April 21, 2014

Inequality: “The richest 1 percent appropriated 60 percent of the increase in US national income between 1977 and 2007.” WTF!

Posted in Global Economy · 64 comments ·

The other day, I went for a coffee with one of the local priests here in Dalkey. Father Declan was chatting about all sorts of stuff, and we touched on the first year of Pope Francis and what it has meant. For millions of Catholics all over the world – whether practising or not – the image of a truly humble man, who says the right things and seems honestly interested in the poor, is a relief.

He has had quite a remarkable effect on the brand and image of the church.

An overwhelming proportion of Catholics in the rich world (America and Europe) are impressed by him. Mass attendance, which had been falling all over the world, has stopped falling. In Latin America, the growth of evangelical Christianity has been stopped in its tracks. The evangelicals had been eating into the Catholic market share for the past decade.

Even The Economist magazine, heralding Francis as the “turnaround CEO of the year”, commends him for grabbing a huge corporate entity like the world’s biggest institutional religion and shaking it up, with immediate positive results.

Some may argue that it is all style over substance. He may now live in a boarding house instead of the traditional Papal palace, he may go out at night and talk to the poor, he may even wash the feet of the downtrodden, but what, the cynics argue, about women priests? Others will point out that he may have swapped the faintly ridiculous and outrageously camp dainty red shoes of his predecessor for normal brogues, but what about gay rights?

But this narrow assessment misses the point. He is the boss of the Catholic Church not the rotating chairperson of a civil liberties lobby group.

Change takes time and the Catholic Church, like any enormous institution, is extremely difficult to change fundamentally; it is also important to understand that in leading, you must take your constituency with you.

There is little point in Pope Francis ‘doing a Gorbachev’ by leading your followers in a direction they don’t want to go and watching the institution you were trying to reform crumble underneath you. (The unfinished business of the Soviet Union’s collapse is now playing out 25 years later in Ukraine.)

The task of the corporate turnabout is always going to be a combination of changing the inner workings of the organization while at the same time reinforcing the message to the outside world that you are moving in a particular direction. This is what appears to be happening in the Catholic Church.

This Pope is softer on gay rights (“Who am I to judge?” was his response to questions about morality and gay people), contraception and tolerance in general. He knows that certainly in Europe and America these messages are much more in tune with the average Catholic than the hardline rhetoric of predecessors. On the poor and inequality, the Pope is actually repeating what previous Popes have said but because he has washed the feet of convicts and walks around rather than being chauffeured, his intentions seem less hypocritical.

Fr Declan spoke to me about Pope Francis’ view on economics as articulated in a writing late last year in which he showed a willingness to use tough language in attacking what he views as the excesses of capitalism.

Using a phrase with special resonance for free marketers everywhere, he was strongly critical of the idea of  ’trickle down economics’, which is an economic theory (often affiliated with US conservatives) that discourages taxation and regulation.

Trickle down economics contends that even if the rich get a disproportionate amount of the wealth, wealth generation at the top will trickle down to the bottom eventually and there is nothing the State has to do other than watch this process.

Francis wrote in the November 2013 papal statement:

Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.

This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacred workings of the prevailing economic system.

It is impossible, even for ideological right wing economists, to argue with the Pope on this one. Inequality is rising at a horrendous rate around the world; fewer and fewer people are getting more and more of the goodies.

An Oxfam report revealed last month that in the UK, the top five families own more of the national wealth than the bottom twelve and a half million people. This is inequality on a feudal level and is certainly not the recipe for any sort of social cohesion.

I’d say if the same calculations were done here we’d find similarly outrageous figures. While they might not be quite so outlandish, there can be little doubt that the top 1 per cent in Ireland own multiples of the wealth of the bottom 10 per cent.

In the past few years, this trend towards inequality has been exacerbated as wages have been undermined by competition and globalisation while the return to capital, whether it’s the stock market or companies’ profit margins, has sky-rocketed.

Now that the house prices in South Dublin – which is where the already rich live – are up 20 per cent in the past year, the wealth of the already wealthy is rising 10 times faster than wages for the average worker.

The Pope’s worries about inequality mirror those of a new book that is taking economics by storm.

The French economist Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital is an extraordinary attack on trickle down economics.

By looking at statistical evidence, Piketty reinforces the Pope’s assertion that trickle down economics is an ”opinion that has never been verified by the facts.

Piketty shows that in America the richest one per cent appropriated 60 per cent of the increase in US national income between 1977 and 2007.

In a review of the book in the Financial Times the influential economics commentator Martin Wolf says that,

“Piketty shows that there is no general tendency towards greater economic equality and that the relatively high degree of equality seen from the 1950s to the 1980s was the result of deliberate policy, especially progressive taxation and the destruction of inherited wealth, particularly in Europe, between 1914 and 1945″.

A further lesson is that we are slowly recreating the patrimonial capitalism – the world dominated by inherited wealth – of the late 19th century.

This Easter Sunday, it is worth considering the economic message of Pope Francis. When the Argentinian Jesuit leader of the Catholic Church and the French son of radical Trotskyists are on the same page, you know we are in interesting times.

Happy Easter.

  1. Bamboo

    Thanks David, happy Easter.

    • Inequality does not Affect The Catholic Church when was the Last time bishop Martin preached About Inequality or the disproportionate Cuts to OAPs Carers etc,?
      Mystery to me Is why so many Rich are more or Less Left Alone By the criminal Classes Inequality breeds Criminal behaviour It maybe too early to see Kidnappings armed Holdups But as sure as night follows day those days will come,

  2. colmbgarvey

    If every single thinking person is aware of this huge equality gap….what is stopping the politicians actually doing something about it ? On paper it seems so easy ! (The simple conspirational theory of vested interests and lobbies etc. does not seem to hold water). If they want to get re-elected, just redistribute….should be easy…but seems to not work in practice. Why not ?

    • eraph

      “Why not?”

      Ireland’s Debt Load and No Political Courage ,is the short answer to that question

      Odious foreign Debt,heaped on us by our politicians, who care not for the serfs,but rather,the every whim of our inexecrable dogs,that is ,our IMF/Troika overlords,who must always be obeyed !!!!

      I’m not sure if it’s fair to compare, but in Iceland,it did “work in practise”…Iceland DID have a GROWTH strategy when they realised they were in an economic abyss. Remembering they had the Krona and so didn’t need to ask ,beg, for ‘permission’ to ACT [and not react]they courageously and strategically agreed to burn their bondholders!! Then they thought outside the box again and attempted to creatively boost their economy and “redistributed” wealth in the forms of extending generous tax credits/exemptions and significant mortgage write downs -to the tune of ~1.5 Billllion euro ,if memory serves?

      In their view, of their Future that is, debt forgiveness for Joe & Jane Public was an INVESTMENT in the state’s infrastructure and the Real economy. With this directionality, this boost was targeted at the socio economically deprived areas of society,[ that is the vulnerable and NOT at criminal banksters !] and it worked a treat too ! Good for them!! No cronyism cuddling up to these banking vermin and Sacrificing the voting public to the evil 1%!!…. That’s Real leadership… having a future orientation, sans the vice like grip of international finance around their throats!That’s real progress and in the direction of Real Freedom!

      But in Ireland,spineless ,mindless Enda will procrastinate,feed the property bubble again and choose,yes choose by inaction, to starve and crucify the peasants!! We’ve seen all this before,and in our own history!

      • eraph

        Debt write downs in whatever form,were seen,are still seen, politically especially, as an EXPENSE that ‘we’ simply can’t afford [ won''t be tolerated more like !!] So, to sum up, Enda’s gospel, as written in the book of IMF/TROIKA/ECB ,is from the AUSTERITY scriptures and the Zeusian disciples of our Gov’t ,will not deviate from what is very clearly a neo FASCIST pathway to tyranny – of wilful brainwashing, scare mongering and crippling AUSTERITY ‘programmes’,thereby shackling the Irish people and their children,for generations to come,to debt servitude….AMAZING and TRUE!!

        The evil IMF and the cult of international finance, DEMAND(albeitwith a courteous smile and in an Armani suit) their pound of flesh and there’ll be no mercy rendered !! That’s what we face…

        So,all our future consumption,for decades that is, is brought forward to today, butwith the speed of a blinding flash and with an invoice of course, but we can pay on ‘the never never’,for Decades!!! All non-productive debt that created nothing (except bubbles)and had zero effect for the physical economy! That’s some kinda sorcery!!!

        The PEOPLE with mortgages however, distressed or otherwise, did NOT get ANY write down/haircut …Alas, no magic wand for us ! The Irish got and continue to get to carry the can and actually subsidise these American PE vulture funds/hedge funds and their asset stripping, looting ways! Its not checkmate just yetbut we are “certainly being handed our hats !!!”

        When such Icelandic tactics of debt discounts / writedowns and other such GROWTH moves are even whispered in Ireland ,the pontificators of moral hazard from the Gov’t pulpit, profess their defeatist sophistry of – “it can’t be done!”. And the [feared] rating agencies too wouldn’t be at all happy with such creative moves and of course our [bankrupt] banks and their U.S based scavenging backers,can’t bejeopardised and destabilised or upset, even tho we the PEOPLE, now OWN our banks ?!!!

        As the inept,gutless liar that is Enda and our spineless central bank says :
        “Ireland will pay its debt [and everyone elses!] and “we’ll paaaay our waaaay!”

        [can we play that there,Róisín? ]

        start at 9mins mark, for 5 mins or so

        • eraph

          In the news recently,the multi-headed hydra that is our newest enemy – George ‘Sorrows’ and the looting JP Morgan and of course our facilitating and complicit Government!!- recently swooped in to gorge like vultures on NAMA’s NI portfolioand years before NAMA was even planned to finish up!And what a bargain these pirates got too…lock,stock,the f*ckin’ lot @ 75% discount GIVE AWAY ![ and you can bet your arse too that eveeeen the payment schedule of ~1.5Billion for these 'distressed assets' was structured in a staggered way..over 5 years maybe...how convenient....hmmm...

          [These assets of our country were not so toxic that we couldn't have been wisely used to fill our shortages of social housing and much more,but nah, Govt leaders chose to give away for a song our FUTURE wealth to the enemy,in one felt swoop!Our Govt chose to do this,by their action and their inaction! what a disgrace! ] We surely could have arrived at a better approach to maximise return for the real economy and to benefit the people!

          Our Govt just don’t fear us one bit,do they ?!

          And I don’t trust them,on any level !!!!


      • Well I’m astonished In admiration for you eraph the economy plagiarised by right wing politics must Listen to right wing politics,

        • eraph

          I feel somewhat like a fraud tonight reading that cat951c,but thanks for the sentiment

          Bonbon in fairness, has been saying all this for years ! ( as has our host too !)

          It took me 2 years of dedicated reading to try catch up and escape Plato’s Cave and start thinking for myself and see the wood for the trees

          Anyway anyway,this was posted here once before,but as Debt is the elephant in the room…

          Tax revenue is linear and debt is exponential, right?…the difference :

          “Let’s say you’re at a party in a small apartment that’s about 500 square feet in size. Then suddenly, at 11pm, a pipe bursts, starting a trickle into the living room.Aside from the petty annoyance, would you feel like you were in danger? Probably not

          This is a linear problem – the rate at which the water is leaking is more or less constant, so the guests can keep partying through the night without worry.

          But let’s assume that it’s an exponential leak.
          At first, there’s just one drop of water. But each minute, the rate doubles. So by 11:01pm, there’s 2 drops. By 11:02, 4 drops. And so forth.

          By 11:27pm, there’s only six inches of standing water. Yet by 11:31pm, just four minutes later, the entire room is under nearly 8 feet of water. And the party’s over!!!

          For nearly half an hour, it all seemed safe and manageable. People had all the time in the world to leave, right up until the bitter end

          11:27, 11:28, 11:29…

          Then ,it all went from benign to deadly, in a matter of a minute!!! ”

          How safe do you feel?

  3. Grey Fox

    David, why don’t you hop in your car and drop down to Tougher’s in Newbridge for 3 o clock today, for a meeting of very ordinary people who have passed the rubicon and are about to attempt to circumvent the status quo in a non political movement, just ordinary people with no political agenda who have had enough! No pressure, just sit in…

  4. Adelaide

    “The prerequisite of Capitalism is to create an artificial scarcity where none exists and thus create the poor where none existed before. The poor of this world are a system’s policy decision.” Peter Joseph

    • StephenKenny

      The prerequisite of Capitalism is local production in excess of local demand, thus enabling trade.

    • StephenKenny

      “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini.
      Add the ‘national media’ to this duo, and you can see where we are today.

  5. markodxb

    look to Norway and see how wealth is managed for the masses, they have a population similar to ireland. I know they have vast richs of oil and gas resources, but they tax all including the richest citizens. Free health and education are excellent, fair distribution of wealth it seems yes. But remember Norway are not in the EU like Ireland.

  6. verybearish

    Caveat i am yet to read Pikkety’s acclaimed writings, but as I observe there is actually a trickle down effect but unfortunately it is just that ” a trickle” rather than the raging torrent at the top of the waterfall the velocity actually seems to decrease as it flows downhill, the rich do spend their money but for two main reasons it simply cannot flow downhill fast enough or in large quantities, first of all the super rich are so rich they cannot possibly spend all their money and therefore its only a disproportionate amount that flows donwhill, the rest goes into further capital appreciation activities and the cycle repeats itself. Secondly, the structure of the economy makes it difficult to redistribute this wealth through the trickle down effect also in quantities large enough to make a difference, the US economy for instance is very service orientated, if the richest 1% decided to go out every night and eat at the cheesecake factory it would make very little difference as you are taking a tiny fraction of their wealth and attempting to spread it very thinly.
    Aggressively taxing higher earners (assuming its possible to do so accurately and without the highly paid tax industry finding loopholes) is also counter productive as all it really achieves is dampening spirits in the pursuit of profits.
    As per above Norway does seem to manage its wealth a lot better than most sovereigns an redistributes among society for an overall benefit, i just wonder what happens when the oil taps run dry …

  7. pauloriain

    Have to say, all we get is more analysis of the problem, more books by economists and while they are worthy to an extent, what’s the point talking about it anymore. Actions speak louder than words. We’ve more economists, analysts and people who supposedly understand all this, yet we are financial screwed….. We all know those with money got a bailout post financial crisis 2008. This shouldn’t have happened and their wealthy should have been allowed to evaporate. They built and subscribed to a system, but when it didn’t go their way, they gamed the system. If you want real wealth distribution, firstly you have to play fair.

    As to the taxation of the wealthy, there needs to be a real analysis done on how much the wealthy should pay. They live in highly developed societies and enjoy incredible protections, which have been paid for by lots of different generations. You could say countries have invested to create the environment where people can become fabulously wealthy, but when they do, they suddenly start playing games like living in tax free locations. It’s time for those who benefitted from societies to pay a proper return on investment to those societies in an overall context.

  8. michaelcoughlan

    Hi David,

    An excellent piece. There is an excellent flow to the narrative indicating an author at ease with and a deep understanding of the issues without a hint of anything conspiratorial. If you put this article together with the graph a few weeks ago detailing the different stages of boom bust cycle you have the basis of a very important treatise I’d say.

    If you take the point about the return to capital being increasingly one sided and apply it to the Sean Quinn gamble on Anglo it really will show how mad the whole thing is.

    Let’s just say Quinn takes a CFD position in Anglo of 3bn with a margin ratio of 10% that means Quinn only puts up 300m and his CFD provider lends him the rest at 3%. You can be sure as Quinn’s aggressive buying was driving the price up that someone was going short on the other side knowing how dodgy Anglo was as identified by you. Quinn not having a clue but literally playing around with a financial weapon of mass destruction goes all in and woo whoo the short sellers go balubas. Slam dunk. The short sellers accumulate a figure in billions equal to Quinn’s losses in a zero sum transaction which means ROC is basically infinity since no goods or services were produced meaning no production costs incurred. Price discovery process my hole. And no one mentions the removal of the uptick rule which was introduced during the depression to prevent well run companies being destroyed by aggressively short selling their shares.

    And what are the politicians doing David? Making it easier and easier for the banks to accumulate profits through speculation rather than lending to productive businesses.


  9. http://usawatchdog.com/true-scale-of-dollar-ponzi-scheme-becoming-apparent-rob-kirby/

    David, if the money system were dealt with then you would not have a distribution problem or the corruption endemic in the current system.

    Rob Kirby—-”The real problem is with the money itself. We need to revert back to real capitalism which is real weights and measures and honest commerce. Otherwise, we are going to devolve into a very dark period of feudalist oppression.”
    “The evidence is written all over the walls. It’s completely clear. Anyone who is not paying attention to this, at this point, is delusional.”

    You refuse any comment on the nature of the debt based Ponzi Scheme that pays the perpetrators mega multiples compared to the rest. Why is that David? All other debate and suggestions are completely useless until the money system is purged from the banking cartel.

  10. Edison agreeing with Henry Ford on Money.
    “Thomas Edison vs. the Banksters: What the Inventor had to say about Restoring Government Sovereignty

    “That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.

    Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.

    But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good.”
    If we had proper money there would be no 1% having 85% of the nations wealth. Get rid of the central bankers money and issue debt free money from Treasury.

  11. Reality Check

    @Tony We need Interest free credit rather than Debt free money.

    Usury is the kernel of the Problem.


    • sorry say RC the ideas postulated are not sufficient.

      Debt is the primary problem.
      Without debt there can be no interest charged. you are correct that the interest compounds and is a major problem.

      I repeat from months ago. Debt suffocates and interest strangles. both cause death where applied. The two combined are like covering a man’s head with a wet sack (plastic bag) and then simultaneously hanging that man.

      solution is not to have a system where money is issued and the supply expanded (inflation) and then contracted (deflation) but to have a system where the money supply is stable and neither contracts nor expands.

      Money backed by commodity or similar wealth which is stable in supply and availability (usually chosen by wise people as gold and silver) means that the money supply remains stable and it can do what it is designed to do, act as a medium of exchange. It will facilitate the exchange of goods(enabling trade and commerce) without being used up in the process (it is a catalyst)and so is available again and again to perform that service for mankind.

      There is no requirement to enlarge or diminish the money supply. doing so is in fact a negative action as it distorts the measure by which money is judged thereby creating misinformation and creating mal investment and erroneous decisions that harm the economy and thus all of us.

      Initially central bank money can be replaced with an issuance of money, backed by the state, directly from treasury at no cost. Then that money must be backed by value (commodity money) to enable confidence in its use.

      without it all currencies will fail and with it the economies of the people affected. With it will be confidence and prosperity widely disbursed. It also maintains the high morel and ethical standards of the people. with the current fiat, debt based , interest bearing currency is created an atmosphere of distrust , chicanery, fraud and deceit.

      We have immoral money foisted on us by crooks . We need to return to moral money used by honest people.

      • Colin

        Great post Tony. You are correct. But David avoids this topic like the plague. Why would a turkey start talking about Christmas after all? He wouldn’t be able to earn his crust after all, if the money supply system is overhauled and simplified as you set it out.

        Why doesn’t the union movement take your argument on board, if it does what it says it tries to do, in looking after the ordinary working classes. Beardo-in-Chief David Begg sits on the board of the Central Bank, does he not ‘get it’ what you’re talking about Tony?

        • Central bankers and sycophants get fat off the current system at the expense of us all. David’s headline says it but has no explanation for it.

          David still wears a central banking hat and it clouds his brain. Either that or he is also getting fat at the expense of the rest of us??

      • paddythepig

        It’s not debt per se that is the problem, rather it’s leverage. We’re the debt issuers honest, one could have a fiat debt issuance system that worked well. But they are greedy, and over leverage it, which is the real problem.

        Don’t forget too the lifestyle expectations of the modern citizen. So many expect to consume without earning, and are happy to take take take, never pay back, and get everyone else to pay for them. What should we do about them?

        • eraph


          Leveraging was the financiers magic wand. But then this magic wand was ‘upgraded’,to where there was no need to have actual funds to leverage and these magicians began to conjure funds from thin air, and then leveraged these imagined into existence funds,again!

          But the magic show went global when the Graam Leach Bliley Act was strategically torpedoed by evil Wall St ‘interests’ and from THAT very moment, an array of new, ‘exciting’ complex instruments appeared on the casino floor and then the real magic began ( but only for the hubristic banks! Misery for everyone else!! )

          Just watch slimey Trichet wriggle while the determined Claudio Celani,of EIR fame,grills JCT ,repeatedly!


          • eraph

            With all this debt and entropy, is it any wonder in fairness,that several chemists i know well in Cork,tell me 60%+ of all the drugs dispensed,belong to the anti-depressant family i.e. ssri’s snri’s etc.

            Pacino maybe said it best- “there is no sight like the sight of an amputated spirit.. there is no prosthetic for that”

            In the meantime,the banksters are busy monetising debt!! what a shaaaam!!

            Our banking overlords have reduced us to this…that’s control…that’s empire and their relentless pursuit of domination and the filthy lucre of Beelzebub, as its mission!!!

            split these 5 TBTF wall St banks,unceremoniously i say

  12. paddythepig

    1. By far the biggest house in the town where I live is the parish priests.

    2. Father Sean Healy quack economics has played a huge part in bankrupting the country.

    3. Maybe we should have a South County Dublin tax (10% extra income, CGT, CAT), and redistribute it around the country?

    • Colin

      1. Does the good Padre own it? or does he just occupy it for free until the next Padre comes along (who may well have a wife and kidsin toe if the church faces up to the declining vocations)? Can he sell up and pack in the preaching and buy a place close to Adam in the Caribbean and relax ’til the end of his days there?

      2. Father Sean was part of the North Dublin maFFia, which has now been de-commissioned.

      3. No need for extra taxes in South Co Dublin, when a few sales of repossessed properties would bring the market swiftly back to reality. Cutting welfare cheques to landlords for rent supplements would drive rents down too, and property prices also.

  13. douglaskastle

    There is a difference between immoral and amoral. What these cashed up Wall St types do is very amoral, but it is not immoral, and that is the problem. Religion, for right or for wrong, kept the populace trending a certain way, lets call it the greater good. With the fall off of the influence of the church in the past 30 years and more importantly nothing to replace that moral centre in society has allowed people to run mad and screw everybody else as long as I am rich … and it is all legal.

    What’s even more scary is that there doesn’t seem to be any way to get these people to reintegrate back into society as a whole. Bruce Schneier, has a good book called “Liars and Outlier”, which posits that we need people to test the edges of society to make things better, but if completely unchecked, can run amock, “polluting the commons” and dragging the connected society down with it.

    Ultimately the problem is … us. We can’t be hurlers on the ditch and expect someone else to fix things. If we see a problem we should be out there trying to get it fixed. We earn the money, pay the taxes, elect the officials and if you don’t like what is being done, run for a council seat, country seat etc. I am not holding my breath though.

    • Amoral= without morals. not knowing the difference between right and wrong

      immoral= wrong , evil, etc.

      what the money masters do is an immoral act to an amoral people.

      • douglaskastle

        People always confuse immoral with amoral. It is more like not caring about the difference between right or wrong, in many cases they do know, but just don’t care.


        [ey-mawr-uhl, a-mawr-, ey-mor-, a-mor-]
        not involving questions of right or wrong; without moral quality; neither moral nor immoral.
        having no moral standards, restraints, or principles; unaware of or indifferent to questions of right or wrong: a completely amoral person.

        • eraph


          As you brought up the topic,”Religion, for right or for wrong, kept the populace trending a certain way,lets call it the greater good”

          No,let US certainly NOT call it that !

          “With the fall off of the influence of the church in the past 30 years and more importantly nothing to replace that moral centre in society has allowed people to run mad and screw everybody else as long as I am rich and it is all legal.”

          You seem to derive your sense of morality wholly from ‘The Good Book?’ and therefore,all atheists have no moral compass and cannot be moral agents? How sad that you might think such a thing.And as for your use of the word “legal” in that context, wellll,i will put that down to gross naivety, blissful blind ignorance and zero interest for Truth [ and of course,maybe all of the above?]

          you continue,”What’s even more scary is that there doesn’t seem to be any way to get “these people” [you can join Jimmy Gavin at sensitivity training;)] to reintegrate back into society as a whole”.

          [*double take,again*]

          to ‘reintegrate’? before the Borg assimilate us Believers into the collective?? And we can’t have people thinking for themselves and questioning the status quo,running “amok and uncheceked”??

          WOW!! you’re the poster child for standardisation … another Brutish curse!!

          Reading all that was like going Mach II on a fighter jet and deciding to stick my head out of the window!!!

          What colour is the sky in your little world??

          With your level of “scary” brainwashing, i don’t imagine a Believer like me challenging and questioning a “non-believer” his core beliefs will suit one bit?…Sorry for that,but this is a blog where DIFFERENT people with varied backgrounds come together to learn from one another,right?

          [Posters Whatamess and Michael Coughlan ‘fenced’,at some length about morality in the archives here! you might check it out? actually here’s a good start


          Good luck to you

          • douglaskastle


            I hope you don’t mind me exercise my right to reply. For the record I identify myself as an agnostic.

            First up, I am a little tired of the church bashing that goes on. Yes bad things have been done by them and covered up, I am not ignoring or excusing any of that, but to ignore the good things they did is a little unfair. They weren’t aren’t all psychopaths, if you are Irish you will have seen the gamut of priest types and you will know some of them that totally believed what they were doing and meant well.

            In addition to that, you may not believe in the church, or Jesus (I don’t) but it doesn’t mean the spirit or the concepts of his teachings were/are wrong. Blessed are the cheese makers and all that. If you objectively look at the 10 commandments there are some pretty good ones in there for keeping a functioning society together, there is one about killing, I hope no-one ignores that one.

            Now it might sound like I am reaching, but I knew a guy that considered himself a lothario, but he refused to have sex outside marriage, because he didn’t want to go to hell. This was an engineer, but he was still been brow beating into doing “the right thing” because nothing else would.

            There is a quote for some Wall St. dude, which alas I can’t find so must paraphrase:

            If I thought I could kill you, make a profit from it and get away with it, I would do it

            This is the morality engine guiding this guy. Religion, in it’s ham fisted way did keep a community/tribe together and largely doing the right thing. Who do you thing would have survived a battle in the middle ages between a group of people managed by an organised religion or a group of agnostics/atheists? Be honest! With the fall off of religion in general, and I am not just referring to Christianity, there hasn’t been a secular replacement, and I blame the likes of us for that. Agnostics/ Atheists in the main are famous for being non-aligned.

            Now my personal example is that when the church waned in Ireland, all the community groups that did good things had a massive fall off in volunteer members, and as a result the community and the tribe suffered. This was unlike Australia, to where I moved, which has massive secular volunteer organisations. Things like the Surf Life Saving Clubs (SLSC, of which I was a member) and the SES, they did fantastic things and there has yet to rise anything quite like it in Ireland.

            Finally to your Borg analogy, not entirely what I was going for. I was more referring to the “Tragedy of the Commons” (and I am not referring to Drico being made a Freeman of Dublin).


            We as a society have to live together and share stuff so we can all prosper as a whole (sorry Mr. Spock) it is the people who use the commons and not only do not contribute to it, but then actively destroy it, that scares the bejebus out of me.

            My question, I suppose instead of a statement, is there a way we can bring them back into our community so that they can help us all? the community, the tribe, the greater good. The answer I fear is no, and these rogue agents get to wander around and causally destroy what ever takes their fancy. We as a society haven’t grown enough to make it worth their while not to.

            Oh and blue, BTW

          • eraph


            I welcome your reply sir.. that’s why I’m here,to learn.So one’s questioning and commenting of religion and it’s role in society[ made up a mixed bag of people ]is “church bashing?” ..I think not

            “you will know some of them that totally believed what they were doing and meant well”

            I care less for good intentions..I only care about Truth and yes i agree that there are some very ‘good’ religious people in Ireland, most I would say and you are right that to “ignore the good things they did is a little unfair”, very unfair i would say,but that’s not the point! Believing in something that’s not Real is the point and i’m not bashing when I challenge religious views…that’s not me being intolerant!I’m not stopping anyone from expressing their views,rather, i’m opening a somewhat taboo subject for discussion and hearing different opinions

            “If you objectively look at the 10 commandments there are some pretty good ones in there for keeping a functioning society ” …Well hell Doug, why not consult Harry Potters spell book for guidance, or is that book not old enough to be taken seriously?

            Again , Tracie Harris of Godless Bitches fame, if you dare

          • eraph


            So..with church absent is peoples’ lives, they run a greater risk of being dysfunctional is it,individually and collectively??

            “Who do you think would have survived a battle in the middle ages between a group of people managed by an organised religion or a group of agnostics/atheists?”

            Are you a Catholic or Protestant agnostic Doug? We’ve progressed since the middle ages,so your argument doesn’t hold water,sorry.[ yes,when in Rome, don't be a Christian they say]

            “non aligned” ? with what ? What’s this pseudo necessity for alignment? Oh, to get ‘in line’ with everyone else,is it? Like your friend that [sadly] “refused to have sex outside marriage, because he didn’t want to go to hell” ,seems from my point of view, that he ,his LIFE actually,was Controlled by his/her beliefs from a very old book and indoctrination from a young age perhaps,and in whatever guise,i abhor indoctrination,because people ACT on their beliefs!…and if their beliefs are wrong,what are the implications?History shows us!

            Where’s the Freedom in being brainwashed ? Oh ! he/she is exercising his/her right to believe in whatever he chooses to, even tho this belief may be do his/her detriment? What a shaaaam!

            Your surf club is case in point where people of varied ethnicity, colour, beliefs etc. come together for a common purpose ,a common goal. Wonderful ! No need for religion! Watch some Christoper Hitchens on youtube..that ought to clear the foggy dew

            and to answer your final question [albeit with another question,sorry for that,i must be Irish ],why is it that the organisation of church is ‘needed’ to bring some harmony to society? Coz that’s always been the way?!!! …the things that make ya go hmmmmm

            I’m glad to hear you are a Believer,in Truth


  14. redriversix

    Good Morning Peoples

    How are ya all doin ?

    Trust you all had a terrific Easter…..

    Yeah..the economy..shockin isn’t it..ah well..what can you do ?

    suppose I could kick back, listen to some Fergal Sharkey [ you little thief !] , smoke some electronic ciggies & wonder what might have been..?

    take care of you..your families..period.

    • StephenKenny

      “take care of you..your families..period.”
      In general terms (i.e. excluding individual cases), this is actually very wrong and dangerous. It would probably be better to start to look at this in the same way that the nascent trade union movement did, 100 years ago.
      We need to elect politicians who actually work for the benefit of the 99%, which means we need to find some potential politicians who support the 99%.

  15. douglaskastle


    I don’t understand why you want to be offended by any controlled and attempted objective observation of the church (I obviously seem to have been unsuccessful in that regard). You also seem to ignore my comments completely about the “Tragedy of the Commons”.

    I am all for taking good morality tales from Harry Potter as long as they are relevant, I current ascribed to the First Church of James T Kirk, I want to come back from the dead 5 times and travel the galaxy and bang sexy alien chicks. Do you think that the 10 commandments are wrong? It doesn’t matter how old the book is.

    Another question, why do you think religion is found in every corner of this planet, with peoples who have never met. How about, from an economic perspective, it actually helped society be more successful than the other group of people who didn’t, or their religion wasn’t a culturally strong. How do you get atheists to die for something they “believe” in, good luck. These things don’t grow in a vacuum. It may not necessarily work any more with a globally connected capitalist world and it’s utility may have passed, but to ignore it influence, both positive and negative is very myopic.

    Oh and I am culturally catholic agnostic, I still feel guilty about every thing. Including this post.

    • eraph

      “How do you get atheists to die for something they “believe” in, good luck” …. An outrageous comment!

      Oh ! the penny just dropped…i get you now…Atheists don’t believe in anything !! :)lol and they don’t have the capacity for belief in anything, oz of their stance on the existence of deity…ryyyyte…

      How absurd…Please be reassured that Atheists believe in many things, when there is sufficient evidence that supports the claim(s).An atheist can believe passionately about equal rights for example and make a stand on such an issue, sometimes too costing the lives of Atheists!

      The next question you’ll be asking me is “but what if you’re wrong ?”


      • eraph

        BTW,noteworthy of mention i feel – before i studied VI Vernadsky/deCusa, i believed that Richard Dawkins was correct across the board in his Darwinian assertions …NEW evidence however,suggests strongly, that i was mistaken in these beliefs!!

        “Despite the admittedly popular myth, that there is no alternative to the controversy between followers of Archbishop Ussher and the Darwin-Huxley doctrine, 15th-century Christian humanism advanced the first modem doctrine of evolutionary development, originally formulated by Cardinal Nicolaus of Cusa and his work on evolutionary negentropy ”


        Now that I have studied Vernadsky,at ‘some’ length, but certainly not exhaustively, guess what ,i STOPPED believing in Darwin’s Theory [and Abiogenisis] as the Best explanation, and i now believe in Vernadsky’s work on that subject matter…

        very fickle of me, what??

        minds change,opinions change,attitudes change,even core beliefs can change … People can change

        And that Catholic guilt you mentioned Doug is just a bag of bricks..set it down my man. I’m amazed that u can acknowledge your religious conditioning/
        indoctrination ,but despite that,u still think that organised religion is the preferred way to go?

        Omne vivum viv (Omne vivum ex vivo)

  16. coldblow

    It has been a while since I last dropped in here (I have been over at Peter Hitchens’s blog) but the reaction of extroverts to the new Pope has been an excellent illustration of my old hobby horse (as established readers here might remember) or what I could, if I were boastful by nature, call my revolutionary theory of the dynamics of extrovert behaviour (or whatever). I remain indebted to David and to some of our former (it seems) contributors for some of the initial insights. (I collected some of my observations in a couple of longish posts over on the Hitchens Blog in the thread “Why Don’t You Smile More?”

    The Francis Effect is indeed a triumph of style over substance and seems to be an emotional response of real power. As an introvert, whose initial reaction to hearing of Princess Diana’s death on the Sunday morning radio was “Oh no, we’re never going to hear the end of this”, it has taken a while for me to appreciate the other half’s point of view (remember, half of every couple is extroverted – Dorothy Rowe’s insight). This is the outlook of the half-full “I’m an optimist” school of life and a sure indicator of a person’s orientation. And it explains a great deal of what is going on at the moment which would otherwise be very hard to understand, eg why John Waters is getting so much grief at the moment, why cliche dominates so much public discourse and why the majority is usually right (ie always right).

    By the way, you have to write this off-line and paste it in as any slip of the hand on this new site (new to me) and you lose everything.

  17. eraph

    this is so dangerous !!


    “US destroyer “Donald Cook” with cruise missiles “Tomahawk” entered the neutral waters of the Black Sea on April 10. The purpose was a demonstration of force and intimidation in connection with the position of Russia in Ukraine and Crimea. The appearance of American warships in these waters is in contradiction of the Montreux Convention about the nature and duration of stay in the Black Sea by the military ships of countries not washed by this sea.

    In response, Russia sent an unarmed bomber Su- 24 to fly around the U.S. destroyer. However, experts say that this plane was equipped with the latest Russian electronic warfare complex. According to this version, “Aegis” spotted from afar the approaching aircraft, and sounded alarm. Everything went normally, American radars calculated the speed of the approaching target. And suddenly all the screens went blank. “Aegis” was not working any more, and the rockets could not get target information. Meanwhile, Su-24 flew over the deck of the destroyer, did battle turn and simulated missile attack on the target. Then it turned and repeated the maneuver.

    And did so 12 times.”

    one bad judgement or miscalculation here by either side and it’s WAR!?

    • StephenKenny

      It’s so interesting, this Ukraine thing. The US and UK were clearly behind the ‘uprising’ that put into power the current Ukraine government. Now they are doing everything they can to provoke Russia, but to what end?

      One theory is that their hand, as they probably see it, has been forced by the Snowdon revelations, which no longer give them time to wait for an effective and reliable counter to the Russian nuclear arsenal. They can no longer rely on knowing every move the Russians make. They are using tactics precisely the same to those used by, and much talked about 30 years later, in 1950s-80s in South America. So now we see US forces going in to support the ‘Contras’, all over again. (For those of tender years, google El Salvador in the 80s, or Chile in the 1970s, or Guatemala in 1950s.

      The question is why. Last time it was basically about anti-totalitarianism, which I supported, and still do. But this time? The idea that Russia is a threat is laughable, akin to the Mexican ambassador’s comment to U.S. President Kennedy that “If we publicly declare that Cuba is a threat to our security, forty million Mexicans will die laughing”.

      So what can it be? Could it be that the US & UK know that their economies are close to the edge, and a war is all they can think of to enable them to introduce the kind of extreme economic measures necessary at home? Or might it be that getting rid of Russia and China would enable them to manipulate every single currency and market in the world?

      I know everyone says it’s historically “time for a war”, but what does that mean?

      • eraph


        A war can give Wall St [bankrupt remember] debt forgiveness !! complete write off of the TBTF’s worthless toilet paper and of course empire also continues to rule,post an engineered war.

        That’s the answer you are searching for i think.

        So close Wall St down with Glass Steagall ( and that wont be pretty either btw !) and the quadrillions of paper junk debt is rendered null and void.No conflict needed.Then a small fraction of these $gazillllions, in sane hands ,can deliver the necessary propulsion to escape the abyss in which we now find ourselves.

        Warmongering Wall St, the “1%” , is very vulnerable now and is actually fighting for SURVIVAL and so are we ! [sounds mellow dramatic i know,but that's the state of play,as i see it anyway]

        possible outcomes

        1)Glass Steagall to stop the war(and so much more)

        2)Warmongering Obama triggers a significant war-Syria?

        3)The world’s economies continue to rapidly decay until an inevitable collapse of

        US $

        US economy

        Wall St

        Devastation like never before for the people who currently have no protection from the pyroclastic flow of a debt mountain about to annihilate everything in it’s wake…

        The thing about Glass Steagall for me is that it hits the enemy at it’s core, where it is now most
        vulnerable ! Close Wall St down

        There you have it Stephen.

        Is there another real world option to GS? Nope

        • StephenKenny

          Oh good grief, it’s the Glass-Steagall school children again. Yes, yes, very nice, and I’m sure it’ll all be lovely when the magic fairy has spread her fairy dust over everyone.

          I’m interested in real possibilities, not 0% dreams. To get reasonable financial regulation back would take more than a war. The regulations are what happens at the end, afterwards, when the system is essentially fixed, the regulation is put in place to make sure it stays fixed.

          If “GS” was really the only world option, then there is no option, and global war and destruction is a certainty.

          Fortunately, it’s no more than the end game of all of this.

          • eraph

            If “GS” was really the only world option, then there is no option, and global war and destruction is a certainty.

            well then BTFD with all your gold!!

            this’ll really rock your world….to reinstate Glass Steagall,Obama will have to be impeached !

            how you like them apples ??

            As outlined here,are the options available to humanity !

            Choose Stephen !

            or are you still bedazzled by gold?

            Aron Ralston faced this kinda trap/crisis …and he made his decision and lived to tell the tale !

            Sacrifices must be made !

            Them or us ?


          • StephenKenny

            Gold? Impeach Obama?
            Enlighten us as to the process of events that you expect to occur, which will end up with Obama’s impeachment.

          • eraph

            no spoon feeding around here mate

            maybe start here?


            nah,i cant see you reading it isnt it funny…you’re more of a “water is wet,the sky is blue,women have secrets …who gives a f*ck ! ” kinda guy.

            what time do you make it now Stephen?

            11.28pm you say ??

          • eraph

            10 more relevant articles on Obama’s impeachment


          • StephenKenny

            These articles are simply the rantings of a ludicrous cult as to why something thinks Obama should be impeached.
            That is not the question. The q

          • StephenKenny

            These are just the endless rantings of some ludicrous cult saying, in short, that Obama should be impeached.

            That’s not the question – the question is “the events leading up to his impeachment”.
            You and your fellow cultists are screaming about impeaching Obama, but there is no prediction as to how it will happen. Ot what will happen. Without such a prediction you are just a bunch of silly students shouting “Down with Obama” in the students union.

            “No Spoon feeding” What are you talking about. This isn’t a school quiz. No ones going to score school marks by getting an answer right.

            If you have nothing to say beyond “Down with Obama” then fine, but stop pretending that you do.

          • eraph

            You might not like the choices outlined here ( neither do i !) but that’s all that’s on offer that will deliver humanity to safety and hope for a Future,sans British empire

            No physical growth and the entire Transatlantic systems’ debt load is unsustainable [Bertrand Russel be damned!]

            You see the rapid entropy and decay,but console yourself with the empty
            pacifiers of “it’ll never get that bad” or maybe “it wont affect me” and of course,”what can i do about it ?!” …

            History shows us that empires end and all the signs of collapse are observable fact !

            End the monetarist delusion and illusion

            Impeach Obama

            Glass Steagall 2014

            Prometheus unbound



  18. Eustace Mullins
    In the Seventeenth Century, the moneylenders and the aristocracy made a pact. If the king would make paper currency a liability of the state, the moneylenders would print as much as he liked! Thus the Banks of England, France and the Reichsbank came into being but they were all private corporations and remain so today. According to this nefarious pact, the moneylenders got to charge interest on assets they created out of thin air. The aristocracy all took shares in the central banks plus they got to finance a burgeoning government and to wage costly wars. This piece of chicanery is at the heart what plagues humanity. –

    See more at: http://www.henrymakow.com/260602.html

  19. http://www.globalresearch.ca/whats-the-primary-cause-of-wealth-inequality-financialization/5374930

    Author David Cay Johnston recently wrote an insightful review of Piketty’s book, Trickle-Up economics:

    Coming out of the Great Recession in 2009, inequality increased dramatically, the opposite of what happened when the Great Depression ended nearly eight decades earlier. Why? The short answer: When investment returns exceed economic growth, the rich get richer, increasing inequality.

    When an economy grows at 1 percent annually but investment returns are 5 percent, the already wealthy need to reinvest only a fifth of their gains for their fortunes to grow at the same rate as the overall economy. The rest can be spent on a sumptuous lifestyle.

    Since by definition the very rich do not need to consume 80 percent of their incomes — the portion by which investment returns exceed the growth of the economy in Piketty’s model — they can reinvest most of their annual gains in the market. Over time this accumulating capital will snowball.

    The official American income numbers, crunched by Piketty and his sometime colleague Emmanuel Saez, show that in the 21st century wealth and income increases are almost all taking place among the tiniest sliver of the wealthiest and highest-earning.

    The top 1 percent of Americans raked in 95 cents out of every dollar of increased income from 2009, when the Great Recession officially ended, through 2012. Almost a third of the entire national increase went to just 16,000 households, the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent, Piketty and Saez’s analysis of IRS data shows.

  20. http://american.com/archive/2014/april/the-death-of-money

    This pro-inflation policy is an invitation to disaster, even as baffled Fed critics scratch their heads at the apparent absence of inflation in the face of unprecedented money printing by the Federal Reserve and other major central banks. Many ponder how it is that the Fed has increased the base money supply 400 percent since 2008 with practically no inflation. But two explanations are very much at hand — and they foretell the potential for collapse. The first is that the U.S. economy is structurally damaged, so the easy money cannot be put to good use. The second is that the inflation is coming. Both explanations are true — the economy is broken, and inflation is on its way.

    Mr McWilliams will not be able to say he was not warned. He can not say he did not see it coming. It is on this blog consistently for the last 3 years but he refuses to debate the issue.

  21. Reality Check

    Gold pumpers are not the answer Tony, What happens when Gold and silver revert back to their bear market period?

  22. Reality Check

    Inconvenienced millionaires
    Why do people have difficulty to see the iniquity of Usury? Someone recently said it is because people don’t see themselves as poor, but as ‘temporarily inconvenienced millionaires’. We are all raised to work hard and expect ‘success’. And ‘success’ is making a bundle and then retiring, having other inconvenienced millionaires sweat away to service the loans we will be giving them through our mutual funds.

    But: working hard has little to do with it. There would be many millionaires if working hard was leading to wealth. It’s true that genius expresses itself through a combination of talent and hard work, but most of us are just beta males and the opulent want us to lick their boots, not to join their ranks.

    We are raised to be ‘responsible’ adults and are told frugality and saving are a real part of that. We are learned the magic of compound interest at school. Nobody is telling us some other guys have picked up this trick a few centuries ago and have a bit of a head start, ripping society apart with the trillions that compound interest is now making them yearly. We are not told that paying compound interest to the rich is what is keeping us poor. No, morons like Peter Schiff now say we need to save more and we need incentives for that: higher interest rates. Peter Schiff is not explaining how people, who already lose more than half of their income to usury (partly passed on in prices and taxes), are going to save more when they have to pay even more interest to the rich, while they are already living from pay check to pay check, as most Americans are today. Even a good man like Paul Craig Roberts falls for this. It’s our economic illiteracy, not understanding money and Usury.

    Because the simple fact is: by saying ‘I wouldn’t lend without interest’, we relegate ourselves and our brethren to interest slavery. Because we don’t lend, we borrow. By not lending to our brethren, they will not lend to us. We will have to go to the rich and to the banks. Why was the middle class sending their children to the bank for a mortgage when they had the assets to set them up with a good start in life with an interest-free mortgage? Why are people worrying about their savings today, while at the same time their children face foreclosure? Why are these savings not sunk into paying off the banks to save the wider family from the losses to usury?

    We talk about ‘corruption’ in finance but we don’t see that finance itself is corrupt.

    By saying: I want interest, we say it’s alright that we pay 300k interest over a 200k mortgage over 30 years. We say: it’s grand that I lose up to 40% of my income to usury passed on in prices even if I have zero debts. We say: how splendid the Government is losing up to 450 billion per year on servicing the National Debt. How great that there is income tax to pay off this money to the ueber-wealthy. We say: how magnificent that the ultra poor nations lose up to ten times more to usury on their foreign debts than they receive in development aid. We say: ah, just don’t get into debt, even when there would be no money if there was no debt. We say: yes, let’s destroy all economies with insane austerity, because the interest on this freshly printed money must be paid off.

    Because, hey, I wouldn’t lend without interest!

    There is no ‘time value’ of money. It is all created by bookkeeping and the bank loses nothing. It creates the money when lending and retires it when repaid. But even when we talk about savings, there is no real ‘time value’.

    Meanwhile, when we say ‘I wouldn’t lend without interest’ we are just parroting the line of the rich. We don’t realize that we are the ones paying and that we should be saying: “hey, I’m an interest-slave, how do we bust this ‘time value’ hoax, I need interest-free credit, I don’t want to be a slave.”

    But for that we have to rid ourselves of the slaver in our selves. We must abandon the American Dream. That nightmare of striking it rich and putting our own boot on the face of our brother.

    Credit can be interest-free if it’s mutual. I give you credit, if you give me some. We don’t even have to give up any real money: we can have a credit facility keep the books at cost price. Credit and Debit are just two sides of the same coin in double-entry bookkeeping.

    Yes, it requires a little new thinking, a little shedding of wrong beliefs. But the poorest 80% (us) are paying up to 10 trillion in usury per year globally to the richest 10% and most of this money actually ends up with the 1%. That 1% now owns 43% of all assets in the world and the poorest 80% (us) own only maybe 10% if we’re lucky. Usury is what is causing this. Even if we have zero debts, 40% of our disposable income is lost to usury passed on in prices, so it has nothing to do with ‘personal responsibility’. It is the System that we prop up that is keeping us down.


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