Links 8/26/10

Dolphins ‘cough’ up DNA secrets BBC

India, the Rent-a-Womb Capital of the World Slate

Irish debt downgrade raises fears of international deflation spiral Independent

Ooh, they must be bored over at Clusterstock! Look at these stories (hat tip reader John D): 15% Of Women Have Slept With Their Bosses — And 37% Of Them Got Promoted For It (obvious bad risk/return tradeoff) and CEOs Who Wash Dishes Have Better Sex (sorry, when I read the headline, I expected even more tips in the story, like “CEOs Who Dress Up Like Nursemaids Have the Best Sex of All”).

Alan Simpson: Social Security Is Like a “Milk Cow with 310 Million Tits!” CBS

Tough calls after bungee jump recovery George Magnus, Financial Times

Peaches and local investing Lambert Strether

On Doomed Rig’s Last Day, a Change of Plan Wall Street Journal

The Plunge inJuly New Home Sales Was Not Due to the Expiration of the Tax Credit Dean Baker

Valuation ranges Deus Ex Macchiato

More thoughts on what to expect from the Fed Jim Hamilton, Econbrowser

Roubini Says Q3 Growth in U.S. to Be `Well Below’ 1% Bloomberg

“Inequality and the High-End Bush Tax Cuts” Mark Thoma

Lack of skilled workers threatens recovery: Manpower Reuters (hat tip reader John D). We’ve heard this meme before. Some of it seems to be legit, some of it is employers lowballing, and some of it is due to reduced geographic mobility thanks to the housing bust.

Covert Operations Jane Mayer, New Yorker. Today’s must read. A very well researched piece on the extraordinary influence of the Koch brothers, who since the 1970s have been working assiduously to promote their business interests, both narrowly and by systematically promoting a radical libertarian makeover of the US. Also discusses how the Kochs, who have major oil and coal businesses, have been the architects and funders of a many-headed effort to sow doubts about global warming.

Antidote du jour:

Picture 17

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    1. Brian

      Really? How about political hacks, both the elected and lobbyists, get a life and focus? Could Simpson have phrased his comment differently? Sure. I would start with the word ‘teats’ but then again, he could have been misquoted. The two words are very similar.

      Other than that, his analogy is spot on. Americans are all competing for their share of a single source of sustenance. Some try to get more than their share and others take more than they need. These two positions are neither mutually exclusive nor do they represent the totality of stakeholders.

      Some individuals and groups are too damn busy being offended by SLIGHTLY off-color comments and/or the possibility that they might be targeted by those same comments and not busy enough trying to fix actual problems. How about NOW, offended seniors, legitimately disable persons and other ‘honest Americans’ assume Simpson was not referring to them and support his real goal, finding the mis-allocations of this broken social welfare system, and maybe Social Security obligations won’t wipe out the Federal budget at some point in the future. Ironically, after most of the offended seniors are long dead.

      1. KFritz

        I’m sorry that SSecurity isn’t perfect. Unlike the Pentagon and America’s financial and corporate elite, who are perfect. So because SSecurity isn’t perfect, Simpson wants to attack it first. This …er..individual who never saw a tax cut for the wealthy, a Defense program, or a budget cut to an environmental or consumer protection program that he wouldn’t vote for? And he’s gonna preach to the peons about belt tightening? And you want the readers of this blog to believe that his ‘ideas’ are all for the best? Did he say anything that demeaning about Wall St execs? I say start by cutting HIS Senatorial pension and TRULY almost perfect medical plan. But stand back. He’ll become dangerous. Kind of like the ideas you both like.

        1. Brian

          So your point of contention isn’t that Simpson so colorfully illustrated that Social Security is broken, but rather that he is focused on a program that disproportionately benefits the economically less advantaged.

          You’re right, hang him and ignore the failing program.

          Simpson’s role is to participate as the co-chair of a bipartisan committee on fiscal responsibility and reform. A fairly broad topic. He allegedly knows the Social Security system and has spent time working on that particular issue. Nothing in the article suggests that he knows jack about Wall Street, defense budgets, tax policies, environment protection or consumer protection but you suggest he should contribute to the policy sausage making process by opining on those topics instead of a topic he knows something about. Or was your response just a diversion?

          The CBS article quoted leaders of pro-Social Security groups calling Mr. Simpson’s comments ‘offensive and sexist’ because he used the words ‘tits’ and ‘cow’ in the same sentence. Like your response, these individuals are diverting attention from the actual point, Social Security is broken.

          Yes, other aspects of the U.S. government and its policies are broken, in fact there may be more things broken than things that work, but those discussions are for different articles.

          1. KFritz

            Your precis’ of my comment is inaccurate. I tie Simpson’s positions over the years together. He IS consistent. The issues are related. He chose to insult one imperfect group and let be another influential group, Wall St, which has done its best to wreck the American economy. With the help of the likes of former Senator Simpson.

            It’s a safe bet you’ll reply w/ more of the same. I’m done.

          2. Doug Terpstra

            Brian, Social Security is not broken; it first encounters an imbalance in 2037. Even Simpson admits that. His role on the Cat Food Commission is to serve as a distracting crank to ensure that the obvious, unavoidable solution of taxing the rich at the some rate as mortals is not on the table.

            BTW, here’s a link to Simpson’s mocking and disdainful email:


            Brian writes “Nothing in the article suggests that he knows jack about Wall Street, defense budgets, tax policies, environment protection or consumer protection…”

            First, do you think a second generation politician, professional politician, 17-year US senator, chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and member of the Iraq Study Group doesn’t know jack about these other issues? Second, if so, then what … is he doing on a deficit commission?

            As Dean Baker writes of Simpson, “His determined ignorance in the face of the facts is the most important reason why he is not qualified to serve on President Obama’s commission. Someone who is co-chairman of such an important group should be able to critically evaluate information, not just insult and demean his critics.”

            Unsurprisingly, Obama stands by him.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        I’m not the least bit offended by Alan Homer Simpson’s use of the word tits. I love tits, we all do. Some of us were never really weaned.

        What is offensive is focusing on the word as a distraction from Simpson’s more serious, habitual, and deliberate conservative dishonesty: that SS is an undeserved and unpaid entitlement, akin to Bush calling it “some kind of government program”.

        It requires willful ignorance or more likely deceitfulness to constantly “forget” that Social Security is an insurance policy, taxed at over 15% of one’s lifetime of income (unless of course you’re rich like Simpson, a fatted politician; then it’s a tiny fraction). And it is the one remaining exception to Simpson’s bankrupt system of disaster capitalism that is actually solvent.

        But wait, in reality of course, it’s already been spent on war and bailouts, and that’s why Simpson and his Wall Street cronies are attacking it so desperately. They need it to save their own corrupt asses. (Oops, I hope that doesn’t offend anyone.) Simpson’s presence on the “Cat Food Commission” is a perfect fit; I guess he’d rather suck on his own foot.

  1. Tom Crowl

    A new look at the foundations of economics is in order.

    Money is unique in that it’s taken on ‘biological’ characteristics… i.e. it can get you excited and salivating.

    This may seem like a trivial concern, except that ‘money’ is a technology… nothing wrong with that… in fact it’s an essential technology… but it’s not the true foundation of what you see as a nation, civilization or world. It’s also a broken technology (or collection of inter-related technologies).

    At its purest root… a civilization is simply the ‘net’ of all individual and group decisions made by those within it operating within natural law and ever-changing physical conditions. Technologies are products of past decisions which then become incorporated into current physical conditions. A ‘decision’ is an idea + an action. (in theory that covers everything from ‘let’s build a pyramid for the Pharaoh’ to deciding to hold your farts in while in public.)

    If you think about it you’ll realize that all you see made by mankind can be nothing else.

    “Money” in this context then can be seen as an allocator of this ‘social energy’…

    It can be seen as a store of ‘decision right’s’…

    This gets too long for here… and it’s just in relation to some things I’m thinking about but it leads to some interesting conclusions…

    NO… not that all the money (and associated decision capability) should be spread around evenly… but that the mechanisms of currency creation and the utility of various forms of ‘investment’ have become pathologies.

    Money is a necessary, but inherently and inevitably imperfect technology for the representation and storage of ‘social energy’ (decision +action).

    So then perhaps its worthwhile to consider that the root of ‘social metabolism’ (the actual proper study of economics) is individual and collective ‘decision’ mechanisms…

    And that economics, while interesting and occasionally useful… is actually the study of a flawed technology (money and its mechanisms)…

    It’s mistaking the map for the territory… and for some reason has usurped and distorted what should be fundamentally political decisions.

    Unfortunately our politics is also broken. Believe it or not… good governance has no meaningful representation.

    Our two ‘parties’ (a duopoly) have NO serious interest in addressing mechanisms of governance. (e.g. All citizens in favor of gerrymandering please raise your hands! Yet it persists… this is only one obvious example.)

    Decision Technologies: Currencies and the Social Contract


  2. par4

    A lack of ‘skilled workers’ didn’t stop the owners of this country from outsourcing our factories to China.

    1. rjs

      the lack of skilled workers story refers to carpenters, electricians, bricklayers, butchers and welders in 17 countries, hardly outsourcable trades…seems to me its a legitimate concern, too many talented kids going to college and not learning needed skills…

      1. KFritz

        Mexico has provided (apprentice) skilled labor of this kind in the US for quite a few years. There may be a shortage of skilled trades workers someplace in the US, but it’s not a hot topic in any construction trade rags just now. There is a shortage of young Americans with the right aptitude and attitudes for the ‘trades,’ but that void has more than been filled by immigrants, at least for the moment. Unemployment in the trades is, to hazard a guess, minimum 20%. Underemployment..don’t even want to hazard a guess.

        1. PQS

          According to the AGC, construction unemployment across all sectors was at 27% as of March 2010. I don’t imagine it has budged much beyond that since then.

          Worse than overall UI during the depths of the Great Depression.

  3. Bates

    RE: “Roubini Says Third Quarter Growth in U.S. to Be ‘Well Below’ 1%”

    Mr Roubini then adds; “the odds of a renewed recession at 40 percent”

    40%? This is a cover my butt call since Bernanke has advised the world that the US requires a 2.5% GDP to stabilize US jobs. Not increase jobs, but stabilize jobs.

    In any case the Bloomberg article assumes that the first recession, or dip, has ended. The NBER has not made an official statement to that effect and they are the organization that is responsible to make the call.

    Roubini is definitely right that the various gov incentive spending did pull some demand forward.

    The Fed has few options left and of those printing is the most likely. I have recently read several economists reccommending that the way forward for fiscal policy is ‘infrastructure expansion and repair’…or, gov spending into ‘energy self reliance’ projects. Those in charge should take a close look at what gov spending, or misguided gov expenditures, has accomplished for Japan for the last 20+ years…nada. Keynesians will quickly point out that ‘we are not Japan’, and that is right. We print the world reserve currency and have made an absolute mess of it.

    The Fed and Fiscal Gov Policies are in a corner of their own design. They have created a command economy and now that it is working about as well as the former Soviet Union they don’t like it. Too late. Of course the Keynesians will complain that too little spending by monetary and fiscal policy is the problem. They fail to mention that the gov and the Fed cannot create wealth, they can only create more debt, and shuffle tax revenues around to various segments of the economy. When more dollars are created all that happens is that the dollars already in circulation are worth less. This will eventually be hammered home to the fools by raging commodity prices.

    The dollar is no longer a store of wealth (it never was since the creation of the Fed) and people around the world are beginning to realize that they are sitting on piles of dollar quicksand. Where will these people and governments that are sitting on dollars go to find some stable ground? My guess is commodities and all the dollars sloshing around will drive commodities much higher as happened with the oil spike to ~ $148 a while back…imo the only factor keeping commodities prices down now is the potential and actual slowing of the world economy.

    Of course the Fed/gov knows all of this and much more than I ever will…but the show must go on.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If the Fed wants to inject money into the system correctly, they should do it not through the big banks, but let you and me borrow at zero percent.

      People like you and me can post less toxic collaterals than the banks with their subprime portfolios…for instances, our used diapers.

      But life is full of mysteries.

      You and I toil for $5 an hour when somewhere, someone conjures up money out of thin air. Technically brilliant, of course, but try explaining that to voodoo trick to the people.

      Another mystery is the increasing traffic police presence around us. And here, one question always puzzles me. Should all the traffice citation money be collected and divided by the number of taxpayers in the state evenly and be refunded back to them at the end of the year? Let not one cent go toward paying the police. This way, it removes the appearance that the police is doing it for bonuses or something unseemly. Let there be no doubt that there is no conflict of interest here when you’re ticketed for that rolling stop.

      So many mysetries.

      Just one more – should governments be for profit or not-for-profit? It seems like these days, governments everywhere are looking for angels to make money…sorry, increase revenue. They want to be in advertising (something about the license plate). They are into selling real estate and business opportunities (selling zoos and airports). I have a suggestion, why not getting into growing tobacoo? I heard that’s pretty profitable. And there is one advantage with governments in business – the taxes they pay will be like going from their own right pocket to their left pocket.

      Still, I prefer not-for-profit governments.

      1. PQS

        Better still, why not grow marijuana? Tobacco has, um, tobacco companies to argue with and sell product to. Marijuana is a direct to consumer product, mostly. Or so I’ve heard.

  4. attempter

    Re Irish debt downgrade:

    I don’t understand. The “austerity”-mongers keep assuring us that we need to crucify ourselves to appease the finance terrorists.

    But nobody was more abject in their appeasement than the Irish. So why isn’t their sacrifice being rewarded?

    Unless the “austerity” ideology is a Big Lie and is about nothing more or less than plain robbery.

    The Irish example proves that’s what it is.

    1. charles

      The ‘exchange’between Ireland and S&P boils down to
      the inclusion by S&P of the ‘bonds’ issued by the local ‘bad bank NAMA to the distressed banks in ‘exchange’for their NPLs,thus bouncing up the debt, and the doubling by the agency of the costs of the ‘bail-out’costs of the banking system re the Irish government’s figures, very disingenious, this ‘meme’ following Moody’s earlier this week. I fear that at this rate the Europeans will want them out of the picture, Mrs Merkel having lamented repeatedly their ‘one-eyedness’ and the ‘collateral costs’ for the governments.Another example

    2. Bates

      “The Irish example proves that’s what it is.”

      Do you believe that 30 years of debt expansion is going to be corrected by a very short period of austerity? The build up of leveraged debt must be delt with by either currency printing (devaluation) or outright default…which would you prefer? There are very long lunches when the bill is not received for hours but the bill finally comes to the table…there are no free lunches.

      Reality is similar to physics – you can’t fudge it and you can’t bargain with it.

      attempter…here is an interesting read…hat tip to Barry Ritholtz…

      1. attempter

        I’ve repeatedly advocated that the people default on all these odious debts.

        Thanks for the link. I’d actually already clicked on that piece from Barry’s.

        It’s pathetic, all right. But my main reaction to the idiocies Pierce was castigating the NYT and others for featuring was, “How is that any dumber than almost anything they report, from business elites, government elites, military elites, academic elites?”

        It looks like Pierce has enlisted as a hack for the misdirection campaign.

        The NYT itself was in on this today. Here’s a piece from their go-to corporate liberal hack, Timothy Egan:

        1. Bates

          Thanks for the link but I am not into politics. Those azz hats are worse than the clowns on Wall St!…and since the pols are working for Wall St why listen to what they have to say when we can watch Wall St economic moves and deduct what is going on for real.

          One of the problems in America is that our laws regarding slander and libel are very difficult to enforce and any attempt to prosecute anyone is very expensive, regardless of what they say.

          Linbaugh and his ilk would probably not get away with their fabrications and other garbage that they spout in many countries of the world. I believe even GB has stronger laws against slander/libel than the US.

          Moving away from politics and back to the article posted by Ritholtz via Esquire… all I can say is that I live in a different world from people that believe that they must have trinkets and the latest gee-gaws and widgets or think they must impress the Jones family next door. I place little value on new-improved-shiny-let’s get one now! I am in the minority and I do not want to be judgemental but people need to understand the debt trap before they fall into it. Some are waking up now.

          1. SidFinster

            As a housecat, I would say that the the difficulty of successfully bringing a slander/libel action in a US court is a feature, not a bug.

            This makes it much harder for corporations to the threat of legal action to shut critics up. For instance, deep pocketed Russian or Ukrainian oligarchs and Roman Polanskis ng libel actions against their critics in English courts, where the standard of proof is far lower.

  5. Ina Deaver

    I am the proud parent of several basically normal children. I’ve already started encouraging them to think about the trades: education is nice for its own sake, but college doesn’t (contrary to the myth) prepare you for anything – unless you get a degree in nursing or ranch management. Those do kinda prepare you, with the exception of how prominent excrement can be in your life . . . .but I digress.

    The blue collar skilled jobs will always be in demand, and they are difficult to outsource. A plumber sets his own hours, he can run his own business. The problems these days are apprenticing into the trades – since they no longer have certification and early training programs in high schools, it is much harder for kids to know what their options are and get the start that will enable them to sign up with a master and get trained.

    Which means that the vast majority of the people wiring, plumbing, and bricklaying the houses we built over the last 15 years were immigrants who were picked up on a street corner. That doesn’t mean that they can’t do the job – it just means that the trades really aren’t what they used to be and getting into the trades is wildly different than it once was.

    My kid sister is a carpenter and custom cabinetmaker. She’s by far got the best job in the family, and serious biceps. I’m thinking of apprenticing my boys (possibly my girl) to their aunt.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Very interesting. This is similar to Greg Braddock’s “Divine Matrix” or “The Spiritual Brain” (author?), where observers are active (entangled) participants, perhaps even capable of miracles.

      “As above, so below” or “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

      There’s something to this that Einstein glimpsed in the universal consciousness beyond time.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    And the mayor can say all he wants about the increase safety with all those traffic cameras.

    But the only way to prove that is, while keeping the cameras, he returns all that citation money back to the taxpayers; otherwise, there will always be doubt that he is really after more ‘profit.’

    Same thing with SEC settlements, for example, with Goldman Sachs. Shouldn’t all the money be returned to the taxpayers as refunds? I will defnitely spend that on some Made-In-USA things to contribute to the economy.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When the government scores a big fine, returning that money to the citizens would be like a corporation declaring a special dividend.

      That would be a government for the people.

  7. Stephen V.

    File this one under: la plus ca change…

    Treasury Makes Shocking Admission: Program for Struggling Homeowners Just a Ploy to Enrich Big Banks
    The Treasury Dept.’s mortgage relief program isn’t just failing, it’s actively funneling money from homeowners to bankers, and Treasury likes it that way.

    with the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, Charles Lewis.

  8. Piero

    Are you sure Jane Mayer’s piece is so well researched?

    The one that was the subject of this article might have been a bit of a hack job even if I largely sympathize with her perspective on it:

    She seems to be one of those writers who’s never going to surprise you.

    1. KFritz

      That article uses language skillfully to make the information gleaned seem valuable and overlooks the quantities of BAD information that torture yields. Patient, intelligent interrogation doesn’t produce the same level of bad info. That article seems to me about labeling Jane Mayer to enable commentary like yours. Just sayin.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      When I was researching ECONNED, I read decades-old books which mentioned the role of the Koch brothers as MAJOR forces in the radical right wing program to remake American values.

      You provide an article from one of the major members of that so called “right wing noise machine” (per David Brooks) on an UNRELATED piece by Mayer.

      Ad hominem. Find anything wrong with the piece? I note an utter lack of substantive points.

      1. Piero

        So, it’s completely off base to suggest that someone presented a poor piece of work previously as part of the context of evaluating their latest work?

        And since when is a criticism of someone’s work an ad hominem attack? Do words, including latin words, mean nothing? There was no attack on the speaker or writer, only on her words.

        1. Piero

          And then the ultimate irony is that you want to dismiss what the person critical of Mayer said because of his being identified by someone else as a bad guy from the perspective of your team.

      2. Piero

        And if, you and some of the commenters could momentarily separate themselves from their emotional attachment to their precious team they would notice two things. One is that I explicitly said that I sympathize with Mayer’s position on the issue. The other is that she’s clearly shown to have made misrepresentations in the piece reviewed in the link.

        The range of possibilities is not simply someone largely agreeing with you writing a good piece or someone disagreeing with you writing a bad piece. There’s a whole spectrum of possibilities including that someone who largely agrees with you has done a poor job including some willful misrepresentations.

        That some commenters are so blindered as to be able to ignore the second of merely three sentences I wrote and accuse me of an adversarial attitude toward Mayer is nothing less than sad.

      3. Piero

        The piece is actually fairly innocuous as “exposes” of billionaires go.

        The ridiculous thing about it is the sadly typical implication of the piece that, but for some semi-evil mastermind tricking people, there wouldn’t be people disagreeing with the point of view of Jane Mayer or Yves Smith.

        The Koch’s have probably helped the point of view they favor, to some degree, but it existed before them and it will exist after them. And the torpedo into the hull of the U.S.S. Anthropogenic Global Warming was fired by a canadian mining engineer who didn’t get any help from anyone to show that Michael Mann, Will Ahmann, Keith Briffa and others had presented faulty or fraudulent science. The Koch’s didn’t create Richard Lindzen or Freeman Dyson’s skepticism about the theory of AGW, either.

        It’s simpler to look for evil or semi evil masterminds as the reason why someone disagrees with you because it’s more complimentary to you. The problem is that thoughtful people who mean just as well as you disagree with you. Yes, it’s unfortunate. It means life isn’t simple. And if someone just as smart as you, just as well meaning as you thinks differently from you it obviously increases that chances that you’re wrong. And that’s not comforting.

      4. Yves Smith Post author

        Your attack remains pure ad hominem (and I must note the failure to respond to Richard Kline’s query as to whether you were in the employ of the Kochs). You have not cited a single factual inaccuracy with the piece. And as I indicated. there is similar material in decades old books regarding the Kochs. Authors of books carry FAR more liability than magazine writers, the fact that this sort of material on the Kochs is extensive, if one bothers to look, provides considerable support for her view. Oh, and BTW, many of the authors were traditional conservatives who left the Republican party because they were appalled by the efforts of the Kochs and their ilk.

        1. Piero

          Are you serious?
          As part of my work I sometimes do public presentations before town boards and commissions in the area where I live. When I first started doing them I would mistakenly try to answer any comment or question no matter how wild or asinine. Over time I came to realize, and was counseled, that some comments should simply be left alone as they were ridiculous. Reflexively sputtering that someone who disagrees with you *must* have worked for a person you dislike to even obliquely defend them is just that sort of comment. But to satisfy your silliness, no, not even close.

          I found your book interesting. I’ve found the discourse you permit and promote here disappointing at times. I’m pretty much a libertarian but have had subscriptions to the ny times, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly and Harpers at different times. I didn’t agree with much that they said at times but thought it was worthwhile to have some idea what people of other perspectives thought.

          Serious people concede the humanity of those with whom they disagree. They even consider their ideas. I think the heads of some here would explode if they read a copy of Reason magazine. I doubt there sensibilities could endure 50 pages of different thought. It’s sad.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            What makes this a legitimate line of inquiry is what appears to be an obsessive interest attacking the Mayer piece, DAYS after this post ran (your first comment is August 29, for an August 26 post, you continue to check in to have the last word on a largely cold thread. While you have commented here before, this is also the pattern I’ve seen with people who have shown up out of nowhere to argue a corporate line, for instance, defending Monsanto, one of my occasional hobbyhorses. Now that still does not mean they are formally in the employ of Monsanto, but the pattern is very suspicious (and readers are the ones to voice them before I have them, having had more than the occasiohna

            You keep coming back, yet have failed to advance your case. You still have failed to offer any evidence of error in the post, your argumentation is pure broker record.

            Most people who engage in broken record drop it after fewer rounds than you have gone, hence the puzzlement as to why this of all topics has elicited so many comments from you.

    3. Richard Kline

      ‘Piero,’ or whoever you are, you provide no sources, nor even substantive counter-examples to anything written on the Kochs here. . . . You wouldn’t be working for them, would you?

      Mayer’s piece is very strong, covering decades, with numerous remarks by those who have worked with the Kochs personally and know their style and agenda. It’s worth nothing that the standard response mentioned in this piece by the Kochs when questioned about their funding or ties to organizations is not to comment rather than to deny connections, which is in effect a concession of relationship.

      Everyone in the country needs to know about the Kochs. About their devestating anti-environmentalism for _personal enrichment_. About their politics of ‘me uber alles.’ About their hiring closely managed lackeys to spoonfeed anti-tax and anti-goverment supervisory talking points to the media and to bought and paid for elected officials. This is the America that the Kochs want to achieve: one where they rule and shunt the effluent upon everyone else. What wonderous citizens they’ve been. Why do we tolerate them?

      1. Piero

        Well, you could head over to Reason magazine’s site and find them laughing at being mentioned in it if you want.

        1. Doug Terpstra


          Your persistent sniping still contains not a single substantive critique of Mayer’s work or a reasonable rebuttal of comments here. In these parts, you’ve only strengthened her analysis of the Kochs’ radical anti-democratic campaign and painted yourself as a tribal lackey.

  9. purple

    The new wealth of families like the Kochs and Waltons has in many ways surpassed and fractured the old Establishment, best represented by the Rockefellers. This is one of the reasons elite politics are so disfunctional in the United States.

    1. Sundog

      Good point. As I see it the old guard just wanted to make money and preserve their privilege, while the new right wants to make revolution in a totalitarian model. Along with the Koch axis I would cite Doug Coe and “The Family” (see Jeff Sharlet’s book of that name.)

      1. Piero

        So . . by your reasoning, the Koch’s are supporting something that could be called “totalitarian libertarianism”. Good luck promoting that thesis.

  10. Francois T

    Re: Manpower

    Some of it seems to be legit, some of it is employers lowballing, and some of it is due to reduced geographic mobility thanks to the housing bust.

    Hmmm! The fact that this shortage is international in scope makes me think the lowballing and reduced mobility are less important factors. These trades are heavily unionized in Europe, hence, employers can hardly lowball wages at will. They sure can contract, but sectoral unions and the gubmint tend to look askance at this practice.

    As for the reduced mobility, it’d be interesting to compare how much housing took a dive in the countries studied v. the USA.

  11. Francois T

    The power of the Koch family; nothing that a return to Eisenhower era tax rates couldn’t cure.

    He he!

    1. Doug Terpstra

      No wonder Freddie Koch suspected Ike of being a Pinko Commie! And don’t you know, raising taxes on the rich and shameless would be like Hitler’s invasion of Poland?

    2. EmilianoZ

      Hear, hear.

      But Obama our eunuch-in-chief will never have the balls to do it. All he’ll do is whine about it from time to time: Michelle, why are they so mean to me? I’ve always been nice to them.

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