How Wealthy Trump Supporters Will Overturn Democratic Wins in November 2018

Current excitement about a "Blue Wave" of Democratic wins in November is, I believe, woefully misplaced...for the simple reason that the wealthiest Trump supporters (inclusive of Vladamir Putin) will use every underhanded tool at their disposal to prevent or reverse any Democratic victories they can. What these powers-that-be care most about is winning by any means possible - they will lie, cheat, steal, harass, sue, bully, intimidate and hoodwink in order to hold on to their political influence. How do we know this? Because we've seen it in many recent local and national elections:

1. Outrageous gerrymandering of congressional districts to favor Republicans.

2. Relentless disenfranchisement of Democrat voters, the poor, people of color, etc. and/or preventing them to vote on election day.

3. Aggressive attempts to hack into all levels of the election process, and the DNC, in order to disrupt free and fair elections.

4. Lockstep passage of legislation - coordinated by A.L.E.C., the State Policy Network, etc. - at the national and State levels to disrupt anything progressive: environmental protections, worker protections, unions, consumer health and safety, voting rights, etc...

5. Highly targeted deceptive manipulations on social media to persuade voters of ridiculous claims.

6. Threats, intimidation, fear-mongering and punitive policies from the White House itself to further disrupt and divide the Democratic base.

7. Relentless, carefully orchestrated smear campaigns.

8. Invented or manufactured crises that are then shamelessly blamed on Democrats.

So why should anything be different in 2018...and what other tactics can we look forward to? Court challenges for any election outcomes or lower court rulings that don't favor Republicans? Sure, with a new far-Right Supreme Court Justice on the bench, this will almost certainly be a tactic.

In the past, the only thing that has consistently countered such nefarious "win-at-all-costs" Right-wing strategies on a large scale has been a broad upwelling of authentic populist grassroots excitement for a given candidate or agenda. This is what propelled Obama to his initial victory, what energized Bernie's rise to prominence, and what promises to undermine the centrist DNC status quo as it did with New York's election of Ocasio-Cortez.

But we should always keep in mind that whatever has worked previously to elevate the will of the people into our representative democracy will always be countered by new deceptions, new backroom dark money dealings, new astroturfing campaigns, and new methods of hoodwinking by those on the Right who want to destroy our civic institutions. Nothing on the Left can compare - in scope or the amount of money spent - to how the Koch brothers coopted the Tea Party, how the Mercer family funded Breitbart and manipulated social media through Cambridge Analytica, what Rupert Murdoch accomplished with FOX News, or how the Scaife and Bradley foundations fund fake science to weaken or reverse government regulations. Billions have been spent to deceive Americans and create "alternative narratives" that spin any and all public debate toward conservative corporate agendas. And when the Supreme Court upheld the "free speech" of corporate Super PACs funded with dark money in its Citizens United ruling, that just opened the floodgates for more of the same masterful deception.

So don't count on a Blue Wave to save us from a truly deranged Infant-in-Chief and his highly toxic agenda. Civil society - and the checks and balances of power for the U.S. Republic itself - will very likely continue to be methodically demolished and undermined by neoliberal plutocrats. I wish this was mere pessimistic speculation…but I really don't believe it is. As just one example of the effectiveness of these sneaky destroyers of democracy, consider how well-organized, well-funded, and effective the "science skepticism" of the past few decades has been. Take a few minutes to absorb the graphic illustration below, and then ask yourself:

1. Do we have caps on carbon emissions, and the necessary investment in green energy technology to replace fossil fuels, to avoid further escalation of climate change?

2. Have neonicotinoid insecticides been banned so essential bee populations can be saved?

3. Has the marketing of nicotine vaping products to teenagers been stopped to prevent them from lifelong addiction and health hazards?

4. Has the proliferation of GMOs been seriously slowed until we can better understand its long-term impacts?

5. Do a majority of Americans even believe any of these issues are even an urgent concern…?


Neoliberal Self-Protective Propaganda Machine


Along the same lines, how good are working conditions at the largest U.S. companies? How high are those worker's wages? Will Social Security be able to pay 100% of benefits after 2034? Are wildly speculative investments on Wall Street being well-regulated? Are U.S. healthcare costs coming down? Are CEOs being held accountable for corporate malfeasance…and if so, how many have actually gone to jail?

The answer to these and countless similar questions informs us about the direction the U.S. is taking, and how nothing that interferes with corporate profits or the astounding wealth of their owner-shareholders will be allowed to flourish as long as conservative Republican (and possibly even centrist Democrats) hold power. In short, elected officials friendly to corporatocracy need to keep getting elected to keep this gravy train in motion. And so there is no cost too great to expend in order for them to win, and the highest concentrations of wealth in the history of the world have brought all of their resources to bear to perpetuate those wins. This is why a Blue Wave alone cannot triumph in November. Perhaps, if every single Left-leaning voter - together with every single Independent-minded voter - comes out to make their voices heard at the ballot box, it just might make enough difference. And I do mean every single one. But a Blue Wave alone will probably not be enough. In effect, what America requires for a return to sanity and safety is what we might call a Blue-Orange Tsunami - perhaps even one with a tinge of Purple, where Independents, Democrats and the few sane Republicans remaining unite their voices and votes against a highly unstable fascistic threat.

Short of this, there is just too much money in play, carefully bending mass media, social media, news media, scientific research, legislators, election systems, judges, government agencies, public opinion and the President himself to its will.

REFERENCES

https://www.businessinsider.com/partisan-gerrymandering-has-benefited-republicans-more-than-democrats-2017-6
https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/how-the-gop-rigs-elections-121907/
https://www.cnn.com/2016/12/26/us/2016-presidential-campaign-hacking-fast-facts/index.html
https://www.brookings.edu/articles/alecs-influence-over-lawmaking-in-state-legislatures/
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/mar/19/facebook-political-ads-social-media-history-online-democracy
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/16/trump-california-census-342116
https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/07/james-gunn-dan-harmon-mike-cernovich-the-far-rights-pedophilia-smear-campaign-is-working.html
https://www.mediamatters.org/research/2016/03/16/lies-distortions-and-smears-how-right-wing-medi/209051

The Underlying Causes of Left vs. Right Dysfunction in U.S. Politics

STOP

To support a new framing of this longstanding issue, my latest essays covers many different facets and details that impact the polarization of Left/Right discourse. However, its main focus centers around the concept of personal and collective agency. That is, how such agency has been effectively sabotaged in U.S. culture and politics for both the Left and the Right, and how we might go about assessing and remedying that problem using various tools such as a proposed "agency matrix." The essay then examines a number of scenarios in which personal-social agency plays out, to illustrate the challenge and benefits of finding a constructive solution - one that includes multiple ideological and cultural perspectives.

Essay link in PDF: The Underlying Causes of Left vs. Right Dysfunction in U.S. Politics

Also available in an online-viewable format at this academia.edu link.

As always, feedback is welcome via emailing tcollins@integrallifework.com

What life choices can individuals make to insulate against the negative impacts of neoliberal policies?

There have been a number of proposals over the years that have attempted to “self-liberate” from what amounts to neoliberal oppression — many of which were proposed prior to neoliberal ideology even taking root. For example:

1) Various forms of counterculture — some embedded in the mainstream, and some retreating to isolated communes, etc.

2) Various top-down socialistic reforms that attempt to insulate entire segments of society — or all of society — from the impact of runaway crony capitalism through government programs, safety nets, publicly owned assets and services, etc.

3) Worker solidarity movements that permit organized labor to wrestle controls away from the owner-shareholder class.

4) The formation of a well-educated, affluent middle class with progressive values that can counter neoliberal agendas through NGOs, community organizing, community banking, electing progressive candidates, writing and passing progressive initiatives, and mass media counter-narratives.

5) Subversive activism that seeks to disrupt neoliberal agendas, such as hacktivism, sabotaging WTO meetings, ecoterrorism, etc.

6) Modeling alternatives that exit the self-destructive spiral of a neoliberal status quo. Low carbon lifestyles, Permaculture and
7) Transition Towns, becoming Vegan, and so on.

Thus far, such efforts have slowed the forward march of neoliberalism, to be sure…but neoliberal activists are themselves very skilled, well-organized and well-funded in their own efforts to move their plutocratic vision forward, often coopting counter-narratives and undermining radical efforts. Consider how the Koch brothers took over the Tea Party movement, for example, or how the Kitchen Cabinet manipulated Reagan’s populism to their own ends, or how a Patriot Act inspired by foreign terrorism empowered a neoliberal government to crack down more forcefully on its own citizen subversives, or how alternative culture has simply been been commoditized to further feed corporate profits, or how evangelical Christians in the U.S. are now almost totally in the thrall of the commercialist, corporationist Beast. It’s stunning, really.

Which leads us to the question: what else can we do, either individually or collectively? I think the desire to “check out” of a toxic political economy altogether, and hide ourselves away off-the-grid or in some developing country, can be very enticing. It’s also pretty selfish, however…in some ways playing right into the “I/Me/Mine” individualism that feeds the disintegration of civil society itself. Another, perhaps more responsible approach would be to try David Holmgren’s “Crash on Demand or how to opt out the corporate fascism.” I think he has some good ideas there that could lead to major reform. But really I think the best method is to walk right past the low-hanging fruit, and aim much higher. Which means reforming the underlying political economy itself, rather than attempting a Band-Aid approach to countering neoliberalism. To that end, I’ve cobbled together a “multi-pronged” system for transformative activism here: L e v e l - 7 Action. The basic idea is that if we work towards ALL of the threads of change agency described there, we just might be able to undermine a neoliberal status quo in enduring and sustainable ways. At this point it’s just my own vision, but hey…why not aim high? Why not try to alter the underlying, causal factors that keep leading us down the same self-destructive path…?

My 2 cents.

In an anarcho-capitalist society, would coercion exist? Why (not)?

Absolutely. AnCap likes to frame “coercion” as a feature of the State, but ignores how it also manifests in free enterprise. Capitalists regularly coerce consumers and workers — regardless of whether the State aids or legitimizes these actions. This is true even for small business…not just monopolies. But monopolies — which can occur (and have occurred) naturally, and without mechanisms of the State — often amplify the scope and intensity of that coercion. Capitalism, by its very nature, encourages coercive practices — the company store, truck systems, share cropping, wage slavery, debt slavery, deliberately addictive products and services, brutally non-competitive practices, deceptive manipulation of consumers through fear and threats, etc. have always surfaced spontaneously in capitalist systems — and thus there is really nothing inherently “free” about a free market. Most market fundamentalists, including anarcho-capitalists, will rail against these characterizations of inherent coercion…but I’ve yet to encounter a valid counterargument that wasn’t steeped in neoliberal hoodwinking, irrational knee-jerk bias, ideological groupthink, and unsubstantiated beliefs about “unicorn” economics. Folks will just want to believe what they want to believe, and when you get a large enough group of them agreeing on what are often bizarre cognitive distortions, no amount of reasoning “from the outside” can free them from their delusions. It’s a sad state of affairs for the human species, and if we can’t break free of these immature, tribalistic mindsets, it does not bode well for our humanity’s future….

My 2 cents.

What do civilians of former communist countries in Eastern Europe think about communism?

Well it appears that neoliberal propagandists are still up to their old tricks — trying to remake communism into an all-bad Boogeyman that must be feared and loathed. If the anti-Communist answers so far in this thread really are from folks who lived under communism in the former Eastern Bloc, then they are not representative of the majority. For example, according to a number of studies from a couple of years ago (see links at Polls show: Eastern Europeans miss Communism):

- 72% of Hungarians polled said their country is worse off economically than it was under communism. Only 8% believed things were better.

- 63% of Romanians said life was better under communism, while 23% claimed their lives were worse. 68% said communism was a good idea that had been poorly implemented.

- 81% of Serbians said living was better under communism, and 45% trusted civic institutions under communism more than they did at the time of the poll.

- Residents from 7 out of 11 member countries said their countries were harmed more than benefited by the collapse of the U.S.S.R.

It also depends who is being asked — see:
Have living standards in Eastern Europe decreased after Communism? - Debating Europe and The Post-Communist Generation in the Former Eastern Bloc. Even among those more successful countries, sentiments are still divided — mainly with younger generations believing their lives are better off without the communism they never experienced, while older generations maintain quite a bit of nostalgia for those times. You would think that East Germany would be prominent exception, but even there more than half of the population either thinks things were better before capitalism, or were about the same (see: Majority of Eastern Germans Feel Life Better under Communism)

Also, young people who weren’t alive when the U.S.S.R. collapsed will not recall that older people and the poor all across Eastern Europe were protesting their loss of pensions, healthcare, social services, etc. when it happened. And in the U.S., the neoliberal propagandists like to talk about all the terrible things that were going on in the former U.S.S.R., and are loath to admit any positive accomplishments. And of course this is reinforced by Hollywood depictions and the very real history of horrific problems during the Soviet era. But the fact is that those populations did have pensions and healthcare, and that the poor in many cases had a higher and more secure standard of living than the poor in those countries do today under capitalism.

Pro-capitalist pundits love to tout the wonders of the profit motive, but remain blind to what collectivist or nonprofit approaches can achieve. Frankly I think they are terrified by the prospect of socialist success stories, including recognizing America’s success as the result of a mixed economy (i.e. with both socialist and profit-centric elements). Such successes, after all, mean that capitalist owner-shareholders could lose some of their control over worker-consumers and other resources, and not be able to continue manipulating and exploiting them to enlarge their own personal wealth. Perhaps that is why neoliberals are still trying so hard to tear down successful socialist institutions in the U.S.A….?

My 2 cents.

Why do Americans hate the idea of a socialist government? Socialism and communism are not the same thing.

Thanks for the question. In the U.S. we can draw a fairly straight line between anti-socialist sentiments and decades of neoliberal propaganda. For example the Red Scares that were invented after each World War planted the rhetoric and polemics that later became more widespread, “mainstream assumptions.” With Americans, many falsehoods that were propagated in this way have to be carefully confronted in order to relieve a prejudicial ignorance. For example, I often find myself defending these factual positions against the steady stream of misinformation flowing out of conservative think tanks, media, political candidates and pundits:

1) The most successful economies in the world are mixed economies that have combined socialist and capitalist principles and practices (this includes the U.S.A.).

2) Socializing certain sectors of an economy has almost universally solved many long-term problems that the profit motive could not regarding public goods, providing much better outcomes for the citizenry. For example, in healthcare, public infrastructure, education, basic utilities, land management, and so on. The insistence by market fundamentalists that the profit motive can solve all complex problems is simply mistaken…and indeed quite harmful in terms of public policy over the long run.

3) Authoritative Marxism-Leninism was a grossly corrupted form of communism that completely negates the fundamental tenet of nearly all forms of socialism (including Marx’s original ideas): that democracy is central to the foundations of a socialistic civil society.

4) Libertarian Socialism (left-libertarianism) has actually been the dominant leaning of libertarianism throughout most of its history, and is actually the only form of libertarianism that has been successfully implemented on various scales.

For more on why this propaganda has been so integral to U.S. politics, I encourage reading this: L7 Neoliberalism

My 2 cents.

Has Milton Friedman's "Capitalism and Freedom" aged well?

LOL. No the book has not aged well, except in two areas. Here’s a quick breakdown of why:

1. Friedman’s monetarism is absolutely his most influential contribution to what has remained part of an effective toolbox for government economic influence at the macro level. That section of the book has aged very well.

2. A guaranteed minimum income (negative income tax) is still a popular idea among some reformers — though usually on the radical Left — but it’s not Friedman’s original idea and is usually lost amid his other points. So I’d say that although the idea persists, Friedman’s contribution hasn’t aged well.

3. Plenty of far-right-leaning folks still carry a torch for school vouchers and resistance to government oversight of education, but the jury is still out on whether this will do anything but improve educational choice for rich people, and decrease economic opportunity and mobility for everyone else.

4. Everything else in the book (that is, the majority of his criticisms and proposals) are now viewed as utter bunk by anyone serious about economics or cognizant of recent history. Many of Friedman’s ideas ideas have been tried — all around the globe — and they have failed utterly. This doesn’t stop neoliberals from quoting Friedman, of course, so in that sense the book has “aged well” as a propagandizing tool for Milton Friedman worshipers, market fundamentalists, proponents of laissez faire economics, right-libertarians and other fervent ideologues. In the real world, however, Friedman’s ideas have been soundly discredited. So in the sense of respect from policy makers and economists, only the blindly and irrationally loyal still hold Friedman’s ideas in any regard.

My 2 cents.

Did Milton Friedman really help the Chilean economy to prosper?

This is one of the funniest bits of propaganda the neoliberals, anarcho-capitalists and other market fundamentalists will throw around. It is almost ENTIRELY FALSE. In fact, the only reason anyone believes a “Chilean Miracle” happened at all is because…well…Milton Friedman boasted that it did. Utter hogwash though. Here’s what the consequences of 7 years of Friedman’s policies (recommended by him personally, and by his Chicago Boys to Pinochet) actually were:

1. Unemployment first increased to 14%…then to 20%.

2. Sub-poverty population increased from 20% to 40%.

3. Real wages fell by 20%.

4. National output initially fell by 15% and then only ever leveled out (never got above pre 1970 levels)

5. Per capita GDP grew only 1.5%/year, as compared to several times that nearly everywhere else in Latin America.

6. Well-paying, working-class jobs evaporated (i.e. income disparity increased across population due to a “hole in the middle”)

7. Inflation reduced from 500% to 10% (really the only good thing that happened, economically, as a consequence of neoliberal policies)

8. A handful of folks got rich.

And of course all of these metrics reversed or improved once the neoliberal policies under Pinochet were abandoned….

So basically, Friedman’s “miracle” was to devastate most of the Chilean population.

You’ll notice that I didn’t mention the atrocities of the Pinochet regime - but really, if Milton Friedman was such a “champion” of individual liberty, why didn’t he loudly and soundly criticize Pinochet’s murderous oppression of the Chilean people…? Utter hypocrisy. Even more bizarrely, even as Friedman would insist Chicago School reforms helped the country economically (despite all evidence to the contrary), he would also take credit for Chile’s transition back to democracy, insisting that Chicago School policies were what led to that event. But this is astounding and delusional, really, since that transition was a consequence of pressures from the rest of the military leaders, who continued (yes, even after the referendum) to insulate their power from civilian control. In other words…they just wanted to get rid of Pinochet!

The video below is one of the funniest (or saddest, depending on how you feel about mental illness) snapshots of how Friedman would later try to distance himself from Pinochet while simultaneously taking credit for imaginary “miracles.” Watching it closely we can witness how Friedman’s ego delights in his delusions:


(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzgMNLtLJ2k)

My 2 cents.

From Quora: https://www.quora.com/Did-Milton-Friedman-really-help-the-Chilean-economy-to-prosper

Why do some intellectuals oppose capitalism?

Thanks for the question Noah.

Well considering the “capital flight” of intellectualism among right-leaning ideologues over the past fifty years, I would first say that there are very few intellectuals who are not opposed to capitalism in one way or another. To be educated, intellectual and reflective almost always leads critical thinkers to question capitalist systems and principles. The few bright and often well-meaning advocates of capitalism are often required to shut down a lot of their brain power (and reject entire swaths of pertinent data) in order to fully embrace capitalism - especially in its current neoliberal configurations. The exchanges I’ve had on Quora on the subject reveal that most pro-capitalist folks are a) compliant with neoliberal propaganda and its reflexive and uncritical groupthink, b) mostly ignorant of contradictory or mitigating historical and current facts, or c) so encumbered with selective bias that they have distorted all of history and modern economic events in favor of their worldview. There are exceptions…but they are pretty sparse.

That said, there are a number of reasons why folks who lean intellectual are critical of the current brand of neoliberal capitalism. Here are some of the rationale:

1) Modern capitalism has arguably become the most destructive force in human history. In terms of its impacts on the environment, social stratification, concentrations of wealth and power, justification for armed conflicts, genetic homogenization (of food supply), injurious health conditions, etc. In other words, its negative externalities are compounding exponentially, and there is no indication that this will cease.

2) Modern capitalism is unsustainable. Currently about 5% of the Earth’s population uses approximately 28% of the Earth’s resources. As capitalism has globalized, the tensions around resources and how they are distributed has inexorably escalated and will continue to do so - as has the tension between the haves and have-nots. An inevitable tipping point will be either a) the exhaustion of resources as economic mobility spread further around the globe, or b) the extinction of economic mobility as scarcity increases or resources are depleted. There’s really no way out of this conundrum…only some creative ways to delay it (such as the financialization of the global economy, which has already been occurring).

3) Modern capitalism is inherently unjust. All the positive justifications for capitalism that once existed - the wisdom of the crowds, the tragedy of the commons, the theory of labor appropriation, interference with negative liberty, rational self-interest, markets solve problems most efficiently, wealth production, etc. - have all been either debunked entirely, or overridden by changes in how current capitalism functions. There is a lot to work through on this topic, but the consensus is that empirical data strongly suggest that: consumers are not rational, the commons has been managed without private ownership or central government interference, privatization is highly destructive to both public and common goods, consumers are manipulated en masse (defeating the wisdom of the crowds), Locke was just plain wrong about his property assumptions, crony capitalism and monopolies completely distort market dynamics, real wages (i.e. effective buying power) have been stagnant or declining in the U.S. an some other industrialized countries since about 1972, and property ownership actually interferes with liberty more than almost all other antagonists combined.

4) Neoliberal propaganda is preventing most people from seeing any of the above. (See Neoliberalism | L e v e l - 7)

There is a lot more to discuss along these lines, but my time today is limited. Please check out the Level-7 link above for more info and resources.

My 2 cents.

Comment by Henry Resheto:

"I think you got this wrong.

So called by you “pro-capitalist folks” do not owe anybody any explanation. Those who suggest alternatives do!

Let me start by stating that capitalism is not a theory, it is not even a “system”; it is simply what is.

The very term was invented by K. Mark in order to critique exiting state of affairs; in order to mock them, in order to prophesize the better world to come.

But really what capitalism is, it a simple “normality”. It is what people do when they are left to their own devices. Somebody called it a “spontaneous normality”. Spot on!

I am a computer programmer. Let’s say I negotiated with some company that I will sell them my time and perform some coding for them at the rate of $50/hour. They agreed – I agreed. We are both happy. K. Marx called it capitalism... whatever.

Now, if you want to get between me and that company and offer us the alternative form of arrangement you have to explain it to us. You have to sell it to us – we don’t own you anything. We surely don’t own you any explanation.

Judging by your headline “Libertarian Socialist” I suspect you would not like the very nature of our relationship as employer-employee. You probably think I should along with all other people at the company form a coop, and we should collectively run it. I don’t like the idea, and the burden of proof that it would be better for me is on you.

So far I didn’t hear good arguments. I don’t want to run this stinking company. I want to come, to write some code, to hand around water cooler during a break, to check Quora on my phone every now and then. And then after doing that for eight hours I want to leave with $400 in my pocket. Nothing more.

This is between me and that company - I don’t have to explain myself to nobody else."


I think you are illustrating the psychology that allows capitalism to function Henry - but your attitude has been shaped by modern culture. In contrast, humans have survived as a species because of our prosocial traits - research “prosocial traits” and “group selection.” People actually have to learn to be selfish, individualistic, materialistic and disengaged from social responsibility - and that’s precisely what commercialism teaches us to be. Why? So that we can be good consumers, of course…nice and dependent…and good workers…nice and compliant…and good debtors…perpetually in debt. BTW capitalism isn’t natural - at least no more than feudalism was - look up “primitive communism” for what existed for millennia prior to industrial society. Capitalism is basically an outgrowth of mercantilism and the “democratization” of wealth. As such it’s an understandable stage in human cultural development. But it’s only been around for a brief time, and has already outlasted its usefulness - mainly because it’s simply not sustainable. If you want proof…well wow…you’re in luck. It’s abundant. Read Thomas Pickety’s Capital in the 21st Century for starters. Or visit my website: Level 7 Overview

My main point was simply that you have come to believe a lot of things - like, for example, that you and your employer are both part of a “voluntary” exchange, which is almost certainly NOT the case - because you have been immersed in a commercialized, consumerist culture. Many people share these beliefs…but it does not make them accurate or true. For example, you do not get to choose what language to code if you want your work to be valued in the job market…that is dictated by current demand, which in turn is created by non-competitive practices, monopolies, fads and back room or board room deals…rather than rational agency or market dynamics. You also don’t get to choose how much you will be compensated - that is likewise formulated by rather capricious valuations, which rise and fall with the whim of corporate culture, access to cheaper labor, and the downward pressure of economic immobility and the current status of the economy. I was an IT manager and consultant for many years, and only saw exceptions to this with legacy systems that would cost more to upgrade than maintain - making increasingly rare legacy skill sets more and more valuable and thus tilting the scales to the employee’s advantage.

So although you believe you have agency in such transactions, you are really just a cog in a larger mechanism. You can easily be replaced with a cheaper warm body, because the corporate production system is designed specifically with that eventuality in mind. But perhaps you have “no problem with that” either - even though it holds the implication of violence (that is, does not value your contributions as an individual, or recognize and reward your commitment to a given community, and your compensation can change or livelihood withdrawn at any time). In other words, there is most certainly a coercive threat involved in such an arrangement. You may have become immune or inured to it over time - or because of a particularly resilient personal constitution you exhibit - but the threat exists nonetheless.

Further, I would assert that capitalism has done - and continues to do - tremendous harm. For anyone who truly believes in the NAP, embracing and perpetuating capitalism is the height of hypocrisy.

Why do the top 1% of people in the world have half of the world's wealth?

Setting the statistical details of your question aside, and focusing on the underlying observation of extraordinary wealth inequality, I believe there are a combination of factors. Here are the most significant ones (in no particular order):

1. Capitalism. It is the nature of capitalism to concentrate wealth by rewarding owner-shareholders while exploiting worker-consumers and capturing everyone and everything else (i.e. environments, governments, technologies, etc.) that can be placed in service to profit.

2. Consumer Mindset and Addiction. This is a bit more subtle, but essentially imagine a world where everyone is convinced (individually, socially, culturally) that happiness, well-being and success are all externally consumed, and that the self-actualization principle with the highest efficacy is conspicuous consumption. Further, imagine that the products and services being offered are habit forming in nature, so that the pressures to consume create a snowball effect, thereby infantilizing the public and making people perpetually dependent. Why perpetually? Well because those products and services don’t actually deliver happiness, well-being or success…so the cycle continues.

3. Cronyism and Clientism. Through regulatory capture, revolving door self-empowerment, corruption of democratic institutions (corporate personhood, SuperPACs, the Hastert rule, gerrymandering, etc.), authoring legislation (A.L.E.C., etc.), quid-pro-quo political dealings and so forth so that the wealthy maintain de facto control over any government that is supposed to counter their overreach…thus expanding plutocratic wealth and power.

4. Financialization and Speculation. A nasty runaway train that often involves socialization of risk, extensive leveraging, and huge amounts of debt…all in order to enrich the captains of banking and industry who are already wealthy enough to play such high stakes games.

5. Monopoly. Consolidation of production, assets and influence in every industry - and often across multiple sectors - that concentrates economic controls and wealth production in the hands of fewer and fewer people.

6. Clever Propaganda. I think Milton Friedman was the first to really champion neoliberal delusions for the common person, persuading them that government, taxes and “socialist” policies would sabotage their well-being and the American success story, and that all challenges could be solved by a “free” market. It was of course a fabricated narrative without any basis in fact, but it has sold well. So now we have everyone from the Tea Party to Trump supporters voting against their own best interests, and blindly throwing their energy into this perpetual hoodwink.

7. The Spectacle. This is a complex idea that I elaborate on in the link provided, but essentially think of an elaborate, self-perpetuating engine of panem et circenses, executed via mass media and mass consumption, that anesthetizes the masses into complacency. Just enough affluence and entertainment to make them forget that their votes don’t really count for much, their “freedom” is becoming much more limited, and their real wages have been stagnant or declining since 1968.

I explore many of these topics and more on this website: Level 7

My 2 cents.

(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-the-top-1-of-people-in-the-world-have-half-of-the-worlds-wealth)

Why do people say that neoliberalism has made capital flight easier?

It’s simple really. Neoliberal agendas have created the following circumstances in developing countries (as an openly expressed matter of neoliberal policy):

1. Increasing capital movement within a global environment, and thus increasing opportunities for capital flight (out of a developing country).

2. Privatization of public resources and economic liberalization in general - frequently transferring ownership to foreign corporations, as well as reducing controls and oversight of industry, thus enabling additional avenues of capital flight.

3. Excessive concentrations of wealth - especially in a few very large corporations or opportunistic individuals, which in turn makes it fairly easy for large chunks of capital to exit a given country.

4. Economic instability - ultimately, the greater the economic liberalization, the greater the tendency for extreme boom-and-bust cycles; during a localized bust, all the capital that has been accumulated by the wealthiest elite is going to look for safer, more lucrative opportunities…usually outside of the country.

As an example, if you look at how the IMF and World Bank have manipulated developing countries, the structural adjustment policies (which are all-too-often transparently neoliberal in nature) engineer the perfect environment for capital flight. It’s a travesty.

The neoliberal promise has always been: let free markets make you rich! Well, those unfettered markets actually only benefit the folks who started out with the largest chunks of capital - or who quickly obtain it, often illicitly - at the expense of everyone and everything else.

My 2 cents.

(From Quora question: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-say-that-neoliberalism-has-made-capital-flight-easier/answer/T-Collins-Logan)

In what ways and by how much is Neoliberalism hurting America and its citizens?

Thanks for the A2A Nicholas. Here is my take:

Neoliberalism is doing tremendous damage in the U.S.A., and has been for quite a while. Probably the most transparent illustration of this was escalation of the neoliberal agenda during the G.W.Bush administration at the hands of Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld et al. Here are some of the highly destructive fruits of that effort:

1. Disabling the EPA’s enforcement of environmental law for eight years (via direct executive order and more indirect hogtying of administrative processes) allowed runaway corporate pollution and untold environmental damage from business activities.

2. Weakening of NIOSH oversight across all industries resulted in a runaway increase of risk to worker health and safety - and consequent death, illness and disability of countless workers as regulations went unenforced.

3. Opening up of BLM lands to unchecked exploitation by industry resulted in horrific destruction and misuse of these public resources, with very little benefit to U.S. taxpayers (who collectively own those resources).

4. Initiating a war on false pretenses resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people - including thousands of U.S. military personnel; war profiteering of U.S. companies at the expense of U.S. taxpayers; creation of ISIS (under very similar circumstances through which Al-Qaeda was formed); destabilization of Middle East and radicalization of its populations; strengthening of the position and influence of enemy states (Iran); undermining of U.S. standing among allied governments and populace.

5. Increased financialization of U.S. economy (and encouragement of speculative risks using public funds) while loosening the regulatory reigns (SEC oversight, etc.), resulting in the most precipitous economic crash since 1929.
6. Orchestrating propaganda that encouraged some 50% of the U.S. electorate to vote against its own interests (i.e. cutting of federal spending in their geographic regions, increased income inequality, increased poverty, decreased economic mobility, decreased jobs, stagnant wages, decreased buying power, etc.).

7. As a classic consequence of crony capitalism, the largest jump in government spending (to 33% of GDP, with most of the increase benefitting big business and wealthy shareholders) since WWII.

8. The radical erosion of the provisions of the U.S. Constitution’s 4th Amendment and establishment of invasive, coercive, unjust, punitive and ideologically extreme expansions of a Police State.

9. The dismantling and distortion of U.S. democratic institutions, civilian protections and environmental protections through a targeted appointment of activist neoliberal judiciary that baldly favors corporate enrichment at the expense of everyone and everything else (Citizens United is just the tip of the iceberg).

10. The subsidizing of below-subsistance wage workers (Walmart) with taxpayer-funded welfare programs, once again enriching corporations at the expense of everyone else.

11. A general weakening of all capacities of government to serve its citizens, apparently with the deliberate aim of undermining the confidence those citizens have in their government and increase their willingness to vote for candidates who promise lower taxes and alternative “free market” solutions that enrich owner-shareholders.

To fully appreciate just how bad things can get under neoliberal ideology, read about Milton Friedman’s influence on other governments around the globe (a decent source for this is Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine) and the “structural adjustment” policies of the IMF and World Bank in developing countries. For more on all the fun stuff that happened under G.W.Bush, focus on pro-corporate SCOTUS rulings, expansion of A.L.E.C. legislative influence, the revolving door of government, regulatory capture, clientism, campaign finance corruption and the explosion of SuperPACs, corporate welfare, war profiteering, Red State government spending, origins of ISIS, coal mining safety violations, timber industry expansions into BLM, coopting of Tea Party by Koch brothers, impact of Patriot Act and Homeland Security on U.S. civil liberties, environmental destruction and exploitation, wealth disparity, FEMA failures (due to incompetent appointments), the USPS retirement prefunding fiasco of 2006, etc. It’s really rather incredible how much damage was done, and why upcoming presidential and congressional elections are much more important than naysayers from all corners of the political spectrum would have us believe.

I also have copious references for anything you might have questions about. Also, Noam Chomsky has some good lectures on YouTube about the deleterious course of neoliberalism in the U.S. You might also be interested in this post: T Collins Logan's answer to How is it that in the US the idea of Libertarianism become conflated or gobbled up by anarcho-capitalism and laissez-faire capitalism? (https://www.quora.com/How-is-it-that-in-the-US-the-idea-of-Libertarianism-become-conflated-or-gobbled-up-by-anarcho-capitalism-and-laissez-faire-capitalism/answer/T-Collins-Logan)

My 2 cents.

What are the pros and cons of neoliberalism?

Thanks for the A2A Johnathan. Here’s my take….

PROS

1. The largest corporations continue to accumulate wealth via exploitation of cheap labor and resources in the developing world - the results of globalization and “free trade.”

2. The largest corporations continue to accumulate wealth through coopting or weakening of democratic institutions - via crony capitalism, clientism, regulatory capture, populist neoliberal propaganda (via the Heritage Foundation and other such think tanks), ALEC and other pro-corporate legislative manipulation and groupthink, etc.

3. The largest corporations continue to accumulate wealth through war profiteering and nation building whenever those opportunities can be created (go Halliburton!).

4. The largest banks and corporations continue to accumulate wealth through “structural adjustment programs” that decimate developing economies (Go IMF and World Bank!).

5. The largest banks continue to accumulate wealth through the increasing financialization of every economy.

6. A vast swath of the voting public around the globe doesn’t have to think for themselves, but can rely on the neoliberal programming delivered by mass media to consistently vote against their own best interests.

7. People who want to support the neoliberal agenda have access to excellent fake science to counter glaringly obvious negative externalities (re: consumer health, worker safety, climate change, species extinction, collapsing ecosystems, resource depletion, etc.) or the inevitable economic train wreck intrinsic to growth-dependent capitalism.


CONS

1. Those glaringly obvious negative externalities of an ascendent corporatocracy’s agenda are real…and getting worse…and the inevitable economic train wreck intrinsic to growth-dependent capitalism has already hinted at its impending arrival.

2. Exploitation, war profiteering, structural adjustments, wealth disparity, etc. lead to resentment, alienation, desperation, and quite often rebellion, societal disintegration and terrorism among growing populations in the developing world.

3. The consumer-electorate is becoming increasingly stupefied by their infantilized dependency, and thus are increasingly unable to recognize the hoodwinking spectacle that prevents them from seeing the destructive arc of neoliberal agendas, and medicates them from caring about that destruction even when, for a fleeting instant, they see through the carefully orchestrated deceptions.

4. Pretty much all of the “pros” listed above are a “con” when viewed from the perspective of anyone but wealthy shareholders.

All-in-all, I would say that neoliberalism is the single greatest threat to civil society that has ever existed on our planet, mainly because of the scale of its assault on human dignity, the superagency of its most callous primary actors on the world stage, and the enormous and irreversible damage it has already accomplished.

My 2 cents.

(see https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-pros-and-cons-of-neoliberalism)