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The Problem with Hillary Clinton

2015 December 21
by Ian Welsh
Hilary Clinton Secretary of State Portrait

Hilary Clinton Secretary of State Portrait

A lot of people don’t like Hillary. Some on the left even hate her.

For a few, it may be because she is a woman. For most it has much more to do with policy.

Pretending that people are unreasonable when they hate a politician who voted for a war which was a war crime is good spin, but it’s not honest.

Hillary Clinton voted for war with Iraq. She defended that vote for years, though she now says it was a mistake.

Hillary Clinton defended the “Welfare Reform” put in place by her husband.

Hillary Clinton was for the Patriot Act.

Hillary Clinton voted for TARP.

There are real reasons to dislike, and even hate, Clinton.

Let us be clear, I do not hate Clinton. In 2008, I supported John Edwards, but when he dropped out, I supported Hillary. I did so, because after reading her platform and Obama’s, I decided she was slightly to his left. I also believed she would be far more likely to remove Bush apparatchniks from government posts, something Obama eventually did not do. I believed that Clinton was slightly to Obama’s right on foreign affairs, but not enough to matter.

The fact that Obama made Clinton his Secretary of State indicates I was correct on that last point.

Indeed, when Clinton said she was staying in the primary race because you never know what might happen, and the left-o-sphere exploded with accusations that she was calling for him to be assassinated, I defended her, and I believe I was the only person who did so on Huffington Post’s front page.

None of this is to say that Clinton was, then, a good candidate, simply that I considered her better than Obama.

So, I don’t hate Clinton. I don’t even dislike her. I am only one step from her, I know a LOT of people who know her, some of whom are her friends. By all accounts, she is a very likable person.

But, based on her policy decisions, she is either monstrous, or has terrible judgment. She is, at best, a “Lesser Evil” candidate. It is not deranged for people to dislike her or even hate her–she has supported policies which have impoverished  and killed millions. If that isn’t reason enough to hate someone, I don’t know what is.

Of course there are those who do hate her for being an uppity woman, or for various conspiracy reasons (Vince Foster!), but it’s perfectly possible to hate her based simply on her public policy positions over the years.

I don’t like Sanders that much. He’s far better than Clinton on domestic issues, and he’s been on the right side of some important foreign policy issues, but he’s quite problematic on foreign affairs overall. Still, he’s clearly been better than Clinton on enough big items that matter, which is to say that, yes, if you’re a Democratic Primary voter, I think you should vote for Sanders.

Hillary also appears to have become worse on Foreign Affairs over the years. Her hatred of Putin and Russia, in particular, worries me. It feels to me that Clinton still views Russia as the USSR, and that she personally dislikes Putin (not surprising, given he has personally denigrated her for being a woman).

I don’t see Russia as that significant of a threat, and I think treating it as if it is one is more likely to make it one. I also don’t like saber-rattling against a nation which has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world multiple times over.

Hillary is a conservative politician with bad judgment. Bernie is a left-center candidate whose policy suggestions would be mainstream in most European countries (for instance, real universal health care).

Hillary is good on women’s rights and she is a woman herself. There is an argument that having a woman president is important. It is, from a left-wing perspective, the only strong argument I can think of for choosing Hillary over Sanders.

But, to me, at least, it doesn’t trump voting for the Iraq war. That’s a lot of dead people to write off.

Your mileage may vary.


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The Late (Internet) Telecom Revolution Is Not Such a Big Deal

2015 December 18

Look, I know the Internet is great. I like it, it’s changed my life. But it’s not big a deal when you compare it to other technological revolutions. This is true even if you throw in increases in computing power (which were happening long before the Internet was opened to the public).

Let’s get it out the way: The one, unqualifiedly great thing the Internet has done is provide access to information. Movies, books, news, technical papers–all of that. Today, I can find out information which I would have needed to visit a library to find out in 1990. Often, I can find out information I would have need a university library to find.

This is a great, good thing, especially as the Internet spreads to the third world, where access to good libraries is often sparse.

What else, though?

  • The Internet’s effects on the GDP are minor at best. The GDP in first world countries (and most third) has been growing anemically through most of the “Internet age,” and most of the increases that did occur can’t be traced back to telecom. Housing, finance, etc…all those sectors can boom and bust just fine without telecom and high-speed computers.
  • Productivity effects are elusive. They just aren’t showing up–and people have looked.
  • Online communities are great, I love them. But to the extent they replace offline friends and communities, they are a net negative, because offline friends are more beneficial to people’s happiness and health than online friends.
  • As Ha Joong Chang points out in 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, the Telecom revolution isn’t nearly as impressive as what washing machines did: liberate women from most domestic drudgery.
  • As Telecom revolutions go, it isn’t even as impressive as the telegraph, if one wants to be strict about this.
  • The Telecom revolution did make it possible to outsource and offshore work that couldn’t be before, but the period from 1945 to 1970 still saw most third world countries growing faster.
  • The largest country which benefits most from outsourcing is India. Mysteriously, in the past 30 years, the average number of calories eaten in India has dropped.
  • The Telecom revolution is not as important as electrification, municipal sewers, the automobile, the airplane, air-conditioning, the mechanical loom, the steam engine, antibiotics, or even washing hands before surgery.
  • As one of its negative side effects, the Telecom revolution enables a panopticon surveillance state which is far more intrusive than what Orwell imagined in 1984 or which the Stasi created in East Germany.
  • Most of the big wins in telecom have been things like Amazon, Uber, AirBnb, and so on. They reduce costs, but they do so by also reducing earning, thus aggregating the majority of earnings to themselves. They are primarily upwardly redistributive. Efficiency gains are often real, but they go to a very few people.

None of this is to say that the Telecom revolution is not important. It is, and it has had vast effects on our lives. It will continue to do so as it’s logic is run through. But as technological revolutions go, it is neither the most important in recent history, nor is it the most beneficial. It is nowhere near as beneficial as the revolution in sanitation was during the 19th century, for example. It does not change how we live nearly as much as automobiles and trains did, or washing machines or air conditioners. (When asked how Singapore has succeeded, Lee Kuan Yu said it would have been impossible without air conditioning.)

Perspective, people, perspective.

The Internet and Telecom revolution could yet make the world a vastly better place, but they haven’t so far. Information doesn’t “want to be free” and the rise of the Internet has seen a vast tightening of copyright and patent laws, rather than a utopia of free information you are actually allowed to use.

Early radio adopters were like early internet adopters; they saw it as a democratizing force, a force for the people, etc, etc. When the Titanic sunk, it was claimed (falsely) that the ships SOS messages couldn’t through because smaller, private radio users were tying up the lines. Radio frequencies were then auctioned off to the rich. The same path (minus the hysterical lies) was followed with the television spectrum.

In the US and many other countries, a few large companies control the pipes. A few App stores do most of that business, and the advertising revenue goes to search engines (aka. Google).

So, Telecom Revolution: Important, yes. Good?  Yes and no.

The next coming of the washing machine, or the washing of hands, or antibiotics?

Not yet.


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(Corrected—A Not-Unreasonable Action) If You Don’t Want People to Compare You to Nazis, Don’t act like Nazis, Denmark Edition

2015 December 17
by Ian Welsh

So, this:

On Thursday, December 10, the center-right Danish government proposed legislation that would enable immigration authorities to seize jewelry and other personal valuables from refugees.

Vox says this can’t be compared to what the Nazis did.

I say if you don’t want to be compared to Nazis, don’t act like Nazis.

Geesh.

Correction (Dec 18): I have been informed and agree that I misunderstood. Apparently the law applies only to those applying for welfare, and Danes are also required to realize assets. Thanks for the correction.


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CEO Martin Shkreli Arrested for Securities Fraud

2015 December 17
by Ian Welsh

Shkreli is the pharma CEO who famously raised the price of an AIDS drug over 5,000 percent and bought an one issue Wu-Tang record that no one else will hear if he doesn’t want them to.

Securities arrests don’t happen by accident, and they don’t happen just because someone has committed securities fraud.  There is so much securities fraud that practically anyone involved the markets beyond the retail investor level could be charged with something. Many investigations are ongoing at any given time, and only a few can (or will) be prosecuted–and prosecuting someone as rich as Shkreli is always a political decision.

This is a message:

Rook the proles as much as you want, but don’t scream it to the world. We have a good thing going here, sonny, and we don’t tolerate people who might wreck it.

Despite his cartoon-villain behaviour, Shkreli is far from the worst CEO in America.

Billionaires may do as they please. There is only one rule: “Don’t destroy the game.”


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Bad Russians Decide to Ignore European Human Rights Court

2015 December 16
by Ian Welsh

Human rights are good, Russians are bad:

President Vladimir Putin has signed a law allowing Russia’s Constitutional Court to decide whether or not to implement rulings of international human rights courts.

The law, published on Tuesday on the government website, enables the Russian court to overturn decisions of the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) if it deems them unconstitutional.

President Putin must be a terrible person. Human rights!

The law comes after the ECHR ruled in 2014 that Russia must pay a 1.9 billion euro ($2.09 billion) award to shareholders of the defunct Yukos oil company

So, Europe used the ECHR to inflict two billion dollars of losses on Russia for doing something that it would take a great deal of intellectual contortion to say is a human rights violation.

Putin replied by taking away jurisdiction from “human rights courts” over Russia.

When you abuse your powers and use them unfairly, those who can will take those powers away from you. This is known as legitimacy. Now, when/if Russia does something that is actually a human rights violation, with respect to gays, for example, the ECHR will be able to do nothing.

This abuse of power is a constant refrain from the West. The US Treasury simply putting people and nations on terrorist lists and denying them access to the international banking system is an example, and its result is a serious effort by China and Russia to build a payments system which bypasses the West.

Abuse the power, and those who can will take that power away from you.

Then, we have the use of NGOs to perpetrate undercover activities, as when innoculations in Pakistan were used as cover for the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, bibles were smuggled in to North Korea under NGO as a pre-run for smuggling other items, or when democracy building has been used to overthrow governments.

The damage done to our ability to actually care for people through NGOs has been cataclysmic: They are no longer regarded as neutral actors, but as fair game.

While I have a theoretical belief in internationalism, at this point, absent some environmental issues, I would greatly support a return to the Westphalian system. If it isn’t happening in your country, it is none of your business. The theoretical justification for intervention is strong, but the post WWII history of intervention has shown that it almost always makes things worse.

Mind you own damn business. People who invest in Russian companies take their goddamn chances, and even if it is illegal, it is not a human rights issue. Investor rights do not equal human rights.

At this point, I would scrap every free trade agreement in the world post GATT, and every tribunal that comes with them.  The IMF and the World Bank are disgraces which have done far more harm than good; just get rid of them. All jurisdiction, other than some basic naval, aerospace, and environmental law ends at a country’s borders. If you don’t like another country’s laws, don’t go there, and don’t do business with them.

Then we can start over and create international bodies which aren’t set up primarily to protect American sovereignty and to enrich “investors” and oligarchs.


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What the Paris Climate Accord Tells Us About Our Future

2015 December 14

Eiffel TowerThere are two ways to look at the Paris accords. The first way is that it is a step in the right direction: Countries have made promises to improve carbon emissions, report back every five years, and each five years promise to increase emissions reduction.

The emission reductions promised are substantial and will decrease warming substantially–if met.

The second way to look at it is that the emissions targets are not binding and are insufficient to avoid catastrophe in any case. Forests and oceans are still imperiled, the Pacific Islands are toast, and our coastal cities are goners. Because of self-reinforcing cycles which will see the release of vast amounts of methane stored in peat bogs, permafrost, and underwater, we were already probably past the point of no return some time ago. Far more drastic action was required; it was not taken.

Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye, in other words.

I tend towards the second view, which regular readers will find no surprise. However, it is interesting that Paris did include more substantial promises than have been included previously. Decision makers are far behind the curve, as usual, but they are beginning to take the problem seriously.

My default scenario indicates that by 2100, most coastal cities will have been flooded. A very few may survive with full dike systems. The default scenario used by the UN underestimates both sea-level and temperature increases, as it doesn’t properly account for vicious cycles releasing stored gases like methane, and those gases accelerate the process exponentially.

In addition, climate instability will increase. Rainfall patterns will change, there will be far more extreme weather events like hurricanes, and they will be more powerful. Parts of the world which are today inhabitable will become uninhabitable due to heat or lack of water. The amount of arable land will decrease significantly and we will have to convert to high-intensity agriculture techniques quite different from the ones we use today. Potable water will be a huge problem, and we will not have enough. Mass desalinzation and recycling will be the order of the day. We are going to lose most edible sea-life, and such seafood as we have will be mostly farmed, and quite a bit less healthy than wild seafood.

There are a vast number of knock-on social and economic affects of such a scenario, and we can expect to see mass migrations, a minimum of a billion incremental deaths (and I expect far more), which would not have occurred without climate change. There will be war and revolution, and so on.

Capitalism, as it exists now, is unlikely to survive these changes. It will be seen, and rightly so, to have been responsible for famines, genocides, and wars that will dwarf those of the 20th century. Collateral damage to other ideologies will occur, though it’s hard to say exactly how that will play out. Will “democracy” be discredited, or will it be reborn in a more robust form, for example?

I don’t, actually, think the Paris accords were the last chance. I think the last chance passed at Kyoto, years ago. The Paris accords are just another reminder of “too little, too late.” That said, whatever we do is worth doing, as it will reduce deaths and suffering. It is just not enough to stop the bulk of the damage.

If you are young, you will see much of this future. Be prepared. If you are older, your job is to prepare the world by changing existing ideas so that when real political and economic change happens (and it will, be sure of that), it changes in the best ways possible.

Because catastrophe will not be avoided, it is best to detach, mentally, and look upon the present and future as interesting times. Do what you can, know that there are billions of people, so your responsibility is only minor, and relax. History will wend its way.


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Dutch Disease

2015 December 11
by Ian Welsh

In light of the price of oil collapsing to $36/barrel ($80 is the break even point for most Oil Sands oil in Canada), I thought it was worth revisiting this article on Dutch Disease, originally published in May of 2012. I’ll have more on the Canadian economy and how oil prices are affecting everyone else soon.

It seems a lot of people don’t know what Dutch Disease is. Here’s the short:

Dutch disease is when you sell a lot of resources, which increases your currency’s value. So if you discover a lot of oil, or oil becomes a lot more valuable due to a shortage, but you can produce tons of oil from the tar sands, you can experience Dutch Disease.

The consequence of your currency being worth more is that products you manufacture cost more for anyone outside your country. So, if Americans want to buy Canadian goods, it costs them more when the US and Canadian dollar are trading at about even than when the Canadian dollar cost only 80 cents American.

If something costs more, people will buy less of it, or they will stop buying from you entirely and buy from someone else who is cheaper.

What happened to the Dutch is that their manufacturing sector collapsed. What Canada’s NDP leader Thomas Mulcair is saying is that Canada is suffering from Dutch Disease. He says we are losing manufacturing jobs due to the higher value on the Canadian dollar caused by all the oil from the oil sands we’re shipping out of the country, which raises value of the Canadian dollar.

I observed, many years ago, that the Canadian dollar had become a petro-currency. This is now inarguable.

It is also virtually inarguable that Canada is losing manufacturing jobs due to the higher dollar. It’s just arithmetic. Unless you think price has no effect on sales, you can’t argue otherwise without creating excessive contortions.

Does this mean that Canada is suffering from Dutch Disease? It depends where you put the margin. One study, funded by the federal government, found that:

“We show that between 33 and 39 per cent of the manufacturing employment loss that was due to exchange rate developments between 2002 and 2007 is related to the Dutch Disease phenomenon,” says the study.

I am unaware of studies covering the subsequent period, and I don’t know if the study was correct. Personally, I suspect it’s higher than that, but I haven’t run the numbers myself and I probably won’t (unless the Feds want to pay for my time).

But, again, the argument is simple enough. Unless you don’t believe in higher prices reducing sales, and reduced sales leading to job losses and company closures, you can’t really argue that the oil sands aren’t hurting manufacturing. It’s just that simple.

The next question is: “Should we do anything about it?”

Canada has traditionally had what is known as a “mixed economy.” When it comes to exports, we have both manufacturing and resource sectors, the latter of which oil is just one part. Resources experience boom and bust cycles. There is always another resource bust around the corner. Always. No resource’s prices stay high forever. When resources are doing well, they support our exports.When they’re doing badly, manufacturing takes up the slack.

As with any such oscillating economy, what should be done is that when one is booming, it subsidizes the other. We don’t want manufacturing destroyed during high resource price periods, because there will always be low resource prices in the future. So we tax the high resource prices and we subsidize manufacturing. When resource prices collapse, the manufacturing sector subsidizes the resource sector.

If we allow the manufacturing sector to become badly damaged, it cannot be easily rebuilt when resource prices collapse. Nations built entirely on resources are, and will always be, subject to economic collapse when the resource prices collapse, and, again, they always do–the only question is when.

Mulcair has also talked about value-add and that’s worth discussing. Shipping raw oil, raw logs, and unprocessed fish means you get the lowest prices possible and less jobs. Value-add means you refine the oil in Canada and sell it. You turn the logs into paper or 2x4s in Canada. You can smoke the salmon in Canada. This provides jobs and the end goods sell for more. It may be that processing “in-house” will increase the price slightly compared to outsourcing the processing to the US or China, but that costs less sales than it would for the equivalent manufactured item.

Why? Because resources are finite. There is only so much oil in the world at any given price point. There are only so many salmon, especially wild salmon. There are only so many trees, especially trees that are good for construction-grade timber.  Other countries will generally buy these resources anyway, because there is nowhere else to get the product. Sales may decline slightly, but profit often increases and so do the number of Canadian jobs.

When there is a bottleneck, as there is in oil production right now, especially, you can say, “No, we’re going to process it here.” If other nations don’t like it, tough. They aren’t going to stop heating their houses and driving their cars to their suburban homes. That is not happening.

So if you can extract a bit less oil, make more money overall, and have more jobs, why not do so? That’s what Mulcair means by “value-add.”

Finally, let’s move to cap and trade, which is what Mulcair wants to do with the tar sands. Cap and trade means you cap the amount of carbon emissions allowed by oil sands extraction, and you allow people to buy and sell the rights to make those emissions. You also tax those trades and emissions. You then use the money earned to subsidize manufacturing, research, and whatever else will support the future of the country when oil prices collapse, which, again, they will, because resource booms always end, it is an existential certainty.

Once upon a time, the Canadian Maritimes were a resource boom area. They sold fish, but, more importantly, they sold trees which could be made into masts, an incredibly valuable commodity. Today, with pardon to my Maritime brethren, the Maritimes are in semi-permanent depression.

This is the future that Alberta faces. They should want to be taxed, and they should want that money reinvested in other sectors, because those sectors are Alberta’s future long after the oil boom ends. And the massive environmental destruction is incurring massive costs with which future generations will have to contend, long after the boom days are gone.

Canada’s economy has worked, and we have not become Argentina (the country we would have been compared to before WWII) because of our mixed economy. It is worth protecting, and it is necessary to protect, if we want prosperity not now, but ten years, 20 years, or 50 years from now. If we care about our children, or even ourselves 20 years from now, we must deal with the effects that the massive exploitation of the oil sands is having on our economy and our environment.

Dutch disease is just arithmetic. It is real, and it can devastate the future of a country. Non-renewable resources are the epitome of found money, and what you do with found money is invest it in something productive–something that will yield a return, something which will support you once that found money runs out.

This is Canada, and this is our future we’re talking about. If we actually care about the children we claim to love, we’ll acknowledge the simple arithmetic of what a high dollar does, and we’ll act to mitigate the damage.

(Update: Antonia Zerbisias had an article in February on Dutch Disease studies which is worth reading.)


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Developed World Propaganda Ability Is Breaking Down

2015 December 9

How negative was the UK press about Jeremy Corbyn, the new Labour Leader, who believes in post-war socialist/liberal policies and is genuinely anti-war?

The Media Reform Coalition analysed nearly 500 pieces across eight national newspapers, including The Sun, The Times, Guardian and Daily Mail, and found 60% of their articles were ‘negative’, meaning they were openly hostile or expressed animosity or ridicule.

Out of the 494 articles across the papers during Corbyn’s first seven days at leader, 60% (296 articles) were negative, with only 13% positive stories (65 articles) and 27% taking a “neutral” stance (133 articles), the report says.

If you’ve read the UK press, you know this understates the situation, if anything. Ridicule hardly covers the general slant of the press.

And yet, Corbyn is the least unpopular of the UK’s leaders. He has negative ratings, yes, but they are the least negative.

The actively hostile press in Greece could not stop Syriza, nor could they stop the population from voting NO in the austerity referendum. Of course, Syriza decided to continue with austerity anyway, but the media failed.

In the US we have the media openly calling Trump a fascist, and that hasn’t slowed him down a bit. (I’m anti-Trump, as it happens, lest anyone think I approve of him.) To be sure, they keep giving him massive amounts of oxygen, by reporting on everything he says, because he knows how to be newsworthy, but their ridicule has not slowed him down.

One suspects, indeed, that it has made him stronger. Those who support Trump distrust the media. That the media is against Trump is a positive to them. This certainly isn’t an insane metric; for decades, the media has pushed mainstream candidates who have not improved Trump supporters’ lives one bit, after all.

Regardless, the ideological mechanism of control through the press is failing. In France, LePen rises. In Britain, Corbyn. In the US, Trump and, to a lesser extent, Sanders (who is bad on Imperialism, but good on many domestic issues). This trend continues elsewhere, such as in Spain and Portugal.

This isn’t entirely a good thing, as I presume is evident. It is just a thing, good or bad. The establishment is losing control.

It is, however, an opportunity. If you’re someone whose ideas were considered non-mainstream, you finally have your chance. Whether those ideas are good or bad, well, that’s another matter.


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Delusion Regarding the Fall of Neoliberalism and Globalization

2015 December 8

Natalie Nougayrède writes in the Guardian about The Front National’s victory in France:

Marine Le Pen has no solution for France’s problems, her economic programme is all about retreating from the outside world and Europe. Her social vision is of a mythical, homogeneous France that never existed. What she has to sell is an illusion. It’s only because so little else is on offer that people are buying.

This analysis is, there is no kinder way to put it, delusional.

And Nougayrède should know it, because she writes:

The impact of globalisation marked the end of what the French demographer Jean Fourastié coined Les Trente Glorieuses (The Glorious Thirty), the 1945-1975 period when France was modernising and increasing its international influence. There is much twisted nostalgia in the rise of the National Front.

Nougayrède blames this on the oil shocks, which the entire West failed to handle (note that Japan, far more vulnerable to the oil shock, DID handle it. Their later failure had other causes). She notes that France’s elites have not, since 1975, been able to turn things around, something I have noted as well.

But she is wrong about a retreat from globalization being delusional. The simple fact is that in France and almost every other country (including, by the way, most African countries), growth was better before globalization, and the proceeds of that growth were distributed to their populations much more evenly.

This is a fact, and you can only argue against it by invoking China (which used classic mercantalist policies, and was not meaningfully party to the 1945-1975 consensus economy.)

There will always be trade. There will always be global movement in goods, capital, and ideas, but more is not always better.  In fact, one can easily argue that more is rarely better.

As for “Europe,” the fact is that increased integration has not been to the benefit of most Western Europeans. That assertion is, again, extraordinarily hard to argue against and is especially true of the creation of the Euro.

Nougayrède wants France’s leaders to fix things, and not to fail, but she is very nearly as delusional as them. She admits that their failure has led to the rise of Front National, but cannot admit that their policies have failed, economically, along the lines that Marie Le Pen says they have.

Just because someone is a near-Fascist does not mean they are wrong about everything. I have no tolerance for LePen’s brand of Imperialism and cultural supremacy, but she, like Trump, is telling a lot of truths to a lot of people who feel like their country has been on the wrong track for a long time. (In the U.S., white, working class male salaries peaked in 1968. No matter how much you scream about white privilege, you are a fool if you expect white males to gravitate towards anyone who doesn’t at least pay lip service to reversing that.)

As an economic project, the EU is a failure for many of its members, including France. There are exceptions (Germany, Poland, etc.) but the losers cannot be expected to just sit there and take the beating forever. The “beating” has been exacerbated by Europe’s deliberate imposition of austerity. It is not just that Europe’s elites have failed to create a good economy, it is that they have deliberately made the economy worse for the majority of residents in many of its countries.

Until we can honestly evaluate the failures of neo-liberalism, and gut globalist cant which claims more trade and capital flows are always a good thing (and, even if they aren’t, are “inevitable”) we cannot fix the economy.

France, like about half of the EU, should leave the Euro. It should re-impose tariffs on a wide variety of goods and produce them in their own countries. Yes, they would cost more, but wages would be higher. It should also move radically to non-oil-based energy (as is true of, well, almost everyone).

These basic policies are not difficult. Corbyn is not wrong to say “make the necessary adjustments so it will work today, and go back to post-war policies.”  It failed,  yes, but it was the last economy which spread money evenly through the economy.  Make sure it’s not sexist and racist, update it for new energy technology, and try it. It may not be the best solution (I’d like some fairly radical changes), but it’s certainly not crazy, given that it did give France those 30 great years.

The failure to deal with the oil price shock doomed the post-war world, yes. But it is 40 years later and we have technology and knowledge they did not have.

Until the developed world’s sanctioned intellectuals (as opposed to pariahs like myself and my ilk) and their masters come to grip with these facts, the population will continue to turn elsewhere. They may turn to sane and reasonable people like Corbyn, or they may turn to people like LePen and Trump, but people will not put up with “it’s going to get worse for the forseeable future” forever.

We can have reasonable policies, which will make the world better for everyone (even if that means there will be a lot less billionaires–the Corbyn solution), or we can have the rise of fascists and their left-wing equivalents.

The room in the mushy middle for those who aren’t willing to do something radical to fix the economy and other problems is narrowing. It will continue to narrow.

Our current elites will not adjust, so the question is: Who will we get? Corbyn and FDR? Mussolini, LePen, Trump?

Neo-liberalism is nearing the end of its cycle. It will kill a lot of people dying, but its death is now ordained and can only be slowed by fanatical levels of police state repression in a few countries. And its death convulsions and the birth pangs of the new system will create a new age of war and revolution which will kill far more.

This is now as close to inevitable as human affairs, endlessly complicated and subject to unexpected shocks, can be.


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The Vast Injustice of Linking Gun Purchases to the No-Fly List

2015 December 7

So, Obama wants Congress to make it so that people on the No-Fly List can’t buy guns.

This is a terrible idea, and if you are for it, you are a terrible person.

The No-Fly List itself is a terrible idea. The basis of justice is that you cannot be punished without being found guilty of the  charges against you. You wind up on the No-Fly list without ever having a trial where you can see the evidence against you and face your accusers.

The details are shady as hell, with any number of government apparatchniks able to put you on the list with no review…but I don’t want to get into them, or into how many people are on it, or any of the rest of that.

Why?

Because it doesn’t matter. It’s a punishment enforced without conviction in a trial where you can face your accusers and see the evidence against you. Ideally, in Common Law countries, this should the option to be tried by a jury of your peers.

I am willing to make an “imminent harm” exception, which lasts for a few days, at which point a person must be charged or released–and, if charged, a trial date must be set in a timely manner.

The No-Fly list is only one part of the American justice system that is corrupt if held to this standard. Another example is Civil Forfeiture, in which police can seize your property without ever proving you committed a crime. This practice is now responsible for more property loss than actual theft. The fact that the Treasury Department is able to freeze assets due to RICO statutes before a trial is unjust. The same goes for anti-terrorism statutes that freeze assets.

All of this stuff is evil as hell. Want to punish someone by taking away their rights, whether it’s to own a gun, fly on a plane, or have money? Prove it in a court, with a sufficient preponderance of legal evidence, the ability to see that evidence, to face those who accuse you, and so on.

Obama is wrong on this, but then Obama arrogates the right to kill both foreigners and Americans without trial, so this should hardly be surprising.

This is fundamentally evil; it is one of the main things that America was founded to oppose and it is vastly unjust.

The entire American “justice” system needs to be overhauled. Plea bargaining needs to be removed entirely (yes, the system can run without plea bargaining), trials must occur in a timely manner, and everyone must have competent counsel (which would mean barring rich defendants from paying any more for private counsel than public defenders receive).

These are the requirements for JUSTICE.  It is something America, and a depressing amount of Americans, don’t even understand any longer.


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