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After the Hurricanes by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Hurricane Harvey, followed quickly by Irma, left in its wake upended lives and enormous property damage, estimated by some at $150-180 billion. But the pummeling that America received also raise deep questions about its economic system and politics.

to read the article by Joseph E. Stiglitz published on September 8, 2017 on Project Syndicate, click on

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/learning-from-harvey-govern

Effective government investments and strong regulations are needed to ensure each of these outcomes, regardless of the prevailing political culture in Texas and elsewhere. Without adequate regulations, individuals and firms have no incentive to take adequate precautions, because they know that much of the cost of extreme events will be borne by others. Without adequate public planning and regulation, including of the environment, flooding will be worse. Without disaster planning and adequate funding, any city can be caught in the dilemma in which Houston found itself: if it does not order an evacuation, many will die; but if it does order an evacuation, people will die in the ensuing chaos, and snarled traffic will prevent people from getting out.

America and the world are paying a high price for devotion to the extreme anti-government ideology embraced by President Donald Trump and his Republican Party. The world is paying, because cumulative US greenhouse-gas emissions are greater than those from any other country; even today, the US is one of the world’s leaders in per capita greenhouse-gas emissions. But America is paying a high price as well: other countries, even poor developing countries, like Haiti and Ecuador, seem to have learned (often at great expense and only after some huge calamities) how to manage natural disasters better.

After the destruction of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the shutdown of much of New York City by Sandy in 2012, the devastation wrought on Texas by Harvey, and now the prospect of Irma pummeling Florida, the US can and should do better. It has the resources and skills to analyze these complex events and their consequences, and to formulate and implement regulations and investment programs that mitigate the adverse effects on lives and property.

What America doesn’t have is a coherent view of government by those on the right, who, working with special interests that benefit from their extreme policies, continue to speak out of both sides of their mouth. Before a crisis, they resist regulations and oppose government investment and planning; afterwards, they demand – and receive – billions of dollars to compensate them for their losses, even those that could easily have been prevented.

One can only hope that America, and other countries, will not need more natural persuasion before taking to heart the lessons of Hurricane Harvey.

Posted in Articles, Environmental Economics | Leave a comment

Trump and Climate Change by Helmut Selinger

Human activities have contributed decisively to the ice loss in the Arctic. In his short term in office, Trump and his accessories in the government rescinded two dozen regulations to protect the climate and the environment. The climate, peace and anti-racism movements must join forces to help end the old Trump tricks.

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/09/12/18802843.php

Posted in Environmental Economics | Leave a comment

Donald Trump is an Extreme Narcissist by Hans-Jurgen Wirth

Hans-Jurgen Wirth, b. 1951, is a psychoanalyst with his own practice, a professor of psychoanalytic social psychology in Frankfurt and a publisher. His most important book is “Narcissism and Power” (2002).

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2017/09/435041.shtml
Not a day passes on which Donald Trump does not say, post or tweet something to which the large part of the world asks: Is he serious?!? His speeches and appearances are so absurd that the men of action of the “House of Cards” couldn’t have done better. Trump is a textbook narcissist, says Prof. Dr. Hans-Jurgen Wirth. Prof. Wirth is a psychoanalyst who researched the theme narcissism and power for a long time. Wirth also gives hope in the PULS interview. Many narcissists fail in a grandiose way.

Narcissist characteristics include an exaggerated notion of one’s significance, inability to sympathize with other persons and develop empathy and compassion, and his tendency to exaggerate, lie and deceive. He basically acts like a con-man or a fake. He has great problems in reacting to criticism. He is immediately offended and strikes back. These are all features that are striking in narcissist personalities.

How do narcissist disturbances arise?

In general, narcissist personality disturbances originate in early childhood. The parents were often insensitive, psychically misused their child, took advantage, manipulated and exploited the child for their own interests. The self-esteem or ego of the child was deformed and this was later expressed in certain behavior.

In your book “Narcissism and Power: On the Psychoanalysis of Psychic Disturbances in Politics,” you write that narcissistically disturbed persons strive for power. Why is that?

Narcissist personalities strive for power because they can induce or force other persons to give them acknowledgment in this way. Narcissists want to be admired. When they have power, they can then buy this recognition and admiration from other persons. Therefore power and narcissism are very closely coupled.

Do you know politicians who are not narcissists?

A healthy narcissism in the sense of a healthy self-esteem and a pathological, obsessive narcissism that is excessive must be distinguished. Narcissism is a quality that every person has. That can be more or less good and subject to fluctuations. A healthy esteem and a desire to prevail are very helpful if one wants to gain important positions in the economy, society or politics. All leading personalities in politics and other areas have a marked self-esteem and even a narcissist ego. With Trump, this is a very distinct, obsessive and exaggerated form of self-importance.

Narcissists are often persons who are rather unsympathetic to many other people. How can Trump be so successful?

All narcissists are not unconditionally unsympathetic. Many persons admire narcissists. When they identify with narcissists, they can even imagine themselves in a different way. “I would like to be that ruthless. I would like to be someone who presents himself unabashedly in public and demands admiration.” This is something one can admire and find very attractive in a figure like Trump.

Posted in Articles, Political Theory | Leave a comment

The 4th Estate is not For the State

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now has said the media is the 4th estate, not “for the state.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, pastor and theologian put to death by the Nazis in 1944 and the highest name in Germany, said the ultimate is the model of the penultimate.

Chaos comes on the quiet when research and public spending are sacrificed to corporate profit and when regulation is irrationally demonized and security jobs eclipse all job creation. Government involves compromise, countermeasures, negotiation and checks and balances and can’t be reduced to “deals” or “profiteering.”

The US media could upend and embarrass Trump instead of legitimating an incompetent and ignorant billionaire buffoon. The media could hearken back to civic traditions of compromise, countermeasures, negotiations, checks and balances and 2000 years of social contracts instead of accepting corporate tax avoidance and tax evasion. Revenue shortfalls mean social misery and political incompetence, exploding inequality, and neoliberal mythology. The one thing we learn from history, Albert Einstein said, is that we don’t learn from history!

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www.grin.com gives reading samples for their 189K eBooks and dissertations. A universe of knowledge and enlightenment opens up. Enjoy the feast – in the land of reversible cups!

Posted in Political Theory, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution | Leave a comment

Harvey Didn’t Come Out of the Blue. Now is the Time to Talk About Climate Change by Naomi Klein

Harvey Didn’t Come Out of the Blue. Now is the Time to Talk About Climate Change
by Naomi Klein

to read Naomi Klein’s article published in The Intercept August 28, 2017, click on

https://theintercept.com/2017/08/28/harvey-didnt-come-out-of-the-blue-no/

to read George Monbiot’s “The Purse is Mightier than the Pen” published on Aug 5, 2017, click on
https://voxpopulisphere.com/2016/08/05/george-monbiot-the-purse-is-mightier-than-the-pen/

Now is exactly the time to talk about climate change, and all the other systemic injustices — from racial profiling to economic austerity — that turn disasters like Harvey into human catastrophes.

Turn on the coverage of the Hurricane Harvey and the Houston flooding and you’ll hear lots of talk about how unprecedented this kind of rainfall is. How no one saw it coming, so no one could adequately prepare.

What you will hear very little about is why these kind of unprecedented, record-breaking weather events are happening with such regularity that “record-breaking” has become a meteorological cliche. In other words, you won’t hear much, if any, talk about climate change.

This, we are told, is out of a desire not to “politicize” a still unfolding human tragedy, which is an understandable impulse. But here’s the thing: every time we act as if an unprecedented weather event is hitting us out of the blue, as some sort of Act of God that no one foresaw, reporters are making a highly political decision. It’s a decision to spare feelings and avoid controversy at the expense of telling the truth, however difficult. Because the truth is that these events have long been predicted by climate scientists. Warmer oceans throw up more powerful storms. Higher sea levels mean those storms surge into places they never reached before. Hotter weather leads to extremes of precipitation: long dry periods interrupted by massive snow or rain dumps, rather than the steadier predictable patterns most of us grew up with.

Posted in Environmental Economics, Essays | Leave a comment

The Madness of Caligula

According to the German editor Heribert Prantl, Caligula showed his madness by appointing a goat to his seat in the Roman senate. His successor burned all his decrees and orders.
The Madness of Caligula

http://www.ancient-origins.net/history-famous-people/madness-caligula-00

The story of Caligula is a legacy that goes back thousands of years. In his short life of only 29 years he experienced horrific tragedy, a deep hatred for the man who killed his family, great power as the Emperor of Rome, and eventually, a brutal death. While his reign as Emperor lasted only a few short years, the stories of Caligula have lived on for millennia, his name becoming synonymous with murder and debauchery. In the latter years of his life, his behavior became same outlandish and extreme that many believe he was suffering from insanity. Some say he was driven to madness by the events in his life, while others say he may have been mentally ill or suffering the effects of a disease.

Caligula was the third Emperor of the Roman Empire

One of Caligula’s most egregious acts was in declaring that he was a living God. He ordered the construction of a bridge between his palace and the Temple of Jupiter, so that he could meet with the deity. He began appearing in public dressed as various gods and demigods such as Hercules, Mercury, Venus and Apollo. Reportedly, he began referring to himself as a god when meeting with politicians and he was referred to as Jupiter on occasion in public documents. Caligula had the heads removed from various statues of gods and replaced with his own in various temples.

As Caligula’s actions became more outrageous, the people of Rome began to hate him, and wished to rid him as their leader. At one point, Caligula declared to the Senate that he would be leaving Rome and moving to Egypt, where he would be worshipped as a living God. Cassius Chaerea of the Praetorian Guards began to plot towards Caligula’s demise. On January 24, 41 AD, a group of guards attacked Caligula after a sporting event. He was stabbed more than 30 times, and upon his death, he was buried in a shallow grave. Chaerea was said to have been the first to stab Caligula, with others joining in afterwards. His wife and daughter were also stabbed and killed. After his death, the Senate pushed to have him erased from Roman history, ordering destruction of his statues, and moving quickly to restore the Republic. The people of Rome were angry, and demanded revenge against those who murdered their Emperor. Caligula’s uncle, Claudius, became the next Emperor, and ordered the deaths of Chaerea and anyone who was involved in Caligula’s death.

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Why Tax Cuts for the Rich Solve Nothing by Joseph Stiglitz

Why Tax Cuts for the Rich Solve Nothing
by Joseph E. Stiglitz, July 27, 2017

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/tax-cuts-for-the-rich-solve-nothing-by-joseph-e–stiglitz-2017-07

Although America’s right-wing plutocrats may disagree about how to rank the country’s major problems – for example, inequality, slow growth, low productivity, opioid addiction, poor schools, and deteriorating infrastructure – the solution is always the same: lower taxes and deregulation, to “incentivize” investors and “free up” the economy. President Donald Trump is counting on this package to make America great again.

It won’t, because it never has. When President Ronald Reagan tried it in the 1980s, he claimed that tax revenues would rise. Instead, growth slowed, tax revenues fell, and workers suffered. The big winners in relative terms were corporations and the rich, who benefited from dramatically reduced tax rates.

Trump has yet to advance a specific tax proposal. But, unlike his administration’s approach to health-care legislation, lack of transparency will not help him…

Posted in Articles, Reducing Inequality/ Redistribution, Reducing Working Hours | Leave a comment

The Theater of Good and Evil by Eduardo Galeano, 90 pp

Voices of Sanity
Reaching out for Peace, 90 pp
The Theater of Good and Evil by Eduardo Galeano is on pages 3-4
Thanks, Arvind Gupta! Enjoy the feast!

http://www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/sanity.pdf

Posted in Articles, Human Rights, Political Theory | Leave a comment

Philosophical Reflections on the Economic Crisis by Marc Batko

GRIN.com is a Munich publisher with 188K eBooks and dissertations and offers reading samples of all the dissertations. A universe of knowledge and enlightenment opens up. Enjoy the feast!

http://www.grin.com/en/e-book/373028/philosophical-reflections-on-the-economic-crisis

Posted in Alternative Economics, Essays, trickle-down economics | Leave a comment

Redoing the Demos? An Interview with Wendy Brown

Redoing the Demos? An Interview with Wendy Brown
Theory, Culture and Society, June 8, 2017

https://www.theoryculturesociety.org/interview-wendy-brown/

Question 1: In Undoing the Demos (2015), you address the impossibility of radical or emancipatory politics whilst the market is the only source of ‘verification’ and its fiction, the Homo Oeconomicus, is the last figure standing. In order to grasp this problem, you develop an interesting triangular space between Foucault, Marx and Democracy, which proves to be fruitful, yet also finds opponents in each corner. Could you elaborate further on this theoretical space you have created? Why is it important, and how can we best tackle the critiques arising in each corner?

Brown: From Marx, we learn to think about political economy and learn to think about capitalism in its various iterations. Of course, we had to do some updating of Marx to grasp first Keynesian and then, more recently, neoliberal capitalism and now finance capitalism. But from Marx, we learn to think about our world in terms of the organization of the mode of production and what some have now called ‘the mode of prediction’ (that is, finance capital). We learn to think about it in material ways, and that seems really important for thinking about both where power and domination and exploitation are, and points of resistance.

From Foucault, we learn to think about how we are governed by orders of reason and, what he has come to call in later life, forms of ‘governing rationality’ or ‘governmental reason’. And, for Foucault, those cannot ever be reduced to modes of production or political economy and, importantly, become our common sense: the modes through which we are produced as subjects and also the modes through which we are governed as subjects. So, Foucault teaches us to keep our eye on the principles of common sense that any particular order of governing rationality generates and think about how to resist those: how to develop alternative principles, alternative discourses… but also how to think about resisting the subject that these modes produce. And that’s a very difficult practice but I think a really important one.

Now, for me, the problem is, those two thinkers are very powerful and very important in thinking about political resistance; but neither one is much interested in ‘democracy’, its institutions or its imaginary (Marx a little more than Foucault). But why do I care? Because the other thing that seems to me that’s been happening through neoliberalism is that we live in what Foucault would call a ‘governing rationality’ that has quite materially assaulted the institutions of democracy, the practices of democracy. Its turned democracies into political marketplaces, Plutocracies and Plutonomies, but also challenged the political imaginaries that democracy and democratic rebellions count on.

Posted in Neoliberalism, Political Theory | Leave a comment