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The UK Referendum on Leaving the European Union

2016 March 14
by Ian Welsh

If Britain had adopted the Euro and the referendum was about leaving that, I’d be for it.

As it stands, I’m still for leaving, but only slightly.

The EU is brakes. It has significantly slowed down and limited the abominable policies of the Conservative party. As such, it has been good for the British.

But it is also brakes on a lot of what a real left-winger would want to do–especially in the arenas of trade, state ownership, and so on.

Corbyn wants to stay and argue for a more socially progressive Europe. But if he actually becomes Prime Minister, he will find Europe will act as a shackle on any power he has to implement his plans.

I’m generally in favor of sovereignty for nations under the current world regime.

However, and in short, the EU makes Conservatives better than they would be otherwise, and will make a real left-wing government worse than it would be otherwise.

Of course, what Corbyn or any other real left-winger will be really crippled by are all the so-called trade deals.

In general, institutions which were created or have evolved to serve neo-liberalism, even neo-liberalism with a social democratic face, like the EU, are not suited to actual left-wingism, even of the updated 60s variety favored by Corbyn.

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You Think Trump Is a Fascist, BUT…

2016 March 13
by Ian Welsh

…you don’t want his rallies interrupted?

I know there are those who think Trump is no fascist, just a nativist blowhard. Fine.

But many really do think he is a fascist. Those same people are saying, “Don’t interrupt his rallies”?

Now you understand. Now you understand all the people asking, “Why didn’t anyone stop the fascists?”

This is why.

The conditions for fascism have been created by our masters. They impoverished a huge chunk of Americans. White working class males had their wages peak in 1968. They gutted the social safety net. They sold their jobs overseas (don’t even pretend otherwise, it was deliberate policy).

I warned and warned that these people would eventually explode. I said, explicitly: “Last time America got FDR, but you may not be so lucky this time.”

The conditions for this are rising throughout the western world. See LaPen in France, the rise of the far right in England, and so on.

Trump may or may not be a fascist. But he is using the conditions that allow for the rise of either the “radical” right or left.

This is the result of deliberate government and elite policy.

This era is ending. We are moving in a pre-war and pre-revolutionary world, as I have repeatedly stated.

(Meanwhile, in Germany, AfD, the right wing nationalist, anti-immigrant party has had its best electoral result yet.  Numbers are still low and not at crisis-levels, but…)

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If You Want to Beat the Right, Call the Left

2016 March 12
by Ian Welsh

So, the protestors who stopped Trump’s Chicago rally were mostly Bernie supporters.

The wishy-right like Mitt Romney, and the neo-Liberal right (Clinton) are worthless against someone like Trump because they represent the status quo, which has been discredited.

And because they won’t actually fight.

I don’t know if Trump will win the election, but I do know that if he doesn’t, he’s only the first to try. As the US economy gets worse and worse for ordinary people, which it will under Hillary Clinton (she is neo-liberal to the core), the followers available will soar and those available to status quo pols will dwindle.

But they will keep increasing–for candidates like Bernie as well.

Only someone who has a platform and personae which is a radical break from politics as usual can compete for these clusters of supporters. And yes, there is some overlap, but it is not complete (are unhappy Latinos going to vote for Trump?).

When I was a boy, in 1970s Vancouver, I told my father “I don’t see much racism.”

My father, a child of the Great Depression said, “Wait till times get bad. You’ll see plenty.”

I see plenty. Most countries are going to have to choose between someone like Trump or someone like Bernie; and that choice will keep being presented till they make the fateful choice.

Once it is made, in many cases, there will be no going back.

You can have your hate and change; or you can have your change with someone like Sanders or Corbyn, who at least makes a real try to help most people.

So far Britain is failing this test. Let’s see how the US goes.

And, again, if you get Clinton, all you’ve done is push back the day of reckoning, and made it worse.

This WILL happen. It is close to inevitable now, because our elites cannot and will not either create a fair economy which works for enough people; nor can they manage climate change.

This only a hair from social physics at this point.

You were warned. And warned. And warned. You were offered people like Dean and Edwards and so on. You refused to take the road away from hell.

Now reap what was sowed.

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A Kinder Logan’s Run?

2016 March 11
by Ian Welsh

Should older people have their vote weighted less than younger people?

The case is simple enough. The older you are, the less time you have, the less stake you have in the future and the more you are likely to make short-sighted decisions which favor yourself.

As I’ve discussed before, this is the death bet: “I’ll be dead before the bad shit happens.” It makes total sense not to care about Climate Change in 1980 when you’re 40: You aren’t going to be around to experience it. Voting for policies which increase house prices faster than wages is great for older people who own homes, and so on.

I’ve heard the suggestion that parents should have more say, because they have kids and a stake in the future world. But the way global warming and university tuition and loans have been handled teaches us that parents don’t actually give a shit what happens to their kids, or, at least, not enough to matter. Not in America, probably not in the West.

It’s worth thinking about this. I wouldn’t actually do it, but it cuts to important questions about who should be allowed to have power in general. People who don’t have a stake in a good future, or who don’t have a stake in other people having good lives, probably aren’t going to make good decisions.

To the extent businessmen think that high wages overall are to their advantage, for example, you have a good economy. Bear in mind that the entire New Deal apparatus was designed to do two main things: Increase wages and increase prices. This was the world we lived in for forty years, and twenty-five or so of them were the best economy the US and the Western world ever had.

When you start believing that your prosperity is opposed to other people’s prosperity, or you start believing, “There is no such thing as society,” well, then you get what has happened to us.

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Why the Economy Is Bad for Most People and Getting Worse

2016 March 10
by Ian Welsh

This is the second collation of articles on why our world is what it is, and how we can change it. Some of these articles are old, as I don’t write as much as I used to about economics because the decision points for avoiding a completely lousy economy are now in the past. The last decision points were passed by when Barack Obama announced his economics team and refused to try and get rid of or bypass Bernanke to enforce decent policy on the Federal Reserve.

(Author’s Note: This was originally published October 6, 2014. I’m putting it back up top, as I have gained many new readers since then.)

However, this economy was decades in the making, and if we do not understand how it happened we will only wind up in a good economy through accident, and, having obtained a good economy, will not be able to keep it. These articles aren’t exhaustive; a better list would include almost five centuries of economic history, at least in summary, and certainly deal with the 19th century and early 20th centuries.

I was heartened that hundreds of people read the articles linked in my compendium on ideology and character  so I dare hope that you will, again, read these pieces. If you do, you will walk away vastly better informed than almost anyone you know, including most formal economists, about why the economy is as it is.

The Decline and Fall of Post-War Liberalism

Pundits today natter on and on about income inequality, but the fundamental cause of income inequality is almost always determined by how society distributes power. As power goes, so goes income–and wealth. The last period of broad-based equality was the “Liberal Period,” which started with the Great Depression. You can locate the end of that era at various points from 1968 to 1980, but 1980 was the point where turning back became vastly difficult, because it was the moment when a new political order was born: An order conceived to crush those who were willing and able to fight effectively for their share of income and money.

Why Elites Have Pushed “Free Trade”

Those who are middle-aged or beyond remember the relentless march of free trade agreements, the creation of the WTO, and the endless drumbeat of propaganda about how FREE trade was wonderful, inevitable, and going to make us all rich. It didn’t, and it was never intended to. Understanding fully why it only enriched a few requires understanding the circumstances required for free trade to work, the incentives for free trade, and the power dynamics which make free trade perfect for elites who want to become rich (often by destroying the prosperity of their own countries). Free trade is about power, and power is about who gets how much.

The Isolation of Elites and the Madness of the Crowd

All societies change and face new challenges. What matters is how they deal with new circumstances. America, in specific, and most of the developed world, in general, is in decline because of simple broken feedback loops. Put simply, ordinary people live in a world of propaganda and lies, while the rich and the powerful live in a bubble, isolated from the consequences their decisions have on the majority of the population, or on the future.

The Bailouts Caused the Lousy “Recovery”

This may be the hardest thing to explain to anyone with a connection to power or money: The bailouts are WHY the world has a lousy economy, not why it isn’t even worse. If people cannot understand why this is so, if they cannot understand that other options were, and are, available, other than making the people who destroyed the world economy even richer and more powerful, we will never see a good economy, ever again.

The Rapid Destruction of Countries

You may have noticed, you probably have noticed, that countries are becoming basketcases faster and faster. Some are destroyed by war and revolution, others by forced austerity. However it happens, the end of anything resembling a good economy in places like Greece, the Ukraine, Italy, or Ireland, or through war, in places like Lybia and Syria, is sure. Understand this: What is done to those countries, is being done to yours if you live in the developed world, just at a slower pace–and one day, you, too, will be more valuable dead than alive.

Why Countries Can’t Resist Austerity

Many of you will realize that much of the answer to this is related to the article on free trade. Weakness, national weakness, is built into the world economic system, and done so deliberately. The austerity of the past six years is just the impoverishment of ordinary people, for the profit of elites, on steroids. But it is worth examining, in detail, why countries can’t or won’t stop it, and what is required for a country to be able to do so.

Why Public Opinion Doesn’t Matter

We live in the remnants of a mass society, but we aren’t in one any more (though we think we are). In a mass-mobilization society with relatively evenly distributed wealth and income, and something approaching competitive markets, public opinion mattered. If it was not King, well, it was at least a Duke. Today it matters only at the margins, on decisions where the elites do not have consensus. Understand this, and understand why, or all your efforts to resist will be for nothing.

The Golden Rule

Money, my friends, is Permission, as Stirling Newberry once explained to me. It is how we determine who gets to do what. He who can create money, rules. This is more subtle than it seems, so read and weep.

It’s Not How Much Money, It’s Who We Give It To and Why

We have almost no significant problems in the world today which we could either not have fixed had we acted soon enough, or that we could not fix or mitigate today, were we to act. We don’t act because we mis-allocate, on a scale which would put Pyramid-building Pharoahs to shame, our social efforts.

Higher Profits Produce a Worse Society

No one ever told you that, I’m sure. Read and learn.

The Fall of the USSR

The USSR fell in large part because of constant and radical mis-allocation of resources, because those running the economy did not receive accurate feedback. Despite the triumphal cries of the West and the managerial class who pretend to be capitalists, a version of this exact problem is at the root of our current decline, and it would serve us well to understand how and why the USSR fell.

What Privatization Does

Of all the ideological bugaboos of our current age, one of the strongest is the idea that private enterprise is always more efficient and better. It’s not, but that belief is a very profitable to our elites, and understanding how the engine of privatization works is essential to understanding both our current economic collapse and how the fakely-bright economies of the neo-liberal era, especially the early neo-liberal period of Thatcher and Reagan, were generated.

What Prosperity Is and Isn’t

It is, perhaps, odd to put this article so far down the list, but it’s wonky and important and not very dramatic. Simply enough, what we define as prosperity isn’t, which is why we are sick, fat, and unhappy with rates of depression and mental illness and chronic disease which dwarf those of our forbears despite having so much more stuff. Fix everything else, but if we insist on continuing to produce that which makes us sick and unhappy, what we have will not be what we need or want, nor will it be, truly, prosperity worth having.

The Four Principles of Prosperity

Prosperity, at its heart, is an ethical phenomenon, as much as it is anything else. Without the right ethics, the right spirit, it will not last, nor be widespread. If we want a lasting prosperity, which is actually good for us, we will start by reforming our public ethics.

How to Create a Good Internet Economy

The internet is wonderful, but despite all the cries of “Progress, progress!” it has mostly made a few people rich, created a prosperous class of software engineers who often lose their jobs in their 50s, while simultaneously overseen the decline of the prosperity for most people in the developed world. It has not produced the prosperity we would have hoped it would. Here’s why and how to fix it.

Concluding Remarks

The above is so far from comprehensive as to make me cry, but it’s a start. I do hope that you will read it and come away with a far better idea of why the economy sucks for most people, and a clearer understanding both that it is intended to suck, why it is intended to suck, and how the old, better economy was lost.

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Matching Donations Up to $600 to Get Us to the Construction of Reality – REACHED

2016 March 9

A patron has generously offered to match donations up to a total of $600. That would be sufficient to push the fundraising drive over nine thousand, meaning I would write the Construction of Reality booklet.

If you can afford to give without hardship, please consider doing so.


I will update this post with running totals so people know how much of the matching offer remains, and kick it back to the top when the matching offer has been exhausted.

Update: And we have a $250 match, so $350 of matching funds remain.

Update 2: Another $220 received, so $130 of matching funds remain.

Update 3: Matching funds have been reached. Thank you all. The booklet will be written.


Trump Wins, Sanders Wins Michigan

2016 March 8
by Ian Welsh

Most of Detroit hasn’t reported in and Detroit leans heavily Clinton. Even so, this is amazing; polls were showing Bernie down 20 percent to Clinton.

I’m assuming this is based on trade. “Free” trade has destroyed Michigan.

As for Trump, well, no surprise.

Update: Note that a win here only keeps Bernie in the running. He needs to start defeating Clinton by significant margins in order to win. Still, I couldn’t see how Bernie could win if he couldn’t win a state like Michigan, which is almost tailor-made for his message, so this is good news. A couple polls off by 20 percent in his favor in big states and Bernie could still pull it out.

Second Update: Looks like a win for Bernie in Michigan, but note that Clinton won Mississippi with 86 percent. In other words, she won the most delegates today. Bernie MUST start knocking some out of the park soon.

African Americans voted 30 percent for Sanders–that’s his best showing yet.

19- 30-year olds showed up as much as retirees. Can’t remember the last time that happened.

Fundraising Update: Book Reviews Unlocked, Just over $1,000 to “The Construction of Reality” Booklet

2016 March 8
by Ian Welsh

The current fundraising total is $6,105 in one-time donations, and $595 in recurring donations (including ongoing donations from before this drive.) Counting recurring donations at 3X, that means we are at $7,890.

We have achieved the first goal of 18 book reviews. Twelve will be on books important to my understanding of the world such as Jane Jacobs “Economy of Cities,” and the remainder will be on various issues of interest.

We are $1,110 from the e-booklet The Construction of Reality.

I had originally intended to end the fundraiser about now, a month from when it started, but because a number of people have stated they donated hoping for the book, I’m going to hold it open a little longer to see if we can make it.


The booklet will between 30 to 50,000 words, and will discuss how ideology, technology, geography, and other factors create the world in which we live. All donors will receive a copy, and it will be available for others to purchase.

As with all my fundraisers, please don’t give if you are in financial difficulties. Otherwise, remember: Even if you don’t care for the book, the more I receive, the more I will write in general. So if you like my writing, please give.

I’m very happy with how the fundraiser has gone so far. This is the best result of our three fundraisers.

Thank you.

The Brilliance Of Justin Trudeau

2016 March 8
by Ian Welsh

Though good on some issues, Trudeau has bad policy on a lot of important issues, such as TPP and the horrible anti-civil liberties bill C-51, but in his own way he is a genius.  I am aware of no modern leader who does symbolism of photo-ops better than Trudeau.

Trudeau Pandas

Who is the Feminist Candidate?

2016 March 7
by Ian Welsh

This sort of thing is why feminists keep losing effective abortion access.


And by “this sort of thing” I mean preferring the “identity” candidate over the one whose policies are actually good for the group in question.

“She is one of us, so she must be better for us.”


(I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write this year. If you value my writing, and want more of it, please consider donating.)