New Rules, High Costs and Big Business Reply

By David D’Amato

Surveying the new JOBS Act, legislation with the ostensible purpose of aiding “emerging growth companies,” the Washington Post’s Rob Kaplan and Tom Voekler contend that the act’s biggest impact will be on the formation of “small and mid-sized business capital.”

Observing an important difference between “the largest companies” and “Main Street” businesses, the Post writers contend that historically, “for a host of reasons related to expenses and regulatory burdens,” only Big Business could access Wall Street. The importance and extent of their argument is seldom fully appreciated in political and economic discourse.

The impact of the “regulatory burdens” they allude to on the shape and character of the American economy is tremendous and probably isn’t what most people think it is. Correspondingly, the free market isn’t actually the glistering Holy Grail of Big Business daydreams.

Rather, freed markets — made up of voluntary trades and associations — represent the ideal mechanism for ensuring both that workers are rewarded in just proportion to their labor, and that big business’s costs aren’t shifted onto the people at large. Market anarchists are thus pro-market without necessarily being pro-business, distinguishing between the coercive privilege-saturated capitalism of today and a genuine state of economic freedom.

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Roberto Unger, Obama’s Former Harvard Law School Professor, Says The President ‘Must Be Defeated’ Reply

From the Huffington Post

One of President Barack Obama’s former professors appears to have turned against him, according to a recent YouTube video.

“President Obama must be defeated in the coming election,” Roberto Unger, a longtime professor at Harvard Law School who taught Obama, said in a video posted on May 22. “He has failed to advance the progressive cause in the United States.”

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It Has Come to This: Greek Towns Reverting to Barter Economies 1

From The Blaze

has forced many Greeks to rely on barter-style economies.

“I want to use euro but it’s very expensive and I believe trade is better,” said Volos resident Artemis Zafiriou of in a recent NBC Newsreport.

The town of Volos is not special. It’s one of the many Greek communities that have been hit hard by the financial crisis and high unemployment, forcing a growing number of individuals to trade goods and service in return for essentials. For instance, Zafiriou and her “partner” “sell ”chicken eggs, homemade marmalade, and soap at an open-air market in town,” according to NBC’s Yuka Tachibana.

“Looking like a mix between a flea market and a farmers’ market, it is packed with colorful stalls displaying fresh produce, home-baked bread, second-hand clothes and jewelry,” Tachibana writes.

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Wisconsin: It was always theirs anyway Reply

By Kevin Carson

Following the major news networks’ projections of Scott Walker’s victory in the Wisconsin recall vote Tuesday, the dominant reaction among anti-Walker activists was apocalyptic. “If out-of-state corporate interests can outspend us ten-to-one, and that’s enough to beat all this grassroots organizing and public outrage, then democracy is dead.”

Well, no. Technically, it’s just more dirt on top of the grave.

Frankly, I’m surprised at the popular reaction to the vote. What did they expect? The state has always been an “executive committee of the ruling class.” Citizens United may have stripped the mask off the system and exposed it in its full vulgarity, but the political system has been rigged in the interests of the big money players since there was a political system. To quote Charles Johnson:

“If you put all your hope for social change in legal reform … then … you will find yourself outmaneuvered at every turn by those who have the deepest pockets and the best media access and the tightest connections. There is no hope for turning this system against them; because, after all, the system was made for them and the system was made by them. Reformist political campaigns inevitably turn out to suck a lot of time and money into the politics — with just about none of the reform coming out on the other end.”

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How the Sustainability Movement Defies Conservative/Liberal Labels Reply

By Stuart Bramhall

My decision to focus my activism in the sustainability movement has nothing to do with the horror stories climate change and Peak Oil aficionados tell about the horrible future my children and grandchildren face. I have never found terrifying or guilt-tripping people an effective way to engage them politically. It always seems far more likely to generate demoralization and apathy. I choose to focus my time and energy on sustainability-related issues based on the conviction that people who wish to survive coming economic and ecological crisis will need be extremely well organized. After thirty years of organizing, I find that sustainability engages people at the neighborhood and community level in a way no other issue can.

My friends and neighbors get it. They are all affected by the skyrocketing cost of fossil fuels, mainly because high energy and transportation costs make everything more expensive. They are all acutely aware that something in society has to change drastically. This realization makes them open, to varying degrees, to trying new, less energy intensive ways of doing business and meeting their families’ basic needs.

The only stumbling block I face in organizing around sustainability is efforts by the corporate media to demonize us as liberals or “greenies.” I can see why they do this. Corporate media coverage of climate change and sustainability-related topics is heavily dominated by the fossil fuel industry, which has a vested interest in discouraging people from reducing their use of oil, natural gas and coal.

How Terms like “Conservative” and “Liberal” Lost Their Meaning

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Thomas Sowell: Obama is a Fascist, Not a Socialist Reply

By Thomas Sowell

It bothers me a little when conservatives call Barack Obama a “socialist.”

He certainly is an enemy of the free market, and wants politicians and bureaucrats to make the fundamental decisions about the economy. But that does not mean that he wants government ownership of the means of production, which has long been a standard definition of socialism.

What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.

Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.

Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous — something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.

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Geopolitics and “Conspiracy Theories” Reply

Kerry Bolton is interviewed by Richard Spencer.

The United Nations General Assembly

Author Kerry Bolton joins Richard to discuss geopolitics and the intersection of global finance, war, and foreign policy. In particular, they examine the “conspiracy theories” regarding major events like the Second World War and the Cold War–which ones help us get to the truth and which one are distractions.

Bolton’s latest book is Revolution From Above, published by Arktos Media.

Plutocracy at the Crossroads? Reply

By Gary Wills

Republican operatives describe this year’s presidential election in apocalyptic terms. It will determine our future. It will seal our national fate. Well, they are probably right, but not for the reason they give. They tell Republican voters that President Obama, in a second term where he does not have to face re-election, will reveal and follow the full socialist agenda he has been trying to hide.

Only the gullible will swallow that. But the right does know that the future is at stake. That is because this election year gives Republicans one of their last chances—perhaps the very last one—to put the seal on their plutocracy. They are in a race against time. A Democratic wave is rising fast, to wash away the plutocracy before it sets its features in concrete, with future help from the full (not just frequent) cooperation of the Supreme Court.

It may seem odd to speak of the plutocracy as endangered. Surely it has established itself in every important political arena. Wealth is concentrated in a small fraction of the populace, the cosseting of whom with the Bush tax cuts plunged us into the great recession. Yet while the rest of the populace was suffering, the rich just got richer. In 2009 and 2010, years in which millions were unable to find work, the top one percent reaped 93 percent of the “recovery” income, and corporations are making more than they ever did. And the Republicans can still propose even further cuts in the taxes of “job creators” whose only job creation has been for their own lawyers and lobbyists.

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James Mill and Libertarian Class Analysis Reply

By Murray Rothbard

Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, volume 2, chapter 3: “James Mill, Ricardo, and the Ricardian System.” An MP3 audio file of this chapter, narrated by Jeff Riggenbach, is available for download.

The theory of class conflict as a key to political history did not begin with Karl Marx. It began, as we shall see further below, with two leading French libertarians inspired by J.B. Say, Charles Comte (Say’s son-in-law), and Charles Dunoyer, in the 1810s after the restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. In contrast to the later Marxist degeneration of class theory, the Comte-Dunoyer view held the inherent class struggle to focus on which classes managed to gain control of the state apparatus. The ruling class is whichever group has managed to seize state power; theruled are those groups who are taxed and regulated by those in command. Class interest, then, is defined as a group’s relation to the state. State rule, with its taxation and exercise of power, controls, and conferring of subsidies and privileges, is the instrument that creates conflicts between the rulers and the ruled. What we have, then, is a “two-class” theory of class conflict, based on whether a group rules or is ruled by the state. On the free market, on the other hand, there is no class conflict, but a harmony of interest between all individuals in society cooperating in and through production and exchange.

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Wisconsin: Death Throes of the Beast Reply

By Kevin Carson

Last Tuesday’s vote to recall (or not) Wisconsin governor Scott Walker is just the latest illustration of a positive feedback loop we’ve been in for some time.

Capitalism — the 500-year-old historic system of political economy we actually live under — had heavily depended on the state since the beginning. It was founded on expropriation of peasant land and military conquest of free cities in the original European homelands of capitalism, and expanded through land expropriation and enslavement of peoples around the world. Industrial capitalism was founded, in Britain, on Enclosures and the imposition of totalitarian social controls on the working class. Modern American corporate capitalism was created by the industrial policy of the American state from the Civil War on.

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Blaming Welfare Queens Reply

From Kyle’s Corner.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
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.

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Taxing strip clubs for rape Reply

Taxing strip clubs for rape

Salon reports on the latest Stateside sin tax.

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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.

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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.

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