Keep pedaling that bicycle


There is a new blog post entitled, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall.”

Nick Hopkins, “UK less able to cope with hard Brexit than it was in spring, say officials,” Guardian, August 1, 2019,

Steven Morris, “Lib Dems win Brecon and Radnorshire byelection, cutting Johnson Commons majority to one,” Guardian, August 2, 2019,

Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019,


Pretty sure I’ve heard this story before. So first we have the bit about how consumer credit was needed and created to sell excess production in the aftermath of World War I (that’s one, not two, a century ago).[1] But the Wall Street Journal is also noticing how gains following the financial crisis of 2008-2009 have been unevenly distributed. (No shit, Sherlock![2]) And an increase in debt reflects that the middle class is being squeezed by rising costs and stagnant incomes. (Oh, really? Just noticing this now? Really?!???)[3]

Indeed, while economists (including, apparently, John Maynard Keynes) might be surprised by stagnant incomes, the increasing and increasingly concentrated labor market power of a few firms, the rich,—in an earlier article, the Wall Street Journal names “winner-take-all firms like Amazon, Google and Walmart that displaced smaller, more localized competitors”[4]— at the expense of workers is implicit in Max Weber’s explanation of how capitalism (but really any exchange system) inherently widens social inequality.[5]

What’s actually important here is that even on capitalism’s own terms, money, as an abstraction, is at least one step too far—it fails—as we keep having needs that can’t be met not so much due to finite resources but due to the allocation of those finite resources, due to how money facilitates that widening inequality.[6]

AnnaMaria Andriotis, Ken Brown, and Shane Shifflett, “Families Go Deep in Debt to Stay in the Middle Class,” Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2019,

Donald Trump

Mike DeBonis, David Weigel, and J. M. Rieger, “A majority of House Democrats back impeachment inquiry of Trump, according to an analysis by The Washington Post,” Washington Post, August 2, 2019,

Clare Foran and Ashley Killough, “Majority of House Democrats now say they support starting an impeachment inquiry,” Cable News Network, August 2, 2019,

  1. [1]Anup Shah, “Creating the Consumer,” Global Issues, May 14, 2003,
  2. [2]David Benfell, “About my job hunt,” Not Housebroken, n.d.,
  3. [3]AnnaMaria Andriotis, Ken Brown, and Shane Shifflett, “Families Go Deep in Debt to Stay in the Middle Class,” Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2019,
  4. [4]Paul Kiernan, “Despite Tight Job Market, Labor Force’s Income Is Squeezed,” Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2019,
  5. [5]Max Weber, “Class, Status, Party,” in Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, ed. Charles Lemert, 4th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2010), 119-129.
  6. [6]David Benfell, “They must pay,” Not Housebroken, February 21, 2019,

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