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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – May 5, 2019

This post is by TONY WIKRENT

Strategic Political Economy

China’s population could peak in 2023, here’s why that matters

[CNBC, via Naked Capitalism 5-2-19]

China’s population is likely to peak in 2023, according to a study by online database company Global Demographics and analytics firm Complete Intelligence. The Chinese government had previously estimated that the country would hit its maximum population size in 2029…. The decline in births is driven by a “maternity cliff,” according to the report. The number of women of childbearing age in China — defined as aged 15 to 49 by the publishers — is set to fall from 346 million in 2018 to 318 million in 2023.

With fewer women of childbearing age and fewer births per 1,000 women, the total number of newborns will drop as well. The study predicts that 13.3 million babies will be born in 2023, down from 15.2 million last year.

The New Silk Roads reach the next level 

Asia Times, via Naked Capitalism 4-30-19]

….the West, as usual, ignored what was the absolutely key takeaway of the BRI forum: the deepening, on all fronts, of the Russia-China strategic partnership. It’s all here, in President Putin’s speech.

Putin emphasized “harmonious and sustainable economic development and economic growth throughout the Eurasian space.” He noted how BRI “rhymes with Russia’s idea to establish a Greater Eurasian Partnership, a project designed to ‘integrate integration frameworks’, and therefore to promote a closer alignment of various bilateral and multilateral integration processes that are currently underway in Eurasia.”

Putin could not have been more specific. “The Eurasian Union…has already signed a free-trade agreement with Vietnam and a provisional agreement with Iran, paving the way to the creation of a free-trade area. The preparation of similar instruments with Singapore and Serbia is nearing completion, and talks are underway with Israel, Egypt and India. We cooperate actively with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.”

Addressing the forum, Putin added another enticing dimension, with the China-driven Maritime Silk Road possibly joining the Russia-driven Northern Sea Route, “a global and competitive route connecting northeastern, eastern and southeastern Asia with Europe” will emerge.

Disrupting mainstream economics

Economists Are Learning to Love the Minimum Wage
[City Lab, via The Big Picture 4-29-19]

….two new papers provide powerful evidence that higher minimum wages in fact boost the conditions of workers—especially the least skilled and lowest paid among them—without doing broad economic harm.

The first paper is forthcoming in the prestigious Quarterly Journal of Economics and is currently available as a NBER working paper. (There is also a shorter, more reader-friendly research brief available.) It tracks the economic effects of more than 100 minimum-wage hikes across the country between 1979 and 2016.

Want to decrease suicide? Raise the minimum wage, researchers suggest

[CBS News, via Naked Capitalism 5-1-19]

Predatory Finance

Fed’s Powell Says Financial Risks Are “Moderate”; These Charts Don’t Agree
Pam Martens and Russ Martens, May 3, 2019 [Wall Street on Parade]

The OFR’s Financial System Vulnerabilities Monitor uses a color-coded system to warn of risks, with green being low vulnerability, yellow and orange being moderate and red signaling high risk. Above is OFR’s current chart on Market Risks. That looks like an awful lot of things in the red zone. The full Monitor (be sure to click on the “show all” button) has plenty of things in the green zone but we wouldn’t get too comfortable about just how much clarity the OFR has on some key issues. For example, under Financial Institution Leverage, OFR shows both median and aggregate U.S. commercial bank leverage in the cozy green zone. That’s far from the full picture, however.

Compare that green zone to what another Federal bank regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which has oversight of national banks, shows in its derivatives data. (See Table 4 in the Appendix here.) That table shows that Goldman Sachs Bank USA, a taxpayer backstopped bank that is Federally-insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), has 354 percent total credit exposure to capital. The bank has $32.5 billion in risk-based capital versus $40.3 trillion in notional (face amount) in derivatives. JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup’s Citibank show 167 percent and 132 percent, respectively, in the same category.

The Labor Market for Financial Misconduct
Gregor Matvos and Amit Seru, National Bureau of Economic Research, via Naked Capitalism 4-29-19]

We start by describing how we measure misconduct among all registered financial advisers in the U.S. We then turn to the role of labor markets in constraining misconduct, documenting that while some firms penalize misconduct through a sharp increase in job separations, other firms are willing to hire these advisers, recycling the bad apples in the industry. We then discuss evidence that suggests this phenomenon arises because of “matching on misconduct,” in which advisers with misconduct records match with firms which specialize in misconduct, and that the presence of uninformed consumers may be critical to maintaining this equilibrium. We find that similar forces may also explain gender discrimination in the labor market of financial advisers, leading to a “gender punishment gap.”

[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 5-1-19]

The 2017 Tax and Jobs Act – the Trump administration’s one major piece of enacted legislation – did deliver the biggest corporate tax cut in US history, but ultimately workers benefited almost not at all.

This is one of the conclusions of a six-month investigation into the process that led to the tax cut by the Center for Public Integrity, a not-for-profit news agency based in Washington DC. The full findings, based on interviews with three dozen key players and independent tax experts, and analysis of hundreds of pages of government documents, are published today in an in-depth piece.

How financial markets are responding to the Medicare-for-all push

[The Week, via Naked Capitalism 4-28-19]

“Health-care stocks have a Washington, D.C., problem that is likely to linger,” said Charley Grant at The Wall Street Journal. Companies across the health-services industry, from insurance giant UnitedHealth Group to Johnson & Johnson and pharma firm Abbott Laboratories, have been getting hammered in the stock market in recent weeks even though they’ve posted strong earnings. The reason is that investors are panicking about a future threat to those earnings: Medicare-for-all. Pushed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and other leading contenders for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, the policy would broaden government-run insurance to cover all Americans. It might be a death sentence for private health insurance companies, and — by giving the government the power to negotiate more favorable terms with providers — would likely slash profits “for hospitals and manufacturers of drugs and devices.” The sell-off is “reviving memories of the 2008 financial crisis,” said Cristin Flanagan and Tatiana Darie at Bloomberg. Insurance and hospital stocks lost $28 billion in market value in one day last week. While this kind of volatility is not unprecedented ahead of a presidential election, a full recovery could “hinge on whether it appears a single-payer policy would truly ban private health insurance policies.”

No patient left behind

Medicare For All’s Moment Is Here. Don’t Back Down.

Senator Bernie Sanders
[Think Progress, via Naked Capitalism 5-1-19]

“Barkan repeatedly made the moral argument for Medicare for All: if there’s agreement that health care is a human right and the status quo doesn’t treat it as such, let’s do something now. When faced with questions about costs, Barkan asked why politicians don’t ask where the money comes from when it’s about funding war. When asked about employer-sponsored insurance, he asked why other rights like education aren’t tethered to jobs…. rejecting the political realities of Medicare for All, Barkan called on lawmakers to act now.”

[, via Naked Capitalism 4-29-19]

“The back-to-back cyclones that have ravaged Mozambique are unprecedented in recorded history, the UN said Friday, as it planned to examine the country’s defences against extreme weather in the light of climate change…. The UN weather agency added that a fact-finding mission currently in Mozambique will in part look at the ‘impact of climate change and sea-level rise on Mozambique’s resilience’ to extreme weather. Climate change has made cyclones more damaging, as rising sea levels have increased the strength of storm surges, WMO spokeswoman Clare Nullis told AFP.”

“Permafrost collapse is accelerating carbon release”

[Nature, via Naked Capitalism 4-30-19]

“Current models of greenhouse-gas release and climate assume that permafrost thaws gradually from the surface downwards. Deeper layers of organic matter are exposed over decades or even centuries, and some models are beginning to track these slow changes. But models are ignoring an even more troubling problem. Frozen soil doesn’t just lock up carbon — it physically holds the landscape together. Across the Arctic and Boreal regions, permafrost is collapsing suddenly as pockets of ice within it melt. Instead of a few centimetres of soil thawing each year, several metres of soil can become destabilized within days or weeks. The land can sink and be inundated by swelling lakes and wetlands. In short, permafrost is thawing much more quickly than models have predicted, with unknown consequences for greenhouse-gas release. Researchers urgently need to learn more about it. Here we outline how.”

Maine First U.S. State to Ban Styrofoam Containers
[Ecowatch 5-1-19]

[ThinkProgress, via Naked Capitalism 4-30-19]

Mathematician’s breakthrough on non-toxic pest control that doesn’t harm bees

[Phys.Org, via Naked Capitalism 5-3-19]

There are naturally occurring bacteria contained in soil which can help protect plants against harmful nematodes, but until now there has not been an effective way to harness the power of these bacteria to protect crops on a large scale…. The team has developed a method to ‘silence’ the harmful nematode’s genes by using biostimulants derived from naturally occurring soil bacteria. The biostimulants also ‘switch off’ the plant’s own genes that are affected by the nematodes, making it much harder for the parasite to harm the crop.

The gene silencing process is triggered when biostimulants, which are metabolites of bacteria occurring naturally in the soil, are applied to wheat. The biostimulants can be applied either by soaking the seeds or roots in a solution containing the biostimulants, or by adding the solution to the soil in which the plants are growing…. The biostimulants only affect specific nematode and plant genes, and do not harm other species of insects. And because they are naturally occurring, rather than made of chemicals, they could potentially be used by organic farmers to make organic food more affordable in future….

The team’s experiments show that soaking the seeds of the plants in the biostimulant solution increases the chances of the plants surviving by between 57 to 92%. The technique also reduces the level of nematode infestation by 73 to 83% compared to plants grown without biostimulants.

Economics in the real world

The Manufacturer’s Dilemma

[Foreign Policy, via Naked Capitalism 4-28-19]

Using Chinese suppliers seems to make good economic sense for Western firms. After all, Chinese labor remains very cheap: Such work accounts for just $10 of the total cost of an iPhone today (top models of which go for more than $1,000). That’s why, according to a recent tally by the Economist, “of the production facilities operated by Apple’s top 200 suppliers, 357 are in China,” while just 63 are in the United States. (One of the reasons Steve Jobs originally hired Apple’s now CEO, Tim Cook, was because he was expert in managing such supply chains.)

But clever financial arrangements don’t always make for smart politics—or secure systems. Globalizing the supply chain may make business sense, but it has turned Western companies into vulnerable geopolitical targets. In 2017, Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company, was hit by the NotPetya virus. The ransomware, developed by hackers working for Russian military intelligence and originally directed against Ukraine, rendered Maersk essentially nonoperational for two weeks. In ports around the world, including Elizabeth, New Jersey, trailers soon piled up, unable to deliver or receive cargo. Theorists call attacks like this “hybrid warfare,” where irregular methods are mixed into conventional war-making to target social and political weak points. In an age of these asymmetric threats, firms like Maersk are now on the front line. “[T]his problem was of a magnitude never seen before in global transport,” a Maersk customer told Wired….

Tinkering with economic supply chains for intelligence- and other national security-related reasons is not a new idea; indeed, Western countries have long done just that. In the 1980s, the CIA, according to former Air Force Secretary Thomas Reed, inserted sabotaged software into a Soviet oil pipeline, causing it to explode. Five years ago, Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency had inserted backdoor espionage tools into U.S.-made internet routers being exported to Syria. And in February, the New York Times reported that the United States was accelerating a George W. Bush-era practice of inserting faulty parts into Iran’s aerospace supply chains, which appears to have caused some of the country’s test rocket launches to fail. Such disruption and sabotage are unlikely to affect large parts of any product’s supply chain, but the psychological and consumer damage caused by even a minor mishap can be immense. Just as parents are scared away from baby food by the report of a single piece of glass, so the damage done by sabotage could cause permanent distrust in a given product or manufacturer.

How California’s faltering high-speed rail project was ‘captured’ by costly consultants

[Los Angeles Times, via Naked Capitalism 4-28-19]

Information Age Dystopia

“Wall Street Democrats Are Absolutely Freaking Out About Their 2020 Candidates”

Gabriel Debenedetti [New York Magazine, via Naked Capitalism 4-29-19]

“It’s kind of stunning how a bunch of these people running for president haven’t gotten ahold of [a list of top past contributors] and said, ‘What can I do to get this person?’ ” fumed a hedge-fund honcho out of the loop for the first time in two decades. “It’s sort of basic political IQ.”

“Everyone wants to seem relevant,” one prominent investor told me. But for the first time he or any of his friends could remember, “we’re just not fucking relevant. We’re not that big of a deal anymore. None of us!”

“A lot of the donor community is worried about losing their presidential perks and ambassadorial gigs to baristas,” said veteran New York Democratic fund-raiser Robert Zimmerman….

“[Warren] would torture them,” one banker told me. “Warren strikes fear in their hearts,” explained a New York executive close to banking leaders from both parties — so much fear that such investors often speak of the U.S. senator from Massachusetts, a former law professor and consumer advocate, as a co-front-runner with Sanders. “How do we come up with an alternative?” asked one person at the dinner.

“Joe Biden wants us to forget his past. We won’t” 

Adolph Reed and Cornel West [Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 5-1-19]

“An unrecognized irony of the South Carolina primary’s current importance as a gauge of African American support is that it and other southern primaries figured prominently in the late 1980s and 1990s strategy of the conservative, pro-business Democratic Leadership Council – of which Biden was a member – to pull the party to the right by appealing to conservative white southern men, in part through stigmatizing and scapegoating poor African Americans. Biden was one of the lustiest practitioners of that tactic. In fact, that’s what often underlies Biden’s boasts about his talent for “reaching across the aisle”. In 1984, he joined with South Carolina’s arch-racist Strom Thurmond to sponsor the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, which eliminated parole for federal prisoners and limited the amount of time sentences could be reduced for good behavior. He and Thurmond joined hands to push 1986 and 1988 drug enforcement legislation that created the nefarious sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine as well as other draconian measures that implicate him as one of the initiators of what became mass incarceration.”

“Joe Biden is the Best Republican in the Race” 

[Medium, via Naked Capitalism 5-1-19]

“If at a time when the cops steal more from Americans via Civil Asset Forfeiture than robbers do, we choose a man who introduced Comprehensive Forfeiture Act, and continues to support it even without an arrest or conviction, are we really concerned about a police state?”

[Common Dreams, via Naked Capitalism 5-2-19]

….paying for America’s desperately underfunded highway infrastructure needs by eliminating all federal funding for public transportation. From Winnemucca, Nevada to New York City, simply dump the 7 million commuters who count on buses, rail, and subways every single day to get to and from work. That will somehow fix our problems, the American workforce be damned.

Never mind the myriad benefits transit provides to the American economy. Yes, every dollar invested in public transportation generates $4 in economic returns. Yes, every $10 million made in capital investments generates $30 million in increased sales for American businesses. Yes, home values perform better when they are located near good public transportation. Yes, it saves American families thousands of dollars every year. Yes, that is 11 billion trips annually that would otherwise contribute even more traffic to already soul crushingly congested highways around the country.

Yet, eliminating funding for public transportation is exactly what the fine people at Americans for Prosperity* have proposed.

Conservatives want to rewrite the Constitution, and they’re dangerously close to doing it
[Scalawag, via Naked Capitalism 4-28-19]

[Roll Call, via Naked Capitalism 4-29-19]

“A three-judge panel on Thursday ruled that Michigan must use new congressional and legislative maps in 2020, potentially setting up a more favorable battlefield for House Democrats, who flipped two seats in the state last fall. The federal court invalidated portions of the existing maps, drawn by the GOP-controlled legislature in 2011, pointing to an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander that violates the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of voters.”


Why Uncle Joe Biden Is Leading Polls


One Million Species at Risk of Extinction + One


  1. Dale


    Thanks so much for posting this information. It is actually quite depressing to see how the U.S. is continuing its failed wars of aggression policies, wasting untold resources, and driving us ever deeper into debt, while much of rest of the world is following a more sensible path. If they come up with a gold based universal currency we are toast.

  2. About Russia and China: they are locked in roughly the same strategic dance as Canada and the US: the Arctic resource bonanza is the next Great Game.

    I strongly believe that the US will try to annex Canada by whatever means within the next 5degC increase. China has the same problem with Russia, complicated by Mongolia. Eastern Siberia will become some level of Chinese resource economy, the same way Australia is now.

  3. Hugh

    The rest of the world is not following a “more sensible” path.

    “harmonious and sustainable economic development and economic growth”

    This would be charming bafflegab under the best of circumstances, but coming from Putin, a dictator running one of the most kleptocratic regimes on the planet and of a country that is a major exporter of and highly dependent on fossil fuels, it is simply Orwellian. Even more so, when taken in conjunction with overtures to China, a country that keeps a million Uighurs in concentration camps and is a heavy handed colonial power in Tibet.

    “Economists Are Learning to Love the Minimum Wage”

    This title rather shows how medieval, backassward and evil economists remain. How about meaningful work and a living wage? How about caring more about people than they do some formalism they call an economy? I mean if economists thought that starving workers was good for the economy, I could see them pushing, and rationalizing, starvation.

  4. NoPolitician

    I am on board with the idea that people should be paid a living wage. However, it also seems possible to me that higher employee costs could lead to a higher barrier to entry to starting a worker-based business, wouldn’t it? A push for “efficiency” which would lead, in turn, to more corporate consolidation?

    Example: I want to start a coffee shop. Minimum wage + top-shelf mandatory benefits means my hourly labor cost is $40/hour. If I have one employee, the $40/hour cost means that I have to sell around twice as much per hour than if it was $20/hour. This makes certain locations non-viable, and makes certain hours of the day money losers. At best, I have to be _really good_ at running my business because if I’m not, I can lose money twice as fast as if it was $20/hour.

    That means that Starbucks – which is _really good_ at running its business, and has more flexibility to move workers between locations to fill demand, has an big advantage over an average businessperson.

    I’ll say it again, I’m on board with the idea of “if a business can’t pay its workers a living wage, it shouldn’t exist”. I’m not arguing to allow companies to be able to pay their workers a sub-living wage.

    What if we instead worked on lowering the amount of wages needed to live via subsidies? Health insurance is an obvious one – if universal coverage was provided progressive via income taxes, that reduces the “living wage” by probably 25% of minimum. If we could figure out how to provide either free public housing, or a housing allowance, that would reduce the “living wage” by another 35%. A good public transportation system might knock another 10% from it. Some kind of basic food subsidy would knock another 10% off.

    At that point, where *basic* needs are independent of wage, you could actually eliminate the minimum wage and let the market do its thing. Maybe people would be willing to work for $3/hour under your conditions? Or maybe they would say “screw that, I have basic sustenance, I’m not working at all”. I don’t know – but I can definitely see that making an individual unit of labor more expensive makes it harder for someone to purchase that labor.

  5. Willy

    There are plenty of articles like this one:

    But I have a hard time finding things like ‘optimum national policies which proved to increase national success, ranked’. Since it’s difficult to find clear, comprehensive yet simple measures for who’s doing those things which creates a more fertile ground for a “successful nation”, your average Joe spends much time barking personal and tribal dogmas at their mythically charicaturized team which they’ve declared to be evil.

    Yet your average Joe can look up stats for various pro sports teams and debate potential team success or failure with a reasonable amount of accuracy. Any sports fan who debates dogmas such as team racial purity or political beliefs gets laughed out of the ballpark. (though competing conservative vs liberal NFL conferences might get interesting)

    Economics is a bit harder than baseball. Hell, they haven’t even figured out the rules yet. So is clearly, comprehensively and simply charting “harmonious and sustainable economic development and economic growth” beyond human comprehension?

  6. Adam Eran

    @NoPolitician: You make the standard neoliberal argument for low wages. The problem is that your spending is my income, and if you don’t spend (because: low wages), then my income diminishes, providing a vicious downward spiral to economic meltdown.

    The fact (and it is a fact) that since 1972 the lowest 90% of median real incomes have received a raise of $59 while expenses for things like education, housing and healthcare have gone through the roof means that the public has diminishing income to spend. The Fed says that 40% of Americans would have to sell something or borrow money to deal with a $400 emergency.

    Lowering the cost of living is also anathema to neoliberal thinking because government is just a meddler in markets, so deregulating and privatizing is the solution to what ails us. This turns the economy into a series of tollbooths (to pay the rentiers), raising the cost of living for everyone, and making U.S. wages uncompetitive. So…lots of jobs go overseas.

    Seldom mentioned when people make the neoliberal case: Markets *never* appear in stateless societies (tribal, nomadic, even Robinson Crusoe & Friday). States make and nurture markets, which never exist without them.

    How does a state make a market? Imagine the King wants to employ 10,000 soldiers–a nightmare to feed house and train without a market. He pays his soldiers in “crowns” (the official currency), then requires payment of taxes in crowns. Citizens make a market to serve the soldiers–and each other–to get the means to pay that inevitable liability: taxes.

    Finally, you are sadly mistaken about (federal) government programs are provisioned. You believe that taxes pay for government programs. You say “if universal coverage was provided progressive via income taxes” … no.

    Taxes do not pay for government programs. They literally cannot. If you disagree, then you have to tell us where taxpayers get dollars before the government spends them out into the economy. Dollars do not grow on billionaires. The Federal Reserve (our central bank) is the monopoly issuer of dollars.

    So government cannot “tax and spend.” It must “Spend first, then ask for some back in taxes.” Government is *not* like a household. It is fiscally unconstrained.

    Incidentally, what do we call the dollars spent that are not retrieved by taxes? Answer #1: The dollar financial assets (savings) of the citizens. Answer #2: National Debt.

    The “bond vigilantes” would have us believe national debt is a bad thing, but it’s much more like bank debt than household debt. If you have a bank account, that’s your asset. But to the bank, it’s a liability (debt).

    Imagine a group of depositors marching down to their bank to demand that it reduce its debt (i.e. make their accounts smaller). Not very sensible, is it?

    Yet you’ll see stern warnings that National ‘Debt’ is about to crush us, or at least crush our grandchildren. Meanwhile, 40% of the population doesn’t have enough of those dollars to handle a $400 emergency.

    Sad, really…

  7. nihil obstet


    Yeah, that’s the indictment against capitalism, where every activity is viewed in terms of profit.

  8. Hugh

    Efficiency and competivity are overrated and overhyped. All you need to be is efficient enough. Competivity is code for keeping wages low. Competivity is never used as a reason to limit the size of corporations and keep them from turning into anti-innovative, anti-competitive oligopolies and monopolies. And if corporations do become large and you choose not to break them up, regulate them as public utilities.

    There are lots of ways small businesses can be privileged. Zoning, lowering tax rates, free consulting help for small startups, penalizing commercial landlords for leaving spaces vacant (think what is going on in New York City). I agree about healthcare.

    Full time work is defined as 35 hours and over. I’m old-fashioned. Take a 40 hour week and a 50 week work year. Multiply you get 2000 work hours a year for full time workers. Now multiply this by your hourly wage. $15/hour =$30,000/year; $20/hour =$40,000/year; $40/hour=$80,000/year. Even for places like NYC, $40/hour would be high as a start out wage.

    My standard line is that markets are never free, the only questions worth asking are who is running them for whose benefit.

    Re MMT allusions, a society can use government in 4 ways to steer resources to where they are needed in the society: spending, taxing, regulation, and legislation, not just taxing and spending. Money does not acquire value because people are forced to pay taxes using it but because people find money useful in their daily lives. Curiously, at the same time MMT says taxes are necessary for giving money value, it says corporations should not be taxed and the rich cannot be taxed. Most money in the US is created through the Fed. However, this is done through the regional Feds, which are run as private banking cartels. That is: not the government. The US government continues to act as if it is on a quasi-gold standard. That government deficits show up as private sector surpluses is an incomplete statement. The money from these deficits invariably shows up in the hands of the rich. What taxes are good for is extinguishing wealth. High marginal taxes on wealth and income beyond socially useful levels would be an excellent use of taxing. We have enormous wealth inequality in this country. Those who have great wealth in this country use it for anti-social purposes, i.e. against we the many. So why not use taxes to remove this danger to our society?

  9. NoPolitician

    I see a difference between “corporate profit” and “money that a small business earns to allow that businessperson to live”. Even nonprofit businesses can’t lose money. You have to acknowledge this when running a business.

    I am not trying to make the argument that wages should be low to keep consumer prices down. I recognize that in order for an economy to function we need consumers to participate, and consumers get their money primarily from wages.

    My motivation in discussing the minimum wage question is that I would like to understand how to balance higher minimum wages (and other mandatory worker benefits) against the barrier to new entry that this creates for smaller players. Most discussion about wages seems to take place in a frame of large corporations, and yes, large corporations can usually afford to pay their workers more money. Is an economy with a few large players the model to shoot for even under a capitalistic social democracy? Should we be actively trying to eliminate smaller players and make everyone work for a large corporation? In that case, should we heavily tax and regulate all businesses, knowing that this means no more smaller players?

    I don’t see a handful of large corporations as a good thing because I don’t live in one of the coastal “winner” cities. Large corporations have shunned my area for years because the “demographics” aren’t right (too poor, too brown). It is my understanding that there are a tiny number of demographic analysis companies that effectively red-line certain areas. You’d think that this would open up opportunity for smaller players, but I see so many people people try and try, but almost none succeed. I have considered taking the plunge myself, but a back-of-napkin analysis looks bleak when you start out with a real-estate cost of $60k/year and a per-employee cost of $50k/year. With those numbers it is really easy to quickly lose a couple hundred thousand dollars – with an upside of paying yourself a wage of $50k (i.e. what is left for you after expenses). So maybe it’s just easier to work for the man.

  10. KT Chong

    Currently, the top four progressives in the Democratic primary race are:

    1. Bernie Sanders: The leading progressive candidate. He is kinda weak on foreign policies. However, he has been the same person running on the same platforms for decades, i.e., he has been very consistent for decades. So we can look at his decades of track records, and we know what we will get if he ever becomes the President, i.e., very little chance of bait-and-switch like Obama. Bernie is the face of Medicare for All.

    2. Elizabeth Warren: Perceived by progressives as the least progressive of the four, but still better than all the neoliberal corporatists. She is currently the most comprehensive and pragmatic progressive candidaet: she has laid out her visions and the steps to accomplish her goals. The bankers and Wall Street CEOs are really afraid of her because she set them on fire during their congressional hearings, (which is always enjoyable to watch.) She is gunning for those fuckers. She is the anti-Wall Street, anti-big corporation candidate.

    3. Andrew Yang: Curiously enough, this ASIAN man has widespread support among the alt-right, so he will be able to pull votes away from Trump in the general election. Personally, I think we are not quite yet ready for universal basic income, but it *will* be inevitable as automation will replace almost all if not all human labors AND brains. His message is: automation is coming. We need to be prepared, or humans (i.e., everyone except the top-pecenters who will own all the automation) will be fucked. His solution for automation is universal basic income.

    4. Tulsi Gabbard: My personal favorite. She share a lot of the same platforms with Bernie on domestic policies, but she is the best on foreign policies. IMO, she also has support on the right and will be able to pull votes away from Trump. She is the anti-war, anti-regime change candidate.

    The good news is: all those four progressives are in the top nine spots among the twenty-one declared Democratic candidates.

    There are another two progressives in the race, but those two are not yet qualified for the Democratic debate:

    5. Mike Gravel: A recently declared candidate. IMO he is just trolling and not serious about running. However, he is a progressive, *and* he is very funny. It will be really fun and entertaining to see him create chaos on the debate stage. He will be good for ratings – and exciting and energizing Democratic voters even if he does not win.

    6. Marianne Williamson: Another recently declared candidate. She seems to be a progressive, but I do not think she will be able to beat Trump.


    Currently, the top nine candidates in the Democratic primary are (according to the money they have raised and their poll numbers):

    1. Bernie Sanders: Progressive no. 1. Medicare for All.

    2. Pete Booty-jugs: A neoliberal corporatist centrist running on identity politics: “vote for me because I’m gay! (And if you want more of the same status quo!)”

    3. Kamala Harris: Another neoliberal corporatists, the SJW ~~are~~ were for her because she is black + woman, i.e., she checked two “special group” categories..

    4. Elizabeth Warren: Progressive no. 2 Set the Wall Street on fire. Break up the big banks and mega-corporations.

    5. Creepy Joe: Did you like Obama? Do you want more of the same? Then vote for the creepy grandpa!

    6. Amy Klobuchar: The quintessential “Republican Lite”.

    7. Beto O’Rourke: He lied about being a progressive during the Senate race in 2016. However, since then people have looked into his history and track record, and he has been exposed as a neoliberal fraud. Booty-jugs has pulled away a lot of his supports because they represent the same neoliberal corporatist interests, but Booty-jugs is gay while Beto is just a straight white man who has no appeal to the SJW and political identity crowds.

    8. Andrew Yang: Progressive no. 3. Universal basic income for everyone before automation completely takes over and creates mass unemployment.

    9. Tulsi Gabbard: Progressive no. 4. No more endless war. No more regime change.

    The problem with the five neoliberals on that list (i.e., Bootyjugs, Kamala, Creepy Old, Klobuchar, and Beto) is that they are pretty much interchangeable. None of them really has a message or platform that stands out. Then again, it is difficult for they neoliberal corporatist centrists to have a strong message or platform when they all just want to support the status quo and give us more of the same.

    Most of those neoliberal centrists even refused to talk about proposals and policies, so vote for Bootyjugs if you want a gay president, for Kamala if you want a black woman president, for Joe if you want a creepy president, for Klobuchar if you want a Republican Lite president, and for Beto if you have no idea what you want.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén