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Links 10/13/12

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Neiman Marcus Selling $100,000 Fantasy Hen House & Farming Lessons in New Christmas Book Inhabitat (furzy mouse). Someone at Nieman Marcus is engaged in major subversion. If you’ve ever been near a chicken coop, you’ll know why.

Nearby super-Earth likely a diamond planet EarthSky (furzy mouse)

Unmasking Reddit’s Violentacrez, The Biggest Troll on the Web Gawker (Lambert)

Japan Utility Says Crisis Avoidable Wall Street Journal

Bank of China Warns of Ponzi Schemes; China’s Demographic Peak; Birth Rate Comparison China vs. US; “China Will Grow Old Before Growing Rich” Michael Shedlock

Libertarian Candidate Excluded From Debate For Refusing Corporate Donations Slashdot (Chuck L)

Governing without Consent of the Governed masaccio, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Latinos–too lazy to vote? Greg Palast

Jim Bianco Has A Surprising Theory For How Mitt Romney Is Tanking The Market Clusterstock (furzy mouse). Also, in general, the stock market does worse under Republican presidents.

THE INTERGENERATIONAL BURDEN OF THE DEBT: NICK ROWE TEMPTS FATE WEBLOGGING… Brad DeLong

Paul Ryan Told 24 Myths In 40 Minutes Alternet. What was Biden’s score?

PROGRESSIVE TURNCOATS: PRO-LABOR POLITICIAN FROM EAST LOS ANGELES FRONTING FOR KOCH BROTHERS, WALL STREET FRAUDSTERS AND WAL-MART OLIGARCHS… Matthew Fleischer, eXiled

A Farewell to Arms, and the United States American Prospect

Why Taxes Should Pay for Health Care James Kwak

Housing Has “Turned the Corner” – For Banks Dave Dayen, Firedoglake (Carol B)

Turning Point for Suits Over Chinese Drywall New York Times

Ex-Morgan Stanley Executive’s Stabbing Charges Dropped Bloomberg

Robustness of IMF data scrutinised Financial Times. In case you missed it, the FT has been talking the neoliberal line for some time.

A Vignette of the US Political Scene Jesse

ROSENBERG: The New Job Opening And Labor Turnover Data Isn’t Consistent With Last Week’s Employment Report Clusterstock

An Embarrassing Piece of Video Barry Ritholtz

What’s the average adult worth? FT Alphaville

There Is No Nobel Prize in Economics Yasha Levine, Alternet. Some history I bet you don’t know! And explains why Chicago School types are strongly preferred.

* * *

Lambert here:

Mission elapsed time: T + 35 and counting*

“My little body is weary of this great world.”– Portia, The Merchant of Venice.

Since it’s Friday, I must soon throw myself into the glittering whirl of my social life, and so this post will be short; I’ll do a zeitgeist watch from my local coffee shop. But first, what I can find on Walmart–

CA. Walmart: “The UFCW is focusing on the Bay Area because that’s where Walmart is just starting to open a new category of smaller stores — Walmart Neighborhood Markets — that will compete directly with unionized grocers such as Safeway and Lucky, Henneberry said.”

FL. Walmart: “The 75 employees marched up and down the sidewalk for about two hours on the street near the Walmart Supercenter at 2551 Hallandale Beach Blvd. Customers watched from the parking lot. Two joined the protest. Many of the Walmart employees at the protest were members of national group the Organization United for Respect at Walmart, which is associated with the UFCW. The group is called ‘OUR Walmart.’”

MA. Walmart: “”We’ll be back. We’ll be back,’ chanted the eight people loosely calling themselves OUR Walmart and Warehouse Workers for Justice before walking outside, holding signs and delivering their message at the New Harbour Mall store in the South End [in Fall River]. Locally, there have been protests in Dartmouth, Raynham and Fall River the past few months over Walmart’s labor practices.” Note well that last sentence. Even if we don’t know about those actions, you can be very sure that Walmart executives do.

OK. Walmart: “The recent trend of Walmart walkouts that has captured attention of the national media will not rear its head in Chickasha according to Walmart spokesperson Dan Fogleman. Fogleman said those that showed up to protest in Bentonville are union back and funded. ‘They were paid to fly down here and show their obvious agenda,’ he said.” That’s some PR operation they’ve got there. … Fracking? ” Developmental interests are still booming in Chickasha. Four businesses have decided to build in Chickasha including Interurban, GameStop, Boomerang and Dollar Tree. There is also a lot of interest in well services, oil and gas development, according to [Ryan Posey, president of the Chickasha Area Economic Development Council].” (Yes, fracking). Pretty funny go to looking for Walmart and find fracking.

TX. Walmart: “About 90 workers walked off their jobs from 12 cities on Wednesday including Dallas, Miami, Orlando, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles. Others walked off their shifts in TN and KY.” Note again that last sentence.

Outside baseball. Walmart: “Striking workers and national OUR Walmart leaders said the group has committed to engaging in a wide range of nonviolent activities on Black Friday, including rallies, flash mobs, direct action, and other efforts to inform customers about what they call the illegal actions that Wal-Mart has been taking against its workers. The group also garnered support from various other organizations, including the National Organization for Women and the National Consumers League.”

Media critique:

Each of the uprisings over the last few years has had a distinctive media flavor (which is not necessarily the dominant flavor for those on the ground, or for future historians; but as a stone media processor, that’s what I notice). The events of Egypt had the Al Jazeera camera trained on the square; Occupy has streamers and twitter; the events in Thailand a year before Tahrir Square had community radio and loudspeakers. 

The Walmart actions — I hesitate to say strike, or union, because strikes are a subset of non-violent action, and associations are not unions — have a different feeling still. Most of the national reporting (of which there is not much) seems to have sourced a single conference call. But as we’ve seen in the last few days, there’s a good deal of local, and factual, reporting, some of it by local TV stations, amazingly enough. And there seems to be a concerted effort on Patch, also factual.

And note one interesting thing about the stories excerpted today: We keep hearing about new stores, and (as the underlined and as yet not reported actions show) nobody in the press seems to be quite sure how big this thing is. The hard numbers I believe, come from the conference call; but there are other actions also. I have the feeling — and in the words of the great Peggy Noonan, “It would be irresponsible not to speculate” — that OUR Walmart is a lot like a duck, paddling along: Lots of motion unseen under the surface. (And it sure is odd that Walmart announced that keen new program to get people with spinal trouble surgery right after these actions kicked off, isn’t it? Though to be fair, it would be a heck of a lot more… Well, ethical to have working conditions that didn’t wreak people’s spines in the first place.) We shall see! 

* * *

To the coffee shop: The owner, Mrs. Schadenfreude, runs the local wire service, so I stopped in there tonight to get the news. 

MRS. S: Another one!

LAMBERT: What do you mean?

MRS. S: Bob Kennedy! 

It turns out she was discussing this story: “Robert A. Kennedy, who resigned [as President of UConn] earlier Friday under pressure from the governor and lawmakers amid a scrap over secret pay raises for staff members totaling more than $250,000.” Our local university had delivered over a grotesquely swollen sack of lucre to this sucking leech of an administrator — sorry for the redundancy — before he slithered off to even richer pickings at UConn, and during his very short tenure he managed to alienate the university’s largest donor, and entered into an unseemly menage with our local landfill operator.

MRS. S: That’s three!

LAMBERT: Three?

MRS. S: Kennedy, Sandusky, and Lance Armstrong!

So, you can see people connecting the dots on elite corruption. Alas, Mrs. Schadenfeude’s list didn’t include any banksters. I guess Obama really did stand between them and the pitchforks. Thanks, “progressives”!

* Slogan of the day: To Live With One’s Nose Barely Above Water Is Glorious! Forward With The Obama!

* * *

Antidote du jour:

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99 comments

  1. Brent Musburger, Jr (news anchor)

    Re: Ex-Morgan Stanley Executive’s Stabbing Charges Dropped Bloomberg

    Breaking news!

    This Just In!

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee has announced that in light of his courageous action against the terrorist cab driver Mohammed Ammar, Morgan Stanley executive William Jennings Bryan will now share the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012, along with the 27-nation European Union.

    Also, bookies are now giving Jennings Bryan 2-1 odds against Eric Schneiderman to win Time’s Man of the Year for 2012.

    Story developing…

    1. propertius

      I really wish the cabdriver had been armed – of course then he would have been branded a “Muslim terrorist” and packed off to Gitmo. Still, reducing the 1% to 0.9999997% is a worthy goal.

    2. Francois T

      Eerie similarities with the Joel Erzinger case, no?

      Maiming others while rich and white: no problem! We’ve got the much vaunted “prosecutorial discretion” on our side so the fix is legal.

      Of course, prosecutorial discretion is very easily converted into criminal nonfeasance when DAs are at the service of the powerful.

      Alas, Gonzalo Lira was quite prescient:

      What’s key to the definition of a police-state is the lack of redress: If there is no justice system which can compel the state to cede to the citizenry, then there is a police-state. If there exists a pro forma justice system, but which in practice is unavailable to the ordinary citizen because of systemic obstacles (for instance, cost or bureaucratic hindrance), or which against all logic or reason consistently finds in favor of the state—even in the most egregious and obviously contradictory cases—then that pro forma judiciary system is nothing but a sham: A tool of the state’s repression against its citizens. Consider the Soviet court system the classic example.
      A police-state is not necessarily a dictatorship. On the contrary, it can even take the form of a representative democracy. A police-state is not defined by its leadership structure, but rather, by its self-protection against the individual.

  2. Ms G

    ADDING A LINK. Tag: The Shadow Nobel Prize Society.

    Billy Gates and Kofi the Annan join more than 200 supporters seeking mercy for (awarding the Peter Pinguid Nobel Great Works Prize) Goldman Sachs Poobah Rajat Gupta at his sentencing for insider trading before Judge Rakoff on October 24th. (Gupta is on the Billy + Melissa Foundation for the New World Order).

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-13/bill-gates-annan-urge-leniency-for-inside-trader-gupta.html

    Here are the Quality of Mercy is Not Strained Please from Gupta’s two buddies:

    “I urge you to recognize Rajat for the good that he has done in this world, to give him the credit that he deserves for helping others, and to take into account his effort to improve the lives of millions of people,” Annan said of Gupta’s work to reform management of the UN.

    “I wanted to add my voice to those of other friends and colleagues of Rajat Gupta who are writing to you in order to round out Rajat’s profile,” Gates said of Gupta’s service as chairman of an organization fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.”

    “Gupta: Helping Others, Malaria, AIDS, Great Guy. OVER THERE!”

  3. craazyman

    I’m shocked! shocked! to hear charges were dropped in the “Two Blockheads in a Cab” one-act holiday drama.

    Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
    As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
    Are melted into air, into thin air:
    And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
    The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
    The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
    Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
    And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
    Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on; and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.

    -Wm Shakespeare, THE TEMPEST

    1. Ms G

      Shakespeare was a Buddhist (all things are impermanent and fleeting) — and, boy, a damn good writer!

      1. wb

        Diderot too…

        What is this world of ours? A complex entity subject to sudden changes which all indicate a tendency to destruction; a swift succession of beings which follow one another, assert themselves and disappear; a fleeting symmetry; a momentary order.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        More a Zen layman than a Buddhist – he had a wife was a meat eater.

        There is nothing good or bad, only thinking makes it so.
        - Shakespeare

        Zen:

        It’s not this
        It’s not that
        It’s not both
        It’s not either.

      3. SR6719

        Schopenhauer was also strongly influenced by Buddhism.

        One way (among others) for a Westerner to try and approach Buddhism is through studying Schopenhauer’s philosophy. He was often criticized for his pessimism, and some Buddhist authors take this to mean that Schopenhauer did not understand “dukkha” or the Noble Truth of Suffering.

        But that’s unfair, as well as a shallow and vulgar misunderstanding of his thought.

        Schopenhauer referred to the Buddhist term samsara “the wheel of existence” as part of his basic idea that pessimism is the indispensable motive for urging the human mind on the path of liberation in the direct adequate and literal meaning of the term Nibbána* (see note below) as extinction, which is often confused with (but has nothing to do with) the “realm” of “divine” happiness for hedonists.

        * “The whole world is in flames,” says the Buddha. “By what fire is it kindled? By the fire of lust, hatred and delusion, by the fire of birth, old age, death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair is it kindled.”

        Nibbāna, in one sense, may be interpreted as the extinction of these flames. One must not thereby infer that Nibbāna is nothing but the extinction of these flames. The means should be differentiated from the end. Here the extinction of the flames is the means of attaining Nibbāna.

      4. knowbuddhau

        Hakuin’s Song of Zazen
        Translated by Norman Waddell
        All beings by nature are Buddha,
        As ice by nature is water.
        Apart from water there is no ice;
        Apart from beings, no Buddha.

        Hakuin’s Song of Zazen
        Produced by the Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun
        From the beginning all beings are Buddha.
        Like water and ice, without water no ice, outside us no Buddhas.

        [From http://www.thezensite.com/ZenTeachings/Translations/Song_of_Zazen.htm

        Buddha Who?
        A Zen poem/joke by yours truly

        Knock-knock
        (Who’s there?)
        BUDDHA!
        (Buddha who?)
        KNOW! BUDDHA U!

        :-}

        Who da Buddha? U da Buddah!

        1. SR6719

          I don’t have a Zen joke at the moment, but the old Schopenhauer joke goes like this:

          Socrates said that the unexamined life wasn’t worth living. Two thousand years later, Schopenhauer discovered that the examined life wasn’t worth living either.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            SR6719 – Ditto.

            “Not to be born is the best for man” (W.H. Auden: “Death’s Echo”)

  4. Goin' South

    Compare what you see happening with Walmart to the traditional certification campaign under the National Labor Relations Act. A cert campaign must necessarily be conducted under the boss’s radar for as long as possible. Publicity would be deadly. The organizer(s) attempt to get enough cards signed to file for an election. Once that threshold is reached, the campaign does become public, and the employer moves in with the lawyers and PR flacks to conduct a counter-campaign.

    Once you’re in campaign season, strikes and walk-offs would endanger the union’s opportunity because the employer would have legal remedies against it with the NLRB. If the union somehow manages to win the election, against great odds, then all it has won is the privilege of negotiating with an employer determined to hold out for a year and then file for a new election, hoping to de-certify the union.

    Chances are, the workers who risk their jobs just by signing a card will never see any benefit from joining the union. At best, they will have to wait through the election process and the bargaining over the first contract–months and months.

    Compare what happened in Elwood with the Warehouse Workers for Justice (UE). The workers still had to take the risk, but they could immediately publicize and call in outside help, like from the Chicago Teachers’ Union. And they won their fight in a matter of weeks, not months.

    Solidarity unionism is the way to go.

    And again–no dues going to fund Obama and other worthless Dems.

    1. Lambert Strether

      On Elwood, what was the nature of the win? (I grant that striking and getting to keep your job at Walmart is by definition a win.)

      On under the radar, I agree it’s a good and necessary thing. I’m just pointing to the differences in feel. In a way, it’s very re-assuring that we aren’t seeing the usual suspects in the career “progressives” setting up a roach motel for the effort.

      All I know is what I read in the papers (and why don’t you start sending me some links, Goin South ? ;-) But from what I read, it’s an “association” model. So I think card check is an analogy not a road map. Yes?

      1. Goin' South

        The Labor Notes article details it:

        1) Not just keep their jobs, but full back pay;

        2) Safety improvements, which were the original goal, including shin guards and fans to keep the temp down.

        One of the strikers is quoted:

        “It’s unprecedented. This shows you don’t have to go through a card drive and recognition and negotiate a contract before you can take action,” said Bailey. “Workers in one subcontractor shut the whole place down.”

        Link:http://labornotes.org/2012/10/walmart-warehouse-strikers-return-work-full-back-pay

        One thing the Wagner does do is protect “concerted activity:”

        “SEC. 7. Employees shall have the right of self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in concerted activities, for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.

        SEC. 8. It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer-

        (1) To interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in section 7.”

        Activities connected with solidarity unionism fall under this protection, so you don’t need the whole bargaining agent certification to fall under it. Now how useful is the protection? Rather limited, given the employer’s deep pockets and the time it takes to get a ULP finding out of the NLRB. But the point is that Section 7 protects solidarity union approaches as well as business union approaches.

        The key difference is whether the goal is certification as bargaining agent. For business unions, that’s paramount because dues flow from that certification one way or another, at least in states that don’t have “right-to-work.” What’s innovative about both the UE and UFCW efforts is that they’re acting like Wobs.

      2. Goin' South

        Thought this might prove helpful to people. It’s Labor Law for the Rank and Filer by Staughton Lynd and Daniel Gross.

        Link: http://www.zcommunications.org/labor-law-for-the-rank-and-filer-building-solidarity-while-staying-clear-of-the-law-by-staughton-lynd

        For those looking for some training on how to organize workplaces, my biased recommendation is to look for an IWW local and find out when they’re offering Organizer 101 training next.

        Link to list of IWW branches: http://www.iww.org/en/branches/US

        The IWW believes that since we are all leaders, we are all organizers. Organizer 101 training teaches participants about “mapping” a workplace, the AEIOU method of agitating and unionizing workers, some basic labor law and typical boss counter-measures. It takes a weekend.

        Even if you’re already a union members, the IWW welcomes dual carders. We have a nice little contingent of AFT members in our branch.

    2. amateur socialist

      One of the things I think is brilliant about this scheme is that they can have a huge impact on Black Friday just by causing uncertainty. If shoppers suspect they will have to compete with job and or protest actions to get the bargains maybe it’s a good day to hit the Target or Kmart eh? Works for me.

      1. amateur socialist

        I can’t help thinking the possibility of direct action might even extend to non customers like me. I haven’t set foot in a walmart in decades but… maybe I need to go buy a bargain gift then get to the checkout line and pay in change…. or try to pay with a two party out of state check…. etc. “no just a second I think I have a little more here…” heheh.

          1. charles sereno

            Not alone am I in being ambiguous about my antecedents. I have a habit of referring a pronoun (“they” in this case) to its closest relative (“Wal-Mart” not the “checker’). Just for the record. I wish I could’ve re-written it.

        1. Michael

          It would be extremely disruptive to Walmart just to go into the stores and put things from disparate locations into one cart, and then leave the cart at some spot. Yeah, you are increasing the amount of work already overworked and dispirited employees have to do. But it will hurt the company bottom line. Imagine hundreds of us doing that at every Walmart throughout the country every day.

  5. Jim Haygood

    ‘By definition, there most be some industries where productivity rises more slowly than the average. One widely cited example is education … another is health care.

    ‘This is just the way it should be: Everyone needs health care, but the law of productivity increases dictates that it gets more and more expensive, so the only sane solution is to keep prices at an affordable level and let the government bear the losses.’

    So the policy toward sectors exhibiting poor productivity growth should to nationalize them, so they will have no incentive at all to improve?

    This is the classic formula by which dominant nations slide into decline and senescence, by insulating politically-favored sectors from all accountability.

    Kwak’s notion of ‘letting the government bear the losses’ would provoke guffaws among brighter kindergartners. Of course, the author might be one, so let’s not jump to conclusions!

    1. Ms G

      ‘So the policy toward sectors exhibiting poor productivity growth should to nationalize them, so they will have no incentive at all to improve?’

      How desirable are “improvements” if nobody can afford education or health care? “Improvements” vs “Aggregate Demand” = Square + Circle.

    2. Aquifer

      Jim – your apparent idea of equating “improvement” in medicine with “increasing productivity” is a bit bizarre – ISTM ….

      Let’s see, how would that go – hire only ambidextrous nurses who can give shots to 2 patients at the same time? Putting operating tables on assembly lines with surgeons at their stations and increase the speed of the line? For a physician to spend less time with each patient than they already do? Seriously, what is your idea of “increasing productivity” in healthcare?

      1. Ms G

        @ Aquifer — yes, this is exactly the point. Thanks for breaking it down in real world terms in re health care (vs “Health Business Processes”). Ms G

      2. petridish

        The concept of “productivity” in healthcare strikes me as somewhat bizarre. If healthcare were truly “productive,” would it not produce more and more HEALTHY people, thereby gradually reducing its size and share of the economy?

        1. Valissa

          It seems people keep forgetting there is a bureaucracy, regs, records & paperwork aspect to the healthcare industry. That is the “other side” of the doctors, nurses, etc who actually give the health give. In short, you have the (1)bureaucratic side of the system and (2) the health delivery side. And then both of those side have to interact with the insurance companies in different ways. One could call that the third rail (3). All three can be analyzed in terms or their productivity in various categories. Getting all records computerized will help greatly. For some reasons liberals tend to focus on item 2 in these types of discussions, and it is items 1 & 3 that are very inefficient and where cost-cutting would be a good thing, leaving more money for the important item 2.

          Therefore I’m pretty sure Jim is talking about increasing productivity in areas 1 & 3 (lots of waste an inefficiencies in those). If someone has not ever worked for the gov’t or in a large corporate bureaucracy perhaps they don’t see issues 1 & 3 as needing big improvements in productivity.

          1. Valissa

            To clarify,in ITEM 1 I am referring to all gov’t departments involved in managing the healthcare system.

  6. Gladys (Peter Pinguid's assistant)

    Gladys here (Peter Pinguid’s research assistant.)

    Peter’s taken his helicopter to the Hamptons to go golfing with William Jennings Bryan before their luncheon at Masa’s (along with The Nation magazine’s editorial staff).

    Meanwhile I’ve been assigned to follow Adam Davidson around.

    It’s not clear what Adam Davidson was expecting from his recent Koch-Funded Sex Reassignment Surgery (KFSRS) but he’s put on a lot of weight and it seems to have left him (or her rather) completely exhausted.

    So exhausted that he was left wheezing and out of breath, and on the verge of collapse yesterday after placing a particularly long lunch order at the Burger King franchise location on 501 G Street Northwest in DC.

    As I stood behind him in line, Davidson gave the following order to the Burger King cashier: “I’ll have the Triple Whopper with three one-fourth pound fire-grilled beef patties, topped with juicy tomatoes, fresh cut lettuce, creamy mayonnaise, crunchy pickles, and sliced white onions on a soft sesame seed bun, served with a small side of piping hot, thick cut French Fries and a large diet Pepsi.”

    And I’ll have the Five-piece Chicken Strips marinated and generously battered in seasoned home-style breading, and served with… um… um…” said Davidson, as his taxed lungs labored to produce each syllable of “Ja-la-pe-no B-B-Q and Kung Pa-a-o dipping sauce”.

    Amid audible gasps for breath, Davidson continued: “And I’ll have the M&M’s Brand MINIS Chocolate Candies Sundae, cool and creamy with tiny bits of real M&M’S brand MINIS Chocolate Candies floating in a sea of velvety Vanilla Soft Serve.”

    His voice slowed to produce each syllable of “vel-ve-ty Va-nil-la Soo-ft Se-rve… and….and….hegh, ugh.”

    At this point I witnessed the puffing, pink-faced Davidson hack a single wet cough and brace his wearied frame, then collapse against the counter. He required a full 30 seconds of repose before he was finally able to wheeze out “Ca-ra-mel Frap-pé, hint of cof-fee, top-ped with whip-ped de-li-cious-ness and a ca-ra-mel swi-rl”.

    A couple of hours before the Burger King incident, I had used my iPhone to surreptitiously take this picture of Adam, just after he received the news (on his iPhone) that all criminal charges were being dropped against William Bryan Jennings.

    1. Peter Pinguid Society

      I step out of the office for five minutes and look what happens…

      For dissing the 0.01 percent, Gladys has been put on probation and her computer privileges have been revoked.

  7. Jessica

    I highly recommend the link “Spain’s Unfinished Transition from Dictatorship to Democracy” (under “Recent Items” at the very top, not under today’s “Links”).
    It is the best explanation I have seen of Spain and contains detailed information on the actual structure of power in Spain that I have not seen elsewhere. It is not at all foily or conspiratorial. Just basic facts specific to Spain that make me wonder why no one else mentioned this.
    Also, although the great strength of the article is specifics about Spain that I never would have thought of, it presents such a clear model of the structure of power in one nation at one point in history that I hope this model will also provide insights into the operation of other societies.
    In all fairness, not all of the commenters on the article were as favorably impressed as I was.

    1. synopticist

      I read that article and didn’t think much of it.

      The whole “its all the fault of the politicians” line is wildly simplistic, giving, as it does, the pass to every banker, corrupt cop and judge, aristocrat, property dealer, foreign speculator and organised criminal etc etc.

      The biggest reason Spain’s screwed is pretty simple- They built too many houses. More than France, the UK and Germany combined between 1996 and 2007. Ireland’s in the same boat.

  8. financial matters

    Health care and education can be fiscal choices. The money is there it just depends on if you want to save a tangled web of fraud such as Citibank or if you want to spend it on improving society.

    A healthy and well educated population also provides a good work force. The key is value for the money. Cutting away as much red tape and non essential costs as possible. Taking a single payer such as Medicare for an example.. You can start from the ground up. Providers need to be compensated for their skill level ie, surgeons, nurses, technicians, secretaries and there is a need for some administration. Govt can provide the money but is has to be spent transparently so that society understands the costs. If you have a system that also includes private health insurance which we have now then you can work from the top down. Make sure a certain amount say 80% of the insurance revenues are spent on actual health care.. Then again take the same look at the value of this care.

    Value also has to be there for education. We can’t be graduating people with huge debts with limited jobs to pay off these debts. Here again there is much waste. There are ways we could supply incentives for education for jobs that are needed. I think advances in internet learning are going to be very useful here.

    1. Ms G

      “I think advances in internet learning are going to be very useful here.”

      No “internet learning” will ever deliver what a live teacher can. Period. It is interesting to note, also, that Private Equity and Hedge Funds are big players in funding “online education” programs. Mike Bloomberg loves them. That in itself should be a big red flag.

      1. LeeAnne

        Nothing replaces on-the-job experience and training. Delivering book learning by Internet is better often than teaching that threatens to include heavy doses of propaganda, dedication to old wornout ideas and other twisted institutional side effects.

        Teaching economics in a traditional university setting is one excellenet example of that.

        1. Ms G

          For what it is worth, I was thinking about kindergarten through 12, and the three “R”s (for lack of better term).

          1. LeeAnne

            Really? In response to this?

            Value also has to be there for education. We can’t be graduating people with huge debts with limited jobs to pay off these debts. Here again there is much waste. There are ways we could supply incentives for education for jobs that are needed.

            <p
            Kindergarten for jobs, maybe?

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        You are assuming people are in a position to evaluate what the doctor is proposing to do. They aren’t. Look at how women went batshit when the medical Powers that Be said annual mammograms weren’t necessary. They acted like it was a plot to cut health care (by contrast, yours truly has been complaining for years in comments that mammograms are a just plain crappy test, produces a lot of false positives while bad at catching the fast growing tumors that are really dangerous. A manual exam by an experienced practitioner is better for that, but doesn’t look scientific enough, people think mystery machine readings have to be better).

        People in the US have been trained to overconsume medical services and demand new drugs and procedures of questionable efficacy. Go look up lumbar fusion surgery. It’s expensive, generally ineffective, yet I’m told patients demand it.

        That is NOT to say that many doctors don’t overtest and overtreat, but relying on patient judgment is no remedy.

        1. financial matters

          Definitely very true and one of the important reasons that it is difficult to get health care costs under control.

          Right now procedures are king as doing GI biopsies or CT scans are very lucrative. It is harder to properly compensate a family doc who spends an hour trying to adjust 15 different meds a patient may be on.

          We are seeing more ‘intermediate skilled’ people join the workforce such as a variety of nurse practitioners who are doing things medical doctors used to do, often better and at a lower price. So there is competition to show your value.

          If you walk through a hospital you will notice many people that are in ‘supportive, administration’ roles, ie not health care providers. This infrastructure is priced into the cost of hospitalizations and procedures and needs to also be critically analyzed as to its value.

          I also think the computerized medical record will be a big step forward even though it also has added initial expense. Almost every time I review a medical record there is an important part of it that I can’t understand because of sloppy documentation. A well done electronic medical record is not overly intrusive to the providers but can help them pick up important allergies and drug interactions and coordinate better with the other people that are also following the patient. But change does not come easy. At a local hospital security had to be called to deal with a surgeon who was trying to be trained on how to use the new record..

        2. citalopram

          I don’t buy it. People can go out and get 2nd or 3rd opinions when a doctor recommends a particular surgery or treatment. I think people in the U.S. trust their doctors too much. They think doctors are miracle workers, which they’re not.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            You need to get out into the real world big time.

            I had a buddy and she must have gone to 20 doctors before she found one who said she didn’t need a back operation, but she’s have to stay in bed for 6 months. She did it, including negotiating a deal where her fee was $3 million (this in the 1980s when that was a huge amount of money) in her nightgown in her bedroom. She’d insist the attorneys come see her.

            I can give you a zillion stories from the world of orthopedics, which is incredibly straightforward relative to anything else. Orthopedists like to operate. If you don’t respond to rest, or physical therapy, or cortisone shots, they are all for cutting. It’s considered perfectly normal for a knee guy to say on an ambiguous MRI report: “I’ll just go in and have a look and clean up anything I see.” I’m not about to let doctors go on fishing expeditions in my joints, but that’s apparently acceptable practice. I have a guy in my gym that I can tell is doing rehab exercises and he’s been convinced my his MD that a knee operation every three years to “clean things up” (same formula I encountered) is a good idea. Similarly, Apsen is full of expensive knee surgeons who love doing surgeries with low success rates.

            People do not like being told they are never going to be the same, they have to live with an impairment. They’d rather waste money on a surgery with low odds (at best) of helping them and a real possibility of doing harm rather than do nothing.

            And you don’t need to take my word on it. Go read the extensive research out of Dartmouth on how doctors routinely practice in all sorts of ways that are ineffective and costly. C-section rates vary hugely all over the country, for instance; the prevalence seems to be based, no joke, on local fashion. Or what about that horrid PSA test? If overtreating and overtesting is mainstream which it is in America, doctor shopping is no protection.

    2. Ms G

      Removing the toll-collecting and price-inflating middle-men (Insurance Companies) would immediately bring down costs to patients and government dramatically. Isn’t that step 1 in the conversation about “controlling costs”?

      1. financial matters

        Makes a lot of sense. Would also take pressure off employers and free up mobility of employees who often feel tied to their jobs for the insurance.

        Most insurance companies are pegging their reimbursement rates close to Medicare anyway in spite of regularly raising premiums.

  9. charles sereno

    Re: Zumba List
    First comes enjoying all the creative arguments that surface for “privacy” and “avoiding the ruination of lives” by otherwise crusading moralists. But this short period of suspense also offers an opportunity for intrepid reporters to get politicians’ opinions about the issues involved. Oh right, they can’t comment because it’s before a court.
    http://www.sunjournal.com/news/maine/2012/10/09/kennebunk-zumba-teacher-due-court-today-prostituti/1262743

  10. citalopram

    Sorry, it’s not the entire engineering dept, just a sizable chunk. It might as well be as the company is doomed according to the article.

  11. Max424

    re: the Nobel Prize for Economics

    The Pseudo Nobel was a frequent topic of hot debate on the old Yglesias blog. Matt used to post on it once a month it seemed, I think mostly to stir up the nonsense.

    It’s a Nobel! It is not a Nobel. It’s a Nobel! It is not Nobel, there is no true Nobel for Economics. There is, and even if there isn’t, there should be, because Paul Krugman is worthy of one!

    My point, often overlooked, was who cares if there’s a Nobel, or a Nibble for Economics, if one year you give the award to an economist who proves the obvious, that there are no real fiscal constraints in fiat currency regime, and then the next year you slip one to a shaman that claims there are fiscal cliffs that entire nations can topple over –never to be seen again (just you wait!).

    It’s idiotic, handing out the same award to people who hold diametrically opposed views.* I mean, if the other Nobel group worked this way (the Oslo group), they’d be awarding the Nobel War and Peace Prize.

    *Except for Physics, of course. In my opinion, they should give a Nobel Prize for Physics to anyone who has smoked weed and pondered the night sky.

    What lies beyond most yonder stars?

    More stars?

    1. craazyman

      You’re being too harsh.

      Economics sets out to prove the impossible, then believes itself when it does.

      Shouldn’t there be a Nobel Prize for that?

      bwaaak.

      Even Big Bird can’t do that.

      Maybe they can put Big Bird in jail for crimes committed by Bear Stearns and WElls Fargo. At least it would be something. Maybe they could take somebody already in jail and put a Big Bird costume on them, for efficiency’s sake. After all, Big Bird isn’t a real bird. It’s just some dude in a bird suit. But so what. Very little about money is real, except when you don’t have it.

      Have you ever noticed that the all the so-called money experts are people with lots of it. That’s like asking a 546 pound dude who can’t even sit up to pee what food is. It’s like asking an umbrella what rain is. It’s like asking your shoes what the floor is. There should be a Nobel Prize for magnificent delusions of erudition.

  12. rjs

    re: ROSENBERG: The New Job Opening And Labor Turnover Data Isn’t Consistent With Last Week’s Employment Report

    the employment report was for september, JOLTS was for august….

  13. anon y'mouse

    on the coop, i give you:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hameau_de_la_reine

    on the Reddit trolls—this is why psychopaths always win. they play by the rules which protect them, and ignore the ones that don’t. you’ll never beat a psycho at any game that involves them losing their ability to screw with others. they need to be summarily ignored, shunned and outcast or, if violent, placed in a cell and allowed no contact. they don’t need non-psychs sticking up for them. they do just fine on their own.

    now, i just have to wonder why most seem to be involved in computer tech. perhaps the psychopathic mind is ideally suited for interfacing with machines.

    1. ohmyheck

      I’m fond of the idea of putting all psychopaths, sociopaths and certain narcissists on their own private island, and let them prey on each other.

      And that expose…well, I posted a hair-on-fire comment, cuz what that troll did pissed me off so much, but then I deleted it. Even negative attention is manna to them.

      But if I was that guy living at 2312 Brookside Dr.
      Arlington Tx 76012-4140, I would head for the hills.

  14. Accrued Disinterest

    Hey, take it from me, crocodiles have been doing just fine for millions of years with their noses just above water.

    Sincerely,
    thirsty Wildebeest

      1. Accrued Disinterest

        Ha! Dr Seuss must write for that blog:
        “The eagle nabbed the juvenile Nile crocodile while the reptile was lunching on some fish.”

  15. kevinearick

    Education Reformation

    If raising children is not a religious prerogative, and State interference is not an addressable violation of the US Constitution, is that piece of paper valid? Watch out when you turn that key; WMD do not work the way you were led to believe. When the law is a product of the spirit of the people and their times, when it is relative, timing is everything.

    Swapping state establishment of “religious” superstition in and out with state establishment of “scientific” superstition is not an economy. The idiots running the US Navy now have trillions of hours invested in the university complex. Ask any university professor or economic priest how electricity works. Surprise, surprise, the Volt is another piece of crap, of, by and for government delay.

    Of course k-12 had to be dumbed down to make the university system appear relatively intelligent. Of course the kids are dropping out like flies, and the establishment must resort to “early childhood” indoctrination, again. Go to campus sometime. Don’t be surprised to see catholic girls in lingerie drumming up support against unwanted sexual attention, and the streetwalkers around school having grandma beat them up to get free housing, under the rubric of domestic violence.

    Both rails begin with the self-evident fact that the building block of all economies is the family, and, through increasingly twisted logic, both subordinate the family to all other forms of government. The only people surprised by all the symptoms are those paid to act surprised, as they participate.

    “Beginning in the 1960s, there has been an unparalleled upheaval in the family law systems of Western industrial societies that surpasses in magnitude that which occurred when family matters passed from ecclesiastical to secular authorities in the age that began with the Protestant Reformation.” The idiots employed PR as a best business practice and rolled it out globally on the back of the US Navy, accelerating time by an order of magnitude, turning natural law on its head.

    Voit de justice or fiat. So much for John Locke. Shakespeare had a better grasp of reality. He saw Henry VIII coming when he wrote Henry V. The politicians talk themselves into believing they control the economy, right up until their robots start marching off the cliff, and then back pedal just as fast as they can, looking for another parade to lead all the while.

    If you get out of the way, nature provides the equal and opposing force, which you may then adjust, at will. The US Navy has proven itself a paper tiger in a long string of designed failures since Vietnam. The only peoples afraid of it are cave dwellers dependent upon its mythology, some of whom are at least smart enough to get out of the way and let the empire expend itself on the next set of idiots. Spending time voting on the next idiot that is going to lie to you is pretty damn stupid.

    Check labor’s return since the 60s, and the FIRE replacement system others benefited from, until they didn’t. If you seek liberty from nature, to be King and Queen of a peer pressure event horizon, you might want to scratch the veneer of that Ponzi pyramid, which is built upon the bodies of dead participants. That tread you are standing upon is going to be you next.

    Now that fission has reached its limit, do you really want to be captured within an imploding digital system?

  16. Roger Bigod

    This is a couple of years old, but still relevant.

    Adam Smith pointed out that any good or service that requires deception to sell it is an inferior good for which the invisible hand conclusion does not apply. The “Nobel Prize in Economics” is an inferior good, the intellectual equivalent of a fake Rolex watch — which is certainly a Rolex Watch “in spirit”. It was obviously set up as a marketing ploy to assuage the status anxieties of economists, who could jump up and down proclaiming “See! See! We’re just as smart as the physicists. And not any old physicists — theoreticians who are so brilliant they don’t have to do experiments.”

    Economics isn’t the same kind of field as Physics, Chemistry or Physiology, so a prize can’t be based on the “same principles”. Similar procedures in nominations and committee deliberations, no doubt. But ritualistic aping of procedure doesn’t transmute the field into something approximating the natural sciences.

    A minor but stubborn problem is that there’s an admixture of politics in the choices. Is a prize funded by a bank really going to treat fairly a heterodox theory whose policy consequences would impair the profits of banks? I can’t think of a single winner in the natural sciences whose mention brings to mind a pile of bodies in a soccer stadium.

    Economics is certainly an important field, as the recent devastation illustrates. And it has been pursued by some extremely able people. It’s a nice journalistic convenience to distinguish distinguished experts with a short verbal formula, as the inventors of the ersatz Prize no doubt intended.

  17. charles sereno

    KenneBUNK from HuffPo:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-weiss/desperate-housewives-the-_b_1963723.html

    “Happily, the women of Kennebunk can help themselves by helping each other. Since so many of them are having the same basic experience they can band together to share their thoughts and feelings, cry on and/or provide an understanding shoulder, and generally be supportive of one another. They needn’t go through this alone!”

    What a piece of shit! Help me out, please!

    1. bob

      The-rapists are moving in already?

      “Robert Weiss

      Founding Director of The Sexual Recovery Institute”

      What moralistic crap.

      ” after all, cheating is usually an ongoing pattern rather than an isolated incident.”

      Assuming evidence presented as fact is true, after all, they would have gotten laid somewhere else.

  18. KFritz

    Near the end of the IgNobel Prize article, there is an implied link between Neo-Free-Market economists/economics and Paul Volcker’s policies of the late 70s and early 80s. Clearly, this is an implicit criticism of Volcker’s actions. Would learned commenters please chime in on this for the less learned in language accessible to the less learned? Many thanks.

  19. charles sereno

    “For this was on seynt Volantynys day
    Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

    ["For this was on Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate."] Geoffrey Chaucer

    On February 14, 2011, Kennebunk Police, Maine State Police, and the DEA (with warrants), I’ve heard, raided the Zumba studio. Nuff said.

      1. charles sereno

        Lambert, my deepest apologies. I did research your state-things looking for Maine and missed it. Can you believe that I was a mail carrier for 20 years and was thrown off by that damn MA? Maine should be MA and Massachusetts MS! Again, sorry.

  20. skippy

    Like a rock slide miles away, distant thunder, will pass harmlessly, whilst dreams of electrons of price, flutter upon REMs balance sheet…

    Wellington Capital to fend off hostile takeover for Premium Income Fund

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/money/banking/wellington-capital-to-fend-off-hostile-takeover-by-premium-income-fund/story-e6freqox-1225939828971

    The investors have been angered that Wellington raised $7.55 million at 10 cents a unit, a 74 per cent discount on the net tangible assets in the fund.

    The PIF Action Group hopes to remove Wellington as the fund’s responsible entity at a unit holders meeting next week.

    Mr Hodges also criticised Wellington and its chief executive Jenny Hutson for using Armstrong Registry Services to handle ballot papers.

    Armstrong was owned by Ms Hutson and other Wellington directors, who charged $500,000 a year for their services, far above the rate charged by other firms, he said.

    http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/investors-seek-to-block-capital-raising/story-e6freomx-1226071268524

    ‘Extras’ hired to attend Premium fund meeting.

    SOMEONE hired 200 extras to stack a unitholders meeting of the beleaguered Premium Income Fund in Sydney — a real estate investment vehicle that has so far lost about $600 million for 10,000 investors.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/extras-hired-to-attend-premium-fund-meeting/story-e6frg8zx-1226081607396

    The meeting was to have been a continuation of the notorious meeting held in Sydney on June 23, where about 200 film extras were each given 1000 units in the fund and told to vote in favour of Wellington Capital, the Brisbane-based management company that is the Responsible Entity for the Fund, founded originally by doomed Gold Coast financier MFS.

    In the end, the 200 extras did not vote at the June 23 meeting, which was called by a group of unitholders titled the PIF Action Group, which was seeking to have Wellington replaced by Castlereagh Capital, chaired by insolvency specialist Ian Ferrier.

    Justice John Dowsett had ruled on a complex case brought by Wellington relating to whether the meeting requisition was valid, given that the PIF Action Group had used an out-of-date share register.

    Second Premium Income Fund drama averted

    The group’s barrister had told Justice Dowsett they had been forced to do so because they could not obtain an up-to-date register. The fund’s register is managed by Armstrong Registry Services, run out of the same office as Wellington Capital. Wellington is managed by Brisbane lawyer Jenny Hutson, who could not be reached for comment last night. She has denied knowing the 200 investors were extras.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/financial-services/second-pif-drama-act-aborted/story-fn91wd6x-1226094167213

    Skippy… Once valued at more than 750MM is now worth less than 110MM and its asset backing from $1 to 8c per unit. Yet the sordid details that will never see the light of day, as known to some marsupials… sigh… saw it years ahead. Unvirtuous in personal life… Marriages conducted like MBA’s structuring M&A deals, neoliberal contracts.. et al…

    PS.

    Hutson business associate David Burke is the founder and director of the Australian Institute for Enneagram Studies, which has close links to the Catholic Church.

    The enneagram is a nine-pointed diametric figure which believers say can reveal nine distinct personalities. They claim it is a “psycho-spiritual framework that provides a wealth of information about human behaviour and condenses a great deal of wisdom into a compact system”.

    Critics, however, debunk it as new-age pseudoscience.

    Burke served with Hutson on the board of the S8 Property Trust before it was acquired by now-defunct Gold Coast tourism and finance group MFS. He also joined the MFS board with Ms Hutson’s business associate Chris Scott just months before it collapsed in late 2008.

    Wellington compliance committee member Phillip Wibaux and five other Wellington employees are all Enneagram followers. A lawyer doing work for the firm is also a believer.

    Burke and Wibaux are the sole directors and shareholders of an entity called Kooralbyn Asset Management. Wellington’s Premium Income Fund remains the first mortgagee in possession of the Kooralbyn Hotel Resort on the Gold Coast, which shut down in mid-2008 owing $60 million.

    The property failed to sell at auction in May last year and remains shuttered. Mr Wibaux is understood to serve as an overseer of the property.

    Hutson said she was aware of the philosophy but was not a practitioner.

    Skippy here… Enneagram is a nine-pointed diametric figure which believers say can reveal nine distinct personalities. They claim it is a “psycho-spiritual framework that provides a wealth of information about human behaviour and condenses a great deal of wisdom into a compact system”

    HAHAHAHAHAHAH[!!!~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~]

    1. skippy

      Enneagram?… hay… that sounds like the foundation to economics, classical and neoclassical.

      Skippy… Kids… remember the priests and their acolytes, always end up on the menu… at the end of it all. Whilst they conduct their sermons… just sharpen your blades in full view.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      “Critics, however, debunk it as new-age pseudoscience.”

      Skippy, isn’t it “good old-fashioned” Black Magick in the Eternal Return 2012?
      This gives new meaning to Holy Roman Black Market.

      1. skippy

        MR DAVID BURKE, M.ED, B.EC, GRAD.DIP.RE

        David Burke is the founder of the Australian Institute for Enneagram Studies, the Australian Enneagram Community, and the Brisbane Enneagram Project.

        Before his work with the Enneagram, David was an experienced teacher and senior administrator in education in New South Wales, Tasmania and Queensland. David holds a masters degree from the Australian Catholic University in Sydney. As part of his Enneagram studies, David studied with Brother Tony Hempenstall, Helen Palmer, and Professor David Daniels of Stanford University.

        Some of the key organisations to which David has consulted in respect of organisational change and management include Golden Circle, AMP, Wanless WasteCorp, S8 Limited, Brisbane City Council, Queensland Health, Queensland Department of Education, University of Queensland’s MBA program, QUT’s MBA program, Queensland State Archives, Maroochy Shire Council, St George Bank, and the Mater Hospital. He has also undertaken large scale assessments of personality type at McCullough Robertson Lawyers, New South Wales Rail, Caboolture Shire Council, and Wanless WasteCorp.

        David has written two books, Transforming Organisations and an Introduction to the Enneagram, and has published a popular translation of the Tao te Ching. He is currently in the process of translating the Psalms for use in the five and nine day retreats for which he is spiritual director.

        David has been the pivotal force behind the Brisbane Enneagram Project. He is the acknowledged leader of Enneagram studies in Australia, and is also an expert in assessing personality type.

        Together with Dr Margaret Buring, he co-founded Andelaine, the spiritual retreat and sanctuary for meditation and contemplation, located in the Gold Coast hinterland.

        David’s commitment, vision and courage has assisted thousands of individuals to assess their own personality type, confront their passions, practise virtue, support each other, and work towards the hope of love and unity in a spiritual community.

        Skippy… as you can see this valuable knowledge has helped tremendously, in his business acumen. Then there’s the personal stuff I’m aware of with this hole mob, above… barffffff. It makes me physically ill… Sociopaths and Psychopaths the lot of them…

  21. El Guapo

    The Shock Doctrine in action.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/portugal-scraps-rent-controls-amid-financial-crisis-triggering-alarm-for-low-earners/2012/10/02/1d999d98-0c5f-11e2-97a7-45c05ef136b2_story.html

    “It’s all part of a plan to jettison a way of life that has been handcuffed to the past, holding back the dynamism needed to put the nation on the path of growth.”

    Never let a good crisis go to waste. The Kleptocrats want their new feudalism and they are going to get it.

  22. LeonovaBalletRusse

    NO MORE NEED for “Spooky Disappearance” Playbook of 9/11 or Iraq!

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2012-10-13/beta-testing-qe-4-large-amount-100-bills-stolen-federal-reserve

    //From AP: “Federal authorities are warning merchants to be on the lookout for stolen $100 bills that aren’t supposed to go into circulation until next year. The bills were stolen from an airplane that landed in Philadelphia from Dallas Thursday morning. The plane had been transporting money from the Federal Reserve facility in Dallas.”//
    ———————————
    Paging KC Blackie!

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