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The Racism of the Marginal Utility Theorists

Posted by Steve Palmer on May 22, 2009

There’s a PhD thesis in this, somewhere. While working on Early English Debates in Marxist Value Theory, I needed to add some notes to the piece by Foxwell to explain who Stanley Jevons, Alfred Marshall and Henry Sidgwick were. Of course, you can always peer in the Wikipedia … but you won’t find this there.

I pulled down my copies of Jevons Theory of Political Economy (Kelly’s 1965 reprint) and Marshall’s Principles of Political Economy (Macmillan’s 1966 ‘Papermac’ edition) and poked around a bit.

W. Stanley Jevons is well known as the economist famous for ‘proving’ that sunspots are responsible for crises. Bourgeois economists don’t crow about that, for some reason. He also ‘proved’ that “labour is never the cause of value” through developing a marginal utility theory of value. Discussing the productivity of labour, he casually throws out this remark: “Persons of an energetic disposition feel labour less painful than they otherwise would, and, if they happen to be endowed with various and acute sensibilities, their desire of further acquisition never ceases. A man of lower race, a negro for instance, enjoys possession less, and loathes labour more; his exertions, therefore, soon stop. A poor savage would be content to gather the almost gratuitous fruits of nature, if they were sufficient to give sustenance; it is only physical want that drives him to exertion.” Theory of Political Economy, (5th edition, New York, 1965), pp182-183. Ask your nearest bourgeois economist if s/he agrees or not. Compare and contrast Marx: “Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded.” Jevons would be quite comfortable with the branding iron, apparently.

Jevons was also intellectually gutless and never defended his theory in debate with defenders of the law of labour value: when Hyndman addressed the Political Economy group of the National Liberal Club, he invited Jevons to debate with him. Jevons never showed.

Alfred Marshall was Professor Economics at Cambridge University. His Principles of Economics used to be the ‘Bible’, as Foxwell might put it, of neo-classical vulgar economy. Although I read parts of it many years ago, I had embarassingly missed the fact that it oozes race theory from every pore and is riddled with anxiety about ‘degeneration’ of the human race. Eg. “on the Pacific Slope, there were at one time just grounds for fearing that all but highly skilled work would be left to the Chinese; and that the white men would live in an artificial way in which a family became a great expense. In this case Chinese lives would have been substituted for American, and the average quality of the human race would have been lowered.”(Principles, 8th edition, IV.V.23n73). Or, “conquering races generally incorporated the women of the conquered; they often carried with them many slaves of both sexes during their migrations, and slaves were less likely than freemen to be killed in battle or to adopt a monastic life. In consequence nearly every race had much servile, that is mixed blood in it: and as the share of servile blood was largest in the industrial classes, a race history of industrial habits seems impossible.” (Ibid,.IV.V.7 n65) We also meet the clever but cunning and slippery money-dealing Jew: Ricardo’s “aversion to inductions and his delight in abstract reasonings are due, not to his English education, but, as Bagehot points out, to his Semitic origin. Nearly every branch of the Semitic race has had some special genius for dealing with abstractions, and several of them have had a bias towards the abstract calculations connected with the trade of money dealing, and its modern developments; and Ricardo’s power of threading his way without slip through intricate paths to new and unexpected results has never been surpassed. But it is difficult even[!!! SP] for an Englishman to follow his track” (Appendix B.19 n44). It makes one want to vomit, doesn’t it. There’s page after page of this stuff. It is completely fitting that this book should have served as the economics textbook of the English ruling class during their period of imperial domination. Perish the thought that the theories of Marx (who was, after all, of ‘the Semitic race’) should be superior to this member of the master-race!

Sidgwick, too, had concerns for the relationship between ‘inferior’ and ‘superior’ races, though he seems to have been more optimistic than Marshall about the influence good ‘tutelage’ could have on ‘inferior races’. Marshall described him as his “spiritual mother and father.”

Now there’s a couple of facts your Professor never taught you …


Posted in Bourgeois Ideology, Dumb Sh*t, Dunce, Own Goal, Political Economy, Racism | Leave a Comment »

Tax dodger to run Treasury?

Posted by Steve Palmer on January 14, 2009

The US Department of the Treasury is run by the Secretary of the Treasury. It operates the Mint, which prints and coins currency and manages the government’s borrowing. It also manages the Internal Revenue Service – IRS – which collects taxes. Now a tax cheat is about to take charge there.

Timothy Geithner short paid his new employer by $17,230 in 2003 and 2004 according to the IRS, which he will be running. The Obama transition team learned that he also owed a further $25,970 for 2001 and 2002, but claimed it was common mistake. Republicans quickly pointed out that the IMF – his then employer – repeatedly emphasized the need for employees to cough up their taxes. He also dodged on penalties for early withdrawal from a retirement plan, small-business, charitable deductions, personal expenses and child deductions. In addition, he employed an immigrant housekeeper while her work authorization papers were expired.

Of course everyone is making excuses – ‘just a mistake’, ‘all is now in order’, blah blah. These are the same people who virtually incinerate ‘Welfare cheats’. Capitalism’s hypocrisy and cynicism knows no bounds!

Posted in Crisis, Dumb Sh*t, Dunce, Own Goal, Political Economy | Leave a Comment »

Israel scores ‘Own Goal’ with its sponsorship of Hamas

Posted by Steve Palmer on January 9, 2009

Israel apparently originally sponsored Hamas in an attempt to undermine secular and Marxist organizations in the Palestinian liberation movement. Ever heard the saying “What goes around, comes around”?

‘Politically speaking, Islamic fundamentalists were sometimes regarded as useful to Israel because they had their conflicts with the secular supporters of the PLO. Violence between the groups erupted occasionally on West Bank university campuses, and the Israeli military governor of the Gaza Strip, Brigadier General Yitzhak Sergev, once told me how he had financed the Islamic movement as a counterweight to the PLO and the Communists: “the Israeli government gave me a budget and the military government gives to the mosques,” he said. In 1980, when fundamentalist protesters set fire to the office of the Red Crescent Society in Gaza, headed by Doctor Haidar Abdel-Shafi, a Communist and PLO supporter, the Israeli army did nothing, intervening only when the mob marched to his home and seemed to threaten him personally.’

Former New York Times correspondent, David Shipler, Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land (New York: Penguin, 1987), p. 177.

See also this enlightening report from UPI:

‘Saturday, 24 February 2001 11:28 (ET)

Israel gave major aid to Hamas
By RICHARD SALE, Mideast Correspondent

NEW YORK, Feb. 24 (UPI) — Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
speaking of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas recently described
it as “the deadliest terrorist group that we have ever had to face.”

Active in Gaza and the West Bank Hamas wants to liberate all of
Palestine and establish a radical Islamic state in place of Israel.
It has gained notoriety with its assassinations, car bombs and other
acts of terrorism.

But Sharon had left something out.

Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but,
according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials,
beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect
financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

Israel “aided Hamas directly — the Israelis wanted to use it as a
counterbalance to the PLO,” said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst
for the Center for Strategic Studies.

Israel’s support for Hamas “was a direct attempt to divide and dilute
support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious
alternative,” said a former senior CIA official.

According to documents obtained from the Israel-based Institute for
Counter Terrorism (ICT) by UPI, Hamas evolved from cells of the
Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928. Islamic movements in
Israel and Palestine were “weak and dormant” until after the 1967 Six
Day War in which Israel scored a stunning victory over its Arab

After 1967, a great part of the success of the Hamas/Muslim
Brotherhood was due to their activities among the refugees of the
Gaza Strip. The cornerstone of the Islamic movements success was an
impressive social, religious, educational and cultural
infrastructure, called Da’wah, that worked to ease the hardship of
large numbers of Palestinian refugees, confined to camps, and many of
whom were living on the edge.

“Social influence grew into political influence,” first in the Gaza
Strip, then on the West Bank, said an administration official who
spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to ICT papers, Hamas was legally registered in Israel in
1978 by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the movements spiritual leader, as an
Islamic Association by the name Al-Mujamma Al Islami, which widened
its base of supporters and sympathizers by religious propaganda and
social work.

Funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and
directly and indirectly from Israel, according to U.S. intelligence
officials. The PLO was secular and leftist and promoted Palestinian
nationalism. Hamas wanted set up a transnational state under the rule
of Islam, much like Khomeini’s Iran.

What took Israeli leaders by surprise was the way the Islamic
movements began to surge after the Iranian revolution, after armed
resistance to Israel sprang up in southern Lebanon organized by an
Iran-backed movement called Hezbollah that bore similitaries to
Hamas, these sources said.

“Nothing stirs up the energy for imitation as much as success,”
commented one administration expert.

A further factor of Hamas’ growth was the fact the PLO moved its base
of operations to Beirut in the 1980s, leaving the Islamic movements
to strengthen their influence in the Occupied Territories “as the
court of last resort,” he said.

When the intifada began, the Israeli leadership was further surprised
when Islamic groups began to surge in membership and strength. Hamas
immediately grew in numbers and violence. The group had always
embraced the doctrine of armed struggle, but the doctrine had not
been practiced and Islamic groups had not been subjected to
suppression the way groups like Fatah had been, according to U.S.
government officials.

But with the triumph of the Khomeini revolution in Iran, with the
birth of Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorism in Lebanon, Hamas began
to gain strength in Gaza and then in the West Bank, relying on terror
to resist the Israeli occupation.

Israel was certainly funding the group at that time. One US
intelligence source who asked not to be named, said that not only was
Hamas being funded as a “counterweight” to the PLO, Israeli aid had a
more devious purpose: “to help identify and channel towards Israeli
agents Hamas members who were dangerous terrorists.”

In addition, by infiltrating Hamas, Israeli informers could listen to
debates on policy and identify Hamas members who “were dangerous
hardliners,” the official said.

In the end, as Hamas set up a very comprehensive counterintelligence
system, many collaborators with Israel were weeded out and shot.
Violent acts of terrorism became the central tenet, and Hamas, unlike
the PLO, was unwilling to compromise in any way with Israel, refusing
to acknowledge its very existence.

Even then, some in Israel saw some benefits to be had in trying to
continue to give Hamas support: “The thinking on the part of some of
the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the other
groups, if they gained control, would refuse to have anything to do
with the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in
place,” said a U.S. government official.

“Israel would still be the only democracy in the region for the
United States to deal with,” he said. All of which is viewed with
disapproval by some former U.S. intelligence officials.

“The thing wrong with so many Israeli operations is that they try to
be too sexy,” said former CIA official Vincent Cannestraro. Former
State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson told UPI:
“The Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting
terrorism. They are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then
tries to put it out by hitting it with a hammer.They do more to
incite and sustain terrorism than curb it.”

Aid to Hamas may have looked clever, “but it was hardly designed to
help smooth the waters,” he said. “It gives weight to President
George W Bush’s remark about there being a crisis in education.”

Cordesman said that a similar attempt by Egyptian intelligence to
fund Egypt’s fundamentalists had also come to grief because of

An Israeli Embassy defense official, asked if Israel had given aid to
Hamas replied: “I am not able to answer that question. I was in
Lebanon commanding a unit at the time, besides it is not my field of

Asked to confirm a report by U.S. officials that Brigadier General
Yitshaq Segev, the military governor of Gaza, had told U.S. officials
that he had helped fund “Islamic movements as a counterweight to the
PLO and communists,” the Israeli official said he could confirm only
that he believed that Segev had served back in 1986.

The Israeli Embassy press office referred UPI to its Web site.’

Posted in Dumb Sh*t, Own Goal, Zionism | Leave a Comment »

More Israelis killed in road accidents than by Hamas

Posted by Steve Palmer on January 8, 2009

I decided to check out how dangerous Hamas attacks on Israel really are.

Turns out that Israeli drivers are MUCH more dangerous than Hamas:

Year Killed
in Road Accidents
by terrorist attacks”
2000 421 43
2001 475 247
2002 456 453
2003 418 212
2004 428 118
2005 381 54
2006 373 29
2007 351 13

Sources: Statistical Abstract of Israel (various years) and
Anti-Israeli Terrorism in 2007 and its Trends in 2008

When we flip to the 2008 Abstract’s Table 3.30, we find the following causes of death for 2005 (latest available year):

Cause of Death – selected Number of Deaths
Breast Cancer
Transport Accidents
Intentional Self-Harm
Mental and
behavioural disorders due to psychoactive substance use
“Killed by Terrorist
Gastric and Dudenal

Comment seems superfluous.

Finally, a letter from the Jerusalem Post a few years ago by a visitor to Israel:

Competing risks and realities

American leaders have stressed the importance of leading normal lives in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Travel, shop, eat out, and take in that movie.

But what if your normal life includes regular trips to Israel? The US State Department has issued a warning urging Americans, for their own safety, not to go there.

One cannot deny that, with help from the media, Israel is perceived as a dangerous place due to the threat of terrorism. Indeed, while recently in Israel giving talks and attending a conference, I received numerous e-mails from colleagues and friends worrying for my safety, admonishing me to avoid public places, or otherwise urging me to watch out. I truly appreciate such genuine expressions of concern, but they stem from the aforementioned perception that Israel is much more dangerous than America. A simple review of available data, however, suggests the opposite.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, during the 442 days from the beginning of the current Palestinian intifada until the end of December, 2001, 120 Israelis were killed by terrorist suicide bombings, shootings, hit-and-runs, stabbings, or other means within “Israel proper,” that is, not including terror victims in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

All of these murders are tragic, and I do not intend in any way to make light of them here. However, given that 6.3 million people reside within Israel proper, these deaths work out to an annual personal risk of death from terrorism of 16 in one million, within the boundaries of Israel proper, which would be the destination of most visitors.

Is this a big risk or a little risk? Let’s compare first with the risk of death from motor vehicle accidents in Israel, since one thing tourists do is travel around. Again, excluding the West Bank and Gaza, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics reports 461 traffic fatalities during the 2000 calendar year. This adds up to an annual personal risk of 73 per one million, which is nearly four times higher than the risk of death from terrorism.

So what, you say – this makes Israel look worse! Look again. The 2000 Statistical Abstract of the United States reports that about 41,500 traffic fatalities have occurred in each of the past several years in the US. With a population of 286 million people, the annual personal risk of death from a motor vehicle accident in the United States is 145 per one million.

That’s right – the personal risk of road death is nearly twice as high in the United States as in Israel. And the risk of road death in the United States is nearly eight times higher than the risk of death from terrorism in Israel! Since we Americans readily accept the 145 per million risk of road death without worry, why has the US State Department warned us not to travel to Israel?

Let’s put this into an even more direct perspective. My recent visit to Israel was one week in duration. Since I did not enter the West Bank or Gaza, my combined probability of dying from either terrorism or a car crash on this visit equaled 1.7 in one million.

Had I followed the State Department’s guidance and canceled my visit to Israel, I would have instead enjoyed a 2.8 in one million chance of being killed in a motor vehicle accident at home. In other words, for those keeping score, my death risk would have been 65 percent higher in the US than in Israel.

And I have neglected to note my 23 combined hours flying El Al, one of the safest activities available within the limits of Earth’s atmosphere. It seems that the most dangerous thing I did on this trip was drive from New Haven to JFK Airport!

Perceived risks govern human behavior more than actual risks, and the elevated perceived risk of terror in Israel relative to the actual danger is no exception. I know of at least two canceled academic meetings and a third that is in jeopardy due to the perceived danger of holding such events in Israel. To the extent that terrorism relies on this psychology of fear, such cancellations are victories for the terrorists. And, while the fate of academic events is important to me, this is nothing compared to the economic losses Israel faces from the drop in tourism and other business revenues.

When the US State Department issues travel warnings, many people listen. If citizen safety is the goal, perhaps the State Department should urge all of us Americans to stop driving. But then, wouldn’t that conflict with the goal of leading a normal life?

The Jerusalem Post – January 8, 2002
Edward H. Kaplan

(The writer is the William N. and Marie A. Beach Professor of Management Sciences, Yale University.)

Posted in Bourgeois Ideology, Dumb Sh*t, Imperialism, Zionism | 2 Comments »

Recession messing up recycling.

Posted by Steve Palmer on December 8, 2008

There’s a story in Sunday’s New York Times :

“The economic downturn has decimated the market for recycled materials like cardboard, plastic, newspaper and metals. Across the country, this junk is accumulating by the ton in the yards and warehouses of recycling contractors, which are unable to find buyers or are unwilling to sell at rock-bottom prices.

Ordinarily the material would be turned into products like car parts, book covers and boxes for electronics. But with the slump in the scrap market, a trickle is starting to head for landfills instead of a second life.”

Posted in Crisis, Dumb Sh*t, Own Goal | Leave a Comment »

Fed encouraging banks not to lend

Posted by Steve Palmer on December 6, 2008

There is no shortage of money to keep business going.

There is, right now, $1,171bn of idle funds just sitting in the banking system which could be loaned out – OVER ONE TRILLION DOLLARS.

This is enough to bail out the auto industry 34 times over.

This is enough to pay for a whole month’s production from the entire US economy or a year’s output from the Canadian economy, or the Brazilian, or the Spanish, or the WHOLE of South Asia or the WHOLE of Africa and the non-oil middle eastern economies (World Development Report, 2008).

Last night’s statistics from the Fed show that yesterday Commercial Banks had $843.7bn in cash and $633.8bn in reserves on deposit at the Fed. In August the respective figures were $297.8bn and $8.7bn. So this is far more cash than is needed for daily operations and these are excess reserves above the statutory requirements. (Releases H.8 and H.4.1)

Hundreds of millions of these dollars are from the handout program. They’ve been sitting there for weeks. Why? Because the monetarist morons who control this have decided to pay interest on those reserves. That rate is currently 1%. But the effective Fed Funds rate – that’s the rate at which banks lend to each other – was 0.2% last night. So, by taking handout money and stashing it at the Fed, banks are making money risk free with a 0.8% interest rate.

And people are wondering why the banks aren’t lending!!! The banks don’t want to lend to each other, because they’re dubious about each other’s creditworthiness. And Bernanke and company are making the problem worse by paying the banks not to lend!!!

This is why so many people lost jobs in the last month. Finance Capital is just sitting on the money. THIS is ‘systemic risk’: risk to the livelihood of tens of millions of working people and their families, who are losing their homes and jobs and who see prices for food and basics rising month after month.

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