Links 4/27/14

‘My Little Pony’ Voice Actress Never Thought She’d Be Partying With ‘Bronies’ HuffPo

As Parents Make Their Own Baby Food, Industry Tries to Adapt Times

How to Enjoy Nature Without Getting Yourself Eaten Gizmodo

President Obama Demanded Concessions from Prime Minister Abe on Free Trade Deal Based on Approval Ratings over $300 Sushi Dinner, Says Japanese Tabloid Exskf (MJ). “”It is difficult to be on the same wavelength with him.” I think that’s Japanese for “I didn’t say ‘No.’ I said ‘Hell, no.'”

Japan, U.S. tiptoe into new phase of Pacific trade talks Reuters

Courting Asia: China’s Maritime Silk Route vs America’s Pivot The Diplomat

TPP Investment Map: New Privileges for 30,000 Companies? Public Citizen. Handy map. Check your county, and call your Congress critter!

First Thoughts on Piketty Greg Mankiw’s Blog

Taking On Adam Smith (and Karl Marx) Times. Sounds awfully Third Way-ish. Bonus for terrific photo of Thomas Piketty gazing skyward, rather like Dear Leader looking to the future.

Paul Krugman and the Economics Fringe Dean Baker, CEPR

More Effective Remedies for Inequality than Piketty’s Steve Keen

Why Nations Can’t Resist Austerity Ian Welsh

A Walmart Fortune, Spreading Charter Schools Times. Hiring scabs from Teach for America, among much else.

Scathing Report Finds Rocketship, School Privatization Hurt Poor Kids Truthout

Climate change report was watered down says senior economist FT

Payroll Gains Show U.S. Emerging From Slowdown: Global Economy Bloomberg

More Tornado Strikes May Occur in Mobile Home Parks; Weekend Plains Tornado Outbreak? Weather Underground

U.S. electricity prices may be going up for good LA Times

The EIA is seriously exaggerating shale gas production in its drilling productivity report Resilience

Paper trail for Pa. shale waste leads to ex-IBM site in NY Official dismisses DEP record of cuttings shipped upstate Shale Gas Review

Energy Journal: Fukushima “an ongoing crisis… an international issue, its important we all keep our eye on it… we owe it to the Pacific” — Nuclear fuel dropped into sub-basement and melted through some concrete, no one can get in to see where it is now (AUDIO) ENENews (full audio).

Chernobyl – how many died? Ecologist


Ukraine: Media Obfuscate About “OSCE Observers” Moon of Alabama. [Gaah, linked to Guardian’s “Ukraine: pro-Russian separatists hold European military observers captive” yesterday. –lambert]

Europeans detained in Ukraine, raising stakes WaPo

173rd conducts unscheduled training with Lithuania Army US Army

Joint Chiefs chairman describes talk with Russians AP

Financial War Bloomberg

Clinton, Warren and a tale of two book titles WaPo

Mass. appeal The Economist. Where’s the beef?

What if the tea party decides to walk away from the GOP in 2016? It could happen. WaPo

Cliven Bundy Accidentally Explained What’s Wrong With the Republican Party Times


ObamaCare enrollment extended again The Hill. For the Pre-Existing Conditions Plan.

Patients paying more up front for care Atlanta Journal-Constitution

New York Will Keep Affordable Care Act Health Plans Restricted Times. Narrow networks stay narrow.

Do Physicians’ Financial Incentives Affect Medical Treatment and Patient Health? American Economic Review. Nothing tendentious about all the current Medicare stories, nothing at all.

Transparency is here, and it’s hunting season on doctors KevinMD

Reaping rewards for medical product innovation PNHP

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Let’s call him BACKTRACK Obama Cannonfire. The most transparent administration in history and FOIA.

Where Was Anal Rape Approved in the OLC Memos? empty wheel

Passover Greetings from the Editor The Intercept. #JustSaying

FIFA’s Valcke Urges Qatar Probe Result Before Brazil World Cup Bloomberg

Spain: The Land Where Incipient Deflation Becomes Good News For Headline GDP Fistful of Euros

Palestinian unity government will recognize Israel: Abbas Reuters

Turkey expands secret service powers BBC

Hope, cynicism and Jokowi in a Jakarta slum New Mandala

How Scientific Inquiry Works Dublin Review of Books

One Startup’s Struggle to Survive the Silicon Valley Gold Rush Wired

Chidiock Tichborne: The End Tom Clark (BDR)

Antidote du jour:


See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Lambert Strether has been blogging, managing online communities, and doing system administration 24/7 since 2003, in Drupal and WordPress. Besides political economy and the political scene, he blogs about rhetoric, software engineering, permaculture, history, literature, local politics, international travel, food, and fixing stuff around the house. The nom de plume “Lambert Strether” comes from Henry James’s The Ambassadors: “Live all you can. It’s a mistake not to.” You can follow him on Twitter at @lambertstrether.


  1. Tony

    “The approval rating of the Abe administration is in 60s, mine is in 40s. Shinzo [Mr. Abe’s first name] is more stable politically, so please make concessions in the TPP negotiation.”

    This is absurd. Obama is literally asking Japan to change it’s policy as a personal favor to him. I remember people writing that Obama is an incompetent diplomat, but this does not seem like something an adult would do.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe it’s something lost in double translation, first from English to Japanese, then back to English.

        If you do that with Google Translate, with any passage, there is no guarantee you get the original passage back, after a few iterations.

        1. Gibby the Fifth

          I remember a joke in the 1960’s from the FT. The computer system translated English into Russian, and vice versa. The test phrase, Out of Sight Out of Mind was translated and translated back: the answer was Invisible Idiot.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That’s like the other Russian translation of ‘strong in spirit, weak in flesh’ into ‘the meat is tough but the vodka is good.’

        2. Marianne Jones

          I was the one who found this article and posted in yesterday’s Links… I lived in Japan for a fair while and the English translations provided by EX-SKF are in the right ballpark assuming the “leakers” in Abe-san’s camp are quoted accurately. Who knows what Oblahma actually said in English during the meeting, and who knows how accurately his translating team functioned during the meeting. You’d hope he’d have the best of the best there, no?

          Interestingly, I first heard about TPP through a podcast I follow to maintain/improve my Japanese language skill. TPP has been a hot button item in the press there for years…

  2. Ned Ludd

    Glenn Greenwald’s latest article (which is not published by The Intercept, oddly enough) reads like a boastful press release from the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS):

    NIS acquires supercomputer

    OSLO/ RIO DE JANEIRO (Dagbladet): The Norwegian military intelligence service collects vast amounts of signal intelligence, known as “sigint”. In Afghanistan alone NIS collected 33 million registrations from telecommunication during 30 days around Christmas 2012, according to their own revelations.

    Additionally they listen to satellites and radio communication in our own region. The listening post in Vardø, close to the Russian-Norwegian border at the top of Europe, is basically a giant ear eastward. The collection of data has grown out of hand and the Norwegian spies have not been able to use all their collections.

    Handling of this big data is becoming an increasingly important part of the intelligence services’ surveillance programs worldwide. The NSA program to monitor email communications and web surfing all over the world, XKeyscore, collected 41 billion records during a 30-day period in 2012. Enormous computing power and storage capacity is needed to process the data and find the needles in the haystacks.


    “NIS is in the process of acquiring STEEL WINTER (a WINDSORBLUE derivative supercomputer ) and has entered into a partnership with NSA – cryptanalysis ( …) service to develop applications of mutual benefit” the document says.


    NIS sources states that the purpose of the acquisition is to analyze large amounts of data and find the needles they’re looking for in the haystacks. They also want to do more of this work in Norway.

    When The Guardian and The Washington Post won the Pulitzer for their NSA stories, Cryptome linked to an article by Amy Davidson, in The New Yorker, and noted her parenthetical remark:

    As explosive as the papers would have been on their own, with no mediation, the shape of the scandal has also been a function of careful journalism. It didn’t have to play out this way: either paper could have bungled it. They had to be judicious and brave. Each has more documents than it has published, and has been scrupulous about what it shares, making sure to give a sense of what the acronyms and connections mean. (In a way, the Pulitzer is also for what the papers have not made public.)

    Revelations about mass surveillance could have been disruptive in the hands of a political agitator. When mediated by journalists, however, the story is watered down and neutered by “going to the government for comment—listening to what it has to say”. Only a handful of documents are published, and information that could be used to develop countermeasures is excised from them. All the citizenry is left with is the opportunity to have “conversations at home and at school and pretty much everywhere about what they, themselves, would be willing to let the N.S.A. do to them.”

  3. craazyman

    the animal attack article missed two obvious solutions:

    1. Don’t go into the wilderness. Stay home, chill out, have a few beers, watch nature shows on TV.
    2. If you insist on risking your life, pack a revolver and learn how to shoot it. Wear a holster like a 19th century cowboy, practice quick-draw techniques by watching TV westerns, learn how to twirl the gun around your finger so after you’ve laid the beast out with a single shot you can look cool before putting the gun back in your holster.

    Be aware that #2 doesn’t work with sharks, so take precautions..

    The other danger going into the wildnerness is abduction by nature spirits. Boulder fields and berry patches and swamps are especially dangerous places. You might come across strange humanoid beings wearing what look like space suits in a low budget science fiction movie that ask you to either eat a wafer or some food-like substance. If you can retain presence of mind, do not do that or you’ll disappear forever. If you survive and experience missing time, don’t question your sanity.. It’s just the way things are. If you see Bigfoot, don’t shoot.. Just close your eyes and say “This isn’t real” and it will go away

    1. Eeyores enigma

      “Don’t go into the wilderness.”
      Better yet (and what we as a society have already decided to do) is to constantly vilify nature making it easier to destroy it and use it as a waste receptacle.

    2. McKillop

      I don’t know . . . those tiggers following their mama are knda cute. It’d be some knid of shameful act to refuse to provide such babies with ‘homemade’ food.
      I spend a fair bit of time away from the city in which I live. Many of my friends and acquaintances spend their time further away – sort of in the wilderness. The only one I heard of who had a close encounter with wolves (two, not a “pack”) shot and skinned the poor beasts. He was fifteen or sixteen.
      I had a bit of trouble taking this article seriously. I myself feel more threatened in civilization -even in the downtown parts of small towns and cities- and by the reports I read regarding our civilizational wonders. This article just seemed to be a rehash of stuff that would be ignored as silly by anyone who was even a bit familiar with the wilderness and its denizens. To others I’d suggest there’d be a greater chance that the animals would scavenge their corpses – the corpses having attained their standing through a fall or exposure upon being lost.

      1. craazyman

        don’t read this or you may never leave your house!

        mountain lions and wolves don’t phase me at all I could manhandle either of them one on one. That 5 foot bird from Australia just cracks me up. What is this, Sesame Street? haha. sharks are another story. I won’t make jokes about sharks

        But the nature spirits They freaks me out so bad I need a xanax

    3. bob

      Stay home in front of your computer! Updates will follow!

      I bet the number of cop killings is way above the number of wild animal killings each year.

      In general, always give them an out. They don’t want to be near you anymore than you want to be near them. Be aware of your surroundings and never corner a wild animal.

      This was an odd one from last summer, in the category of “shit happens”-

      Not the best idea to be out alone, anywhere.

      1. craazyman

        that story makes me very sad for the bear, it seems so cruel to have stabbed it, but I can understand where the young woman was coming from. it’s not a warm and fuzzy feeling to have 3 wild bears stalking you in the woods I suppose

      2. direction

        It is sad. Everything she says seems to indicate the bears were tagging along. not aggressive behavior. Almost as if she could have pet it. but we are taught to fear and strike instead of choosing to encounter and meet a being who speaks a different language.

        Yesterday, my partner’s brother was telling the puppy to stop nipping him, and we watched as all his gestures indicated play. He never said no fiercely, just reticently, and everytime he pushed the dog away seemed to encourage it. People think they are being clear with intention alone.

  4. abynormal

    corporations spend unheard of amounts of money and time denying Climate Change…but use it for cover when earnings no longer subvert balance sheet realities. you know its bad when cnBS squaks

    Man steps on an ant when he can’t catch the fly.
    Bill Gaede

  5. Skeptic

    As Parents Make Their Own Baby Food, Industry Tries to Adapt Times

    Substitution Effect.
    As the 1% increase the costs of dealing with their Rackets, like “food”, “health”, “home”, transportation, entertainment, etc. folks will turn to alternatives. Profits will dry up, baby.
    Start substituting today and kick an oligarchic ass.

    1. Cal

      Yes, but remember that pesticides and GMOs are designed to kill living things and enrich profits. Hardly what you want to feed to your baby.

      There is a continuum from importing industrial waste tainted foodstock from China, doused with pesticides and herbicides to the opposite extreme of preparing or buying the highest quality local organic food and feeding it to your baby.

      A lot of these companies mentioned in the baby food article are the same giant peddlers of crap that have been poisoning Americans for generations, just dressed with straw and cornstalks and aww shucks. Don’t feed the enemy with your dollars or feed their dressed up products to baby.

      See this chart of who owns what and learn about growing your own veggies or supporting truly local and high quality enterprises:

      “In 1995 there were 81 independent organic processing companies in the United States. A decade later, Big Food had gobbled up all but 15 of them.

      Corporate consolidation of the food system has been largely hidden from consumers. That’s changing, thanks to tools such as Philip H. Howard’s widely circulated “Who Owns Organic?” infographic. Originally published in 2003, the chart provides a snapshot of the structure of the organic industry, showing the acquisitions and alliances of the top 100 food processors in North America. The chart empowers consumers to see at a glance which companies dominate the organic marketplace.

      The Cornucopia Institute has been proud to feature Dr. Howard’s work and help supply information helping the Michigan State University researcher keep abreast of the shifting ownership environment in the organic industry.”

    2. Linden

      I made all my own baby food. A jar of strained carrots is $1, when for the same amount you can buy enough carrots to last for weeks? Ridiculous.

  6. Bryan Sean McKown

    EIA Misrepresents natural gas Production Data from Shale Operations:
    Excellent documentation by David Hughes of propanganda emanating from the EIA on shale operations in top 4 natural gas plays. More links to superior work by Mr. Hughes and others at “Resilience”. Thank you.

  7. Brindle

    re: FIFA…World Cup

    FIFA is the most corrupt large sport organizing body around. They make the NFL, NCAA , MLB etc. look like paragons of virtue in comparison.
    The World Cup should only be held in countries that already have the necessary stadiums and facilities. Developing nations simply cannot afford to build the infrastructure. Best hope would be for Qatar WC to be moved.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If it’s not safe for construction workers, one might ask it, the weather, is safe for spectators or players.

  8. TarheelDem

    The article on electicity prices rising is premised on the cost of renewables rising as nuclear an coal age out. It ignores the extent to which the industry is discouraging through legislative means distributed production, the licensing of new large over-the-horizon offshore wind generation, expansion of the electrical grid for load balancing, and the continued subsidization of fossil fuel technology. The buggywhip manufacturers lobby is prevailing in the electrical utility sector.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Venezuelans flee the Bolivarian Workers Paradise for nearby Panama:

    Panama’s immigration agency said 233,921 Venezuelans entered the country to work or visit last year, up from about 147,000 in 2010.

    For Venezuelans, Panama offers many of the trappings of home. There are dozens of Venezuelan-run restaurants, yoga studios and bakeries in Panama City. Cable television packages include Globovision, a Venezuelan channel that has sparred with the socialist government since Chavez.

    Cars sporting signs with “SOS Venezuela,” a slogan of anti-Maduro protesters, are regularly seen around Panama City.

    “Our culture is about relationships, where you know a guy who knows a guy who can help you,” said [a 27-year-old Venezuelan immigrant]. He shows a photo of a friend standing in front of mayonnaise jars at a Caracas supermarket, taken amid recent shortages. “This is big news when you can get mayonnaise. It’s absurd.”


    When Nick Maduro says ‘Hold the mayo’ … THAT’S AN ORDER!

      1. Jagger

        I have wondered that as well. In the US, it is like Venezuela does not exist. And when you do rarely hear of it, it is portrayed as a Red menace.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Venezuela and Argentina are the two highest-inflation economies in the western hemisphere, with annual rates accelerating toward 60 and 40 percent, respectively.

        Both serve as dire real-time examples of monetary pathology, a subject frequently addressed in posts here.

        1. F. Beard

          Those twp countries (actually all countries) should remove all privileges for their banks since government-backed banks front-run fiscal spending and cause the price inflation that the fiscal spending is blamed for!

        2. JohnnyGL

          You see ‘monetary pathology’, but others see a somewhat ambitious attempt at import-substitution, which is matched by elite resistance to such projects, and lots and lots of media overhype. Real News did a nice series of interviews with Eduardo Lander on Venezuela and this is generally what was conveyed.

          1. allcoppedout

            Afghanistan wanted to try that around 1930. I think ‘we Brits’ stopped that. It’s ‘Ebagum’ to me – we aren’t really aware of what a monetary policy is in practice. Control of the money system by honest people seems key, but where in the world is this not ‘Ebagum’ (hidden Mugabe)? Which of us can cast the first stone on not having monetary pathology Jim?

      3. Banger

        Venezuela, in its policies to help the poor, is everything certain kinds of libertarians hate. The poor, according to their philosophies, should know their place and die if they can’t produce economic value. It’s not an unreasonable position but it lacks compassion.

    1. Banger

      For the upper middle-class life is better in Panama or Miami. When Cuba was ruled by organized crime the upper middle-class and even middle class did fairly well in urban areas while the peasants suffered. Thus when Fidel and Che chased Batista and his band of criminals away the elites fled to Miami where they have become a highly negative force in U.S. politics as well as being involved in all kinds of illegal activities in the Miami area–though the community has changed and is now more open and less obsessed with ousting Fidel.

      We forget the deep class-hatreds, often racially based, that has existed since Spanish colonial times in Latin America. We also forget that the U.S. government actively has worked for generations to stop or overthrow any government that makes any attempt to improve the lot of poor people in those countries. I can cite you specific operation in Latin America starting with Cuba during the Spanish American War–the pattern is stunningly obvious yet you miss it. All countries that dare to oppose the U.S. support of oligarchy (the U.S. has no interest in “democracy” in any part of the world and that, again, has been proven ad nauseam for over a century). Start to read history–or you sound like you were born yesterday. Panama itself was a victim of an aggressive U.S. war to “liberate” Panama from itself as well as being involved in the assassination of Presidne Trorrijos.

      1. allcoppedout

        The more I think about this the worse it seems. I am often urged to think of great, British history, but nearly all of it looks like killing people with sharpened mangoes when we had rifles. The US war in the Philippines looks similar, as do recent invasions as opposed to occupations. What we’ve actually done is MacBeth-like and we are traumatically incapable of admitting it. Seems to start in a lot of crock history. I remember being taught 1066 and all that in terms of the pride that this was the last foreign invasion of Britain – yet in 1217 a motley crew led by an Irish guy was throwing the French out of England. These days I’m not sure the world wars were just or about nasty German expansion.

        The question of the day is surely how we achieve a peaceful consciousness free of sociopathic leaders.

  10. TarheelDem

    It seems that physicians are not ready for comparison shopping by patients, the key point of the so-called benefits of turning health care into a market operation. And they are hedging their bets on the reliability of new Obamacare insurers in their states by demanding more of a payment up front for some procedures.

    No deductibles, no co-pays, no balance billing is a movement whose time has come. And what we will discover is that universal coverage can only be attained through a single-payer mechanism that will dramatically limit providers’ ability to print money. Either that, or it’s back to the days of paying the doctor in chickens.

  11. susan the other

    On Steve Keen and Dean Baker on Picketty. Picketty is right about his observation that there is extreme inequality but he’s wrong on the treatment. There is no reason to resist changing the way capitalism works (or more accurately does not work) since nobody has ever even defined capitalism. There is no reason to resort to taxing the rich without changing the system to benefit the poor because it allows all the dysfunction to stay in place. SK’s suggestions are much better. And DB’s hard look at our dear government’s inability to create enough jobs to create equality, most recently going way back to the Asian meltdown, followed by the .Com bust and then the inevitable building boom crash because there was no there there; no underlying economy to support the housing frenzy. So let us not forget the wisdom of ecologists here on NC. What we need are lots of low productivity jobs of high social value. And what we do not need are more cars.

    1. allcoppedout

      I really agree. Yet capitalism has been defined – seven varieties around the world type of stuff (I forget the book but the same guy wrote ‘Radical Man’ – Charles Hampden-Turner). Sad the Steve Keen thing was a book plug. I was hoping for a spreadsheet.

      No one seems to be addressing the motivation to get necessary work done, either as we are affected by current threats of poverty, or would not be in ‘quasi-paradise’.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        When you feel the pain when something is dropped on your foot, it matters not what it is, called or defined as.

        It’s not quite ‘I refute it thus,’ but more ‘a stinking rose by any other name stinks as much.’

        1. allcoppedout

          I once considered solipsism Beef. Then came video games and I became a Pac Man for the company.

      2. Banger

        Motivation could be love, compassion, joy….no? That stuff feels good, helps everyone and is ultimately brings out the best in all of us.

          1. Nobody (the outcast)

            Which reminds me of Koyaanisqatsi. Hardly anything has changed for the better, IMO (environmentally, socially, and economically). Net imbalances seem to only be increasing and with it comes ever more violence and suffering.

    2. Robert Frances

      Taxing wealth and high levels of passive income (eg, rent, interest, capital gains, dividends) and reducing regressive taxes (eg, payroll, sales tax, VAT) on lower and middle income working families is the best solution for moving the economy forward. The lower and middle income groups will spend most of their increased disposable income on goods and services, creating jobs and economic growth in the process. Higher taxes on multi-millionaires will be barely felt by the economic elites, and their marginally reduced wealth may help alleviate some asset bubbles that could make the economy more stable.

      When productivity levels are high, such as currently in the US and other developed countries, a better strategy than “creating jobs” is reducing the work-week to reach full employment. Millions of older workers would love to work fewer hours while maintaining steady employment, which would create millions of new openings. And government agencies collectively can easily employ millions more workers by reducing full-time work weeks to 25 or 30 hours. With full employment, or even a negative employment rate, workers keep their freedom to find work that suits them best, and salaries and wages should increase due to the relative scarcity of unemployed and underemployed labor. Small businesses and worker-owned enterprises could be exempted from any mandatory reductions of the work-week.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I like the idea of a wealth tax.

        How does reduced work week work?

        It seems a good deal for those paid monthly or weekly, but what do we do with those on hourly?

        Right now, they should be paid $15/hr. To catch up with those paid the same but working 25 hours instead of 40 hours a week, then the hourly workers would be paid like $25/hour. So, we would have to work on the as a companion legislation as well.

        1. Robert Frances

          A reduced work-week could be completely voluntary for any employee in the private sector, but would apply to companies over a certain size (500 or 1,000 workers?). Every employee would be given the option to work less than 40 hours, with a corresponding reduction of pay and benefits. Companies could establish a minimum work-week, say 16 hours. Since millions of workers would likely opt for a shorter work week, most large employers would need to hire additional workers. It might take a little time to rearrange certain tasks, but businesses are generally smart and efficient.

          In the case of governments over a certain size (50 employees?), they could adopt work rules that maximize half-time employment. Not only would millions more workers have meaningful jobs that provide a decent income stream, but the new workers would have a better understanding of the operations of government services, which could lead to opportunities for efficiency.

          Because downward adjustments to work-week hours would reduce the unemployment rate, there would be a robust job market as employers scramble to fill open positions. Current government employees who lost some hours as a result of a full employment policy would find lots of part-time job opportunities to replace lost income. Private sector workers would have better opportunities to work in other fields part-time that might be more rewarding and lucrative than their current employment.

          Aside from the requirement that a larger company offer its workers a reduced work week, and the requirement that governments start employing more workers, albeit at fewer hours, there would be no other coercion or additional taxes need to fund this program. If a private sector worker was happy with their 40 hour work week, they could keep it.

          Technology destroys many labor tasks. That’s what technology is often designed to do. The way to harness technology and mitigate labor obsolescence is to reduce the work week so that everyone is employed.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When you tax the rich and give that money to the poor (no money destruction feared, or used as an excuse, by MMTers), they system is changed, right there, by the very act.

      1. Nobody (the outcast)

        I can’t speak for all MMTers, but this MMTer is fine with taxing high incomes more and even accumulated wealth (especially rent-taking activities). I favor more spending to help the poor and not-quite poor. However, I know that the second doesn’t require the first. That should in no way be construed as favoring the wealthy. I think arguing for Robin Hood behavior gives the wealthy ammunition for their envy argument and a lot of not-wealthy people are swayed by that argument. The wealthy don’t need more ammunition, they have too much already.

        I point to the work of Wilkinson, Pickett and the Equality Trust. They argue that more equality is better for everybody. No need for Robin Hood behavior, just narrow the gap by lifting the poor and trimming the wealthy, not trimming the wealthy to lift the poor.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The poor and not quite poor are best equipped to improve themselves by money creation via the people spending it into existence, not MMT’s status quo perpetuating descriptive ‘fact’ of the government spending money to help the poor and not quite poor.

          Let them fish, instead of giving them fish.

          Empower the Little Fishing People of the Monetary Soveregn of the Little Fishing People, for the Little Fishing People, by the Little Fishing People.

          Under that scenario, a wealth tax is a sort of back up bazooka in case wealth concentrates again.

  12. Jose

    Thomas Palley really nailed it when he pointed out the risks of Piketty’s treatise becoming an instance of “gattopardo economics” – in the sense that something’s got to change in order to guarantee that things will remain substantially the same for the elite.

    What will likely follow this sudden Piketty craze is liberal pundits and economists talking a bit more about inequality and appealing for a Wealth tax – an idea that the VSPs will then point out to be politically unfeasible, “job destroying”, or whatever reason comes to mind, as a prelude to it being quietly shelved in the example of the now almost forgotten proposal for a Tobin tax.

    What we need, instead of new taxes that the really well-off would easily escape in any case, is higher real wages and full employment.

    If wages had increased at the rate of productivity growth of the past four decades it’s clear we’d have now: a) much lower levels if inequality and b) much lower levels of household debt. And full employment would translate into millions of families being freed from dire poverty and dependency on an increasingly unreliable welfare state.

    A sharp rise in the minimum wage combined with increased deficit spending to put the economy near full employment would be a hundred times more effective than the wealth tax in reducing inequality.

    1. Robert Frances

      From my observations it appears that higher salaries and wages merely cause higher housing costs and higher taxes, especially if the government is funding “make-work” jobs and it needs to pay for the job programs with increased taxes.

      My family’s highest standard of living was back in the 1960’s when the minimum wage was $2 per hour, but most families in the area could afford to buy a house since landlords and housing speculators weren’t very active in the housing market. The relative tax burdens on lower and middle-income working families were also fairly low compared to 30 years later. Back then a family might spend 20% of their income on taxes and another 20% for housing costs, whereas now many families are paying a much higher proportion of their income on housing costs and regressive tax payments such as payroll, VAT and sales taxes.

      We can increase the living standard of millions of lower and middle income families by reducing regressive taxes and increasing taxes by an equivalent amount on property speculators, the wealthiest landlords, and higher marginal rates on the biggest earners of passive income such as interest, dividends, interest and capital gain income.

      1. craazyman

        My thought was to offer “social equity payments” to employed low income people in the form of quarterly or annual tax pool funded rebates.

        if somebody is going to do society’s low paying jobs, they should get at least a living wage for it. But for the plan to work, they’d have to be employed. It would be hard to game that way.

        it wouldn’t take the place of salary, since firms would still have to compete on wages even if workers got a supplement from the govermint. it wouldn’t promote lassitude (although that wouldn’t be bad, in my view) since you’d have to be employed to get the payment. This way society pays for the convenience and the workers get a break for doing grunt work and the ‘Free enterprise’ system doesn’t get shaken too much. it could work, if people think about it.

        The challenge would be, it might just cause rent and food inflation in low income neighborhoods leaving few trully better off.

        Form is as important as quantity You can raise quantity, but if form doesn’t change, then the form only becomes increasingly numerated but structurally unchanged. This is what nobody ever gets. The need is for the Formal Structures of social ccooperation to become less concentrated and more distributed, so that everyone participates to a greater degree. That is more complicated a problem

      2. allcoppedout

        Look at the fracking towns where Portakabin bed-sits cost $2500 a month. There’s a huge point in what you say on how money actually gets redistributed.

  13. susan the other

    Also ENENews on Fukushima. A damage control interview with Miles OBrien. There was also the report that the reason Japan can’t locate the melted cores is because in the initial meltdown there were at least 2 separate explosions which blew core material all over Japan much of it landing on Tokyo in the form of black gobs of stuff too radioactive to handle. (Washingtonsblog).
    And the news is devastating for the Pacific Ocean and its inhabitants. But we knew this was happening. So let’s all hope that Entanglement technology emerges to rapidly dissipate the radioactive particles. Maybe if enough quantum pressure builds up we can turn time back. Otherwise the amounts of radiation will increase at a steady pace for decades. The west coast of the Americas is done. Wouldn’t it be better for governments to admit this? I really don’t appreciate having OBrien be our fact and science interpreter. It really annoys me.

      1. tom clark

        Chidiock Tichborne, who is now in that proverbial “better place” (could any place possibly be worse than his last stop?), and his technically living support staff, extend their gratitude to Messrs. Strether and Petraitis.

  14. jfleni

    RE: Japan, U.S. tiptoe into new phase of Pacific trade talks
    RE: More Effective Remedies for Inequality than Piketty’s

    These posts makes the plainest possible case: Hoggish, sometimes panic-driven greed is completely destructive and unproductive, not to say stupid.

    1. Barry has sushi with the Japanese PM and come across as a panic-stricken and arm-twisting salesman trying to close the deal (he’s feeling the pressure now from his good buddies the plutocrats) at all costs, without even considering what it could cost Japan politically and economically. Almost certainly the PM will feel insulted and humilitiated, regardless of any merits the TPP has or doesn’t have.

    2. Sensible Piketty remedies include getting some reasonable and fair benefits for all parties, not just ritual castration by jumped-up plutocrat thieves who can gloat about their power afterwards.

  15. gonzomarx

    “Nobody trusts anyone in authority today.
    It is one of the main features of our age. Wherever you look there are lying politicians, crooked bankers, corrupt police officers, cheating journalists and double-dealing media barons, sinister children’s entertainers, rotten and greedy energy companies and out-of-control security services.
    And what makes the suspicion worse is that practically no-one ever gets prosecuted for the scandals. Certainly nobody at the top.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am not under 30, but I wouldn’t trust anyone over 30, especially those with authority…to spend unlimited amount of money they can print.

      1. allcoppedout

        Quiet Beefy – that amounts to kicking a sleeping Lambert! Cantillon’s Law hasn’t been invented yet, which will surprise him when we take the time machine off for a stroll to 1720.

    2. allcoppedout

      I caught that link too Gonzo. It has, as the link demonstrates, gone on forever. George Davis, the featured ‘fitted criminal’ was later arrested in a bank robbery on camera. One is always stuck with the generic question on whether, say, De Sade was descriptive or a fantastic explorer of a warped consciousness. The film ‘Quills’ raises such.

      In truth I think things are much worse than suggested in the various documentaries and yet we discount the role played by real false allegations, public-media gossip fetish and almost total human irrationality. ‘It’s the libidinal economy stupid’, as Clinton should have said.

  16. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Do travelers to Tokyo, so close to Fukushima, even powerful visitors, need to wear radiation protection clothes?

    I wonder if tin-foiled underwear is needed.

    And how about that $300 sushi? Shouldn’t the raw fish be wrapped in tin foil as well? I think that’s cheaper than ones wrapped in gold foil.

  17. allcoppedout

    You just have to love Greg Mankiw. He says, ‘You can’t get an ought from an is – as we all know’. Is it only me that thinks such wrong? Global warming is an ‘is’, as is being drowned in a flood because loggers cut down trees upstream in another country. I think we get a few oughts from such stuff without modularising a ‘moral world’.

    I think we should be worried – he cuts Piketty’s book into three parts, doffing his cap for the leg work on the data. After that it’s all rubbish and can’t be implemented. Mankiw even ‘brands’ Obama a leftist!

    So I turn to the Steve Keen cavalry, but that’s only a plug for Geoff Davis’ ‘Sack the Economists’ which points out you can organise a market economy and redistribution in many ways. Disappointed, even though it is a good book. I think I’m waiting for an edition with a pitchfork and burning torch pop-up.

      1. allcoppedout

        I wrote something a bit like that – gave up at 124,000 words and binding that. Should have a go at stripping it down. I’ve met a number of Mankiws, but can’t find a way to express how much pain they cause.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Do Physicians’ Financial Incentives Affect Medical Treatment and Patient Health? American Economic Review. Nothing tendentious about all the current Medicare stories, nothing at all.

    It does raise a question, though not related to Medicare.

    Are there (economic) sectors (or professions) that have more 1% people in them than other sectors (professions)?

    Do we find more 1% people in the legal profession than, say, the plumbing profession?

    The question is relevant with respect to worker-owned collectives, in that if we collectivize at the corporation level or a little higher at the sector level, do we find that, eventually, we have financial collectives oppressing, say, hair-stylist collectives?

  19. Jess

    Re: Medicare Billing Records story: You gotta love KevinMD’s story on what this means. Has a certain Taibbi-esque quality. For instance, in describing one potential byproduct of this data release he says:

    “…the added benefit of accelerating “trends toward large medical groups and doctors working as employees instead of in small practices,” per the Huffington Post. That is a good thing too, because dealing with organized crime is so much better for society than dealing with petty theft.”

    1. jrs

      Thanks for trying, but I think by now many people have probably stopped signing white house petitions (if they ever did) just because the Obomber admin has long since stopped answering them. Learned helplessness …

      Even as petitions go, surely we can do better then

  20. mellon

    I thought this comment about the Abe/Obama dinner at one of the links was good:

    Anonymous said…

    The old adage, I’m from the (US) government and I’m here to help you is even more true when it comes to foreign relations. The United States has not treated Japan as a spoiled child – the relationship is more like a bully and a small child – and guess who is the bully. Now the US is pushing the TPP which is not good for either the people of Japan or the people of the US, but does benefit a few of the 1%.

    The Japanese are not childlike or stupid. They know that “free trade” will destroy their economy – just look at what it has done to the US. The TPP in its current form is something neither Japan nor the US needs.

  21. Kim Kaufman

    “More Tornado Strikes May Occur in Mobile Home Parks; Weekend Plains Tornado Outbreak? Weather Underground”

    It’s really cheap to live in Joplin, MO because of the frequency of tornados. I know someone who lives there for that reason but I assume other high tornado areas are also.

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