Read the keystone essay: What Is Market Capitalism and Why Do We Need to Understand It?

Capitalism, Inequality, Politics

Top 400 in US have a lower tax rate than the bottom half of Americans

May 5, 2024

A frequent topic here is the staggering success of the rich and corporations in extracting income and wealth from the economy. In my 1.2.2024 post, Three charts that define the last 45 years in the US, I described how the rich and corporations have used a set of policies and strategies to accomplish this. I have called these The Wealth Supremacy Playbook. A recent essay in the New York Times, “It’s Time to Tax the —>> read more –>>


  1. Zucman is a well-known scholar of inequality. See: Gabriel Zucman, The hidden wealth of nations: the scourge of tax havens, 2015. and Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman, Wealth and Inheritance in the Long Run (London: Centre for Economic Policy Research, 2014).
Capitalism, Justice/Jails, Politics

The Supreme Court, the rich and corporations, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse

March 22, 2024

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) has given a long series of talks, beginning two years ago and now reaching number 30, titled “The Scheme”. This is his investigation of how dark money, fake organizations, and fake facts have enabled the rich and corporations to seize control of the US Supreme Court. The Scheme 30: An Update on the Captured Supreme Court provides a summary of how this happened and what Whitehouse and others are doing to —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Inequality

Elon Musk, $50 billion, and Financialization – from production to extraction

January 31, 2024

Much is being made of a Delaware court blocking Musk’s $50 billion compensation contract. See the reporting in the NYTimes: Elon Musk’s Tesla Pay Package Is Voided by Judge. The court found that the compensation was set by a Board of Directors of Tesla who are in Musk’s pocket. “The process leading to the approval of Musk’s compensation plan was deeply flawed. Musk had extensive ties with the persons tasked with negotiating on Tesla’s behalf. —>> read more –>>


Capitalism, Justice/Jails, Politics, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

Neoliberalism in action: The Scheme 26: The Myth of the Unelected Bureaucrat – Senator Whitehouse video

January 26, 2024

As I have argued regularly, we are in an era of neoliberal wealth supremacy. This is the most successful social movement of the last hundred years. For an introduction to neoliberalism, read my About Neoliberalism. If you are wondering why it is the most successful social movement of the last 100 years, read my post $47 Trillion – the ripoff by the rich and corporations – in two charts – maybe a few more….. Here —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Inequality

Three charts that define the last 45 years in the US

January 2, 2024

Its the time of year for summations, usually for just the previous year. My selection of charts explains much of the past 45 years for the rich, middle-class, and poor in America. The Great Divide The dark blue line describes the growth in productivity. That is the dollar value of output per hour of labor. It has been rising fairly steadily for the entire post-WWII era. This is the result in improvements in technology and —>> read more –>>


  1. Price, Carter C., and Kathryn A. Edwards. “Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018.” RAND Corporation, September 14, 2020.
  2. All dollars are constant inflation-adjusted dollars - apples to apples
Capitalism, Delusion, Economy, Inequality, Racism/White Supremacy, Security State

My Year End Siege of Angers – the list –the rerun

December 29, 2023

Last year, at about this time,  I tapped away at the list below. In recent days I returned to the question of a new Siege of Angers. I came up with little new and found that last year’s Siege of Angers remained at the top of my mind. The one exception is the continuing siege of fascism spearheaded by Trump. We need to counter-attack vigorously. I don’t believe the Democrats are in a position to —>> read more –>>


  1. Carter C. Price and Kathryn A. Edwards, “Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018” (RAND Corporation, September 14, 2020),
  2. Please note that the income distribution in 1975 was not an ideal. There was significant inequality. From our current perspective, it seems idyllic compared to the transformations of the last 40 years.
  3. Price, Carter C., and Kathryn A. Edwards. “Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018.” (RAND Corporation, September 14, 2020).
  4. For another day, we could look at the wealth inequalities that this has produced. Much worse!
  5. The classic origin text is Hayek, Friedrich A. von. The Road to Serfdom. G. Routledge, London, 1944.
  6. This movement was also championed in the UK and then forced on much of the developing world through US foreign policy, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank
  7. The “liberalism” of neoliberalism is not the liberalism we associate with FDR and the Democratic Party here in the US. The academics who coined this word were referring to 18th and 19th century European liberalism. A different beast.
  8. First Inaugural Address on January 20, 1981
  9. see Mariana Mazzucato, The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths, Revised edition (New York, NY: PublicAffairs, 2015)
  10. Just search for "monopoly"(click on this link to conduct the search) on this website for many discussions of monopolization.
  12. I have to credit my stepson Jonathan London, Professor of Global Political Economics at Leiden University in the Netherlands, with this observation.
  13. Lewis Powell, “Memorandum: Attack On American Free Enterprise System | Lewis F. Powell Jr. Papers | Washington and Lee University School of Law” (August 23, 1971),
  15. Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” Perspectives on Politics 12, no. 3 (September 2014): 564–81,
Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Economy, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

Briefly Noted – The Deficit Myth: The Biggest Lie In Politics | 1Dime

December 28, 2023

This video from 1Dime is a very good introduction to the actual workings of money in the economy. Though for my tastes, the video is burdened with way too many gratuitous visual gimmicks and fluffery, it is very well researched and presented. You will get a solid introduction to most of the important concepts in Modern Money Theory (aka neo-Keynesianism). Much to my satisfaction the description field on YouTube provides a serious list of sources —>> read more –>>

Books, Capitalism

Capitalism – the actual workings – the book – update

December 17, 2023

The book is now in editing. Plans call for a small printing of review copies in January 2024. Go to for more information

Capitalism, Economy, Video Posts

Video Post – the $47 Trillion Rip Off

August 30, 2023

A video version of the earlier post, “$47 Trillion – the ripoff by the rich and corporations – in two charts – maybe a few more…..” is available on YouTube:

Capitalism, Economy, Empire, Healthcare, Politics, Security State

A thought for the day while looking around in TikTok

August 28, 2023

The other day I was poking around in TikTok to see what it is all about. Came across a quote from Karl Marx that struck a chord. “There must be something rotten in the very core of a social system which increases its wealth without diminishing its misery.”1 Here we are 164 years later and this observation is perhaps even more telling. This is particularly so because we are a very rich country. The US —>> read more –>>


  1. This appeared in an article Marx wrote for The New York Tribune in 1859
Capitalism, Economy, Inequality, Politics

$47 Trillion – the ripoff by the rich and corporations – in two charts – maybe a few more…..

August 22, 2023

I was already 31 years old when the rip-off of America began in 1979. I was busy, and the changes in American life were only occasionally to be noticed.  By the mid-1980s my management life started to feature the early signs of the financialization of the corporation. I knew of Milton Friedman’s famous dictum, “there is one and only one social responsibility of business—to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its —>> read more –>>


  1. Carter C. Price and Kathryn A. Edwards, “Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018” (RAND Corporation, September 14, 2020),
  2. Please note that the income distribution in 1975 was not an ideal. There was significant inequality. From our current perspective, it seems idyllic compared to the transformations of the last 40 years.
  3. Price, Carter C., and Kathryn A. Edwards. “Trends in Income From 1975 to 2018.” (RAND Corporation, September 14, 2020).
  4. For another day, we could look at the wealth inequalities that this has produced. Much worse!
  5. The classic origin text is Hayek, Friedrich A. von. The Road to Serfdom. G. Routledge, London, 1944.
  6. This movement was also championed in the UK and then forced on much of the developing world through US foreign policy, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank
  7. The “liberalism” of neoliberalism is not the liberalism we associate with FDR and the Democratic Party here in the US. The academics who coined this word were referring to 18th and 19th century European liberalism. A different beast.
  8. First Inaugural Address on January 20, 1981
  9. see Mariana Mazzucato, The Entrepreneurial State: Debunking Public vs. Private Sector Myths, Revised edition (New York, NY: PublicAffairs, 2015)
  10. Just search for "monopoly"(click on this link to conduct the search) on this website for many discussions of monopolization.
  12. I have to credit my stepson Jonathan London, Professor of Global Political Economics at Leiden University in the Netherlands, with this observation.
  13. Lewis Powell, “Memorandum: Attack On American Free Enterprise System | Lewis F. Powell Jr. Papers | Washington and Lee University School of Law” (August 23, 1971),
  15. Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” Perspectives on Politics 12, no. 3 (September 2014): 564–81,
Capitalism, Economy, Inequality, Politics

What is $47 trillion – 47,000,000,000,000 – a comparative exploration?

August 22, 2023

My previous post, “$47 Trillion – the ripoff by the rich and corporations – in two charts – maybe a few more…..” raises the question of exactly what 47,000,000,000,000 amounts to. There are so many “0”s! Let’s work with a one-dollar US paper bill. So how many dollar bills do we have to pile up to equal the height of the tallest building on Billionaire Row in Manhattan? This tower is 1,550 ft. tall (472 —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy

The Waterworks of Money – how money and the financial sector work

June 14, 2023

  By chance, I saw an exhibition titled “The Future of Money” (thru 9.9.2023) at the Art Museum of The Hague, Netherlands in May 2023. The central work is a very large drawing that illustrates the flows of money through the economy. Now there is a video tour of this work with English narration. Given the research I have done over the last six months on how money and the finance system works this video —>> read more –>>


  1. see Nichols, Dorothy, and Anne Marioe Gonczy. “Modern Money Mechanics : A Workbook on Bank Reserves and Deposit Expansion.” Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, rev.1992 1961.
  2. here is a snippet from the 60 Minutes interview from October 10, 2009:
Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Economy

Wealth & Poverty course from Robert Reich – UC Berkeley

April 6, 2023

Reich is offering an online course, “Wealth & Poverty”, that started today. I watched the first lecture, “What Happened to Income and Wealth?” Looks like this will be worth some ongoing effort. I suggest being ready at the fast forward button for the parts of the class when Reich is querying the students and using various digital polling tools that seem to be standard issue in university lecture halls. After the introductory blather, he opens —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Healthcare

Time to admit that US health system is 3rd rate, or worse

March 27, 2023

We’ve argued here numerous times that the state of the US healthcare system is an outrage. We spend almost double per capita what every other developed country spends, except Switzerland, which comes in at 70% of our per capita spending. An NPR report this morning (3.29.2023) (‘Live free and die?’ The sad state of U.S. life expectancy) grinds through the numerous failings of American healthcare. The report reminds us that solutions are not a mystery. We —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy

Private Equity, Housing, and the Extraction Economy

March 26, 2023

In the last couple of years articles have begun to appear with titles like: When Private Equity Becomes Your Landlord Where Have All the Houses Gone: Private Equity, Single-Family Rentals, and America’s Neighborhoods Meet the Latest Housing-Crisis Scapegoat Wall Street has purchased hundreds of thousands of single-family homes since the Great Recession. Here’s what that means for rental prices So, private equity firms (PE) are busy in the housing market. The exact scale of this —>> read more –>>


  1. Chris Morran Petty Daniel, “What Private Equity Firms Are and How They Operate,” ProPublica, August 3, 2022,
  2. Much of this description of how PE works comes from Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt, Private Equity at Work: When Wall Street Manages Main Street (Russell Sage Foundation, 2014).
  3. “Everything Is Private Equity Now,” Bloomberg.Com, October 3, 2019,
  4. Milton Friedman, “A Friedman Doctrine‐- The Social Responsibility Of Business Is to Increase Its Profits,” The New York Times, September 13, 1970, sec. Archives,
Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Economy, Family

Sources of Poverty in the US – Matthew Desmond article – Updated

March 16, 2023

Original posting – 3.6.2023 Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City1, has a new book Poverty, by America set to be released shortly. He has written a piece for the NYTimes, “Why Poverty Persists in America”2 that is worth a read. He poses this question early on, “Why, then, when it comes to poverty reduction, have we had 50 years of nothing?” He cites a ton of statistics to prove —>> read more –>>


  1. Matthew Desmond, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (Penguin Books, 2016)
  4. There is variation amongst the analyses of whther the upper class is the top 20% or 10% of the population. In anyt event it is clear that the vast bulk of the population is in the loser column.
Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Economy

Financialization and going off the rails with Norfolk Southern

March 6, 2023

Financialization is an awful word. It sounds clumsy in the mouth and refers to a process that has been underway for over 40 years but is nearly unknown to most of us. Before we get to Norfolk Southern, the railroad company, what is financialization? Basically, financialization is a nested set of changes in business concepts and operations that center around the notion that money is the only purpose of business. Money is the only object —>> read more –>>


  3. from summary of Thomas Palley, “Financialization: What It Is and Why It Matters,” Working Paper Levy Economics Institute at Bard College. No. 25 (December 2007).
Capitalism, Politics

“…as long as they do no harm to another.” A tale of actual capitalism

March 3, 2023

Individualism and Libertarians Americans are renowned for their sense of individual identity and empowerment. de Tocqueville noted this back in the 1830s in his Democracy in America. Hollywood and mass media have mined it continuously. Politicians appeal to it frequently. In my lifetime the position of the individual has been raised to a position of complete supremacy over society. The Libertarian Party is one significant element in this development. It presents a clear statement of —>> read more –>>


  1. Until 1982 the Federal Securities Exchange Commission considered stock buybacks by corporations to be illegal price manipulation
  2. see Robert H. Lustig Metabolical: The Lure and Lies of Processed Food, Nutrition, and Modern Medicine. New York: Harper Wave 2021
Capitalism, Economy, Family

My Year End Siege of Angers – the addendum

January 6, 2023

Here are two more angers: (an addendum to the 1.1.2023 post: My Year End Siege of Angers – the list) Guns:  “Eighteen percent of U.S. households purchased a gun since the start of the pandemic (March 2020–March 2022), according to new survey data from NORC at the University of Chicago, increasing the percentage of U.S. adults living in a household with a gun to 46%. Over this period, one in 20 adults in America (5%) purchased —>> read more –>>


  4. Peter Temin, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, 2017.
Capitalism, Economy, Education, Empire, Environment, Healthcare, Inequality, Politics, Racism/White Supremacy, Security State, Women

My Year End Siege of Angers – the list

January 1, 2023

Yesterday as I was taking a walk up and down Warren St. here in Hudson I realized that I had become actively angry about the state of the US and the world. I walked past hotels where a single room would set you back $400 for a night or you could go for the suite that is a mere $1300. This in a country where 32% of the people can’t pay an unexpected $400 bill.1 —>> read more –>>


  3. see the empirical study Martin Gilens, Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America (Princeton, N.J; New York: Princeton University Press ; Russell Sage Foundation, 2012).
  11. and
Capitalism, Economy

The Implosion of Southwest Airlines and Financialization

December 29, 2022

Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights representing more than 80%of all cancellations during the Christmas 2022 snowstorm. The scale of this service implosion led to stories about old software systems for managing passenger bookings and flight schedules. Then, discussions of Southwest’s point-to-point flight strategy that differs from the other major airlines’ use of hub and spoke arrangements. Somewhere in the midst of these stories and the inevitable interviews with passengers stranded in one city while —>> read more –>>


Books, Capitalism, Economy

Capitalism – the actual workings – coming soon

August 27, 2022

The work to revise and expand my 2018 essay “Capitalism – a critique” has entered its final stages. A final draft has been distributed to a number of readers for comment and critique. I am now working on a book version. Capitalism – the actual workings – is the new working title for the book. A5 size (roughly 6 x 9 inches). Roughly 50 pages including endnotes and bibliography. More to follow.   Go to the —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Video Posts

Video Post – Externalities – getting somebody else to pay for my production costs – the In Depth Capitalism series

October 25, 2020

Capitalism features a structural drive to create and use external costs to increase profits. Pollution of the earth is the most obvious and visible; there are many others including injuries and death for workers.

Capitalism, Video Posts

Video Post – Introduction to In Depth Capitalism Series

October 24, 2020

Introducing the In Depth series on the actual workings of capitalism. Commentary on economic theories.

Capitalism, Economy, Inequality, Politics

How the Rich and Big Corporations Feed Off Us During the Pandemic

May 1, 2020

The rich and corporations win even during a global pandemic.

Capitalism, Education, Family, Healthcare, Inequality

We’re number 40, no we’re number 39, no, number 61, yea, we’re number 1 in incarceration!!!

April 7, 2020

The decline of the US has become so marked over the last few decades that the stories and numbers no longer shock. From a country with an enormous middle class we have become a country with rich, super-rich and big corporations at the top while the vast majority, more than 80%,  are either homeless, very poor, poor, or a paycheck or two from poor. If you want an introduction to the state of our society, —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Environment, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

Recently Noted – the chemical industry, government, and personal connections to TCE

March 1, 2020

Back in the early and mid ‘70s both Karen and I worked in various machine shops and other industrial locations. Trichloroethylene (TCE) was used on a daily basis to clean metals parts and other materials. I remember a large tank of slowly roiling hot TCE at Stevens Arnold, Inc. in South Boston. I would use it several times a day to clean parts. Every week or so I would be detailed to drain the tank, —>> read more –>>


  1. accessed 3/1/2020
Capitalism, Economy

Real Estate Development – a local story –

December 16, 2019

In an area with dozens of empty store fronts and several hundred thousand sq ft of empty space, a new strip mall is approved for construction. A rational market??

Capitalism, Economy

Nobel Prize Winners Critique Markets – Duflo and Bannerjee

October 27, 2019

Nobel Prize winners Duflo and Bannerjee take on idealized views of markets. They target the role of financial incentives, markets as self-correcting, efficient and ethically sound.

Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Economy

Market Concentration – Walmart and Groceries

October 25, 2019

The Visual Capitalist added another graphic example of the increasing concentration, monopolization, of markets, in this case for groceries. Even here in Hudson NY we can see the impact of Walmart locally. Two years ago we had three large supermarkets within 4 miles. Price Chopper gave up the ghost leaving us with two, Walmart and ShopRite. While it’s more likely for a small town to become dominated by a single grocer, Walmart’s clout isn’t exclusive —>> read more –>>


  1. Routley, Nick. “Visualizing Walmart’s Domination of the U.S. Grocery Market.” Visual Capitalist. Accessed November 21, 2019.
Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Racism/White Supremacy

Recently Noted – challenging views of Justice Clarence Thomas – the intractable nature of white racism

October 15, 2019

A challenging take on the state of racism in the US. Harvard sociologist Orlando Patterson reviews books on Clarence Thomas and his views on countering intractable white racism.

Capitalism, Economy

Recently Noted – Robert Reich on breaking up Big Tech – a limited view

June 26, 2019

Robert Reich is continuing his series of brief YouTube videos on progressive view of the economy. This is a good introduction to the arguments for re-invigorating our protections against monopolies. However, the problem is much more widespread than just the high tech industry. We’ve written about this broader phenomenon in The Monopolization of America. Here is one chart from that post. Dominance of Corporate Behemoths – NYTimes – 11/25/2108 The concentration of market power is —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy

Monopoly and Facebook – as told by Facebook’s co-founder

Facebook logo
May 9, 2019

It’s Time to Break Up Facebook, by Chris Hughes, the co-founder of Facebook is very thorough in describing the current monopoly behavior of Facebook, the deleterious effects on competition and vigor in the economy of monopolies, and a great introduction to the history of anti-trust movements and legislation in the US.

Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Economy, Politics, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

Recently Noted – Robert Reich: Socialism for the Rich, Capitalism for the Rest – a new video presentation

April 8, 2019

Robert Reich provides us with an accessible, brief analysis of why the rich and corporations are feasting while the rest of us experience the rigors, oppression, and discipline of the capitalist marketplace. Only a bit over 4 minutes long.

Capitalism, Economy

Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed (Parts 1 & 2) – Ray Dalio – what’s missing?

April 8, 2019

The Dalio Critique of Capitalism – Part One Ray Dalio, number 79 on Bloomberg’s list of the  100 wealthiest people on the planet with a net worth of 18+ billion $s, published an essay on LinkedIn, “Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed (Parts 1 & 2)” is US centric and its critique of capitalism focuses on: income and wealth inequality lack of income growth for the majority of Americans since the early 1980s —>> read more –>>


  1. Apologies for this term. Economists created this one and then left it almost universally out of any of their calculations.
  2. for example see the post here "Ultra-Processed Foods, Conquest of New Markets, Capitalism In Action"
Capitalism, Economy, Healthcare, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

Recently Noted – Sugar In Our Diet – the John Oliver Analysis

March 18, 2019

In our continuing effort to find varied sources to illustrate the power of marketing and the costs of unregulated capitalism we return to John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight for his segment on sugar in food. The food industry continues to put sugar in nearly every processed food and fights efforts to reveal how much of this dangerous additive is in each bite.

Capitalism, Economy, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

Recently Noted – Robert Reich video ”The Monopolization of America”

March 7, 2019

We have written earlier (for example our article The Monopolization of America) about the increasing concentration of market power    In the hands of just a few corporations. This is a phenomenon occurring  throughout the US economy (really more broadly across the globe). Here is an 11 minute review of the history and current state of monopolies in our economy.

Capitalism, Education

Recently Noted – PhDs on Food Stamps – Labor in US Higher Ed

December 24, 2018

Adjunct teachers are paid so poorly that many qualify for food stamps. Meanwhile students across the country are underwriting ever higher tuition through debt.

Capitalism, Economy

The Monopolization of America

November 26, 2018

Adam Smith discussed the harms caused by monopolies1 in the frequently, ritualistically cited book, The Wealth of Nations2. The progressive politics of the end of the 19th century and into the beginning of the 20th was marked by a deep reaction to the monopolistic practices of large companies then. This led to the ant-trust legislation that remains the cornerstone of the Federal government’s efforts to protect competition in the marketplace: Sherman Act of 1890, the —>> read more –>>


  1. A note about the term “monopoly”: Economists have long acknowledged that the literal meaning of monopoly, a company having exclusive control over a commodity or service, is not a useful representation of how capitalist economies actually work. In practice when a small number of firms, say 3 or 4, control roughly 50% or more of a market, they can and do act to control prices, restrain trade, and force weaker competitors out of the market. As John Oliver notes we can experience this by simply booking an airline flight. Southwest, Delta, United, and American control 69% of the domestic market. This concentration is amplified by the hub and spoke system that assures that in many localities there is no choice but a single provider of air services. This is precisely why we need to reinvigorate the existing anti-trust laws and protect consumers from the gouging and abuse we now experience every time we fly.
  2. Smith, Adam. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
  3. chart borrowed from: Leonhardt, David. “Opinion | The Monopolization of America.” The New York Times, November 26, 2018, sec. Opinion.
Capitalism, Environment, Politics

Plastics and Run Amuck Capitalism

August 20, 2018

The earth is burdened by the tsunami of plastic refuse that will never degrade. Government needs to protect us from capitalist enterprises delight in externalizing costs to our detriment and their short-term benefit.

Capitalism, Healthcare

Heart Stents, Tricycles, and an Argument for Consumer Protections (Regulations)

February 21, 2018

Since corporations have reason not to worry about safety and efficacy, we do need the government to represent us. Common sense and ethics suggest that a company establish the safety and efficacy of products and services BEFORE selling them. In a world better balanced to the needs and interests of the vast majority this would be a required step. Heart stents and tricycles are examples of the failings of our current system.

Capitalism, Economy, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

John Oliver and Monopoly Capitalism

February 21, 2018

Corporate concentration of income and wealth are core features of capitalism. From its earliest cheerleaders like Adam Smith, the drive for corporations to get ever larger and in the doing drive their competitors out of the market was noted and warned against. John Oliver provides a thorough and amusing introduction.

Capitalism, Economy

The New Digital Monopoly Capitalism

February 20, 2018

The new digital economy is displaying the same drive to concentration, monopolies and oligopolies, that capitalism has always displayed. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are just a new face of the predatory monopolists of the Rockefeller Standard Oil age.


Stagnant Wages, New York Times, and Unions

February 11, 2018

NYTimes reports that one-time bonuses are the preferred pay strategy vs pay raises.Mysteriously the Times leaves out the role of unions and the long-term fall in unionization rates in the private sector in the US.

Capitalism, Healthcare

Recently Noted – Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Team Up to Try to Disrupt Health Care

January 31, 2018

These corporate giants are “disrupting” healthcare or so the headlines say. Despite the media flurry we should not expect much. The structure of US healthcare defies little nibbles at the periphery. As noted many times here, we need to look to our developed country competitors for their proven approaches to how to set up a world-class healthcare system at world standard costs.

Capitalism, Economy

Structure of Jobs Is Changing Rapidly – Political System Failing to Address Issue

January 23, 2018

Shifts to contract work, losses in jobs due to automation and robots, growth in poorly paid occupations, low participation rates, healthcare and retirement tied to full-time jobs, and extremely unequal gains in income for the top 10% characterize jobs in our economy. Something radical needs to be done. Republicans are trickling, Democrats cautious, neither addresses the big changes underway.

Capitalism, Economy

A Note on Jobs & Unemployment – revised

December 31, 2017

A Note on Jobs & Unemployment Original publication date – 12/27/2016; Revised – 12/31/2017 As the presidential campaign of 2016 fades away and the Trump Era begins, we find a national scene without any real discussion of the facts of jobs and unemployment and what the future might bring. Trump and others talk about bringing manufacturing back to the US. No plan, plausible or otherwise, has ever been mentioned for how to accomplish this. The —>> read more –>>


  1. To be sure the US rank amongst steel producers has declined significantly with most of the world's steel now being produced in Asia
  2. Allan Collard-Wexler and Jan De Loecker, “Reallocation and Technology: Evidence from the U.S. Steel Industry,” Working Paper National Bureau of Economic Research, January 2013,
  3. Jane Wakefield, “Foxconn Replaces ‘60,000 Factory Workers with Robots,’ BBC News, May 25, 2016, sec. Technology,
  4. Angel Gonzalez, “Amazon Unveils Smart Convenience Store sans Checkouts, Cashiers,” The Seattle Times, December 5, 2016,
  5. Brick and mortar retail stores have sales per employee between a 1/4 and a 1/3 of Amazon's performance.
  6. Thanks to Elizabeth Kolbert, “Our Automated Future,” The New Yorker and Daron Acemoglu and David Autor, “Skills, Tasks and Technologies: Implications for Employment and Earnings,” Working Paper (National Bureau of Economic Research, June 2010),
Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Politics, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

Recently Noted – Robert Reich: how we got into this mess and how we get out of it

December 29, 2017

Reich’s latest cartoon does a good job of describing the changes in the US economy, weaker on the underlying political campaign by the rich and corporations to restructure the economy to their benefit. Worth the 6 minute viewing time.


Cotton and the Miracle of the Self-Regulating Market

December 19, 2017

The miracle of the automatic self-regulating market in action. During the 1930s over-production of cotton chronically ran over by 50% and more. Since cotton is a durable product all of these years of over production just swelled the mountains of cotton sitting in warehouse waiting for demand. In 1933 the cotton stored in warehouses equaled the entire world demand.

Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Economy

Recently Noted: World Inequality Report 2018 – findings and policies

December 14, 2017

Inequality in wealth and income is a continuing global crisis. The World Inequality Report 2018 defines the problem based on wealth ownership and the transfer of public wealth into private hands. Their are solutions but they require political organization and will.

Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Economy

Recently Noted – John Oliver and Monopoly Capitalism

September 26, 2017

Capitalism, Monopoly, Oligopoly and John Oliver Capitalism does a number of things very well. Concentrating power, wealth and income is one of them. Though we naturally focus our attention on wealthy individuals, fat cats, tycoons, money bags, but corporations, the legal entities with personhood (at least in the US) are also recipients of this concentrating power. John Oliver in his HBO program “Last Week Tonight” took on monopoly and oligopoly. His focus on the airline —>> read more –>>


Ultra-Processed Foods, Conquest of New Markets, Capitalism In Action

September 18, 2017

Brazil is the newest scene of massive marketing campaigns to replace local food and local diets with ultra-processed industrial foods. This is beginning to repeat the mass experiment in bad eating habits that the US has already experienced for two generations.

Books, Capitalism, Healthcare

An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal – book review/critique

August 2, 2017

An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal is important and disappointing. Despite all of the information about the failings of our market-based healthcare system Rosenthal abandons her analysis when it comes to treatment.

Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Healthcare

Recently Noted – about healthcare

July 30, 2017

Recent NYTimes article broadly acknowledges what every other developed country has recognized for decades, healthcare is not a good candidate for market control.

Briefly Noted, Capitalism, Economy

2017 ASCE Infrastructure Report Card

July 26, 2017

The American Society of Civil Engineers has released another of their series of infrastructure report cards. The 2017 report card shows a “D+”…….

Briefly Noted, Capitalism

Recently Noted – about free market capitalism – is capitalism the real problem?

July 14, 2017

Capitalism is driven by a single internal logic that requires the transformation of people and nature into commodities to produce profits. This logic is amoral and the system, excepting for external controls by government and social institutions, just churns on.


Capitalism and Innovation

July 5, 2017

For all of the chest beating about the bold risks taken by capitalists, the capitalist time horizon is very short when compared to the many years of work that have gone into almost every significant scientific and technological advance. Without extensive government investment in activities that deliver longer term success, the capitalist system will simply eat its seed corn until it is gone.

Capitalism, Healthcare

Healthcare and Markets – why don’t they work together?

June 26, 2017

A consistent chattering point in American discussions of healthcare is the claim that if we can only bring transparency and competition to healthcare we will drive prices down and bring sanity to healthcare. The rest of the world knows that this is not the answer but we seem to remain in the thrall of universal free-market thinking. To answer this question lets start with an example of a market that works reasonably well and which —>> read more –>>

Briefly Noted, Capitalism

Recently Noted – free-market capitalism

June 17, 2017

Companies must externalize as many costs as possible in free-market capitalism. Without adequate government protections you will end up with this kind of environment. from the New York Times: Nearly 14,000 Companies in China Violate Pollution Rules By EDWARD WONG “Environmental inspectors in northern China have found that nearly 14,000 companies, or 70 percent of the businesses they examined, failed to meet environmental standards for controlling air pollution, according to a state news agency report. The inspectors working —>> read more –>>

Briefly Noted, Capitalism

Recently Noted – in free-market capitalism and US economy

June 7, 2017

Giving tax breaks to the rich and corporations has been basic to every Republican since Hoover. President Reagan piled on with trickle-down economics. I wrote about it here: Trickle-Down Returns to Enrich the Rich. Now the great state of Kansas proves again the tax breaks do not generate more jobs or income excepting for the rich and corporations through their lower tax payments. It’s a great day: Kansas legislature pulls the plug on Gov. Brownback’s failed —>> read more –>>


Neoliberalism Revisited

June 3, 2017

If we want to offer an alternative analysis we need direct language that does not refer to thinking and issues from 150 years ago that invites immediate suspicions that those speaking are academics and intellectuals who by definition are not connected to the day-to-day realities of American life.

Capitalism, Healthcare

Naive Talk about Healthcare from Adam Davidson in the New Yorker

May 25, 2017

The solution to our healthcare problems cannot be clearer. Look at Canada, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, Netherlands, UK, Denmark, Sweden, and others. Plenty of healthcare systems with decades of operational experience producing much better outcomes for very single person in these countries at less than half the cost!!

Capitalism, Healthcare

The Global Context of the US Healthcare Debate

May 14, 2017

The solution to our healthcare fiasco is first to recognize its true nature and then to face down those who are consuming a fifth of our economic output while producing profoundly bad results.


Regulations vs Protections – more than just words

May 7, 2017

The word “regulation” has been used as an epithet and rhetorical sledge hammer by Republicans and the centrist Bill Clinton Democrats as part of a general campaign to discredit anything that the government might do. This is part of the decades long political strategy of the rich and corporations to puff up the delights of “free markets”.

Capitalism, Environment

Dumping Concrete: a law of capitalism In action – a local example

May 6, 2017

Every company seeks to get someone else to pay for as many of its costs of doing business as possible. The laws of capitalism require this. If all of Stickles’ competitors are similarly avoiding the costs of disposing of their waste concrete they must do likewise. Otherwise their cost of doing business would be higher. In the short term their profits will be lower. In the longer term they will be forced out of business —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy

United Airlines, Monopoly/Oligopoly, The Natural Laws of Capitalism

April 17, 2017

In the US four airlines control over 80% of the seats and in many regional markets the competition veers towards a state of monopoly. There is simply no effective competitive controls on what the airlines can charge and under what conditions.This has lead to persistent high fares and a seemingly endless series of innovations in how many people can be jammed into a plane with as many extra charges tacked on for fewer and fewer —>> read more –>>

Books, Capitalism, Economy, Politics

Building the New American Economy – Not

April 5, 2017

The title of this short book, only 130 pages, Building the New American Economy: smart, fair, & sustainable by Jeffrey D. Sachs with a foreword by Bernie Sanders (Columbia University Press, 2017) is unfortunately misleading. There is much here about the new economy. The misleading part is that there is very little about its construction, how to build the new economy. Sachs covers many important issues in a thorough, efficient fashion. If you need a —>> read more –>>


Thoughts on Standard Economics

April 1, 2017

I’ve been looking through Paul Krugman’s textbook Macroeconomics (Krugman and Wells, 4th edition, 2015) and came on Principle #2 – “The opportunity cost of an item—what you must give up in order to get it—is its true cost….The concept of opportunity cost is crucial to understanding individual choice because, in the end, all costs are opportunity costs. That’s because every choice you make means forgoing some other alternative.” In this standard economics model, a central —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Videos-Movies-Podcasts

Job (Business) Killing Regulations

March 2, 2017

Ever since Ronald Reagan told us in his 1981 Inaugural Address, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” government bashing by right-wingers, Republicans and many Democrats has been a constant drumbeat of political rhetoric. Now we have Trump with his “Kill 2 regulations for every new one” and a government dominated by Republicans for whom destroying government has been an objective for decades. We are faced with the probable destruction —>> read more –>>


  1. audio of song here:
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Capitalism, Economy

The Internet and Demand Management (Advertising)

March 1, 2017

My friend Joe Keenan recently sent me an article by Vicki Boykis, “Fix the internet by writing good stuff and being nice to people” from her blog Woman.Legend.Blog. Today’s internet is mean. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when everyone online became a jerk, but to me it seems that the tipping point occurred right when making money off content started being worth more than the content itself. Ms. Boykis devotes a lot of attention to —>> read more –>>


Capitalism, Politics

Neoliberalism – a term that needs never to be used – Updated

February 10, 2017

Dollars and Sense has been around since the 1970s. Always a source of well researched critiques of capitalism. I recently, after a more than 30 year hiatus, re-upped a subscription. Dear Dollars & Sense, Your new issue showed up the other day with the word “neoliberalism” in bold type on the cover. The continuing use of this term is not helpful. When I first saw this word a few years ago I wondered how the —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Politics

Talk Back: Correcting the Anti-Government Bias of Our Politics

January 29, 2017

President Reagan was not the originator of this central trope of free-market (neo-liberal) politics, but he famously said in his first Inaugural Address in 1981, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” President Clinton, a Democrat, continued this theme during his terms culminating the the deregulation of the financial industry in 1999 setting the table for the collapse of 2008 and the Long Recession. Listening to almost any discussion by —>> read more –>>


  1. See Block, Fred L., and Matthew R. Keller. 2011. State of innovation: the U.S. government's role in technology development. Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers and Mazzucato, Mariana. 2011. The entrepreneurial state.
Capitalism, Economy

The Gig Economy in the Academy – a note

December 29, 2016

The values of capitalism, especially as expressed through free market (neoliberal) ideology, have come to dominate how we organize our lives. Silicon Valley and the tech sector is busy celebrating the “gig” economy. Companies have simply stopped hiring employees and now conduct much of their work using “temps”, “1099ers”, part-time contract workers. The companies, and the champions of free markets, tout this as a wonder of flexibility and opportunity. For gigers not being recognized as —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Politics

“Liberal”, “Progressive”, “Free Market”, “NeoLiberal” – what’s up?

November 15, 2016

A friend asked the following question of me on Facebook the other day:What’s wrong with the word LIBERAL …. This word … progressives … is only a diluted weak solution of the real thing …. the L word has become like the N word … it can’t be mouthed in public. I know what Liberal means I don’t have a clue what progressive means … you’d think Neoliberal has some relationship to LIBERAL which it —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy

Inside Goldman Sachs with the Federal Reserve

September 27, 2014

Since the beginning of the 2008 Great Recession we have hoped that the government would return to applying some real rational restraints on the financial system. To be honest, with both political parties deep in the pocket of the industry, this is probably merely wishful thinking.

Books, Capitalism, Economy

Flash Boys Doesn’t Ask the Important Question

April 7, 2014

We should demand that our financial markets serve their findamental purposes – connect investors with those who can deploy those resources to create new products and services and enable the flow of these goods and services. To call holding financial insturments whether stocks, bonds, or other assets for mere seconds investments is to beggar the mind.

Capitalism, Economy

Wall St – not about investing but fixing the game

July 9, 2013

photo courtesy of Chance Agrella, photographer An article in the NY TImes today reports ((Regulators Examining Early Sales of Financial Data )) that NY Attorney General Schneiderman is pursuing various information providers, Thomson Reuters in the immediate case, for their practices of selling market sensitive information preferntially. Those paying a premium get information several minutes before its release to the general public. This is more evidence that Wall St (standing in here for the —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy

The Job Creators – Who Are They? The Rich, Really?

May 19, 2012

In recent years a standard bit of political rhetoric in the US has included references to “the job creators”. This most usually  flows along the lines of higher taxes on the wealthy will injure the job creators. Or, government regulation is crushing the job creators. The presumption of course is that the wealthy, the 1% in the current rhetoric, create jobs (and those not created by the wealthy are created by small business – this being another, —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy

High Frequency Trading and Deeper Questions about Capitalism

March 27, 2012

A recent PBS Newshour report by Paul Solman on Thursday 3/15/12 in his series “Making Sense of Financial News” gave pause concerning the role of high frequency traders (HFT) on Wall St. (and doubtless on other markets around the world). First, you might ask what are HFTs? These are traders who use computer-based algorithms to select, buy, and sell shares on the markets. The speed of these transactions and the “thinking” that is performed is —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Politics

Charts from Mother Jones Illustrate That the Rich Have Won the Class War

November 19, 2011

I came on a set of graphics in Mother Jones, “It’s the Inequality, Stupid: Eleven charts that explain what’s wrong with America” that illustrate what you probably already know. But, a simple refresher course in some of the reasons why the rich are rich. The 99% already have this base covered. Here are some of the charts I liked. Read the whole article at the Mother Jones website. Income (constant dollars) Note that if median family income had simply kept up —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Politics

Corporations as Persons – Freedom of Speech, now Right to Privacy – Bring on Three Strikes!

January 20, 2011

The case of the Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T ((See the NYTimes,  “Court Weighs Whether Corporations Have Personal Privacy Rights” By ADAM LIPTAK Published: January 19, 201)) now being heard before the US Supreme Court raises anew the craziness of the thinking that has position corporations to be “persons” in the first place. Noun vs Adjective! First we have several of the justices focusing argument around the difference between “persons” and “personal”. But several justices —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy

Religious Doubt Spreads – Free Flows of Capital Seen as Dangerous to Some

November 12, 2010

There is more evidence that the current run of religious mania about “free markets” is finally giving way to a more fact-based approach to this important human invention, many countries are now applying capital controls on the flow of monies into  their economies. The world flood of money seeking higher rent districts is terrorizing smaller economies like a tsunami. Fears of speculative bubbles burgeoning and then bursting with disastrous consequences for local economies are driving many to control inflows. —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Politics

The Mortgage Debacle – Redux

October 10, 2010

The current tsunami of revelations of misbehavior, if not outright criminality, by the banking industry in their pursuit of mortgages gone bad, is further evidence of how fundamentally corrupt and cynical this industry continues to be. On the front end of this global economic disaster the financial system engaged in misleading sales tactics using financial products that were baroque in their complexities. Aided by governments seduced by the siren songs of free market religion and  floods of money —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Politics

Krugman Asleep at the Wheel of History ….. the elite has not been interested for forty years…

August 2, 2010

The August 1st New York Times carries the latest Paul Krugman opinion piece, “Defining Prosperity Down”. He is depressed because it is dawning on him that the elite is in the process of redefining the level of structural unemployment that is normal to adjust to the significant likelihood that we will be living with 9%+unemployment on into the future. Where has Krugman been? He is old enough to remember that back in the 1960s structural —>> read more –>>


Free Markets – free? markets? – lessons not learned

June 6, 2010

“Free market” has always struck me as a rather strange phrase. Never more so than in this period of financial market disasters. The phrase ‘free market’ continues to be used reflexively. Just as commentators go right on speaking of Wall St. as a source of capital and innovation, few want to ask out loud why we need most of  Wall St.’s “services”; few people are openly using the most obvious words to describe these services as gambling; —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Politics

Do We Need Wall St. and all the other gamblers in the financial services world?

April 20, 2010

What Is the Function of Wall St.? The global financial meltdown of 2008 – 2009 with its ongoing sequelae seems not to have definitively demonstrated the dangers of our continuing belief in the religion of “free markets” nor shaken, especially it seems in the Obama administration, our thrall with Wall St. and all things financial. We are seeing the combined effects of Wall St.’s funding of the Democrats and Republicans, the primacy of Wall St-ers —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy

How Did We Come To Consider Corporations to Be Natural Persons? – What To Do Next?

January 25, 2010

This week’s decision by the US Supreme Court to allow corporations, including unions, to hold full rights to free speech and political action under the First Amendment to the Constitution once again reminds me of the strange practical and ethical relationship we have with corporations. In the 1886 ruling, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad Company1, the court reporter wrote in a summary: “The court does not wish to hear argument on the question —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Economy, Politics

Controlling Gambling by Wall St. and the Big Banks – Bad for Business?

January 22, 2010

Anti-Wall St Does Not Mean Anti-Business President Obama’s proposals to break up the “too large to fail” mega banks and otherwise reapply the Glass Steagall Act to the financial sector has predictably brought loud complaints that this is populist and anti-business. Even the rhetoric of the reporters and expert talking heads reflects a general bias that anything that we might do to prevent a re-occurrence of last year’s global financial meltdown is anti-business. How Is —>> read more –>>

Books, Capitalism, Economy

Book Review: Manias, Panics, and Crashes: a history of financial crises by Kindleberger

November 13, 2009

Manias, Panics, and Crashes: a history of financial crises, fourth edition by Charles P. Kindleberger (New York: Wiley 6th edition 2011) A recent Wall St Journal article described this book as a “must read” classic for anyone involved in financial markets. I have been involved directly in financial markets in two ways recently. First, I spent a year chasing around chasing angel investors and venture capitalists during the DotCom boom to fund Valuedge (the software company —>> read more –>>

Capitalism, Healthcare

Just Another Cost of Doing Business? – Pfizer’s $2.3 billion penalty and fine

September 4, 2009

The Obama administration is touting the action taken this week against Pfizer for illegal promotion of several of its drugs. The $2.3 billion sounds like a lot of money to me, and I suspect most people. Is it really a lot of money or just an annoyance to a large company, just another cost of doing business?