imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
latest news
best of news




A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List


IMC Network:

Original Cities africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

The ABCs of Meaningless Economic Phrases

by Rudolf Hickel and Heinz J. Bontrup Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 at 6:36 AM

The most common myths start from the tax state that burdens the economy, the housework ordered by the state (save,save,save) to the Schwabian housewife prescribing the austerity creed. Politics must tend to every need of capital as a scared doe and therefore lower taxes.


By Rudolf Hickel

[This article published in October 2016 is translated from the German on the Internet, Rudolf Hickel is an economist and member of the Alternative Economic Policy study group in Bremen, Germany.]

A glance at today's media landscape is often frustrating. The facts and the currently prescribed phraseology regarding the economy are very complex and often hard to understand. Many of the propagated measures are trimmed with the same meaningless phrases: "The German economy must become more competitive," "Reforms are indispensable" or the very popular "Measure x, y, z is the only alternative." While these meaningless phrases seem banal, the power of words should not be underrated. They proclaim alleged truths but, seen more closely, are merely economic myths.

A systematic presentation of economic myths has not been published up to now. People had to fight through the language-jungle to comprehend the meaning behind the empty words. This "etymological gap" is now closed by the impressive book "Gute-Macht-Geschichte" (Good-Power Stories) of the two economic journalists Daniel Baumann and Stephan Hebel. Both want to bring enlightenment into the world of lingual myths.

After a brief foreword in which the significance of crucial terms is explained, the "justification formulae" of influential economic actors is taken up in alphabetical order and deconstructed step by step – from A and "alternativlos" (the only alternative) to Z and "Zinsenteignung" (interest expropriation). These concise analyses bristling with references and notes that are very readable and understandable form the core and special quality of this enlightenment.

The goal of nearly all meaningless economic phrases is the justification of political programs to pave the way of political and economic elites to their neoliberal "solutions." All the myths decoded in this book are based on the notion that real existing capitalism described as a market economy is the best guarantor of the propagated "prosperity for everyone." This is Germany's most powerful myth that proves to be an illusion for more and more people.

Both authors skillfully climb into the world of neoliberal prejudices with the central political-economic slogan: "the only alternative." The propaganda of lack of alternatives burdens the democracy dependent on discourse and controversy because the "search for the best solution" threatens to be annulled. The real existing power relations are cemented when people are persuaded of the lack of alternatives instead of social development toward social justice and ecological sustainability. The keywords "markets," "entrepreneurial freedom," "free trade" and "flexibility" form the creed in the market economy that supposedly successfully controls itself. Even the producers of these positive myths cannot escape the fact that the highly-praised "market economy" is extremely unstable, crisis-prone, and triggers malformations again and again. In this way, the market economy undermines itself through a misguided concentration of power and capital. However, this criticism emerging from the failure of markets leads to its own set of know-it-all attitudes out of touch with reality. The undeniable malformations of the capitalist economic system were caused by "non-market forces" and are not results of market failure according to its propagandists. These forces include the interventionist state and unions on the basis of the damned collective bargaining system that is supposedly completely outdated.

The controversial terms "deregulation," the dismantling of state regulations, worldwide "free trade" and "safeguarding the location" through the commanded "wage reserve" are in the center of the neoliberal offensive. However, these keywords lead people astray. The society as a whole and employees should be the beneficiaries of "wage reserve" according to neoliberal theory because entrepreneurial gains would increase and investments in jobs would be forced. But reality proves the exact opposite. The supposed causality painted here really does not exist. For years, there was no increase of productive investments in the real economy. Instead, the speculative activity on the global financial markets grew immensely – with dramatic risks for entire political economies and their citizens. In short, wage reserve actually leads to massive advantages for the profiteers and to burdens of wage-earners. The myth on wage reserve described here is only one prominent example for the battle with catchwords and slogans for propagating real existing capitalism as the allegedly only source of "prosperity for everyone." Therefore enlightenment in creating a political counter-public is urgently necessary. Breaking the monopoly of the predominant economics as the myth-supplier in favor of a pluralist economic openness is vital.

Another goal of the authors is to illuminate the role of the state as the supposed crisis-driver. The most common myths start from the "tax state" that burdens the economy, the "housework" ordered by the state (as a rule "save, save, save") to the "Schwabian housewife" often invoked by German chancellor Angela Merkel prescribing the austerity creed. Politics must tend to every need of capital as a "scared doe" – and therefore lower taxes. The economy can only grow this way. The classical fallacy about the economic role of the state can be studied under the myths "housewife, Schwabian" and "not spending more than one gains." The everyday experience that the private household in the long-run can only spend what it takes in is transferred to the state without any understanding of the state's macroeconomic role.

What is true for private households is not true for a state that is bound to a global economic system. If the state saves, the macroeconomic demand and production decline many times the realized savings. At the end, savings or austerity means revenue shortfalls, expanding crisis costs and rising state debts. The effects of neoliberal myths can be studied concretely in the example of Greece which is representative for European crisis lands. There we witness the tragedy of the prescribed austerity policy that accelerates the economic collapse – at the expense of the citizens and the Greek economy.

In conclusion, all these neoliberal myths demand the subordination of politics under the dictation of market supremacy. The consequence is "market-conforming democracy" (Merkel) and an economy conforming to politics that is not directed to social goals. The redefinition of the term "reform" also fits here. Over centuries, reform stood for progress. However, in the last decades, the term has been twisted around completely. The myth of the "pension burden (cost-expansion)" is an example of that. As the authors underline, the term reform is used to reduce the social responsibility of the state in a dramatically populist way – to the benefit of an individualized partial capitalization. In this way, the

term reform that was once leftist was made a rightwing weapon.

After reading the book, the title "Good Power Stories" is opened up as a play on words. The run-of-the-mill neoliberal myths rely on maintaining the existing rule relations and justification of today's global finance capitalism. They are also "bedtime stories" – namely the swan song to a more just society.


by Heinz-J. Bontrup

[The critical German economist Heinz-J. Bontrup, a prominent member of the Alternative Economic Policy study group, speaks on the advice of the economic wise men and alternatives. This October 2016 interview is translated from the German on the Internet.]

Mr. Bontrup, the council of experts presented its annual opinion as it does every year. Did they bring any new discoveries?

The positions of the council of experts are calculable. One basic conception is more market and more competition. The second is against state interventions and against a demand-oriented economic policy.

How can you say this is wrong? Its falsity cannot be proven in the political economy.

Obviously, there is no generally accepted theory in economics. Therefore we in the Alternative Economic Policy study group champion a plural economics. There is nothing plural about the one-sided supply-oriented alignment of the council of experts. Our position is left-Keynesian and raises the distribution question alongside a state economic control.

What do you mean by one-sided supply-oriented?

The attitude of the council of experts could be described as one-sidedly capital-oriented. Three points are emphasized: firstly, lower wages and higher profits, secondly, hold down taxes on profits and wealth and thirdly, dismantle the social state. This benefits the owners of capital.

The five economic wise men are a team of five professors with different alignments. For example, professor Bofinger was appointed on the recommendation of the unions.

I am very grateful that Peter Bofinger is a member of the council. But he is only one of five. Again and again, he casts his minority vote under the heading "another opinion."

Still, the council of experts has to face public debate and criticism.

Look at the advisors to the council of experts. They represent a neoclassical or neoliberal cartel of advisors and only speak with each other. No one from the outside is let in. The colleague Bofinger is the only exception and alone has a hard time of it.

Is one-sided orientation a German phenomenon?

This is also true in other countries. But it is not handled elsewhere as extremely as in Germany. The council of experts could invite the Alternative Economic Policy study group to its hearings. A really scholarly discussion could occur. But that is obviously not desired.

What themes should the so-called economic wise men take up more intensely?

That the council completely ignores the distribution question annoys us. That question is part of its legal purpose. We of the Alternative Economic Policy study group insist the distribution question is the crucial question of the economy.

But Germany is doing well. Employment increases. Wages and pensions are rising. Isn't that a proof that this economic policy is effective?

No, it is not effective. A decline in the number of unemployed appears in the statistics. But the quality of work deteriorates. We have a high share of subcontracted labor and part-time work. People with short working hours want longer hours and those with long working hours want to work less. If we want to remove the existing mass unemployment, we need reduced working hours with full wage compensation and exchanging roles.

The criticism of the council on the minimum wage attracts attention. Job losses occurred before the minimum wage was introduced. German chancellor Merkel as a physicist found that strange. Wasn't she right to make fun of her advisors?

Report this post as:

Local News


lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Doxa du lobby A25 2:03AM

Tech workers organize A24 6:24PM

Architect Stephen Francis Jones A24 3:01PM

UN Forum Wrestles with Economic Policies 10 Years After Financial Crisis Islands Call for A24 12:34PM

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats A23 7:24AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy