history of economy

the economy isn’t broken, it doesn’t need fixing… this is exactly its intended condition
money isn’t real, interest and debt isn’t real. this is the biggest scam in human history. our whole economy has been set up to steal. the illusion that these debts can be served by more using money which creates more debt is….a fraud, its a way of maintaining division and slavery

Fox News recently posted this graphic, presumably to convince people that Trump is killing it. The left pounced on Fox’s idiocy, (correctly) pointing out that the graphic actually makes the exact opposite point. It shows that in recent history, Republican presidents have turned the rosy economies inherited from their Democratic predecessors into disasters for the Democrat following them to clean up. It’s like praising a toddler for being remarkably clean, even though his parents always seem to have shit on their hands. But the larger point is that, and I wish there were a font big enough to make this stick in people’s minds, THE PRESIDENT CONTROLS THE ECONOMY AS MUCH AS GARY BUSEY CONTROLS HIS FACIAL EXPRESSIONS.

One reason party doesn’t make a huge difference is that economists often don’t fall neatly along party lines. An economic adviser to John McCain was very much in favor of an economic stimulus, and even complained that Obama’s eventual stimulus wasn’t big enough. The chair of the Federal Reserve usually serves long enough to work with presidents from both parties, and often doesn’t act in a “liberal” or “conservative” way based on who appointed them. Contrary to Air Force One, rare are the situations in which the president has to go rogue and solve problems single-fistedly.

Another thing to keep in mind is that any impact presidents do have is on a delay much longer than our current 24-second news cycle. You don’t invest in infrastructure by going loading up a T-shirt cannon with cash and yelling “Build roads, jerks!” as you fire indiscriminately from the roof of the Capitol. Who thinks that government spending works that way?

And speaking of Trump, it is worth noting that, while presidents haven’t generally had a large immediate impact on the economy, it’s not that they can’t.

Why Everyone Is Wrong About The Economy

I just think it’s important to remind everyone now and then that Albert Einstein was a communist which is good because communism is good.

Ps source is in the upper left corner of the image, I recommend reading it. It’s good.
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Cultural Appropriation is a real, important, and harmful thing, but god damn if it’s not one of the most recklessly abused terms in the social justice lexicon.

Transcription under the cut for accessibility

Keep reading

Gracchi Bothers: the reformers

Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus were a pair of tribunes of the plebs from the 2nd Century BC, who sought to introduce land reform and other populist legislation in ancient Rome. They were both members of the Populares, a group of politicians who appealed to the average citizens and that opposed the conservative Optimates in the Roman Senate. They have been deemed the founding fathers of both socialism and populism.

Tiberius Gracchus, born in 168 BC, was the older of the Gracchi brothers. He is best known for his attempts to legislate agrarian reform and for his untimely death at the hands of the Senators. Under Tiberius’ proposal, no one citizen would be able to possess more than 500 iugera of public land (ager publicus) that was acquired during wars. Any excess land would be confiscated to the state and redistributed to the poor and homeless in small plots of about 30 iugera per family.

The Senate was resistant to agrarian reform because its members owned most of the land and it was the basis of their wealth. Therefore, Tiberius was very unpopular with the Senatorial elite. His main opponent was Marcus Octavius, another tribune who vetoed Tiberius’ bills from entering the Assembly and whom Tiberius had previously gotten removed from office.

When King Attalus III of Pergamum died, he left his entire fortune to the people of Rome. Pergamum was one of the richest cities in the ancient world, and Tiberius wanted to use the wealth from Pergamum to find his agrarian law. This was a direct attack on Senatorial power and the Senate’s opposition to Tiberius began to increase.

With his term coming to an end, Tiberius sought re-election as tribune for the following year. This was unprecedented and his opponents claimed that it was illegal and Tiberius was trying to become a tyrant. On election, violence broke out in the Senate between Tiberius’ followers and his opponents. Tiberius was beaten to death with wooden chairs and nearly 300 of his supporters suffered the same fate. These deaths marked a turning point in Roman history and a long-lasting association between violence and the office of the tribune.

Tiberius was succeeded by his younger brother, Gaius Gracchus, who was also a social reformer. He was quaestor in 126 BC and tribune of the plebs in 123 BC. He is generally considered to be a more complex and confrontational figure than Tiberius, and he had a much clearer legislative agenda that extended beyond simple agrarian reform. Some of his laws appear to have been directed toward the people responsible for his brother’s death.

He renewed Tiberius’ land law and founded new colonies in Italy and Carthage. He introduced a law that no conscription of Romans under age 17 would be allowed and that the state would pay for basic military equipment. Previously, the soldier had to pay for his own equipment, which was especially difficult for the lowest census class. Like his brother, he also funded state-subsidized grain. Another law passed by Gaius imposed the death penalty on any judge who accepted a bribe to convict another Roman guilty.

Gaius’ opponents tried to win away his support and he lost popular appeal by 121 BC. After a riot broke out on the Capitoline Hill and one of Gaius’ opponents was killed, the ‘ultimate decree of the Senate’ (Senatus consultum ultimum) was passed for the first time. This law gave the Senate the power to declare anyone an enemy of the state and execute him without trial by a jury. A mob was then raised to assassinate Gaius. Knowing that his own death was imminent, Gaius committed suicide on the Aventine Hill in 121 BC. All of his reforms were undermined except for his grain laws. Three thousand of his supporters were subsequently arrested and put to death in the proscriptions that followed.

The tribunates of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus began a turbulent period in Rome’s domestic politics, and their careers and untimely deaths emphasize both the strengths and the weaknesses of the tribunate. In the following decades, the tendency toward violence became even more clear as numerous tribunes saw their time in office come to an end with their deaths.

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Project Plowshare and Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy,

In the 1950’s scientists first proposed the idea of using nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes, essentially replacing TNT as the main explosive for moving earth, creating tunnels and canals, cutting paths through mountains for highways or railroads, and for other civil engineering projects.  Thus in 1961 Project Plowshare was created to study the use of nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes.  Between 1961 and 1973, 27 atomic bombs were detonated as part of the project.  Three were detonated to test the feasibility of using nuclear explosives to stimulate gas flow in a low permeability natural gas field. The study was a failure when it was determined that the natural gas produced was too radioactive for use. While the project was promising, it was doomed by the radioactive fallout that resulted after a nuclear explosion, thus making the results hazardous to the health of those who benefited from it. One of the most notorious tests was the underground Sedan explosion, conducted in Yucca Flat, Nevada on July 6th, 1962, to test the feasibility of using nuclear explosives for mining and excavating purposes.  The resulting blast ejected 12,000,000 tons of radioactive soil into the atmosphere, which spread as far as West Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina.

Overall Operation Plowshare cost a total of $700 million.

Since the Americans were doing it, the Soviets had to do it too, except they had to do it bigger and better.  In 1965 the Soviet Union began the “Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy” project, which detonated 156 nuclear devices between 1965 and 1988.  Unlike Project Plowshare, the NENE project was done with practicality in mind.  Few of the Soviet peaceful nuclear explosions were scientific tests, but were used to actually excavate mines, create canals, build dams, and conduct other works of engineering. Like Project Plowshare, radioactive fallout often negated positive results, although the Soviets gave much less of a damn about it than the Americans did.  Many of the explosions caused irreversible environmental damage.  20 years after the Kraton-3 explosion in Siberia in 1973, plutonium levels in the nearby waterways and aquifers were still thousands of times higher than recommended safe levels. The Chagan explosion conducted in 1965 (top picture) spread radioactive material across Asia as far as Japan. 

Vintage Movie Advertisements

We recently received a collection of great film advertisements that really blur the line between form and function. The three here are for films released in 1932. The movable features make perfect fodder for animated GIFs. It makes one wonder if these were put together by hand and how many were made.

“Strictly Dishonorable”

“Lady With a Past”

“Fireman Save My Child”

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It’s weird to think about, but imagine what it would be like to live in Rome and buy things with coins from all the recent emperors. I mean, you might have a coin with Augustus on it, but is it as valuable as the newest ones of Vespasian? Like, these are the things I wonder. There were so many emperors in the first 100 years of the empire and all of them had different coinage. 

Also, in the year of Four Emperors, do you think there was a economic depression? Because there were 4 different emperors inflating the market with their own coinage in a one year span. (In history books, I haven’t noticed much on this so far, but I am more interested in the people and the wars.)

I mean, did Galba, Otho and Vitellius’ coins become worthless after they died? 

Did some vendors honour them or refuse to take certain coins? 

What happened? 

I am so suddenly intrigued! 

(And this is all because a character in my historical fiction story collects Roman coins.)

Thoughts, economists and financial wizards? 

I’m not saying that free-market economics is bad or dangerous, I’m saying that it doesn’t even exist.

The mythical butcher-baker-candlestick-maker view of capitalism only existed in the very earliest days of capitalist development, when it was little more than a social experiment embarked upon by adventurous minor nobles and desperate peasants in fast-growing early-modern cities. The whole reason capitalism survived as a way of organising economic activity was because the newly-wealthy capitalist elites were best placed to wield influence over tottering European feudal states as they crumbled under their own weight - taking them over to run them as glorified protection rackets for their profit-making schemes. From its earliest inception within feudal societies, capital has sought the benefits of the state - legal regulation, economic protectionism, military repression - and used them to secure its future.

Even the most dimly-conscious free-market ideologue knows this. What ‘free-market’ ideology really conceals is a civil war between staggeringly wealthy elites, over which faction of capitalists should reap the rewards: those who benefit from the huge resources of states being poured into subsidising the profits of manufacturing, industry and trade, or those who can make a killing from bank bailouts, government-secured property deals and state-backed oil ventures.

Modern states, therefore, are to capitalism both nursemaid and childhood playmate: they are utterly inseparable, bound together in a Faustian bargain written in the blood of workers.

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