Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Washington Post’s Propaganda about Russian Propaganda

By William K. Black
November 28, 2016     Kansas City, MO

The Washington Post has published a fevered piece of propaganda about Russian propaganda.  The trouble begins in the headline and the first sentence of the article.  The headline is: “Russian Propaganda Effort Helped Spread ‘Fake News’ During Election, Experts Say.  The first sentence reads:

The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.

The article provides no basis for its claims about “experts” and “independent researchers” who purportedly used (unspecified) “Internet analytics tools” in their “study.”  The first group, which does not purport to have used any scientific methodology explicitly resurrects 1992 USIA word pictures and charts in lieu of analysis.

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Howard Dean Wants to Continue Austerity’s Assault on the Working Class

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN     November 28, 2016

Howard Dean was attacked by the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) for the high crime of opposing the second President Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq.  While I strongly support the candidacy of Representative Keith Ellison to chair the Democratic National Committee (DNC), I am not arguing that Dean is not a progressive voice that needs to be part of the leadership team transforming the Democratic Party.

I write to urge him to learn the foundation of the economics of sovereign currencies.  I urge his progressive supporters to encourage him to undertake this study.  It is vital to his success and his input to transforming the Democratic Party.

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Krugman’s Failure to Speak Truth to Power about Austerity

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN      November 22, 2016

In the first column in this series I explained how Hillary Clinton, during the closing 40 days of her campaign, showcased repeatedly her promise to assault the working class with continuous austerity.  I explained that her threat represented economic malpractice – and was insane politics.  I showed that the assault on the working class via austerity was such a core belief of the New Democrats that their candidate highlighted that assault even as the polls showed massive, intense rejection of her candidacy by the white working class.  I also noted that in this second series in the column I would discuss the failure of her campaign team, and her de facto surrogate, Paul Krugman to speak truth to power about the dual idiocy of her campaign promise to wage continuous war on the working class through austerity forever.

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Hillary’s Threat to Wage Continuous War on the Working Class via Austerity Proved Fatal

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN     November 22, 2016

I’ve come back recently from Kilkenny, Ireland where I participated in the seventh annual Kilkenomics – a festival of economics and comedy.  The festival is noted for people from a broad range of economic perspectives presenting their economic views in plain, blunt English.  Kilkenomics VII began two days after the U.S. election, so we added some sessions on President-elect Trump’s fiscal policy views.  Trump had no obvious supporters among this diverse group of economists, so the audience was surprised to hear many economists from multiple nations take the view that his stated fiscal policies could be desirable for the U.S. – and the global economy, particularly the EU.  We all expressed the caution that no one could know whether Trump would seek to implement the fiscal policies on which he campaigned.  Most of us, however, said that if he wished to implement those policies House Speaker Paul Ryan would not be able to block him.  I opined that congressional Republicans would rediscover their love of pork and logrolling if Trump implemented his promised fiscal policies.

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Bloomberg Notices Paul Romer’s Indictment of Macroeconomics

By William K. Black
November 21, 2016     Bloomington, MN

Bloomberg has written an article about the origins of Paul Romer’s increasingly famous critique of modern macroeconomics.

His intention actually had been to write a paper that would celebrate advances in the understanding of what drives economic growth. But when he sat down to write it in the months before taking over as the World Bank’s chief economist, Romer quickly found his heart wasn’t in it. The world economy wasn’t growing much anyway; and the math that many colleagues were using to model it seemed unrealistic. He watched a documentary about the Church of Scientology, and was struck by how groupthink can operate.

So, Romer said in an interview at the Bank’s Washington headquarters, “I just thought, OK, I’m going to say what I think. I don’t know if I’m the right person, but no one else is going to say it. So I said it.”

The upshot was “The Trouble With Macroeconomics,” a scathing critique that landed among Romer’s peers like a grenade.

A bit of background makes the first paragraph more understandable.  Romer’s specialty is developmental economics.

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Myron Ebell, Trump’s Nihilistic EPA Selection, Soft-peddled by the New York Times

Michael Hoexter, Ph.D.

The US press has generally played a dismal role in warning people of the imminent dangers of climate breakdown and upcoming thresholds beyond which humanity may not survive as an organized species or a species at all.   The media should be every day reporting on both the record breaking temperatures of 2016 as well as alarming changes in the surface of the earth that have resulted and will likely result from the enormous heat.

Questions for the recent 2016 US Presidential debates reflect the norms of disregard for climate among US pundits and the press, as no single question during the debates was posed that had anything directly to do with climate change and carbon constraints.  That Donald Trump was able to win the electoral college, came close to frontrunner Clinton on the popular vote with 60+ million votes, and therefore win the Presidency on a platform that included straight-out “hard” climate denial is in part a function of the “soft climate denial” rampant in the “liberal” political elite and media.  Hard climate denial, for that matter any climate denial, should in an adequately aggressive media environment, be viewed in 2016, by far the hottest year on record, as a disqualifier for high office.  The mostly pro-Clinton elite media, in the latter part of the election, were supposedly either exposing or informing the public clearly about the implications and dangers of Trump’s positions, yet, as consistent with “soft climate denial”, treated Trump’s “hard climate denial” with avoidance and/or delicacy, seemingly out of fear or maybe, charitably, disbelief.

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JMK Writings Project


DECEMBER 8, 2016.


I thank, from the bottom of my heart, all those who have backed the campaign, with donations ranging from USD5 to USD1,000.  Almost everyone has said complimentary things about the proposed edition (‘great idea’, ‘wonderful project’,   ‘best of luck’ etc), but far fewer have followed up with contributions.

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A Walk in the Forest after the Election


On November 8, I happened to be complacently immersed in one of the important books now available to the human species—The Hidden Life of Trees, by Peter Wohlleben.  On the morning of November 9, I realized that what I was reading not only offered a perfectly analogous explanation of what “happened” in the U.S. Presidential election, but also laid out instructive insights about what’s to come next.

To provide a highly simplified overview (please bear with me for a moment), forests of trees are highly integrated communities composed basically of three parts: the canopy, the ground, and the root-and-fungi structures below ground. The community grows and evolves very slowly, and once it is established certain inherent dynamics provide a long-term stability that is measured in centuries. One of the most crucial dynamics is the fact that the mature canopy, during the growing season, absorbs something like 97% of the sunlight falling on it. This means at the ground level, new trees—growing from the seeds dropped from above—receive essentially no sunlight for photosynthesis (which they need in order to produce sugars for growth). These baby trees are, in fact, “nursed” by the root systems of the parent trees around them. The nursing trees grow very slowly, biding their time until one of the parent trees dies and collapses. This leaves a gap in the canopy where sunlight suddenly streams through, and those baby trees fortuitously located below the gap begin to produce their own sugar like mad—and grow very rapidly upward toward adolescence. At the same time, in a healthy forest, the mature trees adjacent to the gap extend their own branches and leaves to fill the open space. Before this process is complete, the adolescent trees have several years of rapid growth, but when the canopy is re-closed, they have to stop and bide their time again. Once more, they are fed by the root systems of the parental forest. It isn’t until another parent collapses to the forest floor, that the late adolescent tree finally has the opportunity to rapidly grow into the gap of the canopy and become a mature member of the community.

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Pavlina R. Tcherneva

Economic consequences

A lot has been said already. For me, this was the culmination of a decades-long process where the Democrats sold out their progressive agenda and happily embraced the Republican’s neoliberal economic policies. For some of the best analysis, see here, here, here and here.

My own view is that the Democrats have not had an economic policy of their own for nearly half a century, just an ‘inferior’ version of what Republicans usually champion—tax cuts on the wealthy, dismantling the public safety-net, ‘fighting’ inflation by creating unemployment, market liberalization and deregulation across the board, which among other things brought us a colossal financial sector that has cannibalized the productive economy.

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The Liberals Didn’t Listen: The Immense Cost of Ignoring Tom Frank’s Warnings

By William K. Black
November 8, 2016     Kansas City, MO

I am writing this article late on election night in my office at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, about a mile from the home in which Tom Frank grew up just over the state line in Kansas.  Beginning with his famous book, What’s the Matter with Kansas, first published in 2004, Tom Frank has been warning the Democratic Party of the increasing cost it was paying by abandoning and even attacking the working class, particularly the white working class.  Some political scientists tried to savage his work, pointing to Bill Clinton’s electoral success and arguing that the disaffected members of the working class were also less likely to vote.  Frank returned to the theme just in time for this election with a new book – Listen, Liberal – that documents in damning, lively narrative the New Democrats’ war on the New Deal, their disdain for organized labor, and their antipathy for what they viewed as retrograde white working class attitudes.

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