class warfare

There Are No Good Billionaires (Bill Gates edition)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 08/11/2019 - 5:18am in

So, Elizabeth Warren has a 2% wealth tax plan with 3% on people with more than a billion dollars. She’s suggested raising the over a billion percentage to 6%… And Bill Gates says….

I’m all for super-progressive tax systems,” he said. “I’ve paid over $10 billion in taxes. I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes. If I had to pay $20 billion, it’s fine.

“But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over,” he added. “You really want the incentive system to be there without threatening that.”

Mr Gates is the second-richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine, with a net worth of $106.2bn.

Well, of course, she didn’t say that, she said 6%. A little over 6 billion in the first year. Bill’s 64, and of course, the actual nominal amount will decrease each year unless he can grow his money faster than 6%, in which case, what’s the problem?


Elizabeth Warren

He’ll never ever be anything less than a multi-billionaire, in other words. His bullshit about 100 billion is just that, fearmongering bullshit.

And if he’s paid 10 billion on 106 billion, well his tax rate was about 10%. Most middle class families would love to have that low a tax rate (yes, I know it’s on income, not wealth, but the point is he obviously paid very low income taxes. Which, actually, is what the data shows – the middle and working classes pay a higher percentage than the rich.)

Bill, of course, is the “good” billionaire. But he’s the guy who gave straight up fascist Modi a reward. He’s the guy who spent millions to change the education system in the US, then admitted that the model he successfully pushed doesn’t actually work. He’s the guy who used brutal monopolistic practices to build Microsoft.

And he doesn’t want to pay a 6% wealth tax that will be used to provide universal healthcare.

Billionaires are bad, and as an even more radical and willing to take on billionaires candidate, Bernie Sanders said, they shouldn’t even exist.

As for Billy, he thinks he deserves to be one of the richest people in the world because he created the Wintel monopoly and crushed rivals with practices which were, under black letter law, illegal.

But one can understand why he might prefer a Republican president. After all, it was George Bush Jr. who withdrew the anti-trust suit which would have broken up Microsoft and left him worth a lot less than a 106 billion dollars.

Trump, of course, massively dropped tax rates on the rich.

Money comes first, ethics come second. Bill’s always understood that.

Republicans have been pretty good to Bill. Woke performism and his good image aren’t worth a 6% wealth tax. As for people without healthcare. better they die than he pay taxes which would leave him a multi-billionaire for the rest of his life.

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Is California a Third World State?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/11/2019 - 3:58am in

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class warfare

So, there are fires again in California and it turns out the largest fire was caused by a downed PG&E power wire–despite the fact that PG&E cut power from vast swathes of the state to try and make sure that didn’t happen.

What’s hilarious about this is that PG&E has, ummm, a record:

As early as 1990, years before worsening drought and higher temperatures began pushing wildfire season into apocalyptic overdrive, PG&E was facing criminal charges for failing to trim the trees growing alongside its power lines as required by state law. In 1997, the utility was convicted of no fewer than 739 counts of criminal negligence for a fire that burned 500 acres and leveled 12 homes in the High Sierra town of Rough and Ready. State regulators later charged PG&E with more than 500,000instances, between 1994 and 1998, of failing to trim trees near their electric lines. (my emphasis)

This is mind-boggling. The sheer fucking incompetence, venality, and stupidity of both the government and PG&E. Half a million times they were fined, so obviously the fines weren’t working; PG& simply viewed them as part of the cost of doing business. This was going on in the 90s and the government DID NOTHING.

You have two acceptable choices in this case: You either nationalize the utility, or you change the law from requiring the imposition of fines to require criminal sentences for executives and board members (and probably anyone earning more than X dollars, so they don’t try and silo people from criminal penalties).

As with bankers, where the fines for widespread fraud (including stealing people’s houses by falsely signing documents), were far less than the gain, PG&E had no reason to stop.

This was especially exacerbated by an ideological choice: The decision that the only responsibility corporations had was to their shareholders, and not to anyone else. (This choice also wound up enriching executives far more than shareholders.)

Corporations are bundles of vastly valuable rights, the most important of which is that shareholders and executives are largely insulated from both bankruptcy and the law. In every case, it should be necessary for a corporation to make clear what the public gets in return for granting these rights.

But in the case of PG&E, only a moron would think that the proper solution is anything other than nationalization. Utilities are, in fact, natural monopolies.

But more to the point, they are critical infrastructure. How can California, the home of Silicon Valley, be so fucking incompetent as to have power outs because they aren’t doing basic maintenance? This is third world shit. This is Nigeria. This is pathetic.

In any actually functional society, this shit would get sorted out ASAP and heads would roll, metaphorically or literally.

Instead, we have California governor Gavin Newsom whining about how he’d like Warren Buffet to buy PG&E. Pathetic doesn’t cut it. He’s the governor of a state with an economy larger than most countries. Take it over and sort it out.

Frankly, this is the sort of incompetence that ought to have him thrown out of office, if he isn’t lynched–along with PG&E’s executives. But Americans have become the sort of people who just take abuse by their “betters” lying down, so I’m sure everyone involved will stay rich and important and live in a house with backup generators.

Pathetic.

(Note that this is categorized under “class warfare.” And yes, I know some rich people are getting hit too. Maybe they should realize they aren’t /that/ rich.)

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Modern Meritocracy Isn’t Worth Having

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/09/2019 - 6:03am in

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class warfare

Meritocracy is the simple argument that the best person for the job should do it and that our system tends to put the best person for a job in the position.

Some jobs are more important than others, and should be paid more as a result, both to get the best person to do it, and because the best person will contribute more.

The problem with these arguments is simple: It ain’t so.

The best paid people in our economy, generally speaking, are those in the financial industry: bankers, shadow bankers, brokers and so on.

They caused a world economic crisis with their venal and idiotic behaviour in the 2000s. They currently can’t find enough good things to do with all the money they control, so interest rates are moving negative.

They are manifestly incompetent at their jobs–if the job is to do anything but enrich themselves. They cannot be the best people for the job, because they would all be out of the job if governments hadn’t bailed them out, and indeed most of them would probably be in jail if the law had been enforced.

They are paid better than those who managed the financial industry in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, who manifestly created a better economy, including higher growth rates.

Paying them more, then, has been correlated with them doing a worse job at everything except making themselves richer, and they only even managed that by corrupting the government to bail them out of their mistakes, and with endless government support, with Greenspan, Bernanke, Yellen, and so on endlessly doing whatever was necessary to keep financial markets growing in size. (The Greenspan Put.)

Studies, meanwhile, have found that the higher a CEO’s pay, the worse their company performs.

It seems that perhaps the best paid people in the world aren’t the most meritorious, except by the rules of jungle. If one wants to argue that you “eat what you kill” as Wall Street does, then all merit constitutes is the ability get a lot of money.

Merit = money is the actually state of meritocracy in the world today. Oh, there are exceptions, you can say “surgeons” or something, but they aren’t the best paid people in the world, are they?

Meanwhile, as I like to point out, if the janitor doesn’t show up, people get really, really upset, while if the CEO takes a week off most people won’t notice or care.

Seems people really, really don’t like cleaning toilets, but doing so is really, really important, and we don’t pay, errr, shit for doing it.

But, you cry, “Ian, any idiot can clean a toilet.”

Well, I’m not so sure about that, but what is true is that most janitors are competent at their jobs and most banking executives are good only at making themselves rich. They are net drain on society, massively, while janitors provide real value and are able to do their jobs.

Teachers, nurses, garbage men, civil engineers, construction workers, etc, etc., all do things that matter. When they don’t do them or do them badly, we’re fucked.

Bankers do something that matters, too. The problem is that we clearly pick completely incompetent or corrupt bozos to do the job, who then pretend they are the best of the best, destroy the economy and the environment, and reward themselves with money that would make 19th century robber barons blush.

Meritocracy is a wonderful idea. We all want the best person for each job to be doing the job, or at least, someone who is competent at the job doing the job.

But that’s not what we have. What we have is a Kakistocracy: A society run by the worst, most corrupt people. Bush, Obama, and Trump weren’t the best at running society, they were just the people best at getting into office. The people running Wall Street aren’t the best at allocating money for social benefit, or even for creating the largest actual economy, they’re just the people who fought their way to top and then appropriated the largest share of money for themselves while shattering the world economy.

They are the best only at seizing positions of power, which give them access to money. That is all.

If meritocracy is just, “The more money you have, the more you deserve to have more money,” which it is at the moment, it’s nothing worth having.

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The Cruelty and Stupidity of Trumpian Homelessness Rhetoric

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 19/09/2019 - 2:08am in

From a study by his officials:

In the report, “The State of Homelessness in America,” even shelters get some of the blame for increasing the number of people who are homeless. The argument: Some people would be able to find their own housing if they were turned away from shelters.

“While shelters play an extremely important role in bringing some people off the streets, it also brings in people who would otherwise be housed, thus increasing total homelessness,” the report states.

So tiresomely stupid. Shelters are shitholes, and unsafe, and most people hate them. Many homeless people refuse to sleep in them, and even die of exposure. They are simply too dangerous.

Or:

homelessness could be dramatically reduced by slashing restrictions on housing construction and being less tolerant of people sleeping on the streets.

In which case, more condos which poor people couldn’t afford would be built. Developers don’t want to build for poor people in “world cities,” it’s just that simple. It’s a market failure, and there are solutions; simply slashing regulations won’t do it as the current market preference is for expensive homes and apartments.

As for being less tolerant of people sleeping on the street: What? These fucktards think more than a tiny minority of the homeless want to sleep on the street? It’s a positive choice they make?

The sheer stupidity and blind ideological thinking is tiresome.

As study after study has shown there are two ways to get the homeless housed: Give them money or give them homes. For those with the most mental and physical problems, some social assistance is also needed. But if you want people housed, house them.

That requires housing which they can afford (or the government can afford) to pay for for them. That doesn’t mean luxury condos.

This isn’t rocket science. It’s been studied repeatedly. We know what works. The question, as always, is whether we care enough to bother.

I mean, rich people need more tax cuts and subsidies. You can have that or take care of poor people.

That’s the choice, and Trump is on the wrong side of it.

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Why Labour Unions Matter(ed)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 03/09/2019 - 6:59am in

Since it’s coming up on Labour Day weekend here in Canada, I thought I’d write a basic post on labour unions.

There’s been a vast effort, funded by huge amounts of money, to discredit unions and say they’re bad for workers.

That’s simple nonsense, but as with things like climate change denial, nonsense backed with billions of dollars is effective.

So, let’s run through the simple logic.

When we negotiate to get a job, or for a raise, in almost all cases we are negotiating with a group–the people who control a company, who are more powerful than us. They have more money (d’uh), and we need the job more than they need us. There are exceptions, of course, and it’s a lovely position to be in, but the number of exceptions is minute in a job-based economy like ours.

Corporations hire workers to do something which, combined with the effort of other workers, will make money.

The amount of money they make from a worker is “what the worker produces,” or “what the worker is paid.”

In other words, a corporation wants to make as much money as possible from your work, while paying you as little as possible, because that is their profit: That’s what they make.

You want the opposite.

This is a straight up conflict of interest. There can be a compromise which satisfies both, but really, the group hiring you wants you to make as little as possible so they can make as much as possible.

And they are more powerful than you. Also, you need the job, more than they need you. Without a job, you will be homeless and probably die; without any individual worker, they can usually just hire someone else.

So there is an imbalance of both power and consequences: Your BATNA (Best Alternative To A Negotiated Agreement) is often shit.

Now, it isn’t always shit. In a really tight economy, which most western countries haven’t had since the early 70s, you can just get another job. There are less workers than jobs. But that hasn’t been the case for a long time–except for brief periods in specific locations or jobs, for decades. Where it is the case, companies work to change that, as fast as possible because they don’t want you to have alternatives.

This stuff is important for people who are not in management (which, in the old days, included bottom-level supervisors.) It is unimportant to senior executives, who are usually the people really running the company, and who are in effect negotiating with themselves for compensation. You’ll notice that they reward themselves well.

So, people who don’t control the company, and who are easily replaceable (again, most of us, despite many people’s over-inflated sense of self-worth), need to group up in order to have power. One person, or a few, are easy to replace.

If every line worker walks off the job and then pickets to prevent any other workers (scabs) coming in, the power equation changes.

Because most of us don’t study history, we have forgotten what unions won. At the start of the industrial revolution, people worked 12 hour days, 6 1/2 days a week. The jobs were dangerous, with maiming common, and badly paid. Peasants resisted being thrown off the land because being a feudal tenant with rights to the commons was vastly better than going to a city and working in a factory job (or even most clerk jobs). You worked less, controlled your own work, were less likely to be maimed and had a ton more days off.

It took over a century to turn jobs into what they are now, with the 40 hour week, a lot less maimings, and so on.

Corporations are groups. When they negotiate against an individual they have an advantage.

Corporations almost always have more resources and power than any individual or small group with whom they are negotiating over a job. If you were richer, or more powerful than them, you probably wouldn’t be going to them for a line job.

So what corporations want is to negotiate as a group, with more money and power, against individuals.

Only a complete bloody moron would find it either smart or fair for workers to acquiesce to this. It is not in their interests. The people who control corporations (not own, control) want to make the most money possible, so do workers.

Corporate officers, notoriously ruthless, understand this. Workers should too.

As for those not in a union, and jealous: Unions raise the wages of workers around them. Plus, get in a union if you can.

Don’t be a bloody sucker. Corporations hate unions because when unions are effective, they make less money and workers make more. That is all.

And if you want to know why workers keep having shittier and shittier lives in the US, well, here’s a lovely chart for you.

Strikes involving more than 1,000 workers

Strikes involving more than 1,000 workers

Support unions. Unless you’re a greedy, asshole boss, who thinks CEOs should earn 300x more than workers, in which case, rot in Hell.

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What Negative Interest Rates Mean and What We Should Do

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/08/2019 - 6:57am in

Alright, so Germany has now introduced a zero interest bond. That means, given inflation, people will get back less effective money than they started with.

At this point, outside the US, the average interest rate is negative.

As Stoller pointed out, that means that people with money can’t figure out anything productive to do with it which will make a profit.

That means that capitalists and banks, including central banks, have failed. It is their function, in a capitalist society, to allocate resources. Money represents resources: people, stuff, and land.

Now if we lived in a utopia, with no real problems, this would make sense, but we don’t. There are tons of real problems which need solving, lots of money floating around, and other capacity indicators show there are people and resources which are not being used, or which could be redeployed.

So capitalism is failing to do what it’s supposed to do, and so are capitalists.

The correct action in a situation like this is to get that money working. The government could borrow it massively, and do what needs to be done. It could (and I would suggest this is the better option) tax it away, and then spend it.

If capitalists absolutely insist on private enterprise doing the work, then they should massively raise taxes on any income or capital gains not used productively, and not count less productive things like loans–they should stipulate that the money must be invested into business activity. They should make stock option grants, stock buy-backs, and all similar activities intended to allow cash-outs impossible. They should get rid of private equity; just make it illegal. Almost all of its activity destroys viable business to create a pay day for a few people.

Heck, you should do away with all those things anyway.

People are very confused about profit. Profit is mostly socially constructed. It is not an independent variable. Taxes, laws, and regulations determine what is profitable and what isn’t. Billions of subsidies, tax breaks, and favorable land deals make extraction industries profitable, for example. Banks get to print money. Media companies like Disney rely on characters and ideas which, in the past, they would long have lost control over. Companies are allowed to pollute for free, to use vast amounts of water for nominal prices, and so on.

Meanwhile, a vast array of regulations and nickel and dime costs makes it impossible for small business to compete. Try starting a bank. Yeah, good luck with that.

This, too, is by design. Before Reagan, regulations were set up to make small businesses easier to start and keep running.

The point is that if investors can’t find anything in which to invest, government has failed to tweak profits correctly. You shouldn’t get rich in land speculation unless you’re building stuff that should be built. You should get rich in alternative energy, but mostly you don’t. You should get rich in making homes that are healthy and energy neutral, but instead we keep building unhealthy and environmentally-degrading housing.

You should make money rebuilding infrastructure, or building high speed trains, or reducing carbon, or reforesting, or making fish and phytoplankton stocks recover.

Yet, you don’t, so these things which need to be done in order to, like, avoid a few billion deaths, don’t get done.

That’s government failure.

Capitalism does not work without effective government control, if it is the dominant economic mode in a society.

So. We have lots of stuff that needs to be done. We have lots of resources and money which aren’t doing those things and, indeed, resources and money which apparently can’t find anything to do

Only a moron can’t look at those facts and know what to do.

Oh, and the 2008/9 bailouts made this situation far, far worse than it should have been. This endless printing of money is only to keep the useless rich afloat when they serve no useful, productive function. They are actually counterproductive, as they are actively stopping productive activity from happening.

Tax them. Stop propping them up and let incompetents die. Destroy, utterly, those members of the ruling class who are actively destructive, like Private Equity. Alter the rules so that productive activity is profitable, and while you’re doing all that, just have governments do the most important stuff themselves, with negative real interest rate loans.

None of this isn’t obvious to anyone who pays any attention.

Yet we don’t do it, because governments have been captured by failed rich people.

Normal. But not acceptable when the cost of inaction could be billions of dead people.

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The Problem With Neoliberal “It’s Never Been Better” Triumphalism

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 15/07/2019 - 6:00pm in

Saying that humanity is currently the best off it has ever been (a dubious proposition in any case) is like saying “I’ve never been warmer” as you burn down your house.

Globe on FirePeople like Pinker have been trotting out stats to claim that we’ve never been better off. Those stats are questionable, based on a definition of  poverty that is beyond questionable. Meanwhile, in India, people eat less calories than they did 30 years ago. (I traveled in India and lived in Bangladesh 30 years or so ago. Eating less calories is unimaginably bad. That a small middle class and a new wealthy class has been created means little to those eating… less.)

But let’s wave that all aside. Let’s posit that human life is the best it’s ever been.

Meanwhile, in India, people are dying in 50 degree C weather. France had a massive heatwave. Indian farmers are committing suicide in droves, in large part because of issues with ground water.

Extreme weather is getting worse, the permafrost is melting 70 years ahead of the consensus forecast and so on. Ecologically fish stocks are collapsing, the Amazon is being chopped down at a ferocious rate, more than one study has found collapses of insect populations of 80% or so, and others have noticed that without insects  you don’t have birds and so on and so forth.

Blah, blah, blah.

Not only is no human an island, but humanity lives among other species and they make our lives possible in ways we are barely aware of. Most oxygen in the world, for example, is produced by small ocean organisms, organisms which could have a mass die off.

Sigh.

So let us say that this is the bestest of best worlds, a Panglossian paradise.

Present prosperity is being paid for with future poverty; future mass death, and a non-trivial risk of human extinction. As for non-human species, they are already dying at a rate which will show up as the fastest mass extinction in Earth’s existence.

This is only a good bet if you are sure that  you’re going to die before the bill came due. That was a good bet for the GI Generation. A decent bet for the Silents and not a bad bet for about the first half of the Boomers. It’s a bad bet for everyone afterwards who expects to live to 70 or 80 or so (a normal human lifespan in most developed countries.)

And, of course, it’s a bad bet if you actually, y’know, care about your children, or other people’s children or the future of humanity when you’re gone. (Gonna be a shitty place to reincarnate too, if reincarnation exists.)

Now let’s bring this back to neoliberal “greatest time to be alive” triumphalism.

The sub voce message there is “we don’t need to change, everything’s fine and getting better.”

But, if we’re living not just unsustainably, but in a way that will call Biblical level catastrophe within the lives of most people now alive and their children, perhaps we do need to change, and radically.

So this sort of triumphalism, even if it were true, would be a disservice to not just humanity, but life on Earth.

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Why the Economy Is Bad for Most People and How To Make It Better

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 11/06/2019 - 2:57am in

This is the second collation of articles on why our world is what it is, and how we can change it. Some of these articles are old, as I don’t write as much as I used to about economics because the decision points for avoiding a completely lousy economy are now in the past. The last decision points were passed by when Barack Obama announced his economics team and refused to try and get rid of or bypass Bernanke to enforce decent policy on the Federal Reserve.

However, this economy was decades in the making, and if we do not understand how it happened we will only wind up in a good economy through accident, and, having obtained a good economy, will not be able to keep it. These articles aren’t exhaustive; a better list would include almost five centuries of economic history, at least in summary, and certainly deal with the 19th century and early 20th centuries.

I was heartened that hundreds of people read the articles linked in my compendium on ideology and character so I dare hope that you will, again, read these pieces. If you do, you will walk away vastly better informed than almost anyone you know, including most formal economists, about why the economy is as it is.

The Decline and Fall of Post-War Liberalism

Pundits today natter on and on about income inequality, but the fundamental cause of income inequality is almost always determined by how society distributes power. As power goes, so goes income–and wealth. The last period of broad-based equality was the “Liberal Period,” which started with the Great Depression. You can locate the end of that era at various points from 1968 to 1980, but 1980 was the point where turning back became vastly difficult. This was the moment when a new political order was born: An order conceived to crush those who were willing and able to fight effectively for their share of income and money.

(I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write this year. If you value my writing and want more of it, please consider donating.)

Why Elites Have Pushed “Free Trade”

Those who are middle-aged or beyond remember the relentless march of free trade agreements, the creation of the WTO, and the endless drumbeat of propaganda about how FREE trade was wonderful, inevitable, and going to make us all rich. It didn’t, and it was never intended to. Understanding fully why it only enriched a few requires understanding the circumstances required for free trade to work, the incentives for free trade, and the power dynamics which make free trade perfect for elites who want to become rich (often by destroying the prosperity of their own countries). Free trade is about power, and power is about who gets how much.

The Isolation of Elites and the Madness of the Crowd

All societies change and face new challenges. What matters is how they deal with new circumstances. The US, in specific, and most of the developed world, in general, is in decline because of simple broken feedback loops. Put simply, ordinary people live in a world of propaganda and lies, while the rich and the powerful live in a bubble, isolated from the consequences their decisions have on the majority of the population, or on the future.

The Bailouts Caused the Lousy “Recovery”

This may be the hardest thing to explain to anyone with a connection to power or money: The bailouts are WHY the world has a lousy economy, not why it isn’t even worse. If people cannot understand why this is so, if they cannot understand that other options were, and are, available, other than making the people who destroyed the world economy even richer and more powerful, we will never see a good economy, ever again.

(I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write this year. If you value my writing and want more of it, please consider donating.)

The Rapid Destruction of Countries

You may have noticed, you probably have noticed, that most countries are becoming basketcases faster and faster. Some are destroyed by war and revolution, others by forced austerity. However it happens, the end of anything resembling a good economy through austerity in places like Greece, the Ukraine, Italy, or Ireland, or through war, in places like Lybia and Syria, is sure. Understand this: What is done to those countries, is being done to yours if you live in the developed world, just at a slower pace–and one day, you, too, will be more valuable dead than alive.

Why Countries Can’t Resist Austerity

Many of you will realize that much of the answer to this is related to the article on free trade. Weakness, national weakness, is built into the world economic system, and done so deliberately. The austerity of the past six years is simply the deliberate impoverishment of ordinary people, for the profit of elites, on steroids. But it is worth examining, in detail, why countries can’t or won’t stop it, and what is required for a country to be able to do so.

Why Public Opinion Doesn’t Matter

We live in the remnants of a mass society, but we aren’t in one any more (though we think we are). In a mass-mobilization society with relatively evenly distributed wealth and income, and something approaching competitive markets, public opinion mattered. If it was not King, well, it was at least a Duke. Today it matters only at the margins, on decisions where the elites do not have consensus. Understand this, and understand why, or all your efforts to resist will be for nothing.

The Golden Rule

Money, my friends, is Permission, as Stirling Newberry once explained to me. It is how we determine who gets to do what. He who can create money, rules. This is more subtle than it seems, so read and weep.

It’s Not How Much Money, It’s Who We Give It to and Why

We have almost no significant problems in the world today which we could either not have fixed had we acted soon enough, or that we could not fix or mitigate today, were we to act. We don’t act because we misallocate, on a scale which would put Pyramid-building Pharoahs to shame, our social efforts.

Higher Profits Produce a Worse Society

No one ever told you that, I’m sure. Read and learn.

The Fall of the USSR

The USSR fell in large part because of constant and radical misallocation of resources. This misallocation occurred because those running the economy did not receive accurate feedback. Despite the triumphal cries of the West and the managerial class who pretend to be capitalists, a version of this exact problem is at the root of our current decline, and it would serve us well to understand how and why the USSR fell.

What Privatization Does

Of all the ideological bugaboos of our current age, one of the strongest is the idea that private enterprise is always more efficient and better. It’s not, but that belief is a very profitable to our elites, and understanding how the engine of privatization works is essential to understanding both our current economic collapse and how the fakely-bright economies of the neoliberal era–especially the early neoliberal period of Thatcher and Reagan–were generated.

What Prosperity Is and Isn’t

It is, perhaps, odd to put this article so far down the list, but it’s wonky and important and not very dramatic. Simply enough, what we define as prosperity is not prosperity, which is why we are sick, fat, and unhappy with rates of depression and mental illness and chronic disease which dwarf those of our forbears despite having so much more stuff. Fix everything else, but if we insist on continuing to produce that which makes us sick and unhappy, what we have will not be what we need or want, nor will it be, truly, prosperity worth having.

The Four Principles of Prosperity

Prosperity, at its heart, is an ethical phenomenon, as much as it is anything else. Without the right ethics, the right spirit, it will not last, nor be widespread. If we want a lasting prosperity, which is actually good for us, we will start by reforming our public ethics.

How to Create a Good Internet Economy

The internet is wonderful, but despite all the cries of “Progress, progress!” it has mostly made a few people rich, created a prosperous class of software engineers who often lose their jobs in their 50s, and simultaneously overseen the decline of the prosperity for most people in the developed world. It has not produced the prosperity we hoped it would. Here’s why and how to fix it.

Concluding Remarks

The above is so far from comprehensive as to make me cry, but it’s a start. I do hope that you will read it and come away with a far better idea of why the economy sucks for most people, and a clearer understanding of the fact that it is intended to suck, why it is intended to suck, and how the old, better economy was lost.

(Author’s Note: This was originally published October 6, 2014. I’m putting it back up top, as I have gained many new readers since then.)

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