Blaming Welfare Queens Reply

From Kyle’s Corner.


In these troubling economic times those that wish to defend the establishment are scrambling for a demographic to scapegoat. Naturally, they have landed on the poor.

Recently, a young conservative, Christine Rousselle , demonstrated the point in her essay My Time at Walmart: Why We Need Serious Welfare Reform. In this short article she manages to make use of several clichéd right-wing attacks on the poor. She mentions the term “welfare queens” repeatedly, claims that the state is running out of money due to welfare programs for the poor, and she complains about proles committing “massive amounts of welfare fraud and abuse”.

This article touches on the three things that you must believe in order to be an establishment conservative in America:

  1. Americans stricken by poverty are unethical parasites sucking this country dry
  2. The Middle and Upper class stand on their own merits (they aren’t heavily subsidized by the state)
  3. Corporations like Wal-Mart and Goldman Sachs are bastions of the “free market” and need to be protected from the vicious classes

There are some glaring contradictions that arise when conservatives blame the poor for America’s economic plight. First off, the poor are not the biggest recipients of government loot. Secondly, this misdirected anger causes people to overlook the real thieves that are running this country. It’s easy to blame the powerless, but average conservatives are only shooting themselves in the foot when they side with the ruling class and attack the proles.


Carson’s Second Appearance on Truth Jihad, American Freedom Radio Reply

Kevin Carson, Senior Fellow and Karl Hess Chair in Social Theory at Center for a Stateless Society (C4SS), was interviewed June 1 by Kevin Barrett on Truth Jihad, American Freedom Radio. The interview, which takes up the the first hour and continues for part of the second, centers on the ideas in Carson’s last book The Homebrew Industrial Revolution: A Low-Overhead Manifesto (available free online here). You can listen to the interview on mp3 here.

Why Sweatshop Jobs Are Worth Defending – A Short Response to Long Reply

By Matt Zwolinski

Roderick Long raises some important concerns about my defense of sweatshops. I’m short on time, preparing for the symposium on John Tomasi’s book next week, but I wanted to get in at least a quick initial response. I trust and hope that we will have plenty of time to continue the conversation later.

First, a lot of the left-libertarian critique of my position seems to be on my emphasis, rather than on the substance of my argument. Why do I spend so much time defending sweatshops,rather than criticizing the background injustices that allegedly give rise to them?

I suppose there are a number of reasons for this, some philosophical, some pragmatic. One pragmatic reason is that I’m a philosopher, not an activist. And so I choose my topics based on the basis of what I think can make a contribution to philosophical understanding, not on the basis of what conclusions, if implemented, would make the world a better place. And the fact is, I think that the philosophical community still has a ways to go in understanding the importance of mutually beneficial exchange, and its role in arguments about expoitation specifically. By contrast, I don’t think there’s nearly as much disagreement about the wrongness of the background injustices that give rise to sweatshops. I could argue that stealing people’s land, depriving of them of their basic liberties, and subjecting them to kleptocracy is wrong. But philosophers wouldn’t find this very interesting, because no one really disagrees. I recognize the irony of the incentive structure here – as I’ve said in another post, philosophers are often driven to talk about what’s interesting rather than what’s important by academic incentives. But there it is.

That’s not the only reason though. The fact is, I am concerned about my work effecting change in the world, and I want to make some contribution to that change being positive. So how do I judge various projects on that criterion? Remedying background injustice would mean a huge difference in a lot of people’s lives. But in judging the expected utility of a project, we have to consider not just the utility of the outcome, but the probability of achieving that outcome via one’s chosen means.


The Stark Truth: Interview with Paul Craig Roberts Reply

Listen to the interview.

May 25, 2012

Paul Craig Roberts

Robert Stark interviews Paul Craig Roberts. Topics include:

  • PCR’s role in the Reagan administration and supply-side economics;
  • How job outsourcing was engineered by Wall Street and corporations;
  • The military-industrial complex;
  • Neoconservatives, foreign policy in the Middle East, and war with Iran;
  • Policy toward China;
  • 9/11;
  • Why we can’t take back the country by the ballot box.

Technological Progress: Cui Bono? Reply

By Kevin Carson

On a recent episode of PBS Newshour, economist Richard Freeman and futurist Ray Kurzweil argued the significance of technological progress. Freeman warned “We don’t want it to be that there’ll 20 or 30 billionaires controlling everything, and the rest of us struggling for the one or two jobs that are out there.” Kurzweil disagreed, arguing that the normal pattern has been rapid cheapening of technology and diffusion of its benefits to ordinary people.

To put this in perspective, let’s consider the example of a subsistence farm family who own their land and the tools they work with, and freely appropriate and use the entire product of their labor. Under these circumstances, if a farmer figures out a way of producing the same amount of food with half the amount of labor, it would be silly to worry “there won’t be enough work” as a result. That’s because the same person controls the labor process and internalizes all the costs and benefits from technological change. Hence, any improvement in the ratio of output to labor is an unambiguous benefit for labor.

Contrast this with the classic model of technological unemployment — the dire scenario Freeman outlines above. What makes the difference between the two scenarios? Clearly it’s that in the latter case, someone else besides the laborer appropriates the benefits of technological change.


The Agorist Revolutionary Alternative Reply

By J. Neal Schulman

Been watching the news? Greece? Spain? Ireland? Egypt? Iran? Mexico?

Revolution is in the air all over the place.

Agorism Poster by thorsmitersaw

Back in the early 1970′s Samuel Edward Konkin III, a libertarian activist, editor, and writer — began looking for alternatives to traditional political activism, both electoral and revolutionary — to bring about a free society. Sam’s premise was that electoral participation was a game that paid off not in liberty but in power; and that because the state’s tentacles held society hostage traditional revolutionary tactics resulted in unacceptable collateral damage to innocent bystanders.


Taxing strip clubs for rape Reply

Taxing strip clubs for rape

Salon reports on the latest Stateside sin tax.


By Tracy Clark-Flory

It used to be that strip clubs were merely blamed for society’s ills. Now they’re actually being charged for it.

In recent years, measures have been introduced in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Texas, Illinois and, most recently, California to apply special taxes to strip clubs — specifically to fund sexual assault services. Now, even if you aren’t inclined to view erotic entertainment as the source of all evil, this might seem an appropriate aim — who wants to argue against additional support for rape survivors? It would seem even more so when you consider politicians’ and activists’ repeated claims of solid scientific evidence showing a link between strip clubs — specifically those that sell alcohol — and sexual violence.

That is, until you look at the alleged proof.


Black Bloc Anarchists and State Terrorism Reply

By Rob Urie

Renewed criticism of Black Bloc anarchists (link) ties in a tangential way to the arrest on terrorism charges of three youths in Chicago prior to recent anti-NATO protests. The anarchists raise the question of the legitimate use of violence to achieve political ends. The arrest of the youths on trumped-up charges with what credible sources (National Lawyers Guild) believe is manufactured evidence suggests that as far as the state is concerned, they’re going to make up charges anyway. So what is the difference?

Terrorism charges have long been used for political repression because they are premised on the legitimacy of state violence versus the illegitimacy of non-state violence. But the question of legitimacy was in fair measure the reason why anti-NATO protesters were in Chicago. Member states claim the right, through NATO, to commit political violence at will. The protesters, rightly in my view, counter that (1) the reasons given by NATO for committing violence are lies intended to deceive populations into supporting armed aggression and (2) were the real reasons for NATO violence given they would be deemed illegitimate and therefore the violence itself is illegitimate.

Criticism of Black Bloc tends to center around public relations– the fear the media will focus on property damage to the exclusion of the protesters’ broader message. But the dominant media in the U.S. are corporations that have demonstrated that they will promote a broad corporatist agenda at all costs. The Chicago Police Department and the coordinated state “security” apparatus understand this and they are using terrorism charges as propaganda to try to draw a line between protesters and the growing millions of disenfranchised citizens.


Talking With Chomsky: On OWS, Anarchism, Labor, Racism, Corporate Power and the Class War Reply

By Laura Flanders

Noam Chomsky has not just been watching the Occupy movement. A veteran of the civil rights, anti-war, and anti-intervention movements of the 1960s through the 1980s, he’s given lectures at Occupy Boston and talked with occupiers across the US.  A new publication from theOccupied Media Pamphlet Series brings together several of those lectures, a speech on “occupying foreign policy” and a brief tribute to his friend and co-agitator Howard Zinn.

From his speeches, and in this conversation, it’s clear that the emeritus MIT professor and author is as impressed by the spontaneous, cooperative communities some Occupy encampments created, as he is by the movement’s political impact.

We’re a nation whose leaders are pursuing policies that amount to economic “suicide” Chomsky says. But there are glimmers of possibility – in worker co-operatives, and other spaces where people get a taste of a different way of living.

We talked in his office, for Free Speech TV on April 24.

LF: Let’s start with the big picture. How do you describe the situation we’re in, historically?


Why Corporate Capitalism is Unsustainable Reply

By Kevin Carson

I’m not a Marxist, but I find a lot of Marx’s ideas useful. Old Karl certainly had a gift for turning a phrase. Nobody who could come up with something as Proudhonian as “the associated producers” could be all bad. One of his best in my opinion was that new productive forces eventually “become incompatible with their capitalist integument,” at which point “the integument is burst asunder.”

Another source of vivid imagery is the Preamble to the Constitution of the Industrial Workers of the World. Consider this:  “… we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”

These two phrases brilliantly describe the predicament of state-fostered corporate capitalism. Capitalism as an historic system is five hundred or more years old, and the state was intimately involved in its formation and its ongoing preservation from the very beginning. But the state has been far more involved, if such a thing is possible, in the model of corporate capitalism that’s prevailed over the past 150 years. The corporate titans that dominate our economic and political life could hardly survive for a year without the continuing intervention of the state in the market to sustain them through subsidies and monopoly protections.


Brave New World, Brave New Majority Reply

By Alexander Cockburn

The news is in. White births are no longer a majority in the United States. The Bureau of the Census confirms that non-Hispanic whites accounted for 49.6 of all births  in the year ending July,  2011, while minorities including Hispanics, blacks, Asians and those of mixed race — reached 50.4 percent.

I felt lonely and went out on the porch and hollered for my neighbor, a white German-American.  Nothing stirred. I went back to my computer. At least someone is thinking constructively. The World Wildlife Fund says we need two planets.  The rationale is that we create too much waste for one, but the roots of American environmentalism were always nourished by dislike of  “those of mixed race”, and some over there at WWF has got their thinking cap on.

Is whitey ready for a fresh start? Face it, we may be a minority, but we got the firepower.

Where did we go wrong? Too much atonal music, maybe. Richard Pryor probably put his finger on it. Pryor to a white audience:

“What the matter, y’all stop fuckin’?  There will be no shortage of niggers.  Niggers is fuckin’.”

I began to sort things out for the big move to Planet 2.  What a mess whitey had made of things! One horrible move after another. What will we Americans handing on to the new majority?  The news is not good.  At almost exactly the moment we yielded majority status, we – not the people to be sure – but our president and our Congress were putting the finishing touches to our modern system of government, known as fascism.


American Empire and the Future Reply

By Paul Atwood

The Great Recession is the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and, like the aftermath of Katrina, or the BP calamity, or the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, is a man-made disaster. Many signs point to worse tidings. Many of us who live in this the most advanced capitalist country are indoctrinated at an early age to believe our system is by far the most efficient and best ever created, especially if we are affluent and live well. We tend to believe it obeyed the laws of evolution toward ever higher form, more or less as we imagine the human species itself. We go to lengths to ignore the fact that our system began as the brainchild of a minority that imposed its will by brute force against others who had good reason to oppose it. It is impossible to separate our republican form of government from our economic system. As former Secretary of State John Hay put matters as far back as the 19th Century: “This is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people no longer. It is government of corporations by corporations.”  It has been the case since the American Revolution, and remains the case, that the American government has been owned and operated by the financial and corporate elites and government policies, and most definitely foreign policy, are largely their agendas set out for their interests. Bankers and immense industrial corporations largely run the global show, backed by the Executive, Congress and the Supreme Court, America’s gargantuan military power and the connivance of corporate media.


Bet on Collapse Reply

By Paul Craig Roberts

The US financial system and, probably, the financial system of Europe, like the police, no longer serves a useful social purpose.

In the US the police have proven themselves to be a greater threat to public safety than private sector criminals.  I just googled “police brutality” and up came 183,000,000 results.

The cost to society of the private financial system is even higher. Writing in CounterPunch (May 18), Rob Urie reports that two years ago Andrew Haldane, executive Director for Financial Stability at the Bank of England (the UK’s version of the Federal Reserve) said that the financial crisis, now four years old, will in the end cost the world economy between $60 trillion and $200 trillion in lost GDP. If Urie’s report is correct, this is an astonishing admission from a member of the ruling elite. Try to get your mind around these figures.  The US GDP, the largest in the world, is about 15 trillion. What Haldane is telling us is that the financial crisis will end up costing the world lost real income between 4 and 13 times the size of the current Gross Domestic Product of the United States.  This could turn out to be an optimistic forecast.

In the end, the financial crisis could destroy Western civilization.


Occupy: Nucleus of the New Society? Reply

By Kevin Carson

Many Occupy supporters on the Left express concern that it could be coopted by the mainstream institutional Left and harnessed to a political agenda of NPR liberalism. The recent prominence of Van Johnson’s Rebuild the Dream and seems to provide at least superficial justification for such fears. But those fears are groundless — mainly because there’s no official Occupy “movement” to be coopted.

Sure, liberals are free to use the Occupy label to promote their agenda. That is, after all, what Occupy’s all about: A brand, or platform, ready-made for adoption on a modular basis by anyone who sees fit to use it. The more different groups using the Occupy brand, each with its own anti-corporate agenda, the better. It’s not a zero sum game.


The State and Capital: A Love Affair Reply

By David D’Amato

“President Barack Obama,” Fox News reports, “says the big trading loss at JPMorgan Chase shows the need for Congress to put more teeth into Wall Street reforms.” Touting the new rules, the President stated that the goal is to “discourage big banks and financial institutions from making risky bets with taxpayer-insured money.”

In American political dialogue, it’s common to hear left-leaning talking heads paint a picture of the 2008 financial crisis as the free market gone awry. Rightly condemning the major banks, they reason that a lack of state oversight and regulation of the financial sector led to a high-risk environment that allowed ordinary people to be taken advantage of.


Rob Reiner: Funny as Ever Reply

By Kevin Carson

Rob Reiner, in a recent interview with Chris Matthews, showed that while he may have moved on to directing and producing, he’s still a comedic actor at heart. Reiner, best known as Archie’s son-in-law “Meathead” on “All in the Family,” told Matthews — with a straight face — that “the Hollywood community is the only donor base … that has no quid pro quo. … We don’t … support a candidate because … he might be able to do something for us.” Oh, Rob — you’ve still got it!

But on the off chance that this was really intended as a serious factual claim, rather than a liberal version of Stephen Colbert’s shtik, I’d like to point out a few things: Digital Millennium Copyright Act. SOPA. ACTA. The FBI seizing dozens upon dozens of torrent download sites and issuing press releases from Disney headquarters. There, that should do it.


The Government Lying to Us — What Else is New? Reply

By Kevin Carson

A Twitter friend of mine recently recounted a conversation with another friend — not a self-described anarchist — who spontaneously concluded that voting was useless. “I think it’s insane to think that people who are in the kind of power that only government and capitalism provide would willingly allow their stability to be up to CHANCE.”

Exactly! You might be forgiven for thinking “the enemy” our ruling circles always talk about is somebody with a strange language and religion on the other side of the world. But in fact “the enemy,” for the ruling class, is anyone capable of disrupting its goals or undermining its power — including us. The American people are potentially a far greater threat to their power than any foreign government.


Burger and chips off the menu: Fast food crackdown as council limits take-aways in poor areas ‘to increase life expectancy’ Reply

Fast food outlets such as KFC could soon be a far less common sight on the high streets of Haringey, north London

From the Mail.

Looks like the Healthstapo are invading the London Borough of Haringey…


By Tom Goodenough

They have long been linked with an unhealthy lifestyle and causing damage to people’s health.

But now one London council is taking drastic measures to try and stop its residents from indulging in fast food.

Haringey Council is set to become the first in the country to limit the number of pizza, burger and kebab shops on its streets in an attempt to improve the health of its poorest residents.

It is hoped the scheme could even help to increase life expectancy in the area – with research suggesting that those living in a neighbouring area of London with less junk food outlets could live up to nine years longer.

In Tottenham Green where there are 14 fast food takeaways life expectancy is 72.5 years while in Fortis Green there are just three and life expectancy is 81.5.

A draft scheme is in place for the restrictions which would see planning applications for venues considered alongside the need to keep the number of takeaway’s strictly limited.

New outlets could also be banned from within 400 metres of schools, youth clubs, or parks.


Has the Bell Begun to Toll for the GOP? Reply

Note: If anarchists and libertarians are serious about attacking and destroying the U.S. state, then we need to begin targeting the center-left establishment given that it will be the ruling party in the decades ahead as the Republicans begin to go the way of the Whigs.

By Pat Buchanan

Among the more controversial chapters in Suicide of a Superpower, my book published last fall, was the one titled, “The End of White America.”

It dealt with the demographic decline of the white majority and what it portends for education, the U.S. economy, politics and national unity.

That book and chapter proved the proximate cause of my departure from MSNBC, where the network president declared that subjects such as these are inappropriate for “the national dialogue.”

Apparently, the mainstream media are reassessing that.

For, in rare unanimity, The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today all led yesterday with the same story.

“Whites Account for Under Half of Births in U.S.,” blared the Times headline. “Minority Babies Majority in U.S.,” echoed the Post. “Minorities Are Now a Majority of Births,” proclaimed USA Today.

The USA Today story continued, “The nation’s growing diversity has huge implications for education, economics and politics.”


The Administrative State vs. the Social Insurance State Reply

By Jason Brennan

In Libertarianism: What Everyone Needs to Know, I examine the question of which country is the most libertarian. I argue briefly that while the United States has the highest percentage of self-identified libertarians and uses the most libertarian rhetoric, it is not the most libertarian country in terms of its actual policies. Switzerland, Australia, Canada, and some others are much more libertarian (especially classical liberal-libertarian) than the United States.

Here’s a brief excerpt from an earlier draft:

The Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation produce an annual Index of Economic Freedom. They rate countries for their respect for property rights, freedom from corruption, business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, fiscal freedom, and government spending. Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Chile, Mauritius, and Ireland have higher scores than the United States. The United States ranks only 10th overall.

This index may understate how anti-libertarian the United States is. After all, the index penalizes countries if their governments spend large amounts on social insurance. Yet classical liberals and neoclassical liberals are not in principle opposed to government social insurance. [That is, they will accept it under certain conditions.]

Thus, suppose we separate the idea of the administrative state—which tries to control, regulate, manipulate, and manage the economy—from the social insurance state—which provides tax-financed education, healthcare, or unemployment insurance. On the Index of Economic Freedom, many countries that rank lower than the US have far less extensive administrative states than the US. For instance, Denmark ranks much higher than the United States on property rights, freedom from corruption, business freedom, monetary freedom, trade freedom, investment freedom, and financial freedom. Luxembourg, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and many other countries beat the US on these measures as well. Thus, many other European countries might reasonably be considered more economically libertarian than the US.


Occupy: Nucleus of the New Society? Reply

By Kevin Carson

Many Occupy supporters on the Left express concern that it could be coopted by the mainstream institutional Left and harnessed to a political agenda of NPR liberalism. The recent prominence of Van Johnson’s Rebuild the Dream and seems to provide at least superficial justification for such fears. But those fears are groundless — mainly because there’s no official Occupy “movement” to be coopted.

Sure, liberals are free to use the Occupy label to promote their agenda. That is, after all, what Occupy’s all about: A brand, or platform, ready-made for adoption on a modular basis by anyone who sees fit to use it. The more different groups using the Occupy brand, each with its own anti-corporate agenda, the better. It’s not a zero sum game.

The beauty of Occupy is that its module/platform architecture, and its openness to anyone who wants to create a new node for their own purposes, make it an ideal laboratory for experimentation in revolutionary praxis. Any local node is free to try out new ways of doing things, and to share its experience with others; the new techniques are freely available to any other node in the network that finds them useful. No permission, no administrative coordination to make sure everybody’s on the same page, is needed at any step in the process.

It’s the same kind of stigmergic platform as Wikipedia, a Linux developer group … or Al Qaeda Iraq. Self-selected individuals and local groups make contributions to praxis entirely on their own initiative, the smallest contribution can be leveraged with no transaction cost, and all contributions immediately become the common property of the entire movement.

I’ve hoped for some time that Occupy would cease to be mainly a protest movement and instead become mainly a school of living. That is, that — like the neighborhood assemblies in Argentina ten years ago — it would become a venue for local communities to disseminate the skills and technologies for building counter-institutions and a counter-economy that could flourish outside the decaying neoliberal system.

Some early signs in this direction were teach-ins like those of Juliet Schor (author of Plenitude) and Michel Bauwens of the Foundation for P2P Alternatives. Another was the “Occupy Our Homes” campaign, which offered some promise of evolving into a nationwide squatter movement to reclaim vacant housing. The term for things like this is “prefigurative politics”: That is, rather than attempting to pressure the power structure of the existing society for reforms, they exemplify the successor society in formation.


Paul Craig Roberts: The Elite Are Digging Their Own Grave Reply
Thursday, May 17, 2012

Alex welcomes long-time returning guest and contributing writer Dr. Paul Craig Roberts to discuss the impact of the Euro’s instability on world markets amidst looming fears of Greece’s departure. They’ll also touch on why governments feel compelled to blame events like 9/11, the Euro decline, and other manufactured crises on scapegoats.