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Sickening inequality facts

from Lars Syll


  1. patrick newman
    February 9, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    Anyone for trickle-down economics? Lick the arses of these 26 billionaires and wait for something to trickle-down!

  2. February 10, 2019 at 12:13 am

    Can you imagine how frightened they are? Childhood monopoly transformed into cannibal capitalism. What a nightmare. Who will fall out when the number drops to 23, and then 22. Insatiable want unleashed in a free market neomalthusian snarlathon.

    I used to sing a song the had this refrain; “And we all gotta duck, when the shit hits the fan.” I believe it was called ten kids in a cadillac.

    Economaths using game theory can probably figure out when nobody will own everything.

  3. Helen Sakho
    February 10, 2019 at 1:44 am

    The trickle-up process started a long time ago. Even if the 26 richest people decease in number, they will ensure that the proxy dealings and wheelings they conduct confine a greater proportion of the poorest to increasing poverty. The final aim is to make them, once again, appreciate the downward effect of potential charity and curtail others from protesting about real issues.

  4. culturalanalysis.net
    February 10, 2019 at 4:41 am

    This is Extreme level of inequality, but not sure why it is labelled “sickening”. Seems moralistic.

    • Steve McGiffen
      February 10, 2019 at 3:01 pm

      If you don’t know, then no-one will be able to explain it to you.

      • culturalanalysis.net
        February 10, 2019 at 10:28 pm

        On that basis you could not possibly verify whether the claim has the same meaning as the one intended by the author, let alone defend the claim against objections. The claim is meaningless.

      • February 11, 2019 at 10:03 am

        Not being able to verify the meaning of a claim does not mean it is meaningless, it means it is ambiguous. Like the gestalt figure in which some people see an old lady, others a young one. The verification issue only arises wheen one seeks to defend one interpretation by denying (or sneering at) another, as Culturalanalyst does here with the issue being a moral one.

  5. Ken Zimmerman
    February 18, 2019 at 12:20 am

    Sickening or not, observations show that as inequality increases, commitment to and trust in one another that make society possible decreases. The possibility of society declines until society either becomes impossible to sustain or the societies created are so dysfunctional that only societal members with private armies and fortresses can survive. I know most of the film makers like John Carpenter and George Romero whose films revolve around the end of human society probably did not consider themselves prophets. But their films may be closer to coming events than many of us want to consider

    • Rob Reno
      February 18, 2019 at 1:02 am

      The maintenance of a market economy involves a basic paradox. For centuries writers such as Adam Smith have argued that the workings of the market should be based on the individual pursuit of self-interest. Yet, if the pursuit of self-interest goes too far in society, the very existence of the market may itself be endangered. If “opportunistic” behavior encompasses too many forms of social action, as seen in recent years in Russia, a market economy may function very poorly.* There is a wide range of behavior—including dishonest and “corrupt” transactions within the institutional framework of the market, “rent seeking” in government policy and administration, and actions that destroy trust in the legal system—that have the potential for undermining the efficient workings of markets. Although few economists have so argued, it may be that finding a satisfactory resolution of the conflicting roles of self-interest in society—those areas where it can be encouraged and other areas where it must be actively discouraged—is more important to economic outcomes than the technical knowledge provided by economists. The formal idea of “social capital” traces back at least to James Coleman, who wrote in 1987 that “social norms constitute social capital.”1 In the 1990s there has been a growing literature in economics as well that emphasizes the importance of social capital in determining economic outcomes.2 Some leading social scientists now assert that the social form of capital may be equally or more important to economic performance as compared with physical and human forms of capital.3 A number of recent commentators have stated that a culture of “trust” is an essential element in maintaining a successful market (or other) economic system.4 One of the most respected economists of the past fifty years (and winner in 1972 of the Nobel Prize in economics), Kenneth Arrow, recently declared that economists in the future will routinely have to incorporate new forms of analysis of “social variables”—objects of analysis on which the traditional individualistic assumptions of ordinary economic thinking may shed little light.5″ (Economics as Religion: From Samuelson to Chicago and Beyond” by Robert H. Nelson, http://a.co/807fXx0)

      Point well taken Ken.

      • Robert Locke
        February 18, 2019 at 3:33 pm


      • Ken Zimmerman
        February 19, 2019 at 10:20 am

        Rob, Adam Smith noted what he might call the dual nature of humans. He says this in the Theory of Moral Sentiments, “How selfish soever man may be supposed, there are evidently some principles in his nature, which interest him in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him, though he derives nothing from it except the pleasure of seeing it.” In other words, Smith seems to assume that the capitalism he describes in The Wealth of Nations would be controlled by this “concern for others’ welfare.” The problem we face today is that even if this “concern” exists and performs as described by Smith, the “concern” too has been marketized, just like nearly every other aspect of human life. James Coleman’s invention of “social capital” is just one of dozens of examples of such marketization. Many in social sciences during the 1950s to 1970s were captured by economic thinking and language. It was for them, “rational.” Something they valued highly. Simply put, this means trust, love, community, etc. are all marketized today. All are commodities, subject to sale and purchase in markets. Some believe human slavery is something of a time past. Today all human society and culture are enslaved. Other notions of culture and society are quickly fading. Soon we’ll be unable to discuss them or even remember them. Only markets, for marriage, education, government, etc. will exist. Until they create enough hatred, suffering, and violence that they become dysfunctional and humans are forced to seek other alternatives. Then making decisions without markets may be created again. As to Kenneth Arrow’s prediction, I believe he’s wrong but hope he’s correct. In any event, I can’t envision what he sees happening coming about before a great deal of human pain and suffering have occurred.

      • Rob Reno
        February 28, 2019 at 4:13 am

        You may be right Ken. Trump is in my view the fruits of what you describe above. More suffering may be on the way. I place my hope in the next generation.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        February 28, 2019 at 12:19 pm

        In Ballads of Ireland, 1856, Edward Hayes wrote:

        “There is a well-authenticated anecdote of Cromwell. On a certain occasion, when his troops were about crossing a river to attack the enemy, he concluded an address, couched in the usual fanatic terms in use among them, with these words – ‘put your trust in God; but mind to keep your powder dry’.”

        Seems good advice for us today. Although whether the first or second part of Cromwell’s maxim will save us I can’t say.

      • Rob Reno
        March 1, 2019 at 8:53 am

        Render aeser the things that are C

      • Rob Reno
        March 1, 2019 at 8:58 am

        Man I am getting the old and can’t manage this posting well. Meant to say:

        Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s. In other words on the battle field keep your powder dry and hope you trained well enough. Personally I don’t think we should expect from the gods what we can and should do for ourselves.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        March 1, 2019 at 12:20 pm

        Rob, I don’t believe faith alone will get us out of the current mess we have. So, we need to keep out powder dry. This maxim is interesting for another reason. It provides some insight into the rebellion that Cromwell and his fellow religious dissenters staged in Great Britain. It demonstrates just how far Puritans would go to carry their cause to success. American Puritans had a similar impact on America. Although it’s not generally acknowledged today.

      • Rob Reno
        March 1, 2019 at 12:26 pm

        Agreed. Faith alone (or more appropriate a misunderstanding of the nature and role of faith, itself a term needing defining) is not enough.

        My weakness Ken is being largely self taught I fear there are huge gaps in my knowledge and understanding.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        March 1, 2019 at 1:33 pm

        Rob, your comments here are thoughtful and useful. Two things many PhDs can’t accomplish.

      • Robert Locke
        March 2, 2019 at 10:04 am

        Rob, the demonstrated accumulation of “knowledge” is not the most important attribute of thinking, unimaginative PhD proliferate. I’ve found that the most impressive attribute people must have to make a mark on the world is “imagination” not knowledge. And you find it in people who dropped out of formal education young. My experience in this respect is with women.

        At the battle of Sadowa, 1866, The Chief of Prussian General Staff, Helmut von Molke, told the King of Prussia, watching the battle unfold beside him, “Your Majesty, your have just won a great victory.” This startled the King and his battlefield commanders, in the thick of the fight, who did not think things were going well, and were thinking of break-off the battle in retreat. The difference, von Molke, could imagine how the battle would develop, and what the battlefield would look like in a few hours.

        This is the power of imagination and the person who has it in spades is my wife, Vera, who quit school at 16 to support her poverty-stricken family. Vera not only has the ability to plan and assemble the necessities for a project, but she can “see” in her mind the project completed, and the importance, therefore, for it to completed in the right way, including the construction processes.

        Not only that, she is beautiful. As people of my generation would say: ‘That Bob Locke has got it bad.” We’re talking of love.

      • Rob Reno
        March 2, 2019 at 10:15 am

        Beautifully spoken. I feel them same about Mezuru. She sees the end seemingly from the beginning. I was just reading your book discussing elite US business schools and thinking how completely different Japanese management is valuing depth of experience practical results over technical business school “knowledge.” The interview process she went through was eye opening for both of us.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        March 2, 2019 at 11:10 am

        Robert, thanks for the wonderful examples of Sapiens use of imagination. Most Anthropologists contend that it’s not reasoning (whatever that is) but rather imagination that distinguishes Sapiens. As far as we know only Sapiens has imagination. Many Anthropologists conclude that imagination is the critical factor that allowed Sapiens to survive when Neanderthals, erectus, and the other Homo species did not.

    • Craig
      February 18, 2019 at 7:10 am

      Those are correct observations. The question we all need to ask ourselves is whether we want to wait and try to correct the situation as it descends into further confusion and chaos or take action together now. None of the complexities of any situation or any body of knowledge will matter in the former, and finding the core and ope-rant solution (the wisdom of a new monetary and economic paradigm of grace as in the astuteness of gifting and love in action) while brushing past most of the complexities in the meantime is the correct way to proceed in the latter.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        February 19, 2019 at 10:21 am

        Craig, we have little time left to correct this situation, as I indicated in my reply to Rob. Culturally humans are flexible. Humans can create whatever culture they can imagine. They have certainly imagined an all-encompassing market culture. The spokespersons for this culture are successful across the board in bringing first millions and now billions of humans into it. It is now the dominant world culture. The main question today about its future seems to be whether it will be the hard, aberrant capitalism of Trump and associates linked to right-wing political ideology, or the militant but unsteady capitalism that characterized America in the 19th and first 50 years of the 20th century. As I suggested earlier you can change this picture by bringing social pressure to bear on politicians, companies, and the general public. Throughout American history social movements brought this pressure. Anti-war, pro civil rights, labor unions, and other social movements created big and lasting changes in American culture, including law, politics, and economics. Trump’s actions have inspired and re-energized existing movements and led directly to the creation of a dozen or more large social movements bringing sustained and intensive pressure for the abandonment or at least sweeping reform of capitalism in America.

  6. Robert Locke
    February 18, 2019 at 3:44 pm

    ” or take action together now.”

    If one lives in an Anglo-saxonian culture, there is little possibility that action can be taken together now. So my question is in what cultures is there a greater feasibility that action can be taken. We need a vessel in which action can flourish.

    • Ken Zimmerman
      February 19, 2019 at 10:26 am

      Robert, on this side of the Atlantic I’d look to Canada. On the other side of the Atlantic I’d look to Germany and perhaps France. Right now, the rest are either captured or fighting against capture so hard they have little time for anything else.

      • Robert Locke
        February 19, 2019 at 7:27 pm

        Germany is a middle weight, which thrown together with the Nordics constitute a counterweight of some importance, but what of Rising Asia, I can see how so much of investor finance capitalism would be resisted there, but I don’t know enough about the extent to which a globalized investor capitalism is expanding there to comment.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        February 20, 2019 at 10:37 am

        Robert, Germany plus the “Viking” nations are just about the only counterweight in Europe with enough heft to stay the course. My two college friends formerly with the US State Department are Asia experts, particularly China. They tell me China and with it the rest of Asia will go its own way. Not following either the democratic or the right-wing governments of the west. To quote one of them, “China intends to rule the world with no partners.”

  7. MichaelLucasMonterey
    February 23, 2019 at 11:43 pm

    Hmmm… Is it simply impossible for anyone else to imagine a semi-global culture arising via a viral nongovernmental e-grassroots process? As I’ve mentioned in similar threads, the necessary “vessel” Robert mentioned is a global community development alliance (GCDA) providing the logical, ethical legal-financial infrastructure supporting local, regional, state & national member owned mutual benefit associations. They will be somewhat like the Mondragon community’s cooperative business associations that own & manage their very successful companies.

    The GCDA will also host an AI-enabled global community credit system (GCCS), which will support nonmontery exchange and multiple series of monetary global commodity index currencies. They may not become the global reserve currency of choice in Asia & Russia, but with a majority of other nations using the GCCS, it would be very hard to resist the benefits. Regardless, waiting for the trillionaires, billionaires and lesser kleptocrats & bureaucrats to save us from more horrific ecocidal decline seems suicidally insane. I am convinced that it is much later than most us think. Hence, my focus on the importance of cultivating a good death, and so on, by living the greatest possible life here and now. That seems the only way we could ever develop a new, healthy culture worth sustaining.

    I agree with John Liu, the great eco-activist film maker, whose films prove that, when we cooperate for the sake of healthy reforestation and habitat restoration, we can and do accomplish virtually miraculous results, relatively quickly. Nature’s resilience may be as potent as ours, but not so fragile. Yet, without a pervasive, grassroots upgrade of civilization’s dominant cultural paradigm, the best of what any of us say or do probably will be insufficient for sustainable social & biological success.

    BTW, John’s recent mini-documentary makes it very clear why he agrees with me: the root cause of the problem is systemic corruption. Valuing any abstract objects of consciousness or delusion more than QOL and the habitat that supports us is perversely corrupt and corrupting. Remember, the Chinese pictograph for “corruption” is rotting meat.

    It may be helpful to remember another gem of ancient Chinese wisdom: “Not even a god can help those who forfeit opportunity.”

  8. Rob Reno
    March 1, 2019 at 11:20 pm

    Appreciated Ken. I am in the process of setting up a blog on Azure where I can more systematically collect my thoughts on economics. Mezuru, my wife, started her first day at Toyota yesterday. We have been discussing the ideas expressed on this blog (Robert Locke and your comments have been fuel for thought).

    In our experience, having each lived much of our adult lives in cultures other than our native cultures, find we have changed (especially as we begin to think in another language).

    Mezuru’s family are in many ways typical for Koreans living in Japan. But even from an early age she was anything but typical. Even before she came to America she was outspoken and refused to accept many norms of Japanese and Korean culture.

    Traditionally, Korean’s living in Japan took on Japanese names and tried to blend in to be more Japanese. The faced discrimination, we’re denied certain kinds of jobs and educational opportunities. Her parents collected and resold paper for recycling. They barley survived.

    Unlike her sister, who followed the cultural norm ( Confucian ideal that women are subject to the will of their father, then husband, and finally son) and had an arranged marriage, she worked two jobs saving enough money to come to America and study Women’s Studies. She was sufficating under the oppressive norms that told her she could not have a career other than being a good housewife. Marry a good Korean man and be a good housewife is what culture at that time expected.

    She refused, saying, just watch me. She went to her parents, told the she was going to America to study, and while she hoped they would give their blessing, she was going either way.

    When I returned from living in South Korea fate would have it we ended up in the same speech class. For my speech I told a traditional Korean folk story (속담 sok-dam). The rest is history.

    Our journey has taken us back to Japan twice. First, when our children were little and our technology Corp. had a contract with a major Japanese corporation pioneering smart phone technology. At the time, the role reversal (she the salary women and I the caregiver to our to young daughters) was rare. She experienced a lot of resentment from Japanese men in middle management who resented being managed and by a women. Some men realized her ability and adjusted their views, a few tried to abuse her.

    One young Japanese man after asking what her husband did, upon learning I was the caregiver for our children replied, “So he is a pump.” He never made that mistake again as right there on the spot she set him straight.

    Fast forward twenty some years and no doubt Japanese culture has changed. Young men share caregiving with their wives, who more frequently than not also work outside the home. Mezuru’s uncle, who once criticized her for not obeying her parents, before he died, told her, “I was wrong. You were ahead of your time.”

    Today she now leads an entire group in Toyota and is tasked with managing new investments and much more. Japan is changing culturally. Change may be slow, but it is inevitable because of individuals like Mezuru.

    My point is that culture plays a big role, but it is not deterministic necessarily. Individual character can override culture to some degree. At least that is what my 60 plus years has lead me to believe.

  9. Rob Reno
    March 1, 2019 at 11:23 pm

    Pimp not pump :-)

    • Ken Zimmerman
      March 2, 2019 at 11:05 am

      Rob, Sapiens is an interesting species. It cannot exist outside of culture, something that is created through Sapiens’ imagination. So, it is really both. Sapiens can re-imagine the cultures they create at any time. And perhaps even shift or alter cultures this way. But at the same time Sapiens is trapped within the cultures it creates. Even to re-imagine one or more parts of a culture Sapiens must hold onto the other parts of the culture while doing this work. At no point can Sapiens be cultureless. But it seems you’ve already discovered this through your wife. She certainly understands it.

      • Rob Reno
        March 2, 2019 at 11:14 am

        Totally agree. It can be interesting to become aware of how one can conciously aware of one culture vs another. Apparently annoying too as my wife adjusts her acquired Western expectations to her renewed experience in her native culture. I am observing with humor some of our recent experiences. I need to develop a stand up comedy of some of these experiences. Don’t want to over post my welcome so I put them online on my site and share a link later. Having fun in Nagoya ;-)

      • Robert Locke
        March 3, 2019 at 9:13 am

        Ken, I really don’t know how useful the concept of culture is. I have certain values, belief in freedom mainly, imbibed as a child growing up in America, but I certainly found nothing in US shopping mall culture with which to identify. Instead, I sought identity in the concept of art and civilization and still do. That’s why I have lived in Europe for more than 40 years.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        March 3, 2019 at 11:06 am

        Robert, that’s okay. I understand. Anthropologists have debated culture for nearly two centuries. This is the definition I learned in the 1970’s, “Culture is the integral whole consisting of implements and consumers’ goods, of constitutional charters for the various social groupings, of human ideas and crafts, beliefs and customs. Whether we consider a very simple or primitive culture or an extremely complex and developed one, we are confronted by a vast apparatus, partly material, partly human, and partly spiritual, by which man is able to cope with the concrete, specific problems that face him.” Bronislaw Malinowski, 1944 But this is in my view the friendliest definition, “Culture, then, consists of standards for deciding what is, standards for deciding what can be, standards of deciding how one feels about it, standards for deciding what to do about it, and standards for deciding how to go about doing it.” Ward H. Goodenough, 1963 But this is the most useful, “Culture lends significance to human experience by selecting from and organizing. It refers broadly to the forms throughout out which people make sense of their lives … It does not inhabit a set-aside domain, as does … politics or economics. From the pirouettes of classical ballet to the most brute of brute facts, all human conduct is culturally mediated. Culture encompasses the everyday and the esoteric, the mundane and the elevated, the ridiculous and the sublime. Neither high nor low, culture is all-pervasive.” Renato Rosaldo, 1989

        Anthropologists view behavior as an outcome of mental maps provided to us by culture. These maps are necessary and useful because humans early in their life on earth invented sociality and then society based on sociality. As a result, humans are organized into groups whose internal and external relations are governed by rules, perform a variety of functions, and which endure beyond the lives of their constituent members. We may have a culture, but we belong to a society. In other words, an interest in culture is prompted by a desire to identify the way people comprehend the world around them, to frame their action, and to interpret and explain the actions of others. An interest in society has more to do with understanding the rules and regularities that govern human social behavior, the ways people associate with one another, and how activity is organized. These two approaches are far from incompatible, they are simply different angles from which to see the same complex thing.

      • Robert Locke
        March 3, 2019 at 3:07 pm

        It’s all rather iffy, the talk of social scientists, and doesn’t seem to get at the aesthetic rewards cultures can bring: Looking at the light streaming through the Rose window of the Chartre cathedral, Sitting in the Piazza San-Marco drinking a Pernod, while a tea-dance orchestra plays 1930 tunes, visiting a Florence restored palace, where the visual impression takes your breath away. Looking at my wife enter a room full of vips, watching not only a beautiful woman, but one possessed of elegance, charm and grace projected through her civilization.

      • Ken Zimmerman
        March 4, 2019 at 3:04 am

        Anthropologists recognize what you’re talking about. So, some Anthropologists translate Anthropology into poetry.

        Findings in the Manot Cave
        They say that in the Manot Cave
        In the area known as Galilee,
        Part of a human skull was found,
        Which is important for you and me.

        The fifty-five-thousand-year-old remains
        Put Homo sapiens in Neanderthal land.
        We know that despite some interbreeding,
        Homo sapiens got the upper hand.

        The Neanderthals became extinct.
        Why they disappeared is a mystery.
        Violence, pathogens, competitive replacement?
        Whatever it was, it is ancient history.

        The findings help us to know our past,
        To see our connectedness and to probe
        Into the early migration of mankind
        To view how we populated the globe.

        Life wasn’t easy for humans in the past.
        We can tell when we dig up bones.
        How did they ever survive back then
        Without computers and mobile phones?

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