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Links 5/11/12

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Earliest Mayan calendar shows no hint of ‘world end’ AFP. In case you were worried.

US panel approves anti-HIV pill BBC. Aargh. What about condoms? HIV is actually not all that contagious (some of my gay friends are up on the transmissiblity stats, by practice), even though the consequences are life-changing.

Bans on School Junk Food Pay Off in California New York Times (May S)

UH OH: Facebook IPO Seeing “Weak Demand” Clusterstock. Ahem, maybe they shouldn’t have bargained so hard on the gross spread. Lower gross spread = lower selling concessions (as in no bonus credits when there is a ton of paper here to move).

A one-word explanation on why the eurozone cannot inflate its way out of trouble: Spain! Yanis Varoufakis

ECB talks money (and the lack thereof) MacroBusiness

Bundesbank Prepared to Accept Higher Inflation Der Spiegel (Aquifer). Too little, too late.

Thousands of British police join anti-austerity protest Reuters (Lambert)

More on tepid Chinese inflation MacroBusiness

U.S. Military Taught Officers: Use ‘Hiroshima’ Tactics for ‘Total War’ on Islam Wired (May S)

Biden Said to Apologize to Obama for Gay Marriage Remarks Bloomberg. So much for Obama’s courage. Much more from Lambert below.

Fixable Error, New Insight, and Social Security Rdan, Angry Bear (Aquifer)

Scott Walker Using $100 Million Of Taxpayer Money To Fight Off Recall? Forbes (May S)

BREAKING: Gov. Scott Walker admits desire to wage war on Wisconsin unions (VIDEO) Blogging Blue

Quality public schools need well-compensated teachers NJ (May S)

Poverty’s Poster Child Nicholas Kristof, New York Times. I don’t know how he has the stomach to cover all these depressing stories in person.

S&P warns of $46tn refinancing challenge Financial Times

Sovereign Currency Issuers Are Always Solvent New Economics Perspective. Nice video.

Easy Useless Economics Paul Krugman, New York Times. I wish he’d used the argument against structural unemployment which strikes me as the killer: if there was indeed structural unemployment, you’d expect to see considerable variability of unemployment levels among job categories. You don’t see that.

How Wall Street Killed Financial Reform Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone. This has been making the rounds. Nice summary.

Wall Street’s immunity Glenn Greenwald

Ecuador law would forgive mortgage debt Miami Herald. Less here than meets the eye. Basically turns some mortgage debt into non-recourse. But the fact that AP and the Herald noticed is a good sign.

Breaking Up Four Big Banks Simon Johnson, Economix

Faber Sees ’87-Type Crash If U.S. Stocks Rise Without QE3 Bloomberg

Citi’s Fitzpatrick: STOCKS COULD TUMBLE 27% FROM HERE Clusterstock. Two crash alerts worry me less than one.

Shadow economies around the world: Model-based estimates VoxEU

Why the Civil Rights Model Will Not Work for Occupy Firedoglake (Carol B). Informative, but a bit of a straw man. David Graeber reports that Global Justice movement is more germane (“Otpor was the CIA teaching Serbian students how to do our techniques!”).

* * *

D – 120 and counting*
If you want a friend in Washington, buy a dog. –Harry Truman

Gay marriage feeding frenzy
. There isn’t too much love in the world. And words (even if not performatives) do count. Glenn Greenwald: “[A]n important, and positive, step no matter what else is true about Obama and no matter what else he has done”. Perez Hilton: “Better late than never”. Best headline: “Questions linger after gay marriage frenzy” (George Stephanopoulos, nine questions).

Steney Hoyer has a change of heart. The Onion: “Casual One-Nighter Gives Strom Thurmond Change Of Heart On Gay Issue”. Chris Floyd: “President Strom Thurmond announced today that his thinking on race relations has ‘evolved,’ saying that he now favors equal rights for Negroes. … The president made it clear that he was simply stating his personal view on race relations, and that he would respect the decisions of individual states on the issue. In most states, various levels of racial segregation are enforced by law”. “They also said they were not changing positions on an Executive Order that would ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation against federal contractors”. “But the Obama administration has gone out of its way to create an impression that it has done much more for gay people than it actually has”. “Obama’s gay marriage announcement followed by flood of campaign donations.” And the rollout was long-planned. So maybe Biden only seemed to drive the timing. Trial balloon for bagging Charlotte, no doubt because of incidents like this: Lesbian seeking marriage license arrested in NC. Good for her!

Clooney fundraiser. “Obama is testing his newest appeal to wealthy backers — his public support for gay marriage — at three West Coast fundraisers, including dinner at the Los Angeles home of movie star George Clooney.” $40,000 a plate. Tens of thousands donated an average $23 each for a chance to win a ticket. Two winners and their guests will attend. Robama “is expected to discuss policy in the low-key environment of Clooney’s canyon home [!] over a dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck”. “Celebrities have always played a role in presidential campaigns, but experts say they have never seen this kind of involvement on this scale”.

Bullying feeding frenzy. It’s heartwarming to see oppo from the Ds at last. Because, ya know, the timing: “… the day after President Obama announced he supports gay marriage … At the exact moment Romney doesn’t want to talk about gay stuff… “. Best headline: “Former Romney Classmate Describes ‘Bullying Supreme’ – A ‘Pack of Dogs’ Who Targeted ‘Different’ Boy”. A three-fer, since it includes the current assault (“bully”), the most recent assault (“hates gays”), and the 2008 assault (“Seamus the dog”). Best question: “‘How could the fellow with the scissors forget it?’ the former classmate said.” (What’s with “fellow,” anyhow? Are there really people who still use this word? Who knew? Is it a prep school locution?) Romney issues a defiantly retro non-apology apology: “And if anybody was hurt by that or offended by that, I apologize”. I find this controversy confusing. If we want a President who can order American citizens to be whacked, or blow civilians to red mist with a drone strike, isn’t “vicious” exactly what we want? Did I not get the memo?

The graveyard of empires. “The war, which will be in its 12th year on Election Day in November, has an inconclusive balance sheet at best”. 66% oppose, 40% “strongly.” 37% support among Rs, down from 58% a year ago. Ds 30% to 19%, Is flat. The graveyard of empires doesn’t poll well. Ending the empire: Another issue we can’t talk about.

The economy. “American optimism on economy and on Obama’s ability to handle it well is fading, poll shows”. The gloomier outlook includes a “steep decline” in Ds who call the economy “good,” down from 48% in February to 31% now. (Look! Over there! Gay marriage!) From the same article: “U.S. presidents have limited ability to affect gas prices, which are determined in international markets.” (Oh? Robama could prosecute speculators. But we can’t talk about that.) Boehner plans to focus on jobs, and not “hold up various shiny objects.” He may even believe this. The Times has a jobs tracker that may help him (data from Moodys). Meanwhile, they take meetings. “Treasury’s Geithner Meets With CEOs To Discuss Economy”. Readers, is this less informative than usual? Could the meeting have been “hastily called”? Or do I not yet know this patch of ground?

WI recall. Voting Day for the WI gubernatorial recall day is June 5. Candidate Barret (D) not the labor candidate, who lost the D primary. Record $23 million from outside groups. AFSMCE contribution level as yet unknown. Very few undecided, so hinges on GOTV.

Elizabeth Warren is 1/32 Native American, according to documents unearthed by genealogists at the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Again, I’m sure Warren must be in disbelief that this happening to her, exactly like Romney (or, for that matter, John Edwards. “That’s their case?[!]“)

Ron Paul. “In Idaho, isolated instances of grassroots activists working toward an ostensible ‘hostile takeover’ of the GOP are not sanctioned by the Ron Paul national campaign”.

The Greens. Green to run in NY-10: “We need to create a new, more stable system based on investment in people and local communities instead of shareholders and corporations.” Crazy talk!

Bipartisanship! Three House Rs and a D seek to halt Robama’s medical marijuana raids.

Three think pieces on political economy: The descent into stasis (hat tip rde); Why the civil rights model will not work for Occupy; The Principles of Newspeak.

– Horse race-related tips, links, hate mail to lambert

* 120 days ’til the Democratic National Convention ends with a low-key dinner catered by Wolfgang Puck in Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC. Cross-posted to Corrente. In Super Mario 64 for the Nintendo 64, 120 is the maximum number of Power Stars a player can get.

Antidote du jour. Ferrets have been underrepresented on NC. I am told they make great pets:

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68 comments

  1. ambrit

    How about an antidote titled, “Weasels Playing,” with video of the ‘Summit’ coming up in Chicago?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Speaking of being under-represented, a plant antidote once every 2-3.years is one representative of such underrepresentation.

      I suggest two plant antidotes:

      1. (Greece) grasps the nettle
      2. (Merkle) clutches at straws

  2. Jim Haygood

    From the ‘Quality public schools’ article:

    We can tell our elected officials in Trenton to reject Governor Christie’s choice to slash public education. [They] can … renew the so-called “millionaires’ tax” on annual incomes over $400,000 [and] the 4% surcharge on corporate business taxes. There are other revenue sources that should be explored as well, including increasing New Jersey’s gasoline tax, the third lowest in the country.

    Appeals such as this one rely on most voters having no memory. When casino gambling and a state income tax were introduced to NJ in the 1970s, the rationale was to substantially increase state educational funding in response to judicial mandates emanating from an ‘equal educational opportunity’ lawsuit called Abbott v. Burke.

    In the 35 years since then, the maximum marginal rate of income tax more than tripled from its initial, modest 2.5% to 8.97%. Under judicial orders, the state not only hiked school aid, but also funded a $21 billion school construction program. Meanwhile, the state’s property taxes (about two-thirds of which go to schools) continued to soar, making them the highest in the nation.

    An analyst might examine this picture and conclude that since a massive surge of school funding over decades produced negligible results, more money probably won’t help much.

    But just as sleazy stock brokers and real estate agents will always advise you to ‘Buy now before prices go up!’ — no matter how sharply prices already have risen — one-note-Johnny teachers unions will forever plead ‘We need more funding,’ no matter how lavishly their funding already has been hiked.

    Everybody wants more money. What’s galling are such demands from a state-sanctioned monopoly, which will sell your house out from under you if you fail to cough up whatever sum they demand.

    1. ambrit

      Mr Haygood;
      May I suggest that you’re focusing on the wrong aspect of this matter? Taxes are, in and of themselves, neutral. The uses to which the taxes are put is the key. A misuse of available resources is the key to ‘Education Reform.’ Remember the “No Child Left Behind” program? Demonstrably a failed idea, but, through the magic of bureaucratic turfmanship, a still lumbering, and resource consuming behemoth. On a wider scale, the bank bailouts were, and threaten to continue to be, a massive waste of the taxpayers money. I, for one, a taxpayer myself, would much rather an academic got my tax money than did a bank. We can all go down to the School Board meetings and make our desires and needs known. Try that at a bank shareholders meeting.

      1. Jim

        Ambrit, Haygood’s right. And taxes are not neutral. An increase in a flat income tax or gasoline tax are regressive, and hurt the poor more than the affluent. It’s also contributing to the unpopularity of the teachers unions, many which believe they have a right to impose a larger tax burden on the middle class.

      2. LucyLulu

        We have a serious problem with our public education. We are throwing lots of money into it and the outcomes are lousy, much like our healthcare system. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the causes and solutions to the problem, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that there is a problem when other countries spend far less and are outperforming us. I’ve read one significant factor in outcomes is the effect of poverty.

        Unfortunately, the proposed solution by many conservatives is to dismantle public education by slashing funding. This is equally unacceptable. Our future, as our past, depends upon an educated general public, not one limited to those with the funds who can afford one. They want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Charter schools are promoted but IME, children of the upper middle class and above attend charter schools which skews the outcome scores. Where I lived, transportation was not provided which eliminates the possibility of attendance by the poor and those with “issues” were not accepted or quickly expelled. Thus, as the number of charter schools increased, the remaining public schools became yet more concentrated with “problem” children. Teachers are attacked. It’s incomprehensible we have come to a point where teachers could be labeled as the pariahs of our society, extractors of public wealth. Do we really think teachers are getting rich, and if so, what does that say about our views on standards of living?

        I was home room mother every year my children were in elementary school so I spent a fair amount of time in classrooms, and also was involved with the guardian-ad-litem program in Florida and worked with the schools with my kids. Classrooms are nothing like when most of us grew up and I can’t say the reason for the increase in behavioral issues. They are a very real problem for teachers and take up much time, especially in inner city type schools. Part of the problem I hear (teachers call and ask permission to give detentions in the upper grades now) is that teacher’s worry about parental backlash if they dole out consequences that are seen as too strict, but that is only part of it. Whether ADD is overdiagnosed or not, and that is debatable, I understand why public school systems push medication. Some classrooms will have four or five children who are out of control. It’s difficult to follow a lesson plan when one’s time is taken up dealing with behavioral issues. I sympathized with the teachers and before people attack them, they should have to spend a few days in a classroom to understand what they face. (Personally, I think ADD IS more common, it is chemical exposure or something in the food, environment, or perhaps exposure time to ‘screens’, stress at home, or some combo, it’s not just lack of discipline, incompetent parent/teachers, some of these teachers have very good skills…….. these children have high energy, short attention spans, and poor impulse control, Asperger-spectrum syndromes are seen more, and teachers meanwhile have more kids to deal with.) I don’t know what the answer is, but if a district is getting $15,000 or more per child as some apparently are, lack of money is not the problem.

  3. Ned Ludd

    Instead of using brutality, it seems a more effective tactic is to simply wait out protests.

    In Albany, Georgia (1961), the strategy broke down entirely. Invited by locals to help organize against segregation, SNCC challenged the system in bus stations, libraries, schools, and movie theatres. But Police Chief Laurie Pritchett had read Dr. King’s book and understood the strategy of drawing out violence and filling up jails. He prevented violence against the demonstrators and arranged for jails in surrounding areas to accept arrestees. Meanwhile, the city filed suit in federal court requesting a restraining order to stop the demonstrations.

    Stymied, and with hundreds of local activists in jail, black leaders invited Dr. King to help out. King had other commitments, but spent some time in Albany giving speeches and leading marches. After almost nine months of action, a federal judge sided with the city, and issued the restraining order. […]

    Defeated, King left Albany.

    I read about this awhile ago in David Halberstam’s book The Children. It illustrated a problem I had repeatedly run into: even when organizing protests around a popular cause, the government or corporations can simply wait you out. People get tired of getting arrested and spending their free time locked up in the back of police vans and in jail. Non-protesters lose interest in the issue and instead become fascinated with whatever shiny object the media is dangling in front of them.

    1. jsmith

      Exactamundo!!!

      But today it is not just a “waiting them out” through the courts and police. Their first and most effective line of defense is the media.

      When we see the media engaging in and encouraging specious and false “debates” about issues where criminality and wrongdoing are blatantly obvious, this is EXACTLY the point.

      Yesterday, I ran off a litany of issues in which the elite – aided and abetted by the media – have bought themselves enough time to let those issues die and become “rationalized” aka debatable.

      Take your pick: the financial crisis, the WOT, Gulf Oil Spill, Fukushima, 9/11, what have you.

      In all of these cases, everyone who doesn’t automatically assume that the there was elite malfeasance at play is caste into the “reasonable” group meaning they will sit and listen to the “debate” hoping to form a clearer picture of what supposedly happened.

      Who doesn’t want to be “reasonable”, huh?

      By the time they ever get to a decision about the issue it might be years as – surprise! – the debate about the issue never really dies in the media, it’s just replaced by something else.

      However, as a poster in another thread noted today – decora, I think – once a common citizen understands “the con”, they shouldn’t need to know the details.

      All they need to know is that once again they are being stolen from and screwed.

      That’s why I was so vehement in arguing in favor of being angry. Once understands that EVERY instance of wrongdoing follows the exact same pattern, there’s no need to debate/discuss anymore.

      Crime is committed.

      Media “shock troops” immediately provide initial cover for the elite over the first number of days/weeks.

      Media “infantry” then introduce needless nuance and opposing viewpoints to provide “waiting out” mechanism.

      Finally, media provides new story to get excited about – missing white girl, shark attacks, Khardasians – and the issue is sh*tcanned.

      (Gee, every wonder why people like the Khardasians, etc, make so much money? Hmmm, are they serving a purpose?)

      Call me cynical but I’m sure in media circles there’s probably an equation/timeline concerning story longevity.

      Finally, due to the media, perpetrators do not even really need to use the courts/police in 90% of the cases. It’s that effective.

      Remember, as the elite use the media to try and convict those they oppose without trial, they also use it to exonerate and exculpate themselves WITHOUT trial.

      1. Ned Ludd

        In the 1990’s, I used to get most of my news from the local weekly newspaper. Included among the concert times and movie reviews, it covered important local and national issues. In contrast, the large daily newspaper focused on the spectacle of electoral politics.

        Unfortunately, most of the weeklies in the United States are now owned by corporations such as Village Voice Media (which merged with, but in practical terms was taken over by, New Times Media). Even predating that merger, Village Voice Media was bought by an investment group that included Goldman Sachs. Until this year, 16% of Village Voice Media was owned by Goldman Sachs, and “Goldman managing director, Scott L. Lebovitz, sat on the Village Voice Media board” until 2010. Over the years, the news coverage of my own local weekly has turned into thin gruel as the editor was replaced with someone more business-friendly, and news was replaced with tabloid journalism.

        I hoped that the liberal blogs would fill the gap, but most liberal writers either embrace or give cover to Obama and the increasingly right-wing Democratic Party. There is a need for independent media that don’t want to be “reasonable”, an alternative media that understand “the con”, and reporters who document the corruption and call out politicians from both parties for being part of it.

        Basically, we need a hundred web sites like Naked Capitalism.

        1. jsmith

          Agree.

          For corporations’ supposed need to always find optimal return, it sure is funny that they would care so much about local media outlets, huh?

          I wonder what they could be getting out of it? Hmmmm…

          Don’t they have some swaps to attend to? Oh well.

          However, I believe nothing is going to change in this country until people’s first, second and third reactions to any and all of the MSM is adversarial and cynical.

          That means ALL OF IT – even the ones that say what you like 80%-90% of the time.

          The “good” ones will eventually over time prove themselves to be worthwhile.

          Again, the same could and should be said of all of the elite institutions but I don’t want to go too far afield.

          People need to realize that there are indeed forces in this country that daily:

          Lie to their faces.

          Steal their money.

          Kill innocent people in their name.

          1. jsmith

            To further illutrate the points we agree on here’s a rather good essay by Paul Craig Roberts from yesterday:

            http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article31289.htm

            “If you believe in murdering your opponents, not debating with them, dispossessing the powerless, creating a fictional world based on lies and paying the corporate media to uphold the lies and fictional world, you are part of what the rest of the world perceives as “The West.”

            snip

            People without valid information are helpless, and that is where Western peoples are. The new tyranny is arising in the West, not in Russia and China. The danger to humanity is in the nuclear button briefcase in the Oval Office and in the brainwashed and militant Amerikan population, the most totally disinformed and ignorant people on earth.

          2. SR6719

            great article from Paul Craig Roberts, thanks!

            “….the left-wing is today so feeble and brainwashed that it does not exist as even a minor countervailing power…”

          3. Ned Ludd

            jsmith,

            In Glenn Greenwald’s recent speeches – most are available online and linked to from his past columns – he mentions that people often ask him, “What can we do?” He tells people that learning, reading, and talking to other people about important issues is doing something; and it is very important. I think this quote that you highlight from Paul Craig Roberts illustrates the wisdom behind his observation.

            People without valid information are helpless, and that is where Western peoples are.

            I used to comment at many different liberal blogs, but at these blogs criticism of Obama or the Democratic Party is now largely ignored or drowned out by partisan cheerleading. Liberals plugged into the matrix of the Democratic Party, absorbing its talking points and propaganda. Instead of providing the information that people need to effect social and political change, they now serve a role similar to that of the establishment media – spinning and manipulating, hiding or downplaying the corruption of their own party in order to dupe people into supporting it.

            In addition to targeting the MSM, I would include cultivating a skeptical attitude towards liberal bloggers – including blogs such as “The Obama 527 Formerly Known As Daily Kos”. Glenn has an excellent column today, which he unfortunately subsumed as the last point in a post with the generic title: “Various Matters”. He writes: “That’s what effective political oratory accomplishes: it overrides rational thought and imposes a false reality from the outside.” He concludes with this observation, which doubles as a warning:

            But political operatives on each side will spend the next six months using every available form of brand management and advertising manipulation to continuously impart the message that Everything is At Stake — that it’s a grand Manichean battle between Our Great Leader and Their Evil Villain — and there will be plenty of endorphins pumping through people’s brains. There will be enough to drown a large country.

          4. LucyLulu

            Great subthread on misinformation propagated by the media. Today we have mainstream media with their whitewashed versions of news which the majority of the apathetic public rely on. Then we have the more politically and change motivated smaller subset from the right and left who flock to internet bloggers and are blinded by their own different and contrasting sets of misrealities. Neither side is willing to consider that they might be being manipulated or fed misinformation, look for confirmation from alternate sources, and are closed to the idea of reflecting on differing or opposing viewpoints. On the right, there has been a move to extreme ideology with a redefinition of compromise as illustrated by Murdock on Fox a couple days ago “I have a mindset that says bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view” while similar conviction on the left is rare in DC. Those outside DC with strong left convictions are demonized as “communist” or “unwashed, free-loading, drug-using hippies”.

            IMHO, outside of the “we are the 99% slogan”, Occupy has a significant PR problem that is crimping the spread of their message. Last time I posted this, I got slammed. Don’t get me wrong, I support the movement 100%, and have participated, albeit on a limited basis. I’m merely posting my observation from the negative comments I hear. Perhaps it goes with the territory. Mostly I worry about the world that is being left to my children, though they belong to the apathetic class and think their mom, a lifelong Reaganite Republican until two-three years ago, has gone batshit crazy, obviously having too much time on her hands.

      2. LucyLulu

        I was told by my Tea Party friend last night that Occupiers go around and “shit on cars”, which no doubt she’s learned from watching the fair and balanced version of the news. It’s the gospel truth and nothing can convince her otherwise. I’ve heard many similar stories from others about the various awful acts that members of Occupy have committed. Instead of the elite spinning tales glossing over their own misdeeds, they manage to successfully vilify those who speak out against them. Witness the hostile comments towards Occupiers on non-liberal blogs, including cheering of police violence.

        1. chitown2020

          The republicons hijacked them long ago. They are distracted from the the HYPERTAXATION issue. They are being distracted by non issues. They should worry about TAXES and let OCCUPY handle the issue of abolishing the FED and the break up of TBTF and their corporate megaopoly.

          1. chitown2020

            We cant let them divide us and turn us against each other. The main objective is protecting our freedom and independence. First we have to stop the robbery. We are hemorraghing jobs because we are being robbed.

          2. LucyLulu

            We can’t let them divide us

            Hear, hear! I keep saying that to my TP friends, and having been dragged to TP meetings…. and almost kicked out. (I have a lot in common with Biden mouth wise.) Occupy and TP DO have issues in common and I have suggested many times that we should unite to fight on these common fronts (though have doubts this would go over with Occupy either), but the suggestions fall on deaf ears. Its as if I’m suggesting they unite with the devil. If the intent was to divide and conquer, then TPTB have succeeded.

          3. chitown2020

            United we stand, divided we fall. Unity is power. That is how the civil rights movement got the job done by sticking together with a common goal. These movements all need to support each other and unite under a common goal. Free the manufactured debt slaves would be a good motto.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Spain.
    —-

    Spain’s Pain
    ‘s Spain’s pain

    Or in bankster-ese:

    Spain’s Pain
    Is not my pain

      1. chitown2020

        All true. The completion of their evil plans rely on what they can make us believe.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When Spain defeated Germany in the World Cup, the Germans heard only ‘Spain Spain Spain Spain!’ and thought they were shouting ‘Spain’s Pain ‘s Spain’s pain!’

        I think that’s a bad joke.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Sovereign currency useless ate always solvent – is that tautology?

    Its like if you can issue your own promises, you will never run out of promises.

    I think you ask another question -when will you lose trust?

    1. F. Beard

      -when will you lose trust? MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Never, so long as the currency is the ONLY means of extinguishing tax liabilities and the government has the power to collect those taxes.

        1. F. Beard

          The “Never” was qualified with “so long as”.

          Also, I’ll do as I please. The position of God was filled long ago and you ain’t Him, I can safely say.

          1. Procopius

            Probably OT, but the Arabic word “fellah” means, roughly, unwashed, smelly, ignorant peasant farmer. I wish I had access to an Oxford English Dictionary (the online version costs money and I don’t have access to a library). I’d like to see where they say “fellow” comes from, and when it entered the language. Further OT, the “h” at the end of “fellah” represents a sound which doesn’t exist in English (Arabic has several, which is why spelling of Arabic names is so problematic) and which I was never able to pronounce.

  6. Tertium Squid

    Ferrets are great but I hear they smell. Be ready to bathe them a lot.

    Gay Marriage: It’s interesting how powerfully the Left wants to believe in Obama; for heaven’s sake, to open up the donation floodgates he only has to catch up to CHENEY in his enlightenment “evolution”.

    Remember how useful this sort of wedge social issue was for Bushco over the past decade as a polarizing distraction.

    As far as Romney and prep-school shenanigans, what’s vexing isn’t specific but general: our politicians live in a world where they have to pretend they weren’t idiots as teenagers. Why the pretense? Indeed, (the odious scissor incident aside) it shows he used to have some personality.

    1. lambert strether

      “Look! Over there! Gay marriage!” This is not to say that gay marriage is not important or good; it is both. However, if the Ds could talk about the economy, they would be. (That the Rs also came out the worse in this exchange is shown by Boehner whining about the Ds distracting. Only losers do that.) It’s interesting to watch people’s own best impulses being used against them — like “What’s the matter with DuPont Circle?”

      The whole thing is also distressing because of the authoritarian followership involved. The one time anybody not in Obama’s charmed circle “made him do it” none of the doers claims credit for an amazing, generation-long triumph of courage and organizing skill (and, I might add, in the main, non-violent); the whole story is about Obama’s “evolution” instead of the house-by-house and family-by-family success of “coming out.” Gag me with a spoon.

      1. Tertium Squid

        “The whole thing is also distressing because of the authoritarian followership involved.”

        That is a very interesting comment. It’s a decades-long sea change for society. Biden pushes his boss off a pier and everyone’s tripping over themselves to praise Obama for making the tides come in.

        I’m trying to think of the last time any politician did something actually brave. Murray and Fulbright for opposing the Vietnam war? Bhutto?

      2. F. Beard

        This is not to say that gay marriage is not important or good; it is both. LS

        You’re that sure eh?

        A libertarian might say that the State has no business recognizing marriage, period.

        1. lambert strether

          That’s a fair argument that I in fact agree with.

          Then again, “This is not to say that gay marriage is not important or good” says nothing about the state. Eh?

  7. jsmith

    Another great read:

    America Loves A Good Killer

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/05/11/americans-love-a-good-killer/

    Basically summarizes our society’s fascination with killing, how we adulate the military, how we are militarizing our police and how our country’s going down the fascist funkhole.

    Worth a gander only so that it becomes chrystal clear to the reader that the United States is a nation of adolescently-minded cowards, a people too afraid/bought off to address the criminals at the top of the system so they violently take it out on each other – and usually the defenseless “each others”, to boot.

  8. Mel

    “I wish he’d used the argument against structural unemployment which strikes me as the killer: if there was indeed structural unemployment, you’d expect to see considerable variability of unemployment levels among job categories. You don’t see that. ”

    I can only guess that Krugman is fighting some kind of intra-mural war in defense of stimulus. If economists ever say “unemployment structural”, then with the next breath they say “stimulus useless”, and he’s lost.

    None of the arguments against structural unemployment sit well with me. Like I said the other day our present economy is structured to turn profit without indulging in much production.

    The usual illustration of that I’ve found for structural unemployment has a population of buggy-whip braiders facing industry that has moved on and needs carburetor assemblers instead. The unemployment is not because employers can’t afford buggy whips (in which case monetary stimulus would obviously help,) but because they don’t need buggy whips at all, for any reason, at any price, and they don’t need people to braid them.

    These days you certainly see variability in demand across employment sectors, even if, as you say, you don’t see variability in unemployment levels. You see a huge demand for financial manipulators, and not much demand for anybody else. According to Taibbi, the London Whale was making $100,000,000 per year. If that isn’t a sign of demand, what is? If these decisions don’t amount to a structure, what does?

    1. Mel

      Dang. Chased the link. $1e8 was the Whale’s product, not his pay. Reduce the strength of my argument by a factor of 10, maybe more.

    2. reslez

      You’re confusing looting with demand. The guy you cite was no more than a successful con artist who got himself into a job where he and his buddies had access to the cookie jar. Then he helped himself — to an exorbitant salary. Not demand. Looting.

    3. Procopius

      I’m not sure if I understand you, but if I do I thing the term “structural unemployment” does not mean what you think it means. It’s a technical term in economics, referring to a “supply shock”, meaning a change in the technology which controls production, and results in lots of people being skilled in manufacturing horse-drawn carriages when the automobile is dominating the market. It should be identifiable by seeing data that a lot of people in one occupation (or related group of occupations) are out of work for a long time, while at the same time people in another related group of occupations are in demand, as proven by rapidly rising wages. Pointing out that the share of GDP going to finance has doubled doesn’t prove a change in structure in this sense. What it seems to show is widespread fraud and looting, although I suppose the nearly complete disappearance of law and order is a structural change in the colloquial sense.

  9. F. Beard

    I wish he’d used the argument against structural unemployment which strikes me as the killer: if there was indeed structural unemployment, you’d expect to see considerable variability of unemployment levels among job categories. You don’t see that. Yves Smith

    Excellent point! And what do ALL job categories have in common if not a dependence on a single, government enforced monopoly money supply for private debts?

    The US does have structural problems and they will grow unless we reform the money system but right now the chief problem is an unjust lack of money in the general population’s hands.

  10. kevinearick

    Superheroes, Good vs. Evil, & Revelations (to reveal)

    …get yourself a lawn chair and a cup of coffee, set up on the far bluff, and watch the sh-show.

    State preemption fronting for federal preemption fronting for empire preemption fronting for common law; it’s all feudalism.

    “Just like that, the storied annals of Wall Street can now add “London Whale” to a growing list of infamous traders who have blown themselves up and left their employers (the taxpayers) with a hefty bill.” “Eduardo Saverin, the co- founder of Facebook, renounced his U.S. citizenship before an IPO that values the social network at as much as $96 billion, a move that may reduce his tax bill.”

    Don’t step on your own banana peel, which is a picture of yourself at the center of the Zuckerberg universe. Facebook was built for mental midgets, fake people in a fake universe full of cheap toys instead of a life, all trying to be each other and getting nothing worthwhile for free.

    By all means, hold onto that free money with a tight fist, while everyone with ½ a brain cell gets on with life. O-o-o-o-o-o-evil; frightening isn’t it? Good vs. evil is a child’s game, always resulting in tyrants. Many children just get better at hiding themselves from themselves as they get older. Empire babies having empire babies, problems creating problems is the problem, but it also the solution, if you turn the empire on its head, which effective parents can do at will, because they are always preparing for judgment, and there is never a shortage of judges, hammers looking for nails, to set the appropriate example. Timing is everything.

    Think before you give someone else a gun and a badge to protect your liberty, to avoid the responsibility. Live up to your children’s aspirations instead.

    Children come into the empire projection as aliens, naturally assuming that their parents, their proximate example, which may be conforming, socially nonconforming, or lawfully nonconforming, are superheroes, observing them and then others, to tune the noise into channels. Many adopt the examples in their environment; some do not. In any case, they will all find intelligence in their midst, to the extent they seek it, because the mind is an explicit pattern matcher, implicitly activated. What does not fit the pattern? What is unique? Why? What is the feedback?

    The critical vote for the empire is feminists who think they are not feminists, loose protons that want to think they are electrons, looking to pair, in a world of men and women haters. Like it or not, isms are like the Borg, powered by hate posing as love, so dense that the individual cannot escape of its own will. Like it or not, women are much more tightly bound to the rhythm of the planet, but it is the empire creating the delusion of fault. Having babies is an opportunity or a threat, depending upon how you look at the empire. All life must pass through that channel, which is why the intelligent male keeps his distance, and remains mobile until death. The empire creates the divide and conquer mythology accordingly, which is filled by the middle class buffer, acting as a quantum switch.

    There is nothing quite like young love, which you can find in any romance novel, to attach a string, but it is mature love that sustains life, and you cannot buy it from a corporation, public, private, non-profit, or otherwise. The best things in life are free, but they must be given willingly, not stolen with misdirection by a bunch of teenagers in robes, telling everyone else how they must live their lives. Do you really think grownups are going to follow the current example set by the United States, by force or otherwise?

    It’s the end of the Christian empire, we are not all going to die, and all the empire liars want to be the end-of-days prophet. Go ahead, kill yourself with anxiety, but don’t blame God and expect charity because you chose to be stupid of your own free will. Hitler, Nationalistic Socialism, was a symptom, a derivative of a derivative of a derivative, a robot of, by and for the robots.

    Contrary to empire mythology, you cannot solve a problem by sitting in a building arguing over how someone else is going to solve the problem. Just start walking in the direction of the problem, directly against the headwind, in another dimension, and the pieces / stepping stones to the solution will present themselves, if you are of goodwill, because you will require assistance, from someone with the experience necessary to know what you will need before you need it, the kindness of a stranger.

    There is always an empire, an empire under construction, and an empire under design. Effective parents are enterprise architects, and they do not work for the Governor, regardless of perception. That would be a-backward. Sometimes a nail is a nail and sometimes it isn’t. Adjust accordingly.

    1. F. Beard

      …get yourself a lawn chair and a cup of coffee, set up on the far bluff, and watch the sh-show. kevinearick

      Jonah did that (in his own way, of course) after his terse “Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be destroyed” – a very short sermon that he devoutly wished would be ignored.

    2. Valissa

      Contrary to empire mythology, you cannot solve a problem by sitting in a building arguing over how someone else is going to solve the problem.

      Great line! And I quite enjoyed the rest of the post too!

      It reminded me of a few cartoons that I hadn’t found a reason to share yet… they sorta kinda fit parts of your comment.

      Earthquake drill SOP? http://weblog.sinteur.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/1515.gif

      Speaking of other people with guns http://www.toptenz.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/likewhatyoulike.jpg

      Too funny http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/cgo/lowres/cgon234l.jpg

  11. Hugh

    Krugman is correct about structural unemployment, but it is only one of the ways that the emplyment crisis is whittled down to insignificance. We have a disemployment, that is un- and underemployment, problem of at least 28.6 million. Take out the 7.8 million involuntary part timers because they are defined by the BLS as employed, and you have a real unemployment rate of 20.8 million. Because the BLS uses a restrictive definition for unemployment which defines many unemployed, as in 8.3 million, out of the labor force and so out of its, and policymakers’ consideration, you end up with the 12.5 million unemployed which is reflected in the 8.1% “official” unemployment rate.

    Now if you reduce this 8.1% rate by subtracting out of it 6%-7% due to “structural” considerations, you are left with an unemployment problem equal to 1.1%-2.1% of the labor force. The labor force is 154 million so we are talking 1.7-3.2 million.

    Split the difference as our policymakers so often do and call it 2.5 million. That’s how it’s done. A disemployment problem of 28.6 million, a national emergency, gets whittled down to one less than a tenth its real size. If you want to know why our elites consider unemployment no big deal, it’s because they have defined down to a point where it is no big deal –for them.

  12. Ed

    The reason you can have structural unemployment and little variability across occupations is that everyone is a buggy whip maker these days.

    1. F. Beard

      Cute, but not true. I read “Science Daily” every day and I see numerous investment opportunities. I can shop on the Internet and find a very diverse range of American products.

      The problem is lack of money in the correct hands – the expected outcome of usury alone much less usury for counterfeit money, so-called “credit”.

    2. scraping_by

      There’s also the US putting much of its economy into unproductive areas – finance, law, and administration. Each has its own mythology, superstars, and self-perpetuating self-perpetuation, but all share one thing: none of them increase the value that can be shared and amplified by the real economy or the real people who use it. They’re basically service functions that have taken a life of their own.

      The image of wearing nice clothes, sitting at a desk and using pieces of paper has misled too many people for too long. All essentially middlemen, they can be shrunk to nothing by disintermediation of various sorts.

      The young people I know are getting real, going for real prosperity through self-production. That’s probably the trend to watch.

    3. LucyLulu

      My own unscientific theory is that structural unemployment has been redefined. Companies are no longer willing to invest in training labor. Instead. they want to hire ready-to-go packages. For example, when I first worked as a nurse, there were year-long training programs for nurses who wanted to specialize in critical care nursing, with approx 50% classroom time, and 50% time on the floor. Though not strictly enforced, the expectation was that one would repay the training by staying two years after completing the education program. Today, hospitals will hold out replacing staff until they find somebody with critical care nursing experience. I see an even more exaggerated version of this in software hiring ads, with wildly unrealistic required skill sets listed, e.g. five years experience working with some combination of obscure software and hardware packages. Then companies complain they can’t find the workers with the necessary skills. Entry level positions are non-existent outside of the mega-corporations. Companies no longer want to take risks when hiring or “waste” money on training, preferring to stick with proven performers or alternatively, go without and require existing staff to make up the difference. After all, they don’t have to worry that their existing workers might seek better conditions elsewhere.

      1. lidia

        Lucy, that’s so true. Here in Italy, it’s legal to discriminate against older workers and there are big incentives to hire the young. So you’ll see ads for “experienced COBOL programmers” under 30, positions for which my ex-COBOL programmer husband is explicitly ineligible due to being too old!!

        It’s really designed to be a lose/lose sort of proposition.

  13. Sundog

    “The successful quantum teleportation over such channel losses in combination with our high-frequency and high-accuracy [aiming] technique show the feasibility of satellite-based ultra-long-distance quantum teleportation,” say Juan and co.

    So these guys clearly have their eye on the possibility of satellite-based quantum cryptography which would provide ultra secure communications around the world.

    Chinese Physicists Smash Distance Record For Teleportation
    http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/27843/

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