Links 11/21/13

Researchers discover new category of boredom McClatchy. But what can I do?

Elephant orchestra: Can animals make real music? BBC

Nuts ‘cut 30-year death rates’ Belfast Telegraph

‘Hyperclusters’ of the Universe — “Something is Behaving Very Strangely” Daily Galaxy

Qatar’s accidental vagina stadium is most gratifying Guardian

Nuke troubles run deep; key officers “burned out” AP. Dateline: Burpleson AFB.

Bubble fears as US stocks break records FT

As Fed Searches for Solutions, Its Power Wanes Moneybeat

FX Dealers Said to Use Day Traders to Make Personal Bets Bloomberg. Probably a few “bad apples.”

Man claims Bank of America gave him heart attack, files lawsuit WSOC (Charlotte). Why not a class action suit?

Top 13 investment banks’ profitability comes under fire FT

ObamaCare Launch

Healthcare.gov and the Gulf Between Planning and Reality Clay Shirkey

Obamacare website developers rush to fix bug suggesting hacking methods Guardian. XSS attacks are possible. Basic, basic QA not handled.

White House email chain shows launch fears Politico. Obama’s “I was not directly informed” (note weasel adverb) looks like he arranged plausible deniability for himself.

Michael Hiltzik: The myths of Obamacare’s ‘failure’ LA Times

The State of Obamacare Krugman, New York Times. “[A]nyone counting on Obamacare to collapse is probably making a very bad bet.” If it’s that cut and dried, putative liberals like Krugman would do better to look out the Acela window, consult their putative consciences on the suffering and excess deaths, and use the ObamaCare rollout as the superb teaching opportunity it is to show the virtues of an even better system. But then, I live in the real world.

Why does health care cost so much in America? Ask Harvard’s David Cutler PBS. “More skin in the game.” It’s only real skin if you’re not rich, of course.

Obamacare is the Trojan horse for what!? Don McCann, PNHP

Obama Intensifies CEO Outreach as Tea Party Draws Business Ire Bloomberg. “Obama’s interest in helping Boehner…”

Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions Guardian

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

U.S. Senators: ‘No evidence’ that NSA metadata collection is useful ZDNet

US and UK struck secret deal to allow NSA to ‘unmask’ Britons’ personal data Guardian

Fisa court order that allowed NSA surveillance is revealed for first time Guardian

Known NSA Collaborators Another Word for It

Harsh Realities in Wake of Typhoon Haiyan The Diplomat

Hong Kong domestic workers treated as ‘slaves’ — Amnesty AFP

The overselling of behavioral economics Reuters. Well, so much for Sunstein and Orszag. Paper: “[I]t would be surprising if the main policy implications of evidence documenting the failure of individual choice were a turn toward regulatory instruments that preserve individual choice.” Oddly, or not, ObamaCare is all about “choice.”

Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays Bloomberg. I wouldn’t say “over-educated.” I’d say “highly credentialled.”

Wassily Leontief and Larry Summers on technological unemployment Marginal Revolution

Why the future looks sluggish Martin Wolf, FT

Capitalism Redefined Democracy

Wall Street Isn’t Worth It Jacobin

Rob Ford’s scandal-filled mayoral years, through the eyes of people who lost. To him. WaPo

Sex in the Senate Politico. “Bobby Baker’s salacious secret history of Capitol Hill.” Corruption as practiced way back when.

Antidote du jour:

picture_of_relaxation

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

126 comments

  1. DakotabornKansan

    Henri, Le Chat Noir‏ @HenriLeChatNoir

    If you stare deeply into l’imbecile blanc’s eyes, you can hear the ocean.

  2. AbyNormal

    “The world isn’t kind to mavericks. You want to lead an unconventional life, you have to learn to hide in plain site.”
    ~Masters of Sex

    and i do believe Qatar succeed in hiding the vagina in PLAIN SITE! (hardest ive laffed all yr)

        1. diptherio

          Good point, Chris. No Hindu temple worth its salt is lacking in metaphorical (and sometimes literal) depictions of genitalia…both female and male…often locked in embrace…

    1. George Hier

      Sure, sure, and in the 60’s they called you a racist for not dating outside your group. Now they call you a racist for preferring other groups. Make up your minds already…

      I guess the next innovation from the social warrior types will be mandatory burqas and voice masks? You don’t know who you’re going home with tonight! It’s a surprise!

      1. Ditto

        Brown v Board of Education

        One of the pieces of evidence that ended Jim Crow or segregation was the study that showed black children preferred white dolls over black ones as prettier

        Thus underscoring the impact of racial perception on children bc the children could see that black was treated as inferior so the children internalized that down to the dolls they choose for play

        Reading your comment, I imagine you would see no problem with the choice of dolls or see any useful information that we can gained from it

        People have their preferences but the why of race hasn’t changed very much since the doll studies

        Nor have the defensive responses to the realities of race

          1. Ditto

            No problem.

            These dating studies about race come up frequently and the results are always the same, including the pecking order, which means that its not just random tastes but something engrained in society

            Its sad but this is one of those areas where people get really defensive about how society affects them

            No one wants to think race affects them, especially on something so intimate as dating

            We want to believe its just personal choices

            So the response is defensive denials about race

        1. George Hier

          I think the fact that you compare state mandated discrimination and segregation to an open, mutually voluntary marketplace of grown adults, and see no difference whatsover, says a lot more about yourself than it does about me.

          I don’t really see any point in trying to engage with you on this. You seem to have a fundamental disprespect for invdividuals being allowed to make their own choices. If a adult makes choices about their life, (excepting the application of violence,) what business is it of yours?

          1. Ditto

            You are arguing degree, not kind, which is a straw man because the argument that I made is one about kind.

            Its a standard modern rebuttal to discussions about race: X is not as bad as Y. Therefore, X is not like Y.

            I’m not wearing a KKK hood. Therefore, race does not affect me. Its a lazy response based on fallacy.

            Ignoring through the strawman that degree does not mean a diference in kind.

            I work in corporate America. One comment I will get if I don’t gr a job is that I don’t fit the corporate culture. Sometimes that’s true, but others (a lot more than cultural) its often discomfort over race. Are they Jim Crow? No, they hire black people as long. As they are in positions that aren’t decision making roles. Is there a problem over race? Yes. Its complex.

            Societal views on race affects us in small and big ways. Some profound like Jim Crow. Others small like choosing a doll.

            That was the point of the doll study. It was not Jim Crow. It was a small thing, the play of children, that underscored how race affected us then.

            The same is true of our dating patterns today. That’s all I said, but that to you read as state sponsored segregation.

            I get this makes you feel uncomfortable. Whether you talk to me or not is irrelevant (I’m not trying to join your club), but I’m not going to let you mischaracterize my point.

            The value of ny comparison

            1. neo-realist

              Re discrimination in corporate culture on the basis of race, sometimes they won’t hire black people not because they want to prevent them from decision making positions, but out of a sense of discomfort over having a black people in a group or office where everybody is white or white with one or a few asians and they simply don’t want a black person messing with a traditional racial dynamic for that group or office–plain ole racism, nothing complex about that, particularly in banking from my experience.

              I’ve known Asian hiring managers that were just as bad in that respect as white ones.

              1. Ditto

                It can be racism, privilege or ignorance

                Or a combination of that and other cultural issues

                Its not easy to tell which

                Racism is where they act on my race

                Privilege is where they take advantage of their race

                Ignorance is where they simply are ignorant and its hard to tell if its privilege or racism or a combination of things

                With privilege , I can navigate to address the concern

                With racism I can’t

                With combos its case by case

                I won’t go into details other than saying I am business counsel

                Sometimes I get to be at the front lines if current complications about race

                Other times I am treading water with management ignorance

                One example I used a regional colloquialism from my child hood that was non racial with a client manager who felt uncomfortable with me due to my advice threatening his position as a golden boy

                He went to CEO complaining

                The CEO spoke to me about race as if what I said was a race specific term

                The CEO not aware it wasn’t but what the exchange said to me was the manager was certainly thinking in racial terms even if I wasn’t

                I would like to say this is unusual but it sadly isn’t

                The data on this is clear. For black professionals and it harms us financially

                My response lately has been to move toward building my own company rather than deal with the politics of race

                1. neo-realist

                  Not just financially—-Disappointment, depression, bitterness, psychological and emotional exhaustion from trying to succeed, trying to be all you can be.

                  When one interviews and finds the “eyepoppers” or “jawdroppers” among those who interview you, is it fear? shock? Even if one wears a good suit and granny glasses?

                  1. Ditto

                    A list of some comments I’ve gotten

                    “You realize this is not minority internship…did you take contracts law? …You will have to work” From a senior vp legal counsel at one of major entertainment studio

                    I assess the legal issues and solutiions in a case. Client is skeptical. The client finds a white lawyer who says same thing. Comes back to me with some variation of I should be proud that another lawyer agreed with me.

                    The negative version is when some executive will try to convince other executives I’m wrong with another counsel. That isn’t always race bc politics can be a factor,but occasionally it is.

                    The positive version of seeking “validation” that I’m competent (its not often cutting edge legal analysis) is the more difficult to manage

                    Ultimately I don’t get depressed bc I understand that I’m seeing their limitations not mine

                    I know however many do

                    I don’t get depressed

                2. anon y'mouse

                  this is at ALL levels. if you even get past the hiring gatekeepers.

                  had an actual clerical job where the manager told me to tell whoever ‘sounded black’ on the telephone that the position had been filled.

                  naturally I avoided his suggestion. my personal screening criteria (since the job was clerical/cust service and answering phones was a very large part of the job) whether they sounded professional over the telephone or not. if they couldn’t call to ask about a job, then perhaps they could not DO the job! anyone else was free to come in and fill out an application. I couldn’t stop him from scowling and doing whatever it was he did with applications from minorities (honestly have no idea whether he sabotaged them or not. it was not within my power to cross him at that point). but at least he had to let them in and interact with them and whatnot.

                  didn’t change his opinion at all. this was also the place where they openly talked about the recent Gulf war stuff with reference to “towel heads” and stuff. nasty place, nasty white people.

                  sorry. I just had hoped that kind of thing was dying out as the older generations retired.

                  that could be construed as bias, but if you are hiring someone to be front-line with customers all day long, they have to be clearly professional and understandable to whomever might call.

            2. George Hier

              I am going to skip to the crux of your response, as it is the most revealing statement.

              “The same is true of our dating patterns today. That’s all I said, but that to you read as state sponsored segregation.”

              Oh you can not be this dense.

              The original topic was of racial preferences in dating. To which you added a second topic, that of Jim Crow laws. Two topics.

              I then made comparison to “state mandated discrimination”, and “an open, mutually voluntary marketplace of grown adults”. Two topics.

              Anyone with even a faint grasp of logic and history could see that the “state mandated discrimination” comment could only possibly refer to Jim Crow laws, since that is after all what Jim Crow laws very literally WERE. The very core definition.

              The marketplace comment would have to refer to the dating site, since it clearly has nothing to do with Jim Crow. If that wasn’t enough, the major tell of “grown adults” should have tipped you off that I was no longer referring to schoolchildren.

              That, in light of this, you misinterpreted my comparison as a uniform statement about Jim Crow laws, can only be seen as deliberate obtuseness. There is purposeful intent here, to not see the argument which I am making, but to see the argument which you want to see me make. It is delusional. You are arguing against a ghost, a figment, and blaming me for this demon’s ravings.

          2. jrs

            since what we like in that dept. was probably formed at a very early age and is not particularly ammenable to conscious choice, I don’t think so. But how we were formed at an early age does reflect society.

      1. Synopticist

        Their driving skills.

        I have to admit to an open prejudice here. I’m scared of female asian drivers. Not All women. Not black women, not asain men.

        But asain women. I’m always extra careful when I see a car driven by an asian woman.

  3. XO

    RE: Qatar’s accidental vagina stadium . . .

    The quick/cheap fix would be to paint it gray and red, so that it more resembles a gigantic baboon ass.

    1. tyaresun

      The architect is female and her other pieces also have a distinct beautiful feminine feel. Very different from the tall dicks you see everywhere.

      1. optimader

        Notwithstanding that “tall dick” is probably not too amenable to stadium architecture, I am certain this is not a vagina I would want to be in.
        Do they serve beer in it?

        1. GermanQR

          In Qatar? I doubt it!

          A World Cup in Qatar. And here I was thinking FIFA couldn´t sink any lower. They could. And did.

  4. dearieme

    “here’s a lot of gray area where it’s not clear if you need the open heart surgery or not, and in the U.S., people will get it and in Canada, they don’t. The interesting thing about it is that life expectancy or one-year mortality after a heart attack is the same in the two countries.”

    Why doesn’t he just bluntly say “unnecessary procedures”? I gather than even that great American favourite the annual check-up is unsupported by evidence.

  5. Chris Maukonen

    “Blame Rich, Overeducated Elites as Our Society Frays Bloomberg. I wouldn’t say “over-educated.” I’d say “highly credentialled.”

    Try pompous, arrogant, self righteous, sanctimonious …

    1. DakotabornKansan

      “The South deluded itself with the illusion that the Negro was happy in his place; the North deluded itself with the illusion that it had freed the Negro. The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slave, a legal entity, but it failed to free the Negro, a person.” – Martin Luther King, Jr., note in his copy of Charles Silberman’s Crisis in Black and White

      Democrats deluded themselves with the Obamacare illusion that the states would expand Medicaid for the poor. It failed to recognize era of the new Jim Crow.

      Race has been a key factor in the states resistance to Medicaid expansion. Poor whites will also be harmed, but Republicans apparently don’t fear any political repercussions from them. The resistance to federally mandated health care for the poor resembles the massive resistance to desegregation after the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.

  6. Jagger

    Article on healthcare costs. I get so tired of listening to people like Harvard’s David Cutler referring to healthcare patients as consumers. Like I am going out to buy a TV rather than wondering if the experts are going to be able to save my life.

    1. OIFVet

      I share the same frustration. It is even more nauseating coming from “progressive” talking heads like Ed Schultz. Goes to show that the whole point of the ACA was not to create affordable care but to create more profit centers.

        1. sleepy

          That is so bad on so many levels.

          At the immediate classroom level, it results in students treating knowledge and learning along the lines of “if it doesn’t immediately please me, it’s worthless.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I say to the teacher, ‘I am your customer. The customer is always right. So, why do you say I got it wrong on the exam?’

            1. anon y'mouse

              I’ve never seen the behavior you are describing, although that is not the same as being in denial that it probably does exist.

              what I see often is the instructor taking the path of least resistance. there isn’t enough time in the day to adequately GRADE student work, much less provide feedback about how to make it better. so often, beyond doing a multiple choice test with clear right and wrong responses, or providing the grading rubric for student papers in advance (which most of us use as a tool to basically ‘write to the outline’ given, which means writing like a machine but getting the grade we want), instructors just do not have the time to give to make a student understand how to be better than they already are.

              or, they’ll tell you “go to the writing/tutoring center” for that (which I’ve never done, so can’t report on. I usually get ‘good’ grades on papers and in classes -touchwood- but still have the niggling suspicion that I don’t write very well, and don’t get any feedback on how to improve.

              granted, I think many of them assume that most of us are just there for the stamped ticket at the end anyway, and don’t try very hard. they’re following a formula. often, it seems that there would be no difference in going to class over just sitting at home and reading the book. sometimes I wonder if this is all done with some ultimate goal–as in, instructors know their days are numbered due to the coming MOOC revolution and just dial it in because following the textbook and publisher-provided plan is so much easier, and heck—if they’re actually Profs they have a lot of other crap to do.

              The only professors I’ve had that were NOT like this (because there is no handy, all-encompassing textbook to follow) are Philosophy profs. when they get up there, they know their stuff and are actually TEACHING you what they know. not “rehash what you read in the textbook with add’l bonus of looking at powerpoint graphics, then giving Q & A time to clear up misconceptions” which characterizes nearly every non-philosophy class I’ve ever been in.

              1. anon y'mouse

                oh, and Math instructors.

                basically because if they don’t teach you how to do it, you won’t pass.

                *disclaimer: I am not a hard science student. no comment I’ve made should be construed as reflective on them. nor am I in the arts wing, ever. although listening to opera and piano in the hallway is nice when waiting out breaks between classes.

              2. sleepy

                While I’m not here to defend all teachers or all teaching methods, I have taught from 6th grade to college seniors and have seen the attitude that I described earlier at every level.

                Imho, it’s all part and parcel of the whole. Just taking the student as consumer up one level, it’s “how does this help me get a job”?

                And that approach certainly is not irrational given the fact that students as consumers have paid big bucks in order to get an education and get a job.

                1. anon y'mouse

                  well, I was also raised in and by a different (older) generation. so, my attitude has never been that you can argue with the teacher and win. my parents would’ve been on THEIR side (and often were).

                  but I have seen a gradually more accommodative attitude in the teachers. could this be due to those student surveys given at the end of each term? most definitely.

                  “how is this going to financially benefit me?” is an evil infecting our entire society. I have asked myself that about my wayward course through school, and have to come to the conclusion that the process itself was valuable, regardless that i’ll be working at Target (IF they’ll have me–personality tests be damned) when I get outta here.

    2. optimader

      “Customer”is TQA/TQM Six Sigma jargon, internalcustomers/external customers blahblahblah.

      In the grand scheme of things, characterizing a recipient of a product or service –healthcare or otherwise, as a “Customer” seems pretty far down the list of things that offend in the coalfired, steam-powered healthcare delivery juggernaut in this country.

      Structurally ignoring people as “Noncustomers” in a healthcare delivery system is more offensive than being characterized as a Customer, no?

    3. Bridget

      Not all healthcare is a matter of life or death. Since In recent years I have switched to a high deductible plan with an HSA, I have taken it upon myself to always ask any health care provider what the cost of a particular service is. It may be my imagination, but I think I’m getting fewer and fewer surprised looks. The last several times , in fact, I was readily quoted a cash price significantly lower than the sticker price.

  7. rich

    The rise of money trading has made our economy all mud and no brick Trillions of dollars change hands every day in the foreign exchange markets. Yet this vast industry profits from peaks and troughs – it has no interest in a stable economy

    According to the economist Bernard Lietaer, author of The Future of Money, as recently as 1975 roughly 80% of foreign exchange transactions involved the real trading of a product or a service. The remaining 20% were speculative; bets made on the value of currencies going up or down – buy it before it rises, dump it before it drops. By the late 90s that ratio had changed dramatically. In 1997 the percentage of foreign exchange which involved transactions in the real economy was only 2.5%.

    Today, the picture is even starker. According to the Global Policy Forum, in 2011 only 0.6% of foreign exchange could be traced to genuine international trade in goods and services. Of the rest, a minimum of 80% was directly attributable to exchange rate speculation. The ratio of mud to brick has reversed entirely.

    Let me now give you an idea of the size of the wall. An estimated $5.3tn changes hands every day in the foreign exchange markets. That is an entire year’s worth of the European Union’s GDP, gambled every three days. More than 40% of these trades happen in the UK. On a daily basis, the financial institutions of the City of London make speculative currency trades worth nearly as much as the entire nation’s GDP for a whole year.

    Some of the foreign exchange sub-markets (like the $2tn spot market) are controlled by fewer than 100 individuals, working for a dozen large banks. Add into this mix the fact that regulatory authorities last week launched investigations into at least 15 global banks for alleged manipulation of these vast markets and the need to reconsider and redesign this warped system becomes even more urgent.

    The US motion recognised that the volume of speculative trades “not only threatens national currency devaluation and financial crises, but disrupts the ability of nations to establish equitable and just economic policies”. It threatens sovereignty.

    It was a clear warning, which unfortunately went unheeded.
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/20/money-trading-economy-foreign-exchange-markets-economy

  8. OIFVet

    From the first comment under Hiltzik’s article: “My wife and I have used the ACA phone connection with an ACA helper too apply and found we have over 25 plan options that are far superior to our current plan. And here is the real kicker. It’s the same private blue cross company that we can go with that cuts our yearly deductible from 2500$ for each of us to just 300$ for both, PLUS dental and optical. Best of all our current combined income entitles us to a tax credit of 947$ a month changing our premium from 850 a month to 0$ with an additional 1700+ a year tax credit against our income tax. But best of all we no longer have to fear an accident or an illness that would bankrupt us with debt. God Bless Mr. Obama and the democratic party for standing up for average Americans.”

    Wow! Let me attempt to polish the comment a bit: “And Barack saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.”

    There, I think that completes it. Though I can’t help but to notice that Barack did make one little mistake: when he created Obots he did not endow them with the ability to create plausible lies. And would anyone please finally debunk the myth that Obamacare subsidies can be used as a tax credit to decrease tax liabilities? Or teach Obots basic math? Obot math from that comment: $97/month x 12 months = $1,700+. Riiight.

    1. Massinissa

      I think what the obot was saying is that she gets a 947 tax credit, in addition to a 1700+ income tax credit, or something.

      Though she sure didn’t make that clear. Even if they can do math, they sure cant make their comments very intelligible.

      1. OIFVet

        Could be, but like you said the comment is confusing. The reason why I think that the tax credit refers to unused subsidy (leaving aside the improbable amount of the monthly subsidy) is that I have seen numerous examples of Obots claiming that any part of the subsidy which does not get applied to an insurance premium converts into a tax credit or refund. DKos is full of such idiocy.

  9. Expat

    Glad to see that the WaPo has worked its way down to the Rob Ford scandal. Here’s your problem: in a city of more than 3 million, “Smitherman, a member of the Ontario Liberal Party, had 290,000 votes to Ford’s 384,000.”

    Ford, the unmasked face of the Conservative Party — so lacking in the protective mimicry that self-described conservatives normally use to get into office that the Conservative Prime Minister had to blame his drug-sodden conduct on the opposition Liberals — is the product of low voter turnout.

    And note how he will not leave office even though it is self-evident that he cannot govern (his staff of 20 left him yesterday).

    He is obviously personally power-mad and vain beyond belief, but as long as he occupies the position and the limelight, Canada’s elites can continue their reign of plunder.

    In Canada as in other neoliberal bastions, “none of the above” would win most elections.

    1. Massinissa

      Good god, a voter turnout of 3/10? That’s worse than America isn’t it? I think we have like 4/10. Or maybe that’s just Presidential elections?

        1. Expat

          Just proving that “first-past-the-post” elections are primitive and typically fail to reflect the views of the majority. Maybe it’s time for Ontario to consider majority rule for a change.

    2. anon y'mouse

      I seriously want to know what makes him different than every other politician? because the only one I can see is that he doesn’t do enough to hide it.

      we’ve had one here recently that was the same thing

      http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/11/jeff_cogen_scandal_sonia_manha.html

      he was also allowed to keep his job (but stepped down). why? class & discretion are definitely ingredients in that mix. if they had been the Stately Hos of Heroin Park, this guy would’ve been slammed down just like Toronto guy.

      1. Sack Blabbath

        The Ford family owns a labels business & are moderately wealthy. rob’s brother Doug is the CEO, I believe, & still runs the company even though he’s on City Council.

        These guys have always played the part of populists, & were, until recently championed by the likes of the Toronto Sun ( a right-wing tabloid ).

        I think one of the main reasons Ford won in 2010 is because of the 1998 municipal amalgamation, giving more weight to (angry) suburban voters (& incidentally forced upon the city by the then Conservative gov’t of Mike Harris, under whom their dad Doug Ford Sr. was a low level member)
        The other reason is because people were tired of David Miller. His mayoralty was focused almost exclusively on the downtown core & rich yuppies living there… At least that was the widespread perception.
        There was a prolonged garbage collectors strike in ’09 that saw Miller cave into supposedly ‘unreasonable’ union demands.
        Miller didn’t run for re-election.

        All i remember from that campaign was the ‘clean up the mess Socialist Miller’ left behind’ & ‘ stop the Gravy Train’.

        Even then, many people were wary of Ford, with good reason in retrospect.

        Others though still support him, like angry humorless zealots. The Ford bros. encourage this, playing the part of victims of a vast Left-wing conspiracy or whatever.
        The same miserable & masochistic ‘authoritarian follower’ types who typically vote for the Conservative Party.

    3. Ed

      The Rob Ford thing is a perfect storm of a combination of systems that, by themselves, all have some justification.

      Toronto and a number of suburban municipalities were consolidated recently. The Toronto Mayor is elected directly by plurality vote (no majority requirement), and the vote was split between the left and moderate canddiates. Ford got a bunch of votes in the suburbs that enabled him to win a plurality, low turnout election.

      There probably should be a minimum vote threshold for election winners, though I’m not sure what would happen if the threshold is not reach. Probably declare the office vacant, to be filled by the normal procedures from filling vacancies, and disqualify all the candidates from the election from appearing on a ballot for that office for eight years.

      I’m also not sure how much power Ontario law gives the Mayor of Toronto, but I suspect its a bit less than that held by the Mayor of Chicago over government in Chicago. Its not like there haven’t been embarrasing mayors in the U.S.

      1. Roland

        I have a feeling that if Ford hangs on, he’ll win again in 2014.

        His voter base will exult in successful defiance of all the media pressure. Like Ford himself, they will feel vindicated.

        His opponents blundered in taking away some of his powers. Now they’ll end up owning a share of the dysfunctional gov’t and Ford can blame things on their interference.

        They should have just stood quietly aside and watched the gored beast bleed to death.

  10. down2long

    Re: Obama and CEO’s. I had to suppress my gag reflex. However, the piece makes my point that progressives and Tea Partiers have more in common than they realize.

    Now, as the Koch’s realize their spawn is eating the host, the many headed hydra of corporatist evil, they will start starving their children. A grand time to begin to educate the tea partiers.

    As a housing provider here in L.A. I deal with Tea Partier housing providers (a confiscatory city housing policy toward private property will make you like that.) But I do see a lot of common ground.

    And yes, progressives and Tea Partiers do have common ground – even in rent control. I can’t begin to tell you how many people long for “mom and pop” housing providers after dealing with corporate landlords whose only goal is money, not maintaining the property or even keeping the tenants happy.

    We will of course blow this opportunity for rapprochement and end up with Corporatist Shill Hillary Clinton as President, where she can invite Lloyd Blankfein to the White House for personal sit downs and one on one instruction in fleecing the American sheeple and Bill will drop by to pick up some more medals and more pocketfuls of cash. “Lloyd, can you spare me $2 mil. I’ll owe you a speech?”

    The mendacity. Ooops, I’m nauseous again.

    1. Massinissa

      Good jesus lord mercy, I think I would vote for ANYONE (except Biden…) over Hillary, but no one is going to run. I assume Warren wont have the will, since she isn’t the Great Progressive Hope so many liberals have imagined her to be, just as Obama was not.

      Maybe I should just vote in the Republican primary for whoever is least bad this year. Its not like im going to vote for a Democrat or Republican in the general election anyway…

      1. Ed S.

        Massinissa:

        It’s spelled “Hilary”, not “Hillary” , ’cause she was named after Sir Edmund Hilary who climbed Everest in 1953, don’t ‘cha know :-)

        In any event, she’s unelectable.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We the 99.99% are just noise to each other.

      That’s why some go crazy asking to be ‘heard.’

      But that’s how the 0.01% deal with the little inconvenience called ‘freedom of speech’ – all you speak and let no one hear each other, except ‘experts’ they brainwash you into ‘doing the thinking’ (or so you believe) for you. These experts, when they speak, you listen.

      Backward nations, like China, they needlessly try to stop you from expressing what is essentially noise anyway, looking like fools in the process.

  11. down2long

    Love today’s antidote. It appears that he/she (I go for he) has got a remote on his lap, clutched in his paws. A ciggy is burning just off camera. I don’t think he’s watching a PG-13 movie, if you get my drift, and I think you do. That’s why the other paw is on his lap. Nuff said.

      1. down2long

        HAH! You are undoubtedly correct. A cat would not be so base. Why is it my mind wanders to the gutter so often?

    1. anon y'mouse

      no comment. anything one says to this rather than effusive praise would be like locking oneself in the stocks after handing out bags of rotten produce.

    2. jrs

      I definitely wouldn’t go to school if I was working 2 jobs. People belive in the bettering themselves thing to a degree I don’t understand.

    3. Klassy!

      That was excellent. I’m not sure if I want to wade into the comments. This sort of thing always brings out those who want to offer grocery budgeting tips.

      1. anon y'mouse

        a lot of people that smoke have the attitude that she has for it.

        “at least I get 5 f*cking minutes to myself, without the boss naggin’ at me. what do you get?”

        can’t fault ya there! the rest of us have had to beg for bathroom breaks.

      2. Marianne J

        Agreed about the cigarettes. But her rebuttal of the first comment was nearly as excellent as the article itself.

  12. rich

    Fed Minutes Reveal a Dangerous Power Grab by New York Fed

    Just when it seemed one could no longer be shocked by the corruption, hubris and lack of accountability in the American financial system, along comes yesterday’s release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes for the October 29-30 meeting of its Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

    While mainstream media focuses on what the minutes revealed about when the Fed might begin to reduce its monthly $85 billion in bond purchases, receiving scant attention is a brazen power grab boldly stated on page two of the eleven pages of minutes.

    Back on October 31, wire services reported that the temporary dollar and foreign currency swap lines that had been put in place between central banks on a temporary basis during the financial crisis had been turned into standing arrangements.

    The Associated Press explained the action as follows: “Six of the world’s leading central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve, say they will provide each other with ready supplies of their currencies on a standing basis, extending arrangements set up to steady the global financial system during post-2007 turbulence.”

    In other words, without public deliberations, an action that was adopted as a temporary, emergency operation, now had become a permanent part of world finance – on the basis of minutes and details yet to be seen by Congress or the general public.

    http://wallstreetonparade.com/2013/11/fed-minutes-reveal-a-dangerous-power-grab-by-new-york-fed/

  13. p78

    http://www.dailydot.com/news/wikileaks-stratfor-walmart-per-bank/

    The first subject of Stratfor’s investigation was Per Bank, then CEO of Tesco, one of Walmart’s largest global competitors. (Bank has since left Tesco and is now the CEO of Dansk Supermarked, a retail corporation headquartered in Denmark.)[…]

    Messages dated a week after Bank’s background analysis was completed show a conversation between Stratfor’s Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton, and Scott McHugh, who was a Walmart executive at the time. (McHugh, formerly the federal security director at U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is currently a professor at Texas A&M University).
    “We would like some additional research into Per Bank,” McHugh reportedly wrote to Stratfor in one leaked email. “Our research indicates he has many female friends and I was wondering whether that was simply because many of his friends are women or if this is indicative of marital infidelity.”

  14. Eureka Springs

    “Nuke troubles run deep; key officers “burned out”

    Because manning a nuclear arsenal which could destroy somewhere between tens, hundreds of millions of lives, if not the entire planet, should be fulfilling work.

    Perhaps a group therapy session via skype with Fukushima workers is in order… as long as these people don’t stand up and refuse to support the beast!

    1. Jim S

      “… unappreciated, overworked, micromanaged and at constant risk of failure.”

      Coincidentally, Microsoft Office 2010 came into Federal deployment during that timeframe. These symptoms are exactly those of a PowerPoint user struggling with the changed default colour palate for the daily briefing slides (for those of you who have ever had a boss complain for 20 minutes that the colours were too muddy). Damn you, Microsoft!

    1. anon y'mouse

      “I reached a new category of boredom today…” is going to become a common saying/metaphor. I can feel it in me-bones.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Can animals make real music????

    Can humans stop being noise-machines? If you have ever been on a bus with people chitchatting nonstop, you’d know what I mean.

  16. diptherio

    Ag Bankers Lash Out Against Unfair FCS Subsidy ~The Country Today

    The FCS was created by Congress in 1916 to provide credit to young, small and beginning farmers and ranchers, but Everson argues that as much as 90 percent of their loans now are made to older, more well-established borrowers who don’t need the credit.

    “Most (people) don’t know this system exists or that it’s highly profitable,” he said. “Now is the time to level the playing field.”

    The time is right for this campaign, he said, because many community banks have grown weary of the competition’s business tactics, and Congressional interest in tax reform is high.

    He cited a 2011 Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. study that showed the community-banking model is under great stress and said the FCS poses a long-term threat to the viability of community banks….

    “Funding for local programs is getting short-changed,” he said, adding that three-fourths of the taxes South Dakota banks pay goes into local treasuries.

    The FCS is a $248 billion Government-Sponsored Enterprise that includes four major banks — CoBank in Colorado, AgriBank in St. Paul, Farm Credit Bank in Texas and AgFirst in South Carolina, according to “Farm Credit Watch” author Bert Ely.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Hong Kong domestic workers treated as slaves – Amnesty.

    In many other countries that we won’t name, all workers are treated as slaves.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Harsh realities…Typhoon Haiyan.

    One reality – a little technology is a dangerous thing; drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring.

    For example, you go into a country and improve infant mortality rate alone but nothing else, you get an overpopulated, third world country…a neoliberal master of the universe fantasy come true.

    They are no better off, often worse, than they were centuries ago, especially during their golden ages – and often, every culture had its golden age or two in the past.

    So, you ask yourself, can we make sure we don’t give them just a little technology (often only those necessary for neoliberal exploitations – roads to ship raw materials, medicine to maintain the quantity of slave workers)?

    The answer is, we always give them just a little technology, which is worse than no technology, you can argue.

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Man files lawsuit…Bank of America gave him heart attack.

    Isn’t that the job of our police and district attorney – I mean, we are talking about attempted murder here…probably premeditated too.

    1. down2long

      Trust me, when it comes to the banks and their illegality you are on your own. No police or AG it seems in this country will hold them accountable for any act. You have to sue yourself.

      I speak from experience. My second BK judge was absolutely unmoved two banks were returning my checks for payments confirmed in the original Bankruptcy Confirmation plan by another judge. The fact that they returned the checks, reported returned payments as diliquent, etc., were of absolutely no concern to her. She also would not let me out of my bankruptcy, despite meeting all the terms of the original plan, because she knew I was going to refile a new plan to get the automatic stay and save a building a bank was trying to grab.

      Once the bank grabbed the building, I refused to ever enter her court again. After after six months, she discharged my case. No facts had changed at all and I had never spoken another word to her. To me, if she did not respect the court, neither did I.

      Also, here in L.A. I got locked out by a bank when they changed the locks on me and nailed all the windows shut. The police didn’t understand my problem – they could not se it as vandalisim or trespassing, even though I was still the owner. They refused to file a report.

      After I lost the bldg., the bank send someone to try and break into the tenant’s unit, although they were accepting rent. He was standing at a French door while the bank rep tried to crowbar the door open. I had called the police for the tenant who was terrified. The police didn’t understand why this wasn’t completely kosher. I asked one cop if he were standing in his apartment and someone were breaking in with a crowbar, would he shoot him. “Of course,” the cop said. But this was a banker’s rep breaking in. Completely different. Oh. So yes, when it comes to the banks, you have to take the law into your own hands in the courts, or in the streets. The police and AG will not help you. You must file your own compalints.

      1. anon y'mouse

        could be wrong here, but this ‘breaking in with a crowbar’ stuff is something the debt collectors in the UK are already allowed to do to repossess stuff when you owe them money. at least, that was in an article I read somewhere awhile back.

        they can also ‘restrain you’ so that you can’t fight with them (throw them outta your house, more like).

        sick, eh?

  20. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Something is behaving very strangely – hyperclusters of the universe.

    I was going to comment on it but I think it will just indict the whole science community.

  21. Jay Goldfarb

    “‘No evidence ‘ that NSA metadata collection is useful” to fight terrorism! It might prove very useful in monitoring dissenting citizens.

  22. optimader

    Re: ‘Hyperclusters’ of the Universe — “Something is Behaving Very Strangely” Daily Galaxy

    Behaving strangely = behaving normally, as it has been long before we climbed down from the trees, we just don’t necessarily understand it yet .

    A simple explanation of the image that I’m going w/ until proven otherwise is that it’s all thats left of the Cheshire Cat

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Plato probably did not know we climbed down from the trees; otherwise, he might have said, there are no caves in them trees!

      1. optimader

        Presumably Plato didn’t have “The Hitchhikers Guide” (nor a towel probably?)

        “…Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans. –

        ~D. Adams

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It explains why almost everyone here has a swimming pool in the backyard or a tub in the bathroom.

  23. anon y'mouse

    um, that Bloomberg article on overproduction of elites. just last year, wasn’t the news media selling us on the idea that this really meant that too many uppity poor folk were getting college degrees? don’t those peasants know their place?

    nevertheless, this paragraph has to take the cake in being truthful while downplaying or slanting the evidence against the poor man and for the Big (company) man:

    “This was the worst period of political instability in U.S. history, barring the Civil War. Class warfare took the form of violent labor strikes. At one point 10,000 miners armed with rifles were battling against thousands of company troops and sheriff deputies. There was a wave of terrorism by labor radicals and anarchists. Race issues intertwined with class, leading to the Red Summer of 1919, with 26 major riots and more than 1,000 casualties. It was much, much worse than the 1960s and early 1970s, a period many of us remember well because we lived through it (see chart). ”

    yes, there was also a wave of terrorism caused by the Pinkertons and other armed thugs gunning people down for daring to ask for a living wage and decent working conditions. wow, the nerve. why is it that uppity peasants reaching their limit ever and always equal “class warfare” and the Big Men are always playing defense?

    1. gordon

      Yes. I’m pretty tired of people who basically neither know nor care what happened in the past using bits and pieces of history to illustrate their own prejudices. Ever since “Guns, Germs and Steel” we’ve had waves of this kind of essentially ahistorical “analysis”. People should go back to reading real history. Then thinking about it for themselves.

    2. Roland

      Whenever elites are being produced, dispossessed are also produced. “Elite overproduction” is better-termed “mass disclassment” since the disclassed being overproduced greatly outnumber the elites being overproduced.

      “Elite fratricide” is a misnomer. Most of the people being -cided in those events are not members of the elite.

      Typical of elite-centrism is how all the things going on are always described as if the elite were the only people involved.

      Thank goodness that every once in a while we get to do a thoroughgoing freaking gulagicious re-educative purge of the bloody lot.

  24. Little Picard craters the starship

    ASVAB waiver Keith Alexander wouldn’t know Article 17 if it bit him on the ass. Well it just bit him on the ass. Now fake dips from CIA have to read the law and pretend that black is white.

    That’s NSA: laughingstocks within laughingstocks within laughingstocks. Alexander has already embarassed the crap out of every educated NSA expert with his flopsweaty cri de coeur from his fantasy starship playhouse:

    “We are deeply proud of this record and make no apologies for it.” That’s going to go down in history with Erich Mielke’s, “Ich liebe – Ich liebe doch alle – alle Menschen – Na ich liebe doch…”

    At this rate, all the competent NSA staffers (or at least the ones who don’t have severe developmental disorders) will go to Berlin and plot regime change over Radlers with Applebaum.

  25. Lambert Strether Post author

    ObamaCare in Kentucky and California — These states are being touted as successes, in that their websites are not disaster areas, but do any readers have any direct knowledge of the plans on offer, a la Olenick’s spreadsheet?

    Thank you!

  26. b2020

    Wolf writes:
    “use today’s glut of savings to finance a surge in public investment”

    This appears to be bollocks on several levels:
    a) we have a debt overhang – there is still no savings glut
    b) Wolf does not discuss the issue of investment requiring the rule of law, intact property law, and absence of systemic corruption and control fraud. Nobody sane would or should invest into an unaccountable casino run by organized crime
    c) QEInfinity and breaking existing deposit insurance and other “deposit taxes” are eroding the “savings glut” just fine, thank you

    If Wolf wants to suggest that we should redirect non-existent private savings into government bonds that do not exist – backed by the full faith and credit of a Congress and Treasury that nobody trusts, he is at least – in the most minimal way – admitting that “investment” into the current structures of corporate “governance” and accountability is no longer worthy of consideration. As long as debt and corruption are not addressed head-on, the dysfunctions will continue as morale will not improve.

  27. MDBill

    Clay Shirkey in Healthcare.gov and the Gulf Between Planning and Reality:

    “Yet no one who understood the problems was able to tell the President. Worse, every senior political figure—every one—who could have bridged the gap between knowledgeable employees and the President decided not to.”

    This, of course, assumes that the president was being honest when he claimed to have had no idea how badly the healthcare.gov implementation was going. Given the guy’s track record, there’s not much reason to make that assumption.

  28. AbyNormal

    Buddhist Extremist Cell Vows To Unleash Tranquility On West

    WASHINGTON—In a 45-minute video posted on Tibetan websites Thursday, Tsuglag Rinpoche, leader of the Buddhist extremist group Kammaṭṭhāna, threatened to soon inflict a wave of peace and tranquility on the West.

    Speaking in front of a nondescript altar surrounded by candles, burning sticks of incense, and a small golden statue of the Buddha, Rinpoche did not specify when or where an assault of profound inner stillness would occur, but stated in no uncertain terms that the fundamentalist Buddhist cell plans to target all Western suffering.

    “In the name of the Great Teacher, we will stop at nothing to unleash a firestorm of empathy, compassion, and true selflessness upon the West,” said Rinpoche, adding that all enemies of a freely flowing, unfettered state of mind will be “besieged with pure, everlasting happiness.” “No city will be spared from spiritual harmony. We will bring about the end to all Western pain and anxiety, to all destructive cravings, to all greed, delusion, and misplaced desire. Indeed, we will bring the entire United States to its knees in deep meditation.”

    “Wisdom and virtue to America!” continued Rinpoche. “Wisdom and virtue to all living things on earth!”

    According to reports, Rinpoche stressed throughout his address that Kammaṭṭhāna soldiers would continue waging a tireless holy war on Western feelings of emptiness and negativity for as long as necessary, noting that “a jug fills drop by drop” and that “it is better to travel well than to arrive.”

    The extremist leader specifically criticized the United States for its “blatant disregard of karmic balance within the universe” and ominously claimed that Americans will “one day soon” experience the highest form of metaphysical equilibrium through a union of both body and mind. Rinpoche also said all Western nations would “pay a heavy price in negative thinking and self-doubt” if they do not immediately engage in serious introspection and true spiritual liberation.

    Sources confirmed the video then featured an uninterrupted 19-minute clip of water quietly flowing between rocks in a small forest creek. http://www.theonion.com/articles/buddhist-extremist-cell-vows-to-unleash-tranquilit,34623

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Rinpoche – the precious one, in Tibetan.

      A equally precious zen koan of old: Why did the ancestral founder (Bodhidharma) come from the west?

      Today, one asks, Why do great teachers go to the West?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Thanks.

          Actually I was being a little uppity.

          It was an indirect question of whether one can find a great Buddhist/Hindu teacher in Nigeria, Haiti or many other non-West nations.

  29. tim s

    There is another boredom not specifically listed – that mind-numbing period between reading NC in the morning and finally getting off of work later in the day. That period of numbness contemplating the enormity of what I just read and all of the implications as the scales slowly fall from the eyes. All while realizing that I am as much a part of the problem as a solution at this point, becoming more aware of the shackles everyday.

    What’s that word that perfectly combines soldout soul crusing boredom with existential crisis? Yeah, that’s the one missing from the study.

  30. Benedict@Large

    The overselling of behavioral economics? Well, wasn’t that obvious from the start?

    Didn’t anyone find it curious that behavioral economics took off right AFTER the Crash? And who was pumping it then? The Monetarists. They had no idea where they had failed, and they were worried that their beloved monetarism would fall before some heterodox economics. To prevent that, they began pumping behavioral economics, which isn’t really economics at all. (It’s sociology.) They did that to protect their asses, their reputations, and their careers. Because after all, we know that those are more important than anything like economics as a science.

    1. Klassy!

      Behavioral economics serves the neoliberal ideology well — it’s all a matter of making the right choices, and the state will provide a little help to make you do so. It’s particularly pernicious, because they’re not just defining the solutions, they’re defining the problem. Lack of retirment savings or poor health is not just a matter of individual choices though. But that seems to be where the debate is stuck.
      Here is a good article that talks not specifically about BE, but does talk about the technocratic solutions that place the entire onus for change on the individual.
      http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/the-internet-ideology-why-we-are-allowed-to-hate-silicon-valley-12658406.html

      1. anon y'mouse

        thank you for that, Klassy.

        “Now that our communication networks are in the hands of the private sector, we should avoid making the same mistake with privacy. We shouldn’t reduce this complex problem to market-based solutions. Alas, thanks to Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial zeal, privatization is already creeping in. Privacy is becoming a commodity. How does one get privacy these days? Just ask any hacker: only by studying how the right tools work. Privacy is no longer something to be taken for granted or enjoyed for free: you have to expend some resources to master the tools. Those resources could be money, patience, attention – you might even hire a consultant to do all this for you – but the point is that privacy is becoming expensive.

        And what of those who can’t afford tools and consultants? How do their lives change? When the founder of a prominent lending start-up – the former CIO of Google, no less – proclaims that “all data is credit data, we just don’t know how to use it yet” I can’t help but fear the worst. If “all data is credit data” and poor people cannot afford privacy, they are in for some dark times. How can they not be anxious when their every move, their every click, their every phone call could be analyzed to predict if they deserve credit and at what rates? If the burden of debt wasn’t agonizing enough, now we’ll have to live with the fact that, for the poor people, anxiety begins well before they get the actual loan. Once again, one doesn’t have to hate or fear technology to worry about the future of equality, mobility and the quality of life. The “digital debate,” with its inevitable detours into cultural pessimism, simply has no intellectual resources to tackle these issues.”

        another labor that the ‘free’ market imposes on us. not to mention, everything that is watched becoming penalizeable. you know how in those oooold books, the young man off to seek his fortune always had a letter of recommendation verifying his ‘character’ to those ‘of good quality’ who could help him? yeah, we’ve become like that all over again.

        some of us will never be considered to have ‘character’ under this new system. we will be total outcasts–unemployable, bad rental risks, perhaps not even allowed into certain buildings (gov’ts? libraries?).

  31. Hugh

    Peter Turchin actually gives a backhanded defense of elites. According to him, the problem is not that we have elites, and more to the point elites working in criminal collusion with the kleptocratic rich. No, it is instead that we have too many aspiring to the elite class. This causes competition and leads to political instability. This is a vision in which the 99% have no place, other than as spectators to the actions of their betters.

    And then there are passages like the following:

    “Increasing inequality leads not only to the growth of top fortunes; it also results in greater numbers of wealth-holders. The “1 percent” becomes “2 percent.” Or even more. There are many more millionaires, multimillionaires and billionaires today compared with 30 years ago, as a proportion of the population.

    Let’s take households worth $10 million or more (in 1995 dollars). According to the research by economist Edward Wolff, from 1983 to 2010 the number of American households worth at least $10 million grew to 350,000 from 66,000.”

    He begins with a tautology but he states it in reverse order. Increased inequality is the effect of increased wealth concentration.

    Then he goes on to talk about the 1% expanding and becoming the 2%. But his numbers are off. There are about a hundred and ten million households in the country. So even if the number of households increased to 350,000, that is only about a third of one percent of the total.

    Turchin also points to the increase in the number of lawyers since the 1970s as a proxy for the increase in the numbers of the elites. And remember that it is this increase which is supposed to explain the fraying of society. But one of the key signs of this fraying which he cites is wages going flat from the late 1970s onward. That is the effect: wages going flat takes place before Turchin’s cause: the greatly increased numbers of lawyers.

    Turchin also blithely opines that the slaves could have been freed without the Civil War, but he does not say how he thinks this could have happened. He then goes on to say that the Civil War decimated the Southern elites, beggared them, and excluded them from Washington. Apparently, Turchin never has heard about Jim Crow, poll taxes, literacy tests, or Dixiecrats.

    Turchin’s view of history seems extraordinarily selective. If it doesn’t fit his thesis, it doesn’t exist.

    1. anon y'mouse

      ya gotta love how he pegged what we would rosy-glasses view The Golden Age, when workers actually earned money they could take home and keep, as “The Great Compression”.

      dude obviously knows what side his bread’s been buttered on.

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