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

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – October 4, 2020

by Tony Wikrent

[Dissent, via Naked Capitalism 9-28-20]

The Pandemic

Donald Trump Personally to Blame for 37 Percent of the World’s COVID-19 Misinformation, Study Finds

[Daily Beast via Naked Capitalism 10-3-20]

Economic Armageddon: The COVID Collapsed Economy

House passes $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill amid faltering talks

[Roll Call, via Naked Capitalism 10-2-20]

[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 9-30-20]Goolsbee: Big Companies Are Starting to Swallow the World:

Austan Goolsbee, September 30, 2020 [New York Times]

The exuberant rebound of large companies while their small competitors struggle will require more vigilant government antitrust action than ever before, an economist says.

I resisted including this, because it’s by Goolsbee, who was a top economic adviser to Obama during his presidency, and hence, one of the people most responsible for the destructive lack of a widepsread economic recovery following the financial crash of 2008-2009, which, in turn, created the rising tide of right-wing populism that brought Trump into power. But it seemed every blogger was linking to it, so I finally relented. Obviously, Goolsbee is a decade late in recognizing the dangers economic concentration.

The covid-19 recession is the most unequal in modern U.S. history

[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 10-1-20]

Job losses from the pandemic overwhelmingly affected low-wage, minority workers most. Seven months into the recovery, Black women, Black men and mothers of school-age children are taking the longest time to regain their employment.

Strategic Political Economy

Link above is to a similar Twitter thread; below is from Sirota’s subscription email letter. 

Elections are now purely wars over culture, etiquette, norms and personal story — and the post-election debate about the debate is about decorum rather than millions of people’s lives being ruined by a pandemic, an economic crisis and out of control climate change.

While polls show more people believe Biden won the debate, the big winners weren’t anyone on stage. It was racists who were yet again emboldened by the president, and even more so, it was villains who are systematically bankrolling elections, buying Supreme Court seats, pillaging the country and scorching the earth.

They got off scot free after the financial crisis, they got off scot free as they’ve pandemic profiteered, they got off scot free last night in a debate that mostly refused to focus on the material well being of millions of people, and they are getting off scot free this morning as the debate analysis revolves around decorum.

This isn’t some accident. The hollowing out of our politics is the outcome of a system designed to produce a particular result. Corporate-bankrolled politicians and millionaires paid by billionaires that you watch on your cable TV roundtables have no interest in scrutinizing, challenging or focusing the political conversation on the power of billionaires and corporations — even though that plutocratic power is the central problem destroying the country and the world.

Shareholder Capitalism’s Ugly Legacy
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, via Naked Capitalism 9-29-20]

[Milton] Friedman’s ideology spread throughout the world with the ‘neoliberal’ counter-revolution from the 1980s. Unsurprisingly, neoliberal economists’ claims have been discredited by their policies’ failure to significantly increase investments in the real economy in recent decades.
And without sufficient investments to enhance p

roductivity, growth has declined, if not stagnated, while dimming future economic prospects. With labour incomes declining relatively, if not absolutely, consumer spending has declined, reducing aggregate demand while feeding a vicious circle of stagnation.

Meanwhile, deregulatory initiatives have not increased real investments and output growth. Market finance ideology claims that the stock market can best allocate investment resources among companies. But share buybacks imply that US corporations have no better investment options than to further raise already high, over-valued financial asset prices, thus reducing resources for real investments and future growth.

 ….‘Getting government out of the way’, the neoliberal ‘free market’ mantra, was supposed to boost private investments. But more handsome corporate profits due to cost savings – from weaker anti-trust and other regulations, lower wages and taxes – have not significantly increased real investments in the US.

“Impediments to the Schumpeterian Process in the Replacement of Large Firms”
[National Bureau of Economic Research, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 9-29-20]

From the abstract: “Using newly-assembled data encompassing up to 75 countries and starting circa 1910, we find that the Schumpeterian process of creative destruction aptly describes the replacement of large firms by other firms, but exceptions to the norm of replacement are not rare and replacement is often not by new firms. Initial firm size and political connections represent the main obstacles to the Schumpeterian process while board interlocks and a corporate culture of innovation play modest roles. Consistent with a theory of political capture, when accompanied by regulations that restrict entry, political connections play a formidable role in abetting large firms remaining large.”

There’s no such thing as a self-made billionaire
[The Correspondent, via The Big Picture 10-3-20]

For all their talent or intelligence, a person stranded on a desert island with no technology, infrastructure or labour wouldn’t be able to amass extreme wealth. Understanding that no one can claim that they fully deserve what they earn is the first step to addressing wealth inequality.

The Rump Professional Class and Its Fallen Counterpart

Benjamin Studebaker [via Naked Capitalism 9-29-20]

I’ve been thinking about the professional class–the class which sits between the wealthy billionaires and the ordinary workers… A university degree no longer guarantees a stable, robust standard of living, but it still separates those who have it from those who do not. Why? Because college students are socialised to pursue the degree as a means of demonstrating their merit. When that merit goes unrewarded, young would-be professionals grow very cross. They want their virtue to be recognised. Unable to earn more or enjoy a higher living standard than the workers, the would-be professionals retreat into the cultural realm. They use the language and ideas they learned at university to assert their moral superiority, gaining an imaginary victory over the workers. This condescension leads the workers to resent the professionals in turn, and makes it very difficult for these downwardly mobile professionals to form political alliances with the workers. All of this, of course, perpetuates the dominion of the rich….

The fallen professionals want to be part of the rump professional class, but can no longer access it materially. They can only access it culturally, by maintaining their familiarity with the language and ideas of the rump professionals. For this reason, the fallen professionals try very hard to continue to be part of the culture of the rump professionals….

Because the fallen professionals want to feel superior to the ordinary workers, the rump professionals have a financial incentive to sell ideas which flatter this superiority complex. This has led, in recent years, to the development of a woke industry which invents new terms and grounds for taking offence. By using these terms and taking offence in these ways, the fallen professionals feel they are participating in the culture of the rump professionals and they can distinguish themselves from the ordinary workers, who fail to use the language or to recognise the offensiveness.

The rump professionals justify this commercialisation of radicalism on the grounds that it is ostensibly morally committed to resisting racism, patriarchy, fascism, or even capitalism itself. But the main effect of the product is to create cultural barriers between the fallen professionals and the ordinary workers, so the fallen professionals will continue to politically identify with the rump professionals and therefore with the rich….

The worker cannot have dignity without resisting a professional culture that constantly denigrates workers for lacking elite education….

The question is whether there is any way out. Left to its own devices, this process will make the workers more and more nationalist, and the workers will use the state to annihilate elite liberal culture. If a large enough number of people receive professional education to overcome the workers, we’ll end up with a society in which woke virtue signalling is hegemonic. In neither case will the rich be threatened in any meaningful way.

The answer is to turn to the one tradition of political economy that has actually succeeded in combining the interests of workers and owners, and which, not coincidentally, is the only tradition of political economy that has resulted in successfully achieving national industrial development in the countries it has been applied.

The Carnage of Establishment Neoliberal Economics

Biden’s Delaware: Making Swiss Banking Look Hyper-Clean

[Pro Publica, via Naked Capitalism 10-1-20]“How Amazon hid its safety crisis”

[Reveal News, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 9-30-20]

“But a new cache of company records obtained by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting – including internal safety reports and weekly injury numbers from its nationwide network of fulfillment centers – shows that company officials have profoundly misled the public and lawmakers about its record on worker safety. They reveal a mounting injury crisis at Amazon warehouses, one that is especially acute at robotic facilities and during Prime week and the holiday peak – and one that Amazon has gone to great lengths to conceal. With weekly data from 2016 through 2019 from more than 150 Amazon warehouses, the records definitively expose the brutal cost to workers of Amazon’s vast shipping empire – and the bald misrepresentations the company has deployed to hide its growing safety crisis…. Amazon’s injury rates have gone up each of the past four years, the internal data shows. In 2019, Amazon fulfillment centers recorded 14,000 serious injuries – those requiring days off or job restrictions. The overall rate of 7.7 serious injuries per 100 employees was 33% higher than in 2016 and nearly double the most recent industry standard.” • Good reporting, with a guide to individual hell-holes warehouses.

[Construction Dive, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 9-28-20]

“The $2.7 billion, 170-mile Brightline high-speed rail extension from West Palm Beach, Florida, to Orlando International Airport (OIA) will see the construction of a train tunnel in two weeks instead of almost one year thanks to an innovative box-jack system suggested by general contractor Granite Construction. This is the first time the box-jack system will be used for a train project outside of the Northeast United States. The developer of the box-jacking system, Italian company Petrucco, is using special hydraulic jacks to push two precast concrete boxes — one 146 feet long and the other 126 feet long and both with 42-foot-long sidewalls — under a roadway east of the airport while an excavator digs out a path from inside the box and from the opposite side.” • Maybe we can have the Italians build a new Amtrak tunnel under the Hudson for us. Since we can’t.

Climate and environmental crises

Rising waters threaten Great Lakes communities

[PhysOrg, via Naked Capitalism 10-3-20]

Water levels in the Great Lakes have always fluctuated, rising and falling in years-long patterns. But those complex natural cycles are changing. Over the past five years, the region has seen massive amounts of rainfall. Even before that surge, the basin had a 10% increase in precipitation since 1900.

But warming temperatures – and dwindling ice cover during the winter – can also speed up and prolong evaporation cycles. In other words, climate change is turning up the dials on the factors that both increase and decrease water levels, making the shoreline much more volatile as tens of trillions of gallons come and go.

When the Great Lakes reached record lows in 2013, many thought the depleted lakeshore would be the new normal. Now, with houses teetering and roads flooded, they’re waiting for the day the water recedes again.

“We’re starting to recognize that if we can go from record low to record high in six or seven years, we have to adjust our thinking,” said Deanna Apps, a scientist with the Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

[Times of India, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 9-28-20]

 “Climate change is real and a number of places around the world are bearing the brunt of it; one among those is Ladakh. The glaciers in this Himalayan region shrunk and made rainfall and temperatures unpredictable. Because of this, farmers in the high altitude regions have to face difficulties beyond their imaginations. In fact, several picturesque villages in Ladakh turned into ghost towns due to the water crisis. Keeping in view the issues in farming, the famous Indian engineer and innovator Sonam Wangchuk invented the Ice Stupas (an artificial glacier created by piping mountain streams). In 2015, Wangchuk managed to raise $125,000 on crowdfunding and created a 64 ft ice stupa. The water freezes into a cone, which resembles a Buddhist shrine. The intelligent stupa is designed in a way that it remains frozen until the sun warms the fields during the springs, making irrigation and cultivation manageable for farmers in the village…. Today, the final results of the Gangles Ice-Valley Ice-Stupa Competition 2019-2020 were announced at Gangles, where 5 ice stupas were made that stored 10 million litres of water.”

[Jonathan Cook, via Naked Capitalism 10-2-20]

….The Social Dilemma is deeply tied to the shared perspective of its many participants. In most cases, they are richly disillusioned, former executives and senior software engineers from Silicon Valley. They understand that their once-cherished creations – Google, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat (WhatsApp seems strangely under-represented in the roll call) – have turned into a gallery of Frankenstein’s monsters.

That is typified in the plaintive story of the guy who helped invent the “Like” button for Facebook. He thought his creation would flood the world with the warm glow of brother and sisterhood, spreading love like a Coca Cola advert. In fact, it ended up inflaming our insecurities and need for social approval, and dramatically pushed up rates of suicide among teenage girls….

…. The Social Dilemma divides into three chapters. The first, dealing with the argument we are already most familiar with, is that social media is a global experiment in altering our psychology and social interactions, and our children are the main guinea pigs. Millennials (those who came of age in the 2000s) are the first generation that spent their formative years with Facebook and MySpace as best friends. Their successors, Generation Z, barely know a world without social media at its forefront.

…. As one interviewee observes, social media is not going to become less expert at manipulating our thinking and emotions, it’s going to keep getting much, much better at doing it.

Jaron Lanier, one of the computing pioneers of virtual reality, explains what Google and the rest of these digital corporations are really selling: “It’s the gradual, slight, imperceptible change in your own behaviour and perception – that is the product.” That is also how these corporations make their money, by “changing what you do, what you think, who you are.”

They make profits, big profits, from the predictions business – predicting what you will think and how you will behave so that you are more easily persuaded to buy what their advertisers want to sell you.

[CBS, via Naked Capitalism 9-27-20]When coffee makers are demanding a ransom, you know IoT is screwed Ars Technica, via Naked Capitalism 9-27-20]
What to expect from a hacked coffee maker:
At least a hacked coffee maker can’t be expected to spew spiders at you. Yet. 
[DuckDuckGo Privacy Research, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 9-29-20]

“As explained in this series, we believe search preference menus — ones that change all search defaults and include the most common Google alternatives — can enable consumers to easily express their search preferences and significantly increase competition in the search market. Our most recent large-sample user testing shows that when a search preference menu is designed properly, then Google’s search mobile market share could immediately drop by around 20% (with potentially greater market change shift over time). However, Google’s current search preference menu in the EU is not properly designed, evidenced by the just released Q4 2020 auction results, listing which search engines will appear on the menu. DuckDuckGo, despite being the Google alternative that consumers most want to select, will no longer appear in most countries. As a result, many EU residents buying a new Android device will no longer have an easy way to adopt a private search engine…. The central problem with Google’s search preference menu is that it is a pay-to-play auction in which only the highest bidders are on the menu. This auction format incentivizes bidders to bid what they can expect to profit per user selection. The long-term result is that the participating Google alternatives must give most of their preference menu profits to Google!” • Good job, Google. I thought EU regulation was tough?


Disrupting mainstream politics

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 9-30-20]

Frank Luntz
Replying to
We’re almost done with the debate, and consensus is that Trump dominated… And turned off undecided voters in the process.

Frank Luntz
Sep 29
Replying to
This debate has actually convinced some undecided voters to not vote at all.
I’ve never seen a debate cause this reaction. #Debates2020

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 9-29-20]

Ben Spielberg
There are 16 people on
@JoeBiden’s transition advisory board. Republicans have 2 of the spots. People who supported Bernie Sanders in the primary have 0.
12:36 AM · Sep 29, 2020·Twitter Web App
Four of the five co-chairs for the
transition team have experience outside of government, three in consulting and one in private equity.

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 9-29-20]

The Situationist International House Of Pancakes☭
“Joe Biden needs to win a historically decisive popular vote victory to fully discredit Trump and Trumpism!”
Welp, good luck.
10:34 AM · Sep 28, 2020·Twitter for iPad

☭The Situationist International House Of Pancakes☭
Sep 28
Replying to
I don’t think Bernie was a perfect candidate but I know for a fact his volunteers would have a GOTV operation that would rival the invasion of Normandy.

Democrats have no plan: Trump is bulldozing democracy — and nobody’s ready to stop him
[Salon, via Naked Capitalism 9-27-20]

The Dark Side

There Should Be No Doubt Why Trump Nominated Amy Coney Barrett
Jeffrey Toobin [The New Yorker, via Naked Capitalism 9-27-20]
The Federalist Society’s long march through the institutions claims victory. Resistance was slight:

She’s been groomed for this moment’: Amy Barrett’s Supreme Court preparation began early. [Politico, via Naked Capitalism 9-27-20]

Why Amy Coney Barrett Should Not Be On The Supreme Court

[Current Affairs, via Naked Capitalism 9-29-20]The US supreme court may soon become plutocracy’s greatest defender

David Sirota [Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 10-3-20]

In other words: Republican politicians rely on conflagrations over political process and social issues to mobilize their religious base in service of Republican donors’ real objective – smuggling corporate cronies on to the highest court in the land. And if Barrett is confirmed, those Republican donors will not just get another business-friendly judge – in advance of the 2020 election, they will also get a third justice who worked directly on the legal team that convinced the US supreme court to hand Republicans the presidency in 2000.

….big donors… funnel millions of dollars into groups like the Judicial Crisis Network, the oil magnate Charles Koch’s network and the US Chamber of Commerce in support of Barrett’s nomination. Those groups’ ads and lobbying campaigns may try to focus the public debate on religion and court precedent, but such enormous sums of cash flood into judicial campaigns with one underlying goal: enriching the corporations and plutocrats that are making the donations.

These organizations know the supreme court is the place to do exactly that – and they have been wildly successful in stacking the court since 2005.

That was the year that business interests engineered John Roberts’ ascension to supreme court chief justice. Back then, corporate groups launched what was their first sophisticated public campaign to install a new jurist on the court – and Roberts was the perfect pick. He had advised the Bush 2000 legal team, he represented corporate clients in private practice and he was considered “the go-to lawyer for the business community”

Republicans blasted Obama’s use of an obscure Medicare law. Now Trump’s using it on $200 drug coupons — and the GOP is silent
[Stat, via Naked Capitalism 9-28-20]

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism 9-28-20]

Murdoch Media Properties Bury Times’ Bombshell on Trump’s Tax Returns
Pam Martens and Russ Martens, September 28, 2020 [Wall Street on Parade]

18 Revelations From a Trove of Trump Tax Records
[DNYUZ, via Naked Capitalism 9-28-20]

“The Bombshell Memory Hole” 
Matt Taibbi], September 29, 2020

“Like many ‘bombshells,’ the Times tax story contains real information, including potentially real outrages, like bank fraud or deducting consulting fees paid to his daughter. The headline revelation is Trump as metaphor for American finance generally, showing the appearance of wealth resting atop absurd fictions, with monster debts rolled into the next ice age and losses somehow appearing as his greatest assets, in ways inconceivable to regular people. At the end of the cycle, pundits will conclude that Trump has a story about being rich in place of actual wealth, making him (drumroll please) more like a con man than a tycoon. That this is the same analysis some of us made at the beginning of Trump’s national political run eons ago won’t matter. Nor will it matter that Trump’s returns ought to be as embarrassing to media antagonists and a string of “reputable” politicians as they are to him, given that it was screamed to high heavens for years, from op-ed pages and cable news panels and the floor of the U.S. Senate, that proof of secret links to Vladimir Putin would be found. This idea never had merit — no sane person can think an espionage conspiracy would be detailed in a tax return — but a parade of experts and officials contended just this, including Chuck Schumer, George Will, Rachel Maddow and countless others….”

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 9-28-20]

Matt Stoller
Sep 28
Trump supporters see Trump’s tax-dodging as awesome. But they think that everyone with wealth and power breaks the law, just like every Dem let Hunter Biden off as if what he was doing was normal.
Trump is *their gangster* in a world of gangsters. Are they wrong?

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 9-28-20]

Matt Stoller
I worked for Corzine when he ran for Governor in 2005, but I didn’t know finance. In 2009, after I knew more, I asked him at what point he understood the derivatives he traded in the 80s to make his fortune were about tax/regulatory dodging.
“Matt, that was the whole point.”

The Republican Party is an authoritarian outlier: Compared to center-right parties in developed democracies, the GOP is dangerously far from normal.

[Vox, via The Big Picture 9-27-20]


Open Thread


“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” Is An Inapplicable Parable For Our Time


  1. bruce wilder

    Jomo Kwame Sundaram: Unsurprisingly, neoliberal economists’ claims have been discredited by their policies’ failure to significantly increase investments in the real economy in recent decades.

    The story of Milton Friedman’s intellectual triumph as the prophet of Neoliberalism is also the story of the collapse of the left-liberal opposition to Friedman and the intellectual tendencies and material interests he represented. Friedman was only a modestly competent Chicago School economist, but he was a supremely skillful sophist; he set out to win the argument and he did so with a great deal of insight into how to ensnare an opponent into his way of thinking. Jomo Kwame Sundaram is a globalist phenomenon, credentialled by Harvard and Yale, the recipient of numerous honors and awards, author or editor of a hundred books, and here he writes a thoroughly insipid essay signalling his virtue as a Member of the Club and pet heterodox economist.

    You cannot win the argument with Friedman by accepting Friedman’s frame: the market economy. Jomo does it anyway, because he doesn’t want to win the argument; he just wants credit for piously pronouncing a eulogy for neoliberalism at the right historical moment. He has an audience, which will appreciate having their moralistic views confirmed, while not having to think at all about the problematic nature of the way the political economy is organized.

    There’s nothing in his essay that even acknowledges the profound economic problems posed by climate change and impending ecological collapse, problems exacerbated by an economics that does not make sense of “externalities” and acknowledges no limits to “growth”. And in what it does reference, it is a just a muddle.

  2. Hugh

    The rich accumulate/loot wealth. They do not earn it. We knew that. We still need to see it said more.

    Re the Supreme Court, just to be clear, some of us have been talking about the the 9-0 corporatist slant of the court for years.

    Big tech is evil. It is all about the creation and exploitation of monopolies. Big tech needs to be broken up or turned into public utilities. Wealth in this country should be limited to (you come up with a number) I often use the figure $20 million. If you can’t have the great materialist dream, house, car, vacations, etc. with that you are either an idiot or a psychopath. It is also hard to conceive of any benefit more than that that you have added to society, and it is pretty clear that anything more than that is a theft from the rest of us.

  3. Willy

    There’s this theory about what motivates Trump.

    Besides all the narcissism, racism, sexism, authoritarianism and all the rest of the daily documented dysfunctional isms that is.

    Trumps businesses have been failing and facing bankruptcy for some time, again. So he took the MAGA route in desperation to try and take advantage of whatever advantages POTUS can provide his businesses. His taxes would telegraph this. Along with most of the other stuff.

    So he cares little about that job and his every thought, action, and reaction revolve around saving anything that’s tied to his name. Trump.

    As a high functioning parasite, coronavirus provides him with an excuse. But that isn’t saying much, since anything can provide him with an excuse as long as it’s repeated on Fox News without too much hesitation or rolling of the eyes.

    But I’d rather this be about Milton Friedman: “There is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use it resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud”

    Rules of the game? Should we look to our President for enforcement of these “rules”?

  4. Willy

    Did I just say “high functioning”? My bad. I meant “low functioning with a critical mass of even lower functioning supplicants.” Carry on.

  5. Hugh

    Note that libertarian rules of the game say nothing about doing something actually socially useful. Unsurprising, libertarians are all about leeching off of the benefits of society and then acting like those benefits don’t exist.

  6. S Brennan

    Mr Tony Wikrent,

    Souldn’t your Sunday shtick be labeled “Naked Capitalism Redux”.

    I stopped reading/posting on Lambert’s old blog, Currant because Lambert was/is a bitter man. When he went to NC because, he had chased off his readers at Currant, he moved to have all the commenters he disliked at Currant banned over at NC.

    Besides, NC is the queen of doctrinaire/banal blogs. Lambert is piece of work and has sullied enough blogs.

  7. Willy

    If I was Tulsi, I’d be bitter about Hillary’s smears too. But not so bitter that I’d be soiling the place everywhere I went. So Tulsi supports sensible gun control and Joe Biden. Could those views be caused by bitterness?

  8. sleepy

    Canada’s growing role as an expansionist global imperial power:

  9. S Brennan

    Willy Wanker, enjoy your evening.

  10. S Brennan – “Souldn’t your Sunday shtick be labeled “Naked Capitalism Redux”

    Yes, it could be, and perhaps should be. But the fact is that I can pull more useful material out of NC in a given interval of time than any other source I know of at this point.

    Many, many, MANY moons ago I tried to set up a “feed” of news I was interested in, and just could not get it figured out. I forget now if it was called “rss” or “reddit” or something else. For all my harping on the need for new science and technology, when it comes to information technology, I feel depressingly like a luddite. I know I’m not dumb, but most of what IT has become serves me not at all. Especially if I have to “fix” it. Some problems suck up so much time to figure out how to solve, it comes precariously close to being an emotional crisis. (Just wait till your computer won’t boot because a fucking screw holding the power supply came loose. The repair guy that fixed that problem – after 48 hours I spent of increasingly intense frustration, verging on said emotional crisis – is a god as far as I’m concerned.)

    I was having an interesting discussion with a friend Saturday, about how much we would “sell out” for. So, in the interests of conforming to the neoliberal weltanschauung that seems invincible at this point, I am offering myself up to “the market.” You may begin offering me sums of cold hard cash to actually buy the naming rights to my miserable little Sunday shtick. If they can do it with sports arenas and law schools, why not this place?!

  11. Willy

    Sorry Brennan, but something about you makes me question your motives. Maybe ‘punishing’ works, but punishing everybody is what seems bitter.

    Speaking of the Strategic Political Economy, shouldn’t you be thinking about how conservative infotainers get that way? Obviously, they sell out to The People Stealing Everything who Won Last Night’s Debate. But I don’t think they all started out as opportunistic grifters. Shouldn’t you be focusing at least some of your punishments onto them?

  12. Joan

    @Tony, thanks as always for these.

    @Hugh, I like that twenty million idea very much.

  13. Ché Pasa

    To chime in a bit:

    These posts are all about “political economy” in the broad sense. NC is perhaps the only site on the interwebs that focuses attention on exactly that topic and little else. “Yves” and “Lambert” may have serious personal issues (or not) and may curate their commentariat to be a salon rather than a place of serious debate and consideration, but that’s kind of beside the point. They collect and offer exactly the kind of material and links that help inform Tony’s week-end posts here. The fact that Tony reposts so many links that he found at NC doesn’t diminish his work at all.

  14. Plague Species

    The fact of the matter is, Ché, we have all the information we need at this point. Lack of information is not the problem. Doing something about what conclusions are drawn from that deluge of information is what’s needed and yet it’s nowhere to be seen. If information attainment is the only thing that matters, if the means is the end and it seems to be, nothing can and will ever change for the positive. Information Overload is a very real phenomenon with very real implications. Information Junkies will not help bring about a better world.

  15. StewartM


    Most of your stuff is good, but I don’t buy the “Rump professional class” stuff. At least not its implications, which is that the people who do go to college and learn the true history of the US (as opposed to the myths taught in high school) are somehow to blame for our situation. So the solution is to suppress truths, and coddle falsehoods and myths?

    The working class bears a great deal of responsibility for its own demise. While I appreciate your postings, and the writings of Thomas Franks and many others, I think you get the timeline wrong. The white working class abandoned the Democrats before the Democrats abandoned the white working class. It was the AFL-CIO that refused to work for George McGovern, and many hard hats voted for Nixon instead, which began the slide towards neoliberalism. They also in turn voted for Reagan–remember PATCO, which Reagan screwed–that was their reward for having *endorsed* Reagan in 1980. The turn of the Democratic party towards the “New Democrats”, by contrast, really got started in the 1980s (remember, Gary Hart vs Walter Mondale).

    To understand *why* the white working class abandoned the Democrats, you have to look towards what might be called, loosely, the “New Left” in the 1960s and 1970s, which:

    1) Criticized US foreign adventures — The US labor movement, by contrast, wanted Scoop Jackson Democrats, keep those bomb factories with those good-paying union jobs going.

    2) Criticized the results thereof, including war atrocities: The hard hats cheered Lt Calley and all the others up the chain (Calley, the lowest ranking, while guilty has hell was clearly the fall guy) who murdered 500+ Vietnamese civilians (almost half under the age of 12), calling them heroes or at least excusing their crimes, while sending death threats to Hugh Thompson and his helicopter crew who intervened to stop the massacre and saved like 36 kids in the process.

    3) Desegration and pushes for racial, gender, and sexual equality.

    4) Wanted to extend the New Deal/Great Society to all: Despite them getting all the New Deal and GI Bill gov’mint goodies, these working class blokes believed that they had all pulled themselves up by their own imagined bootstraps and were against “socialism”. Especially “Socialism” that worked for black people.

    You saw all personified by the Archie Bunker character in the TV Show “All in the Family”. Part of the popularity of that show rested on the fact that although Bunker was supposedly satirized of in the show, many working class whites saw Archie as their hero and completely missed the satire. (Something very similar happened in the “Colbert Report”, many conservatives cheered Colbert because they thought he too was being serious and they too missed the satire).

    Why did this happen? I think Micheal Moore nailed it, when talking about the good jobs of the auto industry in his home town of Flint. There is no surer way to turn someone conservative than to make them rich(er). The good-paying union jobs of those times allowed working class blokes to have, say, a vacation home on the lake, have a modest investment portfolio, send their kids to college, or otherwise live a middle-class life. They lost interest in pulling up the ladder for those still beneath them, and started to identify with the conservative ‘haves’ of society far more than the have-nots.

    This was accentuated by the culture wars. So when movement conservatives put their figurative arms around the white working class, and pointed to those long-haired hippies, those black welfare moms, those disgusting gays, or those uppity women having abortions, and told them “See, those people aren’t like us!!”, they believed those Movement conservatives were (like some here, apparently) really had their interests in heart. They did not realize the movement conservative “US” in that sentence above did not include “THEM”. Worse, after Reagan drove their wages down and started to shut their factories down for non-union and/or cheaper sits (first, starting in the US South, then overseas) they still largely stuck to their (literal and figurative) guns even when their economic fortunes were being sunk.

    And yes, in the late 70s and 1980s, the Democratic leadership was taken over by the DLC modestly-socially-liberal neoliberal class which culminated (in part) in Jimmy Carter’s election and more fully in Bill Clinton’s (but remember, Carter won in the primaries in 1976 by beating more progressive Democrats like Udall). But that was after the working class had largely deserted them and created the vacuum making this possible. I myself do not have a ready answer for our predicament, but I do know that abandoning things which are true or abandoning the quest for rights for everyone is not a solution. Maybe the only thing to re-awaken the left is that the white working class had to join everyone else in the shithole, before they changed, as depressing as that sounds, and that *their* sense of superiority and privilege had to go. Yeah, and yes, that might lead to fascism, if the Democrats don’t change as well (which is also a huge problem as the DLC class still has managed to stay in power).

  16. different clue

    Lots of people strike the pose of “opposing Trump”. How many of those people are actively lifting a finger within the letter of the law to try driving his businesses into such deep bankruptcy that liquidation becomes the only way out for them?

    In all fairness, how many people even have access to a single site which aggregates all the facts about all of TrumpCo Incorporated’s holdings of very sort? A first step towards trying to attrit and deplete all their revenue streams would be knowing what all those revenue streams even are.

    Obviously a first step would be a hopefully-successful extermicott against all businesses bearing the “Trump” name and/or logo. TrumpCo’s resorts wouldn’t be successful if people didn’t keep going there and spending money there. What if “locating in a Trump-name property” became a kiss of death for every retail business location currently in any Trump-name property? Certainly all those people who are currently rich-ish enough to patronise Trump-related properties yet claim to oppose Trump could easily stop patronizing TrumpCo-related properties.

    Perhaps some whole citizenries are in a position to inflict pain on TrumpCo. I know the Irish had a chance to protest their government’s granting the Trump golf resort in Ireland permission to build a seawall against the rising sea level which Trump pretended isn’t rising due to the global warming Trump pretends isn’t happening. But the Irish let that opportunity pass. It is probably too late to deny TrumpCo permission to build its seawall in Ireland. But it might not be too late for other governments to deny TrumpCo other permissions to build other seawalls around other seaside resorts. But the inhabitants of those other countries will have to torture and terrorise their governments into withholding those permissions, if they can.

  17. Hugh

    Even with all the cons Trump has been running as President, most of his properties outside of Trump Tower are losing money and he has $400 million in various debt coming due. And before this, about the only bank who would lend him money was one of the most criminally corrupt banks on the planet Deutsche Bank, and we don’t know the terms of those loans or who underwrote them.

    I see Trump as essentially doing a pyramid scheme. Everything is already in hock and the first time anyone decides to cut their losses, it will all fall apart. Poor Barron, heck even Ivanka, Don and Eric may have to get real jobs.

  18. Hugh

    Under the crapification of everything, Trump is leaving Walter Reed. What could go wrong? Trump takes a spin around Walter Reed yesterday and has decided to go back to the White House today. All of this is beyond stupid and completely unprofessional by his medical staff.

    It’s like the medical version of “If without any background you act as your own doctor, you have a fool as a patient.”

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