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

Open Thread

Use to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts.


Preparing for Bad Times Thread


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – August 28, 2022


  1. Willy

    Back in the day, something like student loan forgiveness criticized by people who’ve been themselves, forgiven for loans of ten or twenty times the amount, would’ve been called the height of hypocrisy with them booed off the field. A POTUS stealing classified documents is par for the course, as long as he can blame somebody else for doing so.

    In such a world, why not go full conspiracy? Shouldn’t we be accusing students of trying to frame and extort from President Trump, instead of always trying to “Lets Go Dark Brandon”? That old guy seems to be enjoying his caricature of late.

  2. NR

    In light of the recent conservative outrage over student loan forgiveness, it’s worth looking at why conservatives get so incensed by money being spent to help people, but never have a problem with money being thrown at the rich. And I’m not talking about conservative politicians here, but rather rank-and-file conservative voters. This video has the best explanation for why they think that way that I’ve ever seen:

    If you don’t want to watch, the summary is that conservatives don’t defend the rich because they think they’ll be rich themselves one day, which is the reason most people have consistently thought. Rather, they defend the rich because they believe we all need the rich, and that the rich deserve all their money and power. They would rather see more money and power given to those they believe deserve it than have even the slightest bit go to those they believe are undeserving (which is all of us).

    The video explains it better and is worth a watch though.

  3. bruce wilder

    A POTUS stealing classified documents is par for the course, as long as he can blame somebody else for doing so.

    In such a world, why not go full conspiracy?

    I think you are kind of meant to go full conspiracy — journamalism (sic) is the hand maiden of a politics of leveraging disinformation to amplify manipulative propaganda framings that leave most people ill-informed and thoughtless, but emotionally aroused vis a vis “the other”.

    The institutional world built by politics after WWII in “the West” is near to collapse after a wide-ranging series of “neoliberal” assaults over thirty years or more and the available political leadership in official positions is mostly an unimaginative, irresponsible bunch. One would think there would be a bull market in blame as well as competition to plan remedies and mitigation. Job 1 is misdirecting blame or maybe Job 1 is preventing partisan politics from opening a door to fundamental policy change or reform — misdirecting blame and cheerleading a partisanship which prevents fundamental change are complements to the larger purpose of serving always the pathological interests of the wealthy.

    President Biden — or rather his handlers, since Old Joe is obviously senile — devised a debt relief plan that kept his campaign promise that nothing would fundamentally change. U.S. higher education has been systematically corrupted by the financialization entailed by financing the college or professional education of half or more of students with debt many cannot possibly pay off, while withdrawing much of the once generous support given directly to institutions by state legislatures. Administration has ballooned while teaching has been handed off to adjuncts paid as little as minimum wage. The pursuit of private foundation grants and “partnerships” with business corporations has corrupted broad swathes of the faculties, while the humanities and history faculties have been left to succumb to successor ideologies. So-called proprietary schools thrived on the student loan bonanza and educated no one. None of this is addressed by Biden’s modest “relief” — not even the fundamental policy decision to require students from financially “modest” family backgrounds to assume debt to finance either college.

    Still, somehow, media reporting on this very modest plan triggered predictable gut reactions of resentment which then fed the cycle of counter-resentments that Willy so loves to participate in. So surprising!

  4. bruce wilder

    The business with Trump and the “highly” classified documents supposedly in his possession is tailor-made for journamalism of the most routine sort.

    Trump’s history with the Russiagate hoax, perpetrated with the aid of the FBI, sets up well-justified suspicion of the legitimacy of this dramatic search of his home among his partisans.

    The whole system of more than a dozen well-funded “intelligence agencies” and its complementary scheme of “classification” along with optionally draconian penalties for unauthorized “disclosure” is an on-going assault on the Republic and its democratic discourse. The whole notion that there is vitally important secret information ordinary people are not allowed to know undermines the idea that ordinary people can judge the issues of the day or the performance of official duty. And, the option of secrecy allows officials to hide what they do that is ill-advised and even illegal. We know that this is routinely done.

    Secrecy in this case justifies not disclosing much of anything substantive about the legal justifications for granting the search warrant. The papers in Trump’s possession have “markings” it seems. Oh yes, and Trump’s “handwritten notes”. (Who knew he could write?) “Nooculear” has been whispered just to stir the pot it would seem.

  5. Z

    It’s pretty well established that the U.S. has armed forces in Syria and is occupying the most valuable part of their country, the Syrian territory richest with oil and agriculture, and that the U.S. is stealing oil and food from Syria. Don’t expect the NYZ Times, the Grey Jezebel, our rulers’ paper of propaganda to ever even remotely suggest this, but I’d about guarantee you that the country that gets the first grab of that booty, and maybe the entirety of it, is Israel. Of course.

    If Israel went in there and took it themselves there would likely be a war that would unite a large part of the Middle East against them: Syria, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Iran, and Iraq. So, Israel sends their big bully in there, the U.S., to take care of business. The Arab world, for good reason, fears the U.S..

    Syria is a chance for Russia to take potshots back at the U.S. military. If Mexico has a revolution, not a far flung possibility with the CIA and DEA likely doing their dirty work down there trying to get rid of AMLO, that might be a chance for Russia to take proxy shots at the U.S. itself.

    All these arms and hostility that the U.S. has manufactured and exported is going to lead to a ton of terrorism. Some of it will come home and it’s not hard to imagine that that our rulers will use that as a chance to push micro-chipping the population in order to track everyone; for our “safety”, of course. It’ll start as a “choice” and if you’re not willing to do your part to keep certain, high risk areas safe, likely areas that has expensive real estate and other economic value, then you don’t deserve to have access to them. Then those areas will grow and multiply.

    If you listen real closely, if you cup your ear to the ground of a quiet mound, you can hear the footsteps of the robo-dogs approaching.


  6. Joan

    The argument of “I paid off my loans, where’s my check?” is strange to me because I got an academic full-ride to college and it didn’t occur to me to also expect a check. I’m more thinking of my friends: one has defaulted, one is still in school, and one would take bankruptcy if she had the option. I contacted the last two and they were both very grateful for the Pell $20k coming.

    One topic that deserves a more nuanced look is humanities majors. Humanities is one area in which a lot of bloat has happened with “underwater basket weaving” majors added in recent decades. What is a “Cultural Studies” major, and why does it not already fit into the humanities categories, such as a history degree?

    I’m certain that humanities are crucial to a civilization, disciplines like history, literature, philosophy, etc. These programs hopefully teach critical thinking, the study of logic, and how to write clearly. A huge problem is what students will do for work after graduation. A humanities major could work at a library, but you have to have a library information sciences degree. They could work as a useless administrator, but you have to have 18 credit hours from the business school. They could teach, but you have to have an education degree or complete nearly another major’s worth of extra credit hours to get your license. And not to mention there are no more book-binders, or any of the other skilled disciplines wherein a lover of books could find a useful vocation.

    This topic is important to me because I graduated with a humanities degree after failing my way through engineering school for three years. It wasn’t because I wasn’t smart or didn’t try hard enough. I got a perfect score on the ACT, was one point short of National Merit, and took the AP classes for Physics, Chem, Bio, Calc AB-BC, English and History. But college level STEM was too much for me, and for the first time I was failing classes and didn’t know what to do. My professors told me to leave engineering; I was having panic attacks on the regular. I just don’t understand why a person who studies and works hard would be evaluated as useless by their society.

  7. Z

    War Pimp “Let Them Eat Lead” Zelensky and his Kiev-caine Cowboys are whipping the stragglers into formation so that they can herd them onto the front lines. Reading more and more stories that the Ukrainian forces in the rear, probably a lot of them artillery units, are firing on their own on the front lines to keep them from retreating or deserting.

    One would imagine that since the Ukrainians are basically doing a drive-by on the training before sending conscripts onto war that they are sending them straight to the front. What else are they trained to do? Sit in a pit and hope …

    Odessa, of course, is the greatest point of contention and a large part of the reason our rulers and Zelensky are aggressive towards Crimea: they are trying to make peace and civility in Crimea a bargaining chip in peace negotiations. “Hey, we conceded Crimea (((which Russia already won and spent blood and treasure on))), the least you can do is leave us Odessa”.

    But, by now, Russia believes that they have to militarily defeat Ukraine and push the U.S. completely out to have peace in Russia’s gained territories. They need to impose a regime change for that. Otherwise, the U.S. will keep up their dirty work and blackmail and bribe Ukrainian politicians and fund resistance and terrorism in any new territories conceded to Russia.

    So, our rulers are doing their amoral best to bring an end to the war before Russia takes Odessa. If that means bombing a nuclear power plant and causing a nuclear fallout, then so be it, losing would mean a large ‘L’ tattooed on their forehead, not to mention that would deny Larry’s and Stanley’s Asset Inflation Factory BlackRock and Larry’s pal Schwarzman a port to ship the grain from all the Ukrainian land they’ve bought. That decreases the value of their investments; maybe even make them worthless if the new government doesn’t honor their deeds. Vanguard also has bought up a ton of Ukrainian land, probably all on the cheap I’d imagine, but maybe not. Maybe they overpaid.

    I believe this is also behind our rulers’ narrative that Russia was starving the world by blocking Ukrainian grain from being shipped from Odessa. Now they can try to get the UN involved, and maybe even NATO militarily, if Russia takes Odessa by portraying it as a humanitarian crisis by blaming Russia for starving the world when in fact it was our rulers, with their sanctions and money printing, that have inflated everything and priced the poorest countries out of food.


  8. bruce wilder

    Russia’s war in Ukraine is a fantastic example of journamalism and propaganda in the West. The unwillingness of mainstream media in the U.S. to wrestle with the moral ambiguity and even factual reality of the causes of the conflict or Russia’s purposes or methods is reducing the amount of information available, in an information poor environment. “He said, she said” has been applied to the great mystery of who might be shelling the Russian-occupied, Russian-controlled nuclear power plant. Ukraine says the Russians are shelling themselves and this is duly reported. That Russia allows a power plant to operate supplying electricity to Ukrainian-held territory is a fact left unexamined for narratives of the war to account for.

    Meanwhile, in Western Europe, economic collapse is on-going. Boris Johnson will be leaving behind a country in which planned increases in energy bills will drive the majority of households into dire poverty. A measure of the desperation is the projection that 70% of pubs will be driven out of business. But, oh well. Macron hails the end of abundance.

  9. bruce wilder

    I ran across an article that fills in some of the details of the political evolution inside Ukraine from 2014 thru 2021, from a left perspective but in a fairly neutral voice explaining why the Minsk Accords failed.

    worth reading if you are interested in anything but the history-less fairy tales served up since February.

  10. Z

    Some international nuclear agency is supposed to inspect the nuclear power plant soon that Ukraine has been shelling. Wouldn’t be surprising if they claim that there are dangerous levels of radiation there and that the area should be evacuated to try to scare citizens away before the referendum to free the region from Ukraine is held, or to at least discredit the referendum on the grounds it wasn’t representative because so many folks evacuated the area before the vote.


  11. Willy

    Obviously, Biden and his detractors would’ve declared his debt relief a temporary (and diversionary) band aid and then educated the public about why tuition costs have exploded well past inflation, and then compared the American higher education system to more beneficial and equitable systems overseas for more permanent solutions than just a bit of debt relief.

    But lets talk about senile Joe, Ukraine, corporate media, and how unfair the media is to Trump and tribe conservatism. Isn’t what NR said closest to the truth, that our current cultural rules state that one shouldn’t have a voice unless they’re rich?

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén