January 6, 2018


Free Market of Ideas


Posts Tom Switzer: The Logic of War
Daniel Ellsberg: Nuclear Poker
Scientific American: Living the American Nightmare
Donald Trump: The Enemy of My Enemy
Tony Abbott: Barbarians at the Gate
Live Long and Prosper: The Needs of the Many
William Gibson: Spook Country
Peace and Long Life: Facts and Fictions
Bertrand Russell: An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish
Links Janine Shepherd: How Can We Redefine Ourselves After A Tragedy?
Zeynep Tufekci: How Is Our Attention Packaged And Sold As A Commodity?
Witness: How the World Woke Up to Global Warming
Witness: Demoted For Being Gay
Witness: Wittenoom — An Australian Tragedy
Witness: The Battered Child
Juno Mac: How Does Stigma Compromise The Safety Of Sex Workers?
Jeff Smith: How Much Entrepreneurial Potential Lives Inside Our Prisons?
Steven Pinker: Enlightenment Now
Martin Seligman: Optimism and Hope
Rear Vision: Tax and Happiness


Posts Donald Trump: I Am Your Voice
Friedrich Hayek: The Divine Right of Plutocrats
Donald Trump: The Enemy of the People
Alan Greenspan: The Wizard
Links The Money: The pros and cons of a corporate tax cut
Jessica Whyte: Neoliberalism — The Ideology of the Ruling Class


Posts Oliver Sacks: My Own Life
Lyndon Johnson: Blinded by Communism
Links Hamish de Bretton-Gordon: Syria's chemical warfare — a deadly toll on children
Steve Shirley: How Do You Break Into an Industry While Breaking All the Rules?


Posts Donald Trump: Crushing the Liberals
Herbert Spencer: Survival of the Fittest
Sandy Hook: Sacrificing Children for Guns
Ministry of Peace: The Necessary End of Rational Men
Links BBC Witness: Surviving the My Lai Massacre
Nick Martin: Diary of a Nauru doctor
Saturday Extra: Robert Manne
Rear Vision: The American Gun Industry
John Hodgman: Finding Love … and Aliens?
Saadia Zahidi: The New Generation of Working Women Transforming the Muslim World
Garett Hardin: The Tragedy of the Commons


Posts Tim Weiner: The FBI and the President
Climate Action Tracker: Australia's Sceptical Climate Policy
Bertrand Russell: The Cult of the Hero
Links BBC Witness: Women in Britain get the right to vote
Marie Stopes: Birth Control Pioneer
Simon Chapman: Wind turbine syndrome — a communicated disease


Posts Neal Armstrong: One Small Step
Jospeh Stiglitz: Corporate Welfare
Peace and Long Life: Deterraforming the Earth
Links Garrett Graff: A Blockbuster Indictment Details Russia's Attack on US Democracy
Nicolas Davies: 35 countries where the US has supported fascists, drug lords and terrorists
Geoffrey Robinson: The Killing Season — The Indonesian massacres (1965-66)


Posts CSIRO: Australian Climate Variability and Change
Links Robert Glicksman: The Republican War on the Environment
David Johnston: How much is Trump worth?
Maryn McKenna: Big Chicken

Brothers in Arms

PBS American Experience

Forever Free

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Julia Howe (1819 – 1910), Battle Hymn of the Republic, November 1861.

[As of] the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free …

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 65), The Emancipation Proclamation, 22 September 1862.

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. …
The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. …
In giving freedom to the slave … we shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth.

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 65), State of the Union Address, 1 December 1862.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude … shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Thirteenth Amendment, Section 1, United States Constitution, 18 December 1865.

(Sarah Colt, A Nation Reborn, God in America, Episode 3, American Experience & Frontline, 2010)

(Ken Burns, The Universe of Battle, The Civil War, Episode 5, 1990)

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 65):
Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.
Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword; as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said:
The judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether.
(Psalms 19:9)
  • With malice toward none;
  • with charity for all;
  • with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right;
let us strive on:
  • to finish the work we are in;
  • to bind up the nation's wounds;
  • to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan;
  • to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.
(Second Inaugural Address, 4 March 1865)

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new Nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. …
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us,
  • that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion,
  • that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,
  • that this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and
  • that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
(Soldiers' National Cemetery, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 19 November 1863)

July 9, 2017


Free Market of Ideas

Milton Friedman

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

On few matters over the centuries has the human conscience been more amenable and the human brain more resourceful than in finding reasons why the rich and the fortunate should live in comfortable coexistence with the poor.

John Galbraith (1908 – 2006), The Affluent Society, 4th Edition, Penguin, 1984, p xxiv.

[The inordinately wealthy] corrupt themselves by practising greed, and they corrupt the rest of society by provoking envy.

Ernst Schumacher (1911 – 77), Small is Beautiful, Part IV, Chapter 5, 1973.

(Michael Kirk, President Trump, PBS Frontline, WGBH, 2017)

Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004):
We're going to turn the bull loose.

Margaret Thatcher (1925 – 2013):

[Capitalism] is a system that brings wealth to the many, and not just to the few.
(Address to the US Congress)

Lincoln Savings & Loan:
[The] weak, meek and ignorant are always good targets.

Sam Donaldson (1934):
[If] we excuse unethical conduct by saying: 'well everyone does it', or 'it's really okay unless you get caught', or 'it's not against the law' — we miss the point of why it's important we not do it period.
The point may be no less than national survival as a people who can live together honorably.
If we let lying, cheating, and stealing become an accepted way of life, it's not just a few dollars that will be lost, it's the spirit of the country that will be lost.
The decision is ours.
(Greed is Good, The Eighties, Episode 6, 12 May 2016)

Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004) [On behalf of the American Medical Association]:
One of the traditional methods of imposing statism or socialism on a people has been by way of medicine …
The doctor begins to lose freedoms.
It's like telling a lie, and one leads to another …
All of us can see what happens once you establish the precedent that the government can determine a man's working place and his working methods, and behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country.
Until, one day, we will awake to find we have socialism.
(Michael Moore, Sicko, 2007)

Donald Regan (1918 – 2003) [Secretary of the Treasury, Reagan Administration]:
I've read an awful lot about how we're really going to hurt the poor … with our cuts.
That is absolutely not what we're going to do.
(The Reagan Revolution, The Eighties, Episode 5, 7 April 2016)

John Galbraith (1908 – 2006):
Men who take a stand on high principle with cruel results have very frequently seen themselves as the instruments of divine will.
(The Prophets and Promise of Classical Capitalism, The Age of Uncertainty, Episode 1, BBC, 1977)

People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. …
[They feel] that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right.
The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing compared with that of the rich. …
[Regrettably, when] reform from the top [becomes] impossible, revolution from the bottom [becomes] inevitable.
(p 22)

Personal interest always wears the disguise of public purpose, and no one is more easily persuaded of the validity or righteousness of a public cause than the person who stands personally to gain [from it.]
(The Age of Uncertainty, BBC / Andre Deutsch, 1977, p 232)

[Under Ronald Reagan, along with tax cuts for the rich,] there was the attack … on economic support to the poorest of the population — on welfare payments, food stamps and aid to families with dependent children.
(p xvii)

There is … the by no means remote chance that management of the modern economy by the affluent for the affluent will fail.
It involves a basic contradiction between …
  • the conservative commitment to free enterprise, the monetarist illusion, and taxation especially tailored to the affluent, and …
  • the hard fact that depression and recession are only avoided by comprehensive, socially concerned measures, notably by the required fiscal and prices and incomes policies …
Failure could easily put enough people in jeopardy so that the economic contentment arising from affluence would be threatened and political attitudes thus changed.
This was the effect of the Great Depression …
(p xxxi)

[Monetary] policy is a blunt, unreliable, discriminatory and somewhat dangerous instrument of economic control.
No other course of action in economics has ever rivaled monetary policy in its capacity to survive failure.
(The Affluent Society, 4th Edition, Penguin, 1984, p 179)

Labor and labor unions are no longer the primary enemies of the business enterprise …
The enemy … is government. …
[And for] the defense of private enterprise against the state the commitment to the classical market is of vital importance.
(A History of Economics, Penguin, 1987, p 285)

John Kennedy (1917 – 63):
[My] fellow Americans:
  • ask not what your country can do for you;
  • ask what you can do for your country.
(Inaugural Address, 20 January 1961)

Milton Friedman (1912 – 2006):
The free man will ask neither:
  • what his country can do for him; nor,
  • what he can do for his country.
(Capitalism and Freedom, 1962, emphasis added)

The strongest argument for free enterprise is that it prevents anybody from having too much power …
[The workers of 19th century Britain] were not exploited.
The studies that have been done recently have shown over and over again that the 19th century was a period in which the ordinary English worker experienced a very rapid and very substantial rise in his standard of life.
(The Tyranny of Control, Episode 2)

{[That system] of unregulated rapacious capitalism} did a far better job of expressing … compassion than the governmental welfare programs are today.
[It saw] the greatest outpouring of … charitable activity the world has ever known.
And one of the things I hold against the welfare system most seriously, is that it has destroyed private charitable arrangements that are far more effective [in helping people] in disadvantaged situations.
(From Cradle to Grave, Episode 4)

[Look] at the way the welfare system has been corrupting the very fabric of our society. …
[We] are inducing [welfare recipients] to become dependants — to become children …
(How to Stay Free, Free to Choose, Episode 9, PBS, 1980)

Mary Kissel (1976) [Editorial Board Member, Wall Street Journal]:
[By expanding] the entitlement state [Barack Obama has] hooked a lot of lower income Americans on welfare programs — 1 in 7 Americans on food stamps, for instance.
(The Trump victory, Between The Lines, ABC Radio National, 10 November 2016)

Karl Marx (1818 – 83)
William Wood, 9 years old, was 7 years and 10 months when he began to work …
He came to work every day in the week at 6 am, and left off about 9 pm …
Mary Anne Walkley had worked without pause 26½ hours, together with sixty other girls, thirty of them in one room …
[She] died of apoplexy, but there is reason to fear that her death had been accelerated by overwork in an overcrowded workroom.
(Capital, Vol 1 Ch 8, 1867)

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. …
The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class. …

The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. …
[It] has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life …

[We advocate:]
  • A heavy progressive or graduated income tax. …
  • Free education for all children in public schools.
  • [And the abolition] of children’s factory labour in its present form. …

The Communists … openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.
Let the ruling classes tremble at a communistic revolution.
The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.
They have a world to win.
Working men of all countries, unite!
(Karl Marx & Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto, 1848)

Economists are like theologians …
Every religion other than their own is the invention of man, whereas their own particular brand of religion is an emanation from God.
(The Misery of Philosophy)

Terry Hillman:
In the eighteenth century, factory owners chained children to the machines.
They fought the government's attempt to [make the] shackling children illegal.

The Mills and Factory Act (1833):
  • No child workers under nine years of age.
  • Children of 9 to 13 years to work no more than 9 hours a day.
  • Children of 13 to 18 years to work no more than 12 hours a day.
  • Children are not to work at night.
  • Two hours of schooling each day for children.
(The Complete Idiot's Guide to Economics, 2014, pp 20 & 23)

April 2, 2017

Donald Trump

Blue Army: Persons of Interest

Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 65), First Inaugural Address, 4 March 1861.

Truth for us nowadays is not what is, but what others can be brought to accept …
[Dissimulation has become] one of the most striking characteristics of our age. …
Our understanding is conducted solely by means of the word: anyone who falsifies it betrays public society.
It is the only tool by which we communicate our wishes and our thoughts; it is our soul's interpreter: if we lack that, we can no longer hold together; we can no longer know each other.
When words deceive us, it breaks all intercourse and loosens the bonds of our polity.

Michel de Montaigne (1533 – 92), On giving the lie, Essais, Chapter 18, Book II, 1580.

Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe.
It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief … that mental lying has produced in society.
When man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.

Tom Paine (1737 – 1809), The Age of Reason, 1794-1807.

We live in a time when:
  • political passions run high,
  • channels of free expression are dwindling, and
  • organised lying exists on a scale never before known.
George Orwell (1903 – 50), New Statesman and Nation, 9 January 1943.

Wealth, in even the most improbable cases, manages to convey the aspect of intelligence.

Kenneth Galbraith (1908 – 2006)

Elect a clown:
Expect a circus.


I Am Your Voice

A political agitator appealing to popular wishes or prejudices.

— The Oxford Reference Dictionary, Joyce Hawkins, Editor, 1986.

(Michael Kirk, Trump's Divided States of America, PBS Frontline, Episode 2, WGBH, 2017)

Yamiche Alcindor [National Reporter, The New York Times]:
I'm going to talk to a couple that voted for Trump about the repairs that were done to their home through a program that the Trump administration wants to eliminate [— a housing program] geared toward helping low income and working class people …

Joseph Pavlic:
Keeping the country safe compared to keeping my bathroom safe isn’t even a comparison.
We have people who are coming into this country who are trying to hurt us, and I think that we need to be protected. …

Tammy Pavlic:
If today, I had to make a decision, okay you can have the house done, or they're gonna cut it and put it towards the [Mexican border] wall — I think it's important that the wall is built.
For the greater good you've got to make sacrifices.

Joseph Pavlic:
When he says "America First" and he sits there, and he talks about you — "this is for you" — I really believe that.

Tammy Pavlic:
I think he gets us. …
He isn't a politician.
As rich as the man is, he can relate to the regular [working class] person.
So I think we need more and more people like him.
(Liz Garbus, American Carnage, The Fourth Estate: The NY Times and Trump, Episode 3, 2018)

Hillary's Margin per 10,000 votersDonald's Margin per 10,000 voters
ReligionNon-Christian or No Religion1,035ReligionChristian1,149
ResidenceUrban816ResidenceSuburban or Rural721
Marital StatusUnmarried714Marital StatusMarried580
Age18-44528Age45 and older504
EducationCollege Degree450BirthplaceBorn in the USA455
Military ServiceNon-veteran435EducationNo College Degree400
IncomeUnder $50,000396Military ServiceVeteran351
OrientationQueer390Income$50,000 or more128
BirthplaceNot Born in the USA297OrientationStraight95

Cook Political Report:
Effectively 77,759 votes in three states [Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan] determined the Presidency [in 2016. …]
By the same logic, just three counties [in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania] re-elected President Obama in 2012 …
(56 Interesting Facts About the 2016 Election, 16 December 2016)

(Barak Goodman, Clinton, PBS American Experience, WGBH, 2012)

Hillary Clinton (1947):
[To] be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. …
[Racist,] sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.
[Unfortunately] there are people like that, and he has lifted them up.
(Amy Chozick, Hillary Clinton Calls Many Trump Backers "Deplorables," and GOP Pounces,
The New York Times, 10 September 2016, emphasis added)

Mitt Romney (1947):
There are 47% of the people:
  • who will vote for [President Obama] no matter what …
  • who are dependent upon government,
  • who believe that they are victims,
  • who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,
  • who believe that they are entitled
    • to health care,
    • to food, [and]
    • to housing …
    [and that] the government should give it to them.
(David Corn, Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He Really Thinks of Obama Voters, Mother Jones, 17 September 2012)

(Michael Kirk, Trump's Divided States of America, PBS Frontline, Episode 2, WGBH, 2017)

Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004) [1 September 1980]:
This country needs a new administration with a renewed dedication to the [American] dream …
An administration that will give that dream new life, and make America great again.
(The State of the Union Is Not Good, The Seventies, Episode 5, 2015)

Bill Clinton (1946) [3 October 1991]:
I believe that, together, we can make America great again.
(New World Order, The Nineties, Episode 4, 2017)

(The Berlin Wall And The Fall Of Communism, Soundtracks: Songs That Defined History, Episode 8,
CNN Films, 2017)
Arthur Goldwag:
Paleoconservatives like the former Nixon speechwriter … Pat Buchanan hearken back to the anti-New Deal, America First ideologues of the 1920s and 1930s, such as the aviation hero and Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh (1902 – 74) and the radio priest Father Charles Coughlin (1891 – 1979).
(pp 49-20)

George Wallace's presidential campaigns of the late 1960s and early 1970s and Pat Bucanan's in the 1990s all incorporated tropes from the America Firsters of the 1930s, inveighing as they did against elite academics and the media, globally minded Wall Streeters and multinational corporations, homosexuals, immigrants, and, implicitly, international Jewry.
(p 51)

In 1947, Gerald L K Smith (1898 – 1976) … founder of the America First Party, launched the Christian Nationalist Crusade, which called for the deportation of Zionists and blacks, and the dismantling of the United Nations.
(Isms and Ologies, Quercus, 2007, p 210)

Michael Kirk:
[The Taj Mahal casino was] the biggest deal of his lifetime …
[Trump] spent a billion dollars on the Taj. …
Burdened by debt, [it] would not turn a profit [and closed in October 2016.]
The Plaza Hotel — a financial disaster; the airline, Trump Shuttle, was bleeding money. …
Trump and his companies owed more the $3 billion, much of it to the banks …
[But as the bankers] stared into the Trump Organization's abyss, [they] came to believe that Trump's assets … were worth more with his name on them than in foreclosure. …
They sold the yacht and the airline; and they put Trump on a $450,000 allowance.
In exchange he would continue to promote the business.

Donald Trump had survived but his casinos were deeply in debt.
He was looking for a way out.
He found one: Wall Street. …
Trump paid himself $44 million for services … even as the stock price began to fall.
The company filed for bankruptcy 3 times, investors lost billions. …
Trump characteristically described his time in Atlantic City as a success.

For Trump — real estate was increasingly a side business — marketing his name, a full time job. …
For 14 seasons [of The Apprentice,] millions of Americans watched a carefully crafted Donald Trump. …
And for his political guru … the TV audience could become Trump voters.
Roger Stone (1952):
Now, I understand that the elites say:
Oh that's reality TV!
Voters don't see it that way.
Television news and television entertainment — it's all television.
Now he saw an issue he could turn into headlines … the birther issue …
(Michael Kirk, President Trump, PBS Frontline, WGBH, 2017)

Omarosa Manigault (1974) [Director of Communications for Donald Trump, September 2016]:
[If he wins, every] critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump.
[Everyone] who's ever doubted Donald, whoever disagreed, whoever challenged him.
It [would be] the ultimate revenge [for him] to become the most powerful man in the universe.
(Michael Kirk, President Trump, PBS Frontline, WGBH, 2017)

On May 1, 1989, [Donald Trump spent an estimated $85,000 on] full-page advertisements in all four of the [New York] city's major newspapers [calling for the return of the death penalty for the Central Park five. …]
In 2002, [Metias] Reyes declared that he [had] assaulted and raped the jogger. …
The city [subsequently reached] a settlement of more than $40 million in the civil suit brought by the five defendants.
In June 2014, Trump wrote an opinion article for the New York Daily News in which he called the settlement "a disgrace" and said that the group's guilt was still likely:
Donald Trump (1946):
Settling doesn't mean innocence. …
Speak to the detectives on the case and try listening to the facts.
These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels. …
[In] October 2016 [he again] refused to acknowledge the Central Park Five's innocence and stated that their convictions should never have been vacated.
(Central Park jogger case, Wikipedia, 6 July 2017)

Nicolas de Caritat (1743 – 1794) [Marquis de Condorcet]:
If we cannot find voters who are sufficiently enlightened, we must avoid making a bad choice by accepting as candidates, only those men in whose competence we can trust.

William King (1874 – 1950) [Prime Minister of Canada, 1921-26, 1926-30, 1935-48):
The extreme man is always more or less dangerous, but nowhere more so than in politics.
(Margaret MacMillan, History's People, Text, 2015, p 51)

George Orwell (1903 – 50):
The energy that actually shapes the world springs from emotions —
  • racial pride,
  • leader-worship,
  • religious belief,
  • love of war
— which liberal intellectuals mechanically write off as anachronism, and which they have usually destroyed so completely in themselves as to have lost all power of action.
(Wells, Hitler and the World State, Horizon, August 1941)

Totalitarianism has abolished freedom of thought to an extent unheard of in any previous age. …
The totalitarian state tries to control the thoughts and emotions of its subjects at least as completely as it controls their actions. …
It sets up unquestionable dogmas, and it alters them from day to day.
It needs the dogmas, because it needs absolute obedience from its subjects, but it cannot avoid changes, which are dictated by the needs of power politics.
It declares itself infallible, and at the same time it attacks the very concept of objective truth.
(Listener, 19 June 1941)

Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945):
I know perfectly well … that in a scientific sense there is [no] such thing as race …
[But] as a politician [I] need a concept which enables the order which has hitherto existed on historic bases to be abolished and an entirely new and antihistoric order enforced and given and intellectual basis …
[For] this purpose the concept of races serves me well …
With the concept of race, [we will] recast the world.
(Anthony Grayling, The Meaning of Things, Phoenix, 2001, p 51)

Don Watson (1949):
Noble and creative as it has often been, provider of an essential thread in the best of the American ideal and source of a rare grace one encounters only in the United States, American Christianity also disguises fear and feeds ignorance, paranoia and prejudice, along with a readiness to smite enemies with weapons of unspeakable destructive force.
(Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump, Quarterly Essay, Issue 63, 2016, p 23)

Alice Miranda Ollstein [Political Reporter]:
According to a book written by [Argentinian President] Macri’s father Franco, Trump threw a tantrum after losing a round of golf to Mauricio Macri and broke his friend’s golf clubs — one by one.
(There is a lot more to the Trump Argentina story, ThinkProgress, 23 November 2016)

Ying Ma [Deputy Director of a Trump Super PAC, The Committee for American Sovereignty]:
[We] know that in state-craft, every now and then, to be unpredictable is not such a bad thing in negotiations. …
One of the reasons Donald Trump won is that … he is able to simplify a lot of issues that the GOP have not been able to simplify for voters …
(The Trump victory, Between The Lines, ABC Radio National, 10 November 2016)

John Ashton (1956):
Our mainstream politics is less connected to the base of society than [it has been] for generations.
Into that gap scurry opportunists, attention-seekers, populists, pied pipers and demagogues, always good entertainers, peddling the illusion of simple solutions in a complex world.
We don’t feel close to our politicians, or trust them. …
We yearn for a real conversation about who were are and where we are going as a country, a vision for the future.
(Lifting the Lid on the Politics of Climate Change, RSA, 16 May 2013)

Joseph Stiglitz (1943):
While the most immediate symptom [of inequality] is disillusionment leading to a lack of participation in the political process, there is always a worry that voters will be attracted to populists and extremists who attack the establishment that has created this unfair system and who make unrealistic promises of change.
(The Price of Inequality, Penguin, 2012, p 160)

The proposed 2018 budget includes $54 billion in cuts to federal departments, and a corresponding increase in defense and military spending. …
[Funding for] the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, [the] National Endowment for the Arts, and [the] National Endowment for the Humanities, would be eliminated entirely.
(2018 United States federal budget, 25 February 2018)

Steve Bannon (1953):
[The] core of what we believe [is] that we're a nation with an economy, not an economy just in some global market place with open borders, but that we are a nation with a culture, and a reason for being.
[That is] what unites us.
(Conservative Political Action Conference, American Conservative Union, 23 February 2017)

Jake Sullivan (1976):
[Trump] is not actually interested in doing the job of president.
He's just interested in [the prestige of] being the president.
( American policymaker Jake Sullivan on US foreign policy, Between the Lines, ABC Radio National, 15 June 2017)

Barack Obama (1961):
[You run for] elected office, not just for the sake of being something, but for the sake of doing something.
(Sarah Wallis, Obamacare, Inside Obama's Whitehouse, Episode 2, BBC)

The Enemy of My Enemy

If it is Russia — which it’s probably not, nobody knows who it is — but if it is …
Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30 thousand e-mails that are missing.
I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.

Donald Trump (1946), 27 July 2016.

James Comey (1960):
[Chrisopher Steele has] proven credible in the past, and so has his network …
(Presidential Briefing, 5 January 2017)

Douglas Charles [Associate Professor of History, Pennsylvania State University]:
During Whitewater investigation [James Comey] worked as a Council for the Senate Whitewater committee …
[He had] investigated Hillary Clinton [and concluded] that she wasn't to be trusted.
And now as FBI director he was in a very powerful position and felt a need, perhaps with this independent streak of his, to speak out.
And he undoubtedly had personal motivations in this as well, speaking out and editorialising about Hillary Clinton, but not Donald Trump.

So for the first time since the Hoover years, here's an FBI director using his position, using his authority to influence politics.
So he was crossing ethical boundaries and those were definitely hints of the Hoover years.
And as we can see that had undoubtedly an effect on presidential politics.
(The FBI and the President, Rear Vision, ABC Radio National, 4 March 2018)

RT = Russia Today.
(Russia’s Influence Campaign Targeting the 2016 US Presidential Election, ODNI Statement on Declassified Intelligence Community Assessment of Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 6 January 2017, p 11)

Jane Mayer (1955)

The funding for the [Steele dossier] originally came from an organization financed by the New York investor Paul Singer, [who was backing Marco Rubio against] Trump.
But, after it became clear that Trump would win the Republican nomination, Singer dropped out.
At that point, Fusion persuaded … the Clinton campaign, to subsidize the unfinished research. …

[Christopher Steele's] sources said that when Trump had stayed in the Presidential suite of Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, in 2013, he had paid
"a number of prostitutes to perform a 'golden showers' (urination) show in front of him",
thereby defiling a bed that Barack and Michelle Obama had slept in during a state visit.
The allegation was attributed to four sources, but their reports were secondhand — nobody had
  • witnessed the event, or
  • tracked down a prostitute …
Two sources were unconnected to the others, but the remaining two could have spoken to each other.
[The sources] were described as:
  • "a former top-level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin,"
  • a "member of the staff at the hotel,"
  • a "female staffer at the hotel when Trump had stayed there," and
  • "a close associate of Trump who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow." …

The Russians were described as having cultivated Trump and traded favors with him "for at least 5 years."
Putin was described as backing Trump in order to "sow discord and disunity both within the US" and within the transatlantic alliance.
The report claimed that [Trump] and his top associates had repeatedly accepted intelligence from the Kremlin on Hillary Clinton and other political rivals. …

According to Special Counsel Mueller’s recent indictment of thirteen Russian nationals, Kremlin-backed operatives, hiding behind fake and stolen identities, posed as Americans on Facebook and Twitter,
  • spreading lies and
  • fanning ethnic and religious hatred,
with the aim of damaging Clinton and helping Trump.
The Kremlin apparently spent about a million dollars a month to fund Internet trolls working round-the-clock shifts in a run-down office building in St Petersburg.
Their tactics [included:]
  • spreading falsehoods designed to turn voters toward extremism, [and]
  • organizing of bogus pro-Trump rallies [in the US. …]

[In] November of 2014 Dutch intelligence officials … provided US authorities with evidence that the Russians had broken into the Democratic Party’s computer system. …

In April, 2016, over drinks with [Alexander Downer] at a London bar, [Trump foreign-policy adviser George Papadopoulos] divulged that Russia had access to thousands of Clinton e-mails. …
On July 31, 2016, the FBI had launched a formal investigation [triggered by Papadopoulos’s claims as reported by Australian intelligence. …]

According to an article by the Washington Post [in August 2016,] Robert Hannigan, then the head of the UK’s intelligence service the GCHQ, had recently flown to Washington and briefed the CIA’s director, John Brennan, [about] a stream of illicit communications between Trump’s team and Moscow that had been intercepted. …
[At that point] the CIA’s assessment that the Russians were interfering specifically to boost Trump was not yet accepted by other intelligence agencies, and it wasn’t until days before the Inauguration that major US intelligence agencies had unanimously endorsed this view. …
The US eventually sent a series of stern messages to the Russians …

In early September, 2016, Obama tried [unsuccessfully] to get congressional leaders to issue a bipartisan statement condemning Russia’s meddling in the election. …
The intelligence community had recently informed … the leaders of both parties, and the ranking representatives on the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, that Russia was acting on behalf of Trump.
[However,] Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed skepticism about the Russians’ role, and refused to sign a bipartisan statement condemning Russia.

[On] October 7, 2016 … James Clapper, Obama’s director of National Intelligence, and Jeh Johnson, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, issued a joint statement saying that the US intelligence community was "confident" that Russia had directed the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s e-mails. …
James Comey, then the FBI director, had reportedly changed his mind about issuing a public statement, deciding that it was too close to the election to make such a politically charged assertion. …
30 minutes after the statement was released, the Washington Post brought to light the "Access Hollywood" tape, [and a] few hours after that, WikiLeaks, evidently in an effort to bail out Trump by changing the subject, started posting the private e-mails of John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman. …

[On] October 28, 2016, Comey sent a letter to congressional leaders: the FBI had come across new e-mails bearing on its previously closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server as Secretary of State. …
Two days before the election, Comey made a second announcement, clearing her of wrongdoing …
To Steele [it] seemed that the Bureau had one standard for Clinton and another for her opponent. …

On January 5, 2017 … in a top-secret Oval Office meeting, the chiefs of the nation’s top intelligence agencies briefed Obama and Biden … for the first time about the dossier’s allegation that Trump’s campaign team may have colluded with the Russians. …

[The dossier was published online by BuzzFeed on 10 January 2017.]

Orbis has landed several new clients as a result of the publicity surrounding the dossier.
The week after it became public, the company received two thousand job applications.

(Christopher Steele, the Man Behind the Trump Dossier, The New Yorker, 12 March 2018, emphasis added)

October 31, 2016


Free Market of Ideas

Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research

Green Army: Research and Development

Developers can still get rich, politicians can still get payoffs, megaprojects can still be funded, but it needs to be in the context of strengthening defenses against environmental change, not weakening them — because once they get too weak, no one is going to be making money anymore.
In a time of environemntal change, limiting loss will be just as important as promoting growth.

— Cleo Paskal, Global Warring, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, p 245.

Caroline Ash, Elizabeth Culotta, Julia Fahrenkamp-Uppenbrink, David Malakoff, Jesse Smith, Andrew Sugden and Sacha Vignieri:
Anthropogenic climate change is now a part of our reality.
Even the most optimistic estimates of the effects of contemporary fossil fuel use suggest that mean global temperature will rise by a minimum of 2°C before the end of this century and that CO2 emissions will affect climate for tens of thousands of years. …
[Terrestrial ecosystems] will face rates of change unprecedented in the past 65 million years.
(Science, Vol 314, AAAS, 2 August 2013, p 473)

IPCC AR5 Working Group I:
The globally averaged combined land and ocean surface temperature data as calculated by a linear trend, show a warming of 0.85 [0.65 to 1.06] °C [3], over the period 1880–2012, when multiple independently produced datasets exist.
(Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis — Summary for Policymakers, 27 September 2013, p 4)

Alan Austin:
In [the fourth biennual] Global Green Economy Index released yesterday [by Dual Citizen, Australia fell 27 places to] 37th out of 60 countries on clean energy performance [and ranked] last on global leadership.
(Abbott takes Australia to last place on global climate change leadership, Independent Australia, 21 October 2014, emphasis added)

Robert Nicholls & Jason Lowe:
[The] loss of the Greenland Ice Sheet and the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Shelf could raise global-mean sea levels by up to 10 m or more over the next 1,000 years.
(Climate Stabilisation and Impacts of Sea-Level Rise, Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, Hans Schellnhuber, Editor in Chief, Cambridge University Press, 2006, p 202)

[Observational data corrected for sources of short-term variability (El Nino/Southern Oscillation, volcanic aerosols and solar variability) reveals the underlying trend.]
(Foster & Rahmstorf, Global temperature evolution 1979–2010, Environmental Research Letters, 6(4), 2011)

Arctic Sea Ice and Greenland Surface Melt

Figure 3-5
Arctic Sea Ice Cover in September (the Summer Minimum Extent) in 1979 [the first year of satellite observation] and in 2005.
(NASA, May 2007)
(Stefan Rahmstorf, Anthropogenic Climate Change: Revisiting the Facts in Ernesto Zedillo, Global Warming: Looking Beyond Kyoto, Brookings Institution Press, pp 34–53, 2008)

Figure 21.4
September sea-ice extent, already declining markedly, is projected to decline even more rapidly in the future.
The three images above show the average of the projections from five climate models for three future time periods, using the B2 emissions scenario. …
Some models project the nearly complete loss of summer sea ice in this century.

Figure 21.6
Seasonal surface melt extent on the Greenland Ice Sheet has been observed by satellite since 1979 and shows an increasing trend.
The melt zone shown here for 1992 and 2002, where summer warmth turns snow and ice around the edges of the ice sheet into slush and ponds of melt-water, has been expanding inland and to record high elevations in recent years.
(Susan Hassol & Robert Corell, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment in Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, Hans Schellnhuber, Editor in Chief, Cambridge University Press, 2006, pp 207-8)

CSIRO: State of the Climate 2016

Monitoring Greenhouse Gases at Cape Grim

Background hourly clean-air CO2 as measured at Cape Grim.
The blue hourly data represent thousands of individual measurements.
To obtain clean air measurements, the data are filtered for only times when weather systems have come across the Southern Ocean, and thus the air is not influenced by local sources of pollution.
(p 18)

Carbon Sources and Sinks

Annual fluxes of CO2 and their changing sources (eg fossil fuels) and sinks (eg the ocean absorbing CO2).
About 30% of the anthropogenic (caused by human activity) CO2 emissions have been taken up by the ocean and about 30% by land.
The remaining 40% of emissions have led to an increase in the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
(p 21)

Dangerous Interference With The Climate System

Rachel Warren: Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

Based on peer-reviewed literature, climate change impacts on the earth system, human systems and ecosystems are summarised for different amounts of annual global mean temperature change (ΔT) relative to pre-industrial times. …
  • At ΔT = 1°C world oceans and Arctic ecosystems are damaged.
  • At ΔT = 1.5°C [irreversible] Greenland Ice Sheet melting begins.
  • At ΔT = 2°C agricultural yields fall,
    • billions experience increased water stress,
    • additional hundreds of millions may go hungry,
    • sea level rise displaces millions from coasts,
    • malaria risks spread,
    • Arctic ecosystems collapse and
    • extinctions take off as regional ecosystems disappear.
    Serious human implications exist in Peru and Mahgreb.
  • At ΔT = 2–3°C the Amazon and other forests and grasslands collapse.
    • At ΔT = 3°C millions [are] at risk [of] water stress,
    • flood, hunger and dengue and malaria increase and
    • few ecosystems can adapt.
The thermohaline circulation could collapse in the range ΔT = 1–5°C, whilst the West Antarctic Ice Sheet may commence melting and Antarctic ecosystems may collapse.
Increases in extreme weather are expected.

(Impacts Of Global Climate Change At Different Annual Mean Global Temperature Increases, Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change; Editor in Chief Hans Schellnhuber; Co-editors Wolfgang Cramer, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Tom Wigley, Gary Yohe; Cambridge University Press, 2006, p 92)

World Meteorological Organization: State of the Climate 2015 — Record Heat and Weather Extremes

The [combined] global average [land and sea] near-surface temperature for 2015 was the warmest on record by a clear margin …
The global average temperature for the year was … approximately 1 °C above the 1850–1900 average.

Figure 1.
Global annual average temperature anomalies (relative to 1961–1990) for 1850–2015.
The black line and grey shading are from the HadCRUT4 analysis produced by the Met Office Hadley Centre in collaboration with the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.
The grey shading indicates the 95% confidence interval of the estimates.
The orange line is the NOAAGlobalTemp dataset produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Centers for Environmental Information (NOAA NCEI).
The blue line is the GISTEMP dataset produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Goddard Institute for Space Studies (NASA GISS).
(Source: Met Office Hadley Centre, United Kingdom, and Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom)
(p 5)

Figure 6
Global annual average temperature anomalies (difference from the 1961–1990 average) based on an average of the three global temperature datasets.
Coloured bars indicate years that were influenced by El Niño (red) and La Niña (blue), and the years without a strong influence (grey).
The pale red bar indicates 2015.
(Source: Met Office Hadley Centre, United Kingdom, and Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom)
(p 8)

Australia had its warmest October on record.
The anomaly for October was also the highest anomaly for any month since records began. …
[For Australia, it] was the fifth-warmest year on record as a whole.
(p 17)

(WMO Statement on the Status of the Global Climate in 2015, WMO-No 1167, 2016)

Business As Usual

Climate Action Tracker

In a world first for climate policy, the Australian Government repealed core elements of Clean Energy Future Plan, effectively abolishing the carbon pricing mechanism, sought to reduce the Australian renewable target, and block other clean energy and climate policy measures in Australia.
The carbon pricing mechanism introduced had been working effectively, with emissions from the electricity and other covered sectors reducing by about 7% per annum.

Up until the time of repeal, the implemented climate policy was effective and was projected to have been sufficient to meet Australia’s unconditional Copenhagen pledge for a 5% reduction from 2000 levels by 2020.
Our new, post-repeal assessment shows, however, that this target is no longer in reach and the currently proposed new legislation will result in emissions increasing by 49-57% above 1990 levels.

(11 December 2014)

[Under] current policy settings, Australia’s emissions excluding LULUCF are set to increase substantially to 8–16% above 2005 levels by 2030 …
[Consequently, Australia] will fall well short of meeting its proposed Paris Agreement target of an emissions reduction of (including LULUCF) 26–28% below 2005 levels by 2030. …

[If Australia's Intended Nationally Determined Contributions target was] followed by all other countries [it] would lead to global warming of over 2°C and up to 3°C.
In addition, if all other countries were to follow Australia’s current policy settings, warming could reach over 3°C and up to 4°C.

(6 November 2017, emphasis added)

Climate Equity Reference Calculator

Australia unconditional pledge [to:]
  • reduce total emissions by 26% compared to 2005 by 2030 in tonnes per capita below baseline = 8.5 tCO2e/cap.
    Amount by which this pledge falls short of mitigation fair share = 12.4 tCO2e/cap.
  • reduce total emissions by 28% compared to 2005 by 2030 in tonnes per capita below baseline = 8.9 tCO2e/cap.
    Amount by which this pledge falls short of mitigation fair share = 12.0 tCO2e/cap.
(Accessed 21 March 2018)

Would you like to know more?

October 15, 2016

Robert Putnam

Green Army: Persons of Interest

Poverty amongst riches is the most grievous form of want.

Lucius Seneca (~4 BCE – 65 CE), Epistulae morales ad Lucilium, LXXIV, 4, adapted.

No society can be flourishing and happy, of which the greater part of members are poor and miserable.

Adam Smith (1723 – 90)

Living the American Nightmare

Melinda Moyer:
At the [windowless] Tumaini Center [in Detroit, homeless] people live in chairs because the center has no beds.
(p 50)

[A] major driver [of the rising tide of infectious disease in the US] is the country’s ever worsening income inequality.
The disparity between America’s highest and lowest earners exceeds that of virtually every other developed country, and it is still widening.
The number of households earning less than $15,000 a year grew by 37% between 2000 and 2016.
Households earning $150,000 or more increased by exactly the same amount.
In poor areas, where almost half the people live below federal poverty levels, populations doubled during this period.
(p 47)

[The] Trump administration’s budget request for the 2019 fiscal year for the CDC slashes:
  • $43 million from current programs for STD and tuberculosis prevention …
  • $704 million from public health preparedness and response,
  • $44 million from immunization and respiratory diseases, and
  • $60 million from emerging and zoonotic diseases.
(American Epidemic, Scientific American, May 2018, p 57)

John Kennedy (1917 – 63):
If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
(Chris Matthews, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, Simon & Schuster, 2011, Reader's Digest, 2013, p 129)

Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 65):
Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. …
The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. …
The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. …
In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free. …
We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
(Message to Congress, 1 December 1892)

Clement Vallandigham ( 1820 – 71) [Leader, Peace Democrats, 14 January 1863]:
I see more of barbarism and sin, a thousand times, in the continuance of this war … and the enslavement of the white race by debt and taxes and arbitrary power [than in Negro slavery.]
In considering terms of settlement [with the South, we should] look only to welfare, peace, and safety of the white race, without reference to the effect that settlement may have on the African.
(James McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2003, p 513)

Amartya Sen (1933) [Swedish National Bank's Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, 1998]:
Black men between the ages of 35 and 54 are 1.8 times more likely to die than are white men of the same age.
And black women in this group are almost three times more likely to die than are white women of the same age. …
The survival chances of the average African-American are … unfavorable when compared with … those of the citizens of China and Kerala, who have much lower incomes.
(The Economics of Life and Death, Scientific American, May 1993, p 44-5)

George Gilder (1939):
In order to succeed … the poor need, most of all, the spur of their poverty. …
(Wealth and Poverty, 1981)

Mark Blyth (1967):
72% of the working population [in the US live from] paycheck to paycheck, have few if any savings, and would have trouble raising $2000 on short notice.
(Austerity, Oxford University Press, 2013, p 48)

Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826):
All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man.
The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs; nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.
(Letter to Roger C Weightman, 24 June 1826)

Kim Robinson (1952):
There were of course very powerful forces on Earth adamantly opposed to … creating full employment …
Full employment, if enacted, would remove “wage pressure” — which phrase had always meant fear struck into the hearts of the poor, also into the hearts of anyone who feared becoming poor, which meant almost everyone on Earth.
This fear was a major tool of social control, indeed the prop that held up the current order despite its obvious failures.
Even though it was a system so bad that everyone in it lived in fear, either of starvation or the guillotine, still they clutched to it harder than ever.
(2312, Orbit, 2012, p 373-4)

Ridley Scott (1937):
Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it?
That's what it is to be a slave.
(Blade Runner, 1982)

American Political Science Association Task Force on Inequality and American Democracy:
Today, the voices of American citizens are raised and heard unequally.
The privileged participate more than others and are increasingly well organized to press their demands on government.
Public officials, in turn, are much more responsive to the privileged than to average citizens and the least affluent.
Citizens with lower or moderate incomes speak with a whisper that is lost on the ears of inattentive government officials, while the advantaged roar with a clarity and consistency that policy-makers readily hear and routinely follow.
(American Democracy in an Age of Rising Inequality, Perspectives on Politics, December 2004, p 651)

Don Watson (1949):
[The US minimum wage has fallen by a third since 1968.]
More than 20% of children in the United States live in poverty, more than twice the rate of any European country.
[The Australian child poverty rate is 17.4%.]
With a quarter of totalitarian China's population, democratic America has about the same number of people in jail.
(Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump, Issue 63, 2016, p 34)

Julie Willems Van Dijk [Population Health Institute, University of Wisconsin]:
Research is now showing that many health effects once attribute to racial differences are actually tied to educational and economic disparities.
(Deborah Franklin, Scientific American, January 2012, p 18)

Sean Reardon [Sociologist, Stanford University]:
The achievement gap [in education] between children from high- and low- income families is roughly 30–40% larger among children born in 2001 than among those born twenty-five years earlier.
(The Widening Academic Achievement Gap Between the Rich and the Poor: New Evidence and Possible Explanations, in Whither Opportunity? Rising Inequality, Schools, and Children’s Life Chances, Greg J Duncan and Richard M Murnane (Eds), Russell Sage Foundation, 2011)

Andrew Cherlin:
The wages of men without college degrees have fallen since the early 1970s, and the wages of women without college degrees have failed to grow.
(Demographic Trends in the United States: A Review of Research in the 2000s, Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, June 2010, p 404)

Milton Friedman (1912 – 2006):
[In] a free choice [educational] system, you would have more heterogeneous schools [and] far less segregation by social and economic class than you now have. …
I went to a state school, Rutger's university.
I went on a state scholarship.
The poor suckers in the state of New Jersey paid for my going to college.
I personally think that was a good thing. ….
[And] I don't see any reason whatsoever, why I shouldn't have been required to pay back that money.
(What's Wrong With Our Schools, Free to Choose, Episode 6, PBS, 1980)

Robert Putnam (1941)

A World Without Trust

I've told you about my granddaughter, Miriam …
Mary Sue and Miriam are exactly the same age.
They are both granddaughters of Port Clinton [Ohio] in the 1950s. …
I'm just going to read to you, the field notes from [our meeting with Mary Sue:]
Mary Sue tells a harrowing tale of loneliness, distrust and isolation.
Her parents split up when she was 5.
And her mother turned to stripping and left her alone and hungry for days.
Her dad hooked up with another woman who hit her, refused to feed her, and confined her to room with baby-gates.
Caught trafficking marihuana at 16, Mary Sue … spent several months in a juvenile detention center, failed out of high school and got a "diploma" online.

[Mary Sue's] experiences have left her with a deep seated mistrust of anyone and everyone embodied in the scars on her arms (which we saw) where her boyfriend had burned her in the middle of the night, just a few days earlier.
Mary Sue wistfully recalls her stillborn baby, born when she was 13.
Since breaking up with the baby's dad, who left her for someone else, and with a second fiance who cheated on her after his release from prison, Mary Sue is currently dating an older man with two infants born two months apart to two other women.
And to Mary Sue this feels like the best that she can hope for. …

Mary Sue posted on facebook, not long ago, that she'd figured out her problems.
Her problem, she said, is that no one in the world loves her — which is probably true …
And, she's figured out how to solve that problem.
Mary Sue's going to have baby, because the baby will love her.
And if you think Mary Sue is in a pickle, imagine Mary Sue's baby …

[The] most important feature of the life of a poor kid in America today, bar none, is that poor kids are isolated and alone.
And they don't trust anyone.
They don't trust their parents …
They don't trust schools.
They don't trust anybody.

Mary Sue recently posted on facebook:
Love hurts.
Trust kills.
Think what it means to grow up in a society in which you cannot trust anyone.

(Closing the Opportunity Gap, RSA, 6 October 2015)

July 23, 2016

Ministry of Plenty

Live Long and Prosper

What would become of business without a market of fools?

Chuang Tzu, 4th century BCE.

Alexander Hamilton (1756 – 1804):
Why has government been instituted at all?
Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.
(Federalist No 15 Papers, 17 September 1787)

P W Singer (1974):
For all the claims that “big government” can never match the private sector, [the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency] is the ultimate rebuttal.
The Internet … e-mail, cell phones, computer graphics, weather satellites, fuel cells, lasers, night vision, and the Saturn V rockets [that first took man to the moon] all originated at DARPA. …
DARPA works by investing money in research ideas years before any other agency, university, or venture capitalists on Wall Street think they are fruitful enough to fund.
DARPA doesn’t focus on running its own secret labs, but instead spends 90% of its (official) budget of $3.1 billion on university and industry researchers …
(Wired for War, Penguin, 2009, p 140)

Niall Ferguson (1964):
The first era of financial globalization took at least a generation to achieve.
But it was blown apart in a matter of days.
And it would take more than two generations to repair the damage done by the guns of August 1914.
(The Ascent of Money, Penguin, 2008, p 304)

Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919):
  • Individualism,
  • Private Property,
  • the Law of Accumulation of Wealth, and
  • the Law of Competition
[are] the highest results of human experience [—] the best and most valuable of all that humanity has yet accomplished.

Peter Singer:
L Ron Hubbard [(1911 – 86),] the founder of the Church of Scientology, once wrote that the quickest way to make a million in America is to start a new religion.
(How Are We to Live?, 1993, p 94)

Arthur Pigou (1877 – 1959):
[All] the best business men want to get money, but many of them do not care about it much for its own sake; they want it chiefly as the most convincing proof to themselves and others that they have succeeded.
(Memorials of Alfred Marshall, 1956, p 282)

Simone Campbell (1945) [Catholic Nun]:
[We were] doing business roundtables [with] some entrepreneur, CEO types. …
A report had just come out that that the average CEO … got $10 million in salary a year, and [that] they were going for $11 million.
I got to ask them:
Is it that you're not getting by on $10 million that you need $11 million?
I don't get it.
And this one guy said: …
Oh, no Sister Simone. …
It's not about the money. …
It's that we want to win.
And money just happens to be the current measure of winning.
(Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise, Corsair, 2016, p 129)

PBS Frontline:
There was a phrase — "ripping someone's face off" — that was used on the trading floor to describe when you sold something to a client who didn't understand it and you were able to extract a massive fee because they didn't understand it.
[This was seen as] a good thing because [you were] making more money for the bank.
[That] sort of spirit, of [acting against the best interests of] your client … took on significant life on Wall Street.
(Money, Power and Wall Street, 2012)

Kid Power Conference, Disney World:
Kids love advertising: it's a gift — it's something they want.
There's something to said … about getting there first, and about branding children and owning them in that way. …
In boy's advertising, it is an aggressive pattern [—] antisocial behavior in pursuit of a product is a good thing.

Tim Hammonds [President & CEO, Food Marketing Institute]:
The interchange fee a supermarket pays when a customer pays with plastic is more than the money that flows to the retailer’s bottom line; it’s often double. …
The service provider using a computerized payment network is getting more dollars from the transaction than the net profit for the merchant who provides
  • the labor,
  • the land,
  • the fixtures,
  • the light and the heat, and
  • the store that stocks the products.
(FMI Midwinter Executive Conference, 14 January 2006)

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805 – 59):
The people may always be mentally divided into three distinct classes.
  • The first of these classes consists of the wealthy;
  • the second, of those who are in easy circumstances; and
  • the third is composed of those who have little or no property, and who subsist more especially by the work which they perform for the two superior orders.
(Democracy in America, 1835, Bantam, 2011, p 246)

Equality = Fairness = Justice

I know it makes you sick to think of that word ‘fairness’.
[Regrettably, the American public believe that] it’s right to help the vulnerable.

Arthur Brooks (1964) [President, American Enterprise Institute],
Conservative Political Action Conference, American Conservative Union, 16 March 2013.

One of the problems in this country is that we have this Judeo-Christian heritage of wanting to help those in need.
And this … sometimes causes people to promise more than they can deliver.

Nelson Rockefeller (1908 – 79) [41st Vice President of the United States, 1974–77],
Dallas, 12 September 1975.

Conscience is but a word that cowards use,
Devised at first to keep the strong in awe …

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616), Richard III, Act 5, Scene 3, 1562.

(Alex Gibney, Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream, Steps International, 2012)

Share of income paid as tax, including local and state tax, in 2009

(George Domhoff, Wealth, Income, and Power, September 2005)

Mean Wealth Holdings in the United States (2013)

(Adapted from Table 3: Edward Wolff, Household Wealth Trends in the United States, 1962-2013: What Happened Over the Great Recession?, National Bureau of Economic Research, 2014, p 51)
PercentileNet Worth

Income in the United States (1970)

(US Department of Commerce, Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1972, p 324)
Percentile% of Total Income
P50-100 (50%)77
P0-50 (50%)23

Income in the United States (2012)

Percentile# per 100,000 Taxpayers% of Total Income% of Total Income Tax
P99-100 (1%)1,00021.938.1
  P99.999-100 (0.001%)12.43.3
  P99.99-99.999 (0.009%)93.18.3
  P99.9-99.99 (0.09%)905.510.3
  P99-99.9 (0.9%)90010.919.5
P50-99 (49%)49,00067.059.1
P0-50 (50%)50,00011.12.8

Adrian Dungan

For 2012, the [US Adjusted Gross Income] threshold for:
  • [The] top 0.001% of tax returns [was] $62,068,187 or more [≈ $170,000 per day or 1,700 times the median income.]
    These taxpayers accounted for 2.4% of total AGI, and paid 3.3% of total income tax.
  • The top 0.01% of tax returns [was] $12,104,014 or more [≈ $33,000 per day or 330 times the median income.]
    These taxpayers accounted for 5.5% of total AGI, and paid 8.3% of total income tax.
  • [The top 0.1% of tax returns [was] $2,161,175 or more [≈ $6,000 per day or 60 times the median income.]
    These taxpayers accounted for 11% of total AGI, and paid 18.6% of total income tax.]
  • The top 1% of tax returns [was] $434,682 or more [≈ $1,200 per day or 12 times the median income.]
    These taxpayers accounted for 21.9% of total AGI and paid 38.1% of total income tax.
  • [The] top 50% of all tax returns was $36,055 for the year [≈ $100 per day = median income.]
    These taxpayers accounted for 88.9% of total AGI and paid 97.2% of total income tax.

(Individual Income Tax Shares, 2012, IRS Statistics of Income Bulletin, Spring 2015)


  • This is equivalent to the richest individual per hundred people being paid twice as much as the poorest 50 combined.
  • The richest 1/100,000 part of the population captured a 1/40 share of aggregate income.
  • Each of the richest 1 in 100,000 accrues the lifetime median income (~50 years) every 11 days.
  • Conversely, a person (and their descendants) on the median income would need to work for 17 centuries, ie 34 working lifetimes, to earn as much as the richest 1 in 100,000 get in a single year.
  • In 1970 the poorest half of US population took home less than 1/4 of the income pie (23%).
  • In 2012 the poorest half of US population took home 1/9 of the income pie (11.1%).
  • In 2005, 40% the global population (2.6 billion people) were living on less than $2 per day.