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Comment of the Day: Nietzschean Need to Punish the Weak Expressed By Republicans

New York

I am beginning to think that the main category of economic’s and the difference between major macro economic plans isn’t between Keynes, Hayek, Robinson, and others. Rather what drives one’s theoretical choice is really a question of how we sublimate , in Nietzsche’s terms , the natural human need to punish. Liberals generally rationalise taking from those who have surplus and redistribute it . And they use things like data and evidence and concepts like the public good to justify this. They also note how many, many rich are born on third base thinking they hit a triple and work to accumulate more , often producing great amounts of negative externalities for the wider society. Conservative/ libertarians want to punish the weak, the sick, women , and other traditionally oppressed groups, because hey, the winners proved there worth by hitting triples. I invite readers to look closely at the smug satisfaction of the hard core right wing Republican Party when they throw people off of medicaid, or make food stamp recipients take drug tests, while blowing up the deficit so they can write off their private jets. It’s not enough that they line their pockets with gold snatched from the public purse, they need to villainize and crush the poor, single mothers, hungry kids as somehow deserving their lot. Look at the faces in the rose garden reception after the house voted to kill Obamacare. Tell me beyond all the social science and numbers that Nietzsche isn’t onto something.


(Why they insist on punishing people who are poor through no fault of their own is a mystery, but if Nietzsche said we have a need to punish people for being weak, that’s good enough for me.  )


The Warning Signs of a Cult Leader: authoritarianism, no tolerance for questions, no financial disclosure, fear of outside world, no excuse to leave, former members and press report abuses, followers never good enough, leader is always right and the only source of truth.


Quoted from the Cult Education Institute’s Web Site:

By Rick Ross, Expert Consultant and Intervention Specialist


Ten warning signs of a potentially unsafe group/leader.

  1. Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
  2. No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
  3. No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget, expenses such as an independently audited financial statement.
  4. Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
  5. There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
  6. Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
  7. There are records, books, news articles, or television programs that document the abuses of the group/leader.
  8. Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
  9. The group/leader is always right.
  10. The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

Ten warning signs regarding people involved in/with a potentially unsafe group/leader.

  1. Extreme obsessiveness regarding the group/leader resulting in the exclusion of almost every practical consideration.
  2. Individual identity, the group, the leader and/or God as distinct and separate categories of existence become increasingly blurred. Instead, in the follower’s mind these identities become substantially and increasingly fused–as that person’s involvement with the group/leader continues and deepens.
  3. Whenever the group/leader is criticized or questioned it is characterized as “persecution”.
  4. Uncharacteristically stilted and seemingly programmed conversation and mannerisms, cloning of the group/leader in personal behavior.
  5. Dependency upon the group/leader for problem solving, solutions, and definitions without meaningful reflective thought. A seeming inability to think independently or analyze situations without group/leader involvement.
  6. Hyperactivity centered on the group/leader agenda, which seems to supercede any personal goals or individual interests.
  7. A dramatic loss of spontaneity and sense of humor.
  8. Increasing isolation from family and old friends unless they demonstrate an interest in the group/leader.
  9. Anything the group/leader does can be justified no matter how harsh or harmful.
  10. Former followers are at best-considered negative or worse evil and under bad influences. They can not be trusted and personal contact is avoided.


(image courtesy of

Reuters: Three times more ground has burned in California so far this year than at the same point in 2017, which ranks as one of the most destructive seasons on record.


Some scientists predict that wildfires will increase in size to three times the current burned area by 2100 due to climate change…  drought and beetle infestations have reduced good trees to dried-up husks ready for a spark– to grow into a fire-storm that creates its own weather, with 300-foot tall flames and pyrocumulus clouds.  This morning a free-running fire crossed interstate highway 5 in northern California and forced drivers to flee on foot as trapped vehicles burst into flames

(photo courtesy of and skeeze)

Lie of the Day: Donald Trump: “We have a really well-run, smooth-running White House. It’s a well-oiled machine. It is running beautifully.”


Quoted in the Washington Post today.  When Donald was speaking to a crowd of his supporters (aired on CNN today), he said that a man came up to him and said, “Thank you, Mr. President for saving our country.”  In case you need some guidance about what is really going on, I’ll just tell you that man is delusional and so is Donald.

(photo courtesy of and YamaBSM)


The Very Latest in Conspiracy Theories


A post on today’s New York Times online says that the purpose of Christopher Steele and Bruce Ohr’s meetings before Donald’s campaign was in furtherance of an attempt to “turn” Oleg Deripaska, known as “Putin’s oligarch” (as if Vladimir wasn’t oligarch enough all by himself… oh, wait, then he’d be an autarch, wouldn’t he?)

The FBI must have kept that secret because it was embarrassing.  There’s no further point in hiding it from the Russians, because Oleg turned around and told Vladimir all about the FBI’s feeble attempts to make use of him.  I’m sure Oleg and Vlad had a good laugh about all the lies that Oleg told to those poor FBI men.

They are only declassifying that now because the connections between Steele and Ohr are coming out and the conspiracy theorists on the right were making a big deal out of it– as if two spies, working for countries that are the closest of allies and both specializing in Russian organized crime (which is indistinguishable from the Kremlin nowadays), couldn’t compare notes without it being a conspiracy against the worst president in US history (according to a strong plurality in a recent survey of the American electorate.)

John Maynard Keynes (1936): “… soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.”


“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval; for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good or evil.”  John Maynard Keynes (1936)

WaPo editorial: Adam Smith: a balance of trade “deficit” is not disadvantage, let alone a debt to be repaid or money stolen from us


A Washington Post editorial that explains just how wrong Trump’s tariffs are was recently published, and as I have taken advantage of their discount to subscribe, I have had the opportunity to scroll through their recent editorials.  Here is a quote from a piece about tariffs:


Unless Trump wants to retreat to a 1776-sized economy or relive the Great Depression (care of Smoot-Hawley) it’s best we not follow the outdated mercantilist philosophy that was supplanted fortunately by Adam Smith who deplored tariffs (“extraordinary restraints upon the importation of almost all sorts of goods from those countries with which the balance of trade is supposed to be disadvantageous”). Unlike Trump, Smith knew that a balance of trade “deficit” is not disadvantage, let alone a debt to be repaid or money stolen from us:

Nothing … can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade, upon which, not only these restraints, but almost all the other regulations of commerce are founded.
When two places trade with one another, this doctrine supposes that, if the balance be even, neither of them either loses or gains; but if it leans in any degree to one side, that one of them loses and the other gains in proportion to its declension from the exact equilibrium. Both suppositions are false. A trade which is forced by means of bounties and monopolies may be and commonly is disadvantageous to the country in whose favour it is meant to be established, as I shall endeavour to show hereafter. But that trade which, without force or constraint, is naturally and regularly carried on between any two places is always advantageous, though not always equally so, to both.

Trump’s zero-sum economics is wrong, and as we see, harmful to America. (“From Wisconsin to South Carolina, small businesses are starting to lay off employees, and they’re citing Trump’s tariffs. Many firms have warned that the worst is yet to come.”)

So we have a president who is so wrong-headed that he chooses to undo all the economic progress since Adam Smith explained the wrongness of the “balance of trade” almost 250 years ago.  We might as well try to rewrite the Constitution as to revisit Adam Smith’s reforms.  Oh, wait, we’re going to rewrite the Constitution from scratch, aren’t we?  (See the hidden push to convene a Constitutional Convention by right-wing radicals…)

(image courtesy of

(this bit was supposed to have been published 8/20/2018 but was unaccountably held up.)