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My neighbor Jeff sent me a "sobering" editorial entitled Goodbye California from Hoover Institute fellow and military historian, Victor Davis Hanson. Hoover is a conservative think tank, funded by plutocrats like the Scaifes and Waltons among others.

Plutocrats Toxic Narrative

Hanson repeatedly assures us he's not editorializing...and then proceeds to slant his presentation so dramatically that it amounts to distortion in the service of his point of view.

What's his point of view? Why the smart, handsome, productive rich are victims of poor people who are parasites, and California is going to hell in a handcart, propelled by it's regulations, liberal bias, Mexicans (Eeek!) and profligate welfare spending. They're victims! Honest! Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!

But I know some actual poor people, even some poor Mexicans. I didn't just bicycle past them, as Hanson says he did in his account. Here are a few excerpts from his essay with my comments:

Hanson begins with the gratuitous lie, appealing for sympathy from farmers, that "arbitrary cutoffs of federal irrigation water" have made farmers suffer. Of course we know that anything federal is bad, and must be condemned. But dude! Calfornia's been in a drought for years! Those cutoffs were not arbitrary! They were warranted by the circumstances! (For more about the badness of government, see American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper by Hacker & Pierson)

In fact enough groundwater has been extracted to compensate for the lack of rain that other problems like subsidence have emerged. See Overpumping Central Valley Groundwater causes crisis, experts say, for just one example.

Darn those arbitrary federal bureaucrats! (Not editorializing, just FYI.)

Hanson also observes that lots of manufacturing has gone overseas. Darn those regulating California bureaucrats! He fails to mention that the offshoring of manufacturing has been a corporate priority for decades (since Reagan, at least) as a way to disempower unions. Jack Welch (CEO of GE) began the outsourcing fad when he sent GE's customer service call centers to India.

Welch got cheap, Third World labor and multi-million-dollar bonuses in return, while unemployment in the U.S. got a boost. GE and several other large corporations (AT&T, IBM, etc.) also looted the defined-benefit pensions that 70% of American workers once enjoyed. (see Ellen Schultz's Retirement Heist for the gory details)

Just so you know, defined benefit pensions are roughly twice as remunerative as the defined-contribution pensions (IRA, 401Ks) that those of us lucky enough to have savings now have. Some public sector employees still have defined benefit plans...but Hanson and his allies are working to end that...In fact, they're working to ensure Americans don't have what we used to call a "good job." The ultimate destination: debt peonage for the population, with a few plutocrats collecting rent.

Hanson is right about the Third-World look of rural California. Regulations are *not* strictly enforced. Why not? Hanson speculates: "..are we all terrified by the national debt and uncertain future?"

That rhetorical question is where Hanson shows his true colors. With it, he promotes panic about running out of money (Eeek!) while deriding the poor condition of infrastructure.

But America's recent austerity is strictly optional. The U.S. has made money without limit to bail out banks and prosecute wars. Why not improve the infrastructure? Well, for one thing, once enough people complain, you can privatize it, and turn the economy into a series of toll booths for roads, schools, healthcare, etc. It keeps the debt peons in debt.

America's recent austerity is strictly optional. The U.S. has made money without limit to bail out banks and prosecute wars. Why not improve the infrastructure?

And us peons had better take whatever crappy job is on offer, or we'll suffer the indignities of poverty, homelessness and even starvation. Ending the social safety net is the whip in the hand of our plutocratic masters.

To clarify: national "debt" is nothing like household debt. It's like bank debt. If you have a bank account, that's your asset. But to the bank, it's a liability (i.e. a debt). When you write a check, you're assigning a portion of the bank's debt to the payee. Currency is simply checks made out to "cash" in fixed amounts. The U.S. Central Bank ("The Fed") carries currency on its books as a liability, too.

The common name for all the dollar financial assets in circulation--that is the savings of the population--is "National 'Debt,'" just as one common name for bank debt is "my bank account." Reduce that "debt" with austerity, and you starve the poor, degrade infrastructure, and diminish the population's savings, turning a once free people into debt peons. (See the history here.) often do you hear of depositors going down to the bank, complaining about the size of the bank's debt (i.e. their accounts)? "You're going to have to reduce your debt to us with higher fees or lower interest paid on savings," say the depositors....NOT!

This assumes you do not bank at the Bank of Crazy. For even more, actual information, see Warren Mosler's video here.

Back to Hanson: "...coastal elites [are so bad they]...have no interest in the epidemic dumping of trash...throughout California's rural hinterland." Sheesh! What a whiner!

Just FYI, I used to live in a relatively poor rural community called "Rio Linda," where illegal dumping was epidemic. To solve this problem, the Sacramento County Supervisors added 50¢ to local garbage bills and the County now does garbage pickup on demand so no one pays the dump fee if they use this service. This eliminates most illegal dumping.

I don't know whether the neighborhood Hanson observed adopted this tactic, but I doubt it. Notice that government, even that nasty, unresponsive County bureaucracy, was thesolution to this problem, too.

Hanson, still not editorializing, you understand, says "...regulations...have driven residents out of the state, at the rate of 2,000 to 3,000 a week." I call bullshit. California's population has increased without letup in recent years. Inflows of people exceed outflows. Don't take my word, check for yourself. That link shows more than 200,000 inhabitants are in California than last year.

Hanson, again not editorializing, honest!...uses the phrase "the nearly 47% of U.S. non tax payers"... That means 47% of the population doesn't pay income tax--accurate, but deceptive. Not mentioned: doubly regressive payroll taxes (exceeds income tax for lower incomes and is about the same amount as income tax at $50K/year income). Or "Jawb Creators" like Mitt Romney and Warren Buffett paying lower tax ratest than their secretaries.

Yep, the wealthy have this huge burden of unproductive parasites that they nobly carry on their backs! Darn those parasitic poor people (who deserve their poverty, darn them!). Of course the wealthy have the money, so they're the only ones who can pay taxes, but let's not mention that.

Also omitted: The Reagan administration roughly halved the top marginal income tax rates paid by the wealthy, while Reagan and his successor increased payroll taxes eightfold. Gee, I wonder why the middle class got so impoverished! Did they deserve it because they thought government could help them rather than helping themselves? Were they unproductive?

Here's a look at who has received the economic benefits of increased economic productivity:

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So...productivity gains could increase real incomes...if they were shared. The plutocrats skimmed off the real income gains.

Here's a graph of who has received the benefit of income growth in the expansions following economic downturns:

The fact is that the bottom 90% of the income distribution has seen an increase in its real income of all of $59 a year since 1972. If that were an inch on a bar graph, the bar indicating the increase to the top 10% would be 141 feet tall, the top 0.1% would be five miles tall.


The bottom 90% of incomes have been basically shut out of any economic growth, while the top 10% reaped all the benefits. Why, with all that extra money, they can hire shills like Hanson who paint them as the victims! Can anyone say "Chutzpah"?

Hanson--he's really not editorializing, I tell you!--notes poor people are using food stamps despite their visible wealth (cars, "electrical appurtenances"). He doesn't mention that since Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich conspired to "end welfare as we know it," the expense of welfare has diminished considerably. In fact, before that "end," 76% of those needing public assistance got it. After: 26%.

That "end" meant a half million people lost food stamps. They aren't too easy to get now--like I say I know actual poor people--so Hanson is just another despicable rich guy claiming that the relatively tiny expense of welfare is a burden. He also ignores auto loans that make autos available even to the poor and that relatively inexpensive cell phones are necessities! After all, we've built our cities so every single trip must be in an auto (no transit please! it just encourages the poor!), and who can find work without a phone?

The Federal budget is roughly two thirds Social Security (33%) and Medicare (27%), one third military (16%). One economist says the government is like an insurance company with an army. Only 24% of the federal budget is not for those things. That 24% runs the border patrol, the federal courts, the Centers for Disease Control, passports, federal prisons, etc. Everything else! The big discretionary money is in the military, not welfare! Or military welfare...because we must have F-35s! We don't care if they work! (Note: Hanson is a military historian)

The annual budget was roughly $3.8 trillion in 2015, but for the really big money, consider the bank bailouts. According to the Federal Reserve's own audit, it gave Wall Street $16 - $29 trillion in the 6 - 8 months following Lehman's bankruptcy--proof, if of nothing else, that there never is a shortage of dollars when the really important people want them.

Social safety net programs like welfare and food stamps are a rounding error in comparison. In fact for just $9 trillion, the Fed could have paid off everyone's mortgage rather than bail out the banks. Apparently it was more important to save the banks, though. The Fed still has $4 trillion in "Quantitative Easing" assets on its books to prop up the stock market.

Hanson continues: "I do not editorialize [honest !], but I note these vast transformations over the last 20 years that are the paradoxical wages of unchecked illegal immigration from Mexico"

Unbelievable! He blames this on the Mexicans! Sure, we gave the banks trillions, and the Iraq war trillions more ($3 - $7 trillion, says Nobel laureate economist Joe Stiglitz), but it's the Mexicans, I tell you! Madre de dios!

Just so you're clear about what Hanson is doing: he's race-baiting to direct public attention away from the genuine malefactors. As with all racist arguments, the object is to divide and conquer the public.

Those darn Hispanics in the woodpile are sabotaging everything, I tell you! They're taking our jobs and devouring our grandchildren, right? Well...maybe it's really the Jews, or the Muslims, or maybe those other people...over there! (Pay no attention to the rich plutocrat picking your pocket)

The Hispanics--those bad hombres--are typically refugees. Ask any of them whether they would rather be back in their country. They'll tell you being exiled was not their preferred way to go.

The Hispanics--those bad hombres--are typically refugees. Ask any of them whether they would rather be back in their country. They'll tell you being exiled was not their preferred way to go.

With the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. declared that South and Central America were no longer European colonies. They were American colonies, said the U.S, and we've been treating them that way ever since. Between 1798 and 1994, the U.S. was responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders. These changes were certainly not always peaceful, often done through proxy wars, or economic or political sanctions. Bush 41 kidnapped the elected leader of Haiti and had the military drop him off in Central Africa. You just can't make these things up.

A recent example of the U.S.' economic persecution of Mexico is NAFTA. It was such a great idea that within a few months of its passage the capital flight it encouraged meant the U.S. had to bail out Mexican banks, many branches from U.S. big banks, with $50 billion! Naturally the Mexican government guaranteed the loans (and paid them back, thanks!).

One might guess that shipping a bunch of subsidized Iowa corn down south would put Mexican subsistence farmers out of business, sending them north as economic refugees. Sure, corn is only arguably the world's most important food crop, and those little Mexican farmers kept the diversity of the corn genome alive, but they weren't making any money for Monsanto, darn it! the wake of NAFTA, Mexican real incomes declined 34% (source: Ravi Batra'sGreenspan's Fraud). One has to go back to the Great Depression to find a decline like that in the U.S. economy. And that prompted no great migration...Oh wait! The Okies!

So the U.S. has been regularly attacking our Southern neighbors, militarily, economically and politically literally for centuries. And we're going to blame them for our economic troubles because they send their refugees north to do the crappy jobs no gringo will take! Wow! Chutzpah squared!

Ronald Reagan once asked the President of Mexico to endorse his proxy war in Nicaragua--remember Iran/Contra? Good times!--because the Nicaraguans were a threat to the U.S. Just FYI, Haiti and Nicaragua are the two poorest nations in the hemisphere.

The Mexican President replied that he would be glad to go along with his good friend Ronnie if there were any way he could do so without being laughed out of office.

Unfortunately, guys like Hanson are all too common, and all too plausible. They're well funded (the Kochs, right-wing billionaires spent $889 million in the 2016 election cycle promoting this stuff), and as deceptive as any of those ads from big tobacco discounting cigarettes caused cancer. Hey, nine out of ten doctors agree Camels are good for you, right?

defunding the police is a start

So I don't blame Jeff or anyone else who is fooled. But now you've read this, so now you have no excuses for continuing to believe the propaganda!....?

Mark Dempsey
It's Simpler Than It Looks