The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 29, 2023

by Tony Wikrent


Is There a New Left Stirring Within The New Right?

John Judis [The Liberal Patriot, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-24-2023]

“[T]here is a segment of recent politics that is sometimes identified with the ‘new right’ but in reality offers a much more heterodox—and interesting—approach to politics and policy, one that’s well worth considering by liberals and left-wingers alike. This new tendency can be found in the policy group, American Compass, the online magazine Compact, and the journal American Affairs. Its leading intellectuals are Oren Cass of American Compass, Julius Krein of American Affairs, Sohrab Ahmari of Compact, and author Michael Lind. What distinguishes these thinkers from others is their engagement with what used to be called ‘the labor question’ namely, how America can fulfill its original promise of political and economic equality in a society where the owners and managers of capital have inordinate power over labor and politics. These thinkers consider questions that were once confined to the left: how to revive the American labor movement and now to tame the power of multinational corporations and global banks. They often cite left-wing and liberal writers like John Kenneth Galbraith and Karl Polanyi. The most recent and noteworthy examples are Lind’s Hell to Pay, Ahmari’s Tyranny, Inc., and Oren Cass and American Compass’s Rebuilding American Capitalism.”


33 States Sue Meta and Instagram Over Harms to Teen Mental Health

October 24, 2023 [Mother Jones]

On Tuesday, 33 states filed a 233-page complaint against Meta and Instagram. The bipartisan lawsuit, in federal district court in California, alleges that Meta knew more about the mental health impacts of Instagram on teenagers—including addiction—than it had publicly acknowledged.

According to the complaint, Meta—which owns Instagram, Facebook, and now Threads—”created a business model focused on maximizing young users’ time and attention.”

Meta “has ignored the sweeping damage these Platforms have caused to the mental and physical health of our nation’s youth,” the complaint reads. “In doing so, Meta engaged in, and continues to engage in, deceptive and unlawful conduct in violation of state and federal law.”


Behind the Curtain: Rattled U.S. government fears wars could spread 

[Axios, via Naked Capitalism 10-22-2023]

“Not one of the crises can be solved and checked off. All five could spiral into something much bigger.” Not a good time for a collapse of executive function in our governing class.


“American leadership is what holds the world together.” Joe Biden October 2023 … just let that sink in. 

Adam Tooze [Substack, via Naked Capitalism 10-25-2023]

…This idea, that there is a “place” in the world, which is that of “America as the organizer”, and that without America occupying that place and doing its job, the world will fall apart, or some other power will take America’s place as the organizer, is deep-seated in US policy circles.

As a metaphysical proposition it is silly and self-deluding. It is bizarre to imagine that the world needs America to “hold it together”. America itself is hardly in one piece….

For the most part, to make sense of the sort of thing that Biden and Blinken say, you have to realize that they are talking not to the world or about the world, but to Americans about America. Above all, Biden and Blinken’s rhetoric is directed against Trump, who conjured up a scenario in which America was, as Biden and Blinken see it, a chaotic, disruptive and untrustworthy force. This shames their self-understanding as a liberal elite. With a tight election in 2024 those fears will overshadow all America’s interactions with the world, whoever actually sits in the Oval Office.

American democracy, the system that produces the leadership that Biden and Blinken so self-confidently evoke, is clearly broken. Pervasive and well-merited skepticism about America’s system of government, is now a massive reality in world affairs.

GRAPH: Most people in other countries believe the U.S. is no longer a good model for democracy

….intelligent, seemingly well-meaning and worldly Americans set about, in a highly organized way to sabotages the effort of most of the rest of the world to organize itself….  these are largely non-negotiable positions on the American side. They are unacceptable to the vast majority of the rest of the world. Given America’s entrenched power, all its negotiators need to do is to spell out their terms. This provokes indignation, a breakdown in trust, deadlock and thus the perpetuation of a disorganized status quo….

In this role, America becomes a force that does not hold the world together but blows it apart.

Gaza / Israel / Palestine

Iyad el-Baghdadi: Analysis of Middle East Options in Wake of Hamas Attack

Thomas Neuburger, October 27, 2023

A must-read piece on the wants, fears, and calculations of each of the actors in the unfolding Gaza tragedy….

16. If this is a coordinated broad plan, and if the Hamas attack planned on an Israeli ground invasion, then it would make sense for Hezbollah to wait until Israel is bogged in Gaza before they open a major new front to Israel’s north….

19. The Oct 7 attacks are a huge repudiation of much of Netanyahu’s career. It’s almost like everything he built for decades crashed in a matter of hours. Netanyahu presented himself as a master statesman who can do the impossible for Israel[.]

20. His project was to liquidate Palestinian national project:
– Normalize with Arab regimes to break the “land for peace” paradigm
– Strengthen Hamas to weaken the PA
– Annex the West Bank to make 2SS [two-state solution] impossible
– Treat Palestinians as a security problem to be managed indefinitely….

22. It was also under Netanyahu that Israel expanded its disinfo capacities and leaned hard into relying upon cyber capabilities and high-tech occupation. Also a reminder, Netanyahu is one of the first pioneers of the “war on terror” paradigm, more here[:]

23. So after Oct 7 Bibi had one of two options – (1) resign & admit that this is the result of a series of failures most of which lead back to him; or (2) go all out and try to accomplish a “victory” his allies always wanted but couldn’t do. Ethnically cleanse 2 million Palestinians….

25. Netanyahu even seems willing to sacrifice the hostages for that. He’s not even meeting with hostage families, and pro-Netanyahu mobs are calling hostage families “traitors” for calling for a cease fire to allow for hostage negotiations before a ground invasion[.]….

27. (Btw, Israel will come out of this a much more polarized and right-wing country….

33. Reminder that a significant part of the modern Egyptian national identity was forged in conflict with Israel. The current Egyptian regime itself was founded by army officers who overthrew the previous regime (the monarchy) after blaming it for the 1948 defeat vs Israel[.]

34. So not Sisi nor anyone else who wants to stay in power in Egypt would allow Gaza population transfer into Egypt. I am not exaggerating when I say that Egypt would sooner break the Camp David accords or even start covertly supply Hamas with weapons than accept such an outcome[.]…

36. Jordan too would *never* allow it. In Jordan the fear is that if population transfer happens in Gaza then the West Bank is next….

53. Iran’s network is built over decades and based on long-term relationships. The regime *really* stands by its allies (look at Bashar in Syria). They don’t waffle like others. To allow one of its allies to be destroyed while it stands by will really damage its network.

54. A similar calculus applies to Hezbollah. If Hamas is gone, and Israel no longer has a military threat to its south, then it can then focus all of its efforts on the enemy to the north. Hezbollah cannot allow Hamas to fall because it’ll be next….

63. China sent navy assets to the region. It’s extremely sensitive to oil shocks and its main interest in preventing escalation is to ensure the oil flows. It’s also a friend of Iran, perhaps it’ll want to make sure shipments headed to itself can still pass.

China stationed up to 6 warships in Middle East over the past week: reports….

71. And even if [Netanyahu] actually wins, all he’d have done is relocated Palestinian militancy from a besieged and blockaded Gaza to a slightly further but much deeper (and suddenly much less stable) Egypt[.]….

We’re Seeing the Calamitous Cost of Ignoring Palestine

Yousef Munayyer, October 25, 2023 [The New Republic]

…While this might be the worst-case scenario for Palestinians in Gaza, it isn’t the bottom of the abyss. Beyond Gaza the region is boiling. Protests erupted across the Arab and Muslim world and well beyond it at a scale and scope we have not seen in the region since the Arab Spring. Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s Egypt, which has banned protests for years, is now calling for them because they know they can’t contain the people’s anger or be seen as trying to. Jordan, a key American ally, had to cancel a meeting with President Biden while he was on his way to the region because they couldn’t contain the public outrage. All this and I haven’t even mentioned Hezbollah yet, or other militias in the region who may well get involved if the Israeli ground incursion starts and churns on even as American aircraft carriers sit in the Mediterranean.

However this crisis ends, and I pray it ends immediately, the implications for U.S. foreign policy will be profound. “All the work we have done with the Global South [over Ukraine] has been lost.… Forget about rules, forget about world order,” said a G7 diplomat to the Financial Times. “They won’t ever listen to us again.” Ukraine has been the single biggest foreign policy and military investment of the Biden administration’s tenure. Russia and China are likely watching with glee. And, of course, there is the very real possibility of a much larger regional or even global war. The moment we find ourselves in now is being described as the most dangerous for America in 78 years.

How the hell did we get here? How the hell did we allow this to happen?….

Here is a big part of the answer: A week before October 7, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said that the region was quieter than it has been in years and that “the amount of time that I have to spend on crisis and conflict in the Middle East today compared to any of my predecessors going back to 9/11 is significantly reduced.”

This is no isolated remark but rather a characterization of the Biden administration approach that, for reasons beyond my comprehension, seems to be manned by devotees of the Jared Kushner School of Foreign Policy. They have subscribed to this idea that Palestine is no longer a central issue in the Middle East and is instead one that can effectively be downplayed or entirely ignored as they pursue other objectives in the region….

Let my people in. Why Gazans are not welcome in Arab world 

[Insider, via Naked Capitalism 10-24-2023]

Israeli think tank lays out a blueprint for the complete ethnic cleansing of Gaza 

[Mondoweiss, via Naked Capitalism 10-25-2023]

After this article was originally published, the Israeli outlet Calcalist reported on a separate plan for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza that is being circulated by the Israeli Intelligence Ministry headed by Gila Gamliel. The leaked document was reportedly created for an organization called “The Unit for Settlement – Gaza Strip” and was not meant for the public.

In the plan being proposed by the Intelligence Ministry, Palestinians in Gaza would be displaced from Gaza to the northern Egyptian Sinai peninsula. In the report, the ministry described different options for what comes after an invasion of Gaza and the option deemed as “liable to provide positive and long-lasting strategic results” was the transfer of Gaza residents to Sinai. The move entails three steps: the creation of tent cities southwest of the Gaza Strip; the construction of a humanitarian corridor to “assist the residents”; and finally, the building of cities in northern Sinai. In parallel, a “sterile zone”, several kilometers wide, would be established within Egypt, south of the Israeli border, “so that the evacuated residents would not be able to return”….

On October 17, the Misgav Institute for National Security & Zionist Strategy published a position paper advocating for the “relocation and final settlement of the entire Gaza population.” The report advocates exploiting the current moment to accomplish a long-held Zionist goal of moving Palestinians off the land of historic Palestine. The report’s subtitle makes it clear: “There is at the moment a unique and rare opportunity to evacuate the whole Gaza Strip in coordination with the Egyptian government.” ….

It appears that this ethnic-cleansing plan is based on a similar logic to that of the “Abraham Accords,” involving the infusion of massive sums towards despotic regimes to write off the Palestinian issue. But this time, it is not just about slow annexation and bantustanization through “economic peace” — but advocating for the complete population transfer of Palestinians from Gaza….

Exterminate All the Brutes

Chris Hedges, October 28, 2023

On Friday the Gaza Strip had all its communications severed. No Internet. No phone service. No electricity. Israel’s goal is the murder of tens, probably hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and the ethnic cleansing of those who survive into refugee camps in Egypt. It is an attempt by Israel to erase not only a people, but the idea of Palestine. It is a carbon copy of the massive campaigns of racialized slaughter by other settler colonial projects who believed that indiscriminate and wholesale violence could make the aspirations of an oppressed people, whose land they stole, go away. And like other perpetrators of genocide, Israel intends to keep it hidden.

Israel’s bombing campaign, one of the heaviest of the 21st century, has killed more than 7,300 Palestinians, nearly half of them children, along with 26 journalists, medical workers, teachers and United Nations staff. Some 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced and an estimated 600,000 are homeless. Mosques, 120 health facilities, ambulances, schools, apartment blocks, supermarkets, water and sewage treatment plants and power plants have been blasted into rubble. Hospitals and clinics, lacking fuel, medicine and electricity, have been bombed or are shutting down. Clean water is running out. Gaza, by the end of Israel’s scorched earth campaign, will be uninhabitable, a tactic the Nazis regularly employed when facing armed resistance, including in the Warsaw Ghetto and later Warsaw itself. By the time Israel is done, Gaza, or at least Gaza as we knew it, will not exist.

Let Them Eat Cement

Chris Hedges, October 23, 2023

Israel, with the backing of its U.S. and European allies, is preparing to launch not only a scorched earth campaign in Gaza but the worst ethnic cleansing since the wars in the former Yugoslavia. The goal is to drive tens, most probably hundreds of thousands of Palestinians over the southern border at Rafah into refugee camps in Egypt. The reverberations will be catastrophic, not only for the Palestinians, but throughout the region, almost certainly triggering armed clashes to the north of Israel with Hezbollah in Lebanon and perhaps with Syria and Iran.                          The Biden administration, slavishly doing Israel’s bidding, is fueling the madness. The U.S. was the only country to veto the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for humanitarian pauses to deliver food, medicine, water and fuel to Gaza. It has blocked proposals for a ceasefire. It has proposed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that says Israel has a right to defend itself. The resolution also demands Iran stop exporting arms to “militias and terrorist groups threatening peace and security across the region.”

Egypt’s difficult questions in the Gaza war

[Mada Masr, October 11, 2023]

Following this, Egyptian and Arab media outlets reported statements from anonymous Egyptian “sovereign” and “security” sources, which is unusual, especially for a tightly state-controlled press landscape in Egypt that rarely deviates from official statements. Yesterday, Al Qahera News quoted “high-level Egyptian sources” warning of attempts to push Palestinians in Gaza toward the Egyptian borders and stating that “Egyptian sovereignty is “inviolable” and that “the Occupation authority,” not Egypt, “is responsible for creating humanitarian corridors to save the people of Gaza.”

Anonymous Egyptian security sources also told Sky News Arabia on Tuesday that “there is a plan to decimate Palestinian lands and force Palestinians to choose between death and displacement,” and that Egypt will confront “Israeli efforts to settle Gaza residents in Sinai.”

This seemed to convey a specific message: that Cairo rejects the mass displacement of Palestinian Gaza residents to Sinai. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi emphasized this point in a Tuesday address that there would be “no compromise or negligence of Egypt’s national security under any circumstances.”

[TW: No one but the Palestinians want an independent Palestinian state, but I believe that establishing such a state is the precondition to achieving durable peace in the Middle East. So, enough rewards need to be offered to change everyone’s calculations. How much of a dream is it to think of the UN assembling a $1 trillion fund? Financed in part by an international tax on offshore financial centers. And how about an international tax on all arms sales?

[The big change needed is to get Egypt to accept Palestinians, So, $200 billion to Egypt to purchase about a tenth of the Sinai for the creation of a Palestinian state.

[$100 billion to repair war damage in Gaza. $100 billion to Israel to repair war damages and accept the process of creating a Palestinian state. $500 billion loan guarantees & outright grants to industrialize Sinai and the new Palestinian state, including solar panel manufacturing; pipe and valve manufacturing for water and irrigation projects; pumps, gaskets, and filters manufacturing for desalination projects; and manufacturing of electrical switches, cabling, and other components needed to build these projects. The goal must be to give Palestinians and Egyptians real hope for a future of steady employment and real nation building.

[And, finally, $100 billion for underground high speed rail lines connecting Palestinian Sinai with Jerusalem and the West Bank, with full Israeli supervision of security.

[Such a policy would  necessarily force to the fore the issues of money and credit creation: ]

Finding the Money: Winning Awards and Coming to a Theatre Near You

Stephanie Kelton, October 26, 2023 [The Lens, via Mike Norman Economics

[And make clear the the financial and monetary systems need fundamental reforms to actually serve the needs of humanity and society.]


How the Palestinian Authority Failed Its People

Ghaith al-Omari,  October 19, 2023 [The Atlantic]

…Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Palestinian people have been presented with two competing, irreconcilable visions of their future. One, posited by the Palestine Liberation Organization—a secular, though by no means democratic, group and the parent of the Palestinian Authority—envisioned a diplomatic process leading to a Palestinian state side by side with Israel. The other, promoted by Hamas, a designated terrorist group and a member of the larger Muslim Brotherhood network, called for the establishment of a Palestinian state from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean—in other words, the destruction of Israel—to be achieved through violence. …

The PA was not solely responsible for the devolution of the peace process. Yes, it made mistakes, including failing to take matters of security seriously during the 1990s, which eroded trust among Israelis. Israel, for its part, continued expanding its settlements, which fueled Palestinian suspicion. Each side at different times adopted maximalist, inflexible negotiating positions, and the United States was unwilling to take the parties to task. Hamas, meanwhile, used terror to derail diplomacy: In a grisly pattern that dominated much of the 1990s, every advance in negotiations was followed by a spate of Hamas terror attacks against Israeli civilians.…

National self-determination is a vicious idea 

Steve Randy Waldman [Interfluidity, via Naked Capitalism 10-25-2023]


Ken Klippenstein, Daniel Boguslaw, October 27 2023 [The Intercept]

Government documents pointing to construction at a classified U.S. base offer rare hints about a little noted U.S. military presence near Gaza.

4 things that European states could do today to stop the genocide in Palestine. Let’s act.

[X-Twitter, via Defend Democracy]



China will have over 1,000 nuclear weapons by 2030, exceeding US predictions, Pentagon report on PLA expansion says 

[South China Morning Post, via Naked Capitalism 10-24-2023]


Trump’s Plan to Destroy NATO Would Spark Untold Chaos 

Ryan Cooper, October 25, 2023 [The American Prospect]

So if Trump yanks the NATO rug out from under the EU, European nations will have no choice but to carry out a full-scale rearmament program, with massive production of tanks, ships, planes, artillery, rockets, and so on. Without the security blanket of American protection, German dithering over the Bundeswehr will end. Poland is likely to go for a nuclear weapons program; it has already suggested hosting U.S. nukes. Theoretically, France or the U.K. could provide a nuclear guarantee, but having been burned once, Poles may conclude that it is best to have a domestic arsenal. And they might not be the only ones….


Restoring balance to the economy  

What The UAW Strike Looks Like, From Deep in the Heart Of Anti-Union Texas 

[Texas Observer, via Naked Capitalism 10-25-2023]

…Workers along the picket lines in Arlington described years of pent-up frustration with how the company has treated them. The high-quality union jobs once associated with the auto industry—the ones with high wages and full pensions—have become scarce, replaced by long-term temp jobs with low pay and few benefits and protections.

“With past strikes, there’s always been a sentiment of, ‘Oh, they’ll work it out.’ This time I don’t feel that at all,” a longtime Local 276 autoworker, who declined to give his name because of fears of retaliation by GM, told the Observer. “I think everyone is ready to dig their heels in and say, ‘We’re done.’ So if you want to go to the mattresses, everyone is ready to do it.”….

As New Deal reforms allowed labor unions to spread in the late 1930s, union membership in the state exploded. Vance Muse, a virulent white supremacist and New Deal reactionary from Houston, saw this as a political and social threat to Southern segregation. In the 1940s, he began pushing anti-union legislation that prohibits mandatory membership in a unionized workplace, which came to be known as “right-to-work.” Texas was among the first states to pass right-to-work in 1947.

The GM plant in Arlington opened seven years later, in 1954, and was unionized as part of the UAW’s national contract with the company. It has stood as a rare unionized Southern auto plant ever since, forming the backbone of an embattled labor movement in North Texas.

These days, GM’s Arlington factory—which assembles the very popular, very profitable Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade 24 hours a day, with three shifts and mandatory six-day workweeks—has turned into a cash cow. In 2017, the Local 276 president at the time said a GM executive had told him that the plant was the “most profitable manufacturing facility in the world.”….

Since 2016, the company has pulled down a record $35 billion in North American profits. In 2018, GM CEO Mary Barra made just under $22 million—281 times more than the median company worker. Meanwhile, the company has laid off thousands of workers and shuttered several plants while also spending around $10 billion on stock buybacks, which jack up share prices, rewarding investors and senior executives.

The union’s recession-era concessions opened a Pandora’s box that workers believe GM has no intention of closing. The hope is that the strike can force GM’s hand and cut workers in on the soaring profits….

Meanwhile, the plant’s growth is fueled by precisely the sort of labor-squeezing model that UAW wants to end. GM has leaned heavily on “temporary” workers to fill out the round-the-clock production shifts. There are currently about 800 temps working in the Arlington plant, comprising at least 15 percent of the total labor force. That’s roughly double the share at the average GM plant.

Temps start at $15.78 an hour—half of what a veteran assembly worker makes—and have little in the way of benefits and zero job security. The hope is that GM will eventually hire them on permanently, but that rarely happens. Increasingly, the new generation of American autoworkers are what is known as the “permatemp.”

California’s Labor Victories Could Be Contagious 

[The Nation, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-24-2023]

“Last week, labor scored its latest victory in a long run of success stories in 2023. In the face of a three-day strike by nurses, ER technicians, and pharmacists earlier in the month, and the prospect of additional strike action in November by the coalition of unions representing 85,000 workers unless an agreement was reached, Kaiser Permanente agreed to a minimum wage of $25 per hour for California employees—90 percent of its employees are based in the Golden State—and $23 for employees elsewhere in the country. The healthcare giant also accepted a 21 percent pay increase for workers over four years, and the hiring of more staff to address chronic labor shortages. The deal was finalized in a meeting in San Francisco that ended in the middle of the night, presided over by acting Labor Secretary Julie Su. It had the backing of President Biden and Vice President Harris, both of whom made strong statements in favor of collective bargaining and the right to organize. More healthcare workers went out on strike during the three-day action than had ever before walked off the job in the United States in a single action. It was, quite rightly, seen as a historic moment, in which organized labor asserted its power within the healthcare system more than it has ever previously managed to do.”

The UAW’s Amazing Win

Robert Kuttner,  October 27, 2023 [The American Prospect]

The UAW’s stunning victory with Ford, which will soon translate into similar terms as the other two large automakers settle, is not only a win for the union’s audacious new leader Shawn Fain. It’s a win for union democracy….

None of this would have been possible had not the previous corruption at the UAW led to a consent decree with the federal government in 2022 that provided, for the first time, that the union president be elected directly by the membership. It was this victory for union democracy that allowed rank-and-file reform caucus called United All Workers to elect a slate of officers led by the militant Fain

Solar Could Become a Model for Sectoral Bargaining 

Lee Harris,  October 27, 2023 [The American Prospect]

A new deal between the electricians, laborers, and operating engineers aims to set national standards for solar work.

How the Yale Unions Took Over New Haven

E. Tammy Kim, October 23, 2023 [The New Yorker]

Yale University, with an endowment of forty billion dollars, is the largest landowner in New Haven, Connecticut, where one in four residents live at or below the federal poverty level. The juxtaposition is unmissable: the city is, as the labor leader and former resident Gwen Mills describes it, a “post-industrial manufacturing town with a multibillion-dollar education corporation plopped right into the middle of it.” And, because of its status as a nonprofit, Yale isn’t even required to pay taxes on all that property it owns. It would seem like a perfect setup for the kinds of intractable town-grown conflicts that roil many similar American cities. But, as E. Tammy Kim reports in a compelling new story, the situation in New Haven has been playing out differently, owing in large part to the unusual political success of Yale’s organized workers.

For more than a decade, New Haven’s city council has been dominated by Local 35 and 34 of the large North American union UNITE HERE, which represent Yale’s mechanics, janitors, dining-hall workers, receptionists, librarians, and lab researchers. The council has been credited with pressuring Yale to give more back to the community, including making higher voluntary payments in lieu of taxes. Meanwhile, the union has been growing, and, this past year, achieved a major breakthrough when graduate-student teachers won their own union, Local 33. This expansion has strengthened the power of labor at Yale, but it brings new challenges as well. As Kim asks, “Could the Yale unions find enough common ground between graduate students and custodians and billing clerks to keep the experiment going?”

Thank You, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for Flagging Biden Labor Policies You Hate

Timothy Noah, October 26, 2023 [The New Republic]

The organization’s whining makes it clear: Biden’s labor record is better than you (or anyway, I) knew.

At a moment when Democrats and Republicans vie for the working-class vote, a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce denouncing the Biden administration’s “whole of government” support for labor unions is admirably clarifying.…

There was a time when the Chamber accepted labor unions as a fact of life. “Labor unions are woven into our economic pattern of American life, and collective bargaining is part of the democratic process,” Chamber of Commerce President Eric Johnson said at a labor-management summit called by President Harry Truman in 1945. “I say [let’s] recognize this fact not only with our lips but with our hearts.”….

That did not remain the Chamber’s position. “Unions are not the answer to increasing prosperity for American workers or the economy,” it said in a 2008 paper. Since then, the Chamber has softened its rhetoric, in keeping with the conservative trend of rephrasing unpopular positions in the language of pluralism. Now the Chamber says workers should be given the right to choose whether to organize—while it lobbies furiously to rig the game against workers choosing unionization.

Health care crisis

How to get the new COVID vaccine for free, with or without insurance 

[CBS, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-27-2023]

“Federal health authorities are urging Americans to reach out to their insurers after reports of some people encountering trouble getting their new COVID-19 vaccine shot for free. Those issues have arisen despite programs and requirements designed to make the shots available at no out-of-pocket cost for all Americans. The hurdles are new to this year’s commercial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer [but not, apparently, Novavax], which are now listed for more than $100 on the private market. Earlier during the pandemic, vaccines and boosters had all been paid for by the federal government.” A hundred bucks is cheap for a heart attack, so its hard to account for the uptake issues on that basis. More: “‘There have been a number of glitches with billing codes [and] shipping of vaccines,’ Dr. Céline Gounder, CBS News medical contributor and editor-at-large for public health at KFF Health News, said on ‘CBS Mornings’ Tuesday. Officials say this year’s hiccups in coverage of the shots should be temporary, as insurers and vaccinators work to iron out issues in the systems that handle billing for the shots.”

[X-Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-27-2023]


The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

Americans Have Never Been Wealthier & No One is Happy 

Ben Carlson, October 22, 2023  [awealthofcommonsense, via The Big Picture 10-25-2023]

And while net worth grew 37%, total household debt grew less than 4% from 2019-2022. Sign me up for that every three years, please. This is what the change in net worth looks like every three years going back to 1989

Car Owners Fall Behind on Payments at Highest Rate on Record

[Bloomberg, via The Big Picture 10-23-2023]

How a Fertilizer Shortage Is Spreading Desperate Hunger 

[New York Times, via The Big Picture 10-22-2023]

Across Africa and in parts of Asia, disruption to the supply chain for fertilizer is raising food prices and increasing malnutrition.

Lies My Corporation Told Me 

David Dayen, October 27, 2023 [The American Prospect]

A new book lays out 150 years of corporate stooges making bogus arguments.

Corporate Bullsh*t: Exposing the Lies and Half-Truths That Protect Profit, Power, and Wealth in America

By Nick Hanauer, Joan Walsh & Donald Cohen

New Press

Black-Owned Land Is Under Siege in the Brazos Valley

[Texas Monthly, via The Big Picture 10-22-2023]

Acre by acre, families have lost long-held property near Bryan and College Station—much of it to the efforts of two men who weaponized arcane documents to acquire plots potentially worth millions.

The horrifying, nearly forgotten history behind Killers of the Flower Moon

[Vox, via The Big Picture 10-22-2023]

A century later, we still don’t know the full, stomach-churning extent of the Osage murders.

High steaks society: who are the 12% of people consuming half of all beef in the US?

[The Guardian, via The Big Picture 10-24-2023]

[TW: the study failed to ask the most important question: what income groups are responsible. I doubt the half of households with less than $36,000 in income consume much beef.]

Why America Is Out of Ammunition 

Matt Stoller [Big, via Naked Capitalism 10-23-2023]

…One of the more important side stories to the recent wars in Ukraine and Israel, and competition with China over Taiwan, is that the U.S. defense industrial base, composed of 200k plus corporations, is being forced to actually build weapons again. Defense is big business, and since the end of the Cold War, the government has allowed Wall Street to determine who owns, builds, and profits from defense spending.

The consequences, as with much of our economic machinery, are predictable. Higher prices, worse quality, lower output. Wall Street and private equity firms prioritize cash out first, and that means a once functioning and nimble industrial base now produces more grift than anything else. As Lucas Kunce and I wrote for the American Conservative in 2019, the U.S. simply can’t build or get the equipment it needs. There are at this point a bevy of interesting reports coming out of the Pentagon. The last one I wrote up earlier this year showed that unlike the mid-20th century defense-industrial base, today government cash goes increasingly to stock buybacks rather than actual armaments. And now, with a dramatic upsurge in need for everything from missiles to artillery shells to bullets, we’re starting to see cracks in the vaunted U.S. military.

The signs are unmistakable. In Ukraine, fighters are rationing shells. Taiwan can’t get weapons it ordered years ago. The Pentagon has put together a secret team to scour stockpiles to find high-precision armaments in demand on every battlefield and potential battlefield. But the problem goes beyond national defense. In Lake City, Missouri, the largest small arms ammunition plant in the world has decided all ammo production is going to the military, meaning that there is going to be a domestic shortage for hunters, sportsmen, and maybe even police. This shortage may look like a story of a sudden surge in demand, but it’s actually, as Elle Ekman wrote in the Prospect in 2021, a story of consolidation and de-industrialization.

Surges due to wars aren’t new, and there’s always some time lag between the build-up and the delivery. But today, the lengths of time are weirdly long. For instance, the Army is awarding contracts to RTX and Lockheed Martin to build new Stinger missiles, which makes sense. But the process will take.. five years. Why? What is new is Wall Street’s role in weaponry. We used to have slack, and productive capacity, but then came private equity and mergers. And now we don’t. The government can’t actually solicit bids from multiple players for most major weapons systems, because there’s just one or two possible bidders. So that means there’s little incentive for firms to expand output, even if there’s more spending….

Bidenomics and the Left 

[, via Naked Capitalism 10-22-2023]

The go-to crises of the socialist left have been “American declinism” and “inter-imperial rivalry.” These crises have not only been predicted by the left but often wished for, the left seeing them as doing much of the heavy lifting it cannot do on its own. This is both bad analysis and worse politics. It overstates declinism, wrongly projects the (very real) tensions between the U.S. and China into a contest over who will lead global capitalism, and assumes that things getting worse inherently advances progressive politics.

The U.S. is not—apart from China—facing any definitive decline relative to its main economic competitors. Nor is it facing a profit squeeze; corporate profits have been running at their highest ever share of GDP (see chart below), and non-financial profits per unit of real output were 74% higher in 2022 than in 2006 (i.e., before the 2008-9 Financial Crisis). As for the relationship with China, economic competition has indeed intensified, but the mutual dependence of the U.S. and China block the kind of rivalry that shaped left thinking a century ago. The challenge—for both countries—is how to manage the militarization of technology without undermining the broader free trade and capital flows that characterize the present global order each are so dependent on.

America needs a bigger, better bureaucracy 

Noah Smith [Noahpinion, via Naked Capitalism 10-23-2023]

“[T]he U.S. suffers from a distinct lack of state capacity. We’ve outsourced many of our core government functions to nonprofits and consultants, resulting in cost bloat and the waste of taxpayer money.” Not to mention the corporations the NGOs and consultants bring in!

[Big Issue, via Naked Capitalism 10-22-2023]
Collecting driver piss is surprisingly easy. Amazon, you see, puts its drivers on a quota that makes it impossible for them to drive safely, park conscientiously, or, indeed, fulfill their basic human biological needs. Amazon has long waged war on its employees’ kidneys, marking down warehouse workers for “time off task” when they visit the toilets.

As tales of drivers pissing – and shitting! – in their vans multiplied, Amazon took decisive action. The company enacted a strict zero tolerance policy for drivers returning to the depot with bottles of piss in their vans.

That’s where Butler comes in: the roads leading to Amazon delivery depots are lined with bottles of piss thrown out of delivery vans by drivers who don’t want to lose their jobs, which made harvesting the raw material for “Release Energy” a straightforward matter….

Butler enlisted some confederates to place orders for his drink, and it quickly rocketed to the top of Amazon’s listings for the category, which led Amazon’s recommendation engine to start pushing the item on people who weren’t in on the gag. When these orders came in, Butler pulled the plug, but not before an Amazon rep telephoned him to pitch him turning packaging, shipping and fulfillment over to Amazon:….

Butler’s stint as an Amazon warehouse worker only lasted a couple of days, ending when Amazon recognized him and fired him.

The contrast between Amazon’s ability to detect an undercover reporter and its inability to spot bottles of piss being marketed as bitter lemon energy drink says it all, really. Corporations like Amazon hire vast armies of “threat intelligence” creeps who LARP at being CIA superspies, subjecting employees and activists to intense and often illegal surveillance.

But while Amazon’s defensive might is laser-focused on the threat of labor organizers and documentarians, the company can’t figure out that one of its bestselling products is bottles of its tormented drivers’ own urine.

Predatory finance

Crypto Is Lobbying Congress Hard. It Wants More Than a Bitcoin ETF

[Barron’s, via The Big Picture 10-25-2023]

The crypto industry wants laws passed that clarify how it will be regulated.

Will Anyone Hold Larry Summers Responsible for His Promotion of a Crypto Scam?

Henry Burke, Julian Scoffield,  October 27, 2023 [The American Prospect]


Climate and environmental crises

What happens when solar panels wear out?

Izzy Ross, October 24, 2023 [Grist]

…in 2016, the International Renewable Energy Agency released a big report, saying that in the next few decades the world could see up to 78 million metric tons of solar waste. To put that in perspective, that’s about 5 million school buses.

That estimate has fluctuated over the years as solar has advanced. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory now estimates waste could reach between 54 and 160 million metric tons….

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that it can cost between $15 to $45 to recycle a panel, but just a few dollars to throw it away.

Getting panels to recycling facilities is another factor. The company We Recycle Solar actually has regional warehouses in places like Chicago, where they store panels until there are enough to justify shipping them to their center in Arizona.

The solar recycling industry is expected to grow as technology improves, waste accumulates and demand for materials goes up. And people like John Gilkeson, from Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency, say this transition can’t be left to the free market and industry alone.


Creating new economic potential – science and technology

An Arresting Optic Nerve Tops the 2023 Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition 

[Colossal, via Naked Capitalism 10-22-2023]

Power PV: Global photovoltaic revolution for climate protection – from MW to TW (part I)

October 24, 2023 []

Around 392 GW of photovoltaics will be added in 2023. This is more capacity than all worldwide nuclear power plants in operation in 2022, which was 371 GW cumulatively.

Asteroid Polyhymnia’s density beyond known elements  

[The Watchers, via Naked Capitalism 10-23-2023]


Information age dystopia / surveillance state  

Study Reveals: Threads is the most Invasive apps, shares 86% of your data with others

[The Money Mongers, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-24-2023]


Google pays $26.3 billion to be top search engine

Rizwan Choudhury, October 28, 2023 [Interesting Engineering]

Google spent a whopping $26.3 billion in 2021 to ensure that its search engine remained the default choice on mobile phones and web browsers, a court document revealed on Friday. The document was part of the ongoing antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant by the U.S. government and several states.

As per a CNBC report, the document showed how much Google paid its partners, such as Apple, to keep its search engine as the preferred option on their devices. The U.S. Department of Justice and a group of state attorneys have accused Google of abusing its market power in general search by using its influence to block its rivals from accessing key distribution channels, such as Apple’s Safari web browser.


The Internet Could Be So Good. Really

[The Atlantic, via The Big Picture 10-24-2023]

Today’s social platforms are designed for spectacle and entertainment—but it’s not too late to build a platform that improves society.


Bombshell Stanford study finds ChatGPT and Google’s Bard answer medical questions with racist, debunked theories that harm Black patients

[Fortune, via Naked Capitalism 10-22-2023]

[Lambert Strether: “This will not surprise NC readers: See from April 23, 2023, April 26, 2023 (and this from January 30, 2023). All the stupid money sloshed out of crypto and Web 3.0, and sloshed into AI. And here we are!”]

AI is learning from stolen intellectual property. It needs to stop

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 10-23-2023]

Books are copyrighted material, not free fodder for wealthy companies to use as they see fit, without permission or compensation. Many, many hours of serious research, creative angst and plain old hard work go into writing and publishing a book, and few writers are compensated like professional athletes, Hollywood actors or Wall Street investment bankers. Stealing our intellectual property hurts.

This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative

[MIT Technology Review, via The Big Picture 10-26-2023]

AI The tool, called Nightshade, messes up training data in ways that could cause serious damage to image-generating AI models.


Democrats’ political malpractice

Forget About The Republicans For A Moment– Is The Democratic Party A Credible Entity?

Howie Klein, October 23, 2023 []

Ali Velshi had Bernie on MSNBC with him on Labor Day and Bernie warned that Biden and the Democrats could lose next year. “We have millions of working class people out there who understand Trump’s a phony ‘but he claims at least to be standing for us. Who cares about us?’ And what we have to to do— what the Democrats have got to do— is begin to engage in class politics, to understand that we have been in a class war now for decades. And the wrong class is winning. And they’ve [the Democrats] got to be clear in standing up for the working class of this country— raising the minimum wage, passing labor law legislation, making it easier for workers to join union, reforming our health care system so that move to a universal health care system, not have 85 million uninsured or under-insured, substantially lower the cost of prescription drugs, build the affordable housing that we need. We need to start standing up for the working class, not just the big campaign contributors and the 1%… I don’t think that the average worker out there believe with Trump, ‘let’s give more tax breaks to billionaires’ or agrees with Republicans who want to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or education; they don’t believe that! But they don’t believe that the Democrats are standing up and fighting for them and taking on the corporate greed that exists out there right now. And that’s what the Democrats should be doing. And they do that, Biden’s going to win this election in a landslide.”

Thanks, to a Politician Who Did His Job

Matt Taibbi, October 28, 2023

A new report about IRS home visits has just been released by the House Weaponization of Government Committee, chaired by Ohio congressman Jim Jordan. It outlines disturbing issues, including confirmation that IRS agents making home visits may come without warning, using aliases, and without informing local enforcement agencies of their presence.

One of the cases outlined is my own. My home was visited by the IRS while I was testifying before Jordan’s Committee about the Twitter Files on March 9th. Sincere thanks are due to Chairman Jordan, whose staff not only demanded and got answers in my case, but achieved a concrete policy change, as IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel announced in July new procedures that would “end most” home visits.

Anticipating criticism for expressing public thanks to a Republican congressman, I’d like to ask Democratic Party partisans: to which elected Democrat should I have appealed for help in this matter? The one who called me a “so-called journalist” on the House floor? The one who told me to take off my “tinfoil hat” and put greater trust in intelligence services? The ones in leadership who threatened me with jail time? I gave votes to the party for thirty years. Which elected Democrat would have performed basic constituent services in my case? Feel free to raise a hand.

If silence is the answer, why should I ever vote for a Democrat again?

Other Elections You’ll Want to Follow

Joshua A. Douglas, October 24, 2023 [Washington Monthly]

From ranked choice voting to public budgeting, a look at this fall’s races that could reshape governing and voting.

(anti)Republican Party


Chris Hedges, October 27, 2023 [The Real News Network]

Jeff Sharlet has spent two decades covering the intersection of extreme Christian nationalism and the far-right. In his new book, Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War, he gives snapshots of a country rapidly devolving into a Christian fascism state. He captures the rage, the despair, the dislocation, the alienation, the aesthetic of violence, and the magical thinking that are the foundations of all fascist movements—forces that are now coalescing around the Trump-led Republican Party. The bizarre conspiracy theories and buffoonish quality of many who lead and embrace this movement, such as Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert, make the use American fascists easy to ridicule and dismiss. But Sharlet implores us to take them seriously as an existential threat to what is left of our anemic democracy. Jeff Sharlet joins The Chris Hedges Report to discuss his new book and the rising tide of Christofascism threatening our democracy.

Wondering How Awful The New Speaker Is? DCCC: “Mike Johnson Is Jim Jordan In A Sports Coat” Johnson Represents A Strain Of An Anti-Democracy Virus That Has Infected The GOP

Howie Klein, October 26, 2023 []

Mike Johnson, “Champion of the Fossil Fuel Industry” and Climate Change Denier Elected as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives

Pam Martens and Russ Martens, October 26, 2023 [Wall Street on Parade]

Republicans Take Knife-Fight Politics to Its Logical Conclusion: The House Speaker mess is an extension of a culture of dirty tricks

David Dayen, October 24, 2023 [The American Prospect]

…This “oppo über alles” ethos is how Republicans are taught from an early age to engage in politics. It’s also a long-established tradition. This year is actually the 50th anniversary of the 1973 College Republican summer convention at Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, which featured a race for national chairman between Robert Edgeworth and a University of Maryland dropout named Karl Rove. For five months, Rove campaigned for the position across the country after rejecting a power-sharing agreement from Edgeworth; Lee Atwater was one of Rove’s top aides.

Rove spent the run-up to the convention getting Edgeworth delegates unseated for technical and procedural reasons, using pretexts like a modified version of the Midwestern College Republicans’ constitution. That meant there were rival slates of delegates running around the Lake of the Ozarks. At the credentials committee, Rove forces challenged virtually everybody, and on the floor, there were two votes held, by two different convention chairs, one of which picked Rove and one Edgeworth. Each of them gave an acceptance speech.

The Republican National Committee, then under the direction of George H.W. Bush, had to resolve the dispute. While that was ongoing, Edgeworth’s vice-chair candidate leaked to The Washington Post a recording from Rove and some colleagues where they recounted stories about going through the garbage cans of their opponents and engaging in dirty tricks. This actually ended Edgeworth’s campaign, as Bush, angered by the leak to the Post, ruled in favor of Rove.

Bush later gave Rove a full-time job at the RNC. And Rovian dirty tricks have become the hallmark of the party ever since. Despite Ronald Reagan’s Eleventh Commandment (Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican), those tricks are frequently used in internecine warfare; flyers in South Carolina in 2000 claiming that John McCain had a Black child is the most high-profile example. (Rove denied any involvement, though it benefited his candidate, George W. Bush.)

Now you have an entire Republican Caucus trained in the dark art of knife fights, ready to go after anyone they dislike, and unwilling to give up a grudge. That’s made it impossible to perform the rather mundane task of electing a consensus Speaker candidate.

With Shutdown Averted, Is Social Security Safe? Nope!

[Originally published at Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 10-24-2023]

by James Roosevelt Jr., the grandson of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and also a former associate commissioner at the Social Security Administration; Henry Scott Wallace, an attorney and foundation executive and grandson of FDR’s Vice President Henry Wallace; June Hopkins, granddaughter of Harry Hopkins and a professor of History Emerita, Georgia Southern University, Armstrong Campus; and Tomlin Perkins Coggeshall, the grandson of Labor Secretary Frances Perkins.

More tax giveaways to the rich simply mean less revenue, higher deficits, and more justification for taking a meat cleaver to programs that serve and protect ordinary Americans….

But even if they completely eliminated every single non-defense discretionary program—from food stamps to the FBI to border protection—it wouldn’t be enough. It would add up to about $900 billion, or about 15% of total federal spending, which would fall far short of balancing the budget. So their deficit-cutting zeal must inevitably turn to what is called mandatory spending, most prominently the largest government program of all, Social Security.

Republican presidential candidates are increasingly emboldened to touch this deadly “third rail” of American politics. Nikki Haley mocked other candidates for promising not to touch Social Security. Ron DeSantis wants to “revamp” it. Mike Pence wants to privatize it, turning it over to Wall Street and adding trillions to the national debt—to replace the New Deal with a “better deal.”

And although former President Donald Trump now swears he would never harm a hair on Social Security’s head, his history renders such assurances hollow. He has previously suggested that a second Trump term would mean cuts to Social Security and Medicare. Let’s not forget that his hugest unachieved social policy goal at the end of his presidency was the complete termination of Social Security’s principal funding source, the payroll tax.

Former Speaker McCarthy proposes a national commission to examine ways to cut Social Security. The 175 members of the House Republican Study Committee have released their proposed budget for fiscal 2024, which would cut benefits by one-third, essentially transforming Social Security from an earned insurance benefit into a subsistence-level welfare benefit.

Previous threats have included plans to sunset all mandatory spending every five years (brainchild of Senate GOP campaign chair Rick Scott), or even every single year (proposed by Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson)….

GOP states raise fees on electric cars as gas taxes fall

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 10-22-2023]

Democrats and environmental groups say the new fees are aimed at the culture wars rather than revenue shortfalls. At least eight states, all but one controlled by Republicans, now require drivers of electric vehicles to pay a hefty annual registration fee of $200 or more. GOP lawmakers say it’s an effort to make up for lost gas tax revenue. EV advocates say it’s an effort to block sales of the environmentally friendly vehicles.

North Carolina Republicans Are About to Win Their War Against Democracy

Matt Ford, October 26, 2023 [The New Republic]

Conservatives are locking in an outrageous partisan gerrymander—and locking out nearly half of the state’s voters….

In theory, North Carolina is a purple state where no political party has an inherent advantage. This is especially true in statewide races. Donald Trump defeated Joe Biden by only a 1.34 percent margin in 2020. During that same election, North Carolinians also elected multiple Democrats to the state’s executive branch, including Governor Roy Cooper and Attorney General Josh Stein. Recent U.S. Senate contests have been closely fought.

The same can’t be said for legislative races in North Carolina. Thanks to more than a decade of extreme partisan gerrymandering, Republicans have an ironclad grip on the state legislature. That dominance has allowed them to effectively decide most of the state’s legislative races, both for the state Assembly and for Congress, before voters even cast a ballot. But with this latest move, the Tar Heel State is poised to slip even further away from what could fairly be called “representative government.”

If enacted, the new congressional map would essentially hand three additional House seats to Republican candidates in 2024. The state’s current map, which was drawn by a state court in 2022 after post-census legal battles, resulted in seven Democrats and seven Republicans elected to Congress. Under the new map, Republicans would instead hold a virtually unbeatable edge in 10 of the state’s 14 districts.

The Evangelicals Calling for War on Poor People 

Elle Hardy, October 23, 2023 [The New Republic]

A new, antisocial strain of the prosperity gospel is making its way into pulpits and breeding new hostility toward the least fortunate Americans….

In May, Jason Mattera, son of Joseph Mattera, one of the most influential modern prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation—which emerged from the Pentecostal-Charismatic tradition that is sweeping all of evangelical Christianity before it—wrote a piece outlining a new direction for prosperity theology. In the article, titled A Biblical View of Work and Welfare,” Mattera junior opined that, while Christians should help to alleviate poverty, they are not “under any obligation to help indolent bums.” Such people, he added “are not entitled to our generosity” (emphasis his)….

In Mattera’s vision, which appears rooted as much in right-wing talking points as in theological ideas, “​​there are clear worldview implications for Christians to consider on the topic of work and welfare.” A hereditary influencer who made his name creating a “whites-only scholarship” while at college, he concedes that Christians should be at “the tip of the spear” when it comes to looking after the poor but largely for other Christians. The unfortunate, he writes, “have chosen the path of poverty.”

…This is a worldview that seeks to wage not a war against poverty but a war against the poor instead—those who have, in his view, shown insufficient faith. This might come as a surprise to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the teachings of Jesus, but it represents the culmination of a long strand of American Protestantism that gained hold after World War II.

[TW: The social thinking that the poor deserve their poverty, can be traced back further than the period after World War II. Michael J. Thompson traces some of the history of these ideas in The Politics of Inequality: A Political History of the Idea of Economic Inequality in America, New York, NY, Columbia University Press, 2007”

Herbert Spencer’s work The Man Versus the State, published in 1884, laid out the firm argument that state intervention was opposed to liberal individualism; state interference was inherently opposed to the idea of liberty. The state stood for coercion, and any extension of the state’s role beyond enforcing contracts—what Spencer referred to as “anarchy plus the constable”—amounted to the erosion of liberty in economic affairs and, in the American interpretation of things, the elimination of freedom itself…. In this way, thinkers such as Sumner, and even Calhoun before him, did more than privilege the interest of one particular class over another; this is far too simplistic. What they were able to achieve was the purging of ethical and moral categories from social theory and analysis….

Well before the ideas of thinkers like Friedman and Hayek were to have influence, the ideas of economists like John Bates Clark and Frank Knight were laying a groundwork for what would become a libertarian economic and ethical framework that would overturn the legacy of the political ideas of a “socialized democracy.” For Clark, the key insight was that each factor of production—be it capital or labor—would, under the conditions of an unregulated and freely operating market, receive the proper and just returns to its input….

In the early 1920s, in Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit, Knight put forth a comprehensive theory of laissez-faire with the business entrepreneur at its center. Knight held that individuals in society are unable to have absolute knowledge and information about the world and, therefore, about economic processes. Knight’s epistemological assumptions about subjective knowledge were central to his ethical justification for laissez-faire, and they allowed the doctrine as a whole to regain ascendancy in American economics and, in time, in political and social thought as well. ]

ALEC Considers Blacklisting Companies That Voluntarily Recognize Unions

Don Wiener, July 24th, 2023 [Center for Media and Democracy]

The proposal is a replica of Tennessee’s Employee Free Choice and Privacy Act (SB 0650 / HB 1342), which passed earlier this year and was signed into law by GOP Gov. Bill Lee. Backed by five ALEC-affiliated state legislators, the bill is a direct counterpunch to Ford Motor Company’s decision to voluntarily recognize a union in Tennessee after the state awarded it $884 million in tax and other incentives in 2021 to build a new lithium battery plant there, which is expected to employ 5,600 workers.

Since the United Auto Workers (UAW) has what is known as a “neutrality agreement” with Ford, the company has agreed to voluntarily accept a union once a majority of workers at the new plant sign union membership cards.

That decision angered right-wing groups and legislators who take great pride in Tennessee being an anti-union state.


The (anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

Leonard Leo’s Fight Against Abortion Access

Andrew Perez, October 27, 2023 [The Lever]

Conservative legal activist Leonard Leo’s dark money network has spent $18 million trying to block a ballot measure to enshrine abortion rights in Ohio’s constitution — accounting for nearly 60 percent of what abortion opponents have reported raising in advance of the November 7 election, according to new state campaign finance data.

Justice Thomas’s R.V. Loan Was Forgiven, Senate Inquiry Finds 

[NYT, via Naked Capitalism 10-26-2023]

Did SCOTUS Finally Wake Up to the Threat of State Nullification of Federal Law? 

[Justia, via Naked Capitalism 10-26-2023]

The Absurd Lawsuit That Could Bankrupt Planned Parenthood

Melissa Gira Grant, October 25, 2023 [The New Republic]

A decade-long campaign by Texas Republicans to punish Planned Parenthood and run it out of the state advanced this week, thanks to one of the most anti-abortion judges in the United States. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk on Monday ruled in favor of an anonymous anti-abortion activist who has sued Planned Parenthood and its Texas affiliates on dubious grounds, ordering a jury trial that may allow the activist to collect $1.8 billion in judgment from the organization—imperiling its very existence in the state.

Mock Constitutional Convention Reveals Far Right’s Vision for Rewriting the U.S. Constitution 

[Exposed by CMD, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 10-25-2023]

“For three days in August, 115 “commissioners,” as convention organizers branded them, from 49 states participated in a mock constitutional convention — simulating an event that legal scholars warn could result in minority rule and a radical curtailment of federal protections if it actually occurred. Right-wing activists have long advocated for a constitutional convention, an untried method for changing the country’s founding document provided for in Article V of the Constitution, which empowers states to call for a convention that moves forward once two-thirds of them do so. So far, 19 states have signed on to a resolution from the Convention of States calling for a constitutional convention to radically curtail federal powers. … Convention of States has won passage of its far-reaching convention calls in 19 states, and ALEC-led groups claim that they have28 state applications for their balanced budget amendment proposal — just six shy of the 34 needed to trigger a convention.”


Open Thread


Why Economists Are Wrong About How Good The Economy Is, And Regular People Are Right


  1. BC Nurse Prof

    Pepe Escobar on Palestine and Israel:

    “Iran-Russia set a western trap in Palestine”

  2. VietnamVet

    There are Five Crises that are rattling the establishment’s cage but are only reported in the alt-internet – today’s Weekend Wrap.

    Several are self-evident as fronts in the burgeoning WWIII:
    1) The NATO Russian Ukraine War. Tactical nuclear weapons will be used by the losing side to avoid defeat. Only an armistice and a new Iron Curtain from the Arctic Ocean to the Black Sea can end Russia’s military threat.
    2) A Muslim genocide – the cleansing of Gaza — will trigger a regional Holy War.
    3) The military playing chicken in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait and the economic sanctions on China are causing shortages and shipping upheaval that are sure to escalate.

    The rest center around the rise of the BRICS nations and the fact that the West is no longer a global economic hegemon. Democracy is dead in the West which is instead a mish-mash of corporate-states that have only one goal which is to make a profit and enrich the wealthy at the expense of everyone else. The inability to win wars or prevent pandemics is simply due to the end of government and public service — public health, public safety, public transportation and public education. Everyone is on their own. No one is concerned with the greater good. As a result, the people are being forced to return to their tribal ethnic root beliefs. This is the unexplained reason for rise of Mike Johnson from obscurity to second in line to replace Joe Biden. The American secular constitutional nation by and for the people is dead. Either it is restored, or in the succession of red and blue states, a nuclear catastrophe, Americans will become Gazans too.

  3. DMC

    For those unfamiliar with the American Legislative Exchange Council(ALEC), they are a Koch funded national organization that provides ready made legislation to state lawmakers that invariably provide for pro-business, anti-labor and generally reactionary causes. If you’ve ever wondered how a bunch of different states suddenly start passing the same laws, it’s because of ALEC.

  4. Carborundum

    Recall bias will play a non-trivial role in the study of beef consumption. Needs to be cross-validated with examination of household spending and waste streams (the latter crappy grad student job #37 of thousands – the former, probably a pretty damned good gig given the current uncritical worship of big data).

  5. Jan Wiklund

    I don’t understand why anybody should list Michael Lind under the label “new right” – he has written a book on why “the right is wrong”, see

    After having read another of his books and a few articles I would call him a traditional keynesian.

  6. GrimJim

    Oof. Recent developments have set my Apocalypse Sense tingling.

    Three nuclear powers in death matches at the same time is not good.

    The least feared, for me, is Ukraine. Unless things go Full Stupid, the worst we’ll see is a limited, tactical exchange in Ukraine itself. Sucks for them, and everyone else, but not a mortal wound for civilization, though certainly a nail in the coffin…

    Israel, on the other hand, has never disavowed the Samson Option. So if things go especially south there, that will go global, how bad depends on how many they actually have and the range of their delivery vehicles. Minimally, every capital city in the Middle East, plus Mecca and Medina. Maximally, most major world capitals.

    Then there is the Taiwan Wild Card. Could be a Joker in the deck if US power collapses working the two fronts while Republicans fiddle as Washington burns. Definitely going to invade when Trump takes the presidency in 2025 and withdraws from the UN, NATO, and all the other defensive pacts and alliances.

    Heinlein was right on this. US gets taken over by a Christofascist Charlatan, withdraws from the world, collapses into a Christofascist nightmare, then Europe and China divide the rest of the world, ending in nuclear was and complete collapse.

    I think I would have preferred Martian Hippies, frankly…

  7. Soredemos

    In case anymore cares, I’ve done what pathetically little I can. If anyone wants to copy-paste it and send it to their own relevant ‘representatives’, feel free:

    *Dear *State Senator* [I’m going to make some attempt to maintain my anonymity here].

    I’ll try to keep this brief, since I imagine you get many emails in general, and in the last few weeks probably many specifically on the topic of Israel and Palestine.

    I’m under no illusions that anything you say or do is likely to have much impact. But I’m asking you, as a matter of principle if nothing else, to not just parrot ‘Israel has a right to defend itself’ and promise ever more money, which as far as I can tell has been your public position since at least October 10.

    What Israel is doing, whatever initial justifications can be made for its violent response, has gone far beyond any kind of proportion. The total dead in Gaza, the vast majority of them unequivocally civilians, is now over 8,000, and probably actually many more than that as bodies continue to be dug out of rubble and wounded people continue to die as the hospitals fail one by one. The White House has suggested these numbers are unreliable (this is a euphemism for ‘Palestinians are lying’), but numerous aid agencies, and the United Nations, say the numbers in the past have been consistently reliable and always turn out to be at least broadly accurate. But let’s say it’s propaganda, and cut the death tolls in half. They’re still absolutely atrocious numbers, some multiple of the total killed by Hamas in its attack on October 7. The number of killed children (who are roughly 50% of the total population of Gaza) alone is now more than twice the total in all age groups killed in that attack. It’s more than the total number of Americans killed in the 9/11 attacks. And there’s no end in sight.

    It’s just slaughter at this point. And that’s just the bombs and shells directly killing people; the entire Gaza Strip is also being subjected to a fuel and supply blockade that is rendering the entire place literally uninhabitable. On top of that Israel has demanded that more than a million people move south, roughly cutting the strip in half and compressing the population into half the space, with even less supplies.

    Israel is acting like a nation of unhinged crazy people. I’ve never seen anything like it; even the pretense of diplomatic professionalism and restrained, coded language has been completely abandoned. When the Secretary General of the UN put out a quite long, nuanced statement correctly pointing out that there’s a broader context to all of this and that history didn’t start on October 7th, the official response of the Israeli government was for its Foreign Minister to demand the Secretary General resign. When the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted in favor of a non-binding resolution for a humanitarian truce (which the US and Israeli governments were in a small minority voting against), Israel responded by saying the UN has lost its way and member states should defund it. When the UN and international aid organizations are screaming out that fuel is needed to keep Gazan hospitals running (fuel that still hasn’t been allowed in, I should add, with the total amount of non-fuel aid now being allowed in each day at most amounting to a few dozen trucks, when hundreds are needed to meet even minimum requirements), the official Israeli Defense Forces Twitter account sent out a condescending message about how they should ‘ask Hamas for fuel’, accompanied by a picture supposedly of Hamas fuel tanks (and I very much doubt that’s what they were. If such a thing existed and Israel knew about them, they would have been one of the first things Israel bombed. Even the caliber of propaganda has become dumber and more outrageous).

    These are not the actions of a country with a sane leadership. Criticism can no longer just be dismissed and smeared as ‘antisemitism’. That time is past. Even international aid agencies that have a long history of trying to maintain neutrality are practically screaming about the degree to which this is a catastrophe, and how very soon they won’t be able to continue their humanitarian operations as the supplies run out and as their facilities and personnel keep getting bombed (and at a certain point it can’t be chalked up to just being unfortunate mistakes).

    I’ll also add, because I feel it needs to be said, that Israel is not defending itself in the context of Hamas. Whatever arguments can be made about past wars between Israel and its neighboring states (and there are those, like Israeli historian and IDF veteran Zeev Maoz, who can make detailed, long-form arguments that most or even all of the Israeli-Arab wars have fundamentally been Israeli wars of choice where it was the aggressor), none of that applies to Gaza. The Gaza Strip is part of what are literally called the Occupied Territories. They have been illegally controlled by Israel since 1967. That’s not me saying it, that’s the United Nations saying it, something it has reiterated periodically every few years for half a century. Israel is legally an occupying power on these territories (and no, Israel didn’t end the occupation when it withdrew in 2005. Building a giant prison wall, keeping the place under permanent blockade, and periodically blowing up parts of it and killing its inhabitants by the hundreds are all forms of continued domination). Occupying powers have no moral or legal right to claim self-defense. I’m not asking anyone to like Hamas or approve of its actions, but fundamentally it is an anti-colonial paramilitary force. With no occupation, Hamas either literally wouldn’t exist at all, or would be much smaller and weaker. Were Israel to genuinely withdraw to the 1967 borders, it would be in a much stronger position to portray itself as a victim.

    Even if that weren’t the case, Israel is a nuclear armed power (let’s not waste time and pretend that it isn’t an open secret that it has at least several hundred warheads) that gets essentially guaranteed US military aid not only to the tune of millions of dollars a day but privileged access to equipment, including the F-35 fighter-bomber. Hamas and other groups of Palestinian fighters have paragliders and homemade rockets. This is not a remotely equal conflict (once the initial success of their opportunistic surprise attack had worn off, Hamas was quickly pushed back into Gaza. The ‘fight’ since has predominantly consisted of Israel bombarding Gazans with near impunity). Israel does not require yet more of a blank check to ‘defend itself’.

    Not in my name, or in yours. I, as an American and as an *State-ian*, do not consent to my public money being spent on slaughter, and I don’t think you as a Jew should feel that Israel automatically gets to just claim to represent all Jews globally and to be representing or defending their interests. Maybe some feel I don’t get to have an opinion on these matters because I’m not Jewish. In which case, fine, but I know for a fact that a large, and seemingly ever increasing, number of Jews share my views.

    Thank you for your time.*

  8. Curt Kastens

    To make a long story short aggressor nations do NOT have the right to self defence.
    The United States and Israel are both blantantly aggressor nations. Therefore the populations, the citizens of these nations have no right to self defence.
    I, as a US citizen have no right to defend myself from a Palestinian, Iranian, or any other people that are under US imperialist attack, or attack from their allies. I do have the right to defend myself from attacks by Confederate Americans and Vichy Europeans, and Samauri Asians. Though not having access to firearms such a right does not count for anything.
    Another thing that often gets overlooked, the law of land warfare clearly has a provision that says that when one side is not obeying the laws of land warfare the other side is not bound by it either.
    The international arena has clearly been one of complete anarchy since March of 2003.

  9. Adam Eran

    The story about Karl Rove’s dirty tricks omits the precedent: LBJ’s dirty tricks. These range from rigging the “Junior Legislature” election so he would win to stealing his senate seat. See Robert Caro’s “Means of Ascent” for the whole story.

    There’s a real temptation to blame the R’s for their current depravity, as though the D’s were so Simon pure. Remember, Reagan simply followed his Democratic predecessor’s example in crushing unions and deregulating. Jimmy Carter deregulated trucking and airline, throwing their unions under the bus. The Teamsters endorsed Reagan in the next election (as did Gene McCarthy and Ralph Abernathy!)

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