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Barbarian Chieftain to Run for President in 2120. “Freedom to Bear Stone Axes”

Future Aliens to Study the Cause of The Collapse of Human Civilization. The Cause: Humans.

Federal Reserve Bankers Mocked Unemployed Americans Behind Closed Doors

In 2011, unemployment was at a near crisis level. The jobless rate was stuck around 9 percent nationally, an unusually high number due to the continuing effects of the financial crash.

House Democrats were aghast. “With almost five unemployed Americans for every job opening, too many people remain jobless because of a lack of work, not a lack of wanting to work,” said Congressman Lloyd Doggett, D-Tex. So in early November 2011, they introduced a bill to reauthorize Federal unemployment benefits, an insurance program designed to aide those looking for work.

Behind closed doors at the Federal Reserve however, the conversation struck a different tone.

The Federal Reserve’s mandate is to promote “maximum employment,” which essentially means: print enough money so that everyone who wants one has a job. Yet according to transcripts released this month after the traditional five-year waiting period, Federal Reserve officials in November 2011 were debating whether unemployment was caused by bad work ethics and drug use – rather than by the greatest financial crisis in 80 years. This debate then factored into the argument over setting monetary policy.

“I frequently hear of jobs going unfilled because a large number of applicants have difficulty passing basic requirements like drug tests or simply demonstrating the requisite work ethic,” said Dennis Lockhart, a former Citibank executive who ran the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank. “One contact in the staffing industry told us that during their pretesting process, a majority—actually, 60 percent of applicants—failed to answer ‘0’ to the question of how many days a week it’s acceptable to miss work.”

The room of central bankers then broke into laughter.

Charles Plosser, the president of the Philadelphia Federal Reserve, cited “work ethic” as a common complaint he heard in his district, both in rural and inner city areas. A contact of his who owned 60 McDonald’s restaurants said “passing drug tests, passing literacy tests, and work ethic are the primary problems he has in hiring people.”

His wife, he noted, had attended a meeting in Philadelphia where employers cited literacy, work ethic, and drugs as impediments to hiring.

It was hardly the first time these bankers blamed unemployment on the unemployed, rather than, say, bankers. In an April meeting that year, Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeff Lacker told participants that “Several firms told us of difficulty finding adequate workers, because they preferred to collect unemployment benefits or can’t pass drug tests.” He reiterated that point in November, saying that in West Virginia he was told by an employment agency that “unquestionably the biggest problem in hiring skilled and unskilled workers was the inability to pass a drug test.”

Lacker’s Federal Reserve district includes West Virginia. In August, he again spoke of “widespread reports about hard drug use, OxyContin and methamphetamine, in Appalachia and other rural parts of our District—in particular, Appalachia.”

Apparently his colleagues responded with laughter again, because he then said “Drug abuse and the hardship involved in unemployment aren’t really laughing matters.” Usage, he noted, isn’t higher than the national norm in West Virginia. “It’s hard to pin this down quantitatively,” he continued, wondering if there was “something meaningful there as a contributor to impediments to labor market functioning.”

These debates took place within the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Federal Reserve body tasked with “influenc[ing] the availability and cost of money and credit to help promote national economic goals.” The debate revealed a split within the Federal Reserve system between “hawks” who worry more about inflation than unemployment, and “doves” who believe that too many are going without jobs. Typically, “hawks” tend to lean to the right politically, and “doves” tend to lean slightly more to the left.

Lacker is one of the most “hawkish” members of the FOMC, which means he tends to be in favor of higher interest rates and higher unemployment to ward off inflation. In 2015, Lacker ascribed increasing inequality to the lack of college education among the poor

Sarah Bloom Raskin, a dovish member of the Board of Governors, countered by saying that unemployment was a function of the financial crisis. “The economy remains mired in the worst slump since that of the 1930s,” she said.

Daniel Tarullo, another dovish Federal Reserve governor appointed by President Obama, called the focus on drug use a “red herring.” He said, “We had that problem 25 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago; we have it today; and we’re going to have it 5 years from now.” He cited housing debt from the largest housing bubble in history as a core driver of unemployment.

The transcripts illustrate how the controversial method of picking Federal Reserve officials plays out in setting monetary policy: The three men who cited work ethic or drug use as a cause of unemployment instead of the financial crash were picked by regional private sector businessmen to lead the local Reserve banks.

The Dodd-Frank financial reform law passed in 2010 mandated that the Federal Reserve Board in Washington approve the choices of private businessmen, but the Board has yet to reject any suggested candidates. The board members who cited the financial crash as causing unemployment were appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The concept of having private business interests selecting public officials has been criticized by experts. As Wharton professor and author of “The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve” Peter Conti-Brown put it, “It’s not clear at all that the opaque and obscure process by which the private sector selects the Reserve Bank presidents produces superior central bankers than the public process used to select the remaining principal officers of the United States.” This controversial selection process risks having, as he put it, “a system for enhancing the influence of certain slices of society on our central banking policy.

Lacker and Lockhart are retiring this year. Advocates and experts are putting pressure on the Richmond Federal Reserve to replace retiring Reserve Bank Presidents with someone more attuned to the reality of unemployment. Fed Up, a coalition of advocates seeking to shift the Fed from its traditionally pro-bank policies, is seeking to have the regional bank President’s picked with more attention to the needs of workers.

Jordan Haedtler, deputy campaign manager of Fed Up, lashed out at Lacker’s comments as related in the newly released transcripts. “Even nine years into the recovery, workers are still struggling to get the wages and hours they need,” Haedtler said. “Yet with unemployment above double digits in huge swaths of President Lacker’s district in 2011, he was citing anecdotes about drug use and desire to collect unemployment benefits as key reasons why employers weren’t hiring. Rather than looking for solutions and talking to people who were out of work, he was seeking excuses from employers.”

President Donald Trump has a number of vacancies on the Federal Reserve Board to fill as well. He has been highly critical of Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. He argued, without citing evidence, that she pursued monetary policy goals to help support Barack Obama and elect Hillary Clinton. If Yellen and Tarullo follow custom and step down from their board slots in 2018, Trump could appoint a majority of Federal Reserve board members within two years.

Despite the importance of monetary policy, the Federal Reserve keeps the transcripts of internal deliberations of the committee that sets monetary policy out of public view for at least five years. But the people who attend those meetings take other jobs — some in the financial services industry. In 2010, incoming House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa questioned whether it was appropriate for the Fed to withhold its deliberations for so long. “If the Fed’s full transcripts can be released sooner, they should be,” he said.

The debate in the Fed and within Congress was ultimately resolved. The Federal Reserve kept interest rates low. And in 2011, a new wave of recently elected Tea Party Republicans and Democrats finally compromised on language to cut unemployment benefits.

Neither West Virginia senator, Shelley Moore Capito nor Joe Manchin, would comment on Lacker’s discussion of the West Virginia drug epidemic and its relationship to unemployment. The Appalachia region, including West Virginia, went strongly for Trump in the 2016 election.

Federal Reserve Bankers Mocked Unemployed Americans Behind Closed Doors

Hello From the Other Side: The Continuing Collapse of the Democratic Leadership
Resistance? LOL, JK

In a shocking turnabout that has the Internet and most of progressive America shaking its head, creasing its brow, and other stock expressions of surprise and disgust, Massachusetts Senator and left-hope Elizabeth Warren voted to confirm Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson yesterday. Along with Sherrod Brown’s vote for the pyramid-praising neurosurgeon, this marks a near total-collapse of the “Resistance” leadership to the oncoming Orange Storm.

Warren voted for Carson. That sentence still has the power to shock. She voted for Carson when she didn’t have to, when her vote wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Knowing that, she still voted yes. Even the Daily Kos felt the heat, with a headline reading: ”The Resistance” crumbles: Warren Approves Carson.”

Warren made headlines because she was supposed to be the conscience of the party. There was enough shame to go around, however. Fourteen Senate Democrats voted for the torture-defending Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick for CIA director.

Alex Emmons, writing for The Intercept:

Pompeo is a far-right Kansas Republican who has in the past defended CIA officials who engaged in torture, calling them “patriots.” Last week, he left the door open to torture by acknowledging in his written responses to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would be open to altering a 2015 law prohibiting the government from using techniques not listed in the Army Field Manual. … While Pompeo’s confirmation was opposed by Human Rights Watch, it netted votes from a variety of Senate Democrats, including the caucus’ leader: Chuck Schumer of New York.

Tim Kaine voted for him. Dianne Feinstein voted for him. The full list does not make for inspiring reading.

AIN’T THAT A SHAME

On January 21st, Warren said on her personal Twitter account:

Happy to march with 125k+ women (& friends of women) in Boston. We can whimper, we can whine, or we can fight back. #WomensMarch

Apparently, the last option was distasteful for her. On the 25th, she wrote:

Dr. Carson’s answers weren’t perfect. But at his hearing, he committed to track and report on conflicts of interest at the agency. In his written responses to me, he made good, detailed promises, on everything from protecting anti-homelessness programs to enforcing fair housing laws. Promises that – if they’re honored – would help a lot of working families.

Fighting back means something different for Senator Warren, it seems—much as helping American families meant something different for New Jersey’s Senator Booker, when he voted against the Sanders-Klobuchar budget resolution amendment. The resolution would have lowered prescription drug costs by letting American pharmacies and sellers import cheaper Canadian medicine. As Raw Story put it, in shock, “Even Ted Cruz voted to import cheaper drugs from Canada.”

Shortly after news of the Booker vote broke, the public was reminded that Big Pharma had purchased a large interest in the Senator from New Jersey several years ago. Booker, Walker, and Brown’s strange pirouettes indicate a larger problem in the party, one that bedevils the movement’s progressive wing. When three new hopes sink in the first week of a reactionary Presidency, it hints that there’s fundamental problem with the machinery of opposition. Jake Novak, writing for CNBC, notes:

So let’s also look at the names of some of the 13 Democrats who opposed Sanders’ plan, because those names are also very telling. Democrats like Corey Booker and Bob Menendez, both from Big Pharma’s major U.S. headquarters state of New Jersey, voted “nay.” The drug industry’s major presence in states like Delaware and Pennsylvania also seems to have played a role in getting the two Democratic Senators from Delaware and the one Democrat from Pennsylvania to vote no as well. And so did Democrat Patty Murray from Washington, who is one of the biggest recipients of pharma company donations with almost $ 300,000 for her re-election campaign last year alone.

Whatever the quantity and quality of hot takes, no matter how you spin it, the fact remains: Warren, Brown, and the Washington Democrats are living in a reality distant from ours. For some reason—call it class, call it delusion about bipartisanship, call it a strange yearning for cordiality, call it cluelessness—they have decided not to obstruct. They have the power, and are not using it. Lame excuses abound: defenders of Warren and Brown suggested they were “picking their battles.” But to Vichy yourself to the Donald is to yield in the biggest fight of all—whether or not President Trump will be normalized in the coming weeks, months, and years.

Obstruction worked for the Republicans under Obama. There are other liberal Senators who voted against Trump’s nominees. With the exception of Nikki Haley, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has voted against every one of the Orangeman’s appointments. Why couldn’t Warren?

Like Frasier stuck in another awkward mix-em-up, it’s time for us to ask, “What is the meaning of this?”

WORLDS APART

There is a very odd divide within the anti-Trump forces.

On one hand, there are huge throngs of people who marched last week in opposition to the government. Their dedication to the cause of reform is not in question. Breanne Butler, who helped organize the Washington March, told Bustle that

“I think that there’s been a lot of walls built up in terms of political activism.” She continues “Even myself, I felt like I had no business getting involved in politics. I’m a chef. I’m from Detroit, Michigan. I’ve never done anything political in my life. But it’s the need to instead of just being depressed and not doing anything and just watching things in a downward spiral, actually stepping up and getting involved. “It’s that first step and if we can be there to support people along the way and give them the confidence that they need, we’re going to shed that stigma [on political activism],” she adds.

Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs, an immigrant from Trinidad and the March’s Youth Initiative Coordinator, told the magazine that “I believe that when you love something, you don’t sit by and watch it self-destruct … My son is an American and I want to show him that actionable activism can make change and the responsibility for that is on each individual.”

Kristen Bellstrom of Fortune asked various protestors why they participated. Not the organizers, just ordinary people. Here are a few of their responses:

“I just really want to feel respected and safe. I don’t want to grow up in a world where I’m not respected for my gender or race or sexual identity.” —15-year-old Emma Rice of Richmond, Va.

“I’m here to remind people that we are watching and we are going to hold (President Trump) responsible.” —Sarah White, Dallas, Penn.

“I’m here today to support women, and especially to stop violence against women. It should be the president’s job to be an example of uplifting women—other men will follow his example.” —Queen Dioni, Silver Spring, Md. and originally from Cameroon.

On the other hand, we have a timid set of leaders who—even when they are as intelligent as Obama and Warren—are unable to fix the system. This is not surprising; even with the departure of the former President, the Dems remain a party in Barack Obama’s image: speeches, and not action. Words, and not votes. Tastes great, but less filling.

Indeed, the Democrats are inevitably wrong about how they fight and when they fight. The usual arrangement is for every one piece of conservative horror they catch, three go by unopposed. When they do make a stab at fighting, it’s done in a clumsy way. Their recent proposal to fix gun violence is a perfect example. Their best solution to a real problem was a technocratic fix that partook of an unfair system—a no-fly list. Even their noblest efforts are drunken stumbles gone deluxe.

If you believe in a world where the elite are more enlightened and forward-thinking than the public, this absence of Warren and Brown on the front line of resistance seem very contradictory and strange. But if you believe, as I do, that the public are always ahead of their rulers, then this makes perfect sense.

Brown and Warren are not ready to battle Trump in the way the public is. Yet we cannot blame them alone. For if this was the matter of one person, or two people, then this would not be a problem. Movements and parties have survived the oddities and mistakes of prominent persons before. What is it about the Democratic leadership makes them so prone to dropping the ball?

LEFT BEHIND: TRIBULATION FORCE

To prove my point, I decided to study random members of the party. Maybe my perspective was biased, and I was just focusing on elected officials who disappointed me. I needed a representative sample. So I asked my coworker Garrett to name a state, any state.

He said “Georgia.” I went to the Democratic Party’s page and picked the name of a Representative, Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. I’ve never heard of him before.

Bishop is a conservative Democrat. He supported Rep. Istook’s (R-OK) amendment to display religious imagery on public ground. There were four members in the thirty-six-member Congressional Black Caucus who voted for the Iraq War, and he was one of them. Bishop nayed the ACA because it contained pro-choice legislation he disapproved of. He voted against the estate tax. His personal site describes his politics as

God, country, work, family, and guns. He has co-sponsored amendments to the U.S. Constitution protecting the U.S. flag against acts of desecration, preserving the institution of marriage, ensuring a balanced federal budget, and allowing voluntary, non-denominational prayer in schools and other public places. He also supports the Second Amendment, receiving the grade of “A+” from the National Rifle Association.

I asked another coworker at Paste, Alex, for the name of another state. He said “Tennessee.” I scrolled down a list and picked Jim Cooper. I don’t know him from Adam; never heard of him before two minutes ago. Cooper serves as the rep for Tennessee’s District 5, won reelection last year. Endorsed Hillary for President. Fiscal conservative. Supported Obamacare. In 1990, Cooper was one of three House Democrats who voted against the Americans with Disabilities act and is a staunch supporter of the NRA.

My friends had given me Southern states; perhaps I wasn’t getting a true picture of the Democratic Party. I asked Google to give me a random number; I got “7” back. The seventh piece to join the Union was Maryland. I almancked up the elected Dems from the Old Line State, and found Senator Chris Van Hollen, whose name I had heard, but knew less about. He’s the son of an Ambassador and an Intelligence Chief. When he was in the legislature in Maryland, he passed laws for trigger locks, increased healthcare and education, blocked oil drilling in the Chesapeake, taxed tobacco.

Later, in Washington, he worked to combat predatory student lending practices; he fought job outsourcing, and tried to end the Lebanon War. Van Hollen got a one hundred percent rating for the Citizens for Tax Justice, which supports higher taxes on the wealthy; he fought the estate tax, backed the ACA, fought for paid sick leave, equal pay for women, a financial transactions tax, and minimum wage increases. The major blot on his record is an openness to restructure Social Security, which is troubling, but otherwise the Senator is remarkable.

But that’s just the issue: within the system, this is about as progressive and reformist as you can be. Van Hollen represents all the system’s problems, too. The Senator is an establishment darling, who beat an even more progressive challenger, Donna Edwards, for his seat. In a 2015 piece in the Times, Robert Draper described the contest:

A pugnacious former community organizer, Edwards is a four-term African-American congresswoman from Prince George’s County, one of the most affluent majority-black counties in the United States. But she wasn’t the favorite of establishment Democrats. For them, the obvious choice to replace Mikulski was the seven-term congressman Chris Van Hollen, who is considered a progressive like Edwards, but has a reputation for coolheaded practicality and for working well with Republicans. Of the bills sponsored by Van Hollen in the previous session of Congress, 37 percent included at least one Republican co-sponsor.

I bring up Bishop, Cooper, and Van Hollen not to bury them, nor to praise them. They are three ordinary Democrats, chosen at random. This is a decent snapshot of what the Party is. Consider that these gentlemen, and the Democratic Party, are the tools progressives must use to oppose Trump. One is a progressive from a wealthy district, one is Republican in all but name, and one is a deficit hawk. No wonder the Democrats are caving in the Senate hearings. To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, they are an echo, not a choice.

THE MISSING LINK

What is going on? Matt Taibbi once appeared on Bill Moyers’ show back in 2009, during the passage of Obamacare. Moyers noted that the American public supported the Medicare buy-in by thirty points, and yet it went down “like a lead balloon.” “Explain this to the visitor from Mars,” he asked. Taibbi responded:

And I think, you know, a lot of what the Democrats are doing, they don’t make sense if you look at it from an objective point of view, but if you look at it as a business strategy—if you look at the Democratic Party as a business, and their job is basically to raise campaign funds and to stay in power, what they do makes a lot of sense. They have a consistent strategy which involves negotiating a fine line between sentiment on the left and the interests of the industries that they’re out there to protect. And they’ve always, kind of, taken that fork in the road and gone right down the middle of the line. And they’re doing that with this health care bill and that’s—it’s consistent.

Let’s presume that Taibbi is right. If this is actually the case, then the answer is simple. We have to hold the Dems to account. If we don’t, this keeps happening.

Do I think Senator Warren, who I once championed as a great hope, is a terrible person? No. I think she is, unfortunately, both a member and a symptom of a party that does not know itself or the country it represents. Warren and Brown and the rest of the crew in Congress think that it’s unobjectionable to vote Dr. Carson in. This suggests they are either unaware or indifferent to the mood of their supporters, and the values of the American people.

Right now, the GOP is having a pow-wow in Philly. There are tremendous and yuge crowds of protesters opposing Trump in the City of Brotherly Love. The hashtag #ResistanceInPhilly is trending. “Alternative facts” is the buzzword of the day, but we must be aware that there are alternate realities: the one on Capitol Hill, and the one on the streets, where most people live. How real the world here! How distant the one in Washington! Connecting the two will be the project of the next four years.

Hello From the Other Side: The Continuing Collapse of the Democratic Leadership

Mikhail Gorbachev: It Appears ‘the World Is Preparing for War’

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that it appears “as if the world is preparing for war.”

In an op-ed published Thursday at Time magazine, Gorbachev, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for his role in ending the Cold War, writes that the most pressing problem facing the world is “the militarization of politics and the new arms race.”

State budgets, he continues, claim austerity to sacrifice social spending, but easily back funding for weapons of war. At the same time, he writes of the buildup on Russia’s borders: “NATO and Russian forces and weapons” are now in close proximity “as if to shoot point-blank.” He continues:

Politicians and military leaders sound increasingly belligerent and defense doctrines more dangerous. Commentators and TV personalities are joining the bellicose chorus. It all looks as if the world is preparing for war.

While he and President Ronald Reagan agreed in 1985 “that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” now, “the nuclear threat once again seems real,” with “advocates for arms build-up and the military-industrial complex […] rubbing their hands.” And that, he declares, is absolutely the wrong direction to solve the world’s ills. Instead, war of any kind must be abolished, he writes:

In modern world, wars must be outlawed, because none of the global problems we are facing can be resolved by war—not poverty, nor the environment, migration, population growth, or shortages of resources.

He called on the United Nations Security Council to adopt a resolution—which should be put forth by U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin—that restates that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”

In 2014 Gorbachev warned that the world was “on the brink of a new Cold War”—a situation fueled in part by the U.S. being “tortured by triumphalism.”

More recently, in 2016, he said, “The window to a nuclear weapon-free world…is being shut and sealed right before our eyes.”

“As long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a danger that someday they will be used as a result either of accident or technical failure or of evil intent of man, an insane person or terrorist,” Gorbachev said.

Trump, however, out of step with most of the world, used Twitter to call for an expanded U.S. nuclear arsenal—a fact that contributed to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists this week moving its symbolic Doomsday Clock closer to midnight.

Mikhail Gorbachev: It Appears ‘the World Is Preparing for War’

Stanford historian uncovers a grim correlation between violence and inequality over the millennia
Professor Walter Scheidel examines the history of peace and economic inequality over the past 10,000 years.

What price do we pay for civilization? For Walter Scheidel, a professor of history and classics at Stanford, civilization has come at the cost of glaring economic inequality since the Stone Age. The sole exception, in his account, is widespread violence – wars, pandemics, civil unrest; only violent shocks like these have substantially reduced inequality over the millennia.

“It is almost universally true that violence has been necessary to ensure the redistribution of wealth at any point in time,” said Scheidel, summarizing the thesis of The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, his newly published book.

Surveying long stretches of human history, Scheidel said that “the big equalizing moments in history may not have always had the same cause, but they shared one common root: massive and violent disruptions of the established order.”

This idea is connected to Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century (2013), a New York Times bestseller Scheidel admires. Piketty found that “inequality does not go down by itself because we have economic development,” Scheidel said. “His book covers only 200 years and argues that only violent intervention can make that happen.”

But Scheidel, who has taught a freshman seminar on long-term inequality, wanted to know if this insight can be applied to all of history. He enlisted the help of Andrew Granato, a senior majoring in economics, to compile a bibliography of more than 1,000 titles. The result is a sweeping narrative about the link between inequality and peace that harkens back to the beginning of human civilization.

Formulating such a narrative is no simple task. The Great Leveler primarily relies on the published works of other historians – a challenge, in Scheidel’s view, of trying “to synthesize highly fragmented and specialized scholarship and create a single narrative.”

As an expert on ancient Rome, however, Scheidel is well aware that pre-modern sources are limited and some are invalid. His familiarity with scant ancient sources prepared him to grapple with an abundance of more reliable modern records.

“Looking at the distant past would have been more difficult for a modernist economist or historian,” said Scheidel, for whom it is “generally easier to deal with modern evidence because it is more familiar and thoroughly studied.”

A grim view

Scheidel acknowledges his pessimism about resolving inequality. “Reversing the trend toward greater concentrations of income, in the United States and across the world, might be, in fact, nearly impossible,” he said.

Among the wide variety of catastrophes that level societies, Scheidel identifies what he calls “four horsemen”: mass mobilization or state warfare, transformative revolution, state collapse and plague.

A textbook example of mass mobilization is World War II, a conflict that embroiled many developed countries and, key for Scheidel, “uniformly hugely reduced inequality.” As with Europe and Japan, he said, “in the U.S. there were massive tax increases, state intervention in the economy to support the war effort and increase output, which triggered a redistribution of resources, benefiting workers and harming the interests of the top 1 percent.”

Another “horseman” was the outbreak of the bubonic plague in 14th-century Eurasia. While war wreaks havoc on everything, a pandemic of this magnitude “kills a third of the population, but does not damage the physical infrastructure,” Scheidel said. “As a result, labor becomes scarce, wages grow and the gap between the rich and the poor narrows.”

But inequality ratcheted up the moment the plague subsided and the population began to increase. Soon, large swaths of society would see their benefits erased – a loss that in Scheidel’s account would be briefly reversed after the two world wars in the 20th century.

State collapse has also been crucial in the history of inequality. “The rich are beneficiaries of the state,” Scheidel said, adding that “if states fall apart, everybody is worse off; but the rich have more to lose. Their wealth is wiped out by the destruction of the state, such as in the fall of the Mayan civilization or Chinese dynasties.”

Is change possible?

As for whether reducing inequality will ever be possible in peacetime, Scheidel simply said, “History does not determine the future. Things can change, but change is slow.”

“Business as usual may not be enough,” he said. “We have to think harder about how to bring change in today’s world.”

A peaceful remedy to economic inequality may start with what Scheidel calls “an understanding of historical context, because simply electing the right politicians who promise that everything will be OK is a short-term view.”

For the longer term, Scheidel said, “I am not advocating war, but repeating the same old ideas ignores the lessons of history. Something truly innovative and original may have to happen in order to create lasting change.”

Stanford historian uncovers a grim correlation between violence and inequality over the millennia

Source: ONTD_Political

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