Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Way too true: the politics of identity is not a good way to formulate public policy



As someone who has attended multiple little party groups around Sacramento County, I can testify that people at such meetings are entirely uninterested in hearing about policy options. It's a social club, not a think tank. This makes such gatherings--and such parties--susceptible to distraction by relatively trivial controversies, particularly concerning race, gender, and abortion.

I don't mean to say those "relatively trivial" controversies are unimportant--they are important to those who need abortions, or who suffer discrimination. They're just not as important as things like the existential threat of climate change or nuclear war...and those threats are frequently discounted, and seldom seriously discussed.

For example: “Gas stoves!” freak-out is the least convincing fake Republican outrage ever. Suddenly the party that despises kale and Dijon mustard wants to pretend they’re precious about culinary techniques

These things are like the tar baby.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Labor Discipline is the Point

(c) Mark Dempsey

 This Intercept article confirms what I previously wrote: The object of raising interest rates is not so much to quell inflation as to make workers feel insecure. The idea of worker insecurity rather than, say, reducing windfall profits, or reducing outrageous CEO compensation, as an inflation remedy is commonplace in current political circles. The article actually cites an internal memo from Janet Yellen saying just that.

Of course, in this atmosphere, a job guarantee is simply not even worthy of consideration--even though that option would probably be cheaper than the massive expense of dominating the poor. Remember, with 5% of the world's population, the U.S. has 25% of its prisoners. I've been told 65% of prisoners have a substance abuse problem, and medical treatment is both cheaper (one-seventh as much as incarceration) and more effective. But the beatings must continue until morale improves!

In fact, I just saw testimony (below) from a British minister admitting that settling the rail strike they're experiencing now, paying the workers' demands, would be cheaper than the stonewalling they have been doing. But the beatings must continue until morale improves!


One potential reaction:


Monday, January 23, 2023

Labor Discipline is the point of resisting strikes, not making more money


The message of "labor discipline": You had better take whatever crappy job is on offer, or suffer the indignities of poverty [and an impoverished lot of public goods and services], even homelessness and starvation....and if you're extra ornery, we'll put you in a cage.

The U.S. has 5% of the world's population, but 25% of its prisoners.

 Meanwhile: If America Had Fair Laws, 60 Million Workers Would Join a Union Tomorrow - Jacobin


But perhaps the most remarkable statistic highlighted in the EPI’s analysis concerns the number of workers who wanted to join a union in 2022 but couldn’t: some 60 million, or 48 percent of the entire nonunion workforce. It’s ironic, given the political right’s frequent justification of anti-union laws under the auspices of choice and voluntarism (evident in Orwellian phrases like “right to work”) that the appetite for union membership is so much higher than current union density would suggest. As the EPI’s researchers also pointedly note, “the large increase in the share of workers expressing a desire for unionization over the last four decades has occurred at the same time the share of workers represented by a union has declined.”

This divergence is owed, in significant part, to employer-friendly laws and regulations that make it incredibly difficult to organize a workplace even when a majority of workers might be in favor. A recent study by University of Oregon labor scholar Gordon Lafer, for example, finds that the climate facing workers at many companies effectively resembles that faced by democratic opposition movements during sham elections in one-party dictatorships. For one, existing laws governing unionization are almost comically slanted toward employers. Furthermore, when management does break the rules — employers are charged with violating federal law in more than 40 percent of union elections — penalties are often so lax that they can be treated as little more than the cost of doing business: a state of affairs that allows for rampant intimidation and election-rigging.

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Them that have shall get - inequality worsens

The world’s richest 1% captured over two-third of all wealth created by humanity since 2020, leaving just one-third for the other 99% of the population, claims a report published by Oxfam on Monday, January 16.

The report, titled ‘Survival of the Richest,’ notes that the richest 1% of the world’s population captured over USD 26 trillion (nearly 63%) of the USD 42 trillion created since 2020, nearly twice the USD 16 trillion (37%) that went to the rest of the population.

Oxfam notes that the rate of the concentration of wealth has been faster in the first two years of the new decade than ever before. In the previous decade the super-rich had expropriated nearly 54% of the total wealth created.

"Capital accumulation." People's Dispatch
World’s richest 1% captured over 63% of all wealth created since 2020: Oxfam

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Capitalism and Extreme Povery


This paper assesses claims that, prior to the 19th century, around 90% of the human population lived in extreme poverty (defined as the inability to access essential goods), and that global human welfare only began to improve with the rise of capitalism. These claims rely on national accounts and PPP exchange rates that do not adequately capture changes in people’s access to essential goods. We assess this narra- tive against extant data on three empirical indicators of human welfare: real wages (with respect to a subsistence basket), human height, and mortality. We ask whether these indicators improved or deteri- orated with the rise of capitalism in five world regions - Europe, Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and China – using the chronology put forward by world-systems theorists. The evidence we review here points to three conclusions. (1) It is unlikely that 90% of the human population lived in extreme poverty prior to the 19th century. Historically, unskilled urban labourers in all regions tended to have wages high enough to support a family of four above the poverty line by working 250 days or 12 months a year, except during periods of severe social dislocation, such as famines, wars, and institutionalized dispossession – particularly under colonialism. (2) The rise of capitalism caused a dramatic deterioration of human welfare. In all regions studied here, incorporation into the capitalist world-system was associated with a decline in wages to below subsistence, a deterioration in human stature, and an upturn in premature mortality. In parts of South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America, key welfare metrics have still not recovered. (3) Where progress has occurred, significant improvements in human welfare began several centuries after the rise of capitalism. In the core regions of Northwest Europe, progress began in the 1880s, while in the periphery and semi-periphery it began in the mid-20th century, a period characterized by the rise of anti-colonial and socialist political movements that redistributed incomes and established public provisioning systems.
World Development 161 (2023) 106026

Capitalism and extreme poverty: A global analysis of real wages, human height, and mortality since the long 16th century
Dylan Sullivan. Macquarie School of Social Sciences, Macquarie University, Australia; and Jason Hickel, Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB), Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain, and International Inequalities Institute, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

See also

Following the colonial example, Hitler aimed to colonize Russia, tried it, and failed. This objective continues today. The Western goal to "decolonize" Russia means to break Russia into smaller states that can be controlled in order to control Russian resources thereby. The Russian leadership is quite aware of this.

Geopolitical Economy  British empire killed 165 million Indians in 40 years: How colonialism inspired fascism - Ben Norton


Unfortunately, Emmanuel Todd's article is paywalled, but some that have access are writing about it.

Moon of Alabama
Emmanuel Todd On The Third World War

Geopolitical Economics
‘World War 3 has already started’ between US and Russia/China, argues French scholar
Ben Norton

Voltaire Network
The world order already changed in 2022
Thierry Meyssan

From the blog of MikeNormanEconomics

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

My Letter to the ADEM "progressives"


I'm writing you to let you know I voted for all the Assembly District 6 progressives I could find. There were not 14, but we do what we can.

My priorities include encouraging Democrats to focus their efforts on class rather than race or gender battles, which to me are a sideshow--but y'all do what you want.

I'd also encourage progressives to recruit candidates who oppose funding the Ukraine war, and the belligerence the U.S. promotes worldwide. Imagine my disappointment when "the squad" went along with funding Ukraine, apparently with twice as much money as would have solved domestic homelessness. They even voted for a defense budget that was bigger than Biden requested.

Yes, I know there are legislative tricks that make this necessary, but I honestly don't care. I've stopped giving to "progressive" candidates, although I did recently contribute to Katie Porter's senate campaign. That will be my policy until "progressives" have the gumption to do what the hard right has been doing for generations now--insisting on getting their way. Where's the progressive Manchin and/or Sinema?

The bottom line: I want peace candidates. I want candidates who make war less. Dennis Kucinich is one I admire. Locally, candidates who are "developer" (actually land speculator) friendly and approve outlying, commute-lengthening sprawl do not get my vote. That's a war on the environment, and because we still need to import oil, it leads to war in the Middle East.

U.S. belligerence is a longstanding tradition. Between 1798 and 1994, the U.S. was responsible for 41 changes of government in just this hemisphere, never mind the Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Libya, etc. The U.S. initiated 81% of military attacks worldwide since 1947. Its military budget is literally more than ten times Russia's.

The expression that applies here: "If you live by the sword you'll die by the sword."

This hemisphere's belligerence creates a constant stream of military and political refugees, supplemented by economic refugees--in the wake of NAFTA, Mexican median real income declined by 34%, a figure not seen in the U.S. since the Great Depression. Think of the undocumented as late Okies. The border is not the problem, the attacks are.

Here's a thought: Change the name from the "Department of Defense" to the "Department of Attack." Confucius calls this "rectifying the names" -- or calling a spade a spade. That would be a good start.

In Sacramento, please persuade D's in Sacramento County to at least put up a candidate to oppose Cruella, I mean Sue Frost, a woman whose motto is "The Beatings will continue until morale improves." She's a very talented dissembler who fools people into believing she's not a sadist, but I'd bet someone could rip off that mask. She just voted for a $450 million expansion of the County Jail. Meanwhile, Denver issued housing vouchers to its homeless and cut their arrests by 40%. We're thugs even to our own people.

Incidentally, if you want the most succinct explanation of the distinction between R's and D's, I'd recommend this. It's on my blog where you'll find more such information.

Best of luck,

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

The State of American Health

 Hey! It's for profit, so everything must be working as designed!

Way too true: the politics of identity is not a good way to formulate public policy

  The political markers and positions with which people self-identify become meaningless if the most politically meaningful act is the act o...