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Even More Evidence the US Is a Kleptocracy, Not a Meritocracy


#21

What in the hell are you talking about? Civilization evolved from small bands of hunters and gatherers when agriculture was developed. Hunters and gatherers are nomadic because they must follow the game.

The invention of agriculture meant that humans could become sedentary (this was better than chasing critters all over creation to get your dinner). Domesticating plants and harvesting and storing them meant that the food supply was constant. Domesticating animals and herding them was a hell of a lot better than hunting wild game because when you hunt wild game, you only eat after a kill.

Any fool can see that civilization was better than small bands of hunters and gatherers. The problem is that agriculture was a double-edged sword. Agriculture resulted in the notion of private property (hunters and gatherers have no notion of owning the earth; the native peoples were able to sell Manhattan Island to the European immigrants for a few trinkets because they thought they were scamming the white eyes because no person could believe you can buy the earth–not that different than selling the Brooklyn Bridge to a fool).

Agriculture also produced the subjugation of women. Hunters and gatherers have sexual equality because both sexes contribute to the food supply. In patriarchal agricultural and pastoral societies, the role of women was solely to reproduce. Males had to control women because the worst thing for a male was to be cuckoleded and spend energy raising a biologically unrelated child.

But the worst result of agriculture is that a stable food supply meant population growth and overpopulation that will be the death of us.


#22

Nonsense! German Chancellor Bismarck said that either the government will enact social welfare programs or the socialists will take over the government. The German SPD produced all kinds of social welfare programs 50 years before FDR gave us Social Security.

Both Germany and Russia lost WWI, but only Russia had a Marxist revolution because the Czar did not give a rat’s ass about the plight of the peasants, just as the French monarchy in 1789 did not give a rat’s ass about the starving peasants. Marie Antoinette told them that if they did not have bread, they should just eat cakle. No wonder she lost her head.


#23

Sure.


#24

Absolutely.

If not us, who?

If not now, when?


#25

The size of people took a nosedive in the transition from gathering-hunting to agriculture because of diet. (Gathering was far, far more important and provided most of the food for most “hunter-gatherers”; the backwards name reflects the macho bias of the first anthropologists, who talked almost exclusively with men and didn’t notice the importance of women in either their own societies or those they were “describing”).

Gatherer-hunters typically worked about 20 hours a week and spent the rest of the time playing, doing art, singing, and drinking beer (almost a cultural universal). Ag dramatically boosted the time spent working, while it drastically increased its monotony. That trend has mostly continued, with a few temporary reversals and attempted reversals. (Luddites, labor rebellions of the 1880s, etc.)

The richest 7-10% emit half the greenhouse gases; the poorest 6 billion emit about 20% of the GHGs. Our problems now–ecological, (especially climate) war and others–are overwhelmingly caused not by our numbers but by the richest few percent. And inequality and the insecurity, lack of education etc caused by inequality are now the main causes of population growth, which is in any case almost certain to level off and decline by 2050 in the face of exponentially rising death rates because of climate catastrophe. We certainly should do the things that shown to slow population growth because they’re good things anyway–equality, education and empowerment for all especially women, security in hard times, sickness and age. But it will make virtually no difference in the current crisis, which we have to solve in less than a decade or face unimaginable horror on a global scale. And then, either way, it will be moot. We need to reduce inequality and the harm the richest few percent do, aiming toward fair and equal distribution globally, while switching to clean safe renewable energy, reforestation, small-scale low-meat organic permaculture and benign biomimicing craft-industry everywhere.


#26

Great Post.


#27

Yes, and also the financial transaction tax, while a good way to raise needed tax revenue, will not reduce wealth inequality. Most of the 0.1% are not stock traders, they tend to hold their positions.


#28

My calculator can’t process numbers over a billion but it looks to me like there’s plenty of money out there for everyone in the US to be a millionaire. Why aren’t we all millionaires? Because we’re all stupid and lazy and made bad decisions as right wing propoganda think tanks would have us believe? I don’t think so. Our society and economy needs a total revisioning and rebuild. It needs torn down and completely replaced by something else entirely different. To begin with, work places must be democratized.


#29

You aren’t that far off (about a factor of 3 according to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_wealth_per_adult which has average US wealth per adult at $345k and median at $45k which tells you it’s pretty skewed just from avg/median). So not millionaires, but the average is way way better off than it is for many many people.

I agree with most sentiments expressed here in that there should be less inequality and I support many efforts (financial transactions tax, higher capital gains tax, etc.) to get there. However the graph in this article is very stupid from a mathematical point of view - of course we should expect much more absolute wealth growth in the upper strata since the crash because rich people have more money in the market and they will thus gain more when it bounces back - what would have been more interesting is to see it is a % increase in each category and (as you might guess), there is STILL a bias towards the rich in this case - see https://thinkprogress.org/the-1-percent-have-gotten-all-the-income-gains-from-the-recovery-6bee14aab1/ which says

Between 2009 and 2012, according to updated data from Emmanuel Saez,
overall income per family grew 6.9 percent. The gains weren’t shared
evenly, however. The top 1 percent saw their real income grow by 34.7
percent while the bottom 99 percent only saw a 0.8 percent gain, meaning
that the 1 percent captured 91 percent of all real income.

On the very low end of course, percentages are meaningless - if you are in debt or just barely out of debt, getting a 20% increase to your wealth makes little difference - at that point you need a fixed boost, but over much of the range it is the right way to look at it for understanding a bias even beyond what you’d expect based on normal growth percentages.


#30

I don’t know what the answers are but I can see there are resources. However, the resources are being withheld from the majority; that’s what all this tells us. The Trickle Down Theory needs to be replaced by the Flow Around Theory. I don’t know how to acheive that but have complete faith that a cooperative economy can be built. There are historical and existing examples of cooperative economies. That is cooperative economy vs competitive economy. Another way to say it would be cooperative capitalism vs competitive capitalism. However, people being “stupid, lazy, and making bad decisions” has never been the reality of the problem.


#31

This inequality will continue to grow at an ever growing pace because with every tax cut the oligarchy becomes more powerful. Money isn’t speech it is power, power to corrupt, power to lie, or the power to solve problems. Sadly once great wealth is secure it tends to ignore the fundamental principals that should guide us all.


#32

The ghosts of Reagan, Dukakis and McGovern animate the blindly loyal D-Party rank and file more than ideas.

Impossibilities inform their outlook more than possibilities.

As for the fact that their party is a hollow, bought-and-paid-for servant of oligarchs?
And the fact that they’re being abandoned in droves?
And the fact that their losing streak has reached epic proportions, even against the likes of Trump?

Stay the course! Chuck Schumer is a genius!


#33

The Kleptocracy is becoming more and more monopolistic as fewer & fewer giant Multi-NaZional Korporations control more and more of “our” economy.  According to a brief note on page 32 of the August 11 issue of The Week magazine, “In 1975, 109 firms earned half of the total profit made by U.S. public companies.  By 2015, just 30 firms did.”

But . . .  but . . .  according to the neo-liberal DamnocRats you CAN have both – just check out their fabulous new “real deal”.  As far as Schumer and his gang are concerned, IMHO it’s time to chuck Chuck, dump Dirty Debbie, and Eviscerate the Establishment.


#35

The record shows more republican than democratic administrations produce
economic upheaval. Democratic era policy, often with positive results
during their terms, are followed by recklessly speculative actions by
republican legislators and party bosses whose then misdirected actions also
more often lead to war.

No city is truly led by the liberal mindset. Liberals are barely tolerated
by conservative business association members who control city hall, the
police, the port, the power, the mainstream media.

Trump’s crime is moral depravity which endangers.

Like crying “fire” in a crowded theater. (illegal punishable offense)


#37

Wow… conservatives will be shocked to know that they really control the governments of Chicago, New York, Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia Boston, and Washington…


#38

Conservative business interests have more control over city governments
than residents realize. Money and power dictate policy even in those
instances when it benefits liberal democratic constituencies.


#39

Clinton deregulated the banking industry, but Bush policy (AKA the
"ownership society" and sub-prime mortgages) led to the crash of 2007.


#41

I forget it’s title. Signed into law in 1998, I think, and it had to do
with enabling banks to conduct speculative investment alongside traditional
banking services. At any rate, this is the argument blaming Clinton for the
crash of 2007, “Clinton’s fault, blah blah,” nevermind any absence
of direct oversight on banking during Bush Jr years when it all went down.


#42

“One who steals a belt buckle is executed, while one who steals a state is made a lord.”
—Zhuangzi


#44

Speculative finance produced the Great Depression. The law written to
prevent a repeat but repealed by Clinton led to the recession of 2007. I
get the feeling you’re some Trump supporter trolling for some reader to
argue with. The man is a crook and a tyrannical bully. That should be your
starting point to understand politics.