Monday, 11 December 2017

Capitalism for Dummies: Slavery and Taxes.


It's been two years since Adele Ferguson and Sarah Danckert (Fairfax Media), plus a Four Corners team (ABC News), exposed the wage-theft practices entrenched in 7-Eleven Australia and affecting foreign workers, largely on 457 and student visas (the kind of courses advertised overseas as "permanent residence courses": you, the sales pitch goes, pay to get a beautician qualification, say, and -- welcome to the capitalist paradise Down Under! -- you get a resident visa).

In the intervening years a string of similar cases came to light, affecting not only 457 and study visa holders but also working holiday tourists (aka backpackers). It wasn't just 7-Eleven either: small and big businesses in all sorts of industries were involved. Nor it was just a matter of bosses stealing wages: often female foreign workers were being sexually harassed or abused or even forced into prostitution.

The common denominator in the three categories is that those visas give their holders conditional and temporary residence rights only. Their stay is contingent upon working for a local employer, tasked to make sure these workers fulfill that duty.

I trust I don't need to explain how this situation was open to abuse: would-be residents desperate to stay, on one hand, employers ready to take advantage of that, on the other. This all should have been pretty obvious to anyone (except, evidently, the LibLab government and "progressive" Australians, for whom this is quantum mechanics explained in ancient sanskrit written in cuneiform script).

The news last week was that the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade tabled a report recommending reforms to the regime governing those visas. The word slavery was used:
" 'If you are a Woolworths or Coles and you're sourcing a product, you need to look into your supply chain to ensure there is no modern slavery practices or labour exploitation, or debt bondage,' said Chris Crewther, chair of the committee."
Will that solve that problem? Let's wait and see.

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According to the ABS (3101.0 - Australian Demographic Statistics, Mar 2017) the Australian resident population grew in the year to March 2017 by 389,100 people. Natural growth produced 142,400 new residents (36.6% of that total); 231,900 (59.6%) are the result of net overseas migration (the total growth figure includes an adjustment).

In percentage terms, resident population grew 1.6% that year. Without migrants, that figure would have dropped to 0.6%.

Evidently, not all those migrants are as susceptible to abuse (included in those figures are migrants with permanent residence visas, for instance), but -- for me at any rate -- it's hard to advance a more precise figure.

Also according to the ABS (3401.0 Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia. Dec. 2016. Table 6: Short-term Movement, Visitor Arrivals) the reasons declared by short-term entrants in Australia were as follows

(Right-click to open a larger version)

It's important to note that those are cross-border movements: one visitor could and often does contribute multiple entries (and exits).

Together holiday, employment, and education (where abuses seem more prevalent) were, in December 2016, the reasons for visiting for 59.0% of short-term visitors (stay up to 1 year) of the 971,800 short-term entrants to Australia that month. But median stay for all categories was short (10.8 days), therefore, cases of abuse probably affect only those in the upper tail of the distribution: again, it's hard to be more precise.

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It seems clear migrants themselves are often big losers, but has immigration lowered wages in Australia?

Academic research denies that and lefties in general accept it as Gospel truth. In the UK, for instance, Chris Dillow has frequently argued that case.

Perhaps they are right and have better population estimates. Still, I don't feel reassured. To the best of my knowledge, that research is generally based on highly aggregated official data (including wage data). In Oz, that essentially means the ABS. Normally, that's as kosher as it gets and I myself use ABS data.

However, call me paranoid or racist or stupid (or all three: I'm just a working class commie grunt, after all), in this case, where wage-theft is common I find it hard to trust information provided by employers: they know they are breaking the law. Moreover, those workers themselves, knowingly or not, are probably breaking the law too. Illegal cash-in-hand payments could be very common. Maybe I'm being unduly cynical, but I don't think that's the kind of information people volunteer to the ABS.

And it could explain the underpayment claims explosion the Fair Work Ombudsman has faced in the last few years.

Further, stories of contractors being reduced to misery aren't unknown in the media. I've heard similar stories from delivery contractors, with one additional detail: those who spoke to me claim to have been undercut by foreign contractors who subcontract the job, paying their staff peanuts. I know it's anecdotal and so it shall remain: to change that researchers would have to speak with them. Unthinkable.

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In the meantime, this is how businesses are treated:

(Source)

This is capitalism, mate. Mainstream economics textbooks don't teach you that kind of shit, do they? Neither do post Keynesian allegedly subversive geniuses, by the way. Whether you like it or not, you're stuck with old fashioned, working class commie grunts.

25 comments:

  1. An increase in unemployment depresses wages. After awhile however, the reserve army of workers become unemployable and drop out of the labour market altogether.

    Legal residents desperate enough to work themselves to death to support their families are as "responsible" for lowered working conditions as immigrants are.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely.

      I am happy you used the scare quotes (if I understood the point you are trying to make): Marxism is not a morality tale (I wish upper-middle class "progressives", supposedly educated, understood that).

      Capitalists, foreign workers or local workers are not good or bad: they do what they are compelled to do by their circumstances.

      The only point is to make workers understand that those strategies to cope with their individual problems are ultimately self-defeating, they are a dead-end.

      Marx put it this way:

      "I paint the capitalist and the landlord in no sense coleur de rose. (...) My standing point, from which the evolution of the economic formation of society is viewed as a process of natural history, can less than any other make the individual responsible for relations whose creature he socially remains, however much he may subjectively raise himself above them". Karl Marx. (Das Kapital, vol. 1, preface to the 1867 edition).

      Delete
    2. Is Marx saying you can't solve a systemic problem with individual solutions?

      Delete
    3. Frankly, Bob, that question takes me by surprise. Are you saying the systemic problems of capitalism admit individual solutions?

      If so, I'd really love to hear them.

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      The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

      Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes
      .

      What does that tell you about what Marx and Engels believed?

      Delete
    4. An individual solution for workers is education or the acquiring of skills. Doctors, engineers and technicians do better in a capitalist economy than labourers. Earning a comfortable salary is preferable to earning minimum wage.

      What Marx and Engels believed is applicable to workers at the bottom of the labour pool. I don't believe there is much solidarity between workers who struggle to survive and those whose skills allow them to demand better treatment from employers.

      Another individual solution is frugality. The less you spend, the less you need to earn, the fewer hours you need to spend working for someone else.

      That's all I got.

      Delete
  2. Education?

    As an educator, the relationship between education and income has been one of David Ruccio's concerns:

    Education and inequality
    8 February 2011
    https://anticap.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/education-and-inequality/

    It’s not education, stupid!
    Posted: 23 February 2015
    https://anticap.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/its-not-education-stupid/


    Frugality?

    One in five Australian children go to school or bed hungry sometimes: study
    Updated 25 Feb 2016, 12:16pm
    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-25/one-in-five-children-went-to-school-or-bed-hungry-sometimes/7198738

    https://www.google.com/search?q=people+living+one+paycheck+from+eviction

    How more frugal than that should one become?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those are the best individual solutions for workers that I can come up with. Not getting an education or developing your skills leads to worse outcomes. You earn less and your lifespan is shortened.

      Getting a degree won't help if everyone does the same. Skills that aren't in short supply or in demand won't secure you a living wage. Your standard of living as a worker depends on the value of your labour. If you make the wrong career choices, or are unlucky, you're toast.

      Frugality is for those making a living wage but are squandering it on luxuries. They work more hours than they need to. It's nice to have choices, and simple living is one of them.

      Avoid being poor. In this system, it's assumed that everyone above the age of 12 recognizes this.

      Delete
    2. What the system/status quo wants is for individuals to blame themselves for their outcomes. The conservative mindset, with its emphasis on personal responsibility, is thetical to this approach. The danger is that this can lead to the perfect tyranny.

      Delete
    3. The bottom line, Bob, is that there are no individual solutions. Those Tip Top drivers whom you correctly say are working themselves to death, what is it they are doing?

      They are trying their best to solve their problems individually. Their solution (working extra hard and extra long) is not the solutions you proposed (education and frugality), but the principle is the same: they believe in improving their fate by adapting themselves to the "market".

      Working-extra hard is doomed to failure, as much as education and frugality. They won't succeed and more likely than not they will die trying and they will leave their families in squalor.

      Exactly the same with foreign workers: they are trying to improve their lives individually by leaving misery back home and coming to the capitalist paradise Down Under. There's nothing wrong with that: people have done that over all of human history. So-called Anglo-Saxon countries. like Canada and Oz, are the result of that.

      There will always be exceptions, of course, but at this point in history, the more likely result of all their effort is that the vast majority of them will become a permanent underclass (and many of them will also work themselves to death: migrants in general aren't lazy and those I know work really hard). And, research or no research, I think they will bring down wages, if not for everybody, at least for those in direct competition with them.

      The only hope, however remote, of solution to those problems has to be concerted action, by local and foreign workers together. Otherwise, we are all fucked.

      Delete
    4. If you sincerely believe there is nothing anyone can do to improve their lot in life, then I don't see the point in continuing this discussion.

      In countries without an adequate social safety net, you must adapt or die. Safe to say that most people are able to adapt, otherwise the population would begin to decline.

      Delete
    5. Come on, Bob! Let's get real.

      I'll issue a little and easy challenge. Go back to what I wrote (this post or any other comment). Point to me or to anyone following this discussion, with verbatim quotes, where did I write explicitly or even suggest that "there is nothing anyone can do to improve their lot in life". You just need to find a single quote.

      Given that you attribute that to me, that little challenge should present no difficulty whatsoever. Go ahead, then.

      Although I find it poor form, I'll have to quote myself. Contrary to your claim, I wrote just above:

      The only hope, however remote, of solution to those problems has to be concerted action, by local and foreign workers together. Otherwise, we are all fucked. (14 December 2017 at 20:58)

      There's a difference between "there is nothing anyone can do to improve their lot in life" and that, isn't there?

      It's true, however, that I don't believe in individual solutions to cope with those problems (Check the first paragraph in that comment). The two such "solutions" you proposed were (and I do quote your words from December 2017 at 04:18): "An individual solution for workers is education or the acquiring of skills." and "Another individual solution is frugality".

      I gave reasons why I don't believe those two solutions work (14 December 2017 at 09:24). You didn't dispute my reasons.

      I also pointed out that a third "individual solution" (namely, working extra hard, extra long) did not work either.

      And it's not like I don't propose anything instead, either. Above you see what I did propose: "concerted action". I'm not making things up now that weren't there, Bob. You probably don't agree with that or dislike that solution, but one thing is to disagree or dislike, another thing is to pretend it isn't there. It is there, in black and white. I wrote it. You can read it there.

      Then you shift gears and come with this:

      In countries without an adequate social safety net, you must adapt or die.

      Evidently, "an adequate social safety net" would make it easier to adapt. But what on earth does it have to do with what we were discussing? We were discussing "individual solutions" versus "collective solutions", if you like. Are you implying that "an adequate social safety net" is "an individual solution"?

      Moreover, adaptation to a difficult situation is not the same as solving the problem which originated the situation, in the first place. Example? Simple. You lose your job and have no money to pay the rent. That's a difficult situation, caused by labour insecurity. You'll somehow adapt and

      (1) become a homeless (without "an adequate social safety net"), or
      (2) you move to a slum (with a not so "adequate social safety net"), or
      (3) you move to another equally adequate place with "an adequate social safety net", which will serve as long as you qualify for it and there's "an adequate social safety net" (incidentally, what constitutes "an adequate social safety nets" changes all the time and currently they are changing everywhere for the much worse).

      Did any of those alternatives solve the problem of labour insecurity?

      That's not what safety nets almost by definition do.

      What they almost by definition do is to alleviate the symptoms; they don't cure the disease. (2) is an aspirin or another over-the-counter pain-killer when you have chronic arthritic pain in your knees, (3) is a prescription-only pain-killer.

      You treat chronic arthritic pain in your knees with a knee replacement. Pain-killers are better than nothing, clearly; but they don't solve that problem.

      Neither do safety nets, adequate or not.

      Delete
    6. It's true, however, that I don't believe in individual solutions to cope with those problems

      It doesn't matter what you believe. Individual actions to address personal problems is what the majority of us do throughout our lives. It is an approach that seeks to ensure the survival (if not the well-being) of the individual.

      In the wilderness, what happens to an animal that fails to adapt to its circumstances? What happens to a species when all of its members fail to adapt?

      Individual action doesn't account for all behavior of a social species like humans, but it is a major component. It is also part of the process of evolution, where individual organisms are referred to as phenotypes. To say that individual action is futile and is doomed to failure is contrary to what can be observed in nature. This includes the behavior of humans in most cultures, even when those cultures are supposedly collective.

      Most people want to have children and live their lives within the personal sphere. Most are sociable and wish to participate in the larger public sphere. Most seek to obtain comfort while avoiding confrontation. By comparison, 'concerted action' is a strategy of last resort.

      Are you interested in examining what people do and how they behave? Are you only interested in framing problems with solutions?

      The Canadian social safety net was the alternative to my committing suicide. I failed to adapt, but because I live in a relatively wealthy and progressive country, my failure was not fatal. Problem solved, for now.

      Delete
    7. It doesn't matter what you believe.

      Clearly, just because I believe something, it doesn't mean people will rush to do as I say.

      But even here, Bob, there's a difference in the way you want to argue this issue. I not only expressed beliefs: I explained them. I gave figures (Ruccio's figures). Take education. Between 2007 and 2014 real hourly wages in the US for graduates with advanced degree (bachellor's+) have grown exactly zilch, nada, nothing, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Those graduates, however, remain saddled with considerable education debts.

      Okay, you don't like Ruccio's figures? Fine, here's on scientists' salaries:

      Socio-economic inequality in science is on the rise

      Current trends indicate that research is starting to become a preserve of the privileged.
      21 September 2016


      Nature, 537, 450 (22 September 2016)

      That editorial note:
      https://www.nature.com/news/socio-economic-inequality-in-science-is-on-the-rise-1.20654
      Their figures:
      https://www.nature.com/naturejobs/science/articles/10.1038/nj7621-573a

      Education isn't working for them.

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      You, on the other hand, write: Individual actions to address personal problems is what the majority of us do throughout our lives.

      Where are your figures, Bob?

      No figures. Why should you be spared the onus of evidence?

      But, I'll be generous. For the sake of the argument, let's leave the missing supporting evidence out of your picture. I'll accept your beliefs prima facie: I could just have replied it doesn't matter what you believe, but I don't.

      If one accepts that Individual actions to address personal problems is what the majority of us do throughout our lives it doesn't mean that approach works. As we've seen, it ain't working.

      Actually, I find it rather curious your unexpectedly Darwinian turn. Another gear shift, I suppose. But, never mind, I can adapt to it. Next, you write:

      In the wilderness, what happens to an animal that fails to adapt to its circumstances?

      The living organism, animal, plant, fungus, virus or whatever dies out. The species go extinct.

      If individual solutions fail and people refuse to fight for collective solutions -- the only ones left -- the same could happen to us. I'll repeat myself: in that case we're all fucked. Problems don't go away just because people refuse to tackle them head on. Adaptation has a limit, Bob, just like frugality. Billions of species no longer with us prove that: for millions of years they thrived in an ever-changing environment, adapting to new challenges, until one day they could adapt no more.

      Education is not paying anymore, hard/long work often literally kills you, migration is risky. (I'll come back to adaptation in a following comment).

      In truth, however, it's not just my natural bonhomie behind my readiness to accept your argument without evidence, Bob. I've made that case over and over. I didn't have to think too much to answer, for my answer was already there in my previous comments. For the second time, I'll Marx and Engels:

      The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

      Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.


      Or my own wisdom:

      The only hope, however remote, of solution to those problems has to be concerted action, by local and foreign workers together. Otherwise, we are all fucked.

      Your choice.

      Delete
    8. I agree with Ruccio that education cannot address inequality. The disparity between the 99% and 1% is systemic. The distribution of income between capital and labour is not based on merit. The stagnation in real wages affects everyone but those in the top 10%. This doesn't change the fact that unskilled workers earn less than skilled workers. Or that a migrant worker can earn enough in a foreign country to support themselves and their family back home.

      Education isn't working for scientists? They need to emigrate or change fields. I have heard of PhD holders working in restaurants because their expertise is not in demand. Such is the fate of any commodity, when its value drops. Education can be an expensive scam, in addition to being one of the few options workers have to improving their outcomes. It's not a guarantee.

      Where are your figures, Bob?
      No figures. Why should you be spared the onus of evidence?


      Do I need to prove that we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping, and another third at work? (Those figures are different in the third world.)
      There was a time when the only qualification you needed to find a job was to have a pulse. Those times are over. Now you need to go to college, university, trade school. You need to be willing to relocate, work irregular hours and overtime, or be satisfied with a part-time position. In other words, you need to prepare yourself to compete.

      The article you linked to describing the concerns of scientists is further proof. When they aren't talking about money, they are focused on how much they love or don't love their work. They are concerned about their families and how much time they have to spend with them. Very little talk about concerted action. They are resigned to the reality that they need to adapt.

      Do I need to prove that most people aren't willing to become activists unless there is a crisis?

      If individual solutions fail and people refuse to fight for collective solutions -- the only ones left -- the same could happen to us.

      Certainly. Those problems are systemic. Furthermore, if civilization as we know it is not sustainable, then no amount of collective action will preserve it. We'll be returning to an agrarian, or hunter-gathering existence, or go extinct altogether.

      If civilization can be maintained, there is no guarantee that it will be more pleasant than it is currently. Collective action doesn't just include initiatives that seek to improve people's lives. It includes what happened in Burma, and in Rwanda.

      "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." - George Orwell.

      He wasn't describing an individual action.

      The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.

      The history of the human species is the history of evolution; the struggle to survive.

      Delete
    9. Okay Bob, you win. You want to play ball? Let's play ball then.

      As a self-described hermite, your contention is that you don't need to prove that Individual actions to address personal problems is what the majority of us do throughout our lives.

      Well, my contention as someone who has constant contact with others is that people are rational enough to understand that individual actions may not be not enough to address personal problems; collective action may be required. Or, to put it more succinctly: people can learn from past mistakes.

      Do I need to prove it? Based on your own personal example, I categorically refuse to. Why must I prove it, when you are free to simply assert it?

      Personally, I believe my credentials are better.

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      The article you linked to describing the concerns of scientists is further proof. When they aren't talking about money, they are focused on how much they love or don't love their work.

      Give me a break, Bob. The article I linked to was about income inequality and job satisfaction. What did you expect them to talk about? The new Star Wars movie? Bernie Sanders? The Egyptian pyramids? How nice is minestrone soup?

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      There was a time when the only qualification you needed to find a job was to have a pulse. Those times are over. Now you need to go to college, university, trade school. You need to be willing to relocate, work irregular hours and overtime, or be satisfied with a part-time position. In other words, you need to prepare yourself to compete.

      That's great advice, really. So, what they really need is to take personal responsibility. However, how does it fit with this:

      Bob14 December 2017 at 10:14

      What the system/status quo wants is for individuals to blame themselves for their outcomes. The conservative mindset, with its emphasis on personal responsibility, is thetical to this approach. The danger is that this can lead to the perfect tyranny.


      No need to explain, really. I just wanted to understand and I did.

      Where should they move to? To Australia as backpackers or to work for 7-Eleven?

      You yourself are going through a rough patch, as you've written. Have you relocated?

      You are currently moonlighting at McDonald's and KFC, of course, so you speak on experience, yes?

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      Perth teen Aaron Pajich murdered so woman could feel 'euphoria' of killing: court told
      By Joanna Menagh

      Updated 2 Oct 2017, 7:46pm
      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-02/women-face-trial-for-murder-of-autistic-perth-teen-aaron-pajich/9007294

      She was acting on her own private interests.

      ----------

      The history of the human species is the history of evolution; the struggle to survive.

      There will be no surviving if we don't act collectively. The sooner, the better.

      Delete
  3. Bob, I'm happy things in your case didn't lead to the worst outcome. I really, honestly am.

    Are you interested in examining what people do and how they behave? Are you only interested in framing problems with solutions?

    The Canadian social safety net was the alternative to my committing suicide. I failed to adapt, but because I live in a relatively wealthy and progressive country, my failure was not fatal. Problem solved, for now.


    You write that you failed to adapt and the Canadian safety net helped you (for now, as you added). Again, that's a good thing.

    But I don't think you've realised something.

    In a capitalist society everybody needs to adapt, I'm sure you know. But it's also true that adaptation is more costly for people like us and more often required. Moreover, for us the stakes are higher.

    Think of it in the framework of the current changes with E-commerce, E-media, E-banking and all the Es. Long-established, profitable, blue-chip businesses suddenly are no longer viable. Shareholders (aka capitalists) face capital losses. Depending on the composition of their portfolios, those losses can be severe, too.

    But that's the extent of the effect, for them. Those changes have a negative effect only on those assets. They don't affect other parts of their balance sheets. Their homes, works of art, jewels, cars, jets, yachts, patents, trade marks, don't suffer. They may even profit from other shares: the US market is still rallying, isn't it?

    Their workers, however, are left in a much harder situation, and given what you've written I suspect I don't need to explain that to you.

    But, have you stopped to think why should that be? Why us?

    You don't seem to question that.

    Take the very label "safety net": it's evocative of the physical nets placed under acrobats and trapezists in a circus, to me at any rate. If they jump and miss, they fall, to their deaths (without the safety net), to the net, if it's there.

    Why should we be jumping? Why don't capitalists jump, for a change? Can't we just reach the collective conclusion that we refuse to jump?

    As things are, capitalists can easily survive changes. They have little problem with that. That's not our case. Let's demand that things change. Now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm well aware that there is a segment of the population that does not believe that useless eaters like me deserve to live. They are working to dismantle the safety net.

      I'm aware of the important work of activists, progressives and radicals. But what we've been discussing here are the actions and behavior of the many, not of the few. We're discussing the instinct for survival, from living one more day to doing work we love, to raising children, to accumulating billions in wealth.

      ~
      By the time I was 13 or 14, I knew that I wanted to live a life of solitude. Relationships and family were of no interest to me. I assumed that I would discover what I loved to do in terms of work and career. That discovery never happened. Decades later, the psychologists who diagnosed me gave their explanation for my "failure to launch". I am, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, part of a 1%.

      I enjoy life as a hermit. What I do with my personal life is up to me. But being unemployed violates my sense of obligation to the society that I'm dependent on for survival.

      Delete
    2. Bob,

      I think we better leave things at that. This discussion is taking too much time and is leading us nowhere.

      I did try, but all my attempts to explain myself seemed to fail. Maybe it's my fault or maybe you don't want to understand.

      Delete
    3. Incidentally, Bob, I think there's something you can help me with.

      You might have learned that Milo Yiannopoulos visited Oz recently.

      Milo, is my understanding, is British, racist, either an iconoclast or a provocateur (depending on one's perspective), has an affinity with Nazi/fascism and is gay.

      Is he also an economist from Cambridge? If he were it would explain a lot. :-)

      Delete
    4. You don't need my help to use Google.

      Well, my contention as someone who has constant contact with others is that people are rational enough to understand that individual actions may not be not enough to address personal problems; collective action may be required. Or, to put it more succinctly: people can learn from past mistakes.

      People can be rational in thought and irrational in action. When they're done criticizing the system, they go back to functioning within it. They return their focus to their personal lives. Meanwhile, their routine everyday collective actions make them a part of the problem.

      Civilizations have collapsed in the past, millions have died in wars and genocides. Have we learned from our mistakes? Have we learned to control our behavior and act rationally?

      Depending on your perspective, war and genocide are rational. See, these questions answer themselves.

      With the election of Trump to our south, the reactionaries are feeling bold enough to come out of the woodwork. They also believe in collective action, including the use of violence. All they need are a couple of martyrs and some opportunists to organize and lead them. In "The True Believer" by Eric Hoffer, he describes three archetypes: "men of words", "fanatics", and "practical men of action". Hoffer did an analysis of mass movements and who the participants are. These archetypes constitute a minority of the population, yet they are the driving force. Apathetic observers like me play no role in these developments, other than to sound a warning.

      Half the American electorate do not vote and the percentage is not much better in Canada. So much for democracy.

      Delete
    5. What are you, Magpie? An activist with a blog, armchair revolutionary, provocateur?

      You say you're pessimistic, but compared to me, you're an optimist.

      Delete

    6. Don't take me for a fool, Bob. I am not one.

      I posted your two last comments, fulfilling my self-imposed duty of courtesy. You've overstayed your welcome.

      Delete
    7. i think milo isnt an economist
      - the oo

      Delete
    8. What a coincidence! Neither that famous "economist" was an economist! :-)

      Like two peas in a pod.

      -----

      Merry XMas, birdwatcher. Welcome back!

      Delete
    9. Merry xmas mpie
      - da oo

      Delete