Social policy

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Coronavirus Economic Distress Hitting Indebted Professionals

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/09/2020 - 3:19pm in

Coronavirus damage is working its way up the economic food chain and is now hitting professionals in a meaninful way.

Lysenko Comes to the CDC: Exploring the Relationship Between Science and Politics

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 13/09/2020 - 8:29am in

The specter of Lysenko is haunting the CDC and the entire Trump administration, revealing that the perversion of science is as likely in a capitalist democracy as it is in a Stalinist state, and always with dire consequences.

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The post Lysenko Comes to the CDC: Exploring the Relationship Between Science and Politics appeared first on New Politics.

America’s Dire Inequality Demands a New Conceptual Framework. This Economist Has One.

Lance Taylor explains that wage repression — far more than monopoly power, offshoring or technological change — is driving rising inequality.

How US Consumers Use Their Stimulus Payments

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 6:42pm in

Contrary to right wing beliefs, giving citizens stimulus payments didn't lead them to loaf.

The descent into Darkness of the UK and Victoria. Quo Vadis?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/09/2020 - 3:39am in

[Bottom line: the conflicting forces now being created in the UK and Australia are truly frightening.]

The UK government has just announced a nationwide return of one of the most destructive elements of lock downs: mandatory social isolation. Gatherings of more than 6 people are banned from next week onwards, not just outdoors but also in private homes. So no family X-mas, the one social outing the locked-away elderly had to look forward to. Also no outdoor raves, no dance events, no normal student life, no fun. An extreme form of puritanism is now with us in the UK, even with advice on how to take the fun out of casual sex: we are told to keep a mask on at all times!

The state of Victoria in Australia, which has almost an identical bureaucratic system to that in the UK, has had even worse restrictions for months now. People in Melbourne are only allowed out of their own home for an hour per day. Group gatherings of any kind, unless they are by the police or “essential services”, are subject to police brutality and a state premier who boldly states that protests are unlawful. To be fair, new lovers are allowed to go shag each other, but presumably only with masks on.

This ban on being human is but the latest in a creeping totalitarianism that, in the West, is seeing its worst expressions in the UK and Victoria. One is now fined and potentially locked away in both places for organising open protests, one of the most basic civil liberties in our political systems. Governments in both places rule by decree, with very little parliamentary oversight and almost no realistic chance of judicial review.

Its been a descent into darkness in both places. There are no other places in the West quite as bad, creating underlying forces quite as sinister. Yes, many American States have fanatical lock down supporters and most universities there have their own anti-fun police too, but you can escape. You are allowed to leave a State you don’t want to stay in and there is a vibrant opposition that you can join. You might think that opposition in the States is largely made up of conspiracy loonies (and you would not be entirely wrong), but at least there IS an opposition and they are not prevented from demonstrating, partying, and moving around. Freedom of speech and assembly are serious things in the US, even in lock down land. Their extreme partisanship has protected them.

Elsewhere in the West, the places that had their own totalitarian moments, such as France and Italy, are slowly returning to sanity. They have found out that they simply can’t afford totalitarianism, which is one of the deep points of history: totalitarianism fails not because it is unpopular – quite the opposite! – but because it is spectacularly inefficient. Eventually, people vote with their feet towards greener and freer pastures, though that is not possible in Australia, which is the only country in the West that has effectively banned its citizens from leaving, something we haven’t seen since the days of the Berlin Wall. That Wall crumbled because totalitarian communism couldn’t deliver.

What is remarkable is that this deep point of history is plain to see in both the UK and Victoria. Their economies are collapsing spectacularly in front of them, worse than elsewhere, with brave aristocratic commentators pointing this out in the UK, such as “Mervyn King”, the governor of the bank of England, or “Lord Sumption”, a former judge of the High Court. In Australia such things are pointed out by the odd brave economist like Gigi Foster, or a few hundred Victorian doctors. They find themselves in the unlikely company of Tony Abbott, Adam Creighton, and Alan Jones. But no-one in parliament of either major party.

In both the UK and Victoria, governments are trying to run a Soviet-style economy and failing miserably because bureaucracies cannot run whole economies. Both places are hiring armies of new civil servants to enforce the Covid mania, such as in their track and trace programs or covid-officers for the many workplaces. Lots of new vacuous change managers and covid-strategists too, of course. This whilst easily 30% of the workforce is sitting at home with no real job, kept docile by free government handouts. It’s like the Soviet system of full state employment with lots of people not doing anything at all. Hundreds of thousands of businesses are slowly dying in both places, only nominally kept afloat by massive government subsidies.

You can buy off public dissent by borrowing for a while, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that it can’t last. The unseen problems just keep building. We know what happens next: governments print money to keep going a little longer (think of the Republic of Weimar, Zimbabwe, Russia in the 1990s), making the collapse even more spectacular when it comes. This is what the UK is now facing if it continues on the path it is on, with the Bank of England whispering it and the reformed marxist Peter Hitchens shouting it. Australia is already starting to see a bit of capital flight, a classic sign of unsustainable government borrowing and spending. The smart money doesn’t make a noise but is the first to leave.

Victoria is not in charge of printing money in Australia, so it cannot on its own drag the whole of Australia into Zimbabwe-territory, but it can blackmail the rest of Australia for quite a while to allow it to spend money that it doesn’t have. The prospect of an Australian state going bankrupt, which basically means civil servants and anyone getting payments from that State no longer being paid, is a nightmare scenario the federal government in Canberra will want to avoid as long as possible, even though the government is now projected to borrow around 100% of GDP before covid mania is done. I fear that is starting to look like the optimistic scenario.

Most extraordinary, while in most other Western countries sanity is slowly returning, both in the UK and in Victoria there are strong signs of lock-in. In both places, their governments promise an end to the misery somewhere in the future, but in both places things are actually getting worse quite rapidly. Not merely is the totalitarianism getting worse and worse, but there is also a rapid expansion of the groups that benefit from the totalitarianism, locking both places into increased covid mania. It is eerily reminiscent of the Death cult that typified Nazi Germany in the later stages of WWII: as the war was being lost, control was extended and fatalism spread.

Consider the trends in political power: in the UK, the covid mania industry now includes tens of thousands of contact tracers, health and safety officers that inspect workplaces, the police force that increasingly sees covid-compliance as its job (including all the way into private homes), the increasingly powerful and busy testing-labs and vaccine-companies, and a whole medical-regulatory layer inside public institutions. They are helped by the majority of the media which has been fanning the hysteria for months now and has a strong vested interest to keep going. That media too is now committed.

The government of the day in the UK is similarly committed, plunging headlong into new battles it can only lose, like Brexit fights with the EU, whilst bunkering down on its covid-policies. To be fair, my reading of the lack of any major stock market or currency market movements in the last week is that the latest announcement that the UK government will not follow International Law is not serious but just a deliberate distraction. Bojo and Cummings have form when it comes to this, most spectacularly at the end of 2020 when they first announced they would screw over the Irish Catholics, just before they signed an EU deal wherein they totally screwed over the Irish Protestants.

On covid though, its been a one-way descent into darkness. Disagreeing top civil servants were sidelined early on or have just given up and resigned along the way. The UK government is, like Nazi Germany in its dying days, pushing salvation stories of a miracle weapon (a vaccine) and miracle alliances (trade deals with the US) that will supposedly turn its losing war and collapsing economy around. Anything rather than admit the war was futile to begin with. Very tellingly, the main opposition is now from within the UK Conservative Party, such as in the form of Sir Brady, the chairman of the 1922 commission saying as politely as he can that the government has gone bonkers. Make no mistake, the knives are being sharpened in the Conservative Party.

In Victoria, things are possibly even worse. Thousands of additional covid-officers are being recruited right now to dream up more regulations and enforce them. What do you think they are going to do once employed in the system? Advocate for their cushy jobs to be axed or think of new ways to keep the “war of elimination” going? Do you really think they will win the war? That Oxford vaccine some were pinning their hopes on has seen its trial halted because they found the vaccine didn’t agree with someone. Not a magic weapon after all, what a surprise! Ominously, I read 60% of all those vaccinated had side-effects. Bit of a fever, bit of a headache, the odd person getting paralysed. Not a problem for 99% of the population, but if you’re over 80 and have a couple of other health problems already, well, those extra issues can be fatal. You know what I’m saying? Don’t worry if you don’t: the new covid-police forces will tell you the vaccines are not ready yet, so you need their constant presence and regulations to help you comply!

What’s extraordinary is that in the UK, covid was over 3 months ago. There have been no excess deaths since late May, and the number of hospital admissions from covid are essentially zero. The new cases are mainly young people for whom covid is a slight cough and whom you’d want to gain immunity anyway. New cases are just used by the covid-industry as the excuse to keep their jobs going.

Quo Vadis: how is this going to end?

I cannot think of another example in the last few centuries where totalitarianism became institutionally entrenched so rapidly via a new group of profiteers. The 14th century plague is the closest historical example I know of a peace-time economic and social collapse of the speed and magnitude we are now seeing in both the UK and Victoria.

Totalitarianism and democracy do not go together for long. It’s one or the other. I am confident that in the UK, democracy and some semblance of common sense will re-establish itself because of competitive forces (jealousy of neighbouring countries, deep hatred of Bojo and Cummings within the government) and a vocal high-status opposition that will eventually successfully blame the covid-industry for the economic and social collapse.

So yes, I do think there will be a reckoning in the UK, but there will be a lot of damage before we get to it. Still, several newspapers are now openly calling for the awakening needed to get to the reckoning. Along the way I think we will get regicide in the Conservative Party and I wouldn’t be surprised if Cummings ends up in jail, blamed for everything. I suspect Bojo and Cummings are feeling this heat and are trying to start new fronts (like the EU) to postpone the reckoning. Its a strategy that worked for Mao, but I don’t think it will work for them.

In Australia, it is less clear what to expect. It might evolve into something relatively benign, with only the huge damage I and others have documented previously as the main loss, but I fear that point is now past. Way more pain is to come, with the increasingly bellicose attitude towards Australia’s main trading partner a mere hint of the forces now unleashed. Here is my main scenario.

The economic and social devastation that is growing beneath the surface is getting bigger and bigger. The repressive industry is getting bigger and bigger. The debt and inequality is getting bigger and bigger. When the music stops, a large part of the population will find they have no job and little future. Masses of young students in particular will find they have been royally screwed. When that happens, the compliance that has been drilled into the population from child-care onward is going to give way to real anger. The Covid-industry gelled them into a crowd. Desperation will turn that crowd into an angry mob. Democracy will then seem their weapon.

At that point, the current political elite might panic and look for ways to escape the beast they have suckled. Yes, Australia has compulsory voting, strong federalism preventing the center from assuming power, and strong constitutional powers preventing the States from going alone. But will that be enough to contain a panicking political elite and their vastly expanded totalitarian apparatus? I am really not sure. Dark scenarios I till recently only held possible decades into the future suddenly look possible for the next 5 years.

The forces that are now being created in Australia truly frighten me. As in the picture above, the Furies are taking off.

Treating Offenders: They Tried To Make Me Go to Rehab and I Said “Yes, Yes, Yes”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/09/2020 - 11:55pm in

A new study on custody treatments of juvenile offenders finds rehabiltation reduces recidivism compared to coercive regimes.

Robert Pollin: Biden Not Phasing Out Fossil Fuel, Relies on Carbon Capture

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 05/09/2020 - 5:06pm in

Robert Pollin critiques the Biden climate plan for over-relying on unproven carbon capture, investing too little in solar and wind, and treating China as a rival.

US Tax Dollars Funded Every New Drug in the Last Decade

Amid debates over costs—and profits—from a coronavirus vaccine, a new study shows that taxpayers footed the bill for every new drug approved from 2010 to 2019

Are Riots Counterproductive, and Who Decides?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 02/09/2020 - 11:55pm in

Riots and street violence are often blamed for producing a political backlash, but the real picture is more complex.