to student ratios, matter a hella lot, as well. what could bill and melinda’s mega-billions to help those issues? (i’ll address his philanthropy on ‘hunger’ separately. but in short, he’s a multi-billionaire megalomaniac with a Great Reputation for ‘philanthropy’. just as anybody! (especially him…)

  19. jsn permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Bill H
    $55M a year family businesses starting up at the rate of 365 a year (except for leap years)? Where do you live, I’m moving there!

  20. atcooper permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Purchasing was absolutely part of the story of early computing. Back when gov was asking for security measures from the makers at the time, Novell anyone?, Gates was the one who said ‘I’ll do it’, and thus the X.509 protocol was born.

  21. StewartM permalink
    November 28, 2017

    I always have agreed with John Kenneth Galbreath that the 1964 tax cut, “regressive Keynesianism” which lowered top rates from near-90 % down to 70 %, was knocking the first pillar out from under FDR’s New Deal. And it was done by Democrats.

    One of the paradoxes of having 90 % nominal tax rates is that such taxes actually lead to a more equitable distribution of tax revenues…..because the rich (who control corporate ‘pots of money’) are punished for giving themselves the loot, then they are forced to give everyone else more. This results in a more equal distribution of income and wealth, and thus a more equal distribution of the tax burden. This exposes the talking point conservative propagandists use time and againhow, after Reagan’s and Bush’s lowering top income tax rates, the rich paid even a higher percentage of the total tax share. What they fail to mention was that this was due that despite the lower rates their income/wealth exploded to the point that they paid more, PLUS the fact this had the effect of depressing everyone else’s income so that they paid less.

    Moreover, though Ian is correct about ‘it’s not about money’ in some ways yes, high tax rates on income *do* result in the government getting more money, so that the government is not kept living hand-to-mouth, struggling to cover even essential services, as it had done for nearly all my adult life, and can do Big Things once more.

  22. Willy permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Gates was once notorious in that biz for gaming the system, using every possible advantage to replace superior products with his own often lesser ones. Yes, we now have commonality. But we also have rampant viruses. Apparently he’s making amends now to the system he so successfully defeated. History suggests that Melinda was persuaded by Bill’s cancer death bed mother, who’d been hounding him for years to “give back” already. So in reality, I think we have those two women to thank for all this. And both followed through with their educations, so there’s that.

    I think history has already answered the question of ‘are things better when controlled by the few, or by the many’. Somewhere in the tax rates there’s a sweet spot, but what the Republican’s donors and their orange stooge are demanding sure as hell ain’t it.

  23. November 28, 2017

    @jsm
    Where did I say $55 million/year? I said “a net worth of $55 million.” In a period of twenty years, plus however many years the business was running before the son turned eighteen, that’s not particularly remarkable.

  24. Peter permalink
    November 28, 2017

    @Bill H

    Confusion is a diversion from your clear example of what building a family business means.

    The commies can only steal wealth one time but their actions would also destroy people’s desire to build and prosper. Once that initial stolen money is redistributed, if it is redistributed, what will they do next?

  25. Ivory Bill Woodpecker permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Aaaaand the ends of the horseshoe continue to approach one another, if THIS blog and its comment threads are any indication…

    http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Horseshoe_theory

  26. Peter permalink
    November 28, 2017

    @Stew

    Those high marginal tax rates only applied to income over about $3.5 million in todays money and few if anyone actually paid them. They were an artifact of the depression and WW2 that no longer served any real purpose.

    Now the commies want to use them as punishment for for anyone with any wealth and have demanded they start at the $250,000 income level. This is the same unadjusted number as applied in the earlier era.

    Relying on big government to do Big Things is a statist delusion that should have died with the USSR.

  27. StewartM permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Peter

    Those high marginal tax rates only applied to income over about $3.5 million in todays money and few if anyone actually paid them. They were an artifact of the depression and WW2 that no longer served any real purpose.

    Nope, not unless you include 1964 as part of the Depression. The effective tax rate (not the nominal, what the rich actually did pay) for the top, the near-90 % nominal bracket, was c. 75 % up until then. You know, when ‘Merica was truly “great again”.

    After the 1964 cut (by Democrats) then the effective rate was whittled down to about half of that by the time Reagan took office in 1980, often by the addition of more loopholes and deductions. You want to see where the funding for the rightwing noise machine came from? There is is.

    A graph of the change since 1960 (which I have from the EPI; I have another academic source I can dig up and cite if you want) shows that the Reagan/Bush tax cuts did very little even for those in the 90 % bracket. Overall, the effective rates *increased* (yes, *increased*) for those from the 20 % – 90 % deciles while the the rates for the top 1 % and higher plummeted starting with Reagan. Those for the bottom 20 % stayed flat.

    (Though the bottom 20 % is actually the most heavily taxed, considering all forms of taxation, and get the least government services in return; the opposite is true for the top 1 %).

    So much about conservatives being anti-tax. The poor can pay their last friggin’ dime in taxes and that’s all fine and good, but heaven forbid the rich pay anything. You see this even more in state and local taxation.

    The commies can only steal wealth one time but their actions would also destroy people’s desire to build and prosper.

    Like there was so danged little “building and prospering” back in the 1947-1964 era, where the rich paid 75 % (and yes, really did) and the US economy hummed. In today’s low-tax ‘Merica, with its shuttered factories replaced by fast-food chains and payday and title loan centers, there’s still a lot of “building and prospering”…it’s just not in the US anymore.

    Sorry for the interruption; I’ll let you get back to your John Galt fantasy.

  28. someofparts permalink
    November 28, 2017

    “Emma is more about unbridled passion than careful calibration.”

    So real chex, being an annoyance in casual conversation because you can’t win an argument in court?

  29. Peter permalink
    November 28, 2017

    @Stew

    You must have had a commie calculating machine installed to replace your brain to parrot such BS as you do. The top 10% of earners in the US pay about 70% of FIT while the bottom 20% pays nothng but gets money back and they qualify for many government programs. They may pay some local taxes but it is a fraction of what affluent consumers pay.

    Today’s commies seem to know that the extremely wealthy don’t take most of their money as earned income so their tax attack is aimed at entry level wealth harvesting up through the higher levels.

  30. Willy permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Relying on big government to do Big Things is a statist delusion that should have died with the USSR.

    No longer a fan of the Zuiderzee Works? Yes? No? Yes and No?

  31. Willy permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Relying on big government to do Big Things is a statist delusion that should have died with the USSR.

    No longer a fan of Erdoğan, who just built the largest presidential palace in a century, ala princely Ottoman style? Yes? No… Who da messed up ho?

  32. Willy permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Relying on big government to do Big Things is a statist delusion that should have died with the USSR.

    No longer a fan of the USA supporting Israel? Yes? No… What the hell do you know?

  33. Hugh permalink
    November 28, 2017

    A few points about Bill H’s example:

    A net worth of $55 million would put Joe in the 0.1% (entry fee $43 million according to the Fed’s 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances). So the contention that Joe’s plight is common is completely wrong in that it does not apply to 99.9% of Americans.

    Bill H is recycling a common argument for hereditary wealth retention. That Joe “earned” his money all on his own and that he, and his family, should have essentially unlimited ownership of it, forever and ever, amen. What this type of argument overlooks, deliberately, is that without our society, us, Joe would not only not have his fortune. He probably wouldn’t exist. Society gives him his workers. It trains them. It gets him the resources and provides the markets he needs. Without us, Joe has zilch, is zilch. So yes, it has a legitimate stake in his wealth, much more so than his princeling son. The idea here is that 99% of the basis of Joe’s wealth comes from us. He contributes at most about 1%, but our contributions are ignored, and so it all becomes about Joe.

    Omitted is even if Joe’s business does anything useful or if it is noxious and toxic to the rest of us. It’s all about the benjamins.

  34. StewartM permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Peter

    You must have had a commie calculating machine installed to replace your brain to parrot such BS as you do. The top 10% of earners in the US pay about 70% of FIT while the bottom 20% pays nothng but gets money back and they qualify for many government programs. They may pay some local taxes but it is a fraction of what affluent consumers pay.

    Whoa boy. Like your boy Trump, you have a reality problem.

    (Ahem) Here’s a hint. Federal income taxes make up a little less of 1/5th total taxation.

    https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/column-much-poor-actually-pay-taxes-probably-think

    Taking into account all taxes, almost every adult in the United States qualifies as a taxpayer. Overall, the tax system is moderately progressive; rich people pay a higher percentage than poor people, but almost everyone pays substantial amounts. At the very, very top of the income spectrum, however, taxes stop being progressive. Once you reach the top 0.1 percent, effective tax rates actually start going down. Each of the top 1,300 richest households in America made more than $62 million in 2012, but they pay a lower percentage in federal income taxes than upper-middle-class people. Still, almost every person — excluding multinational corporate “persons” — pays a substantial amount of their income into government coffers.

    https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/03/20/new-evidence-poor-americans-pay-highest-taxes-and-get-little-safety-net

    When ALL forms of taxes and income are considered, poor Americans pay higher tax rates than the richest 1%.

    The analysis starts with state and local taxes, which are often ignored by apologists for big-income tax cuts. According to The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, the state and local tax rate for the poorest 20 percent of individuals is DOUBLE that of the top 1 percent (10.9 percent vs. 5.4 percent). New data from Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Gabriel Zucman allows us to go further: When unrealized capital gains are included in the wealth-building of the richest 1%, the OVERALL tax rates plunge for the super-rich, causing the poorest Americans to pay the highest rates.

    (…)

    Rich Americans Benefit as Much as the Poor from the Safety Net

    Piketty and Saez and Zucman calculate government transfers to three groups: the richest 10%, the middle 40%, and the poorest 50%. Each group is evaluated for total transfers, including Social Security, as a percent of average national income.

    Surprisingly, the middle 40% receives more government assistance than the bottom 50%, with a benefit equivalent to 23 percent of national income (see Figure S.13).

    More surprisingly, the richest 10% as a group receives almost as much government assistance as the poorest 50%.

    So the rich are society’s real welfare queens, the real “moochers”. Who’d have thunk it?

  35. StewartM permalink
    November 28, 2017

    Willy

    No longer a fan of the Zuiderzee Works?

    Peter apparently believes that capitalists focused on next quarter’s profit margin can build things like the Zuiderzee, the railroads, the internet, the power grid, Apollo, the Manhattan Project, the National Park System, public education, the interstate system, even thought there is nary a single historical example of them having done so on anything like these on anything like a comparable scale.

    (There’s a reason why this doesn’t happen, if you’re a good capitalist focused on profit you don’t put huge sums of money into things that are at least as likely to help everyone, especially your competitors, and not exclusively just yourself).

  36. Peter permalink
    November 28, 2017

    @Stew

    Depending on commie NPR for your info is pathetic but expected. Here in NM state income tax is based on your FIT return and if you pay nothing to the feds you pay nothing to the state. In fact the state will make you take money from them. I tried to refuse this state gift and could only donate it to a game and fish fund. There is no food or drug tax here so the poor must be paying a lot of tobacco, gas and booz tax to make their contribution to the system.

    The fed tax bite is what we were discussing and who pays most of it or none of it. Allowing people to keep more of their earnings is not welfare and they are already paying for much of the poor’s welfare through the states with their taxes.

  37. Willy permalink
    November 29, 2017

    StewartM,
    It’s one thing when Pooter steps in others poo. But he so regularly steps in his own, it’s time for a name change. Like I’ve said before, his beliefs just flop around in the breeze.

    you don’t put huge sums of money into things that are at least as likely to help everyone, especially your competitors, and not exclusively just yourself

    And the game’s changed over time. Bold corporate visionaries taking large but calculated risks have given way to cowardly corporate managers who just work the books. The new breed adds little value to society, often subtracting from it, for their ridiculous pay. And they deserve to pay less taxes? Government used to inspire creative thought, back when we did things “because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills…” Now it just colludes with corrupt ineptitude.

    Modern conservatives / neoliberals. Fuck them all.

  38. Ivory Bill Woodpecker permalink
    November 29, 2017

    @Stewart and Willy:

    All of your arguments against Peter, of course, assume that he is an actual right-wing Real Amurkan, rather than a Russian bot, or an unemployed Lower Slobbovian eking out a living on Putin’s money from some Internet cafe in Lower Slobbovia.

    Though indeed, so far I haven’t noticed him posting in the stilted quasi-English of the more obvious Pottsylvanian ringers.

  39. Steve Ruis permalink
    November 29, 2017

    I have been saying this for many years now and I couldn’t agree more with your assessment.

    The Founders of this country felt that the very best people to run the government were people just like themselves: well-educated, wealthy men who had the leisure time to reflect on the issues of the day and didn’t have to devote every waking moment to find food and shelter.
    They were worried about the affect of wealth on their new government, so this reinforced their suitability for leadership as they were already wealthy and would, therefore be hard to bribe. (This just raises the price in my estimation.) They were concerned that the “middling” sorts (merchants, tradesmen,, craftsmen, etc.) would get involved and that they could be bought. (They would be proud to know that Congress is literally stuffed with millionaires now!)
    In other words they were elitists. They created a government “of the elites, by the elites, and for the elites,” no question.

    The Founders believed in providence (divine or secular), that is if they were wealthy it was because they were superior to the others and the cause was divine providence. (God controls all things and wouldn’t make an asshole wealthy, now would he?) Today’s elites still have this belief: their wealth identifies them superior (even when they inherit it!) and if they are superior, who better to run things?

    The GOP is a modern manifestation of the original intent of the constitution, to provide for the elites of society so they can shape and guide it. Of course, to do they, they need to stay elites which is, in their definition: white, male, and rich. Sound like the GOP?

  40. November 29, 2017

    Its command of the language, Ivory, has improved dramatically over the past few weeks. Yes, “it”.

    Not the only one around here.

  41. November 29, 2017

    Why aren’t there any laws in effect that curb the the level of input “influential individuals” have on the system?

  42. wendy davis permalink
    November 29, 2017

    do remember that bill gates’ net worth is now $88 billion; fortunes are made on the back of everyday people, as others have pointed out so well. but as for his great desire to cure global hunger:

    the gates and rockefeller foundations teamed up in 2006 to bio-wreck the globe, then zeroed in on africa..i mean…’feed africa’ by improving agriculture there with better seeds (genetically modified) and pesticides, as well as factory ag mono-crops, even though there were many objections by sovereign food movements all over africa. gates bought 500,000 shares of monsanto in aid off that effort.
    https://twitter.com/Colin_Todhunter/status/935062396296609792
    his twitter feed would be funny if he weren’t so serious. as w/ a photo of an african woman tending her gmo cassava crop…while peering into her smart phone, “where she can check weather predictions, market prices, etc.”
    he’s also given millions in aid of global bio-piracy to “…the CGIAR system — and through its funding, it is accelerating the transfer of research and seeds to corporations, facilitating intellectual property piracy and seed monopolies created through intellectual property laws and seed regulations.

    “Besides taking control of the seeds of farmers in CGIAR seed banks, Mr Gates (along with the Rockefeller Foundation) is investing heavily in collecting seeds from across the world and storing them in a facility in Svalbard in the Arctic — the “doomsday vault”.

    Mr Gates is also funding Diversity Seek (DivSeek), a global initiative to take patents on the seed collections through genomic mapping. Seven million crop accessions are in public seed banks. DivSeek could allow five corporations to own this diversity.”

    https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/great-seed-piracy

    but in a press release from microsoft oct. 17, 2017:

    “Taking the next step forward in meeting the mission-critical and data needs of our U.S. Government customers, we are announcing expansion plans to make Azure Government Secret available to support government agencies and partners who have Secret classified data. Azure Government Secret will deliver multi-tenant cloud infrastructure and cloud capabilities to U.S. Federal Civilian, Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and U.S. Government partners working within Secret enclaves. Customers with Secret requirements can expect to gain access to new technologies at scale, including services such as cognitive capabilities, artificial intelligence, and predictive analytics.”

    well it worked great for amazon, didn’t it? tripled their stock price jig-quick, and wooot! they can partner with the war and intelligence machines!

    sorry, Tal Hartsfeld, the answer is that capitalism is a meritocratic system! rewards go to the best grifters. (smile)

  43. November 29, 2017

    I would love an entire article about other ways that the government has improved our economy. Obviously it created the internet but I never knew it bought so many computers, too.

  44. nihil obstet permalink
    November 29, 2017

    Without aggressive government action defining and enforcing so-called “intellectual property” and corporate governance mechanisms, Bill Gates and his ilk would have to work for a living. The property rights fetishists pretend that the political and social structures that privilege some people over others are natural and right. They are neither.

  45. November 29, 2017

    “The intent of common core is to give students several different ways to think about numbers”

    How many ways are there to think about the number five? There’s only one answer to 2+3. No matter what Bill Gates says.

  46. Ché Pasa permalink
    November 29, 2017

    The capitalist’s objective is money for nothing, exploiting and profiting from other people’s labor, not their own.The myth of the sole proprietor working and slaving for year upon year to build a fortune all by his or her self is just that. A myth. A useful, but by no means pious, fiction.

    That multimillion dollar farm or factory or more likely stocks, bonds and options that will be assessed a modest tax at the death of the capitalist *if any tax is assessed at all* was built and sustained by a lot more people than the entrepreneur. It was ultimately the result of an entire society’s provisions and efforts.

    An estate tax is the least a society should require of those who have benefited so much.

  47. different clue permalink
    November 29, 2017

    @edmondo,

    As long as the Democratic Party remains the Third Way/ DLC/ Hamilton Project/ New Democratic party which Clinton and the DLC engineered its turning into, the Democrats will do that very thing. The only way to make that not-true-anymore would be to purge and burn every single Clintonite and Obamazoid out of the party with Stalinist-in-spirit intensity and thoroughness so that the party contained nothing but Bitter Berners and Happy Sanderistas anymore. If the various flavors of Sanderist had monopoly ownership of the DemParty, they would be able to turn it back into a New Deal/ Newer Deal Party again.

    And Obama did not “capitulate” on the Bush Tax Cuts. He actively co-conspired with the Republicans to MAKE the Bush Tax Cuts permanent as a perfect expression of everything Obama is and everything Obama stands for. And part of what he hoped would earn him hundreds of millions of grateful-reward dollars from the Overclass after he left office.

  48. Will permalink
    November 29, 2017

    Lions don’t have freezers.

    It is amazing to me how quickly you can shut someone up when they are on a social Darwinism tear with that simple statement. No matter how successful a predator is, no matter how many offspring it has sired, in the end the young get almost nothing from their parents but their genetic inheritance.

    Can’t claim to be much of a social Darwinism fan to be honest. But if we are going to have all the rest of it we should certainly make sure that each generation has to earn their right to the spoils they claim. At the very least it would allow us to separate the predators from the parasites.

    Will

  49. Hugh permalink
    November 29, 2017

    One of the things that really struck me about education departments at universities the first time I ran across them was how rigidly ideological, even stalinist, they were. There is only one way to do something and this is it. Another, perhaps because rising academics needed new grist to publish or perish on, was that the old standard ideology would suddenly be overturned every five or ten years or so and a new ideological purity would be installed. Rinse, repeat.

    The goals of Common Core were to make students readier for college and the workforce. I have never seen any evidence that it does either. One historical purpose of education in the US was to form well-informed citizens. I do not see Common Core addressing this at all. Another criticism of Common Core is that it shifts resources away from creative activities, such as the humanities, the arts, and music. It also replaces the teaching of cursive writing with keyboarding and block lettering. Cursive writing helps spelling and the development of fine motor control.

    Common Core ignores that education does not just take place at school. Stable, prosperous homes are essential to the education process, maturation, and citizen formation, but for Common Core this consideration does not exist. The death of the middle class pretty much precludes that Common Core or any educational orthodoxy will be successful.

    Then there is testing. Testing is not thinking. Testing and real life have little to do with each other. Common Core has a very strong emphasis on testing, and not just testing but online testing. This is where the Gates angle enters in in all its self-serving perniciousness. Schools have to buy computers, software, the tests, test preparation and analysis products from the tech industry. Ka-ching.

    Charter schools enter into this because they like Common Core are ways private businesses can monetize public functions. They are promoted by Gates and others even though the evidence to date is they do no better than public schools, and often worse. But they do make a profit for some. So who cares?

  50. Peter permalink
    November 29, 2017

    @CP

    The Chinese must love how the US commies think and want to act. Forcing the sale of these family busness to skim some tax for the state will open up new buying opportunities for Chinese capitalists especially in our ag sector.

    The Chinese already own our largest pork processor along with hunderds of their farms. They are investing billions to gain control of the ag business they need to supply their people’s growing demand for meat.

  51. different clue permalink
    November 29, 2017

    About Common Gates Core . . . I had always thought that Gates’s only real motivation was to turn all the schools into perpetual digital-inputs-purchasing machines. I had always thought that Gates’s other stated motives . . . better education and preparation and so forth . . . were always bad-faith decoys designed to con systems into buying more computers and programs for ever and for ever and forever.

    Am I wrong about the Dark Lord Gates?

  52. Willy permalink
    November 29, 2017

    Careful Ten and Ivory, we could get another visit from the snowflake police. It called me an “orientalist” once… but wait, did it just post an orientalist comment? Was it bait for the orientalist police?

  53. November 29, 2017

    Peter – Chinese buying up American companies is a policy decision. If the US government allows this it is their problem. Just like if the US government allows Saudi or Israeli thugs to but up say media companies.

    There is a tremendous demand for yield so forcing any company to go public would create lots of fees and give wall street something productive to do.

    You are showing your neo-liberal colours by assuming their is no ability to say NO.

  54. Tony Wikrent permalink
    November 29, 2017

    An excellent book is Walter Isaacson, 2014, The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. Isaacson wrote it after he wrote his biography of Steve Jobs, and writes in the Introduction that he realized it was crazy so many people believed the “free enterprise” myth after realize the beginnings of electronics and computers come entirely out of the government/military research programs of World War 2.

    Here is my own timeline, which is very incomplete. This timeline is not from Isaacson, but other books. There is a list of references after. This is part of a book I am working on to detail how almost EVERY major technological, industrial, and agricultural development in USA was originally supported by some government program or other. Sponsors or contacts in publishing would be very, very welcome.

    Govt Support of Computers TIMELINE
    TIMELINE

    1932 – Vannevar Bush becomes Dean of the MIT School of Engineering

    1938 – Vannevar Bush becomes president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
    June 27, 1940 – President Roosevelt creates National Defense Research Committee on advice of Vannevar Bush; makes Bush chairman
    Under the chairmanship of Bush the NDRC created new laboratories, including the Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which aided the development of radar, and the Underwater Sound Laboratory at New London, Connecticut, which developed sonar.
    Manhattan Project.

    June 28, 1941 – President Roosevelt creates Office of Scientific Research and Development on advice of Vannevar Bush; makes James B. Conant, President of Harvard University, chairman

    June 5, 1943 – Army Ordnance Corps, Research and Development Command contracts University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electrical Engineering to design and build Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer (ENIAC) to calculate artillery firing tables for the United States Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory. Code name “Project PX”.
    Moore School also built the Electronic Discreet Variable Computer (EDVAC), which used a stored program and sequential processing.

    1944 – Fairchild Aviation changes name to Fairchild Camera and Instrument, aerial cameras for the military, and many other things

    July 1945 – Army Signal Corps’ Project 414A (becomes Nike Ajax, first operational anti-aircraft missile system) contracted to Bell Laboratories conceives of computerized command and control for USA air defense.

    1946 – Frederick Terman returns from MIT Radiation Lab to Stanford University as Dean of Engineering.

    1946 – Jay Forrester at the MIT Servomechanisms Laboratory (funded by the Office of Naval Research) convinces DoD to expand Whirlwind flight simulator program to the design of a real-time general-purpose digital computer that could serve functions other than flight simulation.
    Magnetic core memories developed for Whirlwind (see Flamm p14-15)

    1946 – Engineering Research Associates [ERA), was formed in St. Paul, Minn. By engineers from
    he Naval Communications Supplemental Activity, which had been involved in developing computers in support of the Navy’s work in cryptology. 6 “With ERA,” summarizes the National Research Council (NRC), “the Navy effectively privatized its wartime cryptography and was able to maintain civilian expertise through the radical postwar demobilization” [1999, p. 9]. Ruttan P93-94

    July 8, 1946 thru August 30, 1946 – Moore School lectures on “Theory and Technique for the Design of Electronic Digital Computers” sponsored and funded by the Office of Naval Research and Army Ordnance Dept.
    ,

    January 1950 – George E. Valley, Jr., an MIT physics professor and chairman of the Air Defense System Engineering Committee, visits MIT Servomechanism Laboratory, conceives of Whirlwind as the basis for develop a computer-based air defense system. Major funding of Whirlwind shifts from ONR to the Air Force, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory takes over. IBM decides to work on project.
    http://www.technologyreview.com/article/406855/the-flight-simulator-that-wasnt/

    April 1950 – Standard Eastern Automatic Computer completed by the National Bureau of Standards;
    first electronic digital von Neumann-type stored-program computer; source of a number of important technical innovations, including solid-state logic. new input-output mechanisms, an early example both of time sharing and the interconnection of two computers (the SEAC and the DYSEAC) in 1954, the development of marginal checking, new memory mechanisms, and a graphical display. Its development was supported by both the Navy and the Army. [Ruttan p93n5; Flamm 1988, pp. 68-75]
    http://museum.nist.gov/panels/seac/CONTRI~1.HTM

    December 1950 – ERA’s first major computer system, the Atlas, was delivered to Navy [Ruttan P93-94]

    Early 1951 – IBM begins Defense Calculator project, designed for commercial use, based on letters of intent from government agencies and defense-related firms. Renamed the IBM 701. March 1953, first installation of an IBM 701 at Atomic Energy Commission’s Los Alamos Laboratory. [Ruttan P94]

    1951 Silicon Valley was started as Stanford Industrial Park (later Stanford Research Park) The first tenant was Varian Associates, founded by Stanford University alumni to build military radar components.

    October 28, 1953 – Air Force decides to build Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense project based on MIT Lincoln Laboratory and IBM Whirlwind. Uses largest computers ever built, IBM’s AN/FSQ-7, based on IBM 701.

    1950-1952 – Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense project “was a driving force behind the commercial development of the American computer industry and has been deemed the most important learning experience in computer history.” (Ruttan, p96; and prev.)
    March 1953 – first installation of an IBM 701, at Atomic Energy Commission’s Los Alamos Laboratory. [Ruttan P94]

    1957 – eight engineers from Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory convince Fairchild to create Fairchild Semiconductor. Two of these eight, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, founded Intel in 1968.

    1960s – “Using money from NASA and the U.S. Air Force, Doug Engelbart invented the mouse and hypertext-based collaboration tools in the mid-1960s, while at Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International).

    1988 – “Toward a National Research Network” submitted to Congress by a group chaired by UCLA professor of computer science Leonard Kleinrock, one of the creators of the ARPANET,

    December 9, 1991 – High Performance Computing Act of 1991

    Ruttan, Vernon W., Is War Necessary for Economic Growth? Military Procurement and Technology Development. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2006.

    Flamm, Kenneth, Creating the Computer: Government, Industry and High Technology, Washington DC, Brookings Institution Press, 1988.

    Riordan, Michael, and Lillian Hoddeson, Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age, New York, NY, W. W. Norton & Co., 1998.

    Smith, Merritt Roe, editor, Military Enterprise and Technological Change: Perspectives on the American Experience. Cambridge, MIT Press, 1985.

    Ceruzzi, Paul E., A History of Modern Computing, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 2003.

  55. Tony Wikrent permalink
    November 29, 2017

    Someone in the comments misunderstood Ian as writing the government supported the development of computers by buying surplus computers. Not sure how, but, water under the bridge and all that. The fact is the government supported the development of computers by buying ALL the first computers. The following is taken from a table in the Brookings book , which in turn took it from Flamm (references in comments above):

    Initial Operation, Computer, source of funding,

    1945, ENIAC, Army
    1947, Harvard Mark II, Navy
    1949, Eckert-Mauchly BINAC, Air Force
    1949, Harvard Mark III, Navy
    1950, NBS SEAC, Air Force
    1950, ERA 1101 (Atlas I), Army, NSA
    1951, Eckert-Mauchly UNIVAC, Army, Census Bureau, Air Force
    1951, MIT Whirlwind, Navy, Air Force
    1951, Princeton IAS, Army, Navy, RCA, Atomic Energy Commission
    1951, Univ of California CALDIC, Navy
    1951, Harvard Mark IV, Navy
    1952, EDVAC, Army
    1952, Raytheon Hurricane RAY-DAC, Navy
    1952, ORDVAC, Army
    1952, NBS/UCLA Zephyr SWAC, navy, Air Force
    1953, ERA Logistics, Navy
    1953, ERA 1102 (3 built) Air Force
    1953, ERA 1103 Atlas II (20 built) Navy, NSA
    1955, Naval Ordnance Research Computer NORC, Navy

    Finally, I recommend anyone Google “Moore School Lectures” and begin by reading the Wikipedia entry, then read whatever else you want. This is the specific point in human history when a new technology is deliberately made available to the entire world. Think of it–before July 1946, barely a handful of people in the entire world have any idea of the entire process of designing, building, and operating and electronic computer. Here, the Army Ordnance Lab and the Office of Naval Research deliberate invite a hundred or more people to a series of seminars and lectures to share with them this new knowledge.

    God, I hate libertarians and conservatives. I’m not sure if they are evil or simply too lazy to actually learn history.

  56. Tony Wikrent permalink
    November 29, 2017

    Another thing to think about: the vast majority of engineers, mathematicians, and scientists who developed the first computers were trained at the public colleges and universities which were established by the Land Grant acts in the 1800s during and after the Civil War.

  57. Willy permalink
    November 29, 2017

    A neighborhood libertarian once thought I was one of their own when I’d bitch about the systemic rot in our local government. When I explained to them that I was against the systemic rot, and not the local government, their head exploded. TMI apparently. I feared that if I spoke about corporations and corrupt governments colluding to create a corrupt super entity (inevitable without the appropriate checks and balances, given the way the power game is played and who it rewards), the rest of their body would explode. This lead to my belief that Libertarians explode far too quickly. It’s best to keep a safe distance.

  58. Willy permalink
    November 29, 2017

    The Chinese must love how the US commies think and want to act

    Sweet googly moogly. I found this quote online:

    “We will never simply copy the system of Western countries or introduce a system of multiple parties holding office in rotation; although China’s state organs have different responsibilities, they all adhere to the line, principles and policies of the party.”

    I think the party Mr. Bangguo is referring to, is the commie one.

    Maybe their commies are better than our commies?

  59. Peter permalink
    November 29, 2017

    @A1

    I wasn’t commenting on US investment policy but just noting the irony of US commies aiding Chinese capitalists. If the Chinese are the buyers they don’t need our banksters they pay cash so any fees paid would be local.

    I don’t think it’s wise to force the sale of family owned and localy controled businesses/farms to faceless corporations foreign or domestic. This is especially true when the rationale for this intrusion is to pump funds into a bloated state bureaucracy.

  60. NoPolitician permalink
    November 29, 2017

    Joe builds a business. He works all of his life creating that business and making it successful. When his son, Bob, turns eighteen he joins his father in the business and works along with him, and the business grows to have a net worth of $55 million. It still belongs to Joe because it is a proprietorship. Joe dies when Bob is 38 years old, and the government takes the business due to the 100% estate tax. Bob, who has worked for twenty years to help grow the business, has nothing.

    Couple of points:

    1) It is not fair for Bill to work for deferred compensation and then escape taxes on it when it is later “paid” in the form of the business transfer. The right thing to do would be for Joe to pay Bill, either in cash or as a transfer of equity, over the course of those 20 years. Bill would pay taxes on this transfer just as if it was going to a stranger. Of course, as Bill’s father, Joe would be perfectly free to spend money on Joe’s education and training, giving him a leg up that way, and of course, Joe would be free to choose Bill as the person to take over his business.

    2) I think that a 100% estate tax on dollar #1 is harsh, but on the other hand, it is also not fair for Bob to start from $55 million by virtue of heredity. The estate tax is in place to prevent the accumulation of generational wealth. I don’t have a problem with some money passing down, but what makes our economy work is the availability of opportunities. Joe managed to corner quite a few of those opportunities with his business – his finite life is what allows others a chance to play the game. His death is a necessary “reset” in the economy, freeing up opportunities for others.

    Corporations crowd out opportunities in the same way; they have potentially infinite lifespans, though they are not immortal – they can atrophy and die. The presence of Wal-Mart is preventing tens of thousands of other general merchandise players from ever playing in that game, and has done so nationally for the past 30 years, and regionally for the past 50 years – with no end in sight.

    In a meritocracy, we should be doing everything we can to break up businesses upon the death of their owners.

    This all stems from the basic point of this blog post: wealth = power over other people. That is the problem we need to solve.

    Money has three uses:

    1) Necessity. People need to eat, be sheltered, etc.

    2) Luxury. People like to have nice things.

    3) Power. People want to control others.

    We need taxation that allows #1 easily, allows #2 easily at first, and slows as you approach #3, and then fully prevents #3.

    I don’t care if Bill Gates has a really nice mansion – hey, he earned that. I do care, however, when he decides to create a large honey pot that attracts scientific research professionals to work on the problems that he feels are important as opposed to problems that society feels are important. Maybe Gates wants to cure Crohn’s disease, so he spends his billions on that, and people work on his problem instead of working on problems like cancer or Alzheimers. Gates enormous wealth distorts society.

    Other wealthy people spend their money affecting the political discourse, making our government do the things they want instead of what the voters want. They control our lives this way.

  61. Pelham permalink
    November 29, 2017

    Somewhat relatedly, I find it odd that squillionaires like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos get so much attention for their side projects (rockets and electric vehicles), which only at best build on or extend existing technologies.

    Meanwhile, Bill Gates gets little attention for his bid to develop a genuinely new kind of nuclear power that simultaneously could solve climate change while using up our vast stores of deeply radioactive waste. Gates, in other words, has a project that could save our species while Musk and Bezos are merely engaging in vanity projects. (Electric vehicles, by the way, will do little to address climate change.)

  62. nihil obstet permalink
    November 29, 2017

    We apparently cling fast to the morality of wealth. We’re fine with Gates having a big house because he earned it. As opposed to the child care worker on the edge of homelessness because she hasn’t earned anything. Bezos earned wealth by offering a way to avoid sales taxes. The workers in his warehouses earn $11/hour in brutal conditions. The Waltons earned fortunes as Walmart’s orientation of new employees included how to apply for food stamps and Medicaid.

    Rich people earn. Upper middle class people hard-earn, as I know because they all complain about how government is taking away their hard-earned money. Nobody else earns. And the people who pick tomatoes don’t dictate policy to legislators.

    Maybe we ought to think about what an economic system ought to do rather than just worshiping the money collectors.

  63. realitychecker permalink
    November 29, 2017

    First, let’s kill all the planners and managers . . .

    We can let the ‘child care workers’ run all the businesses.

    What could possibly go wrong lol?

    Folks, the absolutism that leads some to reflexively condemn all the highest creative and productive people who worked hard, along with the exploiters, just because they got rich, requires some significant recalibration.

    Absolutism always does.

    (You may think you are virtue-signalling with that absolutism, but in reality, you are just looking inexperienced.)

  64. nihil obstet permalink
    November 29, 2017

    I’m so enamored of absolutists that I stole the ideas from Bertrand Russell and Buckminster Fuller. I especially like Russell on work, starting

    What is work? Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.

    I can recognize that managing and planning are valuable roles (at least I hope they are — otherwise I wasted a whole lot of my work life) without believing that the manager and planner is really earning more than the child care worker, although I admit I’d rather child care workers run businesses than business people have direct responsibility for the welfare and safety of children. But the notion that managers and planners have earned more is a brick in the religion of wealth.

  65. Peter permalink
    November 29, 2017

    @NO

    I wonder why I detect an enraged jealousy in many of the comments here aimed not just at the super rich but anyone who is successful, independent and somewhat wealthy. The view seems to be that anyone who attains wealthy status must have taken it from someone else less fortunate or motivated. Wealthy people complain about their taxes which is human nature but they usually pay their taxes and grumble about how they are wasted.

    Amazon isn’t successful because of sales tax avoidance which mail-order business offered for a century before Amazon. What Bezos did was take his online sales of a limited number of items and expand it into sales of most all items like a Sears catalogue on steroids. His timing was near perfect with most everyone connected and drones revving up to deliver. He and his managers may be cruel to the step and fetch it workers but robots will probably replace them before too long.

    This one size fits all view of any wealth fits well with the symplistic Marxist rhetoric popular today among some easily led people. We already know where this could lead but revisionist history is also too popular today.

  66. Billikin permalink
    November 29, 2017

    Governments with their own currency do not live hand to mouth. That is a lie that is perpetrated by the rich and their lackeys, so that voters think that those governments have to go hat in hand to the rich to get money, and that programs like Medicare, Social Security, and food stamps are causing us to live beyond our means. Meanwhile, the government subsidizes the rich and corporations. Lincoln and Congress exposed that lie by not borrowing money alone to finance the Civil War, but issued greenback dollars to finance the rest. Now all of our dollars are greenbacks. This should be part of the core curriculum in the US.

  67. Billikin permalink
    November 29, 2017

    BTW, both Gates and Bezos made their riches in no small part through monopoly power.

  68. Billikin permalink
    November 29, 2017

    Gates is supporting thorium reactors? Far out!

    (He’s not. I checked.)

  69. wendy davis permalink
    November 29, 2017

    Peter; i agree: “Amazon isn’t successful because of sales tax avoidance which mail-order business offered for a century before Amazon.” (full stop) i’ll offer: ‘everything i needed to know about Amazon’s dark arts i learned from the wsws’, café babylon

    including: glen ford: “Glen Ford, oct. 26, BAR: “Jeff Bezos and his ilk have used their political power to create an economic order of near absolute worker insecurity.”

    “Bezos is an extortionist. Amazon has already gotten more than $1 billion in local and state subsidies for its warehouse centers around the country, where workers are paid 15 percent less , on average, than other warehouses in the region. According to a recent study, Amazon’s business model has destroyed nearly 150,000 more jobs in retail stores than have been created in its warehouses. Author Simon Head writes that Amazon’s “system of employee monitoring is the most oppressive” he has ever come across — even worse than Walmart. However, the whole point of establishing an austerity regime is to starve working people and their communities into submission to employers like Walmart and Amazon – and to make governments pay for the privilege of hosting the extortionist.”

    https://cafe-babylon.net/2017/11/12/everything-i-needed-to-know-about-amazons-dark-arts-i-learned-from-the-wsws/

    thanks again, nihil obstet.

  70. Peter permalink
    November 29, 2017

    @WD

    I’m not a Bezos booster but he has shown that supply side economics can be a powerful business driver. He built this product sales service and people have swarmed to it to spend their money. The tax breaks he got are part of the bidding process and local governments are willing to offer them to bring these jobs and the commerce that comes with them.

    I don’t know what my little town offered but we have a Facebook campus being built. It’s a seven year construction project with 300 permanent jobs, not huge but needed.

    A few months ago Trump announced a cooperative agreement between the gov, business, schools and apprentiship programs to quickly train 5 million people for unfilled skilled jobs waiting for qualified applicants. This would offer interested people a chance for a career not an Amazon or Walmart job.

  71. Willy permalink
    November 30, 2017

    It used to be that the degree of “jealousy” was dependent on how the billionaires got their wealth, and what they did with it after retirement. Now it’s dependent on one’s own dogmas, regardless of the benefit or detriment of the billionaires use of their power to one’s own self.

  72. Hugh permalink
    November 30, 2017

    A system which produces billionaires is also one in which there will be massive wealth inequality. If you have a system in which you have high marginal tax rates and estate taxes. You keep wealth inequality within acceptable ranges and the possibility of a billionaire becomes remote. The easiest way to look at this is that we live within a finite society with finite resources. Resources are not static in that work and innovation can increase some faster than others are used up. Billionaires and large wealth inequality represent a misallocation of society’s resources because they choke off resources from socially useful productive activities and funnel them into non-productive ones.

    The idea that the rich are “job creators” is a myth, yet another iteration of supply side economics. The current tax bill illustrates this. It has nothing to do with creating jobs or bettering the lives of ordinary Americans and everything to do with a pay off to the rich from the politicians they own.

  73. Hugh permalink
    November 30, 2017

    Also thanks to Tony Wikrent for his backgrounder on the development of computers.

  74. nihil obstet permalink
    November 30, 2017

    My thanks also to Tony Wikrent for his comments. If you have the information easily available, could you comment on government support of development, the effect of intellectual property, and innovation. The argument for copyrights and patents is that no one will innovate without them. I see them as squelching innovation by stopping further development of any idea. They act simply as monopolies protecting and privileging the rich. My sense is that the government support of scientific development with all results in the public domain has a far superior record of achievement than private development with all results restricted by intellectual property laws.

  75. Ché Pasa permalink
    November 30, 2017

    And as we all know, some billionaires, monopolists, oligarchs, and economic/sexual predators are better than others; I guess it depends on how dependent one is on serving the Overclass and whichever faction rules.

    After all, some say things that certain factions and segments of the population want to hear, regardless of what they do, and they have the means and motive to amplify their voices, as well sufficient resources to buy sectors of the government — or the whole thing — if they want to.

    Gates and Bezos? Yes? And who else? One of our difficulties is the failure to name the exploiters and predators and billionaire thieves and their handmaidens who captured government and jockey among themselves for power over the rest of us, power symbolized in part by how much wealth they can extract from the Rabble by right and command.

    Neo-fascism? Neo-feudalism? No, what’s happening is closer to the barbarism of unchecked power by fearful and stupid people that seems to afflict every late-stage empire.

    The irony is that the US went through a similar period of rule by deplorable kakistocracies and their bought and paid for government handmaidens a little over a century ago at the beginning of US overseas imperial expansion. The domestic empire was already consolidated.

    The response of the rabble was rural populism which failed, and elite progressivism which succeeded. We’re now in the decadent phase of the aftermath.

    The fraudulent populism of Trump and his gangster-billionaire cronies is being countered by… what? More of the same? And one wonders why there’s an abundance of cynicism abroad in the land.

  76. realitychecker permalink
    November 30, 2017

    I am in sympathy with many of the critiques of our system as practiced; I am hard line about punishing any cheating or corruption, and always will be. But I cannot accept the implicit assertion by some here that the uneducated, untrained worker contributes as much to the success and increase in value of a business as a smart, attentive manager, or a highly trained technician.

    It childish to think that way, IMO.

    Would any of you want me to perform your heart transplant surgery, equipped with only my psychology and law degrees?

    If not, why not?

    It is very easy to rhetorically dismiss the value of a skillset one does not possess. (sigh)

  77. wendy davis permalink
    November 30, 2017

    peter, i let my fingers do the walking and found:

    “Attracting Facebook to the Land of Enchantment required substantial investment on the local and state levels. Los Lunas passed both an industrial revenue bond measure of up to $30 billion, a $10 million Local Economic Development Act measure, and promised the company a monthly reimbursement of the village’s share of gross tax revenues. The state also offered Facebook access to up to $3 million in Job Training Incentive Program funding, according to Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela, although it is unclear how much of the money Facebook will use.”

    https://www.abqjournal.com/844876/facebook-picks-los-lunas-for-its-data-center.html

    ‘This City Hall, brought to you by Amazon’, seattle times, the incredible sweeteners offered, begging for amazon’s HQ2 to locate in any of the 238 proposals. mind-boggling, really, the give-aways…including for the potential amazon workers, but the rabble class in general.

    https://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon/this-city-hall-brought-to-you-by-amazon/

    wsws.org also has up today: ‘UK newspaper exposé details Amazon’s super-exploitation of workforce’; “We’re human beings, not slaves and animals”, but i won’t give the link lest i trip ian’s moderation thingie w/ a third link.

    dunno if you read my wsws amazon diary, but from what you’re saying, i think perhaps not, or perhaps you didn’t believe what they say about how their ‘services’ are really accomplished. but anyhoo, i’ve played hooky long enuff from a two-part series for my home website, so i’ll quit my virtue signaling and slog my way through part I. i’ve vowed for three days to finish it. (smile)

    but sure, Ché Pasa; let’s look at what great things say…pierre omidyar and his foundation have done for the citizens of planet, not that his billions come anywhere near bezos and butthead’s. you know the story only too well, eh? there’s now a parody Omidyar twitter account, of course. (smile)

  78. Peter permalink
    November 30, 2017

    @WD

    Thanks for the info, I heard about this through the grapevine. The deal must involve the state but that $30 billion number seems too high and Amazon will have to pay for this financing over time. The gross reciepts tax rebate and the training money are direct but not huge subsidies.

    The long term growth from these deals seems to produce benefits for everyone even with the initial incentives and we need the jobs and commerce.

  79. Willy permalink
    November 30, 2017

    Speaking of childish thinking, an adult society would never have elected Trump or tolerated the Clintons or consistently voted against their own interests. I’ve said it before, the thinkers are vastly outnumbered. Your average citizen thinks like a child – too busy, stressed, and underinformed to even begin to ponder who the real “job creators” are. In such a society, corruption will thrive.

    Since you can’t make many of them think, is it possible to counter kleptocratic thinktank-crafted mantras with plain and simple commonsense?

  80. Billikin permalink
    November 30, 2017

    realitychecker: “It is very easy to rhetorically dismiss the value of a skillset one does not possess. (sigh)”

    Good point. And one that Bill Gates should take to heart, and quit thinking that he knows how to improve education.

  81. realitychecker permalink
    November 30, 2017

    @ Billikin

    Completely agree about Gates, and many others who use foundations to keep control of their money while using it in ways that increase their own wealth, while pretending they are doing it for ‘society.’

    I think levying a significant estate tax that limits inheritance to some consensus ‘reasonable’ amount is an easy argument to win on rational grounds.

  82. Peter permalink
    November 30, 2017

    @RC

    I think Gates and Buffet plan to give away their wealth before they die so it can be used without destroying the companies it’s based on. Gates has paid huge amounts of tax already and whenever he sells stock he pays more so why promote confiscation for the bloated inefficent State.

    I may not support all his projects but helping to bring African ag into the 21st century and backing better organized education at home don’t seem too evil.

  83. Willy permalink
    November 30, 2017

    Not all government is bloated. Not all corporations are evil. Not all wealthy are corrupt. But there are real reasons why things have gotten obviously worse in America.

    And I’m not counting on the billionaires to make it better.

  84. realitychecker permalink
    November 30, 2017

    @ Peter

    The dead always want to control their money long past their time, but I don’t see where that is a particular benefit to society as a general proposition.

    Nor do I see where it can be a good thing for children to inherit billions of dollars they did not earn.

    Gates isn’t a devil, nor an angel; his history is checkered, to say the least. Same with Buffet.

    My understanding is that only about 100 families a year face the have-to-sell-the-family-farm type situation–do you know otherwise?

  85. Peter permalink
    November 30, 2017

    @RC

    Using that seemingly small cold number 100 makes it easier to dismiss the importance of losing any family owned farms. It certainly is an improtant number if you are one of the 100 or 1000 lost each decade.

    A better metric to judge the family farm by might be the fact that about 85% of our corn crop is produced on family farms and about 30% of those are run by women. There is probably a great deal of money spent on financial planning and business structuring to address the possible death tax disaster.

    Farm wealth is tied up in productive land, equipment and a lifetime of family developement. The billionaire giving his liquid investments to a wastrel son is a different story. If the billionaire has paid his taxes why shouldn’t he be able to do as he pleases with his fortune, it is his and the death tax is confiscation.

  86. NoPolitician permalink
    December 1, 2017

    I don’t believe that Bezos attained his wealth via corruption or anything nefarious (though the lack of sales tax when he first started skewed things a bit). Kudos to him for being at the right place at the right time and for doing a good job. However you can’t deny that Bezos’ wealth has come at the direct expense of economic opportunities for many other people – primarily the people who work in retail sales, and also the people who might have once directly competed with him with smaller companies. He has crowded out many others – try to start up an internet retail business these days, if you don’t join forces with Amazon you will likely get nowhere.

    That removal of opportunity might have been mitigated if Bezos didn’t extract $100 billion from the operation. If that $100 billion remained with consumers, our economy would look different. I realize Bezos doesn’t have the $100 billion in a vault like Scrooge McDuck; however he – a single person – is deciding what direction the collective power of the planet should march towards to pursue that $100 billion.

    That’s the problem. Bezos is disproportionately powerful. But people seem OK with that because in the church of capitalism, there is a belief that the successful should control everything, that we should just step aside and let them do their thing, democracy be damned.

    The secondary problem is that by Amazon being so large, it distorts the geographic fabric of our country. This is the genesis of Trumpism – instead of 100,000 small retailers spread more or less evenly across the country, we have 40,000 Amazon employees in Seattle, a bunch more at 16 or so fulfillment centers, and a marginal number of extra delivery workers across the country.

    Take this situation, rinse, repeat for all the large corporations that have grown unrestrained, and you wind up with a few global cities where all the jobs are, and the rest of the country gasping for opportunities that cannot materialize.

    You also wind up with what amounts to a monoculture – a few large players in every sector, too large to take risks, yet powerful en0ugh to stop almost any entrant that might want to do things differently. Instead of thousands of petri dishes out there, you have 3 or 4 of them, and a non-trivial part of their energy is focused on stopping competition before it starts.

  87. realitychecker permalink
    December 1, 2017

    @ Peter

    The small number of family farms affected is continually used to excuse the kind of unfettered transmission of wealth of multitudes that you seem to acknowledge not to be a good thing.

    That’s the problem.

  88. NoPolitician permalink
    December 1, 2017

    Why would anyone need to sell the family farm to facilitate an estate tax payment?

    Let’s say that I have a family farm worth $50 million, and I die, leaving it to my child.

    My child doesn’t have the $10 million or so that he would owe – but he doesn’t have to sell the farm. He only needs to mortgage it. Given that it is worth $50 million, it shouldn’t be too hard to get a mortgage on 20% of the equity.

    Yes, this results in higher operating costs, but this fact allows others to start up and compete in the farming arena. It’s all part of the economic process. Without that tax, the $50 million farm owner can easily fend off anyone starting from scratch.

  89. Billikin permalink
    December 1, 2017

    Why shouldn’t a dead billionaire be able to do what he wants with his wealth?

    Well, for one thing he or she is dead. The earth belongs to the living. For another, dynasties are bad. Power corrupts. People who are born to great wealth are born to great power, power over other people, which they exercise, like it or not. And which they are likely to abuse, on purpose or not. We should minimize the ability of dead billionaires to create dynasties.

    These days much is made of the fact that most of the founders of the US were wealthy, and restricted the vote to people of means. They may not have favored pure democracy, but they had learned the hard way to abhor aristocracy. The US bestows no hereditary titles. Most of them believed in a mixed republic, lying in between democracy and aristocracy. Allowing dynasties of wealth creates an aristocracy in all but name.

  90. realitychecker permalink
    December 1, 2017

    Word.

  91. Peter permalink
    December 1, 2017

    @NP

    Farms valued at more than $1 million represent 3% of family farms with rented land allowing the smaller farmers to compete. Farmers do make good incomes but have bad years that make it difficult for them to pay off their normal operating loans and adding more debt won’t help.

    There are opportunities for new farmers to start specialty farms selling organic produce and meat to local affluent markets but commodities farms sit on the most expensive farm land in the country and only long term investors have the means to enter this market.

    I know a local hay farmer who farms about 700 acres with 200 acres owned by the family farm. He has worked his whole life developing and operating this farm and is in his 50’s but his father who started the farm is still alive. I don’t know how they have planned for the death tax but they both want his son to continue the family farm business.

    @RC

    It’s true that the .01% will use the family farm idea to protect their wealth but they are a very small number too. Confiscating all wealth seems to be too many peoples goal and that makes them commies. A little confiscation won’t be enough to satisfy the needs of the Stalinist State they will always want more.

  92. realitychecker permalink
    December 1, 2017

    @ Peter

    I would support an exception of some sort for these small family farms situations (but see NP’s good points above).

    But I can’t accept the logic of your point that the estate tax payers are also a small percentage. You are yoking a few who might owe hundreds of billions for services received from the community, with a few who might owe a few millions based on their own personal investments in time and capital. Too dissimilar to be persuasive, IMO.

    Accumulators of huge fortunes usually used community resources to get there, so it seems fair to say they owe some part back to the community, even if we debate about how big a part.

    If they can show they truly did it “all on their own,” then I would support exempting them from the estate tax. But that would be a very small percentage, as well.

  93. highrpm permalink
    December 1, 2017

    the more things change the more they stay the same. jeff bozo is the current anti-marxist du jour. the owners of the means of production simply refuse — can’t or won’t — to share excess profits with the proletariat. talk about rigid adherence to a brutal agreement: “hey, we agreed on it: i pay you an hourly rate for your labor and i get to keep all the excess profits.” makes me wonder if ownership or greed are emotional senses that the brain uses to navigate life, as it uses regret, trust, altruism, fairness… (read montague has made studying the brains’ homing devices his professional pursuit.) or is this rigid adherence by the business owners to the draconian handshake on brutal terms simply part of the human behavior of fairness?

  94. Peter permalink
    December 1, 2017

    @RC

    I’m glad to see you’re planning a soft Stalinism this time and the Kulaks will be spared. The big capitalist pigs will recieve no mercy even if they already pay huge amounts of tax to fund the community that aided their success.

    Statists, commies, collectivists seem to have one goal in life, to spend other peoples money. I might agree with some of this confiscation if there was evidence that the money would be put to productive use but all the welfare state has produced is more demand for welfare. The war on poverty was lost and the cost was huge so another approach is needed besides feeding a failed beast.

  95. Willy permalink
    December 1, 2017

    Statists, commies, collectivists seem to have one goal in life, to spend other peoples money.

    Objectivists, capitalists, plutocrats seem to have one goal in life, to steal other peoples money.

    Theoretically, if the powerful and from either side was morally perfect and benevolent, as were all the other players, the system wouldn’t matter, much. Maybe somewhere between those two extremes is a sweet spot, where everything is all rosy and fair? Probably not, unless we’ve dealt with the cultural integrity problems first. Or, does it always have to come down to checking concentrations of power?

  96. Willy permalink
    December 1, 2017

    (“powerful and from” should be “powerful from”)

  97. Ché Pasa permalink
    December 1, 2017

    FTR, when he died in 1941, my grandfather owned three family farms that he’d inherited from his father and grandfather plus a number of houses and apartment buildings that he had had constructed beginning about 1900.

    All of this property had to be sold. There was a small estate tax due — I believe it was 3% of value above $40,000 — but the main tax due was property tax that had not been paid by my grandfather during the Depression. On most of his properties, he didn’t charge rent, either. He was considered a kind and generous man by his tenants. But his heirs were furious when they found out that not only did his estate owe a lot of back taxes, but he’d mortgaged nearly everything to ensure that the people who lived in his houses and worked on his farms had enough to eat, to keep warm in the winter, to clothe themselves and to care for themselves and their children and to see the doctor when they were sick.

    There was very little money to pass down to his many offspring. Each I believe got about $1,000 from their father’s estate. My father and one of his sisters bought houses from the estate and inherited no money.

    The heirs knew the inheritance tax was coming and they thought there would be sufficient assets to pay it. In 1941, the inheritance tax was very high for major estates. There was a war on, I’m told, one the US would shortly enter. What the heirs didn’t know was that the estate was entailed with unpaid property taxes and was mortgaged to the hilt.

    That’s what angered them, not the inheritance tax.

  98. Tony Wikrent permalink
    December 1, 2017

    Interesting to find here reactions arguing “it’s their money, they should do what they want with it.”

    Actually, it’s not their money. A few years ago, Ian posted an excellent riposte with a title along that line: “It’s Not Really Your Money” I think it was. I hope he updates it to address the discussion here, and repost it.

    For my part, I would refer readers back to the timeline of computer development I posted up-thread a couple days ago. Then, point out what should be obvious: people like Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates and Elon Musk and Peter Thiel would have NOTHING, absolutely effing nothing, were it not for what the U.S. government did in the 1930s through 1960s that resulted in the creation of computers and the internet. Bezos, Gates, Theil, and every single other chest-pounding libertarian CEO of Silicon Valley literally owe everything they have to the United States of America. Without those government programs and that government support — and without the tens of thousands of kids that were educated at public land grand universities — there would be no computers, no software, no internet, no transistors, no semiconductors, no Silicon Valley, no Silicon Valley fortunes, no Microsoft, no Intel, no Apple, no PayPal, no Amazon.

    Some libertarian here ranted that “the welfare state has created nothing.” I wonder if he or she thinks the welfare state was not the one in the 1930s through 1960s that funded the basic research, then specific research to create transistors and micro-electronics (one thing I left out of the timeline was the Army Signal Corps research in the 1930s which resulted in the “walkie-talkie” of World War 2, including working transistors. Was NASA somehow not part of the welfare state? Perhaps all the spin-offs of NASA such as modern medical monitoring equipment do not really exist because “the welfare state” could not possibly have created them? (The ideology must be kept pure–shades of the doctrinaire Marxist-Leninist!) Perhaps all those spinoffs are just figments of the fevered imaginations of those terrible statists who want to “spend other peoples money”?

    I hope that cretinous numbskull has enough balls to actually reply to this, because I truly want to figure out if such thinking is the result of a selfish ego obstructing the processes of reason, or just simple ignorance of scientific and technological history. Libertarianism is a myth-based ideology that must deny some basic historical realities else it collapses completely. What are the mental contortions that must be performed to deny so much reality in order to cling so stubbornly to such a flawed ideology?

    It is has been gratifying to see libertarians flipping out over the recent revelations about how explicitly “public choice” economist James M. Buchanan disliked and denigrated democratic government. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2017/12/07/big-money-rules/

    And here is a detailed explanation of how that Hapsburg toady Friedrich von Hayek’s economic ideas are hostile to participatory democracy. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273083004_Is_Neoliberalism_a_Liberalism_or_a_Stranger_Kind_of_Bird_On_Hayek_and_Our_Discontents

  99. realitychecker permalink
    December 2, 2017

    @ Peter

    Funny to see you label me a commie. I think of myself as a libertarian with humanistic flavoring. 🙂

  100. Peter permalink
    December 2, 2017

    @Tony W

    The more I hear this type of argument about the industry generating government the weaker it seems. The governement did what it’s suppose to do and with computers that was to insure military needs were met to protect the country. Even with that investment computers were rather clunky big hot machines until Noyce perfected the totally integrated circuit and Moore’s law started driving this universally critical industry.

    Arpanet took advantage of these new powerful computers and using existing private technology developed the protocols to improve military communications. Information sharing between universities doing military and other research was improved. To think that only ARPA could or would develop this system is silly, all the pieces were already coming together. The growth of the PC drove the growth of the internet and businesses turned it into a tax and profit generating gold mine repaying any infrastructure and reasearch costs of the government.

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