Question time on the FM website (plus The Week in Review)

Ask any question about geopolitics, broadly defined. We — and others reading the FM website — will attempt to answer it in the comments.   All answers welcomed!  This is the penultimate chapter in this series (next week will be the last).  It started well, but the questions have tapered off in quantity and quality — and it takes a lot of work.


  1. Questions received so far
  2. Quote of the week, advice that America’s leaders have taken to heart
  3. To start the discussion: articles of interest this week
  4. A graph that will disturb your sleep

(1)  Questions received so far

Click on the link to go directly to that thread.  Please use the REPLY button when replying to a previous comment, to keep threads together.

  1. FM expects a lot from individuals, to volunteer, to study, to care, etc. I’m wondering if FM has any indictment on the social institutions– the churches, societies, and clubs?
  2. Is there any way to convince people, especially libertarians like John Stossel, that manufacturing is necessary for economic competitiveness?
  3. Will the dollar collapse as the world reserve currency?
  4. Any thoughts about this article from the Archdruid Report? Does it offer sound advice?
  5. What is the current best thinking on the purpose and usefulness of the old age rent systems?
  6. Does Ron Paul believe that people have the right to leave their State?  For example, to seek freedom?
  7. How much does the US spend on defense?
  8. A comment about libertarianism
  9. A reader reply to this being the penultimate Question Time post.
  10. Should the United States return to a protectionist trade policy to reboot manufacturing?
  11. During the last 20-30 years have the elite in this country exploited our trust in community institutions for their benefit?

(2) Quote of the week, advice that America’s leaders have taken to heart

Liberty is precious.  So precious that it must be rationed.
— Said by Lenin.  Quote from Soviet communism: a new civilisation by Sidney and Beatrice Webb (1937)

(3)  To start the discussion:  articles of interest

Some recent articles which deserve attention:

  1. Expect the Unexpected“, The Economist, 7 December 2011 — How the people of 1931 saw the world (unaware of what was happening)
  2. The ‘No True Libertarianism’ fallacy“, David Atkins, Hullabaloo, 28 December 2012
  3. Construction Spending And The Housing Quagmire“, Wolf Richter, The Testosterone Pit, 3 January 2012
  4. Hey, Washington: We Don’t Have to Overhaul Medicare to Save It“, James Kwak, The Atlantic, 20 December 2011 — “Republicans and some Democrats claim that we have to radically change Medicare because we can’t afford it. They’re wrong on both counts.”
  5. False Flag“, Mark Perry, Foreign Policy, 13 January 2012 — “A series of CIA memos describes how Israeli Mossad agents posed as American spies to recruit members of the terrorist organization Jundallah to fight their covert war against Iran.”
  6. Cyber War: Reality or Hype?“, Conn Hallinan,, 14 January 2012 — For more information see the FM Reference Page on CyberWar.
  7. Did anybody see this coming? “In Libya, a Fundamentalist War against Moderate Islam Takes Shape“, TIME, 18 January 2012
  8. Japanese, Canadian and American Officials Have ‘Betrayed’ their Citizens By Hiding Radiation … ‘Akin to Murder’”, Washingtons Blog, 19 January 2012
  9. The ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign against CAP and Media Matters rolls on“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 19 January 2012
  10. The GOP candidates’ tax policies: “Department of ‘Duh’”, James Kwak, The Baseline Scenario, 19 January 2012
  11. An example of why so many people are skeptical of mainstream climate  science: “Neukom and the Steig Over/Under“, Steve McIntyre, 19 January 2012 — It’s a sad story.

(4)  A graph that will disturb your sleep

One of the many disturbing graphs from About Mobility, a chapter by Jared Bernstein in the State of Working America report, by the Economic Policy Institute:

For more information see:

Posts on the FM website about increasing inequality in America:

43 thoughts on “Question time on the FM website (plus The Week in Review)”

  1. FM’s geopolitical analysis seems to say that much of our folly is due to the nation grown cold: either not caring about what is important or being insane about things that aren’t important or actually detrimental.
    FM expects a lot from individuals, to volunteer, to study, to care, etc. I’m wondering if FM has any indictment on the social institutions– the churches, societies, and clubs?

    1. These intermediate instiutions are of immense importance in the proper functioning of American society, and form the natural basis from which reform programs can arise.

      Unfortunately these institutions are themselves in decline, a part of the overall weakening of society as the plutocracy sucks off vitality from the whole. For more information see:

  2. Is there any way to convince people, especially libertarians like John Stossel, that manufacturing is necessary for economic competitiveness?
    FM note — From the Wikipedia entry for John Stossel:

    John F. Stossel (born 1947) is an American consumer reporter, investigative journalist, author and libertarian columnist. In October 2009 Stossel left his long time home on ABC News to join the Fox Business Channel and Fox News Channel, both owned and operated by News Corp. He hosts a weekly news show entitled Stossel, on Fox Business which debuted December 10, 2009, airing in prime time every Thursday repeating on both Saturdays and Sundays. Stossel also regularly provides signature analysis, appearing on various Fox News shows, including weekly appearances on The O’Reilly Factor, in addition to writing the Fox News Blog, “John Stossel’s Take”.

    1. John Stossel one of Fox “News” crew of polemists and ideologues.

      I am familiar with his work, so will speak about the group — and so these might not apply specfically to Stossel. What tools might one use to change such a people’s minds? For them logic and facts are things to play with, to twist and distort. They have no meaning to them, and so are immune to such things.

    2. I used to like Stossel, but not so much since he went to Fox. some of his material is cr*p, obviously intended to satiate his overlords and keep his paycheck coming. Some of it is valid libertarian perspective. He does host Cato/Reason types, who are usually little more than Koch apologists (corporatist fraud).

      Stossel is occasionally worth watching (“know thy enemy”), but the current program is usually so scripted and uncreative that it becomes predictable and boring. The overall atmosphere is one of fat cats sitting around collecting large paychecks while the system crumbles. Worse, the paychecks get bigger as a direct result of the acts of those encouraging the rot (which is most of what Fox News is about).

      Also see:

      (a) Justin Raimondo on the Beltway ‘Libertarian’ Attack“, Lew Rockwell, 7 April 2010

      (b) News Flash: Slavery Is Bad“, Thomas Woods at Lew Rockwell’s website, 6 April 2010 — {In full; links omitted}:

      Once again I note that I do not start things with the Beltway crowd; I let them be unless they attack me or a friend. Here’s Cato’s David Boaz going after the heroic Jacob Hornberger on the grounds that Hornberger, like the rest of the libertarian world, has spoken of America as having moved away from a freer past into a less free and more regimented present. That may sound fairly accurate and inoffensive, but doesn’t Hornberger know we used to have slavery?

      Yes, Boaz actually launched an attack on Jacob Hornberger, a man of genuine principle, to make a point worthy of a third grader. All libertarians speak in the way that the deeply sensitive Boaz suddenly finds so terribly offensive, but I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the person he singles out for attack happens to head the Future of Freedom Foundation, a rival libertarian organization that just happens to lie outside the donor orbit of Cato and its fellow $ recipients. No significance in that at all.

    3. Stossel is dangerous precisely because he seems so reasonable when promoting a destructive point of view. He is the perfect parasite.

    1. You have found another truly remarkable bit of gibberish. But then nothing is too absurd to be taken seriously at the Financial Sense website, discussed several times on the FM website. On 17 June 2008:

      Using a site like Financial Sense to determine the “correct” definition of anything is IMO absurd. It presents material from many sources. Some excellent, some fanciful, some bizarre. It has a strong point of view, which gives it consistency and clarity — but sometimes at the cost of accuracy. For an example of the perils of relying on sites like that as a source of information consider their interview with one of the world’s great energy experts — Matthew Simmons.

      “Well, the fact of the matter is the refineries in the United States it would appear their core units are basically on average are about 85 years old. And an 85-year old man is old. A refinery that’s 85 years old should have been rebuilt.”

      {this is clearly wrong} Some core units might be 85 years old, but clearly the average is far less than that. Neither the interviewer, editor, or core audience caught this.

      Now, about the US dollar. This essay is wrong in too many ways for listing in a comment. A few points:

      (1) Reserve currency status is called a poisoned chalice — allluring benefits, but at too great a long-term cost. As such its neither sought or to be defended. Other nations, such as Japan, have wisely avoided their currency becoming widely used in reserves.

      (2) The US dollar is held in foreign exchange reserves roughly in propotion to its share of the global government bond market — not because it has some unique properties. As other nations grow, their bonds will displace treasuries in foreign exchange reserves.

      (3) The development of a single currency as the reserve currency is a result of WWII, a historical accident. As other nations grow, the US will inevitably become just another great power. That’s life, and not something we need fear.

      (4) The role of the US dollar as the transaction currency is a convenience, neither necessary or significant. Unlike the often hysterical tales told on the fringes, having computers calculate trade in other currencies probably will have trivial effects.

      (5) The value of a nation’s currency with respect to those of its trading partners must reflect their relative economics. A too-strong currency depresses a nation’s exports and boosts imports — making the nation weaker (showing the astonishing ignorance of many conservatives about simple matters of economics). Following this is a repost of a previous comment about this.

      I could go on, but that’s enough for now.

    2. But Lenin said:

      “There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency”

      This is mostly wrong, on several levels.

      (1) Relying on Lenin for insight about free market systems is a category FAIL, showing confusion about the whole Marxist gig.

      (2) There is no direct record that Lenin said such a thing. The first mention of it is in Keynes The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919). He is talking about inflation.

      Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become ‘profiteers,’ who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.

      Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

      Keynes was, as usual, prescient about the danger of inflation (and hyperinflation) in the years after WWI. But when the time came to repeg the British pound to gold, he saw that its pre-WWI value not longer matched the UK’s circumstances. On 25 April 1925 Winston Churchill, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced that Britain would return to the gold standard at the pre-war rate. This was a point of pride to British imperialists, and that pride led to fifty years of deindustrialization and currency crises. Eventually the pound hit a low in June 1976. Broke, Britain recieved at $3.9 B loan from the IMF, the largest ever IMF loan to that point. For more about this episode in history, see this presentation by Brad deLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley).

      (3) Similarly our trade deficit shows that the US circumstances have changed, and the value of the US dollar is too high. We can change it by deflation — brutal and painful — or devaluation. If done right, slowly — allowing gradual adjustment.

      1. Whirlwind: this article shows no evidence that the author knows anything about Keynesian economics other than the gibberish he’s heard on Fox News. He uses the term “Keynesia” like fanatics use lables for the enemy: “heretic”, “commie”, etc. He gives no specifics. Why would you take this seriously, let alone bring it to the attention of other people?

        The Internet is filled with so many high quality sources, yet you are actively spreading ignorance. Why is that?

        Please don’t say that this guy, with his vague and wild claims, sounded good. If that’s all you have, please don’t post anything more like that here. Life is too short.

    3. Another indicator of the US dollar’s strength (or at least that it’s unlikely to crash soon)

      A financial crash is a stress test for national economies. If the US dollar were unstable, this would have shown it. In fact the dollar has held up well. It is up 24% vs. the Euro since the Euro’s peak on 22 April 2008. More important is the trade-weighted dollar — the important reference point. The US dollar is where it was on 5 October 2007, before the crisis began.

    4. India, Iran to settle some oil trade in rupees“, Reuters, 20 January 2012 — “India and Iran have agreed to settle some of their $12 billion annual oil trade in rupees, a government source said on Friday, resorting to the restricted currency after more than a year of payment problems in the face of fresh, tougher U.S. sanctions.”

      Here is some movement on this, but it has to do more with the Iran sanctions, which are collapsing rapidly everywhere east of the EU. The flood gates have opened and Obama can’t sanction India and the PRC and maybe even Japan for dealing with Iran without causing major disruption to the world economy. The Iranians can’t store wealth in big accounts in the USA, because the USA might steal all the money, so if they are going to sell oil they have to park the profits in other countries.

      Another part of the story is the MF Global collapse has established a new worry. Uninsured customer accounts are not sacrosanct. If your broker goes down, you could lose. Many did. It was Libya who had accounts at Goldman Sachs, who turned $1.3B into $13Million. Who wants to play that game? Now, with the new sanctions threat and the chance Washington will go around punishing everyone, well, why take a chance?

      Me, I confess that I have no idea what the result of this will be to the US economy. I think the change so far is relatively small. We’ll see how it goes, I’m sure.

      1. None of this is new, or even big news.

        (1) The India and Iran bilatteral trade deal

        This was widely foreseen as an inevitable result of US sanctions, as described in Status report on the already-hot conflict with Iran – and the looming war, 12 January 2012:

        (4) What are the likely results of our conflict?

        (d) Effects of this conflict on the global geopolitical order

        … Our use of the world’s US-centric banking system as an economic weapon will drive creation of alternative mechanisms. Probably centered on Asia, such as Singapore or (more likely) Hong Kong. This would substantially decrease the hegemonic authority of the US. Similar motives contributed to the development of the eurodollar market, moving much of the world’s money traffic from New York to London.

        This means a weakening of US banks vs. foreign rivals, and reduced US ability to wage economic war. More broadly, it accellerates an slow, inevitable shift of the global financial system from a star-shaped network to a more dispersed multi-polar system. This has no severe economic effects, despite the horror tales imagined by doomsters.

        (2) Banks fail. Banks occasionally have always failed, going back centuries. Other than when protected through government-backed insurance systems, investors and creditors of banks often lose money in bank failures — as banks are highly-leveraged institutions with little physical infrastructure to provide collateral. That’s life, and nothing new.

    5. I basically agree though I think the future depends on how the USA reacts. If it actually tries to fight the trend there could be disruption. How much does the USA really care about the supposed Iranian nuclear program, and are they willing damage the world economy in order to punish Iran? I suspect for Obama that the Iran war is all for show and his heart isn’t really in it, but that’s just something I heard from my personal psychic.

      If US banks shrunk I think it would be good for the economy. These days a big banking sector is a risk more than an asset. Ireland and Iceland especially got majorly screwed by their overgrown financial sectors. Financial companies have been the recipient of vast bailouts, Would we have been better off putting $150 Billion into education, or giving $150 Billion to AIG? ($150B is maybe like 1/5th of the entire defense budget for a year.)

    1. Most of it reads like gibberish to me, but that’s based on a quick read and I could be grossly wrong (it’s part of a discussion with which I’m unfamilar). One specfic did leap out:

      “Since the peak of conventional petroleum production in 2005, economies around the world — above all the economies of the US and its inner circle of allies, which use more petroleum per capita than anybody else — have been stuck in a worsening spiral of dysfunction, and the middle classes have abruptly found themselves struggling to maintain their lifestyles.”

      This is not accurate, on many levels.

      • Global gdp has continued to grow at a respectable pace since 2005. So “worsening spiral of dysfunction” seems over-the-top.
      • Most of the world — the half of the world called “emerging nations” plus many developed nations — have done quite well since 2005.
      • Some nations expeienced downturns in GDP and other economic metrics; this is the business cycle — a normal part of life.
      • The US has done well since 2008, so the “above all” comment seems incorrect. Europe is the focus of concern.
      • The problem with the US “middle classes” is one of distribution, with most of US economic gains going to the top 1% (so oil is not the problem).
  3. What is the current best thinking on the purpose and usefulness of the old age rent systems in general and which existing system is judged the best?

    1. I see some references on Google to “old age rent” as a right to public assistance of some sort. But I know nothing of this. Can you provide some links to tell us about them?

  4. Does Ron Paul believe that people have the right to leave their State? For example, to seek freedom?

    Absolutely! Unless they’re black slaves. This video (date and location not given) shows his wingnut thinking in full frontal exposure — standing in front of the Confederate Flag, explaining that the people fighting the Civil War were too dumb to know about what they were fighting. Although their speeches and letters focused on slavery (as seen in the speeches and letters by politicans during the formation of the Confederacy) — Ron Paul knows better.

    Also note:

    • His glowing statement that free nations allow people to leave — oblivious that the State whose flag he stands before denied exactly that right to its slaves.
    • His enthusasim about “consent of the government” — oblivious that the Confederacy’s slaves gave no consent to their oppression. Slaves were probably a majority in South Carolina and Mississippi.
    • His easy believe that slavery would have ended eventually. What’s a few more generations of slavery?

    Ron Paul speaking in front of the Confederate battle flag at a Southern Historical Conference in Schertz, TX, on 29-30 August 2003:

    An announcement of the event appears in the August 2003 Confederate Gazette. Details (of unknown accuracy) appear at .

    1. I have no problem if there is more than one author behind that “PM” nickname. It is just so hard to understand why you are losing it so fast when Ron Paul name pups up. Where is your logic, where is you analytic work? Just a whole bunch of derogatory adjectives and no fact at all. I’ve never seen such a disorganized emotional reaction on that man that never (at least last 15 years) voted for laws that would curtailed our freedoms.

      Ron Paul didn’t’ imply that southerners didn’t know what they were fighting for. They fought for their freedom. He was explicit in that video. Only 3% of southerners owned slaves. Are you implying that all southerners fought for the interests of these 3 %? In this case YOU are implying that they didn’t know what they were fighting for, not Ron Paul.

      Do you have any facts at all to prove that that war was fought over the slaves?

      1. (a) “Where is your logic, where is you analytic work?”
        I quote Ron Paul’s own words in his speeches and newsletters. He’s quiet clear and needs no additional logic or analysis.

        (b) “why you are losing it so fast”
        Speaking of lacking logic or analysis…

        (c) “Do you have any facts at all to prove that that war was fought over the slaves?”

        The speeches and letters of the Civil War era focus on slavery as the cause that impelled the South to leave. After their defeat they created reasons more appealing to a non-slaveowning society, such as over tariffs and such. But the documentary testimony of the participants still speaks the truth to us, no matter how painful for Southerners to hear. For more about these things I recommend reading The Confederate And Neo-Confederate Reader – The Great Truth about the Lost Cause, Edited by James W. Loewen and
        Edward H. Sebesta (2010). Here are five examples; thousands of others are available.

        Note: I don’t care to debate basics of science and history, as I find fanatics believe all opinions about the shape of the Earth should be treated with respect — and so will spend unlimited time arguing. Please continue the debate about the Confederacy somewhere else, someplace more hospitable to racism. Further comments here will be deleted.

        (1) The Constitution of the Confederacy was designed to guarantee the right to hold slaves, with provisions such as Article I Section 9(4): “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.”

        (2) Cornerstone Speech by Alexander H. Stephens on 21 March 1861 at Savannah, Georgia. Excerpt:

        But not to be tedious in enumerating the numerous changes for the better, allow me to allude to one other though last, not least. The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution African slavery as it exists amongst us the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution.

        Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the “rock upon which the old Union would split.” He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away.

        This idea, though not incorporated in the constitution, was the prevailing idea at that time. The constitution, it is true, secured every essential guarantee to the institution while it should last, and hence no argument can be justly urged against the constitutional guarantees thus secured, because of the common sentiment of the day. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.”

        Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

        (3) The Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union“, a legal proclamation issued by the South Carolina Secession Convention on 24 December 1860. It set forth the reasons SC seceded from the United States. It did not even mention the secondary issues such as tariffs, and focused on slavery.

        (4) The Address of the people of South Carolina, assembled in Convention, to the people of the Slaveholding States of the United States“. Written by Robert Rhett, issued by the South Carolina Secession Convention in 1860. Opening:

        Citizens of the slaveholding States of the United States, circumstances beyond our control have placed us in the van of the great controversy between the Northern and Southern States. We would have preferred that other States should have assumed the position we now occupy. Independent ourselves, we disclaim any design or desire to lead the councils of the other Southern States. Providence has cast our lot together, by extending over us an identity of pursuits, interests, and institutions.

        South Carolina desires no destiny separated from yours. To be one of a great slaveholding confederacy, stretching its arms over a territory larger than any Power in Europe possesses — with population four times greater than that of the whole United States when they achieved their independence of the British Empire — with productions which make our existence more important to the world than that of any other people inhabiting it — with common institutions to defend, and common dangers to encounter — we ask your sympathy and confederation.

        (5) Speech by George Williamson (Confederate Commissioner of Louisiana) to the Texas Secession Convention to persuade them to join the Confederacy, at Austin, Texas on 9 March 1861 — Many mentions of slavery; he does not mention tariffs.

        Texas affords to the commerce of Louisiana a large portion of her products, and in exchange the banks of New Orleans furnish Texas with her only paper circulating medium. Louisiana supplies to Texas a market for her surplus wheat, grain and stock; both States have large areas of fertile, uncultivated lands, peculiarly adapted to slave labor; and they are both so deeply interested in African slavery that it may be said to be absolutely necessary to their existence, and is the keystone to the arch of their prosperity.

        … The people of Louisiana would consider it a most fatal blow to African slavery, if Texas either did not secede or having seceded should not join her destinies to theirs in a Southern Confederacy. If she remains in the union the abolitionists would continue their work of incendiarism and murder. Emigrant aid societies would arm with Sharp’s rifles predatory bands to infest her northern borders.

        … As a separate republic, Louisiana remembers too well the whisperings of European diplomacy for the abolition of slavery in the times of annexation not to be apprehensive of bolder demonstrations from the same quarter and the North in this country. The people of the slaveholding States are bound together by the same necessity and determination to preserve African slavery. The isolation of any one of them from the others would make her a theatre for abolition emissaries from the North and from Europe. Her existence would be one of constant peril to herself and of imminent danger to other neighboring slave-holding communities.

    2. People often confuse the question of why the elites started the war with why the grunts went and fought it. Hence the expression popular during the Civil War “Rich man’s war, poor man’s fight.” The ordinary citizens of the time may have been poor and not too well educated, but they weren’t stupid.

      The Civil War’s Common Soldier, by The National Park Service

  5. How much does the US spend on defense?

    The short answer: too much. Far more than we need to spend.

    But specifically how much? It depends on how one defines defense. For an answer let’s turn to one of our top defense analysts: “Nightmare: How Much Should We Spend for National Insecurity?” by Chuck Spinney, posted by James Fallows at his column on The Atlantic website, 3 February 2011 — It’s a long analysis, relying on work by Winston Wheeler at the Center for Defense Information (CDI). His conclusion:

    “So, in answering the first question: how large is the current defense budget? Reasonable estimates place it between $739 billion and $1 trillion for 2011 — take your pick.”</blockquot title="CDI" target="_blank":ler's reports at the CDI.

    For more information see Wheeler’s reports at CDI.

  6. Re: “The ‘No True Libertarianism’ fallacy“, David Atkins, Hullabaloo, 28 December 2012

    Atkins is just another liberal/left polemicist looking for evidence to fit a theory based on partial truths.

    Oddly, no one recalls that most of human history existed before the so called “civilizations” and the state apparatuses (and causal memes/paradigms shifts) that this [anti-libertarian] argument is about. Tribal life existed for “cognitively modern” humans for at least 200,000 years, WITH NO SIGNIFICANT STATE APPARATUS FOR >95% OF HUMAN HISTORY. YOU CAN FIND NO ARCHEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE FOR LARGE SCALE STATES -OF ANY KIND- BEFORE 8,000 YEARS AGO. ***MOST OF HUMAN EVOLUTION WAS ABSENT LARGE SCALE STATE APPARATUS.***

    So, when Atkins and his “Liberal” blog supporters state that there has never been a form of human culture that is absent a large scale state bureaucracy, they are clearly DELUSIONAL. Atkins real problem is that he fails to establish a legitimate model of human consciousness or a coherent theory of social evolution. And the reason is that Atkins is not a “real” Liberal at all, where a real “Liberal” upholds Scientific Rationalism against partisan “tribal” ideology.

    What Atkins *is* upholding is the bureaucratic apparatus of State Capitalism, and for that, “LIES” are needed, not Truth. The main lie is that the world is in the death grip of an epic struggle between “good” liberals and “evil” conservatives. In reality most people don’t care about that particular polarity, and do not see it fit for good purpose.

    But, anyone standing “outside” of the polarity, such as anti-statist anarcho-libertarians, that dare to make their perspective public, have to be scorned and accused of absurd charges on the basis of “bad science”. All of these “liberals” that attempt to make the case that libertarians are promoting “local bullies” are simply engaged on “mirror stuff”, or Jungian shadow.

    Liberals like Atkins and his repulsive blog supporters are the worst sort of “local bullies” AND the worst sort of NON-LOCAL bullies. They simply do not want any competition.

    1. This is weird almost beyond rebuttal. WTF’s astonishing IN CAPS REVELATIONS are schoolboy insights, irrelevant to the article WTF pretends to be discussing. The views he attributes to Atkins — without quotes — do not appear in the article. Citing tribal societies as evidence of libertarian success is very odd. Belief that stone age societies (whatever they were like, since we don’t know) provides rebuttal to Atkins’ evidence of modern events is … weird.

      Also — all the truths we have are partial truths.

    2. This is about a fear of having the the liberal establishment’s complicity in destroying independent populism revealed.

      The reality is that liberals are horrible “local bullies” (thought policing, political correctness). The only thing that is “weird” is that you are complicit in advancing their assertion that libertarians are promoting “local bullying”, and not liberals. This is an obvious case of psychological projection, or “shadow” by liberals who are shrieking in horror at Ron Paul’s popularity. I can think of no instance in which any of the many “liberal” circles I’ve been exposed to for 40 years wasn’t full of people behaving in similarly appalling ways. The only thing that got close to being an exception was some Green Party people in the early 80s. But, some of their ideas did not seem practical (100% consensus agreement, inability to recognize any valid points by conservatives).

      What was good about the Green party people was their honesty about the failings of the liberal establishment, and willingness to explore alternatives. And for that, many were punished by the liberal establishment. The punishment was for the POLITICAL CRIME of non-conformism.

      Think about it: the “liberal” establishment is punishing people for wanting to be OPEN MINDED and for attempting to understand history. This is the sad reality that the liberal hysteria over Ron Paul’s popularity reveals. Integralists who promote holistic theories are not “chained” to liberalism, and most adopted Integralism because of the glaring problems with liberalism, and the incoherence of conservative alternatives.

      Absolutists take partial truths and advance them as full truths.State Capitalism, and its liberal sub-component, rests on a historical foundation of Absolutism (Leonard Liggio, Keith Preston). The only thing that has ever stood in the way of Absolutism is the principle of Liberty. The evolutionary record is available, and evolutionary science (and related fields of consciousness such as linguistics) are expanding what is known about early human society. Why you are obfuscating science is a mystery.

      The scientific record shows NO evidence for large scale social organization for the vast majority of human history. Thus, there is a disconnect between the 99% of the formative events in human evolution/consciousness and political ideologies concerned with only recent problems in the organization of large societies.

      You dismiss most of human evolution as “stone age”, but provide no explanation as to why the science of evolution is irrelevant to an analysis of political ideologies or the problems in social organization they attempt to address. Obviously “stone age” people were not trying to dismantle modern economic systems or oppressive political systems as are libertarians.

      Atkins and his vile supporters are liars when they state that there is no example in ALL of human history of a society that functioned without Big Government. Atkins’ analysis is what is shallow. He proposes no model of human nature, no theory of social evolution. Atkins can’t even manage to provide basic, objective, historically accurate, definitions of “libertarian” or “liberal”. Atkins fails to understand, or explain, how modernism came about, or even what the role of Classical Liberalism was in the development of modernism! Atkins seems unable to understand anything outside of liberalism, and may not even know that history existed before liberalism. He and his supporters are the real “wingnuts”, their anti-libertarian bigotry is as obvious as is their selective choice of “facts” used to support their theory.

      1. There is not much content to WTF’s comment, just a lot of unsupported big assertions. Most of those about Atkins largely fictional, unrelated to anything Atkins wrote (WTF doesn’t use quotes, so he can just make stuff up at will). There are two statements that can be tested, as indicators of the quality of WTF’s thinking.

        (1) “You dismiss most of human evolution as “stone age'”

        It’s a technical term in anthropology, not “dismissive”. From the Britannica:

        Stone Age, prehistoric cultural stage, or level of human development, characterized by the creation and use of stone tools. The Stone Age is usually divided into three separate periods — Paleolithic Period, Mesolithic Period, and Neolithic Period — based on the degree of sophistication in the fashioning and use of tools.

        (2) “but provide no explanation as to why the science of evolution is irrelevant to an analysis of political ideologies”

        I provided no such explanation since I made no mention of the topic. However, since you raise the issue — your first comment made two references to evolution.


        Correct (of course), but irrelevant to Atkins’ article.

        (b) “Atkins real problem is that he fails to establish a legitimate model of human consciousness or a coherent theory of social evolution.”

        I don’t believe that anyone has accomplished either of those things. Nor is it reasonable to expect regular folks to have such things as a prerequisite to political commentary. You’re just making up silly stuff with which to insult Atkins.

  7. Penultimate ? Oh please no . Could you not post less frequently , and on fewer topics at a time ; quote fewer references ; ignore more comments .
    The comments are well interesting , especially where there is another view presented ; or when people try to discuss future ideas as well as past and present.

    1. That’s a powerful question — with no easy answer.

      (1) The primary and relative easy-to-solve problem with US trade is the overvalued US dollar, just as it was for the UK after Churchill re-set the pound in 192 at its pre-WWI value. De-industrialization, excessive growth of imports, and a trade deficit. In both cases economic ignorance (“strong currency is good, always) fought economic reality, with ignorance surrendering only after decades of economic decline.

      (2) There is (as usual) another level to the situation: the rise of state capitalism (aka neo-mercantilism, Bretton Woods II trade policy). With so many other nations playing by different rules, perhaps we must respond in kind.

      For more about this see Globalization and free trade – wonders of a past era, now enemies of America, 16 March 2009.

    2. “Tirade”: Have you read this article: “How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work“, New York Times, 22 January 2012?

      I think it alludes to FM’s 2nd point. The manufacturing apparatus built in up in China by their State, their companies and our companies simply outclasses anywhere else in the world. Certainly not in terms of quality (but that certainly is getting better), but that China is a hotspot with easy collaboration in the same way Silicon valley works for high tech or La Jolla for BioTech or Hollywood for film.

      Personally I think we can excel without trade protection. I think our education system is at fault. Build and focus our strengths and I think we’ll continue to do great.

    3. I second Jonh’s recommendation to read that NYT article about FoxComm. However, the article directly contradicts his belief that a better education system will save us.

      For some context about the issues discussed in that article see economist Jared Bernstein’s article Globalization and the iPhone, 23 January 2012.

  8. One pillar of our society/economy is a level of trust that allows strangers to believe that they’re not going to get screwed (bank accounts still there tomorrow, house not occupied while going on vacation, I dunno, basic things). I see it as an assumption that lets the wheels turn in daily life. Am I wrong in thinking that the last 20-30 years could be viewed as the elite in this country extracting the value inherent in that trust? Also, once that trust is gone, what happens (or conversely what do we do to stop this from happening)?

    1. I absolutely agree, and believe this is one of the least appreciated but most important changes since 1960.

      CEOs (and their management team) discovered that they could exploit their control over the Boards of Directors to extract previously unheard of amounts from corporate profits. In effect legal theft.

      Doctors discovered that they could exploit their control of the health care system to increase their income. To mention just two — extracting what are in effect bribes from drug companies; own a lab and order excessive tests from it.

      Lawyers discovered that they could game the legal system to extract unheard of amounts from households and businesses.

      All of these are professionals exploiting the conflict of interest inherent in their authority for personal benefit.

      Note that politicans have done the same, but that’s no change from 19th century practice. See, for example, a bio of Daniel Webster.

      How to fix this? Recogition of the problem is always the first step. Successful treatment requires insights from someone of a higher pay grade than mine.

    1. This is interesting propaganda. The facts are accurate. But the logic is classic “watch the author hide the pea.” We’re running out of energy — except for the ample fossil fuels, which worsen climate change. It’s a guaranteed winning formula for doomsters. Except that both sides of the story are just speculation.

      But said with conviction it’s impressive, to anyone not closely following the logic.

  9. Firesidecollapse

    The context of the discussion from the Greer article I linked to earlier can be found here: “Waiting for the Great Pumpkin“, John Michael Greer, the Archdruid Report, 4 January 2012

    Also FM, we’ve seen standards of living fall in several nations over the last few decades. Do you deny this?

    1. (1) Yet another example of the “look thoughtful while guessing wildly” theory of fiction. He cites no data, no expert analysis. Why would anyone bother reading this stuff? That’s the amazing thing about the Internet, how it propogates hot air. If we could tap this energy source we could soar to the stars!

      (2) “standards of living fall in several nations over the last few decades.”

      (a) I don’t know what you mean by “standard of living in … nations”. Per capital real gdp?

      (b) What nations? Somalia? Greece? Per capital gdp of the world has grown at a fantastic rate during the past two decades, among the fastest ever. There have been failed states, but they are a small fraction of the world.

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