Friday, May 09, 2014

can america survive?

foundationwebsite | The answer, quite simply, is no – not in its current form for very long, and perhaps not in any form at all for very long.  This book describes why pending changes in energy availability, cultural changes brought about by recent massive immigration, the global population explosion, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons, technology and materials will combine to bring an end to the United States as we currently know it – soon.

In the past four centuries, the world human population has skyrocketed, from about half a billion people to six billion at the present time.  Population projections from various sources suggest that, barring a major change of some kind, the population will continue to soar, to nine billion or more by the year 2050.   In the past half-century – less than a lifetime -- the population of the US has exploded from about 150 million to over 270 million.  This explosive growth occurred despite the fact that fertility rates in the US dropped to low levels – it is the result of uncontrolled immigration.

The tremendous global population increase has been brought about by the development of technology to utilize the energy stored in fossil fuels, such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal.  Petroleum and gas reserves will be exhausted, however, by about 2050, and coal reserves will not last much beyond that date if industrial development continues to expand worldwide.

Look around you.  If you live in the US or other economically developed country, every man-made thing you see or see happening is a product of the expenditure of energy, and most of that energy is derived from fossil fuels.  To establish and maintain our present lifestyle requires prodigious amounts of energy – an amount equivalent to about 8,000 kilograms of oil annually for each man, woman, and child living in the country.  Pre-agricultural man lived “off the land,” consuming only the bounty of nature.  Agricultural man could produce about 10 calories of energy with the expenditure of about one calorie of energy.  Industrial man, it has been estimated, uses over ten calories of energy to produce a single calorie of food!  The present system is not only exquisitely wasteful, but it is completely unsustainable.  Most of what you see in the industrial world is a transitory illusion made possible by a one-time windfall supply of energy from fossil fuels that were accumulated over millions of years.  When the fossil fuel reserves deplete in about 50 years, the modern world will simply disappear along with them.

Whatever age you are, if you were raised in a town or a small city, go back to where you lived as a child and observe what has happened to the nearest natural field you played in.  Chances are it is now urban sprawl – pavement, concrete, and steel.  For each immigrant admitted to the US – legal or illegal – about an acre of natural land is permanently destroyed, by roads, buildings, parking lots, houses, schools, and other structures that take the land out of production – both for wildlife and for agriculture.  Last year the US admitted 1.2 million more immigrants.  That represents the complete destruction of another .6 million acres of farmland, forest, and pastureland.  Who cares?  Certainly not the people in charge – they want more people because it makes more money, and they are not particularly concerned with the concomitant destruction of the environment!

Industrial activity at the massive scale of the present is causing substantial changes to Earth’s environment. By now, everyone knows that the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and other gases produced by industrial activity is increasing substantially every year, and that the planet’s climate and weather are controlled by these concentrations.  Large-scale industrial activity is causing substantial changes to the planet’s environment – land, air, water, and ecology.  In view of the established relationship of the planet’s climate and ecosystem to these concentrations, it is possible that man’s industrial activity could cause dramatic changes in the sea level, and trigger another ice age or create a lifeless “hothouse.”  And for what good reason?  What is the good purpose of burning all the planet’s fossil fuels as fast as possible, when it risks the destruction not only of mankind but of much other life on the planet as well?  The answer is “None.”  This activity cannot continue at current levels without risking dire consequences, even apart from the issue of depletion of fossil fuel reserves and other nonrenewable resources.  To continue to do so is the height of folly.

This book describes the current situation and its predicted course.  For the US – and any other overpopulated, multicultural, high-energy-use country -- the future is one of war, social fragmentation, and dramatic population reductions.  Power will consolidate in a single dominant ethnic group; others will be eliminated or reduced to slavery or serfdom.

This book is not “just another book” on the human population “problem.”  Thousands of books have been written on the problems of human population, energy and the environment.  The real “problem” is that everyone is talking about the problem and no one is doing anything about it.  Proposed solutions to date have either failed or been ignored.  Environmentalists and ecologists continue to wring their hands while the planet croaks.  This book identifies a radically new approach to the problem – one that offers the promise of reducing the risk of ecological destruction to a low level.  It identifies an approach to population policy analysis and a course of action that will bring an end to the massive environmental destruction being caused by human industrial activity and significantly increase the likelihood of the survival of the human and other species.

The author of this book has a career that includes both military defense analysis and economic development.  He worked for about fifteen years in defense applications and about fifteen years in social and economic applications.  His work in military applications includes ballistic missile warfare, nuclear weapons effects, satellite ocean surveillance, naval general-purpose forces, tactical air warfare, air/land battle tactics, strategy, civil defense, military communications-electronics, and electronic warfare.  His work in social and economic development applications includes tax policy analysis, agricultural policy analysis, trade policy analysis, health, human resource development, demography, development of systems for planning, monitoring and evaluation of social and economic programs, and educational management information systems.  He has lived and worked in countries around the world.  He holds a PhD degree in mathematical statistics and is an expert in mathematical game theory, statistics, operations research, and systems and software engineering.  The analysis presented in this book is derived from years of experience related to, and years of analysis of, the population problem.

The organization of this book follows a logical progression, starting with a description of the current state of the planet and human population.  Current trends in human population growth are identified.  The relationship of human welfare to energy availability is described, and the future availability of energy is discussed.  The role of economics to population growth is examined.  Policies for determining what the human population size should be are identified.  A new approach to population policy is introduced; it is called the “minimal-regret” approach.  The likelihood of nuclear war is considered, and the damage that would result from a limited nuclear war is estimated.  The impact of this war is assessed for the United States, Canada, and other countries.  An assessment is made of the likelihood that the United States and various other countries will prevail after a nuclear war.  The relationship of the minimal-regret approach to nuclear war strategies and the postattack environment is discussed in detail.

The main text of the book is generally nontechnical – as much as it can be for subjects (population growth, economics, energy, nuclear war) that are technical in nature.  Technical discussions are presented in appendices.  The appendices include graphs and tables in support of the arguments presented in the text.

The research underlying the population policy approach introduced in this book was conducted over a four-year period.  During the course of doing the research, a large number of books and articles were reviewed and analyzed.  The bibliography includes a list of about 600 books that were reviewed.  To keep the message of this book as succinct as possible, little description is given of the content of these books.  Instead, the most relevant publications are simply listed. Little space is allocated to describing the state of the environment or other population policies – just enough to provide a context for the new material presented.

how putin is reinventing warfare


foreignpolicy | The Kremlin, according to Barack Obama, is stuck in the "old ways," trapped in Cold War or even 19th century mindsets. But look closer at the Kremlin's actions during the crisis in Ukraine and you begin to see a very 21st century mentality, manipulating transnational financial interconnections, spinning global media, and reconfiguring geo-political alliances. Could it be that the West is the one caught up in the "old ways," while the Kremlin is the geopolitical avant-garde, informed by a dark, subversive reading of globalization? 

The Kremlin's approach might be called "non-linear war," a term used in a short story written by one of Putin's closest political advisors, Vladislav Surkov, which was published under his pseudonym, Nathan Dubovitsky, just a few days before the annexation of Crimea. Surkov is credited with inventing the system of "managed democracy" that has dominated Russia in the 21st century, and his new portfolio focuses on foreign policy. This time, he sets his new story in a dystopian future, after the "fifth world war." 

Surkov writes: "It was the first non-linear war. In the primitive wars of the 19th and 20th centuries it was common for just two sides to fight. Two countries, two blocks of allies. Now four coalitions collided. Not two against two, or three against one. All against all."
 
This is a world where the old geo-political paradigms no longer hold. As the Kremlin faces down the West, it is indeed gambling that old alliances like the EU and NATO mean less in the 21st century than the new commercial ties it has established with nominally "Western" companies, such as BP, Exxon, Mercedes, and BASF. Meanwhile, many Western countries welcome corrupt financial flows from the post-Soviet space; it is part of their economic models, and not one many want disturbed. So far, the Kremlin's gamble seems to be paying off, with financial considerations helping to curb sanctions. Part of the rationale for fast-tracking Russia's inclusion into the global economy was that interconnection would be a check on aggression. But the Kremlin has figured out that this can be flipped: Interconnection also means that Russia can get away with aggression.
"A few provinces would join one side," Surkov continues, "a few others a different one. One town or generation or gender would join yet another. Then they could switch sides, sometimes mid-battle. Their aims were quite different. Most understood the war to be part of a process. Not necessarily its most important part."

valodya not scurred...,


Translation: Russian President and Supreme Commander Vladimir Putin conducted a routine management workout of the armed forces of the Russian Federation. The event focused on issues of application of individual formations and units of missile troops and artillery, aircraft and air defense systems - to destroy ground reflection groups and to deliver massive missile and air strikes against an advanced hypothetical opponent.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

chickens wondering about what capitalists want when the rainbow is not enough...,


rwer |  The chicken that is fed by the farmer each morning may well have a theory that it will always be fed each morning – it becomes a ‘law’. And it works every day, until the day the chicken is instead slaughtered …

Now you might say that no chicken is an economist, but suppose that chickens were as intelligent as the farmer who keeps them, so they could be an economist … So if (the)  chicken had been an economist, they would not simply have observed that every morning the farmer brought them food, and therefore concluded that this must happen forever. Instead they would have asked a crucial additional question: why is the farmer doing this? … And of course trying to answer that question might have led them to the unfortunate truth …

You can see why the habit of introspection would make economists predisposed to assume rationality generally, and rational expectations in particular … It only works to use your own thought processes as a guide to how people in general might behave, if you think other people are essentially like yourself. So if your own thoughts lead you to postulate some theory about how the economy behaves, then others similar to yourself might be able to do something like the same thing …

Economists may also be fooled into thinking their introspection is representative, because they are surrounded by other economists. So this conjecture about introspection does little to show that assuming agents have rational expectations is right (or wrong), but it may be one reason why most economists find the concept of rational expectations so attractive.

 Following the greatest economic depression since the 1930s, the grand old man of modern economic growth theory, Nobel laureate Robert Solow, on July 20, 2010, gave a prepared statement on “Building a Science of Economics for the Real World” for a hearing in the U. S. Congress. According to Solow modern macroeconomics has not only failed at solving present economic and financial problems, but is “bound” to fail. Building dynamically stochastic general equilibrium models (DSGE) on “assuming the economy populated by a representative agent” – consisting of “one single combination worker-owner-consumer-everything-else who plans ahead carefully and lives forever” – do not pass “the smell test: does this really make sense?” One cannot but concur in Solow’s surmise that a thoughtful person “faced with the thought that economic policy was being pursued on this basis, might reasonably wonder what planet he or she is on.”

bill nye "bullies" a potatohead denier "economist" from the heritage foundation...,


WaPo | “The scare tactics have not worked,” S. E. Cupp announced on CNN’s Crossfire to Bill Nye Tuesday night.

“Isn’t it a problem when SCIENCE GUYS attempt to bully other people?” Cupp went on, later. “I mean, Nick here had to say, I’m not a denier, because really the science group has tried to shame anyone who dares question this and the point I was trying to make is, it’s not working with the public.”

I am glad that someone is finally addressing the serious problem of bullying by scientists! It has gone on much, much too long.

Especially bullying by climate change scientists.

Do these scientists think they just OWN the place? Among the incidents of bullying that have been swept under the rug, to join dust mites and the occasional bit of data the scientists didn’t like, here are a few of the painful moments that have been reported.

on climate, republicans and democrats are from different continents


NYTimes | Americans are less worried about climate change than the residents of any other high-income country, as my colleague Megan Thee-Brennan wrote Tuesday. When you look at the details of these polls, you see that American exceptionalism on the climate stems almost entirely from Republicans. Democrats and independents don’t look so different from people in Japan, Australia, Canada and across Europe.

According to Pew Research Center surveys conducted last year, 25 percent of self-identified Republicans said they considered global climate change to be “a major threat.” The only countries with such low levels of climate concern are Egypt, where 16 percent of respondents called climate change a major threat, and Pakistan, where 15 percent did.

By comparison, 65 percent of Democrats in the United States gave that answer, putting them in the same range as Brazilians (76 percent), Japanese (72 percent), Chileans (68 percent) or Italians and Spaniards (64 percent). If you combine Democrats and independents into one group, 52 percent called climate change a major threat, according to Pew. That’s the same broad range of concern as in Germany (56 percent), Canada and France (54 percent), Australia (52 percent) or Britain (48 percent).

Over all, between 40 percent and 45 percent of Americans in recent Pew polls have called climate change a major concern (with a similar share of independents giving that answer).
The Republican skepticism about climate change extends across the party, though it’s strongest among those who consider themselves part of the Tea Party. Ten percent of those aligned with the Tea Party called climate change a major threat, compared with 35 percent of Republicans who did not identify with the Tea Party.

Not surprisingly, these patterns match recent political events. In international negotiations, the United States has been less interested in taking steps to slow global warming than many other rich countries. President Obama and a majority of Democrats favored a bill that would have raised the cost of emitting carbon, and such a bill passed the House of Representatives in 2009. Strong opposition from Republicans in the Senate, as well as some Democrats from coal-producing states, defeated the bill there.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

your genes are obsolete


pacificstandard |  Today, DNA is central to modern biology, but scarcely a century ago biologists were debating whether or not genes actually existed. In his 1909 textbook on heredity, Danish botanist Wilhelm Johannsen coined the term gene to refer to that hereditary “something” that influences the traits of an organism, but without making a commitment to any hypothesis about what that “something” was. Just over a decade later, a prominent biologist could still note that some people viewed genes as “a convenient fiction or algebraic symbolism.”

As the century progressed, biologists came to see genes as real physical objects. They discovered that genes have a definite size, that they are linearly arrayed on chromosomes, that individual genes are responsible for specific chemical events in the cell, and that they are made of DNA and written in the language of the Genetic Code. By the time the Human Genome Project was initiated in 1988, researchers knew that a gene was a segment of DNA with a clear beginning and end and that it acted by directing the production of a particular enzyme or other molecule that did a specific job in the cell. As real things, genes are countable, and in 1999 biologists estimated that humans had “80,000 or so” of them.

Yet, when the dust from the Human Genome Project cleared, we didn’t have nearly as many genes as we thought. By the latest count, we have 20,805 conventional genes that encode enzymes and other proteins. Our inflated gene count, though, wasn’t the only casualty of the Human Genome Project. The very idea of a gene as a well-defined segment of DNA with a clear functional role has also taken a hit, and as a result, our understanding of our relationship with our genes is changing.

One major challenge to the concept of a gene is the growing evidence that many genes are shapeshifters. Instead of a well-defined segment of DNA that encodes a single protein with a clear function, we should view a gene as “a polyfunctional entity that assumes different forms under different cellular states,” according to University of Washington biologist John Stamatoyannopoulos. While researchers have long known that genes are made up of discrete subunits called “exons,” they hadn’t realized until recently the degree to which exons are assembled—like Legos—into sometimes thousands of different combinations. With new technologies, biologists are cataloging these various combinations, but in most cases they don’t know whether those combinations all serve the same function, different functions, or no function at all.

u.s. climate has already changed...,

NYTimes |  The effects of human-induced climate change are being felt in every corner of the United States, scientists reported Tuesday, with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects.

Such sweeping changes have been caused by an average warming of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over most land areas of the country in the past century, the scientists found. If greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane continue to escalate at a rapid pace, they said, the warming could conceivably exceed 10 degrees by the end of this century.

“Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the scientists declared in a major new report assessing the situation in the United States.

 “Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced,” the report continued. “Winters are generally shorter and warmer. Rain comes in heavier downpours. People are seeing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies, the plant varieties that thrive in their gardens, and the kinds of birds they see in any particular month in their neighborhoods.”

The report is the latest in a series of dire warnings about how the effects of global warming that had been long foreseen by climate scientists are already affecting the planet. Its region-by-region documentation of changes occurring in the United States, and of future risks, makes clear that few places will be unscathed — and some, like northerly areas, are feeling the effects at a swifter pace than had been expected.

Alaska in particular is hard hit. Glaciers and frozen ground in that state are melting, storms are eating away at fragile coastlines no longer protected by winter sea ice, and entire communities are having to flee inland — a precursor of the large-scale changes the report foresees for the rest of the United States.

The study, known as the National Climate Assessment, was prepared by a large scientific panel overseen by the government and received final approval at a meeting Tuesday.

The White House, which released the report, wants to maximize its impact to drum up a sense of urgency among Americans about climate change — and thus to build political support for a contentious new climate change regulation that President Obama plans to issue in June.

confusing the right to be heard with the right to be taken seriously


skepticalscience | In a recent interview, federal attorney-general George Brandis laments that deniers of climate science are being “excluded” from the debate. On the surface this seems a justifiable complaint, but the point hangs on what he means by “excluded”. Brandis said he was:
…really shocked by the sheer authoritarianism of those who would have excluded from the debate the point of view of people who were climate change deniers.
The literal sense of “excluded” implies that no commentary is permitted that does not resonate with accepted scientific wisdom on climate change. This is clearly not the case. Australia boasts one of the world’s best examples of mainstream climate science denial, evident in both expressed political opinion and in the provision of media platforms for those wishing to express such views.

A more figurative sense of “exclusion” might be that those who do not accept the scientific findings are under social or political pressure to keep silent. This is where it gets interesting.
Echoes of vaccination and evolution ‘debates’
Debates over disparate areas such as vaccination and creationism survive because of a call to see both sides of the coin. The truth, at least for these issues, is that there is no coin. To pretend otherwise is to perpetuate an irrational approach.

Climate change is not as well understood as vaccination or evolution, and I would not put deniers of climate science in the same camp as anti-vaccination and anti-evolution movements, but there is an increasing trend among them all to adopt similar methods.

The most obvious of these is appealing to the right to be heard, to see both sides of the coin. Brandis hopes that our natural repulsion at excluding a particular view from the public arena will be aroused in support of climate science denial. This, however, ignores a vital characteristic of public debate: when ideas suffer body blows of sustained scientific refutation any attempt to maintain their status by appeal to an equal right of hearing is also an attempt to exempt them from evidential requirements and argumentative rigour.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

scenes from militarized uhmurka...,


WaPo | The group above just graduated from a special training school. Can you guess what that school was for? Perhaps some sort of Special Forces division within the U.S. military? Maybe a private seminar run by a far-right militia outfit?

No, none of those. These are cops with the Michigan State Police Emergency Support Team — basically the agency’s equivalent of a SWAT team. This photo got a retweet and plaudits from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk...,


activistpost |  In the recent weeks we've observed the power of the mainstream media propaganda machine displayed in full force. We've recently witnessed the engineered demonization of Cliven Bundy for federal government-related political purposes and to deliberately turn the general public against him so as to possibly set him up to be taken down or imprisoned at some point in the possibly not-so-distant future. We are now witnessing the heartless character assassinating entity that is the pro-globalist, pro-Federalists, pro-new world order mainstream media PR machine. This organized gang of "news" corporations seems to be taking on the role of accuser, whose voice has the power to create reality. Like the legendary crowd that yelled "crucify him" in the Bible, as Jesus was accused by the people and later murdered by consensus, the mainstream media is now the voice of the masses yelling "crucify him" whenever the federal and global goons give the word. 

We are now seeing how governments cannot fight back against those who openly stand for personal sovereignty, freedom and the Constitution without the help of mainstream media. When war crimes, genocide and murder are exposed, no one in the mainstream gets charged for not reporting these crimes. No one in the mainstream media will ever face charges for helping cover up any of the countless false flag operations we've seen in America in the last few years. For example, has Jane Standley of BBC ever been prosecuted for lying to the world on 9/11 telling us Building 7 of the World Trade Center had collapsed a full twenty-six minutes before it actually did? Of course not. The Boston Globe for instance, factually was aware and tweeted about drills and "controlled explosions" that were taking place prior to the pressure cooker detonation at the Boston Marathon in 2013, yet no one at Boston Globe was ever arrested or charged, or questioned in any way shape or form.

The mainstream media represents a whole challenge and an entirely new level of evil and deception for all of humanity to deal with. Thankfully, humanity as a whole is just now calculating ways in which to solve this massive problem. Yes, mainstream media really is one of the greatest, and some may argue, the greatest challenge for humanity to overcome in these times we live in only because so many people are literally plugged into their matrix of lies.

So before mainstream media kills off too many of us with their lies and propaganda to rationalize violence against liberty and freedom lovers, many of whom they maliciously name-call "conspiracy theorists" and "domestic terrorists", let us take a strong stand against them and focus on exposing their nature. I believe we are now in a crisis of epic proportions. We've seen how tyrants of the past used propaganda to destroy their enemies and silence their opposition. And now we are seeing this same propaganda disseminated on-cue by these agents of death against selected enemies of the state. (i.e. Michael Hastings)
 

lying or just stupid?


kunstler | Despite its Valley Girl origins, the simple term clueless turns out to be the most accurate descriptor for America’s degenerate zeitgeist. Nobody gets it — the “it” being a rather hefty bundle of issues ranging from our energy bind to the official mismanagement of money, the manipulation of markets, the crimes in banking, the blundering foreign misadventures, the revolving door corruption in governance, the abandonment of the rule-of-law, the ominous wind-down of the Happy Motoring fiasco and the related tragedy of obsolete suburbia, the contemptuous disregard for the futures of young people, the immersive Kardashian celebrity twerking sleaze, the downward spiral of the floundering classes into pizza and Pepsi induced obesity, methedrine psychosis, and tattooed savagery, and the thick patina of public relations dishonesty that coats all of it like some toxic bacterial overgrowth. The dwindling life of our nation, where anything goes and nothing matters.
It’s not just the individual cluelessness of ordinary people leading lives too frantic for a moment’s reflection about anything, but the appalling institutional cluelessness of enterprises where you’d think combined intellects might tend toward a more faithful view of reality. But these days all we get is a low-order of wishful and clownish group-think, such as this item from today’s New York Times discussing a proposed reversal of Gazprom pipelines along the Ukraine / Slovakian frontier as the solution to the Kiev government’s fuel problem:
Nearly all the gas Washington and Brussels would like to get moving into Ukraine from Europe originally came from Russia, which pumps gas westward across Ukraine, into Slovakia and then on to customers in Germany and elsewhere. Once the gas is sold, however, Gazprom ceases to be its owner and loses its power to set the terms of its sale.
Get that? To avoid depending on Russian gas, they’re going to buy Russian gas from sources other than Russia. What New York Times editor can read this story without spraying her video display with coffee? What genius in John Kerry’s “Haircut-in-Search-of-a-Brain” State Department dreamed up this dodge? Who would think that you could improve a Chinese fire drill by tacking on a Polish blanket trick (i.e. trying to make your blanket longer by cutting a foot from the top and sewing it onto the bottom).

Monday, May 05, 2014

why russia's propaganda machine is loving a nytimes report


abcnews | ANALYSIS: MOSCOW – The New York Times is – improbably – the latest darling of the Russian propaganda machine.

The paper this weekend published one of the most detailed articles to date on a group of separatists in eastern Ukraine. The report found no evidence of Russians within the unit’s ranks or Russian influence or arms, although it was careful to note that its findings are far from definitive.
Russian media, however, quickly seized on the report, eager to cash in on the Times’ credibility to back Moscow’s claims that it has nothing to do with the unrest there.

“No Russians among Slavyansk self-defense forces – NYT reporters,” RT, the Kremlin’s foreign language mouthpiece, tweeted more than once. Other state-run outlets trumpeted the article as well.
The Russian Foreign Ministry posted the article on its Facebook page. The Russian Mission to the United Nations touted it on its Twitter account. (Of course, they did not do this when the same reporter wrote a lengthy story proving the fighters in Crimea were Russian troops.)
Chalk it up to another volley in what has so far been a strikingly successfully Russian propaganda campaign in Ukraine.

Russian propaganda has been in overdrive since the unrest in Ukraine began. Soon after ousted President Viktor Yanukovich fled, Kremlin-backed media began screaming about threats to the Russian-speaking population. (Ukraine’s parliament added fuel to the fire by trying to remove Russian as an official language.)

transnational money sequencing the ruling meta program?


globalresearch |  It is true that Ukraine – the biggest country and bread basket of Europe – has now been pried wide open for transnational Western banks, agribusiness, Big Oil and NATO to feed on. And it is true that all talk of “land grab” has been projected onto Russia even as US Greystone  and Blackwater mercenaries – now called “Academi” in the Big Lie lexicon – move on the ground in Ukraine as the US and NATO propagate ever more threats of force and embargo against “Russia’s aggression”.

 Reverse blame is always the US geostrategic game. “Russia’s designs to take the whole of Ukraine” is again US projection of its own objective, as in the old days when “world rule plot” was attributed to the former USSR. Yet a line has been drawn at Crimea, and drawn again in Eastern Ukraine, and it is backed by a country that cannot be arm-twisted, propaganda invaded, or air-bombed with impunity. That is why the one-way threats never stop. It is the first line yet drawn by an historical power outside of China against the exponentially multiplying US-led private transnational money sequences devouring the world.

People now have a chance to reflect on who is the aggressor and who stands for democratic choice as events unfold. They can observe the patterns of Orwellian distortion day to day. Never is the other side presented. The US and NATO alone continuously denounce, lie and threaten. Financial contracts and assets are violated by one side alone. Hate campaigns without evidence go one way. Uprisings have been mass murderous from the US-coup side and without harm from the resisting side. Russia is behind its own borders, and the US deploys threats, covert operations and mercenaries from thousands of miles away. But this time US-NATO-led corporate globalization cannot destroy nations at will. Sometimes history can happen as it should.

The Mechanisms of Reverse Blame to Justify Destroying Societies
Reversal of blame is always the US method of pretext and justification. This is why Russia is pervasively vilified in the mass media, and Canada’s big-oil regime joins in along with the UK.   As always, denunciation rules without reasoned understanding. As always, the US-led financial and military forces of private money-power expansion move behind the abomination of designated enemies. Any nation or leader not serving transnational corporate control of resources and markets across borders is always the villain. This is the ruling meta program.

Thus too in Ukraine. When Europe tried to broker a peace deal between the opposition and elected government of Ukraine, the US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland continued to  court the neo-Nazi coup leaders to overthrow the state, instructing  “Yats” (appointed PM Yatsenyuk) to consult with the main putsch leader Oleh Tyahnybok “at least four times a week”.  When she is reminded of the EU peace talks and agreement to stop the bloodshed, her response is telling, “Fuck the EU”. The coup peaked after three days of murder by the neo-Nazi faction. When former “Orange revolutionary” and gas oligarch leader of the Fatherland Party, Yulia Tymoshenko, then got out of jail for criminal embezzlement of state property, she expressed the logic of power shared with the US regarding Russia. She says without denial of the words: “take up arms and go and wipe out these damn katsaps” [Russian minority] – - – so that not even scorched earth would be left of Russia.” Yet in every Western media of record, it is Russia who remains “the aggressor”, “the growing threat”, “the source of the rising crisis”, and “the out-of-control power that must be stopped”.

There are exact thought governors at work throughout. I have analysed these structures of delusion in learned journals as ‘the ruling group-mind’ (collectively regulating assumptions that are false but taken for granted) and, sustaining it, the ‘argumentum ad adversarium’ (the diversion of all issues to a common adversary). The “escalating crisis in Ukraine” expresses these fallacious operations in paradigm form. So does the false claim of “Syrian use of chemical weapons” which almost led to US bombing of Syria’s civilian infrastructures a few months earlier. The mind mechanics at work form the inner logic of the lies which never stop. The grossest operations go back to the Reagan regime naming Nicaragua as “a clear and present danger to the United States” to justify US war crimes against it which in turn fed the ever- growing corporate-military complex and murderous covert operations. Always the mind-stopping mendacity and criminal aggressions are justified through the ruling group-mind and enemy-hate switch which form the deep grammar of this thought system.

who is the propagandist?


rsn |  A younger version of John Kerry was a U.S. senator who bravely investigated these Reagan-affiliated crimes and faced attacks from the State Department’s public diplomacy operatives. 

Part of Kerry’s punishment for being early in his investigation of White House skullduggery in Central America was to be excluded from the Iran-Contra investigation when some of Reagan’s crimes and lies surfaced dramatically in late 1986.

Because Kerry had been ahead of the curve, he was judged “biased” on the issue of Reagan’s guilt and thus passed over for the “select committee” investigation. Only Democratic senators who had been fooled by the lies or were asleep at the switch were deemed “objective” enough for the high-profile inquiry. [For more on the contrast between Kerry's past and present, see Consortiumnews.com’s “What’s the Matter with John Kerry?”]

Another irony of Stengel’s defense of Kerry’s anti-RT outburst is that one of the senior “public diplomacy” operatives on Central America back in the 1980s was a young neocon named Robert Kagan, whose State Department team developed propaganda themes to undercut Kerry and various journalists, like myself, who would not toe the line.

At one point when Kagan realized that I would not play ball with the administration’s propaganda, he informed me that I would have to be “controversialized,” that is become the focus of public attacks from pro-Reagan attack groups and thus have my journalistic career damaged, a process that was subsequently carried out.

The irony in this is that Robert Kagan went on to become a leading light in the neocon movement, a Washington Post columnist, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, a star proponent of Iraqi “regime change” – and the husband of Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the recent cheerleader for “regime change” in Ukraine.

That Stengel, the current master of the State Department’s “public diplomacy” operation, is now offended by what he considers “propaganda” by RT has to be considered one of the purest expressions of hypocrisy in the long history of U.S. government hypocrisy. [For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Kerry’s Propaganda War on Russia’s RT.”]

Sunday, May 04, 2014

the new abolitionism


thenation |  Before the cannons fired at Fort Sumter, the Confederates announced their rebellion with lofty rhetoric about “violations of the Constitution of the United States” and “encroachments upon the reserved rights of the States.” But the brute, bloody fact beneath those words was money. So much goddamn money.

The leaders of slave power were fighting a movement of dispossession. The abolitionists told them that the property they owned must be forfeited, that all the wealth stored in the limbs and wombs of their property would be taken from them. Zeroed out. Imagine a modern-day political movement that contended that mutual funds and 401(k)s, stocks and college savings accounts were evil institutions that must be eliminated completely, more or less overnight. This was the fear that approximately 400,000 Southern slaveholders faced on the eve of the Civil War.

Today, we rightly recoil at the thought of tabulating slaves as property. It was precisely this ontological question—property or persons?—that the war was fought over. But suspend that moral revulsion for a moment and look at the numbers: Just how much money were the South’s slaves worth then? A commonly cited figure is $75 billion, which comes from multiplying the average sale price of slaves in 1860 by the number of slaves and then using the Consumer Price Index to adjust for inflation. But as economists Samuel H. Williamson and Louis P. Cain argue, using CPI-adjusted prices over such a long period doesn’t really tell us much: “In the 19th century,” they note, “there were no national surveys to figure out what the average consumer bought.” In fact, the first such survey, in Massachusetts, wasn’t conducted until 1875.

In order to get a true sense of how much wealth the South held in bondage, it makes far more sense to look at slavery in terms of the percentage of total economic value it represented at the time. And by that metric, it was colossal. In 1860, slaves represented about 16 percent of the total household assets—that is, all the wealth—in the entire country, which in today’s terms is a stunning $10 trillion
.
Ten trillion dollars is already a number much too large to comprehend, but remember that wealth was intensely geographically focused. According to calculations made by economic historian Gavin Wright, slaves represented nearly half the total wealth of the South on the eve of secession. “In 1860, slaves as property were worth more than all the banks, factories and railroads in the country put together,” civil war historian Eric Foner tells me. “Think what would happen if you liquidated the banks, factories and railroads with no compensation.”

when people were ceaselessly around us, talk was cheap, and a manufactured good was a real luxury item...,


NYTimes |  What is going on here? It may be that, in a world rich in digital information, physical contact, and the personal trust and relationship that still comes by spending time with someone, has become even more valuable, since it is harder to come by.

“All aspects of human life are being digitized,” said Geoffrey Moore, an author and consultant to several Silicon Valley companies. “You wonder what that will do to the human mind. For sure, you want to put down some strong personality roots. Companies have to create human communities of supporters, advocates for what the company does.”

That personal advocacy, he says, will matter more than anything an impersonal company can do for itself. There are similar increasing values for human networks of connections: People with taste and experience who know you, people who value you because you have looked at them in that close human way.

Looked at this way, the ever-higher rejection rate of elite colleges despite the increasing popularity of high-quality free online alternatives like Coursera makes perfect sense. People don’t want to be at Stanford; they want the personal relationships they get from being at Stanford. In a fast-changing digital world, that durable human network may in a decade be more valuable than anything a student learned in the classroom.

It is a sharp shift from an earlier time, when people were ceaselessly around us, talk was cheap, and a manufactured good was a real luxury item. When things are digital and can be consumed whenever we want, valuable analog things, perishable in time, become more valuable.

For some technologists, this shift represents a source of hope. The rejiggering of values means that much of the work that currently defines people will go away, but the parts of life that can’t be encoded will become the basis of still-unseen economic activity.

“We’re moving towards a ‘post-automated’ world, where the valuable thing about people will be their emotional content,” said SriSatish Ambati, co-founder and chief executive of 0xdata, a company involved in open source software for big data analysis. “The only way to defeat the machines is if the world, including our brains, has an impossible level of complexity that the machines can never map.”

As the original article accompanying the chart implied, however, the expensive goods of our new world — being authentically seen, being heard in ways that matter — may be increasingly unavailable to the poor. Finding ways to make all that emotional content within humanity, at all levels, into something valuable would be a real economic miracle.

hedonic inflation and the changed lives of the poor...,


zerohedge |  In a NYT article which perhaps was meant to boost poor Americans' spirits that despite their horrible economic plight (because, you see, the past five years of Fed monetary easing - which explicitly allowed US politicians to avoid engaging in much needed and very unpopular fiscal reform - only focused on helping just the wealthiest - sorry very much, better luck next time) things really are quite great because, through the magic of hedonics, most things are really cheaper than ever.
To wit:
Since the 1980s, for instance, the real price of a midrange color television has plummeted about tenfold, and televisions today are crisper, bigger, lighter and often Internet-connected. Similarly, the effective price of clothing, bicycles, small appliances, processed foods — virtually anything produced in a factory — has followed a downward trajectory. The result is that Americans can buy much more stuff at bargain prices.
They can. 

The only problem is they don't, because while one can use hedonic adjustments all day long to make it appear that one gets more bang for the buck, one still has to spend several hundred to over a thousand for a simple television set every few years, regardless of whether it is 1080p, 4K, 3D, or any other fleeting fad. 

The NYT does touch on this amusing sleight of hand used by economists always and everywhere to make inflation appear tamer than it is:
“If you handpick services and goods where there has been dramatic technological progress, then the fact that poor people can consume these items in 2014 and even rich people couldn’t consume them in 1954 is hardly a meaningful distinction,” said Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institution. “That’s not telling you who is rich and who is poor, not in the way that Adam Smith and most everyone else since him thinks about poverty.”
Indeed - because between soaring food and energy prices, and stagnant or outright declining wages (the average weekly wage this month was $24.31; the average weekly wage last month was... $24.31), and the indigestability of the iPad (a new version of which is offered every 8-12 months with new features, which somehow also makes it hedonically cheaper) America's poor couldn't care less about how "cheap" those things they simply can never afford, allegedly are.

And the other problem, and an indication of just how ridiculous hedonics really is, is shown on the chart below, which is what economists use to "justify" that inflation really is very tame.
The punchline: apparently the "hedonically adjusted" deflation in Television costs over the past ten years is over 100%.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

4:14 - the worst and most disgusting moment in bush's presidency....,




people |  Standing firm that his decision to invade Iraq was the right one, revealing that he considered dropping Dick Cheney from his 2004 campaign to "demonstrate that I was in charge," and even admitting that a televised insult from Kanye West represented the lowest point of his presidency, former President George W. Bush has put pen to paper for a memoir, Decision Points, due from Crown Publishers on Nov. 9.

Talking about the book in his first TV interview since leaving the Oval Office, Bush met with NBC's Today show co-anchor Matt Lauer in Midland, Texas, from his childhood home and church, and from Centennial Park.

"I faced a lot of criticism as President. I didn't like hearing people claim that I lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction or cut taxes to benefit the rich. But the suggestion that I was racist because of the response to [Hurricane] Katrina represented an all-time low,"

msnbc a trusted handmaiden of the establishment


rsn |   The central argument of Michael’s Arria’s lively new book about America’s so-called “progressive network” is not that MSNBC is bad at what it does, but that, all too often, even what MSNBC does well doesn’t do much good for most Americans. As Arria puts it in the introduction of “Medium Blue” (a spring 2014 release by CounterPunch Books):
This book doesn’t possess a hidden agenda. It’s an attack on MSNBC from the left, an attempt to highlight and track the problematic ties between the network and America’s ruling class. The message of MSNBC juxtaposed with the propaganda of Fox, forms a false dichotomy and leads Americans to believe a strong debate is gripping the nation…. [MSNBC] is very much part of the problem.
MSNBC is part of NBCUniversal, which is part of Comcast, and it would be naïve for anyone to expect much more than infotainment from a company that has a history of being a political style opportunist without any noticeable principles or ideology, those being mutually exclusive qualities. 

MSNBC is not “Fox for Democrats,” as Bill Clinton and others have claimed. Fox is reliably ideological and unreliably factual. MSNBC is not reliably ideological (at least not in the same predictable way – what would Democratic ideology sound like anyway?) but MSNBC is moderately reliable factually in the sense that what you hear on MSNBC is pretty much factual (at least in prime time). When MSNBC misleads, it’s mostly by indirection, through cliché and conventional demonization, by over-emphasis and omission.

As Arria sees it, “MSNBC is packed with true believers who preach the false hope of objectivity…. 

Everyone working for the station seems to believe that they operate without restriction, often defining themselves as independently minded journalists attempting to squash the lies of a deceptive media.”

Arria doesn’t call this self-regard delusional, but he provides ample evidence that it is. In America today, an “independent broadcast or cable news operation” would be an oxymoron (if it could exist at all), since ratings and corporate profits depend on predictability within a limited spectrum of perspective that excludes actual independence. Or as Arria succinctly makes the point: “How much disrupting can a network like MSNBC ever really do?”

why hasn't the director of national intelligence been punished for lying to congress?


WaPo |  Snowden also repeatedly compared his actions with that of Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, who denied that the NSA was "wittingly" collecting data on millions of Americans in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing last spring -- a claim at odds with revelations about domestic phone records collection as a result of documents provided by Snowden. Clapper later apologized to Congress in a letter, saying his answer was "clearly erroneous."

But in a letter to the editor in the New York Times earlier this year, ODNI general counsel Robert Litt denied that Clapper had "lied" to Congress, but rather said he made an honest mistake. Although ODNI was provided the question in advance on the hearing by Senator Ron Wyden (D, Oregon), Clapper had not seen it, wrote Litt, and answered the question while having American's content information in mind. When his mistake was pointed out days later, Clapper corrected the issue with Wyden, but Litt argues "it could not be corrected publicly because the program involved was classified."

"The oath that I remember is James Clapper raising his hand, swearing to tell the truth and then lying to the American public," Snowden said. "I also swore an oath, but that oath was not to secrecy, but to defend the American Constitution."

Snowden recalled raising what he called the "famous lie" with co-workers, questioning why no one did anything about it, only to be warned about potential consequences. Snowden has previously said he raised concerns internally, but that as a contractor, he did not have the same protections as a government employee.

While Clapper has accused Snowden of perpetrating the most "massive and damaging theft of intelligence" in U.S. history, Snowden argues his actions were serving a larger public interest that superseded the national intelligence need for secrecy.

Later in the speech, he described Clapper as having "committed a crime by lying under oath to the American people," and questioned why charges were never brought against the director. By contrast, Snowden said, charges were brought against him soon after he revealed himself as the source of the leaks.

Friday, May 02, 2014

white privilege as the neutron bomb of moral warfare...,




globalguerillas |  The growing popularity of "check your privilege" and "white privilege" at Universities and in political debates is interesting. 

Why is it interesting? It's not a force for progress or positive change, it's a form of moral warfare.   That means it's not a constructive remark that improves the debate, rather, it's an attack that does damage the target.  However, it doesn't damage the target directly.  Instead, the damage is done by weakening or breaking the moral bonds that allow the target to function in a social context.  

In other words, the attack disconnects the target from the moral support of others.  You can see that disconnection at work in how groups within the target group "white privilege" are fleeing from it, rather than rejecting the concept outright.  For example, I've seen "white male privilege" as a form of attack now.  I've also seen "white straight male privilege" being used.  This divisibility of the attack makes it the neutron bomb of moral warfare.  The kind of attack that's meant to surgically remove a specific target group from the debate without doing damage to your own group.  Fist tap Dale.


malcolm at oxford: on goldwater's assertion that ‘extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue'


malcolmxfiles |  Mr. Chairman, tonight is the first night that I’ve have ever had opportunity to be as near to conservatives as I am. And the speaker who preceded me, first I want to thank you for the invitation to come here to the Oxford Union, the speaker who preceded me is one of the best excuses that I know to prove our point concerning the necessity, sometimes, of extremism, in defense of liberty, why it is no vice, and why moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue. I don’t say that about him personally, but that type. He’s right, X is not my real name, but if you study history you’ll find why no black man in the western hemisphere knows his real name. Some of his ancestors kidnapped our ancestors from Africa, and took us into the western hemisphere and sold us there. And our names were stripped from us and so today we don’t know who we really are. I am one of those who admit it and so I just put X up there to keep from wearing his name.

And as far as this apartheid charge that he attributed to me is concerned, evidently he has been misinformed. I don’t believe in any form of apartheid, I don’t believe in any form of segregation, I don’t believe in any form of racialism. But at the same time, I don’t endorse a person as being right just because his skin is white, and often times when you find people like this, I mean that type, when a man whom they have been taught is below them has the nerve or firmness to question some of their philosophy or some of their conclusions, usually they put that label on us, a label that is only designed to project an image which the public will find distasteful. I am a Muslim, if there is something wrong with that then I stand condemned. My religion is Islam I believe in Allah, I believe in Mohammed as the apostle of Allah, I believe in brotherhood, of all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who’s not ready to practice brotherhood with our people.

I just take time to make these few things clear because I find that one of the tricks of the west, and I imagine my good friend...or rather that type from the west...one of the tricks of the west is to use or create images, they create images of a person who doesn’t go along with their views and then they make certain that this image is distasteful, and then anything that that person has to say from thereon, from thereon in, is rejected. And this is a policy that has been practiced pretty well, pretty much by the west, it perhaps would have been practiced by others had they been in power, but during recent centuries the west has been in power and they have created the images, and they’ve used these images quite skillfully and quite successfully, that’s why today we need a little extremism in order to straighten a very nasty situation out, or very extremely nasty situation out.

I think the only way one can really determine whether extremism in the defense of liberty is justified, is not to approach it as an American or a European or an African or an Asian, but as a human being. If we look upon it as different types immediately we begin to think in terms of extremism being good for one and bad for another, or bad for one and good for another. But if we look upon it, if we look upon ourselves as human beings, I doubt that anyone will deny that extremism, in defense of liberty, the liberty of any human being, is a value. Anytime anyone is enslaved, or in any way deprived of his liberty, if that person is a human being, as far as I am concerned he is justified to resort to whatever methods necessary to bring about his liberty again.

how does israel compel an old-line bonesman to lie and to grovel?!?!?!?!


rsn |  Kerry scurried to make this apology after his remark was reported by The Daily Beast and condemned by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which said: “Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate.”

The only problem with AIPAC’s umbrage – and with Kerry’s groveling – is that Israel has moved decisively in the direction of becoming an apartheid state in which Palestinians are isolated into circumscribed areas, often behind walls, and are tightly restricted in their movements, even as Israel continues to expand settlements into Palestinian territories.

Key members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud government have even advocated annexing the West Bank and confining Palestinians there to small enclaves, similar to what’s already been done to the 1.6 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip where Israel tightly controls entrance of people and access to commodities, including building supplies.

In May 2011, Likud’s deputy speaker Danny Danon outlined the annexation plan in a New York Times op-ed. He warned that if the Palestinians sought United Nations recognition for their own state on the West Bank, Israel should annex the territory. “We could then extend full Israeli jurisdiction to the Jewish communities [i.e. the settlements] and uninhabited lands of the West Bank,” Danon wrote.

As for Palestinian towns, they would become mini-Gazas, cut off from the world and isolated as enclaves with no legal status. “Moreover, we would be well within our rights to assert, as we did in Gaza after our disengagement in 2005, that we are no longer responsible for the Palestinian residents of the West Bank, who would continue to live in their own — unannexed — towns,” Danon wrote.
By excluding these Palestinian ghettos, Jews would still maintain a majority in this Greater Israel. “These Palestinians would not have the option to become Israeli citizens, therefore averting the threat to the Jewish and democratic status of Israel by a growing Palestinian population,” Danon wrote.
In other words, the Israeli Right appears headed toward a full-scale apartheid, if not a form of ethnic cleansing by willfully making life so crushing for the Palestinians that they have no choice but to leave.

Just days after Danon’s op-ed, Netanyahu demonstrated his personal political dominance over the U.S. Congress by addressing a joint session at which Democrats and Republicans competed to see who could jump up fastest and applaud the loudest for everything coming out of the Israeli prime minister’s mouth.

Netanyahu got cheers when he alluded to the religious nationalism that cites Biblical authority for Israel’s right to possess the West Bank where millions of Palestinians now live. Calling the area by its Biblical names, Netanyahu declared, “in Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers.”

Though Netanyahu insisted that he was prepared to make painful concessions for peace, including surrendering some of this “ancestral Jewish homeland,” his belligerent tone suggested that he was moving more down the route of annexation that Danon had charted. Now, with the predictable collapse of Kerry’s peace talks, that road to an expanded apartheid system appears even more likely.

But apartheid already is a feature of Israeli society. As former CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar wrote in 2012, “the Israeli version of apartheid is very similar in important respects to the South African version, and that moral equivalence ought to follow from empirical equivalence. Both versions have included grand apartheid, meaning the denial of basic political rights, and petty apartheid, which is the maintaining of separate and very unequal facilities and opportunities in countless aspects of daily life.

“Some respects in which Israelis may contend their situation is different, such as facing a terrorist threat, do not really involve a difference. The African National Congress, which has been the ruling party in South Africa since the end of apartheid there, had significant involvement in terrorism when it was confronting the white National Party government. That government also saw the ANC as posing a communist threat.

“A fitting accompaniment to the similarities between the two apartheid systems is the historical fact that when the South African system still existed, Israel was one of South Africa’s very few international friends or partners. Israel was the only state besides South Africa itself that ever dealt with the South African bantustans as accepted entities. Israel cooperated with South Africa on military matters, possibly even to the extent of jointly conducting a secret test of a nuclear weapon in a remote part of the Indian Ocean in 1979.”

Yet, Official Washington can’t handle this truth, as the capital of the world’s leading superpower has become a grim version of Alice’s Wonderland in which speaking truth about the well-connected requires immediate apologies while telling half-truths and lies against “designated villains” makes you a proud member of the insider’s club.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

black voices employed in media, higher-ed, not-for-profit, and politics only promote race victimization and intellectual pacification


dream&hustle | What incentives are there for Black men not to work? What incentives are there for Black men to be lazy? Or even any inner city / urban male? We brothas can’t get food stamps, we can get free housing, we don’t even get child tax credits so what incentives is Paul Ryan talking about? But Paul Ryan is not who I have a problem with. The problem I’m having with this discussion is the Black politicians and everybody who is claiming how they so offended. Paul Ryan is holding up a “Path to Prosperity” document – do you see any Black politicians holding up any document on this subject matter? 

I have not heard one urban economic policy proposed by any Black politician or so-called pundit on how to find jobs and revenue for Black men in the inner city. All I’m hearing is these same Black people are so “offended” by Paul Ryan comments. This is the problem we see over and over in the African-American community where our people spend too much damn time trying to be “offended” than be offensive about solving problems in our community. Why one of these Black politicians or pundits couldn’t step up and proposed a real solution to Black male unemployment in the inner city and took over the conversation? You know why? Because we Black folks are too interested in whining about being “victims” and whining about how offended we are when someone says something.

piketty shrugged and dashed libertarian ayn rand fantasies...,


rsn |  As you’ll recall, if you watched the movie Titanic, the U.S. had a class of rentiers (rich people who live off property and investments) in the early part of the 20th century who hailed from places like Boston, New York and Philadelphia. They were just as nasty and rapacious as their European counterparts, only there weren’t quite so many of them and their wealth was not quite as concentrated (the Southern rentiers had been wiped out by the Civil War).

The fortunes of these rentiers were not shock-proof: If you remember Hockney, the baddie in James Cameron’s film, he survives the Titanic but not the Great Crash of ’29, when he loses his money and offs himself. The Great Depression got rid of some of the extreme wealth concentration in America, and later the wealthy got hit with substantial tax shocks imposed by the federal government in the 1930s and ’40s. The American rentier class wasn’t really vaporized the way it was in Europe, where the effects of the two world wars were much more pronounced, but it took a hit. That opened up the playing field and gave people more of a chance to rise on the rungs of the economic ladder through talent and work.

After the Great Depression, inequality decreased in America, as New Deal investment and education programs, government intervention in wages, the rise of unions, and other factors worked to give many more people a chance for success. Inequality reached its lowest ebb between 1950 and 1980. If you were looking at the U.S. during that time, it seemed like a pretty egalitarian place to be (though blacks, Hispanics, and many women would disagree).

As Piketty notes, people like Milton Friedman, an academic economist, were doing rather well in the economy, likely sitting in the top 10 percent income level, and to them, the economy appeared to be doing just fine and rewarding talents and merits very nicely. But the Friedmans weren’t paying enough attention to how the folks on the rungs above them, particularly the one percent and even more so the .01 percent, were beginning to climb into the stratosphere. The people doing that climbing were mostly not academic economists, or lawyers, or doctors. They were managers of large firms who had begun to award themselves very prodigious salaries.

This phenomenon really got going after 1980, when wealth started flowing in vast quantities from the bottom 90 percent of the population to the top 10 percent. By 1987, Ayn Rand acolyte Alan Greenspan had taken over as head of the Federal Reserve, and free market fever was unleashed upon America. People in U.S. business schools started reading Ayn Rand’s kooky novels as if they were serious economic treatises and hailing the free market as the only path to progress. John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged(1957), captured the imaginations of young students like Paul Ryan, who worshipped Galt as a superman who could rise to the top through his vision, merit and heroic efforts. Galt became the prototype of the kind of “supermanager” these business schools were supposed to crank out.

Since the ‘80s, the top salaries and pay packages awarded to executives of the largest companies and financial firms in the U.S. have reached spectacular heights. This, coupled with low growth and stagnation of wages for the vast majority of workers, has meant growing inequality. As income from labor gets more and more unequal, income from capital starts to play a bigger role. By the time you get to the .01 percent, virtually all your income comes from capital—stuff like dividends and capital gains. That’s when wealth (what you have) starts to matter more than income (what you earn).

Wealth gathering at the top creates all sorts of problems. Some of these elites will hoard their wealth and fail to do anything productive with it. Others channel it into harmful activities like speculation, which can throw the economy out of whack. Some increase their wealth by preying on the less well-off. As inequality grows, regular people lose their purchasing power. They go into debt. The economy gets destabilized. (Piketty, and many other economists, count the increase in inequality as one of the reasons the economy blew up in 2007-’08.)

By the time you get to 2010, U.S. inequality, according to Piketty’s data, is quantitavely as extreme as in old Europe in the first decade of the 20th century. He predicts that inherited property is going to start to matter more and more in the U.S. as the supermanagers, the Jamie Dimons and so on, bequeath their gigantic hordes of money to their children.

The ironic twist is this: The reason a person like the fictional John Galt would be able to rise from humble beginnings in the 1950s is because the Gilded Age rentiers lost large chunks of their wealth through the shocks the Great Depression and the deliberate government policies that came in its wake, thus loosening their stranglehold on the economy and society. Galt is able to make his fortune precisely because he lives in a society that isn’t dominated by extreme concentrated wealth and dynasties. Yet the logical outcome of an economy in which there is no attempt made to limit the size of fortunes and promote greater equality is a place in which the most likely way John Galt can make a fortune is to marry an heiress. So it was in the Gilded Age. So it may be very soon in America.