The Dying Institutions Of Western
By Paul Craig Roberts
Judiciary Branch Has Self-Abolished
August 31, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" -
The US no longer has a judiciary. This former
branch of government has transitioned into an enabler of executive
Privacy is a civil liberty protected by the US
Constitution. The Constitution relies on courts to enforce its
prohibitions against intrusive government, but if the executive
branch claims (no proof required) “national security,” courts kiss
the Constitution good-bye.
Federal judges are chosen by the executive branch.
The senate can refuse to confirm, but that is rare. The executive
branch chooses judges who are friendly to executive power. This is
especially the case for the appeals courts and the Supreme Court.
The Justice (sic) Department keeps tabs on district court judges who
rule against the government, and these judges don’t make it to the
higher courts. The result over time is to erode civil liberty.
Recently a three-judge panel of the US Appeals
Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the National Security
Agency can continue its mass surveillance of the US population
without showing cause. The panel avoided the constitutional question
by ruling on procedural terms that NSA had a right to withhold the
information that would prove the plaintiffs’ case.
By refusing to extend the section of the USA
PATRIOT Act—a name that puts a patriotic sheen on Orwellian
totalitarianism—that gave carte blanche to the NSA and by passing
the USA Freedom Act, Congress attempted to give NSA’s spying a
constitutional patina. The USA Freedom Act allows the telecom
companies to spy on us and collect all of our communications data
and for NSA to access the data by obtaining a warrant from the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. The Freedom Act
protects constitutional procedures by requiring NSA to go through
the motions, but it does not prevent telecom companies from invading
our privacy in behalf of NSA.
No one has ever explained the supposed threat that
American citizens pose to themselves that requires all of their
communications to be collected and stored by Big Brother. If the US
Constitution was respected by the executive branch, Congress, the
judiciary, law schools and bar associations, there would have been a
public discussion about whether Americans are most threatened by the
supposed threat that requires universal surveillance or by the loss
of their constitutional protections. We all know what our Founding
Fathers’ answer would be.
Florida Government Defies Voters, Misuses
By allocating funds set aside by law for the
purchase of land and wildlife habitat to other purposes, Florida
Republicans have negated the Water and Land Conservation Amendment
that Floridians passed with a 75% majority last November. The
amendment requires that one-third of the funds produced by real
estate stamp taxes be used for conservation purposes.
Conservation runs counter to the interests of real
estate developers and polluters who have done so much to destroy
Florida’s unique environment. Real estate developers and polluters
are major Republican contributors.
Faced with the people’s will, the Republican
government is claiming that proper uses of the fund are to pay
salaries for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer
Services, to teach best management practices for privately owned
lands, and to pay private agricultural operations to retain the
pollution that results from their operations on their own property.
In typical Republican fashion, money legally
mandated for purchasing public land is being used to pay state
salaries and to make payments to private land owners. This is a good
indication of the scant respect that American democracy has for the
will of the people.
A Robot Will Take Your Job
Several recent studies conclude that robots are
going to displace millions of human workers. An Oxford University
study found that 47 percent of jobs are at risk. Another study
concludes that one third of all jobs will be lost to robots during
the next 10 years. Some claim that the net job loss will not be so
large, because new jobs will be created in order to repair the
robots, at least until robots learn to do this also.
Perhaps you remember the claims by economists
Matthew Slaughter, Michael Porter, and other shills for jobs
offshoring that moving American jobs offshore would create better
and more jobs in the US. After many years I am still watching for
any sign of these promised new jobs.
Despite promises to the contrary, the US economy
has been halted in its tracks by jobs offshoring. US corporations
have moved middle class manufacturing jobs abroad. The high speed
Internet has made it possible for tradable professional skills, such
as software engineering, information technology, research, design,
and scan interpretations by medical doctors, to be performed
offshore. This enormous giveaway of American middle class jobs and
GDP to foreign countries has left the domestic economy with
non-tradable service jobs.
Robotics is now attacking the remaining domestic
service jobs. Robots are becoming sales assistants, providing room
service to hotel guests, filling orders at delis, providing medical
diagnosis, cooking and serving meals, and becoming incorporated into
smart household appliances that reduce the need for electrical and
repair services. All of us are familiar with customer service
robots. We encounter them whenever we telephone about a bank or
credit card statement or utility bill.
The unaddressed problem is: what happens to
consumer demand, on which the economy depends, when humans are
replaced by robots? Robots don’t need a paycheck in order to
purchase food, clothes, shoes, entertainment, health care, go on
vacations, or to make car, utility, credit card, rent or mortgage
payments. The consumer economy has suffered from incomes lost to
jobs offshoring. If robots replace yet more Americans, where does
the income come from to purchase the products of the robots’ work?
Any one firm’s owners and managers can benefit from lowering costs
by replacing a human workforce with robots, but all firms cannot. If
all firms replace their work forces with robots, the rate of
unemployment becomes astronomical, and consumer demand collapses
pulling down the economy.
Economists call what works in the singular but not
in the plural the fallacy of composition. Keynesian macroeconomists
teach that if everyone in society is thrifty with the consequence
that savers save more than investors want to invest, aggregate
demand falls, and with it incomes and savings. Thus, by trying to
save more, savers end up with less.
With the advent of jobs offshoring and financial
deregulation, the US has one of the most unequal distributions of
income and wealth. As robotics patents are held by a mere handful of
people, the concentration of income and wealth at the top will
What kind of society would result? Will
governments nationalize robotics or heavily tax the incomes of
owners in order to issue monthly payments to people with which to
purchase the work product of robots? What would a population living
off the work of robots do with itself? Would population growth be
tolerated? Or would the powerful owners of robotics use the
governments that they control to reduce the surplus population?
Free market economists with their heads forever in
the sand will say, “No worry, people thought that the industrial
revolution would destroy the demand for labor, but industry employed
ever more people.” A former MIT professor who has gone into business
producing robots says robots will bring the jobs lost to offshoring
home to America. But will they be jobs for humans or for robots? I
am waiting to hear how robotics will expand the demand for human
labor beyond a few repairmen to fix robots. And I am still waiting
for the new and better jobs that offshoring promised. By the time
they get here, if ever, robots will take them away.
Stock Market Supported By Corporate
Pension funds purchase corporate bonds, and the
corporations use the money to buy back their own stocks, thus
driving up the price, enriching executives with bonuses and
shareholders with capital gains, but leaving the company in debt.
One study found that last year 95 percent of all corporate earnings
were used either to pay dividends or to buy back the company’s
Mike Whitney’s report
The Ship Did It
The presence of The White Lady, a four-masted
Chilean sailing ship, at the Tall Ships Festival in England is being
protested. Protestors believe the ship is guilty of human rights
violations as the ship was allegedly the site of torture inflicted
by the Pinochet government as it put down the terrorism that
followed the overthrow of the Allende government. Just as guns
murder, ships torture.
The torture alleged to have occurred aboard The
White Lady sounds like a small town performance of the torture
sanctioned by Washington and London at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and
numerous secret sites. How are the American and British democracies
superior to Chilean military dictatorship if the former out-tortures
the latter? To my knowledge, the Pinochet regime, unlike the Bush
regime, never had John Yoo write a legal memo making torture legal.
This is probably why, prior to stepping down and returning Chile to
constitutional democracy, Pinochet issued pardons both to the
military government and to the terrorists.
Demand for Silver Outstripping Supply But
Price Is Falling
On numerous occasions Dave Kranzler and I have pointed out that
despite high and rising demand for physical bullion and constrained
supply, the prices of gold and silver are forced down by concerted
manipulation in the futures market. Silver supplies are so tight
that both the US and Canadian mints have had to suspend the
production and sale of silver coins. Despite supply constraints, in
the manipulated futures market the price of silver has been falling,
but in the physical market the price of silver coins has risen with
premiums over spot raising coin prices as much as 30 percent.
Regulatory authorities have brought no action against the obvious
manipulation in the futures market.
It is important to the value of the fiat
currencies that are being printed in profusion that gold and silver
be discredited as hedges against currency depreciation. Thus,
authorities turn a blind eye to the obvious manipulation, the
purpose of which is to show that inflating fiat paper currencies are
gaining in value relative to gold and silver.
I am awaiting the explanation from the Commodity
Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) why it is normal for inflating
fiat currencies to gain value in relation to gold and silver
bullion. Kranzler and I, supported by individuals thoroughly
acquainted with the bullion market, have written to the CFTC asking
how it is possible for price to fall when demand is rising and
supply is constrained.
We will see if a former Assistant Secretary of the
US Treasury can get an answer.
Good-bye To Cash
If all this isn’t enough, government now wants to
deprive us of cash in order to deprive us of private and unreported
payments and savings. The Financial Times, Britain’s equivalent to
the Wall Street Journal, has published an anonymous article
advocating that cash be abolished and all transactions be digital so
that authorities can know and completely control our behavior.
Clearly a big push in this direction is in the works. If the
authorities succeed, we will have a situation in which the privacy
guaranteed by the US Constitution becomes a myth that slowly fades
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and
associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for
Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate.
He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have
attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are
The Failure of Laissez
Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West
How America Was Lost.