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Links 12/15/10

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The round robin: Roly-poly bird who looks like he’s swallowed a Christmas bauble Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

Exotic Birds are Becoming Extinct Due to Illegal Trade Buzzflash

How life survived Snowball Earth BBC

Dozens feared dead in asylum wreck horror ABC

Fish and chips in Kiama John Hempton. When I lived there, six years ago, Sydney was a relative bargain.

When is twins too many? National Post (hat tip reader May S)

Infographic: How Color Affects Our Purchasing Habits Good Business (hat tip reader May S)

Amazon in the Book Banning Business The Self Publishing Revolution

Save the Children Breaks With Soda Tax Effort New York Times

To Conquer Wind Power, China Writes the Rules New York Times (hat tip reader Scott)

Geithner Blocking Legal Help For Foreclosure Victims Zach Carter, Huffington Post

Regulator Is Slowed By Budget Impasse Wall Street Journal

Do Progressives Hate Rich People? Eli, FireDogLake

Mechanics of a European capital flight FT Alphaville (hat tip reader Hubert)

Do highly skilled migrants return permanently to their home countries? Patrick Gaulé, VoxEU

Huge financial challenge for Spain Robert Peston

Nouriel Roubini: ‘the economic policy is still lend, pray and hope’ Telegraph

Did QE2 work? Jim Hamilton, Econbrowser

Fed Watch: Turning Tide Tim Duy

Immoral bankers Felix Salmon

A Terrible Way To Fix The Economy: Households Deleveraging Through Defaulting on Debt Mike Konczal

Where’s the Note? Leads BAC to Ding Credit Score Barry Ritholtz. In case you managed to miss this…

‘It Is Not Convenient To Speak of Such Things’: Notes from Rangoon Howard French, New York Review of Books

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2010-12-15 at 4.57.41 AM

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35 comments

  1. Swedish Lex

    Regarding the Mechanics of European capital flight (by the way, there seems to be something wrong with the link, here is the correct one: http://ftalphaville.ft.com/blog/2010/12/13/434856/mechanics-of-a-european-capital-flight/ )

    The post on Alphaville is a good demonstration of where monetary and fiscal policies meet. It also shows that if the European leaders continue to have their heads in the sand with regard to this being a problem of solvency and one of lacking common fiscal policy in the euro zone, then the payback for that the collective denial will come back to haunt like a tsunami through the existing ECB system.

  2. attempter

    Re Amazon book banning:

    I guess those of us who always said these media rackets who acheive content oligopoly were de facto quasi-governmental agencies who need to be subject to 1st amendment restrictions are looking more and more prescient all the time. (Not to mention how we warned, “just wait till they drive out the competition and become entrenched; then the mask will come off.”)

    Is the CFPA supposed to do that for the credit card rackets currently imposing political restrictions on use?

    Re “do progressives hate the rich”:

    That answer is about what I expected. Not that I’m saying citizens should broadcast “hate”, but we know for a fact that concentrated wealth is by its very nature malevolent and has to be dismantled. So it’s ridiculous to try to differentiate the “bad apples”. (Or is that the “good apples”, the way this piece implies? Who are the rich people this author “admires”? I can’t think of a single one who’s admirable.)

    Nor is there any sense in trying to differentiate, the way the piece does, between those who became rich through allegedly producing value and those who only leeched and stole. (We’re talking here about the truly rich by today’s standards.) There is no longer any legitimate wealth concentration. It’s completely based on racketeering, rent-seeking. There are no rich legitimate entrepreneurs, only rentiers. It’s not possible to become anywhere near that rich by legitimate means.

    Anyone who doubts these propositions should provide a counterexample. Let’s say for the sake of argument that there exist rich philanthropists who truly want to help people. Let’s say for the sake of argument that Bill Gates means well. I contend that even well-meaning rich philanthropists, by their objective acculturation and the very inertia of wealth, can only engage in predation. Does Bill Gates use his philanthropy to help the farmers of Africa re-achieve food sovereignty and achieve total liberation from the neoliberal onslaught? Of course not. On the contrary, AGRA is dedicated to further enslaving them (and us, and the global ecosystem) to proprietary GMOs.

    Does Gates behave this way because he’s consciously evil, or because he’s a robotic sociopath, or because even though he subjectively means well, his objective acculturation and wealth inertia is such that he simply can’t conceive of using wealth in anything other than a predatory capitalist way?

    The specific answer to that doesn’t matter. What matters is that the result is the same in any case. Concentrated wealth is inertially destructive. It is objectively evil. Its vector will always be toward tyranny.

    1. Ignim Brites

      “(We’re talking here about the truly rich by today’s standards.)” President Obama’s original tax proposal contemplated the “truly rich” as being those with incomes over $250K. In probable fact, it is these people, with incomes in the $250K to $5000K range that were most responsible for scuttling the original proposal. So in contrast to the “truly rich” contemplated by attempter, one might say that it is these people who are the most loathsome.

    2. Leviathan

      Sometimes you just come off as completely unhinged. This is one of those times. You make immense wealth (as defined by you) into a social disease and condemn those who possess it as subhuman. You seem to have enough historical sense to understand that dehumanizing entire categories of human beings is very dangerous. It is also nonsensical, so why go there?

      I am an overeducated peasant, not even wealthy enough to meet Obama’s low bar, but I know many “wealthy” people and have some insight into how they got their money and what they do with it. Guess what? They are all over the map in terms of their generosity and social ethics, just as the middle class and the poor are. It all comes down to the weirdness of individuals. You’d be amazed by the restraint and even dowdiness displayed by some really wealthy folks–people who often give away large chunks of their fortunes every year.

      No, rich people are not the problem. The problem lays in the tax code and regulatory structure that rewards the wealthy and large corporations for taking excessive risk and for shifting money and productive capacity overseas.

      The wealthy have always been with us, but asset stripping has not. Don’t personalize this crisis, fix the reasons underlying it.

      1. attempter

        “As defined by me”? I thought my definition was pretty lenient, and that it was the absolutely minimal objective definition of “wealthy”. But I’ll be happy to extend it, if you wish.

        I think you have cause and effect backwards. Believe it or not, that tax code and regulatory structure were not imposed by space aliens. There were actually earth-bound interests who fought for them, and continue to fight to make them even worse.

        Gee, I wonder who that might be……

        You people really are insane with the way you depict history’s worst criminals as the helpless victims of that diabolical government. “I didn’t want to steal trillions from the people! They made me do it!”

        1. Doug Terpstra

          You write common sense in the manner of Thomas Paine; it is a shock to the system to have inconvenient truths disrobed so brusquely ans starkly. Genteel company may find such corpulent nudity repugnant.

  3. Kevin Smith

    Great links, great photo.
    Yves, you’re on fire today and I haven’t even gotten to your writings!

  4. rcyran

    I could have used several antidotes of the day after reading that horrifying article on people “reducing” twins to fit their lifestyle. Uggghh.

    1. Yearning to Learn

      a few thoughts on the reducing twins article

      1)
      many selective reductions ARE medically necessary… (of quadruplets, quintuplets, sextuplets, etc)
      most people have NO idea how much more difficult it is on a woman and also on the newborns when they come as 3,4,5,6+ together.
      for twins: I see little to no medical reason for it unless there is a complication of twin birth (such as twin-twin transfusion).

      if a family will be traumatized by having twins… they should adopt out the second child.

      There is INTENSE demand for newborn babies to adopt… the waiting list of hopeful parents is years long.

      to all prospective parents of twins who only want one:
      PLEASE adopt out your child. I know personally RIGHT NOW of at least 10 families that would fly out to meet you and beg you to give them your child.

      Heck… I’ll even take your child.
      I’m not kidding. we’re considering about adopting right now.

      2) reduction of multips (multiple fetuses) can be PREVENTED in almost all cases since most of them are due to a stupid doctor implanting too many embryos in a fertilization procedure. It is extraordinarily rare for a woman to conceive triplets or more naturally… it’s almost always because of our meds or our implantation procedures.

      I trained at the Mayo Clinic. we nearly eliminated the problem of selective reduction by telling parents we wouldn’t implant tons of embryos. this does reduce the chance that the woman will remain pregnant… and it may increase parent’s cost… but it’s not worth selective reduction later. when explained, most patients understood the decision and agreed with it even though it may increase their costs

      3)
      this is part of the problem of turning Medicine into a “capitalistic” endeavor.
      the patient becomes the customer
      and as you know: the customer is ALWAYS right.
      no matter if it is medically contraindicated.

      thus we selectively reduce twins.
      we disfigure Michael Jackson
      we give 14 year olds breast implants
      we give teens toxic medicines to reduce MILD acne.
      (yes I know severe acne can be psychologically devastating… but I’ve seen kids with 3-4 pimples on Accutane…)

      I see a lot of complaints against the medical community, and in my opinion many of the complaints are not quite accurate although I see where they come from.

      but when it comes to crap like this it gets my blood boiling.

      1. KareninCA

        Wow. I find infants boring and annoying, but *I’d* adopt one, rather than have it be “selectively reduced” for non-medical reasons.

  5. Jim Haygood

    ‘Jeremy Siegel writes in today’s WSJ: “The rise in long-term Treasury rates does not signal that the Fed’s policy has backfired. It is a sign that the Fed’s policy is succeeding.” ‘

    Uh huh. This is after Ben Bernanke and a scrum of Wall Street ‘experts’ gave us their learned opinions on how many ‘basis points per billion’ of long rate reduction QE2 would buy us. They were flat-out, backa$$wards, ‘Wrong-Way Corrigan’ wrong.

    Now that Bernanke’s Folly has spectacularly failed not only to lower rates, but has even raised them higher, Jeremy Siegel’s crude remedy is to move the goalposts to an entirely different football pitch. Sorry, Jeremy, that’s criminal mischief and you shouldn’t have attempted it in broad daylight. You’re busted, son.

    Although not explicitly an MMTer, Bernanke has illustrated in microcosm the fatal defect of the notion that ‘free money’ can make you rich. ‘Free money’ comes with the enormous cost of higher inflation and higher interest rates, which more than nullify any advantage it might have conferred in isolation.

  6. Ignim Brites

    Do Progressives Hate Rich People? Eli, FireDogLake. Progressives love public goods, national parks, public universities, public school, public roads and bridges, public utilities, public medicine etc. For a true progressive, Cal or University of Michigan, or whatever public university, is manifestly and in principle superior to say Harvard or Yale. The love is so strong that private goods fade into insignificance and, when a cause of interference with the building up of the public sector, become positively hateful. So the private endowments of institutions like Harvard or Stanford are necessarily on the block. And after all they were largely funded by raids on the commonwealth, i.e. tax deductions.

    The heat is on….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-mU-YSk32I

  7. anne

    All this whining about how expensive Australia is – well it is, but when you live here you get paid a decent wage, have national health, subsidised medicine, get 4 wks off if you are full time (from your start date), get paid to have a baby and have mostly good weather all year.

    Just cuz the US dollar is crap … don’t let that put you off. We are used to having a crappy exchange rate for the Aussie dollar – we just suck it up and pay it and travel. (Believe me … 50 cents to the Us dollar when I moved there almost killed me!)
    And where else can you play 18 holes of irrigated pristine golf, unlimited for $480 per year? Or if you are from out of town – unlimited golf for $99???? Still cheap if you want to find it – just move from the major cities and the coast – gets cheaper and cheaper inland!

    1. Lidia

      Food and housing costs an arm and a leg, but you get cheap unlimited GOLF!??!
      Glad you think you’re coming out ahead.

    2. Alex

      He wasn’t whining, he was pointing out that there is a huge real-estate bubble. In Australia, and when it pops, it will cause the same pain and disorder there that the bubbles in the US and Japan have caused.

  8. Bill

    RE: the Ritholtz item about BAC, I also requested to see my note, and they wrote back, saying I did not have any right to see the original, enclosed a copy, and said they would be reporting this to the credit bureaus.
    I haven’t checked to see how many points I lost on the score.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Sounds like you committed Thoughtcrime, comrade — you manifested an ‘intent to default’ via your provocative demand.

      Fortunately the bank’s alert Department of Pre-Crime detected your hostile intent and took prompt retaliatory action.

      Since all new credit applications are subject to Homeland Security screening, financial hooligans and rejectionists likely will be rooted out before gaining access to credit in the first place.

      ‘Your papers, please’ is a duty that applies to citizens, not banks.

    2. PunchNRun

      Same experience, it’s intimidation, plain and simple.

      SEIU should collect that info also, at least solicit those who took action at their solicitation so they can keep statistics. Regardless, other than this mortgage I have no loans with entities other than my credit union and I’ll gladly pay an extra point to my fellow CU owners for the privilege of not having to deal with banksters in the future.

  9. Bill

    WOW, are you serious about the DHS credit screening ? I knew it has been bad, but that’s truly outrageous.
    As for your other comments, I totally agree.

    I remember commenting to a colleague just after 9/11 and as the first mention of our “homeland” and security came to be, that we have much much more to fear from out govt than from any band of terrorists. Boy has that been true in spades.
    I worked for the military at the time, and some military colleagues agreed……and they of all people should know.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Yep, I’m serious. Quoting from a random catalog that I received in the mail from Northern Tool, page 487:

      To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify and record information that identifies each person who opens an account.

      What this means for you

      When you open an account, we will ask for your business name, address, federal tax ID number, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying documents.

      These rules apply to car dealers, too — basically anyone who extends credit for anything.

      UPS announced last week that customers will have to show a drivers license or other ID to ship a package. Shippers outside the US can no longer mail packages exceeding one pound to the US, without furnishing the social security number of the addressee.

      And so forth. How much evidence is required to reach an obvious conclusion?

      1. PunchNRun

        I frequently purchase manuka honey creams and lotions from a company in NZ. I’m not going to hand out my SSN just for the right to receive those packages. I’d say they are going to see a bit of a reduction in sales due to this “security” measure.

        They may find their US clients prefer to deal with a domestic reseller.

        This reminds me of those protectionist measures so often decried by US businesses trying to break in to non-US markets like Japan.

  10. DownSouth

    Re: “Amazon in the Book Banning Business The Self Publishing Revolution”

    The author of this piece, Selena Kitt, who writes erotic fiction, closed with this:

    I should also note that I am a professional psychologist and, while no longer licensed or working in the field, it’s clear that when individuals and organizations fail to recognize the difference between fantasy and reality, problems such as this result.

    Kitt is evidently unaware that a well orchestrated drive to erase the distinction between fantasy and reality is a hallmark of totalitarian regimes, and a campaign to do just that is well underway in the United States.

    In his book Fear of Knowledge the philosopher Paul Boghossian claims the latest big push to obscure the line between fiction and reality emanated from the left with the generalized applications of social construction:

    In the United States, constructivist views of knowledge are closely linked to such progressive movements as post-colonialism and multiculturalism because they supply the philosophical resources with which to protect oppressed cultures from the charge of holding false or unjustified views.

    [….]

    One source of their appeal is clear: they are hugely empowering. If we can be said to know up front that any item of knowledge only has that status because it gets a nod from our contingent social values, then any claim to knowledge can be dispatched if we happen not to share the values on which it allegedly depends.

    Boghossian feared a “strongly conservative upshot” would be the final product of the New Left’s trashing of objective reality.

    Boghossian’s fears have been realized in spades. This was brought home on this recent thread here on NC. The exercise played out here by the duet of NY Times columnist David Brooks and Dan Duncan is done with the intention of obscuring the line between reality and fantasy. Brooks begins the narrative. “Tolstoy had an almost superhuman ability to perceive reality,” Brooks tells us of the fiction writer. Tolstoy could “see reality in all its particulars.”

    Of course this is not only a horrible distortion of factual reality—-anyone with even a modicum of knowledge of Tolstoy knows he had no such superhuman abilities and that he was quintessentially human—-but also a distortion of the very role of an artist. Artists are allowed something called artistic license, a term “used to denote the distortion of fact, alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or rewording of pre-existing text made by an artist to improve a piece of art.”

    The circle of untruths is closed by Dan Duncan. “The aim of the economist is to reduce life in all its countless, inexhaustible manifestations in the delusion of solving a problem irrefutably,” Duncan says of those associated with the Institute for New Economic Thinking, launched last year with $50 million from the well-known patron of liberal causes, George Soros. But this is a half-truth. Undoubtedly it is true that economists’ overblown claims of their own abilities, couple with their claim to be scientists, have gone a long way to obliterate the distinction between scientist and fiction writer. Also true is the fact that left-leaning economists have been just as guilty in laying claim to superhuman abilities as those who hail from the right and are little more than handmaidens to the financial services industry. What is not true, however, is that economists in the future cannot comport themselves like scientists. Untrue also are Duncan’s claims as to the “aims” of the new institute. In fact, its aims are the polar opposite of what Duncan alleges, as the Wall Street Journal article clearly states:

    Disparate as their ideas may seem, all three are grappling with a riddle that they hope will catalyze a revolution in economics: How can we understand a world that has proven far more complex than the most advanced economic models assumed?

    In the world of David Brooks and Dan Duncan, the role of artist and scientist become inseparable. Or even worse, the artist (fiction writer) has a greater claim to truth than does the scientist. The end result is that, throughout the entire breadth and depth of human experience, metaphysics and beauty become inseparable from factual reality. Idealism becomes inseparable from realism.
    And, as Kitt properly concludes, “when individuals and organizations fail to recognize the difference between fantasy and reality, problems such as this [censorship and the entire array of instruments to be found in the totalitarian tool chest] result.”

  11. dejauvuagain

    The hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on foreclosures just ended – the continuation of the adjourned December 2, 2010 hearing.

    It was a “pleasure” to see and hear Tom Deutsch forcefully reiterate his views that the trusts own the mortgages, referring to his submission submitted December 2, 2010 and the subject of Yves response of December 3, 2010.

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/12/american-securitization-forum-tells-monstrous-whoppers-in-senate-testimony-on-mortgage-mess.html

    Deutsch provided one odd comment – that under REMIC, the trusts have 90 days after finding a defect to correct the defect, not 90 days after closing.

    Unfortunately, there was no one there to respond to Deutsch on the NY trust issues or the REMIC tax issues – the New York Trust issue did not come up at all except in Deutsch’s submission. There was questioning as to the REMIC status, though, by Congressman Deutsch (same name).

    If one had followed nothing on this blog and elsewhere, Deutsch would have been very persuasive. He referred to the ASF white paper of November 16, 2010. http://www.americansecuritization.com/uploadedFiles/ASF_White_Paper_11_16_10.pdf

    He even referred to the 13 law firms which support his statement:
    • Alston & Bird LLP
    • Bingham McCutchen LLP
    • Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP
    • Dechert LLP
    • Hunton & Williams LLP
    • Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
    • K&L Gates LLP
    • Lowenstein Sandler PC
    • Mayer Brown LLP
    • O’Melveny & Myers LLP
    • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
    • Sidley Austin LLP
    • SNR Denton US LLP

    Professor Peterson spoke very cogently about MERS. Attorneys James A. Kowalski, Thomas A Cox, and Vannessa G. Fluker were effective in showing how the MERS and robo-signing fiascos makes it difficult to negotiate modifications.

    Mr. Deutsch’s response on the MERS issue was weak, and referred to a new complex system, and the MERS had helped facilitate securitization. He said that MERS acted as a recording agent and allows for the additional credit. He said this was an issue of technicalities only. He said 46 states have upheld the MERS ability to foreclose!! Attorney Cox thoroughly rebuked Deutsch – saying that Maine Maine Supreme Court had ruled against MErs. He stated that almost no other state supreme courts have addressed this issue and that Deutsch is not being accurate at all.

    Attorney Kowalski then rebutted Deutsch on the issue of transparency. He referred to a MERS screen print-out last week “this investor has chosen not to display this information.” Attorney Fluker said the problem was trying to decide who had the ownership interest in the loan.

    Congressman Scott then asked – who does the person at foreclosure buy the property from? Not even clear the who can release the lien, says Professor Patterson. In judicial foreclosure states, the clerks office transfers the title by the the servicers acting on behalf of the mortgage owner. Attorney Kowalski pointed out problems of multiple trusts claiming ownership of the same mortgages. Attorney Cox then referred to MERS transferring title on behalf of a bank that had been closed by the OCC.

    Deutsch got all tied up in the issue of the land titles, in response to Congressman Watt.

    In summary, the hearing was illuminating – Deutsch seemed not so happy. Not one member of the Committee was in any way supportive of his views and his face told all at the end.

    It is well worth watching the hearing. The video is on CSpan 3 and is on the Committee’s web site.

  12. Ed

    Why do progressives hate rich people?

    Leaving aside the remarkable story on Florida described in the last comment, we have news that the Emir of Kuwait just completed the payment of his 27 million pound bribe to Tony Blair (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1338368/Tony-Blairs-company-make-27m-advising-Kuwait-govern-itself.html) to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein. Since the lives of alot of non-rich people have been ruined by this, we have to make sure that no one can have enough money to bribe our “leaders” in this way ever again.

    If anything, progressives have been too lenient on rich people, being focused on helping the poor instead of curbing the rich. You simply can’t have a republic and have a class with enough wealth to be oligarghs.

    1. attempter

      You’re right, except that it would be nice if the “progressives” actually ever did anything to help the poor (and the productive people in general), instead of just impotently talking about it.

  13. ChrisPacific

    Re: migrants to the US article

    Speaking as a migrant who lived for almost 15 years in the US before returning, I can say that the longer you are there the more acclimatized you become and the more difficult it is to return. Coming back has been almost as much of an adjustment for me as it was to leave in the first place. I certainly felt a strong motive to return – living overseas tends to sharpen your sense of national identity and remind you of all the things you like about your home country – but after the 10 year mark it began to diminish.

    I do think it’s likely to vary by industry – there’s no question that the US is one of the best places in the world to pursue an academic career, and anyone moving back must be willing to compromise on that front. While that’s true of many other industries as well, the difference is less pronounced.

    My move back was actually partly for professional reasons – thanks in part to this blog and similar ones, I could see the financial crisis coming for some time in advance. I had no idea what was going to happen but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be good, and I had real uncertainty about my future career path in the US as a result. (In this I have largely been proven correct). Another big reason is that, both in the legislative process and framework and the public discourse about immigration, the US makes it abundantly clear that permanent migrants in professional categories aren’t wanted. You’d think that exceptions would be made for skilled migrants, but it’s seldom the case. Spouses and family members of US citizens ARE wanted, and the process suddenly became much easier once I was married, but had that not happened I’d probably still be struggling to secure permanent residency. By contrast, it was very clear from my own country’s policy and statements that it wanted people like me back. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was a key decision factor for me, but things like this have more impact than you might think.

    It remains to be seen whether my latest move will be permanent.

  14. paper mac

    The China wind power article is pretty interesting. It seems that there’s more and more media attention being directed to “unfair” Chinese business practices (ie those that all successful developing countries always and everywhere took to bootstrap themselves up into competitiveness), as though people are finally waking up to the fact that Western business never held the upper hand in China after all, that it wasn’t just a pool of cheap labour to be exploited but an actual, functioning nation state wholly unlike those in the west which have totally abdicated any responsibility for their economies or the welfare of their people.

    I have a great deal of admiration for the farsightedness of the Chinese leadership, who clearly recognized from a very early stage how to play the numbers game of the West, letting the multinationals think they were having their way with the Chinese while rapidly building up domestic expertise and capacity. The anecdote in the story about Ontario trying to institute a Chinese-style local content rule for wind turbines and immediately incurring a Japanese WTO complaint infuriates me, but I’m unable to direct any anger at the Chinese for this. Rather it seems our rootless, quarterly-results-obsessed elites have decided that squeezing what remaining profits they can out of their Chinese operations is preferable to allowing relocalization of critical infrastructure manufacturing. Disgusting.

  15. ScottS

    “My son Channing, the grinning eight year-old to the left, has too much homework. He attends one of the best schools in the state and they send him home every night with what the teachers say is one hour of homework but it looks like two hours to me. And since Channing would really rather be fishing or terrorizing his little brothers those two hours regularly turn into three hours or more. This is not only too much homework, it hurts rather than helps. It seems indicative of an educational system that’s out of control.”

    http://www.cringely.com/2010/12/ich-hasse-hausaufgaben-i-hate-homework/

    This is an article by a tech columnist I follow.

    I think rote memorization, learning to study, putting together long research papers is good and can start in elementary school. But standardized tests do directly rob children of attention to creative thinking, which is at least as important as the “discipline” stuff.

    Standardized tests has more to do with putting financial pressure on districts and teachers, and little to do with preparing students to contribute to society.

  16. Sundog

    The US experiment with a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) appears to be bearing fruit.

    The Washington metropolitan area emerged as the wealthiest and most educated region of the past five years. The only three communities with median household incomes higher than $100,000 are in suburban counties in Virginia. Maryland, which also borders the nation’s capital, saw income levels in Howard County increase at the eighth-fastest pace in the U.S. since 2000.

    Timothy R. Homan, “Gap Between Rich and Poor Follows Geographic Lines, U.S. Census Data Shows”
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-15/gap-between-rich-and-poor-in-u-s-drawn-along-geographic-lines.html

  17. Nick Shaxson

    On the links, you should really pay attention to the tax avoidance protests in Britain. This was kicked off by some twenty year olds in the Nags Head pub in London and is now the focus of nationwide rolling protests. Why is there nothing similar in the U.S.? An obvious and clear grassroots, fire-in-the-belly agenda as a progressive alternative to the tea party.

    Try this one, for example:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1339026/Britains-biggest-firms-moving-offshore-denying-UK-exchequer-100s-millions.html

    The leaders are called UK Uncut and the newspapers are full of them
    http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/

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