Wednesday, May 24, 2017

'I spit on you again': Russian billionaire renews tirade against Putin rival

Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov publishes second angry video attacking anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, whom he is suing for libel

The Russian billionaire and Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov has launched an embittered online attack on the anti-corruption campaigner and Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Navalny.
Usmanov, who is currently trying to take full control of Arsenal, last week released an angry, personal video tirade, ending with the words: “I spit on you, Alexei Navalny.” On Wednesday he released a second video entitled “I spit on you again”. 
Usmanov has promised to take Navalny to court over the bribery allegations, which he denies, and has also begun an online offensive against the opposition politician.
Ins his latest video, Usmanov casts doubt on Navalny’s claims that the current Russian government is repressive. “You call out from every street corner that you are being persecuted, that the government is ruthless. Ruthless? You spent a whole day in jail. One night, as far as I know. You spent one night in jail, and I spent six years in jail, for nothing.” 
The Kremlin is wary of Navalny’s ability to harness street anger and is unlikely to allow him on to the ballot next year. When travelling around the country to launch his presidential campaign, he has been insulted and assaulted by people he believes are sent by the authorities.

The Guardian Usmanov 

Wayne Madsen: Trump Backs Sunni Radical Islam over Moderate Shi’ism

I had high hopes for Trump, but I knew I was being naïve. But I weren't the only one, Michael Hudson and Max Keiser had high hopes too, lots of people did. We were betting on the unknown as we knew the other lot were rotten.

As terrorists bomb Britain again, the biggest source of Terrorism is ignored in the MSM: Saudi Wahhabism. How can the public be so easily duped, and how can Western governments be so brazen?

President Donald Trump signaled to the nations of the Middle East and Muslim world that he strongly backs radical Sunni Islam, mostly embodied by Saudi Arabia’s brand of Wahhabism, over the emerging moderate Shi’ism on display in Iran. Trump’s first visit to another country as president was Saudi Arabia. Trump was also the only president to make Saudi Arabia his first stop after taking office. The decision to honor Saudi Arabia with such U.S. presidential protocol was a calculated one. 
Trump’s first official act after he landed in Riyadh was to ink a $300 billion arms package with Saudi Arabia. The United States agreed to supply the Saudis with the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system, maritime littoral combat ships for close-in shore combat, and so-called «precision-guided munitions» responsible for so many civilian «collateral damage» deaths in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Pakistan. 
Considering the Wahhabist kingdom’s past and current support for the very same radical jihadists who are committing acts of terrorism in Syria, Yemen, and other nations, it is hypocritical that Trump claimed the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are «jointly» battling against terrorism.. 
Ironically, as Trump was praising Saudi Arabia’s «efforts» against jihadist terrorism, Iran overwhelmingly re-elected moderate President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani ran on a platform of bestowing more freedoms on the Iranian people and opening the country to the rest of the world. A day after Trump’s anti-Iran speech in Riyadh, reformists won all 21 seats in Tehran’s municipal election. Across the board, Iranians, particularly women and minority religious groups, enjoy many more rights than do the Saudi Arabs.  
Trump Backs Sunni Radicals 

Matthew Jamison: Tory Lead Tumblng

This is from Strategic Cultures which my Malwarebytes says is unsafe. I think it's political and the site is okay, but I won't give a link, just this extract. I go to the site using my phone. Stephen Lendman fears that the election will be rigged whatever the polls say. Mathew Jamison is a senior parliamentary at the House of Commons.

Yet their opinion poll lead rather than holding up or growing ahead of Election Day set for Thursday June 8th is actually declining as the campaign wears on. With so much of the mainstream press in Britain backing Theresa May's Tory Party and the overwhelmingly hostile campaign of nearly all the newspapers and members of his own Parliamentary Party, Mr. Corbyn, had been pronounced by many in the London media and indeed within his party in the House of Commons as a dead man walking with no hope of slashing the Tory lead let alone consistently week on week bring it down by 3-4%. Now the Tories once mighty lead has fallen by nearly 10 % in the space of three weeks or so. At this rate come election day it may even be tied between Labour and the Conservatives or a few points separating them. 
How has this happened. Well, it would appear that while most of Mr. Corbyn's Parliamentary Party were plotting his downfall with various journalists he and the Labour Leadership have been developing rich policy work across a range of public policy areas in need of drastic reform. Since the formal launch of the campaign all we have had from Theresa May and her Conservatives is one vacuous slogan: «Strong and Stable leadership.» Nothing on the NHS and the funding crisis it and schools in Britain are facing. Nothing on plans to update and improve Britain's appalling infrastructure; nothing to help bring down the cost of living holding shark landlords and extortionate rents to account. Nothing on the job creation of the future. Basically on all the important domestic policies which affect people's lives, Theresa May and the Conservative Party have said and presented nothing. 
Meanwhile, the Labour Party have been rolling out what appear to be well thought out; costed and popular policies with key constituencies across the UK. Many people have started to say that Jeremy Corbyn's message on the home front or his foreign policy views make a great deal of sense and he is not the Stalinist madman that the likes of the Daily Mail and the Sun have made him out to be while Mrs. May's vacuous, meaningless slogan «strong and stable leadership» is starting to wear very thin with little policy meat on the bones to back it up and what there is such as the «dementia tax» are thoroughly nasty, horrible policies. Mrs. May; her inadequate team and the party she leads may find come polling day they squandered one of the largest opinion poll leads in the shortest space of time imaginable. 

Robert Parry: New Cracks in Russia-gate ‘Assessment’

When this finally all falls apart I'm going to have a field day at the Guardian, as I've said before. Now doubt the MSM will have some way of trying to worm out of it, but the Real News sites will have them by the short and curleys. This is a pretty damping report by Robert Parry. What really gets me is how RT is accused of messing in US politics and affairs because it runs reports on fracking and Occupy, and also because it presents third party candidates more, when in fact, a large part of the electorate vote independent.

On Tuesday, former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee that only four of the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies took part in the assessment, relying on analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the oversight of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.  
However, the restricted nature of the Jan. 6 report – limiting it to analysts from CIA, NSA and FBI – blocked the kind of expertise that the State Department, the Defense Department, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies might have provided. In other words, the Jan. 6 report has the look of pre-cooked intelligence. 
Yet, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion. For instance, if the analysts were known to be hard-liners on Russia or supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could be expected to deliver the one-sided report that they did. 
There were other biases reflected in the ICA, such as a bizarre appendix that excoriated RT, the Russian television network, for supposedly undermining Americans’ confidence in their democratic process. 
This seven-page appendix, dating from 2012, accused RT of portraying “the US electoral process as undemocratic” and offered such “proof” as RT’s staging of a debate among third-party presidential candidates who had been excluded from the Republican-Democratic debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. 
“RT broadcast, hosted and advertised third-party candidate debates,” the report said, as if allowing political figures in the United States who were not part of the two-party system to express their views, was somehow anti-democratic, when you might think that letting Americans hear alternatives was the essence of democracy. 
New Cracks in Russia-gate ‘Assessment’

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Zero Hedge — Here Are The 66 Programs That Trump's Budget Eliminates

President Trump's fiscal 2018 budget proposal would completely eliminate 66 federal programs, for a savings of $26.7 billion. [emphasis added]
Got that? 26.7 billion in savings!

Just what a sovereign currency issuer needs, right? (snark)

Zero Hedge
Here Are The 66 Programs That Trump's Budget Eliminates
Tyler Durden

Robert Waldmann — $ 2.1 trillion here $ 2.1 trillion there and soon you’re talking real money

They are into deep Voodoo. 
Also known as "ledgerdemain."

$ 2.1 trillion here $ 2.1 trillion there and soon you’re talking real money
Robert Waldmann

Zero Hedge — Yuan Tumbles As Moody's Downgrades China To A1, Warns On Worsening Debt Outlook

Zero Hedge
Yuan Tumbles As Moody's Downgrades China To A1, Warns On Worsening Debt Outlook
Tyler Durden

Dirk Ehnts— Maastricht Summer School: Modern Monetary Theory and European Macroeconomics

Bravo, Dirk.

econoblog 101
Maastricht Summer School: Modern Monetary Theory and European Macroeconomics
Dirk Ehnts | Lecturer at Bard College Berlin

Jimmy Dore: Corporate News Tool Gets Shut Down By Progressive

This is good. Sarah Champion of The British Labour Party takes on the biased corporate media. I thought she was so articulate that she should go for the Labour Party leadership one day.

I am running for president in 2020. Please support my campaign.


I am running for President of the United States in 2020 and I need your help. I am an MMT trained economist. The United States is a currency issuing nation and as such, we have no limits on the amount of money we can invest in ourselves and our citizenry. My presidency will spend to invest in infrastructure, health care for all, basic science and research, care for the elderly, alternative energy, protection of our environment, education and much more. Furthermore, I will work to rein in Wall St and curb speculation. Banks are agents of the government and should lend in the public purpose. We will end foreign wars and stop the Deep State and their desire for world domination and the wanton killing of millions for the profits of a few. We will normalize relations with Russia. America has no limits. We have no constraints. We can have equality for all and I will provide it. We are most certainly NOT "out of money." That is ludicrous. And the bankers and financiers who dominate our politics, they will be gone under my administration. I promise you. I know how to do it. I can do it in 90 days. Give me a chance.
Please go here to fund. Thank you.

Mike Norman

Bill Mitchell — There is more to the Job Guarantee literature than a few blog posts

I have noticed a new phenomenon – a sort of new myopia – has emerged as the blogoshphere has expanded. The knowledge set that people think they are empowering themselves with becomes rather constricted – sometimes to a selection of blogs they may have read, sometimes even to the last blog they read on a topic. So we get a range of views and prognostications emerging – held out as expert commentary in many cases – upon the basis of perhaps just a few blogs having been read. As a long-term blogger, I also see this syndrome in the comments section of blogs. Someone new turns up it seems having read the latest offering from someone and launches into an array of criticisms which have been previously addressed but the commentator hasn’t bothered to read. 
The point is that research is a lengthy process and opinions should only be formed with conviction when one is convinced they have read all the major offerings in the area of interest and considered the evidence base. 
Which brings me to the real point. 
Before I wrote blogs I had generated 25 or so years of academic research material – in journal articles, books, book chapters, commissioned reports – hundreds of items of work. That is standard fare for an active researcher chasing competitive grants. That is where one’s contribution to ‘knowledge’ (as far as it is) is to be found. I only started writing blogs as a way of promoting Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) to a broader audience that would never read my academic work. I think that has been a successful strategy. But it has also created this ‘new myopia’. 
People think that the knowledge set available lies exclusively in blogs. It doesn’t. My blogs cut corners in writing style, referencing, and leave things unsaid that a more formal treatment would cover. The aim of the blog is accessibility and to provide an introduction to ideas which will encourage readers to delve further and arm themselves with deeper knowledge so as to promote informedprogressive activism. A case in point is recent deliberations about one of my pet topics – the Job Guarantee.

A week or so ago (May 16, 2017), the Washington-based Centre for American Progress published an Op Ed – Toward a Marshall Plan for America.... [paragraphing introduced for readability in this format.
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
There is more to the Job Guarantee literature than a few blog posts
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Shaping the Future: Moscow and Beijing’s Multipolar World Order

Paul Craig Roberts said that many of the elite should go on trail for treason. They stripped our countries advances in manufacturing sent it abroad. Now the West had lost that advance which would have provided a good standard of living for people in Western cultures.

Michael Hudson said how academics and economists in the 50's asked how were we going to spend our extra leisure time in the new technological age? I remember how my 40 hour week was reduced to 38 hours and they said this was just the beginning. Then later it got reversed, and some rival companies went to a 42 hourly week.

Beijing has been the world’s economic engine for over two decades and shows no signs of slowing down, at least not too much. Moscow, contrary to western media propaganda, has returned to play a role not only on a regional scale but as a global power. Both of these paths of military and economic growth for China and Russia have set things on a collision course with the United States, the current global superpower that tends to dominate international relations with economic, political and military bullying thanks to a complicit media and corrupt politicians. 
In the case of Beijing, the process of globalization has immensely enhanced the country, allowing the Asian giant to become the world’s factory, enabling Western countries to outsource to low-cost labor. In this process of economic growth, Beijing has over the years gone from being a simple paradise for low-cost outsourcing for private companies to being a global leader in investment and long-term projects. The dividends of years of wealth accumulation at the expense of Western nations has allowed Beijing to be more than just a strategic partner for other nations. China drives the process of globalization, as recently pointed out by Xi Jinping in Davos in a historic speech. China’s transition from a harmless partner of the West to regional power with enormous foreign economic investments place the country on a collision course with Washington. Inevitably, Beijing will become the Asian hegemon, something US policymakers have always guaranteed will not be tolerated.
Shaping the Future: Moscow and Beijing’s Multipolar World Order

Robert Greenstein — Trump Budget Proposes Path to a New Gilded Age

President Trump’s new budget should lay to rest any belief that he’s looking out for the millions of people the economy has left behind. He proposes steep cuts in basic health, nutrition, and other important assistance for tens of millions of struggling, low- and modest-income Americans, even as he calls for extremely large tax cuts for the nation’s wealthiest people and profitable corporations.
This disturbing budget would turn the United States into a coarser nation, making life harder for most of those struggling to get by but more luxurious for those at the very top. Most Americans do not seek a new Gilded Age. And the budget is sharply at odds with what the President told voters he would do during his campaign. With this budget, the President betrays many voters who placed their trust in him.
In fact, this stands as the most radical, Robin-Hood-in-reverse budget that any modern President has ever proposed. Consider the combined effects of the health, tax, and spending policies that he’s outlined:
Ultimate supply side: drastic cuts in social welfare to fund enormous tax cuts for the wealthy on the assumption that this will stimulate domestic investment and create "millions of US jobs."

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
Greenstein: Trump Budget Proposes Path to a New Gilded Age
Robert Greenstein | President CBPP

Monday, May 22, 2017

Andrew Lainton — Why an Economic Equilibrium is not Like a Physical Equilibrium

Conservative v. dissipative systems, and information transfer.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
Why an Economic Equilibrium is not Like a Physical Equilibrium
Andrew Lainton

Beowulf — Health is the War of The State

The first step of any political reform, I’ve always believed, is to figure out how to achieve the desired goal with the minimum number of changes to the existing legal structure. [Beowulf if a lawyer.] As I’ve written before, Obama’s healthcare plan should have simply been a universal plan similar to Medicare (if not Medicare itself) that covered every American from the day they were born instead of when they turned 65. It would have been faster, cheaper, more universal (as in 100%) and more popular. It was a mistake Obama didn’t take that route and unlike Bill Clinton, he didn’t have an excuse for it....
Beowulf tells how to get there with Pete Stark's Americare and why the Democrats Medicare for All bill (HR 676) is a non-starter the way it is written.

As a lawyer, Beowulf thinks of policy in terms of the actual bills that would need to be passed into law. This involves getting from here (status quo) to there (desired objective), along with what it would take politically to do so. This is something that economists and a lot of public policy people miss.

Monetary Realism
Health is the War of The State

David Graeber: Debt: the Myth of Barter

Adam Smith got it wrong about primitive society where he said that people bartered, says David Graeber. What they had was a kind of mental debt system. You'd help someone one day, or give them something, but you expected the favour returned on another day if you needed it.

In the second chapter David Graeber explodes a foundational myth of economics. In textbooks all around the world the history of economics is summarized thusly: first came barter, then money, only later were credit and debt invented. The problem with this presentation is that “barter” economies pretty much never existed. We don’t find them either in anthropological study of any human cultures around the world, nor in historical records anywhere. In fact, the very first records of any kind are of credits and debits in Mesopotamian tablets. 
But the story of barter is so ingrained in us we probably find the fact that it didn’t really happen dumbfounding. I mean, of course people barter. Don’t they? If I have wheat and you have ham and I want ham but I don’t have any money I just trade you my wheat for your ham, right? 
Graeber shows how the idea of barter was created in exactly this way: as a thought experiment by economists trying to explain their discipline. But the myth of barter was never really compared against actual human societies. It was was simply assumed that barter must be what people do when they don’t have money and all sorts of imaginary scenarios were concocted, without reference to historical records, to explain the invention of money and gradually increasing complexity of this new thing they called “the economy”. 
Economists imagine that complications arising from barter are what gave the impetus for creating money. For example they describe something called the double coincidence of needs: you and I both have to need what the other has for a direct trade to work. But the truth is much simpler. Barter doesn’t work in a small village or tribal setting because it presumes antagonism between the people involved in the exchange. If we live in a village where we see each other on a daily basis though, we can’t afford this kind of antagonism. I can’t seek my own gain at your loss because we are in a long-term relationship. Instead we will come up with a way of accounting for debts. When you need wheat I will give it to you with the understanding that when I need ham you will return the favour. 
Here is what I think the take-away from this mistaken historiography should be: the foundational myth of economics establishes the entire system on the basis of antagonistic transactions of self-interest when in truth the story of debt is a story about human relationships. Debt was originally the answer to the question of how you and I can meet each others’ needs and remain friends.

The Myth of Barter

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bill Mitchell — Humans are intrinsically anti neo-liberal

Over the course of my academic career and even outside of that I have often been regaled with the claim (as if it is science) that capitalism is the ‘natural’ system for humans because our nature biases us to competitiveness and selfishness. 
So Marx’s famous epithet in his Critique of the Gotha program (1875) – “from each according to their ability to each according to their need” – was dismissed as being against our natural tendencies – a denial of basic human nature. 
It then followed that planned economies and economies where governments intervened strongly to ensure equitable distribution of opportunities and outcomes, was in some way contrived and would surely fail because our human nature would find ways to thwart such interference. 
This has been a compelling and dominant narrative over the last several decades as neo-liberal think tanks, biased media outlets, and politicians from both sides of politics (homogenised into a common economic mantra) reinforced it continuously in print, spoken word and policy. 
We shifted from living in societies where collective will and equity was deemed important organising principles to living in economies where every outcome was in the hands of the individual – including mass unemployment – and the concept of systemic failure that could be ameliorated by state intervention was rejected. State intervention was cast as the devil. 
It is no surprise that economic outcomes for a rising proportion of the population deteriorated as we shifted from society to economy – from collectivism to individualism. 
It turns out that the research into human nature, motivation, decision-making etc largely rejects the ‘competitive selfish individual’ narrative. We are intrinsically cooperative and care about equity. Our basic propensities appear to be collective and cooperative. Funny about that. [paragraphing added for ease of reading on this blog format]
Bill Mitchell – billy blog
Humans are intrinsically anti neo-liberal
Bill Mitchell | Professor in Economics and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), at University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Jianghong Li and Wen-Jui Han — Our 24/7 economy and the wealth of nations

Inventing new ways of  killing ourselves and impairing our children.

Asia Times
Our 24/7 economy and the wealth of nations
Jianghong Li, Senior Research Fellow, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.and Wen-Jui Han, Director of NYU-ECNU Institute for Social Development and Affiliate Professor, NYU Shanghai

James Petras — President Emmanuel Macron: Reversing Five Decades of Working-Class Power

Not difficult to see where this is headed.

James Petras Website
President Emmanuel Macron: Reversing Five Decades of Working-Class Power
James Petras | Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Brad Voracek — Doughnut Economics – Grab a pencil, draw a doughnut!

Many of us know we need to rethink economics, but Kate Raworth actually did it.|Envisioning the economy as a doughnut, two boundaries become clear. If we fall into the doughnut’s middle hole, human needs fail to be met. If we drop off of the outer edge, life is unsustainable.
You should always be weary of people who seek to get the “first lick” on a young impressionable brain. Paul Samuelson knew that by writing a successful economics textbook, he could influence how students frame the economy, and thus the world. From the 50’s to the 70’s, his textbook was the most widely used in introductory economics courses.
Today, that role has been given to Gregory Mankiw’s “Macroeconomics” (see the Open Syllabus Project). Both view the economy in the same narrow way, with the same simple pictures that don’t seem useful today. Raworth’s Doughnut Economics breaches the pattern and envisions a new economics, for a new generation with clearly defined challenges and scant tools to solve them....

See also

Seven Ways to Transform 21st-Century Economics — and Economists
Kate Raworth | senior visiting research associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute and a senior associate of the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

The Next System
A New Cooperative Economy
By Guy Dauncey

Neil Wilson — The Job Guarantee: What Will People Do?

If you’ve come here looking for a list, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed. The Job Guarantee isn’t a list of things to do, because, unsurprisingly, the people who designed it weren’t fans of central planning.
Instead we’ll go through the Job Guarantee in detail and explain that it is a process, not a destination. We’ll explain what it does and why it is there — using a slightly different viewpoint from normal....
The Job Guarantee is a mechanism for creating jobs of social value. It is a dynamic system that enables and supports the creation of jobs that provide public service to others and that others consider to be of public service.
Nobody has any idea what jobs the Job Guarantee will create or not create because that is left to the Social Entrepreneurs to decide based upon the forces they respond to.
In this view of a JG, the currency issuing government doesn't create the jobs directly by employing people, but rather indirectly by providing the  supporting institutional structure and funding for job creation by social value entrepreneurs operating on the basis of creating social value through innovation instead of market value like the private sector.

Modern Money Matters
The Job Guarantee: What Will People Do?
Neil Wilson

Phil Price — An obvious (?) fact about constrained systems.

In economics the constraints are restrictive assumptions introduced for tractability and simplification.

The post makes the point that when one constraint is relaxed in a precise way in that can be measured with respect to the system, the response of the system is knowable. This is how economic models are used.

However, if all the constraints imposed by the restrictive assumptions of economic models are removed, as they are in the real world, the behavior of the actual system becomes unknowable from the model, a point that Keynes noticed and pointed out.

This is a reason it is difficult to develop models that work as representational models where human motivation and behavior is involved. Such models are infected with uncertainty. As a financial speculator, Keynes was well aware of this as a person that had written a book on probability theory.

As Richard Feyman said, "Imagine how much harder physics would be if electrons had feelings!"

Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science
An obvious (?) fact about constrained systems.
Phil Price

Brett Arends — Opinion: Greece’s Varoufakis reveals the worst kept secret in Europe in his tell-all book

Forget all the claims and protestations about “families of nations” and a “new Europe” and “the European project.” The European Union, and especially the eurozone, is a German empire.

The new capital of Europe is not Brussels — let alone Strasbourg, the home of the European Parliament — but Berlin. The ultimate power of the EU is not the president of the European Commission, but the chancellor of Germany.…
And Germany is a pretty much a vassal of the US.
In other words, the Greeks had to be punished in order to terrify the rest of the continent. 
If you can think of any historical parallels for this German behavior in Europe, go right ahead.
Just German leaders being German leaders.
On the positive side, it surely means the euro is the deutsche mark in drag, and a harder currency than outsiders credit. Achtung, baby.
This is the point of the EZ in the eyes of Germany. The euro is the DM in disguise and Germany gets a discount on its currency.

The conclusion? The European project that manifested in the EU and the EZ only works if Germany leaves. But the point of the European project was to put a harness on Germany.

Opinion: Greece’s Varoufakis reveals the worst kept secret in Europe in his tell-all book
Brett Arends

Asad Zaman — The Human Development Revolution

The Human Development approach of Mahbubul Haq was carried further by Amartya Sen, who defined development as the freedom to develop human capabilities. This notion, closely aligned with Eastern thought, was so alien to orthodox economists that they rejected it. Consequently, a new human-centred field of development studies emerged, which combined many streams of dissent from orthodoxy.
Freedom to develop human capabilities and human-centeredness are fundamental tenets of the Western liberal tradition that began in ancient Greece, as well as the philosophical raison d'être of the tradition.

This is the thrust of Aristotle's Nichomachean Ethics, for example, the analysis of which concludes that happiness (Gk: εὐδαιμονία eudaimonia) is a byproduct of the pursuit of excellence (ἀρετή arete). Eudaimonia literally means "good spirit." "Spirit" here is not some mystification but rather point to the non-material aspect of human being that makes a person a rational animal capable of theoretical and practical wisdom. Human are characterized by their having a rational principle (λόγον ἔχον).

Thus, humans can experience both happiness (eudaimonia), which is of the rational principle, and also pleasure (Gk: hedone), which is of the animal nature.

Happiness as "utility" is a Benthamite version of hedonism that views happiness as material pleasure , which Aristotle argued against as insufficient. J. S. Mill was aware of this distinction of Aristotle when he wrote with reference to Bentham:
It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinions, it is because they only know their side of the question. — Utilitarianism: Chapter 2: What Utilitarianism Is (Part 1)
For Aristotle, happiness is a byproduct of living a good life in a good society, where a person progressively develops one's potential as both a human being and as an individual. All persons have the same potential as humans, that is, human excellence as a "spiritual" aspect, and all humans, being embodied and living in historical social circumstances, have a unique personality and individual potential both constitutionally (nature) and contingently (nurture). Human life is about living one's full individual potential socially and according to Aristotle, this can only be achieved by aiming for excellence as a human person.

Subsequently, Christian thinkers developed this in a theological context, and after the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the rise of capitalism, this was expressed naturalistically in Western liberalism, of which there are various strains, such as J. S. Mill in England and Wilhelm von Humboldt in Germany.

Unfortunately, economists adopted and adapted Jeremy Bentham's version, likely because it is a natural fit with homo economicus and it lends itself to mathematical tractability in terms of utility functions.

To deal with this, Zaman explains how Mahbub ul Haq developed the Human Development Index (HDI), which measures a variety of factors as indicators, as a better way to measure development than GDP, which measures development only in terms of wealth accumulation on a per capita basis.
The Human Development Index (HDI) is a composite statistic of life expectancy, education, and per capita income indicators, which are used to rank countries into four tiers of human development. A country scores higher HDI when the lifespan is higher, the education level is higher, and the GDP per capita is higher. The HDI was developed by the Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq,[1] often framed in terms of whether people are able to "be" and "do" desirable things in their life, and was published by the United Nations Development Programme. — Wikipedia
Real-World Economics Review Blog
The Human Development Revolution
Asad Zaman | Vice Chancellor, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics and former Director
General, International Institute of Islamic Economics, International Islamic University Islamabad

Professor Cohen Says Assault on Trump is 'National Security Threat', 'Beyond Belief'

Steven Cohen, Professor of Russian studies at Princeton and NYU (an obvious Russian spy) was besides himself tonight, in sheer disbelief over the with hunt of gigantic nothing-burgers that are being used to assault the Presidency of Donald Trump.
He declared, "today, I would say (the greatest threat to national security) is this assault on President Trump. Let's be clear what he's being accused of is treason. This has never happened in America, that we had a Russian agent in the White House. Cohen believes Flynn did nothing wrong by talking to the Russian ambassador, describing it as 'his job' to do so. 
He then illuminated the indelible fact that there is a 4th branch of government, the intelligence community, who have been meddling in American foreign affairs, obstructing the other 3 branches of government. 
"In 2016, President Obama worked out a deal with Russian President Putin for military cooperation in Syria. He said he was gonna share intelligence with Russia, just like Trump and the Russians were supposed to do the other day. Our department of defense said it wouldn't share intelligence. And a few days later, they killed Syrian soldiers, violating the agreement, and that was the end of that. So, we can ask, who is making our foreign policy in Washington today?" 
Professor Cohen added, "you and I have to ask a subversive question, are there really three branches of government, or is there a 4th branch of government? These intel services. What we know, as a fact, is that Obama tried, not very hard but he tried for a military alliance with Putin, in Syria, against terrorism and it was sabotaged by the department of defense and its allies in the intelligence services."

Simon Black: I never knew how screwed up global banking was until I started my own bank

Despite massive profits banks use ages old technology leading to massive security risks. All the money goes to bankers bonuses.

After so many run-ins with the bitter incompetence and bureaucratic indignity of the banking system, I decided once and for all that I would start my own bank.
The deeper I went, the more overwhelming my discoveries of how shockingly inept, obsolete, and out of touch the industry is. 
It’s one thing to read about it in the headlines. It’s quite another to experience it first hand as an insider. 
Here’s a great example: you know how it seems commonplace these days to hear about banks getting hacked? Well, there’s a very good reason for that. 
Every bank runs on something called “core banking software”, which is sort of a central financial database that keeps track of all accounts and transactions.
Core banking software is the most critical component of any bank’s technological infrastructure. 
Yet ironically, the software that many of the most established banks use was originally written in either Fortran or COBOL, both 60-year old programming languages that date back to the late 1950s. 
SWIFT is a worldwide banking network that links allows financial institutions to send and receive messages about wire transfers and payments.
SWIFT is absolutely critical to global banking and handles billions of transactions and messages each year. 
So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that SWIFT runs on Windows Vista an obsolete operating system that Microsoft no longer supports. 
When my bank received its SWIFT code, we were told that we had to have a computer running Vista in the office in order to connect to SWIFT. 
It was such an absurd exercise to find an obsolete computer running an obsolete operating system to connect to the supposedly most advanced and important international payment network in the world.

The Screwd Up Banking Sector


Old news now but great to watch. Peter Ford, former British ambassador to Syria, wrecks the BBC's attempt to push western propaganda. Peter Ford completely destroys the Western narrative about the recent chemical attack in Syria.

Blogger can't find the video but this link works.

Peter Ford Wrecks Western Propaganda

Paul Street: How Russia Became Our Adversary Again

The Soviet Union is now long gone and Russia has become a free market capitalist state, so why is it the Western enemy No 1? Below is a quote from Mike Whitney.

What has Russia done to deserve all the negative press and unsupported claims of criminal meddling?…Just look at a map. For the last 16 years, the US has been rampaging across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Washington intends to control critical oil and natural gas reserves in the ME, establish military bases across Central Asia, and remain the dominant player in an area of that is set to become the most populous and prosperous region of the world…" 
“But one country has upset that plan, blocked that plan, derailed that plan. Russia. Russia has stopped Washington’s murderous marauding and genocidal depredations in Ukraine and Syria, which is why the US foreign policy establishment is so pissed-off.  US elites aren’t used to obstacles.” 
“For the last quarter of a century – since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union – the world had been Washington’s oyster. If the president of the United States wanted to invade a country in the Middle East, kill a million people, and leave the place in a smoldering pile of rubble, then who could stop him? …Nobody.  Because Washington owns this fu**ing planet and everyone else is just a visitor…Capisce?.” 
“But now all that’s changed. Now evil Putin has thrown up a roadblock to US hegemony in Syria and Ukraine. Now Washington’s land-bridge to Central Asia has been split in two, and its plan to control vital pipeline corridors from Qatar to the EU is no longer viable. Russia has stopped Washington dead-in-its tracks and Washington is furious.” 
“The anti-Russia hysteria in the western media is equal to the pain the US foreign policy establishment is currently experiencing. And the reason the foreign policy establishment is in so much pain, is because they are not getting their way.  It’s that simple. Their global strategy is in a shamble because Russia will not let them topple the Syrian government, install their own puppet regime, redraw the map of the Middle East, run roughshod over international law, and tighten their grip on another battered war-torn part of the world.” 
“So now… Putin must be demonized and derided. The American people must be taught to hate Russia and all-things Russian…Russia must be blamed for anything and everything under the sun…”

How Russia Became Our Adversary Again

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Travers Child — Reconstruction and conflict: Losing hearts and minds

The pervasive ‘hearts and minds’ theory guiding counterinsurgency doctrine contends that military-led reconstruction reduces violence in post-conflict settings.| Using rare data from Afghanistan, this column questions the theoretical and empirical basis of that perspective. Military-led projects in the health sector are found to successfully alleviate violence, whereas those in the education sector actually provoke conflict. The destabilising effects of education projects are strongest in conservative areas, where public opinion polls suggest education projects breed antipathy towards international forces.
Imposing liberal values creates conflict in traditional areas. Another paradox of liberalism.
Reconstruction and conflict: Losing hearts and minds
Travers Child | PhD candidate in Economics, Tinbergen Institute and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

David Beer — The power of money: how the rich took hold of our monetary systems to make themselves richer

On Ann Pettifor’s The Production of Money: How to Break the Power of Bankers
Open Democracy
The power of money: how the rich took hold of our monetary systems to make themselves richer
David Beer | Reader in Sociology at the University of York