Monthly Archives: November 2016

Trumpism Has Dealt a Mortal Blow to Orthodox Economics and ‘Social Science’

Naked Capitalism has published the article Trumpism Has Dealt a Mortal Blow to Orthodox Economics and ‘Social Science’.

Second, there is financialization, which led to increasing disconnection between stock market performance and the real economy, with large rewards going to firms that undertook asset stripping, outsourcing, and offshoring. The combination of globalization and financialization produced a new plutocratic class of owners, managers and those who serviced them in global cities, alongside gentrification of those cities, proleterianization and lumpenization of suburbs, and growing insecurity and casualization of employment for the bulk of the middle and working class.

Financialization also led to the near-abandonment of the ‘national’ industrial economy in favor of global sourcing and sales, and a handsome financial rentier economy built on top of it. Meanwhile, automation trends led to shedding of jobs everywhere, and threaten far more.

Maybe I just like this article for the wordsmithing. There is nothing new here that I have not observed over my 40 year career in high tech and my 10 years of retirement.

One thing I have observed almost from the beginning of my career is that the “casualization of employment for the bulk of the middle and working class” has been climbing up the economic ladder to reach the upper ends of the middle class. I have been warning people at this upper end to not feel so smug about their own presumed safety. It may have been a leap of faith to predict this in the late 1960s as I did. However, it is becoming so obvious now, I have to feel sorry for those who still cannot see it coming.

The New York Times has the article Why Does Education Translate to Less Support for Donald Trump? This is unknowingly an almost perfect example of the stories the over-educated tell themselves to stave off the realization that th e oligarchs are coming for them next.

I found The New York Times article on Randy Katz’s Facebook page.

Don’t Be Deceived By A Political Campaign’s Average Donation

I am pretty sure that I have made a number of warnings on this politics blog about how deceiving averages can be. I started to wonder recently if Jill Stein’s campaign had been deceived by the numbers coming the Sanders campaign. I hadn’t done any arithmetic to figure out what could be hidden in Bernie’s numbers, but my wondering about the Stein campaign led me to this little thought experiment.

Supposing a million people give $1 each and one person gives $1 million. You have $2,000,000 of donations from 1,000,001 people. This is an average of about $2 per person. However, I bet the 1 person who gave $1 million would have more influence on a candidate than the 1 million people who each gave $1.

This thought experiment is just an example to give you an idea of how deceptive averages can be. I have no knowledge of the contribution details of either the Sanders campaign nor of the Stein campaign.

Questions have arisen lately as to how Jill Stein raised $5 million in a few days for her recount campaign when she was unable to raise money at this rate throughout the presidential campaign. Perhaps she realized that she was letting herself be deceived by Bernie’s numbers to think she could run a national campaign only on small dollar donations. I have no idea if she has learned that it might be ok to take larger donations depending on who was giving them.

It is fashionable to blame all our economic problems on the billionaire class in general and the money they pour into politics. It is easy to get lulled into believing that any contribution from any billionaire is inherently evil. A more discriminating line of reasoning may conclude that not all billionaires are created equal and neither are their contributions. One billionaire in particular is being vilified by the extreme right, and the left is propagating this vilification without considering the source of the smear campaign or its motivations. The motivation from the right might be to get the working-class progressive to disarm themselves in the fund raising war because of a misplaced sense of scruples, whereas the right doing the smearing has no need to disarm because they have no scruples

By now, you may have figured out that I am talking about the anti George Soros smear campaign. He is one billionaire who tends to donate to progressive causes (see The Young Turks video George Soros Pledges 10 Million To Combat Hate Crime). When he takes advantage of people to make his billions, it tends to be other billionaires rather than ordinary people that he focuses on. Of course, the “little” people tend to be collateral damage. Perhaps there would be a better way to take advantage of other billionaire’s greed without hurting “little” people, so I am not completely defending what Soros has done. However, I do see somewhat of a distinction.

I put as this blog’s motto “Extremism is the Enemy of Rationality™” exactly because I know that it is easy to go to extremes without thinking, when thinking is always a better alternative.

Trump’s Possible Path Out of Ukraine Crisis

Consortium News has the article Trump’s Possible Path Out of Ukraine Crisis.

Exclusive: The U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014 sparked a New Cold War with Russia, but a President Trump could roll back tensions with a creative strategy for resolving the Ukraine standoff, writes Jonathan Marshall.
The other major obstacle is hostility from militarist hardliners in the West who propose arming Ukraine to ratchet up conflict with Russia. Prime examples include the State Department’s chief policy maker on Ukraine, Victoria Nuland; former NATO Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, who became infamous for issuing inflated warnings about Russian military operations; Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain; and Stephen Hadley, Raytheon board member and former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, who chairs the Orwellian-named United States Institute for Peace.

When was the last time that a corporate news story mentioned the “U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine”? How could they forget? At the time “the State Department’s chief policy maker on Ukraine, Victoria Nuland” promoted this coup, the corporate press reported it. However, as long as they bury that information now it is as good as it never having happened. Most of the public doesn’t have the long term memory to remember this as long as the corporate news keeps suppressing it. There are people alive today who weren’t even born when this coup happened in 2014.

Cutting Company Taxes is a Race to the Bottom

Naked Capitalism has published the article Cutting Company Taxes is a Race to the Bottom.

The most significant sentence in this whole thing is

But consumption has fallen, and newly subsidized businesses would still need customers in order for investing to make sense.

Or as I like to put it “What part of no freakin’ customers do you not understand?”

Shifting the tax burden from corporations to individuals is not going to provide more customers. If there is already too much production for the number of customers, wouldn’t a company have to be insane to invest in more production no matter how low the tax rate? Only a negative tax rate could spur more investment. In other words the government has to be the consumer of last resort.

Why are we arguing about the details of a policy that makes absolutely no sense at any level?

Or as the old John Oliver (the one before he sold his soul to his corporate bosses) would have said, “Why is corporate tax cutting still a thing?”

We need to drive a stake through the heart of the idea of cutting corporate taxes as a way to stimulate the current economy.

Evaluating NASA’s Futuristic EM Drive

NASA has published the article Evaluating NASA’s Futuristic EM Drive.

A group at NASA’s Johnson Space Center has successfully tested an electromagnetic (EM) propulsion drive in a vacuum – a major breakthrough for a multi-year international effort comprising several competing research teams. Thrust measurements of the EM Drive defy classical physics’ expectations that such a closed (microwave) cavity should be unusable for space propulsion because of the law of conservation of momentum.

When it comes to projects like this, science and politics often get entangled.

There are many conjectures about why this EM drive works. The most intriguing one to me that is mentioned in the article is:

On April 5, 2015, Paul March reported at’s Forum that Dr. White and Dr. Jerry Vera at NASA Eagleworks have just created a new computational code that models the EM Drive’s thrust as a three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic flow of electron-positron virtual particles.

I don’t think I saw in the article what principles of physics are used in this computational code. Though, physical principles are not always necessary for computational models which can be built around fitting the model to experimental data without a complete understanding of the physics behind the data.

Well, I suppose that “three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic flow of electron-positron virtual particles” could be considered to be the physics behind this. I don’t know how such a flow could violate conservation of momentum.

Bringing in gravity and the theory of general relativity seems unconvincing to my highly untrained physical understanding. There does not seem to be much mass to induce space/time warping to any significant degree, and to my knowledge nobody has a theory of quantum gravity yet. Unless the Higgs Boson is that quantum theory.

I leave it to Llanda Richardson and Terry Steiner to clean up all my mistakes in physics. Marden Seavy can chime in if he wants to.

Bill Black: Hillary’s Threat to Wage Continuous War on the Working Class via Austerity Proved Fatal

New Economic Perspectives has the fabulous article Hillary’s Threat to Wage Continuous War on the Working Class via Austerity Proved Fatal by William K Black. The article was republished on Naked Capitalism as Bill Black: Hillary’s Threat to Wage Continuous War on the Working Class via Austerity Proved Fatal.

This is a great explanation of what my Politics Blog is largely about. It explains why I am so adamantly opposed to Hillary Clinton and so disappointed by Barack Obama. It explains why I have come to realize just how bad Bill Clinton’s time in office was for this country.

It is hard to select a few excerpts from the article to give you the gist, but the following is my feeble attempt.

Here is the excerpt I should have chosen first.

Timothy Geithner, a proponent of austerity, is famous for remarking that he only took only one economics class – and did not understand it. In the same review of Geithner’s book by Krugman that I have been quoting, Krugman gives a concise summary of Geithner’s repeated lies about his supposed support for a larger stimulus. Jacob Lew, the Rubinite who Obama chose as Geithner’s successor as Treasury Secretary, was also trained as a lawyer and is equally fanatic in favoring austerity. In 2009, no one with any credibility in economics within the Obama administration could serve as an effective spokesperson for [against?] austerity as the ideal response to the Great Recession.

But Romer, Summers, and Bernstein experienced the same frustration as 2009 proceeded. The problem was not simply the Rubinites’ fervor for the self-inflicted wound of austerity – the fundamental problem was President Obama. Obama’s administration was littered with Rubinites because Obama was a New Democrat who believed that Rubin’s love of austerity and trade deals was an excellent policy. Of course, he had campaigned on the opposite policy positions, but that was simply political and Obama promptly abandoned those campaign promises. Fiscal stimulus ceased to be an administration priority as soon as the stimulus bill was enacted. Romer and Summers recognized the obvious and soon made clear that they were leaving. Bernstein retained Biden’s support, but he was frozen out of influence on administration fiscal policies by the Rubinites.
Final Cautions

Each of the economists speaking on these subjects in Kilkenny opposed Trumps election and believe it will harm the public. Fiscal stimulus is critical, but it is only one element of macroeconomics and no one was comfortable with Trump’s long-term control of the economy. I opined, for example, that Trump will create an exceptionally criminogenic environment that will produce epidemics of control fraud. The challenge for progressive Democrats and independents is to break with the New Democrats’ dogmas. Neither America nor the Democratic Party can continue to bear the terrible cost of this unforced error of economics, politics, and basic humanity. I fear that the professional Democrats assigned the task of re-winning the support of the white working class do not even have ending the New Democrats’ addiction to austerity on their radar. They are probably still forbidden to read Tom Frank.

This information in this article is exactly why I feature a picture on my Facebook page of L. Randall Wray’s book Modern Money Theory: A Primer on Macroeconomics for Sovereign Monetary Systems.

image from my Facebook page

Image from my Facebook page

Ethnic Votes Stolen in Crucial States Help Fix US Election For Trump Reveals Greg Palast

Greg Palast’s web page has the article Ethnic Votes Stolen in Crucial States Help Fix US Election For Trump Reveals Greg Palast.

As a response to constant paranoia about voter fraud, 30 mainly Republican states have adopted a system called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program (Crosscheck), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

This system was devised in 2005 by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, better known as the anti-immigration fanatic responsible for Trump’s idea of building a wall on the US / Mexico border and getting Mexico to pay for it. Kobach, like Trump, has given lip service to conspiracy theories, especially ones that bolster fears of the growing influence of racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. And now, interestingly he has been rewarded by Trump with a job on his Transition Team as adviser on immigration.

Palast also mentions other ways that votes were stolen. One of the ways he mentions, that I am much less certain about than he pretends to be is the discrepancy between exit polls and actual votes cast. In the world of political correctness, it might have been embarrassing to tell exit pollsters that you voted for Donald Trump. You have no reason to assume that the exit poll is more truthful than the vote count. Some statistics on ballot spoilage may be more of an indication of vote theft and it might also explain the exit poll discrepancies. I certainly don’t have the evidence nor the expertise to give a definitive opinion on this. All I have is skepticism about all stories.

It may be karma though that Hillary managed to rig the primaries to steal that election from Bernie, but Trump and the Republicans had better and more massive vote suppression and rigging techniques than Hillary used against Sanders. One thing is probably likely is that one vote thief isn’t going to ask for an investigation of another vote thief.

Krugman’s Failure to Speak Truth to Power about Austerity

New Economic Perspectives has the article Krugman’s Failure to Speak Truth to Power about Austerity.

Ever since the birth of the New Democrats, their adherents have embraced austerity. This act of mutual economic and political self-destruction has become so core to their identity that Hillary unhesitatingly made it one her most important closing pitches during the last 40 days of her campaign against Trump. At the very moment when her pollsters were warning her that she could lose due to working class hostility, she chose to showcase her hostility to the working class by promising to inflict eight more years of austerity on them. In your face working class! This is a political strategy that has no upside, but a toxic downside. Despite intense criticism from progressives of her austerity threats, Paul Krugman never urged her publicly to promise to end austerity’s assault on the working class. Similarly, no one on her official campaign team had the courage and strength to tell her to stop and reverse her position.

This is exactly my beef with all Democrats who tried to sell us Hillary Clinton after Bernie Sanders dropped out. Elizabeth Warren I write off without hesitation because she caved to Hillary at exactly the strategic moment when she should have promoted Bernie Sanders. At the end, even Robert Reich, a firm supporter of Bernie Sanders, tried to sell us Hillary Clinton, when his previous statements showed that he full well knew the stupidity of Clinton’s austerity plan. Surely Bernie Sanders knew how bad the Clinton plan was. He lost all credibility when he tried to sell her to us.

On television shows about court trials, you often hear an opposing lawyer ask a witness who has admitted to lying, “Were you lying then, or are you lying now?” How can we ever trust someone that we know has lied to us? Sorry, Bernie, we only have trust in people with unblemished records for telling the truth.


Jared Paquette had a post that referred to The New York Review of Books article Ur-Fascism by Umberto Eco, June 22, 1995 Issue.

But in spite of this fuzziness, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.

The article goes on to describe 14 features. What I like about the article is that it seems to explain why there are so many different descriptions of what fascism is.

The original article Jared pointed to is Umberto Eco Makes a List of the 14 Common Features of Fascism. This article adds some more modern examples to the 14 features than Eco could have written about in the original 1995 article. For someone of my age, it is hard to think of a 1995 article as being almost prehistoric.

Elizabeth Warren is ready to defend consumer agency

The Boston Globe has the article Elizabeth Warren is ready to defend consumer agency.

Six years later, Warren and like-minded forces are girding for Round Two, as newly empowered Republicans prepare to kill or gut Warren’s most tangible government accomplishment: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. There’s a good chance blood and teeth will be shed before it’s all over.

Is it too sexist if I use the common vernacular “Ain’t karma a bitch?” If she had supported Bernie Sanders when she had the chance, she wouldn’t be facing the problem of a Trump Presidency. When she sold out to Hillary, she sold out the CFPB. Am I supposed to feel sorry for Warren? Schadenfreude would be more like it.