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

A word on Abenomics, QE and doing Stimulus right

Quantitative Easing, to put it simply, no matter what form you do it in, is only marginally effective.

Most of the money goes to the rich, you may or may not get a technical win in GDP, and in many cases the money may flow out of the country.

If you want to improve the economy overall, enough that it shows up for everyone and you get an actual good economy (as opposed to an economy where the poor and middle class actually get poorer) you have to target where the money goes very carefully, and not just use it to buy various financial instruments.

The idea that buying more bonds, or mortgages or whatever, is an effective way to help the overall economy has been disproven over and over again.

Be clear, QE picks winners.  Buying mortgages or buying bonds is picking winners.

Any effective government intervention in the economy must pick winners.

In most cases this is not about infrastructure.  Japan poured ludicrous amounts of concrete over the last 4 decades and it did very little: infrastructure is great if you don’t have enough, but building more than you need is stupid.

In early 2009 I wrote about how to do stimulus right.  Here are the parts that are most applicable right now.

Provide a direction private industry and individuals can get behind

The stimulus bill and other economic policies need to show where the industry of the future is going to be, so that private actors know where to build up their own capacity, where to hire and what to buy capital equipment for.  Commit 200 billion a year to a massive telecom buildout for the next 4 years, and companies are going to line up to get involved in that business.  Make it clear you’re going to massively expand health infrastructure and they’ll line up for that business.  They’ll make long term investments, hire people, train people and do R&D. Programs that look like they will go away almost immediately won’t make businesses decide to invest in increase capacity—it might not be there next year.  Right now the only large scale project that looks really certain to occur for years under the Obama administration is a war—the Afghan war.

Restructure to allow unfettered growth in the future

The last economy cracked up for a reason.  Or rather, for multiple reasons.  You need to know what those are, and you need to get rid of them, so it doesn’t happen again.  If you don’t properly regulate the financial industry they will do another bubble (especially since you bailed them out of the downside, so why shouldn’t they?  They got the profits, and the public paid the losses.)  If you don’t do something to make sure that oil prices don’t spike again (both on the demand end and in terms of reigning in speculative excess) then the next time there’s a half decent economy they will strangle growth again.  There are plenty of other places where problems need to be fixed (too low corporate tax rates leading to cashing out instead of reinvestment, if you want a third).  If you don’t fix them, all you’re doing is putting electrical paddles to a patient whose heart is still a piece of junk and who is still going to have another heart attack when he eats his next cheeto ™.

In addition to these two things, one should spend when it’s cheap (aka. in recession or have the government buy up houses in distress, fix them and rent or sell them), and it should move money to people with a marginal prospensity to spend.  (AKA. cutting food stamps is idiocy, since people on food stamps spend all of them.)

This isn’t difficult and it is complicated only in the details so that it isn’t and wasn’t done indicates a combination of ideological blindness, greed and corruption.  It isn’t done because the people at the top don’t want to do it.


Why the Sharing Economy is Destroying Prosperity


Ferguson and the brokenness of America’s “Justice” System


  1. remember when the good old days were passed?

  2. Celsius 233

    “Restructure to allow unfettered growth in the future” Ian

    Aren’t we past “unfettered growth”? This planet cannot afford “growth” of the old model.

  3. Ian Welsh

    No, we aren’t past it. Smart growth is what we need. Unfettered growth means learning how to grow without destroying the ecosphere. It’s more than doable.

  4. Celsius 233

    Ian, are you sure you mean unfettered?

    un·fet·tered adjective \-tərd\
    : not controlled or restricted MW Online

    How about sustainable growth. I can certainly get on board with that, in fact, already am.

  5. Trixie

    If you don’t do something to make sure that oil prices don’t spike again (both on the demand end and in terms of reigning in speculative excess) then the next time there’s a half decent economy they will strangle growth again.

    This is so rarely discussed among our current crop of macro-economists as (at least) a trigger for the collapse. I presume they think it’s ‘neutral’, just like financial institutions. And private sector debt. And wages. And asset price inflation. And capital flows. And distribution (or lack thereof)…

    So this is a good reminder for me to add energy constraints to the growing list of things macro-economists don’t do. By process of elimination, I hope to discover what they actually do do (yes, I did that on purpose).

    So far this is what I’ve come up with: An interest rate. As in one. And that deficit!

  6. Tony Wikrent

    On “unfettered growth” . . . .

    A few years ago, Michael Hudson (I believe it was) pointed out that some of the great luminaries of economics, such as Smith and Ricardo, understood a “free market” to be free of usury, monopoly, and rent extraction. Now, I strongly dislike giving any praise to Smith and Ricardo and other economists, who essentially served as apologists, mythologists, and enablers of the British East India Co.’s slave trade and opium trade. But, it should always be a goal of statesmen in a republic to ensure that economy is as free as possible from these three great pestilences of usury, monopoly, and rent extraction. And, I would add a fourth: speculation, of the type we see the financial markets now specialize and revel in. If these four are not entirely absent from the economy, they should, and the very least, be tightly regulated.

    Especially monopoly, in those few sectors of the economy where competition does more harm than good. I think the historical record of the electric power industry is very clear that complete, nationwide distribution of electricity would never have happened under a competitive market model. Only large urban areas would have been electrified, and there you would have probably seen the sort of cut-throat price competition that results in long-term deterioration of service, safety, and reliability.

    Now that the technology – such as on-site wind turbines and photovoltaics – has been developed for decentralized generation and distribution, it may make sense to have more competition. In USA, this technology shift is not being well handled because the legacy utilities are able to purchase political power, but, more importantly, because the ideology of political economy in USA is so thoroughly dominated by conservative “neo-liberal” ideas which makes coherent and effective government actions and programs almost impossible.

    Anyway, in the sense that usury, monopoly, rent extraction, and speculation are fetters on real economic activity, “unfettered growth” is exactly what we want.

    So, what about “smart growth”? This brings us to the problem of science in a republic. As I have argued in some posts elsewhere on the tubez: “the most important economic activity a society engages in is the pursuit of new scientific and technological knowledge that allows that society’s economy to avoid environmental limitations and inefficient misuse of natural resources…. But scientific and technological knowledge is always changing. Or, it should be, as science and technology advance. So, in a republic, the highest duty of a statesman is to understand the present frontiers of science of technology, and where the boundaries of those frontiers must be expanded in order to find the answers to looming, as well as existing, economic and social problems.” (See

    In our day – if we think of “unfettered growth” more mundanely as vigorous, robust, growth, with a double digit delta – we would like to see “unfettered growth” of wind turbines, solar power, geo-thermal, urban rail transit, high-speed intercity rail, point-of-use fresh water systems, cures for cancer and aging of tissues, local green agriculture, and so on. Instead, what we have gotten is a new oil boom based on fracking and tar sands.

    In a comment here two weeks ago, I observed that the value of a dollar of profit made from industrial production is greater than the value of a dollar of profit made from financial speculation, because of the social as well as economic effects. I have been thinking about that, and I am glad this opportunity so quickly arose to further observe that a dollar of profit from some industrial activity is not necessarily the same as a dollar of profit from some other industrial activity. The new oil boom based on fracking and tar sands is a case in point: clearly, society and our future economic potentials are far better served from people making profit building and operating wind turbines farms and solar power arrays.

    In a system of political economy, then, the role of government must be to discern, identify, and calculate, the value of one form of economic activity as compared to another form of economic activity, and then put in place such laws, rules, regulations, incentives, and support programs as to make it more profitable for people to pursue profits in the areas of economic activity that have more value. As Ian wrote “The stimulus bill and other economic policies need to show where the industry of the future is going to be, so that private actors know where to build up their own capacity, where to hire and what to buy capital equipment for. Commit 200 billion a year to a massive telecom buildout for the next 4 years, and companies are going to line up to get involved in that business.”

    Let me close with a nod to James Madison. “But the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property… The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation…” Federalist No. 10, of course.

  7. Celsius 233

    @ Tony Wikrent

    In a word, bullshit!

  8. unfettered growth

    Celsius is right. The planet can not sustain it. Degrowth is the only option at the moment.
    Unfettered Growth, as you state, without wrecking the ecosystem…would not feel anything like it..even if you could measure it as being positive.

    On limit to growth:

  9. Dan Lynch

    “It isn’t done because the people at the top don’t want to do it.”

    And there you have it.

    It’s good — necessary — to have a constructive plan for how to fix things. It’s also good to have a plan for how to take power away from the 1%.

  10. Tony Wikrent

    I have yet to find the person who believes in “limits to growth” who is willing to inform specific nations, populations, parts of nations and segments of populations that they must continue to suffer deprivation and poverty because the planet simply can’t sustain them. It reminds me of the Louis CK skit on how some people are so ugly, they will never have a mate.

    Audience: Awwwwww.
    Louis CK: You feel bad for them? Well, go find one and fuck one tomorrow. You can solve the problem!
    Louis CK alter ego: Naaah.
    Louis CK: Didn’t think so.

  11. Tony Wikrent

    Mark Buchanan’s post, “Steaming slowly toward the limits of growth” makes the obvious error of assuming that there will be no change in our mode of technology: “When we look at our world, and the way economic growth has always worked in the past, we find that increases in energy efficiency don’t ultimately lead to less energy being used, but to more.”

    Well, if we continue in our current technology mode of reliance on burning fossil fuels, yes, obviously, we have major problems coming, and soon. But that only serves to prove my point that in a republic, the highest duty of a leader “is to understand the present frontiers of science of technology, and where the boundaries of those frontiers must be expanded in order to find the answers to looming, as well as existing, economic and social problems.” We face hard limits on our present sources of energy? Well, of course we do. So is the solution “degrowth” (one of the more polite euphemisms for genocidal depopulation), or is it to direct society’s resources into finding a replacement for fossil fuels?

    There is enough solar energy hitting one square kilometer of desert in Africa to supply all the electricity needed – in all of Europe as well as Africa. With technologies we as humanity already have in hand there is practically no limit on the amount of energy available to us. But we need a $100 trillion program (see this article in Scientific American from two years ago) to switch the world’s economy from burning fossil fuels to utilizing wind and solar.

    So the question really is: Where do we get $100 trillion to do that? Well, the financial markets in the USA alone trade over $5 trillion each and every day in stocks. bonds, options, futures, swaps, and other derivatives. And, there is over $50 trillion sitting around in the world’s offshore hot money centers, which the one percent are hiding from tax authorities. To fund $100 trillion in new infrastructure we can either take that money away from the one percent, or take away their control over the creation and allocation of new money and credit, which they are misusing for speculation and usury. Or some combination of the two actions.

    This is not a new problem, and the smokescreen of “overpopulation” to hide the culprits is not new, either. In the nineteenth century, the leading economist in USA was Henry C. Carey, and he was direct in attacking the British policies of free trade and market speculation as being hostile, and in world-wide opposition, to “The American System.” In an 1851 book entitled The Harmony of Interests: Agricultural, Manufacturing & Commercial, Carey wrote, “The whole system,” of British free trade,

    has for its object an increase in the number of persons that are to intervene between the producer and the consumer — living on the product of the land and labour of others, diminishing the power of the first, and increasing the number of the last…. The impoverishing effects of the system were early obvious, and to the endeavour to account for the increasing difficulty of obtaining food where the whole action of the laws tended to increase the number of consumers of food and to diminish the number of producers, was due the invention of the Malthusian theory of population….”

    We thus have here [British free trade and market speculation], first, a system that is unsound and unnatural, and second, a theory invented for the purpose of accounting for the poverty and wretchedness which are its necessary results. The miseries of Ireland are charged to over-population, although millions of acres of the richest soils of the kingdom are waiting drainage to take their place among the most productive in the world, and although the Irish are compelled to waste more labour than would pay, many times over, for all the cloth and iron they consume. The wretchedness of Scotland is charged to over-population when a large portion of the land is so tied up by entails as to forbid improvement, and almost forbid cultivation. The difficulty of obtaining food in England is ascribed to over-population, when throughout the kingdom a large portion of the land is occupied as pleasure grounds, by men whose fortunes are due to the system which has ruined Ireland and India. Over-population is the ready excuse for all the evils of a vicious system, and so will it continue to be until that system shall see its end… (pp. 64-65)

    Every mainstream, orthodox economics textbook I have seen – and I have acquired quite a few and looked at many, many others for just this reason – begins with some definition or other involving the allocation of scarce resources. People who have suffered through an Econ 101 course know that scarcity is central to mainstream economic thinking. In the best selling textbook on macroeconomics, economist H. Gregory Mankiw writes near the bottom of the first page:

    The management of society’s resources is important because resources are scarce. Scarcity means that society has limited resources and therefore cannot produce all the goods and services wish to have. Just as each member of a household cannot get everything he or she wants, each individual in a society cannot attain the highest standard of living to which he or she might aspire.

    I will put this as simply as possible: Mankiw’s and all other’s arguments that resources are scarce is a smokescreen that prevents us from seeing how rich oligarchs manipulated national economies. (Mankiw was George W. Bush’s chief economist, and earlier this year wrote a piece entitled “Defending the One Percent” – honest, not joking, that’s Mankiw’s title).
    The typical environmentalist belief that the planet’s resources are finite falls right into this trap. If you premise your political action on the belief that the planet’s resources are finite, you will devote your time, effort, and resources, to convincing people to stop having children, stop consuming so much, stop wasting so much. But if you premise your political action on the belief that we have the scientific and technological wherewithal to solve resource limitations, but we need lots of money to be able to fund the development and application of this scientific and technological wherewithal, then you are going to devote your time, effort, and resources, to convincing people to stopping the one percent and the banksters from abusing and misusing our financial and monetary systems for usury, consolidation of monopoly, rent extraction, and speculation, and using the financial and monetary systems to fund the $100 trillion in programs and projects we need to ensure the survival of the human race, and the planet we that sustains us.

    And if you reject my arguments, then you really owe it to every human being alive today to explain your solution, and how it will impact them. A short, terse “bullshit” is just a cowardly cop-out.

  12. V. Arnold (formerly C-233)

    IMO, unfettered is a wrong term when addressing growth, markets, economics, and politics. The word unfettered is a negative (in that context [as history demonstrates]) and reflects the last 80 years of destruction. Unfettered cannot stand on its own without vast qualifiers, IMO. I reject it as stated. Humans (granted not all), at least western-Europeans, seem bound and determined to lie, steal, murder, cheat and manipulate every aspect of society/life.
    This is done through a perverse form of capitalism, along with corruption, police (militarized), and politicians (corrupt/bought). Neo-liberal economics have monetized everything; water, state infrastructure, air, polution, waste disposal, and most sadly, all aspects of medical care.
    Unfettered pretty well describes the process. We cannot be trusted to even govern ourselves for any meaningful length of time. And we just refuse to learn important lessons and have a depth of denial that is just numbing.
    Just listening to the politicians in the U.S. is one of the most frightening things I do on any given day…
    Growth and finite resources do not co-habitate well, if at all. Growth is the mantra of the neo-liberal and a death knell for humans and every other living thing on the planet. At this point in time, the U.S. is the poster child for everything wrong with humans.
    If, as a society/people, we cannot see the interconnectedness of every fucking thing, then it’s over.

    Lastly, everyone and everything I hear/read is calling for change and this change is couched as working within “the system”, which I catagorically posit is broken and beyond redemption. We need to shed the infantile need to be led.
    Understanding that, means one can begin to understand the genuine challenge facing humans.

  13. Tony Wikrent

    My link to the Scientific American article is behind a paywall. Fortunately, Nature put it up on the tubez, here:

    A couple of excerpts:

    Today the maximum power consumed worldwide at any given moment is about 12.5 trillion watts (terawatts, or TW), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The agency projects that in 2030 the world will require 16.9 TW of power as global population and living standards rise, with about 2.8 TW in the U.S. The mix of sources is similar to today’s, heavily dependent on fossil fuels. If, however, the planet were powered entirely by WWS [wind, water, solar], with no fossil-fuel or biomass combustion, an intriguing savings would occur. Global power demand would be only 11.5 TW, and U.S. demand would be 1.8 TW. That decline occurs because, in most cases, electrification is a more efficient way to use energy. For example, only 17 to 20 percent of the energy in gasoline is used to move a vehicle (the rest is wasted as heat), whereas 75 to 86 percent of the electricity delivered to an electric vehicle goes into motion.

    Even if demand did rise to 16.9 TW, WWS sources could provide far more power. Detailed studies by us and others indicate that energy from the wind, worldwide, is about 1,700 TW. Solar, alone, offers 6,500 TW. Of course, wind and sun out in the open seas, over high mountains and across protected regions would not be available. If we subtract these and low-wind areas not likely to be developed, we are still left with 40 to 85 TW for wind and 580 TW for solar, each far beyond future human demand. Yet currently we generate only 0.02 TW of wind power and 0.008 TW of solar. These sources hold an incredible amount of untapped potential.


    Overall construction cost for a WWS system might be on the order of $100 trillion worldwide, over 20 years, not including transmission. But this is not money handed out by governments or consumers. It is investment that is paid back through the sale of electricity and energy. And again, relying on traditional sources would raise output from 12.5 to 16.9 TW, requiring thousands more of those plants, costing roughly $10 trillion, not to mention tens of trillions of dollars more in health, environmental and security costs. The WWS plan gives the world a new, clean, efficient energy system rather than an old, dirty, inefficient one.

    In 2011, the two authors, Mark Z. Jacobson, at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, and Mark A. Delucchi, at the Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California at Davis, posted two pdf files providing heavily footnoted details of their 2009 Scientific American article, which includes discussion of critical material shortages, such as rare earth elements, for a mass, crash program.
    Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part I:
    Technologies, energy resources, quantities and areas of infrastructure,
    and materials
    Providing all global energy with wind, water, and solar power, Part II:
    Reliability, system and transmission costs, and policies

    Jacobson and Delucchi have created an online interactive presentation that explains some of the details of their proposed plan, as well as several other detailed reports, presentations, and a spreadsheet detailing their calculations (Excel file). The links can be found at the bottom of this webpage:

    Finally, let me make the following observation about the cost of one hundred trillion dollars.
    That amount may seem preposterous – but only because we have internalized the decades of propaganda promoting neo-liberalism by the one percent and the banksters. It is actually well within our capability, considering that the entire world economy produces around $71 trillion in goods and services each year (of which the U.S. economy produces around $16 trillion). $100 trillion over 15 years is just under $7 trillion a year. That’s just a ten percent increase in world output, right now! Less than ten percent with a 20 or 35 year program. That would make for the longest sustained world economic boom since the rebuilding of Europe and Japan after World War Two.

    So, which fight do you want? Do you want to fight the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of 7 billion people for a better future for themselves and their children? Or do you want to fight approximately 100,000 global elites who are determined to keep in place financial and monetary systems in which they are richly rewarded, while the general welfare of everyone else is neglected?

  14. nihil obstet

    Just as a tangent to Tony Wikrent’s comments on the role of scarcity in economists’ thinking, I’d note the enormous amounts of governmental action in advanced countries to create scarcity. First there was the Cold War to justify restricting the real economy for military expenditures. And then came the explosion of patent and copyright restrictions to recreate material shortages in the immaterial realm. Rather than working on how to make abundance serve us all, they work on how to reproduce scarcity.

  15. alyosha

    “Unfettered growth” is the philosophy behind the cancer cell. I don’t necessarily believe in de-growth either, and yet I agree with the imperative to advance science and technology to facilitate “smart growth”. You get to the technology of tomorrow by way of the technologies of today.

    It comes down to understanding why humans are on the earth. As impossible as it may be to reach a consensus on this, the answer surely cannot be so we can reproduce as much as possible and consume as much as we can. That’s the human version of the cancer cell, and is what “unfettered growth” portends.

  16. RJMeyers

    Any given arrangement of wealth distribution, technology, and ecology/biosphere will run into limits at some point (SocioBioTechnosphere?). The world’s human population has only reached 7 billion because we live in an agreeable climatological period, have developed some very sophisticated and beneficial tech, and have developed social structures to manage all this and distribute it… the latter not too well, but it is currently serviceable for some fraction of the global population.

    The problem that some environmentalists run into is looking at the current system’s limits as absolute and unchangeable–hence, depopulation and degrowth as solution because there are no alternatives. We either keep going and collapse or we “manage” a decline.

    The problem that many economists run into is that they don’t understand physics, biology, networks, and a hell of a lot more–they assume substitution and replacement will just happen and hence unlimited compound growth forever.

    In reality, and I think this is what Tony is getting at above, a given arrangement of social, technological, and ecological factors function together as a complex, dynamic system with some inherent limitations to their ability to scale-up. In the current system, we cannot sustain 7 billion people owning internal combustion vehicles, eating natural/farmed beef, and having 2,000+ sq. foot detached homes. We get around these limitations by changing the makeup of the system–new technology, new social arrangements and wealth distributions, and even modifications to the ecosystem (think vat grown meat and genetically engineered crops, denser housing, decentralized solar/wind, maybe fusion power as baseload if we really push, etc. Birth control and greater investment in population control will likely come into play too). The limits to growth are just the limits to the current system and a concerted effort is needed to design past them. Think of it like a series of logistic curves, where there’s an initial period of intense growth, then a gradual slowdown into a plateau… and then you hit the next system and resume intense growth, etc. In technology, this pattern is known as the Kondratieff wave.

    Eventually, any new system we create will face its own limits, at which point you design past that. You can envision a point in time where all resources in the solar system are being used, but that’s (1) a long way off and (2) an absolute end-point of expansion (barring interstellar travel) that we should be wise enough to avoid, learning how to maintain a highly affluent, technological, and bounded society in the future. Our current society doesn’t have this option–our technological and social systems will not support continued life with 7 billion people for more than maybe 100 more years (optimistically). The options are either change the system to allow for continued human growth, depopulate via controlled genocide, or just let the whole thing hit a wall and fall apart–possibly damaging the Earth’s biosphere quite heavily in the process.

    There is a fourth option too–bug out into space. But that’s only going to save enough people for a viable breeding population to start over elsewhere. Not so great for the 7+ billion left on Earth…

  17. Somewhere high above the high canopy, that blankets the layers of land and is from above it’s own verdant sky. Bye and bye, the Congo river is, a great Cathedral of life.

    This, is the Congo Reconquista Zone, a place in more or less perpetual rebellion against the Dominion, and any political authority it approves.

    They were high above the lower clouds, that brought the morning kiss of water to the tropical rainforest below. He knew that here and there it fell in sheets, and here and there it was a breath. It misted, drizzled, poured, fell, and every verb that one could attach to storm’s coming was, somewhere there below, in action.

    He hung on a rail wire, which would help guide the drop tanks, low slung, sleek, down. They had simmed this, they would go down, in a flying wedge, and engage the enemy. They had simmed it a dozen times, because this was a mission that was unique. They had simmed it because it would be wiped clean after they did it, so even if anyone had done it before, it would not have been admitted. They had simmed it because that’s what you did.

    The target was a rogue group of heavies, which seemed impossible, since as far as they knew only Dominion Ground Forces had Heavy Infantry. They had taken down a formation of tanks, four in all. They liberated Kalemie for a few days, but had retreated into the forest when tanks had dropped in without a fight.

    Brig. Liu had determined that it was important to wipe them out, and the layers of secrecy had driven everyone mad: isolated systems, no access to anything off base. The plan was dead dog simple: drop, form up in wedges, and pile drive in waves over the area. Kill everything larger than a meerkat that moves at all.
    But they had simmed out variation after variation, and Captain Venkatesh1 had been the most dedicated of all. His hand still played through every theme, and every counter.

  18. Lurker the Third

    Hey Stirling Newberry,

    Congratulations on completing so many works, including Red Zone (an excerpt of which is posted immediatedly above). Best of luck on the new Lion, Witch, etc.

    …but I have to know. Will there be more of Marne down the road? (BTY great timing that the most recent chapter of that World War One ghost story was posted on 11/11.)


  19. Celsius 233

    it almost does not matter anymore as we’re on our way to surpassing the tipping point in climate change models.

  20. Tony Wikrent

    Yes, “we’re on our way to surpassing the tipping point in climate change models.” Actually, given the changes in weather the past few years, we are already past the tipping point.

    We can sit in loin cloths, cover ourselves in ashes, and bewail our fate to whatever deity we happen to believe in. Or, we can use this era and the mounting calamities to “reverse shock doctrine” Milton Friedman’s and the neo-liberals’ shock doctrine.

    Thomas Piketty concluded that the era of the two World Wars and the Great Depression was historically unique, in that economic and political elites lost all credibility. The results of their leadership were so murderous and so devastating, that they found it impossible to generate enough political support among misled people to achieve political control. Well, in the USA at least. In Europe, the story is a bit different, but the essential point is actually not invalidated – political room opened up for some socialist solutions. Though these solutions were implemented within a capitalist framework, and society in USA was still not willing to squarely face the problem of racism.

    The fact is, during that unique historical era, the rich lost most of the advantages they had put in place since the end of the Civil War. (Well, to be precise, not “since the end of the Civil War” but since they were able to put the USA back on the gold standard in 1873. The history books would have you believe that this “Crime of ’73” was the removal of silver from the monetary bases of the USA, but what it really was is the termination of the flexible money supply provided by the “fiat money” Lincoln “greenbacks.” Look up the “Greenback Party” in USA history, and you will find the origins of populism, and eventually, the New Deal.)

    I may be blunting the point by including so much tangential history, but actually this history is crucial. We’ve been in somewhat similar situations before, and we need to understand that; more importantly, understand what worked and what didn’t, and why. Basically, we need to replicate the process of educating people that was a crucial part of building the populist movement. People need to know that there are solutions; that those solutions cannot be implemented under present monetary and financial arrangements; and that to proceed with implementing those solutions, we must break the political power of the one percent, and strictly proscribe their economic practices of speculation, usury, rent extraction, and monopolization. Economic and financial elites will not go quietly into the night. We must prepare the public’s mind for the squawking, hissing, and murderous rage that will inevitably result as the elites’ power is challenged, then terminated.

    We need to have in place a large enough, and vigorous enough, political movement, that has already hashed out and articulated the policies and programs needed to save humanity from the cataclysm of climate change, and the depletion and poisoning of almost all the drinking water in western USA and Canada. The time will come when people the world over are demanding solutions. There should be no question about that. The only question is will we have done enough to ensure it is our solutions, not the one percent’s, that are implemented.

  21. V. Arnold (Formerly C-233)

    Actually I mis-spoke; we’re well past the tipping point, yes.
    And at this juncture it doesn’t matter what we do; we can’t stop the coming whirlwind.
    Way back in 1984 or 5, David Suzuki (an early adopter) said turning of the spigot (pollution) tomorrow morning would not stop the 30 years worth of pollutants already in the ecological pipeline.
    Thirty plus years hence and the input is still going up.
    By all means, do something, but things will continue to get worse.
    We’re the worst incarnation of a song in the musical Annie;
    Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow;
    you’re always a day away…

    Without a fundamental change in human behavior, I see little reason to be optimistic about the future.
    I don’t even know if “we” have the knowledge to know what the hell we’re doing on any given day with respect to the big picture…

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