Links Memorial Day

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Doctors and dentists tell patients, “all your review are belong to us” Ars Technica (hat tip reader Squeaky Fromm). I think I’m going to wind up walking out of quite a few doctors’ offices if this gets traction.

Bubbling sea signals coral threat BBC

Mind Reading: The Researchers Who Analyzed All the Porn on the Internet Time

Apparent torture of boy reinvigorates Syria’s protest movement Washington Post

Soft options are no longer viable options Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times

Orderly Greek restructuring a ‘fairytale’ Financial Times

Why Christine Lagarde should never be head of the IMF Telegraph (hat tip reader dearime)

The Problem With Christine Lagarde Simon Johnson

Arizona Land Sells for 8% of Price Calpers Group Paid at Peak Bloomberg. Lordie.

Against Learned Helplessness Paul Krugman

Okay, Enough: Stop Feeling Sorry for Misha Khodorkovsky Matt Taibbi (hat tip reader Albert W)

What Manuel Zelaya’s return means for Honduras Guardian (hat tip Philip Pilkington)

The wonders worked by womanhood Lucy Kellaway, Financial Times. Hooray, Kellaway kneecaps the Lagarde genderism pitch.

The Truth About the American Economy Robert Reich

Today’s New… “But, You Didn’t Make Your Payment” Exemption to the Law Martin Andelman

Antidote du jour:

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  1. attempter

    Re doctors coercing patients into signing away rights:

    The moral core of the abuse is described here:

    When Ars asked Schultz about medical professionals who ask their patients to sign these agreements, he was scathing. “It’s completely unethical for doctors to force their patients to sign away their rights in order to get medical care,” he said. He pointed out that patients seeking treatment can be particularly vulnerable to coercion. Patients might be in acute pain or facing a life-threatening illness. Such patients are in no position to haggle over the minutia of copyright law.

    Once again we see the moral abdication of our “professionals”. Just one of the typical social erosions under kleptocracy. We see how the top-down goal is the complete degradation of civil society. As a rule our professionals are conforming to the pattern.

    To the legal analysis in the article I’ll add that the legitimate contract is that the patient pays for dental/doctor care. That’s always historically been the contract, so that is the contract. An add-on like this is not a legitimate part of the contract, but has to be judged on a stand-alone basis. So can this be called a “contract”? No – there’s no consideration, and it’s coerced (they call this a contract of adhesion).

    Unfortunately, when I read stuff like the analysis in this article I think of how tenuously it relies upon the courts to follow the law. These days I don’t have much confidence in the robustness of that reliance.

    1. attempter

      I forgot to add that the point about coercion, scaling upward, refutes the lies about how “the market” can work where it comes to health care in general. Where it comes to their health, it’s absurd to claim that people are in a position to “rationally” choose among insurance plans, negotiate with insurers, etc. The elements of fear and coercion are always present.

      Only a truly vicious, callous nature could look with equanimity upon this “health insurance” system.

  2. Doly

    Thought I’d report what my mother is telling me in her emails from Spain, mostly the economically relevant bits. (Note – she’s 57 and doing perfectly fine financially. If even some Baby Boomers who are doing well feel like this, imagine the rest.)

    I’m delighted with the movement in La Coruña (Note – La Coruña is in the Northwest corner of Spain, on the coast. Not exactly close to Madrid). They’re doing it so well!

    There is communication among the camps of all Spain. A couple of days ago two young people from Puerta del Sol in Madrid came here, I imagine to coordinate, advise and provide ideas. I suppose they have sent people to all of Spain.

    There are camps in more than 150 Spanish cities, and I’m told also in foreign countries. (Note – Most definitely. I live in Brighton, UK, and there is one here.)

    A Portuguese friend tells me that the movement has bloomed strongly in Lisbon, helped by the very difficult economic situation in the country. It started on 19th May, when some Spanish students of the Erasmus program made a demonstration. Now it’s the Portuguese citizens themselves protesting. It’s possible that the example extends to other European cities.

    Another thing. The sparkle may also put Buenos Aires on fire. The movement is supported by the Nobel Prize Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. Both Spanish residents and Argentinians are joining. They have been in touch with movements in Uruguay, Chile and Mexico to make a joint manifesto denouncing police aggression against the campers in Barcelona.

    For the 30th May they have launched an action: everybody take out 155 euros out of their bank account. People are very upset because all the money has gone into saving the banks instead of social support. Besides, when people can’t pay their mortgage, the bank takes the house, sells it at half price, and the families that were foreclosed on, apart from being on the street, still have to pay the mortgage. We ask that if the bank takes the house, people shouldn’t continue paying for a house they don’t have any more.

    Tomorrow I’ll be in Madrid (Note – for personal reasons). The train arrives early so I’ll go directly to Puerta del Sol to see that. Your father has made me promise him I won’t go, he was really tiring, because he’s afraid I’ll be mugged or the police start hitting people. But you will understand I can’t miss this, and I have some experience with this sort of thing (Note – she means in times of Franco), though now I know I can’t run as I could. I want to see how the camp is organized there. I’ll tell you all about it.

    This is once she arrived in Madrid, 30th May:

    The tents where the people who stay to sleep are, are using up all the space, Puerta del Sol is small for such a movement, and they are debating taking out the camp and separate it into the different local areas. Today, 29th May, there have been assemblies in more than 140 places within the Madrid autonomous community, and it’s estimated that more than 25,000 people have met today to form local groups. Many of them will meet one, two or four times a month.

    The protest of the indignant have made theirs the objectives of a platform called “Real Democracy Now”. Apparently this was born on the Internet. They say that “Real Democracy Now” is a group born in the University world about a year ago, and it has some notoriety under the slogan “without a home, without work, without a pension and without fear”. Other slogans are “Politicians are guilty”, “Cuts? Theft.”, “This isn’t a crisis, this is fraud.”, “We aren’t anti-system, the system is anti-citizen.” Other platforms have joined, such as “Don’t vote them” and some others.

    These are their objectives (I’ve left full details on the economic ones):

    1. Removal of the privileges of the political class
    2. Against unemployment:
    a. Distribution of work, encouraging reduction in work hours until structural unemployment is ended (that is, until unemployment goes below 5%).
    b. Retirement at 65 years of age and no going up in retirement age until youth unemployment is ended.
    c. Benefits for companies with less than 10% of temporary contracts.
    d. Job safety: Mass layoffs should be impossible in big companies while there are profits, taxing big companies to ensure that they aren’t covering jobs that could be permanent with temporary jobs.
    e. Bring back the allowance of 426 euros for all long-term unemployed people.
    3. Right to a home:
    a. Homes that were built and not sold in a long period of time should be taken by the State and put on the market to be rented by Councils.
    b. Economic support for young people and all people of low income to pay the rent.
    c. Mortgages should be cancelled if the homeowner gives the home back to the bank.
    4. Quality public services:
    a. Removal of unneeded expenditure in government, and establishment of an independent control of budget and expenditure.
    b. Hiring of health workers until the waiting lists are over.
    c. Hiring of teachers to guarantee a good ratio of pupils per classroom, and support groups.
    d. Reduction in the costs of attendance of all University education, and make the cost of graduate the same as postgraduate courses.
    e. Public finance of research to guarantee its independence.
    f. Cheap and sustainable quality public transport: return the trains that have been substituted by high speed trains with the original ones and the same prices, make cheaper transport passes, restrict private traffic in town centres, build bike lanes.
    g. Local social resources: Effective applying of the Dependence Law, networks of local carers, local services for mediation and tutors.
    5. Control of banks:
    a. Ban of all sorts of bailout of banks: those banks with problems must go bankrupt or be nationalized to become a public bank under social control.
    b. Rising the taxes to bank directly in proportion to the social cost caused by the crisis that was brought about by their mistakes.
    c. Banks should return to the government all the public money given to them.
    d. Ban Spanish banks from investing in tax havens.
    e. Regulation of sanctions to speculation and bad bank practice.
    6. Taxes:
    a. Raise taxes to the most wealthy and to banks.
    b. Real and effective control of tax fraud and money going away to tax havens.
    c. Promoting internationally the adoption of the Tobin tax.
    d. (Some other things specific to Spain that I’m not sure of the meaning).
    7. Citizen freedoms and participative democracy
    8. Reduction of military expenses

    1. Paul Tioxon

      “Do you see this arm, it is not my arm, but my father’s and his father’s arm and the arm of every one who went before me, and because of it, I have the strength of a thousand.”

      The Groom’s Speech in Garcia Lorca’s ‘BLOOD WEDDING’.

    2. Diogenes

      Thank you very much for posting this. It helped my understanding of this movement.

    3. Diego Méndez


      an interesting post. I’d say your list overdoes the significance of social policy.

      The main points behind 15-M and “Real Democracy Now” movements are: 1) real democracy (which means a more representative electoral system, some measures of direct democracy, etc.); 2) fight against corruption (e.g. indicted people being expelled from office) and politicians’ privileges; 3) punishing bankers and regulating finance.

      While social policies, resistance to cuts on benefits, etc. are included in some manifestos/proposals, there is no consensus on that among campers and protesters. The only consensus is on political reform.

      You may want to take a look at #consensodeminimos on twitter.

    4. masa critica ciclistas

      5. Control of banks:
      a. Ban of all sorts of bailout of banks

      Don’t you just hate people who stand back from a distance just long enough to see the larger view, the big picture? Do you see what has happened to the World? We are no longer in danger of communism and socialism. We now are in danger of overbearing feudalism. What happened?

      Individuals of last century learnt to steal from the wealthy as they frightened the hell out of us with their communism. Having become wealthy from their larceny those same individuals now steal from the poor. Is Fidel Castro Mob the epitome of this convenient shift? Do you now see this grabbing in Countries The World Over? Has robbery become an addictive behaviour pattern? When the legs of these robbers break from the rot of greed, will they leave behind yet another cycle of communism shifting to feudalism? Is this the business cycle or the crime cycle.

      1. Gotti Di Medici

        The crime cycle works like this:

        1.) petty street crime. Loan sharking. Running numbers. Knee capping. Graduate to

        2.) pay-day loans, auto-title loans, pawn shops, bribery and extortion, Graduate to

        3.) Real banks, mortgage loan origination, real estate development, construction, waste disposal and recycling. Graduate to

        4.) Casinos, investment banks, private equity, military contracting, media control, Graduate to

        5.) The Italian renaissance. Patrons of the arts. Above-the-law-ness. Followed by,

        Warring with other rich people in stage 5 of the crime cycle, then back to stage 1.

  3. Sam

    If Christine isn’t chosen for the IMF job I hear that Erin Callan is looking for a new gig.

    1. Philip Pilkington

      Dammit! Freudian slip. That should read ‘Irish Finance Minsiter rejects second bailout’.

      The Transport Minister recently said that Ireland will need a second bailout and the Finance Minister is now quelling — or, trying to quell — these claims.

      Perfect Freudian slip on my part. Extend and pretend, boys — extend and pretend.

  4. lambert strether

    Krugman’s column pins the Bogometer. Permanently high DISemployment isn’t a result of “learned helplessness” by our policy elites at all; it’s their preferred policy option, and it’s been successfully achieved. All you have to do is ask cui bono, and Steven Ratter let the cat out of the bag on that just the other day. Krugman should hand the keys to his column to a liberal who actually has a conscience, or at least one that doesn’t shift in the partisan wind.

  5. Tertium Squid

    Pornography research

    Am I prejudiced to believe that when it comes to the behavioral sciences, we are still banging rocks together in a cave?

    So they did a lot of research on how people do online searches for pornography, and felt competent to answer this question:

    “Q: Did you find evidence that porn is addictive?

    A: We looked at individual search histories for half a million people using an AOL data set [which does not identify the users]. It seems to be less than 2% of people, among the people who search for porn, who have a significantly elevated number of searches.”

    DUH. If I am a hard-core genealogist, I already know where to go to get my fix. I do not do a Google search. There’s a strong presumption that Google is a gateway for neophytes, not people with lots of, ahem, experience in an area.

    Doesn’t mean pornography is or isn’t addictive (though I strongly believe it is). But there is a very high bar to clear to demonstrate that search engine searches show pornography isn’t really addictive.

    And anyway, I’m pretty sure there’s strong evidence that lots of people use pornography a lot. Whether or not they are addicted is not necessarily reflected in search engine behavior. If Google searches really ARE an indication of how a cross-section of users access pornography, the fact that only a very small number do so regularly is a big confound in the researcher’s data.

    Thanks a lot, Time magazine.

    Banging rocks together…

    1. Philip Pilkington

      Agreed. I think people are placing FAR too much faith in behavioral ‘sciences’ — its one of the very few gripes I have with posts on this site.

      Behavioral sciences are almost always subject to bad epistemology. It’s often a case of ‘seek and ye shall find’. If I constitute the questions I ask people or the tests I set up, these questions and tests will almost inevitably end up leaning toward my prejudice.

      People unconsciously pick up on what is desired and/or expected of them (people are very smart this way, much smarter than researchers think). And they’ll almost always pick up on expectations of an authority figure (this is drilled into us from birth).

      So, test results in these ‘sciences’ are almost always self-confirming.

      What’s more — although this is a very subjective take on the epistemology and is wholly drawn from personal experience — I think that investigators often look into phenomena that have an emotional appeal to them. So, the guy doing the porn-addict research may be an ex-porn-addict (to be clear before I get sued for libel: I’m not saying he is…). Ditto for the guy doing the research into stock market crashes or alcoholism.

      This usually reinforces the bias.

      What you’ve pointed to here is just a particularly crude instance of epistemologically invalid reasoning — but it plagues the discipline.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Mr Pilkington;
        Considering the proliferation of ideological “think tanks” and donor responsive’faculty chairs’ I think the use of discipline has earned a new set of meanings.
        Oh, and thanks to one and all for the online “Open University” courses lately. This old dog is learning how he’s been tricked all these years.

      2. Dan Duncan

        Look at Pilkington trying to go all Bobby Fischer on the Naked Cap Blog. It really is quite laughable.

        In Pilkinton’s delusional mind, it’s as if he’s the economic equivalent of Bobby Fischer. All the other commenters, meanwhile, are like those recreational chess players Fischer would play–at the same time– in some Elks Club, located just outside of St. Louis, MO….

        The locals are lined up in a row after row, ready for their Big Chance to play the Grand Master….And here he comes! Table 1: Knight to D7. On to Table 2. Looks at the board for 2 seconds: Queen-side Castle. Table 3….

        Gimme a f*cking break.

        As to your “analysis” of behavioral “science”…are you kidding me?

        It’s as if a behavioral scientist was engaging in behavioral science on other behavioral scientists.

        And no, I’m not going to mutter under my breath, like you did with Eric Anderson in the Kelton post. I’m just going to say straight up that you’re a fucking moron.

        1. Philip Pilkington

          “It’s as if a behavioral scientist was engaging in behavioral science on other behavioral scientists.”

          Hang on… you might be onto something there. Do people study each other in order to determine behavior and then respond? Hmmmm… And are behavioral scientists just people who have elevated this into a career and assume superiority by default? Hmmmm…

          Perhaps there’s substance in what he says after all…

        2. Philip Pilkington

          Incidentally, I’m not just making these critiques up as I go along. Implicit in the above critique of behavioral sciences is US philosopher Richard Rorty’s work in ‘Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature’ (Chapter V — especially the section entitled ‘Suspicions About Psychology’).

          I’m not just bouncing around the place making random comments. I only weigh in on what I know — or think I know — something about.

        3. Name (perhaps)


          Don’t take it personally. Duncan flies off the handle everyday at another commentator. Yesterday it was DownSouth.

          In fact, if Duncan’s brain doesn’t billow forth bile at you, you’re doing something wrong.

          1. Philip Pilkington

            Duncan’s a moron — and I think everyone will see that.

            However, I think he’s raised an interesting point — however inadvertently.

            Can psychologists REALLY constitute themselves as psychologists?

            Think about it for a moment. If I’m a psychologist and I try to study other people, how do we know that I’m not simply talking crap about them and projecting my own prejudice?

            What gives me a superior ‘knowledge’ of these people?

            NOTHING! Of course. But that doesn’t matter.

            Now that’s not to say I completely diminish psychology — I don’t — but people need to understand this, psychology is a VERY difficult field… and the results therefrom should not be accepted so simply…

          2. Anonymous Jones

            I think the problem is that you are both talking past each other and not taking the time to look at this in a different light. The importance of any of these scientists is not what they “prove.” It’s what they disprove or cast doubt upon.

            We all know nothing at all, basically, but we can work up from basic principles to exclude the really stupid, impossible stuff.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Everywhere you go, you see Ero-Zonists…using, exchanging and circulating one common currency.

      Not just in the Euro-Zone, but Asia, America, Africa, etc.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Wait till you see the sex gods and goddesses in the Ero-Zone.

        No wonder people want to join the Ero-Zone. It’s not just some sick fantasy of Ero-Zone bureaucrats.

  6. wunsacon

    >> Okay, Enough: Stop Feeling Sorry for Misha Khodorkovsky Matt Taibbi (hat tip reader Albert W)

    The problem with Russian Justice isn’t that Khodorkovsky’s in jail. IMO, the problem is that Abramovich is NOT in jail. (Go read up on him and tell me you don’t think he very likely committed crimes — but paid off the right people (unlike Khodor) — to amass his wealth.)

    And THAT is what Western capitalist media doesn’t talk about. Why not? Ha. Because for them it’s a problem when rich criminals go to jail and it’s not a problem when rich criminals do not. They want to avoid prompting average readers to wonder who on Wall Street belongs in jail, too.

  7. anon48

    RE: Reich’s Truth About The American Economy- his conclusion…“The fundamental economic challenge ahead is to restore the vast American middle class…That requires resurrecting the basic bargain linking wages to overall gains, and providing the middle class a share of economic gains sufficient to allow them to purchase more of what the economy can produce.”

    Seems a little easier said than done. I presume he would advocate some sort of command and control approach. I further assume he believes that a president, congressional committee chair or an appointed technocrat will arise who possesses the appropriate intellect, technical skills, leadership talent and ethics and on whom we could depend to carry out this extraordinarily complex directive? Sorry, don’t think that’s possible.

    I’m not Robert Reichsssshhhhh.

    1. Externality

      Sometimes Robert Reich claims that outsourcing will not cause job losses, and sometimes he claims that outsourcing will cause escalating, permanent job losses. It depends on the audience. Compare, for example, his recent article and a statement in 2004 with what he wrote in the Wall Street Journal in 2010.

      This is what he said in 2004:

      Outsourcing isn’t to blame for the slow recovery. The jobs recovery has been anemic because there hasn’t been enough demand to restart the jobs machine.

      Despite the long-term trend toward outsourcing IT jobs, there will continue to be plenty of IT work in the United States in years to come. In the next five years, outsourcing won’t amount to much. At most, we’re talking about a few hundred thousand jobs subtracted from an American labor market that is likely to generate 10 million new jobs.

      Among the worst things the government could do is a ban on outsourcing—that would only put American companies at a competitive disadvantage. The move in Congress to bar federal contracts from being outsourced to other lower-cost countries is a silly political ploy.

      And yet, in 2010, he wrote that outsourcing is linked to increasing, permanent job losses.

      What’s likely to slow the jobs recovery most, however, is the indubitable reality that many of the jobs that have been lost will never return.

      The Great Recession has accelerated a structural shift in the economy that had been slowly building for years. Companies have used the downturn to aggressively trim payrolls, making cuts they’ve been reluctant to make before. Outsourcing abroad has increased dramatically. Companies have discovered that new software and computer technologies have made many workers in Asia and Latin America almost as productive as Americans, and that the Internet allows far more work to be efficiently moved to another country without loss of control.

      1. scraping_by

        Possibly (1) Denial then insight (2) Auditioning for a job with the trickle-downs then getting no calls (3) Watching it happen to “those people” then counting up the number of “people like us” affected.

        Just possibilities.

        1. Externality

          I think we can rule out 1. In 2004, he claimed that outsourcing did not materially impact American jobs; in 2010, he claimed that it “dramatically” increased hob loss; and in 2011, he was back to claiming that it was a minor source of job loss.

          1. attempter

            It looks like he’s one of these liberals who straddles the fence between parroting the system line and going over into “loyal opposition” (i.e. the system line but not as much so), so from day to day he has no idea what he’s going to say or think next. Even Krugman sometimes seems to fall into that category.

            The other day at the library I picked up a copy of Aftershock and for a goof flipped to the What Is To Be Done chapter. All I can say is, Hoo boy.

  8. Max424

    Good links. Cool thread (thanks Doly).

    I would just like to point it; it is becoming ever more evident to me that Robert Reich is going to adamantly refuse to sell out to the man come hell-or-high water; or come his declining years (may be they be far off), or come his dotage (may he have one).

    If so, Robert Reich will go to his grave knowing he gave his utmost to his country (and to the world) till his last, waning measure.

    And I hope this knowledge, brings this honorable man peace, on all the remaining days of his journey (may there be many).

  9. Jim

    Mayor in Spanish town describes drug dealing as acceptable employment pursuit, is one of the very few PSOE politicians reelected.


    The mayor of Barbate, Rafael Quirós, garnered national attention during his recent re-election campaign by suggesting that a young person who could not find a job and turned to drug dealing should not automatically be called a delinquent. “A youngster has absolutely zero chance right now of finding a fixed job here,” he said during an interview in the Town Hall. “The politicians in Madrid who consider my views on youngsters occasionally dealing drugs to be those of a caveman either don’t understand or don’t care about how much people are struggling here.”


    Despite the national criticism over his remarks, Mr. Quirós’s seems to have struck a chord with voters. On May 22, he was one of the few Socialist mayors of Andalusia to win re-election, in what proved to be an unprecedented debacle for his party in regional and municipal elections across Spain.

  10. ep3

    re: doc agreements.

    Yves, so you go to Doc A and he’s the best in the business. He says sign this. You refuse and walk out. What do u then? Oh sure, you feel great about standing up for your rights. But that mysterious bump seems to keep growing. You are at his mercy. I would dare to compare it to gasoline (can’t think of another at the moment. prices just went up here in Michigan by 50 cents a gallon). Sure, you can stop driving and find alternate ways to work. But what’s the possibility that you will never encounter a situation where you need gas. Probably bad example. But, would you prefer to go to the local butcher to have that bump removed or sign some silencing agreement to have the best in the business.
    I just think it’s unfair that people are put in situations in a capitalist market that we say “well you have the right to shop around” and yet there aren’t better options. you are stuck with what you get, especially if you lack the funds to hire legal help.

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