The World Economy Has Embraced Conservatism

Low Tide Driftwood wallpaper, sunset, beach

Low Tide Driftwood wallpaper

 

The world’s economy is becoming conservative/libertarian, The World’s Richest 8% Earn Half of All Planetary Income

Wealth-inequality is always far higher than income-inequality, and therefore a reasonable estimate of personal wealth throughout the world would probably be somewhere on the order of the wealthiest 1% of people owning roughly half of all personal assets. These individuals might be considered the current aristocracy, insofar as their economic clout is about equal to that of all of the remaining 99% of the world’s population.

Milanovich says: “Among the global top 1 per cent, we find the richest 12 per cent of Americans, … and between 3 and 6 per cent of the richest Britons, Japanese, Germans and French. It is a ‘club’ that is still overwhelmingly composed of the ‘old rich’,” who pass on to their children (tax-free in the many countries that have no estate-taxes) the fortunes that they have accumulated, and who help set them up in businesses of their own – often after having sent them first to the most prestigious universities (many in the United States), where those children meet and make friends of others who are similarly situated as themselves.

Framing be a large part of our economic problems, or at least discussion them, i wish they had not used the word “earn.” Once someone has earned or otherwise accumulated some wealth, work is not a big part of the picture. Wealth erans interests. Despite what the working class hears on the news, some people are raking in plenty of cash. They do that with safe to moderately risky investments in bonds, treasury bills, mutual funds. Though those are the immediate sources of income, tracing the river of money back to its source will find a worker making something or providing a service – performing some kind of actual labor. Labor that is rewarded based on merit. The combined labor of millions of people creates enormous wealth for the few. Who decided that what the CEOs, bankers and hedge fund mangers do, constitute such rare and valuable skills and services that they must be rewarded with the income thousands of workers. If capital is the cake, why are workers getting  a smaller and smaller slice of that cake. Did the market really decide that, as conservatives and libertarians insist. Or did those who control the levers of power, absent any counter balance from workers, like strong unions, decide that they could get away with vastly over rewarding themselves and get away with it. This is whatever – a plutocratic economic system, a crony corporate economic system, economic corruption that has become the new normal – it is not merit based capitalism. This s the reality of a kind of world governance. Compared to the twisted misdirection of Fox news and Glenn Beck’s bizarro  U.N.’s Agenda 2, in which the U.N. will supersede U.S. sovereignty. Well the for’ners and international banking already have more say in U.S. legislation than the average red state conservative voter. And any attempts by people like Sen. Warren (D-MA) to reign in some of this power, are derided by conservatives as interference with their freedom.

NMMNB and The Atlantic on Rand Paul (R-KY) and peddling snake-oil to the true believers, WHEN THE GOING GETS PARANOID, THE PARANOID TURN PRO 

The Atlantic’s Philip Bump notes that Rand Paul got big laughs in a recent speech joking about the large number of diagnostic codes that will be used under Obamacare. It won’t shock you to learn that there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the new codes, but this is the right doing what it does best — killing good ideas it doesn’t like by making them seem ridiculous to the rubes — and Senator Paul seems quite good at it:

An excerpt:

I’m a physician, and when you come in to see me, I put down a little diagnostic code and there was 18,000 of these. But under Obamacare, they’re going to keep you healthier, because now there’s going to be 140,000 codes. Included among these codes will be 312 new codes for injuries from animals. 72 new codes for injuries just from birds. Nine new codes for injuries from the macaw. The macaw? I’ve asked physicians all over the country: Have you ever seen an injury from the macaw?

Among other industries I have done some work with medical insurance data bases. They are an absolute necessity. The number of codes grows every year – based on hospital and doctor requirements. Steve explains the well grounded rationale for this at the link. What is funny, in a dark way, is that Paul thinks he is a physician. he seems to be gearing up for a presidential run. Good for him. Though this “I’m a physician” business is going to haunt him, Dr. Paul: Not board-certified, but self-certified

Libertarian ideology rejects most of the modern regulatory systems that protect consumers, because everyone should be responsible for determining whether the hamburger contains E. coli on his own. But does that do-it-yourself dogma apply to the regulation of medicine, too? If you’re Dr. Rand Paul, practicing ophthalmologist, the answer is emphatically yes.

According to an amusing story in today’s Louisville Courier-Journal, the Kentucky Republican Senate candidate bills himself as a “board-certified” physician even though he is not actually certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology — the only recognized body that certifies doctors in his specialty.

Paul’s only certification was provided instead by something called the National Board of Ophthalmology, which is very convenient because he operates that organization himself. As the Courier-Journal explains drily, the American Board of Ophthalmology, which maintains a fully staffed headquarters in Philadelphia, has existed for roughly a century and currently lists about 16,000 doctors on its rolls. (Most hospitals and insurance companies strongly prefer doctors who are board-certified because certification indicates that they have kept up with changes in technology, best practices and so on.) The National Board of Ophthalmology has existed since 1999, when Paul “founded” it, lists no more than seven doctors, and its address is a post-office box in Bowling Green, Ky. He had claimed to be certified by both boards, but Courier-Journal reporter Joseph Gerth quickly discovered that claim was false.

I’ve been reading this stuff from the libertarian and conservative fringe for years – we have too many certifications and boards, just let people practice Ophthalmology, heart surgery, airplane design, bridge building, whatever – without all this gov’mint red-tape. let the market decide. Once there are a few bad eye treatments or a few badly designed planes fall out of the sky, people will stop doing business with them, another triumph of the market. No doubt offering great solace to all the now blind people listening to their TV. The fringe, who are not great on fact checking or rational thought, get a kick out of Rand, just like they did his dad. You can take the clown out of the circus tent, but he’s still wearing clown shoes, and he likes it that way.

Towboat and Old Frigate wallpaper – Romney and Conservatives May Buy the Presidency But They Cannot Buy Legitimacy

Towboat and Old Frigate wallpaper

 

Is it possible for the most important article of the day to be dry and wonky at the same time. As economic news usually is, yes. President Obama was correct even though the media narrative has been written, America’s Hidden Austerity Program

There is some truth in this, but it is not the whole story. In fact, while the latest recession was particularly deep, the recovery in private-sector employment, once it finally started, has not been particularly slow by recent historical standards. In the 27 months since the start of the current employment recovery, the private sector has added 4.3 million jobs, fewer than the 5.0 million it added in the 27 months after February 1992 but not many fewer than the 4.5 million it added in the equivalent period after August 2003.

Red line shows drop in public sector employment
Red line equals very slow, but steady increase in private employment

Or to put it another way this report from TP done just this past May, America’s Corporations Made A Record $824 Billion Last Year, As Conservatives Claim Obama Is Anti-Business. So let’s go with the Obama Derangement Syndrome of the far Right and the National Review(National Review Clings To Fantasy That Obama Is A Secret Radical by pathological liar Stanley Kurtz). Either socialism has been an absolute boom to U.S. business or Obama’s super secret socialism is the kind that is so secret that no one has been affected by it. Conseervatives have been and continue to try and have it both ways. You can easily find two myths about President Obama spread by conservatives ( those people who claim to have values). One is that Obama is a socialist. The other is that his administration is packed with Wall Street executives. Why would or how could a socialist pack his administration with Wall Street insiders. His administration does have business ties. Former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, for instance, in a short stint out of politics, earned a reported $16.2 million working in investment banking for Wasserstein Perella. When Management and Budget Peter Orzsag resigned from his post he took a job at Citigroup. Secretary of veterans’ affairs and retired career military officer Eric Shinseki has experience serving on corporate boards. William Michael “Bill” Daley worked at Chicago’s Amalgamated Bank, later joining JPMorgan Chase, where he reportedly made about $5 million per year. Another adviser Valerie Jarrett, was in the real estate business. His administration has a variety of business people, hardcore wonks, nerds, special experts – you know exactly what one would expect in a modern presidential administration. Defense Secretary Gates, a Republican is a hold over from the Bush administration. These are hardly Che Guevara t-shirt wearing, fist pumping radicals. If Obama has hired Paul Krugman or former labor Secretary Robert Reich or Elizabeth Warren ( for a permanent position – she led the conception and establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) you could say this administration has some actual liberals in it, but by reasonable standards – not those of the National Review or conservative web sites, this is very much a centrist administration. Some people like Glenn Greenwald, some of the contributors at The Nation and various other pundits, think Obama is as far Right or even further Right on national security issues than Bush 43.

If discussions about the economy are discouraging. If you’re fed up with the media going along with how conservative frame the issues – like high taxes are the problem, rather than the real problem, lack of revenue. Think about Iraq. The majority of Americans now feel that was a big mistake. Conservatives and some weak spined Democrats gave us that expensive and immoral quagmire. Conservatives have given us the Iraq of economics with their austerity agenda, their anti-labor agenda, their anti-education agenda, their anti-health care agenda and their anti-women agenda. They know that time and demographics are against them. An economy for and by the plutocrats and oligarchs is not going to cut it with the middle-class or low-income workers. Why Elites Fail

Michels’s grim conclusion was that it was impossible for any party, no matter its belief system, to bring about democracy in practice. Oligarchy was inevitable. For any kind of institution with a democratic base to consolidate the legitimacy it needs to exist, it must have an organization that delegates tasks. The rank and file will not have the time, energy, wherewithal or inclination to participate in the many, often minute decisions necessary to keep the institution functioning. In fact, effectiveness, Michels argues convincingly, requires that these tasks be delegated to a small group of people with enough power to make decisions of consequence for the entire membership. Over time, this bureaucracy becomes a kind of permanent, full-time cadre of leadership. “Without wishing it,” Michels says, there grows up a great “gulf which divides the leaders from the masses.” The leaders now control the tools with which to manipulate the opinion of the masses and subvert the organization’s democratic process. “Thus the leaders, who were at first no more than the executive organs of the collective, will soon emancipate themselves from the mass and become independent of its control.”

The conservative base is white male high school graduates whose lives are not that great. The oligarchy which they gave power in the media ( right-wing radio, Fox) and their politicians tell them the reason things are not going well is because of the evil unions, various liberal conspiracies, affirmative action, not enough free trade, women getting uppity, immigrants – legal or illegal. They are finding out  – abet slowly – that the only people conservative care about are the greedy wealthy elite. Liberals believe in free trade, but we do not believe in having a nation that has almost all its electronics manufactured in Asia. What the heck happened to moderation and common sense. Cheap imported products can only make up so much for the loss of millions of jobs.

But this ideal, appealing as it may be, runs up against the reality of what I’ll call the Iron Law of Meritocracy. The Iron Law of Meritocracy states that eventually the inequality produced by a meritocratic system will grow large enough to subvert the mechanisms of mobility. Unequal outcomes make equal opportunity impossible. The Principle of Difference will come to overwhelm the Principle of Mobility. Those who are able to climb up the ladder will find ways to pull it up after them, or to selectively lower it down to allow their friends, allies and kin to scramble up. In other words: “Who says meritocracy says oligarchy.”

Consider, for example, the next “meritocracy” that graduates of Hunter encounter. American universities are the central institution of the modern meritocracy, and yet, as Daniel Golden documents in his devastating book The Price of Admission, atop the ostensibly meritocratic architecture of SATs and high school grades is built an entire tower of preference and subsidy for the privileged…

Conservatives do not believe in the real merit system. Their hostility to any kind of student loan or grants programs is one glaring example. When President Obama made a speech about government having a role in creating opportunities for people to move up the economic ladder – based on their work and their merit – Romney replied that he achieved success on his own – government should not have a role in even creating an opportunity (social Darwinism). How bizarre for someone to start off way ahead in life, belonging to a famous and wealthy family – claiming he, like some poor entrepreneur of legend – working out of a garage – walked out into the world and clawed his way to the top. He was a silver spoon baby who thinks he deserves what he got just because of who he is – talk about identity politics. Romney did not create anything, he exploited and fed off the work and creations of others – what conservatives call meritocracy. Vampire capitalism as pure virtue. The deeply immoral becomes the new improved formula with more bleaching power, Republican morality. We’re not talking about politics but the delusions of fanatics. Its like some obnoxious guy from high school who went weeks without a bath, who thinks everyone else is weird. The driver who rear-ends your car and says it is your fault for stopping at a red light. Or the kings who said they were doing the peasants a favor by letting them work their land and live in poverty. Romney almost has enough money on his own to pull a Scott Walker(R-WI) and buy this election. But Mittens will not have to spend his fortune, he has plenty of wealthy friends with even less of a conscience than Mitt, to help – In The World of Shadowy PAC Campaign Cash, Mitt Romney Rules

The group, Restore Our Future, capitalized on Romney’s support to raise $57 million by the end of April and has become one of the most powerful forces in the race for the White House – the financial engine behind the fusillade of broadcast ads, most of them harshly negative, that felled his GOP challengers one by one.

[  ]….But others view the matter more skeptically. A public interest group, Democracy 21, recently asked the Justice Department to investigate what it called “illegal coordination’’ between Romney’s campaign and Restore our Future.

[  ]….The story of Restore Our Future provides a unique window into this still-evolving world. It is the story of several former Romney aides who were frustrated by the way he lost his 2008 campaign and had an epiphany about how to win in 2012.

For the aides, the issue in 2008 was Romney’s refusal to run a very tough ad in Iowa against Mike Huckabee – a decision they believe contributed to Romney’s defeat. Huckabee had an independent group behind him, a group that spent $1 million blasting Romney’s flip-flop on abortion.

Romney had no similar support, and he wasn’t prepared to run the ad that attacked Huckabee for supporting, as Arkansas governor, a parole board’s decision to release a rapist who went on to rape and murder a woman.

Thus was planted the idea for what eventually became Restore Our Future – an independent committee that would not hesitate, and would have the means, to vigorously attack Romney’s opponents. Among the founders of Restore our Future was Larry McCarthy, who worked on some of Romney’s ads for the 2008 campaign and knew, as well as anyone could, what a well-targeted negative ad can do. McCarthy had created the infamous “Willie Horton’’ ad in 1988 for an independent group called Americans for Bush.

I would not count on that investigation going anywhere. The line between what constitutes campaigning for a candidate and attacking someone on an issue – using variations of Romney speech themes for example – is so blurred that is why Beltway lawyers live in McCMansions.