All posts by TPPA = CRISIS

Hi, my name is Hans Hilhorst. I am just a private individual hoping to contribute to our debate about matters of Political Economy. I am not affiliated with or a member of any commercial entity, political party or organization of any kind. - All my life I have been interested in psychology and economics, the things that define human society. I have also always been an avid reader of everything remotely related to those topics and I have gained a fair bit of ‘research material’ and ‘empirical evidence’ during my career through the Neoliberal nightmare, or ‘User Pays’ as we call our brand of Neoliberalism down under. - My opinions are neither here nor there, they are mine alone. I share them merely to throw in my 5 cents, looking for common spirits and clear young minds, open to new thinking. I endeavor though to keep my contributions controlled and prefer to put forward those of the multitude of academics, scientists, thinkers, authors and whoever else of credible authority. Those who have done the research, spoken to the victims, walked in their shoes and dealt with the consequences of our economic and social policies. In this way I hope to show that the cry for urgent attention to our social economic policies is not just the sound of a leftist mob, but a well supported and professional crowd of experts from around the globe. - I wish to stir the debate on our economic direction. I think it has been lopsided. Not because we are biased or stupid, but because we have been deliberately misinformed, censored and deceived. - At this juncture in time we are truly faced with the consequences of our progress: Robot Domination! Will it be like SkyNet and Arnie’s goldmine or just a happy invasion of our workplaces, allowing us time for ‘the good life’, the beach, and reading. - Hans

Automation is more complex than people think. Here’s why – Viktor Weber.

Viktor Weber, Founder & Director, Future Real Estate Institute.

Automation is a topic on which most people have an opinion. The level of knowledge on the subject varies greatly, as does the amount of fear that people feel towards the technological revolution that is taking place.

I get the impression that even informed writers — including myself — in this field often take, for numerous reasons, convenient short-cuts when it comes to writing and talking about automation.

It is therefore time to address the abundance of factors that are influencing and will continue to influence how humanity moves forward with automation. It is an intertwined and complex network of factors that allow for multiple outcomes. This article will shine the light on a selection of these parameters.

Medium.com

The five risk factors for depression – Sarah Berry.

Dr Joanna Dipnall comes from a region in Victoria, Australia where adolescent suicide rates are alarmingly high.

With a background in statistics and epidemiological research, Dipnall wanted to see if she could do something to “help circumvent these tragedies”.

“I felt I could try and make a difference,” says Dipnall, a lecturer in the Department of Statistics, Data Science and Epidemiology at Swinburne University.

Risk indexes are used for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia and even suicide risk for those with bipolar. They help to identify predisposed people so that healthcare professionals can help those individuals take preventative measures.

There is not currently a reliable index for depression, so for her PhD Dipnall developed The Risk Index for Depression (RID), published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry.

She analysed the data of more than 5500 adults, looking at the association between depression and five previously identified components of depression; demographics, lifestyle, diet, biomarkers and somatic symptoms.

While each of the components heighten the risk of depression either directly or indirectly, “diet came out initially with the highest association”, says Dipnall, whose PhD was a collaboration through Deakin and Swinburne universities.

Specifically, regular consumption of fruit, leafy greens, other vegetables, cooked whole grain and whole grain bread were associated with a reduced risk for depression, while a diet high in processed foods and sugar was associated with a higher risk.

“Previous research I did found bowel symptoms came out as one of the strongest risk factors for depression,” Dipnall says. “Your stool can be an indication and that’s obviously impacted by your diet… [Deakin’s] Food and Mood centre are looking at the issues of dietary fibre and gut health – it all fits in.”

In fact, the recent research of Dipnall’s PhD supervisor, Felice Jacka, of Deakin’s Food and Mood Centre, has been pivotal in exposing the centrality of the link between depression and diet.

“We’re increasingly understanding that the gut and its resident microbiome has a leading role in prompting immune function and is very much involved in brain health,” Jacka told Fairfax.

“We have extensive evidence from animal studies, showing when you manipulate diet, you manipulate the function of the hippocampus, which is a key area of the brain involved in learning and memory, but also in mood regulation.”

After diet, lifestyle factors (things like work status, physical activity, sleep, smoking, sexual activity and drug usage) had the greatest impact, followed by somatic symptoms (things like pain, bowel health, vision, hearing, arthritis as well as respiratory, liver and thyroid function).

Dipnall notes the five components that make up the RID model are a starting point and “on their own are not enough to provide a holistic prediction of depression”. This is because data was not available for other significant risk factors like stressful or traumatic life events.

“The nature of the index is that it is modular, so you can add elements,” she says, adding that she hopes to build on the model in future.

In the meantime, she wants people to understand that depression is not simple. Some of the factors that cause depression are not within our control, but there are some changes we can make to improve our outcomes.

Taking care of diet and exercise, reducing stress and getting good quality sleep are also modifiable factors that can help people to stay well as they are recovering from mental illness.

“It is a multitude of factors and [people] can’t just look in isolation in their lifestyle,” she says.

“This is confirming that there are more elements people need to take into consideration – it’s not just diet, it’s their lifestyle environ and how they deal with their somatic symptoms… My research was looking at what impacts depression with a view to looking at the areas people can modify to reduce that risk.”

Stuff.co.nz

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Your mental health involves your whole body and starts with diet.

Before September 2005, Scott Gooding was a competitive athlete who could run 10 kilometres in under 33 minutes (i.e. really fast).

Then he ruptured disks in his lower back and, after a lifetime of sport and being known to friends and family as “the fit guy”, exercise was off the cards.

“It got so bad that I couldn’t do one push-up or one squat,” says Gooding, now 41. “I was in constant pain and discomfort.”

Apart from the physical pain and the mental struggle with his new identity – “fitness was so much a part of who I was” – he had lost his outlet.

“I couldn’t tap into the therapeutic and meditative effects of running and exercising,” says the former My Kitchen Rules star, personal trainer and health coach. “I dipped in and out of pretty dark periods for the best part of seven years.”

During that time, Gooding began exploring nutrition and how it might help reduce some of the inflamation in his body.

“I think the diet really helped with my back condition and slowly I started to reintroduce exercise,” says Gooding. Moving again helped him shift out of “feeling pretty blue and shit about myself”.

While many individuals intuitively understand the link between how we fuel and move our bodies and how we feel, the medical community is in the midst of a paradigm shift.

“This mind/body dichotomy that has informed psychiatry for at least the last 50 years or so, we know that is erroneous and is not based on evidence because we are increasingly understanding that the whole body is involved in mental health,” says Professor Felice Jacka, head of the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University.

“Psychiatry is really starting to understand that we need to get back to treating the whole person, not just bits of their brain.”

Jacka, who is also a Black Dog Institute external fellow, is referring to the mounting evidence that our immune system plays a central role in depression and other mental health problems.

“We’re increasingly understanding that the gut and its resident microbiome has a leading role in prompting immune function and is very much involved in brain health,” she says.

“We have extensive evidence from animal studies, showing when you manipulate diet, you manipulate the function of the hippocampus, which is a key area of the brain involved in learning and memory, but also in mood regulation.”

The hippocampus is a “central target” in antidepressant treatment, but Jacka says the impact on its functioning (as well as the immune system and gut health) through diet and exercise helps to explain their pivotal role in influencing mental health.

In fact, she says, in adults and older adults, the size of the hippocampus is linked to the quality of diet.

“Diet and nutrition are as relevant to brain and mental health as they are to physical health. This should be no surprise because nutrition is fundamental to every process of the body and brain,” says Jacka, whose latest study found that improving the diets of those with major depressive disorder had a “substantial beneficial impact” on their mood.

Despite this, Jacka stresses she is not suggesting that diet, or lack of exercise, is the only reason someone might be depressed – or that diet and exercise are the only solutions to depression.

“Depression – and any other mental illness – has many causes and many drivers, but the key thing with diet and exercise is that they’re modifiable,” Jacka says. “So many other risk factors that lead to depression, such as early life trauma, genetics, poverty, disadvantage; these things are very difficult to change.

“If we know that we can change diet and exercise and very quickly, according to the evidence, have an impact on mental health, we believe that this should be a fundamental starting point for treating mental health problems and it can go along with psychotherapy and antidepressant treatments but it should be underpinning all of these treatments.”

This recommendation has been adopted in the updated clinical recommendations for the treatment of mood disorders by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists and is significant given that depression is one of the most common reasons people visit their doctor.

“They are now recommending that the first thing that happens when a doctor has a patient with a mood disorder, is to address diet, exercise, smoking cessation and sleep,” Jacka says.

Which is great, except that doctors do not receive any nutritional education during their degrees.

“I attended and spoke at a big conference of psychiatrists on the weekend – psychiatrists and psychologists are still quite astonished to learn that nutrition might be important to mental and brain health,” Jacka says. “They will always say to me: ‘It’s because we never learnt anything about it in our medical degrees.’ ”

Until nutrition training is introduced to medical degrees, Jacka suggests that a quick and easy option is to include dietitian referral services in the Better Access initiative as part of mental health care.

Through the Food and Mood Centre, Jacka and her team are also in the process of developing a nutrition resource that people can use at home.

While Jacka thought getting people to change their diet “would be very difficult” because of the fatigue and reduced tendency to self-care associated with depression, she found the opposite.

“People really, really like this approach because it’s something that’s under their control,” she says. “It doesn’t have to be complicated – you can do a big pot of veggie and legume stew in the crockpot which you can get for $20 from the op-shop – and you can have that for the whole week. You can use frozen vegetables, you can used tinned fish … this idea that it has to be more expensive is not true, the idea that it has to be complicated or time-consuming is not true either.”

Scott Gooding says that he has come to see his “really negative” experience as a positive because it has transformed the way he understands fitness and nutrition and their impact – both physically and mentally.

“The way I see fitness now is simply a tool to improve my mood and make me feel good about myself,” says Gooding, who is also a Blackdog Exercise Your Mood ambassador.

“I also realised you can have this sustained energy and cognitive alertness all day if you’re eating the right food. At no point now is my mood, energy or cognitive function impaired by what I’ve eaten.”

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Getting RID of the blues: Formulating a Risk Index for Depression (RID) using structural equation modeling.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

While risk factors for depression are increasingly known, there is no widely utilised depression risk index. Our objective was to develop a method for a flexible, modular, Risk Index for Depression using structural equation models of key determinants identified from previous published research that blended machine-learning with traditional statistical techniques.

METHODS:
Demographic, clinical and laboratory variables from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (2009-2010, N = 5546) were utilised. Data were split 50:50 into training:validation datasets. Generalised structural equation models, using logistic regression, were developed with a binary outcome depression measure (Patient Health Questionnaire-9 score ⩾ 10) and previously identified determinants of depression: demographics, lifestyle-environs, diet, biomarkers and somatic symptoms. Indicative goodness-of-fit statistics and Areas Under the Receiver Operator Characteristic Curves were calculated and probit regression checked model consistency.

RESULTS:
The generalised structural equation model was built from a systematic process. Relative importance of the depression determinants were diet (odds ratio: 4.09; 95% confidence interval: [2.01, 8.35]), lifestyle-environs (odds ratio: 2.15; 95% CI: [1.57, 2.94]), somatic symptoms (odds ratio: 2.10; 95% CI: [1.58, 2.80]), demographics (odds ratio:1.46; 95% CI: [0.72, 2.95]) and biomarkers (odds ratio:1.39; 95% CI: [1.00, 1.93]). The relationships between demographics and lifestyle-environs and depression indicated a potential indirect path via somatic symptoms and biomarkers. The path from diet was direct to depression. The Areas under the Receiver Operator Characteristic Curves were good (logistic:training = 0.850, validation = 0.813; probit:training = 0.849, validation = 0.809).

CONCLUSION:

The novel Risk Index for Depression modular methodology developed has the flexibility to add/remove direct/indirect risk determinants paths to depression using a structural equation model on datasets that take account of a wide range of known risks. Risk Index for Depression shows promise for future clinical use by providing indications of main determinant(s) associated with a patient’s predisposition to depression and has the ability to be translated for the development of risk indices for other affective disorders.

President Donald Trump, Unbridled and Extreme Present Hedonism – Philip Zimbardo and Rosemary Sword.

In Donald Trump, we have a frightening Venn diagram consisting of three circles: the first is extreme present hedonism; the second, narcissism; and the third, bullying behavior.

These three circles overlap in the middle to create an impulsive, immature, incompetent person who, when in the position of ultimate power, easily slides into the role of tyrant, complete with family members sitting at his proverbial “ruling table.”

Like a fledgling dictator, he plants psychological seeds of treachery in sections of our population that reinforce already negative attitudes.

To drive home our point, here are what we consider to be two of Trump’s most dangerous quotes:

• “If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people—maybe there is, I don’t know” (remark made during a campaign rally in Wilmington, North Carolina, August 9, 2016); and

• “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue, shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters” (remark made during a campaign appearance in Sioux City, Iowa, January 23, 2016).

Before Donald Trump, it was unfathomable for American citizens to consciously consider voting for, and then inaugurating, a person as unbalanced as this president.

Admittedly, it’s possible, as Guy Winch points out in his February 2, 2016, Psychology Today article, “Study: Half of All Presidents Suffered from Mental Illness.” According to Winch, many of our previous presidents may have suffered from mental health issues, including depression (Abraham Lincoln), bipolar disorder (Lyndon Johnson), alcoholism (Ulysses S. Grant), Alzheimer’s disease (Ronald Reagan), and transient bouts of extreme present hedonism (John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton). We have also survived a president who blatantly lied to cover his criminal tracks before he was caught in those lies (Richard Nixon).

In the past, Americans have pulled together and worked to overcome our differences. We moved forward collectively as one great country. Unfortunately, in more recent times, it appears we have become a bipolar nation, with Donald Trump at the helm as his followers cheer him on and others try to resist him.

Whether or not Donald Trump suffers from a neurological disorder, or narcissistic personality disorder, or any other mental health issue, for that matter, will, undeniably, remain conjecture unless he submits to tests, which is highly unlikely given his personality.

However, the lack of such tests cannot erase the well-documented behaviors he has displayed for decades and the dangers they pose when embodied in the president of the United States.

In line with the principles of Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California 17 Cal. 3d 425 (1976), known as the “Tarasoff doctrine,” it is the responsibility of mental health professionals to warn the citizens of the United States and the people of the world of the potentially devastating effects of such an extreme present-hedonistic world leader, one with enormous power at his disposal.

On the whole, mental health professionals have failed in their duty to warn, in a timely manner, not only the public but also government officials about the dangers of President Donald Trump.

Articles and interviews intent on cautioning the masses prior to the election fell on deaf ears, perhaps in part because the media did not afford the concerned mental health professionals appropriate coverage, perhaps because some citizens discount the value of mental health and have thrown a thick blanket of stigma over the profession, or perhaps because we as mental health professionals did not stand united. Whatever the reason, it’s not too late to follow through.

In presenting our case that Donald Trump is mentally unfit to be president of the United States, we would be remiss if we did not consider one more factor: the possibility of a neurological disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, which the president’s father, Fred Trump, suffered from.

We are not trying to speculate diagnoses from afar, but comparing video interviews of Trump from the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s to current video, we find that the differences (significant reduction in the use of essential words; an increase in the use of adjectives such as very, huge, and tremendous; and incomplete, run-on sentences that don’t make sense and that could indicate a loss of train of thought or memory) are conspicuously apparent. Perhaps this is why Trump insists on being surrounded by family members who love and understand him rather than seasoned political advisers, who may note, and then leak, his alarming behavior.

When an individual is psychologically unbalanced, everything can teeter and fall apart if change does not occur. We wonder how far-reaching, in our society over time, the effects of our unbalanced president’s actions will be and how they will continue to affect us as individuals, communities, a nation, and a planet.

We believe that Donald Trump is the most dangerous man in the world! A powerful leader of a powerful nation who can order missiles fired at another nation because of his (or a family member’s) personal distress at seeing sad scenes of people having been gassed to death.

We shudder to imagine what actions might be taken in broader lethal confrontations with his personal and political enemies. We are gravely concerned about Trump’s abrupt, capricious 180-degree shifts and how these displays of instability have the potential to be unconscionably dangerous to the point of causing catastrophe, and not only for the citizens of the United States.

There are two particularly troubling examples:

1. His repeatedly lavishing praise on FBI director James Comey’s handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and then, in early May 2017, abruptly and abusively firing Comey for the very investigation that garnered such praise, but in this case actually because of Comey’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia; and

2 His stating during the campaign that NATO was obsolete and then, later, unexpectedly stating that NATO was necessary and acceptable.

As is the case with extreme present hedonists, Trump is “chumming” for war, possibly for the most selfish of reasons: to deflect attention away from the Russia investigation.

If another unbalanced world leader takes the bait, Trump will need the formerly “obsolete” and now-essential NATO to back him up.

We as individuals don’t have to follow our nation’s leader down a path headed in the wrong direction, off a cliff and into a pit of past mistakes. We can stand where we are at this moment in history and face forward, into a brighter future that we create. We can start by looking for the good in one another and for the common ground we share.

In the midst of the terrorist attacks on places of worship and cemeteries mentioned earlier, something wonderful emerged from the ashes: a spirit of overwhelming goodness in humanity. In the wake of the attacks, Jews and Muslims united: they held fund-raisers to help each other repair and rebuild; they shared their places of worship so that those burned out of theirs could hold gatherings and services; and they offered loving support to those who’d faced hatred.

By observing ordinary people engaging in acts of everyday heroism and compassion, we have been able to witness the best aspects of humanity. That’s us! That’s the United States of America!

A final suggestion for our governmental leaders: corporations and companies vet their prospective employees. This vetting process frequently includes psychological testing in the form of exams or quizzes to help the employer make more informed hiring decisions and determine if the prospective employee is honest and/or would be a good fit for the company.

These tests are used for positions ranging from department store sales clerk to high-level executive. Isn’t it time that the same be required for candidates for the most important job in the world?

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from:

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President
Bandy Lee, MD.D., M.DIV

get it at Amazon.com

The next energy revolution is here – Gao Jifan.

Over the period of one decade, the capitalized cost of generating solar energy in 2015 has decreased to as low as one sixth the cost in 2005, and I believe it will not take long for solar energy generation to be economically cheaper than thermal power generation worldwide.

Every year at the World Economic Forum, energy consumption and climate change are always hot topics.

Looking back at the history of human civilisation, for a long time, firewood was the primary source of energy; however, back then, energy ultilization was low and as such air pollution emissions were also low.

The invention of the steam engine in the 18th century marked the beginning of the industrial revolution, which led to the mining and consumption of coal on a large scale. In 1920, coal accounted for 62% of primary energy consumption, indicating that the world had entered the Coal Age.

In 1965, petroleum replaced coal as the most consumed energy, which led the world into the “petroleum age”. In 1979, petroleum contributed 54% of the world energy consumption, marking the second energy revolution from coal to petroleum. Up until now, fossil fuels have continued to dominate as our energy resource.

With each new age, the use and efficiency of energy have increased significantly — as have, unfortunately, levels of severe environmental pollution. Our future energy system must therefore be clean and low-carbon to ensure the sustainable development of human civilisation.

We are now embarking on a new era of energy revolution. The energy system of the future should have the following three features:

Low carbon energy production. Fossil fuels have to be burned to release energy, which caused emissions and environmental pollution. The existing intensive industrial usage of fossil fuels has significantly harmed the environment. Meanwhile, for most economically under-developed countries around the world, the cost of clean energy is too high to be affordable.

Solar power, however, is one of the best solutions. Not only is solar energy production clean, it may also soon become a much more affordable source of energy, as technology development and innovation continues to reduce the cost of solar power generation.

……. continued at Medium.com

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Gao Jifan, President , China Photovoltaic Industry Association

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President – Bandy Lee, MD.D., M.DIV.

Our Witness to Malignant Normality

ROBERT JAY LIFTON, M.D.

Concerning malignant normality, we start with an assumption that all societies, at various levels of consciousness, put forward ways of viewing, thinking, and behaving that are considered desirable or “normal.”

Yet, these criteria for normality can be much affected by the political and military currents of a particular era. Such requirements may be fairly benign, but they can also be destructive to the point of evil.

I came to the idea of malignant normality in my study of Nazi doctors. Those assigned to Auschwitz, when taking charge of the selections and the overall killing process, were simply doing what was expected of them. True, some were upset, even horrified, at being given this task. Yet, with a certain amount of counseling—one can call it perverse psychotherapy—offered by more experienced hands, a process that included drinking heavily together and giving assurance of help and support, the great majority could overcome their anxiety sufficiently to carry through their murderous assignment.

This was a process of adaptation to evil that is all too possible to initiate in such a situation. Above all, there was a normalization of evil that enhanced this adaptation and served to present participating doctors with the Auschwitz institution as the existing world to which one must make one’s adjustments.

There is another form of malignant normality, closer to home and more recent. I have in mind the participation in torture by physicians (including psychiatrists), and by psychologists, and other medical and psychological personnel. This reached its most extreme manifestation when two psychologists were revealed to be among architects of the CIA’s torture protocol. More than that, this malignant normality was essentially supported by the American Psychological Association in its defense of the participation of psychologists in the so-called “enhanced interrogation” techniques that spilled over into torture.

I am not equating this American behavior with the Nazi example but, rather, suggesting that malignant normality can take different forms. And nothing does more to sustain malignant normality than its support from a large organization of professionals.

There is still another kind of malignant normality, one brought about by President Trump and his administration. Judith Herman and I, in a letter to the New York Times in March 2017, stressed Trump’s dangerous individual psychological patterns: his creation of his own reality and his inability to manage the inevitable crises that face an American president.

He has also, in various ways, violated our American institutional requirements and threatened the viability of American democracy. Yet, because he is president and operates within the broad contours and interactions of the presidency, there is a tendency to view what he does as simply part of our democratic process—that is, as politically and even ethically normal.

In this way, a dangerous president becomes normalized, and malignant normality comes to dominate our governing (or, one could say, our antigoverning) dynamic.

But that does not mean we are helpless. We remain a society with considerable openness, with institutions that can still be life-enhancing and serve truth. Unlike Nazi doctors, articulate psychological professionals could and did expose the behavior of corrupt colleagues and even a corrupt professional society. Investigative journalists and human rights groups also greatly contributed to that exposure.

As psychological professionals, we are capable of parallel action in confronting the malignant normality of Trump and his administration. To do so we need to combine our sense of outrage with a disciplined use of our professional knowledge and experience.

This brings me to my second theme: that of witnessing professionals, particularly activist witnessing professionals. Most professionals, most of the time, operate within the norms (that is, the criteria for normality) of their particular society. Indeed, professionals often go further, and in their practices may deepen the commitment of people they work with to that normality. This can give solace, but it has its perils.

It is not generally known that during the early Cold War period, a special governmental commission, chaired by a psychiatrist and containing physicians and social scientists, was set up to help the American people achieve the desired psychological capacity to support U.S. stockpiling of nuclear weapons, cope with an anticipated nuclear attack, and overcome the fear of nuclear annihilation. The commission had the task, in short, of helping Americans accept malignant nuclear normality.

There have also been parallel examples in recent history of professionals who have promoted equally dangerous forms of normality in rejecting climate change. But professionals don’t have to serve these forms of malignant normality. We are capable of using our knowledge and technical skills to expose such normality, to bear witness to its malignance—to become witnessing professionals.

When I did my study of Hiroshima survivors back in 1962, I sought to uncover, in the most accurate and scientific way I could, the psychological and bodily experience of people exposed to the atomic bomb. Yet, I was not just a neutral observer. Over time, I came to understand myself as a witnessing professional, committed to making known what an atomic bomb could do to a city, to tell the world something of what had happened in Hiroshima and to its inhabitants. The Hiroshima story could be condensed to “one plane, one bomb, one city.” I came to view this commitment to telling Hiroshima’s story as a form of advocacy research. That meant combining a disciplined professional approach with the ethical requirements of committed witness, combining scholarship with activism.

I believe that some such approach is what we require now, in the Trump era. We need to avoid uncritical acceptance of this new version of malignant normality and, instead, bring our knowledge and experience to exposing it for what it is. This requires us to be disciplined about what we believe we know, while refraining from holding forth on what we do not know. It also requires us to recognize the urgency of the situation in which the most powerful man in the world is also the bearer of profound instability and untruth.

As psychological professionals, we act with ethical passion in our efforts to reveal what is most dangerous and what, in contrast, might be life-affirming in the face of the malignant normality that surrounds us.

Finally, there is the issue of our ethical behavior. We talk a lot about our professional ethics having to do with our responsibility to patients and to the overall standards of our discipline. This concern with professional ethics matters a great deal. But I am suggesting something more, a larger concept of professional ethics that we don’t often discuss: including who we work for and with, and how our work either affirms or questions the directions of the larger society. And, in our present situation, how we deal with the malignant normality that faces us.

This larger ethical model applies to members of other professions who may have their own “duty to warn.” I in no way minimize the significance of professional knowledge and technical skill. But our professions can become overly technicized, and we can be too much like hired guns bringing our firepower to any sponsor of the most egregious view of normality.

We can do better than that. We can take the larger ethical view of the activist witnessing professional. Bandy Lee took that perspective when organizing the Yale conference on professional responsibility, and the participants affirmed it. This does not make us saviors of our threatened society, but it does help us bring our experience and knowledge to bear on what threatens us and what might renew us.

A line from the American poet Theodore Roethke brings eloquence to what I have been trying to say: “In a dark time, the eye begins to see.”

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Professions and Politics

JUDITH LEWIS HERMAN, M.D., and

BANDY X. LEE, M.D., M.DIV.

Soon after the presidential election of 2016, alarmed by the apparent mental instability of the president-elect, we both separately circulated letters among some of our professional colleagues, expressing our concern. Most of them declined to sign. A number of people admitted they were afraid of some undefined form of governmental retaliation, so quickly had a climate of fear taken hold.

They asked us if we were not wary of being “targeted,” and advised us to seek legal counsel. This was a lesson to us in how a climate of fear can induce people to censor themselves.

Others who declined to sign our letters of concern cited matters of principle. Psychiatry, we were warned, should stay out of politics; otherwise, the profession could end up being ethically compromised. The example most frequently cited was that of psychiatrists in the Soviet Union who collaborated with the secret police to diagnose dissidents as mentally ill and confine them to prisons that fronted as hospitals (Medvedev and Medvedev 1971).

This was a serious consideration. Indeed, we need not look beyond our own borders for examples of ethics violations committed by professionals who became entangled in politics. We have recently witnessed the disgrace of an entire professional organization, the American Psychological Association, some of whose leadership, in cooperation with officials from the U.S. military, the CIA, and the Bush White House, rewrote its ethical guidelines to give legal cover to a secret government program of coercive interrogation and to excuse military psychologists who designed and implemented methods of torture (Hoffman et al. 2015; Risen 2014).

Among the many lessons that might be learned from this notorious example, one in particular stayed with us. It seemed clear that the government officials responsible for abusive treatment of prisoners went to some lengths to find medical and mental health professionals who would publicly condone their practices. We reasoned that if professional endorsement serves as important cover for human rights abuses, then professional condemnation must also carry weight.

In 2005 the Pentagon organized a trip to the Guantánamo Bay detention camp for a group of prominent ethicists, psychiatrists, and psychologists. Participants toured the facility and met with high-ranking military officers, including the commanding general. They were not allowed to meet or speak with any of the detainees. Dr. Steven Sharfstein, then the president of the American Psychiatric Association, was one of the invited guests on this trip.

Apparently, what he saw and heard failed to convince him that the treatment of detainees fell within the bounds of ethical conduct. “Our position is very direct,” he stated on return. “Psychiatrists should not participate on these [interrogation] teams because it is inappropriate” (Lewis 2005). Under Dr. Sharfstein’s leadership, the American Psychiatric Association took a strong stand against any form of participation in torture and in the “interrogation of persons held in custody by military or civilian investigative or law enforcement authorities, whether in the United States or elsewhere” (American Psychiatric Association 2006).

Contrast this principled stand with the sorry tale of the American Psychological Association. Its involvement in the torture scandal illustrates how important it is for leaders in the professions to stand firm against ethical violations, and to resist succumbing to the argument that exceptional political circumstances, such as “the war on terror,” demand exceptions to basic ethical codes. When there is pressure from power is exactly when one must abide by the norms and rules of our ethics.

Norms and Rules in the Political Sphere

Norms and rules guide professional conduct, set standards, and point to the essential principles of practice. For these reasons, physicians have the Declaration of Geneva (World Medical Association 2006) and the American Medical Association Principles of Medical Ethics (2001), which guide the American Psychiatric Association’s code for psychiatry (American Psychiatric Association 2013).

The former confirms the physician’s dedication to the humanitarian goals of medicine, while the latter defines honorable behavior for the physician. Paramount in both is the health, safety, and survival of the patient. Psychiatrists’ codes of ethics derive directly from these principles. In ordinary practice, the patient’s right to confidentiality is the bedrock of mental health care dating back to the ethical standards of the Hippocratic Oath.

However, even this sacrosanct rule is not absolute. No doubt, the physician’s responsibility is first and foremost to the patient, but it extends “as well as to society” (American Psychiatric Association 2013, p. 2). It is part of professional expectation that the psychiatrist assess the possibility that the patient may harm himself or others. When the patient poses a danger, psychiatrists are not merely allowed but mandated to report, to incapacitate, and to take steps to protect.

If we are mindful of the dangers of politicizing the professions, then certainly we must heed the so-called “Goldwater rule,” or Section 7.3 of the APA code of ethics (American Psychiatric Association 2013, p. 6), which states: “it is unethical for a psychiatrist to offer a professional opinion [on a public figure] unless he or she has conducted an examination and has been granted proper authorization for such a statement.”

This is not divergent from ordinary norms of practice: the clinical approaches that we use to evaluate patients require a full examination. Formulating a credible diagnosis will always be limited when applied to public figures observed outside this intimate frame; in fact, we would go so far as to assert that it is impossible.

The Goldwater rule highlights the boundaries of practice, helps to preserve professional integrity, and protects public figures from defamation. It safeguards the public’s perception of the field of psychiatry as credible and trustworthy. It is reasonable to follow it. But even this respectable rule must be balanced against the other rules and principles of professional practice.

A careful ethical evaluation might ask: Do our ordinary norms of practice stop at the office of the president? If so, why? If the ethics of our practice stipulate that the health of our patient and the safety of the public be paramount, then we should not leave our norms at the door when entering the political sphere. Otherwise, a rule originally conceived to protect our profession from scandal might itself become a source of scandal.

For this very reason, the “reaffirmation” of the Goldwater rule in a separate statement by the American Psychiatric Association (2017) barely two months into the new administration seems questionable to us. The American Psychiatric Association is not immune to the kind of politically pressured acquiescence we have seen with its psychological counterpart. A psychiatrist who disregards the basic procedures of diagnosis and treatment and acts without discretion deserves reprimand. However, the public trust is also violated if the profession fails in its duty to alert the public when a person who holds the power of life and death over us all shows signs of clear, dangerous mental impairment.

We should pause if professionals are asked to remain silent when they have seen enough evidence to sound an alarm in every other situation. When it comes to dangerousness, should not the president of a democracy, as First Citizen, be subject to the same standards of practice as the rest of the citizenry?

Assessing dangerousness is different from making a diagnosis: it is dependent on the situation, not the person. Signs of likely dangerousness due to mental disorder can become apparent without a full diagnostic interview and can be detected from a distance, and one is expected to err, if at all, on the side of safety when the risk of inaction is too great.

States vary in their instructions. New York, for example, requires that two qualifying professionals agree in order to detain a person who may be in danger of hurting himself or others. Florida and the District of Columbia require only one professional’s opinion. Also, only one person need be in danger of harm by the individual, and the threshold is even lower if the individual has access to weapons (not to5 mention nuclear weapons).

The physician, to whom life-and-death situations are entrusted, is expected to know when it is appropriate to act, and to act responsibly when warranted. It is because of the weight of this responsibility that, rightfully, the physician should refrain from commenting on a public figure except in the rarest instance. Only in an emergency should a physician breach the trust of confidentiality and intervene without consent, and only in an emergency should a physician breach the Goldwater rule.

We believe that such an emergency now exists.

Test for Proper Responsibility

When we circulated our letters of concern, we asked our fellow mental health professionals to get involved in politics not only as citizens (a right most of us still enjoy) but also, specifically, as professionals and as guardians of the special knowledge with which they have been entrusted.

Why do we think this was permissible? It is all too easy to claim, as we did, that an emergency situation requires a departure from our usual practices in the private sphere. How can one judge whether political involvement is in fact justified? We would argue that the key question is whether mental health professionals are engaging in political collusion with state abuses of power or acting in resistance to them.

If we are asked to cooperate with state programs that violate human rights, then any involvement, regardless of the purported justification, can only corrupt, and the only appropriate ethical stance is to refuse participation of any sort.

If, on the other hand, we perceive that state power is being abused by an executive who seems to be mentally unstable, then we may certainly speak out, not only as citizens but also, we would argue, as professionals who are privy to special information and have a responsibility to educate the public. For whatever our wisdom and expertise may be worth, surely we are obligated to share it.

It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to notice that our president is mentally compromised. Members of the press have come up with their own diagnostic nomenclature, calling the president a “mad king” (Dowd 2017), a “nut job” (Collins 2017), and “emotionally unhinged” (Rubin 2017). Conservative columnist George Will (2017) writes that the president has a “disorderly mind.”

By speaking out as mental health professionals, we lend support and dignity to our fellow citizens who are justifiably alarmed by the president’s furious tirades, conspiracy fantasies, aversion to facts, and attraction to violence. We can offer a hand in helping the public understand behaviors that are unusual and alarming but that can all too easily be rationalized and normalized.

An important and relevant question that the public has been asking is this: Is the man simply crazy, or is he crazy like a fox? Is he mentally compromised or simply vile? When he lies, does he know he is lying, or does he believe his own lies? When he makes wild accusations, is he truly paranoid, or is he consciously and cunningly trying to deflect attention from his misdeeds?

We believe that we can help answer these questions by emphasizing that the two propositions are not mutually exclusive. A man can be both evil and mentally compromised—which is a more frightening proposition.

Power not only corrupts but also magnifies existing psychopathologies, even as it creates new ones. Fostered by the flattery of underlings and the chants of crowds, a political leader’s grandiosity may morph into grotesque delusions of grandeur. Sociopathic traits may be amplified as the leader discovers that he can violate the norms of civil society and even commit crimes with impunity. And the leader who rules through fear, lies, and betrayal may become increasingly isolated and paranoid, as the loyalty of even his closest confidants must forever be suspect.

Some would argue that by paying attention to the president’s mental state, we are colluding with him in deflecting attention from that by which he should ultimately be judged: his actions (Frances 2017). Certainly, mental disturbance is not an excuse for tyrannical behavior; nevertheless, it cannot be ignored. In a court of law, even the strongest insanity defense case cannot show that a person is insane all the time.

We submit that by paying attention to the president’s mental state as well as his actions, we are better informed to assess his dangerousness. Delusional levels of grandiosity, impulsivity, and the compulsions of mental impairment, when combined with an authoritarian cult of personality and contempt for the rule of law, are a toxic mix.

There are those who still hold out hope that this president can be prevailed upon to listen to reason and curb his erratic behavior. Our professional experience would suggest otherwise; witness the numerous submissions we have received for this volume while organizing a Yale conference in April 2017 entitled “Does Professional Responsibility Include a Duty to Warn?”

Collectively with our coauthors, we warn that anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the presidency.

***

Our Duty to Warn

BANDY X. LEE, M.D., M.DIV.

Possibly the oddest experience in my career as a psychiatrist has been to find that the only people not allowed to speak about an issue are those who know the most about it. Hence, truth is suppressed. Yet, what if that truth, furthermore, harbored dangers of such magnitude that it could be the key to future human survival? How can I, as a medical and mental health professional, remain a bystander in the face of one of the greatest emergencies of our time, when I have been called to step in everywhere else?

How can we, as trained professionals in this very area, be content to keep silent, against every other principle we practice by, because of a decree handed down from above? I am not speaking of the long-standing “Goldwater rule,” which is discussed in many places throughout this book and is a norm of ordinary practice I happen to agree with. I am rather speaking of its radical expansion, beyond the status we confer to any other rule, barely two months into the very presidency that has made it controversial.

This occurred on March 16, 2017, when our professional organization essentially placed a gag order on all psychiatrists (American Psychiatric Association 2017), and by extension all mental health professionals. I am also speaking of its defect, whereby it does not have a countervailing rule, as does the rest of professional ethics, that directs what to do when the risk of harm from remaining silent outweighs the damage that could result from speaking about a public figure—which, in this case, could even be the greatest possible harm.

Authors in this volume have been asked to respect the Goldwater rule and not to breach it unnecessarily, but I in turn respect their choices wherever their conscience has prompted them to take the professionally and socially radical step to help protect the public. Therefore, it would be accurate to state that, while we respect the rule, we deem it subordinate to the single most important principle that guides our professional conduct: that we hold our responsibility to human life and well-being as paramount.

My reasons for compiling this compendium are the same as my reasons for organizing the Yale conference by the title, “Does Professional Responsibility Include a Duty to Warn?”: the issue merits discussion, not silence, and the public deserves education, not further darkness.

Over the course of preparing the conference, the number of prominent voices in the field coming forth to speak out on the topic astonished me. Soon after the 2016 presidential election, Dr. Herman (coauthor of the Prologue), an old colleague and friend, had written a letter urging President Obama to require that Mr. Trump undergo a neuropsychiatric evaluation before assuming the office of the presidency. Her cosignatories, Drs. Gartrell and Mosbacher (authors of the essay “He’s Got the World in His Hands and His Finger on the Trigger”), helped the letter’s publication in The Huffington Post (Greene, 2016).

I also reached out to Dr. Lifton (author of the Foreword), whose “Mass Violence” meetings at Harvard first acquainted me with Dr. Herman years ago; together, they had sent a letter to the New York Times (Herman and Lifton 2017). His ready consent to speak at my conference sparked all that was to follow.

I encountered others along the way: Dr. Dodes (author of “Sociopathy”), who published a letter in the New York Times with thirty-five signatures (Dodes and Schachter 2017); Ms. Jhueck (author of “A Clinical Case for the Dangerousness of Donald J. Trump”), who cowrote and posted a letter to the head of New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene with seventy signatures; Dr. Fisher (author of “The Loneliness of Fateful Decisions”), who also expressed concerns in a letter to the New York Times (Fisher 2017); and Dr. Gartner (author of “Donald Trump Is: [A] Bad, [B] Mad, [C] All of the Above”), the initiator of an online petition, now with fifty-five thousand signatures, who cofounded the national coalition, “Duty to Warn,” of (as of this writing) seventeen hundred mental health professionals.

The Yale Conference

On April 20, 2017, Dr. Charles Dike of my division at Yale started the town hall–style meeting by reaffirming the relevance and reasons for the Goldwater rule. As assistant professor in law and psychiatry, former chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, chair of the Connecticut Psychiatric Society Ethics Committee, member of the Ethics Committee of the American Psychiatric Association, and Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, he was more than qualified to do so.

It was important that we start with a firm ethical foundation: whatever our conclusion, it could not hold if we were not scrupulous about our ethical grounding. I invited as additional panelists Drs. Lifton, Herman, and Gilligan (the last the author of “The Issue Is Dangerousness, Not Mental Illness”), with the purpose of bringing together the finest minds of psychiatry I could to address the quandary. They are all colleagues I have known for at least fifteen years and highly esteem not only for their eminence in the field but also for their ethics. They were beacons during other dark times.

They abided by the Goldwater rule in that they kept the discussion at the level of dangerousness, without attempting to diagnose. The transcript of the meeting can be found in an online appendix, the link to which is at the end of this book.

The conference was initially meant to be a collaboration between Yale School of Medicine, Yale School of Public Health, and Yale School of Nursing, but when the other schools fell away as the date approached, I released the School of Medicine for what I correctly perceived would be “inevitable politicization.” In case something went wrong, I did not wish to imperil my alma mater and home institution.

Our nation is now living, in extremes, a paradigm that splits along partisan lines, and the quick conclusion will be that the speakers or contributors of this volume “must be Democrats” if they are casting a negative light on a Republican president.

However, there are other paradigms. For the mental health professional, the paradigm we practice by is one of health versus disease. We appeal to science, research, observed phenomena, and clinical skill developed over years of practice in order to promote life and to prevent death. These goals cannot be contained within the purposes of a political party or the campaigns of a candidate. Rather, we are constantly trained to bring medical neutrality—or, if we cannot, to recuse ourselves of the therapeutic situation. It is a glimpse of this perspective that we hope to bring to the reader.

Our meeting gained national and international attention (Milligan 2017; Bulman 2017). While only two dozen physically attended the conference in an atmosphere of fear, about a hundred tuned in online, and hundreds more got in touch with me for recordings or in a show of support. It felt as if we had tapped into a groundswell of a movement among mental health professionals, and also an army of people who wanted to speak about the issue (DeVega 2017).

What was intended as a publication of the proceedings led to this volume (initially so large that we had to reduce it by a third), and five top-tier publishers in the country vied for it.

Authors had to submit their manuscripts within three weeks of the meeting. It was a harrowing time, as the nation’s mood changed from relief as Mr. Trump seemed to settle into his office after the first one hundred days, to a new onslaught of scandals, starting with his firing of FBI director James Comey on May 9, 2017.

Many of the contributors here do not need an introduction, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to present such an assembly of brilliant and principled professionals. A Compendium of Expertise This volume consists of three parts, the first being devoted to describing Mr. Trump, with an understanding that no definitive diagnoses will be possible.

In “Unbridled and Extreme Present Hedonism,” Zimbardo and Sword discuss how the Leader of the Free World has proven himself unfit for duty by his extreme ties to the present moment, without much thought for the consequences of his actions or for the future.

In “Pathological Narcissism and Politics,” Malkin explains that narcissism happens on a scale, and that pathological levels in a leader can spiral into psychosis and imperil the safety of his country through paranoia, impaired judgment, volatile decision making, and behavior called gaslighting.

In “I Wrote The Art of the Deal with Trump,” Schwartz reveals how what he observed during the year he spent with Trump to write that book could have predicted his presidency of “black hole-level” low self-worth, fact-free self-justification, and a compulsion to go to war with the world.

In “Trump’s Trust Deficit Is the Core Problem,” Sheehy highlights the notion that beneath the grandiose behavior of every narcissist lies the pit of fragile self-esteem; more than anything, Trump lacks trust in himself, which may lead him to take drastic actions to prove himself to himself and to the world.

In “Sociopathy,” Dodes shows that someone who cons others, lies, cheats, and manipulates to get what he wants, and who doesn’t care whom he hurts, may be not just repetitively immoral but also severely impaired, as sociopaths lack a central human characteristic, empathy.

In “Donald Trump Is: (A) Bad, (B), Mad, (C) All of the Above,” Gartner emphasizes the complexity of Trump’s presentation, in that he shows signs of being “bad” as well as “mad,” but also with a hypomanic temperament that generates whirlwinds of activity and a constant need for stimulation.

In “Why ‘Crazy Like a Fox’ versus ‘Crazy Like a Crazy’ Really Matters,” Tansey shows that Trump’s nearly outrageous lies may be explained by delusional disorder, about which Tansey invites the reader to make the call; even more frightening are Trump’s attraction to brutal tyrants and also the prospect of nuclear war.

In “Cognitive Impairment, Dementia, and POTUS,” Reiss writes that a current vulnerability in our political system is that it sets no intellectual or cognitive standards for being president, despite the job’s inherently requiring cognitive clarity; this lack of clarity can be even more serious if combined with other psychiatric disorders.

In “Donald J. Trump, Alleged Incapacitated Person,” Herb explains how, as a guardianship attorney (in contrast to a mental health professional), he is required to come to a preliminary conclusion about mental incapacity before filing a petition, which he does in his essay, while reflecting on the Electoral College and the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The second part of the book addresses the dilemmas that mental health professionals face in observing what they do and speaking out when they feel they must.

In “Should Psychiatrists Refrain from Commenting on Trump’s Psychology?” Glass argues against a technicality that would yield a simple yes-or-no answer to the Goldwater rule; instead, he advocates for a conscientious voicing of hazardous patterns, noting that the presence of mental illness is not as relevant as that of reliable functionality.

In “On Seeing What You See and Saying What You Know,” Friedman notes that technological advances that allow assessment and treatment from a distance, especially in underserved areas, have changed the clinician’s comfort level with remote evaluations, even when detecting a totalitarian mind-set or a multidimensional threat to the world.

In “The Issue Is Dangerousness, Not Mental Illness,” Gilligan discusses the ethics of not diagnosing a public figure versus the duty to warn potential victims of danger; when invoking the latter, he emphasizes, what matters is not whether a person is mentally ill but whether he is dangerous, which is possible to assess from a distance.

In “A Clinical Case for the Dangerousness of Donald J. Trump,” Jhueck notes that the United States legally confers mental health professionals and physicians considerable power to detain people against their will if they pose a danger due to likely mental illness—and Trump more than meets the requisite criteria.

In “Health, Risk, and the Duty to Protect the Community,” Covitz offers an ancient reference and two fables to illustrate just how unusual the mental health profession’s response is to a dangerous president, as we do not to speak up in ways that would be unthinkable for our role with other members of society.

In “New Opportunities for Therapy in the Age of Trump,” Doherty claims that the Trump era has ruptured the boundary between the personal and the public, and while clients and therapists are equally distressed, integrating our roles as therapists and citizens might help us better help clients.

The book’s third part speaks to the societal effects Mr. Trump has had, represents, and could cause in the future.

In “Trauma, Time, Truth, and Trump,” Teng points out the irony of seeing, as a trauma therapist, all the signs of traumatization and retraumatization from a peaceful election; she traces the sources of the president’s sudden military actions, his generation of crises, his shaken notions of truth and facts, and his role in reminding patients of an aggressive abuser.

In “Trump Anxiety Disorder,” Panning describes a unique post-election anxiety syndrome that has emerged as a result of the Trump presidency and the task that many therapists face with helping clients manage the stress of trying to “normalize” behavior that they do not feel is normal for a president.

In her essay “In Relationship with an Abusive President,” West illustrates the dynamics of “other blaming” in individuals who have feelings of low self-worth and hence poor shame tolerance, which lead to vindictive anger, lack of accountability, dishonesty, lack of empathy, and attention-seeking, of which Trump is an extreme example.

In “Trump’s Daddy Issues,” Wruble draws on his own personal experiences, especially his relationship with his strong and successful father, to demonstrate what a therapist does routinely: uses self-knowledge as an instrument for evaluating and “knowing” the other, even in this case, where the other is the president and his followers.

In “Birtherism and the Deployment of the Trumpian Mind-Set,” Kessler portrays the broader background from which “birtherism” began and how, by entering into the political fray by championing this fringe sentiment, Trump amplifies and exacerbates a national “symptom” of bigotry and division in ways that are dangerous to the nation’s core principles.

In “Trump and the American Collective Psyche,” Singer draws a connection between Trump’s personal narcissism and the American group psyche, not through a political analysis but through group psychology—the joining of group self-identity with violent, hateful defenses is as much about us as about Trump.

In “Who Goes Trump?” Mika explains how tyrannies are “toxic triangles,” as political scientists call them, necessitating that the tyrant, his supporters, and the society at large bind around narcissism; while the three factors animate for a while, the characteristic oppression, dehumanization, and violence inevitably bring on downfall.

In “The Loneliness of Fateful Decisions,” Fisher recounts the Cuban Missile Crisis and notes how, even though President Kennedy surrounded himself with the “best and the brightest,” they disagreed greatly, leaving him alone to make the decisions—which illustrates how the future of our country and the world hang on a president’s mental clarity.

In “He’s Got the World in His Hands and His Finger on the Trigger,” Gartrell and Mosbacher note how, while military personnel must undergo rigorous evaluations to assess their mental and medical fitness for duty, there is no such requirement for their commander in chief; they propose a nonpartisan panel of neuropsychiatrists for annual screening.

A Disclaimer

In spite of its title, I would like to emphasize that the main point of this book is not about Mr. Trump. It is about the larger context that has given rise to his presidency, and the greater population that he affects by virtue of his position.

The ascendancy of an individual with such impairments speaks to our general state of health and well-being as a nation, and to how we can respond: we can either improve it or further impair it.

Mental disorder does not distinguish between political parties, and as professionals devoted to promoting mental health, including public mental health, our duty should be clear: to steer patients and the public on a path toward health so that genuine discussions of political choice, unimpeded by emotional compulsion or defense, can occur.

Embracing our “duty to warn,” as our professional training and ethics lead us to do at times of danger, therefore involves not only sounding an alarm but continually educating and engaging in dialogue our fellow human beings, as this compilation aspires to do.

***

The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump. 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President
Bandy Lee, MD.D., M.DIV

get it at Amazon.com

A Short History of Migration – Massimo Livi-Bacci.

Waves of Progress and Gradual Migration

Territorial movement is a human prerogative and an integral part of human capital; it is one of many ways that the human species has sought to improve its living conditions.

It is an innate quality that has assured the survival of hunter-gatherers, the expansion of the species across the continents, the spread of agriculture, the settlement of open spaces, world integration, and the first globalization of the nineteenth century.

We can also describe this prerogative as a form of adaptability or fitness. This fitness – an intertwining of biological, psychological, and cultural characteristics – has not been constant over historical epochs or even during specific migrations.

For example, the settlement of open spaces required individuals inclined to form solid families tied to traditional values, individuals who would have many children and work hard, providing the fuel for further expansion.

The migration of the last two centuries has instead been different: often directed to urban areas and engaged in trade and industrial work, it has favored single and culturally flexible individuals who instead created relatively small families.

The birth of political nations or states and the drawing up of national borders converted migrations into international movements and so spawned migration policies, namely, the intervention by governments (or powerful lords or other institutions) to direct, plan, and encourage migrations.

These policies reduced to a greater or lesser extent the free choice of migrants. They were based on the presumption that under current circumstances higher powers could judge the fitness of migrants better than the migrants themselves. In some cases, attempts were made to increase that fitness, supplying resources, knowledge, or other advantages. Results varied and might be successful or catastrophic.

In the modern era, even before the Industrial Revolution, movement became easier – resources increased, technology improved, infrastructures were consolidated – as internal and international migration systems developed. Navigation of the oceans tied together Eurasia, Africa, and the Americas.

Starting in 1500, Europe became a net exporter of human capital, following millennia during which it had been a target for immigration and invasion. Meanwhile, the ability and inclination of states to interfere in individual choices regarding migration increased.

Migration accelerated, reaching truly massive proportions in the nineteenth century. The slow pace of agricultural migration gave way to faster and more intense migration flows that had profound effects on both the sending and receiving countries.

The past century, instead, from World War I to the present day, has been characterized by irregular progress, contradictory policies, the shock of two world wars, the temporary separation of Eastern and Western Europe, the inversion of the migration cycle – Europe has once again become an importer of human capital – and the profound impact of the so-called demographic transition (declining mortality and fertility). In recent decades, immigration policies have grown progressively more restrictive and more selective as immigration pressure has increased, a function of both demographic and economic differences between North and South.

The prerogative of migrants has been weakened. Migration is seen as a price to be paid for demographic decline, as a remedy for labor-market bottlenecks, as an emergency in need of resolution, as a looming threat. Migrants are more and more viewed simply as labor rather than as an integral part of the societies they join.

Never before has the conflict of interests between sending countries, receiving countries, and the migrants themselves been more evident. Much has been done to increase and regulate economic trade; nothing has been done to govern migration. When it comes to migration, states hold tenaciously to the concept of national sovereignty, refusing to cede even a bit of authority to super-national bodies.

And yet some sort of global governance and cooperation is sorely needed if those competing interests are to be reconciled, and if we want to restore to migration that positive role it has always played in human development.

Migration is a human prerogative and so a normal constitutive element of any society.

*

Waves of Progress and Gradual Migration

Man has spread widely over the face of the earth, and must have been exposed, during his incessant migration, to the most diversified conditions. The inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego, the Cape of Good Hope, and Tasmania in the one hemisphere, and of the arctic regions in the other, must have passed through many climates, and changed their habits many times, before they reached their present homes. – Charles Darwin

Humanity originated in equatorial Africa; and its methods of survival, ways of life, and habits had to continually evolve in order to make settlement possible in those more extreme corners of the two hemispheres.

Darwin’s passage, two centuries after his birth, reminds us of the role migration has played – from the origins of humanity up to the present day – in the geographic distribution of the human race, the growth of population, and the ever-changing circumstances of life.

Migration has been a key element of social and biological evolution. Nonetheless, in the twenty-first century, the great migrations are frequently viewed not as a primary driving force of social change, but instead as an anarchic social force, a mismatched tile that cannot find its place in the larger mosaic, interference that disturbs the regular course of everyday life.

Two complementary forces contributed to the gradual occupation of the earth by humans: the ability to reproduce and grow demographically, and the ability to move, that is, to migrate. We do not fully understand how these forces operated: whether smoothly over time or in periodic jumps; when they sped up and when they slowed down. We do know that they contributed to the ability of humans to adapt to changing environmental circumstances, both in nature and climate.

Moreover, they were accompanied by complex selection mechanisms so that the characteristics of those who moved on were not identical to those of the others who stayed behind. Rather than become embroiled in a field outside our own expertise, however – and one in which scientific controversy continues to rage – we shall limit ourselves to the fairly straightforward conclusion that migration is an innately human characteristic, and that it has promoted the diffusion, consolidation, and growth of the human species.

Modern human beings spread across the globe from Africa into Western Asia and Europe and then into Eastern Asia, finally reaching the Americas and Australia in the final stages of expansion. That expansion was achieved by moving into areas previously uninhabited, or else occupied by humans with less developed abilities (such as the Neanderthals in Europe).

The first Siberian hunters to venture towards the East and traverse the land bridge which emerged between Asia and America during the last Ice Age, some 20,000 or more years ago, were the forerunners of a long and slow march from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. According to some scholars, occupation of the entire American continent, from the far-flung Northern regions to the most distant Southern lands, occurred in a relatively short span of time, perhaps in just a few thousand years.

We can speak with more assurance about the Neolithic Revolution and the emergence of agriculture in the Near East and Europe. It was a process that began 9,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent and continued until about 5,000 years ago, when farming reached the British Isles.

There are two theories that seek to explain this process, though neither is mutually exclusive and a synthesis of the two is certainly possible.

The first theory attributes the spread of agriculture to a process of cultural diffusion. In this case, ideas, practices, and techniques spread across territory.

The other theory, that of “demic diffusion,” holds that it was not the ideas and practices that spread but the farmers and cultivators themselves, migrants sustained by robust demographic growth.

The combination of demographic growth and migration would have set in motion a slow but continuous “wave of progress.”

Archaeological dating of European sites where populations developed a sedentary, grain-based system of agriculture is consistent with this theory.

The populating of the European continent appears to have occurred along a South–East to North–West axis – from the Eastern Mediterranean to the British isles – which brought with it the cultivation of new lands and the settlement of new villages. It was a slow wave of progress fueled by demographic growth and the availability of unsettled lands; it advanced at a rate of roughly 1 kilometer per year.

This expansion resembled that of the Bantu people who, in migrating from their point of origin along the border of Cameroon and Nigeria, gradually occupied central and southern Africa over the course of three millennia and cultivated a swath of land running from north to south for a distance of 5,000 kilometers.

These prehistoric migrations – both the more rapid movement of hunter-gatherers and the slower spread of agriculture – occurred in unoccupied or very sparsely populated areas. The migrants rarely if ever came in contact with other human inhabitants and were not forced to compete for resources.

Over the past 2,000 years, instances of this sort of unopposed expansion have become rarer and rarer. As areas became more densely settled, migrants had to interact and coexist with local populations, possibly imposing their own lifestyle or else adopting the one they encountered as a function of force and circumstance.

The process of migration can generate conflicts, confrontations, intermingling, and amalgamation – of a cultural, social, and bio-demographic nature. Naturally, all this occurs over a very drawn-out period of time. At the beginning of the Common Era (0 CE), geographic Europe – the land that lies between the Atlantic and the Urals, the North Sea and the Mediterranean – counted perhaps 30 or 40 million inhabitants, with roughly one-twentieth of its current density and many empty or sparsely populated regions, regions that by the eve of the Industrial Revolution were far less extensive.

Many of the migratory movements that characterized Europe in the first millennium of the modern era were movements of invasion and settlement, like the spread of the Germanic peoples following the fall of the Roman Empire. These were intrusions by groups that were small relative to native populations and driven by ambitions of conquest. Overall, they would have comprised only a few percentage points of the native populations.

Over this past millennium, European migratory currents have continued to be active: for example, the intense migration towards the East that not even the demographic depression caused by the pandemic of the fourteenth century could stop completely, and that indeed continued until the nineteenth century. It was a process of gradual settlement by the Germanic peoples in lands that had been occupied by Slavs over the previous millennium.

In addition to this major migration, there were also many other minor movements: that from north to south following the Reconquista of the Iberian Peninsula, or the northward movements of the Scandinavian people, or the southward path taken by Russian migrants in search of a more stable frontier.

In the Reconquista, the new territories were large while the population of the conquering Christian kingdoms was small, and their settlement in those regions was not a function of land hunger but instead responded to military and political considerations.

New settlements were not always stable and were often established at the expense of older communities. It was a case of too much land for too few people, who moreover were often poorly equipped and organized.

At the other end of the continent, instead, the Scandinavian people not only expanded inward toward the heart of the European continent, but also toward areas that were less hospitable and climatically challenging. In the ninth century, the Norwegians, united under Harald Fairhair, occupied Iceland: an extraordinary document, the Landnámabók, dated at around 930, describes a settlement of 30–50,000 people. They also settled in the Shetland and Orkney Islands and later established an unstable colony in Greenland.

In addition to these courageous episodes, the establishment of agriculture is documented in the Baltic Islands, in Scania, and in the central lowlands of Sweden. The great Germanic eastward migration that began in the ninth century and ended due to the crisis of the fourteenth century is a telling case. We pause to consider the events and movements of this period because they provide a model rendered impossible in our crowded modern world. Put simply, the process developed in three directions: southward, following the natural course of the Danube toward the plains of Hungary; laterally, into the open lands of the Low Countries, Thuringia, Saxony, and Silesia, north of the central Bohemian uplands; and northward, skirting the marshlands and German forests that rendered settlement and migration difficult, and so following the Baltic coast and leading to the gradual foundation of cities such as Rostock and Konigsberg.

The Slavic settlements then were pushed to the east and heavily encroached upon from the Germanic lands of Austria in the south, Silesia in the center, and Pomerania and Prussia in the north. Beyond these relatively compact areas (which still maintained, to varying degrees, an ethnically Slavic presence), migratory penetration did not come to a halt, but instead became fragmented, branching into the Baltic provinces, Volhynia, the Ukraine, Transylvania, Hungary, and points further east.

Though this process of settlement was, as we shall see, similar to the spontaneous wave of migration that had populated the European continent a few thousand years before, it had one key difference. It was, in fact, a deliberate and intentional process led and organized by a true migration policy.

The colonization process was led by princes, like the Margrave of Meissen, bishops, and, later, the Knights of the Teutonic Order, all of whom invested significant resources. The eleventh and twelfth centuries saw the establishment of colonies beyond the border marked by the Elbe and Saale Rivers, eastern frontier of the Carolingian Empire and so the boundary of Germanic settlement.

The twelfth century saw the colonization of Holstein, Mecklenburg, and Brandenburg, and, in the thirteenth, migration spread to Eastern Brandenburg, Pomerania, Silesia, and northern Moravia, beyond the Oder line. The settling of Prussia beyond the Vistula reached its apex in the fourteenth century.

Though the Germanic expansion did not penetrate Bohemia, inner Pomerania, or Lusatia, the process of eastward expansion continued, despite the setbacks caused by the long demographic crisis of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

The pace of colonization can be measured by the growth of new cities and peaked around 1300. The great eastward migration, the Drang nach Osten, was the major wave of medieval migration, but not the only one.

Under the influence of constant movement, the European continent took on a fairly stable structure, one that survived the rapid depopulation caused by plague cycles which left many abandoned villages in their wake. A stable and reliable network of houses, villages, castles, and cities came to occupy much of the European continent.

The medieval migration described here raises a number of questions relevant to our discussion. The first concerns the dimensions of this migratory phenomenon, though most of the evidence is conjectural. Study of the available documentary evidence – censuses, registers, town charters, etc. – suggests that the great twelfth-century migration from the German territories into the land between the Elbe and the Oder Rivers consisted of around 200,000 people.

The following century saw a migration of similar dimensions, leading to the colonization of lands reaching as far as Pomerania and Silesia. Documentary evidence indicates that between the years 1200 and 1360, around 1,200 villages were founded in Silesia and another 1,400 in Eastern Prussia, for a grand total of 60,000 farms and potentially around 300,000 people.

These numbers are relatively small, though they need to be compared to a German population of origin of modest dimensions, just a few million people (around 6 million in the thirteenth century). Even supposing that these estimates are low and that the population flow might have been two or three times greater, we still arrive at very modest rates of migration, no more than one per thousand per annum.

Nonetheless, this relatively modest flow had an important “foundation” effect – a few progenitors with many descendants – if we consider that the number of Germanic people living east of the Elbe–Saale line at the end of the nineteenth century was almost 30 million.

At this point we should address some important questions. First: were these eastward movements caused, as is often postulated, by land hunger resulting from the increased density of cultivated areas in the zones of departure, and so from rapid demographic growth?

There are various reasons to question this traditional interpretation: population density was indeed low in the zone of departure, especially at the beginning of the migration; the wave of emigration was relatively small as compared to the vigorous natural growth of the period; and there remained sparsely occupied areas close to home. Instead, this wave of migration seems to have owed more to the high level of technology and organization of the emigrating population and the correspondingly less developed state of the native Slavic population (the Wends) in the zone of immigration. Moreover, the settled lands presented extremely favorable conditions to farmers and the distances were fairly short.

The German immigrants had plows, axes, and tools that allowed them to deforest and cultivate difficult land. The Slavs hunted and fished and practiced an itinerant agriculture that entailed the abandonment of fields once their fertility was exhausted.

The circumstances and characteristics of the migration, organized and planned by the clergy and nobility, by the chivalric Orders (Templar and Teutonic knights), and by the great religious orders (Cistercians, Premonstratensians) are as follows.

First, the leaders were able to pick and choose specific lands – uncultivated ones in this case – to measure, divide, and monitor the availability of water and risk of flooding. They also had capital to invest, necessary to sustain the emigrants on their journey, keep them fed until the harvest, and provide them with seeds, tools, and fundamental resources. The organization of the migration required middlemen to administer relations between the founding lords and the peasants, and so there emerged the figure of the migration agent who displayed all the characteristics of an entrepreneur.

This capacity to organize and distribute resources entailed assignment to the average family of a farm (hufe) of roughly 20 hectares (either the small 17 hectare Flemish farm or the larger 24 hectare Frankish one) and the establishment of villages of 200–300 people (isolated houses were the exception). Moreover, the land was free from feudal bonds far into the future and could be bequeathed, sold, or abandoned.

These favorable conditions, and the need to actively recruit participants, suggests that the supply of available land exceeded the demand: The great extension of the movement is only explained by the fact that colonists bred colonists; for all over the world new settlers have big families.

Migration from Old Germany in many cases slackened early. Conditions of tenure in the colonized areas also encouraged this colonization by colonists’ families. Law or custom favoured the undivided inheritance of peasant holdings; so there were many younger sons without land.

If we follow this theory, the idea of a population driven to leave its homeland solely because of the pressure of strong demographic growth (growth that did indeed exist) begins to lose ground. Rather, this process of migration appears to be self-generating, encouraged by the abundance of available land and the technological and organizational superiority of the colonists, as compared to the sparsely settled, agriculturally less developed native population.

The opportunity to exchange a small farm in one’s native land for a couple of dozen hectares must have been attractive. The favorable conditions encountered by the first migrants in turn provoked strong demographic growth, and so triggered successive waves of migration.

In this way, the process of colonization did not require large-scale movements across long distances, but instead depended on a steady, continuous march led by generations of the offspring of colonists. We can then describe the Drang nach Osten as a slow wave of progress – almost 1,000 kilometers West to East in three centuries – conceptually analogous to the spread of agriculture from the Middle East to the British Isles several millennia before.

However, the latter migration differed in the way it was planned and organized, and also in that the territories that were occupied in the process of migration were not deserted, but populated by semi-nomadic Slavs.

Finally, the economy, technology, culture, and society were profoundly different. We can find characteristics similar to this wave of progress even during the peak of the Industrial Revolution: for example, in the gradual colonization of the American continent that progressed during the nineteenth century across the Mississippi River and westward to the Pacific Ocean.

The shift of the “frontier” toward the west occurred for numerous reasons: political (the acquisition of new territories such as Louisiana, Texas, and California), legislative (the Homestead Act of 1862 which bestowed free land on colonists willing to improve it), technological (the 1869 completion of the transcontinental railroad), and the chance of personal gain (placer deposits of gold were discovered in California in 1849).

It was a migration begun by fur trappers, miners, and ranchers, but whose driving force was made up of pioneering farmers. They were sustained by forces similar to those that sustained waves of migration in the past: the occupation of unoccupied or sparsely occupied territories by groups of prolific, agrarian families who, in turn, contributed to subsequent migrations.

One well-received theory attributes the ample dimension and high rates of childbirth among the families of farmers and landowners in the nineteenth century to the greater availability of land and the low cost of providing for their children. The frontier did not grow thanks to an influx of new migrants from the east – the costs of travel, acquiring and preparing land, buying tools and materials, and building a home were too high for the common worker – but thanks to the reproductive capacity of the already settled families.

This world, however, was a very different one from those we have considered above, and the wave of settlement was fed by migration from Europe and by industrialization, forces that rapidly destroyed the pre-existing economic order.

At just about the same time, the settling of Asiatic Russia was under way, led by a wave of peasant families crossing the Urals and consisting of 4.5 million people, more than 1 million of whom were political prisoners. It took place between the liberation of the serfs in 1861 and World War I.

In this case, too, we can detect traces of a wave of progress that pushed the frontier eastward, crossing the Urals, occupying Siberia and the steppes, and moving onward to the most distant eastern shores of Asia. It was pushed along by the availability of land and a high level of natural increase.

We refer, though, only to “traces,” as Czarist policies that sought to control and organize population movement heavily influenced the migration that was also responding to natural forces. Similarly, the wave paradigm appears to fit the populating of Manchuria following the Manchu dynasty’s conquest of China. Chinese immigration into these vast open territories, initially forbidden and then permitted, greatly intensified during the nineteenth century and counteracted the increasing pressure of Russian migration into the regions of the Usuri and Amur Rivers. The population, estimated at little more than a million in 1787, tripled by 1850 and increased sixfold between 1850 and 1904 as a result of immigration pressure from densely populated and impoverished northern China.

The majority of these immigrants were peasants who produced wheat, millet, corn, and soybeans. They fed a flow of migration that reached flood stage in the 1920s with completion of the Peking–Mukden railroad.

*

A short history of migration.

by Massimo Livi-Bacci

get it at Amazon.com

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Why we can’t afford the rich – Andrew Sayer.

“The ideology that the rich shower on us is meant to justify their privilege, but it turns the truth completely inside out.
When inequality reaches the insane levels it has done, the rich depend on hoodwinking us all into thinking that they are the source of jobs, prosperity and everything we value.
But once we stop believing this, either governments have to tackle inequality or revolutions arise.
Rich developed societies are very inefficient producers of well-being – particularly those with bigger income differences between rich and poor. Twenty per cent of the populations of the more unequal rich countries are likely to suffer forms of mental illness – such as depression, anxiety disorders, drug or alcohol addiction – each year. Rates may be three times as high as in the most equal countries.
At the same time, measures of the strength of community life and whether people feel they can trust others also show that more equal societies do very much better.
Tackling inequality is an important step towards achieving sustainability and high levels of well-being.
Large material inequalities mean that status becomes more important and social life is increasingly impoverished by status competition and status insecurities.
Social anxieties and our worries about how we are seen and judged are exacerbated. The result is that people start to feel that social life is more of an ordeal than a pleasure and gradually withdraw from social life, as the data show.
By intensifying status insecurities, inequality also drives consumerism, which is the biggest obstacle to sustainability. Any idea that we should consume less will be opposed as if it were an assault on our social standing and quality of life. But by reducing inequality, we not only reduce the importance of social status but, at the same time, we also improve social relations and the real quality of life. Reducing inequality is the first step towards combining sustainability with higher levels of well-being.
The super-rich now see themselves as superior beings who are doing us a kindness by living amongst us.
If we are to reduce inequality and stop the zombie-like extraction of more and more fossil fuel, we have to bring the economic and political dominance of the rich to a close.”

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Richard Wilkinson Emeritus Professor of Social Epidemiology, University of Nottingham

***

There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.
Warren Buffett, estimated ‘worth’ $44 billion, Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, New York Times, 26 November 2006

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We are seeing an extraordinary phenomenon: for years the rich have been pulling away from the rest, with the top 1% taking an increasing share of national wealth, while those on low to middling incomes have got progressively less. And the rich continue to get richer, even in the worst crisis for 80 years – they can still laugh all the way to their banks and tax havens as the little people bail out banks that have failed.

Meanwhile a new kind of bank is multiplying – providing food for those who can no longer make ends meet. Austerity policies fall most heavily on those at the bottom while the top 10%, and particularly the top 1%, are protected. Generally, the less you had to do with the crisis, the bigger the sacrifices – relative to your income – you have had to make.

Youth unemployment has soared – in Spain and Greece to over 50%; this is an outrageous waste of young lives, and in many countries it’s become clear that young people are unlikely to experience the prosperity their parents enjoyed. How ridiculous that the answer to our economic problems is seen as wasting more of our most important asset – people.

Meanwhile a political class increasingly dominated by the rich continues to support their interests and diverts the public’s attention by stigmatising and punishing those on welfare benefits and low incomes, cheered on by media overwhelmingly controlled by the super-rich.

But, while the divide between the rich and the rest has certainly grown, how can it be claimed that we can’t afford the rich?

Here’s a short answer

Their wealth is mostly dependent ultimately on the production of goods and services by others and siphoned off through dividends, capital gains, interest and rent, and much of it is hidden in tax havens. They are able to control much of economic life and the media and dominate politics, so their special interests and view of the world come to restrict what democracies can do.

Their consumption is excessive and wasteful and diverts resources away from the more needy and deserving. Their carbon footprints are grotesquely inflated and many have an interest in continued fossil fuel production, threatening the planet.

Of course, this brief summary leaves out many qualifications, not to mention the actual argument and evidence. Some readers may agree straightaway, some may have a few objections, but others may respond with incredulity, perhaps outrage, for to claim that we can’t afford the rich is to imply that they are a cost to the rest of us, a burden. Aren’t the rich wealth creators, job creators, entrepreneurs, investors – indeed, just the kind of people we need? Don’t entrepreneurs like Bill Gates deserve their wealth for having introduced products that benefit millions? Aren’t the rich entitled to spend what they have earned how they like? What right has anyone to say their consumption is excessive?

Couldn’t the rich cut their carbon footprints by switching to low-carbon consumption? Wouldn’t the world miss their philanthropy and the ‘trickle-down effects’ of their spending? In fact, isn’t this book just an example of ‘the politics of envy’ – directed at those whom former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair used to call ‘the successful’? Shouldn’t we thank, rather than begrudge, these ‘high net worth individuals’?

It’s the objections regarding the alleged role of the rich in wealth extraction, as opposed to wealth creation, that present the biggest challenge and occupy the bulk of this book, though I’ll attempt to answer other objections too. In the process it will become clear that this is not about the politics of envy – a cheap slur used by those who want to duck the arguments and evidence – but the politics of injustice. I don’t envy the rich, in fact I regard such envy as thoroughly misguided. But I resent the unjust system by which the rich are allowed to extract wealth that others produce and to dominate society for their own interests.

What’s more, this is not only unjust but profoundly dysfunctional and inefficient, and it creates inhumane, rat-race societies. The time is ripe for examining where the wealth of the rich comes from. The Occupy movement has very successfully highlighted the growing split between the top 1% and the 99%, and the dominance of politics by the 1%.

The rich have made a remarkable comeback since the 1970s – the end of the post-war boom – rapidly increasing their share of national income in a large number of countries, Britain included. We are now getting back to early 20th-century levels of inequality between the rich and the rest. Having cornered ‘only’ 5.9–9% of total income before tax in the UK in the early 1950s through to 1978 – ‘The Golden Age of Capitalism’ – the top 1% of ‘earners’ now hoover up 13%.

The early post-war period was a time when the majority of the population shared in the post-war boom, with low-income households doing slightly better than others and the top 5% growing at slower rates, albeit from a higher base. But from 1979 the majority of incomes stagnated or grew only slowly, while the poorest fifth suffered a substantial loss and the rich roared ahead, swallowing up most of the spoils of economic growth, with the top 0.01% enjoying a 685% rise in real income!

This divergence has continued since the crash; indeed the gulf is widening as a result of austerity policies, which disproportionately hit those on low to middle incomes, contrary to the rhetoric of ‘We’re all in it together’.

In fact, the inequalities within the top 1% are much greater than between them and the 99%. Those in the top 1% in the UK have incomes ranging from just under £100,000 to billions. What’s more, the richer they are, the faster their income has grown: the top 0.5% have increased their share faster than the rest of the 1%, but not as fast as the top 0.1%, while the top 0.01% (ten-thousandth) have enriched themselves even faster.

Inequalities in wealth – the monetary value of individuals’ accumulated assets minus their liabilities (debts) – are even wider than income inequalities, and increasing. In the US, the top 1% own 35% of the nation’s wealth and the bottom 40% a mere 0.2%! In the UK in 2008–10, the members of the top 1% each had £2.8 million or more (14% of the nation’s wealth), though, given the opportunities for the rich to hide their wealth, this is almost certainly an underestimate. Twenty-eight per cent of wealth in the UK is inherited, not earned. Half of the population had wealth of less than £232,400, and the poorest 10% had less than £12,600.

In the US, the top 0.01% have gone from having less than 3% of national wealth in the mid-1970s to over 11% in 2013.

The richest one-thousandth – currently those with more than $20 million – own over a fifth of the country’s wealth.

Oxfam 2014 data:

• The richest 85 people in the world own as much as the poorest half of the world’s population, all 3.5 billion of them!

• 46% of the world’s wealth is now owned by just 1% of the population.

• The wealth of the richest 1% in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.

• Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.

Have the rich got richer because those at the top have become more enterprising, dynamic wealth creators? Are today’s capitalists – or entrepreneurs, as they like to call themselves – so much better at leading economic development than their more moderately paid predecessors of the post-war boom?

The economic data suggests the opposite. Growth rates have been slower than in the post-war boom. The rich are clearly not taking the same share of faster growth, but an increasing share of slower growth. So how have they done it?

The rich are not only getting a bigger proportion of nations’ gross incomes, but keeping more of it, thanks to massive drops in top rates of taxation.

From the 1930s onwards, tax rates on the rich soared, topping 90% in the UK, US, France and, briefly, Germany. It’s hard to believe this now when they have fallen to less than 50%, with many governments repeatedly trying to drive them down still lower. The sky did not fall down when top rates of tax were high, indeed the economies of these countries boomed, yet we are now told in severe tones that taxing the rich merely restrains growth.

To show why we can’t afford the rich we need to do more than find out just how rich they are and describe how they got their money and spend it. We need to do something that most books on the rich and the financial crisis fail to do – question the legitimacy of their wealth. But it is important to realise just how rich the rich are. I don’t want to put readers off with an indigestible mass of figures, but some are needed, especially as few people realise how unequal our society is and just how wealthy the rich are.

In the US the boundary isn’t quite so sharp, with the 4% below the top 1% getting a slight increase in share of national income since the post-war boom, though nothing like as big an increase as those above them, but it’s at the top of the 1% where the big gains have been made.

The richer people are, the higher the proportion of their income is likely to be unearned, through being based on power rather than some kind of contribution.

The UK has 63.9 million people and yet many of their most important needs could be met several times over just by the collective wealth of the richest 1,000. (Could there be a solution here?) When people worry about the effect of an ageing population on the pension bill and the NHS bill, we need to remember that just the annual growth of the wealth of the super-rich could easily pay for it. This is a ridiculous and obscene misallocation of resources. And why should we celebrate the growth of the financial sector, but see the growth of the health sector as a problem? Globally, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires website, the top 100 billionaires controlled $1.9 trillion in 2012, adding $240 billion that year. Oxfam calculates that just over a quarter of this – $66 billion – would have been enough to have raised everyone in the world over the $1.25 per day poverty line.

With a ‘net worth’ of $76 billion, Bill Gates of Microsoft is the richest person in the world, according to the 2013 Forbes list of billionaires. Second, with $72 billion, and for many years the first, is Carlos Slim Helu, a Mexican who took over his country’s telecommunications industry when it was privatised – a nice example of the consequences of privatising state monopolies.

Warren Buffett, whose candid statement about class war heads up this introduction, is fourth.

The richest woman, at ninth, with $52.5 billion, is Christy Walton, who inherited part of the Walmart fortune. Three other members of the Walton family are in the top 20. Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul, with $13.5 billion, comes in at 78th.

Very few of the rich and super-rich are celebrities. The wealthiest, Steven Spielberg, with $3 billion, is 337th on the Forbes list. Next is Oprah Winfrey, at 442nd with $2.7 billion.

In the UK, the Sunday Times often uses a montage of photos of celebrities to publicise its Rich List, but as in the US, few of them reach the upper levels. The highest (2012), Paul McCartney, with £665 million, owes his high position partly to marrying Nancy Shevell, an American heiress. Author J.K. Rowling, came in at 148th, the Beckhams at 395th. Most of the super-rich above them are unknown to the vast majority of British people.

The top six in the UK are all foreign nationals resident in the UK, attracted by special tax deals open to them: Alisher Usmanov (first, with £13.3 billion) owns Russia’s biggest iron ore producer; second is another Russian, Leonard Blavatnik, who’s involved in a range of industries including music, aluminium, oil and chemicals; in third place, the Hinduja brothers inherited their father’s conglomerate, with interests in power, automotive and defence industries in India and overseas; Lakshmi Mittal, in fourth place, is an Indian-born steel magnate who owes much of his wealth to buying up former Soviet state enterprises when they were privatised; Roman Abramovich (fifth), from Russia, best known in the UK for his ownership of Chelsea football club, owns an investment company with interests in a wide range of sectors, particularly oil; Norwegian-born Cypriot citizen John Frederiksen (shipping and oil) is sixth.

‘Non domiciles’, like these individuals, take advantage of a rule unique to the UK and Ireland that allows those who can claim to be linked to some other domicile to escape UK tax on their income and capital gains in all of the rest of the world, providing they do not bring the money into the country.

At eighth, the richest British-born person on the list is the Duke of Westminster, with £7.8 billion, who inherited property in Lancashire, Cheshire, Scotland and Canada and prime sites in London.

Although only a minority of the super-rich around the world list their speciality as finance, most of those in non-finance business are nevertheless also heavily involved in finance, in playing the markets and making deals25 and, of course, steel, power or telecommunications companies and the like are chosen for financial gain.

Why have the rich got a bigger share?

The return of the rich over the last four decades has been closely associated with developments in capitalism. Most important has been the rise of a new political economic orthodoxy, called neoliberalism.

Initiated aggressively by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the 1980s, it was consolidated with more stealth by their successors, New Labour as well as Conservative, Democrat as well as Republican.

Now, after the crash of 2007–08 and in the ensuing recession – exactly when it has most clearly failed – it is being imposed with renewed vigour. It has three key features.

1.

Markets are assumed to be the optimal or default form of economic organisation, and to work best with the minimum of regulation. Competitive markets supposedly reward efficiency and penalise inefficiency and thereby ‘incentivise’ us to improve. Governments and the public sector, by comparison, are claimed to be inferior at organising things – monopolistic and prone to complacency, inefficiency and cronyism. Governments should therefore privatise as much as possible.

Financial markets should be deregulated and there should be ‘flexible labour markets’ – political code language for jobs in which pay can fall as well as rise and in which there is little security. Where parts of the public sector can’t be privatised, league tables should be established and individuals, schools, universities, hospitals, museums, and so on should be made to compete for funds and be rewarded or penalised according to their placing.

Democracy needs to be reined in because the ballot box can’t match markets in governing complex economies; people can express themselves better through what they buy and sell.

Unsurprisingly, neoliberals keep their anti-democracy agenda under wraps.

2.

The rise of neoliberalism also involves a political and cultural shift compatible with its market fundamentalism. Through a host of small changes in everyday life, we are increasingly nudged towards thinking and acting in ways that fit with a market rationality.

More and more, the media address us as self-seeking consumers, savvy investors, ever pursuing new ways of supplementing our incomes through ‘smart investments’.

Risk and responsibility are transferred to the individual. Job shortages are no longer acknowledged, let alone seen as a responsibility of the state: there are just inadequate individuals unable to find work: ‘skivers’, ‘losers’. No injustice, just bad choices and hapless individuals. The word ‘loser’ now evokes contempt, not compassion.

Those unable to find jobs that pay enough to allow them to cope and who still need the welfare state are marginalised, disciplined and stigmatised as actual or potential cheats. State health services and pensions are run down and replaced by private health insurance and private pensions.

You’re on your own, free to choose, free to lose, depending on how you navigate through the world of opportunities and dangers.

Instead of seeing ourselves as members of a common society, contributing what we can, sharing in its growth, pooling risks and providing mutual support, we are supposed to see ourselves as competing individuals with no responsibility for anyone else.

Want to jump the queue for medical services? Click here. Want to give your child an advantage? Pay for private tuition. We should compete for everything and imagine that what is actually only possible for the better off is possible for everyone; everyone can win simultaneously if they try.

We are expected to see ourselves as commodities for sale on the labour market, but also as ‘entrepreneurs of the self’. Hence the rise of the cult of the curriculum vitae (résumé) and self-promotional culture.

Education is increasingly debased by efforts to turn it into a means for making young people in this mould.

Some people – probably many readers of this book – may want to resist these tendencies, but in a neoliberal society it is impossible to avoid them totally, not least because in so much of life using markets (disguised as ‘choice’) and competing in league tables have become the only choices we can make.

3.

Neoliberalism has ushered in a shift in the economic class structure of the countries it has most affected.

It involves not only a shift of power and wealth towards the rich, marked most clearly by the weakening of organised labour in industrialised economies and the enrichment of the 1%, but a shift of power within the rich: from those whose money comes primarily from control of the production of goods and services, to those who get most of their income from control of existing assets that yield rent, interest or capital gains, including gains from speculation on financial products.

The traditional term for members of this latter group is ‘rentier’. Many of the changes noted in 1 and 2 above benefit them.

Neoliberalism as a political system supports rentier interests, particularly by making the 99% indebted to the 1%.

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A different approach: ‘moral economy’

The deregulation and spectacular growth of finance are central to neoliberalism and the rise of the rich – and to the biggest economic crisis since the Great Crash of 1929.

There has been a small avalanche of books on the financial crisis of 2007, some of them illuminating, many merely providing superficial narratives of successive financial disasters and the key players in them, served up with journalistic brio. Some critiques have targeted the hubris of the financial sector, identifying mismanagement, poor judgement and questionable legality.

But some have seen the credit crunch and recession as evidence of something more basic – capitalism’s crisis-prone nature.

Why We Can’t Afford the Rich isn’t just about the financial crisis, dire though it is. It’s about what underpins and generates such crises – the very architecture of our economy. It treats the economy not merely as a machine that sometimes breaks down, but as a complex set of relationships between people, increasingly stretched around the world, in which they act as producers of goods and services, investors, recipients of various kinds of income and as taxpayers and consumers.

The problems it identifies are as old as capitalism, though they have become much more serious with the rise of finance over the last 40 years. It goes beyond a focus on irrationality and systemic breakdown, to injustice and the moral justifications of taken-for-granted rights and practices. It’s not only about how much people in different positions in the economy should get paid for what they do, but about whether those positions are legitimate in the first place.

Is it right that they’re allowed to do what they’re doing?

There is of course a long history of critiques of capitalism aimed at different targets: alienation, insecurity and poverty; the treadmill of working and consuming; economic contradictions and irrationalities; and environmental destruction. There are useful things to learn from all of these critiques, but at the current time, when the rich have increased their power so much, and inequalities have widened, I believe we need a new line of attack, one that focuses on the institutions and practices that allow this to happen.

Too many books on economic justice, and especially on the economic crisis, take as given the very institutions and practices that need questioning. This book is about the injustices of some long-standing economic relations that have come to a head in the crisis. It could be described as an example of ‘moral economy’. By this I mean not moralising about greed but assessing the moral justifications of basic features of economic organisation. It’s about the huge differences between what some are able to get and what they do, need and deserve.

What people should get is a difficult issue, particularly where it’s a matter of what we think people deserve or merit, but in the case of the rich, it can be shown that what they actually get has more to do with power. I shall argue that basically, the rich get most of their income by using control of assets like land and money to siphon off wealth that others produce. Much of their income is unearned. What’s more, over the last 35 years, particularly with the increasing dominance of the economy by finance – ‘financialisation’, as it’s sometimes called – the rich have become far richer than before by expanding these sources of unearned income.

This book is not only about money and goods, but about the very language of economic life, for the history of our modern economy is partly one of struggles over how to describe or categorise economic practices, as this affects what we see as acceptable or unacceptable: words like ‘investment’, ‘speculation’ or ‘gambling’ invite different evaluations. Who wouldn’t prefer to be called an ‘investor’ rather than a speculator or gambler? But what do such terms mean and what practices fit them? When a top banker is described as having ‘earned’ £x million, we might question what ‘earned’ means in such a context: is it just what they’ve managed to extract from the economy?

This struggle over words has been largely won by the rich and powerful, so how we speak about economic life systematically conceals their activities. Mainstream economics has proved to be a helpful if largely unwitting accomplice to this process, fearful of anything that might be construed as critical of capitalism.

To show why we can’t afford the rich we need to go into some basic economic matters, but in a different and yet simpler way than usual. Most basically, we need to remember something that has been forgotten in modern mainstream economics: economics is about provisioning. As anthropologists and feminist economists have reminded us, it’s about how societies provide themselves with the wherewithal to live. Provisioning requires work – producing goods, from food and shelter through to clothes and newspapers, and services, such as teaching, providing advice and information, and care work. Almost all provisioning involves social relations between people, as producers, consumers, owners, lenders, borrowers and so on. It’s through these relations that provisioning is organised.

Some kinds of provisioning take place through markets; some do not. The market/non-market boundary does not define the edge of the economy: unpaid work in preparing a meal for someone is as much an economic act as preparing pizzas for sale – or selling computers or insurance. Most economists and political theorists think of economic actors only as independent, able-bodied adults, forgetting that they all started off as helpless babies, unable to provide for themselves and dependent on others, and who sooner or later reach a stage where, whether for reasons of illness, disability or age, they become unable to contribute to provisioning themselves and others.

There is nothing exceptional about these conditions. We all go through them: they are universals. We can never pay back our parents for all the work they did for us, just as future generations will never be able to pay their parents back. Dependence on others, particularly across generations, is part of being human; it derives from the fact that we are social animals, ‘dependent rational animals’, as the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre put it; we cannot survive on our own.

Robinson Crusoe depended on having been brought up in society; the newborn Crusoe wouldn’t have lasted more than a few hours on his own. And like Crusoe we depend on the resources of the earth to survive; we cannot flourish if we damage the planet.

No one would deny the right of children to be fed (‘subsidised’) by their parents when they are too young to contribute anything in return. But would it be OK for me to buy up the company that currently provides your water and slap an extra 10% on your bills so that in effect you subsidise me, enriching me greatly? Would that be a defensible form of dependence?

Or if I seized a park or beach that you had visited regularly all your life and charged you for access, would that be all right? Dependence can be defensible or indefensible; it depends.

Because we are so dependent on each other, there are always likely to be questions of fairness and justice where economic activities are concerned. Are you being paid fairly? Is it right that some get so much/little, and pay so much/little tax? Should students pay for their university courses? Should you get interest on your savings? Should there be more/less/no child benefit? More money for carers, or none? Who should pick up the bill when a company goes bankrupt, and who should pay for clearing up a derelict site left by deindustrialisation? Who should pay for pollution?

These and other such questions are about moral economy. I believe we need to think much more about them – about whether our familiar economic arrangements are fair and justifiable, instead of taking them simply as immutable facts of life – or equally bad, as matters of mere subjective ‘preferences’, or ‘values’, beyond the scope of reason.

Individuals may sometimes give more than they get, or get more than they give, for justifiable reasons, as in the case of parent–child relations, but sometimes they do so for no good reason other than power. Sexist men free-ride on the domestic labour of women for no good reason. This free-riding is particularly likely where people or organisations are very unequal in power. Minority control of key assets that others need is a crucial source of power and inequalities.

Because they can.

Important though it is to think about moral economy, it’s different from explaining economic arrangements. Few of our ways of doing things in economic matters are arrived at through democratic decision or careful deliberation on what is good and fair. Most are products of power. Usually, the best explanation of what people do and what they get in economic matters is because they can.

Why do chief executive officers (CEOs) of big companies pay themselves such vast amounts? Because they can. They may offer justifications, but these are not only invariably feeble but redundant. They can get their pay rises even if the majority of people think they’re unjustifiable. And usually the fuss over their pay hikes dies down in a week or two anyway.

Equally, when we ask why care workers get so little for doing work that clearly benefits people, the answer is because that’s all they can get, given their limited power. What we think people should justifiably get or contribute is one thing, and what they can actually get is another. Justifications and explanations are usually different.

Many of the defences of existing economic institutions are surprisingly weak, but particularly if people start treating those arrangements as natural – as ‘just how things are’ – they can persist on the basis of power.

The landowner and the stranger

Here’s an example of a taken-for-granted economic institution – private ownership of land by a minority.

You may know the story of the stranger who trespassed on a landowner’s land and was told to ‘get off my land’, whereupon the stranger asked the owner how he got this land. ‘From my father’, was the answer. ‘And where did he get it from then?’ ‘From his father’ . . . , who got it from his father, and so on. ‘So how did one of your ancestors get this land in the first place?’ asked the stranger. ‘By fighting someone for it’, said the landlord. ‘Right’, said the stranger, ‘I’ll fight you for it. If it was all right for your ancestor to seize the land in the first place, it must be all right to seize it back now. And if it wasn’t all right for them to seize it, it should be seized back now!’

The story is striking but it’s not clear what a better alternative might be. Would private ownership of land be OK if it was divided up equally so everyone had some? Or should land be publicly owned with individuals renting plots from the state, with the use of the rent revenue to be decided democratically? What the story does, at least, is jolt us out of our uncritical acceptance of the institution of minority land ownership. At this time of crisis we need much more jolting.

Mainstream economics takes the particular features of capitalism – a very recent form of economic organisation in human history – as if they were universal, timeless and rational. It treats market exchange as if it’s the essential feature of economic behaviour and relegates production or work – a necessity of all provisioning – to an afterthought.

It also focuses primarily on the relationship between people and goods (what determines how many oranges we buy?) and pays little attention to the relationships between people that this presupposes. It values mathematical models based on if-pigs-could-fly assumptions more than it values empirical research; so it pays little attention to real economies, having little to say about money and debt, for example!

Predictably, the dismal science failed to predict the crisis. When the UK’s Queen Elizabeth asked why no one saw the crisis coming, the economists’ embarrassment was palpable.

I’ll be drawing on the work of thinkers who had a more critical view, including, in chronological order, Aristotle, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, the Christian socialist R.H. Tawney and many recent so-called ‘heterodox economists’ and political commentators. Significantly, many of the latter did predict the current crisis.

Capitalism: a mixed bag

While this is as much a critique of capitalism as a critique of the rich, capitalism is both good and bad in a host of ways. There is no doubt, in particular, that it has produced unprecedented growth in technology and science and led to the integration of formerly largely separate parts of the world, as eulogised by Marx and Engels in The Communist Manifesto.

Marx and Engels were less prescient as regards the improvement in living standards for many workers, who turned out to be better off being exploited than not being exploited, though that does not mean there were no losers or that there cannot be better alternatives to capitalism.

The media have a depressing tendency to favour simple stories of good versus bad over ones that portray the world as a complex mix of good and bad. This book should not be seen as ignoring the benefits capitalism has brought; nor, in criticising it, to be legitimising the state socialism of the former Soviet Bloc.

‘Neither Washington nor Moscow (former or contemporary!)’ would be my slogan. A recent Russian saying goes: ‘Marx was completely wrong about communism, but damn, it turns out he was right about capitalism!’

I don’t think he was entirely right about capitalism by any means, though his thinking on its dynamics and on its generation of inequalities was more illuminating than most. But I’ll draw on plenty of other thinkers too, many of them in varying degrees critical of Marx. If you’re wondering whether I’m a Smithian, Marxist or Keynesian or whatever, my answer in each case is yes and no: yes where I think they’re right, no where I think they’re wrong.

The belief in a just world

For New Labour and Conservatives it’s become an article of faith to deny that the rich are rich because others are poor. To get ahead, any career politician has to parrot this claim; it helps to keep corporate funders of their political parties happy, as well as media owned by the super-rich. No evidence or argument is needed, apparently; they just have to profess the belief, as if swearing on the Bible.

This book shows that whatever they might want to believe, the rich are indeed rich largely at the expense of the rest. How tempting it is for not only the rich but also the merely comfortably-off to imagine that, through their own efforts and special qualities, they deserve what they have, disregarding the fact that by the accident of birth they were born into an already rich country and in many cases an already well-off family within it that gives them significant advantages. How easy to overlook that they rely on getting cheap products made and grown by people from poor countries, who are no less hard-working or deserving but can be paid much less because they have little alternative.

But it’s not only the rich who believe that they deserve their wealth. Many in the rest of the population think so too: ‘they’ve earned it so they’re entitled to it’ is a common sentiment, even among those on low incomes. This is an example of what US psychologist Melvin Lerner called ‘the belief in a just world’. In economic matters, it’s the idea that, roughly speaking, we get paid what we deserve and deserve what we get paid.

Believing the rich deserve their wealth may seem a pleasingly generous sentiment, though assuming the poor also deserve their lot does not. It produces an unwarranted deference to the rich. As Lerner noted, the belief in a just world is a delusion, a kind of wishful thinking. Who wouldn’t want to live in a just world, where need was recognised and effort and merit rewarded, while their opposites were not? But it doesn’t follow that we do.

Understandably, since the 2007 crash, people have become more critical of the rich, especially those identified as bankers. Yet, according to recent surveys of public attitudes, they are even more critical of those at the bottom, scorned as ‘welfare mothers’, ‘chavs’, ‘trailer trash’, ‘scroungers’ and so on. What’s more, it seems that as societies become more unequal, their members become less critical of inequality!

The rule of the rich Economic power is also political power. The very control of assets like land and money is a political issue. Those who control what used to be called ‘the commanding heights of the economy’ – and increasingly that means the financial sector – can pressure governments, including democratically elected ones, to do their bidding. They can threaten to take their money elsewhere, refuse to lend to governments except at crippling rates of interest, demand minimalist financial regulation, hide their money in tax havens and demand tax breaks in return for political funding.

Investigative journalists have revealed the circulation of individuals between political posts and positions in key financial institutions, and the role of powerful lobby groups in maintaining the dominance of unregulated finance, even after the crash. Prominent financial institutions have been involved in illegal money laundering, insider dealing and manipulation of interest rates, yet in the UK no one has been prosecuted and, where banks have been fined, the fines have not been imposed but arrived at by negotiation, as ‘settlements’! They have infamously pocketed gains while the losses they have incurred have been dumped on the public, who have suffered substantial drops in income and services as a result.

Of course, many politicians are already from an upper-class background in which supporting the rich is as natural as breathing, but even if they are not, ‘our representatives’ have become increasingly unrepresentative of the majority of the population at large.

Even if they want to resist, they face an environment dominated by financial interests.

Spending it

The problem of the rich goes beyond issues of how they get their money, to how they spend it. Their massive spending on luxuries distorts economies, diverting producers from providing goods and services for the more needy. It’s a waste of labour and scarce resources.

In some cases, it makes things worse for those on low incomes, for example, by driving up house prices beyond their reach. The super-rich have so much that there is no way they can spend all of it on things they can use, so they recycle the rest into further rounds of speculation, buying up property, companies and financial assets that generate little or no productive investment, and merely siphon off more wealth that others have produced.

No one treads more heavily on the earth than the rich. Private jets and multiple mansions mean massive carbon footprints. Yet the inconvenient fact is of course that even though most of us have smaller footprints, in the rich countries they are still seriously in excess of what the planet can absorb. Even if we could afford them in money terms, we cannot afford high-carbon, high-consumption life-styles if we are to stop runaway global warming.

We are in deep trouble, not just because of the economic crisis, but because it’s overshadowed by a bigger and more threatening crisis – climate change. The solution to the economic crisis is widely thought to be growth. But that will only accelerate global warming.

The rich countries need to switch to steady-state or ‘degrowth’ economies to save the planet, but capitalism needs growth to survive; it’s in its DNA.

Soviet state socialism proved no better environmentally. We need a different model. If that seems a gloomy conclusion, there is a very important and positive counter message: that beyond a certain level, attained already by most people in rich countries, well-being is not improved much by further increases in wealth, and well-being tends to be higher in more equal countries.

Above this threshold, well-being is improved by greater equality, reductions in stress, exercise, being with others, both caring for and being cared for, developing interests and skills and projects and experiencing the world at large beyond the confines of narrowly defined jobs.

Ending the rat race will do us, and the planet, a lot of good.

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Why we can’t afford the rich.

by Andrew Sayer

get it at Amazon.com

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