Is there going to be a revolution? Just rioting? Or a civil war?


Automation and globalisation, coupled with excessive bonuses and exorbitant pay for entertainers and sportspeople, has created a divided society and that is only going to get worse. We have such inequality that it is creating hatred and hopelessness - not a good combination.


The workforce is no longer needed. Cheap labour can be exploited in the Third World at a fraction of the cost. Their work conditions and health and safety do not have to be of the highest standard.


Automation means that far less people are required. Even the army is best run through drones. War is automated.


We live in a consumer society where goods, services and entertainment is aggressively sold to us and we pay excessive amounts for the privilege.


The end result is that we have more extreme inequality. Society is divided into different bands:

  • The super-rich
  • The rich
  • The doing OK
  • The poor and struggling
  • The down and outs

It used to be the case that through education and hard work you could rise up to being either rich or OK. That is no longer the case. Too many people are locked into struggling or going under through no fault of their own. The jobs are going.


The super-rich are becoming increasingly richer. The wealth is being channelled to the top end.


Now I believe that either something is done to address this or there will be great social unrest.


It has already resulted in both Trump and Brexit as exasperated people opt for populist fixes. When these fail, as they will, what next?


Riots? Civil unrest? Civil War? Who knows?


Only Opher has the answers!!


opher goodwin Added Jan 4, 2018 - 4:23pm
As the hatred and division ratchet up. As Trump feeds the cauldron. As the emotions rage. As the inequality grows. As people become less and less rational. As there is no empathy. As there are no solutions. As the Republicans wage war. As the Democrats wage war. As the belligerence grows. As logic and rational thought are discarded. As fake news holds sway. As more people are thrown on the scrapheap. As the rich selfishly grab all they can. As nobody cares..........................
Dino Manalis Added Jan 4, 2018 - 4:31pm
We all want peace and stability, not riots or civil war.  That's not the answer.  The answer is working together to find solutions.
Dave Volek Added Jan 4, 2018 - 4:53pm
It has already resulted in both Trump and Brexit as exasperated people opt for populist fixes. When these fail, as they will, what next?
You are right. These movements will not bring about the social peace for the masses.
There are myths that a citizen could rise from the bottom to the top. But that really didn't happen all that often--even though those stories are retold over and over again. The reality is that many of us have risen a step higher than our parents. And that is progress--and people remained hopeful.
However, that step seems to harder and harder to take. At least that's the perception. It would be interesting to get some sociological data on upward mobility.
opher goodwin Added Jan 4, 2018 - 6:22pm
Dino - I think that too but I am looking at the levels of hatred, division and hopelessness. Too many people think they have nothing to lose. Too many people think the present situation is untenable. I sense the violence.
opher goodwin Added Jan 4, 2018 - 6:26pm
Dave - it seems to me that the ladder is being pulled up. There is no meritocracy. It used to be that if you got qualified and worked hard you had a good future. Nowadays you can have 3 degrees and be flipping burgers.
Automation and globalisation have created huge inequality. The jobs have gone. The rich are pocketing more and more, accepting huge bonuses and tax cuts, and those thrown on the scrapheap are told they are worthless, they should have worked harder.
I sense despair. I sense anger.
The flirtation with populism is a precursor of something worse.
George N Romey Added Jan 4, 2018 - 6:27pm
My hunch is there will be but I’m still not 100% convinced there will be revolution. People as much as they complain can be apathetic about change or they keep trusting the same failed institutions.
I do believe if there revolution it will require a lot more hurt first. I’m not sure I’ll see a revolution in my life. Lots of unknown variables too.
Cliff M. Added Jan 4, 2018 - 6:35pm
Opher,  We need someone who can lead like Eisenhower. This great leader did not take the man in the trenches who made the ultimate sacrifices for granted one bit. He had no problem keeping the money players in check. History shows the effects a leader like IKE can have in uniting a country. Only time will tell but if things don't change soon the door will open for a big time change.Ultimately the voter has the final say.
opher goodwin Added Jan 4, 2018 - 6:44pm
George - I agree. I can't see a revolution because that requires organisation but I can see a lot of virulent civil unrest. Who knows where that could lead?
opher goodwin Added Jan 4, 2018 - 6:46pm
Cliff - I wish I could see hide or hair of a unifying character with the strength and charisma to gain the confidence of all the people and take on the corporations and big money. Where's she/he coming from? There's too much polarisation to start with. One side or the other will totally reject them.
Tubularsock Added Jan 4, 2018 - 6:49pm
The revolution is likely to be coming as the economy falls apart but Tubularsock has a solution.
It is simple. The government pays each person a $100,000.00 a year. The people have to spend a $100,000.00 a year on consumer shit and the government taxes the corporations a $100,000.00 per person of the population per year that bought their products.
And then repeat on spin setting.
And just like the current tax plan we can work out the details later!
Ok, yep ....... a revolution is easier!
opher goodwin Added Jan 4, 2018 - 6:52pm
Tub - I like your style. I think they are looking for a leader to storm the citadel! I'll send you an application form.
Dave Volek Added Jan 4, 2018 - 8:30pm
I sense despair. I sense anger.
The flirtation with populism is a precursor of something worse.
It's amazing at how many people WB, who have a good exposure to history, don't understand this. When the masses ain't happy (with their bread and circuses or whatever), social disorder is a possibility. Living in a western democracy will not quell their anger. 
Cliff M. Added Jan 4, 2018 - 8:57pm
Nobody wants to see a 91% marginal tax rate again but if things don't correct something drastic is going to happen. The all for me and none for the rest approach is getting old fast. How the current politics manages to sell the shit they are pulling now never ceases to amaze me.
Tubularsock Added Jan 4, 2018 - 9:09pm
Cliff M. the "current politics" is just those in power who sell their souls to the highest bidder. Even as the majority of the "people" want something different but haven't totally "felt" it yet.
It appears that the pitchfork market moved up 63 points today on the DOW!
Cliff M. Added Jan 4, 2018 - 9:41pm
Tube, What happens next time the market goes tits up? Another bailout will insure blood in the streets. I t kind of reminds me of when a guy falls head over heels for a hot babe.They fail to see the flaws because they become blinded by the lights. It is mind boggling that the market has risen from 6000 to 25,000 and it is still difficult to land a decent job in many area's. The bullshit bubble is probably the biggest and is about ready to burst. It has become obvious that "The Donald is not playing with a full set of clubs".
Bill H. Added Jan 4, 2018 - 10:17pm
Just today, Jeff Sessions began making moves to once again step up enforcement of federal pot laws and tear down state laws that have legalized it's use.
This may turn out to actually alienate much of his base (what's left of it). I know quite a few Trumpies who are "huge" cannabis fans.
During his campaign, he pledged to leave pot legalization up to the states.
What will he fuck up tomorrow?
Chris Crawford Added Jan 4, 2018 - 10:30pm
Here's an odd way of thinking about the problem. We spend something like $600 billion per year on military security, even though we face no serious military threats. We spend another $200 billion on security against crime. Yet at this point, the greatest threat to Americans is political violence. Wouldn't it make sense to divert money away from the defense budget to "internal defense" by diverting money to the poor? It's not a matter of who deserves money and who doesn't. It's a matter of minimizing costs. 
A book came out a while ago with the title, IIRC, of "The Great Leveler", which makes the case that, throughout history, the only thing that restores economic equality is catastrophe. Only war, revolution, or plague manage to level the playing field. If there is a revolution, the rich will lose everything. They would therefore find it in their self-interest to transfer some wealth to the lower classes. 
Cliff M. Added Jan 4, 2018 - 10:38pm
Bill, How many die from opioid's daily and he is going to fuck with the boneheads? The store bought politics is really getting out of touch with reality and the ordinary citizen. Doing only what appeases the corporate masters is wearing thin with the majority.Somebody on WB should write a tread on the Trump Administration liars club. You probably can't write it here because it would fill a novel.
 As to the Sessions switch, The attorney generals from both Colorado and Washington said they were going to hold the line at the current status quo but anticipate probable problems.
 It is time to impeach Trump because of multiple cases of bait and switch fraud.
Chris Crawford Added Jan 4, 2018 - 10:42pm
A second observation: while inequality is the primary driver of political violence, we have a special case here in the USA in which we have two factions who have abandoned democratic principles of comity and are now engaged in a brutal struggle for power. There is no indication that either side is willing to compromise with the other. This by itself is a harbinger of political violence.
I do see one possible way to avoid political violence: if Americans rise up in November 2018 and send the Republicans packing, then the Democrats can impeach and convict Mr. Trump and start cleaning up the mess. In this scenario, my first concern is that the Trump supporters would launch a campaign of political violence. However, this would probably be short-lived as the entire country will use its newly-asserted decency to universally condemn such behavior. 
My second concern is with an interesting Constitutional question. Let's suppose that the Democrats do take both houses of Congress. Let's say that Mr. Mueller's investigation conclusively demonstrates that the Trump campaign used illegal methods that gave it an edge in the election. Given that the election was very close, it would not be unreasonable for Democrats to declare the entire election invalid and then rectify the problem by simultaneously impeaching BOTH Mr. Trump AND Mr. Pence. This would place the Speaker of the House -- a Democrat -- in the White House.
This would all be perfectly legal, in exactly the same way that Mr. Trump's victory (even though he got a minority of votes) was perfectly legal. But it still raises some interesting Constitutional questions. Can Congress impeach both the President and the Vice President simultaneously? 
Even more interesting would be the question of whether proof of criminal influence on the electoral outcome could be used as an argument in court to invalidate every action taken by the Trump Administration. Could it be extended even to the point of unseating Mr. Gorsuch?
Fun, fun, fun!
Bill H. Added Jan 4, 2018 - 10:53pm
I believe that Trump's mental instability issues are finally coming to the surface and will most likely be the main focus for his demise.
I did mention this way back during his campaign and got lambasted out here for my comment.
Chris Crawford Added Jan 4, 2018 - 11:01pm
It is still plausible that Section 4 of the 25th Amendment will be employed to remove Mr. Trump from office. Simultaneously, it is becoming less plausible that Mr. Trump will complete his term of office. 
The Burghal Hidage Added Jan 5, 2018 - 2:45am
It only took you five days Opher. Huh. I'm off this circle jerk.
Tubularsock Added Jan 5, 2018 - 3:10am
Chris, Tubularsock agrees, "The Donald is not playing with a full set of clubs".
The trick has always been to keep the peons with just enough shit to just get by and then throw in the cheep bells and whistles to distract and the beat goes on.
And then if it starts to heat up then they focus the anger onto the "lessor" immigrants and poor as if they were the cause.
And then they'll toss in another false flag 9/11 and that puts any "revolution" out of business and it's the rally around the flag game.
Works every time! For Democraps as well as Republican'ts. Both parties have lost their way ..... they follow the money not the people!
Cheers ..... "happy days are here again"
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 4:43am
Dave - at times like these the stage is set for violence. I've seen it erupt many times. Detroit, Memphis, Chicago, Brixton, Paris, London, Iran. It flares up out of nowhere.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 4:45am
Cliff - but sell it they do. I think a gradated tax system is the only answer. If a country wants to be civilised and have good infrastructure, defence, education, healthcare, transport and social care then it has to pay for it.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 4:47am
Tub - I think that anger and frustration is going to boil over because the self-centred politicians don't get it.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 4:49am
Cliff - Donald certainly is not playing with a full set of clubs - there's a headline today in one of our national newspapers expressing concern over his mental health. That is quite unbelievable. In our national news he is talked about as a buffoon. It is unprecedented. Yet his supporters are still blind and rabid.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 4:51am
Bill - you'd have thought that they'd want to legalise it. A stoned population is less likely to get it together to riot.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 4:57am
Chris - well I think we are heading towards a crisis both in the UK and USA. The level of inequality is becoming more extant as automation, globalisation and the shutting down of old industries kick in.
It seems to me that Trump is looking for a short-term fix by threats, cutting environmental and workplace legislation and trying to keep the old industries viable. He hopes it will provide a short-term boost. However, that is long-term madness. The old industries need replacing with new and the US will fall behind the curve. The dumbing down of legislation will create environmental damage and erosion of workers' standards - effectively losing rights that have been hard fought for and making life more dangerous. They'll be a backlash and the bubble will burst. He's hoping it will hold long enough.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 5:02am
Cliff - I do not think impeachment is going to happen. Maybe after the elections when they wake up to how desperate the situation is. If the all-time low ratings turn into a rout there will be repercussions.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 5:07am
Chris - that is an interesting scenario. The furious spat between Trump and Steve Bannon has got possibilities too. The Russian involvement, treason and underhand, illegal tactics come into play.
I still can't see it happening. It's a bit of a soap opera.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 5:08am
Bill - I've already mentioned that Trump's mental health is headline news in the UK. Maybe he'll step down due to ill health? Then Pence?? Heaven help us all!!
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 5:10am
Burger - all resolutions have a limit.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 5:12am
Tub - well summed up - particularly - both parties have lost their way. Time for you to step in Tub!
Stone-Eater Added Jan 5, 2018 - 9:47am
Any sort of revolution will only strengthen an existing regime (which usually has the military and the media behind it) and "justify" its reasons for more control, surveillance up to martial law.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 9:58am
Stone - that's right. The only thing is that civil unrest might result in them taking some note of the dissatisfaction. Violence is nearly always counterproductive.
Dave Volek Added Jan 5, 2018 - 10:24am
Violence is nearly always counterproductive.
Yep. The TDG is a non violent revolution. It will be built by the people who recognize the system is failing us AND willing to put about 10-20 hours a month into this project.  It will create a credible alternative for the masses when the current system has been discredited. It will take a decade to build.
There is no easy fix and there is no messiah.
Bill H. Added Jan 5, 2018 - 10:24am
Opher- Yes, pot would probably help the population cope with the Orange Buffoon's antics somewhat better. And  you are correct, if Pence took over it may be much of the same, but I suspect (hope) that he would not have such a fetish with the Red Button and not be severely narcissistic.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 10:25am
I will check it out Dave and let you know.
Dave Volek Added Jan 5, 2018 - 10:31am
pot would probably help the population cope
I think have been hooked on all sorts of activities to keep us distracted from what is really ailing us--including the newscasts. 
Bill Kamps Added Jan 5, 2018 - 10:54am
In the USA  housing sales, and prices have hit a record.  Sales over the holidays were up 5% over the previous year.  Car sales are at a record.   In Houston, homes rarely stay on the market a month.
While there is plenty that needs addressing in the economy, these are not signs of in impending revolution.  My suggestion is that the much of what people earn is being under counted because people have multiple streams of income.  In my case, what I earn on a W2 is at a 20 year low, however, total earnings at at a lifetime peak.
Around the world more people are literate than before, more people have moved out of desperate poverty, have access to basic medical care, and their life expectancy is rising.  Again, not signs of impending revolution. 
Have a good 2018 ! :)
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 5, 2018 - 11:04am
Opher, you are providing here a major portion of what I meant by the worst on the Right. I have made a point of where I thought you were in error before, but I think you and I are at least crossing into common ground here. We may be both wrong, but I think that is only if wrong defined as not going along with the rest of the crowd.
The worst on both sides would not give a rat's butt for the whole of humanity, just so long as they can run roughshod over everyone else.
Let me leave at this intersection of agreement. I'm sure there are others who would be aghast that you and I could agree on anything.
Chris Crawford Added Jan 5, 2018 - 11:16am
Yes, Mr. Kamps, there are indeed some positive developments. However, let me remind you that the economy is a slow-turning supertanker and the progress we are seeing now is largely the result of Obama-era policies, policies that are being dismantled by the Trump Administration. We will see the short-term results of Mr. Trump's policies by the end of this year. 
Moreover, the deregulation of the financial industry that is currently under way presents a serious threat to the economy. The disaster of 2008 was due largely to the deregulation of the financial industry by the Bush Administration. It took years for the consequences of that deregulation to bite us in the butt, but the consequences were ghastly. Mr. Trump is walking down the same path: deregulate industry so that it enjoys an immediate surge in growth, let people in the future pay the consequences.
The crucial factor in the economy is not its overall growth but the distribution of that growth. For the last 30 years, most of the economic growth has gone to the wealthy. The middle and lower classes have certainly enjoyed some of that growth, but the lion's share has gone to the wealthy.
The recent tax bill exemplifies the problem. Yes, the middle class will enjoy some small tax reductions, temporarily. But the wealthy get much, much larger tax reductions. The insidious part about this is that the plan adds $1.5 trillion to the national debt. That's $5,000 per American. In other words, the government is borrowing $1.5 trillion, giving more than $1 trillion of that to the wealthy and the remainder to everybody else -- and then sticking them with the debt. Americans are too ignorant to realize how they're being played for suckers. 
It is this increasing inequality that will be the driving force behind the unravelling of the USA. There are other factors, of course. The fact that Mr. Trump is not the legitimate President (he is the LEGAL President, but not the legitimate President; there's a difference) adds to the pressure. The intense hatred that the right holds for the left, so well demonstrated on these pages, is another driving factor, and is now starting to be returned by the left. 
A house divided against itself cannot stand. And we are deeply divided against each other.
Shane Laing Added Jan 5, 2018 - 11:33am
A CEO's job is to maximise profits for his shareholders. Given that the shareholders are mostly the rich its good news for them. The CEO because he has maximised profits gets his or hers nice fat bonus.  Trouble is the worker at the bottom haven't had a pay rise in six years, well here in the UK anyway. So the rich get richer and the poor poorer. Oh lets not forget the tax breaks for the rich as well.  Such is the way of things nowadays and its only going to get worse with interest rate rises.
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 5, 2018 - 11:50am
Mr. Laing, if we had a press that really aimed to discomfort the comfortable, more of us would be aware how many of the biggest shareholders are public employee unions. The proxy votes are registered by the heads of those unions. And even more revealing -- how many union heads or their assigned vassals are sitting on various corporate boards of directors?
The haves are running roughshod over everybody else, and the lack of exposure of all who those "haves" tells us who controls the press. We are the audience of the media, they are the customer.
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:01pm
Public employee union pension plans to be exact.
The union heads are the fiduciary responsible parties for those funds and decide upon how the funds are invested.
Their role in all this not being publicly discussed is why sites like this one are important.
Where else do you ever hear mentioned of such comfortable arrangements between ostensible adversaries?
Shane Laing Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:19pm
Mr Fervor. You may well be right.  I don't know of a poor union head. Unions certainly invest in companies not sure of how many heads are on a board though, it would make interesting reading.
Dave Volek Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:25pm
Back in my politicking days, I was canvassing a neighborhood for votes. One house was mansion-like, yet it was festered with campaign signs for our "socialist" party. "Why would a rich person support this party?" I asked. It turns out the owner of this house was the president of the public union, a position which he held for 20 years. He was given a pretty good salary which was several multiples of your average public sector worker.
There are a lot of connections between the supposedly disparate forces shaping the world. The fact that good union pension are  dependent on corporate profits is one of the many oxymorons.
When we realize that we are all in the same boat, maybe we might learn to work together.
Neil Lock Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:28pm
In my view, we (the human race) urgently need to get rid of the 16th-century political system that allows a ruling class (political and economic) to set arbitrary borders, impose taxes, make bad laws, make wars and escape responsibility for the consequences of its actions.
We need to replace it by a minimal framework of governance which maintains peace, delivers objective justice between individuals and groups, and does no more. It will be an umpire, not a vampire as current political states are. In that framework, no-one will be forcibly subjected to a political ideology they don't like, like socialism or crony pseudo-capitalism. And everyone can choose who they associate with, as they see fit.
There! Fixed that for ya.
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:33pm
Mr. Laing, if there are any real journalists among us, or even amateurs with training, they know how to find out.
The resulting exposé could be worthy of a Pulitzer Prize were the Pulitzer committee not dominated by Establishment media.
Dave Volek Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:34pm
Bill Kamps
I don't think we should take temporary economic signs that things are going well--and the world is becoming a better place. These will cycle down again, that is the historical fact we should count on.
And even if the world is becoming a better place, if the masses don't believe it, the seeds of a future social upheaval are being sown.
A significant part of Mr. Trump's base are the working poor. They exist paycheck to paycheck with no sign that their life is going to get better. Some of them abandoned their traditional party. Some of them voted for the first time in 2016.
But Mr Trump is very unlikely to ever raise their condition.
I have to wonder where this social force will find its voice next?
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:37pm
Thanks for your corroborating information Dave. I include both corporate and union heads among my acquaintances. Both types here and there get invited to join corporate boards. Some accept. They get to stay when they get along well with those there already. Stock options and warrants are nice benefits.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:47pm
Bill - Happy New Year to you too. Good that you see a more positive outlook than I'm seeing from here. Perhaps there aren't the portents of doom that I'm picking up on?
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:49pm
Pascal - I will settle for that. I think you are right. Too many people in politics are just in it for themselves and the power. They do not give a damn.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:53pm
Chris - I agree with what you say here. Particularly - The crucial factor in the economy is not its overall growth but the distribution of that growth.Because I believe that is the crux of the matter. As the economy changes people are being kicked out of good jobs and finding themselves on the scrapheap through no fault of their own. They are either scratting around for low pay jobs or unemployed without prospects. Meanwhile the rich are getting richer and richer. I think it is the huge chasm that is opening and the lack of compassion that is fuelling the problem.
George N Romey Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:53pm
Yes the numbers show some recovery but there is still as much economic frustration as there was ten years ago. There is a disconnect between economic reality on the ground and what is presented.
I believe most of the anger centers around the types of jobs that are available and the dwindling number of solid full time jobs.
We might be in the beginning phases of economic recovery. Typically employment is the last thing to improve and it takes even a bit longer for perception to match reality. When Clinton was elected in 1992 people were still angry about the direction of the economy even though it had already bottomed out.
Long term we are still a nation if not world addicted to debt. Eventually this is going to be problematic.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:55pm
Shane - A CEO's job is to maximise profits for his shareholders. Given that the shareholders are mostly the rich its good news for them. The CEO because he has maximised profits gets his or hers nice fat bonus.  Trouble is the worker at the bottom haven't had a pay rise in six years, well here in the UK anyway. So the rich get richer and the poor poorer. Oh lets not forget the tax breaks for the rich as well.  Such is the way of things nowadays and its only going to get worse with interest rate rises. 
That sums it up for me.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:58pm
Shane/Pascal - I was on the regional executive of the NUT as a Union rep. We didn't get paid - not even expenses. The ones at the top do and I'm sure some of those salaries need scrutinising more.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 12:59pm
Dave - that is so true. we need to work together - empathy and compassion.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 1:00pm
Neil - well I want much more than that!
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 1:04pm
Dave - I think, as Chris said, Trump is hoping that by deregulating it will allow industry to cut corners. In the short-term that will boost the economy. The trouble is that in the long-term it will create no end of mess and prove extremely costly. It is a myopic decision. Trump doesn't really care about that.
It will be interesting to see if any of that extra profit goes into the pockets of the workforce or does it all go to the top?
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 5, 2018 - 1:20pm
Mr. Lock >> In that framework, no-one will be forcibly subjected to a political ideology....
That's the form of political orientation from which legitimate sides can be formed. Those who want to be left alone and those who want to impose their will on others. Right now both Left and Right are imposing.
It seems the consensus view here is they're leading us off a cliff.
In my opinion, that's okay with --  let me call them Intruders -- as long as they have their unhappiness mitigated a bit by watching the rest of us suffer at their hand. Such is the human condition. Happiness is a fleeting state, and no immense wealth and power guarantees the longing for its return can sate it. Only resentment may remain -- and that is a dangerous emotion should it arise in the very powerful.
Bill Kamps Added Jan 5, 2018 - 2:20pm
George, I just wonder, if we dont have nearly enough full time jobs, how are people buying houses at ever higher prices ?  The requirements for loans ares stricter than before, so it is not just being done with 95% debt.  People have to have decent paying jobs, to get the loans for the homes.   Retail sales are not going up, if people dont have jobs.  Im not saying these are boom times, just  that things are better than many seem to think.  Perhaps things are working a little differently than before.
Chris Crawford Added Jan 5, 2018 - 2:32pm
Mr. Kamps, evaluating the economy at any given moment is an immensely difficult task. That's why there are so many jobs for economists, and why the deliberations of the Federal Reserve Bank are so abstruse. There are a zillion indicators to consider. Most people look at the Dow-Jones Industrial Average first. I don't think much of that, because the strength of the stock market tells us how well business is doing, not how people are doing. The jobless rate is the next in line, and it illuminates more, but it has its flaws, as it doesn't cover people who would like to work but have given up searching. Third, in my list, is the rate the Fed charges.
Then we have various indexes of business confidence, and others for consumer confidence. The Gini Index has to be taken into consideration, as must retail sales, housing starts, the value of manufacturer's inventories, and various distribution of wealth and income. 
We can dive into these numbers, deeper and deeper, arguing finer and finer points, and eventually, if we're really smart and really educated, we'll get down to the level the Fed works at. I have neither the intelligence nor the perspicacity to do that. 
Overall, the indicators say that the US economy is at the best it has ever been, and is growing. However, The Economist just had an article about the possibility of another recession. It points out that the business cycle -- the general up and down swings of the economy -- has historically been about 8 to 10 years long, and we are now 8 years into the current expansion. Debt overhangs are rising. A few indicators suggest that we MIGHT start into a downturn soon. At this point, it's just too early to say.
Jeff Michka Added Jan 5, 2018 - 2:42pm
re: Sessions going after "legalized states": other than "I told you so," Cliff M correctly sez: As to the Sessions switch, The attorney generals from both Colorado and Washington said they were going to hold the line at the current status quo but anticipate probable problems.-Yup.  The gov has also vowed to fight this here in WA state.
George N Romey Added Jan 5, 2018 - 2:49pm
Bill more than likely people are stringing part time jobs together or a full time and part time. All forms of debt are up except mortgage because of the restrictions. A greater percentage of home sales are cash sales. House flipping is back big for those that have cash resources.
Remember consumerism is drilled into our heads. More people are getting into minimalism to cope with earning less. Some just keep accepting those credit card offers.
Dave Volek Added Jan 5, 2018 - 5:11pm
House flipping is back big for those that have cash resources.
Last time America was in this situation, people could buy houses with a very small down payment, using the increasing value of a home as collateral. George, if you are right, the next recession is not that far away.
Stone-Eater Added Jan 5, 2018 - 5:43pm
The only thing is that civil unrest might result in them taking some note of the dissatisfaction.
They take note of it but react with what I said....
Violence is nearly always counterproductive.
It is but mostly a result of their countermeasures. A last desperate resort.
opher goodwin Added Jan 5, 2018 - 6:10pm
Stone - I don't think there's much logic involved when it flares up. I think the anger builds up and then all it takes is an incident to spark it off.
Thomas Napers Added Jan 6, 2018 - 5:06am
Seeing we are in the most affluent major country on the planet, nobody is going to go to war over these issues.  In fact, if I were POTUS I wouldn’t spend one minute of my time trying to fix any of the issues you raised.  I mean do you really believe a great NBA player isn’t entitled to be rewarded for his efforts by a willing team owner with willing fans that pay to watch him play?  I guess that also means that a better solution to the free market is for a government bureaucrat to decide how much money he should make? 
One thing is for sure, if you want a revolution, enact your policies and the people will surely rise up. 
Oh and by the way, more people are employed today in America and the Third World than ever before.  Given that fact, how do you rationalize your belief that “far less people are required.”
opher goodwin Added Jan 6, 2018 - 6:06am
Thomas - I do think that a talented NBA player is paid far too much for his talents. It is only a game. I think that it would be much better if the ticket prices were much cheaper and the TV subscriptions were much cheaper and they were paid a decent wage in line with the worth of much more important jobs - like a brain surgeon for instance.
I certainly don't want a revolution. I repeatedly say that violence generates violence. No. I think the current inequality is creating such dissatisfaction that we will undoubtedly be heading for riots if something isn't done about it.
I don't think fairness creates violence. Why should it?
I base the fact that there will be a need for a lot less people being employed on the effects of automation (and globalisation affecting the West). The well-paid jobs are going fast. What we have is a service culture. I bet the vast majority of those jobs in the States and UK are low quality gig economy. Having graduates flipping burgers and people running packages around the country with no rights, is not my idea of employment.
David Montaigne Added Jan 6, 2018 - 6:14am
Inequality, hopelessness, and anger always lead to revolution - even if just through disorganized collapse.
opher goodwin Added Jan 6, 2018 - 6:19am
David - I agree. The American Revolution and War of Independence was the result of anger at taxes imposed by Britain wasn't it? When people become angry enough it only takes a focus to trigger major flare-ups. I predict rioting.
Thomas Napers Added Jan 6, 2018 - 6:22am
Thinking an NBA player is paid too much or a ticket to a game costs too much, is a sentiment I share.  After all, I can’t stand basketball.  However, the free market has allowed player salaries to rise to the level they are and ticket prices as well.  Just think about the logistics of your suggestion, if stadiums fill-up at the current ticket price level, what would happened if you lowered the price?  Who would get a ticket? 
Based on the quotes below, I can’t tell if you advocate riots or not.  Perhaps you’re saying you’re not going to riot, I know I’m not going to riot over these non-issues, just who will partake in these riots?
“I repeatedly say that violence generates violence.”
“I think the current inequality is creating such dissatisfaction that we will undoubtedly be heading for riots if something isn't done about it.”
As for employment, if the Third World and robots are doing the menial jobs we used to do, how do you explain the rise in employment? 
The data doesn’t support your opinions.  There is more employment and higher wages than ever before.  Barring a few backwards countries like North Korea, this is a global phenomenon.
opher goodwin Added Jan 6, 2018 - 7:17am
Thomas - I can see the argument. It is the same with all entertainment. Because the audiences are so large and want entertaining we have these exorbitant prices and huge stadia experiences. I prefer how it used to be.
Rock was killed by this stadia attitude. You can't beat being in a small venue with a great band. Back in the sixties we had everyone playing all the time for very little. I saw Led Zep in a small club for 25p. I saw Hendrix play the Albert Hall for about £1. I regularly saw Pink Floyd and Fleetwood Mac for between 13p and 25p. You could go and talk to the band and everyone was happy.
The same is true for sport.
If there are enough events going on the crowds are spread out. Business has taken over sport and the Arts and destroyed it.
I am not in favour of riots or violence but I sense it in the air. There is so much anger around I think it is going to erupt. I don't think that is a good thing.
As I said before I think the rise in employment is due to changes in welfare and the rise of the gig economy. I do not think that salaries have risen at all. I don't know where you got that from? What I am picking up is that a lot of people are doing low-paid work without benefits - graduates are stacking shelves.
It certainly isn't the case in the UK that wages have risen and I don't think it is in the States either.
Stephen Hunter Added Jan 6, 2018 - 9:25am
Great topic Opher. We really do have to come to terms with a changing world, and figure out where everyone is going to work. Perhaps not where but how people will work in the decades to come is the question we need to debate. For example- could we grow more organic fruits and vegetables at home, with indoor grow operations? (put your 20 something child who is living in your basement to work)
Chris Crawford Added Jan 6, 2018 - 10:54am
Mr. Goodwin has identified an immensely important issue: the supply of jobs when an increasingly large percentage of our goods and services are provided by machines. Past reasoning was that the economy would expand to utilize human talents at higher levels of cognition. This does not appear to be happening at a sufficient rate; it seems that there are more jobs serving burgers than writing software. 
Thus, an increasing share of economic output will be created by machines, not labor. That in turn means that, as Mr. Piketty has pointed out, an increasing share of wealth will go to the owners of capital. This is a fundamentally unstable situation. A society in which 1% of the population owns 99% of the wealth is unsustainable. We are moving in that direction. So far, the wealthy have been able to co-opt the voters by a combination of whipping them up over issues with high emotional content but little actual significance (illegal immigration, terrorism) and engaging in ever more indirect means to funnel wealth in their direction, such as the recent tax bill. 
America is definitely headed for a crisis.
opher goodwin Added Jan 6, 2018 - 11:07am
Stephen - my fear is that the politicians do not seem concerned to try to solve the problem. They look at the macro-economy and if that is working they seem content. The fact that it is now only really working for the top end does not bother them. Me thinks there are big changes at foot.
opher goodwin Added Jan 6, 2018 - 11:14am
Chris - that is exactly what I have been saying - very well put. It is Orwellian in the way we have been all orchestrated with our periods of hate time poured out at immigrants, terrorists, Clinton and Obama. It's the same tool Orwell posited - distraction. The real problems are being ignored. I certainly don't think Clinton is any more of a crook than Trump and I still haven't heard all the terrible things that Obama is guilty of. Its all smoke, mirrors and prejudice. People are sublimating their fury at the wrong targets.
George N Romey Added Jan 6, 2018 - 11:20am
We won’t have a recession. Why? The Fed has designed a system to prop up asset prices. We now get official government stats like the jobs and unemployment numbers that do not reflect the massive problem with underemployment.
Not to mention spending nearly a trillion more each year than we take in.
Eventually this system will crash and it may well by 1929 style or worse. Then the fun will begin.
However that could still be years in the making.
opher goodwin Added Jan 6, 2018 - 11:23am
George - so you are saying that the government stats are massaged? I'm shocked!
A. Jones Added Jan 6, 2018 - 11:55am
Automation means that far less people are required.
No it doesn't. It means the goods and services produced by automation can be greatly increased in quantity thus leading to lower prices for people who buy them. The expansion of the supply-side and the demand-side leads to an expansion of the total market for those goods and services; and an expansion of a market leads to greater employment of labor in that market. The pattern of employment, as well as the skills required of employees, changes — e.g., the textile industry no longer needs hand-weavers on looms as it did in the early 19th century — but total employment always increases with automation because the market increases: today, there are far more employees in the textile-manufacturing sector than there were in the past. That's completely the result of automation.
You sound like a broken record, repeating the same stale talking points of the left — the anti-industrial left — that have been debunked many times, both by economic theory and by empirical evidence.
You call yourself a "scientist" yet you never allow your views to be influenced by empirical evidence. 
Cliff M. Added Jan 6, 2018 - 12:08pm
Jones, What will it take to increase the demand side? It has been the main problem especially since the recession.
Chris Crawford Added Jan 6, 2018 - 12:12pm
Mr. Jones, once again I find your claims both preposterous and uncivil, so I will not reward your claptrap with a response. 
opher goodwin Added Jan 6, 2018 - 12:21pm
A. Jones - as I said - lots of people on low wages beetling about doing mundane jobs.
The automation of anything only increases employment if it results in more product - increasing the market. It seems to me that the world is being swamped in product. How would you propose to stimulate all the good little consumers to buy more product? I think there's a saturation point.
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 6, 2018 - 12:24pm
Mr. Crawford, trolling up from a high horse down below. If that passes for civil, well then it's another contribution to the decline.
Chris Crawford Added Jan 6, 2018 - 12:40pm
I think there's a saturation point.
I heartily agree, and this will radically alter our economies. In the developed world, there is no longer any problem with supplying people with more food than they need. The majority of Americans is obese. The vast majority of Americans have a huge stock of clothing. My wife can't resist buying men's underwear when it's on sale, and I now have enough underwear to bequeath to generations of inheritors. Housing? The average American has about 1,000 square feet of housing space -- far more than necessary for a comfortable lifestyle. Americans have so much stuff that they spend $37 billion per year on self-storage of their excess stuff. 
Of course, the poor in America are nowhere near as well off, but the average American is already in possession of several cars, computers, a mobile phone, lots of music -- the average American is already "full" as far as consumerism is concerned. That's why entertainment has expanded so rapidly in the last 20 years. Marketers are having a more difficult time pushing their products.
So what happens as this process advances? People will always find things to spend their money on, of course. But their NEEDS are being fulfilled more completely, and at lower prices, every year. What happens when we have an economy with few jobs, cheap necessities, and a fabulously wealthy top 1%?
George N Romey Added Jan 6, 2018 - 1:31pm
Demand has been supported by excessive levels of debt.  Since 2008 every classification of consumer debt has grown except mortgage debt.  If we lived in a world like the 1960s in which people consumed mostly out of their paycheck other than for big ticket items such as homes and cars (with car loans at 36 months not 84 months) demand would look a hell of a lot worse.
Yet, we are reaching another saturation point with debt and demand in general.  What's killing retail (and I consulted to retail for years) is that they must lower price points in order to generate sales.  Some of that has been offset by the ability of larger retailers with scale to squeeze the supply chain.  Its why hometown electronics and hardware (now home improvement stores) are near non existent.  They simply can't compete price wise with the likes of Wal Mart, Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, etc.
The Fed and Treasury have found a way to keep the Ponzi Scheme economy going.  Chances are they will be able to keep up the Grand Illusion for at least a few years more, if not longer.
However, the days of cheap products, low wage often part time jobs and consumers filling in the void with easy to get credit won't last forever.  There will be a crash and possibly hard enough that the Treasury and Fed won't be able to print and financial gimmick us into the Grand Illusion version 2.0.  As I said before, that's when the fun will begin.
Cliff M. Added Jan 6, 2018 - 2:17pm
George, Loan defaults are climbing . Car loans especially sub prime ones in default are spiking.School tuition loans are a mess and a huge problem. The new tax bill is going to put a dent in mortgages . First time home buyer mortgages are at lows.This current business cycle recovery may be past it peak already.
Cliff M. Added Jan 6, 2018 - 6:41pm
There is a good article today about where we are in the business cycle called the Leveraged Economy Blows Up in 2018 which can be found on Zero Hedge which I found on Drudge. The comparisons are scary similar to past major declines.
opher goodwin Added Jan 6, 2018 - 7:34pm
Chris - I think the whole thing is looking very top heavy. It is like a huge consumer bubble. There is a madness to it. Advertising drives people to consume more and we're on overload. The biggest expanding business appears to be in storage facilities. We have so much we have to rent space elsewhere to store it. It is crazy.
But it is the inequality and desperation of those at the bottom that will, I believe, cause a major flare-up.
opher goodwin Added Jan 6, 2018 - 7:35pm
George - the level of debt is quite frightening. Sooner or later something has to happen. If interest rates soar we'll be in for trouble.
opher goodwin Added Jan 6, 2018 - 7:36pm
Cliff - it looks to me as if we are precariously balancing on major problems. Who knows where this will end up?
George N Romey Added Jan 6, 2018 - 7:37pm
The fastest growing consumer businesses. Payday lenders, pawn shops, credit repair firms. 
And yet people claim our citizens are doing financially well. 
Cliff M. Added Jan 6, 2018 - 8:21pm
Opher, The fact that there are more  shorts on the margin than before the last meltdown is a big tell. I did not realize that much debt was in play again.
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 7, 2018 - 12:50am
A. Jones >>You sound like a broken record, repeating the same stale talking points of the left — the anti-industrial left — that have been debunked many times, both by economic theory and by empirical evidence.
You call yourself a "scientist" yet you never allow your views to be influenced by empirical evidence.

C. Crawford >> Mr. Jones, once again I find your claims both preposterous and uncivil, so I will not reward your claptrap with a response. 
Mr. Jones and Mr Crawford: This can serve as a courser example of the insincerity of good intentions.
When the evidence consistently points to failure of the stated intentions, the true motives of the one who insists on more of the same come rightly into question.
So when one calmly exposes this deficit but is then attacked by  assertion (the preposterous and uncivil charge being neither evident nor backed up), well that makes the assailant's sincerity open to question -- and by extension his intentions too.
Thomas Napers Added Jan 7, 2018 - 5:05am
I think your response to my ticket price question proves you realize the economics of your theories don’t make logical sense.  That is unless part of this revolution is to shutter all the large stadiums and only have athletes play in smaller venues. 
George N Romey Added Jan 7, 2018 - 9:02am
Opher why do you think the Fed, The ECB and B of J will not normalize interest rates? They know the disaster that would occur. Furthermore the Fed is not unwinding it’s balance sheet and although there is no formal QE the Fed is still buying bonds along with buying S & P futures.
So if the economy is doing as well as some here suggest why haven’t Central Banks gone back to normal conditions?
Cliff M. Added Jan 7, 2018 - 9:07am
The cost of going to a Yankee game has become absurd.for gas , tolls and parking your out almost $50 bucks before you walk in the door.All of the good seats are corporate owned and usually empty.Sitting in the cheap seats will cost you $100 apiece after expenses.A beer,a soda, 2 hot dogs and a pretzel will cost $40 bucks.The average family of four has been priced out of going.
Cliff M. Added Jan 7, 2018 - 9:10am
My cable bill has gone from $129 to $240 a month in 4 years.Customers keep cutting service yet prices continue to climb.
George N Romey Added Jan 7, 2018 - 10:25am
Cliff which is why attendance at MLB games are down. The middle class tradition of a family outing to a baseball game (and football, basketball) is now a rich man’s past time.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Jan 7, 2018 - 10:40am
Customers keep cutting service yet prices continue to climb.
Throws a monkey wrench in that whole supply and demand thing. 
Jeffry Gilbert Added Jan 7, 2018 - 10:43am
I say get on with it!! Stop talking about revolution and do it. 
opher goodwin Added Jan 7, 2018 - 12:39pm
Cliff - there is a very delicate balance going on at the moment isn't there? So many people are in over their heads and if the interest rates go up they will go belly up. It is not a good place to be.
opher goodwin Added Jan 7, 2018 - 12:46pm
Thomas - I'm not quite sure what you mean by that? I told you what I thought. I didn't suggest shutting the big venues. I basically suggested opening many more for there to be more choice, for many more smaller venues, for cheaper tickets and cheaper TV subscription, less pay for the stars and for them to play more.
Back in the sixties every night of the week you could go out and see a variety of top bands. You could always (usually) get tickets and had a great choice. You got value for money and the stars still made money - just not ridiculous amounts.
opher goodwin Added Jan 7, 2018 - 12:47pm
George - personally I see no signs of plenty of good jobs or high salaries. What I see is people struggling on the gig economy.
opher goodwin Added Jan 7, 2018 - 12:48pm
Cliff - they think they have got people over a barrel. I think we're being taken for a ride.
opher goodwin Added Jan 7, 2018 - 12:49pm
Jeffry - the last thing I want is a revolution.
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 7, 2018 - 1:15pm
Opher >> the last thing I want is a revolution.  
If wishes were horses, paupers would ride.
What are you willing to spend and expend to see that the looming threat subsides?
Are you willing to fight?
Cliff M. Added Jan 7, 2018 - 1:43pm
I used to pay $ 6 bucks for a seat in the right field bleachers at Yankee Stadium .Beers were $1.
George N Romey Added Jan 7, 2018 - 2:14pm
Opher what we need is debt default on a massive scale. It would ruin the criminal banks. Yes there would be awful pain but just maybe we would be forced back to an economy based upon income, savings, investment and productive rather than rent seeking business and endless growing debt.
I personally see a Jubilee coming at some point because little of the public and private debt will ever be repaid.
Cliff M. Added Jan 7, 2018 - 2:29pm
George, We still have the fox guarding the hen house with Trump surrounded by the Wall street crowd. Which one will be the next Geitner? Isn't it interesting how the recent Presidents all have had top economic advisors from Goldman Sachs?
Cliff M. Added Jan 7, 2018 - 2:30pm
Almost 8000 retail stores closed last year.
Chris Crawford Added Jan 7, 2018 - 2:30pm
Mr. Romey, while I agree with your point that the current system is in terrible shape, I find your prescription for it --what we need is debt default on a massive scale. It would ruin the criminal banks-- unpalatable. Such a default would also hurl into poverty every single retired person, because their savings would disappear and Social Security would collapse. It would also destroy the economy; a massive debt default did not even take place during the Depression. There were instead a great many individual defaults, but the Fed survived.
I agree that we need revolutionary change, but I think that it needs to be confined to the political sphere.
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 7, 2018 - 2:36pm
Why is the Jubilee suggestion only all or none? Surely a fractional forgiveness of debt would be less catastrophic.
Mr. Romey and Mr. Crawford, please wrangle over how much each of you would give in a compromise.
It may not work anyway for other reasons, but learning if you two could find common ground might provoke more or better ideas.
Chris Crawford Added Jan 7, 2018 - 2:43pm
That is an excellent idea, Mr. Fervor! Yes, let's see if Mr. Romey and I can solve the country's problem! After that, we'll devise a plan for world peace! No, just kidding... I truly do like the idea. But I cannot divine the topic you wish us to figure out. Are you talking about fixing the American political system? If so, must we be constrained by political realities, which prevent any major reforms? Or can we merely declare that "If I were king, I'd make it this way?"
Pascal Fervor Added Jan 7, 2018 - 2:48pm
Stick with the Jubilee idea. You raised good points as to why it could be catastrophic.
Try this: Try gauge what sort of cascade might follow a  gradual 50% reduction across the board?
Chris Crawford Added Jan 7, 2018 - 3:09pm
Sorry, but I need to be sure I understand your challenge. Are you asking me to evaluate the consequences of the USA renouncing 50% of its national debt, but no other financial institutions defaulting on their debts?
George N Romey Added Jan 7, 2018 - 5:33pm
We haven’t paid a penny in principal in decades. Now our economy grows weaker. We are adding debt just to pay the interest.
In theory $21 trillion could be printed, handed to the Fed and all of the debt monetized. We are headed towards that kind of solution and if history is any judge it won’t turn out well.
Ditto for consumer debt. When the Treasury and Fed can no longer hold the economy up through financial hocus pocus then there’s going to be massive defaults.
You might not like what this will cause but that is the direction we’re headed in. Reality bites and this will take chunks out of people. You can thank 35 years of neoliberal, supply side rule for our grim future.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Jan 7, 2018 - 8:59pm
Neoliberal rule number one - Gold in your Sachs always wins. 
opher goodwin Added Jan 8, 2018 - 6:04am
Pascal - I don't know. We'll see when it happens.
Right now I protest what is wrong, sign petitions and do my bit. I work to elect sensible, honest people.
opher goodwin Added Jan 8, 2018 - 6:05am
Cliff - yes - the prices at concerts, sporting events and TV constantly rise. It is obnoxious.
opher goodwin Added Jan 8, 2018 - 6:06am
George - well something is sure going to happen because a bubble will eventually burst.
opher goodwin Added Jan 8, 2018 - 6:08am
Jeffry - LOL!!
George N Romey Added Jan 8, 2018 - 9:13am
Prices of sporting events and concerts have been bid up by the 1% and in the case of the former corporations. Since supply is finite (only so many seats and limited venues) bidding up prices is easy.
People on this board want to swear my predictions for a dark future are out of line. But just look at the facts. In less than 20 years we’ve nearly tripled the national debt. If our economy had grown by 300% that would be one thing. We spend more than $2 billion dollars a day than we take in. We can’t even cover the interest costs. Moreover there’s no end in sight. Unless Trump’s tax plan produces lots of economic activity and good paying full time jobs the debt will only intensify.
The same bleak picture goes for consumer debt. Realize that it’s the taxpayer that’s on the hook for all these student loans.
Eventually no doubt there will be some kind of massive monetizing of debt. We already did it with QE. The Fed simply took printed money and bought near worthless CDOs off the banks’ balance sheet at book not market value. Maybe the US gets away with such a grand financial stunt maybe it doesn’t. Rome didn’t.
opher goodwin Added Jan 8, 2018 - 11:03am
George - it is very scary.