Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Rise of the New Global Plutocratic Elite and the Crisis of the Middle Class.

The Rise of the New Global Elite. By Chrystia Freeland. The Atlantic, January/February 2011. Also find it here and here.

How the iPod Explains Globalization. By Chrystia Freeland. New York Times, June 30, 2011. Also find it here.

Modern capitalism isn’t working for the middle class. By Chrystia Freeland. Reuters, September 20, 2011.

Wall Street protesters challenge Reagan Revolution. By Chrystia Freeland. Reuters, October 14, 2011.

Some See Two New Gilded Ages, Raising Global Tensions. By Chrystia Freeland. New York Times, January 22, 2012.

Putting the magnifying glass on the one percent. By Chrystia Freeland. Reuters, February 8, 2013.

The Plutocracy Will Go to Extremes to Keep the 1% in Control. By Bill Moyers, Chrystia Freeland, and Matt Taibbi. Video and Transcript. AlterNet, October 19, 2012. Also at

Plutocracy Rising October 19, 2012 Full Show from on Vimeo.

Can the Middle Class Be Saved? By Don Peck. The Atlantic, September 2011. Also find it here and here.

Why Elites Fail. By Christopher Hayes. The Nation, June 6, 2012.

In the Inequality Debate, Both Sides Are Wrong. By Brink Lindsey. Forbes, August 13, 2012.

Human Capitalism: How Economic Growth Has Made Us Smarter — and More Unequal. By Brink Lindsey. Video. Cato Institute, February 18, 2013. YouTube.

Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%. By Joseph E. Stiglitz. Vanity Fair, May 2011.

The 1 Percent’s Problem. By Joseph E. Stiglitz. Vanity Fair, May 31, 2012.

Q&A: Joseph Stiglitz on the Fallacy That the Top 1 Percent Drives Innovation, and Why the Reagan Administration Was America’s Inequality Turning Point. By Cullen Murphy. Vanity Fair, June 5, 2012.

Left Out. By Francis Fukuyama. The American Interest, January/February 2011.

The Future of History: Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class? By Francis Fukuyama. Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012.

The Broken Contract: Inequality and American Decline. By George Packer. Foreign Affairs, November/December 2011.

Is Meritocracy A Sham? By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, July 1, 2012.

American Dreams, American Resentments. By Walter Russell Mead. The American Interest, January/February 2011.

Let Us Now Praise Private Equity. By Reihan Salam. National Review, February 6, 2012. Also find it here.

Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances. By Ajay Kapur, Niall MacLeod, and Narendra Singh. Citigroup Global Markets, October 16, 2005.

Revisiting Plutonomy: The Rich Getting Richer. By Ajay Kapur, Niall MacLeod, and Narendra Singh. Citigroup Global Markets, March 5, 2006.

The Plutonomy Symposium: Rising Tides Lifting Yachts. By Ajay Kapur, Niall MacLeod, Tobias M. Levkovich, et al. Citigroup Global Markets, September 29, 2006.

The Citigroup Plutonomy Memos: Two bombshell documents that Citigroup’s lawyers try to suppress, describing in detail the rule of the first 1%. Political Gates, December 10, 2011.

Citigroup’s plutonomy memos. By Cathy O’Neil. mathbabe, August 30, 2012.

Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain. By Maarten Goos and Alan Manning. The Review of Economics and Statistics, February 2007.

Inequality and Institutions in 20th Century America. By Frank Levy and Peter Temin. MIT Working Paper, June 27, 2007.

Who Captures Value in a Global Innovation Network? The Case of Apple’s iPod. By Greg Linden, Jason Dedrick, and Kenneth L. Kraemer. Communications of the ACM, March 2009.

Innovation and Job Creation in a Global Economy: The Case of Apple’s iPod. By Greg Linden, Jason Dedrick, and Kenneth L. Kraemer. Journal of International Commerce and Economics, May 2011.

Bankers’ Pay and Extreme Wage Inequality in the UK. By Brian Bell and John Van Reenen. Centre for Economic Performance, April 2010.

The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S. Labor Market. By David Autor. Center for American Progress, April 30, 2010. Also find it here.

As Middle Class Shrinks, P&G Aims High and Low. By Ellen Byron. Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2011.

The firece urgency of fixing economic inequality. By Lawrence Summers. Reuters, November 21, 2012.

Terms of Contention: Plutocracy and Democracy. By Adam Garfinkle. The American Interest, January/February 2011.

The Inequality That Matters. By Tyler Cowen. The American Interest, January/February 2011.

Hedging Risk. By Sebastian Mallaby and Matthew Klein. The American Interest, January/February 2011.

Courting Plutocracy. By Ruth Wedgwood. The American Interest, January/February 2011.

Democracy and Oligarchy. By Jeffrey A. Winters. The American Interest, November/December 2011.

The Foreign Policy of Plutocracies. By James Kurth. The American Interest, November/December 2011.

The World Is No Longer America’s Problem. By Aaron David Miller.

The Avoider. By Aaron David Miller. Foreign Policy, February 13, 2013.

Barack Obama’s State of the Union address makes one thing clear: The world is no longer America’s problem.

The Decline of America. By Victor Davis Hanson.

The Decline of America. By Victor Davis Hanson. National Review Online, February 14, 2013.

How the 1980s Explains Vladimir Putin. By Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy.

How the 1980s Explains Vladimir Putin. By Fiona Hill and Clifford G. Gaddy. The Atlantic, February 14, 2013.

Egypt Drowns Hamas. By Walter Russell Mead.

Egypt Drowns Hamas. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, February 14, 2013.

Egyptian Muslim Preacher Amr Khaled: Within 20 Years Muslims Will Become the Majority in Europe.

Egyptian Muslim Preacher Amr Khaled: Within 20 Years Muslims Will Become the Majority in Europe. Video. MEMRI TV Clip No. 1821, May 10, 2008. Also at YouTube. Transcript here.

More on Egypt and Morsi here.

Egyptian Cleric Sa’d Arafat: Islam Permits Wife Beating Only When She Refuses to Have Sex with Her Husband.

Egyptian Cleric Sa’d Arafat: Islam Permits Wife Beating Only When She Refuses to Have Sex with Her Husband. Video. MEMRI TV Clip No. 2600, February 4, 2010. Also at YouTube here and here. Transcript here.

Egyptian Cleric Abu Islam: Christian Women Who Go to Tahrir Square to Get Raped Are Not Taboo. MEMRI TV Clip No. 3741, February 7, 2013. Also at YouTube. Transcript here.

Psychotherapist Dr. Radhwa Farghali:Women in Arab Society Are Treated as Minors. Video. MEMRI TV Clip No. 2612, August 5, 2010. Also at YouTube. Transcript here.

More on Morsi and Egypt here.

Egyptian President Morsi Joins Preacher in Prayer for Dispersal of the Jews.

Egyptian President Morsi Joins Preacher in Prayer for Dispersal of the Jews. Video. MEMRI TV Clip No. 3614, October 19, 2012. Also at YouTube.

More on Morsi and Egypt here.

America Hates Crony Capitalism. By Joshua M. Brown.

Dear Jamie Dimon. By Joshua M. Brown. The Reformed Broker, December 20, 2011.


Dear Jamie Dimon,

I hope this note finds you well.

I am writing to profess my utter disbelief at how little you seem to understand the current mood of the nation.  In a story at Bloomberg today, you and a handful of fellow banker and billionaire “job creators” were quoted as believing that the horrific sentiment directed toward you from virtually all corners of America had something to do with how much money you had.  I’d like to take a moment to disabuse you of this foolishness.

America is different than almost every other place on earth in that its citizenry reveres the wealthy and we are raised to believe that we can all one day join the ranks of the rich.  The lack of a caste system or visible rungs of society’s ladder is what separates our empire from so many fallen empires throughout history.  In a nation bereft of royalty by virtue of its republican birth, the American people have done what any other resourceful people would do – we’ve created our own royalty and our royalty is the 1%.  Not only do we not “hate the rich” as you and other embubbled plutocrats have postulated, in point of fact, we love them.  We worship our rich to the point of obsession.  The highest-rated television shows uniformly feature the unimaginably fabulous families of celebrities not to mention the housewives (real or otherwise) of the rich.  We don’t care what color they are or what religion they practice or where in the country they live or what channel their show is on – if they’re rich, we are watching.

When Derek Jeter was toyed with by the New York Yankees when it came time for him to renew his next hundred million dollar contract, the people empathized with Derek Jeter.  Sure, this disagreement essentially took place between one of the wealthiest organizations in the country and one of the wealthiest private citizens – but we rooted for Jeter to get his money.  Nobody begrudged him a penny of it or wanted a piece of it or decried the fact that he was luckier than the rest of us.  In the American psyche, Jeter was one of the good guys who was deservedly successful.  He was one of us and an example of hard work paying off.

Likewise, when Steve Jobs died, he did so with more money than you or any of your “job alliance” buddies – ten times more than most of you, in fact.  And upon his death the entire nation went into mourning.  We set up makeshift shrines to his brilliance in front of Apple stores from coast to coast.  His biography flew off the shelves and people bought Apple products and stock shares in his honor and in his memory.  Does that strike you as the action of a populace that hates success?

No, Jamie, it is not that Americans hate successful people or the wealthy.  In fact, it is just the opposite.  We love the success stories in our midst and it is a distinctly American trait to believe that we can all follow in the footsteps of the elite, even though so few of us ever actually do.

So, no, we don’t hate the rich.  What we hate are the predators.

What we hate are the people who we view as having found their success as a consequence of the damage their activities have done to our country.  What we hate are those who take and give nothing back in the form of innovation, convenience, entertainment or scientific progress.  We hate those who’ve exploited political relationships and stupidity to rake in even more of the nation’s wealth while simultaneously driving the potential for success further away from the grasp of everyone else.

Here in New York, we hated watching real estate and financial services elitists drive up the prices of everything from affordable apartments to martinis in midtown with the reckless speculation that would eventually lead to mass layoffs, rampant joblessness and the wreckage of so many retirement dreams.  No one ever asked the rest of us if we minded, it just happened. I’m sure people across the country can tell similar stories.

So please, do us all a favor and come to the realization that the loathing you feel from your fellow Americans has nothing to do with your “success” or your “wealth” and it has everything to do with the fact that your wealth and success have come at a cost to the rest of us.  No one wants your money or opportunities, what they want is the same chance that their parents had to attain these things for themselves.  You are viewed, and rightfully so, as part of the machine that has removed this chance for many – and that is what they hate.

America hates unjustified privilege, it hates an unfair playing field and crony capitalism without the threat of bankruptcy, it hates privatized gains and socialized losses, it hates rule changes that benefit the few at the expense of the many and it hates people who have been bailed out and don’t display even the slightest bit of remorse or humbleness in the presence of so much suffering in the aftermath.

Nobody hates your right to make money, Jamie.  They hate how you and certain others have made it.

Don’t be confused on this score for a moment longer.

Toward a New American Policy in the Middle East. By Daniel C. Kurtzer.

Toward a New American Policy. By Daniel C. Kurtzer. The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, February 10, 2013.


The United States has invested heavily in Middle East peacemaking for decades. While the strategic goal has been to achieve a peace settlement, the United States has tended to focus on the essentially tactical objective of bringing about face-to-face negotiations between the parties. With some exceptions—for example, the Clinton Parameters in 2000 and the George W. Bush letter to Ariel Sharon in 2004—administrations have eschewed articulating positions on the substantive outcome the United States seeks. Because of the serious problems confronting the region and the peace process today, it is time for the United States to adopt a new policy, a new strategy, and new tactics.

Why Tilt at Middle East Windmills?

This essay argues for the development of a new, comprehensive American policy and a sustained strategy for advancing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It advocates for American creativity, flexibility, and initiative in crafting the tactics required to engage the parties and help them approach the required mutual concessions. This argument does not rest on either the inevitability or even the likelihood of early success, nor on the readiness of the parties to overcome legitimate concerns and powerful internal opposition to confront the tough decisions required to make peace. Indeed, there are strong reasons to avoid working on the peace process at all.

However, doing nothing or continuing down the same path that the United States has traveled before—simply trying to get to negotiations—not only will not succeed, it will deepen the challenges the United States faces in the Middle East and it will exacerbate the very conflict that the United States has tried to resolve over many decades. There are hard realities in the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that some try to ignore or argue away. It is time to confront those realities and develop a reasonable but also bold policy and diplomatic strategy worthy of American values and interests. Developing a sound policy, a sophisticated strategy, and appropriate tactics to advance the peace process is not tilting at windmills. It is doing what the United States has shown itself capable of doing in the past to advance prospects for peace.

The idea of a two-state solution—the cornerstone of American policy in the region—is now on life support, and its chances of surviving cannot improve without active diplomacy. Not only are governments losing interest, but more importantly, public opinion is losing confidence that such an outcome is achievable. The issues in the peace process are complex, and American policy needs to address this complexity, whether or not there is a promise of immediate success.

Current upheavals in the region argue for investing in Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution. Hunkering down or managing the status quo is not a policy when it assures the United States less leverage and less support for our policies elsewhere in the region. With growing skepticism about and opposition to American policy in the Middle East, a serious effort to advance peace can have a transformative effect on our standing and credibility.

There is no magic formula for success, whether it involves intense American diplomacy or conflict management. Periods of engagement have often ended in frustration, violence, and war. Trying to manage the conflict—for example, by focusing solely on improving the situation on the ground—is not only a recipe for inaction; it is actually far more dangerous than it appears.

Status quos are not static. They either improve or they worsen. The status quo in the West Bank appears to be improving, evidenced by economic activity in Palestinian cities, the relative absence of terrorism, and several important signs of Israeli-Palestinian cooperation, for example, in security and in economic affairs. This is, however, a misleading picture. Israeli settlement activity has accelerated in recent years, and the Israeli government’s active support and funding of settlement infrastructure have skyrocketed. As more settlers move into the occupied territories, the area of the prospective Palestinian state is shrinking, becoming less contiguous and less viable. To believe that Palestinians will accept a state limited to their main population centers—so-called Areas A and B in the West Bank—is delusionary. Calm on the surface masks growing frustration and anger below. Any spark can ignite a conflagration that will consume the status quo.

More fundamentally, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict drains energy from the parties and from the United States to deal with more pressing issues in the region, in particular, Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Yitzhak Rabin recognized this in 1992, when he reportedly told then-President George H. W. Bush that Israel required comprehensive peace with all its neighbors in order to free its energies to prepare for the emerging threat from Iran, which Rabin assessed would be evident within ten years. In 2002, Saudi King Abdullah and other Arab leaders also recognized this reality when they adopted the Arab Peace Initiative, a cosmic change in the position of Arabs toward Israel and the conflict. Arabs no longer insisted on dealing with the “problem” of 1948, that is, the very existence of the State of Israel, but rather promised Israel peace, security, and recognition if the 1967 occupation of Arab territories and the persistence of the Palestinian issue could be resolved. Iran was as much on the minds of Abdullah and other Arab leaders in 2002 as it was on Rabin’s in 1992.

So, while some argue that it is a waste of time for the United States to invest in the peace process, the opposite is really true. Such an investment will pay dividends if it moves the conflict toward resolution and allows the region to act in concert to deny Iran its power ambitions. Doing nothing, or doing too little, is a prescription for trouble.

Do Palestinians Deserve a State? By Dan Calic.

Do Palestinians Deserve a State? By Dan Calic. Ynet News, February 13, 2013.

Anybody Listening? Netanyahu’s Not the Obstacle to Two-State Solution. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, February 12, 2013.