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The dog that didn’t bark

November 15th, 2016

My election commentary in Inside Story is about

The dog that didn’t bark … the (assumed) majority of “decent Republicans” to whom Clinton sought to appeal. Although most observers (including me) assumed that many of them would turn against Trump, hardly any did so

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  1. Graham
    November 15th, 2016 at 14:29 | #1

    I agree that I don’t think this was an “anti-establishment” election.
    Those I knew who wanted anti-establishment meant racist and conservative when you listen to them and they were republicans to begin with

    the media is trying to put a positive spin on this saying “we are in a bubble and didn’t recognize the economic anxiety out there”. Ironically if they stepped out of their bubble they would find it harder not easier to put a positive spin on Trumpism.

    Don’t get me wrong, one can definitely put a positive spin on the people who voted trump as well as a negative spin on many who voted hillary. But not the motives for the vote sadly

  2. Newtownian
    November 15th, 2016 at 14:39 | #2

    Good summary. But as our opinions as Australians are even less relevant than 50%, or is it 99.9999%, of Americans this following comment seems the most interesting and in need of further scoping:

    The same tendencies are equally evident in Australia. The consummate neoliberal, Malcolm Turnbull, is little more than a marionette, with his strings being pulled by rightwing Liberals and Nationals inside the government, and extremists like Pauline Hanson and David Leyonhjelm outside it.

    What does this mean for the left? In the short run, the prospects are not good. The willingness of the parties of the right, and their voters, to embrace overt racists, has shielded them from the political costs of the failure of neoliberalism. Add in a little bad luck, and results like that of the recent US election are inevitable.

    When you start analysing things so much even here in Oz depends on Trump. But his agenda is still unclear once you get past searching the election obituaries for anything novel. For armchair socialists one go-to is the sainted Noam. But he has finally spoken http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/38360-trump-in-the-white-house-an-interview-with-noam-chomsky and is also none the wiser.

    Some developments like Trump’s provisional head advisors and the total domination by the Republicans of all 4 arms of US government make the future look blacker than we can imagine. Yet all it would take is a rebel Republican senator or two to spike Trumps’s guns for a couple of years and vote against every piece of rubbish legislation he puts up (McCain?). Meanwhile there is the question of whether Trump can develop a regime which is coherent enough to write his desired legislation in a way that is legally consistent and doesnt trigger massive backlash. The weight of existing law is not trivial. Elsewhere and confusing things further for Oz we also have the prospect of a reemergent British Commonwealth? – or something like this out of Abbot’s imagination. And for good measure we have on the horizon our old friends year by year accelerating climate change and the threat of economic bursting bubbles ready to change the rules yet again.

    So it seems, returning to Australia things the future is very muddy. But it may be possible to at least start listing interesting topics like the following:

    – Whither the international trade deals and their spruikers – and what is to become of Andrew Robb
    – Whither the South China Sea and Australia’s allegiances
    – Whither North Korean bellicosity
    – Whither all those overseas US bases and conflicts Australia is involved in.
    – Whither creationist teaching in Oz school science programs.
    – Whither our own climate change research and renewable energy in face of a dying GBR.
    – Whither our coal exports…..aligned/opposed to the rejuvenation of the US coal industry
    – Whither our leaders in dealing with the monster Trump with a staight faced and grovelling toady language which will not impress local Oz voters.
    – Whither the refugee swap
    – Whither aggressive pushes from Trump to open Oz to US firms while shutting the doors on Oz access to the US
    – Whither Oz gun culture.
    – Whither mass US migrant/refugee from Trump influx (mainstream, Hollywood types and of course climate scientists).
    – Whither Labor’s neoliberalism

    Ayman al-Zawahiri must be gazing in wondering at what he thinks he set in motion 2001. But in reality we maybe should also ‘thank’ Hayek and Friedmann and the neoliberal economics fraternity for the current mess as they are probably a lot more responsible for this history juggernaut.

    (One final area for exploration – identifying the Oz commentariat who took this particular piece of nonsense seriously https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End_of_history ).

  3. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    November 15th, 2016 at 14:55 | #3

    Forget about them. what happened to the black and Latino vote?

  4. Newtownian
    November 15th, 2016 at 15:04 | #4

    In case the allusion to Fukuyama’s End of history makes you curious here are some very recent thoughts of his on the matter of Trump. Nothing exceptionable really, indeed he is quite sensible. He like Chomsky is in the dark.

    https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/united-states/2016-11-09/trump-and-american-political-decay
    http://www.vox.com/2016/10/26/13352946/francis-fukuyama-ezra-klein

    Amusingly he thinks Oz is a model for a reformed US (in fact its first on the list)??!!!

  5. rog
    November 15th, 2016 at 15:35 | #5

    Republicans represent the white majority who also happen to be conservative, they don’t need to pander to minority groups.

  6. paul walter
    November 15th, 2016 at 15:44 | #6

    I guess this tends to indicate that possibility that there are few Republicans with any decency, despite the large numbers that apparently attend church.

    It would be my reading.

    But where were the useless, gormless Democrats, including the candidate, who made even Bill Shorten look heroic by comparison? Same old Blairite bulldust and everyone knew this was no social reform candidate.

    The election was the culmination of a generation of frustration, as with GB and in Australia where the public has turned on Labor pretending to be reformist when they were neo liberal.

    At least Trumps doesn’t lie about wanting to screw you over, would be the rationale… people hate being lied to; treated like fools.

    No sign that mulish Blairite formations have understood, let alone accepted that the public is fed up with Wall St /City of London neoliberalism either.

  7. paul walter
    November 15th, 2016 at 15:55 | #7

    Just watching a quick clip with Bernie Sanders at the Guardian on the ivory tower “Democrat Elite”. I won’t link it because the intrusive advertising, sufficient to say he nails the problem, imho.

  8. paul walter
    November 15th, 2016 at 16:30 | #8
  9. rog
    November 15th, 2016 at 16:53 | #9

    Well it’s all very well for Bernie Sanders to nail the problem but he’s not relevant.

  10. J-D
    November 15th, 2016 at 17:40 | #10

    @paul walter

    At least Trumps doesn’t lie about wanting to screw you over, would be the rationale… people hate being lied to; treated like fools.

    On the contrary, Trump lies regularly.

  11. Donald Oats
    November 15th, 2016 at 18:32 | #11

    @paul walter
    The irony is that Trump served up a steaming pile of #^&[email protected]?! as election promises, some outlandish, and yet people voted for him anyway. Perhaps they don’t mind being lied to, so long as it is *their* candidate who is doing the lying. Which segues nicely into Prof Quiggin’s point that they voted according to tribal association and not on the basis of the policies up for offer.

    It would be interesting to see a) how much it cost for each presidential candidate to run their campaign; b) where that funding came from. I’m sure that it could tell some stories about what the presidential elect is *really* going to do in office, as opposed to just what he said he would do.

  12. Ikonoclast
    November 15th, 2016 at 19:22 | #12

    Test

  13. Ikonoclast
    November 15th, 2016 at 19:28 | #13

    I can’t post a link apparently.

    Search for “Economic Update: Trump explained” – Professor Richard D. Wolff

  14. Henry Haszler
    November 15th, 2016 at 19:52 | #14

    I’m no macro economist but I have never fully understood why Keynesian pump priming got such a bad name from about the 1970s. I think it must have been the practice of Keynesian economics that was at fault because the general idea is just so sensible, certainly if one values social justice. Perhaps Julia Gillard had learned the lesson when she said Labor’s policy was “a surplus over the cycle”. The only quibble I have with this is that the aim should be a balanced budget over the cycle because otherwise the government is always targeting collecting more tax than it needs — a useful thing for politicians and bureaucrats because it makes their budgeting and lives easier.

    Note that I am excluding from the balancing issue the option for governments to borrow for investments in the various forms of infrastructure. And I do not see passing on deficits to our kids as necessarily a bad thing. After all the kids will benefit from long-lived investments so there is no reason I can see that they should not expect to pay something for the benefits.

    But onto neoliberalism, the real reason for this comment. I’m very happy with your criticisms of this philosophy but what exactly to replace it? It is so easy to trot out “the markets will deal with it” but how can we summarise the alternative(s) other than to argue that things should be more often based on social BCAs and a better understanding of how things work?

  15. Henry Haszler
    November 15th, 2016 at 20:02 | #15

    Two comments on Trump.

    1. So many people are now welcoming Trump’s backsliding on his various and many noxious comments and promises on the grounds “Thank God it won’t be as bad as it sounded”. But that just endorses outright lying by politicians. I can never forgive our own John Howard for his distinction between “core” and other promises. I know it’s naive to expect more but where is the ethics and why do voters put up with it?

    2. I’m sure everyone reading this will have seen the picture of Malcolm Turnbull talking on the phone to Trump after the latter’s election. Am I the only one who thinks it looks as if Turnbull is standing to attention as he makes the call?

  16. Luke Elford
    November 15th, 2016 at 21:57 | #16

    For what it’s worth, 23 per cent of Republicans who are Latino voted for Clinton, and 75 per cent voted for Trump.

    http://www.latinodecisions.com/files/8614/7866/3919/National_2016__Xtabs.pdf

    This is certainly a more substantial rebuke for Trump than that provided by Republicans as a whole, but still most dogs did not bark.

    I suppose that once you’ve resigned yourself to the fact that you support a political party that uses racist dog-whistles to obtain power and implement otherwise unpopular policies, the adoption of overt racism doesn’t seem like that much of a big deal.

    Clinton got the support of 97 per cent of Latino Democrats, and Trump two per cent.

  17. paul walter
    November 15th, 2016 at 22:05 | #17

    Yep, in the end people will think of Howard, total liar and anyone who was fooled got all they deserved. People knew, or know, or ought to know, what people like Howard and Trump are and that they defend the status quo in their own interest, whereas reformists have to convince people that it is worthwhile risking change, particularly when it benefits poorer people, say, without offering much beyond risk itself from those in front under the current regime. The motives of conservative populists are different from those of the reformers, so the populists imitate the reformers as to high minded language and some times complex blocking arguments and since they have nothing to offer, their success in their minds owes itself to their ability to convince the public by any means fair or foul that change is a risk.

    With the Blairites over the last generation, a solution that proposed to limit the risk of change for conservatives while still achieving it for the less well off, on the basis of a blending of conservative economics applied more selectively than the Thatcherites, given of course that Thatcherism was operative under a darker philosophy of selfish individualism than reformism, was offered up but failed because reformers themselves seemed captured by the allure of capitalism, the allure of wealth as a solution for life’s problems against the hard toil of achieving idealistic abstract aims, including the aim of actual efficiency.

    People in the end preferred”honest “liars to people like Blair and the Clintons who moved neo liberalism into dominance on the basis that compromises was the only way to achieve change, with the conservatives and neolibs cherry picking what suited them hobbling the opportunity now lost of real social reform against short term gain-ism.

    The lies, if you like, of the centrists failed because they had promised something better not forthcoming, certainly this time around, against the claims of the conservatives that things would get worse, because those assumptions could not be verified through maintenance of the status quo against changes instigated by reformers, eg conservatives could always claim it would have been even worse if reforms had been tried. People thought they were being tricked into assent of repeal of more Glass Steagall type stuff, for example, that this was an actual betrayal given it hadnt worked before. It had to be rank stupidity at best, even a sellout rather than just the negative nay-saying of Trump, who worked on that aspect involving suspicion, rather than the arguing against the necessity of reform itself against he situation in the nineties when people felt that Centrist reform was worth a try first time round.

    With Keynesianism, I think the problem turned out to be was that Keynesianism worked at least when people gave it a chance to work.

    That was most inconvenient for the burghers and burglars who wanted an excuse to get at the commonwealth.

    A fairy story about waste and laziness was cooked up and people were convinced they were hard done by under Keynesian social democracy, in order to justify privatising the common wealth, cracking down on low incomes, welfare for the unworthy for tax cuts etc and once this new regime was in place it was impossible to roll back because a new type of mentality was in control of the political levers. That is, even if most people found/find themselves worse off and “had” by the criminal classes now in control.

  18. D
    November 15th, 2016 at 22:40 | #18

    It would be interesting to see a) how much it cost for each presidential candidate to run their campaign; b) where that funding came from. I’m sure that it could tell some stories about what the presidential elect is *really* going to do in office, as opposed to just what he said he would do.

    a) Clinton = $1.3Bn; Trump = $795Mn.

    b) Clinton = Wall Street; Military Industry; Biggest US Law Firms Representing both as well as tax-dodging Corporate America; Donald Sussman ($21.8Mn); JR Pritzker ($17.5Mn); Haim Saban ($12.5Mn); George Soros ($11.8Mn); Fred Eychaner ($10.9Mn); Big Unions (such as the lowest paid food workers’ SEIU which gave tens of millions of their workers’ dollars); “small” donors of less than $200 – 16%.

    Trump = Largest single donor was Trump ($56Mn); Sheldon Adelson ($10.5Mn); “small” donors – 27%.

    NB: Sanders got 70% from “small” donors.

    Yet another “first” for this campaign was that the candidate who spent the most lost for a change.

  19. Luke Elford
    November 16th, 2016 at 00:10 | #19

    @Donald Oats

    Since D’s comment was about bashing the Democrats rather than giving you the information you were after, here’s a useful link listing the top ten Republican and Democratic campaign donors.

    http://www.ibtimes.com/who-donates-trump-clinton-list-richest-campaign-contributors-includes-hedge-fund-2440008

    For the Republicans, they are, in order:
    1. Casino magnate
    2. Hedge fund CEO
    3. Hedge fund manager
    4. Shipping company magnates
    5. Former CEO of online brokerage
    6. Hedge fund manager
    7. Investment banker
    8. CEO of poultry company
    9. Owner of a roofing supply company
    10. Founder of home improvement superstore chain

    Donors three and six are anti-Trump, but their donations have funded anti-Clinton campaigns.

    Draw your own conclusions about what he’ll do.

  20. Tim Macknay
    November 16th, 2016 at 00:26 | #20

    @D
    Presumably the other 65% or so of Trump’s campaign spend also came from “Wall Street, Military Industry, Biggest US Law Firms, tax-dodging Corporate America” etc. No?

  21. Tim Macknay
    November 16th, 2016 at 00:29 | #21

    @Luke Elford
    Our comments crossed. Looks like it’s “tax-dodging Corporate America” then.

  22. D
    November 16th, 2016 at 01:11 | #22

    Luke,

    Cant’ see the “Democrat bashing” in that list of information.

    The differences between two lumps of information we both provided show how murky political funding is. For example, your source doesn’t mention Trump’s $56Mn at all.

    In any case, adding up all the amounts listed still leaves about $1Bn for Clinton and about $0.5Bn for Trump.

    Donald’s question suggested that a) the amount mattered, and b) the source mattered, when it comes to questioning the candidate’s true intentions when elected. It seems churlish to ignore the answers to those questions when it comes to Clinton – especially when the answer to “a)” is ‘about twice as much as Trump’.

  23. Marco
    November 16th, 2016 at 08:26 | #23

    “But in the longer term, then as now, there is hope for a brighter future.” These are hardly hopeful words. The thirties ended in the start of a devastating world war. The future after that was very bright but what a price.

  24. November 16th, 2016 at 08:52 | #24

    In the longer term, Keynesianly, we’re all dead; and the longer term is the best-case scenario.
    If we want an explanation of the Trump vote, we need to look at the fact that white US death rates are rising; if we want an explanation of why white death rates are rising, we need to look back at the collapse of the Soviet empire. When a world-historical project collapses, the people who identified with it crumble; the Russian life expectancy dropped ten years in five years. The takeaway is that the American century is over, and the whites feel that, and are lashing out; if indeed it’s the American century that’s ending, and not something larger and harder to see while we’re standing inside it.

  25. Luke Elford
    November 16th, 2016 at 10:01 | #25

    @D

    “For example, your source doesn’t mention Trump’s $56Mn at all.”

    Good point. His refusal to appropriately deal with his assets by liquidating them and placing the proceeds in a blind trust makes it pretty clear that his main concern will be the financial interests of his number one donor, himself.

  26. Jim Birch
    November 16th, 2016 at 10:20 | #26

    It’s hard to see that Trump will be successful. I don’t see that he can end the economic malaise of his vocal support base, and he’s likely to upset a lot of others if he actually does what he claimed he’d do. For example, China has announced it would close its markets tit-for-tat if the US does. Buy shares in lobbyists.

    If this marks the end of neoliberalism, then it is great opportunity for the left if they can come up with an agreed pragmatic vision that extends beyond a tragic obsession with issues like gay marriage setting the world right. Whether that can happen remains to be seen. The horror of Trump’s personal qualities rather than his actual policies does not augur well to me.

    As regard the vote, it’s worth remembering that Trump was elected by 25% of US (potential) voters. A groundswell on a rather restricted domain, we might conclude. Maybe a group of traditional Republicans did stay home, but a different bunch of Republicans suddenly felt enfranchised and decided to vote.

  27. Tim Macknay
    November 16th, 2016 at 11:44 | #27

    @D
    Donald’s question suggested that a) the amount mattered, and b) the source mattered, when it comes to questioning the candidate’s true intentions when elected. It seems churlish to ignore the answers to those questions when it comes to Clinton – especially when the answer to “a)” is ‘about twice as much as Trump’.

    D, I think the problem with your answer, and the reason why Luke (and I) read your answer as anti-Democrat, is because you gave a rather comprehensive list of sources for Clinton’s campaign funding, and only listed sources for a minority fraction of Trump’s. So where did the majority of Trump’s funding come from? My guess is the same place as the majority of Clinton’s – corporate America.

  28. Tim Macknay
    November 16th, 2016 at 11:45 | #28

    Bugger. Forgot quote tags around the first para.

  29. Tim Macknay
    November 16th, 2016 at 11:56 | #29

    @ChrisB
    I think the statistics are a bit more subtle than that – white middle aged death rates are growing (i.e. across the age range form around 40-55). The overall white death rates is still declining, but the rate of decline is much shallower due to the jump in the middle-aged death rate. But I agree to the extent that the middle-aged death rate appears to be growing in sections of American society that perceive themselves to be in decline, particularly in white-dominated rural areas. That suggests a socio-cultural explanation of the type you’re putting forward.

  30. D
    November 16th, 2016 at 15:19 | #30

    Part of the problem is opaque campaign finance.

    The answer to “a)” is relatively straightforward, but not very illuminating:

    Clinton – $556Mn ‘Hillary Clinton Campaign’ + $544.4Mn ‘Party and joint fundraising committees’ + $188Mn ‘Super PACs’ = $1.3Bn

    Trump – $243.8Mn ‘Donald Trump campaign’ + $486.7Mn ‘Party and joint fundraising committees’ + $60.1Mn ‘Super PACs’ = $795Mn

    The answer to “b)” is much harder to determine as shown by the different figures mentioned above. There are lots of different sources with differing figures. The “FEC” website has a lot of diffuse data but is a jungle to sort through. The ability to obscure information just makes it harder.

  31. Nick
    November 16th, 2016 at 16:15 | #31

    Hi Tim and ChrisB, I haven’t read through this in detail, but it looks to be of interest:

    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/09/16/ije.dyw095.full

    Having identified changing age composition as creating a risk of bias, Gelman then corrected for it, estimating that the bias was responsible for around half of the reported increase in all-cause mortality rates. As well as quantitatively reducing the reported mortality rate increase, which had captured so much media attention, the correction also qualitatively changed the findings in two ways: first, male and female trends were no longer similar enough to be meaningfully grouped together, with still-worsening mortality trends for women over that period but a reversal in these adverse trends for men; second, if males and females are to be combined, the reported continuously worsening trend in death rates from 1999 onwards would need to be amended to describe a stabilization from around 2005, which may now even be reversing.

  32. sunshine
    November 16th, 2016 at 16:24 | #32

    Its fun watching Conservatives desperately interpret this as a revolt against (political) correctness and a suffocating Leftist elite .I think Trumps malignant narcissist personality will have a big bearing on how things pan out. He is used to being a dictator ,surrounded by grovelling servants, he practices extreme selfishness with no regard for the less fortunate (and brags about it !). Not a good type for politics .Can they keep him under control ? So far he seems compliant . I would not be surprised if he has some kind of mental breakdown. Asked on national tv if some of his divisive rhetoric may have gone a bit too far he said ‘No ,I won’ .

    The Saturday Paper had a good stat. Americas top 25 hedge fund managers last year earned more than the nations 150,000 pre school teachers but paid less tax . Oh well ,I guess the market said it was ok.

    I saw lots of polling that was putting a % probability on the outcome so its not correct to say they got it wrong just because the likely outcome didnt happen. Also ,I understand it does matter that he actually did win -but if he had lost by a few 1000 instead ,all those people would still have been there but it would have been back to business as usual under Hillary instead of the revolution now said to be underway. We would have resumed sleepwalking toward the cliff ,now we are running maybe a few more people will wake up.

  33. rog
    November 16th, 2016 at 16:47 | #33

    It was once said that the problem with socialism is that it brings us all down to the lowest common denominator and that individual aspirations were suppressed for the common good.

    Now with Trump, Brexit, Hanson and other surprises we have the right side of politics bringing us down to their level, a very low denominator in any money.

    In a way this is good; in victory the right has lost one of its major arguments.

  34. Ivor
    November 17th, 2016 at 08:16 | #34

    The dogs didn’t bark, so the caravan is being destroyed

  35. Ivor
    November 17th, 2016 at 08:18 | #35

    @rog

    It was once said that the problem with socialism is that it brings us all down to the lowest common denominator

    This is yankee propaganda.

    Socialism brings everyone to the highest common denominator.

  36. John Goss
    November 17th, 2016 at 09:09 | #36

    It is the decline of the US empire we are seeing. And the ‘death throes’ of an empire can be very dangerous and unpredictable times. The establishment lost control with the election of Trump, and although they may get most of what they want anyway, it is an unstable situation for them. So there may be a significant movement of capital out of the US.

    What organisational arrangements replace the US empire is the trillion dollar question, and my crystal ball is very murky on that one.
    PS Death throes is in italics because that is poetic language. It is relative decline we are seeing not death, though decline can feel like dying if you are used to being on top.

  37. November 17th, 2016 at 15:10 | #37

    Why Trump’s failure to deliver on any of his promises won’t matter:
    Just 16% of Republicans said the economy was getting better in the week before the election, while 81% said it was getting worse. Since the election, 49% say it is getting better and 44% worse.
    It’s a miracle! He’s not even in office and it’s already getting better! 33% better!

  38. Jim Rose
    November 17th, 2016 at 15:24 | #38

    So where did all of Gary Johnson’s votes come from?

    Why is Trump having so much difficulty is filling sub-cabinet positions especially in the National Security area.

    Incoming administrations of both parties have a party have thousands of party cardre to call upon for the blue book appointments of several thousand positions including the thousand requiring Senate confirmation.

  39. Luke Elford
    November 17th, 2016 at 18:53 | #39

    @ChrisB

    In addition to this freebie, since Trump has spent the campaign making up ridiculous lies about the state of the economy, he will only need to tell his credulous followers the truth for there to be the appearance of a miraculous turnaround.

    As I said before, many Trump supporters are detached from reality—they happily consume and share obviously bogus news stories from bogus websites that pander to their prejudices.

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/viral-fake-election-news-outperformed-real-news-on-facebook?utm_term=.onlWXQA66#.juwBejVvv

    “In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others, a BuzzFeed News analysis has found.

    “…Of the 20 top-performing false election stories identified in the analysis, all but three were overtly pro-Donald Trump or anti-Hillary Clinton. Two of the biggest false hits were a story claiming Clinton sold weapons to ISIS and a hoax claiming the pope endorsed Trump.”

  40. Ikonoclast
    November 18th, 2016 at 06:56 | #40

    @John Goss

    You have written very wise and perspicacious words there. (Is that almost a tautology on my part?)

    However, you are correct. It is the decline of the US empire we are witnessing and it is a decline from a very high base. As Paul Kennedy pointed out, movements in relative power matter more than movements in absolute power, when it comes the great power competition. The USA’s relative power is rapidly declining and China’s is rapidly rising. China will seek to assert itself more and more.

    You are also correct that a power transition of this type is usually a very dangerous and unstable time. My crystal ball is also on the blink so I don’t know what will happen either. The situation is complicated by a number of globally applicable factors.

    1. Possession of nuclear weapons by all the great powers means open war between great powers should still be inconceivable to all but lunatics. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) is still the only possible outcome of a full nuclear exchange.

    2. The limits to growth will prevent much more growth by any great power.

    3. China might play new strategic factors better than the USA but the USA’s resource position might still be better than China’s. The USA’s cultural, political and economic decline looks almost long term terminal though.

    This is all very complicated. I might post on this again sometime.

  41. Andrew
    November 18th, 2016 at 07:32 | #41

    A view from the centre

    Hi all, I haven’t commented here for a few years – but I popped back in to see what Quiggin thought about Trump election result. I respect his views – even though I don’t often agree.

    We continue to be surprised and astounded by the rebound in popularity of politicians like Pauline Hanson in Australia and Trump in the US. Why are largely moderate and progressive societies like the US, Australia and the UK shifting to the right?

    Actually, I don’t think they are – I think what is really happening is that vocal minorities on either side of the political spectrum are becoming louder and trying to out-shout each other. The silent majority is watching on with bemusement and is becoming more and more detached from the debates.

    In Australia – we’re sick of mealy-mouthed and self-interested politicians like Rudd and Abbott, and ineffectuals like Gillard, Shorten and Turnbull. The middle-ground majority is pining for the days when we had strong middle-ground leaders like Keating and Howard.

    Middle Australia is progressively conservative, and deeply aspirational. If I had to summarise some of the views of middle Australia on politics, society and current hot-button issues it would be;

    • Western style capitalism is a pretty good system and definitely far better than any of the alternatives in other parts of the world – we want our politicians to shout that out and make us feel proud of who we are (what is with all the self-loathing?).
    • We know that capitalism and economic growth is the best way to drag people out of poverty. The best societies create opportunities for individuals to shine.
    • We are aspirational – we want the freedom to strive, achieve and prosper. We understand and support the need for welfare safety nets, but we reject the swing to redistributive policies which reallocate wealth to those who haven’t earned it.
    • We think that multiculturalism is a good thing. We understand the huge economic benefit that skilled migration brings and we welcome immigrants from all over the world – we are tired of being told that Australia is a racist society when that’s just not true.
    • We welcome Muslims into the country and understand that the vast majority of Muslims are people just like us – trying to make their way in the world and build something for their kids. But we recognise that radical Islam is a problem that must be addressed – that doesn’t make us racist.
    • We support gay marriage and believe that what goes on behind closed doors between two consenting adults is no-one’s business but theirs. However we are deeply suspicious of programs like ‘Safe Schools’ and activists like Roz Ward and their gender fluidity politics.
    • We believe that climate change is a major global concern that needs to be addressed. We need to phase out fossil fuels – but the phasing out needs to be done in a way that doesn’t impact jobs and the economy. We are suspicious of environmental activists using climate change as a Trojan horse to engineer social changes.
    • The plight of our aboriginal communities is appalling and needs to be fixed. It is disgrace that aboriginals make up just 3% of the overall population but 28% of the jail population. However we are astounded that when a satirical cartoon points out that part of the problem is the breakdown of families in aboriginal communities then the cartoonist is labelled racist and eagerly charged by Triggs and her ilk under section 18C.
    • We sympathise with the plight of refugees in offshore processing centres but think that shutting down the people smugglers has saved 100s of lives and we understand the awful compromises that need to be made to address an intractable problem. We are tired and suspicious of propaganda from both sides which is not telling the truth about the refugee issues – banning media from the centres is wrong, but so are ridiculous and insulting statements from Amnesty international claiming Australia is torturing people.

    The problem is – with all the shouting going on, the middle ground has abandoned the debate. We can’t declare our support for gay marriage or we get labelled subversive by the right and we can’t debate the plights of aboriginals without being called racist by the left. As a society we have forgotten that the best way to solve any problem is for truthful, open and honest debate about the issues. We’ve forgotten how to listen to opposing points of view without being ‘offended’.

  42. Julie Thomas
    November 18th, 2016 at 08:06 | #42

    @Andrew

    “we can’t debate the plights of aboriginals without being called racist by the left.”

    This is nonsense. The ‘plight’ of our first people cannot be discussed without first taking responsibility for the situation and acknowledging that white civilization invaded their country and destroyed their wealth and their culture.

    The next step is to accept that their culture was not one built by people lacking in intelligence and that their way of life has a lot to offer and was functional and admirable.

    And I can tell you that there never was a time when leftist views did not offend the middle class.

    I have been offending middle class people middle of the road people all my life. Been told you can’t say that. Don’t talk about politics religion class or money. Bite your tongue when in the company of well off people for your own good, girl.

    It is the political correctness of middle class rules that are violated and offended by truthful open and honest debate.

  43. GrueBleen
    November 18th, 2016 at 08:56 | #43

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #40

    You have written very wise and perspicacious words there. (Is that almost a tautology on my part?)

    No.

    However, you are correct. It is the decline of the US empire we are witnessing and it is a decline from a very high base.

    Beware the Seneca Cliff.

    The USA’s cultural, political and economic decline looks almost long term terminal though.

    Isn’t everything ? How long do you expect the human race to continue to survive ?

  44. Ikonoclast
    November 18th, 2016 at 09:00 | #44

    @GrueBleen

    “How long do you expect the human race to continue to survive ?”

    My crystal ball still isn’t working but my guess is there’s about a 50% probability of human extinction within 100 years.

  45. Andrew
    November 18th, 2016 at 09:17 | #45

    Julie – I get it – many on the left want to ‘shock’ the middle class out if its apathy, complacency and comfortable middle-class surburban life-style.

    “And I can tell you that there never was a time when leftist views did not offend the middle class”

    But the middle-class is actually pretty hard to offend…. middle-Australia just tends to ignore any silliness, from the left or the right. They’ve got more important things to worry about like why the Australian cricket team is doing so badly….

  46. tony lynch
    November 18th, 2016 at 12:16 | #46

    Here is that crazy man, Dean Baker.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/17/trumponomics-its-not-all-crazy/

    And I think RW Johnson gets more to the point than JQ

    http://www.lrb.co.uk/2016/11/14/rw-johnson/trump-some-numbers

  47. Julie Thomas
    November 18th, 2016 at 12:30 | #47

    @Andrew

    “As a society we have forgotten that the best way to solve any problem is for truthful, open and honest debate about the issues. We’ve forgotten how to listen to opposing points of view without being ‘offended’.”

    The people who began to regard themselves as exceptional individuals have never known what it is to be truthful open and honest or to debate the issues rather than force their own preferences as the only answer to the issues.

    People who agreed with Thatcher that there is no society – but now want to say they were the best society – rejected the idea that there was any opposing point of view and as you have just done manage only to be offensive in reply to any opposing point of view.

  48. GrueBleen
    November 18th, 2016 at 13:38 | #48

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #44

    So unlike the fail and fall of the not-quite-so Great British Empire (and how quick was that !), the fail and fall of the once-very Great American Empire will be a real Samson in the Temple act bringing the entire species down with it. In short, rampant MAD.

    Or maybe an escaped ultra-virus, or Ebola spreads around the world, or a stray meteorite or comet or something like that. Much too short a time frame for climate.

    Or did you have something else in mind ?

    BTW, do you perchance read the ‘Stumbling and Mumbling’ blog ? If not, you should eyeball it from time to time, I think you might enjoy it at least occasionally.

  49. Ikonoclast
    November 18th, 2016 at 13:49 | #49

    @GrueBleen

    The biggest risks are ecological collapse, climate change, limits to growth, nuclear war and disease in any order and possibly interacting together. We can see that if any one reaches tipping point it tips all the others off as well.

  50. GrueBleen
    November 18th, 2016 at 13:53 | #50

    @Andrew
    Your #41

    we’re sick of mealy-mouthed and self-interested politicians like Rudd … and ineffectuals like Gillard,

    Both the Rudd and Gillard governments also emphasised the need to develop a diverse Australian economy that would prosper beyond the mining boom. Indeed, the mining tax was partly meant to redistribute profits from the miners to those sections of the economy that were more vulnerable.

    Despite public perceptions that both governments were dysfunctional, the legislative and policy record of the Labor governments is in fact extensive. The minority Gillard government alone successfully passed over 500 pieces of legislation. Great credit needs to be given to Gillard’s negotiating skills.

    The Conversation “Labor’s legacy: six years of … what exactly?” September 8, 2013

    I took all of the Commonwealth of Australia Numbered Acts and assigned them to a prime minister, political party, and parliament based on the date of assent of the act. This isn’t entirely exact, as some legislation may be introduced under one PM and passed under another, though I believe it is a good proxy.

    From this dataset, I counted the total acts for each PM, party, and parliament. Then, I determined the number of days in office for each PM, and the number of days each parliament and party governed. Using these figures you can calculate a rate of acts per day, which accounts for different lengths of prime ministers’ or governments’ terms.

    The results?
    Julia Gillard had the highest rate of passing legislation with a rate of 0.495, followed by Bob Hawke at 0.491:

    The Guardian “Was Julia Gillard the most productive prime minister in Australia’s history? ” Friday 28 June 2013

    Wake up and take a look at the real world, Andy.

  51. Ikonoclast
    November 18th, 2016 at 13:55 | #51

    @Ikonoclast

    I agree with much that is written in his acticle “On Burkean Marxism”.

  52. GrueBleen
    November 18th, 2016 at 14:49 | #52

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #50

    “On Burkean Marxism”.

    I thought you might when I read it myself, which is why I thought I’d check if you’d seen it. He is very readable, most of the time.

  53. J-D
    November 18th, 2016 at 15:54 | #53

    @Andrew

    Is that the ‘royal we’ that you’re using there?

  54. November 18th, 2016 at 21:11 | #54

    @Andrew

    “• We are aspirational – we want the freedom to strive, achieve and prosper. We understand and support the need for welfare safety nets, but we reject the swing to redistributive policies which reallocate wealth to those who haven’t earned it.”

    Sure, but most big incomes are not earned. They are the result of rigged and distorted markets. For example restrictions on the number of medical specialists. Ditto for pharmacies. And I don’t care how hard they work, the CEO’s are not worth millions per year. You can of course go through one by one and fix these restrictive practices and failed markets, but a far easier thing is to just tax highly and redistribute back to the people whose money was stolen by these types.

    And there are plenty of people who get paid very little for working hard.

    I think that you have learned nothing from Trump’s win.

  55. November 18th, 2016 at 21:14 | #55

    “I think that you have learned nothing from Trump’s win.”

    Which of course makes you a great representative of the people you champion, for they learnt nothing either.

  56. Ikonoclast
    November 19th, 2016 at 05:41 | #56

    There are many contributory reasons for Trump’s win. Here are some in no particular order.

    1 – Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but still lost the election. The electoral college system is not the only system that gives minority wins but it is a less democratic system than most. This is particularly so in states where the popular vote winner takes all the electoral college votes. Bottom line, the US at least in presidential elections is not very democratic. The US constitution was expressly designed to thwart the will of the masses and support oligarchic rule.

    2 – Voter turnout is low. Preliminary estimates are 56.9%. This is passable by US standards but not compared to compulsory voting turnouts. It is paradoxical perhaps but compulsory voting is more democratic. Even democratic states use compulsion in various issues and one could argue justifiably so. We have compulsory education and compulsory jury service both of which I personally support. I don’t support compulsory military service but that’s another discussion.

    3 – Capitalism is no longer delivering the goods for the working poor and middle class of the USA. The system has become riddled with egregious economic inequality which Joseph Stiglitz has demonstrated is highly inefficient economically.

    4 – People do not know where to turn. Like a spooked herd, they do not know where the real dangers are nor where the real solutions are.

    5 – The current political system offers no real alternatives. The established parties offer Neoliberal Heavy or Neoliberal Medium (not even Neoliberal Lite). The less neoliberal party offers a few sets of trendy minority rights to get the liberal vote. These minority rights are worthwhile in themselves but only the trendy ones are offered and then are not sincerely offered anyway.

    6 – Celebrity and politics are becoming confused and admixed especially in the USA. It appears large sections of the public don’t really know the difference. Of course, capitalism as a system deliberately hides its own ideology, pretending it’s all “economics”, and the public are fed pap by the media to ensure they are not properly conscious nor have any real understanding of what is really going on in our system: false consciousness in other words.

  57. Julie Thomas
    November 19th, 2016 at 07:20 | #57

    “banning media from the centres is wrong, but so are ridiculous and insulting statements from Amnesty international claiming Australia is torturing people.”

    It’s a bit irrational and self-serving surely the way the royal ‘we’s” – according to Andrew – equate banning media from refugee centres as wrong – wrong? wrong? ffs – and “ridiculous and insulting statements” by Amnesty International. These things are equivalent?

    Andrew says on behalf of “middle Australia” that they ignore silliness and concentrate on the cricket and yet they are insulted and isn’t that offended? by “ridiculous” statements.

  58. November 19th, 2016 at 08:07 | #58

    (A previous attempt to post an earlier comment, from another one of my computers, failed. I was asked to prove that I was not a robot. I believe I did as I was asked, but my comment was still not posted.)

    Defcon nuclear threat falls to safest level after Donald Trump victory

    The DEFCON Warning System is a private organisation that evaluate world events and whether they pose a nuclear threat against America. This threat was reduced to its lowest level of 5 by the election of Donald Trump to the Whitehouse. As others have said, Trump was the ‘Peace Candidate’. We republish the DEFCON statement dated the day of Trump’s election

    This is the DEFCON Warning System. Alert status for 8 P.M., Thursday, November 10th, 2016. Condition code is Green. DEFCON 5.

    defconwarningsystem _dot_ com _slash_ 2016/11/11/defcon-warning-system-update-111016/

    Regarding the complaint that Donald Trump lost the popular vote (for example, by Ikonoclast on November 19th, 2016 at 05:41 | #55):

    As President-elect Donald Trump explained, he campaigned to win the vote in the given electoral college system. Had the Presidential election, instead, been based on the (more democratic) popular vote, he would have spent more time and energy campaigning in the more populous states such as California and Washington DC and believes he would have won more easily.

    Given the hostility to Donald Trump from the hierarchy of his own Republican Party, including from House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the near-unanimous hostility to Donald Trump from the mainstream media and even the majority of the supposed alternative media, including surprisingly, from the Russian RT’s own American branch, the result is triumph of grass-roots organisation.

  59. GrueBleen
    November 19th, 2016 at 08:22 | #59

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #55

    There are many contributory reasons for Trump’s win. Here are some in no particular order.

    Well I dunno, Ikono. Sure, the US Electoral College voting system is precisely why Trump won despite losing the popular vote, but I’d have to say that the real reason Trump won was the 107,330 votes that cost Hillary the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. And why those 107,330 people voted for Trump I have no idea – and as far as I can determine, neither does anybody else much (though James Comey’s little act may have seriously helped).

    Lots and lots of ‘pundit’s fallacy’, ignorance and confirmation bias all over the place, but very little information or enlightenment.

    However, I would like to request of you an explanation of this:

    capitalism as a system deliberately hides its own ideology

    Now capitalism “as a system” isn’t capable of hiding anything – it is inanimate and unwilled. So what exactly do you mean ? Is capitalism such an inherently devious and complex system that its reality can only be known by the few “enlightened ones” ? Or that all believers in capitalism conspire to hide its workings from all the rest of us benighteds ?

    And if so, how did you, personally, come to penetrate this shield of deception to reveal the “true” capitalism ? Was it all down to the revelations of the Messiah Marx ?

  60. Luke Elford
    November 19th, 2016 at 10:04 | #60

    James, nobody cares what people at a random internet website which is named to cause confusion with the US military’s state of alertness think.

    In the middle of the year, they raised their warning level to three, which means, according to them, that people should, amongst other things:

    “Begin gathering supplies of fuel. Do not keep them near your shelter. Make sure your weapons are clean and serviceable. If you do not have any, obtain some now and learn how to use them.”

    And now they’ve lowered it again.

    But nobody cares.

  61. Ikonoclast
    November 19th, 2016 at 10:21 | #61

    @GrueBleen

    Technically, I committed the fallacy of a broad-brush imputation of agency to a human generated system, namely the political economy. This is a common enough thing to do in colloquial speech or writing. There are system aspects to “really existing capitalism” that generate rule-bound and law-bound behaviors which are dependent on and emergent from the real economy and from physical-chemical-biological-ecological laws and from the institutional environment (law-book law, custom, culture) which has been set up over time.

    In my (admittedly idiosyncratic and self-developed) complex system theory, I delineate between “laws” and “rules”. I use the term “laws” to refer to what we call natural laws like the laws of physics, chemistry, biology and ecology. However, not all of these laws can be regarded as deterministic, even in approximation. Some are probabilistic in form.

    I use the term “rules” to refer to institutionalized rules such as the rules of law-book law, custom and culture which are set up by humans acting in concert and sometimes in competition and adversarial settings. We suppose humans to have “agency” by which we mean roughly that they have free-will as assessement, choosing and final decision and action capacities. Whether humans really have free will, in this context, does not really matter. What matters is their ability to have rules and change rules. This is different from the law-bound behavior of basic physical processes, as exemplified very well by the laws of thermodynamics.

    When I say “a (human) system hides something” I am saying that by accident and/or design (assuming the human ability to change rules equates to the ability to design and re-design rules) I am saying that the system hides things by accidental and intended features of its design.

    Take a single human being in total, as a physical and mental being (leaving aside complex theories of “mind” and “society” for the time being) and we see that that a human being is a system. He or she is a physiological and neurological complex system with emergent qualities (objective and subjective) and complex behaviors.

    Our internal organs are hidden from normal human sight. (This statement needs this and other qualifying statements.) This “being hidden” is all or mostly an accident of structure but is also determined by environmental factors; thus that part is evolutionarily determined. Given that white people with pale eyes (like me) are badly adapted for the sub-tropics (and even for too much snow glare for that matter) it is hardly likely that any of us would have evolved with transparent skin.

    Before the study of anatomy, our own organs were largely hidden from us by the contingencies and structural and evolutionary requirements. This does not imply there was any consciousness or agency involved in hiding our organs. In like manner, if many of the “organs” and “structures” of our evolved-and-designed political economy are hidden from us, this does not necessarily imply conscious intention for some of this “hiding”. Every new human born has to, hopefully, get an education in human history, society, politics and economics before he or she can start to at least partially understand these extensive and partly hidden “organs” and “structures” of our political economy.

    Over and above the above, I do contend there is also deliberate hiding, deliberate deception, deliberate misdirection of many kinds, with many motivations, going on in our society. Some of it is individual and some of it is group-orchestrated or corporate-orchestrated or politically-ideologically orchestrated in various forms.

    As a shorthand for all this, I say “the system hides things”. It is really a straightforward and, I would think, an irrefutable proposition. One corollary might be that some systems could or would hide less things than other systems. So one would begin thinking about how to consciously redesign both accidental and intentional features of the current system to get a better (more equitable, more productive and more sustainable system) while taking cognizance of the fact that this intentional action is more akin to catching a wave and riding it to a particular destination rather than thinking one can cancel the reality and momentum of a wave in progress and conjure up a totally different wave by acts of pure will.

  62. Ivor
    November 19th, 2016 at 11:23 | #62

    @GrueBleen

    Capitalism is completely animate and willed.

    It is animated by greed and exploitation and willed by alienated individuals such as Donald Trump, his rancid advisers, Frank Packer, Margaret Thatcher, Clive Palmer, bankers, politicians and most academics and many others.

  63. GrueBleen
    November 19th, 2016 at 12:28 | #63

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #60

    Yes, well I think I’ve sort of got that: you committed a technical fallacy of a broad-brush imputation of agency to a human generated system. Ok.

    But the thing I don’t get is just how this “hiding” of which you speak is carried out and by whom. And whether this means that any and all attempts to penetrate this “hiding” have failed: so we’ve learned nothing from the army of dedicated ‘un-hiders’ of the past couple of hundred years – including the likes of Marx and Hayek.

    So, refining my question: just what is it exactly that is being “hidden”, how is it “hidden”, by whom and from whom ? Are there many aspects of capitalism that are “hidden” from you ? How would you know ? And is there only one ‘capitalism’ ? Therefore somehow one set of “hidings” covers all.

    And just one impertinent query: you say “some systems could or would hide less things “ Now back in my long past schooldays we had two words we could use: we used “less” when we were referring to things enumerated in real numbers (or close-ish approximations thereto) and “fewer” when referring to things enumerated in integers – so in that case, I would have said ‘would hide fewer things’. So, did you ever use ‘fewer’, and if so, when did you stop ?

  64. GrueBleen
    November 19th, 2016 at 12:30 | #64

    @Ivor
    Your #61

    And never, ever feed it, or it will grow and consume us all.

  65. Ivor
    November 19th, 2016 at 13:30 | #65

    @GrueBleen

    That point was made by V I Lenin and Rosa Luxemborg although in slightly more accurate terms.

    To grow it needs feed and will therefore consume us all.

  66. Ikonoclast
    November 19th, 2016 at 14:19 | #66

    @GrueBleen

    “But the thing I don’t get is just how this “hiding” of which you speak is carried out and by whom.”

    1. I’ve already explained how some hidden features were not hidden by anyone. Was the discoverable physical law of (E=M x c sqrd) hidden by anyone? No, unless you believe in a creating Deity. It was simply inherent in existence in our current, known universe as a physical “brute fact”. “In contemporary philosophy, a brute fact is a fact that has no explanation. More narrowly, brute facts may instead be defined as those facts which cannot be explained (as opposed to simply having no explanation). To reject the existence of brute facts is to think that everything can be explained.” – Wikipedia.

    This above is an example of something intrinsically hidden from humans until discovered by and for humans.

    2. If a person or persons create a system, they are not necessarily aware of all facts (as axioms, laws or rules) inherent in that system. Axioms, laws and rules may be inadvertently hidden in human generated systems as unintended consequences or unforeseen emergences.

    Thomas Piketty discovered “If r GT g then inequality increases”. In this precise form he is the discoverer of this “law” to my knowledge. However, it is not a physical, universal law. Rather it is an emergent “law” in a human system where certain rules of ownership and allocation of production surplus are followed. This “law” it seems was hidden, yet always intrinsic to what is “standard capitalism”. This “law” indeed only applies if certain rules of ownership and allocation of production surplus are followed. Change the rules and this “law” could be obviated. Really, I should be calling it an axiom of capitalism. It is axiomatic that “if r GT g then inequality increases” under the current standard rules of capitalism (particularly those rules about ownership and allocation of the rewards (surplus) from production.

    This above is something system-intrinsic (axiomatic) while certain rules are observed by most actors and rule-enforcing authorities in the system. It could be argued that nobody expressly designed it this way, although the rules of the system (capitalism) were expressly or covertly designed to make a few rich off the labour of the many.

    When some different countervailing rules were instituted like democracy, welfare and heavy taxation on the rich, this above axiom was not circumvented in a pure sense but was ameliorated in its effects after the fact of surplus distribution according to the “primary rules” of capitalism.

    3. The way that derivatives, CDOs and like instruments worked was hidden in detail from most people. See the movie “The Big Short” for a dramatization of the discovery of the real content and system effects of these financial instruments. Do you really not see that some people hid stuff from other people and from regulators, governments, the mass of the people and so on?

    The above is something directly deriving from duplicity combined with complex and extensive system ramifications which take time and in-depth research for second and third parties to discover.

    Do you really not get this stuff? Maybe you should just play lawn bowls and drink beer. 🙂

  67. GrueBleen
    November 19th, 2016 at 15:52 | #67

    @Ikonoclast
    Your #65

    Ok now, let’s just get this straight. You said:

    capitalism as a system deliberately hides its own ideology

    Please note the expression: deliberately hides its own ideology.

    Now even you, Ikono, in the midst of your pseudo-socratic attempt to irremediably muddy the waters would have to admit that the idea of “deliberately hides” precludes the kind of implicitness that, say, an as yet undiscovered theorem evinces.

    The words “deliberately” – implying will and animation – and “ideology” imply will and animation and thought are not such as can be just “unknown implicits”

    So, I said:

    “Now capitalism “as a system” isn’t capable of hiding anything – it is inanimate and unwilled. So what exactly do you mean ? Is capitalism such an inherently devious and complex system that its reality can only be known by the few “enlightened ones” ? Or that all believers in capitalism conspire to hide its workings from all the rest of us benighteds ?”

    Can you see that I covered both possibilities ? “inherently devious and complex system” and “believers … conspire to hide its workings“.

    Otherwise:

    Do you really not see that some people hid stuff from other people and from regulators, governments, the mass of the people and so on?

    So, kindly enlighten me, as I have now politely requested several times, exactly who hid what from whom ? Or are you saying it was all revealed in “The Big Short” ? And if so, how was all that “hidden stuff” suddenly unhidden so that a Hollywood epic could be made ? Although I did enjoy reading Michael Lewis’s ‘Liars Poker’ I do not see him as an unchallengeable authority on the US financial system – he never did graduate to BSD status for starters.

    And besides, kindly answer my question about you use of “fewer” and “less” – the almost complete ending of the use of the word “fewer” is one aspect of the hiding of its ideology by the system of linguistics [tm Ikonoclast] that I would much like to unravel.

  68. Julie Thomas
    November 19th, 2016 at 17:01 | #68

    @GrueBleen

    Capitalists and their running dog imperialists hide the reality of their ideology from them selves. Seriously, it is the only way that half-way decent people can become capitalists and maintain the fiction that they are not stealing their wealth.

    You are some sort of capitalist or a sympathiser and you are doing it now; you are trying to hide the reality of what it really means for one person to use another person’s labour and turn it into a profit for themselves only.

  69. GrueBleen
    November 19th, 2016 at 18:22 | #69

    @Julie Thomas
    Your #67

    Seriously, it is the only way that half-way decent people can become capitalists

    Ok, so you’re saying that capitalists are half way decent people. That’s good to know – I’d always assumed they were just garden variety homo sapiens.

    You are some sort of capitalist or a sympathiser

    Oh goodoh, I’ve always wondered what I am and now I’ve met somebody who can read minds and tell me. And being a capitalist makes me a “half way decent person” too, yes ?

  70. Julie Thomas
    November 19th, 2016 at 18:39 | #70

    @GrueBleen

    haha I don’t believe that you have always wondered what you are and you haven’t actually met me and I don’t need to read your mind. It is very obvious when old men get cranky and irritated.

  71. sunshine
    November 19th, 2016 at 20:20 | #71

    Donald Trump is the perfect product of a selfish nihilistic consumer culture .Not an aberration. Now there is lots of talk on the Left that we must make a genuine attempt to reach out and understand Trumpists rather than ignoring, dismissing ,or laughing at them .I agree, but it is annoying that the only the Left can see the value in doing this. Rightists refuse to do so almost by definition. There has always seemed to be an element of asymmetric warfare going on.

    Andrew approaches a claim often made by the IPA etc. That there are things we are not allowed to talk about . What are these things ? I cant think of any.

  72. zoot
    November 19th, 2016 at 20:33 | #72

    @Andrew

    … we reject the swing to redistributive policies which reallocate wealth to those who haven’t earned it.

    I’d be intrigued to know what we think about people such as James Packer, Gina Rinehart and Donald trump who certainly didn’t earn their inheritances by the sweat of their collective brows.

  73. Bernard J.
    November 19th, 2016 at 21:57 | #73

    zoot :
    @Andrew

    … we reject the swing to redistributive policies which reallocate wealth to those who haven’t earned it.

    I’d be intrigued to know what we think about people such as James Packer, Gina Rinehart and Donald trump who certainly didn’t earn their inheritances by the sweat of their collective brows.

    What Zoot (and others) have said.

    The tennet amongst many conservatives that economic reward is correlated with effort is one of the many delusions under which ‘the rabble’ labour. Oh, there’s some relationship, but it’s tenuous at best and very frequently negated by the truism that money makes money.

    At a further step back though is the whole notion of being “aspirational”. This concept reflects the greed and selfishness of the already comparatively wealthy Western middle class, who don’t understand that they almost always only fulfill their ‘aspirations’ through the direct and/or indorect exploitation of the lower class, of much of the Third World, and of the global ecology. Whether it’s a case of ‘the grass is greener’, or ‘keeping up with the Jones’, or ‘enough is never enough’, our economic system has not yet recognised that as it currently operates it’s not detached from systems limits. As long as this remains the case we move inexorably closer and closer to breaking that system.

  74. November 19th, 2016 at 22:08 | #74

    I note Ikonoclast has not responded to my post of November 19th, 2016 at 08:07 in which I showed that “[the election of Donald Trump] is a triumph of grass-roots organisation.”

    @Luke Elford wrote:

    James, nobody cares what people at a random internet website … think.

    Defconwarningsystem _dot_ com shows the peril of global thermonuclear war faced by humanity since the 1950’s. In 2016 the three major superpowers still have enough nuclear weapons to easily destroy a large proportion of humanity and nearly all of our productive capacity. Given what has occurred since 1990, the web-site’s publishers are right to fear the worst, and we should be thankful to them.

    As I have previously explained, Hillary Clinton has, since 1990, helped start wars in Iraq, the former republics of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Libya, Ukraine and Yemen. Those wars have, in total, cost many hundreds of thousands of lives.

    Hillary Clinton stated that she would impose another Libya-style “no-fly zone” over Syria to help overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, should she become President. Clinton laughed at the news of the cruel murder of Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and she openly stated, whilst laughing, that she would like to start a war against Iran.

    Had Clinton been elected we could well be facing a conventional war by the United States against Syria and its allies, Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. It should take little imagination to see how such a war could easily escalate into an all-out nuclear war.

    However, thankfully, Hillary Clinton was not elected. President-elect Donald Trump has stated that he wishes to get along with Russia in general, and, more specifically, to cooperate with Russia in fighting against the Islamic State terrorists in Syria.

    Cleary, the people at defconwarningsystem _dot_ com were right to fear the election of Hillary Clinton and to welcome the election of Donald Trump, instead.

    @Luke Elford continued:

    In the middle of the year, they raised their warning level to three, which means, according to them, that people should, amongst other things:

    “Begin gathering supplies of fuel. Do not keep them near your shelter. Make sure your weapons are clean and serviceable. If you do not have any, obtain some now and learn how to use them.”

    Given the bloody record of Clinton and Obama, was it so unreasonable to expect the worst – and to prepare for the worst – given that terrible bloody wars in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine of today were hardly less terrible back then?

    Now that regime change in the United States, on 20 January 2017, is just over two months away, the people at defconwarningsystem _dot_ com, and the rest of humanity, can now breathe a little more easily.

    @Luke Elford concluded:

    And now they’ve lowered [their warning level] again.

    But nobody cares.

    You clearly don’t care, but those of us, who are informed and want peace, do.

  75. Kel
    November 19th, 2016 at 23:23 | #75

    Thanks JQ I was feeling decidedly teary about the prospects of rational thought, but there might be a small opening. Thanks again.

  76. Luke Elford
    November 19th, 2016 at 23:29 | #76

    @James

    So, when they raised their warning level did you build a fallout shelter and begin stockpiling fuel, food, medicines and weapons per their instructions?

    Unless you did, it’s hard to take your claim that you care about what they say very seriously.

  77. November 19th, 2016 at 23:39 | #77

    @James

    Yeah, of course Hillary is a war monger. That other bloke, the one stirring jingoistic nationalist sentiments, the one threatening a trade war with China, the one who is going to forcibly deport 3 million Mexicans, the one who accuses China of creating global warming, the one who will let global warming run rampant – well there is no threat with him. Its just rhetoric, he doesn’t mean any of it. It’ll be fine.

  78. GrueBleen
    November 20th, 2016 at 00:16 | #78

    @Julie Thomas
    Your #69

    Come on, JT, since you’ve read my mind you know that I was “cranky and irritated” long before I was old – a lot like you, in fact.

  79. zoot
    November 20th, 2016 at 01:51 | #79

    @James
    James, surely Trump’s statements that more countries should be armed nuclear weapons will lift the warning level again.

  80. November 20th, 2016 at 06:52 | #80

    @Luke Elford wrote:

    Unless you [built a fallout shelter and began stockpiling fuel, food, medicines and weapons per their instructions], it’s hard to take your claim that you care about what they say very seriously.

    How I choose to deal with the threat of thermonuclear war, that we have all lived with since the 1950s, is my concern.

    You have failed to show, that, given Barack Obama’s record of starting and continuing wars against the people of the Middle East, that it was not unreasonable for the people, who publish defconwarningsystem _dot_ com, in the middle of this year to fear thermonuclear war and make preparations for the breakdown in society that would inevitably follow.

    Ddefconwarningsystem _dot_ com‘s views of the threat that the election of Hillary Clinton would have posed to humanity are consistent with the evidence, so they were right to welcome Donald Trump’s victory on 8 November.

    John Brookes wrote on November 19th, 2016 at 23:39 | #75:

    [Donald Trump], the one stirring jingoistic nationalist sentiments, the one threatening a trade war with China, the one who is going to forcibly deport 3 million Mexicans, the one who accuses China of creating global warming, the one who will let global warming run rampant – well there is no threat with him.

    I will deal with the above some other time, but even if we were to accept the worst accusations against Donald Trump, how is that worse than what we already know about Hillary Clinton?

    zoot wrote on November 20th, 2016 at 01:51 | #77 :

    James, surely Trump’s statements that more countries should be armed nuclear weapons will lift the warning level again.

    Can you show me where Donald Trump has called for more countries to be armed with nuclear weapons? He has denied ever having said this. What he did say was that these countries should pay more of the costs of defending themselves.

  81. Julie Thomas
    November 20th, 2016 at 07:11 | #81

    @GrueBleen

    I don’t read your mind just your words but the point is that the capitalist ideology does provide people with an argument that absolves them from admitting to themselves – that is it allows them to hide the fact – that it is not meretricious to profit personally from other people’s work.

  82. GrueBleen
    November 20th, 2016 at 08:31 | #82

    @Julie Thomas
    Your #79

    Ok, since I always wear my tinfoil hat you probably can’t read my mind. 🙂 At least that’s what the marketing pitch says.

    But I don’t think you do any better job of reading my words than maybe I do of reading yours. Or that either of us do reading Ikono’s words – and vice versa, but of course. Still, that’s the glory of human incommunication, no ?

    As to “capitalist ideology”, well yes there are people who hide behind their publicly expressed beliefs. However, I have no objection in principle to personally profiting from the work of others: I’d truly hate to think that I was the only person who ever ‘profited’ in any way from what I have done. How about you ?

    So maybe we can agree that the key concept is “exploitation” and then spend the rest of our lives trying to define what it is exactly that that word means.

  83. zoot
    November 20th, 2016 at 13:40 | #83

    @James

    But in an April interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News, Trump said, “It’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them. So, North Korea has nukes. Japan has a problem with that. I mean, they have a big problem with that. Maybe they would in fact be better off if they defend themselves from North Korea.”
    Wallace asked, “With nukes?”
    “Including with nukes, yes, including with nukes,” Trump responded.
    At a town hall with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in March, Trump suggested that it was time to reconsider the United States’ decades-old policy of not allowing Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

    That’s from CNN, easily found with Google.
    Then there’s this from CBS.
    Unfortunately too many links puts a comment into moderation, but if you exercise your Google-fu you’ll find stacks more (if you really want to find them). Those two took me about 10 seconds to discover

  84. Ivor
    November 20th, 2016 at 19:45 | #84

    @GrueBleen

    I have no objection in principle to personally profiting from the work of others:

    This directly contradicts the principles of democracy and the so-called “Golden Rule”.

    It divides society and leads to worsening ugly outcomes.

    It is anathema.

  85. GrueBleen
    November 21st, 2016 at 00:39 | #85

    @Ivor
    Your #84

    Have to agree with you there Ivor. Who wants family anyway.

  86. John Quiggin
    November 21st, 2016 at 04:11 | #86

    GrueBleen and Julie Thomas: Please adhere to the comments policy, and refrain from personal attacks

  87. Ivor
    November 21st, 2016 at 07:13 | #87

    @GrueBleen

    Who wants family anyway.

    99% of the population – irrespective of sexuality.

  88. November 21st, 2016 at 12:29 | #88

    zoot on November 20th, 2016 at 13:40 | #83, wrote:

    Having searched the Internet, I can now see that Donald Trump has, on several occasions, suggested that it was time reconsider the United States’ decades-old policy of not allowing Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons and he has also said that South Korea should be armed with nuclear weapons because North Korea is armed with nuclear weapons.

    As Warren Fisk wrote, Mark Warner exaggerates in saying Donald Trump is ‘OK’ with nuclear proliferation (11/10/2016), which is considerably more balanced than the rest of the mainstream media:

    So Trump certainly has said he’s open to proliferation by certain allies but isn’t sold on it. We rate [U.S. Senator Mark] Warner’s claim Half True.

    Of course, this is still a serious concern (and not my only concern about Donald Trump), but given that Donald Trump, like most people, do not understand the conflict on the Korean peninsula, and given the context of ferocious hostility from nearly all the mainstream newsmedia to Donald Trump during the election campaign, I think this error of judgment is understandable.

    On the political and historical context of the Korean Peninsula: The government of South Korea was formed in 1945 by the United States with Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese occupiers. The government of North Korea was composed, with the help the Soviet Union, of those who had led the fight against the Japanese occupiers.

    After 1945, Koreans in the South fiercely resisted the regime imposed upon them by the United States and were savagely repressed. The supposed ‘invasion’ of the South in 1950 was just a continuation of that civil war.

    Nevertheless, the choice between Donald Trump, even given such flaws on the one hand, and the financially corrupt Clinton family, that helped start wars that have killed hundreds of thousands and which promises more of the same, on the other, should have been open and shut.

  89. zoot
    November 21st, 2016 at 17:56 | #89

    @James
    James it is common courtesy to use the blockquote tab to quote someone.
    Using it to delimit your interpretation of what someone wrote is dishonest.

  90. November 21st, 2016 at 23:58 | #90

    @zoot on November 21st, 2016 at 17:56,

    Thank you for having read my post of November 21st, 2016 at 12:29 | #88.

    What appeared to be my quoting of you, was, in fact, my intended response to what you had posted earlier. My quote of your earlier post was omitted in error.

    My apologies. What I meant to post was:

    zoot wrote:

    But in an April interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News, Trump said, “It’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them. So, North Korea has nukes. Japan has a problem with that. I mean, they have a big problem with that. Maybe they would in fact be better off if they defend themselves from North Korea.”

    Wallace asked, “With nukes?”

    “Including with nukes, yes, including with nukes,” Trump responded.
    At a town hall with CNN’s Anderson Cooper in March, Trump suggested that it was time to reconsider the United States’ decades-old policy of not allowing Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons

    That’s from CNN, easily found with Google.
    Then there’s this (link) from CBS.

    My response was intended to be:

    Having searched the Internet, I can now see that Donald Trump has, on several occasions, suggested that it was time reconsider the United States’ decades-old policy of not allowing Japan to arm itself with nuclear weapons and he has also said that South Korea should be armed with nuclear weapons because North Korea is armed with nuclear weapons.

    As Warren Fisk wrote in Mark Warner exaggerates in saying Donald Trump is ‘OK’ with nuclear proliferation (11/10/2016), which is considerably more balanced than the rest of the mainstream media:

    So Trump certainly has said he’s open to proliferation by certain allies but isn’t sold on it. We rate [U.S. Senator Mark] Warner’s claim Half True.

    Of course, this is still a serious concern (and not my only concern about Donald Trump), but given that Donald Trump, like most people, do not understand the conflict on the Korean peninsula, and given the context of ferocious hostility from nearly all the mainstream newsmedia to Donald Trump during the election campaign, I think this error of judgment is understandable.

    On the political and historical context of the Korean Peninsula conflict: … (for more, see my earlier post of November 21st, 2016 at 12:29.)

  91. November 22nd, 2016 at 11:35 | #91

    Congresswoman Gabbard statement on meeting with President-Elect Trump

    “President-elect Trump and I had a frank and positive conversation in which we discussed a variety of foreign policy issues in depth. I shared with him my grave concerns that escalating the war in Syria by implementing a so-called no fly/safe zone would be disastrous for the Syrian people, our country, and the world. It would lead to more death and suffering, exacerbate the refugee crisis, strengthen ISIS and al-Qaeda, and bring us into a direct conflict with Russia which could result in a nuclear war. We discussed my bill to end our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government, and the need to focus our precious resources on rebuilding our own country, and on defeating al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups who pose a threat to the American people. For years, the issue of ending interventionist, regime change warfare has been one of my top priorities. This was the major reason I ran for Congress—I saw firsthand the cost of war, and the lives lost due to the interventionist warmongering policies our country has pursued for far too long.”

    Tulsi Gabbard is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who has been the United States Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district since 2013.

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