“Socialism in America” By Richard Sale


Most people live life day by day. They are too busy and harassed to ever form a general outlook about the human existence that they are part of. Their ideas have no intellectual scope. Their minds manifest little or no penetrating perspective. They don’t have the knowledge to criticize the world at large. They live in a busy flatland with mountains arising all around, but they don’t know how to climb them, don’t have the means to gain a height from which you can see an endless vista of alternatives and possibilities.

Social reformers are different from the ordinary person. They see beyond the usual constricted view of life. They are inspired to try and remodel the world. They are sensitive to human suffering, and are dismayed by human inequities and groups that dominate and exploit others. The true reformers have the imagination that tries to picture very different possibilities and alternatives to the life that we currently live. They yearn for a world in which creation is revered rather than mere possession, where work gives the joy and the satisfaction of accomplishment rather than a record of cheerless exertion in which workers have no voice in the work’s direction. They were emotional people, enthusiastic, mental active, gifted with a high degree of imagination, and they deployed their minds with the goal of lessening the suffering in the workplace. They think of the world not as it is, but as it could be made. Without a sense of what is valuable, a sense of what is to be preserved and treasured, any society is on the verge of cultural and political suicide.

And then there are people like Mr. Gregg. Notice the name. Judd Gregg (R) is a former governor and three-term senator from New Hampshire who served as chairman and ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, and as ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Foreign Operations subcommittee. On a site called, The Hill, he warned us against the supporters of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and his menacing socialism: “They might start with the experience of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Notice the name. Or the National Socialist movement called Nazism. Notice the name again. Or Maoist China, a socialist state again in name. Millions of people died under these banners of socialism and millions more were impoverished.” Gregg says that socialism impoverishes the masses and lowers their standard of living. He names Greece, Spain and Portugal as an example of socialist failure and added, “The list goes on and on. Country after country, where the demagogues of class warfare and “something for nothing” economics have sold their bill of goods to a frustrated electorate, has seen not only a drop in its standard of living, but in many instances peoples’ freedoms and lives destroyed. He ends with this baleful warning, “Try to find such opportunity or such prosperity in a socialist nation. It does not happen.”

But it does, and Mr Gregg reveals himself as a meathead. He doesn’t seems to know of any other kinds of socialism except the totalitarian, which is hugely disappointing. A sense of objectivity should compel you to study a subject before you denounce it, but Gregg is not aware of any such obligation.

You would think a man as dogmatic as Gregg would take the pains to find out that in Denmark there are a rapidly rising number of millionaires whose wealth exceeds one million U.S. dollars and has a thriving equities market. In fact, 69.00 Dames describe themselves as millionaires according to the RBC’s annual World Health Report, according to news reports.

Socialism in America

Socialism in the U.S. has a long history, dating back to 1694 when German Second Adventists founded two Utopian colonies including the Women in the Wilderness, which had a great influence in setting up the Pennsylvania colony. They believed America was the land of the Second Coming and made ready. Two centuries later, such groups flourished from Maine to Texas, about 80 of them in all.

In Europe, socialism dates back to the French Revolution to the writer Babeuf and his expounder Buonanarotti who were the first reported socialists on the Continent of Europe and whose writings were read by Marx and Engels. In 19th century, Europe wanted to complete the political revolution by a social one, and many different people tried to promote this. There was Abbe Lamennais who wanted to establish a Christian society, and there was the Frenchman Paul Leroux whose writings were read with approval by Goethe. Leroux fought for equality for women, the elimination of property, reincarnation, and the rehabilitation of Satan. The novelist, George Sand, was his lover.

With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, many ordinary people were tyrannized by the Machine and Classical Economics. In the mid-1840s, there was a phrase that galvanized many of the truly morally thoughtful in Europe, “Poverty in the Midst of Plenty.” The industrial revolution had transformed social and political life of Europe, and the individual was increasingly powerless and helpless before the Age of Machines. Some critics urged political action be taken to improve the “mute masses,” such as expanding the suffrage, while others felt that political change was impotent in the face the evils of the new economic order. The industrial machine was wielded by a body of ruthless owners who were undermining the social bond and isolating and crushing the individual. In fact, abundant production didn’t produce prosperity especially since overproduction produced so many economic failures. Anyone who reads even a smidgen of the first volume of Das Kapital will read narratives of young children being worked almost to death, putting in 16 hours a day and kept at their tasks by beatings from factory thugs. Indeed, some parents would beat their children in order to avoid such beatings at their place of work. There were many groups involved in this ferment of protest against economic inequities: English Chartists, German Burshenschaten, and the Carbonari of Italy among others.

One of its first socialist theorist in America was Charles Fourier, (not to be confused with Jean, who was a mathematician.) Fourier wanted to equalize labor and rewards by classifying tasks, talents, impulses and adapt the work assigned to the individual’s’ temperament and emotional satisfaction in a society of common consent. His ideas didn’t involve using force to impose its ideals. August Comte, his secretary, added his own ideas for such a program, and, over time, Fourier’s ideas were lumped together with the Utopian Socialist, Robert Owen.

The ideas of Fourier came to life during the age of American Romanticist with such figures as Emerson, Hawthorne, Margaret Fuller, C.A. Dana. In New York, Brisbane, and Horace Greeley and Henry James were believers of the ideas as well. One socialist community was set up at Brook Farm which ended up being the setting for Hawthorne’s Blithdale Romance (which turned out to be a tragedy in the book.)

Another socialist project was named New Harmony, set up in Indiana by the British utopian socialist Robert Owen. He was an extremely successful businessman with a kind and generous heart. Back in Britain, he had created a group in Britain called New Lanark, a society where he had provided his workers with good housing, schools, recreation, and a good livelihood. His followers set up ‘cooperatives” where the consumer members reaped the benefit of wholesale prices and shared profits.

One of Fourier’s disciples was the duke St. Simon, who wrote a book, New Christianity which depicted a society in which tasks and goods would be insured by bankers and scientists whose callings made them expert planners and calculators whose role was to be central in a society dominated by machines. He then realized that the expert planners could only succeed if they were backed by widespread public support. Knowing that most people are indifferent to public affairs, they enlisted the help of artists who portrayed the new order as fashionable, attractive and fulfilling. Fourier’s ideas were to be fulfilled in America because it had land, cheap labor, and whose political tradition tolerated (or ignored) groups outside the political mainstream.

The followers of Fourier all agreed that the economic ideas of Adam Smith, Ricardo, and Malthus, John Stewart Mill, were in error.   (Malthus, for example, wanted to reduce the number of poor by urging them to practice sexual abstinence. Too many children made a family even poorer, he said. ) All were thought to be apologists for economic inequities which they mistakenly believed were the laws of nature. They rejected the doctrine of ‘lassez-faire’ because it was a system in which workers were mercilessly exploited and turned into treadmill animals. Capitalism had inflicted untold miseries on innocent workers. Early socialists were friends of the workers, eager trying to alleviate the needless misery inflicted on them by industrial leaders. They were idealists, not cynics. They were animated by love, not greed for fame.


Sanders is suspicious of massive financial power only because such power exhibits all the shortcomings and faults of those who wield it. His protest against the inequities of wealth is based on this perception. He is suspicious when one group constantly dominates all over groups by their wealth rather than by their merit. The compliancy of the wealthy, their attitude that they are the most important segment of the country, irks him, and it does me. The belief that the wealthy are above the law irks him even more.

I think by the term “revolution” he doesn’t want a sort of rebellion which might use force; he wants a new examination of the American political system that has passed from a democracy to an oligarchy. Like today’s Russia, America now has its own oligarchs. What he urges is a moral regeneration on the part of the rich and ordinary citizens as well. He wants a spirit that creates rather than merely possessing. Surely, that is a fair point.

And Sanders’s suspicions are justified. It is clear that America’s economy doesn’t function properly. In an April 18 piece by Paul Krugman, he points out: “You see, profits are at near-record highs, thanks to a substantial decline in the percentage of G.D.P. going to workers. You might think that these high profits imply high rates of return to investment. But corporations themselves clearly don’t see it that way: their investment in plant, equipment, and technology (as opposed to mergers and acquisitions) hasn’t taken off, even though they can raise money, whether by issuing bonds or by selling stocks, more cheaply than ever before.

“How can this paradox be resolved? Well, suppose that those high corporate profits don’t represent returns on investment, but instead mainly reflect growing monopoly power. In that case many corporations would be in the position I just described: able to milk their businesses for cash, but with little reason to spend money on expanding capacity or improving service. The result would be what we see: an economy with high profits but low investment, even in the face of very low interest rates and high stock prices.

I am including the site and urge everyohe to read it. Robber Baron Recessions

Paul Krugman, New York Times

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

85 Responses to “Socialism in America” By Richard Sale

  1. Fred says:

    A fine piece from Paul Krugman, whose only failure is to leave out any mention of the richest man on Earth, Carlos Slim, and how his telecom wealth enabled him to have, to quote the Chairman of the NYT;: “the quiet but fierce confidence that has enabled him to have a profound and lasting effect on millions of individuals in Mexico and neighboring countries…” For those wondering what the “profound and lasting effect” was the plaque on the statue of Liberty sums it up quite nicely. I wait patiently for Paul Krugman or any other courageous NYT reporter or editorial writer to pursue an expose of the conduct of the non-robber baron in the acquisition and use of “wealth beyond the dreams of avarice”. The only thing he and the rest of the aristocracy of money seem not to have is enough.
    Of course Steve Sailor is more eloquent than I:

  2. Walrus says:

    Agree 100% with Richard Sale. Most AMericans are trained like Pavlovs dogs to howl when the word “socialism” is uttered.

  3. doug says:

    Revolutions are started by altruists. If they are successful they are subsumed by humans with baser motives. Accumulating and retaining power. That there are increasing inequities in America is fact and will accelerate. However, I don’t see it coming from monopolies but more from increasingly accelerating analytical power and purposed automation occurring simultaneously with rapidly decreasing costs. Sure their are dominant industries but many of them are far newer than the dominance ones of 50 years ago. Most, but not all large institutions drown in their own success. Stagnation and inertia is always most exercised by the previously successful. In academia it’s “resting on one’s laurels.” The hard part any mixed (EU style socialism) economy has is balancing the disturbing changes that growth produces with economic redistribution that maintains a sense of some degree of cultural, national common purpose.
    Robots depreciate but they don’t go on strike and can work 24 hours a day with only brief maintenance requirements.
    Most jobs people currently have, even fairly skilled ones, will vanish in the coming decades. What new ones will replace them? In the past this has been answered and likely will continue to be. How exactly people find meaning and spiritual health is not known and almost nothing is certain. I, for one, have no idea how this will work out. Are Trump and Sanders symptoms of this? Probably.
    That said, whenever I consider socialism what comes to mind are two sayings that can apply to both unchained capitalism and socialism.
    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
    Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  4. Amir says:

    I would like to add a film fragment from an Oscar nominated Flemish movie “Daens” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyHBkNvs7Ag I tried in vain to find a free version with English translation.
    This Catholic priest, from Catholic Aalst, made common cause with the “Godless Socialists” in Ghent and struggled for workers (including 8 year olds) rights. He had so much influence that the official Catholic Party in Belgium used it’s influence in the Vatican to ban him from the tribune.
    Proud to have gone to a university with a rich history in social struggle: https://vooruit.be/en/overvooruit next to the University’s Rector’s Office
    As Doug mentioned, there is now an “automation in thinking” and with monitoring devices and making charts about flow of work within an organization and use of Electronic Medical Records, computer analytics of the data and even individual physician habits and care and personal clinical approach can be documented and slowly integrated in a artificial semi-intelligent process. Soon this will be an artificial fully-intelligent process.

  5. Thanks Richard as always for a fine post. A footnote on former Senator Gregg, He almost personally was responsible for creation of problems in the enactment and implementation of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. Why? His vision that nothing in the way of legal authority, funding or staffing should be transferred for DoJ to the new Department except for immigration issues [INS-Immigration and Naturalization Service] which may well control the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. N.B. that candidate Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform in 2008. Greg was a member of the Judiciary Committee.
    Again Upton Sinclair and Norman Thomas two of the outstanding socialists in American history. And in Pittsburgh there is an historic district dedicated to New Harmony where believers first gathered before leaving for Indiana and then returning after the failure of the New harmony “colony”!
    The London School of Economics founded early in the last Century by socialists.

  6. divadab says:

    Socialists do some things very well – Education and Public Health, e.g.; free marketeers handle markets very well. SO why not have a mixed economy where Socialists manage education and public health, and the free market handles the markets? Denmark is a very good example of a mixed economy with a dynamic free market AND a socialist side that porvides for the people. Cuba a good example of a “pure” Socialist economy – and it has the best education and public health in the Caribbean but general poverty as free markets are prohibited. IMHO many of the social problems in the USA are due to squeezing out socialist programs and people in favor of profit-oriented organizations.
    Mixed economy, OK! Balance and moderation in all things….

  7. Tyler says:

    Socialism only “works” in white countries with high social trust and taboos against living off the largesse of others.
    As the Borg has imported plenty of foreigners who have no problem cashing their gimmedats check despite being of sound body, socialism is opposed because most people rightfully see it as wealth transfer and vote buying.

  8. Fred says:

    Cuba is a communist country that jails dissidents and all education is in a single language with courses mandated by the central government. Balance and moderation, socialist style.

  9. Mark Gaughan says:

    Thanks Richard.

  10. Mark Gaughan says:

    That’s not a “take down” of Krugman. It’s a verification.

  11. ToivoS says:

    I guess if you consider Japan, China, Singapore and Taiwan as white countries you might be right.

  12. Will Reks says:

    Depends on how you define socialism. If it’s outright Scandinavian style socialism then yes it’s probably opposed. If its what liberals have offered in the United States dating back to the 1930s then most people have no problem with wealth transfer and vote buying. The reason why they will continue to have no problem with this is because everyone knows that the vast majority of wealth generated in this country is flowing to the rich.
    There’s a reason why Trump opposed cuts to Medicare and Social Security and hasn’t attacked people living on food stamps and SSDI. It’s because a lot of white folks that will vote for him are heavily dependent on those socialist programs.

  13. Unlikely. Carlos Slim is now the New York Times’ largest shareholder.

  14. Tyler says:

    White and East Asian are interchangeable.

  15. no one says:

    ToivoS, I think if replace “white” in Tyler’s comment with “culturally homogenous and non-third world” then his point is valid.

  16. Tyler says:

    Will Reks,
    Because a lot of white people have a problem with the politicians who want to cut these benefits turning around and giving the money “saved” to imported 3rd world peons. Theyd rather just not import the peons.
    Ergo: Ave! True to Trump.

  17. LeaNder says:

    you may want to amend that for more interested readers:
    “Frenchman Paul Leroux”
    Is that who you have in mind.
    Tell me if I am wrong. I may have looked this up due to love-affair ‘cum’ US French relations.

  18. elkern says:

    Those of us who lived through the 60’s, 70’s, or 80’s have mostly sorted into two groups: people who are afraid of Socialists, and people who are afraid of being called Socialists.
    Younger people – for whom Soviet Communism is History, not news – don’t have this problem.

  19. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    I’d say most revolutions are made by disaffected members of elites. Altruists jump in with enthusiasm and tend to get put to the wall once Thermidor rolls around.

  20. Fred says:

    I am shocked, just shocked, that that fact is not “…. news fit to print”

  21. Farooq says:

    There is a way to turn on translated captions in the youtube link you posted but the translation is not all that good from what i saw.
    Click on “CC” button to turn on Dutch close captions. Then click on the settings button next to “CC” which looks like a mechanical gear. Then click on “Subtitles/CC” and then “Auto translate”. It will show you a list of language and you pick English.
    On the last paragraph of your post, there is a storm brewing in ~10 years time. People with higher paying jobs will suffer like blue collars who suffered with de-industrialization of advanced countries.

  22. MRW says:

    “Socialism” has been a problem word and boogeyman since the Panic of 1893, when that worldwide global depression was credited with creating the Russian Revolution, and disrupting Latin America.
    CW Barron, the managing director of the Wall Street Journal and the father of modern financial reporting because of his insistence on data to back up every assertion the WSJ made, said that it was the rampant nationwide “fear of socialism” that forced the creators of The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 to draft the so-called ‘private ownership’ plan for the 12 District Federal Reserve Banks. Senator Robert L Owen (no relation to the Utopian Socialist) held month-long hearings on the proposed Federal Reserve Act bills (House and Senate) throughout the month of October, 1913. You can download these 3500+ pages from hathi trust if you have a university affiliation, three volumes. Of course, in terms of real teeth, the member banks of the District Federal Reserve Banks are no more private owners than you are when you subscribe to an online service.

  23. MRW says:

    I would read Paul Krugman with an attitude of ‘duly noted’.
    May I suggest these articles by the excellent Pam Martens and Russ Martens:
    Wall Street Banking Model Takes Center Stage in Today’s New York Primary
    One Forgotten Document Casts Embarrassing Light on Krugman’s “Sanders Over the Edge” Column

  24. MRW says:

    I’m convinced that a majority of young people think Socialists are people who like Social Media.

  25. charly says:

    South Korea was seriously third world & socialist and Belgium or Germany aren’t exactly homogenous

  26. MRW says:

    In that case many corporations would be in the position I just described: able to milk their businesses for cash, but with little reason to spend money on expanding capacity or improving service.
    Where has Krugman been? This has been going on since 1980 when compensation and bonuses for execs was now based on the value of the shares, the vaunted ’shareholder value’. It’s called taking a public company private. The value of shares rise when that happens and middle management and above get monster bonuses while the workerbee gets the shaft.
    Another trick was using excess cash, not for product development or breaking into new markets–why take the risk?–but instead to invest in derivatives and other financial instruments and raise the share value that way. Queue the bonuses.
    As economics historian Michael Hudson describes it, finance capitalism replaced industrial capitalism. It started with Reagan, but Clinton put the institutional infrastructure in to make it all happen. (Current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was one of Clinton’s architects.) People vote for Clinton at their peril.

  27. different clue says:

    Over the coming decades you describe, where super artificially-intelligent automation mass-slaughters tens of millions of jobs; what happens to the tens of millions of people who lose their jobs and have no other jobs in existence to go find and get?
    How does a society which has always believed people must earn their daily bread cope with tens of millions of its members having no access to any way to earn any bread at all because the robots are earning all the bread now?

  28. different clue says:

    Will Reks,
    The people who hope to live long enough to collect Social Security and Medicare are the people who have been paying FICA and Medicare taxes their whole working lives on the understanding that they would receive Social Security and Medicare when they couldn’t work so effectively any more. I wonder if a large number of non-rich non-white FICA/MCare Tax Payers are also secretly planning to vote for Trump on the strength of that promise and just don’t want to say so in public.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, it began in late 1970s when Finance Capital, instead of a Hand-Maiden to Production, became its Mistress.
    I suppose the leaders of the United States, in both politics and economics, had envisioned the United States to become the Financial Center of the World – manufacturing production be damned.
    But likely London is going to claim that prize.

  30. Will Reks says:

    Yep.. people love socialism as long as it benefits them.

  31. Will Reks says:

    Maybe, but its to early to say. Protecting SS and Medicare while bringing back jobs is popular with the working class, regardless of race.

  32. Tyler says:

    I have no clue how you came to that conclusion, moon man. What color is the sky in your world?

  33. Tyler says:

    You’re splitting hairs here and we all know it. SK “was”. Belgium is the center of NATO and the EU, but about to go under sharia. Germany is running on EU fumes and also about to go under shariah. Both countries are borrowing money to pay the dhimmi tax of welfare.

  34. Tyler says:

    Now young people are terrified of being called “islamophobes” “racist” or “homophobe”.
    The real counter culture is on /pol/ by the new generation of reactionaries.

  35. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Gregg seems to have been a political careerist who mistook money for prosperity.
    I’m inclined to the more recently articulated views that prosperity comes from ‘solving problems’.
    We are living at a time of momentous shifts in economic thinking — extraordinary times, indeed.
    Senator Sanders has evidently immersed himself in much of this newer economic thinking, as evidenced by his selection of Univ of Missouri at Kansas City’s (UMKC) Prof Stephanie Kelton as his head economic advisor back in 2015. Although Judd Gregg is oblivious, there is currently a ferment in economic thinking, partly because databases now make it easier to get better analysis (think Piketty), and partly because it is easier for people around the world to engage in economic conversations and exchange data sets.
    The model of economics that Judd Gregg expresses is based on fluid dynamics and the physics of the 1890s: closed system, inputs, outputs, humanity stripped out of all economic behavior (ergo, no need for moral conversations). This kind of thinking has shaped the US tax code, and leads to economic cannibalism of the ‘stock buyback’ variety that MRW so eloquently scorns.
    Sanders’ thinking appears to be grounded in his personal experience, but he appears to be somewhat quirky in his mastery of economic theory and economic data. (The same could be said of Elizabeth Warren.)
    Anyone curious about new shifts in economic thinking would find this a good starting point; one of the authors is a multimillionaire weary of bad business models and the social havoc they wreak:
    I’d also ‘second’ MRW’s Wall Street on Parade links — the Martens are former Wall Streeters, and fearless about what they write. Michael Hudson comes at economics from a depth of knowledge about ancient economies, so he has fewer blinders and less ideology than the Judd Greggs who inadvertently wreak so much havoc.
    I’m definitely in agreement with MRW’s views about voting for Hillary: support her at your peril. If you want someone who does not fundamentally question dangerous, outdated assumptions, she’s your candidate.

  36. drpuck says:

    Thank you Mr. Sale.
    (My sense.) Socialism is a broad label, and it covers the various socialisms, most of which represent hybrid experiments at integrating economics at the level of a country with the larger economic context the country is embedded within. In my opinion, this makes the broad brush framing (and smacking down,) unhelpful.
    Socialized approaches to economic management are historically related to communalism, tribalism, and the various local structures for informally, in a sense, “insuring” welfare at the scale of extended families, kin groups, and other scales of local identity. Such structures might be viewed as proto-socialisms, and these follow from a shared ethic, something like, “we’re in this together.” After all, once hunter-gatherers, we are social animals.
    Are there contemporary examples, where there is high unemployment, not much of a welfare state, but hardly any starvation?
    (There is very little reason “left or right” ideological propositions should be expected to be well fit to the task of guiding dynamic economies able to sustain benefits at the level of the household. It seems to me, this will be especially true with respect to the dynamics of a highly automated, post-consumer first world economy.)
    Mr. Sale, there is a deep strain of social-economic history that reached a first crest in the British 17th century and would inform the utilitarians of the 19th century. This is part of the history of socialism and has to do with the the diggers and levellers, Winstanley, and a kind of Christian socialism. Later, I believe it was Bertrand Russell, who termed Marxism to be a ‘Christian heresy.’
    Of China, it is said their system is: state-planned capitalism; or, maybe better, state-planned confucian capitalism.

  37. LeaNder says:

    Thanks, MRW. Interesting links.
    Shadow banking versus “too big to fail” surfaced in Clinton’s debate with Sanders. Mind you, I wondered about the arguments of both concerning minimum wage. It seems slightly idealistic to double it short term. But then I looked a little closer into the issue and found out that Krugman seems to shift his position on the issue forward and backwards, too.
    I do not really grasp your position concerning the Federal Reserve. Slightly obsessive? What alternative structure do you have in mind? A state own institution?
    Besides you made a point concerning QE (Quantative Easing, I guess) that puzzled me as much as the terminology the SST member you responded to used.

  38. LeaNder says:

    MRW, I don’t think he has bonuses and compensation in mind, but an established product that does not need any more investment and thus is a “Cash Cow” versus innovation and investment in future “Stars”, and they will be “stars” and no “question marks” because the demand is already there.
    “Verizon has shown a remarkable lack of interest in expanding its Fios high-speed Internet network, despite strong demand.”
    this may be more what you are looking for, his linked praise of Larry Summers:
    “But as Larry emphasizes, there’s a big problem with the claim that monetary policy has been too loose: where’s the inflation? Where has the overheated economy been visible?
    So how can you reconcile repeated bubbles with an economy showing no sign of inflationary pressures? “Summers’s answer is that we may be an economy that needs bubbles just to achieve something near full employment – that in the absence of bubbles the economy has a negative natural rate of interest. And this hasn’t just been true since the 2008 financial crisis; it has arguably been true, although perhaps with increasing severity, since the 1980s.”
    Bubbles of course increase bonuses too. No?

  39. MRW says:

    I do not really grasp your position concerning the Federal Reserve. Slightly obsessive?
    Obsessive? No. 99% of Americans don’t understand how federal money, how federal accounting works. You’ve obviously heard about our deficit fights. They’re bogus! Even the current president went on TV in his first year and claimed that the US was broke, and that the federal government should tighten its belt like households have to do. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dead wrong. The federal government issues its own currency, something that state and local govts, businesses and households can’t do. (Wish I could.) How can the US go broke? It can pay all debts denominated in its own currency just fine.
    So Americans are enduring austerity measures they don’t need to endure. Or you hear chest-thumping Christians and publicly-pious people denigrate ‘poor people’ for being too stupid or lazy to get jobs, when only the federal government can increase jobs in a bad economy, as the Republicans understood in the 1950s when it was creating the middle-class. Because ONLY the federal government can SPEND into the real economy when things are bad to provision itself. No business–no good businessman–is going to hire people when they are no sales. Name one who would. That’s another thing Paul Krugman doesn’t understand. Businesses don’t invest in Plant and Materials when there are no sales, when people don’t have jobs to buy goods and services. Period. Why? Why spend the money? As a businessman, would you? Trickle-down is a fantasy and fairy-tale that Milton Friedman electrified a state governor with: Reagan. Reagan, like state govs Clinton and George W Bush, didn’t understand federal accounting either. Reagan, like the other two schmucks, thought you run a federal government the way you run a state govt (which has to earn income in order to survive). That you should balance the federal budget the way you need to balance a state govt. Bullshit.
    What alternative structure do you have in mind?
    None. I want people to understand the structure we’ve got. Only when you understand what you’ve got can you make intelligent ideas about how to improve upon it. I want people to understand how the people they’ve voted into Congress have ruined their children’s futures (for example) with their unforgivable ignorance about how federal accounting works. Kids with $30,000 to $200,000 student debt? You serious? Criminal. One in four children going hungry every night? In the United States of America? Criminal. 96,000,000 people still out of work and losing skills, income, and hope since 2008, and Americans think that is acceptable when the ability to reduce that underutilization of human capital is a fast vote away? (Hell, tack it onto one of the endless pro-Israel votes.) And won’t “cost taxpayers” a goddam dime? Criminal. But instead we get truly heinous moral and religious incompetents declaring that the reason why po’ people can’t get jobs, and riot in the streets, is because they are too lazy to work. When it is these moral and religious incompetents who are too fucking uneducated to even know what they are talking about. The Dunning-Kruger Effect. Look that up on Wikipedia.
    A state own institution?
    The Federal Reserve already is.

  40. Richar! And ALL! Could Franklin [FDR] and Eleanor be more accurately described historically as SOCIALISTS?

  41. MRW says:

    Larry Summers is an idiot, and one of the architects of the Global Financial Crisis. He started under Clinton’s time. I have as much respect for Summers as I do for Clinton, which is zilch. Summers admitted to Tom Daschle years ago that he doesn’t understand reserve accounting (what the Fed does). And Obama used him as an advisor? Krugman’s respect for him? Member of the tribe.
    Summers is the guy who ditched Christine Romer’s (head of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors) memo to the Prez in 2009 that the stimulus needed to be $1.8 trillion to get the US out of the mess. Wouldn’t let Obama see it. Instead, Summers recommended an utterly insufficient $800 billion to Obama, who didn’t even spend that. Meantime, 10 million people lost their jobs and their homes, and over $14 trillion in wealth and retirements went up in smoke.
    All completely unnecessary.

  42. Fred says:

    “…Clinton put the institutional infrastructure in to make it all happen.”
    Say it ain’t so, Joe.

  43. MRW says:

    Bubbles of course increase bonuses too. No?
    LeaNder, if you want to understand this from an American point-of-view, listen to this. Clearest explanation you are going to get about what caused the housing bubble, and highly entertaining to boot. You’ll actually enjoy it. Put it on while you’re doing the dishes, or tidying up.

  44. MRW says:

    Say it ain’t so, Joe.
    In no particular order, and these are just the biggies that come immediately to mind:
    • Bought Greenspan and Rubin’s bullshit two weeks before he was inaugurated (Adam Curtis recorded Rubin recounting this) that the US was broke, so had to let the markets run unregulated. If Greenspan had said this to a sitting president, which Clinton wasn’t then, he would be in jail for sedition. But Greenspan and Rubin knew he had a state-governor mindset about balancing the budget. Manipulated him.
    • Ripped up the welfare safety-net without replacing it with a jobs program, impoverishing millions of low-income families whose jobs were flying overseas.
    • NAFTA
    • WTO
    • China Most Favored Nation Status, courtesy of that miserable POS and then private citizen Rahm Emanuel
    • Dismantled Glass-Steagall
    • Made it against the law to regulate derivatives (budget addendum December 2000, snuck it in)
    • Passed the Balanced Budget Act with the help of lawyer-architect financial idiot Jack Lew
    • Produced a federal government surplus and bragged about it. When the federal government is in surplus, the private sector is in deficit. Take that to the bank. And vice versa. Has to be. Think about it. When the US federal government has a surplus of US dollars, who has a lack of them? Everyone else: the non-federal government sector, both domestic and foreign. But it’s when the private domestic sector is in deficit that poverty and destitution in the US erupts. And what was Greenspan’s response to this looming disaster? He told everyone to take out secondary mortgages to make up for the lack of sufficient living wages; the very same debt that came back to bite them horrifically in 2008.
    The monthly US Treasury Statement actually records a government surplus as a negative. That ought to tell you something.

  45. Mark Gaughan says:

    It was easy coming to that conclusion. How could you not?
    Arthur Sulzberger Jr. in his article, “Builders and Titans” wrote that Carlos Slim “has funded extensive public-health education programs and why he’s helped thousands of students throughout Latin America get their own laptops and learn more about digital technology.”
    He’s had “a profound and lasting effect on millions of individuals in Mexico and neighboring countries…”
    Krugman’s article is titled, “Robber Baron Recessions”
    Krugman wrote that corporate behavior in the U.S. isn’t doing any of what Mr. Slim is doing.
    Sulzberger’s piece doesn’t “take down” Krugman at all. It does verify Krugman.
    It was quite clever of you calling me moon man.
    Today, Tyler, the sky is clear blue, no clouds.
    You’re right. You have no clue.

  46. Farooq says:

    “…..the ability to reduce that underutilization of human capital is a fast vote away? ”
    What are your thoughts on universal basic income?
    You once posted a talk by Bill Mitchell on the concept of “full employment” which I found interesting and worth pondering over. Lacking background in economics I am hard pressed to understand all implications of the concept in a more holistic fashion.
    Bill used the example of cotton production in Australia and how government would buy and store the excess commodity when market was flooded and then release when the commodity was scarce to smoothen the impact on producers and buyers all year round.
    How would a similar government intervention can be devised to ensure “full employment” for the workers in your opinion? Will government work with companies and pay them while demand is low for their service/product so they don’t lay off workers? Or will government “buy and stock” products and services by intervening in the market as buyer? How would the later work for services I am unable to comprehend.
    One criticism I can level on the above method based on my increasing realization is that the number of jobs is decreasing(permanently lost) all round due to automation. The above approach may smoothen the fluctuations caused by demand supply cycle but does not address the permanent job loss in economy. Perhaps government can invest and grow newer industries to make up for job loss but given the nature of new industries that have emerged in recent past, the large number of low/medium skilled people cannot benefit from them.
    Would appreciate your response.

  47. Mark Gaughan says:

    Yep.. people love capitalism as long as it benefits them.

  48. Mark Gaughan says:

    Thanks for the links.

  49. MRW says:

    Bill was talking about a “buffer stock” of wool in Australia. (Wisconsin has it for its cheese producers.) He was proposing a buffer stock of people, human capital.
    Argentina did this just after the turn of the 21st C (with the help of the ideas of people like Bill Mitchell). Their federal government offered a minimum wage job with full benefits to anyone willing and able to work. They thought a (relative) handful would show up. Two million of their 35 million population took advantage of it, mostly single female head-of-household with children. For many, it was their first job. It was wildly successful, and boosted the economy bigtime. The government provided jobs that proved to employers in the private sector that the employee could be trusted to show up for work on time without drugs or alcohol, and trusted to complete tasks responsibly. When the private sector needed employees, they hired these people, proven entities, instead of the risk of taking from the general population. The federal government could also set a higher minimum wage for these jobs.
    Bill Mitchell and others are promoting a similar program for Americans who have been out of work for a long time. Employers in the US only like to hire people who are already working. This gets around the stigma, and helps Americans retain their skills and sense of worth. Not to mention reducing domestic abuse, the disintegration of families, loss of dignity and hope, and mental illness from the utter despair that you can’t support your family. They can point to a job, and point to their work ethic. They can walk proudly.
    The federal government could produce a variety of jobs that don’t necessarily have to be minimum wage from landscaping to specialized librarians recording local history. From national park workers to architects (student and professional) repurposing public buildings like the Post Offices for the community instead of allowing Senator Feinstein’s husband to make hundreds of millions selling these magnificent structures and the valuable land underneath to his buddies. (Trump has just turned the magnificent downtown DC Post Office near the White House into a five-star boutique hotel.) From construction workers beautifying local and state municipalities to plumbers repairing crumbling local infrastructure. From artists beautifying government buildings to writers writing biographies about local heroes and notables. From recording artists taking oral histories for the Library of Congress to civil engineers repairing critical bridges and roadways that affect the lives of so many in rural communities. From recent language graduates who can teach kindergarten kids romance and pictographic languages improving their IQs to sports types who can start programs that get kids exercising. From telecom workers laying down a truly national wireless superhighway that services every American, rich or poor, to conservators restoring the nation’s art works. From hydrologists revamping the water supply and identifying who really owns the water rights (you’d be surprised) to forest workers who can cull the nation’s forests of pine (and needless ground cover), the deadliest tree in a forest fire, real ‘gasoline’ that results in the loss of millions of acres of national forest when fire strikes.
    The list is endless.
    FDR did it in 1935. He did it almost overnight, and he put the nation back to work.
    Bill Mitchell called it a Job Guarantee Program.
    People want work. They want to feel useful. We don’t need robots like Japan. We don’t have their aging population, and we’re not the size of Japan. We need a national debate on this. We have 96 million Millennials who want jobs. Now.

  50. Fred says:

    Apparently you don’t get the reference to baseball, or irony.

  51. Fred says:

    “…. when only the federal government can increase jobs in a bad economy, as the Republicans understood in the 1950s when it was creating the middle-class. …”
    I’m glad to know Marx was all wrong about the bourgeoisie since they didn’t exist until the 1950s. Of course I’m rather shocked to find that no company anywhere created a new job in a bad economy.

  52. C Webb says:

    Interesting topic. I wonder was Mr. Gregg (a trained lawyer) playing to the gallery with his comments.
    Where’s utopian socialism going?
    I see BF skinner is mentioned on the wiki as being a more recent proponent.
    Perhaps it explains trend in NYC with new Skinner boxes micro apartments.

  53. Farooq says:

    Thank you for erudite response and for correcting me on wool.
    Who will guarantee that these hired people will do their jobs properly. I once had interaction with someone from Greece who was hired in similar fashion under a jobs program. The said person felt quite disinterested and reported the same about the low morale of other people hired for the same program. Basically they felt it is a giant bribe by government so they won’t go out in streets and riot.

  54. MRW says:

    😉 Smarty.
    I was thinking about Eisenhower creating the interstate highway system in the fifties with government dough, and what that spawned. What multiplied from that. No private investor would have taken that task on.

  55. cynic says:

    I wonder what sort of socialism might be the response if there turns out to be truth in this story that Yellowstone may be about to explode.

  56. Fred says:

    What multiplied was urban sprawl and the death of commuter rail service.

  57. Richard Sale says:

    Thank you. Took a lot of study.

  58. Richard Sale says:

    God help us!

  59. Richard Sale says:

    Excellent comments!

  60. Richard Sale says:

    Thank you.

  61. Fred says:

    Yes, like Carlos Slim, the oligarch who is doing such good for the people of Latin America – according to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., who you quote above. The fact that as Chairman of the NYT he’s an employee of Mr. Slim’s or that the NYT was bailed out by said oligarch would have no bearing on quality of his puff pieces, nor the selection of editorial and reporting policies related to “all the news that’s fit to print’.

  62. MRW says:

    Farooq, FDR’s New Deal pulled it off. (http://www.history.com/topics/new-deal) It’s a broad-brush, but interesting. Especially because it highlights how FDR was hated for doing what he did.
    I have a list somewhere of the valuable work that FDR’s WPA program produced, and the significance that endures even today. The numbers were staggering. The Boulder Dam was one such project. Ditto the murals and public artwork in the lobbies of buildings in NYC.
    From the history.com link above.
    “In April [1935], he [FDR] created the Works Progress Administration (WPA) to provide jobs for unemployed people. WPA projects weren’t allowed to compete with private industry, so they focused on building things like post offices, bridges, schools, highways and parks. The WPA also gave work to artists, writers, theater directors and musicians. In July 1935, the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act, created the National Labor Relations Board to supervise union elections and prevent businesses from treating their workers unfairly. In August, FDR signed the Social Security Act of 1935, which guaranteed pensions to millions of Americans, set up a system of unemployment insurance and stipulated that the federal government would help care for dependent children and the disabled.”
    FDR also had a conservation corps program for teenagers and young adults, forget what it was called.
    I can’t comment on your Greek example. I don’t know how it was structured. India had a similar program but it was just a cover for government corruption and theft. I’m not talking about anything like that.
    There are lots of historical accounts of how the WPA was organized.

  63. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “He told everyone to take out secondary mortgages to make up for the lack of sufficient living wages” he was only continuing what had begun, to my knowledge, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.
    That was when consumer debt took off.
    This Jack Lew, is he the same guy who led the US economic war against Iran?

  64. MRW says:

    On the negative side, although I don’t know that there was a booming commuter rail service before 1950. It spawned agricultural development, the car culture, the travel/hospitality industry, innovative transportation systems and refrigeration, telecommunications, and on and on.
    My pipe dream is that we have a system of maglev trains criss-crossing the country either above or below ground. Get on in LA at 9 PM and be in Manhattan in time for breakfast. But I’m a train-lover.

  65. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, I agree, all of it is border line criminal, and certainly un-ethical.
    You tell a 39-year old ditch digger, who just suffered a serious heart-attack, that there is no way to pay for his treatment – say daily supply of Effient pills – but there is money to burn in any given Godforsaken place like Afghanistan.
    “Keep on digging ditches until you die of heart failure or another heart attack.”

  66. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes FDR did that and look at what has happened to him – a faded icon of a faded age; while, paradoxically, the Cult of Churchill lives on in all its glory.
    Do not forget the graduate students and post-docs and gypsy-scholars; they could do better things such as compiling publicly accessible databases of material properties used in industry, help work out the protein path ways and thus make it possible for drug companies to develop new drugs, work on analyzing all that telemetry data ….
    I remind you, however, that the Electorate prefers to spend $ 60 K a year in US imprisoning people than pay that to a post-doc to have a stable income environment to live his life and contribute to the society by exercising his skills.

  67. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Mathematical Tables Project, a 1938-1948 Works Progress Administration (WPA) project to calculate mathematical tables, including those later used in Abramowitz and Stegun’s Handbook of Mathematical Functions
    I used it myself to make sure my computer program was producing correct results before proceeding further.
    The tables of gas viscosities that were computed by a NASA staffer decades ago are wrong, but the money to hire someone to recalculate them – this time correctly – has not existed for decades.
    I think Richard Wright worked for WPA – among many other writers.

  68. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Courtesy of The Works Progress Administration

  69. cynic says:

    Ah! Now it can be revealed. The UFO’s are visiting America to learn Socialism, and its getting them into hot water.

  70. Fred says:

    The electorate also prefers to jail thieves, rapist and murders; not that any now incarcerated are actually guilty of such crimes. Conduct maters.

  71. Fred says:

    Also courtesy of the WPA:
    Of course it had a more violent precedent;
    Ironic that it is one of our more beloved parks.

  72. Tyler says:

    You mean the NYT is writing glowing one sided puff pieces about how the guy who bailed out the NYT ( from his fortune of gouging Mexicans on phone calls) is your proof?
    Put down the pipe Mark.

  73. rjj says:

    Seattle has them too – some with shared bathrooms and communal kitchens. i>Revolutionary convergence!! habitats designed by economists for cubicle ‘man.

  74. MRW says:

    Could not agree with you more, Babak. We pay the military. We should be paying all university students to get a higher education. No debt to children or grandchildren either. No skin off anyone’s teeth. The constraint is the student has to have high enough marks to get into the programs, the standards of which I believe should be risen to higher levels than they are today. Intellectual competition. Not financial competition. Interestingly, most Americans could not pass a a Grade 8 test from 1900. Don’t have the link handy, but it’s out there in the internetosphere.

  75. MRW says:

    Thanks. High praise coming from you.

  76. MRW says:

    This Jack Lew, is he the same guy who led the US economic war against Iran?
    Don’t know. I’ll have to check that out. Let me know if you get there first.

  77. Farooq says:

    Thank you again MRW. I will read the information in your link.
    In the interest of healthy skepticism, there are people who say new deal was conceived in an era in which people were highly motivated due to the turmoil caused by the great depression and WWII. That societal mindset and focus is absent today and hence any such intervention will fail. For example anime loving millennials are probably more picky about the work they want to do compared to a lower class farmer who suffered through great depression, experienced death and destruction in European and Pacific theater and was determined to achieve social mobility and improve his lot at all cost.
    Not my argument but one that I have often encountered when discussing new deal. I am actually quite sympathetic to the idea of re-architecting of American infrastructure by government intervention.

  78. elkern says:

    Babak – merely a nasty quibble, but I would say that the FIRE sector’s relationship to the productive sectors of our economy and society since the Reagan years follows the behavior of a serial homicidal rapist than a “Mistress”.

  79. Farooq says:

    Graduate and Post-doc programs still have industry linkages, imo undergrad/associate diploma programs are where the biggest revamp is required. Overwhelming majority of undergrad programs lack practical and useful training aspects. Undergrads/Associate diploma holders are the largest segment of degree holding population and majority of them try to get a job instead of pursuing further high education.
    Then there are useless humanities programs that contribute little to economy and student’s future employment prospects. There is also a very strong anti hard sciences social bias that I have noticed that at best means people being positively ambivalent for the latest gadget and at worst heaping scorn at “nerds” for being uncool. My subjective experience is that engineering schools are dominated by lots of badly lit buildings and basements where as sprawling buildings with fountains and greek columns are created for arts/humanities and business schools.

  80. LeaNder says:

    “(Wish I could.) How can the US go broke? It can pay all debts denominated in its own currency just fine.”
    MRW, ‘fiat money’? If you are able to print all the money needed, you simply do so according to you ‘straight heart’s delight’? and everyone is fine?
    Short reply, and I promise I’ll look into your serial responses here, including people’s response joining the debate, although I cannot promise I will respond. It’s more likely I won’t.
    Yes, stricly, during the “Greek Crisis” as a side effect I took a look into alternative and/or progressive approaches on matters, I have have to admit. New US economical approaches. I honestly don’t have either the knowledge, nor expertise and/or background to judge the larger discussion.
    What I realized though, long before trying to get some type of limited grasp of US progressive approaches among other things, was that I have not the slightest idea how our traditional German “Volkswirtschaft” versus “Betriebswirtschaft” may or may not be related to the larger context of discussion here and somewhat too concerning debates in Europe.
    In other words what’s the result of one state’s money politics on the outside world? A state no doubt can reduce its debts by simply reduce the worth of its money versus whatever the possessions of the respective private citizen*. Something no doubt the Greek cannot do now. That’s only one things I learned in the process. But yes, “austerity” is somewhat for me, as European centrally focused, no doubt maybe for the wrong reason, on Europe.
    Economics, or the two central academic fields over here I grew up with:
    Volkswirtschaft, the economics of a country, is, as I understand, the relation of a state’s economy to other states on the larger world scene.
    Betriebswirtschaft, the economics of an enterprise, concerns only the economics of one specific enterprise in its respective market. No doubt along basic economical rules.
    Seems, no doubt without really hard work put into it, I have never found a US or British for that matter equivalent of Volkswirtschaft, and thus maybe evidence of the use of economical weapons in the larger state of affairs beyond monetory politics.
    Notice, again, I admit to being a nitwit on many matters, not least economy.
    Now concerning austerity. I unfortunately have to return to my not too loved experience in public relations. That some around here loved to ridicule. Purely theoretically, it seems to be a good, or maybe considering times even perfect, fighting term to manipulate the masses (in the larger context doug, if I recall correctly alludes to above).
    *the respective private citzen: there have been historical struggles using that tool of deflating money. And it was somewhat at the center of the Greek debate, beyond simply abolishing state debts, since the Greek due to us bad Germans couldn’t due to the worth of the restaints of the Euro deflate their money to reflect their own “Volkswirtschaft”/”national economy”. There also obviously is a certain advantage around whatever the respective citizen possesses once money is deflated, at least as long as your real estate is not bombed, or they didn’t manage at that point in time to sent their money to save havens …

  81. Mark Gaughan says:

    I read the Unz article again. Then I read more about Slim. I still don’t see it. As a “take down” of Krugman. Would please explain why you wrote that. Ther’s no need to be rude. I don’t smoke a pipe, only an occasional cigar.

  82. J says:

    Think you might find this one interesting, where the CIA is trying to cover their butts over one of their embarrassing moments.

Comments are closed.