Private sector parasites

The rentiers.

You don’t have to be a Tea Party conservative to believe that the economy is threatened when there are too many “takers” and not enough “makers.” The “takers” who threaten the dynamism and fairness of industrial capitalism the most in the 21st century are not the welfare-dependent poor — the villains of Tea Party propaganda — but the rent-extracting, unproductive rich.

The term “rent” in this context refers to more than payments to your landlords. As Mike Konczal and many others have argued, profits should be distinguished from rents. “Profits” from the sale of goods or services in a free market are different from “rents” extracted from the public by monopolists in various kinds. Unlike profits, rents tend to be based on recurrent fees rather than sales to ever-changing consumers. While productive capitalists — “industrialists,” to use the old-fashioned term — need to be active and entrepreneurial in order to keep ahead of the competition, “rentiers” (the term for people whose income comes from rents, rather than profits) can enjoy a perpetual stream of income even if they are completely passive.

Rents come in as many kinds as there are rentier interests. Land or apartment or rental-house rents flow to landlords. Royalty payments for energy or mineral extraction flow to landowners. Interest payments on loans flow to bankers and other lenders. Royalty payments on patents and copyrights flow to inventors. Professions and guilds and unions can also extract rents from the rest of society, by creating artificial labor cartels to raise wages or professional fees. Tolls are rents paid to the owners of necessary transportation and communications infrastructure. Last but not least, taxes are rents paid to territorial governments for essential public services, including military and police protection.

We got your back

You know that feeling you get when you watch Elizabeth Warren take apart the bad guys, the ones who have crashed the economy, cheaped out on our wages and just made our lives all-around miserable? It’s like that childhood nightmare when you’re cornered by the Mean Girls, but miracle of miracles, your big sister shows up — just in time to kick ass and take names.

Yeah, me too!

A wonderful profile on Senator Warren is the cover story in what is, unfortunately, the last issue of the Boston Phoenix:

In fact, it is the kind of behavior that would get a lot of new lawmakers smacked down hard, or marginalized into ineffectiveness. Few new Senators behave this way — other than the occasional bomb-thrower more interested in headlines than results. (Ted Cruz of Texas currently fits this category.)

But Warren has an independence and authority that frees her to be outspoken without getting alienated. She can embarrass the Barack Obama administration for failing to send bankers to jail without fear.

She can also react with righteous outrage when I asked about Obama’s recent support of “chained Consumer Price Index (CPI),” which liberals view as a cut to Social Security benefits. When I suggest that most brand-new senators would not undercut their own party’s president that way, she responds: “Better I should say this now, than wait to have anybody surprised about it later on.”

There’s a reason for her confidence: not only does Warren have tremendous credibility on the issues, she is simply too popular, with too broad and devoted a following, for anyone to threaten — up to and including the Obama administration.

She is not a career politician, entangled by the favors and deals traded on her way up the ladder. Some $25 million of the $41 million raised for her campaign came not PACs or big-dollar donors, but from individuals giving less than $200 each — an almost unprecedented national grassroots following, who stand ready to move as one to help Warren and her allies, and to oppose those seen as obstacles.

That gives an extraordinary amount of independent power to a woman who isn’t the least bit shy about wielding it.

She is, in her own way, too big to fail.

But as we know, there’s no easier way to become a target of the Democratic establishment, the librul media and the right-wing attack machine than to act like a real progressive:

“Behind the scenes she is being herself,” Franken says. “She has strong progressive views. But, in her interactions she’s a lovely, nice person.”

She also has the advantage of being able to work on a six-year time horizon — and, realistically, as long as she wants to stay there.

And that might be what scares her Wall Street enemies the most. There is no amount of money, or scurrilous attacks, likely to cause her downfall at the polls.

That will only make them more eager to find other ways to halt her efforts. They will counter-attack at every opportunity — as with the current attempt to derail Cordray’s re-nomination — and undoubtedly plan longer-term strategies to limit her sway.

After all, they are supposed to be too big to fail, not her. It will take much longer than three months to see which of them will ultimately left standing.

So here’s the thing: The more effective she becomes, the worse the attacks will be. We all know this. So it’s really, really important that we have her back. Any time they go after her, we need to unleash the hounds of hell. And when we get those emails from Warren’s PAC asking for contributions, we need to give her a few bucks, whenever we can spare it.

Because we have a national treasure in Sen. Warren, the People’s Lobbyist.


Explosions, shootings, crashes, etc. Mars-Aries-Pluto stuff, just be careful on the road.

Thought for the day

Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, in his Meditations:

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”


I remember when I used to perform this. What a lovely version of Neil Young’s song by Linda Ronstadt:

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