–Fairness and the new American patriotism

We all are hardwired to demand fairness and to reject unfairness:

The Ultimatum Game

Two people, Alice and Bob, play. An experimenter puts 100 one dollar bills on a table.

Alice may divide the money between herself and Bob however she chooses. Bob then decides whether to accept her division, in which case each keeps the money as Alice divided it, or to reject the division, in which case neither receives any money.

If Bob acts rationally, he should accept any division in which Alice offers him at least one dollar, since doing so leaves him with more money than he would have had otherwise.

If Alice knows that Bob will act rationally, she should offer Bob one dollar and keep 99 for herself. In practice, divisions which Bob regards as unfair are generally rejected.

Think about this: If you were Bob, what division would you accept? If Alice divided $95 – $5 in her favor, would you accept it?

What if Alice were poor and you were rich?

We all are together; we all are human. But where we diverge — conservatives vs. liberals — is in what we consider to be fair.

In general:

The liberal mind sees the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots” as being an unfair accident of fate, the “lucky gene” concept. “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

The conservative mind views the gap as being earned, the result of hard work, honesty and religious faith. They see the rich as “makers” and the poor as “takers,” whom they resent as unfairly receiving government benefits.

The liberal mind feels sympathy and compassion for the downtrodden (whom they feel receive unfair treatment in life) and anger against the rich and powerful who “tread” on the poor.

The conservative mind feels disgust and anger at the poor (who receive unfair government largess) and feels deference to the rich and powerful.

From Franklin Roosevelt through Lyndon Johnson, when liberalism was in vogue, America fought WWII, created Lend-Lease, the Marshall Plan, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Voting Rights Act and much other legislation of benefit to minorities, the elderly, the poor, the uneducated and other powerless groups.

From Ronald Reagan through Barack Obama today, the nation has turned toward conservatism. Federal spending on social programs is being disputed under the banner of pragmatism and financial prudence, and a record number of voting restrictions (all aimed at the non-white poor) have been proposed by state and local legislatures.

Today’s conservative Supreme Court has enabled laws restricting voting rights and excessive campaign contributions — laws that favor the rich over the poor.

If you dispute including Barack Obama in the conservative “column,” consider this. He:

–Repeatedly proposed a “Grand Bargain,” which featured raising taxes on the poor and cutting Social Security and other social benefits
–Dramatically increased FICA, the most regressive tax in America
–Hired conservatives Simpson & Bowles to support cuts in deficit spending on social programs
–Cut the deficit to its lowest point since 2008
–Deported more immigrants than any American President in history
–Failed to prosecute any criminal “banksters”
–Instituted a health-care program that ostensibly helps the poor, but in fact, unnecessarily asks young people to pay the tab.

Obama may have a liberal mind. I can’t say. But if so, his weakness of character has caused him to submit to the Tea/Republicans in Congress.

The liberal mind is tuned more toward empathy and compassion for the weak, with hostility reserved for the bully:

Protests against police violence block traffic in New York
Reuters: By Robert MacMillan, Andrew Chung and Sebastien Malo

Protests over U.S. police violence against minorities, sparked by grand-jury decisions not to charge officers in two high-profile cases, were peaceful on their third night in New York.

Conservatives lean far less toward empathy and compassion, with fear and hatred being their strongest emotions (thus the primarily conservative support for universal gun ownership).

Conservatives love America (repeatedly presenting the flag and proclaiming their patriotism), but hate the American government and American liberals, gays, poor, blacks, browns, yellows, women, immigrants and people of a different or no religion.

Race resurfaces in conservative protests against Obama
09/13/13, By Benjy Sarlin

That was just one of several especially virulent displays of anti-Obama fury that drew national attention in recent days. In Phoenix last Tuesday, a protest of Obama’s visit included a chorus of “Bye, bye, black sheep!”

According to The Arizona Republic, one person shouted “he’s 47 percent Negro!” while another raised a sign reading “Impeach the Half-White Muslim!”

This weekend, Obama faced a similar greeting in Orlando, Fla., as several dozen protesters lined his motorcade route, including one whose sign read “Kenyan Go Home!”

The “birther” movement questioning Obama’s legitimacy peaked in 2011 after Donald Trump explored a presidential campaign centered around the conspiracy theory.

It is the conservative mentality — that combination of fear and loathing — that built the first border wall in American history.

The Marshall Plan was the American initiative to aid Europe, in which the United States gave $13 billion (approximately $160 billion in current dollar value) in economic support to help rebuild European economies after the end of World War II.

Belgian economic historian Herman Van der Wee concludes the Marshall Plan was a “great success”: “It gave a new impetus to reconstruction in Western Europe and made a decisive contribution to the renewal of the transport system, the modernization of industrial and agricultural equipment, the resumption of normal production, the raising of productivity, and the facilitating of intra-European trade.”

Can you, in your wildest dreams, imagine today’s conservative Congress, voting for the Marshall Plan of 1948? It is doubtful today’s conservatives would vote to give an extra $160 billion to poor Americans, let alone to foreigners.

In Summary:
Though liberals and conservatives argue the logic of their cases — the “makers” vs. the “takers” argument — the real differences go far beyond logic.

The differences are in the fundamental psychological disposition of the two sides. I do not believe these differences relate only to genetic makeup or life experiences.

I believe it is leadership that has created and separated the conservative brain from the liberal brain.

We all rely on our leaders to teach us right from wrong. We are social animals who travel with the herd.

In some decades, our leaders have preached altruism, benevolence and compassion. Other decades’ leaders have pushed us toward selfishness, intolerance and hatred.

At one time, we were, as Tom Brokaw termed, the “Greatest Generation.” We were patriots. We gave “our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor,” for our nation, for our neighbors and for those whom we know and love.

Today, as we hide behind our Berlin-style border wall, topped with spikes and wire, I fear we have become the “Hate Generation,” giving reluctantly and resentfully, if at all, to few if any.

This has become the new American patriotism.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell

Monetary Sovereignty Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………


The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

  1. Eliminate FICA
  2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone
  3. Social Security for all
  4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
  5. Salary for attending school
  6. Eliminate federal taxes on business
  7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 
  8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
  9. Federal ownership of all banks
  10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.




24 thoughts on “–Fairness and the new American patriotism

  1. You say that you believe that our leadership has separated the liberal and conservative minds. While I generally agree, I believe that there is a cohort on each side that is basically immune to any attempts to sway their thinking. These are, on one side for example, the right wing, religious extremists, such as the Dominionist movement; on the other, the left wing radicals who attack our government institutions as being totally unsalvageable and call for their destruction. It is the great middle that is amenable to whatever is the most prominent message coming from our leadership. These are the people that are reachable and that we need to focus on to bring about the necessary changes to improve our society.

    Unfortunately, it seems there are no longer any statesmen in government who believe the government is there to serve everyone as best as possible.


  2. Been a few years but thought I would check in on this blog. Sad that I could agree with MMT and general things like Israel policy and be so turned off by the simplistic black and white “analysis’ of other political topics. I gave up when you went on and on about how Obamacare was the death of the GOP. Ha, what a joke. You are like a contra-indicator. Got any stock tips so I can take the other side? Been a few elections since then. How has the GOP been doing? How is Obamacare? Is it everything you proclaimed it to be? With Landrieu’s loss, 30 of the 60 senators who voted for Obamacare will be gone from the next Congress. The House…well you know the story. PS. I will apologize in advance if you have had a come to Jesus moment or 50 on what terrible legislation that is/was. I am serious. Haven’t visited in a couple years. I’m just here to twist the knife because your ego back then was so repulsive…and so wrong.


    1. Welcome back.

      “I will apologize in advance if you . . . on what terrible legislation that is/was. I am serious.”

      Apology accepted. You must have missed the dozens of posts criticizing ACA for being an inferior law, and saying we should have instituted federally funded Medicare for every man, woman and child in America. [See also Steps #1 and #2 of the Ten Steps to Prosperity.]

      Anyway, I didn’t think it would take so long for the Tea/Republicans to implode. But then, “no one went broke betting against the intelligence of the American public.”

      So far, the right wing has accomplished nothing of substance, except winning elections — unless you consider “Citizens United” and the various anti-voting-rights acts to be “accomplishments.”

      The right wing has had the luxury of standing outside and throwing stones at an unpopular President. Easy.

      Soon, it may have the burden of actually governing. Perhaps, it’s first act will be to end ACA. Fair enough. It’s a lousy law. But with what will they replace it?

      But I do understand why you so like to “twist the knife.” As I said in the above post, hatred is a conservative hallmark.


      1. Ah, I see the black and white, good vs. bad, cowboys vs. indians, conservatives are haters type of tone still exists here. Good to know! Suggest you read Leibovich’s “This Town” though I would expect someone of your age to understand that the differences between the major parties are mostly little to none and a matter of convenience depending on where the votes are at any time period. I do agree that a single payer-type plan (without the current tort laws..you know like the rest of the world Democrats) would be better OR a real free market. Not the middle BS with insurance linked to employment. Unfortunately, saying something as mild as that 5 years ago made you a conservative hater of poor people and insurance company toady according to those who supported a law that did little and which they did not understand. More black and white analysis. First do no harm should be the standard on legislation and this was a giant waste of time, effort, money,etc. that was all predictable but not by you. Even right winger Chuck Schumer agrees with me now for some weird reason…http://www.nationalreview.com/article/394072/chuck-schumers-uncompassionate-liberalism-jonah-goldberg

        There is a difference between being wrong and being 180 degrees abso-effing-lutely embarrassingly wrong. And your predictions had nothing to do with governing or or other things. They had to do with the elections/existence of the GOP. A party that is not at lows or gone but at highs not seen since before the depression. Own it. Calling voters stupid rather than yourself is not a good strategy it seems to me.

        The good news is that for the top few percent like you and me Obama and Bernanke have been gold. Best administration of all time for us. Thank you! I love them. For the rest, biz as usual.


  3. “It is the conservative mentality — that combination of fear and loathing — that built the first border wall in American history.”

    Here is yet another example of the conservative mentality:

    Why some Republicans want to cancel the State of the Union address
    By Paul Waldman December 3

    Late Tuesday, Rep. Paul C. Broun (R-Ga.) called for Boehner to not invite Obama to deliver the State of the Union address next year.

    Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) suggested that the budgets for White House operations, including for Air Force One, should be decreased.

    Other conservatives have mentioned censuring the president, impeaching him or suing the administration over its immigration actions.

    “I’d rather defund Air Force One,” Huelskamp said. “Congress took a 19 percent cut on its budgets — we should do the same for the White House.” On the State of the Union, he added: “In the spirit of George Washington, he could send it to us in writing. It’d save some time.”

    The current Tea/Republicans are a unique group. The idiot, Donald Trump, claimed the President wasn’t an American. And how many of these boobs are happy to shut down the American government?

    The Ronald Reagan they all claim to love was right wing, but he respected America — not like the current bunch of mean-spirited bastards, who take great delight in insulting the President of the United States..

    What next boys, spit on the flag?


  4. Rodger, I agree with what you said about “leadership matters,” though I might take issue with some of the particulars.

    Unfortunately, we are led by psychopaths.


  5. A note, received today, from a conservative:

    Tom Winegar

    Illegal Alien criminals are what they are. I’m surrounded by them and have made numerous reports to the INS and actually saw it do some good. These people lower the wages because they aren’t paying taxes or supporting our economy.

    I have to deal with them dealing drugs next door and tossing their trash over the fence and I’m not alone in that. You’re on the wrong side of history but then you are probably a Democrat and we have learned to expect lying, stealing and other criminal behavior from your kind.

    If you are counting on all of the illegals voting Democrat I have news for you, these people won’t be led onto the Democrat plantation like Blacks were in the 1960’s. They come from a country that is very religious and have seen what Communists are about there so they aren’t likely to lean left here.

    A revolution is in the works and the stench of death hangs heavy over the Liberal Progressive Communist Democrats. It’s very odd but we Conservatives have Obomination to thank in a round about way.

    He has done everything he can to destroy his own party and still continues to spread his poison after the mid terms. The race-baiting race card has finally lost it’s edge and without that the KKK Democrats have very little to use.

    I might just see the death of the Democrat party in my lifetime and would be happy to help with that if the opportunity arises.


  6. I think the Ultimatum Game is as big a roadblock as any to blocking some of your ten steps to prosperity. Specifically:

    “Eliminate FICA”, “Free Education”, and “Salary for attending school” – The Bobs of the world who have paid FICA for years and did not have free education will oppose, simply because because other people will benefit more than they did. The Bobs would probably oppose the steps even if their kids were nearing college age!

    Here is another clueless politician:


    “Consumers may be enjoying extra money in their pockets thanks to lower gas prices, but former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell suggests they shouldn’t get used to it… He supports raising the federal gas tax—currently at 18.40 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24.40 on diesel —to garner more funds for roads, bridges and construction across the U.S. The gas tax has stayed at current levels for about two decades.”

    Rendell believes the US does not have Monetary Sovereignty. He thinks that without raising taxes, the US government could not spend for roads, bridges, or construction. Or as Governor, he was bribed to pretend that the US has no Monetary Sovereignty.


    1. You are correct as regard to the federal government. But is another, somewhat more complex side to this story.

      The state governments also wish to raise the tax, and the states, being monetarily non-sovereign, do need and use tax dollars.

      1. The states wouldn’t need tax dollars (as much) if they were given more support by the federal government — a variation on Step #3 in the 10 Steps to Prosperity.

      2. A motor fuel tax is regressive, falling more heavily on the middle- and lower income/asset/power groups than on the upper 1%. It widens the Gap between the rich and the rest.


  7. “…The Bobs “would probably” oppose the steps even if their kids were nearing college age!”

    What bit of research did you pull that out of?

    There’s Bobs and Alices and Bills that “would probably” like it too. It’s unrealistic to think without a system of affordability, such as monetary sovereignty, that we can solve the onrushing financial mess we are all in for.

    A problem that goes without solution can only get worse, just like the weather we are having. The scientists are telling us to wake up, and the idiots are saying the science boys have an agenda to hang on to federal research money. So now science is lying to us. We should believe the idiots; they have our best interests at heart, not the nature loving and comprehending researchers.

    Now MS is a lie too. So what’s the alternative? Bite the bullet? Every time the idiots’ line of $upply is threatened, there’s a suspicious agenda or conspiracy by the left that must be blamed. People trying to make sense get cut down by the ‘experts’ whos only expertise is cunning and knowing how to twist the truth. But they never have a solution, only DEFENSE.


    1. ” not the nature loving and comprehending researchers.” Tetra

      I actually think this is the case – there is ample proof that people will do what benefits them directly – as opposed to what is good for the overall society.

      Realtors – it’s always a good time to buy.
      Economists – we always need more easing. There is always a lack of funding. The government needs to increase spending, especially in “economic research”.
      Stock analysis – buy, buy, buy
      Unions – teachers ALWAYS deserve a raise, even when everyone else is getting fired, so raise taxes. It’s always a good time to raise taxes…
      Medical monopoly – we need more laws to “protect” our medical industry (more like monopoly). You can get medicine for 5% of what you pay here across the border and perhaps even save your life, no can do. We want you to pay $50,000 (that you cannot afford) for that aspirin in my hospital.

      Need I say more? Case in point, was talking to a friend and her hubby just got swamped with tons of work. Why? Well, because the state raised taxes and now they are flushed with funding to work on multiple projects. He’s going to be “working” long hours. Go ask him if he prefers higher taxes or lower taxes?

      Go ask a weather scientist if they prefer less funding or more funding? That may be a more relevant question to ask. The same repeats time and time again. We are not “social animals” as the liberals make it out to be, we (mostly) are actually the opposite, self centered socio-paths.

      The issue with global warming or whatever is called these days is that it appears to be a ploy to get more government funding (and by default the people’s money) thus far. The weather is not getting warmer, it’s actually getting colder. So perhaps they should have named it “global cooling” from the beginning? I hope you get my point though, these scientists are talking with dollar signs on their eyes as opposed to considering the well being of society. In other words, they are convenient liars.


      1. “Economists – we always need more easing. There is always a lack of funding. “
        I wish it were true. But way too many economists say the federal debt and deficit should be reduced.
        Of course, those are the economists paid by the rich, so I agree with your comment, ” people will do what benefits them directly – as opposed to what is good for the overall society” — oh, except for all those people who put their lives and fortunes on the line to help the rest of us.

        “The weather is not getting warmer, it’s actually getting colder.”
        You may be the last of the global warming deniers. Wait a couple more years, and you will make the Guinness Book of Records as the only denier in the world.


        1. “oh, except for all those people who put their lives and fortunes on the line to help the rest of us.” RMM

          I’m sure there are some out there, something like 0.0000001% of us that would put their lives and/or fortunes on the line – 99.99999% of the people are all about themselves. To the point that they would say anything to get their wish, including lying to anyone’s face. Their FIRST concern is about buying the latest and greatest HDTV, car, house, designer clothes, etc… Helping a fellow man probably comes around towards the end of the year as tax season arrives – to get a deduction on it.

          I will be waiting for global warming for ever, as I said, the temperatures are getting colder – not warmer. The proof is out there – you can look it up anytime.

          Economists are not paid by the rich, economists are paid by the government. With the exception of a few that have the guts to tell the truth, the majority are nothing but government representatives, just like teachers are, the media, unions, etc… Finding an economist that thinks reducing government spending is the appropriate thing to do is like finding a needle in a haystack. Find 10 economists that believe this – you will see what I mean. The majority of economists would say the opposite, that we need more government spending. More government regulations, etc…

          The largest organized groups in society are always conveniently aligned with the government (unions, economists, the media, etc..). I wonder why?


          1. Why pay attention to facts when you can rely on Fox “News”?

            New Report Confirms Antarctica Is Melting Away as We Watch, Faster Every Year

            “Economists are not paid by the rich, economists are paid by the government . . . Finding an economist that thinks reducing government spending is the appropriate thing to do is like finding a needle in a haystack.
            Hmmm . . . Economists don’t think reducing government spending is appropriate and economists are paid by the government.

            But, those in government (Congress and the President)almost unanimously believe the deficit is too large.

            Strange “logic,” if I may call it that.

            And if you wish to find that “needle in a haystack,” simply Google: “Reduce government spending.” You’ll find thousands of needles.


          2. Do you know who Tim Ball is? Have you heard of the CRU emails?

            Let’s say that there is Global Warming – do you really think the knuckle heads in DC will have real solutions as opposed to more of the regular scams?

            “Those in government believe the deficit is too large.” RMM

            Sure they do, it’s the reason they are always increasing the debt limit and proposing more ways to increase spending. Are we living in the same world?

            If I search for “reduce government spending” i will find what you want me to find. If you search for “economists and reduced government spending” and filter those that are actually pushing for it, you won’t find much.


      2. RMM and all people of this MMT school of thought are almost always supportive of tax CUTS, not tax increases. This is because the US Govt not only does not need “our” money — which is money created by the US Govt in the first place — it can do nothing with “our” money but destroy it, which is what taxation does.

        There is a good time and place and purpose for destroying money. Not now. Not while credit is still contracting or failing to expand sufficiently to overcome the engineered trend of Demand Leakage to corporate imports and unprecedented savings by the Few. All that mass taxation of the middle class accomplishes in this time is to shrink consumption, hurt small biz profits, and cause unemployment.

        We have a policy of mandatory high unemployment — the conservative NAIRU theory and if too many people have jobs — in which they produce goods and services for consumers — prices via wages must rise. We are complaining about low wages and low incomes and sales doldrums but at the same time we *insist* on policies that ensure that outcome.

        Then we blame the unemployed for not finding jobs.

        Enforcement of tax collection of some form is vital … but not to “fund” govt spending. Tax collection (esp “net”) on the level it currently exists is too high. But conservatives don’t want to untax consumers. They want MORE taxes on average consumers, lower taxes on speculators.


  8. Bum,

    I see you have switched from “The weather is not getting warmer, it’s actually getting colder” to “do you really think the knuckle heads in DC will have real solutions?”

    Probably not, if too many “knuckle heads” believe the weather is getting colder.

    Also, I wish you were right about economists believing “the government needs to increase spending. . . “ since that is exactly what the government does need to do:

    GDP = Federal Spending + Non-federal Spending + Net Exports

    Consider what must happen to GDP — by formula — when Federal Spending is cut


      1. Your repeated question makes no sense, probably because you don’t know what imputations are, but think writing the word impresses.

        If you did know what your question meant, you’d also know that in every formula involving economic data, there can be imputations.

        So what is your point?


        1. Either I don’t know what it means or you don’t want to answer the question.

          So who is responsible for selecting the value of these imputations? And what items from GDP are based on imputations?


  9. Bum =”….I actually think this is the case – there is ample proof that people will do what benefits them directly – as opposed to what is good for the overall society..”

    Your implication of “what benefits them directly” relates to money. Some people benefit directly from love of their work, i.e., the starving artist, designer, inventor, eclectic. Money is not important. Being yourself is. How many true, incorruptible individual “needles” do you really know from within the haystack of 7 billion minds? It’s the 1 in a million that solve the big problems: Einstein, Ford, Gates, Jobs, Bell, etc. The money they made was incidental, not their primary goal.

    I would much rather trust my life to the garage mechanics and tinkerers than the cunning professionals who worry about -and can’t think beyond- the all muddy dollar.


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