Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ruling Class Worrywarts

When Larry Summers says he's worried about Donald Trump, you can bet the banks he helped deregulate back in the 90s that his concern has nothing to do with how regular people will fare under the plutocrat-heavy Trump administration.

On the contrary. Larry Summers is scared that Trump will destroy capitalism itself. That much-ballyhooed Carrier deal brokered by the president-elect, which will save about 700 Indiana factory jobs from being outsourced to Mexico, is a slap in the face to the economy as rich people have known it, loved it, and profited by it.

Without a hint of irony, Summers writes in a Washington Post op-ed:
I have always thought of American capitalism as dominantly rule and law based. Courts enforce contracts and property rights in ways that are largely independent of just who it is who is before them. Taxes are calculable on the basis of an arithmetic algorithm. Companies and governments buy from the cheapest bidder. Regulation follows previously promulgated rules. In the economic arena, the state’s monopoly on the use of force is used to enforce contract and property rights and to enforce previously promulgated laws.
Never mind that the laws of capitalism were written for the sole benefit of corporations and CEOs and trust fund kids. Never mind that no-bid contracts have been an operating principle of unaccountable government spending for decades, if not centuries. Never mind that the repeal of the Depression-era  Glass-Steagall Act, which Summers helped orchestrate during the Clinton administration, was in essence itself a repudiation of the controlled capitalism which Summers now purports to adore. Summers also worked with Citigroup's Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Fed chair Alan Greenspan to deregulate the derivatives market. Later, he successfully thwarted an adequate stimulus package during his stint in the Obama administration.

Summers has never in his life fought for American workers or against the offshoring of jobs by multinational corporations searching for ever cheaper and exploitable human labor. It's no surprise, therefore, that the Carrier deal would give him agita. It would give him agita even if it were not steeped in crony capitalist motivations.

Summers' beef is that Trump aims to turn the "lawful" plunder and privatization model right on its ear and make us into a full-fledged Banana Republic, just like in (gasp!) Putin's Russia.

And since the Democrats are still blaming everyone but Hillary Clinton for Donald Trump's victory, Summers also takes the obligatory dig at Bernie Sanders, whom Summers claims "misses the point" by complaining that not all the Carrier jobs were saved from Mexico outsourcing.

And now comes the coup de grâce. Summers blames Democracy itself:
 Some of the worst abuses of power are not those that leaders inflict on their people. They are the acts that the people demand from their leaders. I fear in a way that is more fundamental than a bad tax policy or tariff we have started down the road of changing the operating assumptions of our capitalism. I hope I am wrong, but I expect that as a consequence we are going to be not only poorer but less free.
Translation: with Trump around, the rich may end up being unable to loot from the poor as legally and responsibly as they always have in the past. And it's all the fault of those poor people, who turn out to be not only stupid, but abusive and power-mad. Didn't they ever learn that consumerism is their only responsibility? Didn't they ever learn that "democracy" and voting rights are only the bait and switch tactics designed to disguise the awful truth that Capitalism rules?

The New York Times' Paul Krugman, who has been on his own interminable roll of blaming everything from white racists and the FBI and Wikileaks to Putin and "fake news" sites for Hillary's defeat, thinks his colleague Larry is really on to something. Krugman is so upset about the positive media coverage of the Carrier deal that he even seems to have forgotten that Barack Obama is not only still the president, but that Obama has assured the nation that if Trump succeeds, America succeeds. 

Krugman writes:
It says that large parts of the news media, whose credulous Trump coverage and sniping at HRC helped bring us to where we are, will be even worse, even more poodle-like, now that this guy is in office.
Meanwhile, as Larry Summers says, the precedent — although tiny — is not good: it’s not just crony capitalism, it’s government as protection racket, where companies shape their strategies to appease politicians who will reward or punish based on how it affects their PR efforts and/or personal fortunes. That is, we’re looking at what may well be the beginning of a descent into banana republic governance.
This is, as Larry says, bad both for the economic (sic) and for freedom.
The most pressing concern he has is for the freedoms of the law-abiding robber barons. It seems as though the petty sniping by Wall Street Democrats at the HRC sniper-haters will go on for the foreseeable future. Party elites and pundits are throwing the same kind of temper tantrum that they accuse Trump of indulging in.

My published response to Krugman: 
So, Larry Summers is more worried about Trump ruining capitalism than he is about unfettered capitalism destroying the lives and livelihoods of working people.

Trump is performing the con abnormally. Therefore, grouses Summers (one of the three guys who "saved the world" by destroying it through deregulation), we have a fatal inversion. Instead of politicians passing laws to appease the corporations, we now have corporations appeasing a grossly incompetent anti-politician interested only in his own fortunes.
The Precursors and Enablers of Donald J. Trump

Trump is only a symptom - really, the excrescence - of the neoliberalism and resulting record wealth inequality which has been spawning right-wing populism all over the world.

Summers is worried that Trumpian crony capitalism is bad for the economy. But whose economy? It seems to me that he is really talking about the plutonomy: ownership of a financialized system which mainly benefits the 62 billionaires owning as much wealth as the bottom half of the global population. Trump wants to be a member of that Club.

The working class - white, brown and black - doesn't factor in to the equation, other than elite worry-warts blaming them for not voting for the right candidate.

The bright spot is that even before he's sworn in (assuming he doesn't forget to show up to deliver a bizarre stream-of-consciousness inaugural riff) Trump voters are already expressing buyers' remorse. Apparently, some thought that their giant middle finger to the establishment was only symbolic.
Speaking of buyers' remorse, there's a neologism that should join "post-truth" in that annual list of verbal novelties put out by Lake Superior University. And that is "Trumpgrets."

Raw Story has the scoop on the whole gamut of raw emotions emanating from desperate people who couldn't care less if the plutocrats robbing them blind do it based on an Ivy League education and corner office, or if they do it out of unabashed ignorance and greed while wearing a red baseball cap.

But be warned: you have to be willing to laugh at and feel superior to all the remorseful Trump voters out there. In other words, you have to be a clueless liberal for whom the word "solidarity" is still missing from your intolerant vocabulary.


annenigma said...

I suspect those remorseful Trump voters will show far more gumption expressing their disapproval of Trump than the remorseful Obama supporters who stayed loyally silent for 8 years. Tea Party folks aren't 'snowflakes' who cry in safe spaces and blame everyone else. Nope, they get angry and fight and they'll pin the blame squarely on Trump.

Oh, and don't forget, Donald Trump is fairly desperate to get his administration off the ground right now, but I'd be will to bet that many people he's putting in the cabinet won't be there a year later. "You're fired!"

If he doesn't fire a lot of them, he'll be fired. Or as Donald once said, "There's always the Second Amendment option".

The voters have had it with being shafted by the Establishment and they aren't half as stupid as the media pundits and politicians think they are.

teenlibrarian said...

I don't see change for a better society that works
for all anytime soon now that we've elected the Ugly American
to the White House. So many in America have been
misguided by Corporate/Political messaging that only benefits
the elite. Gone are regulations and laws to rein in Corporate power.
We complain about it but our voices are becoming fainter and less in number.

Kat said...

Actually, if Hillary had captured the white house I was kind of hoping that Larry Summers would get an appointment as he has become a proponent for huge increases in infrastructure spending.

Meredith NYC said...

Krugman’s column ‘The Art of the Scam’.....

Krugman gets more hysterical with each column...he is using the Clinton’s thing of ‘victim of the vast rw conspiracy’---saying ‘she was punished for her transparency’ in the campaign.

I said....In fact, the biggest scam of all may be the Dems and their liberal excusers using the Gop to scare us, portraying the Dems as our savior, then we lower our standards of what we should demand of our govt.

Dems are saints compared to Pres DT. Very handy. Meanwhile the USA stays generations behind other nations, and even inferior to its own better past---and Americans pay the price.

Karen Garcia said...

Many of the Trump voters were/are the original Tea Partiers, who already got co-opted once by the Kochs. I agree that if Trump doesn't come through in a bigly way, they will not be shy about lambasting him.

Larry Summers is pretending to be a faux-gressive, meaning that he is doubly fraudulent/negative. His misogyny extends beyond Harvard and has included throwing several powerful women under the bus. Christina Romer, Brooksley Born and Elizabeth Warren, to be precise. His attempted belated reinvention of himself as an infrastructure champion doesn't cut it with me. This guy owes the whole world an apology.

Krugman himself is on the chauvinistic side, given that he is always portraying Hillary as a victim rather than as the strong mistress of her own fate.

Meredith NYC said...

I posted this yesterday and thought it got in, but it's gone....what happened?

re Larry Summers’ history---when you have time please read and comment on article below---maybe you’ve heard of it. NYT “Did an Exposé Help Sink Harvard's President?” (Summers) By SARA IVRY FEB. 27, 2006

And Google ‘The Shleifer Affair’ to see much more re exploiting the Russian privatization for profit after the fall of Soviet Union.

Tells about David McClintick, investigative journalist’s exposé on Harvard’s effort on behalf of the US government to help Russia privatize its economy in the 1990's... says the exposé helped oust Harvard's president Summers.

"How Harvard Lost Russia" was published in Institutional Investor magazine. ...told how financial improprieties by those in charge of Harvard's Russia project, including Andrei Shleifer, a professor of economics who is a friend and protégé of Dr. Summers who was accused of making personal investments in Russia at a time when they were working under contract to establish capitalism in the former Soviet nation.

Says....The US govt filed civil charges against Harvard, Mr. Shleifer etc, for fraud, breach of contract and making false claims. In a settlement Harvard agreed to pay $26.5 million. and Mr. Shleifer agreed to pay $2 million.

Richard Bradley, the author of "Harvard Rules: Lawrence Summers and the Battle for the World's Most Powerful University," has written frequently about the scandal on his blog ( had this very small group of exceptionally brilliant people...trying to save Russia and then an even smaller group corrupting the enterprise,"

"Suddenly, you couldn't just say this was an arcane legal dispute in which one party had somehow fallen afoul of the law," Mr. Bradley said in an interview. "this was exposed as a really unattractive and deliberate pattern of behavior and cover-up that quite dramatically pointed an arrow at Larry Summers."

The article was sent anonymously in brown envelopes to some senior faculty members at Harvard, according to Harry R. Lewis, professor of computer science and the author of the forthcoming book, "Excellence Without a Soul: How a Great University Forgot Education."

The Harvard faculty voted out Summers as pres.

From wiki---
.... some of the Harvard Russia project members had invested in Russia, and were therefore not impartial advisors. Summers encouraged Boris Yeltsin to use the same policy he advocated in the Clinton Administration – "privatization, stabilization, and liberalization.”

(and American Privatization---equated with Freedom, to fight big tyrannical govt.)