Sunday, 24 September 2017 - 6:12pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sun, 24/09/2017 - 6:12pm in

This week, I have been mostly reading:

  • No, the “grown-ups” won’t save us: A favorite Beltway fantasy bites the dust again — Heather Digby Parton in Salon: One would have thought Americans had learned their lesson after having lived through the disaster of the George W. Bush years. But 16 years later the Republican Party served up another unqualified, ill-equipped nominee, and he, too, became president without winning the most votes. Once again the establishment tried to reassure the public that he would be held in check by the vice president and the respectable appointees: Gen. Jim Mattis at the Pentagon, Gen. John Kelly at Homeland Security and — after the first choice was fired — Gen. H.R. McMaster as national security adviser. Since the military is the only institution left in America that maintains even the slightest respect among the public, this seemed like a good idea. These men had commanded legions; surely they could control the likes of President Donald Trump.
  • Intellectual Property Is Real Money — Dean Baker in Jacobin: The idea of imposing a 20 percent tariff on imported shoes or steel would send any mainstream economist into a frenzy. They all know how tariffs distort the market, leading to waste and corruption. But when it comes to patents and copyrights, the difference we are talking about — between the protected price and the “free market price” — is ten or even a hundred times higher than it would be otherwise.
  • Are Students a Class? — Michael Hudson: In view of the fact that a college education is a precondition for joining the working class (except for billionaire dropouts), the middle class is a debtor class – so deep in debt that once they manage to get a job, they have no leeway to go on strike, much less to protest against bad working conditions. This is what Alan Greenspan described as the “traumatized worker effect” of debt. Do students think about their future in these terms? How do they think of their place in the world?
  • Monopoly has a Magic Money Tree, just like the real world — Richard Murphy on a point previously made by Stephanie Kelton: Monopoly reflects real life perfectly: the central bank can never run out of money. If it does, it can just create some more.
  • #1317; In which an Adult has Fantasies — Wondermark, by David Malki !:
  • Slow Crash — Andrew Cockburn interviews Michael Hudson in Harper's: Wall Street’s investment banks and bondholders were rescued, not the economy. The debts were left in place, and continue to grow not only by compound interest but by arrears and penalties compounding. The proportion of national income paid as interest, insurance fees and economic rent is rising faster than the economy is growing. Banks lend mainly to other financial institutions. They don’t lend to factories that are creating jobs. They don’t lend out for goods and services. They lend to other financial institutions. The whole economy has turned into trying to make money on speculation and arbitrage, not on producing goods and services, not on hiring people to actually do work. The economy therefore is very fragile.