What exactly *is* the status quo that both political parties are so eager to preserve?

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  • #227256

    tk2kewl
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    @tk2kewl

    The answer to the question requires a good working understanding of the neoliberal economic experiment we have been living inside of for over 40 years.

    Most of us on this site understand that neoliberal economics is the complete (and I *do* mean complete) subordination of virtually all human activities (as well as planetary biological and geological processes) to the “invisible hand” of “the markets.”  And according to the high priests of neoliberalism, this system of human interaction provides each human individual with the best possible way of realizing their own full potential in society.

    As the tale goes, since it is the virtue of the markets that liberates human potential, government should avoid interfering because such interference would certainly result in hampering meaningful individual human potentials.

    Western governments’ primary function for hundreds of years has been to provide rules for economic interaction, primarily in protection of property, which of course has always included corporate properties of all types from physical to intellectual. For a short period of time (1930s-70s) these government systems also provided a modicum of protections for other human needs besides property, such as the right of individuals and communities to *not* be overly exploited by property owners. During this period, let’s call it Keynesian, “the economy” was understood to be a component of a functioning society, embedded therein rather than a magical system to which societies were subordinated – but no longer is this the case.

    So let’s get to the point… what is the status quo in the relationship between governments and markets? To me the best way to figure this out would be to look at the current and historical activities of government and investigate the markets that these government activities have created and/or “liberated.”

    There are many pivot points along the road from Keynesian mid 20th Century to today, but I am going to highlight just a few:

    The Trade Act of 1974

    This law created “fast track” authority for trade agreements where the president could negotiate an agreement internationally and then put it before Congress for ratification. On paper this sounds somewhat reasonable, however Congressional debate is capped, filibuster is disallowed and a majority of each house is all that is required to pass a “trade agreement.” To some observers, a “trade agreement” seems a lot like a treaty. The authors of our Constitution understood that treaties had the capacity to affect large sectors of the U.S. society and economy and were in fact the creation of transnational laws. Article II tells us that a treaty becomes part of the fabric of our own federal law, and since this law was negotiated with foreign nations it must receive a 2/3 vote of the Senate to ensure that is truly in the best interest of the U.S. The Trade Act said, “fuck that! We’ll never get anything done that way.” However, at this time “trade” was essentially in material things like minerals, food and manufactured goods.

    Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act/Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999

    Basically, this law removed The Depression era Glass/Steagall Act firewall between the mundane functions of banking (savings and lending) and investing. I’m not going to go into depth here, but this let banks gamble more of their depositors money than was previously allowed, resulting in layers of derivatization ostensibly to insulate against risk, but lying and cheating combined with zero legal penalty, meant that in reality it Ponzi-fied the world economy by forcing Wall Street’s will on everyone.

    Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

    These good fellows fixed things up for us after The Treasury and Federal Reserve Bank bailed out the banks and “the street” to the tune of many trillions of dollars.  We couldn’t possibly manage such a bailout again.  Frankly it’s astonishing that it happened the first time without a massive revolt.  The beauty of this bit of legislation is that if your bank is big enough you can now get a bailout any time without much fanfare – definitely no need to appear before a committee and be castigated on TV by people like Senator Sanders.  When you’re running a little low on capital, the Fed will perform some financial magic by “injecting liquidity into the markets” or maybe provide some “quantitative easing.”  Of course the magic really means the “markets” now get free money to keep them from falling over while everyone else gets austerity.

    General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)

    Trade in services is ultimately the way in which every individual will be subjugated to to the magical neoliberal economic system that operates outside of human society. Need programmers and network engineers? Need nurses and doctors for your hospital? We’ll send you a bunch of cheap ones from India or China so you can fire the expensive skilled employees that live in your communities.

    Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) as codified in trade agreements like NAFTA

    ISDS is insane. Unelected international tribunals are given the power to settle disputes between investors (viewed as operating *outside of* or *above* national sovereignty) and specific “sovereign” nations. The “disputes” generally take the form of an investor (read transnational corporation) claiming that due to a “sovereign” nation’s audacity to pass laws intended to protect the interests of its citizens, the investor’s expected future profits have been reduced. This is so much fun that hedge funds now invest in these suits – not in the companies who’s “expected future profits” are now in doubt, but in the placing of bets on the suits themselves (https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/04/investor-state-dispute-settlement-isds-suits-become-favored-hedge-fund-investment.html).

    Let us also not forget that the various “trade agreements” that are being/have been negotiated are negotiated and written in secrecy. Even the elected officials responsible for voting on these agreements in a “fast track” process generally get no opportunity to view the text of these agreements until they are done. For the few that do get to have a look ahead of time, they are given limitied access to the document to read in a secured environment where they are forbidden from having so much as a post-it and a pencil to jot down their concerns with and impressions of what they read.

    And just in case you still think that the status quo protectors have our best interests in mind (I know you don’t), the existence of this particular 1997 memo (https://www.truthdig.com/articles/larry-summers-and-the-end-game-memo/) discovered some 15 or so years later ought to change your mind.

    No one who is a casual consumer of news will know these details by design, and the main stream media (MSM) is invested in keeping it that way.  MSM will continue to push the idea that this neoliberal experiment *is* as real and natural as the air we breath, and John Q will believe it.

    The final chapter of this story isn’t yet written, but for the authors of the neoliberal experiment it means the subjugation of all human activity to the will of capital – plain and simple.  One world government run by Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Wall Street mafia.

  • #227326

    Populist Prole
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    @populistprole

    Excellent post, thank you.

    Bookmarking for reference.

    • #227500

      tk2kewl
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      @tk2kewl

      @populistprole you can see how Citizens United is perfectly consistent with the march toward  a one world government owned by capital.  One dollar = one vote, plain and simple.

  • #227341

    game meat
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    @gamemeat

    Nice job putting all that together so succinctly.

    • #227502

      tk2kewl
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      @tk2kewl

      @gamemeat i should find a place to stick Citizens United in there

      • #232256

        Enthusiast
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        @enthusiast

        Huge plus one!

        I would like to remind you that U.S. health insurance companies do not contribute anything to health care. They are only a PARASITIC middle man receiving an undeserved cut of "FREE MONEY".

        Me

    • #227553

      tk2kewl
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      @tk2kewl

      @hobbit709 yup. that is the result. and the intended path forward is intended to lock that in

  • #227353

    Flying Squirrel
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    @flyingsquirrel

    Ok. But “your” should be “you’re” and “it’s” should be “its.”

    • #227355

      tk2kewl
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      @tk2kewl

      @flyingsquirrel only one foul on each account.

      i was 4 for 5 on “your/you’re” and 1 for 2 on “it’s/its” – all in that’s batting .833

  • #227472

    Cold Mountain Trail
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    @coldmountaintrail

    +++++

  • #227508

    retired liberal
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    @retiredliberal

    Boiled down to its essence – Money trough.
    The rich and powerful feeding at the money trough, kept full by any means, as long as the rich and powerful don’t need to contribute more than seed money.

    We are an arrogant species, believing our fantasy based "facts" are better than the other person's fake facts.

    If you are wrong, it will be because you are not cynical enough.

    Both major political parties are special interest groups enabling each other for power and money, at the expense of the people they no longer properly serve…

    • #227531

      tk2kewl
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      @tk2kewl

      @retiredliberal that’s a pretty good analogy…

      what happened at the money trough in 2008 is that megawealth had been gorging themselves for so long that they choked and puked. then obama played janitor like the ones that would come into the classroom in 2nd grade to clean up puke. he spread that weird minty smelling stuff everywhere in an attempt to mask the stench of the vomit, but just like i remember from 2nd grade, the minty shit was a more gag inducing smell than the puke itself.

  • #227522

    MizzGrizz
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    @mizzgrizz

    What a succinct analysis.

  • #227540

    Hobbit709
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    @hobbit709

    The 1% get everything and we get all the crap-that is the status quo.

    I don't waste my time teaching pigs to sing.

  • #227559

    Ohio Barbarian
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    @ohiobarbarian

    Superb. Recommended for the Daily Radical. No, make that demanded for the Daily Radical. @deadpool

    We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.--Franklin Delano Roosevelt

    With Bernie Sanders, we have the receipts. --Nina Turner

    • #232252

      Enthusiast
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      @enthusiast

      This is why we are here.

      I would like to remind you that U.S. health insurance companies do not contribute anything to health care. They are only a PARASITIC middle man receiving an undeserved cut of "FREE MONEY".

      Me

  • #227735

    Deadpool
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    @deadpool

    On the Daily Radical!

  • #227782

    sadoldgirl
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    @sadoldgirl

    So Dodd/Frank is then responsible for the Fed giving

    billions to the repo-banks. I thought though that

    somewhere the decision was made to end bailout

    and replace it with bailin, which would fleece the

    bank’s customers.

  • #232251

    Enthusiast
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    @enthusiast

    Kicked and recommended to the fucking MAX!

    This should be widely understood. The authors of such government should be in fucking prison!

    It is clear that a government operated in such a manner should be viewed as an enemy of the people.

    I would like to remind you that U.S. health insurance companies do not contribute anything to health care. They are only a PARASITIC middle man receiving an undeserved cut of "FREE MONEY".

    Me

    • #232260

      Cold Mountain Trail
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      @coldmountaintrail

      +++++ to in prison.

      their plan = death to the planet.

  • #232320

    Electrolyte Orchestra
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    @electrolyteorchestra

    Great post.

    A related issue is money supply. The government stopped printing the M3 in 2006. This basically made certain non-cash financial maneuvers and amounts opaque. The 2008 bailout involved trillions and the public has no way of seeing exactly what went on with elements like the  TAF window, government real estate purchases and sales among many other items.

    I think if they did print the real number again, inflation would skyrocket.

  • #232513

    Junker
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    @junker

    Thanks for posting this.

  • #232769

    Cold Mountain Trail
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    @coldmountaintrail

    kicking this

  • #232785

    djean111
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    @djean111

    The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

    And the OP illustrates why I believe the Trump impeachment is just a distraction.   There may satisfied revenge for some, but neither party means to make our lives anything but worse.  Both complicit.

    I will not vote for a Vichy Dem. Period. As always, I decide who is a Vichy Dem.

    Bernie's ISSUES or Bust!

  • #233020

    rampart
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    @rampart

    +1. best post this week.

     

    “there is no alternative.” thatcher on neoliberalism

    the “Washington consensus” :

    1.Fiscal policy discipline, with avoidance of large fiscal deficits relative to GDP;
    2.Redirection of public spending from subsidies (“especially indiscriminate subsidies”) toward broad-based provision of key pro-growth, pro-poor services like primary education, primary health care and infrastructure investment;
    3.Tax reform, broadening the tax base and adopting moderate marginal tax rates;
    4.Interest rates that are market determined and positive (but moderate) in real terms;
    5.Competitive exchange rates;
    6.Trade liberalization: liberalization of imports, with particular emphasis on elimination of quantitative restrictions (licensing, etc.); any trade protection to be provided by low and relatively uniform tariffs;
    7.Liberalization of inward foreign direct investment;
    8.Privatization of state enterprises;
    9.Deregulation: abolition of regulations that impede market entry or restrict competition, except for those justified on safety, environmental and consumer protection grounds, and prudential oversight of financial institutions;
    10.Legal security for property rights.

  • #233027

    mindpilot
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    @mindpilot

    Most Excellent!

    Slavery was the legal fiction that people can be property.
    Corporatism is the legal fiction that property can be people.

    "If you believe in god, I'm probably smarter than you." -- Tom Leykis

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