Reward And Punish

I recently stumbled upon a report issued (and constantly updated) byJeffrey Sonnenfeld, a professor at the Yale School of Management identifying the U.S. companies that have–and have not– withdrawn from Russia in the wake of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The report separates the companies into four categories:

1) WITHDRAWAL – Clean Break: companies completely halting Russian engagements;

2) SUSPENSION – Keeping Options Open for Return: companies temporarily curtailing operations while keeping return options open;

3) SCALING BACK – Reducing Activities: companies scaling back some but not all operations, or delaying investments;

4) DIGGING IN – Defying Demands for Exit: companies defying demands for exit/reduction of activities .

The date I logged on, there were 34 companies “digging in.”Unsurprisingly, Koch Industries was–and remains– among them, and there are calls to boycott goods like Bounty paper towels, that are produced by Koch subsidiaries.

American pundits sometimes seem divided between the tiresome ideologues who  believe the market  can solve every problem known to humankind, and the equally tiresome scolds who want to replace capitalism entirely. Actually, both the unwillingness of some companies to forego profits in order to help pressure Russia to withdraw, and the calls to boycott those companies, display what we might think of as the yin and yang of capitalism.

Ignore, for the purposes of the ensuing discussion, the fact that the American economy has devolved into crony capitalism and corporatism, a situation that deserves its own analysis.

America’s most pervasive and longstanding economic error has been one of categorization–determining what goods and services should be left to free  (appropriately regulated) markets, and which by their very nature must be collectively supplied by government. Other western nations have long understood that the provision of effective and accessible health care, for example, is incompatible with a market approach. (Market transactions require a willing buyer and willing seller, both of whom are in possession of all information relevant to the transaction–an impossibility with respect to health care.)

On the other hand, there is no reason for government to be involved in the manufacture or sale of most consumer goods. The genius of a properly operating capitalism is its ability to provide us with a multiplicity of products and sources of entertainment. Government  agencies would be highly unlikely to invent the iPhone…or Netflix.

If we are to have a properly operating economy–not to mention a properly operating government–we need to distinguish between the consumer goods that are most efficiently provided by the market, and the social and physical infrastructure that must be provided by government.

A good example is education. Efforts to “privatize” public education rest on the mistaken assumption that education is just another consumer good–that schools exist only to provide children with the skills to compete–or at least operate–successfully in the economy. That assumption entirely ignores what has been called the “civic mission” of public education–the role of our public schools in the transmission of democratic norms, and the forging of a common American identity among children from  diverse backgrounds.

So what does all this have to do with Ukraine?

When we look at Sonnenfeld’s list of companies that have placed profit above morality, we see the dark side of capitalism–its tendency to incentivize greed over concern for the human consequences of economic (mis)behavior. (It is encouraging, and worth noting , that the list of companies that have elected to remain is far, far shorter than the list of those that have pulled out–often at considerable cost.)

When we look at the calls to boycott the products of the companies that have elected to “dig in,” we see the power consumers can wield in market economies. Consumers “vote” with our dollars, and if enough of us choose to do so, we can punish companies engaging in behaviors of which we disapprove. A number of such boycotts have succeeded in the past and there are several websites enumerating those successes.

When it comes to mega-businesses like Koch Industries, it’s admittedly difficult: their products are pretty much everywhere. (Here’s a list.) Others–like Subway– are much easier to spot.

Bottom line: market economies provide consumers with the ability to reward good behavior and punish bad behavior–but just like democracy, delivering those rewards and punishments requires an informed  and engaged populace.


  1. Perhaps it’s because I’m Canadian, but I just can’t understand how Americans can be comfortable with a health INSURANCE industry.

    Caveats: My country’s system should cover more stuff than it does, so there are some areas in which insurance companies participate, but regulation limits the profits that those insurance companies can make and amounts they can charge. We sometimes have to wait for elective stuff, but that’s so the important stuff can take precedence. I think it should work that way.

    In any case, for the most part, I never see a bill. I offer my “care card” at the clinic, office, hospital, or whatever and get care. I’ve had several family members receive treatment for cancer and survive perfectly well. As usual with a serious illness like this, the treatments included numerous consultations with various specialists, a group of doctors, nurses and technicians managing the care, multiple surgeries (during and after), chemo treatments, radiation treatments, various drugs, and numerous follow-ups in the years after, and much, much more. And we never see a bill for any of that. We just participate in the healing/care process. There is stress about the illness but no stress about the money.

    So… insurance. The mission of an insurance company (like any company) is to take in as much in premiums as possible and deliver as little in services as possible, so as to maximize profit. This is antithetical to health care. As I say, I just can’t understand it.

  2. If we had a fully functioning free press (Fourth Branch of Government) and a fully functioning government (two independent democratic parties) then all your claims and all the claims by the captured media about capitalism being good would be legit, but we don’t.

    And, we haven’t for a very long time if ever.

    Einstein said game over in 1949. Marcuse in 1969. Chomsky in 1980. There are no free markets – those theories are based on rational actors which don’t exist and no government interference which doesn’t exist. We just gave Big Pharm how many billions to produce a vaccine and then handed it over to them?

    We spent $52 billion to subsidize chip makers. How many billions did we give farmers after Trump sanctioned China? The list goes on…there is a great meme of the cost of gas around the world and by far and away, USA was less than half the cost on other countries. Why? LOL

    And, since we don’t have a legitimate free press, who has been watching the Pentagon and FED?

    Pam Martens has been tracking the FED extremely well and they’ve been printing money like candy to pump into the Financial Oligarchy. Since 2008, the FED has chosen to bail them out, and there will be hellish consequences for the American people. Inflation is just the beginning.

    In theory, capitalism should work with a very strong government and then a very strong free press for checks and balances. In practice, ours has failed dramatically and the pain is coming.

  3. I should note one more aspect of our system that you may overlook. When something _feels_ wrong, we go in and check with our doctor. If necessary, additional consultations with specialists, or diagnostics (like blood test, MRI, CT scan, x-ray, ultrasound, etc.) are performed. Then, if something is found, treatment ensues. If not, everyone feels more comfortable and life goes on.

    The point is that we can be proactive about potential illness. We don’t need to wait until an emergency visit is necessary. We don’t need to consider cost when deciding whether to schedule a doctor visit.

    Most of these checks won’t turn up anything. But some will.

  4. An excellent read, and the list is helpful. I, for one, will modify my purchasing behavior in response to the list of companies.
    It is startling to see how the Koch Industries have become so in twined with the everyday goods that Americans buy.
    I enjoyed the comments section from the list of products, especially the Canadian who wrote critically about the so-called “health care industry” in the U.S.

  5. Oh, I forgot to mention, if you want to read more about Koch Indistries, read “Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries” by Christopher Leonard. Chilling!

  6. That same list of enterprises refusing to sacrifice some losses and missed opportunities by withdrawing from the Russian economy most probably would be first to stand in ovation to applaud sending our young men and women to sacrifice their lives to defend freedom.

  7. “When we look at the calls to boycott the products of the companies that have elected to “dig in,” we see the power consumers can wield in market economies. Consumers “vote” with our dollars, and if enough of us choose to do so, we can punish companies engaging in behaviors of which we disapprove.”

    That old standard to “Buy American” to hit manufacturers in their wallets for whatever reason does not offer enough options to make a difference. Check the little stickers on items in the produce section of markets and you will rarely even find food items grown “Made in America”. Electronics is possibly the biggest market where hardly anything is produced here; the closest I have come was when I bought a new TV which stated boldly on the carton “Assembled in America”.

    “So what does all this have to do with Ukraine?”

    A NYT column by David Leonhardt this morning; “Be weak or risk a world war”. It is regarding the possibility of threats of nuclear war; with all of the possibilities of all major nations storing nuclear weaponry, only Russia has made that threat resulting in United Nations, Pentagon, NATO, EU the United States and all allies choosing the weak path of refusing to enact a “no fly zone” over Ukraine. Putin stated days ago he considers the sanctions against Russia, its oligarchs and himself personally as being a “declaration of war”. So we watch, commiserate the conditions and pray for an end to his war as he continues his scorched earth “military occupation” by directing his troops to kill all Ukrainians, including the children. His “punishment” of those who would deny his takeover of surrounding nations is now being “rewarded” by all allies denying Ukraine that “no fly zone” and concentrating on economics. This is now, on this 26th day, a direct act of war and Putin is a blatant war criminal.

    The “fight or flight” option has the good guys rewarding the bad guys by allowing the blatant destruction of the Ukraine nation and its people so we might save a few pennies or dollars on the open market.

  8. Koch stated they have 600 employees they beileve would fair worse if they handed their glass making industry over to the Russian government. But what if everyone did this? There wouldn’t be much of a protest. Sending my letter of protest to Koch.

  9. Just a minor correction: Bounty isn’t made by Koch, Brawny is, along with Northern, Dixie, Stainmaster and tons of other items, some of which they hold a monopoly on.

    As far as our health care industry is concerned, we do have a willing buyer (insurance company) and a willing seller (health care provider), both of whom have all of the relevant information. The problem is that neither is the patient. Until such time as the laws require the interests of the patient to come first, we will fail any proper evaluation of health care.

  10. One additional comment on health care and markets. There is a flaw in addition to the information gap between provider and patient. Markets are designed to allocate goods and services to those who value a service AND can also pay for the service. In other words, if you can’t afford a good or service, you can’t have it. If a society values (or purports to value) universal access to health care services, there is a basic conflict between using a market and this value.

  11. My experience in corporate America is do enough right, as long as it is revenue neutral, so yes, greed is the bottom line.

    Yes, there are certain things the invisible hand of the market will not guide. As soon as you talk about universal health care you get to be labeled “socialist”, but those same people enjoy universal fire protection, universal police protection, and universal sewage treatment without yelling “socialist”.

    I hate to give Todd a boost, but as financial screws are applied to Russia, it might become more clear how closely tied the US top 1% might be tied to Russia and the money that as been funneled out of the country by the Russian oligarchs. That same financial deregulation that brought us the world wide recession and 2008 mortgage crises is still rewarding us with extensive money laundering and shell corporations that make it so easy for corrupt Russian money to leak into US and British politics. There is a clear need for financial regulation because, as we can see, left entirely on it’s own, corrupt money is too irresistible to those who have no moral compass.

  12. Capitalists like Koch Industries are simply whores to money. They give not a single damn about the political environment as long as they can keep making money. OF COURSE they’re staying in Russia. BUT, when the money stops flowing, they’ll change their business model.

    Yeah. O.K. Now where was I in that dreamworld?

  13. I wrote this column in January, 2021 just after the insurrection. It’s long, but filled with things this blog has been discussing for over a year:

    Republicans, Power and Sedition
    Vern Turner
    Sometimes it just comes at you as so obvious that it can be comical if it weren’t so tragic, stupid and craven. If any good thing has emerged from the Donald Trump era, it’s that the Republican party has been stripped of its cloak of lies to be exposed for what I’ve always said they were: Lying, cheating, corrupt and craven power mongers. Why? Because their corporate financiers and the oligarchs who sponsor/bribe them tell them to be that way. Why, again? Because the money people know they’re running out of time to take all the power over money. They are afraid that the vast majority of the people in the United States will finally say, “ENOUGH”!
    The four year insurrection conducted by Donald Trump’s stunning incompetence showed us that sedition is just barely below the surface of Republican ideology. The mob that attacked our Capitol at the behest of the worst human being this country has ever produced almost killed them too. They wanted to hang the Vice-President. That’s how deranged that mob became. Why? Because Donald Trump told them to. Just listen to the tapes from the riot. The Republicans ran for their lives as did everybody else in Congress on 6 January 2021. Yet, despite all the visible and undeniable evidence, Republicans in Congress said “NO” to confirming the electoral votes that all 50 states certified. You know, like the Constitution says to. Senate Republicans voted to not have a second impeachment trial for their beloved evil wretch. Why?
    The Republicans came back from changing their underwear on the 6th and voted against certifying the electoral votes. They say it’s because there are “irregularities” in the vote count. No evidence at all, mind you – not even from Republican-controlled states like Georgia and Wisconsin. This was a naked power grab based on nothing but lies. It’s what they do. Another of the 2024 wannabe candidates, Nikki Haley, shot her mouth off on Fox News (Where else?) saying that the media and the “left” should stop picking on Trump. “Give the man a break!”, her tinny voice shrieked. Sure. Why not give Ted Bundy a break? Or John Dillinger; the FBI hounded him for years too. Why didn’t we give those criminals breaks? Why give the most recent ex-president a break? He broke laws just like those other guys. He created mass seditious hysteria based on lies.
    His administration’s complete incompetence helped fuel the disastrous COVID-19 epidemic to the point of having it kill more Americans than died in all of World War II… and still counting. Trump is on record for trying to extort (A crime specifically identified in the Constitution.) a foreign government to help him get re-elected. And now this latest refusal to accept validated election certification… It’s the Republican way. They love this guy. They want more of the criminal-in-chief. To them, Trump means power, because power is all Republicans care about.
    Since 1965, the pre- Trump Republican party has had a President for twenty-eight years, the Democrats, only twenty-five. During those twenty-eight years of Republican presidencies, the law has spit out 120 criminal indictments against members of those administrations. From those, there were eighty-nine convictions of various crimes that yielded thirty-four prison sentences… and this does not include the Trump administration’s coming tidal wave of laws broken and sentences handed out. These legal issues are, sadly, symptomatic of Republican politics and lack of governing over decades. The Democrats have been taken to the legal woodshed less than ten percent of these by Republicans, and the Obama administration has received ZERO indictments, convictions or prison sentences. No wonder the Republicans dislike President Obama so much: He is their antithesis. He played by the rules and committed no crimes.
    Speaking of criminals, the Trump administration committed a variety of criminal activities such that a flood of indictments followed by convictions has sent several people to jail with more waiting for sentencing. Oh, wait! Trump pardon those criminals along with about 140 of the lowest of low-lifes. After listening to testimonies by Michael Cohen and Lev Parnas, it sounded like a script for the next iteration of The Sopranos was being written. Trump’s kids are clearly part of the on-going grift in the White House. Trump got himself impeached the first time for extorting the Ukrainian President, but the Republican majority in the Senate ignored the overwhelming and confirmed evidence of that crime and the abuse of power while in office, and failed to convict the proven criminal president. How does one connect that behavior to the term “conservative”?
    George Lakoff wrote a very insightful book (Don’t Think of an Elephant) that helps define, first, the differences between “conservatives” and “progressives”. Republicans have always identified themselves as conservative, but what, exactly, does that mean? Democrats identify with being liberal or progressive, but what, exactly, does that mean?
    Lakoff begins with the bold statement that all politics is moral, but different groups define their political morality differently. He also states that this morality is not absolute, but rather operated by the technical term, biconceptualism. This allows inconsistent systems to function in the same brain. This also means that certain parts of each ideology are shared by everyone, but to different degrees. Biconceptualism, therefore, is central to our politics.
    Too many progressives have been taught a false theory of reason and logic. This theory says that framing, metaphors and emotion play no role in what passes for rationality in politics. Even though it has a very important purpose, just citing facts and data does NOT set one free, at least politically. Facts matter greatly, of course, but for them to be meaningful to voters in general, they must be framed in terms of moral importance. For example, when debating with the other side, don’t use their frames if you want to sway the audience. When Nixon told the world that he “was not a crook!”, guess what everyone thought. Another example is George W. Bush’s coining of the term tax relief. Relief sounds like there is an affliction, taxes, and that the hero of relieving the afflicted, Bush, would bring relief.
    Let us now look at the basic tenets of comparison between the so-called conservative models and the so-called progressive models. Again, George Lakoff has done the leg work to make these identifications clear.
    The Strong Father Model: This is the underlying tenet of so-called conservative values and views on society.
    The world is dangerous. The strong father must protect the family from danger.
    The world is difficult. The strong father must support the family in this difficult world.
    Children are born bad. The strong and strict father must teach the children right from wrong.The child must be obedient; the father is the moral authority who knows right from wrong. The only way to teach the children is through punishment. (In James Dobson’s book {Focus on the Family}, The New Dare to Discipline, he advocates spanking babies after they’re eighteen months old. This “discipline” is supposed to help develop the child’s own internal discipline for future years.
    The “discipline” has the secondary effect of being a requirement for success and prosperity. It means that disciplined people pursue their own self-interest and become, therefore, prosperous and self-reliant. This intention of the strong father model links morality (discipline) with prosperity.
    In the American south, where evangelical religions dominate society, Dobson’s regimen of discipline is embraced in public schools much more often than in northern schools. It is interesting to note that the school dropout rate, the amount of pornography bought and the number of violent family crimes are highest in those southern states run by Republicans.
    I taught in three districts in Texas, for example, and all three communities elected to include corporal punishment (paddling) as part of the behavior control aspects of their districts. I learned that about 90% of Texas’ school districts enabled paddling, especially in the rural areas.
    Dobson went on to link this strict father world view to free-market capitalism; the link being the conservative’s version of Adam Smith’s view of capitalism: The Invisible hand (nature) will allow everyone to prosper if the individual prospers.
    This model also includes the criteria for being a good person, a moral person: disciplined, obedient and pursuant of self-interest. Politically, this translates to not needing government to interfere, the small government meme of conservatives. After all, if people are taking care of themselves, and that means everyone is doing well, then who needs government? Indeed, promoting social programs is actually seen as immoral by Republicans. What this theory also embraces is that only those who have discipline should reap benefits. Thus, tax cuts (“starving the beast”) for those moral and disciplined people is the way it should be. Society, as a whole, be damned.
    It should also be noted that as part of this model that includes evangelical Christianity as one of its pillars, women are “legally” and morally subjugated by men and are assigned a subservient role in the family and the community. It’s the “lord and master” thing from ancient times, but this is 2021. One would think that we’ve moved past pre-Biblical rule sets, but no….
    What conservatives are against are social programs that help people, early childhood education (where it is critical), Medicaid for the poor, free public education, minimum wages and unemployment insurance. Basically, conservatives are against anything and everything that FDR’s New Deal provided. They have been fighting to rid the nation of these “socialistic” programs that invest in the citizenry at large since before the ink was dry on those bills. This operating “philosophy” has never been more clearly demonstrated than with the current COVID-19 pandemic. The so-called president has ranged from calling it a Democrat-induced hoax to make him look bad to waving it off as something a miracle will wipe away. As of this writing (/27/2021) over 430,000 Americans have died from this virus while hospitals scream for government assistance for their health care workers, equipment and vaccine. The previous president’s response to those urgent requests before the vaccines became available? They must be stealing the masks and ventilators. When governors start treating me better, I might consider sending them what they need. Pure empathy. Pure power. Pure evil. And, of course, the Republican caucuses were four-square behind this sort of rhetoric. Once again, today’s Republican party – having morphed into the cult of Trump – comes to the rescue of decency, humanity and caring for our citizens.
    When it comes to foreign policy, conservatives feel that the United States is the “strong father” and that all other countries, even democracies, are the children needing discipline. Is it any wonder, then, that our foreign policies under conservative administrations began as being the “policemen of the world”, devolved into government overthrows, illegal wars based on lies and a kind of imperialism that avoided colonialism for the most part, but promoted military and economic bases in hundreds of countries; a kind of “parental” hegemony that extends our conservative version of morality around the world. This situation is not exclusive to conservative administrations, but it’s a kind of tar baby diplomacy trap: Once you’re in, it’s really hard to get out or be thrown out.
    Oh, and this hegemony also requires more military spending and thus more profits for the chosen moralists, the conservatives who run the corporations. If a foreign nation chooses not to follow our dictated guidelines, they become “rogue nations”. Otherwise, they are “friendly nations”. It’s moral vs. immoral.
    The Nurturant Parent Model:
    This is the model that Lakoff uses to help explain the progressive ideologies that affect our society and government. First of all, the nurturant worldview is gender neutral. Both parents are responsible for child rearing and family values.
    Both parents are responsible for child rearing.
    Children are born good, and can only be made better.
    The world is difficult, but it can be made into a better place; the task is to make it so.
    Nurture the children and praise them for nurturing others.
    Empathy is the watchword; do your best for yourself AND your family, your community, your country and wherever you can reach.
    It is determinative that if the parent(s) empathize with the child, protection becomes part of the family environment in a compassionate way without, necessarily, physical punishment. This empathy means that the parents are protecting against things like drugs and crime. Other empathetic protections include seat belts in cars (Remember the battle it took to get them installed everywhere?), smoking, bad chemicals and additives, etc. These battles still rage in the courts. So, on a larger, political scale, environmental, workplace, consumer and health protection is part of the nurturant or progressive agenda.
    Here is a summary of nurturant (progressive) values that differ so much from the conservative, or strong father set of values.
    Instill the freedom for the child to obtain fulfillment in their lives.
    There is little freedom for fulfillment if there are no opportunities or enough prosperity available. Opportunity and prosperity, therefore, are progressive values based on freedom.
    Fairness is a value. Progressives tend to want to be treated fairly and try to treat others fairly too. Fairness, therefore, is a progressive value.
    Honest, open, two-way communication is a value that supports empathy.
    The quality of the community will affect how children grow up. Progressives, therefore, tend toward community building and public service so that their community will be a healthy place for their children. Community service, therefore, becomes a progressive AND a family value.
    Trust, honesty and two-way communication are progressive values too. These values add to the quality of life in the community, and thus a better environment for children to be nurtured and grow.
    It must be noted that not everyone is totally conservative or totally progressive. The vast majority of people reside along a continuum of values. The good news is that the vast majority of people share some amount of both sets of values. Republicans, however, skew toward the right and are accelerating that slide every day.
    Civil harmony is crucial, in complex societies, in order for that society to do wonderful things and have more value as a whole. Sadly, there are political forces (Republicans) that keep trying to wrench people away from overlapping values and to adhere to their strict ideology. Most recently, the Republican party in the United States has taken on the mantle of this separation of values for their own political and/or corrupt alternate set of values. With so much big money in politics, elected officials tend to be susceptible to bribes and graft. There is no greater example of this than the ousted Director of the EPA, Scott Pruitt. He learned his graft/corruption “skills” in the notoriously corrupt halls of Oklahoma politics. His time in the Trump administration exhibited the graft, corruption and misuse of public funds to the extreme. The graft and corruption of Republicans becomes more obvious every day, and they don’t seem to care who knows it.
    As a final statement, it should be noted that nobody is immune from corruption no matter the value set to which they adhere . As with the people who share so many values, there is a continuum of corruption, graft and outright criminal activity. Some say that the pendulum swings both ways in our political arena, and history shows that is true. But each time the pendulum cycles, some threads of our national fabric are frayed and become more difficult to mend. The concern is that the time may come when so much of that fabric has been frayed and stretched, that healing is not possible and the fabric of our society is irreparably torn. It happened before in 1860 when slave-driven economics collided with the moral outrage of that institution. We did heal from that…sort of. But the frayed edges of that rending of our country are still flying in the breezes of our national discourse.
    Most recently, we just experienced an insurrection of seditious mobs fomented and incited by the sitting president of the United States, his family members and other Republicans who lust for power. The COVID pandemic that the just ousted Republican administration exacerbated by dismantling pandemic safeguards established by the Obama administration adds to our dystopian situation. Not only did that Republican administration blame everybody else for their sloth, prejudice and block-headed deeds, it refused to accept the seriousness and scope of the spread of this disease. In fact, the criminal president is on tape saying he lied to the American people.
    When will people learn that the Republican political party is harmful to the majority while coddling the few, the rich and only the influential? When will enough citizens and donors realize that funding Republicans funds sedition, or worse, a fascist takeover and destruction of the Constitution. Republicans don’t seem to care about any of that, but only power and how much control over the monetary safeguards of their rich donors. I know it sounds simple, but graft and corruption don’t have to complicated. All it takes is mass ignorance and a lack of civic awareness and pride.

  14. Vern, good morning!

    I actually read your entire post, lol, almost as long as mine! Anyway, excellent compilation of the lunacy we live in. As far as intrigue, this world is much more bizarre than fiction. Your insight as an author gives much credence to present circumstance. I like your style, if I didn’t I wouldn’t read it! Thanks…..

    Todd, good morning!

    Much better today, very agreeable! Not that there has to be agreeability mind you, many don’t find my comments agreeable either.

    Colossians 4: 6 reads, “let your words always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should answer each person.”

  15. Our mixed economy, divided roughly in half between socialism and capitalism, is the only economic model in practice currently that survived the previous century’s experimentation with other alternatives.

    I think that it can be modeled as a tree. The trunk is infrastructure that supports every person, family and institution in the country like, for instance, education and roads and public safety (including environmental, health and safety regulations), and it’s financed by all of us through taxes. It branches off into infrastructure that supports some of us, or all of us some of the time, like air traffic controls or the military. At some point the model branches off into capitalism always under the control of market forces enabled by competition. Let the market (again, all of us) choose capitalism’s winners and losers.

    Of course much of our current divide is between people who understand all of that and people who don’t and the division comes from advertising/propaganda on pervasive entertainment/social media by competing corporations trying to avoid being held accountable by consumers. There is no better example of that than the Koch Industries.

    Applying that model to the current world: competition fully immersed in the adjudication of market forces could be a large part of our economic sanctions holding Russia accountable for conducting Putin’s War. Let consumers starve corporations still serving Russia. Again like Koch Industries.

    That’s why there is a war here to divide those susceptible from those not, using overt advertising and covert propaganda on entertainment/social media, to obscure understanding and therefor acceptance of the tree model of mixed economy from the public.

  16. Glasnost and Perestroika,

    Well, that didn’t last very long. Although the standard of living started to increase in the communist countries, the greed of capitalism put the kibosh on equality. It obviously led straight back to authoritarian governmental leaders who would reward their inner circle with unimaginable wealth siphoned off the average working stiff!

    Karl Marx teachings of scientific/utopian socialism based on those before him were cast aside in favor of capitalistic subjugation.

    Erich Kahler, an esteemed historian, made the statement in his writing of, “Man The Measure;”

    Some modern economists and sociologists s have tried to prove that there were traces of capitalism as far back as Babylon. But what they discovered is not capitalism. Capitalism is not identical with wealth and mobile property, it is not identical with money making and money lending, not even with a mere productive investment of property. All this is no capitalism in itself, for all this may serve a life principle, alien to economic aims, it may be done for a human end, a human purpose, for something a human being can enjoy. But here, for the first time, business in itself, money making in itself, production of goods and keeping up of comforts, assumed such power over man that he spent all of his vitality, his heart, all his present and future, all his “human being,” in the literal sense of the word, in a restless, a persistently growing and devouring production per se, a production, the final meaning of which he has completely lost and forgotten.”

    “And this is the beginning of capitalism, which is the rule of capital over man, the rule of economic function over the human heart. Here begins the autonomy of economy, the restless, the boundless process of exploitation of nature and production of goods which nobody has the leisure or the capacity to enjoy any longer. The consequences of this development are today clearly revealed.”

  17. tim horton,aka burger king is keeping thier operation as far as saturday,open and running in russia, burger king merged and went to canada to get a tax break,from us..flint hills,koch, i load there in fargo NoDak, they haul thier aspault/road oil via truck from south of minneapolis. mn. costing them big time to supply its output in fargo. its the only place we have to load our own trucks. there is a mojor safety issue with this,and koch will/can see to it,its your fault for any injuries..the product is 320 degrees when they heat it, cheap asses most time keep it barley hot at 275 degrees and blame the trucks for not being well insulated,again,blame the trucker.(this is rampant in this industry) try and get the product out at the mixing plant,a hot load unloads in 20 minutes,thiers,2-3 hours, some times shutting down operations because as we unload it wont keep up the supply, were talking $10K an hour to sit idle. they have mastered the plan,complain about koch and they tell the driver to never to come back. barred. its the mentallity of corprate rule that has grown to a point of authoritarian/a dictatorship.. alot of this is because of the lack of anti trust regs. they get too big to tell them what to do. thier bottom line is the only sight they have. the turnover rate at flint hills is also high. about 70% per year in fargo.
    but,Cenex has outbid them for the asphault to the contracts since 2019,and hopefully they wont see much of the infrastructure money… we are now only pulling 1/10th of what we did 5 years ago out of fargo.. hopefully russia costs them more.. i supported the boycott on gallo when the UFW was on strike.burger king is my new affair,and i have mention before,it works if you help it work.

    Thanks Vern,nice piece of work..

  18. Todd:
    fact,oliver county NoDak the farmer/rancher got about $100 an acre. we have large tracts of land here. most above 1000 acres to 10,000 acres. either way,it was payday,er,corruption day..

  19. one funny,, we have alot of wind in NoDak,seems those trump related flags the locals buy and send up a pole,dont last,our winds shread them like a cheap pappertowel…maybe its nature in a protest too

  20. Jack,

    Nice info and insider viewpoints. I like it, No nonsense just fact. Capitalism is only a panacea for the greedy.

  21. Vern,

    Thanks, I appreciate it! And remember vern, all that gray hair, skillful writing, and investigative researched knowledge, along with life’s experience, gives you wisdom!

    True wisdom is rare, most can’t pull it off, they get sidetracked by shiny objects! Insight is wisdom’s companion and turpitudes enemy, keep up the good work my brother!

  22. My favorite thing about the Russia sanctions is that, while regular Americans go broke filling up their gas tanks, they made sure to carve out one exception in the sanctions that allows Russia to keep paying back wealthy people and institutions in the West who hold Russian debt.

    Sleight of hand much?

  23. Capitalism–is amoral and it requires a strong government to put in regulations and guiderails. Our healthcare system is the furthest thing from Capitalism as to be able to participate you have to get good information as to the cost of medications and procedures and you can’t get this information. Not to mention if you go to the ER for a legit emergency and not because you have no healthcare, the hospital maybe in network but no guarantee that the doctor, or the radiologist or the surgeon is in-network. You will get billed for an out of network provider.

    When I worked as a nurse in an ambulatory setting did I realize that the cost of medications is not even standardized–it depends on insurance, what type of insurance, whether you have insurance, if your pharmacy is in a high rent district–CVS versus Walgreens versus Kroger–who scored the better contract.

    The quality of your insurance depends on your employer, how many people are employed by company. When I could not get a job for 3 years (being told I was overqualified–aka: old woman in her 40s’s) I found myself working for insurance company who also ran Medicaid and I can assure you it is all profit driven. Every meeting was about how to make a profit. I hate insurance but once you get a job you can find a job easily as you are now marketable.

    And–the elective surgery or trying to get in with a specialist–even in America you are going to wait….. at least over 6 months for a psychiatrist, a neurologist, could be almost a year to get in with a dermatologist, 6 months if you can find a primary care physician ( after 3 years of working at Vanderbilt, I am still stuck in the resident run primary care clinic).

    We pay the most for our healthcare and yet our healthcare stats suck compared to other nations.

    In America, we put our money towards weapons against humanity and very little money towards humanity. I cynically laugh when I hear our talking heads on the media stating that this is not American values—Pawleeze–I find very little in our systems that is humane.

  24. Correction: Bounty paper towels are made by Proctor and Gamble. Brawny is the product made by Koch Industries. (P and G is in the “scaling back” category while Koch is in the “digging in”.)

  25. John Sorg,

    Thank you again for your support. I want to live long enough to put whatever wisdom I’ve accumulated to good use. That’s why I try to add so much social messaging to my novels. Today’s readers – of most any age group – seem to respond best to entertainment as the vehicle of information.

    That said, it looks like my Sonya Keller trilogy is going to become some sort of film, either a Netflix-type series or feature films. I’m writing the screenplay now. My website, will be getting a facelift soon when THE IMMIGRANT’S GRANDSON hits the shelves in a couple weeks.

    Very exciting. Just proves one is never too old to get into something new.

  26. Congratulations Vernon Turner, I’m happy for you! I appreciate your viewpoint and comments each day.

  27. The “Invisible hand” of the market is an empty myth, convenient for the capitalists who want no regulation.
    Yes, Vernon, in your first comment, and there are faaaar tooooo many with no moral compass…TFG helping the oligarchs do their laundry?
    For still more on the Kochs, see “Democracy in Chains: the Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America,” by Nancy MacLean.
    “Strong father” values protect the conservatives from their anxiety about change, because “Strong Daddy” can stop change, can bring back the
    mythical days of the 1200’s, when Real Men ruled the world!
    Hey, there’s no money to be made out of fairness and empathy, say the Oligarchs! Honesty? Who ever made billions that way?
    “…in order for that society to do wonderful things and have more value as a whole.” NOT conservative values.
    Yes, Vern, “All it takes is mass ignorance and a lack of civic awareness and pride.” And that is why TFG has such love for
    the uneducated, why Rand Paul has had the federal Dep’t of Education in his sights for so long, along with myriad other GQPers.

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