Thursday Open Thread | This Is Who They Are- Meet the GOP Chief Economist Behind Their Hunger Games Mentality

Meet the Economist Behind the One Percent’s Stealth Takeover of America
By Lynn Parramore
May 30, 2018

Nobel laureate James Buchanan is the intellectual linchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions, argues Duke historian Nancy MacLean

Ask people to name the key minds that have shaped America’s burst of radical right-wing attacks on working conditions, consumer rights and public services, and they will typically mention figures like free market-champion Milton Friedman, libertarian guru Ayn Rand, and laissez-faire economists Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.

James McGill Buchanan is a name you will rarely hear unless you’ve taken several classes in economics. And if the Tennessee-born Nobel laureate were alive today, it would suit him just fine that most well-informed journalists, liberal politicians, and even many economics students have little understanding of his work.

The reason? Duke historian Nancy MacLean contends that his philosophy is so stark that even young libertarian acolytes are only introduced to it after they have accepted the relatively sunny perspective of Ayn Rand. (Yes, you read that correctly). If Americans really knew what Buchanan thought and promoted, and how destructively his vision is manifesting under their noses, it would dawn on them how close the country is to a transformation most would not even want to imagine, much less accept.

That is a dangerous blind spot, MacLean argues in a meticulously researched book, Democracy in Chains, a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction. While Americans grapple with Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency, we may be missing the key to changes that are taking place far beyond the level of mere politics. Once these changes are locked into place, there may be no going back.

 

An Unlocked Door in Virginia

MacLean’s book reads like an intellectual detective story. In 2010, she moved to North Carolina, where a Tea Party-dominated Republican Party got control of both houses of the state legislature and began pushing through a radical program to suppress voter rights, decimate public services, and slash taxes on the wealthy that shocked a state long a beacon of southern moderation. Up to this point, the figure of James Buchanan flickered in her peripheral vision, but as she began to study his work closely, the events in North Carolina and also Wisconsin, where Governor Scott Walker was leading assaults on collective bargaining rights, shifted her focus.

Could it be that this relatively obscure economist’s distinctive thought was being put forcefully into action in real time?

MacLean could not gain access to Buchanan’s papers to test her hypothesis until after his death in January 2013. That year, just as the government was being shut down by Ted Cruz & Co., she traveled to George Mason University in Virginia, where the economist’s papers lay willy-nilly across the offices of a building now abandoned by the Koch-funded faculty to a new, fancier center in Arlington.

MacLean was stunned. The archive of the man who had sought to stay under the radar had been left totally unsorted and unguarded. The historian plunged in, and she read through boxes and drawers full of papers that included personal correspondence between Buchanan and billionaire industrialist Charles Koch. That’s when she had an amazing realization: here was the intellectual linchpin of a stealth revolution currently in progress.

……………………………………………….

A World of Slaves

Most Americans haven’t seen what’s coming.

MacLean notes that when the Kochs’ control of the GOP kicked into high gear after the financial crisis of 2007-08, many were so stunned by the “shock-and-awe” tactics of shutting down government, destroying labor unions, and rolling back services that meet citizens’ basic necessities that few realized that many leading the charge had been trained in economics at Virginia institutions, especially George Mason University. Wasn’t it just a new, particularly vicious wave of partisan politics?

It wasn’t. MacLean convincingly illustrates that it was something far more disturbing.

MacLean is not the only scholar to sound the alarm that the country is experiencing a hostile takeover that is well on its way to radically, and perhaps permanently, altering the society. Peter Temin, former head of the MIT economics department, INET grantee, and author of The Vanishing Middle Class, as well as economist Gordon Lafer of the University of Oregon and author of The One Percent Solution, have provided eye-opening analyses of where America is headed and why. MacLean adds another dimension to this dystopian big picture, acquainting us with what has been overlooked in the capitalist right wing’s playbook.

She observes, for example, that many liberals have missed the point of strategies like privatization. Efforts to “reform” public education and Social Security are not just about a preference for the private sector over the public sector, she argues. You can wrap your head around those, even if you don’t agree. Instead, MacLean contends, the goal of these strategies is to radically alter power relations, weakening pro-public forces and enhancing the lobbying power and commitment of the corporations that take over public services and resources, thus advancing the plans to dismantle democracy and make way for a return to oligarchy. The majority will be held captive so that the wealthy can finally be free to do as they please, no matter how destructive.

MacLean argues that despite the rhetoric of Virginia school acolytes, shrinking big government is not really the point. The oligarchs require a government with tremendous new powers so that they can bypass the will of the people. This, as MacLean points out, requires greatly expanding police powers “to control the resultant popular anger.” The spreading use of pre-emption by GOP-controlled state legislatures to suppress local progressive victories such as living wage ordinances is another example of the right’s aggressive use of state power.

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47 Responses to Thursday Open Thread | This Is Who They Are- Meet the GOP Chief Economist Behind Their Hunger Games Mentality

  1. Liza says:

    Like

  2. rikyrah says:

    UH HUH

    Like

  3. rikyrah says:

    h…hey…ABC Live is streaming a tribute concert for Aretha Franklin here…

    https://abcnews.go.com/Live

    Like

  4. rikyrah says:

    Like

  5. rikyrah says:

    They know this. They KNOW what their father did for them.

    Black Excellence Is Not Crazy: Viral Video Shows Richard Williams Creating Black Superheroes

    Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
    Today 12:54pm

    …………………

    The mortal shoos the father away, explaining that Williams can’t keep interrupting. Williams then walks onto the set to get his point across the way that only a black dad can.

    “You’ve got to understand that you’re dealing with [the] image of a 14-year-old child. And this child is gonna be out there playing when your old ass and me are gonna be in the grave,” Richard proclaims.

    “When she say something, we done told you what’s happening,” he continued. “You’re dealing with a little black kid and let her be a kid.”

    What’s even more telling is the sly smile that comes across Venus’ face. It’s a moment that every black person raising a superhero needs to see.

    Venus knows that her father will protect her at all costs. She knows that the man who’s been with her since birth, coaching her to believe in what even she can’t see, is not going to let her fall. She knows that he will run through a brick wall for her, and that makes him a superhero, too.

    And they know it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. rikyrah says:

    National Enquirer Had Decades of Trump Dirt. He Wanted to Buy It All.
    By Jim Rutenberg and Maggie Haberman
    Aug. 30, 2018

    Federal investigators have provided ample evidence that President Trump was involved in deals to pay two women to keep them from speaking publicly before the 2016 election about affairs that they said they had with him.

    But it turns out that Mr. Trump wanted to go even further.

    He and his lawyer at the time, Michael D. Cohen, devised a plan to buy up all the dirt on Mr. Trump that the National Enquirer and its parent company had collected on him, dating back to the 1980s, according to several of Mr. Trump’s associates.

    The existence of the plan, which was never finalized, has not been reported before. But it was strongly hinted at in a recording that Mr. Cohen’s lawyer released last month of a conversation about payoffs that Mr. Cohen had with Mr. Trump.

    Like

  7. rikyrah says:

    Bow down, Bytches.

    …………………………

    Fam. Aretha did a wardrobe change for Day Two of the viewing?!?!

    I stan a LEGEND. https://t.co/6TsbjvFx3w

    — April (@ReignOfApril) August 30, 2018

    👑 Re: pic.twitter.com/CwH5WC1JXq

    — Dudette (@Dudette9t9) August 30, 2018

    Like

  8. Liza says:

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Liza says:

    Liked by 1 person

  10. rikyrah says:

    Da Phuq?

    Lawsuit: Oregon construction worker fired for refusing to attend Bible study
    Updated Aug 29, 8:21 PM; Posted Aug 29, 7:26 PM

    By Aimee Green agreen@oregonian.com
    The Oregonian/OregonLive

    A 34-year-old man has filed an $800,000 lawsuit against a Albany construction company, claiming the owner fired him after he refused to attend weekly Bible study.

    Ryan Coleman’s lawsuit states that he discovered only after he was hired as a painter for Dahled Up Construction that the job entailed more than just fixing up homes. According to Coleman and his lawsuit, owner Joel Dahl told him all employees were required to partake in regular Bible study sessions led by a Christian pastor during the work day, while on the clock.

    Coleman told Dahl that the requirement was illegal, but Dahl wouldn’t budge, according to the lawsuit. In order to keep his job, Coleman obliged for nearly six months but ultimately told Dahl he couldn’t go, the suit says.

    https://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2018/08/lawsuit_oregon_construction_wo.html

    Liked by 1 person

  11. rikyrah says:

    Even in Death, John McCain Is Petty AF

    Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
    Today 12:11pm

    Depending on how you view him, Sen. John McCain was either a maverick of the right who was willing to cross party lines to stand up for what he believed or, he was the Arizona senator who voted against making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.

    But no matter what you think of McCain, I think we can all agree that even in his death, John McCain is petty as fuck.

    On his deathbed, the man literally planned out his funeral and made a list of people who he didn’t want at his homegoing services. Not a guest list; but a list of people who couldn’t come. According to reports, McCain wanted to make sure that President Trump and former running mate Sarah Palin weren’t invited to his funeral.

    “Invitations were not extended” to Palin or Trump, Carla Eudy, a fundraiser whose been friends with the McCain family for decades, told People.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rikyrah says:

      Even in Death, John McCain Is Petty AF

      Stephen A. Crockett Jr.
      Today 12:11pm

      Depending on how you view him, Sen. John McCain was either a maverick of the right who was willing to cross party lines to stand up for what he believed or, he was the Arizona senator who voted against making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.

      But no matter what you think of McCain, I think we can all agree that even in his death, John McCain is petty as fuck.

      On his deathbed, the man literally planned out his funeral and made a list of people who he didn’t want at his homegoing services. Not a guest list; but a list of people who couldn’t come. According to reports, McCain wanted to make sure that President Trump and former running mate Sarah Palin weren’t invited to his funeral.

      “Invitations were not extended” to Palin or Trump, Carla Eudy, a fundraiser whose been friends with the McCain family for decades, told People.

      ……………………

      I’ve never received a funeral invitation in my life and I lived in Washington, D.C. during the drug wars of the ’80s. This feels like ordering “off-menu,” autoerotic asphyxiation, asserting your constitutional rights to a police officer or any one of the secret white things no one told me about. It feels like the time when I was 24 and I learned that, every morning, white people eat a chocolatey spread that like taste like dreams and still having money in your account after the 5th of the month.

      Yes, invitation-only funerals are exactly like Nutella.

      Like

  12. rikyrah says:

    As a former prosecutor, I know that when defendants make incriminating admissions on tape, they often argue the tape was fudged. They invariably lose because people trust their eyes & ears. The Lester Holt interview with @POTUS has been online since May 2017. Watch it.

    https://t.co/o2zJdXUCBt

    — Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) August 30, 2018

    Liked by 1 person

  13. rikyrah says:

    From Charles Blow:

    Fear is the poison-tipped arrow in Trump’s quiver. He launches it whenever he needs to change the subject, justify his callousness and racism, or defend himself from critique.

    And he has been doing this since he got into the race for president.

    Trump is the same man who said during the campaign, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.” He also said during the campaign, “Islam hates us.”

    He constantly whips up panic about the Salvadoran-American gang MS-13….

    Last August, when the debate about Confederate monuments was hottest, Trump appealed to the fear of white erasure, whining: “They’re trying to take away our culture. They’re trying to take away our history.”

    At the height of outrage over his family separation policy and the locking of children in cages, Trump offered a fear-mongering counterpoint by hosting at the White House the families of people killed by undocumented immigrants, and encouraged those relatives to share their painful tales of loss.

    Last week Trump told Fox News, “If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor.”

    On Monday, according to The Times, Trump warned evangelical leaders that if Democrats gain control of Congress in the midterm elections, they “will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently.”
    Fear is an easily activated emotion. It’s cheap. It’s effective. Trump knows all of this, and he uses it.

    It is easier to instill people with fear than to imbue them with hope.

    Fear doesn’t have to be rational or reasonable to be real.

    A lie is just as solid a foundation for fear as truth is. Indeed, the lie is probably an even better foundation.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Liza says:

    Liked by 1 person

  15. rikyrah says:

    Vermont’s only black female lawmaker withdraws re-election bid after receiving racist threats: https://t.co/z79CseJrru pic.twitter.com/3TmHTVzAqa

    — The Root (@TheRoot) August 30, 2018

    Liked by 1 person

  16. rikyrah says:

    Note to media: please stop treating @AndrewGillum like he’s a Bernie Sanders clone just because @SenSanders endorsed him while you ignore the fact that Mayor Gillum was a @HillaryClinton delegate who was on her list of possible VP candidates.

    — Lawrence O’Donnell (@Lawrence) August 30, 2018

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Liked by 1 person

  18. Liza says:

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Ametia says:

    Word of the Day : August 30, 2018

    Buttonhole: verb BUT-un-hohl

    Definition: to detain in conversation by or as if by holding on to the outer garments of

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Liza says:

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Liza says:

    Liked by 3 people

  22. It’s not enough time but some justice 🙌🏽

    Liked by 2 people

  23. rikyrah says:

    Ok,
    if this is true..

    BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    Redshift says:
    August 30, 2018 at 9:38 am
    The local DC news was covering the preparations for McCain’s funeral last night. They were pointing out the front row which was reserved for former presidents. The chair on the aisle, they said, is normally reserved for the current president, but since Trump isn’t invited, it’s believed that Obama will sit there.

    I have no great love for McCain, but he was a vicious bastard, and I like to believe he knew enough about state funerals to deliberately make that a bonus FU (on top of being disinvited) to Trump. I hope that description gets repeated a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. rikyrah says:

    The money never lies….
    The money never lies…

    Here’s Why The FBI And Mueller Are Investigating “Suspicious” Transactions By Russian Diplomats
    The former Russian ambassador received a salary payment twice as large as past years, and bankers blocked a $150,000 withdrawal.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. rikyrah says:

    Liked by 1 person

  26. rikyrah says:

    Liked by 1 person

  27. rikyrah says:

    Gillum: DeSantis campaigning on ‘The Trump Manual’ https://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/watch/gillum-desantis-campaigning-on-the-trump-manual-1309472323527 via @msnbc

    Gillum on LarryO Last night

    Like

  28. rikyrah says:

    Like

  29. rikyrah says:

    Liked by 1 person

  30. rikyrah says:

    Liked by 1 person

  31. rikyrah says:

    Liked by 1 person

  32. rikyrah says:

    Like

  33. rikyrah says:

    Liked by 1 person

  34. rikyrah says:

    Liked by 1 person

  35. rikyrah says:

    Liked by 1 person

  36. rikyrah says:

    Liked by 3 people

  37. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone 😄😄😄

    Like

    • Ametia says:

      Good Morning, Rikyrah. Thank you for all your posts and comments.

      It’s been a heavy duty week of work projects, and I’m traveling tomorrow out-of-state for a friends funeral this weekend..

      Have a great day 3 Chics Family & Friends!

      Like

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