Skip to main content

At Salon, Thomas Frank, author of Pity the Billionaire and One Market Under God, writes Paul Krugman won’t save us: We need a new conversation about inequality:  An excerpt:

The one thing that just about everyone knows about inequality is that it’s a complex, highly technical problem, with many confusing causes and expressions. “Inequality is a complicated, complicated thing,” as a puzzled writer declared in the Atlantic a few weeks ago. “What exactly is income inequality?” wondered NPR’s Audie Cornish in January. “Ask six economists and you’re likely to get six different answers.” (That it’s economists you’re supposed to ask was simply taken for granted.)

I admit that the issue is complicated in its details, but it’s also — in its basic, brutal thrust — something  dead simple: Inequality happened because our leaders set out to make it happen. On the first page of Kevin Phillips’ 1990 (!) bestseller on the subject, “The Politics of Rich and Poor,” he stated this obvious truth. “The 1980s were the triumph of upper America,” he wrote.

But while money, greed and luxury had become the stuff of popular culture, hardly anyone asked why such great wealth had concentrated at the top, and whether this was a result of public policy. Despite the armies of homeless sleeping on grates, political leaders—even those who professed to care about the homeless—had little to say about the Republican party’s historical role, which has been not simply to revitalize U.S. capitalism but to tilt power, policy, wealth and income toward the richest portions of the population. (emphasis added)

The rich got so goddamn rich, in other words, because the signature policies of the Great Right Turn were designed to make them rich. And, as the world knows, these policies weren’t limited to Republicans; Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama—plus, of course, their resident economists and cabinet members—all more or less endorsed the basic tenets of the free-market faith. They are all implicated.

So inequality, now that we’re having a “conversation” about it, must of course turn out to be massively complicated, something no one could possibly have seen coming — sort of like the 2008 financial crisis, come to think of it. Furthermore, it must be seen as another technical problem, a matter for the experts to solve, like the budget deficit or entitlement spending.

So inequality, now that we’re having a “conversation” about it, must of course turn out to be massively complicated, something no one could possibly have seen coming — sort of like the 2008 financial crisis, come to think of it. Furthermore, it must be seen as another technical problem, a matter for the experts to solve, like the budget deficit or entitlement spending.

* * *

Then again, why do I quibble? Most of the experts I refer to here aren’t actually wrong. I have quoted them myself on occasion; I have shown PowerPoint slides of Piketty-Saez graphs to audiences of unbelieving college students. Many of the essays in the Times’ “Great Divide” series have been admirable, as will surely be much of the “cutting-edge analysis” scheduled to be produced by the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. What difference does it make if it’s a Nobel laureate who tells us what’s happened to the middle class or the leader of a local union somewhere?

My suspicion is that it makes an enormous difference. “Inequality” is not some minor technical glitch for the experts to solve; this is the Big One. This is the very substance of American populism; this is what has brought together movements of average people throughout our history. Offering instruction on the subject in a classroom at Berkeley may be enlightening for the kids in attendance but it is fundamentally the wrong way to take on the problem, almost as misguided as it would be if we turned the matter over to the 1 percent themselves and got a bunch of billionaires together at Davos to offer pointers on how to stop them from beating us over and over again in the game of life. (Oops — that actually happened.)

“Inequality” is the most basic issue of them all, the very reason for liberalism’s existence. It is about who we are and how we live. Virtually every other liberal cause pales by comparison. This is the World War II of political subjects, and if we are going to win it must be a people’s war, not a Combat of the Thirty between the plumèd knights of the Beltway. We owe the economists thanks for making the situation plain, but now matters must of necessity pass into other hands. If the destruction of the middle class is ever to be addressed and solved, the impetus must come from below, not from above. This is a job we have to do ourselves.

Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2011What are the neoconservatives up to in Libya? The usual:

As Muammar Gaddafi spouts delusional nonsense about how "all my people love me," his 41-year dictatorial reign over Libya appears to be crumbling all around him. Opposition fighters in the cities of Zawiyah to the west of Tripoli and in Misurata to its east have scored defensive victories against Gaddafi's armed forces, much of the army in the east has gone over to the side of the opposition, humanitarian aid is starting to flow into the country in large amounts, and ad hoc councils of Libyans have begun governing areas under anti-government control. Even in Tripoli, still solidly held by the regime and reportedly blockaded against entry by Libyans from liberated areas of the country, public protests continue to take place, albeit at considerable risk to the participants.

Amid what appears to be a ring closing around Gaddafi and his bitter-enders, calls for military intervention have intensified. At one end of a range of options is the creation of a no-fly zone to keep Gaddafi's air force from killing civilians from the air and from moving mercenaries quickly from staging areas around Sabha, a central Libya city and military base where they have been landed in large numbers.

Although logistically difficult, a no-fly zone has significant backing, including support from some anti-government Libyans in and out of the country. But other Libyans have opposed the idea, saying they can beat Gaddafi without such assistance. They seek only medical and other humanitarian aid. Some Americans, Europeans and other non-Libyans oppose the no-fly approach for fear that it will be a wedge for further military action and possibly lead to the establishment of long-term military bases in the country and control over Libya's vast deposits of low-sulfur oil, the largest on the African continent, with much of the country's potential reserves still unexplored.

Tweet of the Day:

I don't care if the iPhone 15 is out when I have a kid. Their first phone is gonna be a flip phone. They're gonna know the struggle.

On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin starts off today's Reddit chat, rounds up news on Ukraine, and leads us into renewed discussion of the Arizona fallout & the glistening tears of the Gimmetarians. Armando joined in to help dissect the conservative whining and nonsense, and then more on the Reddit issue. Lastly, another installment of Cocaine, Inc., this time, about their analog for a department of government relations.

High Impact Posts. Top Comments.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  999,670 registered users on dKos now. (22+ / 0-)

    Here are the 10 newest registered users on dKos.  Hope to see their comments and diaries here soon!  (If they're not spammers.)

    EvelynDAckerman (user #999,662: spammer)
    Lawtailored (user #999,666: spammer)

    And since our society is obsessed with numbers that end in a lot of zeros as milestones, here's a special shoutout to users:
    #999,200: wsx25258 (spammer)
    #999,300: MyOpicVoid
    #999,400: sharmapk752 (already banned)
    #999,500: familyhealth1 (spammer)
    #999,600: kendra42

    We've added 498 more users in the last three days.  We're no longer being flooded with all those fake users, though it seems there's been a recent rash of increase in spammers.

    And for your Diary Rescue music pleasure, here's Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie".

  •  I read and agreed strongly with the (13+ / 0-)

    Thomas Frank article, so thanks for including it...

    Yes, it was the result of public policy and that's something we are all committed to reversing...

    •  Excepting for the fact that (9+ / 0-)

      Frank does what too many people do, even the smarter ones, and assumes that "no one talked about inequality" or whichever paraphrasis he actually made.

      The hell we didn't ask! The hell we didn't know!

      Everyone I knew, even in my very earliest days as a lefty (I will do true confessions at another time), said that Reagan was out to systematically destroy the New Deal and restore the status of things to that of pre-Crash 1929.

      Too many writers, even the ones sympathetic to the twin causes of justice and equality, just want to state what they want to state without even a nod to the context. The historical context.

      Why did Clinton, and then Obama, model themselves after Reagan? Because the form worked. The substance destroyed the American body politic. Such smart men, yet so craven in their policies and dim-witted in the hope for paternal approval, via the conservatives, that they will don policies that are antithetical to the very possibilities of their own existence as powerful men, to say nothing of their political careers.

      This is where it would be nice to have an index, or a timeline, or a bibliography on verifiable and agreed-upon historical facts so that we can nip over and say, "Yup. Here's that."

      (Maybe I don't know my way around DK well enough yet, and this is all here already.)

      It is a waste of time to have to reinvent the wheel. While I agree with much of what Frank says here, he's just plowing over old ground.

      Or, that shows how old I am.

      But, I am also so old that I cannot remember the name of a really important speaker I saw in Berkeley just before Iran-Contra started breaking in the alternative press (we're talking Mae Brussell, here among others). Anyway, this guy was giving a talk in a tiny room above Sufficient Grounds (and sponsored by the dammed Maoists) about the patterns of media consolidation. From over 250 to 50. Sigh. Those were the days. Still, he predicted we'd be down to 5 in the long run. Prescient dude.

      More to the point here, he spoke of the explicit editorial shift made by the New York Times post-Reagan.... rightward, to follow Reagan. And this is how you manage a discourse to prevent talk of inequality and how the system is being changed.

      I've been looking everywhere for a reference to this event so that I can try to reconstruct this talk.

      Am I just whistling aimlessly here?

      But, back to the original point-- YES. WE KNEW. AT THE TIME. (Rather like everyone here knew that Condoleeza Rice was being ridiculous when she said that "no one thought anyone would use airplanes as weapons.") AND WE OBJECTED. But, in those days of yore, both pre-Internet and pre-Google, one has to go to actual paper-based archives and have an inkling of what one is looking to verify.

      Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

      by JrCrone on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:37:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with most of what you're saying... (7+ / 0-) I was one of those in the '80s, for example, who said (as in, wrote for publication) what you are saying "we knew. at the time."

        But the numbers who knew (or who spoke out about knowing) were few in number, had small audiences and were widely ridiculed not just by the "elite," as Frank so politely calls them,but by much of the rump left at the time, which was either 1) drifting rightward, 2) dropping out, 3) engaged in the suicidal sectarianism.

        Frank also, imo, fails to acknowledge that the narrative (though not the data) about inequality has emerged not from the elite, but the people. Some of us would have said "the masses" 30 and more years ago.

        Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

        by Meteor Blades on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:48:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right, of course. (0+ / 0-)

          So, I amend part of what I rambleranted about Frank to say "a small number of people" is not the same as "no one."

          Let's not act as clueless colonialists of our own history.

          One way to take power over the discourse is to note our own strength and that people who predicted this outcome existed. Like yourself!

          Darling, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?

          by JrCrone on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 10:06:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Two quick, classic observations cover the field (14+ / 0-)

    for me, only slightly different from each other: Follow the money, and Who benefits? Damn right that this "inequality," so delicately named, is the outcome of over thirty years of policy decisions. It's not a bug but a feature.

    Support Small Business: Shop Kos Katalogue If you'd like to join the Motor City Kossacks, send me a Kosmail.

    by peregrine kate on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:39:38 PM PST

  •  This is a job we have to do ourselves. (11+ / 0-)

    Yep.  and

    If you live in Florida and can get to Tallahasse Monday, our first Moral Monday's gonna be goin' down startin' 'bout 10am.

    Doin' the job and stuff...

    If I have any spit left after I've licked my own wounds, I'll be glad to consider licking yours. Peace.

    by nancyjones on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:39:42 PM PST

  •  Rich folks talking about economic inequality (12+ / 0-)

    is a lot like white folks talking about racial inequality.

    I'm not saying either is completely without merit, but neither will solve a damn thing on its own.

    Welcome to the Whole Foods of the blogosphere.

    by JesseCW on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:40:44 PM PST

  •  So, how do you counteract greed? (10+ / 0-)

    That's the driving force of much of the 1%. Look at Charles and David Koch: they'll never run out of money, but they want more, and they want to extract it from the 99%. They could stop trying to do that, and live comfortably for the rest of their lives, but they don't. David Koch does spend money on philanthropic endeavors, and could spend more by not trying to influence politics, but he doesn't.

    How do you fight a mindset like that?

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:44:31 PM PST

  •  MSNBC highlights from tonight (6+ / 0-)

    Chris looked at how the Senate GOP rejected veterans benefits with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Jon Soltz.

    Rachel had a disturbing look at what's happening with women's health clinics in Texas, and what Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) wants to do to poor people who visit emergency rooms for emergencies.

    She also talked with John Reitmeyer about the latest in the New Jersey bridge scandal, now that the 911 tapes have been released.

    Ed talked about Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and the UAW with Lansing mayor Virg Bernero (D) and Harley Shaiken.

    Chris, Rachel, and Ed all talked about the worrisome news about the Russian military going into the Crimean region.

    Chris also talked about the miracle workers who fixed the Obamacare website with one of the fixers, Paul Smith.  He then discussed the Academy Awards with David Edelstein, Annette Insdorf, and Christopher John Farley.

    Rachel will also have a special episode next Thursday looking at why we entered the Iraq War, based on newly released documents.

    Ed also talked with Sandra Fluke about her run for the California state senate.  He also continued his coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline, talking with Canadian ambassador Gary Doer and regular Nebraskans.

  •  Have a great weekend everyone! (6+ / 0-)

    “I would like to get rid of the homophobes, sexists, and racists in our audience. I know they're out there and it really bothers me.” ― Kurt Cobain

    by Jeff Y on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:50:31 PM PST

    •  I remember it well (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jeff Y, Simplify, Superpole

      October 14, 1978 . . .

      I was watching Saturday Night Live, as I always did on Saturday nights during those days. They announced the musical guest as "Devo" and the band went right into their cover of "Satisfaction." I remember sitting bolt upright, staring at the screen and just watching in amazement. I had been to three continents and two county fairs and I'd never seen or heard anything like that before.

      Two days later I went out and bought my copy of Q. Are We Not Men? A: We Are DEVO! I am still in amazement of their musicality. I'm also amused by how often Mark Mothersbaugh's name shows up in movie and TV music credits. When I saw that he did the music for The Lego Movie, I wasn't in the least surprised.

      Oh, and RIP Devo guitarist Bob Casale, who died the other day.

      So this West Virginian walks into a bar and says, "Fix me a Green River."

      by Omir the Storyteller on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 10:14:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Insist on public funding. Make it an issue. (6+ / 0-)

    Start building it up and using it as a bar. Demand it. Fairness and inequality have become issues in no small part because of the blogosphere and activists calling for it. Actually lots of conservatives hate special interests as well, in the end I don't think it's a one sided issue. But if we don't start asking every time for politicians to take a position on it, we won't find a way to take money out of the hands of politicians, starting with Democrats. It won't happen if we don't push it.

    But I believe only the Democratic party could more quickly make the transition.  I think incumbents and populists will find themselves with the edge if Washington delivers fairness and opportunity for all.

    Ask for limited campaigns of maybe 3 months before an election. Stop all fundraising between campaign seasons and make them stay on the job. Make them campaign on a level playing field with the same resources where they must respond to the voters. Full disclosure for anything over maybe $500.00 from anyone (humans only please) for any political contributions. No ifs ands or buts.

    But if we don't make voter owned elections a demand or expect a long wait time.

    •  It is the Democratic party that abandoned public (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      funding at the Presidential level.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:18:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes. So it's time to say enough (4+ / 0-)

        I will even say that I understand why Obama did what he did in 2008 as a strategy and even in that one instance, I think he needed the financial buffer. He's also received a lot of contributions of less than $200.00 from people in both campaigns.

        But everything I said above stands. If activists don't demand that we undo it big time, politics in DC or anywhere won't change much.

        •  Fair enough. But the question now is this: (0+ / 0-)

          How do you get the parties to go along with that?
          I suspect this is one of those places where a two party spectrum is inferior to multi-parties.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 08:32:02 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  make it a fundemental issue and don't let go of it (0+ / 0-)

            If people on this site simply diaried about it daily, it would start gaining strength as an important issue. The change won't happen over night. Like many things we fight for it will take time. And yet as inequality becomes more of an issue in the public's mind this is a good time to start. When enough Americans insist on it, then we'll see a change. Most voters feel short changed by the numerous special interests which have more sway with their representatives than the majorities who voted them in.

            It's the most broken thing about our political system. It's an obvious fix which needs to be made.

    •  I'd be stunned if all the money spent on all (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thanatokephaloides, JeffW

      political advertising added up to 5% of the value of the massively slanted "coverage" provided by the Media Trusts.

      Welcome to the Whole Foods of the blogosphere.

      by JesseCW on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 10:06:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nooners is tired of Republicans being hit (5+ / 0-)

    in the face with balls.

    Republicans Wail: We Cannot Swallow Any More Balls:

    This plea for slightly fewer balls comes to us from Peggy Noonan, official spokesperson for the Republican Party and Breathless White Women Who Just Woke Up From an 85-Year Long Laudanum-Induced Slumber. Peggy, who is paid real American currency in exchange for her political newspaper columns, observes today that uh, let's see here...

    "I think a lot of people right now, certainly Republicans and conservatives, feel like a guy in a batting cage taking ball after ball from an automatic pitching machine. He's hitting the ball and keeping up and suddenly the machine starts going berserk. It's firing five balls a second, then 10. At first he tries to hit a few. Then he's just trying to duck, trying not to get hurt. That's how people feel about the demands and dictates. The balls keep coming at them politically, locally, culturally."

    Republicans—they take ball after ball. Yet the balls keep coming at them. How many balls can Republicans swallow, before they choke?

    “I would like to get rid of the homophobes, sexists, and racists in our audience. I know they're out there and it really bothers me.” ― Kurt Cobain

    by Jeff Y on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 08:54:14 PM PST

  •  AARP needs to support an increase in minimum wage (12+ / 0-)

    After the people who actually get an increased paycheck, the biggest beneficiaries of an increased minimum wage is everybody whoever expects to receive any benefits from the social security trust fund.  Ourelected representatives seem to be convinced that the richest in iour society should not have to contribute, so that leaves it up to the rest of us.  The best way left is to increase the wages of the workers entering our work force, and require their employers to match the contributions.

    I haven't seen any analysis of the effect on the SSN trust, but it should be substantial.

    My wife, daughter and granddaughters should have more privacy in their doctor's office than I have buying another rifle or shotgun.

    by NM Ray on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:09:03 PM PST

    •  When we take cash away from (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thanatokephaloides, NM Ray, JrCrone, JeffW

      executives and force them to pay it to low wage workers, more money lands in the trust fund.

      Bernie made that point on Thom Hartman a while back.  I can't recall how much of the "shortfall" it closed, but it was very substantial.  And that was with a completely inadequate 10.10 an hour.

      Welcome to the Whole Foods of the blogosphere.

      by JesseCW on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 10:10:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  When May I Shoot a Student? (6+ / 0-)

    Fellow educators will find this NY Times Op-Ed of interest and maybe even entertaining:


    BOISE, Idaho — TO the chief counsel of the Idaho State Legislature:

    In light of the bill permitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a student?

    I am a biology professor, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to work until now. But since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought it would be a good idea to even the playing field.

    I have had encounters with disgruntled students over the years, some of whom seemed quite upset, but I always assumed that when they reached into their backpacks they were going for a pencil. .............

  •  Interesting piece (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 09:18:42 PM PST

  •  Left up to the elites - War of thirty - Davos (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JesseCW, thanatokephaloides

    we must do for ourselves.

      Thomas Frank nails it down

    ..misguided as it would be if we turned the matter over to the 1 percent themselves and got a bunch of billionaires together at Davos to offer pointers on how to stop them from beating us over and over again in the game of life. (Oops — that actually happened.)
    War of Thirties - indeed - likened to the Davos crowd

    Thx MB  

    apologies for the swearing - but this really is fucking excellent to connect up in the minds eye

    hot listed and shared

  •  Income Inequality Is NOT Complicated ---- (6+ / 0-)

    it's caused by the filthy rich being psychopathically GREEDY & Selfish, pure and simple.

  •  Economic Fundamentalism (5+ / 0-)

    The justification on all sides for this upward redistribution of wealth is in an economic doctrine with little or no social science to back it up, but is nonetheless an article of faith:  we make the rich ever richer as an act of faith in a quasi-religious dogma, the worship of Mammon and the Golden Calf, that doctrine being what I call Job Creationism.

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 10:05:04 PM PST

    •  "Job Creationism" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, JeffW, ActivistGuy

      Can I use that?

      that's exactly it-- the wealthy class have gotten more or less everything they wanted policy wise the last thirty years-- NAFTA, CAFTA, low taxes, etc., so WHERE is the economic growth/middle class income growth/job growth??

      "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

      by Superpole on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 03:57:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Please do (0+ / 0-)

        I think it would be helpful if the idea of "job creationism" was spread far and wide, because it sums something up nicely.

        "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." ~Frederick Douglass

        by ActivistGuy on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 09:52:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Whenever I see Downton Abbey... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, geez53, a2nite

    Listen to The After Show & The Justice Department on Netroots Radio. Join us on The Porch Tue & Fri at Black Kos, all are welcome!

    by justiceputnam on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 10:11:01 PM PST

  •  Orwell On Endless War And Inequality (4+ / 0-)

    George Orwell on the importance of war to create poverty and class (1984)

    The primary aim of modern warfare... is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods.....when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy, and disease could be eliminated within a few generations....But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction--indeed, in some sense was the destruction--of a hierarchical society....wealth would confer no distinction... the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.

    Goods must be produced, but they must not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare......The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent......War, it will be seen, accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way. In principle it would be quite simple to waste the surplus labour of the world by building temples and pyramids, by digging holes and filling them up again, or even by producing vast quantities of goods and then setting fire to them. But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional basis for a hierarchical society. What is concerned here is not the morale of masses, whose attitude is unimportant so long as they are kept steadily at work, but the morale of the Party itself. Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war. It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed isthat a state of war should exist. ....It is precisely in the Inner Party that war hysteria and hatred of the enemy are strongest. In his capacity as an administrator, it is often necessary for a member of the Inner Party to know that this or that item of war news is untruthful, and he may often be aware that the entire war is spurious and is either not happening or is being waged for purposes quite other than the declared ones: but such knowledge is easily neutralized by the technique of DOUBLETHINK. Meanwhile no Inner Party member wavers for an instant in his mystical belief that the war is real, and that it is bound to end victoriously, with Oceania the undisputed master of the entire world.

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 11:09:23 PM PST

    •  FRONT PAGE Material (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, bygorry

      I think the statistic is the U.S. has been involved in some sort of war, large or small, once every fifteen years.

      of course now we're (maybe) pulling out of afghanistan, a conflict which itself is going on fifteen years long.

      the Trillions of dollars we've spent on war and armaments is money not being spent on ventures which employ significantly more people. so the M.I.C. is just one more way enormous wealth is robbed from the poor and middle class and given to the wealthy class.

      "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

      by Superpole on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 03:54:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Salon piece sounds great, but one "quibble" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peptabysmal, Superpole

    of my own: "“Inequality” is the most basic issue of them all, the very reason for liberalism’s existence." I think the author got scared. The word is "socialism" not liberalism, which is a centrist philosophy of government. Also, pandering to the middle class avoids the "class struggle," which is at the heart of inequality and dialectically leads to the antidote, "system change."

    garden variety democratic socialist: accepting life's complexity|striving for global stewardship of our soil and other resources to meet everyone's basic needs|being a friend to the weak

    by Galtisalie on Fri Feb 28, 2014 at 11:26:26 PM PST

  •  Embezzlement and a brawl at Viennas opera ball (0+ / 0-)

    Germanys ZDF TV chain which lately headlined by dropping rates for its saturday night show “bet that”-”wetten dass” pays not only entertainer Markus Lanz, who is the host of the show. Another famous douchebag is Johannes B. Kerner, who can be similiarly lukewarm for an extended period of time.

    The article reads: Austria’s anthem and “joy, o divine spark:” The annually held Vienna opera ball is normally more a stiff event.  There was a turbulent incident though during this year’s 58th show. After a verbal scuffle between a guest and moderator Kerner there occured a brawl.

    Starguest Kim Kardashian stayed absent from her host Lugner most of the time. His second company, Venezuelan beauty queen Ivian Sarcos wasnt there at all. She msged that she missed her flight. But the action-hype of the evening belonged to Mr Kerner.

    Things started out when the moderator left the logia of Mr.Lugner. A visibly drunken guest, presumably some distant friend of Kerner got in the face of Mr Kerner. Then he said: “Who paid for your ticket? Explain yourself! You are the new Wulff!” (Wulff is some German ex-president who got famous for embezzlement but was ruled not guilty on friday-a day after the ball)

    Kerner tried to calm the curser and he was intending to leave when the curser threw a glass of champagne after him.

    That was too much for a friend of Kerner who was in close proximity. He punched the attacker this hefty that he had a bleeding chin. Shortly afterwards the victim presented his blood stained shirt to photographers. The punch had judicial consequences: the victim filed against the friend of Kerner.

  •  Let's Just Sum it Up Thusly: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Our economic system is REALLY, REALLY F***ed up.

    The pathetic aspect of people who demand more dialogue and "clear definitions" of poverty or income inequality have themselves NEVER been poor. they have NEVER ridden a city bus thirty blocks to get to a minimum wage job.

    THEY have not suffered the vagaries, now proven to be true, the birth lottery-- because they were raised at the top of the lottery.

    People who want to endlessly discuss and "study" the problem are simply stalling, wasting time. this particularly applies to the deadbeats in congress, who have yet to come up with a fully funded, BOLD, twenty-five year plan to GROW our economy.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 03:44:43 AM PST

  •  We win by expanding people from talking to voting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Sorry, but this country votes what it reflects: a division of apathy and paranoia far too often.

    If they didn't you wouldn't see such greed and corruption running and writing tax laws.

    I have zero empathy for Generation Nothing [Today's 20s group] who are apathetic and bitch about not having a future.

    No one guaranteed us Generation X a future either. We got sick of Bush and voted him out. We laughed at Bob Dole and Perot for a second time.

    Sorry, but Liberals betrayed us in the 70s by screwing each other over and driving themselves out of office giving us a cluster** in Reagan twice over.

    Liberals eat their own and then ask what happened instead of building a rock-solid voting collective whose willing to compromise on some of their personal pet goals they see best for 320 million and get their asses to the polls, at local, state and national elections.

    You want 2014 to matter then shut up about how this person is failing you or no one is listening.

    Get off your asses and drag everyone you know or people who have no transportation to the polls. Volunteer a day to make people get to the polls and Vote.

    We intelligent folks in Washington State have mail in voting.

    For those in dumbass blue and red states drag everyone eligible to vote who talks about voting for our fellow democrats and have them put their actions to test.

    Stop talking and win. Republicans pandered to the basest form of white trash and it's gotten them far [It's the pre-Civil Rights 1968 Southern Democrat playbook; nothing new] and many of us voting Blue either look for hundreds of reasons how we lose instead of at ourselves.

    Get your butts to vote. Don't bark up every public protest. Lay low and come Election day attack the polls with real voter turnout.

    1996 Presidental Election had 49% eligible voter turnout.


    Get 69%-80% and not a damn GOP position [even in Conservative districts] will be out of reach.

    Democrats tend to be pussies when it comes to action. We talk a lot, but too many sit on the bench holding the towels and water.

    I'm a balance of Progressive and Realism. Stop demanding asinine all or nothing and get your butts to the polls.

    Knee cap Center Left candidates and this country will sink even farther into Stupidville.

    A true Progressive won't surface until we've move 80% of all Red districts out of the Congress, period. You don't even know if a true Progressive is a Center Left today because you have this death wish of demanding they reveal themselves before they have a shot at getting a position of leverage to change the system to something only FDR ever dreamed could happen.

  •  GDP Growth Last Quarter - Adjusted Downward (0+ / 0-)
    The US economy grew at a much slower rate from October to December than originally predicted, the US Commerce Department said.

    US gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annualised rate of 2.4% in the fourth quarter of 2013, down from an initial estimate of 3.2%.

    The revision is down to weaker than expected consumer spending.

    Severe winter weather in the US is expected to slow growth further in the current quarter.

    The Commerce Department initially predicted consumer spending had expanded by 3.3%, but spending is now estimated to have grown at a 2.6% annual rate.


    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 04:38:32 AM PST

  •  speaking of income inequality (0+ / 0-)

    I'd like to see more recognition of the impact of Estate Recovery on Medicaid recipients and their families.

    I'd be very grateful if some of you would join the discussion. My latest diary about this is here:

    Consumer Reports comes out against Estate Recovery


    If you act out of anger, the best part of your brain fails to function. - the Dalai Lama

    by beverlywoods on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 05:32:32 AM PST

  •  well said (0+ / 0-)
    Offering instruction on the subject in a classroom at Berkeley may be enlightening for the kids in attendance but it is fundamentally the wrong way to take on the problem, almost as misguided as it would be if we turned the matter over to the 1 percent themselves and got a bunch of billionaires together at Davos to offer pointers on how to stop them from beating us over and over again in the game of life. (Oops — that actually happened.)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Sat Mar 01, 2014 at 09:33:27 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site