Our Global Economic System Is Broken. Are We Headed for a Mass Revolt?

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Yves here. This post raises the possibility of upheaval, even revolt, as a result of rising hunger. Many experts expect a real crunch to start, even in the US, at the end of summer/early fall. For instance, of IM Doc’s contacts, a retired agribiz CEO warned that the shortages would be somewhere between “epic and Biblical”.

This article oddly ignores Arab Spring, where food and fuel price increases led to demonstrations and in some cases, government overthrow, all across the Middle East. Yet perilous little to benefit the poor and hungry seemed to have come out of it.

This piece also strikes me as naive regarding how the super rich protect themselves. Back in 1984, when on a short project in Mexico City, it did not take much in the way of observation skills to notice the snipers on some roofs in the tony suburb where McKinsey had its offices.

It’s now pretty common for the worried super wealthy to have panic rooms and bunkered compounds. The latter won’t buy much more than say five, and most ten, year of respite in an actual collapse (things like medications and computer chips will become scare), but they are perfect bolt holds for riding out six months to a year of upheaval.

By Paul Rogers, Emeritus Professor of Peace Studies in the Department of Peace Studies and International Relations at Bradford University, and an Honorary Fellow at the Joint Service Command and Staff College. He is openDemocracy’s international security correspondent. He is on Twitter at: @ProfPRogers. Originally published at openDemocracy

While it has long been blatantly obvious that the global economic model is not working for all, the rate of accumulation of wealth by a small minority is now breathtaking – if not totally obscene.

With the situation only being worsened by the economic impact of the Ukraine War – which has come on top of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – could we be headed for mass revolts sparked by a desperate need for change?

The war is causing food shortages, with the world’s poorest the most affected. Though the full impact is yet to be felt, the number of severely food insecure people has already “doubled from 135 million to 276 million” in just two years, leaving “almost 50 million on the edge of famine.”

Though the Global South is the worst hit, poorer communities in richer states are also affected. Here in the UK, where millions of people already live close to the edge, there has been a surge in the need for food banks as many are pushed into critical need. Many schools in more deprived areas are forced to provide breakfasts every morning, not least to avoid having to teach hungry children who cannot concentrate.

Meanwhile, the rich are getting richer. In one three-month period in 2020 – which coincided with the start of the pandemic – the world’s then 2,189 billionaires increased their wealth by 27.5% to $10.2trn, according to Swiss private bank UBS. This represented a 70% increase in their wealth in just three years.

Two years on, there are now 2,668 billionaires. Just last week, Britain’s Sunday Times published its annual ‘rich list’ of the country’s most wealthy – reporting the richest ten individuals and families have a combined £182bn.

In this context, two questions arise. Why has the global rich-poor divide grown so wide? And why has there not been a bigger uprising against it?

The latter is particularly confusing, given our global system has seen such a vast increase in overall wealth in the past 75 years. After all, following the end of World War Two, many countries in the West put considerable effort into public services, developing much-improved health systems, public education, housing, and basic social assistance support for the most marginalised.

What has happened since? The answer is widely recognised to be ‘neoliberalism’, an approach whose essence is that the true foundation of economic success is strong and determined competition, which a political system must work towards to have any chance of success.

This approach was developed in the 1950s, with the work of economists including Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, and has since been shaped by a network of more than 450 right-wing think tanks and campaign groups.

Neoliberalism is aided by taxation designed to benefit the more successful; the firm control of organised labour to minimise opposition; and the maximum privatisation of transport, utilities such as energy, water and communications, housing, health, education and even security.

There are obviously losers from this system, but typically enough wealth will ‘trickle down’ to prevent serious opposition. It is a line of thinking that can reach the fervour of a religious belief and is certainly best seen as an ideology.

The switch to neoliberalism was boosted by the huge economic upheavals that followed the 1973-74 oil price hikes (over 400% in eight months). Stagflation became the order of the day and, in the UK and the US, key elections at the end of the decade brought in the Thatcher and Reagan administrations.

Both newly elected leaders were convinced of the need to embrace the new thinking. Throughout the 1980s, the US pursued a firm belief in the need to accelerate tax changes and financial deregulation, while Britain sought to control the trade unions and oversee the large-scale privatisation of state assets – Thatcher’s mantra being “there is no alternative”.

Two global processes also did much to speed up the transition towards neoliberalism. The first was the ‘Washington Consensus’, introduced in 1989, which set out free-market economic policies for ‘developing countries’. The World Bank and IMF led the way in ensuring the Global South followed the new model.

The second was the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Russia’s immediate embrace of hyper-capitalism was surely the proof, if any was needed, of the value of the neoliberal approach and the obsolescence of a centrally planned system. Even China was moving towards hybrid authoritarian capitalism.

But now, more than three decades on, neoliberalism does much to explain the obscene levels of wealth for the few, not the many. So, why has it had so little resistance? Part of the answer is the residue of the experience of pre-neoliberal economics, a sense that things were worse before the likes of Thatcher and Reagan came on the scene. That view persists but is rapidly losing its potency in the face of the widening divide.

A more realistic explanation lies in so much of the West’s mainstream mass media being controlled by singularly wealthy individuals, families, and corporations. In the UK, the print media is dominated by just three billionaire families, who set much of the news agenda. They are hardly likely to focus too much on deep inequalities that, if addressed, would strike at their own power.

That doesn’t rule out radical responses, though. ISIS and other Islamist paramilitary movements have benefitted enormously from their ability to recruit marginalized and angry young men with very limited life prospects, offering a cult-like alternative to their deep frustrations.

There are, of course, current instances of revolt elsewhere, such as in Sri Lanka, which have specific causes, invariably in a much wider context. But we have not yet seen any truly transnational movement, though it is worth remembering the coincidence of many revolts in a few months during the latter part of 2019.

In October of that year, thousands took to the streets in Iraq to rebel against levels of unemployment and low wages, which came amid rampant corruption in a country basically rich in fossil fuels. At the same time, Lebanon witnessed repeated street demonstrations against inequality and corruption, and Chile experienced protests that were framed “as a response to both the failed promises of neoliberalism and the inequality that neoliberal policies have arguably created in the country.” Elsewhere France had the Yellow Vests protests, and Ecuador, Bolivia, Haiti, Albania, Ukraine, Serbia, and even Russia saw civil unrest.

As an Oxford Research Group analysis put it at the time: “In most cases there are specific factors which push unease and resentment over into demonstrations often followed by repression and violence.

“A few may have little to do with rising inequality and diminishing life prospects, but for the majority, these are very much part of the wider social and political context.”

Those revolts did not spill over into a transnational anger, though, let alone violence. The individual protests have not been seen as part of a more global process and there is little sense of a worldwide movement of revolt. But now, the economic effects of the pandemic and the Ukraine war, combined with the growing impact of climate breakdown, suggest that it is only a matter of time. If that is the case, then we really are moving into uncertain times.

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  1. Bemildred

    Boy I sure hope so, these guys we have running things now don’t govern well at all.

  2. Watt4Bob

    Anger is not as problematic as who to be angry with.

    We have lots of anger, but so little ability to focus it where it’s needed, let alone effective.

    And the enemy is extremely experienced at keeping it that way.

    1. DorothyT

      Where to focus anger? Private Equity is a good place to start. It begs understanding.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        power is diffuse and ambiguous….hyperabstracted and hypercomplex.
        pipeline corpse digs a big ditch just across the fence(so you have no standing to challenge), where do you throw the rock?
        add to this almost 50 years of wall to wall Mindf&ck…and half the people are mad at “big government”… or godless commies, or whatever…
        is the sky green?
        can’t agree on anything, and if agreement somehow manifests in spite of the fog…well…we can have an event that will distract and divide.
        be it trump or 9-11 or russia or pandemic or another mass child sacrifice event.

      2. Pelham

        I agree 100%. But how do we go after private equity? And maybe hedge funds as well. How does the man in the street effectively bring these goons to heel when conventional political methods are clearly not an option?

        I don’t mean to sound hopeless. I just believe it’s worth thinking about this problem creatively.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          The only way to “go after” private equity that I can think of would be to completely destroy the entire economy which private equity currently exists within. As long as the current economy continues to exist, us have no power to reach them in any targeted way.

          And the vast mass of powerless normies are completely unprepared to survive for more than a day or two amid the rubble of a totally destroyed economy. So people who think that total destruction of every layer of “the economy” which props up private equity is the only way to cause the total destruction of private equity as well . . . . should spend the next few years working on the kind of lifeboat-survival mini-economies and micro-economies in mini-local regions and micro-local regions which could survive after ” the economy” has been so totally torn and burned so all-the-way-down that even private equity falls into the smoking crater left at the end of the process.

          Because what is the point of destroying ” the economy” in order to destroy private equity if one is not able to survive the destruction one’s own self, or one’s community’s own self, in order to be able to dominate whatever “post-burndown” world may emerge? Including the ability to exterminate whatever traces of private equity personnel may regretably survive enough to be able to crawl up out of the smoking crater?

          1. John Zelnicker

            drumlin – I think there are some targeted ways to rein in the excesses of private equity.

            1. Eliminate the carried interest loophole.

            2. Make the private equity owners (general partners) responsible for the debt they incur to buy companies, instead of putting the debt on the books of that company.

            3. Prohibit PE owners from paying themselves dividends in excess of GAAP profits.

            4. Prohibit contract terms that waive fiduciary responsibilities in limited partnership agreements and purchase contracts.

            5. Prohibit “monitoring fees” paid to the PE owners for basically doing nothing.

            In other words, put an end to the predatory and exploitative methods they use to destroy jobs and productivity just so they can make obscene amounts of money.

            1. Earthling

              Or, here’s an idea. If you are a company accepting investments from the public, then you use public exchanges and the rules set out by the SEC long ago. They were designed to do away with all these opportunities for fraud and predation.

              Or, if you are a private family firm, you do not accept outside investments. Pick one. Private or public. Not something secret in-betweeen.

              There is no rational reason for this category of ‘private equity’ to exist.

              1. John Zelnicker

                Earthling – Indeed.

                When I had a securities license many years ago, I always wondered about the concept of the “qualified investor”(?). I’m not sure of the term of art, but the idea was that if an investor had over a certain sum of investable assets, not including home and personal property, at the time I think it was $1 million, they didn’t need the protections provided to other investors, such as disclosure of risks and all fees.

                There’s a lot of stupid money out there. Just look at the crypto industry. Even CalPERS, as big as it is, seems to be pretty stupid about some of its investments.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              These are good ideas. How many opponents of these ideas will we have to mass-exterminate in order to conquer for ourselves permission to apply these good ideas?

              1. Furiouscalves

                Somewhere between 25 and 40,000 would be my guess.

                Probably could just jail them instead of exterminate would also be my guess, though it would be considered vigilante justice still I suppose. Maybe after the first 100, the rest would get out of dodge…It could be done.

            3. JTMcPhee

              Those are all good bullet points, but each of them requires action by the legislature, executive and courts to somehow craft and pass legislation and enforce it.

              The rich people, including PE and VC and the rulers of all the supranational corporations and owners of most everything else, have long since bought and paid for the people who fill out the ranks of the legislature, executive and judicial structures. They get what they want from the “legitimate” (sic) government, with its monopoly on the use of force. Hell, they even have their minions write most of the legislation and regulations and enforcement policies that the “legitimate” governments effectuate.

              Good effing luck effectuating any of those great ideas. Any thoughts on which members of the new aristocracy of great wealth who happen to sit in the seats of government are ready to propose and push forward the legislative and regulatory changes that would. Be required, across enough of the Wealth Economy all at once, to “make things better for the common man,” so many of whom have dropped out or who see themselves as just “temporarily embarrassed millionaires?” Maybe AOC? Bernie? Anyone?

              Revulsion and revolution would have to “change the minds” of billions, against the flood of propaganda of all kinds. And how many of “us” are willing to all pull on the same end of the rope, when “we” clearly can’t even agree which rope needs to be pulled? Any would-be Spartacus gets co-opted or jailed or killed.

              One has to wonder whether even the creation of local work-arounds and parallel and replacement institutions would be allowed to survive by the Fokkers whose entire efforts are directed toward domination and ownership of everything.

              Hard to “organize” an effective and substantive change for the better in this environment.

              1. John Zelnicker

                JT – Sadly, you are absolutely correct.

                I am quite aware that my list is aspirational and there is no way on this earth those things are going to come to pass.

                We are so very f*cked.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      I looked at a transcript of Tucker Carlson’s rant about the cops’ lies in Uvalde. As I was reading, I kept asking myself, “Where is he going with this? Cops are always heroes on Fox.” Carlson and his producer were doing an effective job of building anger, even hatred toward these lying, cowardly, ineffective cops.

      Then the topic switched without any logical connection. Suddenly, we were hearing and seeing Democrats and MSNBC talking heads talking about taking guns away. These new targets for all that anger and hatred stirred up by the first part of the segment were the real aim of Carlson, not the incompetent cops.

      1. Another Anon

        Maybe the purpose of the rant is to give his message that cops (representing government), are no good in protecting the public, therefore individuals need guns to protect themselves.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Including from cops? That may turn out to be the accidental “go-there” of Carlson’s rant. In which case, Carlson’s rant may turn out to be useful and helpful in ways that Carlson never ever intended it to be.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Cops and the enforcement “community” are organized and have “fusion centers” and other intel and skills sharing mechanisms and a common thrust to “protect the propertied.”

            People with guns tend to organize into crazy cells, often dominated by government agents, and get cut off if they get too organized and uppity. And people with guns, from my experience, are pretty much solely directed to “protecting their property from anyone else,” their home is their castle, not the kind of thinking that can lead to taking down the Looting Class and its structures of control and replacing it with anything remotely like commensalism and comity.

    3. Monte McKenzie

      no mater what subject you chose to focus on the FF industry is the problem!
      THINK first of ? who benefits!

  3. Alice X

    It is worthwhile to remember Jay Gould’s infamous dictum of the turbulent later nineteenth century:

    I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.

    That in an era when there were more than a few revolutionaries about.

    1. Robert Hahl

      But that jobs program is not what they did. They opted for a Great War instead, and then another one, not only to discipline workers but the younger ruling class as well. On the other hand, the younger ruling class today shows no socialist tendencies at all, so they might be willing to go with the half-employment program.

      1. Alice X

        It is interesting to turn Gould’s dictum on its head as a half jobs program. That is what we have today with the militarized police state.

        Yes, before the Great War the Socialists supported the war, except for Eugene V. Debs (imprisoned later), Rosa Luxemburg (imprisoned during), Jean Jaurès (killed before), Lenin (foisted to Russia from exile midway) and a few others. The I.W.W, which was an effective threat to the powerful was put out of business. So today we are essentially back to Gould’s era, without the coherent counter force. Big money’s program has worked. But with climate change and the continued possibility of nuclear war, the prospect for much future for humanity is growing very dim.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Wasn’t Debs imprisoned by the evil Wilson before America’s entry into the Great War?

      2. digi_owl

        Funny thing is that said ruling class very much think of themselves socialist, but they have been indoctrinated into ignoring the material basis for socialism.

        Instead they think that Frankfurt School Hegelianism is socialism…

    2. ccg

      Better yet, you can fire half the working class and they’ll kill the other half. 50% unemployed, there’ll be killing everywhere.

  4. Louis Fyne

    The US spring wheat crop is roughly ~50% planted. By this point in a normal year over 80% would be planted.

    A big problem is that DC is letting farmer’s costs dictate planting, not need. The world needs wheat, not soybeans this fall.

    The world will survive if less corn and soybeans are planted (animal feed, vegetable oil, corn syrup, don’t know if US soybeans are suitable for tofu).

    But wheat, edible grain inflation/shortages hit the poor and developing world hardest. Especially someplace like Egypt, where the two essential foodstuffs are wheat (bread) and lentils.

    And lentil prices already literally more than doubled in the past 12 months, pre-Ukraine war.

    DC Establishment ignorance/incompetence = feature, not a bug.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Of course there are alternatives, maybe not as “productive” but still functional, that don’t use so much water:

          “ The Scoop on Growing Dryland Rice,”

          Alternatives for lots of awful human behavior exist — the hard part is getting enough of us locust people to read, learn and inwardly digest the mindset that’s needed to incorporate all those somewhat effortful alternatives into how we live.

    1. Wukchumni

      Ag in the CVBB is johnny on the spot in removing a large mature citrus orchard that is still paying out in gold orbs, but their productive years are beyond them, and the same applies for almond trees-which only live a few decades.

      Sometimes i’ll see a complete removal and replanting of little trees in less than a week. It’s a popular thing to do as of late, as infant trees use a lot less water.

      I suspect that with Mother Nature being on the rampage as far as squelching our food growing opportunities as of late, that if we get a heat dome in the Central Valley of around 125 for a few days, all of them there fruit and nut trees are gonna die. They could remove them very quickly.

      They grew wheat here back in the day in the 1880’s-1910’s, but it didn’t pay compared to specialized tree crops, combined with electric pumps,

      They used to call it ‘dry farming’ as you planted wheat early in the year and counted on the usual precip to come through and harvested before it became hot as hades here.

      Wheat is the staff of life, not almonds.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Acorns were a staff of life to the Indian Nations of that region, and if the native oaks can produce acorns in the coming hotter climate, then acorns will be a staff of life to any Californians who are prepared to eat them.

        Those Californians who would rather starve to death and die than eat an acorn . . . or a mesquite bean . . . or a nopal cactus pad . . . are free to do so, of course.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Yes. Very much chestnuts too, especially in semi-humid or sub-semi-humid regions moist enough for chestnut trees to survive and even thrive.

            An edible arborist named Akiva Silver wrote a book called ” Trees of Power: Ten Tree Allies published by Chelsea Green. Here is a link to a NOmazon source for that book.

            The European Chestnut trees of Corsica were mentioned by J. Russell Smith in his book of decades ago . . . Tree Crops: A Permanent Agriculture. By pure luck I found what sure looks like a pdf of the whole book just totally free to read right here on the internet. ( Interested people can either read it now, soon, or never . . . once the internet is taken away from us and destroyed. ) Here is the link.

            Back to chestnuts . . . the American chestnut was the best food-yielder of any, but we all know what the blight did to it. A few still survive where they were artificially planted far beyond reach of the blight. Many legacy root systems keep sending up little new trunks which live till the blight kills them. Then the legacy root systems do it again. And again. And again. The American chestnut has a powerful will to live.

            Several years ago I heard Akiva Silver speak at a NOFA-NY conference in January at Saratoga Springs , New York. Somewhere in his talk he claimed that a chestnut species called the Korean chestnut was either blight-tolerant or blight-immune, I forget which. The most intriguing thing he said about that was that there were known to exist in the North Korean forests some Korean chestnut trees which were naturally 80 feet tall. That is not just a shrub. That is a real tree. If that was true, and still is true, and there is any way to get and grow cuttings from any of those trees, they could be hybridized with American chestnut trees to produce a blight tolerant tree which could reach a height halfway between 80 feet and whatever the top height of American chestnut would be. Since I think the tallest American chestnuts reached 150 feet tall, such a hybrid could reach 110 feet tall, which is a very respectable tree right there. Such hybrids could be rolled out to restore a credible shadow of the Great Chestnut Forest of Old Appalachia.

            One time while visiting my brother in Saratoga Springs, I went to Lena’s Cafe downtown. I happened to see someone who presented himself as a “story teller” and who claimed to own 80 acres of land south of town and who claimed to have Abenaki ancestry. He further claimed to have a couple of 80 + foot tall American chestnuts on his land. He offered the strongly held opinion that they were naturally blight tolerant or blight-immune, and not just lucky escapees. He also offered the wistful hindsight theory that if only the authorities at the time of the blight had not cut down several billion chestnut trees in the vain hope of creating an ” anti-fungus fire-break” to stop the spread, that the fungus would have selected-out the one-tree-in-a-million which was naturally blight tolerant or blight immune. Supposing such a percentage of blight-tolerant or immune American chestnut trees to have existed, that would have been 3,000 mature American chestnut trees surviving the blight and being a basis to re-establish the Great Chestnut Forest. But alas, that theory was never applied. So we do what we can with hybridization and back-breeding and so forth.

            There are still places to get pure American chestnut seeds and plant them in hopes you will “get lucky”. Like this . . .

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              And further memory, in his presentation, Mr. Silver said chestnuts were the high starch/low fat-low protein part of the diet and hazelnuts were the low starch/ high fat-high protein part of the diet. Not all by themselves, of course.

              He claimed that once ground up and dried, chestnut meal could be stored for years without loss of quality. Hazelnuts would store for far shorter. He claimed that hazelnut shells would burn “like anthracite” ( the hardest purest-carbon coal).

              He also said you can get a lot of hickory oil from bitternut/mockernut hickory nuts. He claimed 5 gallons from the nutload of one very mature big tree. The too-bitter-to-eat tannins would stay behind in the post-crushing nutmeal. ( Leading me to wonder if the tannins could then be water-leached out of the post-crushing nutmeal in order to be able to eat that too).

    2. Felix_47

      Don’t forget corn for ethanot. Here in Germany it is a huge crop as well. Farming the government subsidies.

  5. Dftbs

    There isn’t much of a description of a global system here, but an American system. And that one is not collapsing, but already collapsed.

    As to the global system, the Global South will do better after the death throes of the American system forces it to loosens its tentacles. And the author further confuses our malady for a “global” one as he forgets that Chinese socialism has lifted a billion people out of poverty over one generation.

    There are places outside America where civil society still functions, market theocracy doesn’t stifle humanity, people have agency to affect and improve their material conditions, where the future is still bright.

  6. Dave in Austin

    My question for the economically sophisticated members of the commentariat is: “What percent of the recent shortages and inflation is caused by Ukflation and what percent by the underlying supply/demand issues- rising demand for grain, meat, fossil fuels, metals and lumber triggered by the rapid expansion of not only the world’s population but also the world’s middle class?”

    More people and more middle class consumers mean more demand (except for a few dozen hundred- million dollar yachts and Mayfair mansions, the billionaires save most of their loot). The new demand is supplied by more lower-wage, ISO-standard factories and the almost frictionless movement of goods through a system of world free trade (which helps poor countries and harms poor workers in rich countries). But the production of raw material like food, fuel and metals hasn’t (can’t?) keep up with the new demand caused by the population increase and the new consumers. Plus the size of the atmosphere is unchanged while the demand for oxygen to combust fossil fuel goes up, thus the global climate crisis.

    Limited supply meets increased demand so in “the old north” – the US, Europe and Japan- we get price increases, higher inflation, larger deficits, low birth rates and a lower standard of living, and in the “the new, overpopulated, grain trade-depended south” we get higher food and fuel prices, limited industrialization and still high (but declining) birth rates. In between we get the newly prosperous (and happily consuming) middle classes of China and India and the overjoyed producers of grain, fossil fuels and metals.

    I believe things like neo-liberalism, Presidential speeches, Parliamentary elections and newspaper editorials are simply the traffic cops for orchestrating (and hiding) the underlying supply/demand changes. Am I right?

    1. Dftbs

      There is a tendency in modern economic analysis to extricate politics and replace demographics when trying to explain certain phenomena. For instance increased demand is explained solely as driven by a growing middle class, but the political choices that grew that middle class are ignored.

      I would say that all inflation is caused by politics. Be it the impact of the silver stolen by conquistadors and the spread throughout Europe by Habsburg wars. The bill sent to Weimar at the end of WW1. Zimbabwe or Venezuela having financial assets seized and being shut out of capital markets. Or the double digits we are seeing in the West today.

      Little to none is caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. A not insignificant part of what we’ve seen so far is a consequence of our response to that invasion. And a very large portion of what we will experience will be a result of the Russian response to our actions.

      Without lingering on technical details, we are still living with the consequences of the political choices made in response to the 2008 GFC. Then the doubling down on those choices with our Covid response. Ultimately these political choices would have resulted in the inflation crisis we are experiencing, and prior to Russia’s invasion we were seeing heightened inflation and a central bank poised to hike. But the choices we made in response made it worse. The catalysts for the bill coming due are innumerable, in our case I suppose Ukraine is as good a historical marker as any.

    2. Pintada

      No Dave, you are not right:

      Your premise, “More people and more middle class consumers mean more demand …” is incorrect. There are not more people in the middle class. The shortages are simply a function of peak everything. The earth is used up, or nearly used up, and there simply isn’t enough raw materials to keep things going.

      The myth that there are more people in the “middle class” is simply propaganda that you have blindly adopted as truth because it matches your preconceptions. Now, you will post article after article to support your bias confirmation and I will let you “win” because I am not interested in re-reading the propaganda.

      Have a nice day, and I sincerely hope that your life is happy and fulfilling.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        Yep, and we were warned about this 50 years ago by a group of brilliant people led by Donella Meadows. Here’s an article about a recent check of the “Limits to Growth” projections. Scroll down to see the four graphs outlining the four options considered by the LtG group:

        1) Business As Usual I

        2) Business As Usual II

        3) Comprehensive Technology (Fusion!!! LOL)

        4) Slowing population and economic growth

        Spoiler alert: business as usual doesn’t turn out well.

        1. Altandmain

          As a Canadian, I disagree with the opinions in the blog. He seems to be an Establishment Liberal and unable to recognize the failings of the system he advocates for.

          To be fair, some of his opinions such as opposing the no fly zone against the Ukraine make sense, but he has a soft spot for the Liberal Establishment and seems very limited in his critique of them.

    3. Tom Pfotzer


      Good questions. I am not particularly “economically sophisticated”, but I have been wondering about the same things you are, so I did a little reading and learned that:

      a. U.S. oil production is rising, and has considerable room to continue rising. Global oil demand isn’t changing that much, but trade flows blockages caused trouble

      b. Fertilizer prices are high because of high energy prices and trade flow disruptions

      c. Most of the Covid-related supply chain anomalies are getting sorted out. Hiccups remain, but many, maybe most companies are aggressively responding to the problem.

      So, I’m expecting inflation to abate some, led by energy prices. I think energy prices are nearing their highs for this year. If they go up much more, then long-term demand destruction will kick in (sell the F250 pickup, institute telework, etc.). People will buy food before they buy fuel, if cornered. Once they make the changes, they stick. (lower long-term demand).

      The massive spate of price-gouging that’s occurred during the Covid cloud seems over-played. Anger levels are rising, and the so-called “buyer’s strike” response may be about to happen. That’s just my sense of it, I don’t have a citation for it.

      The because-Covid thing is getting pretty long in the tooth from the perspective of supply-chain operations. They’ve had plenty of time to adapt, and they are.

      I do agree that worldwide grain production is too low (energy and fertilizer costs), and too disrupted (Ukraine), and that’s going to cause a lot of trouble for poor people everywhere.

      I don’t see nearly so much pain on the food front for the U.S. We still produce a lot of food, and food costs as a percentage of household income are still low by world standards.

      We’re mostly pretty rich, but things are tightening up some. Not that much yet, tho. Remember that we feed most of our soy and corn production to animals. So, meat prices will definitely go up, but most people in the U.S. can eat a little less meat and not notice it that much.

      If we have a heat spell in our big ag-production states this summer, then the food scene for poor people will get even worse. As I mentioned elsewhere, I am expecting the western-states drought to migrate eastward into our soy, corn, and wheat producing states sometime over the next decade.

      Lastly, I note that the Ukraine debacle is wobbling toward subsidence. Not in the news nearly so much, U.S. over-played its hand, Russia winning, EU getting restive, NeoCons exposed for the greedy, delusional sociopaths that they are (why follow crazy people?), China, global-South, most of SE Asia in no mood to play along. Disrupted trade flows are hurting U.S. and EU way, way more than hurting Russia. Clear as a bell.

      The U.S. is going to back off, or lose way bigger, and I think some key people have gotten the drift. I expect U.S. engendered geo-political tensions to reduce as we move into election season. Whole lotta climb-down has to get done between now and election-day.

      That will help stabilize trade flows.

      $40B (more) wasted on Ukraine? Food, energy prices at / near all-time highs?

      1. Earthling

        So oil production is rising, a bit, and demand is still rising, a bit faster. It will take some time for oil and refined product supply to rise enough to put a dent in prices, which are also still rising. Just the sheer logistics of the industry does not move at the speed of marketing. By the time their prices subside to a new normal, we are likely to have so much inflation baked into our commerce that inflation will be a self-reinforcing spiral, as people buy as much as possible knowing prices will be higher later.

        1. Tom Pfotzer


          You might be right, and we’ll see in the next month or two. But for now, I’m going to stick with my “top of price-peak” theory for a while, till I get exonerated or … run over (again) by reality.

          The other day I was @ gas station, filling up my pickup truck. The guy in the next bay was also filling up his truck (same model), and he was visibly cringing as the pump ran. He spent $110 to fill up his tank, and really resented it.

          I spent about $90 (gas about $5 a gal). I don’t remember ever spending that much to fill up the truck.

          I don’t drive much, but I have a farm, and need a pickup. I can say for sure that my gas consumption is under a lot of pressure; I (also) resent paying $90 to fill it.

          Of course that’s a serendipitous sample of two, so it’s just story-telling.

          But that’s why I see demand falling; I think the fed-up factor is (has) been triggered.

          I’m thinking that U.S. domestic producers want to see oil stay @ 100 or more for several more weeks before they ramp up production, and they seem skittish about doing so. That’s another reason I’m thinking prices might have peaked.

    4. Susan the other

      Yes, I think you are correct. It’s like Gail Tverberg’s analysis of oil production. Unless demand is sufficient to be profitable for the drillers, they aren’t gonna drill. They have to make a profit. And the rules of neoliberalism are therefore also the rules of distribution. It’s true we are pushing the limits of sustainability, but mass revolt isn’t gonna suddenly redistribute material goods to the needy. The system is set up to do that and it will. That’s the beauty of a system, even when it is broken in theory it can work with boots on the ground – all we need is funding. And we can do that. And change it as necessary. I think this is the real TINA. No?

    5. AGR

      There certainly seems to be disproportionate levels of consumption, despite any neo-malthusian zealotry often camouflaged as “sincere” inquiry. Which would lead to the questions of “how much is enough?” and “how much is not enough?”…and subsequently to questions of “merit”, which unfortunately are often answered in a context of relative power etc…

      The ” economically sophisticated”-” eCONomists” have mostly proven to be sophists that proffer fodder for the established powerful to justify and continue “business as usual”, but mostly nothing that can be used as “real” solutions…

      I have been dumbfounded by how effective the propaganda and agnatology has been. Although I haven’t linked to them in a while, this video, from about seven years ago, seemed well researched, relevant and presented at the time…


    6. anon in so cal

      Looking globally, the middle-class is expected to explode over the next decade, and the geographic driver that is shaping the growth of that consumer spending powerhouse is forcing companies to reposition their businesses.

      According to the 2021 Credit Suisse (CS) Global Wealth Report, the global middle-class, defined as adults whose assets amount to between $10,000 to $100,000, more than tripled to 1.7 billion in mid-2020 from just 507 million in 2000. As we’ve come to expect, how something is defined can be very different depending on who you ask. Case in point, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines the middle-class differently than Credit Suisse and based on its methodology, there were 3.6 billion in the middle-class in 2018, up from 2 billion in 2020.

      Sorry about the source, it was the first search result.

      This driver of supply/demand issues is a separate, more damaging and intractable, problem than UKflation, and spells doom for biodiversity and the viability of other species on the planet. Materialistic global culture promotes endless acquisition at the expense of the natural world. Everyone wants hardwood flooring and pork chops.

      7.7 billion people clamoring for a middle class lifestyle = more energy & resource consumption, emissions, habitat loss, over-fishing, cars, garbage, etc. Demographic growth is the independent variable but it is a taboo topic. Some academics have eked out careers publishing papers arguing that any mention of excessive population growth is racist.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If the 1.1 billion middle-class people of the world want the other 7.7 not-yet-middle-class people of the world to settle for a lower class lifestyle, the 1.1 billion middle-class people will have to model in their own lives the lower class lifestyle they want the 7.7 billion to lead.

        And since I am not going to reduce my $44,000 dollar-per-year standard of living until every single person in the world with a higher standard of living than I have lowers their standard of living all the way down to where mine is* , I assume that getting the 1.1 billion middle-class people of the world to model a lower-class lifestyle will be hard to achieve . . . until nature achieves it for them.

        * (Whenever I can feel confident that I can weaponise certain self-undertaken standard-of-living reductions in such a way as to hurt people richer than me worse than they hurt me, I will do those things even before the richer-than-me people do them. But only in such a way that I can do my part in actively tearing the richer-than-me people down to my level.)

  7. Screwball

    Tick, tick, tick…

    Small town Ohio; crime is up, anger is up, jobs are down, pay isn’t good, prices way to high, people are not happy, and then there is the red team vs. blue team thing. Not pretty. People are afraid, broke, don’t know where how they are going to eat, live, and survive and no one seems to give one good shit.

    It’s only a matter time time until the boiling frogs have had enough. Then it gets ugly.

  8. Questa Nota

    Debt jubilee concept extended to D-bag jubilee, where the .1 or whatever percent get their turn to become, uh, jubilant in reverse. A few well-placed resources encourage disgorgement, quit-claiming and any other method that can be applied on the gallows, streamed in hi-death, of course. Bonus points for Tesla Tumbrels. /s

  9. lance ringquist

    the author is typical, can’t say free trade can he. before 1993 there were very few billionaires, after 1993 the amount of billionaires exploded.

    just look at pickettys graph, the year inequality exploded was 1993. coincidence that 1993 was the year nafta billy clinton pushed free trade down the throats of the world? “NOPE”!

    as far as damage is concerned, the two creatures reagan and thatcher own some blame, but it was nafta billy clinton and his puppy blair that did the most damage.

    the deregulation and privatization under nafta billy clinton was a freidman wet dream.

    the only poverty reduction was in china, otherwise the rest of the world saw standards of living plunge, and its still going down hill. the author conveniently left that out.

    “they are calling it the great recoil from free trade: The implosion of free trade is upsetting many of the assumptions that dominated politics and economics over the last decades

    free trade has manifestly failed to deliver prosperity, yet becomes even more aggressive in its attempts to extract profit.

    free traders insulate their profits from taxation, relocated their factories, outsourced their labor and taken advantage of the special export zones and tax havens created under free trade.

    free trade has been proven to be not only economically far less convenient than its evangelists made it to be, but it has also proven to be socially and politically unsustainable, as its economic effects have fueled populist insurgencies across different countries. In fact, much of contemporary politics can be understood as a reaction against free trades effects, one which while trying to extricate society from free trade, is still very much caught in its long term consequences.

    under protectionism, world wide poverty reduction was far far superior than under free trade.

    free trade is no longer perceived as a force for prosperity, but as the prime source of many threats that have put society’s well-being in peril.

    the real left knows that there is no democratic control under free trade.


    The Great Recoil Of Neoliberal Globalization

    By Paolo Gerbaudo,
    ROAR Magazine

    October 24, 2021

    the author of this piece on NC today is befuddled, i can see why. he is a light weight. if your read about every revolt in every country, you will hear the little people say they are sick of being exploited by corporations that have no effective check on them under free trade, that is democratic control, and they want it to end.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The poverty reduction in China was achieved by transferring American wealth-production to China and transferring China’s poverty to America.

      That’s a Free Trade achievement.

      And until the personnel who make up the Free Trade Occupation Regime have been rounded up and physically liquidated, the only recourse individual Americans may have is to individually buy things made in NOT-China, just as some people can still buy things from NOmazon. If a few million Americans can do that, they can still preserve some tiny little “lifeboats” and “monasteries” of actual thing-making in America.
      And if not in America, then at least in countries with better social standards and pay-scales than China itself.

      1. lance ringquist

        the free traders must be made public examples of. otherwise the blame cannons will fall on us deplorable, and the blood bath will begin.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > exploited by corporations

      Corporations don’t exploit. People (owners) exploit, with varying strategies of obfuscation, corporate entities being one such.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        True. The “corporation” is just a containment dome. Certain real people are the core.

  10. The Rev Kev

    For decades now organizations like the World Bank have forced third-world farmers to grow export crops instead of crops to feed themselves with while importing food crops from the US to feed themselves. Since those countries are unlikely to get those food crops from the US because of shortages there, will those farmers say to hell with it and grow food crops once more for local sale? And will the World Bank and the IMF threaten them if they do so because contracts are holy? If they tried, this would leave a huge road open for China and perhaps even Russia to come in to help reorganize the local food market.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Do you think the ChinaGov would want to help such Third World producers-for-export go back to growing food for themselves instead of growing food for China? When China supports Brazil burning down every last tree in the Amazon to grow more soybeans, it is doing that to support more soybeans for China, not more soybeans for Brazilian consumption.

      1. lance ringquist

        yep, free trade encourages cash crops, and they are very hard on the environment.

    2. lance ringquist

      one of lincolns advisors said the reason why the south refuses to develop is that they make to much money off of free trade cash crops like cotton.

      malawi beat the free trade scum. but that was years ago, time to wiggle in a groomed free trade card board cutout.

  11. The Historian

    Is history rhyming again? I tend to think so.

    This article could have been written about what was happening before the First Dark Ages. That was a time of massive wealth and power for a few while the majority of the population suffered. It had its large cities, its massive armies and its strategic alliances too. I’m reminded of the Egyptian- Hittite alliance that formed because of fear of the Assyrians, not that the Assyrians ever did much damage from their little forays – there was just a great fear that they could!

    Joseph Tainter has probably written the seminal book on the collapse of civilizations, but he wrote it from the top down (which makes sense, because ancient historians weren’t telling the story of their peoples, they were telling the stories their rich patrons wanted them to – amazing how many historians forget that when trying to analyze ancient history!), but revolutions don’t start from the top – they start nearer the bottom. I don’t think that story has been adequately covered by historians.

    As far as I can tell, there seems to be two major reasons why civilizations fail – one is the perfect storm model – the one we will probably encounter, and the other is climate change.

    The perfect storm model seems to show that civilizations fail when inequality gets extreme and militarization takes over the governments. Usually a famine follows, and then something else happens, like natural disasters. This appears to have been what happened in the First Dark Ages where one generation, cities died, trade stopped, writing stopped, etc for 500 years. Most historians now think the Sea Peoples were the result of migration instead of conquest and a result of what was happening, not a cause. Our world today seems to be following the same trajectory, except now we have to weapons to destroy all humanity, something that didn’t exist in 1200 BCE.

    The other form of civilization collapse seems to be environmental. The great Harappan civilization existed in its prime for about 700 years and it was not militaristic, there were no palaces or great temples, they had a form of writing, beautiful art, trade, irrigation, a great sewer system with indoor plumbing and baths. It appears to have been a very egalitarian civilization yet it too died out, most likely because one of the great rivers they were built around, the Ghaggar-Hakra river system dried up. If we don’t destroy ourselves first, this could be our future!

    I’ve just received my copy of “The Destiny of Civilization” by Michael Hudson and I can’t wait to hear what he has to say. Perhaps he has something new to add to the history of civilization failure that we haven’t considered yet.

    1. Bellatrix

      Yes, to flourish, I think a society or civilization must pay more than just lip service to egalitarianism. Everyone doesn’t need to be totally equal, but everyone needs to be included in the journey and not left behind or sent in the opposite direction. The lights flash red when the elite simply seeks to preserve or increase it’s relative power because to do this it must resist or at least control change and suppress the masses – first with bread and circuses, and then with police. I am still hopeful that shambolic democracy can revitalize our institutions and triumph in the end, but at the very least I think it will take a crisis to do it and it looks to me like there is a crisis just around the corner.

  12. Gusgus 2021

    Ive noticed alot of the delivery drivers ,and other guys forklift etc ,say things like ” I just work for rich people ” or ” they are 80s years old why do they need more.
    I think the rich live detached,Gulfstreams gated homes etc ,there is real resentment that I see getting worse.
    As a side note I had a girlfriend who was rich ,very rich ……while very pretty she was a garbage human .

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Gated communities may have the private security to keep invaders out. But what if people decide to weld the gates shut to keep the gated community people from getting out? Will the private security be able to prevent that?

  13. scarnoc

    The probability of mass political violence in the USA increases daily. We have a lot of angry, disempowered young men in this country. They are well armed. They aren’t marrying at the same rate of previous generations. Their wages are lower, and their wealth is lower. Young men are having less sex than in previous years. They aren’t going to university. They aren’t buying homes. They don’t go to church at the same rates, and secular social clubs are mostly gone now. There are systemic reasons why they are single, less educated, and less wealthy. If food and utility prices take even more from them, and if they lose access to videogames, porn, and fast entertainment due to rolling blackouts, then watch out. There is no working class political movement for them to plug into, not even one as deracinated and vacantly populist as OWS. As far as I can tell, there are quite a few well-organized fascist and fascist-adjacent populist movements in the USA that these guys could plug right into. The media have spent the last few years essentializing race in ways that play directly into the hands of the far right. It feels to me like the populist gravity well in the USA is heavier on the right now. Left ‘populism’ has become a PMC dominated program for funding NGOs and hiring programs for well-paid consultants. I realize there are real left-populists working hard, but they simply have not been as effective as the right. And importantly, nearly all the arms are owned by people who skew right. The only counter example to this that I have seen recently is the Amazon union success and Chris Smalls.

    Aside from angry young men, I believe the shock factor to the masses of extreme food and energy prices will break some of the systems that are basically duct-taped together at this point, and cause plenty of unpredictable mayhem. Yves is correct to point out that many of the bourgeoisie have security plans in place for this. I wonder, though, looking at the state of things, how ‘smart’ these wealthy people really are. It seems to me that the Obama-era canard of being ‘smart’ always meant ‘evil and willing to hurt others for personal gain’. I’m not sure these bourgies are good material planners any longer. The society they rule is coming apart, after all.

    If you are American and haven’t yet and have the means, put gardens in. It’s not too late but in most of the country you do need to do it asap. We tripled the footprint of our garden this year, and I’m doing way more potatoes than usual. I want to be able to feed my family, and neighbors if necessary. That’s not just charity – in bad times a sack of potatoes buys a lot of good will.

    1. Another Anon

      “Land !, Peace !, Bread !”, a popular protest slogan in Russia circa 1917.

      “Housing !, Peace !, Food !”, perhaps a popular protest slogan at a future riot near you.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      It has been said that ” put in a garden” is not a solution for everyone. But that is no reason for those who can put in a garden to not do so.

      More people able to feed themselves means less pressure on the food bank systems and food shortage relief systems.

      1. chris

        I’d add that the people who have need to practice sharing and helping others. It still amazes me that what we did during the pandemic shutdown was so rare. We gave put food, supplies, toilet paper, etc. Because we had it to share. Others we knew hoarded what they had and thought we were foolish.

        Maybe we were. But it felt like the right thing to do. I don’t regret taking a chance helping my neighbors in a time of need.

    3. chris

      I would have thought we’d see some kind of mass uprising requiring a class cramdown starting at the top and working it’s way through our society a long time ago. I keep hearing stories about why Carnegie built libraries and schools and why Ford increased wages. I can think of no modern corollary.

      We keep making life more miserable for everyone and no one responds. We see small eruptions like what happened during the George Floyd inspired riots. Things like downtown Portland or Seattle becoming temporarily inconvienced. But then we see hundreds of thousands of people in San Francisco living in misery and Skid Ro ballooning to the population of a small state. We may never again see the kind of labor action that the US experienced during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I think we’re just going to see the tide keep rising and people keep drowning in it. As long as you have some high ground you’ll truck yourself into thinking you’re OK. We could make things better for everyone right now. But we won’t.

      It’s a special kind of madness.

    4. Lambert Strether

      > It feels to me like the populist gravity well in the USA is heavier on the right now. Left ‘populism’ has become a PMC dominated program for funding NGOs and hiring programs for well-paid consultants. I realize there are real left-populists working hard, but they simply have not been as effective as the right. And importantly, nearly all the arms are owned by people who skew right. The only counter example to this that I have seen recently is the Amazon union success and Chris Smalls.

      Agreed on all points, except to Amazon I would add Starbucks, and a corrective percentage for the unionizing that’s happening, but isn’t covered, like Dollar General.* (It would be nice if the transport unions understood that since they control the chokepoints of the supply chain, they could control the means of production, but I think the day of that realization is very far off.)

      NOTE * On top of class bias, our superspreading press really likes a Rolodex-ready figure like Smalls (which is no knock on smalls). Not all union efforts have one. (I think the Starbucks workers are charismatic by definition.)

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Do the actual physical people who make up the transport unions actually have enough personal physical food/water/everything else stockpiled both individually and “locally” at every union local hall to where they could physically themselves survive such a strike long enough to torture the system lords into making beneficial system changes before the transport union members themselves are starved by the disruption into surrender?

        They really should think about that before they try a general transport chokepoint strike.

        And of course the MAGA truckers would try to break such a strike. In the event of such a strike, are their enough MAGA trucker strikebreakers to matter?

    5. Felix_47

      The US can throw the masses a bone. I read that AOC now has a net worth of more than 1 million. She still has not paid her student loans which are less than 50,000. The Washington speakers bureau lists her speaking fee as 170,000. I am sure she wants forgiveness for her student loans since she does not seem to want to pay them off. So since the PMC wants it we will get student loan relief. And, of course, she might donate her speaking fees to a food bank or something. Maybe some Ukrainian oligarch can get her on his payroll through his NGO. Then we can do more war with Russia.

  14. TimD

    Aaand, America is not a place where political parties would discuss the merits of doing something about inequality. All that would happen is one side would huff and puff, then scream about rights and freedoms and greatness. Then it would call the other side radical Marxist fascists and refuse to cooperate. The net result is the current state of affairs.

    Neoliberalism did not create faster economic growth in America. In fact, growth is about 1/2 what it was before its implementation and the national debt is growing faster than the economy. Those are marks of economic failure and nobody talks about them.

  15. Mikel

    I have a theory on what the Fed and their fave economists mean by inflation in the USA: it means, to them, there are still remnants of middle class.

    1. chris

      I think you’re right.

      They’ll stop when the economic barrier between us and them is so high that the ghosts of the gilded age will blush.

      I think back to when my family moved to the DC/MD/VA region from the Midwest and how we couldn’t have done it with out the help of family who already lived in the area. If it gets even worse due to inflation we might as well implement the regional and city passes for citizens like they have in China. It will be effectively the same.

  16. Lambert Strether

    At the end of Hamlet, after the entire ruling class of Denmark has slaughtered itself:

    FORTINBRAS: Take up the bodies. Such a sight as this
    Becomes the field but here shows much amiss.
    Go, bid the soldiers shoot.
    Exeunt marching; after the which a peal of ordnance are shot off.


    One might wonder who our Fortinbras will be.

  17. Lambert Strether

    It has occurred to me that managing addictions is one way our capitalist elite has remained in power (if “addictions” is the right word; I’m not sure). Examples in parenthetical for [capitalist producer/PMC pusher]

    1) SSRIs, especially for boys (Big Pharma/school administrators + doctors + pharmacies)

    2) Guns (Gun Manufacturers/gun sellers*)

    3) Social Media (Big Tech/”content creators,,” like influencers)

    Managing dopamine, and other, loops, I suppose, by inserting rental extraction into the looo.

    NOTE$ * Good example of American gentry. The argument can be made that the liberal Democrats focus on the NRA because it’s an NGO. They understand NGOs. Gun sellers they don’t understand.

    1. chris

      They don’t understand people. They understand other ruling class individuals, PMC members, and aspirational strivers. Our ruling Liberal Democrats hate most citizens. It’s one reason why it’s so hard to get people to vote for them outside of a truly disgusting set of options in the right. But even that approach is starting to lose its appeal. An awful lot of people would take the economy and situation they had under Trump over the situation they find themselves in now under Biden. What is the argument for voting Team Blue in the midterms or in 2024 right now? “VOTE FOR US – It probably can’t get any worse?”

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      They also hate the “gun culture” and hate ” gun culture” participants. This is their Democrat Liberal culture war. They hate the “gun culture” people the way Richard Nixon hated the “drug culture” people.

      A question arises: do black gun owners skew as right as MAGA gun owners? If not, will black gun owners consider it pure Democrat Liberal racism when the Democrat Liberals extend their war on “gun culture” to black gun owners with equal vigor?

      And will black gun ownership go even higher up when black people consider the full implications of The Yellow Cops of Texas refusing to assist the children in that school in Uvalde?

      And if it does, what will Democrat Liberals like Kamala Harris do then?

  18. Sound of the Suburbs

    Looking on a slightly longer timeline it has all become clear.

    Mariner Eccles, FED chair 1934 – 48, observed what the capital accumulation of neoclassical economics did to the US economy in the 1920s.
    “a giant suction pump had by 1929 to 1930 drawn into a few hands an increasing proportion of currently produced wealth. This served then as capital accumulations. But by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied themselves the kind of effective demand for their products which would justify reinvestment of the capital accumulation in new plants. In consequence as in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When the credit ran out, the game stopped”

    A few people have all the money and everyone else gets by on debt.
    Is that why Keynes added redistribution?
    Yes, it stopped all the wealth concentrating at the top.
    A strong, healthy middle class developed in the West.

    Maggie and Reagan removed the redistribution and inequality soared as things returned to the old normal of neoclassical economics.
    A few people have all the money and everyone else gets by on debt.

    Einstein’s definition of madness “Doing the same thing again and again and expecting to get a different result”
    Right again, Albert.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Thatcher Reaganites did not expect a different result. They expected the prior result. So they were not insane. They got the result they wanted for themselves and especially for the class they supported and believed in.

    2. Bellatrix

      It seems that economic/political/social cycles take a human lifespan to run their course, more or less, and we each enter and leave the cycle at different points along the way. Those that come in half way see the end half of one cycle and the beginning half of the next cycle. As a result, we do the same thing again and again as a society, but as individuals we only do it once, which kind of makes sense. The most comprehensive expression of this idea is Neil Howe’s The Fourth Turning, which is a very good read, but the idea has been around for a long time.

      1. JBird4049

        >>>As a result, we do the same thing again and again as a society, but as individuals we only do it once, which kind of makes sense.

        This is why studying history is so important as well as the ability (and more important, the desire to) see what will likely happen if X is done. Doing X might make you rich, but what will happen to your family and even you, if are long lived? I think that it is willful blindness that makes our society repeatedly do the same mistake. Worse, the past is often deliberately erased because that benefits some. Not completely, but there is a reason why all the heterodox, Marxist, and Keynesian economists, social scientists, and historians were driven out of all levels of education and research. Or why liberal arts degrees are being cut. Ignorance is strength. Or power for some.

  19. Tom Stone

    Our rulers are confident that between Total Information Awareness,militarized local police and Corporate/LEO/Intelligence fusion centers that they can identify and control (Or eliminate) any organized threat to the system.
    The Status Quo will be preserved because the servants of our great Lords have eliminated any risk of organized change with their brilliance!
    So we will get Chaos because change will happen.

    1. Felix_47

      Maybe that is why so many people are opposed to government gun control. At some point if the PMC and the oligarchs squeeze too hard we might see a significant uprising. And with 400 million guns in the county I don’t know if the government could deal with it. I don’t know of many revolutions in history that were peaceful and mediated by 1000 per hour Ivy League lobbyist attorney politicians. And the Sanders campaign suggested that many are willing to give support to some sort of change. Of course, they were lied to this time. But fool me once…..

  20. Altandmain

    We are overdue for a Mass Revolt.

    The problem is that the anger of the working class has to he directed towards the rich or else nothing will change.

    The rich have become very skilled at directing anger to anything but themselves.

    It’s a big problem. The rich can’t govern and are too greedy to make society work.

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