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Links 12/15/12

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Thoughts on the Newtown Elementary School Tragedy Dave Dayen, Firedoglake and a further thought from Lambert

Stopping Workplace Violence CFO Magazine

The School Shooting in Newtown FreeRangeKids (Lambert)

Just Fuck It All To Hell Onion

And if you want to create a Twitterstorm: #MrPresident #GiveUsAGunBill #NewtownNoMore

Scientists call for Turing pardon BBC

Merkel warns 2013 will be ‘tough’ as Summit ends with little progress Guardian

‘Sinister’ FSA criticised by former HBOS boss Peter Cummings Telegraph. Whoa, this is more than a smidge narcissistic. See here and here for background.

IMF May Be on Collision Course with Trade Policy Triple Crisis

Zero Dark Thirty: CIA hagiography, pernicious propaganda Glenn Greenwald. Glenzilla outdoes himself.

Caregivers Bloodied Patients as Complaints Drew Laughter Bloomberg

Means Testing Emerges as a Social Insurance Pill Democrats Could Swallow Firedoglake

Serious People Could be Seriously Embarrassed: Why It’s Important that We Not Go Off the “Fiscal Cliff” Dean Baker

Grassley: Justice Department’s Failure to Prosecute Criminal Behavior in HSBC Scandal is Inexcusable. This could get fun. Maybe the Republicans will torture Eric Holder (not literally, sadly)

Mayor used money to strengthen ties with the party and its leaders Daily News (Lambert)

Manhattan Apartment Buying May Not Be Great Deal WSJ Real Time Economics

Counter-terrorism tools used to spot fraud Financial Times

The Markets Are No Longer Sending Useful Price Signals Chris Martenson, Clusterstock. Conventional thinking meets the liquidity trap.

Fed wants to force foreign banks to hold more capital Telegraph. Aimed at Deutsche and Barclays which restructured in the US to get around Dodd Frank requirements.

Automation is making unions irrelevant Computerworld. Do you agree?

Free Market Fairness Boston Review

Antidote du jour:

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129 comments

  1. petridish

    Automation is making PEOPLE irrelevant and making PEOPLE irrelevant will make automation irrelevant.

    1. skippy

      @petridish,

      Nay… humans want rights… machines not… at least yet (snort). Any why, till then, the MBA choice is machines or sub human – subcontinent (see Haiti et al) prudent choice.

      skippy… stock holders demand their retirements… eh.

      1. AbyNormal

        the ‘life of leisure’ spin destroys mans need to create thereby concentrating technology & science into the hands of few elite scavengers

        1. They didn't leave me a choice

          Have you considered that the “life of leisure” could also include plenty of tinkering and do-it-yourself stuff? Even if we /can/ automate everything does not mean we automatically /will/ do it.

          1. AbyNormal

            duly noted. i was referring to the commercial spin rj reminisced on. that particular era of leisure led to tinkerin with ‘mamas little blue helper’ era. (an on an on…)

            i can see how not tinkerin leaves one awash in ivory snow Guilt, beseechin the little blue pill(s) that’ll follow the spin cycle ‘ )

      2. wunsacon

        Don’t ignore that many predictions of future technology have come true. And “early = wrong” only when you’re betting with borrowed money.

    2. J Sterling

      Automation, by making people less relevant compared to capital, makes unions more relevant than ever. Unions are there to assert the workers’ ownership of the capital: it says to the capital owners “you put in the money to buy the capital equipment, and it’s right you should have some of the profit. But not all of it: we put something in too, our work, and we own this piece of equipment just as much as you do. You can no more justly replace us with cheaper workers than we could justly replace you with a cheaper investor.”

      Imagine if you could call a shareholder into your office and say “sorry, times are hard and we’re going to have to let your share go. But we’ll compensate you at ten cents to the dollar!” The investor would say “you can’t do that, the law says I have ownership rights in this company.” Unions say the workers have ownership rights in the company, and automation shouldn’t change that.

      It’s true that in cynical fact, automation makes unions, for now, weaker. I would just remind the clever people who think they’re gaining the upper hand, that unions (and fair elections) were always the alternative to revolution. Take the unions and fair elections out, and revolution is back on the table.

      1. Susan the other

        All this privateering seems to be happening, including giving shareholders a haircut. One big problem: whose gonna buy all that stuff? Robot consumers? I mean real ones.

      2. JTFaraday

        “Imagine if you could call a shareholder into your office and say “sorry, times are hard and we’re going to have to let your share go. But we’ll compensate you at ten cents to the dollar!” The investor would say “you can’t do that, the law says I have ownership rights in this company.”

        I hate to break it to you, but that’s exactly how it works. X shareholder may have legal ownership rights to Y shares in some company their grandfather worked at, let’s say, but that doesn’t mean they have some ownership right to Y shares at Z value, for ever and ever, Amen.

        They may fight, and they may fight today’s employee to keep their ownership claim on their grandfather’s labor elevated in the market–but it is a fight, not a right.

        1. J Sterling

          Can you give me a recent example of management laying some stockholders off? I don’t mean ceasing to employ them, I mean ceasing to recognize their stock in the company.

          1. They didn't leave me a choice

            Actually not to be facetious, but doesn’t the term “stock buyback” mean precisely that?

          2. J Sterling

            Have you ever been laid off? Did it feel like a buyback to you?

            Being laid off is like a buyback, without the buying part. Imagine you’ve invested a lot of money in a company, and one day they say “We think we need to throw you off the bus, and no, we’re going to ignore your investment, you won’t be getting that back.” It’s not the same as a stock buyback at all.

    3. Howard Beale IV

      The king country in robotics (Japan) has have an very awful time-they can build robots to replace human labor, but no one wants to pay for them-and Japan’s robotics industry has been on tenterhooks for the last 4 years.

    4. different clue

      Automation will still need automachine-tenders to tend the automation-machines. If a machine does the work of a thousand people, and it needs one person to keep it working right, that one person controls the work of a thousand people. Not all by hermself, but if a thousand automachine tenders help a thousand machines do the work of a million people that means a thousand machine tenders could stop the work of a million people from getting done if they all stopped tending their machines at the same time. What if the player-piano tenders were to form a player-piano tenders’ union?

  2. skippy

    In essence he proposes to change the question from “Do machines think?” to “Can machines do what we (as thinking entities) can do?” The advantage of the new question, Turing argues, is that it draws “a fairly sharp line between the physical and intellectual capacities of a man.” – About Turing

    skippy… how definitive is intuition… and can Banksters model it[?]… when Candy Land strokes their cortex?

    1. psychohistorian

      @ skippy says: Do machines think?

      No they don’t, nor ever will. You can have FAITH that machines made by man can someday think but the hubris is laughable. I have been working with the evolving hardware and software capabilities for over 40 years and know better.

      That is not to say that machines cannot be made to do many things that man can’t.

      To me, it is those of FAITH that think AI is possible. All religions, like AI are the delusions of those that are disrespectful of the universe we live in.

      1. wunsacon

        It’s an extrapolation. … What makes you think humans “think”?

        >> You can have FAITH that machines made by man can someday think but the hubris is laughable.

        There’s far more hubris in your statement.

        1. psychohistorian

          When your faith reasonably explains the hexagonal cloud formation on the south pole of Saturn I will believe I have expressed too much hubris.

          Until then you continue to be pompous about the knowledge we have of the 4% of matter in the universe while not knowing jack shit about the other 96 %…..who has hubris?…….grin.

          1. They didn't leave me a choice

            Out of curiosity, what supposedly makes humans so “special” that only we (or perhaps other animals in other planets) have the capacity to “think”? (Whatever we specify that to mean.)

          2. wunsacon

            >> while not knowing jack shit about the other 96 %…..

            Yep. Takes an omniscient being to create another “you”, huh? Heh…

            No, psycho, it doesn’t take something or someone *that* magical to create you. My guess is that your acknowledging that would burst your bubble. *That* is what you don’t want to confront. *That* is your hubris talking.

          3. wunsacon

            To “They didn’t leave me a choice”: Yes, indeed!

            And, as I look around at the *human* species, I’m not *that* much impressed at the gap over other animals. I see a continuum. And artificial intelligence — no, “digital” intelligence — is coming along quite rapidly now (from “nothing” 50 years ago — not even a microsecond in evolutionary terms).

      2. skippy

        @psychohistorian,

        Wunsacon is only pointing out the thrust of Turings statement, *are we asking the right question[s*… to start with.

        And yes, there is much yet to be observed (if were capable in the first place). Because of that acknowledged state, I would not be taking anything so massive of the table just yet.

        Skippy… Hubris… LOL… now that might be where machines (human toys) never tread. Oh well… till then we will have to do with the last moments of Dark Star… snicker…

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=luaRtGn2tsI

        1. psychohistorian

          @ skippy,

          I get incensed at the hubris of mankind living under the auspices of man-made faith that extrapolates into man being a Gawd that has no responsibility to the cosmos for our utter abuse of our planet.

          To think that we can create something that surpasses or even comes close to approximating our “mental” capabilities, given our current intelligence and what we are doing with that, IMO, is the utmost in hubris….and that hubris is killing us all.

          1. wunsacon

            >> To think that we can create something that surpasses or even comes close to approximating our “mental” capabilities, given our current intelligence

            You are not that special! Nor am I. We can and will be surpassed.

            Let’s meet back here in 2030, for one of us to gloat. (That is, if our creation hasn’t destroyed us — a real possibility, IMO.)

          2. psychohistorian

            I am 64 and may not be around in 2030 but will make a mental note to try and remember your challenge

            I do not consider myself special but am smart enough (125 IQ) to know how ignorant we are….and deluded about our capabilities.

            I have stood on the shoulders of giants and built “new” stuff as maybe you will or have. It is from this perspective that I say and believe what I say……our species as exemplified by the global inherited rich is arrogant, deluded and taking humanity into extinction.

      1. skippy

        To date there’s no indication a machine would want to rule the World or mimic folks like you point out. Just like the Banksters used programmed machines to obfuscate their desires – acts, whom did the dirty deed… um.

        skippy… “robots will “think” like Ray Kurzweil does. Does the world want this?” – LBR

        I would need to run some benches against Kissinger – McNamara sorts… giggle…

        PS… any machine coming – even close – to AI would probably have a nervous breakdown once it orientated its self to, its factual environment.

  3. Yonatan

    Re: the US school massacre – I’m not from the US but I thought they had a law forbidding military involvement in the US mainland. The so-called police photographed in great numbers were mostly wearing military uniforms, carrying military grade weapons (some camouflaged, some with silencers, some with both). If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck ….

      1. mad as hell.

        The irony of hearing a reporter saying that the alleged gunman was wearing all black and a mask and used police preferred weapons while watching swat, FBI, cops, state troopers, dogs, Humvees and helicopters is thought provoking.

        I did not see any short range missiles. Yet.

    1. Max424

      Not military, per se. My country hasn’t gone there, yet. What you were watching was the finest of Connecticut’s finest, the Nutmeg State’s hyper-elite SWAT team …

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

      … advancing on the press cor ….erp… school carrying a vast array of advanced hand-held weapon systems.

      Truthfully, what we were looking at, mostly, were American cops, at all pay grades and skill levels, taking an opportunity to brandish about their shiny AR-15 assault rifles for the TV people. Pretty standard stuff here in the US.

      Note: Those were flash suppressors at their end of their barrels, not silencers. It is illegal in most states (Illinois being the exception, I believe) for law enforcement officials to attempt to suppress their gun’s report, although suppressing flash has the unintended consequence of muffling quite a bit of sound as well.

      But who’s quibbling.

      Note II: Only one wounded. This guy was more efficient than Seung-Hui Cho.

      Cho was devoid of the basic human elements. This guy was double-tapping kids.

      He was a straight up void –the growing one at the pumping heart of America.

  4. LucyLulu

    When did The Onion start widespread surveillance on private citizens?

    Whatever. Give them a Pulitzer. Best in show for piece nailing public sentiment on Sandy Hook massacre, same sentiment edging closer to becoming baseline.

    Thanks for the link to the levity, much needed and appreciated after a truly horrifying day.

    1. skippy

      Does MSM have adaptive advertising pricing structure for just such an occasion?

      Skippy… Fuax mews is racking in the bucks (plus others)… national day of morning in perpetuity[?] (MSM – peak pricing)… could go on, but, they have already interviewed kids… Barf~~~~~~~~~~

      1. diptherio

        Yeah, the Onion seems to be taking a turn towards profound, serious, truth-telling. I’ve been stunned by some of their work lately…and not laughing one bit. The stuff is just too true. They’ve always had that streak in them, of course, but I seem to see a lot less “Christ returns to the NBA!”-type headlines recently.

        1. LucyLulu

          Yes, this was a piece apart as it captured what I suspect is the thoughts of everyday America, hence my comment above re: surveillance. They well might have been interviewing me. It seems as if each of these mass killings is an attempt to outdo the prior one in terms of inhumanity. Slaughtering five year olds?

          Sadder yet is that nothing less could bring sufficient attention to the gun homicide problem we have. Whether it is mowing down people in theaters or stray bullets on street corners in Chicago, reasonable gun regulation should have been put into place years ago. When our founding fathers wrote the 2nd Amendment, the US didn’t have the highest rates in the world of mental illness, drug abuse, homicide among developed countries, and incarceration to contend with. Apparently we were a more civilized nation.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      LL, The Onion is showing us the Heart of Darkness at the center, peeling layers down, down, down.

  5. jim

    Re: shootings and increased violence. The problem is hollywood producing these movies and TV shows with horrific violence.

    The messages in those are very disturbing if one really studies illuminati and music, or illuminati and cartoons. Spend a few minutes on youtube and find some of the excellent analysis of the malevolent information we are bombarded with everyday.

    Once you figure out the wicked hollywood agenda(selling souls to the devil, mind control, satanic ritual abuse) you will then see what is really going on in the world. The problem is not really guns at all. It’s our culture shaped by media.

    1. kj1313

      Jim I respectfully disagree. Hollywood and videogame companies sell their wares to the world but we are the only country where gun violence outpaces every other “civilized” country by far. Japan and Korea which is bathed in movies and games just as violent does not have nearly the gun killings this country has. Sure other countries have a mass shooting here or there, but this is the second mass shooting just this week. It comes down to both our inability to stand up to gun trade lobby and our horrific mental health system.

        1. kj1313

          IMO this country fetishizes an inanimate object that is enshrined in the 2nd amendment that not many other countries have to deal with. It’s ingrained in our history and culture.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        jim, recommended by a commentator somewhere with your point of view, is a book called “A World of Their Own.”

    2. Demosthenes

      jim,

      I’ve watched many of these videos on YouTube and do not find them very convincing at all. Symbols of Eyes in Pyramids on a sticker in the back of the room in a two-second shot in a movie does not constitute “Illuminati” mind control exerted by an all-powerful, devil-worshipping media. The hysteria about masonic symbolism is also wildly, shockingly overblown.

      I’ve also seen the videos supposedly demonstrating that all of our big music stars sold their soulds to the devil. The proof? These various stars have, on camera or audio recording, mentioned that they “sold their souls.” Hate to break it to you, but “selling your soul” is an extremely common idiom in the US. It means to give up everything else in pursuit of something — it is metaphorical. Taking metaphorical statements about hard work and dedication and using it to demonstrate a Satanic agenda in the music and film industries is simply nonsense.

  6. Can't Help It

    Whenever something like this happens, a familiar argument would turn up saying that people kill people, not guns. But guns certainly makes it easier for people to kill other people, and whenever something is made easy, there will be plenty of people doing it. In China over the past year, there’s been plenty of cases of adults stabbing children in schools. It’s certainly sad, but casualties were quite low. The fact is again the knife is a messier/harder way to hurt/kill people.

    1. TK421

      Exactly. If guns don’t matter, then the NRA shouldn’t mind giving theirs up, right? People don’t fight that hard for the right to own something that makes no difference.

  7. Glen

    Not sure this whole “automation” thing is the problem. Automation has been going on since the inception of civilization. We don’t use stone tools anymore, we don’t use slaves to haul large stone blocks to build pyramids, we don’t use kids to weave cloth or work in coal mines, we don’t use horses to pull buggys, blah, blah, blah. I’m not saying that workers are never displaced, I’m just saying workers are ALWAYS displaced and ALWAYS have been.

    The real problems is the displarity in earnings. A typical fast wood worker would have to work about 500 years to make the same income as the CEO of McDonalds. Not a good example? How about the engineers which designs and programs the robots that currently have everybody all concerned would have to work about 60 years to earn the the same as McDonalds CEO. So even some of the high knowledge workers that CREATE automation would have to work a LIFETIME to earn what the head of the company using hat same automation (and who most probably cannot do the same skilled work) earns. This is really a fairly recent phenomenon as measured over the course of human civilization.

    So this whole union/non-union or automation/non-automation is another bright shiny object to get one group of peons pissed at the other group of peons.

    It’s really about the MONEY.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Glen, you can miss typos even if you scroll down and double-check. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The peanut gallery is pretty forgiving of errors of the well-intentioned. Rest easy.

        1. diptherio

          Indeed, happens to the best of us. And FWIW, I am quite sure that if there was any feasible way of putting an edit button on the comments, Yves, Lambert, et al would have done it by now…am I right?

  8. Goin' South

    Re: Greenwald’s review of “Zero Dark Thirty”–

    Ain’t it great? ‘Murca now has its own Leni Reifenstahl. We can make fascist movies with the best of them.

    1. Richard Kline

      Agreed. I had strong reservations about Hardwicke, the director, after her previous film where she seemed to wipe the fingerprints off a lot of bloody murder in Iraq for which the US was accountable. I’ve refused on principle to even read a _review_ of Zero Dark Thirty. There is absolutely NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER for making this movie other than propaganda of the purest sort. Just start from the premise that Osama bin Laden is, or was, an important person in any way: that premis is false. The elevation of one person (of dubious intent) into Ming the Merciless to justify pre-intended invasions, assassinations, weapons sales, and occupations has been endlessly dissected in the functioning sectors of the media and the blogosphere. So a grand ‘We GOT ‘Em!’ film in the middle of a contentious election was quite a despicable enterprise on the face of it. It only gets worse from there.

      I don’t care what level of craft went into that film, the level of purpose is looking up at the scum on the bottom of the gutter.

      1. Klassy!

        Besides agreeing with everything Greenwald wrote, I heartily endorse your view that the entire premise is false.

      2. psychohistorian

        Richard, your comment at the end is priceless.

        Thank you for that and I agree. I have stopped seeing movies just like stopping watching TV. Why expose yourself to the ongoing subtle or blatant brainwashing that is occurring here? Hollywood is creating and maintaining the culture that the global inherited rich see as best to maintain their absolute control.

      3. LeonovaBalletRusse

        RK, “Hardwicke” — please, dig deeply into “British” Peerage. This Vampyr blood works its magick over centuries.

      4. Jim Haygood

        Curiously, Greenwald never explicitly asks whether the CIA — which has a long history of collaborating with the MSM to mold public opinion — in fact sponsored or subsidized Zero Dark Thirty.

        Maybe he knows it’s useless. With tens of billions of unaccountable ‘black budget’ dollars at their disposal, and a ‘national security’ secrecy rationale, the CIA can sponsor their own hagiography off the record.

        In another galaxy far far away, Senator Frank Church might have put a spook in the witness chair and demanded to know. These days, if a Kongress Klown dared to pose such a question, the Agency would just laff at them.

    2. heroes

      In Zero dark thirty 3: THE CHICKENING, Jessica Chastain is going to eat the shit and apologize and cough up compensation to Khaled el-Masri, and she’s going to vacation at Branson and Dollywood for the rest of her chickenshit life and never set foot outside the USA because she’s scared to get tried and go to jail, even little foreign namby-pamby jails where they don’t drown you and rip your shoulders out of their sockets and cut slits in your genitals and gouge your eyes out and stick things up your asshole and fuck you from behind in a roomful of laughing guys like America does.

      Here’s an action-packed scene from the THE CHICKENING! https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-gU3vbwGE8nI/TXFrE-GnlBI/AAAAAAAAAqU/xA3lsfYTKZI/s1600/raped.jpg

      Oops, sorry, that’s not from the movie, that’s from Abu Ghraib!

    3. superheroes

      In Zero dark thirty 2: THE CHICKENING, Jessica Chastain is going to eat the shit and apologize and cough up compensation to Khaled el-Masri, and she’s going to vacation at Branson and Dollywood for the rest of her chickenshit life and never set foot outside the USA because she’s scared to get tried and go to jail, even little foreign namby-pamby jails where they don’t drown you and rip your shoulders out of their sockets and cut slits in your genitals and gouge your eyes out and stick things up your asshole and fuck you from behind in a roomful of laughing guys like America does.

      Here’s an action-packed scene from the THE CHICKENING! https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-gU3vbwGE8nI/TXFrE-GnlBI/AAAAAAAAAqU/xA3lsfYTKZI/s1600/raped.jpg

      Oops, sorry, that’s not from the movie, that’s from Abu Ghraib!

    4. my heroine!

      In Zero dark thirty 2: THE CHICKENING, Jessica Chastain is going to eat the shit and apologize and cough up compensation to Khaled el-Masri, and she’s going to vacation at Branson and Dollywood for the rest of her chickenshit life and never set foot outside the USA because she’s scared to get tried and go to jail, even little foreign namby-pamby jails where they don’t drown you and rip your shoulders out of their sockets and cut slits in your genitals and gouge your eyes out and stick things up your asshole and fuck you from behind in a roomful of laughing guys like America does.

      Here’s an action-packed scene from Zero Dark 30 2 THE CHICKENING! https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-gU3vbwGE8nI/TXFrE-GnlBI/AAAAAAAAAqU/xA3lsfYTKZI/s1600/raped.jpg

      Oops, sorry, that’s not from the movie, that’s from Abu Ghraib.

  9. Rolf E Stenersens

    My real take away from the tragedy in Newtown is the pathetic state of our public mental health system.

    We’re not dealing with these issues well- the millions of Americans with serious psychological illnesses and substance abuse problems that can’t afford treatment simply go without.

    Or, more likely, their issues get treated by the criminal justice system instead.

    At Rikers Island penitentiary, around 20% of prisoners have serious mental health issues, while 80% have drug problems, according to prisonpolicy.org.

    Newtowner here myself.

    1. LucyLulu

      The mentally ill have long been thrown to the bottom of the heap when it comes to treatment. They are the most vulnerable of the vulnerable. They rarely vote, rarely make a stink about lack of treatment, and often have isolated themselves from family and others who might advocate for them. When budgets need cutting, mental health programs climb to the top of the list.

      Expect it to get worse with any reductions in health care benefits. Its cheaper to incarcerate those with serious and persistent mental illness, who incur over $100K/year in costs without a fairly intensive community based program (like ACTT, one of few treatment modalities proven to offer great cost savings, I’ve worked on a team)……. the ones that at best have waiting lists but are often cut. Our team was able to reduce the expense of treatment by half, by maintenance in the community, interrupting cycle of revolving door hospitalizations, with minimum of 3x weekly visits to assist with food, housing, budget, medication compliance, and other daily living activities. (Is it really only 20% incarcerated?)

    2. TK421

      That’s so true Rolf. If someone breaks their leg, they know to call 911. But what if they feel their grip on reality slipping away, hear voices telling them to kill? What do they do then?

      1. "Ooh! Ooh ooh! Mr. Kotter, I know this one!"

        >> But what if they feel their grip on reality slipping away, hear voices telling them to kill? What do they do then?

        Call in to your local conservative talk radio show.

        [high-fiving myself..."nailed it!"]

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      RES, the Powah CREATES “mental illness” through STRATEGIC TRAUMA. Funny how it all seems to emanate from the “British” Royal Court of Saturn and Sabbatai Zvi. Think: “Boy Scouts” from the beginning; think: “Isle of Jersey.”

      Investigate the ground findings of Dr. Mate of Vancouver, for starters.

      The latest in CT was an Exercise in Strategic Trauma, focused on children: “the next generation” of from which the .01% can CULL their mind-controlled slaves.

  10. Goin' South

    Re: Free Market Fairness–

    The Propertarians are feeling pressed these days, having to soften their “fuck the masses/worship the rich” approach to social policy. They’re so desperate that they must resort to the old canard that Capitalism is a growth generator (akin to the lie that the rich are “job creators”):

    “Tomasi’s second moral claim depends upon the long-term effect of capitalism. Capitalism, he points out, has produced enormous economic growth and increased living standards in the developed nations. Continued economic growth is the surest recipe for further enhancing the prospects of the working class and the poor, who have already benefited. Hence we have a moral obligation to pursue capitalist growth. Tomasi criticizes Rawls for implying that a no-growth economy could make for a just society.”

    What’s funny is that we are increasingly skeptical that growth is a good or even sustainable thing given our environmental problems.

    Combine this with the absurdity of Capitalism demonstrated by the automation link, and we can see how the rational much less moral support for Capitalism is dissolving. How insane that human advancements that increasingly eliminate the need for people to engage in dangerous, dirty or boring work actually threaten the existence of humans. Are the masses merely tools and playthings for the .01% of our fellow creatures who happen to hold some paper title to so much of the world’s resources and equipment, much of it acquired by theft or inheritance? Are we to be treated like the excess supply of horses after the invention of the automobile and armored personnel carrier?

    Soylent Green instead of horse meat, I suppose.

    1. Susan the other

      Agree. Elite capitalism is so undead. It just keeps suggesting itself even tho’ it knows it’s done for. This stuff by Thomasi on capitalism providing social justice is even contradictory, as pointed out in the review. It has been very apparent for some time now, and still denied by the “liberals” that capitalism cannot provide social equity and we must provide it as a society. This book is not one I will read. It sounds too much like Isaiah Berlin’s “negative freedom.” Any justification they can think of to remain exploiters of both people and the planet. However, I do think the world could use some serious negative slavery.

    2. from Mexico

      Goin’ South said:

      How insane that human advancements that increasingly eliminate the need for people to engage in dangerous, dirty or boring work actually threaten the existence of humans.

      Priceless. The propagation of irrationality has become quite the growth industry for the elite.

  11. Eureka Springs

    A couple of months back I ordered satellite television service. The company gave me a few free months of movie channels to try to entice me into doubling my monthly bill. Within two evenings of surfing the movie channels I began to have horrific nightmares…. They stopped a couple nights later when I turned off that crap for good.

    Now I am no la la granola pacifist, though I think it’s an ecellent goal. I own guns, I hunt. I am more secure in my rural home because of said ownership.

    The day faux progressives, I mean neoliberals get serious about taking guns away from citizens before demanding disarmament of our police and military industrial complex is the day I ardently support/ contribute money and time to the likes of the NRA.

    I read about and view video. Syria is experiencing an atrocity which makes the CT school shooting like a normal day in hundreds of neighborhoods, because of US and our allies doing the neo double tap or training kids to behead in the streets. It’s on youtube every day. I think a great deal about our crime wars waged upon others all around the world on a near daily basis.

    While these things disturb me… it doesn’t take over my brain and body while sleeping at night – like violent TV did in a few hours. I can’t imagine what violent modern video games are doing to peoples minds.

    1. TK421

      Well, if we’re going to go by personal stories, I’ve seen more violent movies than anyone, and spent more time playing violent video games than most, and I’ve never felt the urge to pick up a firearm and send bullets into a crowd of innocent people. I don’t even kill insects in my house, I shoo them outside instead. The Mayans, with their human sacrifice amidst rivers of blood, didn’t watch violent movies.

    2. wunsacon

      >> The day faux progressives, I mean neoliberals get serious about taking guns away from citizens before demanding disarmament of our police and military industrial complex is the day I ardently support/ contribute money and time to the likes of the NRA.

      Give me a break. Do you actually think the gun culture in this country has made us safer from fascism? IMO, people who believe that tend to support torture, the drug war, the “war on whatever it is we think we might ‘solve’ using violence”, etc. These people daydream that “the 2nd Amendment protects all the rest” and bash the ACLU and any attempt to enforce our civil rights. And look what’s happening.

      1. kj1313

        The NRA perpetuates the theory that semi automatic weapons are ingrained in the constitution if needed to overthrow the government. The government is the #1 purchaser of all weapons. Look at what happened in Waco, they just bulldozed through the compound. You will never win a conventional gun battle against the government. Especially since the government is armed with drones, tanks, etc. The NRA nutters love bringing up Syria, Iraq & Afghanistan as how a populace resists. Well those guys use guerrilla warfare in which IEDs are used extensively. And last time I checked the government keeps track & control of many materials that can be used as explosives (especially after McVeigh). The 2nd Amendment is a relic and really is used to keep the public constantly in fear. If it wasn’t then we’d all be allowed to own nukes.

      2. Eureka Springs

        By and large, no, I don’t. I don’t think anyone is doing a good job on the anti-fascisim front in the USA. That said I certainly noticed a few teabaggers in the early days demonstrated with guns and they weren’t kettled, arrested, beaten, sprayed or shot… like entirely unarmed OWSers were.

        It’s difficult if not impossible to measure, but I wonder just how much worse our government inc. would be right now if they weren’t facing a very large armed population in the US.

        1. kj1313

          IMO The government is using guns as a wedge issue. Right now it works for them as it divides the country. If they are truly afraid of the populace they’ll go all Waco them.

        2. wunsacon

          >> …I … noticed a few teabaggers … demonstrated with guns and they weren’t kettled, arrested, beaten, sprayed or shot… like entirely unarmed OWSers were.

          Yes…true… It *almost* offers a glimmer of hope, right??

          Unfortunately, when OWS happened — to protest the largest recipients of government bailouts that initially sparked creation of the Tea Party itself — those same TPers didn’t join in. AFAIK, they (and everyone else but progressives) generally oppose OWS.

    3. jim

      Beautiful area the ozarks. thumbs up.Look to the war machine to realize where the real probems are. And I doubt war is like it is portrayed on TV where we fly over or roll through with tanks and destroy the enemy. The young kids sent in to that mideast meat grinder come back messed up, dead, or disabled many of them.

  12. JEHR

    Re: the Peter Cummings story–I’m very sorry to say that I inwardly cheered when I heard that a corrupt banker was being targeted for his misbehaviour. I can think of dozens more bankers that I would be happy to see join him. Hurrah for some smidgeon of justice being done!

  13. ambrit

    Friends;
    At the end of the short article at FT, it said that Larry Summers joined the board of a Silicon Valley company that specializes in ‘helping’ people ‘invest’ in pools of consumer debt that the company itself generates. (One way or another.)
    First: Isn’t this what banks and brokers do? So, why isn’t this company, and lots of others like it soon I’ll bet, being regulated as a bank or broker? A new form of bucket shop?
    Second: Are there still that many suckers, excuse me, investors, out there to make this profitable? (Can anyone say “Negative real interest rates?”)
    Third: Given the Financials’ dismal track record regarding consumer protections, doesn’t this add another layer of opacity to the world of money making?
    Finally: Given the above, just what kind of financial beastie would these ‘investment’ vehicles be classified as?

  14. Paul Walker

    Automations have made both private and public sector management what it is today, a failure of epic proportions.

  15. financial matters

    The Markets Are No Longer Sending Useful Price Signals Chris Martenson, Clusterstock. Conventional thinking meets the liquidity trap.

    “”The rather politely ignored truth right now, at least by most news outlets and politicians, is that the world’s central banks have wandered very far off the reservation and are running an experiment that really has only two possible outcomes. One is a return to what we all might call ‘normal and stable’ economic growth. The second is the complete collapse of the fiat money and their attendant financial systems and markets.

    While it is technically possible to achieve some other middling outcome, that possibility has been receding to ever more remote territory with every passing month and new round of money printing.”"

    I disagree with this premise and actually think that the Fed is taking the correct action with all this stimulus.. They are doing the responsible thing unlike Congress which is unable to understand and act on the need for this stimulus. Thus the Fed is taking on fiscal responsibility to fill this politically motivated vacuum.

    A good place to start would be their funding of the Federal deficits buy buying bonds. Medicare and Social Security should be well funded as opposed to using fiscal cliff scare tactics. Medicare provides many jobs for the health care community and a good health security blanket for people that need it. Social security puts money into the hands of people who will spend it productively into the economy as well as providing them some financial security.

    The housing market will correct but it is currently a huge black hole. This buying of MBS is helping out with this equilibration. Houses will eventually be worth what a person can afford to pay with a responsible mortgage but is will take time to get there and this is helping us get there without a total crash.

    I think the stimulus is actually fighting these huge deflationary forces and thus there is not room for it to become inflationary for a long time. I think the stock market will also equilibrate to levels more in keeping with price/earnings ratios rather that speculation and this capital outflow could happen quickly.

    1. diptherio

      “A good place to start would be their funding of the Federal deficits buy buying bonds.”

      The Fed is prevented by law from directly purchasing Treasury issues.

      “The housing market will correct but it is currently a huge black hole. This buying of MBS is helping out with this equilibration.”

      This buying of MBS by the Fed is allowing banks to off-load their fraudulently created securities, putting a final, official, seal-of-approval on their crimes. There are plenty of ways to keep people in their homes apart from buying up all the banks’ worthless securities.

      1. financial matters

        ‘The Fed is prevented by law from directly purchasing Treasury issues.’

        It seems that they can use the secondary markets to circumvent this..

        http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-06/D9VD5LTG0.htm

        Q. What is “Operation Twist?”

        A. It is an effort by the Fed to sell $400 billion of the Treasury securities that it owns that mature in less than three years, and replace them with longer-term bonds that mature in six to 30 years. At the same time, the Fed is reinvesting the proceeds from its mortgage-backed securities that mature into new ones.

        I don’t see why the fraud can’t still be dealt with as a separate issue even though the Fed has stepped in to provide some liquidity to these securities. I also think Congress should step up and help mitigate the foreclosure crisis with some meaningful loan modification programs.

    1. Aquifer

      Well i suppose that might be one area where Israel has it over us – it seems to be willing to charge its criminal officials from time to time ….

  16. diptherio

    Re: Chris Martenson’s Business Insider article:

    These two lines really popped out at me. See if they don’t seem a little paradoxical to you, too.

    I would have predicted the dollar to fall because who in their right mind would want to hold the currency of a country that is borrowing 46 cents (!) out of every dollar that it is spending while its central bank monetizes 100% of that craziness?

    Further, I would have expected additional strength in the government bond market, because $85 billion pretty much covers all of the expected new issuance going forward, plus many entities still need to buy U.S. bonds for a variety of fiduciary reasons.

    Apparently, people in their right minds wouldn’t want to hold the currency of a country that is money-printing at a terrific rate, but those same right minds would want to hold that same country’s debt?

    Is it just me, or is anyone else feeling a little cognitive dissonance here?

    1. psychohistorian

      The cognitive dissonance here I believe is because of the the US dollar as Reserve Currency. This forces countries to buy our debt to keep their currencies on par with the dollar. The US dollar is also the required currency for international transactions so there are all these clearing house machinations that must occur in dollars that keep our debt afloat.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        Also, with the problems in Europe and Japan at ZIRP and QE28, we still get lots of private investment flows from offshore – in addition to foreign central bank actions.

    2. craazyman

      I think he’s saying the power of Fed buying is over-riding other forces and setting Treasury Bond prices, while the dollar should weaken because the Fed doesn’t set the dollar price on FX markets and the explosion in dollar creation would weaken its FX exchange value.

      I subscribe to his web site and it’s pretty good if you can tolerate peak oil nuttiness.

      But I’m just an amateur and don’t really understand this stuff very well. It seems to me it’s almost all total nonsense. The only reason I follow it is for work-related stuff & because it might help me get lucky on a precious metals speculation or volatility play — so I can quit the day job and become a Bigfoot and UFO investigator.

      1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

        Plus all the dollars Ben makes come right back and sit at the Fed as excess reserves. They don’t even try and leave the country.

        I know they have UFOs in NYC (Men in Black), but did Bigfoot move there too?

      2. diptherio

        Hmmm…I see what you’re saying. There’s still something strange about the sentiment to me, though. It seems that if you were expecting currency devaluation due to money-printing, you would not want to put your funds into low-yield T-bills, since all you’re going to get out of the deal is your devalued currency back plus a little, which may have diminished in actual purchasing power if inflation really does kick in. Seems to me like you would either want to be holding a different currency or a security that has a better chance of beating inflation (commodity futures?).

        Of course, since the Fed is buy something like 77% of all new Treasury issues, the dealers are making money just for transporting paper from one side of the Mall to the other, which is probably justification enough for continuing current fiscal and monetary policies.

        Psychohistorian probably has a point about our reserve currency status driving willingness to invest in US debt, but I get the suspicion that it’s more like T-bills are the best of a lot of bad options. The value of the dollar may in fact be unstable, but who’s isn’t right now?

        Ugh. I can’t think about this anymore…time to go search for UFOs…

        1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

          “Seems to me like you would either want to be holding a different currency or a security that has a better chance of beating inflation (commodity futures?).”

          Yes, this is called “bubble blowing”, or “financial repression” or “stupid”.

          It has been pushing the price of things like food, oil, stocks, emerging market stocks bonds and currency and swiss francs above their true value – which is the premise of the article.

          Welcome to MMT.

  17. trainreq

    Dear President Obama,

    One could sense the anger in your speech on Friday. One could even argue that it is a good thing, motivation for change. You are certainly correct that this is about politics. But I for one hope that your anger was in good part aimed at yourself. I hope you first looked in the mirror and asked yourself “to what degree have my policies and actions help create this tragedy?”

    One can imaging this young person as exhibiting almost drone-like behavior. The thoughts that drove this person to their acts could be seen as a sort of remote control, precipitated by a society which seems to prize everything military. This person certainly seemed to have primary targets in mind, and in the outcome we can see a great amount of “collateral” damage. This may remind you of something you order on an almost daily basis.

    There is no excuse for behavior of this type. We can never completely remove tragedy from the U.S. lexicon. But as individuals we want to understand what part we have played and can play in the future to minimize such events. Our current societal norms tolerate wide-scale killing from the streets of Chicago to the streets of Yemen. We have excused torture with the wave of a finger. We tolerate illegal behavior that has ruined numerous lives with punishment nothing so much as an explative. Thus we devalue human life on all corners of this planet.

    While none of the above may be a direct cause of this heinous action, we need to tip the scales in favor of human life rather than continue to load the opposite end of the beam.

    It starts with you Mr. President.

    1. TK421

      If the president was truly wondering where someone could get the idea that a massacre of innocent people, including children, was acceptable, I suggest he find a mirror.

      1. Jim Haygood

        That image of a grief-stricken Obama wiping a tear from his eye is all over the media.

        Millions of eyeballs on a sociopath showing his ‘human’ side. Probably it was all he could do to refrain from bursting out laughing.

  18. diptherio

    Re: Automation is Making Unions Irrelevant

    Sad but true. I don’t think the drive to automation and outsourcing can be stopped without a change in the way we speak about business. As long as “the interests of business” is considered synonymous with “the financial interests of executives and shareholders” we will not be able to halt this trend.

  19. Cynthia

    It goes without saying that a robot are far better than a human at algorithmic thinking and making complex decisions, but you’d be hard pressed to find a robot, particularly an affordable and reliable robot, that’s far better than a human at using its hands to perform multiple tasks. So if most work that managers do, from the CEO on down, can be easily automated, why aren’t they being replaced by robots, or at least getting a cut in pay for having robots do most of their work for them?

    I think that part of the answer to this question lies in the fact that corporations wrongly believe that the productivity of managers can’t be tracked and monitored like it can at for laborers. What makes this particularly wrongheaded is the fact that managers are far more expensive to corporations than laborers are. So if there’s any group of workers that oughta have their productivity tracked and monitored, it is managers, not laborers.

    Cynthia

    1. different clue

      How would you track and monitor manager productivity? Number of emails sent and recieved? Number of memos written and read? Number of printouts printed and paper clips used?
      Productivity of what anyway?

  20. diptherio

    I’m also curious about the numbers being reported in the HSBC case. The NYT Dealbook article from the tenth included this number (which is the one I’ve been using):

    In 2010, the regulator [OCC] found that HSBC had severe deficiencies in its anti-money laundering controls, including $60 trillion in transactions and 17,000 accounts flagged as potentially suspicious, activities that were not reviewed.

    Taibi, Spitzer, and here Grassley, are citing much lower numbers, only in the hundreds of billions. What gives?

    http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/12/10/hsbc-said-to-near-1-9-billion-settlement-over-money-laundering/?ref=business

  21. Tom

    In “Counter-terrorism tools used to spot fraud” above.
    No question that private companies (financial services companies) will use counter-terrorism tools to maximize shareholder value. That means the consumer and the american public are being spied upon by the financial services companies. They are looking for opportunity to exploit the international public.
    Why do I pick out the large multi-nationals in the financial services industries? Because they have the means to do it and the motives to do it.
    They will not use those tools to spot fraud within their companies. It is too laughable to think that they would ever turn those tools in upon themselves. The TBTF have shown their disdain for law and every other component of oversight. Why does the author continue to believe that the tools will somehow be used for good. It seems to be the same credo that a free-market will always result in good – just laughable.

    1. Mel

      In a better world it would be “anti-fraud tools used to spot terrorists.” But that would be too simple. And it would be very inconvenient.

        1. Lambert Strether

          I’ve heard it said that at the height of the GFC, the only available liquidity came from drug money. I wonder if that was the moment the CEOs realized they could place themselves completely beyond the rule of law, that “everything was permitted.”

  22. Mcmike

    Hi there, good site. Although i am not a subscriber and thus get what i pay for, it is worth mentioning that it’s weird and ironic to read posts here amidst pop up ads for a wall street bank. They are the worst sort, the kind that float around and make it hard to read, while are also easy to accidentally click on. Very fitting for a credit card issuer. They also slow the page considerably. The combined effect makes the site almost unusable on an ipod.

    Generally i try to boycot sites that hijack browsers. Alas. I do not begrudge you what you gotta do to monetize in this brave internet world. But sometimes i do feel like chucking this little piece of intrusive tech in the trash and buying a quill pen.

    1. Aquifer

      I only have an old Mac PowerBook – no portable devices, so i don’t know if you can use this, but I use Firefox with Ad Bloc Plus and what a world of difference ….

      1. McMike

        Thanks for the reply.

        My notebpook computer actually works pretty fine on this site. The problem is with my ipod, which is what I use to read blogs and the like when I can steal a minute.

        For some reason, NC is literally the worst site I visit in terms of hijacking the ipod by advertisements.

        S’okay, I’ll suffer through it. But I get the impression that Yves is a class act; so I decided to mention it.

  23. JTFaraday

    re: Zero Dark Thirty: CIA hagiography, pernicious propaganda Glenn Greenwald, Glenzilla outdoes himself.

    “It is a true sign of the times that Liberal Hollywood has produced the ultimate hagiography of the most secretive arm of America’s National Security State, while liberal film critics lead the parade of praise and line up to bestow it with every imaginable accolade…

    the idea that Zero Dark Thirty should be regarded purely as an apolitical “work of art” and not be held accountable for its political implications is, in my view, pretentious, pseudo-intellectual, and ultimately amoral claptrap…

    As one friend, who works in the film industry, put it: “As that blog you linked to said – it’s perfect for people who are so called PC and cool liberal types. Everything about it – how it’s framed and branded as some cool Traffic-style movie so people feel as though they’re smart by watching it.”"

    Funny how this always seems to happen, in this case in the “artistic” realm as well as in the technocratic with which we’re already all too familiar.

    1. hipster cinema

      In Zero dark thirty 2: THE CHICKENING, Jessica Chastain is going to run and hide from the ECHR, and sooner or later cough up compensation to Khaled el-Masri and others, victim after victim, more of them getting judgments all the time, and she’s going to vacation at Branson and Dollywood for the rest of her chickenshit life and never set foot outside the USA because she’s scared to get tried for torture and go to jail, even little foreign namby-pamby jails where they don’t drown you and rip your shoulders out of their sockets and cut slits in your genitals and gouge your eyes out and stick things up your asshole and fuck you from behind in a roomful of laughing guys like America does.

      Here’s an action-packed scene from Zero Dark 30 2 THE CHICKENING! https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-gU3vbwGE8nI/TXFrE-GnlBI/AAAAAAAAAqU/xA3lsfYTKZI/s1600/raped.jpg

      Oops, sorry, that’s not from the movie, that’s from Abu Ghraib.

  24. Hugh

    If automation is such a big deal, why have corporations been shipping so many jobs off to be filled by low skills workers in China? The structural unemployment con is a way used by neoliberals to justify permanently high unemployment. Automation and skills mismatches are the usual two primary excuses for it. Automation and its effect on unions seem like just a riff on this theme.

    1. Hypothetical_Taxpayer

      I was a Canon stockholder in the early 2000s and their CEO told us in a webcast it’s cheaper to go to China than automate. But then he said what all Jap CEOs always say – the BOJ should weaken the yen so Canon doesn’t have to move factories around.

      I think that would be the economics in general. Especially if the Japs say so.

  25. b.

    “Automation is making unions irrelevant Computerworld. Do you agree?”

    US Unions have become irrelevant before automation – voting has become increasingly irrelevant, for similar reasons (see the other day’s link on union history). Power depends on being able to make choices that have impact. The People have (a) lost their ability to make choices, partially because living paycheck-to-paycheck during high unemployment while carrying debt and needing employer-financed health insurance has effectively made us and ours hostages, and partially because The People are unwilling to postpone even a fraction of their consumption to make a point, or show solidarity, and (b) at a time when even a general strike would simply cause the closedown and relocation of facilities, and a 50% “choice” to not bother to vote has no impact at all on “democratic” legitimacy, “impact” is diminishing. There is no meaningful choice – and hence no power, individually or collectively – in choosing between two corrupt politicians, two minimum wages, or, indeed a dysfunctional union or none.

    If The People have any meaningful choice and power left, it is as “consumers”, i.e. in discretionary spending. Health insurance, food and rent are not discretionary, but there is enough left of a “middle class” that insists on purchasing the latest iPhone, iPad, home theater, SUV etc.pp. that indeed has choices left that could hurt the powers that be, and continuously chooses to avoid exercising the bargaining power that comes with discretionary consumption. Labor is also The Market. If The People chose not to borrow to consume unless they absolutely have to, the impact on the US economy would be drastic. If The People chose to take whatever savings they have out of a corrupt banking system, and moved it to non-profits, or into cash, just for a few weeks, the impact would be drastic. But those that have do not want to hold back, and those that might do not have anything to hold back, and have no confidence that it would make any difference whatsoever. What is ultimately missing is any meaningful notion of solidarity between the have-nots and the soon-to-have-nots, let alone the have-something-left-to-looses. Eastern Europe had enough solidarity to try to break away from the other corrupt system that ate its hosts alive, but the founding principle of the US has always been the rugged individualism of climbing on the shoulders of those already drowning towards “the light”, and *that* is why unions are irrelevant here. The automation that matters was that of The People’s minds and “hearts”, the outsourcing was that of empathy and street smarts. In that way, every generation since the beginning chose liberty and justice for “all that own slaves”, and slaves don’t unionize.

    1. different clue

      Food spending is not discretionary in that you either eat or you starve to death and then die.

      But food spending is certainly targetable for those with enough money to pick their targets. People in that position can spend “more” money on shinolafood from shinolafood producers, or they can spend “less” money on shitfood from shitfood producers. More money spent on shinolafood would expand the shinolafood sector and allow more producers to risk trying to enter it. More shinolafood buyers and growers and producers might become more politically powerful and able to wage political-economic combat more effectively.

      Maybe also sub-and semi-urbanites could think in terms of
      setting a unified food-yard-garden budget, with some of their money spent on the tools and inputs and info-sources needed to grow some of their own shinolafood in their own shinolayards and shinolagardens. This would further degrade and attrit the revenue streams flowing to the shitfood sector.

    2. different clue

      What you describe sounds like a National Consumer Strike if it were to happen . . . if enough people were to “happen” it.

      Meanwhile, how many people would take those own steps separately and individually for their own economic survivalism before they began to have a collective erosive impact on the moneylord power centers?

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