OK

The one thing that the banksters, the theocrats, and the ignorant, racist, hyper-macho, armed-rebellion crowd have in common is a push for a return to a medieval society.

A society where a wealthy aristocracy shall be granted a rakeoff on the peasants hard work, while not paying any taxes themselves. A society where taxes shall be levied (only on the poor) only to payoff the expenses of wars. A society where women shall be chattel, whose value shall be measured by their ability to give birth. A society where slavery (or prison labor) shall not be uncommon. A society where the slightest deviation from religious orthodoxy (including hard scientific data) shall get you put in front of an Inquisition.

As I watch the gush of raw political sewage on display daily (in no particular order):

- no action (but still denial) on climate change even as catastrophes mount,
- a hostage-taking minority in a gerrymandered US House,
- religious freedom for corporate people,
- 24/7 screaming gun-nuttery,
- the war on women,
- algebra is a communist plot,
- the ongoing free pass for Wall St. criminality,
- the downplaying of the last-place statistics for US healthcare
- the continuing failure of the War on Some Drugs
- the criminal waste of resources that is our bloated military establishment...

the only thread I can find in common here is an atavistic desire by victimizers and victims to turn the clock back to a medieval society. (That's my point. The rest of the diary is just commentary on it.)

It makes sense for Wall St. to want to legalize and forever entrench their fraudulent Grand Heist of 2008. It makes sense for theocrats to continue to exploit Freedom of Religion as an avenue to power, ala the Wahabiists of Saudi Arabia. And, if you are an ignorant, white, male loser, it makes sense to call for the overthrow of democracy so that white men go back to being able to boss around and control women and minorities, even as they remain dirt-poor and exploited in a blighted post-industrial landscape. "You can have the women" is an age-old bargain offered to mercenary soldiers.

But the crooks are 1% and the last-ditch nutters are not more than 30% (scary enough). So, how did we get to this point, so soon after FDR?

(If you care, please see my footnote explaining the title of this diary. I moved it there because it broke the flow.)

How can Americans, who have benefitted for 80 years from FDR's New Deal and for 45 years from LBJ's Great Society, be somehow rushing to place the same greedy banksters (a.k.a. rentiers) back in charge of a society they have spent the last thirty years ruining.

How many examples of failure are enough? The IMF admits its Greek policies were disastrously wrong. Estonia is financial wreckage. Ireland is being crucified. Spain is next on the list. All those countries followed the "austerity" pushed by the rentiers. The same suicidal austerity now being pushed by the lunatic right and the greedy rentiers on Wall St.

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If you think "rentier" is a leftist word or even a 20th-century word, you would be wrong. It was a word used by Adam Smith and David Ricardo to describe the dead hand of feudal privilege that was strangling enterprise in England.

Adam Smith and his contemporary classical economists existed in a time where the noble families of medieval Europe were still the large landowners. The nobles had just turned into Rentiers. Because they owned the land, they were able to rent it out to capitalist and workers and claim some of it as their profits and wages by charging “rent”. They were able to do this without ever working. It was unearned income.

Much of the work done by economists from Adam Smith until the late Nineteenth Century was all about finding and identifying “rent-seeking.” These classical economists didn’t want to overthrow capitalism, they wanted to free it from the “rent-seeking” parasites.

Neoclasical econ

A simple definition of rent seeking is spending resources in order to gain by increasing one's share of existing wealth, instead of trying to create wealth. The net effect of rent-seeking is to reduce total social wealth, because resources are spent and no new wealth is created. It is important to distinguish rent-seeking from profit-seeking. Profit-seeking is the creation of wealth, while rent-seeking is the use of social institutions such as the power of government to redistribute wealth among different groups without creating new wealth.

rent seeking

Paul Krugman has no problem with the term, nor does the NYT have a problem with publishing it.
the policy prescriptions of the Pain Caucus all have one thing in common: They protect the interests of creditors, no matter the cost.

Who are these creditors I’m talking about? Not hard-working, thrifty small business owners and workers, although it serves the interests of the big players to pretend that it’s all about protecting little guys who play by the rules. The reality is that both small businesses and workers are hurt far more by the weak economy than they would be by, say, modest inflation that helps promote recovery.

No, the only real beneficiaries of Pain Caucus policies (aside from the Chinese government) are the rentiers: bankers and wealthy individuals with lots of bonds in their portfolios.
Rule by Rentiers (Paul Krugman, 6/10/2011)

To me, the whole political "debate" in our country boils down to modern vs medieval. (If you want to soften that phrasing, you can reference the Retro vs Metro blog from ~2004.) And when you reduce it to that, you can see there cannot be compromise between two conflicting worldviews.

Compromise on particular issues is not the way to win over the lunatics in the retro states that vote against Federal Medicare money, vote to ban Planned Parenthood - the major provider of healthcare to poor women, vote to drive the US into default again and again - even as their states are net recipients of Federal aid and their states lead in bad statistics like teenage pregnancy and divorce.

The mental gap here is about as wide as it was during the 1850s. Large parts of the country live in an alternate reality constructed by a corporate media that is the mouthpiece of big money. They have no idea America was founded by people whose grandfathers had lived through the "no quarter given" religious wars of the 17th century and wanted to make sure it could never happen here.

Lately, I have felt that some kind of crescendo of bombardment by BS is being reached - timed to coincide with the debt "crisis". (See my list of sewage in the intro.) We are being deliberately distracted here; being set up for Shock Doctrine Round 2.

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So, when I watch Obama again, unilaterally throw away all the leverage he has (14th amendment, platinum coin) and stake it all on staring down these nutcases, I get this deja vu feeling. Why? Because I think he might fail? No, because I think he might succeed by giving away substantial parts of the Big Three (Soc Sec, Medicare, Medicaid) and calling it a compromise and a victory. (And then the Democrats lose big in 2014, and the GOP buy it all in 2016.)

And its not like there isn't a precedent for it:

...the century of free market economists who followed Smith would have said, “Tax away unearned rentier income. And do not pay creditors by selling off the public domain to rent-seeking privatizers erecting tollbooths on the economy.” That was precisely the legacy of feudalism that free-market theory was designed to reject, after all.

In view of the conspicuous absence of true free market conservatives, it is clear that President Obama selected members of the Bowles-Simpson commission to provide a rationale – or at least a rhetorical cover story – for turning the U.S. economy into a neofeudal economy increasingly indebted to creditors, enjoying their revenue and “capital” gains (mainly land-price gains that John Stuart Mill’s generation called the “unearned increment”) at the top of the economic pyramid.

http://www.zerohedge.com/... M. Hudson at ZeroHedge]

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I've done my duty, I've voted Democratic. Now, I continue to do my duty by telling all my fellow Democrats to watch these weasels, Corporate Dems as well as GOP lunatics, as closely as you can. They will do another one of these dead-of-night, holiday weekend deals; and we will be screwed again faster than you can say Trans-Pacific Partnership (Oh, more on that some other diary.)

Even if you take away nothing else, this is nothing less than a fight against medieval rule. Every issue that real Democrats fight passionately for is an essential piece of the modern, pluralist, middle-class democracy created by FDR. Their opponents worldview is always reducible to one word: medievalism. The kind of attitude you might find in rural Afghanistan among the Taliban or the Wahabiist fanatics in Saudi Arabia who fund them.

And make no mistake, once the rentiers take all the rest of your money, you are out of options, because this kind of "Christian" does not believe in charity or helping the poor. So, you can vote for modernity or you can wait around to die younger than the rest of the civilized world from some preventable cause, while paying a mandatory tithe to the fundamentalist child-molester of the week.


FOOTNOTE

If you know English history (unlikely), you know that the Restoration of the monarchy happened after the death of Oliver Cromwell and the end of his Protectorate. Nobility and royalty (Charles II) who had fled abroad returned home to re-claim their right to rule. And so they have done, to this day.

Now, Cromwell was a dour Puritan who got on everyone's nerves, and one can see how the people (the majority of non-Puritans) would be glad to see the back of his regime.

Today, America stands ready to welcome back the rapacious financial pirates even as they have spent thirty years impoverishing us.

Originally posted to ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement on Tue Jan 15, 2013 at 02:14 PM PST.

Also republished by Anti-Capitalist Chat.

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