Recent Items

Links 1/25/13

Posted on by

Aiee! Behind on my Bank of America whistleblower series, but not for want of working on it. Draft of the next post was too dense, and I need to pretty much restart from scratch :-(

Water Buffalo, Extinct in Europe for 10,000 Years, Spotted Outside of Berlin Take Part (Valissa)

15,000 crocodiles escape from South African farm Telegraph (Richard Smith)

The Price of Water 2012: 18 Percent Rise Since 2010, 7 Percent Over Last Year in 30 Major U.S. Cities Circle of Blue (RC)

Boeing battery fire ‘unprecedented’ Financial Times

US Company Uses Fracking Technique to Extract Uranium OilPrice. What could go wrong?

North Korea threatens to target US Guardian. The ritualized shakedown…

Australian income inequality worsens MacroBusiness

Delight in Aussie town over ‘trillion-dollar’ oil find Independent

United Kingdom Lifts Travel Ban On American Journalist Richard Smith

Internet connection crucial to everyday life, German federal court rules Computerworld UK (Slashdot)

Denial, panic and doubt in Davos Guardian. This is the cheeriest headline I have read in a while. The 0.1% may be recognizing how badly they’ve screwed up.

Saudi Arabia v. Qatar on Syria Counterpunch (Carol B)

Joe Biden Recommends Buying A Shotgun When An Earthquake Strikes Clusterstock

Chicago Shooting Charges: 94 Percent Of Gunmen Who Shot And Injured Victims Got Off Easy In 2012 Huffington Post (Carol B)

Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault National Institutes of Health (furzy mouse). From 2009, but remember the NRA has been hell bent for leather to keep studies from being funded. From the summary: “”On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault…”

Would-be robber cries before getting cash – leaves with pizza US News (Valissa)

From Central Bank Independence to Democratic Public Finance Dan Kervick, New Economic Perspectives

The Debt Ceiling and Playing With Fire Simon Johnson, New York Times

Exclusive: Wal-Mart exploring private health insurance exchange for small biz Orlando Business Journal (furzy mouse). I trust Walmart about as far as I can throw them.

San Bernadino Scraps Eminent Domain Plan American Banker

The New York Times would rather cover a Breuer chair than cover Lanny Breuer Corrente

Brokers Getting Secret Payments Through Real Estate Software CorporateCrimeReporter (KL)

Antidote du jour (furzy mouse):

Print Friendly
Twitter15DiggReddit0StumbleUpon0Facebook6LinkedIn0Google+1bufferEmail

92 comments

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Don’t say loot.

        They take a 99% cut on any growth; so of course, they want growth.

        But there is a silent victim here – Nature.

        1. Cugel

          Here’s the hilarious part of the Davos article:

          “the dilemma for the CEOs gathered in Davos is that the policies they have championed in the past – fiscal austerity, weaker trade unions, aggressive cost cutting – have hammered consumer spending. In the past, spending could be supported by rising household debt, but the banks don’t want to lend and consumers don’t want to borrow.

          “This is a recipe for continued economic torpor. Three things would help: fixing the banks, a reining back of austerity and a new social compact to ensure that productivity gains are once again shared by capital and labour.”

          Chances of any of that happening? Zero.

          “Austerity can never fail. It can only be failed.”

          Or, as the usual suspects put it:

          “OSBORNE STICKS TO AUSTERITY PLAN Finance minister George Osborne will not be diverted from his austerity plan even if data on the strength of British economy disappoints.”

          1. different clue

            Aren’t the CEOs and stuff at Davos just the very highest level butlers and gofers anyway? Don’t the higher level power-people meet at the Builderberg Society? Don’t the very highest level people meet or greet to plot and plan in places so secret we don’t even imagine those places’ existence?

            The Blankfeins and the Dimons are the very well paid chauffers driving the car. The invisible Pughs and Scaifes and so forth behind tinted windows are the Unseen Passengers who will be driven no matter whom the “chauffer of the hour” might be. It might be well to broaden our focus from the visible CEOs and stock/bank manipulators to the very uppest social classes for whom the visible swindlers work their magic.

    1. Susan the other

      Even Larry Summers is publicly saying we need stimulus, not austerity. I really can’t believe they have all been this stupid. Oh, gosh, we made a mistake with our austerity measures.

  1. Mark P.

    ‘US Company Uses Fracking Technique to Extract Uranium OilPrice. What could go wrong?’

    That the uranium isn’t as radioactive as the stuff they frack with?

    Seriously.

  2. Ned Ludd

    I knew that comment sections attracted spam, but I had no idea how much. From the founder of Techdirt:

    We still actually get hit with anywhere from 1,000 to 2,500 spam comments per day, but very, very few get through to the site. The one user annoyance is that every so often, there’s a false positive, with a legitimate comment being held in moderation, but rarely for very long.

    Thank you, Yves and Lambert. I almost never see spam comments at Naked Capitalism, and I imagine the site gets a comparable number of attempted spam comments every day.

  3. dearieme

    “people are not the problem. The difficulties facing these lands didn’t start with humans, they started with industrialization, which choked biodiversity, and therefore life, right out of the Earth”: and in the same article we’re told that the water buffalo vanished from Europe 10000 years ago, which is just a wee bit early for industrialisation. These modern, do-it-yourself religion-substitutes certainly require a lot of faith from their followers.

    1. JohnL

      The article doesn’t claim or even suggest that water buffalo disappeared because of humans or industrialisation. And where do you get religion-substitute? Two straw men in one comment.

    2. MacCruiskeen

      And it doesn’t doesn’t really specify what it means by “difficulties facing the land”, though presumably it means something related to industrial pollution.

    3. Aquifer

      Hmm – didn’t start with humans, started with industrialization – well, OK, but what did industrialization start with – gorillas? Though i suppose one could argue that industrialization put the water buffalo out of business so they emigrated looking for work …

      1. different clue

        Industrialization didn’t start with humans generically. It started among a very particular group of humans in a particular time and place, and was spread by them from there.

        There are many examples of hi-density non-industrial human societies non-destroying their resource base so far as we can tell. The Indian Nations were apparently bio-maintaining or bio-upgrading these continents until the age of Euro-Exploration and Euro-Settlement. The Amazon River nations were apparently terraforming hundreds of thousands of square miles of Amazon basin land until the Spanish/Portuguese explorers brought diseases which killed the Indian Nations down to near-zero and stopped the terraforming in mid-terraform.

        So human social life without eco-burning industrialization has been proven possible. Since we will not give up all the present-moment-in-time benefits of industrialization, might we at least decide how much we are ready to give up so as to stabilize our existence long enough to enjoy the rest over the long term? Would we be ready to live in grass-thatch mud huts if we could have computers inside those huts?

        1. al-Istfani

          You can’t “terraform” a place on Earth, it’s a term used in science fiction to describe the process of making a planet more Earthlike. The phrase you’re looking for to describe the activities of the Amazonians is “slash-and-burn agriculture”, which doesn’t sound very eco-friendly (maybe that’s why you avoided using it?)

  4. Butch in Waukegan

    More Biden on guns.

    Biden: Limit on Magazine Rounds a Bigger Priority – PBS

    Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday that he’s more concerned about limiting the number of rounds in a gun magazine than about banning assault weapons that account for a small percentage of gun deaths. The vice president participated in an online roundtable, dubbed a “Fireside Hangout,” moderated by the NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan, and hosted on the White House’s Google Plus page and YouTube channel. . . .

    Biden argued that the shooter at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., could have been slowed down if he had fewer rounds in each magazine and had to change clips more often. “Maybe if it took longer, maybe one more kid would be alive,” Biden said during the discussion.

    I can see it now.  The Democrats propose limiting ammunition clips to 8 rounds. The Republicans scream, but finally offer a 16 rounds limit.  A compromise is passed, 12 rounds, and Obama crows on TV that something was done about gun violence.

    The first question that needs be asked why this country is so damned violent? 

  5. Skeptic

    “Brokers Getting Secret Payments Through Real Estate Software”

    Criminologists by now should realize that there is a lot of Criminal Software being employed by US corporations. With their immense profits from their crimes, they put some of this money to work creating software allowing them to steal and defraud even more.

    Here is one example: If I were a criminal Wall Street bank, I would be running software analysing what securities regulations and laws are prosecuted or even investigated. I would then have an excellent risk assessment tool to decide in which regulatory areas I should direct my criminal activities. The same goes for other US corporations seeking to evade taxes or environmental regulations or state or municipal laws. The list is very long. At the very least any self respecting crook running a double set of books needs criminal software.

    Lots of this criminal software running without comment from supposedly expert Criminologists and other esteemed legal folk. Davos will ignore no doubt.

      1. Aquifer

        “Siberian Amur tigers ….. appear unfazed by the cold weather and are seen frolicking in the snow.”

        My what a surprise, Siberian critters unfazed by snow and cold ….

  6. Sufferin' Succotash

    From the Davos piece:

    “Three things would help: fixing the banks, a reining back of austerity and a new social compact to ensure that productivity gains are once again shared by capital and labour.”

    Really? Now why didn’t I think of that?

  7. alchemist

    Thre is reason to be concerned with scientfic studies being funded for gun control.

    They academics can manufacture any conscensus they want essentially. They know how to omit evidence and include others. They contorl the major decision making positions and journals so they decide what gets publised and what doesn’t. We see it constantly with big pharma science.

    For instance. Look at the is little article that is not being published about psychopaths. We should include psychopaths in the DMS 5 if we are worried about mentally ill getting weapons right?

    Is Criminal Behavior a Central Component of Psychopathy?
    Conceptual Directions for Resolving the Debate

    Jennifer L. Skeem
    University of California, Irvine

    David J. Cooke
    Glasgow Caledonian University

    https://2048.berkeley.edu/files/Skeembackgrpaper1(2).pdf

    Well, it not published. What’s wrong with this picture when everybody is labeled mentally ill, BUT the psyhopaths????

    Psychopathy guru blocks critical article
    http://forensicpsychologist.blogspot.com/2010/05/psychopath-guru-blocks-critical-article.html

    1. cwaltz

      More gun regulation is fairly pointless since the government has already chosen not to fund portions of laws they’d already written. For example, there are already laws that created a database for the mentally ill. The problems? It’s underfunded by both the states and federal government( as usual no one wants to pay) and the definition of “mental illness” is so vague that none of the states are instructed on what should or should not make someone end up on the database (so people like Cho, who were instructed by the court to seek medical help, are left off because after all, they’re only being treated outpatient.

      Something I also found interesting I was talking to my husband about the data on gun related homicides and I pointed out that even though Switzerland has the third highest private gun ownership that they did not appear to have the same problems as we do in regards to gun related homicides and he pointed out that not only is there private gun ownership in Switzerland but anyone between the age of 19 through their 30s is conscripted in the Swiss Army and is required to care for the weapons they are issued. So if gun control is the solution then why has Switzerland, another heavily armed country, have much lower gun related deaths while we have a much higher rate? ( I wonder if it has anything to do with their health care system or that they require their citizens to be screened at age 18 for fitness to be inducted into the Swiss Army?) and again if gun control is the answer then why does a place like the Philippines, who has gun control laws, no “right” to own a gun, and a lower rate of gun ownership have just a little less gun related deaths(actually more if we were to take out suicides)?

      1. subgenius

        …..Because Switzerland has social welfare programs and conscription means everybody gets into reasonable physical shape and knows how to use weapons effectively and understand just how bad an idea it is to use one?

        Unlike the US where most owners could only mount an assault on their cheeseburger… and that is assuming somebody delivers it, unless there is a drive thru option…

        Go on, ask me another….

      2. Nathanael

        Switzerland has a massive system of gun control. They count your bullets and make you account for every one of them.

        Yes, it has a heavily armed population — and it has a *MASSIVE* amount of gun control.

        The gun manufacturer’s lobby in the US, which has taken over the NRA, campaigns against the sort of gun control present in Switzerland.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          My guess is gun violence is only a sympton. Wealth inequality may be the real problem, excluding other cultural factors.

          1. Carla

            Gun violence is a symptom all right. And the first thing it’s a symptom of, is too many god-damned guns. And the second thing it’s a symptom of, is that the U.S. manufactures and sells most of the weapons in the world.
            And the third thing it’s a symptom of, is that artificial entities called corporations are controlling the U.S. political system.

            These symptoms point to a fatal disease.

            Treatment is not quick or easy. However, it can be pursued:
            http://www.movetoamend.org.

          2. jrs

            Yea you’re probably right of course, but that’s not fixable in the current political system it seems.

    2. patricia

      Alchemist, the issues being debated here are the diagnostic tools used for evaluating traits of psychopathy. The current psychopathy checklist has been used widely in our prison population for a long time and Skeem and Cooke see some problems with it.

      They contend that because the study of psychopathy is rather young and obscure, it has slipped into using the checklist as definitional of the disorder.

      Skeem and Cooke also propose that the current checklist skews too heavily towards criminal behavior and would like to see other characteristics given more emphasis. They suspect that criminal behavior has a close association to psychopathy but is not itself a fundamental component of psychopathy. Not everyone who exhibits frequent criminal behavior (defined by our laws) is a psychopath. Some among us merely chronically violate interpersonal norms/laws, never being stupid enough (or smart enough, depending on how one looks at it) to break gov’t law.

      They would like to see more study on the nature of psychopathy, and want to pick up some threads of thought originally put forth by Cleckley, the psychologist who did the first methodical studies, threads that have subsequently been left behind.

      It may be possible, for eg, to better understand certain personalities who are at the top of our financial systems and run willy nilly through our political system. The current checklist would not indicate possible psychopathy in those people.

      We often feel a bewildered rage about the destructive and arrogant actions of our so-called best&brightest. We do not understand how they can live with themselves, acting the way they do. Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald was asked whether he thought our officials actually believe the crap they say?

      He responded: “One of the things every good litigator will tell you they have to learn to do is first themselves believe what they want to convince others of. So yes, I think most of these government officials believe in their own virtue and that of the government they serve, even in the face of overwhelming evidence (and their own bad acts).
      Most people don’t want to believe that they are evil – they want to believe they’re good – and so that desire can easily trump truth when it comes to shaping perceptions.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/24/glenn-greenwald-reader-q-and-a

      That being said, there is something terribly wrong with some of these people, whether they believe their own story or not. What is it? Perhaps further careful study in psychopathy could give us clues. If it can, there may be better tools for keeping this particular pathology from wreaking havoc across the world.

      So, yes, academics can manufacture results unless they have integrity and transparency and work in community. And yes, it’s possible that, run amok, psychology could pathologize every human around. It is just a field of study, right? We well know how bad it can be when we see how the economics field was allowed to define reality.

      And yes, the field of psychology needs to shake off the pharmaceutical leech that is draining away its life. And it effing must stay far away from the “enhanced interrogation” field—the psychologists involved in that are pieces of shit—perhaps they’re psychopathic, too bloodyhaha

      1. patricia

        One last bit: There are already DSM categories for narcissistic personality disorder and anti-social personality disorder. They are somewhat confusing because more study is needed, but the general ideas are contained therein. They are placed under “personality disorders” partly because it is unclear how much they are actually “mental illness”, as traditionally defined.

        A bigger question is how to help them because it is very difficult to get them to want to change. An even bigger question is what to do with them in the context of society.

        1. Aquifer

          ISTM the question is how much more human behavior do we want to pathologize – the second (?) part of The Trap series articulated what i have long been incensed about … “Pathology” is deviation from the norm – who sets the norm?

          1. patricia

            Yah, dangerous. Ancient questions: What’s good/evil, what’s mentally healthy/diseased, what do we do about both? We’ve made some absolutely dreadful decisions throughout history.

            But on the other end, evading assertions about ethics has run us into our current mess, top to bottom. And the consequences approach the devastation caused by doubling/tripling down on moral purity, such as during the Spanish Inquisition. Part of the reason Adam Curtis is so lovely to see/hear is that he makes ethical declarations that ring accurate.

            I see the study of psychopathy as the latest gasp of scientizing philosophy (ethics) and some of the issues in religion. Psychology=the study of how humans function in the fullest and most thriving ways (generally by looking at how they don’t). It is a social science and more easily corruptible than the hard sciences. But it does use some of the principles of observation and hypothetic study and in a loosey-goosey fashion, it is useful for info-gathering, measurement and comparison. I’m all for that, and it’s what Skeem and Cooke want more of.

            The danger comes when conclusions are drawn (but they must be drawn somehow somewhere). I find DSM’s “personality disorder” construct to be very strange and curious. They’re not mental illnesses so much as patterns of behavior/attitudes deemed destructive. Some of them are hugely destructive to self/other, but some simply describe “weirdness”, which is an important element in the health of human society.

            IMO, a good chunk of the DSM describes the various consequences of chronic severe trauma on the human psyche. Rewriting it from that basis would inculcate the ethical debate from bottom up, which would allow us to more clearly recognize behaviors that genuinely destroy others.

            FWIW

          2. subgenius

            …. and I say that as somebody with post graduate qualifications in psychology (cognitive neuropsychology – the only vaguely scientific aspect)…

          3. patricia

            Social science is a different thing, I agree.

            Neuropsychology in psychology is not unlike math in economics–one doesn’t want to make too much of the resulting constructs. They often emerge from an overwhelming longing to apply conclusive order to a messy world.

          4. ohmyheck

            As I understand it, the newest DSM is removing Narcissitic Personality Disorder from its list of Disorders.

            Since I am attempting to divorce someone with Hypervigilant Narcissistic Personality Disorder, I find this omission somewhat odd.

            I surmise it must be because those who write the DSM all suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder themselves, and if they take it out of the book/normalize it, then, voila! they must all be magically perfectly mentally healthy. Awesomeness!

          5. LucyLulu

            In the debate of bias in normal vs. abnormal, a favorite passage from Capote’s In Cold Blood, one of the murderer’s musings on where he falls on the normality scale:

            He was sorry he felt as he did about her, for
            his sexual interest in female children was a failing of which he was “sincerely ashamed” – a secret he’d not confessed to anyone and hoped no one suspected (though he was aware that Perry had reason to), because other people might not think it “normal.” That, to be sure, was something he was certain he was – “a normal.” Seducing pubescent girls, as he had done “eight or nine” times in the last several years, did not disprove it, for if the truth were known, most real men had the same desires he had.

          6. Aquifer

            patricia –

            “They’re not mental illnesses so much as patterns of behavior/attitudes deemed destructive.”

            …a good chunk of the DSM describes the various consequences of chronic severe trauma on the human psyche.”

            I agree – but by including these “patterns” in this “diagnostic” manual we turn them into individual as opposed to societal pathologies, and, as such, the focus for “treatment” becomes the individual and not the society …

            Quite convenient …. “Just take this pill, dear, and you won’t give a damn that society is screwing you over ….”

          7. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

            Firstly, could you kindly point out what ISTM stands for? In Juan Goytisolo’s novel “Exiled from Almost Everywhere”, a probable pedophile is blown-up by a terrorist bomb. In the afterlife, he exists in a kind of cybecafe the size of an Olympic stadium, filled with computers with Internet connections. He corresponds by e-mail with various entities and still gets spam. Uncivilized behaviour is the new normal in this dystopian afterlife. It was reviewed in the Guardian by Alberto Manguel on 14 May 2011. LucyLulu’s reference to Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” reminded me of Goytisolo’s strange novel on the Afterlife in a cybercafe.

          8. patricia

            “Time to take our pills, dear!”
            “You go right ahead, nurse. I’ll watch.”

            Maybe our bankers could use a course of anti-psychotics. Couldn’t make things worse. It’d cut down on the sex trade but can’t have everything, right?

            Ohmyheck, I didn’t know that. Haven’t paid attention to latest DSM edit. Yesterday is the best time to be gone from a spouse with the kinds of problems you mention. I wish you the best.

    3. Pelle Schultz

      Fear of academics skewing their results is not a valid reason not to fund studies on guns. All it means is that such studies must be properly designed (unlike the one referenced here), carefully reviewed and not overinterpreted. Like all other scientific studies.

      Both the gun nuts (think John Lott) and the anti-gun zealots are extremely guilty of big Pharma-like manipulation of numbers. Other than the 2004 NAS paper, there is very little out there that can be believed.

      The study referenced here is basically uninterpretable due to differences between the study and control populations. Even if those two populations were more closely aligned, the results (whatever they were) might not be applicable to other populations–as the authors freely admit. Validation in independent populations is the gold standard.

      1. Bridget

        From the study:

        “Control participants were in Philadelphia at the time their matched case was shot. The median number of days between the time a shooting occurred and the time a control participant interview was completed was 2 days. More than three quarters of all control participant interviews were completed within 4 days of their matched shooting. Control participants were interviewed as rapidly as possible to minimize recall bias.
        Control participants were sampled from all of Philadelphia via random-digit dialing”

        Surely they didn’t really select a control group by randomly dialing people in Philadelphia within a few days after somebody else was shot and ask them if they had a gun at the time the other person was shot? I have got to be missing something.

    4. LucyLulu

      For clarification, ‘psychopaths’, whether deemed mentally ill or not, ARE included in DSM V. It is called “antisocial personality disorder” however, not ‘psychopath’. The two terms, along with ‘sociopath’, have been used interchangeably to refer to individuals who never developed a conscience or the ability to empathize with others. In the psychology field, most concede that not all criminals suffer from antisocial personality disorder (duh!) and not all who suffer from APD are criminals. Many APD’s lead quite successful lives, the traits can prove quite adaptive in some career choices, esp. in today’s kleptocratic and corrupt environment.

      Personality disorders differ from what are deemed the classes of traditional mental illness, the psychoses, neuroses, and substance abuse disorders (though they can coexist with any of these), in that they are highly ingrained and difficult to affect. Perceptions of reality and cognition are unaffected (if one doesn’t get too technical), and don’t necessarily cause distress to those who suffer from them.

      In the criminal or courtroom arena, successful verdicts of guilty be reason of insanity are pretty rare in all mental illness cases, less than 1%. Not only must the defendant must be mentally ill, it must be also proven that the mental illness prevented the defendant from being able to discriminate right from wrong. (The actual definition of criminal insanity varies by state, and a couple states bar this defense, but generally this applies.) The vast majority of those who are mentally ill don’t commit crimes, IIRC, less than 2%, vs. 1% for society at large (the rate climbs to 12-14% when combined with substance abuse). Usually those with mental illness will vigorously deny they suffer and be uncooperative with the defense. Those who fake mental illness are almost always discovered. (Reminiscent of the same line of logic, a nationally prominent addictionologist I worked with 30 years ago in Chicago, since died from brain tumor, used to say of dual-diagnosis clients, “if they blame all their problems on drugs and alcohol, the primary problem is psych issues, and if they blame all their problems on psych issues, the primary problem is drugs and alcohol.”

      In any case, sociopathic behavior has long been recognized as a threat to society, whether it represents ‘mental illness’ or not. Resistance to intervention, outside incarceration, has been especially problematic. Personality disorders are considered the most difficult to treat, and sociopaths are the most difficult of all the personality disorders. They rarely, if ever, seek help voluntarily, only as a result of pressure from others affected by their behavior. Sociopaths suffer no guilt or other discomfort from their behavior no matter how egregious……. only perhaps that they were caught and must face consequences.

      1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        I like the angle provided by the lenses of anthropology and sociology. They may be part of the soft sciences, but they try to better understand how people “function” within groups, tribes and societies.

  8. Norman

    “Too dense”, Yves, at least you have the common sense to restart, instead of just going forward. Take your time to get it the way you always like it too be, we can wait, which makes it all the better for us, your loyal readers.

  9. Bridget

    Am I missing something, or does the study, “Investigating the Link Between Gun Possession and Gun Assault” completely exclude the universe of assaults that never happened because the intended victim had a gun?

  10. rich

    Differing Notions of ‘Affordability’

    Insurers want more premiums but they don’t really want to expand coverage.

    For the first time in a long time, my former insurance colleagues and I agree on something: it’s time for affordability.

    Health insurers’ big PR and lobbying group, America’s Health Insurance Plans, has launched a slick new campaign, complete with compelling graphics and pithy sound bites, to persuade lawmakers that they need to take immediate action to prevent insurance premiums from going up more than usual.

    But while we agree that lawmakers do indeed need to focus on affordability, we disagree on what they should do. Insurance executives want Congress to get rid of some of the most important consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare. I believe it’s time to focus on the value—or lack thereof—that private health insurance companies actually add to our health care system.

    Several years ago, a coworker asked our CEO during a staff meeting what kept him up at night. He responded with a single word: disintermediation.

    Merriam-Webster defines disintermediation as “the elimination of an intermediary in a transaction between two parties.” So what my boss was saying was that sooner or later, Americans might reach the conclusion that private insurers are no more essential than travel agents (remember them?), and that by dispatching health insurers to the history books, we could reduce spending on health care by billions if not trillions of dollars.

    Much of what I was paid to do in my former job was to create and perpetuate the impression that insurers are “part of the solution” and “add value” to the system. I put those words between quotation marks because they were used repeatedly by my CEO and other industry leaders and became our mantras, especially in conversations with policymakers and the media.
    Here’s the real reason for AHIP’s campaign: insurers love the part of ObamaCare that requires us to buy coverage from them because it means billions of dollars in new revenue for them. But they don’t want to part with a penny of that money to help expand coverage to more Americans and they don’t want to be prohibited from discriminating against older and less healthy people. And those are some of the things that the Affordable Care Act will do when it’s fully implemented next year, and that means their profit margins and return on equity likely will take a hit.

    In other words, thanks for the billions, but we and our shareholders—and Wall Street financial analysts—can’t tolerate being asked to share in the cost of making affordable care available to the uninsured, aging and sick among us.
    http://wendellpotter.com/2013/01/differing-notions-of-affordability/

    1. Ms G

      “Several years ago, a coworker asked our CEO during a staff meeting what kept him up at night. He responded with a single word: disintermediation.”

      No affordability without “disintermediation.” In other words, Health Care, not Health Insurance.”

      It’s way past the time.

      (Mr. Potter. I just finished reading your book last week. Your testimony about the reality of health insurance companies and your active involvement in our current fight to get disintermediated Single Payer are greatly appreciated.)

      “Intermediation” and “Disintermediation” need to become common and familiar words (concepts). Let’s start with everyone we know!

    2. different clue

      “ObamaCare”? I’ve always called it B O RomneyCare . . . for Baucus Obama Romneycare. One could type that BORomneyCare, I suppose.

  11. The Black Swan

    Nature is Beauty

    this is the forest,
    the shaggy autumnal forest
    dripping,
    wet,
    leaves painted the colors of men’s greed.
    ferns kaleidoscoping from bearded limbs,
    molded rocks.
    a fungal bloom eats the forest floor
    the spires of ancient cities
    a slick, wet ooze
    a wooded reef
    bursting with decay.

  12. Klassy!

    re: municipal water price article
    This article at the same site helps to explain the bar graphs better. I stared at them and was not sure if the different sizes for water usage was d/t pricing based on usage or simply said something about how many households fell into that group. Not sure if I should admit that because the correct interpretation is probably apparent to anyone else.
    But anyway:
    http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2010/world/u-s-urban-residents-cut-water-usage-utilities-are-forced-to-raise-prices/
    And, more on municipal water: http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/syngenta-pays-million-to-settle-herbicide-lawsuit/article_34461902-a681-11e1-8baf-001a4bcf6878.html

    Syngenta can keep selling atrazine (banned in Europe), they are shielded from liability, and there are no constraints on how cities may spend the settlement payments. One time payment for ongoing costs.

  13. Aquifer

    This site is becoming a full service blog – not only are there financial experts, and political and legal and economic and engineering, etc. experts, but there is a resident cartoon expert, a few philosophers, and some poets ….

    What else do ya need?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Don’t forget the often overlooked vegetable rights activists.

      I also think this could be a great dating site. We have a lot of AWE people here.

      Who are AWE people? AWE people are members of ‘Association of Wacky Exes.’ If you are somewhat inclined to join, you are AWE-some.

      1. Aquifer

        Sorry, MLPB, I suppose “etc.” doesn’t do it for ya, huh?

        But i didn’t mean anything personal, as i find you quite “apeeling” – :)

    2. j.s.nightingale

      “What else do ya need?”

      You need Computer Scientists.

      A lawyer, an engineer and a computer scientist were arguing over what profession their ascendant deity came from:

      The lawyer said: “It must be a lawyer, because look at these laws we were given with which to order our society”.

      The engineer said, “Well, no it must be an engineer: look at all the intricate structures of the mountains, the trees, the birds and animals. Only an engineer could create those. And in just 6 days this god created all the magnificent parts of the Earth, out of Chaos.

      “Ah, but who created the Chaos in the first place?”, said the Computer Scientist.

      Sn. (A Computer Scientist).

    1. Ms G

      She’s been through Pinguid Vocabulary Re-Education Camp like the rest of them.

      “Corruption” and “Fraud” were the first 2 words to get wiped off the slate.

  14. diptherio

    Re: Joe Biden

    OMG! WTF is he thinking/smoking/shooting-up? In case of an earthquake???

    Hey Joe, you know what else works real well for keeping you safe from your fellow humans in case an earthquake? Chainsaws! Hell yeah! You don’t have to worry about running out of ammo and even if you just nick your attacker, they’re definitely gonna feel it. Swords are good for earthquake protection too. A pointy stick will work in a pinch. Or you can drool, babble nonsensically and sh*t yourself, that usually keeps the scary people away…

    wow…

    I wonder if he knows that sheep’s bladders can be employed to prevent earthquakes?

    1. subgenius

      To be fair, though, I would take a twelve gauge over a handgun any time/place…. The obsession with possession of small penile replacements when one can go for 26+ inches of barrel and a much wider spray with your load has baffled me since moving trans pond…

      1. diptherio

        True, true. My dad found a 9mm pistol while hunting one year. No one ever claimed it so we took it out to the shooting range just to check it out. I couldn’t even hit the paper consistently from 10 feet away, much less the actual target. Didn’t strike me as the ideal defense weapon. Did some Ran Dan Ryu JuiJitsu training instead…pretty sure the “face rake” the taught me would be more effective than a 9mm in most situations.

    1. Ms G

      I’m still stuck in astonishment that we’re on day 3 of a total news blackout. This is not usual, for a news item of this magnitude, is it?

      1. Ms G

        It must be at least as crucial to National Security as the info that whats-her-name at the NYTimes withheld at the request of Pres. Bush II.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Sure. It’s a personnel matter in an obscure branch of government, and anyhow it’s fallout from the Fast and Furious investigation those wacky Republicans were pushing, and it has nothing to do with corruption and this particular cossack is so far away from the Czar he hardly works for him anyhow.

      Move along, people, move along. There’s no story here.

  15. Manofsteel11

    The Price of Water 2012: 18 Percent Rise Since 2010, 7 Percent Over Last Year-

    1. The main story is that credit ratings do not reflect huge CAPEX needs nor do they take into account diminishing water resources in a consistent way.
    2. Prices in the US are way lower in most developed markets, yet some part of the US have ancient infrastructure and are running low on water.
    3. Prices are playing catch up with rising operating costs.
    4. Energy, industrial and agricultural water usage is way more significant than municipal consumption, yet it is neither sufficiently regulated or priced.
    5. We do not have a national strategy to address standards. In fact, there are NO efficiency standards for the industry, while other countries are able to save tens of % by a) taking care of non-revenue water/water loss, and b) committing to system innovation, which is non existent in the US
    6. Many countries have changed the market structure to increase competition and standardized processes to enable desalination, water re-use etc. The US is years behind Australia, Singapore, the UK, Germany etc.
    7. We lack innovation and conservatism rules at a level that makes things crazy (no water in CA aquifers, importing water from other states for $$$, yet growing rice and cotton…).
    Guess this is another challenge that will only be addressed when the S*** hits our water mains.

    1. Nathanael

      Speak for your own region, not for my. My local government-owned, government-run monopoly water utility has standards for water loss and is sufficiently innovative that it gets visits from around the world to showcase best practices.

      And yes, all drinking water is metered, including agricultural and industrial, and there are severe restrictions on extraction of lakewater and river water for private industry. (Obviously we can’t meter rainfall and private wells, but the wells have their own regulation system to avoid overdrawing the aquifers).

      “Many countries have changed the market structure to…”
      …give away rent to evil private monopolists who underinvest in infrastructure. Such as Thames Water in the UK.

      In short, we do damn good here in upstate NY, and if you’re screwing up in California (you are), don’t blame us and don’t mess up what we’re doing with “national strategies”.

      1. Aquifer

        Nat – I am really curious – what part of upstate do you live in that you have this good a system? What is your main water supply, ground or surface?

  16. craazyman

    The water buffalo link is misleading.

    In fact, the water buffalo did not mysteriously appear in the suburbs of Berlin after an absence of 10,000 years — as the link would have one believe — but was instead forcibly taken from its natural habitat in Asia and planted there by zoologists. It was probably drugged into a state of lethargy, if not outright slumber, and transported to Germany by train and truck.

    This is hardly a phenomenon that would attract the attention of a curious mind. One searches for the mystery in nature, but here we see only the hand of science. They have collected Bigfoot DNA and are probably analyzing it now in Las Vegas. Perhaps that will teach us something we don’t already know.

  17. JTFaraday

    re: Exclusive: Wal-Mart exploring private health insurance exchange for small biz, Orlando Business Journal.

    “I trust Walmart about as far as I can throw them.”

    That’s what I always say.

    Also, love the Antidote. Did he put that cat on a leash?

  18. different clue

    When North Korea says “target” U.S., I think they mean “humiliate” and “challenge” U. S. with an “in our face” nuclear test.

    If they actually mean “test an A-bomb on U. S. territory” . . . have they thought about how we would respond to that? And do they think their ChinaRussian sponsors would even care?

    1. Susan the other

      His paragraph on the bond-first method of central bankster-government finance made me remember Stephanie Kelton’s demo when she asked her audience to pay her some taxes and when they couldn’t come up with the assessment, she handed out some money and they then could… and it dawned on me that this bond-first protocol we are operating under isn’t just a haphazard oversight, it is the very intentional mechanism by which wealth is extracted from our economy before it can be put to any proper purpose.

      And Kervick’s negative interest lending is pure genius. Steve Keen-like.

  19. mookie

    Choice of Mary Jo White to Head SEC Puts Fox In Charge of Hen House Matt Taibbi

    “…. Earlier today, I was talking to a former hedge fund manager, a guy who’s been around on Wall Street but is out of the game now. His point about White is simple and it makes a lot of sense. She may very well at one time have been a tough prosecutor. But she dropped out and made the move a lot of regulators make – leaving government to make bucketloads of money working for the people she used to police. “That move, being a tough prosecutor, then going to work defending scumbags, you can only make that move once,” was his point. “You can’t go back again, you know what I mean?”

    Think about it: how do you go back and sit in S.E.C.’s top spot after all of those years earning millions as a partner for a firm that represented Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Goldman, Sachs, Deutsche, Chase, and AIG, among others? Think that fact that his firm has retained her firm has anything to do with Jamie Dimon coming out and saying that White is the “perfect choice” to run the S.E.C.? Think of all the things she knows but can’t act upon. Could she really turn around and target Morgan Stanley after being their lawyer for all those years?”

    1. Ms G

      From the really basic conflict-of-interests perspective (and all of the ethical rules etc. that involves), I can’t square the move from her recent job to head SEC’s enforcement. But I feel the same way about prosecutors moving to defense firms.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Speaking of Bank of America, Rahm Emanuel is on their case:

    CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is putting more pressure on gun makers to get behind his push for an assault weapons ban and criminal background checks for gun purchasers.

    Emanuel is pushing two major financial institutions to stop their financial backing of gun makers, unless those companies support “commonsense reforms, including requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales.”

    In the letter, Emanuel says TD Bank offers a $60 million line of credit to Smith & Wesson, which produces the AR-15. In a separate letter, Emanuel urged Bank Of America CEO Brian T. Moynihan to do the same thing with Sturm, Ruger & Co., which has a $25 million line of credit with the bank.

    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/01/25/emanuel-to-banks-stop-supporting-gun-makers/

    Presumably, as the next step in his new campaign of financial activism, Emanuel will urge his wealthy supporters to stop funding heavily-armed settlers and the Israeli armed forces from expanding Israel’s violent illegal occupation of the West Bank.

    Yes?

    * sound of crickets chirping *

  21. LucyLulu

    Saw Eliot Spitzer interviewed about White’s appointment. He said she COULD be excellent, he’d have to “wait and see”. He said corporate CEO’s he talked to felt the same way as he did……. she might be their friend or she might be their worst nightmare. She doesn’t have to worry about returning to corporate law. She’s already made more than enough money, and besides her husband is loaded.

    Defense attorneys have to be able to defend the guilty. Prosecutors sometimes end up having to vigorously prosecute those whose guilt they are unsure of. It isn’t about guilt or innocence, it’s about upholding our judicial system. All clients, whether private or the state/public’s interest, having the right to competent representation and to the best of one’s ability, is foundational to that judicial system. Attorneys I have known who can’t or prefer not to reconcile these issues choose to practice an area of law other than criminal litigation.

    I don’t doubt Ms. White can be excellent if she chooses. She certainly has the skills and the knowledge, and I don’t doubt she is capable of switching back to a prosecutory role. It boils down to whether she has become ideologically wedded to the financial industry and if she still has the scruples to realign herself with the public’s interests.

Comments are closed.