RAND Corporation experts, panelists and other guests attend a ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony at the new RAND Corporation Headquarters in Santa Monica.  Panel discussion of experts from RAND Corporation and others

RAND Corporation experts, panelists and other guests attend the ribbon cutting of the new RAND Corporation headquarters on April 14, 2005 in Santa Monica, California.

Photo: Ted Socqui/Corbis via Getty Images

bank robber John Dillinger is one of the most famous thieves in history, getting away with the equivalent of about $7 million today. You would think that if someone had stolen $7 million on each of 7 million different crime counts, you would have heard about it, right? But you would be wrong.

In 2020, the RAND Corporation, a think tank in Santa Monica, California, released a study With the boring title “Trends in Income from 1975 to 2018.” RAND itself remains at the heart of the US establishment. In the decades following its founding after World War II, it was largely funded by and served the needs of the military-industrial complex. Daniel Ellsberg was working at Rand when he leaked the Pentagon Papers, which he had access to because Rand had multiple copies.

Incredibly enough, this trite-sounding paper describes what may be the biggest material theft since the dawn of human civilization. It examines a simple question: If US income inequality had remained at 1975 levels through 2018, how much more money would the bottom 90 percent of Americans have earned during these 43 years? Put another way, how much additional wealth flowed to the top 10 percent of people during this time, due to increased income equality?

If You Have Butt, You Should Do This hold on to itBecause the answer is $47 trillion.

This number is so large that it is beyond human comprehension. There are only a few hundred billion stars in the Milky Way; $47 trillion is almost double the US annual GDP.

This raises an obvious question. Traditionally, this type of upward concentration of wealth mass slaughter is needed, How did America’s elite get it done without thousands of us being trampled in the streets?

The answer can be found in the new book “The Big Myth: How American Business Teaches Us to Loathe Government and Love the Free Market.” It was written by Naomi Oreskes, professor of history of science at Harvard, and Eric M. Conway, historian at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, who previously wrote on “Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Tobacco Issues” Had cooperated. Global warming from smoking.”

As Oreskes and Conway point out, “The Big Myth” evolved from their previous book. While writing “Merchants of Doubt”, he found out that the basis of global warming denial Its foundation was laid in the 1980s by prominent scientists who understood very well the reality of the situation. However, these scientists were believers in what Oreskes and Conway call “market fundamentalism” (to borrow from one of market fundamentalism’s most outspoken critics, George Soros). It is a system of belief that holds that political and economic freedom are inseparable. They quote physicist Fred Singer, who wrote that “if we … do not carefully delineate the role of government in regulating hazards, there is essentially no limit to the extent to which government will ultimately affect our lives.” How much can you control?

In other words, government intervention in the economy – such as gas lead removal laws, a carbon tax, or mandatory cooling-off brakes for people working in 100-degree heat – not only make us all poorer, but also make us less likely to die on the road. But they also bring it. for Stalinist tyranny. So it’s important to get them all out of the way, even if it requires gross misrepresentation of observable fact.

This worldview is so inconsistent that it is hard to believe that anyone with a functioning brain could buy into it. Meanwhile, market fundamentalists are strangely unconcerned about government intervention that benefits big corporations. If you are an entrepreneur who boldly attempts to manufacture and sell any of these Patented products of the pharmaceutical industry In a free market, you will soon find yourself at the stifling hand of the administrative state. Yet there is no Wall Street Journal op-ed denouncing this injustice. (That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasonable arguments for patents, but arguments for other government regulations as well.)

There is also the fact that the market is a human creation, not a phenomenon like gravity that will exist whether people ever come or not. And since markets are created by us, it is legitimate and in our power to change them to better meet our needs.

Finally, the historical fact is that no country has ever become gradually communist, from minimum wage laws to the Gulag. Rather, it happened in various shocks in places of gross injustice and appalling capitalist inequality, and even then typically requires contemporary wars. as the famous Soviet expert George Kennan keep it in 1946, “Communism is like a deadly parasite that feeds only on diseased tissues.” Therefore, Kennan believed, “every bold and incisive measure to solve the internal problems of our own society” was a victory over communism.

Market is a human creation, not a phenomenon like gravity which will exist whether people come or not.

This commonality about using democratic power for the common good was common among the American powerful in the decades following World War II. Averell Harriman, the son of a 19th-century robber baron who later became Secretary of Commerce and Governor of New York, believed that “our social and economic system is probably working towards Swedish socialist concepts, but towards Soviet communism”. No. The government in Sweden has overcome poverty, secured decent housing and medical services for all, but Sweden has in no way compromised on the principle of representative government and concern for civil liberties.

The story of how we got from there to here is shocking, even if you consider yourself an intelligent dissident, and “The Big Myth” tells it in detail. It’s a sweeping story of what turned out to be one of the most successful propaganda campaigns ever, one that changed the instincts of both the American elite and regular people – what everyone “knows” without even thinking about it.

you know the drill. Lowering taxes on billionaires will unleash their amazing creativity and make us all richer in the long run. Minimum wage laws make the condition of regular people worse and should stop increasing. (incredibly enough, the federal minimum wage Has not increased in real terms since 1968 And, adjusted for inflation, it’s now worth less than it was in 1950.) Your boss can’t give you a pay raise because of bad environmental regulations. social security was a mistake and is destined to become extinct.

The funny thing is that this glorification of the “free” market could never have happened through free markets. Rather, as Oreskes and Conway point out, it required massive subsidies from corporate America, much of it given to tenured professors working at non-profit universities.

The book is an incredible work of scholarship, and every page has at least one dazzling, fascinating fact. Adam Smith’s 1776 book “The Wealth of Nations” is now seen as a major text proving the virtues (economic and political) of unregulated capitalism. This is not true at all: Smith argues that bank regulation is important; that workers should unionize; Businesses have often “cheated and oppressed” the public; and that any political proposal made by him should be viewed with extreme skepticism. George Stigler, a prominent economist at the University of Chicago and colleague of Milton Friedman, produced a version of “The Wealth of Nations” that dealt with many of Smith’s uncomfortable ideas by quietly exposing them.

Also shocking: Corporate funders realized that another book intended for their purpose, Friedrich von Hayek’s “The Road to Serfdom,” was too long and complicated for most people to read it. So he paid for a simplified version that appeared in Reader’s Digest in the 1950s, where it found a devoted readership in the form of Ronald Reagan.

“Ideas don’t exist Nothing. They are developed, maintained and promoted by people and institutions.

And that’s all, there’s more. It’s all enough to make you confused about what other thoughts people have purposely planted in your head without keeping your best interests in mind. The most important lesson from “The Big Myth” is a meta one. He writes confidently, “Ideas do not exist Nothing. These are developed, maintained and promoted by people and institutions. [This] There is a history of the making of a myth.”

Speaking of, the RAND study was funded by the Center for Fair Work in Seattle, which in turn is funded largely by Nick Hanauer’s foundation. In fact, the question the paper answers was partly thought up by Hanauer, a venture capitalist and early investor in Amazon – but one whose views bear little resemblance to those of the American elite of the 1950s. Are. Absurd myths can be successfully propagated with large amounts of cash, but it also takes a lot of money to expose the truth.

Update: August 7, 2023

A previous version of this article stated that the federal minimum wage had not increased since 1968. Updated to clarify that it refers to the fact that it has not increased in real terms since 1968; It has been adjusted upwards in nominal terms on several occasions.

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