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Posts Tagged ‘Neoliberalism’

The Connection Between Fake ‘Innovation’ and Late Capitalism

December 10, 2020 16 comments

My previous post about the ongoing crapification of personal computing and series about how the computing “revolution” of past two decades has been a showy failure lead us to a seldom asked question. While it can be phrased in many ways, here is the simplest version- Why do so many who are rich, in power or aspire to either keep incessantly talking about “innovation”, “paradigm shifts” and “disruption” when we clearly live in an age of profound technological stagnation. Why do people pretend that Apple is an innovative company when the last time they did anything remotely innovative was 2007? Why do so many fanboys celebrate every fart emanating from Elon Musk? What is innovative about Uber, DoorDash or any other service which replicates the services already available in third-world countries full of poor and desperate people? What is innovative about the plantation-lite work environment of Amazon?

Now let us get back to the central question- why do so many people want to believe in fake “innovation”? What is the upside of celebrating fake “innovation” even when it is results in regression rather than progress? Consider user interfaces design for personal computers or software. What is the gain from producing and pimping increasingly shittier “redesigns” and “upgrades” which make the interface or program less useful, slower, buggier and resource intensive? Also, why did user interfaces remain fairly constant for over two decades (mid-1980s to mid-2000s before starting to become progressively shittier? Or take automobiles.. why hasn’t the reliability, safety and longevity not improves since late 1990s- even though their “complexity” has? Why are automobiles from non-Japanese manufacturers (and Nissan) full of progressively bad design choices in everything from layout of engine and powertrain components to increasingly gimmicky but dangerous design choices for driver control panels?

The same can be said for the increasingly shitty style of management of retail store chains which has caused many to go out of business in past decade or Boeing building progressively worse versions of their older airliners. Why do multi-million dollars homes in western countries look bland, formulaic and ugly. Are you seeing a common thread running through all of them and what does any of this have to with the strong connection between fake “innovation” and late capitalism aka neoliberalism aka financialism? To understand what I am going to talk about next, we have to first go into the pillars holding the unstable edifice of late capitalism. As I have mentioned in some previous posts, one of these pillars is credentialism. But how does it work in practice? Well.. the real function of credentialism is to cultivate incestuous insider networks with other “elites” by going to the same “elite” educational institutions. But how does this lead to fake “innovation” and actual regression of technological progress?

It comes down to its interaction with another pillar of late capitalism. Have you noticed that every corporation and rich person seems to have unusually high levels of investment in how they are allegedly perceived by the public? But who are they trying to impress? Do average people buy into the bullshit about “caring” and “socially responsible” corporations anymore than they believe that the HR person at work is on their side? If average people don’t give a fuck about the “social liberal” causes which are heavily supported by corporations, who are they trying to impress anyway? The simple answer is that all of these virtue displays, fake philanthropy and show of social liberalism by “elites” are about oneuping each other. But hasn’t this always been the case? Haven’t the “elites” of all societies throughout history spent too much time trying to oneup each other? So what is different now?

Well.. in previous eras, the “elites” of those societies did not pretend to have reached their positions because they were competent or actually good at whatever they were supposed to be doing. They were quite honest that being an “elite” was about being born to the right parents, married to the right person or being good at violence. Consequently, they left the actual work of getting things done to competent people employed by them. That is why, for example, the Medici family of Renaissance Italy stuck to the business of merchant banking and political influence while being great patrons of art rather than pretending to be great artists themselves. That is also why a lot of the industrial and banking dynasties of late 19th and 20th century Europe and USA stuck to their original vocations rather than seriously dabble in stuff which would make them look liberal, hip or “progressive”.

So what happens when incompetent but rich people try to do stuff at which they suck? Ask Nicholas II of Russia of the erstwhile Russian Empire who decided to personally take charge of military operations during the later stages of WW1 in Russia? Or what about Enver Pasha of the erstwhile Ottoman Empire who decided to cosplay as a military leader during WW1. The same hold true for thousands of generals and officers who gained their pre-WW1 positions in French Army through connections, bribery and kissing the right behinds. Long story short, when incompetent but powerful people enter roles they are not capable of fulfilling.. things go to shit. While this is especially obvious during acute crises such as large wars or economic meltdowns, it still occurs in times without obvious crises- albeit at a slower pace. The point I am trying to make is that “elites” who seriously dabble in real work almost always end up as massive and spectacular failures.

The reason this is a far bigger problem today than in past is that nobody expected “elites” or aspirational elites to do anything beyond being idle or playing insider games of the type seen in royal courts of yore. However the ideology of late capitalism aka neoliberalism is built around the concept of “meritocracy” which require participants to act as if they are involved in doing important work. It is even worse for aspirational elites, who in previous eras just had to play long with these insider court games or marry the right person. This results in people with power and money but no intellectual ability or competence pretending they are geniuses- with predictable results. It is even worse for aspirational elites, who now have to pretend even harder to be competent and brilliant people than the greedy power grabbers they really are.

The only way to succeed in institutions (including corporations) dominated by “elites” who subscribe to the ideology of neoliberalism is to fake the appearance of progress even if it destroys all of the real progress made in the past. That is why people who push bad ideas like Windoze 8 and 10 will be promoted over those who wanted to improve Windows 7. It is also why developing more fragile phones and computers protected by increasing amounts of hardware DRM is now the business model of Apple. Now you know why the UI of Gmail, Google Maps and MS Office, to name a few, has become worse with each iteration. This is also why people celebrate frauds such as Elon Musk who are pretending that technological capabilities which were refined 50 years ago are the result of recent “innovation”. And guess what.. you don’t even have to possess any actual technology to fake “disruption”- just ask that Theranos woman. It is all about appearance and style, not substance.

To summarize. the rise of fake “innovation” under late capitalism has much to with a toxic combination of financial incentives, “elites” and aspirational “elites” being out of their depth in a culture which very strongly favors the appearance of work as measured by “metrics” rather than anything close to the real thing. Might write more about this topic in future, based on comments and responses.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Necessity of Being a Multi-Millionaire under Late Capitalism: 3

August 8, 2020 21 comments

In the previous part of this series, I wrote about how housing polices of countries in anglosphere are optimized to benefit those who have lots of money rather than satisfying the housing needs of everybody. That is why, in the past 40 years, housing prices and costs have gone up far faster than the “official” rate of inflation. This is also the reason why developed countries outside the anglosphere have a far wider range of housing and why anglosphere countries have unusually high number of homeless compared to other developed countries. Now let us talk about the cost of education under late capitalism where, once again, we see a very similar trend. FYI- I plan to cover the effects of late capitalism on medical costs in future parts of this series, however that subtopic is almost certainly going to require more than one post.

Anyway.. back to the topic at hand, have you ever wondered how the cost of higher education rose so much in certain “developed” countries during past four decades? Some of you might not believe it, but there was a time when attending public universities in this country cost very little. Boomers such as MikeCA could attend well regarded public universities for the equivalent of less than five thousand dollars in today’s money, while doing so right now would cost approximately 20-40 thousand per year. But there is a even bigger question- namely, why hasn’t attending universities in other developed countries (especially outside anglosphere) become similarly expensive during the past 40 years? What explains this most peculiar difference?

While I encourage you to confirm it (with Google, or even better- Bing), the yearly fees at public universities in countries ranging from Italy, France, Germany to Japan, South Korea, China are between 1-5k dollar equivalent (or adjusted for purchasing power). They are even lower in most central and east European countries. In other words, university fees in rest of world retain the same relation to income as was the case in USA between 1945 and mid-1970s. And let’s face it, the quality of undergrad education at a decent public university in one developed country is pretty much identical to that in another. To put it another way, the student who spends 20-40k per year for attending an undergraduate program at UCSD or Berkley is not learning anything different or better than his or her equivalent attending a similar university in France, Germany, Japan or in any other developed country. So what is the ‘murican student paying extra for?

1] The first reason for the higher fees at universities in USA (and anglosphere in general) comes down to the changing employee composition of universities in these countries. Forty years ago, the number of teaching (and research) employees at these universities were almost always larger than the rest, and administration-types were typically outnumbered 2:1 by faculty. Today, almost every single university in ‘murica has anywhere between 2 to 4 times more administrative-types than faculty. To make matters worse, these parasites typically get paid almost as well or better than faculty. So how do universities try to control costs? Well.. by not hiring faculty positions and increasingly replacing them with temporary sessional “instructors” who are often paid wages below the poverty line. Universities in anglosphere are, nowadays, run as employment schemes for administration-type parasites. Providing higher education is, at best, a very secondary goal.

While universities in non-anglosphere European countries have also seen some administrator bloat, it is noticeably smaller. Moreover, the differences in pay-scales between them and faculty combined with the generally higher degree of government funding for higher education in those countries have kept things far more reasonable in those countries. But how is administrator bloat in anglosphere universities related to late capitalism? One of the distinguishing features of late capitalism aka neoliberalism aka financialism is its very strong emphasis on performative bullshit rather than actual results. There is a reason why LIEbrals in this country think Obummer was a great president, when at best he was a failed mediocrity. That is also why companies in the anglosphere are constantly talking about “empowering women”, “elevating black voices”, “celebrating trans” etc rather than paying their employees a decent wage.

Administrator bloat is about creating the optics of doing something rather than actually doing anything useful. It is about creating the illusion of work through endless meetings, conferences, seminars and reports by people with borderline parodic job titles. It is also about late capitalism obsession with “metrics” and other minutiae that are irrelevant in real life. So why does this administrator bloat keep growing. Well.. how many of you would refuse an office job which paid well, had a nice pension plan etc even if it required you to perform totally useless “work” and maintain ideological conformity at the workplace. Also, administrator-types hire more underlings to enhance their status even if it means destroying the original institutional mission.

2] The second reason why the cost of universities in the anglophone (especially USA) has gone up a lot in past forty years is also linked to late capitalism. See.. in late capitalism, government’s main function shifts from maintaining an equilibrium between money and labor to facilitating the looting of everybody else for the benefit of a select few super-rich people. Part of this process involves the government cutting taxes for the rich while simultaneously funneling more money towards them. One of the main reason why government support for universities has declined over past 40 years in certain countries has to do with reduced taxation of large corporations and the rich. Guess how universities in those countries make up for that funding shortfall..

But there is more. As part of their acceptance of the cult of neoliberalism, governments in the anglosphere have also privatized many services which once helped universities make some money. These range from meal plans for students in residence, management of residences, maintaining and renting out sports and other facilities etc. So, not only have neoliberal governments in the anglosphere reduced their contribution to the budget of universities but they have also crippled their ability to make some extra money from services which they used to provide in the past. But wait.. there is more.

Another feature of late capitalism is the strong desire to extract ‘value’ from things which either should never be treated that way or look for alternative sources of money for continuous growth once they have depleted the surrounding environment. This is where all those overseas students, especially from some Asian countries, come into the picture. It is no secret that universities in the anglosphere have aggressively recruited students from well-off families in Asian countries to fuel the latest stage of their pyramid scheme. And why not.. those students pay far more in fees as well as live in the more expensive new residences. Increased “diversity” of the student body, therefore, is not about combating racism. Instead it is about collecting lots of money from Asian students wanting to get credentialed from a university in the anglosphere.

In the next part, I hope to write about how late capitalism has created a dysfunctional and very expensive “healthcare” system in this country.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Necessity of Being a Multi-Millionaire under Late Capitalism: 2

August 2, 2020 8 comments

In the previous part of this series, I made a point that over the past 30 years, living standards of almost everybody in west have diminished considerably. This has occured due to the convergence of two factors. Firstly, the cost of the basics such as houses, automobiles, higher education and in case of USA- healthcare, have increased far faster than “official” rate of inflation. To make things worse, wages have either remained stagnant or decreased and in an increasing number of cases- the jobs have been shipped overseas without being replaced by anything comparable. Even the few well-paying jobs left in this country have become far less stable than they used to be just two decades ago. Furthermore, these changes have impacted those under 40 or 50 much harder than those above that age. So it is not just a “Millennials”, “Gen Y” or “Gen Z” thing.

So now let us talk about the role of financialism aka late capitalism aka neoliberalism in creating this terminal dystopia. Make no mistake, the situation the west (especially USA) has gotten itself into is, for all practical purposes, terminal. It has also fucked over the 99% to enrich the 0.01%.. and yes, there is a reason I wrote that sentence the way I did. To better understand what I am going to talk about, let us compare USA (the most afflicted country) with others such as Japan, South Korea and Germany (among least afflicted). How is life different for the median person in the least afflicted countries compared to the most afflicted one? Let us start by talking about the relative affordability of decent quality housing in nice or even OK neighborhoods.

If you have seen vlogs of expats in Japan and South Korea, one thing becomes obvious rather quickly. While many of their less expensive apartments are small- almost every single one of them is reasonably well built, adequately furnished and in areas that are not sketchy. Note that apartments in these countries come in a range of sizes allowing even somebody in a menial job to have an OK place of their own. More curiously, unlike in the anglosphere, East-Asian countries have been able to ensure that the rents and prices of these apartments are strongly linked to real income of the people. Even somebody living in Tokyo or Seoul, two of the largest megalopolises on earth, can easily find safe and affordable housing that is not too far away from their place of work and other amenities. Oh.. and they have excellent public transit systems.

Now compare this to the situation in Bay Area, where even a shitty bachelor suite within some century old building in the Tenderloin district of SF is somewhere between 2500-3000 $ per month. The same holds true for NYC, where anything that affordable in a non-sketchy area is both rare and rent controlled. Without going into too much detail, the same holds for other metropolitan areas in this country such as the LA megalopolis, Boston and its suburbs, Chicago and its suburbs, DC and its suburbs… you get it, right. But why is it so? Why can you find very affordable and OK apartments in two of most urbanized countries on earth with very little flat land suitable for building cities but not in one of more sparsely populated countries with tons of open areas suitable for expansion of cities?

But why restrict our comparison to East-Asian countries? Even more USA-influenced western countries such as Germany, Czech Republic or less-influenced ones such as Italy or Spain have no shortage of decent and affordable housing in their largest cities- with some exceptions like Frankfurt. My point is that the disproportional increases in cost of housing in Anglosphere and closely associated countries (Netherlands, Switzerland) during past 30 years is an aberration among developed countries. But why? Well.. the short answer is that this has occurred due to deliberate government policies, just as the relative inexpensiveness of housing in East-Asian cities is also due to government policies.

The slightly longer answer is that government policies in the Anglosphere have consistently favored the interests of who have capital and land over everybody else. In contrast to that many other countries, especially in East-Asia and continental Europe, have decided that the well-being of the majority is more important than extra enrichment of a minority. And let me remind you that it was not always like that. For the first three decades after WW2, any white person with even a mediocre job could afford to rent or buy a pretty decent place to live in almost any part of the country. Sure.. those places did not have 5 bedrooms and a man-cave, but they were quite acceptable and in OK neighborhoods. Even as late as mid 1990s, the median person with a job in SoCal or the Bay Area could afford an OK house in a non-sketchy neighborhood.

But what does any of this have to do with neoliberalism aka late capitalism aka financialism. Well.. everything! See.. the high and rising costs of housing in the Anglosphere has nothing to with the natural constraints on the ability to build more housing etc. Instead, it is about creating artificial scarcity via rules and regulations to extract an increasingly larger proportion of income from most people to line the pockets of those who already have tons of money so that they can use that extra money to play ever more elaborate sterile financial games which yield no return in the real world. Financialism is a form of parasitism that is too incompetent to even reproduce itself- just look at the poor fecundity of the so-called “elites” and “masters of the universe”.

In the next part, I hope to go into how financialism has fucked up healthcare, education and a whole lot more. We will also go into why boomers were cheering for deregulation in 1990s and early 2000s, which led to the rise of financialism.

What do you think? Comments?

Thoughts on Trends in New Automobile Sales and Neoliberalism in USA

July 19, 2020 10 comments

While trying to write the next part of my series, about the necessity of being a multi-millionaire under late capitalism, I had an interesting insight which didn’t fit in that series but was, still, very important. In some ways, this is a much belated sequel to one of my older posts about how the increased cost of cars is about late capitalism in action. In that post, I made the observation that the much diminished interest of Millennials, Gen Y etc in car ownership has a lot to do with the deleterious effects of late capitalism aka neoliberalism (specifically its american variant) on their lives. Also, I am not hopeful about late capitalism disappearing without causing far more damage and misery to almost everybody. Things are going to get far worse.. I mean.. interesting.

The first time I considered writing this post was about three years ago when we started hearing about how american automobile manufacturers were going to end the manufacture of everything other than pickup trucks, crossovers and a few high-margin car brands. At that time, the most common explanation floated for this shift centered around how american consumers had fallen out of love with cars and gone for pickup trucks and crossovers. Even at that time, I though this explanation sounded highly dubious- but was just not interested in following it, as this occurred at around same time as election of Trump. But I seldom stop thinking about an idea or topic, even if it is on the backburner.

A few days ago, a number of random occurrences made me seriously revisit this topic. It started with a seemingly random search about the number of automobiles sold in USA by year from 1978 and 2019. It yielded this graph, which displayed some rather interesting information. Note that 16 million vehicles were sold in 1986, when the population of USA was 240 million. Interestingly, 2019 saw the sale of only 16.9 million vehicles at a time when population is 328 million. Do you see the problem? Let me explain.. having an automobile is necessary if you live in almost any part of USA except perhaps NYC, Boston, parts of the Bay Area and a few other cities with OK public transit. Therefore, the ratio of vehicles to population should remain relatively constant.

But it hasn’t! Now somebody like MikeCA might say this has something to do with automobiles lasting much longer nowadays as compared to the mid 1980s. Well.. the increased quality and longevity of cars (especially Asian ones) definitely plays into the lower demand for new cars- but it, as best, can only explain part of the current situation. So what are the other factors I am alluding to? Well.. for starters, truck-chassis based SUVs and pickups increasingly became the main revenue generators for automobile manufacturers- especially american ones after the early 1990s. Then something odd happened after 2009.. old-style SUVs were very quickly supplanted by crossovers, pickup sales remained about constant and car sales after recovering for a few years between 2010-2015, entered a steep decline after 2016.

But what happened in rest of the world. Let us start by talking about countries in the European Union. Long story short, nothing similar occurred in the same time span. Sure.. sales were kinda low in the very early 2000s and between 2008-2012, and there has been a slight overall trend toward decline- but one that is linked to much larger demographic trends. But whichever way you look at it, the overall sales numbers were in same ball-park as USA (12-16 million/year) but there was no equivalent change in the types of vehicles sold. In other words, Europeans kept buying the type of cars they have been buying for decades. The same held for markets such as Japan, South Korea and other Asian countries except China.

China is an interesting case in that it has become the largest market for automobiles for the past decade. Yet, even in this still unsettled market, cars and a small to medium sized crossovers dominate the market. My point is that people in every large market for automobiles, other than USA (and Canada) are buying the same categories of the automobiles they have been buying for decades. So what is so different about USA that it is the only large market to have experienced an actual shift in the type of vehicles sold over past two decades? And what any of this have to do with late capitalism aka neoliberalism?

To understand what I am getting at, we have go back a couple of decades. See.. when I first came here a bit over two decades, I noticed many patterns. The one most relevant to this post concerns who bough new vehicles, which types and at what stage in their life. The brief version is as follows: buying a new car (frequently something from a compact hatchback to medium sedan) was almost like a ritual for most adults after they had got their first decent and somewhat stable job. so, while most people started with hand-me-downs or used cars, they would start buying new cars once they hit one of the supposed markers of “real” adulthood aka a decent job. I never saw anyone buying a new pickup unless their job required it.

While SUVs were a thing in the late 1990s, they were almost always bought by well-off people with kids who lived in McMansions and/or in certain expensive suburbs or exurbs. Almost nobody bought a new SUV as their first new automobile. It also helped that new compact to medium sized cars could be purchased for somewhere between 10-20k, and Japanese ones offered very good value for money. Even a few american ones were perfectly OK, as long you sold them off by the 6th year. My point is that new entry- to mid- level cars of decent to good quality were quite affordable- even for the median incomes of that era. According to most inflation calculators, 1k $ in 1999 is supposedly equal to about 1.5k $ in 2019. You will see why this matters soon.

Today the median car in those categories costs somewhere between 15k-30k, which sorta tracks inflation- but is a bit more than what it would have been in a perfect world. But what about incomes? Well.. as it turns out median and mean incomes adjusted for inflation have not really changed between 1999 and 2019- which is a fancy way of saying that a job that paid 30k/year in 1999 would pay 45k today. But there are two problems with this simplistic assumption. Firstly, many of the job which were available to a person in 1999 do not exist today. To make matters worse, people who had a decent stable job in 1999 no longer have a stable job that pays the same, even if they managed to stay in that field. The situation is even worse for new entrants who are stuck in an endless series of low-paying and unstable jobs unlike previous generations.

And it gets even worse. The real cost of living during the intervening two decades has increased far more than the 50% claimed by governmental agencies. Take rents for example. Rents today are somewhere between 2-3 times what they were in 1999, even if the apartment building has been standing there since the mid 1970s. The same is true for house prices. Note that the situation is far more dire in certain coastal metropolitan areas. Then there is the issue of rising costs in higher education. The student loan load of a person graduating from university in 1999 was a fraction of what it is 2019- and those have to be paid. We also cannot forget the insanely high costs of health insurance and high copays of most “healthcare” plans- once gain much higher than in 1999. Long story short, most people between 20-40 are broke or close to it.

And this is why the demand for new average-priced cars aka one of the signifiers of adulthood in USA have dropped so sharply. But what about the continued demand for new pickups and crossovers? Well.. guess who is buying them. Yes, it is almost exclusively Boomers and older Gen-Xers. These are the only two major groups who still have the financial capacity to buy new automobiles and like older people tend to, they buy large and bulky vehicles. Also, part of pickup truck demand is driven by people who have to actually use them for work in flyover country.

In summary the drop in demand for new (average) cars is driven by the same factors responsible for younger generation not having kids, marrying late or never, not buying houses, not eating out in expensive restaurants, not going on expensive vacations etc. They are fucking broke, overstretched, overworked and have no job security. The reason we do not see similar trends if change in automobile type preferences in Europe is that costs of living (housing etc) approximate income much better + healthcare is inexpensive and universal + higher education is inexpensive. The same is true of East-Asian countries such as Japan, South, Korea etc and yes, even China. But murican exceptionalism feels good, on the hole, doesn’t it..

What do you think? Comments?

On the Necessity of Being a Multi-Millionaire under Late Capitalism: 1

July 5, 2020 36 comments

A few years ago, I wrote about how the Simpsons show was a marker for demise of middle-class in USA. The point I made in that post was that the Simpson family’s lifestyle, as depicted in that show, was not only possible, but considered normal as late as the early 1990s- when that show debuted. However, today the idea of a guy who barely completed high school having a stable job which pays enough to support a wife and three kids, own a modest house along with a couple of second-hand cars would be considered fantasy. So what happened between the early 1990s and today? How did we go from a point where a stable middle-class existence was the unquestioned norm in western countries to one where most people are heavily indebted precariats with zero chance of a better life in less than three decades- but especially in the anglosphere.

To better understand what I am talking about, let me tell you a little story. See.. there are two reasons why I took the educational trajectory which I ended up taking. Firstly, I liked my area of study and was very good at it. However, there was a second reason- employment in that area provided a guaranteed stable upper-middle class lifestyle for many decades (starting from end of WW2 to the mid-2000s). Even academics in that area could expect a very nice and stable upper-middle class, albeit a bit less well compensated than those in industry. For example, one of my academic mentors (born in 1945 or 1946) became a tenured professor by 30, got married, had three kids, was able to buy a nice house and expand it, buy a second vacation home, decent cars etc, take long vacations, a few sabbaticals, got a steady stream of OK grants and ultimately retired with a decent guaranteed pension.

The important thing is that he was able to all of that with an income equivalent to somewhere between 70-120k/yr adjusted for current levels of purchasing power. Sure, his wife worked too for some years, but she made probably 40% of what he made even in the best years. In other words, it was possible to enjoy a very nice and stable upper-middle class lifestyle for somewhere between 100-150k/yr even if you had three children who had to be put through university. Sure, it helped that the city in question was not coastal California or NYC level expensive. But still.. my point stands, and he was not the only one. As late as end of 1990s and early 2000s, this lifestyle was considered normal for someone in academia- at least in the parts where I lived. Industry paid better, and starting salaries of 80-90k after a PhD were fairly common even in late 1990s. A good number of them ended up making the equivalent of somewhere between 120-150k for most of their careers. Did I mention that the jobs were far more stable then?

Anyway, the point I am trying to make is as follows: it was perfectly possible for a couple making about 200k/year with one or both in pharma or allied sectors to live a very comfortable and nice lifestyle in certain places in NE USA (MA, NJ, non-NYC NY) or west coast (Bay Area, San Diego, Seattle). Also, these jobs came with excellent healthcare packages and defined-benefit pensions. Of course, this has not been the case since 2009- but that is another story. Now ask yourself a simple question, how was the pharma sector capable of providing such nice working conditions for many decades and why did this start coming to an end by middle of early 2000s? It is not as if pharma suddenly became a far less profitable industry, did it? So why did that sector change its business model after decades of it working nicely, starting in the 1990s. Yes.. the rot began a decade or so before things went to shit.

To understand what went wrong in that sector and many others all over the west, you have to begin by asking a simple question- who are corporations run for and by whom. Well.. as it turns out, for many decades after end of WW2, corporations in the west were run to achieve two ends- personal profit for owners of capital AND well-compensated stable employment for the rest. The idea was that a high standard of living would keep people from getting interested in more ‘radical’ ideologies such as socialism and even full-blown communism. But once state communism fell in Eastern Europe by 1989, the west (especially anglosphere) had no reason to balance the interests of capital AND employees. It is therefore not surprising that neoliberalism, which started in the late 1970s, did not really take off until 1991. Yes.. that is why a lot of the deregulation of western economies started after 1991. But what is neoliberalism anyway?

Well.. if I had to define neoliberalism, here is how I would do it. Neoliberalism is an ideology that pretends to profess belief in “free markets”, “free trade” and other totems of classical liberalism such as individualism while transferring power and money from elected government to unelected corporations using excuses based in the bullshit lies of pliant economists and other so-called “social scientists”. For examples, government deficits and ‘printing money’ are very bad if they are used to fund the needs of average people but very smart and correct if they are used to make corporations and a few people very rich. Here is another example- according to this ideology, allowing monopolies and oligopolies to exist is a great idea as long as you can pretend to show that they don’t overcharge customers. Here are a few more examples..

Pretending to care about black lives and diversity is the right thing to do, even if you are actively involved in trying to suppress wages, steal wages and otherwise screw your employees- many of who might be black and non-white. There is a reason why corporations are so enthusiastic about supporting “woke” activism. It is all about maintaining a fake image that nobody but their own inner circle believe in- not unlike Nazis pretending that they were committing ethnic genocide to make the world ‘a better place’ or Zionists pretending that they are on a civilizing mission in the Middle-East. Same crap, different bottle- rinse and repeat. As I have said many times, the difference between LIEbralism and CONservatism is that the former are more vain about their public image, while the later are clueless.

Anyway.. let us get back to the topic at hand, specifically the part about how it is necessary to be a multi-millionaire to enjoy living under late capitalism aka financialism aka Neoliberalism. A few months ago, I decided to calculate the amount of income and wealth necessary for somebody in 2020 to live like an OK paid professor in 2000- in the same city. After some calculations I arrived at an interesting range of numbers. See.. to do everything he did and live with same margin of comfort, a person would require around 300k. But wait.. some of you might say, haven’t you accounted for inflation. Yes, I have and that is why I listed his pay range as 70-120k/yr (over career) adjusted to current levels of purchasing power. And you know something else, that is very close to the current pay range for positions he occupied in that university over his career.

To make another long story short, he simply could not have enjoyed the lifestyle he did had he joined the same university 25 years after he did (so, in the late 1990s) or today. And this is true not just for him and other academics but for most people in pharma, biotech, law and even programming. While Google and FB reputedly pay 200-250k for some of new hires in the Bay Area, I would like to ask you to have a look at living costs in said area. Try finding a modest but decent house within a 30 minute drive of workplace that is less than a million. Have a look at the costs of houses in areas with “good school districts” (an insanity most peculiar to USA). Calculate the costs of sending kids to university even if you get a few scholarships.

And we are not even getting into issues such as age discrimination, poor job AND career security, risk of divorce leading to financial ruin etc. It is so bad that only types of professions currently make enough money to live a secure upper-middle class lifestyle as it existed twenty years ago- medical practitioners and established lawyers. I am sure that some silly valley fuckwit will jump in now and say something about “learning to code” or some other inane bullshit about getting the right credentials. But it doesn’t matter anymore. We have already reached a stage where entire professions from academia, scientists, engineers, accountants, mid-level managers and many many more have gone down from solidly upper-middle class vocations to working class.

And they are the “lucky” ones since professions that once used to solidly middle-class such as assembly line workers, retail staff, construction workers etc have gone from middle and working class to precariat, while those that were working class such as delivery drivers, truckers, hotel and restaurant workers etc have become the working poor. It is no wonder that more than half the people are a couple of paychecks away from irreversible financial ruin. In the next part, I will go further into how financialism aka neoliberalism destroyed affordable housing, healthcare, education and a whole lot more while boomers were cheering for deregulation in 1990s. You will also see more examples of how being a multi-millionaire is a necessity under late capitalism.

What do you think? Comments?

Interesting YouTube Channel: Renegade Cut

September 29, 2019 11 comments

A few months ago, I came across yet another interesting channel, known as Renegade Cut, which uses movies and TV shows to analyse philosophical ideas and ideologies. While I don’t agree with everything on that channel, some of the content makes sense and is thought-provoking. Here are two clips which many of you might find particularly interesting.

Clip #1: Saturday Neoliberalism This one uses short clips from SNL (the “comedy” show) over multiple decades to show how all of the so-called “subversive” comedy in neoliberal countries such as USA was, and is, always about commercial considerations than being truly subversive or standing up to power and money. It explains why shows such as SNL loved HRC in 2016 while dumping on Bernie and has hated Trump since his election. The explanation also holds for all those other “celebrities” who expose supposedly LIEbral causes.

Clip #2: Frank Grimes – The Cult of Work The second one uses the famous character of Frank Grimes in “The Simpsons’ to show how CONservatives view the world around them. It provides some very interesting insight into why those losers fetishize “work” and who they scapegoat for everything wrong with the world. To make a long story short, CONservatives willingly suffer from multiple delusions including the one where they will all attain salvation, also known as becoming rich.There is a reason, I have always found CONservatives a bit more detestable than LIEbrals.

What do you think? Comments?

How the Democratic Party Could Lose in 2020 Elections and Beyond: 5

September 25, 2019 12 comments

In the previous part of this series, I promised to finally go into why support for certain superficial liberal causes is going to backfire on democrats during the 2020 elections. I also made the point that most allegedly “popular” causes in liberalism, such as “gun control” and “LGBTQ” issues, are secular religions in all but name. So let us ask the next question- which traditional religion does modern liberalism most closely resemble? While modern liberalism displays some similarities to Christianity, especially its Catholic variant, it differs from from the later in some very important aspects. Specifically, liberalism is heavily dependent on the use of identity politics, constantly changing taboos and a peculiar form of abstract “spirituality” to enforce its writ among followers.

In other words, modern liberalism cannot function without increasing inter-group factionalism, constantly changing taboos and overt public displays of abstract “spirituality”. Enumerating all the stuff it ignores is even more revealing. For example- liberalism does not care about gross income inequality, horrible working conditions, shitty personal lives and many other issues that actually affect most people living in post-industrial societies. In contrast to liberalism, many traditional religions such as Christianity and Islam try to increase group cohesion, get new members, keep taboos clearly defined and to a minimum in addition to (at least) giving lip service to ideas such basic human equality, dignity and charity. So.. is there a closer match for Liberalism?

As it turns out.. Hinduism is a far closer match to modern Liberalism than almost any other major traditional religion. As I repeatedly mentioned in a previous (and still incomplete) series, almost every major problem that has plagued the India and its people since about 300 AD can be traced back to Hinduism- specifically the spread and consolidation of the ‘jati’ system throughout India. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Hinduism, as has existed since about 300 AD, is nothing more than an excuse to perpetuate the ‘jati’ system. So what makes Hinduism the traditional equivalent of modern Liberalism? Well, let us start by talking about how both use identity politics to divide society into ever smaller groups that hate each other.

Some of you might want to believe that white liberals invented identity politics, but that is simply not true. The ever fragmenting ‘jati’ system in India pioneered and refined identity politics many centuries before white liberals were a thing. The core of Hinduism (as understood and practiced by most believers) is identity politics. That is why most Indians still make important decisions, from voting to marrying, almost exclusively based on whether the other party is of the same or similar ‘jati’. But why are ideologies that preach social fragmentation bad? The simple answer is that societies which accept such fissiparous ideologies end up becoming unable to get stuff done. There is a reason why China was able to achieve in 30 years what India appears unlikely to get done anytime in the foreseeable future.

This is also why India was colonized by followers of two foreign monotheistic religions for over a thousand years. Long story short, societies which are based around identity politics lose their ability to get stuff done and become vulnerable to domination by more cohesive ones. But what does any of this have to do with the democratic party losing the elections in 2020 and beyond? As mentioned in previous posts, the public image of democrats is increasingly defined by being part of the top 10% or aspiring to join that group. But why is that a problem? Think about it this way.. the number of eligible voters who did not vote for either candidate in the 2016 election was larger than the number who voted for either HRC or Trump. Also the plurality of vote cast by the non-professional or credentialed class go to republicans.

Some of you might attribute this to racism and there is some truth to that viewpoint. However a far larger issue, which I have alluded to in a previous post, concerns how each party treats its voters. Republicans do not insult their voters while they are fucking them over unlike their democratic counterparts. To put it another way, the republican religion is a noticeably more inclusive than its democratic equivalent. But isn’t their appeal restricted to white voters? Well.. yes, but as many of you saw in 2016- democrats were unable to motivate enough young non-white voters to go out and vote for them.

A secular religion centered around “gun control”, “forced diversity”, “manmade climate change”, MeToo”, “gender fluidity”, “wokeness” and numerous other fashionable causes and ever changing social taboos simply cannot compete with another which is far more straightforward, inclusive (as long as your are white) and does not require you to debase yourself quite that much. The secular religion of democrats also does not provide solutions to far more prevalent problems such as inadequate healthcare, poor job security, ever increasing cost of university education etc. Their democratic brand of secular religion is simply too exclusive and full of useless and ever-changing rituals to appeal to the majority of voters across this country.

Will write more about this point of view in next part of this series.

What do you think? Comments?

How the Democratic Party Could Lose in 2020 Elections and Beyond: 4

September 20, 2019 14 comments

In the previous part of this series, I wrote about how politicians who dutifully recite their allegedly traditional beliefs and pieties can no longer compete with those willing to push beyond previous boundaries of what was considered “routine”, “polite” or “acceptable”. We have reached this point because, over the past four decades, living standards for the vast majority of people have either stagnated or deteriorated. The majority, therefore, no longer feel that a better future is possible. This is why the stale and canned pseudo-populist antics of people such as Reagan40, Clinton42, Bush43, Obama44 and their ilk are no longer sufficient to win elections. Now, we will go into why the current democrat party obsession with “gun control”, “LGTBTQ issues” and other supposedly “woke issues” fashionable with the incestuous and effete “elite” of modern day america.

A couple of years ago, I first wrote about how “wokeness” is largely driven by neoliberals trying to show that they are morally superior to the rest. Since then, we have seen a concerted push by the effete managerial class and every politician who wants to pretend that they too are somehow morally superior to push “solutions” for problems which do not exist. Even worse, in almost all cases their “solutions” either make things worse, cause public backlash and provide ammunition to their equally despicable opponents in the so-called ‘culture wars’. There is a reason why almost everyone in this country, other than those who live in a few exclusive zip codes, see ideas such a “plastic straw ban” or unrealistic fuel consumption guidelines for cars as bad and stupid. And in case you are wondering, the recent proliferation of crossovers in USA has a lot to do with how such automobiles are classified for the purpose of fuel economy standards.

So what does any of this have to with the promotion of electorally disastrous issues such as “gun control”, LGBTQ issues and environmentalism by the democratic party? Well.. a lot. But before we go there, let me clear about a couple of things. While republicans screw their voter-base as much as democrats, they do so without insulting them like the later. Secondly, seemingly unconnected issues promoted by many democrats such as “gun control, LGBTQ issues and environmentalism are closely related, but not for the reasons most of you might have guessed. This is not to say that virtue display has no role in the promotion of such bullshit policies. But while virtue display can explain behaviors such as adopting non-white children, being vegetarian or vegan, driving a Prius and donating to certain charities, it cannot explain the deep obsession of core democrat constituencies with issues such as “gun control” and promotion of LGBTQ.

But what is the difference between adopting a non-white child or going vegetarian and pushing for “gun control” and promoting LGBTQ. Well.. it comes down to doing something yourself versus trying to manipulate of force others to do things your way. For example, almost nobody who has adopted an African child or driven a Prius is forcing you to do the same. But those who allegedly believe in “gun control” and “gender fluidity” want to take away the guns of other people and castrate their children, all in the name of “social progress”. Most of the enduring, and unpopular, hobbyhorses of the democratic party center around top-down control of the lives and behaviors of those “other” people. That is right.. most issues animating the core white constituency of democratic party are about credentialed types and managers trying to control other people.

But to what end? And why are establishment democrats so tone deaf to the unpopularity of their hobby horses. Sure.. focusing on such cultural issues also allows them to ignore real issues such as the desperate need for affordable healthcare, post-secondary education, housing stock etc. Having said that, it mostly comes down to the need to exert power (for its own sake) over other people, not unlike what is presented in George Orwell’s’ 1984. Promoting issues such as “gun control”, “gender fluidity” and environmentalism is about using the framework of a traditional religion to push for its secular equivalent. Did I mention that all religions are about making other people go along with lies and bullshit fairytales to further your control over them.

Religions have another feature that is relevant to this discussion. All the “truths” and “causes” espoused by any given religion cannot be disproved or questioned. This is why establishment democrats who cannot tell the difference between a semi-automatic and select-fire rifle will never change their mind on that subject. It was never about “facts”, “truth” or anything approaching reality. Belief in the righteousness of “gun control” is part of the gospel of coastal american liberalism. Similarly, belief in the validity of “wokeness”, “gender fluidity” and other similar new sacraments of american liberalism has nothing to do with acting in the best interest of other people or children. Do you really think they care if tens of thousands of gender-atypical children get wrongfully castrated and suffer permanent psychological damage because of their beliefs?

Some of you might remember that I recently posted a series about how belief in anthropogenic climate change is a form of secular apocalyptism. In it, I also made the case that the belief in man-made climate change has massive parallels to Catholicism. The part relevant to this post is who benefited from religions such as Catholicism. To make a long story short, the only groups and institutions who really benefit from Catholicism (or any other religion) are the clergy, church, contemporary ruling elites and their stooges. Everyone else suffers necessary deprivation and immiseration. But this, you see, is a central feature of all organized religions- not a bug.

Since we are at almost 1000 words, I will wrap up this post. In the next part, I will go into why support for these liberal causes is going to backfire on democrats during the 2020 elections. Yes.. I am aware that it was supposed to be in this part.

What do you think? Comments?

How the Democratic Party Could Lose in 2020 Elections and Beyond: 3

September 8, 2019 13 comments

In my previous post of this series, I pointed out that the upper echelons of democratic party are so full of effete professionals that it can no longer win national elections unless the other party screws up hard. And to reiterate, racist white anger after the passage of civil rights legislation in 1960s is not the main reason behind the decline of democratic party in most states since the early 1990s. If that was the case, why did a few coastal states such as California, Oregon and Washington go from being reliable republican strongholds in early 1980s to reliably democrat by early 2000s? My point is that something else is at work.

Here is a clue. The shift of any given state (historically non-slave owning) from the democrat to republican column almost always occurs after many years of economic stagnation, permanent job losses, systemic deindustrialization, increase in poverty and zero hope for a better future. On the other hand, those which fare better under the neoliberal regime of “free” trade (predominantly coastal states) end up becoming democrat strongholds. You might have also noticed that the propensity of a state or even a city to vote for democrats after 1992 has a peculiar correlation with its percentage who have office jobs and others that require “credentials” or “licenses” of some sort. So why does this connection exist?

To make a long story short, it comes down to which socio-economic group benefits from the real policies of each party. White university “educated” petite bourgeoisie are the core constituency of modern democratic party. Notably, this group is heavily dependent on government spending and “regulation” for keeping their often useless jobs and professions protected from the negative effects of globalization, while simultaneously being able to use outsourcing of manufacturing jobs and influx of desperate undocumented immigrants to inflate their own living standards. Think of them as the modern equivalent of white people who weren’t rich enough to afford tons of slaves but had enough money for a couple of slaves.

But aren’t there tons of the mythical small-business owners who are reliably conservative and vote republican? Well.. there used to be. Right till the end of 1980s, the business environment in USA was reasonably conducive to the establishment and growth of small to medium businesses. Since then, the neoliberal consolidation of businesses and financialization of the economy resulted in the slow-motion destruction of small to medium sized enterprises. The vast majority of “small businesses” in this country today are now single-person entities used to process earnings from side-gigs or unstable contractor-type jobs.

Corporate consolidation has now created a system that is almost totally dominated by monopolies and oligopolies. Most petite bourgeoisie in america are, therefore, now mostly professionals, people in “licensed” professions, middle to upper management types and those aspiring to join their ranks. These people also happen to be concentrated in larger cities, especially on the coast. Now you know why democrats are so desperate to gain votes from richer white suburbs who are still marginally republican. Ok.. but why do so many black people, especially from the older generation, vote for democrats.

Well.. there are a few reasons for that pattern, but it largely comes down to two major ones. In the early 1960s, the democratic party (at national level) moved from its previous pro-apartheid position to one which supported civil rights. A large number of black people, especially those born after 1930 but before 1970, see democrats as the party of civil rights. They also actively recruited a few black politicians in its ranks. The other reason is that republicans, after 1968, became the party of working class whites. Some of you might wonder as to why republicans focused on working class whites instead of focusing on the entire working class.

The superficial reason for that choice is as follows: the demographic and racial profile of USA in 1960s-1980s was such that restricting oneself to working class whites was a viable political strategy. But the real reason is far more interesting. Both parties have always been controlled and beholden to the very rich and large corporations. Also, electoral politics in USA has always been a stage-managed show. But why did it appear to work? Well.. because a combination of circumstances and situations in the first seven decades of 20th century created enough spare wealth to duct-tape over a lot of systemic problems.

Until the 1980s and even 1990s, the overall economic situation for most people was good enough for them to ignore class-based politics. The peculiar history of USA and its racial demography in those decades. also, made it much easier to push race-based political divisions. In other words, restricting your electoral support to the white working class was a very viable strategy. And that is why republicans became so obsessed with “crime”, “law and order”, “war on drugs” and all that other bullshit after 1968. But note that even in the late-1970s, rates of incarceration (except in deep south) were comparable to other western countries.

But what does any of this have to with democrats in 2019 wanting to implement strict “gun control” laws, trying to outdo each other at being “woke” and do meaningless token bullshit such as banning plastic straws and passing other stupid laws to “protect” the environment. And why are these virtue-display based strategies likely to be counterproductive? To better understand what I am getting at, let me ask you a simple question- why did Trump win the republican nomination and then the presidency in 2018. So let us start by answering the first part, namely how he was able to beat 16 other candidates, some with especially deep pockets.

While some of you might still want to believe that it had something to do with “Russia” or “Putin”, the real if somewhat unpleasant explanation is that his success in the primaries was the logical culmination of post-1968 direction of republican party. Trump was (and is) not an aberration. He was just far more open about his worldview. More interesting, but seldom explored, is why all those other generic mediocrities failed. Why did all those republican politicians duly reciting republican beliefs and pieties fail against Trump? To make a long story short, their performance of the republican version of virtue displays could no longer compete with Trump’s pretense of caring for the white working class.

A slightly longer version is that since 2008, or even a few years earlier, public trust in institutions and systems have fallen in a precipitous and irreversible manner. Performing the same virtue displays which would have guaranteed victory in republican primaries as late as 2008 are not longer sufficient. A few years ago, I wrote a post on how anodyne communication styles have destroyed societal trust. But how is any of this connected to the current clown car of democratic presidential candidates? Well.. it comes down to what that party has learned, or not learned, from their humiliation in 2016. As it turns out, democrats haven’t learned anything useful.

As I wrote in my previous post in this series, people in 2019 care far more about issues such as being able to afford “healthcare”, cost of university education, poor job and career security than the urgent need to ban guns. Face it.. this issue only matters to some credentialed professionals living in urban areas of certain coastal states. However these parasites are highly represented in the social bubble inhabited by the upper echelons of the democratic party. I cannot resist pointing out that this situation is analogous to that time in 2015-2016 when many republican candidates (except Trump) tried to portray themselves as morally upright family men educated at famous universities. Guess what.. most republican voters did not give a shit about the personal moral standards of their elected representatives.

So why did all those allegedly mainstream republican candidates in 2015-2016 keep on reciting these pieties? Here is a clue.. it had to do with their social circle and bubble. In the past thirty years, most politicians of both parties have lost the ability to relate with people outside their carefully insulated social bubble. Consequently they keep harping on stuff which is fashionable and ‘hip’ in their social circles but is seen as out of touch in the real world. Democrats talking about their “wokeness” or being “totally supportive” of LGBTQ issues is similar to republicans talking about their “christian faith” and “virtues of hard work entrepreneurship”. The average voter perceives both as comically inept hypocrites and parasites.

In the next part, I will finally get into some detail about why democratic support for causes such as “gun control”, LGBTQ+ issues and environmentalism are going to be especially disastrous during the 2020 elections.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Poor Career Prospects for People with Postgraduate Degrees : 2

August 21, 2019 7 comments

In the previous part of this series, I went into some detail about the careers of those who studied or worked alongside me during my MSc. To make a long story short, the majority are either no longer involved in scientific research or have menial unstable jobs with some vague connection to what they studied or used to do for a living. Some of you might say that this is to be expected since the biomedical sciences produce many times more graduates than the number of available jobs. While that may be true now, it wasn’t always the case. Indeed, until the early 1990s, those who studied or worked in that sector could either find decent to acceptable jobs or simply move into related areas with considerable ease.

Now let us now talk about another sector which, for over 50 years, provided highly stable, well compensated and intellectually engaging employment. I am talking about pharma. From the end of WW2 in 1945 to mid-1990s, pharmaceutical corporations (large and medium) provided some of the best and most interesting jobs and careers in western countries. And it worked both ways, since those who worked in them came up with the most important advances in medicine we have ever seen. There is a very good reason why this period is often referred to as the ‘golden age’ of drug discovery. And then it started going wrong and is now a mere shadow of its former self. Years ago, I linked to a spoof by somebody else about how things went to shit in pharma.

To be fair, this fall was not instantaneous and it was only after 2008 that the whole sector was irreparably damaged. But ya.. things had been on a downward slope since the mid-1990s. In retrospect, the true beginning of end started in late 1980s, when certain large corporations (Pfizer, Merck etc) decided to recruit ivy-league MBAs. The first signs of this rot manifested as gradual consolidation within that sector. While I could write multiple books on why consolidation in the pharma sector was so disastrous, here is the very brief version. Monopolization and oligopolization always results in counterproductive centralization, destruction of real innovation, greatly increased rent-seeking and is bad for everyone other than the upper management of those corporations in addition to their lawyers and bankers.

It should be noted that corporate monopolization has been much more disastrous in the West than Asian countries because corporations in the later are answerable to their governments to an extent unimaginable in the former. But why are we talking about how the pharma sector used to be about 20 years. Well.. because it is relevant to my choice of career. One of the main reasons for me taking the educational path I took was that working in pharma was an excellent career option with long-term stability and a pretty decent work environment. Sure.. nothing is perfect, but for someone with my interest and talents, it was as good a match as realistically possible.

Also, the pharma sector used to be fairly conservative in both hiring and firing people. Until early 2000s, mass layoffs and multiple site closures for the purpose of “corporate reorganization” were unknown in pharma. Many larger corporations even had defined benefit pensions until mid-2000s. Yes.. you heard that right. To make a long story short, those who stayed out of corporate politics and had generally satisfactory job performance could reasonably expect lifetime employment, and this was widely expected by employers and employees right upto early 2000s. You were not expected to work beyond normal work hours unless necessary due to nature of experiments and there was tons of autonomy at the site and group level. And in spite of all this, vast majority of pharma corporations were profitable businesses and remained so over multiple decades.

But how is any of this linked to my story? As it turns out, I ended up working in pharma for a few years and through direct experience and observing the career trajectories of acquaintances had a ringside seat to the beginning of final collapse of employment in pharma sector. Here is a post from 2011 in which they document that almost 300k jobs in that sector were lost between 2001 and 2011. And those layoffs did not stop in 2011, though they have sorta run out of people to fire- especially in past 4 years. The total is now closer to 400-450 k jobs and even if we assume that 60-70% were in sales and administration, it is fair to say that ivy-league MBAs have finally killed the goose which used to lay golden eggs. Far more problematically, it has altered the career course for many who would have otherwise gone into pharma.

In other words, their short-termism not only destroyed decades of institutional knowledge but also their ability to rebuild in future. And it shows! And before I explain you how, it is important to quickly explain the process of drug discovery and approval. It all starts with either the discovery of a new drug target (usually protein) or some effect of a chemical compound in cell-based or animal assays. From there it enters the pre-clinical development phase where chemists make hundreds and thousands of chemical cousins of the initial lead compounds and test them in a number of assays, animal models of some disease and extensive toxicity testing in multiple animal species. Only after it has cleared that phase can it be even considered for human trials. Small phase I trials are usually the first (dozens of people), followed by larger Phase II trials (hundreds) culminating in Phase III (hundreds to thousands and often) over a few years.

To make another long story short, the system was designed such that drugs which entered Phase III trials were unlikely to fail, and this was the case for most of modern history. Sure.. you did encounter situations where testing in larger populations (P III) revealed some rare but nasty side effects or the drug was not as efficacious as previously expected. But outright failures of efficacy in Phase III trials was really rare. Then something changed and nowadays the majority of drugs which enter Phase III trials fail, and they usually do so for lack of efficacy. Curiously, this often occurs when Phase I and Phase II data was either very good or pretty promising. So.. what is going on? While many industry insiders have tried to explain this deeply troubling trend by invoking all sorts of clever sounding bullshit, there is a simpler and more rational explanation.

A large percentage, likely overwhelming majority, of drug development in past two decades has been based in two types of fraud. The first involves manipulating metrics to make something look far better than it is in real life. Examples of such frauds involve cherry-picking patients, burying negative data, changing criteria for success, playing around with data and statistics and other stuff which is not technically illegal. The second type involves falsification of data, deliberately deleting data, kicking non-responders out of trials to improve responses rates etc. But what does any of this have to do with the downward career trajectory of people working in that sector?

Well.. since we have already exceeded 1200 words in this post, I will leave that discussion for the next part of this series. In it, I hope to go into some more detail about how neoliberalization and financialization of pharma destroyed its older and much more successful business model and institutional structure- all to make a handful of people on wall street and upper management far richer than they otherwise would have been. You will also see how stuff such as pushing opioids, antidepressants, antipsychotics etc to doctors and constantly jacking up prices of old and new drugs replaced developing newer ones as the main source of corporate growth. And ya.. I will also go into what happened to all those middle-aged and older people who lost their jobs and, in many cases their entire, careers after decades of relative stability.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Poor Career Prospects for People with Postgraduate Degrees : 1

August 17, 2019 34 comments

A few years ago, I wrote a post about how the defined and stable career trajectory is now dead in west and west-aping countries such as Japan and South Korea. Some months after that, I wrote about how the hiring practices of corporations in west have shortened the length of semi-stable career for most people to about 15 years. Then, about a year ago, I wrote a series on the long term social, economic and cultural effects of career insecurity. While they don’t make cheerful reading, it is interesting to note that these and my other older posts (pre-2016) on this general area (link 1, link 2, link 3) anticipated the rise of pseudo-populists such as Trump, the alt-right and popularity of socialism among “Millennials”. Also, have a look at my post on why rich and well-off (even in USA) are barely having any kids.

But let us get back to the topic of this post, and talk about something which I have often hinted to in previous posts on this topic. Ever wonder about the real career prospects for those with proper postgraduate education in the sciences and other related areas such as engineering. And yes.. this is relevant to issues other than the immediate future of western countries. What I am now going to describe, based on personal observations, is going to vindicate many of your darkest suspicions but also make you feel depressed. But before we talk about my observations, you should know a couple of facts about me. Longtime readers are probably aware that I came here and started my MSc when I was 20 years old in the later half of 1990s. After finishing it, I worked a couple of jobs in my field and then started my PhD in a proper STEM subject in mid-2000s and finished at the beginning of this decade. The point is, I have seen a lot more change than many others have seen.

To be more precise, I had a ringside seat to the demise of career security for smart people with postgraduate education in western countries. And don’t worry about me, I am still doing OK and will (knock on wood) continue to do so. But back to the topic at hand- What do my personal observations about the career trajectories of others who graduated a few years before myself, or alongside me, say about the overall situation. The very short answer is that it is already very bad and getting worse- if that is possible. While there are many ways to describe what I have witnessed, a chronological account of the careers of people who graduated a few years before me provides the best (if somewhat disturbing) insight into how things have gone to to shit.

While biomedical sciences have notorious for overproduction of graduates, until the mid-1990s most of them could get some half-decent jobs or at least transition into careers where their skills were useful. Somewhere between mid-1990s and 2000, that became much harder or no longer possible. To make a long story short, only those who went into to medical or dental school now have anything approaching “normal” careers. And even for them, things are pretty dismal. For starters, most are single, divorced or unhappily married with a single child. Out of the ten or so guys I know who took that route, only one has more than 2 children- and half have none. Almost every woman who went to medical school (around my age or younger) has either zero kids or just managed to squeeze one out in their late-30s. And they all look older than they should.

But at least they have some semblance of a career trajectory, because most of the rest (aka the majority) who did not get into medical school have none. Sure.. there are a few who have done OK in either academia or industry (usually the later) but most of them just seem to disappear. Confused? Let me explain. Over the years I have followed the careers of many PhD students who were smart, liked by their supervisors and generally expected to do OK in later life. But things did not work that way and many of them after promising starts and careers lasting for a decade or so, just disappear. To be clear, I am not suggesting they are dead or have commited suicide (though the later cannot be ruled out). It is just that their career in science seem to end and they stop updating their LinkedIn profiles. In almost every case, detailed internet searches failed to reveal much more than their current addresses and some more recent photos.

While I am sure that most are still alive, it is clear that they do not have well-paid or marginally prestigious jobs. Maybe they are bagging groceries at the supermarket, driving for Uber, delivering Pizza, tutoring kids or in one of those mediocre administrative positions which have proliferated in past 15 years. My point is that most of them are now doing jobs that require nothing more than an undergraduate degree. Isn’t that a terrible and cruel waste of human potential and hope? But wait.. it gets worse. Let me talk about the fate of a few people I used to know well in the late 1990s and early 2000s. And it gets depressing real fast..

When I was just finishing my MSc, there was a new postdoc from UK in the adjacent lab who had come here with his then-GF (also a postdoc). The guy was bright and competent, because within a couple of years he got a decent academic position back in UK. So far so good. Based on mutual acquaintances and PubMed, it seemed he was doing well for a decade or so. Sure.. his GF dumped him after a few years, but he seemed set for an OK career. Somewhere in 2012, his research output just stopped. My guess is that his job loss might have something to with post-2008 austerity politics in UK. Anyway.. he reemerged a few years later as proprietor of a small businesses selling dietary supplements. So a guy with a PhD, over 30 papers in decent journals and an academic career lasting almost a decade ended up hawking supplements like one of those scummy Instagram and FakeBook influencers.

Another person who did his MSc in an adjacent lab ended up running cell-phone kiosks in malls and is now selling insurance. Yet another PhD student who was considered to be very smart ended up moving to his home-city for a postdoc. He then regressed to working as a lab tech and eventually as a freelancer, the last I heard. At least, he lives in a place where his parents own a house. Another ambitious PhD student, after a couple of stints at prestigious labs as a postdoc, seems to have ended as a part-time freelancer at some research institute in another large city. The women seemed to have done a bit better, and more than a few ended up as scientific writers or mediocre administrative positions in corporations with varying degrees of stability. But in almost every case, there had no defined career with the degree of stability expended by their parents generation. Also, many of them either have no kids or one token child squeezed out in their late-30s.

To be clear, all of this occurred to people who studied, or worked, at prestigious research groups in one of the top two universities in that state. But wait.. it get worse. In the next part, I will tell you what happened to the careers of people who worked in the pharma sector between 2001 and 2008-2009. It is really bad.. to put it mildly. In future posts, I will also go in some detail about the dismal career prospects of people with postgraduate degree from well-regarded universities in subject such as Chemistry and Physics. Also degrees in engineering (various disciplines) from well regarded universities are no longer the ticket to a stable career. I hope to show you how all of this ties with rise of neoliberalism, de-industrialization and increased financialization of economy in western countries- and the death of hope.

I have a feeling that some of you might say something the lines of these people being lucky since they are still employed in jobs which pay more than median wage. Funny thing.. that is not the way things work in countries which harbor any hope for a better future. What I have described is how things typically unfold in countries that are in a steep and likely irreversible decline.

What do you think? Comments?

Mark Fischer’s Critique of Neoliberalism and the Death of Hope in West

August 8, 2019 3 comments

A couple of years ago I came across a short clip of a YouTube talk by a critic and cultural theorist named Mark Fischer. FYI, he committed suicide in 2017 at age 48. Anyway.. getting back to the topic, I first came across some of his ideas in 2010 or 2011, when his critique of Neoliberalism first became somewhat popular. There is however a good chance that many of you haven’t heard about him because he was not a big self promoter unlike some others.. David Graeber or Thomas Piketty. Fischer’s critique of Neoliberalism and its offshoots such as financialism, managerialism etc are far more interesting than those of Graeber or Piketty, since they focus on something most critics of Neoliberalism have largely ignored.

A few years ago, I made the point that the willingness to commit most crimes requires the person to have hopes for a better future. In that post, I also made the comment that decrease in crime rates in USA and the west over past 20-30 years have a peculiar connection to the loss of hope for a better future. Readers might have also noticed that dress and hair styles in the west have been fairly constant for almost the last 25 years (since the mid-1990s), which is odd when you compare this relative stagnation to the massive shifts which occurred between 1950s and 1970s or 1960s and 1980s. It is as if something changed during the 1990s which stopped any hope of a better or different future. And this applies to everything from life expectancy, treatment of common diseases to movies, music and literature.

It is as if the west, especially USA, is stuck in a terminal loop where it keeps reliving the 20th century but cannot seem to find a way forward. Fischer attributes this to the rise of neoliberalism and how its incentives, philosophy and hierachy has created a society which cannot dream, innovate or do much more than keep repeating the past. This ties in with what I wrote about late capitalism and the glut of movie prequels, sequels and remakes we have seen over the past decade or two. The point he makes in his book, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, is that the ideology of unrestricted capitalism which gained a fresh lease of life after 1991 has now infiltrated western culture to the point where it has destroyed hope for a better future.

Here is YT clip providing a quick overview of what Fischer wrote about..

I would also recommend reading an other book written by him, Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. In this one he goes into the connection between the extremely high levels of depression, anxiety and hopelessness seen in the declining west today and its connection to an embrace of capitalist ideology at the personal level.

Also, here are links to free versions of his two most well known works.

Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative? – PDF of a scanned copy.

and

Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures – link to e-book version.

What do you think? Comments?

Establishment Democrats Covertly Love Suppression of their Voter Base

November 25, 2018 11 comments

Over the past twenty years, and at an increasing frequency, the democratic party loves to blame its electoral losses on voter suppression by the republican party. At first glance, this accusation is completely justified and supported by all available evidence. There is indeed a systemic effort by the republican party to suppress voters who are more likely to vote for democratic candidates. But have you ever wondered why we hear the same accusations during every national and almost every state election in the past twenty years? Why has the democratic party done almost nothing about republican attempts at voter suppression, other than blame their electoral losses on them?

Let us start by addressing the first peculiarity of the democratic process in USA. Why are voter turnouts in american elections so low when compared to other countries with a functional voting system? And let us be honest about something else.. they have always been rather low when compared to other countries for a number of reasons such as the legacy of slavery and the fact that racial apartheid was law in USA until 1965. Yes.. USA as a society, until 1965, was similar to the odious racism-based regime which existed in South Africa until 1994. But why did the voting percentages in USA not improve in a consistent manner after 1965? Why are they still low?

The more establishment-worshiping types among you might mutter something about most voters being stupid or lazy. But then why do countries with an almost non-existent history of democracy such as Brazil have high voter turnouts as well as speedy transparent vote counting? The Indian system, in spite of many other shortcomings, is very good at conducting elections and the entire process is widely seen as fair and transparent by its citizens. And, as usual, the electoral process in USA looks shady, compromised and antiquated when compared to its counterparts in western Europe. So why is it this bad in USA and, more importantly, who benefits from this status quo?

While it is tempting to heap all blame for this miscarriage of democracy on the republican party, there are some problems with doing so. For example, the democratic party (at least at national and state levels) was not especially concerned about the issue of voter suppression until that infamous presidential election in 2000. But why not and what changed after 2000? Superficially, it has something to do with changing patterns of party affiliations among the shrinking white population. But more importantly, reduction of turnout among voters who will vote for candidates espousing a populist platform is an important feature of whatever passes for “democracy” in USA.

Have you ever wondered why establishment democrats never give anything more than lipservice to the idea of increasing voter turnout among people who have given up on the system? Have you ever reflected on why they hate rising candidates among their own party who are to the “left” of their center-right electoral platform? Are you now starting to understand why Bernie Sander’s challenge to the ‘anointed candidate’ aka HRC during the 2016 democratic presidential primary so upsetting to corporate media presstitutes and “public intellectuals”? Are you starting to grasp their obsession with appealing to “centrist” white suburban voters while simultaneously ignoring outreach to groups who would actually vote for them if they ran on a populist platform.

In case you have not, let me spell it out. Establishment wing of both political parties are willing and enthusiastic participants in the Kayfabe of american “democracy”. To be fair, it has always been like that.. to some extent. However it was not especially blatant or problematic from 1934 to the mid-1980s, for reasons that have much to do with far larger global events (Depression, WW2 and Cold War). However starting sometime in late-1970s, both parties were slowly subsumed by the very rich and large corporations. Since then, for an increasing number of people, it did not matter much if they voted for the democrat or republican candidate or not.

For the next two decades, establishment democrats were happy with this status quo because it freed them from having to appeal to working class voters (irrespective of race). They could now focus their attention on bipartisan dealmaking such as signing an endless number of “free trade” agreements, gutting many thousands of factories which provided decent jobs in flyover country, shredding the social safety net, incarcerating millions of black men, spending trillions on the military and fighting endless an unsuccessful wars in other countries. More importantly, it allowed them and republicans to maintain the facade of a two-party democracy and regular elections.

The infamous presidential election of 2000 provided the first unmistakable sign that this two-decade old bipartisan consensus (to screw over the 90 %) was breaking down. But nobody in the establishment wing of democratic party wanted to believe that this beautiful dream was over, so they kept playing the old game. To that end, they approved and supported every stupid war and atrocious law pushed by the Bush43 administration. Some of you might remember that they did not dare to question Bush43 until after the debacle of Katrina and well after it was obvious to everybody with half a brain that the Afghanistan and Iraq wars were unwinnable.

But it gets worse. During the 1990-2016 period, the democratic party kept on losing at the state level to republicans in parts of the country where they had historically done very well (even after 1968). And why was did this happen? Well.. because the democratic party had become as pro-corporate as their republican counterparts while pushing for unpopular measures such as gun control. Also, establishment democrats were openly hostile to candidates in those states who could have won by running on populist platforms. After the 8-year long fuckup of Bush43, the election of somebody who pretended to be populist (Obama44) was seen by some as a sign that establishment democrats had finally learned their lesson. As we know, that was not the case.

Instead they just picked up from where they had left and started singing those same rotten paeans to “bipartisanship”, beginning with the passage of an even sadder version of RomneyCare and culminating in Obama desperately trying to strike a deal with Republicans to gut Social Security and Medicare. You do know that the deportation system being used by the orange-haired buffoon was created and deployed under Obama.. right? Let us also not forget how he (and establishment democrats) bailed out banks while screwing over homeowners, did not give a fuck about mass incarceration and police brutality, kept on signing more “free trade” agreements and actively assisted further concentration of wealth by the rich while impoverishing everyone else.

And yet, democratic party cheerleaders.. I mean supporters.. are upset at the low voter turnout and their losses during the 2010, 2014 and 2016 elections. They could start by asking themselves why Obama got a few million fewer votes in 2012 than 2008. What about asking HRC why she did not campaign in the three or four “safe” mid-western states which she lost to that buffoon in 2016. Maybe they should demand answers as to why states controlled by democrats have been loathe to make voter registration easy- even when it clearly benefits them. Perhaps they should ask why establishment democrats figureheads like Pelosi and Schumer are so willing to tow the corporate line, even if it is not working for the party.

And don’t even get me started on how they treated Bernie Sanders during the 2016 democratic primary. It was disgraceful.. and yes, he would have won against Trump. Then again, it is far easier to blame the devil and other magical creatures when your crops fail or people get ill.. I mean blame Putin, Russia, Assange and Wikileaks for HRC losing to that dumbfuck. Seriously, how rotten does a political system have to be for an obnoxious troll such as Trump to win the party primary and presidency. Think about it.. the very fact that people without brain damage willingly voted for Trump says volumes about how rotten the status quo is for most people.

What do you think? Comments?

“Official” Scientific Research about Nutrition is Mostly Fabrication

February 28, 2018 15 comments

In the past, I have written more than a few posts about why an increasing number of people no longer believe in the pronouncements of “professionals”, “experts” and “scientists”. As I wrote in some of those posts, a majority of scientific research performed and published today is highly exaggerated, purposefully misrepresented or just plain outright fraud. To make a long story short, all those purported breakthroughs published everyday in both scientific journals and the general media no longer result in any worthwhile improvements in our ability to solve those problems.

There are many reasons why progress in scientific research (as measured by our ability to do useful and hitherto impossible things) has stagnated since the 1970s and 1980s, or why no truly novel and groundbreaking technologies have emerged since the mid-1990s. A good part of the blame can be placed on the infiltration and domination of neoliberal ideology in both public and privately funded research. The current centralized and fickle nature of financial support for researchers also has a negative effect on research. We cannot also forget the effect of perverse incentives on the overall process.

“Scientific” research into nutrition and health is one of the areas where this rot is highly visible- even to the general public, and for good reason. As many of you know, the most embarrassing public failures attributed to medical research (and remembered as such) by the general public concern the many solipsistic, dishonest and often outright fraudulent examples of dietary recommendations pushed by “scientists” and “experts” over the last few decades. In case you have forgotten some of the stunners, let me refresh your memory.

Some of you may might have heard about a pompous and greedy ivy-league creature called Ancel Keys cherry-picked data to show that dietary fats, rather than carbohydrates, was linked to atherosclerotic heart disease. It is also no secret that during the 1960s-1990s, many large corporations marketing carbohydrate based food funded scientific “research” which then “proved” that carbohydrates were “healthy” while fats were “unhealthy”. This was also the era when cigarette manufacturers funded studies which allegedly showed smoking to have no link with an increased risk of lung cancer or emphysema.

In other words, all those “acclaimed” and “objective” scientists in ivy-league league universities were (and are) as corrupt as the proverbial crooked inspector in a third-world country. I could go on and list tons of other cases where dietary guidelines reached after “extensive studies” proved to be worse than useless and were later found out to be based on highly irregular data analysis. For example, average levels of salt-intake have no worthwhile association with blood pressure in most people. And yes.. I am aware that 10-15 % of the population is more sensitive to salt intake than the remaining 85-90%.

My point is that population-wide reduction in levels of smoking, better treatment of hypertension and heart disease have been the principal reasons behind the decrease in mortality and morbidity from cardio- and cerebro- vascular diseases. The effect of these factors is most obvious when you start correlating the chronological decrease in the incidence of these diseases with the introduction of better anti-hypertensive drugs, statins and improved methods and protocols for treating strokes and heart-attacks. Dietary guidelines based on biased “studies, on the other hand, have made people fatter and less healthy that would otherwise be the case.

A recently uncovered example of the inherently fraudulent nature of “official” nutrition research involves uncovering of highly questionable stuff going in the research group of Brian Wansink at Cornell, where he hold an endowed chair. Wansink also just happens to be the former head of the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion at the USDA. While I encourage you to read the link in the previous sentence and this one for the long-form version of this story, the short summary is as follows. This “respected ivy-league” professor strongly and often directly encouraged his graduate students to start with a media-friendly headline and then statistically torture data to fit whatever the wanted to publish.

He wanted his graduate students and postdocs to make up scientific “facts” based on manipulated data to justify whatever he thought was fashionable or would result in more grant money and fame. It is especially damning that he casually joked about doing this for many years in email exchanges with his students. The degree of openness and candor he displayed also suggests that doing “research” in this manner was pretty common in this area. Some of you might see this case as an exception, however my experience in research over the years suggests that he was just unlucky enough to get caught. And this brings us the next question- what if his “usual research practices” had never been uncovered?

Well.. if Wansink had never been exposed, he would still be regarded as a highly respected academic with impeccable credentials whose “research” would continue to be published in “respectable” peer-reviewed journals and form the basis of various policies concerning “healthy eating” and “nutrition”. Some of his graduate students would go on to be appointed to the faculty of other universities and keep performing what is basically scientific fraud and be rewarded with tenure, pay raises and fame. The biggest losers in this whole scheme would be all those credulous idiots who kept believing in the “objectivity” of scientific research- especially as it concerns the field of nutrition.

What do you think? Comments?

On the Rise of NeoLiberalism in West During the 1968-2008 Era: Part 2

February 15, 2018 14 comments

A few months ago, in the first part of this series, I wrote about a confluence of factors responsible for very high rates of support for neoliberal ideas and policies among whites in USA during the 1968-2008 era. To make a long story short, white support for neoliberalism (in USA) was largely due to a combination of post-WW2 prosperity, desire for continuing racial discrimination as well as a delusion that people in the ‘rest of the world’ could never catch up with them. As we all know, things did not turn out as expected towards the end of that era- and it has been clearly downhill for them since the early 2000s.

Neoliberalism, did however, spread past the boundaries of USA into other countries- especially those in western Europe. However, most popular accounts of neoliberalism tend to ignore, or give very little attention to, its spread in European countries (other than in UK). But why? Well.. there are some reasons. Firstly, the spread of neoliberalism into the institutions and popular psyche of those countries was never as thorough as in USA. Even today, people in those countries enjoy universal healthcare coverage, a largely functional social safety net, affordable higher education and many other things which CONservative idiots in USA believe to be ‘pipe-dreams’.

So why did neoliberalism spread, albeit in a limited manner, in western Europe? But perhaps more importantly, why was it never able to gain the sort of popular following it achieved in USA (except, maybe in UK)? Why were politicians, elites and capitalists in those countries never able to successfully push for neoliberal changes of the magnitude seen in USA? Why did neoliberalism fail to change the belief systems of a majority in those countries, unlike the USA? How could corporations in those countries remain relevant and profitable without jumping on the Anglo-American neoliberal project? What, exactly, was different over there?

1] The first reason for the relative inability of neoliberalism to spread in Western Europe comes down to a simple, if very unpleasant, fact about the nature of USA as a society and nation-state. Modern west-European nations states, unlike USA, have never been racially segregated societies. Also, unlike USA, they never allowed race-based slavery to occur on their own soil. Consequently, one of the most important boosters for public support of neoliberalism based policies such as shredding the social safety net, job precarization and union busting (in post-WW2 era) never existed in those countries. USA until 1968, in contrast, practiced legalized race-based Apartheid in a form identical to the now defunct pre-1994 state of South Africa.

Now, some of you might say that it has something to do with “racial diversity causing low trust societies”. But was that really the case? Widespread public acceptance of neoliberalism in USA came in the era before large-scale non-white immigration. That is right! The population of USA was somewhere between 85-90% white as late as the early 1980s. Reagan was elected in 1980 by an electorate that was close to 90% white. So why did they vote for him? In case you do not remember, he won because he promised to restore law and order (screw over “uppity” blacks) and make america great- like “it used to be”.

Which brings us to an odd question.. why was a self-identified and dominant (at that time) group making up almost 9/10ths of the population so concerned about the quest for equality by a historically marginalized group making up the other 1/10th? While it is possible to come up with many clever sounding reasons to explain this behavior, the most straightforward, if tasteless, explanation is that a significant percentage of 9/10ths enjoyed screwing over the 1/10th for reasons that had nothing to do with self-interest or money. Maybe they were getting off by screwing more vulnerable people- which leads to the next reason for Europe’s partial immunity to neoliberalism.

2] Most people looking at Europe today forget that it was once a hotbed of nationalism, racism and support for mass murder at a level that makes USA today look tame in comparison. But then WW1, numerous conflicts after WW1 and WW2 happened. While these wars and conflicts killed tens of millions of people in that part of the world, they really cut down the numbers of young CONservative minded men (also known as ‘useful idiots’) in those countries. Many of you might have noticed that the strongest non-rich supporters for neoliberalism in USA are almost always white men of average intelligence and mediocre ability who are delusional enough to believe that they too can become rich by following and defending the rich.

In contrast to that, american casualties in WW1 and WW2 were (sadly) minimal and too many men of a CONservative mindset, average intelligence and mediocre ability were left alive after those wars. It certainly did not help that post-WW2 economic growth and prosperity reinforced their beliefs about things “ought to be”. That is why USA as a society embraced neoliberalism so thoroughly when it was near the peak of its relative prosperity in the 1960s and 1970s. It was easy money, not hard times and non-white immigration, which made white american society embrace neoliberalism. Remember, Reagan was elected as governor of a very prosperous California in the 1960s, before he was elected president in 1980.

Even today, older white voters who grew up during the “good times” in USA are far more likely to vote for republican or establishment democrat candidates (aka neoliberals). The point I am trying to make is that the lack of large-scale casualties in WW2 along with immediate post-WW2 prosperity for even the most average and mediocre cannon-fodder is why neoliberalism took such firm roots in USA. That is also why even larger west-European countries which took heavy casualties in both world wars, such as France and Germany, ended up becoming and remaining more socialistic after WW2.

In the next part of this series, I will share my thoughts on why neoliberalism in European countries took off in the private sector after the late-1980s, but was not able to start dominating it till the early 2000s. Will also write about why UK went neoliberal about a decade earlier, and far more systematically, than neighboring countries.

What do you think? Comments?