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Nicolas Collignon

Trump’s Expected Pick for Top USDA Scientist Is Not a Scientist

One of the main issues with politics today: career politicians who run for their own, their friends' or their party's interests are given jobs that should be awarded to specialists, competent and self-less people, who are supposed to take enlightened decisions for the greater good.

Instead, we have partisan nominations of people who, like in this example, have no scientific background whatsoever and are supposed to be their agency's "chief scientist".

No wonder people are fed up. No wonder politics cannot change the world. No wonder populist parties have higher scores than ever in numerous elections.

The USDA’s research section studies everything from climate change to nutrition. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, its leader is supposed to serve as the agency’s “chief scientist” and be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”

But Sam Clovis — who, according to sources with knowledge of the appointment and members of the agriculture trade press, is President Trump’s pick to oversee the section — appears to have no such credentials.

Clovis has never taken a graduate course in science and is openly skeptical of climate change. While he has a doctorate in public administration and was a tenured professor of business and public policy at Morningside College for 10 years, he has published almost no academic work.

Clovis is better known for hosting a conservative talk radio show in his native Iowa and, after mounting an unsuccessful run for Senate in 2014, becoming a fiery pro-Trump advocate on television.

To read the full article, click on the title.

Nicolas Collignon

Can Low-Wage Industries Survive Without Immigrants and Refugees - ProPublica

For decades, the company had largely relied on Mayan immigrants fleeing violence in Guatemala, many of whom were not allowed to work in the United States. Case Farms’ history with the Mayans reveals how U.S. companies subvert immigration laws to take advantage of undocumented immigrants, but it also illustrates a broader — and perhaps underappreciated — truth about the American economy: So much of it depends on a never-ending global scramble for low-skilled labor.

[...]

Low-wage industries depend heavily on migrants from the world’s hotspots, secured through refugee programs as well as other means. That reliance has prompted some of the nation’s meatpackers to fear that under Trump the global marketplace may shut down, resulting in labor shortages that, they say, will drive up prices and reduce food supplies. “A legal immigration system that works is the best way to address illegal immigration,” Cargill chief executive David MacLennan wrote recently. “We must not close our minds or our borders.”

To read full article, click on the title.

Nicolas Collignon

Want to rescue rural America? Bust monopolies. - The Washington Post

From 2010 to 2014, 60 percent of counties nationwide saw more businesses close than open, compared with just 17 percent during the four years following the 1990s slowdown. During the 1990s recovery, smaller communities — counties with less than half a million people — generated 71 percent of all net new businesses, with counties under 100,000 people accounting for a full third. During the 2010 to 2014 recovery, however, the figure for counties with fewer than half a million people was 19 percent. For counties with less than 100,000 people, it was zero.

How did we get here? After the Great Depression, the government used antimonopoly laws to keep markets open and fair for smaller, independent businesses — in other words, to keep mom-and-pop shops open and Main Street buzzing. These were businesses run by people who cared about and understood their communities, that kept wealth circulating locally, that created the vast majority of new jobs and that were often the source of game-changing innovation.

But in the 1980s, folks in power decided bigger was better, and conventional political wisdom followed suit. For the federal officials charged with protecting competition, that meant that cheap consumer prices trumped all other values, including the preservation of American jobs, open and competitive markets where innovation could flourish, and maintaining level playing fields for start-ups and small businesses. To this day, when government officials evaluate mergers, it’s considered a good thing when they result in job losses — because that means, in the twisted reasoning we still use, gains in economic efficiency. The hard-working Americans turned out on the street corner to look for new jobs are the human sacrifices to the insatiable beast of corporate concentration.

Nicolas Collignon

Trump Cabinet has Bible study meetings with pastor who wants disciples of Christ to take over the government

Sooo yeah, the world is in good hands.

Cabinet officials in the President Donald Trump’s White House meet for a weekly Bible study group led by a right-wing pastor dedicated to “making disciples of Christ in the Capitol” and spreading Christian fundamentalism among U.S. leaders.

[...]

Drollinger is “(a) former college basketball star turned evangelical Christian whose own church disavowed him over his bigotry and radical theology.”

The controversial pastor “has variously proclaimed that Catholicism is ‘the world’s largest false religion,’ that female legislators who continue working after having children are sinners, and that homosexuality is an ‘abomination.’ He has also written that social welfare programs are un-Christian. ‘It is safe to say that God is a Capitalist,’ Drollinger once wrote, ‘not a Communist.'”

Nicolas Collignon

What is ‘global Britain’? A financier and arms merchant to brutal dictators | Opinion | The Guardian

History repeats itself first as tragedy then as farce, said Marx. Certainly there is something ridiculous about May, Fox and foreign secretary Boris Johnson scampering around the world as if the last 150 years hadn’t happened, dreaming of a military presence east of Suez while clearly desperate for a deal with any human-rights-abusing dictator that will meet them. But it is no less frightening for that. A ruling elite tortured by its inability to rule the world, which believes such a role is its birthright, can still make dangerous decisions.

Nicolas Collignon

Néron à la Maison Blanche, ou la fin du néolibéralisme

Une des analyses les plus intéressantes trouvées jusqu'à présent à propos du phénomène Trump.

A lire en entier sur POUR (www.pour.press).

Puéril, obscène, outrancier, Donald Trump aimante depuis six mois les caméras et monopolise tous les talk shows du monde. Après l’élégant Obama, incarnation du rêve américain, ce Néron post-moderne s’est hissé au-devant de la scène à la stupéfaction du public mondial. Au son de sa lyre, les médias sifflent, applaudissent, vitupèrent, s’enflamment, et sont ravis. Il promet un show de quatre ans (renouvelables).

[...]

Le néolibéralisme a constitué, pendant vingt-cinq ans, la base idéologique de la globalisation. Il se singularise par sa position à l’égard de la puissance de l’Etat. En simplifiant, on peut dire qu’il se sert de l’Etat-nation pour diminuer le pouvoir de l’Etat-nation. Il favorise non seulement la libre circulation des capitaux et des biens, mais aussi la migration mondiale des travailleurs. Il ne cherche pas à intervenir dans l’économie mais se contente d’arbitrer la compétition des entreprises et des travailleurs au moyen de quelques règles simples et neutres. Ce type d’Etat a pris la succession de l’Etat keynésien (périmé dès les années 1970). Il a sans conteste permis d’augmenter le taux de profit mais présente deux inconvénients politiques, devenus de plus en plus insistants.

[...]

 

D’abord, le néolibéralisme contrevient aux intérêts des classes dirigeantes locales et territorialisées. Celles-ci ne disparaissent pas quand apparait la classe dirigeante mondiale. Même si les cadres cosmopolites de Facebook, Amazon, Coca-Cola ou Google tiennent le haut du pavé, ils ne font pas disparaître par enchantement les élites qui, de Seattle à Miami en passant par Austin et Kansas City, dépendent de l’appareil d’Etat, local et national, pour asseoir leur prestige et leurs gains. Dès qu’une crise survient dans un territoire, ces élites locales sont mises en péril. Elles risquent de se faire expulser par voie électorale, et perdre tout accès aux circuits économiques. Or, justement, la crise est venue, terrible, en 2008. Les élites locales ont pris la tempête en pleine figure, alors que les élites mondialisées, tout sourire, faisaient du surf sur le tsunami qu’elles avaient elles-mêmes déclenché. La classe dirigeante américaine s’est déchirée entre une fraction cosmopolite, qui ne pense qu’au marché mondial, et une fraction nationale, orientée vers la gestion des territoires et de l’appareil d’Etat.

En second lieu, le néolibéralisme émousse dangereusement un outil indispensable des classes dirigeantes. Qu’on le veuille ou non, la construction d’institutions internationales est une entreprise risquée. Il faut négocier avec les autres pays pour signer des accords de libre-échange; attendre le bon vouloir d’un ingérable Conseil de sécurité pour intervenir militairement dans des zones stratégiques du capitalisme américain (comme le Moyen-Orient); se soumettre à un minimum de règles quand on adhère à un accord comme celui de l’Organisation mondiale du commerce. Cette «self-restraint» est pour certains de moins en moins supportable. Une partie de l’élite américaine reproche aux néolibéraux de trop s’engager dans le multilatéralisme et de casser cet instrument qui semble pourtant fait pour la servir: la souveraineté étatique.

[...]

Le deuxième pilier du néolibéralisme à abattre? Les croyances dans les valeurs universelles de la science et du droit.

[...]

On peut se demander pourquoi ce mouvement anti-Lumières [2], hier encore minoritaire, passe aujourd’hui au-devant de la scène. Deux processus peuvent expliquer ce changement culturel. Le premier est la montée en puissance de médias asservis au consumérisme et orientés vers le divertissement permanent. Ils ont marginalisé le débat public sérieux et créé une culture «post-truth» qui a précédé (et non pas suivi) la victoire de Donald Trump. Le second processus à prendre en compte est plus souterrain: il s’agit de la progressive destruction de la culture scolaire des Etats-Unis. Martha Nussbaum [3] avait attiré l’attention sur ce point capital dès la fin des années 1990. Elle avait souligné combien la disparition des cours d’histoire, la réduction des enseignements littéraires et des humanités en général, fragilisaient la capacité de porter un jugement critique, soucieux de vérité, empathique et décentré. A la place, un enseignement technique, orienté vers le marché, immédiatement utilisable, a réorienté les esprits des jeunes Américain·e·s vers un subjectivisme moral qui s’accommode parfaitement des dogmatismes les plus insensés. Pour la première fois depuis les années 1930, le terrain semble propice, dans les sociétés capitalistes avancées, à une mutation culturelle placée sous la bannière anti-Lumières.

Lire en entier sur pour.press (cliquer ici)

Nicolas Collignon

[Infographic] The Left-Right opposition in society

1 min read

A great infographic about the Left-Right dichotomy in society.

Click on the image to see full scale.

Credit: Davdi McCandless & Stefanie Posavec (Dec. 2010)



Nicolas Collignon

In the new robopolitics, social media has left newspapers for dead

1 min read

The debate about post-fact politics misses the point. The Brexit and Trump campaigns deliberately exploited the crisis of journalism and the rise of social media. We are witnessing the birth of robopolitics: the mechanised reproduction of campaign messages by campaign machines that bypass normal journalistic verification.

Internet campaigning is smart. Why waste money spraying your message all over the country in the hope that it somehow splashes those that will count? The superior targeting of social media campaigns is why the UK ad revenue of Google and Facebook now exceeds that of all newspapers in the country combined. It is also why all the main campaigns – but particularly the pro-Brexit campaign – embraced social media.

Read more here (source: The Guardian)

 

 

Nicolas Collignon

Nicolas Collignon

Trump’s Proposals Won’t Help The White Working Class — Or The Urban Poor http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trumps-proposals-wont-help-the-white-working-class-or-the-urban-poor