Gar Alperovitz: Systemic Crisis, Politics as Usual

Gar Alperovitz is the Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland and is a former Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University; Harvard’s Institute of Politics; the Institute for Policy Studies; and a Guest Scholar at the Brookings Institution.

Gar Alperovitz presents at a Seattle Town Hall on Oct 3, 2012 immediately after a public screening of the presidential debate between Romney and Obama. The video is a little over an hour long; so listen to it with your Columbus day morning coffee (and don’t even think of listening to “Morning Edition”!)

For the bumper sticker:

“A systemic crisis is one that doesn’t get solved by politics as usual.”

One quote:

The top 400 people — individuals, 400 people, you could get them into this space if you squeezed them just a little bit — have more wealth now
than the bottom 180 million Americans taken together. That’s a medieval number; I don’t mean that rhetorically. I mean that medieval society was structured with the ownership of wealth, in that case land, at that level of concentration, and giving it power relationships of that kind.

And another, much more, dare I say, hopeful:

The pain levels are forcing people to do new things because they have to. In a crisis that isn’t what happens; you get explosions. But what we’re seeing, and this is the part that’a very interesting to me, what we’re seeing is an explosion of activity, both political, some social, but above all economic in a way I think could matter. Now let me say a bit about that. All systems run on the basis one way or another of property. And in this one, the property concentrations are, as I’ve said, extreme, and getting worse. …

Simply as one element of one way to think about the possibilities of the next system, and what might be the way to build institutional power, and displacing, pushing back over time, the dominant power of the system, it would have to revolve around … some way to democratize the ownership of wealth. … If you want another system … what is it that you want? You don’t like this system? What do you want? …

There are 130 million people now involved in co-ops and credit unions who have some involvement in a cooperative institution. … There are really interesting projects that could be funded with some of the capital that’s in those credit unions. So a number of these folks [in Burlington, VT] became members and voted in some new board members. You could do that, by the way. So, 130 million people involved in one-person, one-vote co-ops.

There are 10 million people involved in 10,000 worked owned companies around the country. … They’re on the ground, they exist, and nobody knows about it.

Democratizing wealth… That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? And much more constructive (and sustainable) than dropping money from helicopters, which is never going to happen anyhow.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Ruben

    “Democratizing wealth… That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?”

    Democracy is what has brought us to the current situation. Real, actual democracy is the political system that has led to this level of wealth concentration. The peoples have voted and brought to power the bosses that have engineered -by democratic means- the extremely hierarchical society we live in. And democracy has been the ruling system for, how many, close to 200 years now in the USA.

    You idealize democracy, as my old friends the anarcho-capitalists idealized capitalism. For them true capitalism would happen when there was no gov’t. Same for you, true democracy would happen when there was no … what? Capitalism? Crony capitalism? Corruption? Politicians?

    Socialism was what they got in the Soviet Union. Democracy is what you get here and now, this is how it works for you.

    1. Gerard Pierce

      How many legs does a dog have if you call a tail a leg? (Hint, the answer is still four. Calling it a leg doesn’t make it one.)

      Calling our current system a democracy (or a democratic republic) does not make it one.

      Our republic was set up to insure that the .1% were in charge and that they remained in charge. When they screwed up badly enough, the 99% sometimes got a break – for a while.

      It’s taken a little over 40 years for the oligarchy to reestablish control over the media, the courts and the congress.

      And they are scared spit-less that that is not enough which is why they are working so hard to complete the transformation to a police state.

      As long as one dollar equals one vote, we have no way to reverse the transformation or to eliminate the effect of money on politics.

      If and when the financial system collapses there might be a possibility of reworking the political system – but only if we have some kind of clue what we really want.

      1. colinc

        Excellent observation, Mr. Pierce. I would also add that calling the economic/financial system “capitalism” does not make it so. What we have is exploitationism, in perhaps its most heinous form, which exists for the sole purpose of transferring more wealth to the already nefariously wealthy… and abjectly manipulative wannabe’s. Yet, it takes 2 to tango and that system is enabled and perpetuated by the utter ignorance of those being exploited, thanks to completely dysfunctional institutions of “education.” Nevertheless, there is nothing of concern as the wealthy will die as expediently as the poor and 6+ billion “humans” will be no more than rotting corpses within the next 2 decades, tops.

      2. Ruben

        So you answered my question above : democracy might work if and when “… the financial system collapses …”.

    2. citizendave

      A truly democratic system would be subject to the whims and vicissitudes of those who participate. If only wisdom and good sense would prevail in the decision-making process, the outcome would lead to good health and happiness all around.

      We understand enough about how the human mind works so that we can predict that virtue and folly will vie for dominance. So we built a system that side-steps true democracy, to prevent the uneducated rabble from enacting public policy. We have a popularly elected lower chamber, the House of Representatives, and an elite upper chamber, the Senate. The rabble sometimes gets a law passed in the lower house, but the elite Senate, in the interest of preserving the status quo, has the power to kill the bill. Wisdom or folly? It depends on whose ox, and Al Gore.

      In the current configuration, corporate money speaks louder than the voices of the citizens. Wisdom has a tough uphill slog to gain ascendance in the national government. The democratic system is like a marketplace of ideas. Endless repetition of a propagandistic lie equates with truth in the current adult consensual reality. The corporations have used their financial capital to buy their way into the hearts and minds of the citizenry, to the end that the citizens cast their votes following the message delivered by Big Money, rather than wisdom and good sense.

      Changing the system won’t help. The corporate money will be used to buy whatever new system is constructed. Like water flowing downhill, corporate money will try to buy influence in the legislatures. What needs to be changed is the hearts and minds of the people.

      Our democratic system is susceptible to the influence of money. But it is also susceptible to the influence of wisdom and good ideas. Don’t try to change the system. There is still a market for good ideas. Try to popularize the good ideas that are floating around.

      1. Ruben

        “What needs to be changed is the hearts and minds of the people.”

        Reminds of Che Guevara, communism will work when we make “the new man”.

        1. citizendave

          I don’t know much about Che. Efforts by the military to win the hearts and minds of the people in — fill in the blank — Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan, apparently didn’t work very well.

          But I think Gar Alperovitz (who grew up in the town in Wisconsin where I live) is doing a fine job of talking about how people can work together for mutual benefit, while avoiding some of the deleterious effects of capitalism.

          I maintain that the problem we face is not our quasi-democratic system, but rather that the forces at work which are distorting our political system can be countered by people like Gar Alperovitz. He points to alternatives that work. And I think it’s important to talk about the useful aspects of democratic processes because democracy has a role in a *true* worker-owned enterprise.

          1. Ruben

            I agree with you. Small scale democracy, as in co-ops, is I think a good model for a private business, at least one where persons may remain individualists, unlike the prevailing corporate model, where you depend on so many people and the better you do the more the people you depend on (i.e. the more people ‘under’ you in the hierarchy). But large scale democracy, as in gov’t, the only place it looks good is in Utopia.

    3. Dan Kervick

      Democracy has never existed in full flowering in the United States. It’s time we tried it.

      1. ian

        If only to say “I told you so”. I don’t get the impression that most people are ready for the level of responsibility that a true democracy implies. The closest thing I’ve seen to a true democracy (as a resident of So Cal) is the ballot initiative process. We’re getting what we deserve – good and hard.

  2. Thorstein

    I like Gar Alperovitz, and I want to believe, but worker-owned companies aren’t necessarily all they’re cracked up to be. My brother-in-law organized the bag-smashers union at United Airlines because–it was a “worker-owned company”–UA was run by the Machinists’ Union and the Pilots’ Union and others, and those unions were exploiting the bag-smashers. (and then, of course, the unions had borrowed heavily to buy UA in the first place, so in some sense, UA was really being run by the banks).

    Upon going south to Florida, people told me that the Publix food chain was “employee-owned”, but a quick check showed that it is in fact privately held, one suspects with the founder’s family and friends holding the controlling interest, and the bulk of the employees holding only toy shares. Or, perhaps they like to call the Chairman of the Board an “employee”??

    I don’t mean to rain on Alperovitz’ parade, but in a dog-eat-dog world some worker-owned businesses will wear sheep’s clothing, and some will act like dogs. It will still be hard work to fence off the predators.

    1. Gerard Pierce

      Those who think co-ops are an automagic solution need to go back and look at the history of the Yellow Cab Coop in Denver, Colorado.

      It took the driver/owners about 10-15 years to destroy the company, mostly because cab drivers are always broke. They ran the company into the ground because they needed to put any new income in their pockets rather than spending it on even essential costs such as replacement parts.

      The bad economy during the 80s helped force the company into bankruptcy, and the lawyers picked the carcass clean.

      There are a lot of reasons why it worked out the way it did, but an under-capitalized coop in a bad economy is almost guaranteed to fail.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        Those who think capitalism works need look no further than bankrupt GM, Chrysler and all of the insolvent banks, AIG and the soon to disappear private health insurance industry, which as part of new universal health care reform. Add to that, during good times and even the proverbial good ole days, businesses went bust, usually within a few years of starting. And then, there is of course, the once mighty industries that are a sliver of what they used to be. Take coal mining, please! How many coal miners are there today, actually hole digging, rock hauling coal miners? About 90,000. What is more, about half of all coal production comes from about 5,000 workers alone. Compare that with over 1,000,000 coal miners during the WW eras. Or steel or rail roads.

        The issue is not some anecdotal cautionary tale of woe and failure. We are all mortal, we need food, shelter and if we want to live in a modern world, education and health care are equally necessary from cradle to grave. The profit seeking commodification of everything, by pushing all economic activity into a market based pricing system with money defining social relationships, and little else, is not a workable model. It may be good for an entrepreneurial sector of innovation, but once the competition copies and knocks down price, then what?

        Coops, mutual corporations, limited equity corporations, non and not-for profit corporations, community development corporations, are all alternatives to provide us the goods and services we want. Like everything else, they need to be well managed and cared for. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but human failure is part of the risk of living, whether in coops, capitalism, dictatorships or marriages and families. We don’t stop living because of failure, we learn and adapt and move on.

        1. joe

          I thought corporate failure was a part of capitalism. All of those companies you mentioned should have gone bust, but we couldn’t stomach the collateral damage had we let them take their natural course. Instead we have created too-big-too-fail zombie corporations that violate any semblance of capitalist ideas.

        2. Gerard Pierce

          I don’t really want to tackle the question of whether capitalism “works”. My top of the head answer is that sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.

          My current view is that the financial system is sort of like an infestation of tapeworms. A single tapeworm makes you skinny and tired a lot of the time. An infestation can completely destroy the health of the host.

          Our economy is made up of too many companies whose mode of operation is to look for a free ride. If there aren’t any natural opportunities, they create their own opportunities through things like patent law and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

          Corporations were never our best friends but a lot of years ago, there was a limit to just how predatory they could become. The rules of “free enterprise” kinda, sorta worked.

          Currently, with the financial system taking about a 25% rake-off on corporate income, nice guys don’t finish at all. Far to many companies have become completely predatory just to be able to pay the vigorish.

          I don’t think it’s that much of an exaggeration to say the our financial system has corrupted capitalism.

      2. YesMaybe

        I think the overall point is right. I’m a member of a credit union, and am in favor of the cooperative business model, but it simply isn’t a silver bullet. As I see it, the fundamental problems with capitalism are (a) that decisions regarding production are made based on profitability rather than use-value, and (b) that it takes as its foundation and even reinforces greed as the primary factor in life. Co-ops could arguably be said to lessen (b) somewhat, but the extent to which they might isn’t clear, and they hardly touch (a) at all.

        1. lambert strether

          What I find refreshing and appealing is not the co-op idea per se, but several intertwined issues at the 30,000 foot level

          1. We’re in the new normal. Since it’s systemic, the issue is not crisis but a permanent long slow grind. Could be wrong, since after all it’s October

          2. Tremendous creativity at the “grass roots”* albeit pain driven that isn’t covered anywhere. The numbers on co-ops are a 30,000-foot indicators.

          3. General emphasis on “What do you want?”

          * Horrible metaphor: Lawns are not edible, so they are a poor use of the soil.

  3. Eric

    The rich have access to cheap/free money via the Federal Reserve which makes money out of thin air. Give everybody a window at the Fed. What’s the spread between what the Fed loans banks and auto loan rates today?? It can all be computerized now. No real need for “retail” banking.

    1. Susan the other

      Just as Sheila Bair suggested in disgust. Give everyone 10m at zirp and let them find something that pays 1%.

      1. Eric

        “Why can’t I have a window at the Fed” is what I’ve been saying for years. But seriously, the system could easily be computerized so the Fed could lend out money for cars, boats, mortgages etc to individuals. It can all be done electronically. They want elecronic money anyway. The Fed can charge a higher rate then they charge the bank, yet still less then the bank charged you. Disintermediation.

  4. joebhed

    Democratizing Wealth…
    I know this may seem somewhat a counter-intuitive follow, but……
    by nationalizing money.
    Wealth concentration is not merely men behaving badly, it is the systemic result of handing the money-creation power to the few who already have the wealth.
    It is the PRIVATE bankers’ who get to decide the first use of all new money by issuing it as a debt to its highest rate of return. And by re-issuing that monney when the loan is repaid. Always as debt.
    Guess what?
    That is not to the highest level of employment.
    That is to the lowest level of employment.

    What is NEEDed is a complete reversal –
    Investment of new money in the public good, by the government, without debt.
    The National Emergency Employment Defense(NEED) Act by Dennis Kucinich proposes to do exactly that.

    The recent study by IMF researhers Benes and Kumhof confirm the results sought by the Kucinich public money option, in review of the Chicago Plan proposal made to FDR.

    Why are we talking about anthing else?

    1. EconCCX

      Why are we talking about anthing else? @joebhed Because of one man, Michael Hudson, who is eminent in both the Soddy and MMT camps, and has for that some reason been hesitant to acknowledge the conflict between the two.

      1. joebhed

        Agreed about the enormous deserved respect for Dr. Hudson from all schools of monetary thought. However, the process of identifying and resolving any conflicts between the modern monetarists from the Soddy school, as you say, and the more fiscal-oriented monetary theorists that are the MMT school, is not the work of Dr. Hudson so much as it is of we who think we know.

        We are approaching the threshold of a broad new awakening to the political-economic fact that a national monetary system exists. That is the preponderant fact. Working this re-discovery of the national monetary system into the discussion of the cause for, and the solution to, the human-system crisis manifesting itself in this great divide of the national wealth distribution is exactly where the dialogue NEEDs to go.

        It NEEDs to go there purposefully, seeking as much commonality as can be had, holding to the view of the greater victory available in the enormous social-political-economic revolution that both sides, indeed the 99-percent, agree is worthwhile.

        The Soddy-based neo-monetarist solution is embodied in the Kucinich Bill. It is ‘classicly’ modeled in the paper of the IMF researchers, resulting in a reversal of the wealth-concentration-via-debt that pervades our macro-economy. The K-Bill is more holistically modeled via an open-economy, systems-dynamic method by Dr. Yamaguchi, with the same results.

        The question among those now pondering reforms based on our new understanding of how the operation of the national monetary system affects the national economy revolves around what goals or solutions are being sought that are not achievable through Kucinich’s Soddy-based reforms?

        And, how else can we achieve them?
        For the Money System Common

    2. Susan the other

      I hope you get a lot of readers of your Kucinich and Chicago Revisited links. They are very clear pieces (except for the equations in the IMF analysis).

  5. The Dork of Cork

    I think its much worse then the medival times – the Norman lords took real physical risks to attain their money & land power……….

    And indeed added to the wealth of the place.

    They were probally more alive inside – but this present crew……
    They are a bunch of Fucking Golfers.

    Once De courcys land – a wild and free to walk & fish natural wonder , now its a rich mans playground.
    A monument to Ireland post Big bang

    Now A despoiled landscape of sad sand Bunkers & low level Brutalist architecture when not so long ago it was a land of thick heather full of wild bird song.

    I somehow can’t really see the most recent John the Courcey as a keen golfer

    ” The old head golf links – a private international members club”

    Meanwhile in Kinsale harbour 2 new custom boats remained tied up for lack of diesel as people die from a heroin epidemic in Cork city.
    There is enough kerosene for helicopters though.

    1. Norm

      “Heroin epidemic”, you make it sound like it’s viral or something.

      It’s a choice that stupid people make,
      just like smoking or punching holes in their faces.

      Please don’t compare lack of work or money with suicide.

      1. The Dork of Cork

        Sure , you are correct to a point.

        But that stuff destroyed Dublin in the early 80s depression….it will do the same for Cork.
        Its not like other drugs – its a way to check out.

        My point is no resourses is available to stop it – with the custom boats in Kinsale harbour collecting barnacles.
        And the Police have not trained any staff for 3 or more years now.
        I guess you don’t understand whats happening to Ireland – the place is being shut down slowly but surely…
        A nice experiment for a few post 87 …made more then a few Bob from the Micks greed and stupidity…..time to move on now.
        God luck lads….I have some heavy stuff for sale if you want to get out off the island now,…..I can asure you that you won’t come back.

  6. Stratos

    Lambert, thanks for including this video posted by Todd Boyle.

    Gar Alperovitz’s work is a rare bright spot in these gloomy times. He talks about real people making the decision to craft economic systems that benefit their families and communities. A prime example are the worker owned companies in Cleveland, where the founders made intelligent assessments of their strengths (grit, determination, concern for the community and proximity to publicly funded ‘anchor institutions’) versus their weaknesses (poor education, no start-up funds and no managerial experience or expertise). They sought guidance from the world class institutions in their backyard (Case-Western University, University Hospital and Cleveland Clinic), studied other systems like the Mondragon Model ( and synthesized a company form that works for them and their communities.

    Alperovitz make the case that now is precisely the time for progressive thinkers to clarify our vision and craft a plan to build the world we want to see. We will never achieve utopia (does it even exist?), but we can plan and build what Gar Alperovitz termed “…a genuine prehistory of a transformation…” [0:46:00] brought about by “…determined people who take themselves seriously to lay down, self consciously, the foundations of the next transformation [0:47:40].

    What level of pain will it take for us and our fellow Americans to drop the remote, get off the couch, roll up their sleeves and start the excruciating labor of building the foundations for a fairer, more just, democratic future?

    1. colinc

      Thanks, that was hilarious! I hope you were being sarcastic as, otherwise, you demonstrate no first-hand knowledge of any of the Cleveland institutions you named. For example, unless one has very deep pockets (or equivalent “health” insurance), they won’t even be allowed to sit in a waiting room at any Cleveland Clinic franchise. The other 2 institutions are equally, if not more, heinous.

      1. Stratos

        colinc, I understand your point. I am a former Clevelander who lived in those distressed neighborhoods adjacent to the Cleveland Clinic and Case Western and University Hospital. Those institutions are very elitist and unwelcoming to anyone under the top 10 percent of the population. They were well known for their disdain for the types of people in the neighborhoods that surrounded them: Low income African Americans, Italian Americans and (at the time I lived in Cleveland) Hippies.

        That is one reason that the building of The Evergreen Worker-owned businesses is so remarkable: their connections with these fortress-like institutions. According to a study conducted by Nicholas Iuviene,
        Amy Stitely and Lorlene Hoyt of MIT Community Innovators Lab (CoLab)
        …”Evergreen’s worker-owners are predominantly low-income African-Americans, current managers and the core leaders are predominantly middle- to upper-class whites.” The status of these managers and their “philanthropic leadership” is very likely the only reason that the Evergreen Co-ops had any opportunity to work with these “anchor institutions”. Otherwise they would have been shut out as usual.

  7. Norm

    He talks about the brilliance of the worker owned co-ops
    not sending $3 billion out of the area to buy supplies and material, transferring the money back to local sources.

    This is great as the money then circulates and recirculates within the community through the multiplier effect.

    Therefore it can be seen that sending large amounts of money out of a community is bad for it.

    What’s the difference between sending billions a year out of a community for supplies and material and illegal and legal aliens sending a like amount of money back to

    Not only is the money removed from the community but there is greater competition for rents, used cars and a lowering of wages and the ability to demand decent working conditions.

    Americans cannot build a sustainable local economy with an endless stream of human ants willing to undercut their wages and send their earnings out of the community.

    1. Norm

      Predicting the “they pay taxes and spend money” reply in 3,2,1….

      They pay taxes on gasoline and diapers, not food in some states. Withholding taxes are often less than the earned income child credits:

      “Each spring, at tax preparation offices all across the nation, many illegal immigrants are now eagerly filing tax returns to take advantage of a tax loophole, using their ITIN numbers to get huge refunds from the IRS.
      The loophole is called the Additional Child Tax Credit. It’s a fully-refundable credit of up to $1000 per child, and it’s meant to help working families who have children living at home.
      But many undocumented workers are claiming the tax credit for kids who live in Mexico – lots of kids in Mexico.
      “We’ve seen sometimes 10 or 12 dependents, most times nieces and nephews, on these tax forms,” the whistleblower said. “The more you put on there, the more you get back.”

      In addition, or subtraction, many immigrants live off of stuff left behind by rotating relatives, second hand goods hauled away from day labor employers and the recycling of charitable donations, thus there is little consumer

      You can check the car stats by driving through any barrio.. Large numbers of cars with Ivy League school stickers and long expired parking permits. These are the third hand vehicles that weren’t crushed in Cash For Clunkers, a program that helped destroy the mobility of working Americans by reducing the affordable used car resale

      Many immigrants are wonderful people, honest, hard working and more honorable than some Americans. However, in the tens of millions, they are a corrosive force that cannot
      help our nation by their presence.

      Those that excuse and promote their presence are the enemy of working Americans who have nowhere else to go and who have not chosen to go somewhere else.

    2. Zhu Bajie

      For the last couple centuries the US has imported its manual laborers, it’s engineers and scientists. Shutting down immigration will not happen.

  8. tiebie66

    How do we safeguard any new system against gaming, corruption, and abuse? Why have the “checks and balances” failed? Are there principles for devising fail-proof systems?

    Why did we allow the republic to fail? If we didn’t because our republic was set up to ensure elite control, why did we allow this?

  9. JEHR

    I am amused at the speaker comparing socialism and democracy as two choices. After the war, the Europeans had decisiosn to make about what kind of politics they wanted and some settled on democratic socialism. It turns out that any theoretical system can become corrupted. In the US, democracy has been taken over by the financial system; in Europe the financial system has been rejected by democracy.

    I really liked the different scenarios proposed by Alperovitz and I especially liked the way he warned that there are both good and bad examples of co-ops.

  10. Oliver

    The idea that the slowly collapsing corporatist system transforms itself peacefully into decentralized functioning and growing economy sounds nice but, I am afraid, it is an utopia, wishful thinking. It sounds like the Venus project.
    I am preparing for a major collapse followed by a totalitarianism.
    The other point the professor made and I would argue is: the deficits are not important. As soon as the interest rates will rise on the government bonds (to normal) the debt will put a major strain on government budget.

  11. Aquifer

    Doing an ongoing commentary while listening ….

    He’d rather have Obama in office? And why is that, good sir?

    I like Sein’s image better = 100 people, 100 loaves of bread – 1 person at top has 40 loaves, bottom 50 folks have 1 loaf ….

    The problem is not the economy, he says, it’s the politics – so why would he rather have Obama? Why doesn’t he talk about a Green New Deal?

    He doesn’t want politics as usual, so why would he rather have Obama? Why doesn’t he mention non corporate politics?

    Democratize ownership of wealth – and decentralize, let communities decide and have more control – hmmm sounds a lot like Green platform ….

    Read his “Unjust Deserts” – good book, so why would he rather see Obama in office, talk about unjust deserts ….

    Public transportation, high speed rail – with public money, hmm that sounds familiar, too…..

    Gar, why do you have such a HUGE blind spot?

    “Alter the power relationships” in a new political /economic system – he talks about economic alternatives, but then says “I prefer Obama” How does that alter anything politically? In fact doesn’t that cement the opposition to what you are proposing?

    You want single payer and state banks? But you still prefer Obama?

    Not interested in rhetoric, but stuff on the ground? Then why do you prefer Obama?

    Your friend Chomsky? Oh, the one who has endorsed Stein?

    “It is possible, if people get serious, …” Is preferring Obama a serious choice ….

    Aha – you say most folks don’t really want to get serious, does that include you, is that why you prefer Obama, because you are not ready to get serious?

    What happens when a viable option begins to be taken seriously, you ask? Well why don’t you try it?

    Question on national debt – “money is created by the wave if a wand” – so why do you want a guy who is pushing the need to “reduce the deficit”?

    Damn! another farmer who spends all day milking the cow and then gets up and kicks the bucket over – man, “preferring Obama” is kicking the bucket over …

    I am continually amazed by those who who support all these good ideas and fail to support the only “viable” candidate that actually proposes them!

    Talking about shooting yourself in the foot, shucks, both feet …

    1. Hugh

      Obama is business as usual which, you are correct, undercuts his argument. This is the defining characteristic of what I call the Establishment liberal: criticism, sometimes very on point criticism, and then an appeal to trust the very leaders/elites who have betrayed us.

  12. avg John

    On a practical level can someone point me to a site where I might find something like an organizational charter. How such an organization is formed, how will it be funded, it’s purpose or mission, how it is organized, what are the reporting requirements, who is responsible for what, and things of that nature.

    It seems to me with the internet, like minded people could join forces regardless of their location and create these alternative organizations under discussion.

    For example, you or I have a product idea, someone else has experience with the technology or equipment necessary to manufacture it, someone else would like to offer support services, someone else would like to do production work, etc.

    I would like to see an umbrella type democratic non-profit organization, that could tie these sorts of networks of alternative organizations together into a cohesive group and yet allow for autonomy of operations for each of the member entities. An organization that could provide guidance on the practical real world steps necessary to launch and run these alternative organizations. Member organizations sharing knowledge and resources with each of the other members.

    It would be a trial and error process at first, but over time could grow into the alternative form of carrying out our lives, that many of us are looking for.

    1. citizendave

      This may not be exactly what you seek, but you may find it interesting: The Global Village Construction Set. They are working on prototyping 50 basic machines that a modern farm or business would need — and could build. For example, you could build a tractor, and because you built it you could also maintain and repair it. It’s easy to imagine that a global network of people building and using these machines would collaborate on improvements, etc.

  13. Lafayette


    GA: The top 400 people — individuals, 400 people, you could get them into this space if you squeezed them just a little bit — have more wealth now than the bottom 180 million Americans taken together. That’s a medieval number; I don’t mean that rhetorically. I mean that medieval society was structured with the ownership of wealth, in that case land, at that level of concentration, and giving it power relationships of that kind.

    And the above is not imagery or even fiction. The proof is in the numbers. Let’s put it another way – called not the OnePercenters but the TenPercenters.

    The Global Income Database at the Paris School of Economics demonstrates clearly that the share of Total Income of the Top 10% of American households increased from 31.5% to 46.3% over the past five decades:
    1960 – 33.8%
    1970 – 31.5%
    1980 – 32.9%
    1990 – 38.8%
    2000 – 43.1%
    2010 – 46.3%

    That’s nearly half the total income generated by the American economy!

    What does the above progression mean? Two facts, I submit for consideration:
    *That Income Disparity is the major economic challenge of American today.
    *That the above is a sad statement as regards the future not only of families today but future generations.


    Income Disparity derives principally from two economic phenomenons. The first is the concentration of markets into oligopolies where only a few Supply-agents are able to manipulate pricing in order to obtain obscene profits.

    The second is the manner in which that concentration allows market players to game-the-system for personal profit, which leads to an immoral and unfair Income Distribution across the spectrum of American households.

    The progression shown above, if allowed to continue, is pure and simply a consequence of our Tax Code – which was abusively modified by the Reagan Administration. See graphically the change it made to higher-level income taxation here. Highest taxation is the red-line. Note how it has come crashing down from levels above 70% that existed since the 1920s. Note also the green-line, our National Debt and its serious inflexion upwards at about the same time as the Reagan Administration in office.

    Is this the legacy that our generation bequests to future generations? Lesser and lesser portions of the economic pie? Imagine what that does for their standard of living.


    The solution does not center upon” job, jobs, jobs” – as the present campaign debate would have us believe. Creating jobs for more unemployed Americans is indeed goodness. It is a necessary economic condition, but hardly sufficient for a total solution to our glaring Income Disparity in America.

    We need to rewrite the Tax Code in order to take the incentive out of Personal Greed. That is, the motivator for the sort of financial shenanigans we saw on Wall Street that dumped our economy into the morass of the Great Recession. From which we have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    Two objectives, therefore:
    *We must nip individual cupidity in the bud before it is allowed to blossom.
    *We need also to enhance Tax Revenues by seriously increasing tax rate progressiveness at the higher levels.

  14. Clementine Sulc

    I think arsene wenger should make things easy 4 arsenal by signing these players(nuri sahin,fernando llorente,yann m’villa) coz they are all we need right now 4 us to win trophies……so AW make it snappy.

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