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Links 4/7/13

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Class War Kitteh

Less than 100,000 Payroll Jobs, a 58.5% Employment-to-Adult-Population Ratio Exactly Where It Was a Year Ago, and Labor Force Participation Down by 0.5 Percentage Points in the Past Year Brad DeLong. New candidate for the world’s most frightening chart.

Number of the Week: Youth Unemployment at 22.9%? Online WSJ

Underground homeless camp cleared near the East Bottoms Kansas City Star

Does North Korea have a portable nuclear weapon? Cannonfire

The North Korea Deal That Wasn’t Foreign Policy

Tony Blair and Iraq: The damning evidence Independent

Rise of the Predators: A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood Times. Fast forward to President as first-person shooter. Yay!

The anti-drone hoodie that helps you beat Big Brother’s spy in the sky Guardian

Obama Administration Takes Aim at TPP Countries’ Public Interest Policies in New Report  Public Citizen

After Pentagon investigations, three Army generals censured for misconduct WaPo. If they didn’t keep losing wars, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad?

DOD Inspector General finds $900 million stockpile of Stryker parts McClatchy

Ex-Credit Suisse CDO Chief Pleads Not Guilty in Fraud Bloomberg

Wall Street power player: We’re incentivized to cheat Salon

Intrade Faces $700,000 Cash Shortfall; Possible Liquidation Online WSJ

Brazil prosecutors investigate ex-President Lula BBC 

Portuguese Government Says Court Ruling Has ‘Negative Effects’ Bloomberg

Bangladesh protesters demand blasphemy law Al Jazeera. Hundreds of thousands.

China, Destroyer-of-Worlds Modeled Behavior (and see on “network effects”).

Striking dockers will talk to contractors if port operator attends South China Morning Post

Scientists angry about budget cuts come out of the lab and onto the streets McClatchy

U.S. Survey Highlights the Impacts of Drug Shortages on Patients and Care Cancer InCytes

Blood Screening Trumps Biopsy in Cancer Mutation Hunt Bloomberg

Shocking study reveals mortality rates for women are increasing in over 43% of U.S. counties compared to just 3.4% for men Daily Mail. Blue states vs. Red states.

Facebook Leans In Vanity Fair

The Silent Partner BuzzFeed

The Meme Hustler The Baffler

Chinese search engine developing Google Glass competitor Bangkok Post

Bitcoin Really Is an Existential Threat to the Modern Liberal State Bloomberg. Cryptonomicon fans take note.

Most recent vintage of eulogies for rock music: still premature Pruning Shears

Charlie Watts: ‘Glastonbury? I don’t want to do it’ Guardian

Lunch with the FT: Michael Sandel FT

A Practical Utopian’s Guide to the Coming Collapse David Graeber, The Baffler

Accounting regulations can change Bill Mitchell – billy blog. On Cyprus. Always nice to hear the Troika called out for sociopathy.

Antidote du jour:

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105 comments

  1. from Mexico

    Brad DeLong said:

    Why don’t you think Ben Bernanke was the worst Fed Chair since the Great Depression…because of his failure to understand even one of (a) the implications of the pre-2008 growth of leverage, derivatives, and shadow banking…

    Bernanke is not alone. Paul Krugman sings the same tune.

    Here’s the result:

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein/Screen%20shot%202010-04-22%20at%204.17.20%20PM.png

    In addition to this elephant in the room which both Bernanke and Krguman totally ignore, or simply dismiss as being unimportant:

    http://www.skeptically.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderpictures/us-private-debt-to-gdp-20-09.jpg

    1. Can't Help It

      They were all using Google Glass when looking at that chart!!!

      I am a programmer and thereby a geek, but I am probably not going to be on the Glass bandwagon. From the pictures, it appears that you always have to look to the upper right corner? If yes, then it’s just an accident waiting to happen.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Texas, comrades.

    Through a careless editorial oversight, the Times-Titanic has allowed an article with a positive spin about a so-called red state to slip through the cracks. Read it before it gets taken down and its author fired for anathema:

    AS a Texas-raised journalist, I can tell you two things with confidence about my native state. One, its economy has been humming nicely for years. Two, this appears to greatly offend a certain breed of Northern writer, several of whom have descended on the state in an attempt to rebut stories of a “Texas miracle.” Their reports, Erica Grieder writes, have contributed to “a widespread impression that Texas is corrupt, callous, racist, theocratic, stupid, belligerent, and most of all, dangerous.”

    This is nothing new, as most any Texan will tell you. But Ms. Grieder, a onetime correspondent for The Economist who now works at Texas Monthly, and a Texan herself, has written a smart little book that counters much of this silliness, and explains why the Texas economy is thriving. It’s called Big, Hot, Cheap and Right: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas. The sad truth, alas, is that it’s probably a lot easier to understand the successes of Texas than it would be to duplicate them.

    What might be copied, Ms. Grieder indicates, is the so-called Texas model — that is, a weak state government with few taxes and fewer regulations and services. It would be far harder to replicate the state’s civic DNA, which features traits that can be traced to its decade, beginning in 1836, as a stand-alone nation (independent, suspicious of Washington), the late-1800s cowboy era (self-reliant, fraternal) and the 20th-century introduction of oil and entrepreneurialism (pro-business, skeptical of government). Those values, Ms. Grieder says, created a populace ideal for economic growth: “pragmatic, fiscally conservative, socially moderate and slightly disengaged.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/07/business/big-hot-cheap-and-right-a-new-look-at-texas-review.html?partner=yahoofinance&_r=0

    ‘Northern writer’ — how dare he!

    In the ensuing reprimand, one can imagine the poor wretch’s editor quoting another ‘Northern writer,’ Dorothy Parker:

    “This wasn’t just plain terrible, this was fancy terrible. This was terrible with raisins in it.”

    1. from Mexico

      Just to flesh out what the argument is all about — the way in which Texas has become the poster child for right-wing ideologues and think tanks — I would cite this study:

      The Texas growth narrative is well-known by now. Texas’ population grew by 11 million people (79 percent) between 1980 and 2011, more than double the rate of growth of the nation as a whole. (See figure 1.) With that population growth came job growth. Since the 1990s, the rate of Texas job growth has been a full percentage point or more above the national average most years.

      The American Legislative Exchange Council, among others, has suggested that other states should adopt policies that will make them more like Texas in order to grow their economies. One example from the introduction to ALEC’s recent Rich States, Poor States report: “[M]any governors are looking at Texas, which has led the nation in job growth over the past three years, as the state with the best policy to emulate.” [1] In particular, ALEC notes the state’s tax policy as a plus.

      But if those governors look closely, they won’t find much they can emulate. The reality is that much of Texas’ growth results not from its policies but rather from factors that state officials cannot control. For example, Texas has been benefiting from cheap and plentiful land, a location that enables international immigration and trade, abundant natural resources such as oil and gas, and other advantages that cannot be exported.

      Even with all those natural advantages, Texas’ economic picture is not entirely rosy, and it may not be able to retain the advantage it currently holds over other states for much longer. Beyond population and job growth, Texas continues to lag behind the rest of the country in other important measures of economic success. About one in ten hourly wage jobs in Texas pays at or below the minimum wage ($7.25 per hour), more than in any other state, and Texas has the nation’s 11th-highest poverty rate. Such high levels of poverty and low-wage employment make the Texas economy a dubious model for the nation…

      Other states should think twice before they make major changes in their tax and budget policies in an effort to generate the growth that Texas has seen in recent years. This growth is a result of the interaction of a host of factors that cannot be replicated by other states, and perhaps should not be replicated even if they can be.

      http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index.cfm?fa=view&id=3739

      1. bobw

        IIRC Texas had no intention of seceding from Mexico until Mexico abolished slavery. Texas an icon of freedom? Think again.

        1. from Mexico

          Yep. Mexico’s colonization law promulgated in January 1923 prohibited the importation of slaves into Texas.

          Then on 16 September, 1929 Mexican president Vicente Guerro decreed the abolishment of slavery in Mexico, but excepted Texas. He made it very clear, however, that the abolition of slavery in Texas was in the works.

          Stephen Austin found a way around the law prohibiting the importation of slaves. Upon arriving at the Texas border, the slave masters made their slaves sign a contract declaring that they wanted to enter Texas, and bound them to their masters until they had saved the price of their freedom. The wages the slaves were to receive were not specified, and the cost of the slaves’ food and upkeep were discounted from their wages, so liberation was impossible. (Josephina Zoriada Vázquez , La Intervención Norteamericana, 1846-1848)

          Almost every facet of the cited NYT article is just as bad. It is an assault on historical truthfulness.

    2. from Mexico

      And a loud guffaw is about the only reaction anyone with even the remotest knowledge of Texas history could have to this passage:

      It would be far harder to replicate the state’s civic DNA, which features traits that can be traced to its decade, beginning in 1836, as a stand-alone nation (independent, suspicious of Washington)… Those values, Ms. Grieder says, created a populace ideal for economic growth: “pragmatic, fiscally conservative, socially moderate and slightly disengaged.”

      Here is an example of those values, written into the Constitution of the Republic of Texas in 1836:

      SEC. 9. All persons of color who were slaves for life previous to their emigration to Texas, and who are now held in bondage, shall remain in the like state of servitude, provide the said slave shall be the bona fide property of the person so holding said slave as aforesaid. Congress shall pass no laws to prohibit emigrants from the United States of America from bringing their slaves into the Republic with them, and holding them by the same tenure by which such slaves were held in the United States; nor shall Congress have power to emancipate slaves; nor shall any slave-holder be allowed to emancipate his or her slave or slaves, without the consent of Congress, unless he or she shall send his or her slave or slaves without the limits of the Republic. No free person of African descent, either in whole or in part, shall be permitted to reside permanently in the Republic, without the consent of Congress, and the importation or admission of Africans or negroes into this Republic, excepting from the United States of America, is forever prohibited, and declared to be piracy.

      SEC. 10. All persons, (Africans, the descendants of Africans, and Indians excepted,) who were residing in Texas on the day of the Declaration of Independence, shall be considered citizens of the Republic, and entitled to all the privileges of such. All citizens now living in Texas, who have not received their portion of land, in like manner as colonists, shall be entitled to their land in the following proportion and manner: Every head of a family shall be entitled to one league and labor of land, and every single man of the age of seventeen and upwards, shall be entitled to the third part of one league of land.

      http://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/constitutions/text/1836cindex.html

    3. from Mexico

      And I also got a good laugh out of this one:

      It’s no accident that Houston, a city sometimes caricatured as a haven for obnoxious right-wingers, in 2009 became the country’s largest city to elect an openly gay mayor.

      Yep. Nothing like having an Ernst Röhm around to do your dirty work for you, as this incident amply illustrates:

      …Houston Mayor Annise Parker on Thursday criticized a community activist’s release of a surveillance video that appears to show four former city police officers kicking and stomping a black teenage burglary suspect last year, saying it could jeopardize the cases against the officers.

      But leaders in Houston’s black community applauded the release of what they called the “appalling” and “outrageous” actions of “rogue officers.”

      “This never, ever should have been kept from the people,” said Quanell X, the community activist who released the video to Houston television station KTRK, which aired it Wednesday evening. “What’s on that tape, the world will get a chance to see now how they truly behave in public with young black men.”

      http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2011/02/04/black-activist-releases-vid-of-houston-police-beating-15-year-old-suspect/

      The right-wingers have played the race and gay cards magnificently. The battle, after all, has much more to do with class than it does with either race or sexual orientation. And the right-wingers know there’s nothing like having a black (e.g., Obama) or a gay (e.g., Parker) to carry the right-wing water.

    4. craazyman

      I don’t know about this. Texas always seemed to me like a giant farm for growing wild gun-waving criminals.

      Even the Dallas Cowboys, especially the Cowboys, somebody there is always under arrest for something. It makes you feel morally cleansed when they lose, espeically to Washington. Even way back in the day, JR Ewing from DALLAS must have committed at least 50 crimes. He had a very hot wife, and that alone would dissuade many people from following the law.

      There must be something about Texas, geographically, that makes people lawless gun-shooting wackos. You take even a law-abiding peaceful soul from Connecticut and within 3 years there they’d be wearing boots, own 8 guns and wonder why the guvermint is a tyranny.

      I can’t think of anyone there who probably isn’t a criminal deep down. But if you take them out of Texas and put in them in Vermont, they’d recover in a year and they’d be in church on Sunday.

      It makes you wonder whether there’s a vapor that comes up through the ground or some kind of wave-function field in the rocks there that organizes your thoughts without you knowing it, like a magnetic field organizes chips of iron. How would you know? You’d have to be very sensitive to figure something like that out. haha

      1. Bill Smith

        They used to have a strip club in Dallas that made up for all the negative stuff. It was called the Circus and was a huge place with three stages arranged around the audience. (3-ring circus – get it?) Had at least 20 girls on stage at any time. They looked like the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders – without the uniforms, of course. You could get whiplash in the place, but if you had insurance you were still ok.

        1. craazyman

          There is nothing that separates a man from his money faster than a strip club. You’d walk into the ones in New York and there’d be admission, there’d be the first drink and tip, and that would be at least $50. Then you had to tip the dancer. Then, if you’re like me, you want another drink. So with tip that’s another $50. In an hour it’s like $200.

          I can imagine with three rings in Texas it must have been $1000 an hour. I guess some folks in Texas wouldn’t notice that.

          It didn’t used to be like this. Back when I was 17 there was one in Washington. It was gentlemanly. You could get a pitcher of beer and just look. Somehow we got ourselves in with fake IDs, I don’t know how but it was a gentler time in America. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I just couldn’t believe it. One night my buddies and I climbed the back steps where the girls took cigarette breaks and actually talked to them. It was like talking to Leonardo’s Angels themselves, in the flesh. It was unbelievable. I can’t remember what we said, probably something like “So, do you all come here often?” I just remember them laughing at us and us awkwardly looking at each other. That was all that happened.

          The one useful thing the Department of Homeland Security could do is this: When Dallas opens it’s season at Texas Stadium, arrest everybody in the place. They’re mostly criminals and the ones that aren’t will be probably. But then if the Cowboys lose, especially if it’s Washington, it’s OK to let them all go with a warning.

      2. ScottS

        You take even a law-abiding peaceful soul from Connecticut and within 3 years there they’d be wearing boots, own 8 guns and wonder why the guvermint is a tyranny.

        Did you purposely pick Connecticut — the traditional home of firearms manufacturing in America — to see if we were paying attention?

        Wiki:

        Connecticut was an historical center of gun manufacturing, and, as of December 2012, 4 gun-manufacturing firms, Colt, Stag, Ruger, and Mossberg, employing 2,000 employees, continued to operate in the state.[57] Marlin, by then owned by Remington, closed in April 2011.[58]

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yes, and Newtown is the home of the so-called National Shooting Sports Federation. I guess those kids are just collateral damage, because freedom.

      3. Propertius

        I don’t know about this. Texas always seemed to me like a giant farm for growing wild gun-waving criminals.

        But apparently not a very successful one:

        Chicago murder rate = 18.7/100,000 (2012)
        Houston murder rate = 9/100,000 (2011)

        It seems to me that Chicago’s agricultural techniques must be significantly more advanced.

        1. binkybear

          Depends on how you choose to cut the baby. Add
          Dallas to Fort Worth since they share an airport and you are about equal.

    5. JeremyGrimm

      Having lived in Texas for several years in the past I can say a few good things about the state. Houses there were inexpensive and there is lots of open space. Folks drive ‘friendly’ in Texas, although I think the word must have a different meaning for Texans than for the rest of the English speaking world. Texas definitely has the very best frozen margaritas and plenty of cheap beer as long as you aren’t in a dry county but even if you are there’s sure to be a good honky tonk just across the line. I always found it remarkable how many Texans could go out Saturday night and drink til Sunday morning and still show up for church to repent before going out drinking Sunday night. Where I worked the vast majority of people had college degrees; I actually heard one of these bubbas — probably educated in the Texas school systems — call a guy I worked with, who hailed from Macon, Georgia a “Yankee”. I think that he meant “Yankee” as in “you ain’t from around here are ya!” The very best memories I have of Texas were landing a job in another state so I could leave, and next best was when after 15 years I could finally sell the little house I bought for only a 25% loss. I don’t comment often, and I certainly don’t approve of feeding trolls but this Texas tweak was too much. I’m not going to hunt up a reference, so take it for what it’s worth I definitely recall reading that much of the Texas ‘miracle’ — at least in the past — resulted from expenditures by the federal government.

    6. Abe, NYC

      I wonder to what extent Texas is leeching off of other states. I understand it fares very poorly on education, yet attracts people who received education elsewhere. Also, there is an incentive for Texans who fall ill to move to states with stronger public healthcare, like New York.

  3. Goin' South

    Re: underground homeless camp–

    “Everything’s up to date in Kansas City
    They gone about as fer as they can go
    They went an’ built a skyscraper seven stories high
    About as high as a buildin’ orta grow.
    Everything’s like a dream in Kansas City
    It’s better than a magic lantern show.
    You can turn the radiator on whenever you want some heat
    With every kind of comfort every house is all complete.
    You could walk the privees in the rain and never wet your feet!
    They’ve gone about as fer as they can go.”

    “Everything’s Up to Date in Kansas City” from “Oklahoma”

    Contrast:

    “Kansas City Chiefs To Show Off New Arrowhead Stadium Renovations” ($375 million RENOVATION)

    http://www.arrowheadpride.com/2010/9/13/1685792/kansas-city-chiefs-to-show-off-new

    1. wunsacon

      I don’t understand why a “charity” is involved in clearing out the homeless camp. Is society going to take care of these people? If the answer is “no”, then we should leave them their dwelling the f— alone.

      1. Goin' South

        Pretty typical behavior really. These “charities” are surrogate enforcers for the State in many instances.

  4. JGordon

    I love bitcoin, if just for it’s sheer potential to steamroll over defunct ideologies and wreck failing governments alike. Much like gold, there is no corrupt central issuer to abuse the currency, and it’s therefore stable and durable (as long as the internet is running) unlike fiat, which is designed to be abusable by those who issue it.

    Bitcoin is an escape hatch for those who are tired of being abused.

    1. Jim Haygood

      The late J. Orlin Grabbe, after authoring the textbook International Financial Markets, became one of the early advocates of anonymous digital money. From his Wikipedia entry:

      In May of 1995, [Grabbe] published the second part of a two-part essay, “The End of Ordinary Money” on the Internet. The first part of this essay had been written in 1987. In July 1995, the article was printed in Liberty magazine. With the publication of a second article, “Digital Cash and the Future of Money”, Orlin Grabbe had established a path towards Digital Finance.

      Five years after his death in Costa Rica, his website lives on. It carries frequent articles about Bitcoin, both supportive and skeptical.

      http://orlingrabbe.com/

      Smash the fiat currency counterfeiters …

    2. rob

      The US dollar is a fiat currency.That at least has a country behind it.How is the “bitcoin”, anything but a fad?It is what it is now(a fiat form of currency),with no one held accountable to its value.An increase in the volume of bitcoins can be made at any time.thus decreasing its scarcity..Right now it looks like just another speculator/marketing driven bubble, like “beenie babies”.

      1. Massinissa

        Not true, actually. Bitcoin is going to be capped at 21 billion, apparently, and after that it will never increase again.

        It is, however, infinitely subdivisible, but of course cutting something into hundredths does not increase its value.

        Im terribly scared that Bitcoin will prove to be incredibly DEflationary though. Maybe the subdivisible-ness will prevent that, but I have my doubts. Im very comfortable watching this experiment from a distance, thank you.

      2. JGordon

        “At least it has a country behind”

        Well, that is actually a net negative in my book, considering that the country in question is printing around 84,000,000,000 units of this currency every single month and handing out these newly printed currency units to its rich Wall Street buds.

        People who keep their savings in this currency are frankly insane. Every pay day I cash out of it as soon as frickin can–whether I put it into solar panels or ammo or hand tools or silver or bitcoins, just about anything is better than USD.

        1. davidgmills

          It is debatable whether the US dollar has a country behind it or not. The Federal Reserve is not part of the government (how this myth gets perpetuated that the Federal Reserve is part of the government I’ll never know) and our dollars are Federal Reserve notes. It seems like the country behind the currency is only there to bail out the banksters who counterfeit this stuff.

          1. jrs

            I think the Federal Reserve not being part of the government *IS* the myth. The Federal Reserve only exists because of a government law, the Federal Reserve act. The board of governors which is the majority of those making monetary policy decisions are appointed by the President – though they have to reach consensus which doesn’t allow pure majority rule – it may allow “fillibuster” by refusal though. Furthermore it is in theory subject to congressional oversight.

            It’s like many public-private partnerships where it’s hard to tell where the government ends and the “private sector” begins. It’s just another example, maybe it was an early one, of *corporatism*. The government could in theory end the Federal Reserve whenever they wanted by passing another law creating a new system (directly created money or whatever). It exists by their sanction.

            “It seems like the country behind the currency is only there to bail out the banksters who counterfeit this stuff.”

            If by “the country” you meant the poeple, I agree, the masses did not create this system. If by the country you mean the government I don’t agree. The bankster counterfeiters exists entirely because the government allowed and continue to allow them. Basically we’re dealing with corrupt SYSTEMS in feedback loops, where everything reinforces everything else. Rich banksters buy out politicians and reinforce the federal reserve system, reinforces rich banksters by making them richer, round and round it goes, feedback loops. And there are no innocent parties (with power anyway). There’s is no pure white untainted government that is the unfortunate victim that is forced to bail out bankers. No, the government created the whole scheme. And of course the banksters aren’t pure.

          2. jrs

            By the way any really basic info on the federal reserve will say it is a public private partnership (which in plain language is saying corporatism).

    3. Massinissa

      Lets pray Bitcoin does not have golds obvious defects then. To be perfectly honest its too early to say for sure. Gold has had centuries to try, and failed.

      Success or failure, Bitcoin will be a most interesting experiment. I believe even its detractors can agree to that. Unless of course they have a motive for hoping for its failure.

      It may prove to be an enjoyable ride, and certainly a most fascinating one, but personally I am perfectly willing to watch it from a distance, just in case. No offense or anything.

      Cheers, to empiricism!

      1. JGordon

        I am in favor of any currency that don’t have a central authority monitoring and enforcing its use. As for gold failing as an monetary medium, that is debatable and not at all certain.

        1. Valissa

          Just wanted to tell you that I appreciate that you have hung in there and continued to comment despite the occasional herd disapproval from reactionary liberals. As an ex-liberal, committed pluralist and skeptic of centralized power in any form, I enjoy hearing from other people who have disengaged, from the left-right paradigm :)

      2. Jessica

        I would assume that the PTB are or soon will be looking for a way to blow up Bitcoin. Hacking it somehow. Some way their fingerprints won’t be on the attack. Hell, various criminal organizations will be thinking the same thing without any intelligence agency needing to encourage them.
        I assume that Bitcoin being P2P means that there is no server anywhere that could be physically seized.
        Of course, attempts at demonization and marginalization will go on in parallel.
        Or am I being tin foily to assume that there is no way the PTB stand by and let part of their power be taken away unless there is utterly nothing they can do about it?

    4. FINCEN's Meyer Lansky

      Bitcoin is a challenge not to the liberal state but to criminal states like the USG. Tax-sucking FINCEN drone Jeff Schwarz devotes his life to reserving privacy exclusively for the clandestine criminality of the executive branch and its colluding banks. FINCEN’s function is not to prevent financial crime but to maintain the covert impunity of US government criminals. The Convention Against Corruption will broadly distribute the oversight function that FINCEN now selectively abuses, and in response, criminal US government officials and agents will use anonymous digital currencies. Anonymity is not worth much if it’s restricted to Clandestine Service spooks, so individual users will be tolerated. The same dynamic explains why Tor, WASTE, Freenet, and Crypto-cat have not been destroyed.

      1. JGordon

        Well that certainly seems plausible. But while it is true that those who run the government and make up the Do”J” are criminals and would like to micromanage every aspect of everyone’s life, I don’t think that they so much as “permit” crypto currencies as that they have little ability to control them.

        I mean, let’s be honest here: if Americans (and foreigners) had ready and widespread access to a currency that could not be printed out of thin air, the USD would be dumped almost instantly by everyone. This is an existential threat to their MMT fiat system, even if only a small one at present, that they would not tolerate if they had a choice in the matter.

    5. binkybear

      in the case of precious metal I suggest you point your attention to the Hunt Brothers of Texas, who at one point nearly cornered the silver market in a rollicking good episode of good old fashioned commodity fun.

  5. Goin' South

    Re: a practical utopian’s guide–

    Reading Graeber is like throwing open the window on the first real spring day and feeling that warm air flow over you. Rebirth.

    I’m excited about reading that new book.

    1. Inverness (@Inverness)

      I always enjoy reading Graeber. Although Adam Curtis makes an important companion to Graeber’s point that the Vietnam protesters made important gains.

      I really appreciate how war planners are essentially afraid of any kind of protest. Yes, the Iraq and Aghan war architects would be careful to avoid drafts, for example. But that doesn’t address the root problems — it just forces war planners and neo-liberal economists to be more sophisticated about how they market their policies and wars. And also make sure it won’t be your upper-middle class neighbor going off to fight, but your some poor young person with little choice but to enlist in the military.

      Back to Adam Curtis, who exposes how the 60′s movement was co-opted. The ideas of Abbie Hoffman, and the Yippies/Hippies would be manipulated by sophisticated PR machines to make it seem that through consumerism, you could attain liberation. No longer do you need to connect with others; it can be done for and by yourself, without community organizing. And just think about how many products are marketed to this kind of bobo-type mentality. It’s awfully hard to stay a few steps ahead of this well-oiled machine.

          1. Inverness (@Inverness)

            Shop at Whole Foods, unaware that the CEO is a neoliberal nightmare, and maybe cross a picket line. You’re buying organic, right?

          2. Bill

            Most of what WalFoods sells has GMOs and pesticides in it.
            A lot of their housebrand “organics” are grown in China.

            Don’t be fooled. It’s better than Safeway but so is a real local health food store that recirculates its money in the local community instead of sending it to Austin and Switzerland.

      1. Jessica

        I think the 60s was coopted to a large degree because it had a large hedonistic streak to start with.
        I remember this poster. It was a take-off on some chemical company advertisement. It showed young men and women, obviously tripping their brains off.
        The caption was:
        Better Living Through Chemistry.
        We thought we had cleverly twisted their idea to our purposes. Later I realized that we were also twisting ourselves to their purposes.
        I am reading Jonathan Sperber’s new biography of Marx. (Excellent book, by the way) The Young Hegelians in the 1840s had the same conflict about political rebellion vs. life-style rebellion even then.

        1. Expat

          Another book on this topic with some insight into the reasons why the 60s culture failed to ignite lasting economic and (good) political change is “Rebel Sell” by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter (2005). The authors describe how indiscriminate rebellion led to the co-opting of a generation by marketers. All you had to do to seduce the populations was say “no rules.” Adam Curtis presents a nuanced history of the phenomenon, but the book isn’t too bad as long as you hold your nose over the neoliberal economics.

          Of course, the self-styled conservatives, most notably George Bush and President Cheney, were the ultimate “no rules” guys. We don’t even know if the Constitution has any legal weight any more, given signing statements, secret executive orders and all the states of emergency that allegedly give the president the “right” to avoid following any laws or regulations.

          1. neo-realist

            Bush/Cheney were not so much “No Rules” as much as they were “Our Rules”. Authoritarians who move the ball around to their own preference rather than enforce democratically made rules are the most dangerous.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Graeber’s focus on TINA is very perceptive and important. Under no circumsstances must the proles be permitted to regard any form of self-organization as a succcess. That’s why it was important to do stuff like bulldoze the OWS library, or whatever they did with it. And why Occupy Sandy is so important.

        1. Inverness (@Inverness)

          Lambert,
          No disagreement, there. And Curtis, like Graeber, emphasize the need for imagination. What I like about Curtis is that he doesn’t dismiss the corporate co-optation, but builds to add that we still need to dream, we don’t have to be at the End of History.

        2. Richard Kline

          Graeber’s article has at least a half a dozen rich theses alone worthy of close discussion. I’d prefer to see it boosted to a post of its own (if David’s willing) or a synopsis thereof. We’d be better off chewing the fat on this over an extended analysis.

          I’m late to the thread on this, and rather debilitated tonight, so I’m not going to launch into the wealth of issues raised here. We’ll see more at least, I feel sure, when Graeber’s text hits the shelves. Still, a preparatory discussion online would be to our advantage and the success of that launch both.

          I remember when I felt like writing texts like that. And the concepts therein still engage me . . . .

    2. jimmy james

      I think Graeber has his heart in the right place, but good lord, someone needs to get him a better editor between the whole Apple thing that Delong keeps mentioning and this:

      “But afterward, those controlling U.S. foreign policy were so anxious about being met with similar popular unrest—and even more, with unrest within the military itself, which was genuinely falling apart by the early seventies—that they refused to commit U.S. forces to any major ground conflict for almost thirty years.”

      C’mon, there were HALF A MILLION american troops involved in Operation Desert Storm, and although it turned into something of a cakewalk, experts at the time were predicting thousands of casualties on our side. The Iraqi Republican Guard was built up to be an elite boogeyman, if Graeber can remember the media coverage at the time.

      1. from Mexico

        I’m leary of these folks like Graeber who have come unglued from empirical reality. Besides what you have pointed out, there are other historical inaccuracies in his article.

        There’s nothing wrong with speculative thought — “imagination” as Graeber calls it. But he seems to be so in love with it that he takes liberties with the historical record, tailoring it to fit his revolutionary theory.

        1. Valissa

          I thought the title of the post was a big clue. A “practical utopian”? I knew trouble was coming after that… oxy-moron anyone! Loved his book “5000 Years of Debt” but when he talks about politics today from his dreamy anarchist perspective my brain loses interest immediately.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Eek! 1991 – 1973 = 18. 18 ≠ 30. Very very good catch. And I agree on Apple. That’s just a ludicrously bad statement, and worse, it’s ludicrously bad to the tech savvy who are key both to Obama (“creative class”) and whatever will come after Occupy (even if what comes after Occupy is Occupy).

        * * *

        To the thesis, though, I think in the main Graeber is correct, but I would add that the Army is clearly falling apart today. You’ve got outright corruption at the command level (and not even revolving door corruption, flying to the Bahamas on the government dime or having intimate relations with your biographer). And then you’ve got the suicides at the boots on the ground level (and why suicides, and not fragging?). Add to that the maimings and immense social damage from traumatic stress.

        No wonder Obama’s going for the drones. The past two administrations broke the Army.

  6. Ned Ludd

    After reading Laurie Penny’s article last week in the Guardian, this observation by Graeber stood out:

    [U]nder no conditions can alternatives, or anyone proposing alternatives, be seen to experience success. This helps explain the almost unimaginable investment in “security systems” of one sort or another: the fact that the United States, which lacks any major rival, spends more on its military and intelligence than it did during the Cold War, along with the almost dazzling accumulation of private security agencies, intelligence agencies, militarized police, guards, and mercenaries. Then there are the propaganda organs, including a massive media industry that did not even exist before the sixties, celebrating police. Mostly these systems do not so much attack dissidents directly as contribute to a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity, life insecurity, and simple despair that makes any thought of changing the world seem an idle fantasy.

    It has always been dangerous to be a radical activist, but the brutal crushing of the occupy movement shows that it is now dangerous to simply hold up a sign in a public park. As Laurie Penny wrote:

    Right now, as millions of people stare down the barrel of job losses, benefits sanctions, destitution and desperation and the rich are given tax cuts, I hear a lot of people asking why there isn’t more resistance going on. Well, here’s why. There was resistance, and it was brutally and systematically put down. The students, the street-organising anti-cuts campaigners, the Occupy movement. […]

    New movements to resist austerity must expect to meet the same wall of state violence as soon as they become effective, because that’s how the Tories operate. It’s how they’ve always operated.

    It is an odd bit of dissonance to end her article with a myopic focus on the Tories. State violence is not limited to the Tories; violence is one of the primary functions of the state. The state succeeds, on its own terms, when it creates “a pervasive climate of fear, jingoistic conformity, life insecurity, and simple despair that makes any thought of changing the world seem an idle fantasy.”

    1. Inverness (@Inverness)

      Neal Ludd: Yes. I mean, it’s only the Tories that focus on that? What about “New Labor,” under Tony Blair, which help set up quotas for everything, including the security apparatus?

      It’s like arguing that only the Republicans are tough on crime, or love war.

      1. Synopticist

        Laura Penny is spot on here…

        “Sadly, many of the liberal-minded folk now wondering aloud where all the anger on the streets has gone were the same people who condemned the students and anti-cuts protesters for being just a bit too noisy, too rowdy, too “violent”. As soon as the frustrated kids of Britain and their allies started smashing up bus stops and lighting bonfires outside Tory HQ, that was too much: throw the selfish brats in prison, teach them to mind their manners.”

  7. Ron

    Payroll jobs: Traditional work (jobs) within a society that exports jobs, promotes productivity software, promotes mechanical labor saving machinery, will find it difficult to generate traditional work. The payroll report is only one indication of a long term trend towards reduction in traditional work hours. The more interesting question becomes when will software/automation which is created and sold on the basis of saving human work hours reach a point of saturation that the economic consumer driven economy itself becomes the casualty.

  8. rich

    Mired in financial troubles, Italian couple commits suicide

    Saddled with debt

    As Italy’s economy continues to stagger, suicide rates have increased in recent years, according to the state news agency.

    The nation is in its longest recession in 20 years. Its economy — Europe’s third-largest, saddled with a government debt the Treasury Ministry puts at $2.6 trillion — shrank by 0.9% in the fourth quarter of 2012, Eurobarometer says.

    Efforts to corral Italy’s government debt through cutbacks have taken a toll. Dionisi, for instance, was among the thousands of esodati — or “exiled ones” — who’d been left without a pension after the Italian government raised the retirement age 16 months ago.

    “When Romeo lost his job (in a building firm) he had only one or two more years of private contribution to pay before he could receive the pension,” Costamagna said.

    “With the pension system reform, he suddenly had five more years of contribution to pay and he lost his serenity. Moreover, according to the new rules it’s very difficult to pay your contributions if you don’t have a proper work and with the crisis, no one can afford to hire a worker with a proper contract.

    “It’s a kind of pincer in which Romeo got trapped.”

    http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/05/world/europe/italy-triple-suicide/index.html

  9. JGordon

    I just read that TPP article. Oh my God, Obama is even more awful than I’d been thinking. No conscience, no morality, no ethics–just an empty, sock-puppet handmaiden to the corporate state.

    Anyway, now that it’s so transparent and out in the open, are the Democrats who are still left openly cognizant of the fact that they serve Fascists? And I’m not using the word “Fascist” to be hyperbolic here–just look at what Obama is pushing in the TPP–and then check a dictionary. “Fascist” is a perfectly accurate term for what Democrats are. So don’t dump on me just because I’m using the English language correctly.

    1. diptherio

      If fascism = corporate-run government, à la Mussolini, then I think we can all agree that we’ve been living under a fascist political regime for quite some time now (at least since Reagan).

        1. Dandelion

          Way back in 2008 I was never able to look at the Obama “Hope” poster without thinking “Il Duce.” The artwork itself evoked the 1930s, nevermind the jut of Obama’s chin. And I think I remember reading that after the election, when he went to Berlin to make a triumphal speech, the Germans did not put up any of that Hope artwork specifically because of how it evoked the 1930s.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      “Obama is even more awful than I’d been thinking.” Groundhog day!

      * * *

      On Fascist, Godwin’s Law doesn’t apply where the claim is true…. Or I suppose made in good faith.

      I agree on the marriage of corporate and state power, so typical of fascism, but I don’t think Obama’ fascist (for reasons I hope to post on shortly, horribly long post in gestation). I think Obama’s something new, and worse.

      1. Jessica

        I am looking forward to your post, Lambert.
        It is important to recognize that none of the names from the past, even the worst ones, will do the job of accurately describing what they are doing.

  10. diptherio

    Here’s a couple more worthwhile links:

    The Terrible, Awful Truth about SSDI ~The Last Psychiatrist

    SSI is 100% a gimmick, but the gimmick is 100% hidden from you. The gimmick isn’t that poor people game the disability system to get cash payments, the gimmick is that the only way to deliver cash payments to poor people is through the pretense of disability, hence mental illness and pain disorders. Whether they are “disabled” or not is totally and completely irrelevant, poor people are going to get the money one way or another so that they don’t riot, but in order to prevent everyone else from rioting, deniability is created: “look, doctors– SCIENCE– said they are medically disabled, it’s out of our hands!” So your anger is safely diverted: “they’re gaming the system!” No. That is the system. If they were gaming it, someone would get caught. No one gets caught.

    “We need to create jobs.” There aren’t any to create. Robots and chinamen, that’s the future of unskilled labor. Sorry, I meant chinawomen. College won’t help either, you went to Barnard and you can’t find a job, what hope is there for the majority on SSI? Zero, not the way we’re doing it. TV tells them how to want, no one else is around to tell them otherwise. Here’s the advice you need to give your kid: either you find a knowledge based productive skill, from plumber to quantum programmer, or you will be living off the state, regardless of what company you think you’re working for.

    Like a Business ~Adam Kotsko

    Let’s take the example of Roger Smith, the CEO of GM who was the subject of Michael Moore’s Roger and Me. He was presiding over a huge operation that made cars, provided good jobs, and supported the livelihood of commmunities throughout the United States. And at the end of the day, I think he found that to be pretty boring. He started cutting his costs through outshoring, to get that rush of higher profits, and he started using the big pool of money that GM controlled to start making speculative bets (like buying defense contractors). He took something that had been run like a stable institution and made it run like a business. I’m sure it was fun for him, though the results were less favorable for the laid-off workers and blighted communities.

    1. PQS

      Thanks for the link to SSDI….that was very informative and deserves a formal “link” posting, I’d say.

    2. ginnie nyc

      I have a bone to pick with the article (disclaimer: I’m on SSDI). The pretense that SSI, Supplemental Security Income, is a “living” wage is egregiously untrue.

      $700-800 a month in NYC, for instance, is not a living anything. This is why many people on SSI (and “welfare”, Public Assitance)are engaged in sub rosa activities, legit and otherwise, to supplement their damned Supplemental Income. It’s not adequate even if you can get off a 9-year waiting list and move into the projects.

      The general gist of the article, that the money is a management technique, is accurate, but its other purpose is to hamstring, or suppress, or deliberately crush people into the criminal underclass, and keep them there.

      1. diptherio

        I picked up on that too. I think it’s a language problem. I think he means that SSDI is “the wage you are living on,” not that it is what we would consider a “living wage” (like the sort I worked for with the New Party). What you get from SSDI is the wage you live on…whether or not it’s adequate (it isn’t) is a different question.

        What I liked was his focus on the fact that the system is set up to operate this way: it’s a feature, not a bug. The Feds would rather have a lot of folks on SSDI to make the unemployment stats look better. I don’t think he means to imply that a person can live a comfortable life on $800/month.

      2. ohmyheck

        Thanks, ginnie. My ex-boyfriend suffers from long-term, unmedicated Bipolar Disorder, and is a complete basketcase. The State should be happy to pay him to stay OUT of the workforce. How one person can make a multitude of others miserable, just by beinging his presence, is a mystery.

        Maybe some people do fake mental illness, but I know a few folks who are the real deal.

      3. jrs

        Yea well if you’ve ever read that guys blog he’s a total @sshole, really dude is pond scum, some type of Randian scumbag (and there are decent people who have been influenced at one point even by Ayn, but he ain’t one). But it doesn’t mean he can’t make an interesting point and that is an interesting point.

        Some people say they can’t work because they are depressed, I always joke that’s backward: they are DEPRESSED BECAUSE they work (or whenever they try working)! And why wouldn’t they be given the quality of most jobs out there (even those considered “good jobs”)? It’s the system.

        He’s also not wrong about how many people are somewhat working for government. In my experience when a company becomes midsize the government (usually the Feds too, mostly not talking about local or state govts here) is usually one of it’s many clients. Only truly small businesses may be free of it. His solution is of course “get the right skill, become a Randian ubermench, become self-employed”. My solution is when the system stops working not just for say 10% of the population which you could maybe make excuses for and give charity (though it still really sucks) but for vast majority of the people, the system itself is wrong, the defenders of it are apologists for the powerful, and SMASH THE WHOLE DARN THING :)

        1. jrs

          meant to say when a company becomes midsize the government is often one of it’s *major* clients

  11. rich

    Saturday, April 6, 2013
    “As long as bankers live in a world free of consequence, our finance system is doomed to fail”

    In a must read Guardian column, Joris Luyendijk looks at the implications for our financial system of bankers being free of both market discipline and legal liability. When greed is not checked by the consequences of failure, you get a dysfunctional system where bankers privatize the gains and socialize the losses.

    The first step in subjecting the bankers to market discipline is requiring the banks to provide ultra transparency and disclose on an ongoing basis their current global asset, liability and off-balance sheet exposure details.

    It is this disclosure that bankers fear most.

    For anyone not working for JPMorgan, this is known as market discipline and linking consequences to actions.

    This is how a former top banker in treasury described his time in a bank that failed: “Risk produces profits, profits lead to a higher share price, and executive pay was linked to that. It was so fucking easy to manipulate the share price; simply take some more risk.

    “I was having a great time – travelled around the world, feted by people. I used to be invited to every major sporting event in the world … Everyone is nice to you because you represent a chance for them to make money. It becomes very tempting to think that actually all these people like you for who you are. I stressed internally the risk we were taking. But you have to understand, nobody likes a prophet of doom.”

    http://tyillc.blogspot.com/2013/04/as-long-as-bankers-live-in-world-free.html

  12. Valissa

    Great links today Lambert!

    Here are some more…

    Tiny Cthulhu ‘monsters’ discovered in termite guts http://science.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/04/17602583-tiny-cthulhu-monsters-discovered-in-termite-guts

    Tarantula The Size Of A Human Face Discovered http://news.sky.com/story/1073751/tarantula-the-size-of-a-human-face-discovered

    Brilliant! Viral of The Day: Supermarket Opera http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2013/04/03/viral-of-the-day-shopera/

    Fridge Defence: 10 Ways To Stop People Stealing Your Food http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2013/04/05/fridge-defence-10-ways-to-stop-people-stealing-your-food/

    1. davidgmills

      I just retired after thirty five years of practicing law. I would make two points that I have repeatedly made for much of my career.

      First, a law school education is a great education but it is not a ticket to wealth. I would also say that it is a particularly good choice for those who do not know what to do with themselves and never envisioned being a lawyer — often these people make very good lawyers — despite what the deans think. But it is no ticket to wealth; just an education like no other. However, it is now questionable whether this education, unique though it may be, can be justified by the cost.

      Second, the corporatization of the law is killing it. The law is under corporate attack from everywhere, from the lobbysists and corporate legislatures that write our laws to the corporations that end up paying for most of the legal fees generated by the profession. The corporatization of the law is making it impossible for the common man to get representation, and even when he does, impossible for the common man to have legal success with any regularity. This can’t be good for a democratic society.

  13. Jim

    David Graeber argued, near the end of his essay that: “And the moment any significant number of people simultaneously shake off the shackles that have been placed on their collective imagination, even our most deeply inculcated assumptions about what is and is not possible have been know to crumble overnight….”

    Earlier, in his essay, he maintained “….in most cases the rebels didn’t even try to take over the apparatus of the state; they saw that apparatus as itself the problem.”

    How can it be that in 2013 a significant proportion of the commetariat on NC rightly identify Big Capital as an enemy but still see Big State as a potential friend?

    1. Valissa

      Jim, you are one of my favorite provocateurs here and you make an excellent point (as usual), but in making it haven’t you too succumbed to the Manichean dualism of the current political paradigm? And here I thought you were one of the ones who had escaped it and was trying to move on to new thought forms about politics ;)

      I think most people here see the so-called “friendly fascism” discussed above and recognize many of the authoritarian perils of empire, but habits of group thinking are hard to break, for liberals or anyone else. My observation is that people are used to thinking about politics in terms of good guys and bad guys and that it is hard to let go of these heavily internalized beliefs. The world is way more complex than dualistic thinking can explain. Encouraging people to expand beyond simple dualistic thinking and moving their perspective into a more pluralistic and multi-dimensional view of the world is my current attitude in discussing politics.

      But going back to your point, it does often amaze me how so many liberals are seemingly unaware of the dangers of ever growing gov’t bureaucracy and that increasing bureaucracy means increasing authoritarianism and gov’t control. They don’t seem to see the dangerous power inherent there.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m as alive to the dangers as anyone, or at least many, but it’s entirely possible to make things worse. I guess that makes me an “archist” as opposed to an “anarchist” (to use LeGuin’s term).

        1. Valissa

          While I really enjoyed Leguin’s books and somewhat fancied myself an anarchist when I was young, the correct label for me would have been an anarco-libertarian in the style of Robert Heinlein.

          TANSTAAFL!

          However these days, I’m just an unbeliever and identify with NO political ideologies of any stripe. Using D&D terminology, the best label for me is probably a philosophical “Neutral” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alignment_(Dungeons_%26_Dragons).

      2. Valissa

        Thinking about it further, I think the problem is that liberals don’t pay much attention to the bureaucratic structure itself (like it’s a black box), only to some of it’s benevolent results

        Of course all governments are bureaucracies, but there is great variation is how bureaucratic structures and policies are designed, implemented, and managed (and whether they are efficient or inefficient – think Dilbert!). They can run well or poorly or anywhere in between. It is almost like a law of nature that over time bureaucracies sprawl, bloat and become increasingly inefficiency as more and more rules and procedures are added. Like a garden, you have to periodically prune, trim and reorg to keep things going well. Among another things, the bureaucracy of the US gov’t is in desperate need of innovation, renovation and streamlining. Not sure why liberals don’t focus on this aspect more and how funds saved from this restructuring could be retargeted to social programs that need them.

        A useful diagram http://quantumpranx.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/chsmith-cyclebureaucracy.png

        1. davidgmills

          What the agencies of the federal government need to be is not infiltrated by those businesses and entities the agencies are supposed to regulate. The problem always is in finding someone who knows enough about an industry or business to regulate it yet not be beholden to it.

          Most agencies are now captured by the businesses and industries they regulate.

        2. Jim

          Valissa stated “The best label for me is probably a philosophical “Neutral.”

          I personally find something attractive in your concept of a philosophical “Neutral” or what I would prefer to call a generalized agnosticism.

          Graeber in his essay argued that: “In the wake of a revolution, ideas that had been considered veritably lunatic fringe quickly become the accepted currency of debate.”

          After a hypothetical revolution what would be the political formation (nation-state, federation, etc.) which would make possible a generalized agnosticism as a governing principle–or what political formation would most likely exude, as you also state, a more pluralistic and multidimensional view of the world”?

          I also see the issue of dualistic thinking closely linked to ones conception of the political. Does politics always boil down to friends and enemies or is it possible to conceive of an alternative political structure closer to a generalized agnosticism?

          1. Valissa

            After a hypothetical revolution what would be the political formation (nation-state, federation, etc.) which would make possible a generalized agnosticism as a governing principle–or what political formation would most likely exude, as you also state, a more pluralistic and multidimensional view of the world”?

            Jim, I shared my own philosophy for the sake of conversation and I have no interest in imposing it on anyone or anything. My philosophy reflects my own position as an observer and “outsider” (and ex-utopian), not a reformer and at this time in my life am not interested in being part of any political revolution (based on my historical understanding and my own temperament – I don’t believe in political revolution, I’m a skeptic). I’ll leave that to the folks who don’t mind imposing their beliefs and will on others for the greater good of society.

            I am trying to encourage individuals to move away from dualistic thinking and encouraging a more pluralistic and multidimensional view of the world because I think the way we see the world impacts how we act in it and what our expectations are, and it also effects how easily influenced by ideologies we are. It effects which trends we choose to hop onto and which trends we choose to detach from. Honestly, though, I recognize few are interested in that. In general people want to believe and belong.

            IMO, there will never be a generalized agnosticism in politics. That doesn’t even make sense to me. Politics is about power and money and influence, period. The nitty gritty of politics is about taking a position within the system and duking it out… not my thing, but it is the way of the world. Political ideologies, IMO, seem to have only the loosest of tetherings to real politik.

            The political system we have now is the result of many interacting trends. It is what it is. It isn’t what many think it should be. I do not believe in either the machinist view (the system is broke and this is how to fix it) or the powerpoint view (a,b,c are the problems and x,y, and z are the solutions).

    2. Susan the other

      Because some things work, more or less. They are worth keeping until better methods evolve. I love his (Wittgenstein’s?) analysis of the evolution of politics, and the curious fact that political change emerges simultaneously around the world. The neoliberals are fighting a losing battle. A lost cause. They address nothing except the fascist protection of capital. Obama himself does this with a straight face. He calls it “free trade.” It is truly amazing.

      Haven’t heard of The Baffler until now. “The Journal that Blunts the Cutting Edge.” Clearly my kinda journal.

      Abbie is dead. Long live Abbie.

    3. Bob

      Big state, that’s neither here nor there. The state has distorted US culture so that it fails to protect humans from state overreach. So naturally the country wound up with a criminal state. The civilized world knows how to prevent that. It’s not rocket science. Every middling African statelet comes up to the minimal standards: Comply with the UN Charter, the International Bill of Human Rights, and the Rome Statute. Reinforce international review domestically with the Paris Principles.

      Every US propaganda victim, left and right, is programmed to make a cross with their fingers at the very thought. That’s because these norms rein in the state.

    4. from Mexico

      I don’t find Graeber to be terribly insightful. The sad reality is that, as Robert Huges noted of the revolution of ’68: “None of the beautiful promises came true.”

      Nor did many of the beautiful promises come true of any of the revolutions of the 1789 to 1968 period.

      Graber seems to be so much in denial of the ineffectiveness of these revolutions that he distorts Wallerstein. Wallerstein in this speech states that he doesn’t believe that the revolutions that occurred in the 1789-1968 period changed much:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=__o3z-N_R0o#t=1259s

      The reason is that the capitalistic system, which has been the world’s dominant system for the past 500 years, was not in structural crisis. Beginning about 40 years ago, however, Wallerstein believes capitalism entered structural crisis. There now exists great opportunity for change, for the human will to assert itself and play a decisive role in shaping history, because the capitalistic system has become so unstable that it is near the end of its 500-year life.

      1. davidgmills

        The capitalist/corporatist system is dependent on private (as opposed to governmental) fiat currency. Unfortunately, I don’t see anything on the horizon to change the world from private fiat currencies to governmental currencies. At least nothing on the horizon in the west.

  14. barrisj

    Trolling through the Web on a rainy Sunday, I came across this item reported on the Atlantic regarding whistleblowing and animal cruelty within the “ag-food” industry, i.e., slaughterhouses, poultry- and pig-farming, the usual suspects. Well, Ag-Biz, the American Farm Bureau Federation, factory-farm producers and their ilk, together with the infamous ALEC, are working with Republican-controlled state legislatures across the US to introduce/enact various “Ag-Gag” laws directed toward people devoted to exposing egregious acts of animal cruelty and abuse as a consequence of poor regulation or oversight in the affected industries. It is absolutely remarkable the lengths to which vested interests would go to stultify or suppress reporting on sickening practices which are rampant within US livestock- and poultry-rearing facilities. Criminalising video-recording of flagrants actions, labeling those who in fact try to document abuse as “ecological terrorists”, and that sort of thing. Read all about it here:

    How State Ag-Gag Laws Could Stop Animal-Cruelty Whistleblowers
    Across the nation, the agriculture lobby is pushing legislators to pass bills that would hobble undercover investigations that help prevent abuse.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/03/how-state-ag-gag-laws-could-stop-animal-cruelty-whistleblowers/273962/

    Criminalise the message, always an effective tactic by Big Business to silence its critics.

  15. joe bongiovanni

    On Graeber’s Modern Revolution

    “”We seem to be facing two insoluble problems. On the one hand, we have witnessed an endless series of global debt crises, which have grown only more and more severe since the seventies, to the point where the overall burden of debt—sovereign, municipal, corporate, personal—is obviously unsustainable. On the other, we have an ecological crisis, a galloping process of climate change that is threatening to throw the entire planet into drought, floods, chaos, starvation, and war. The two might seem unrelated. But ultimately they are the same.””

    So, there’s debt. And, there’s no money.
    Why doesn’t he get the connection?

    You can do a debt-jubileee just fine. But if you leave the bankers in charge of issuing all our money as a debt, they’ll shortly be back on top and the grandkids will have to do it all over again.

    From Dennis Kucinich’s H.R. 2990 , on the need for a monetary transformation.

    ”.10) Congress is stymied by competing forces: a desire to put people to work and an aversion to borrowing money to create programs to do so.”

    So, we can’t address societal problems of the economy, the environment, our state political-economy, and the unweaving of the social fabric – all caused by the lack of money and too much debt.

    Progressives here decry the tragedy of wealth accumulation and disparity, seemingly incapable of grasping the essential systemic reform that can hand the tools for revolution back to the people.
    It’s the money system.
    It’s the debt-based money system that must go.
    All else is for naught.
    For the Money System Common

    1. davidgmills

      And where are the liberal economists on this issue? Hiding under a rock. They know who pays their bills and their silence is telling.

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