2:00PM Water Cooler 1/08/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“From a policy perspective, the decision to maintain the international standard of life plus 50 years is consistent with the evidence that term extension creates harms by leaving Canadians with 20 years of no new works entering the public domain with virtually no gains in terms of new creativity” [Michael Geist]. “The damage caused by the term extension involves more than just higher costs to consumers and educational institutions. It also creates a massive blow to access to Canadian heritage.” The rule used to be “Don’t mess with Can Lit,” but I don’t know how true that is after Harper.

“TTIP: ‘Reform’ of investor dispute settlement clause not enough” [Max Andersson, Euractiv]. “This highly controversial and unnecessary mechanism does not belong to a 21st century rule-of-law system. Foreign corporations should hold no greater rights than national firms or any other privileged position that allows them to challenge national legislation outside national courts.

“Duty minister Simon Bridges said despite an official statement by the Chilean government that the controversial trade deal will be signed on 4 February in New Zealand, arrangements are not yet confirmed” [Radio New Zealand].

“Malaysia is the only country to be granted an opt-out clause in a side letter to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), Asian Development Bank lead economist Jayant Menon said. ‘This actually allows Malaysia to withdraw from the TPPA without even trying to rectify it in Parliament. No other member country can do that'” [Malaysian Insider]. That we know of.



“Republicans push again for an Obamacare alternative, with Donald Trump a looming worry” [Los Angeles Times].

More than five years after the health law was enacted, the party still has no unifying healthcare platform. And if Trump extends his run atop the Republican presidential field, his unorthodox healthcare positions may soon define the GOP.

Trump, who is increasingly worrying Republican party leaders, has said little on the campaign trail about healthcare beyond bashing the current law and promising that “everybody’s going to be taken care of” and “the government’s gonna pay for it,” as he said on “60 Minutes” in September.

In the past, Trump has expressed admiration for government-run systems in other countries such as Britain and Canada. Such systems are anathema to most conservatives.

Can’t have that.

Trump: “I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools, and — you have to — and on military bases. My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones” [WaPo].

The Voters

“Which States Rely the Most on Federal Aid?” [Tax Foundation]. Handy chart:


Seems that the hatred of big gummit and the ready acceptance of big gummit subsides are directly, rather than inversely, correlated. Odd.

“American citizens with incorrect information can be divided into two groups, the misinformed and the uninformed. The difference between the two is stark. Uninformed citizens don’t have any information at all, while those who are misinformed have information that conflicts with the best evidence and expert opinion. As Kuklinski and his colleagues established, in the U.S., the most misinformed citizens tend to be the most confident in their views and are also the strongest partisans” [FiveThirtyEight]. Thank The God(ess)(e)(s) Of Your Choice, If Any, that this isn’t happening anywhere along the Acela Corridor!

The Trail

“It’s the most passion-inducing message of the presidential campaign. Sanders has gotten more donations—2.5 million-plus—at this point in the election cycle than any candidate in history, including sitting presidents, and twice as many individual donors as Hillary Clinton. The slouching, rumpled 74-year-old, who was slouching and rumpled in his 20s, has often attracted far larger audiences to his boring-ass speeches than any 2016 candidate, including Donald Trump” [Bloomberg]. The headline: “Why Bernie Sanders Doesn’t Want Your Vote.” The subhead: “On the road with a man so angry he scares Democrats, too.” Sure is odd that Trump gets all the coverage, then…

[Wall Street Journal, “Clinton Offers New Details About Paid Family Leave Plan”]. “Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton’s campaign offered new details about her paid family leave plan Thursday, and continued to reject the leading proposal in Congress because it relies on a small increase to the payroll tax…. Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs said the payroll tax would cost a typical worker only $1.61 a week.” (Cf. “The Progressive Give-Up Formula.”)

The man with the rug on the man with the lifts: “‘It helps to be tall,’ continued Trump, who stands at over 6 feet. ‘I don’t know, they’re big heels. They’re big heels. I mean, those heels were really up there'” [The Hill].

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, December 2015: “The labor market is stronger than most assessments with December results well outside top-end estimates and big upward revisions underscoring the strength of prior months” [Econoday]. “The labor force participation rate improved 1 tenth to 62.6 percent as did the employment-to-population ratio, to 59.5 percent. Wages, also despite the payroll strength, came in unchanged.”

And: “[W]ith economy activity appearing to have leaked modestly lower in recent months, we expect some of this positive momentum to be surrendered in the coming months, though the economy is expected to continue creating jobs in a manner sufficient to absorb excess labor market slack.” [TD Securities, Across the Curve]. “As such, we continue to expect the Fed to remain on the tightening path, with a further 25bps increase in the target rate expected at the March FOMC meeting.”

But: “Well above expectations. …. Here is a look at employment to population ratios which clearly shows NO group has recovered from the Great Recession” [Econintersect].

Wholesale Trade, November 2015: “Wholesale inventories fell a sizable 0.3 percent for a second straight month in November. Sales at the wholesale level fell an even sharper 1.0 percent in the month and, despite the decline in inventories, drove the stock-to-sales ratio up to 1.32 vs 1.31 in the two prior months. A year-ago, the ratio was at 1.23 in what is confirmation that inventories in the sector remain heavy” [Econoday].

“How do we solve the current global demand shortfall? My own surmise is that, to solve a global problem, we will need a globally coordinated solution of some kind. But I am sure that we can make little progress without more policymakers who are willing to identify the problem and discuss possible solutions – that is, more policymakers like Marriner Eccles” [Narayana Kocherlakota].

“Historical Echoes: How Members of the Society for Creative Anachronism Make Money” [Liberty Street].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 25 (+10); Fear [CNN]. Last week: 47 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed).

Health Care

“Top 10 Health Headlines You Didn’t See in 2015” [Health Blawg]. “0. Debbie Wasserman Schultz comes out in favor of single payer health care.”

“Free market for surgery: interview with Allevion CEO Arnon Krongrad, MD” [Health Business Blog]. It looks to me that since the CEO admits that we don’t know how to measure surgical quality, we can’t make a market in that; and so he’s decided to make a market in surgical credentialling; in other words, a privatized AMA (rather a second one), but digital. I’d very much like reader comments on this one, however.

“Medicare Marketing Strategy” [Resnick Unplugged].

In Medicare, addressing consumers’ long list of pain points is essential: economic woes, too many choices, pre-existing conditions, and complexities of Medicare (admit it, on a good day it’s a bureaucratic nightmare tied together with red tape). From a buyer’s perspective, a commoditized set of products and multiple distribution outlets translates into a tricky buy/sell marketplace.

So it’s artificical complexity in Medicare that “makes the market” for commercial products that simplify it?

“Today’s federal agencies are ‘highly message-controlled.’ Here’s what that means for health reporting” [Columbia Journalism Review]. As we saw during the ObamaCare launch debacle, when nobody, literally nobody, was held accountable.

[It’s] fairly standard practice at federal agencies these days—stonewalling and running out the clock on reporters. The Obama administration came to power promising “the most transparent” administration in US history and an “unprecedented level of openness.” [ha ha ha ha ha] Instead, whether they are old timers or relative newbies, work at small outlets or large ones, belong to the trade press or live at the top of the news pecking order, health reporters told me the same thing: trying to get useful information from government agencies can be a maddening, prolonged exercise. Even those who are less critical mention instances when an agency dodged or declined to answer their questions. “There’s no question this administration has had all agencies on a very short leash,” says Politico’s food safety reporter Helena Bottmiller Evich. “There’s a strong pull to keep everyone on message. Requests are getting cleared pretty high up the chain. They don’t want them to be off message and say something that causes tension with the White House.”

The fish rots from the head. Again, exactly as in the ObamaCare debacle, where Obama simply flat-out lied about the capabilities of the site, right up until it launched and crashed.

Reporters point to the Clinton years as a turning point, when Hillary Clinton imposed tight rules about talking to the media on members of her team crafting the doomed Clinton health plan. Controls got progressively tighter during the administration of George W. Bush and tighter still under Obama.

And 2016 is an election year. Expect nothing honest from CMS on ObamaCare stats, or anything else.

“Turning To Medicaid To Insure Lowest-Paid Employees” [KHN]. Fascinatingly, the CEO who is the focus of the story has this to say:

[Duke Gillingham, president of Oasis Foods, in Hillside, New Jersey} contrasts this system to one he and his family of six experienced in England.

“My kids didn’t suffer from having a five- or six-minute checkup,” he said, compared with doctor visits in the United States — which may have been twice as long, and at much higher expense, but without any noticeable difference in results.

“We didn’t see any of the demons that people speak of when they talk about socialized medicine,” Gillingham said. “There were no lines, no poor standard-of-care.”

That’s because the Tories aren’t done gutting it, of course.

“Live from CES 2016 – The Healthy Connected Life” [Health Populi]. Our system of heatlh care for profit seems capable of delivering anything except health care. Make sure you’ve got a bag handy when you read this one.


“Dec. 22, 2015, marked the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act. Enacted at the behest of accounting firms, the PSLRA was crafted to immunize accountants from securities fraud liability. The result over the last two decades has been a substantial erosion in the ability of investors to hold accounting firms accountable” [Accounting Today].

Our Famously Free Press

“Today I woke up, and in a remarkable example of precog telepathy, Politico’s Michael Grunwald had written almost exactly the piece I had in mind… Telepathy has apparently been developed by the editors at Politico” [Kevin Drum, Mother Jones]. No, it’s just called “the conventional wisdom.”

“[J]ournalism’s real original sin: Keeping reporters, writers and editors in the dark about revenue and the business they are really in” [Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism].


“[E]mergency managers, particularly the ones appointed by Governor Snyder (a Republican) have been far more focused on cuts for their own sake, particularly crushing unionized public sector workers. The idea to temporarily use Flint River water while another pipeline was being constructed was one of those cost-saving measures” [The Week].


Michael Pollan: “Eating real food is the most important thing you can do if you’re concerned about your health” [Vox]. “[T]ry this rule: ‘Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.'”

“What Went Wrong at Porter Ranch?” [LA Weekly]. Starting to remind me of Deepwater Horizon, techincally, though SoCalGas doesn’t sound as evil as BP.


“Obama gun town hall: 5 takeaways” [CNN]. “1. Obama worked so hard to sell so little.” Yep. And as usual. See under ObamaCare.

Class Warfare

“Drivers for a shuttle company based in San Francisco claim that a recent failed effort to unionize is the result of aggressive company tactics explicitly intended to discourage union support. The drivers brought their claim against Bauer Intelligent Transportation to the National Labor Relations Board, which is holding a hearing on the matter set for the first of February” [SFist].

News of the Wired

“Here’s What That Post About Taking a Train Across the USA for $213 Doesn’t Tell You” [Medium]. “There’s a reason they call it flyover country…”

“Was Pizza Rat A Hoax?” [Gothamism]. OH NOESSSSS!!!!

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (tiabee):


This is “after” (yesterday was “before”). Lovely too!

Also, people have kindly sent in winter plants, but I could still use some more! Thank you!

* * *

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. Winter has come, I need to buy fuel, keep the boiler guy and a very unhappy plumber happy, and keep my server up, too.


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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. http://www.correntewire.com


  1. cm

    I can’t tell if you were being sarcastic, but the article “Today I woke up, and in a remarkable example of precog telepathy,” and the referenced one at Politico are truly idiotic. If the economy is so great, why don’t we see 6% interest rates?

    Also, take a look at the supposedly great jobs report – the jobs were minimum wage Christmas jobs.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Steve Israel isn’t running for reelection. My guess is Team Blue has seen Hillary isn’t exactly igniting young women and very decided the best path is to stem the bleeding by pretending the economy is good and holding on to the wavering through false optimism turned to fear mongering when people become too anxious and gun control as a pet issue to calm team blue fanatics. I no longer watch Obama, but let me guess, be didn’t address police on citizen violence once during his town hall.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps one day, we will see our national jobs-per-capita > 1.

        “I have 3 jobs.”

        “I have 4.5.”

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The conventional wisdom is often truly “idiotic.”

      It’s odd, though, if one looks at the etymology of idiot: “An idiot in Athenian democracy was someone who was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private—as opposed to public—affairs”

      Or maybe not so odd. We’ve developed a political class of idiots — the very last people one would want doing politics, at least in a democracy.

  2. Bill Smith

    “Seems that the hatred of big gummit and the ready acceptance of big gummit subsides are directly, rather than inversely, correlated. Odd.”

    They know, first hand, how bad all that really is? LOL

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s the same weird world that we may love big government, but not ready to accept big government’s surveillance…perhaps one step too far, or one size too big.

      1. Plenue

        I don’t love big or small government. I want effective government that actually helps its citizens. It can be as big or as small as it needs to be to get the job done, and should be as transparent and democratic as we can agitate it to be.

        1. jgordon

          Your idea is unfortunately never realized in reality. Governments inevitably become more energy and resource intensive as time goes on no matter what anyone tries to do about it. Eventually the resources required to support the government exceeds the resources the government has access to, whereupon there is an immediate collapse.

          I suppose you can have an efficient government that’s good at solving problems and helping people somewhere in that process, but that’s not where we are right now.

          1. McKillop

            Not to dismiss your comment regarding ‘government’ and efficiency but an observation I’ve made causes me to ask “How much negative opinion regarding government is a result of the barrage of propaganda put out by those who benefit by negative beliefs regarding government?”
            An unanswerable question, I’m sure, in so far as specific answers are concerned.

            Secondly; Why is the government of various businesses and/or corporations not considered to be ‘government’? Corporations are governed by policies and constitutions and sanctions and so on and the ‘bosses’, the executive officers and managers are similar to political governors.
            What you wrote applies to corporations as well as political governments but the conventional wisdom (to coin a phrase) claims corporations as efficient and political governments, which are much more complicated than businesses, are judged to be lacking because they are not run ‘like a business’.

            I imagine that if people stopped and thought they’d still maintain their prejudiced but brainwashed opinions.

            1. different clue

              I’ve long wondered about that with regard to anti Postal Service propaganda. I haven’t suffered from any of the bad Postal Service things which the hidden-privatization-agenda propagandists keep assuring me are everywhere.

          2. legendary bigfoot

            That’s what they’re saying at the Malheur national wildlife refuge these days, at least.

  3. GlassHammer

    “[J]ournalism’s real original sin: Keeping reporters, writers and editors in the dark about revenue and the business they are really in”

    Charles Bukowski said (in regards to being a writer):
    “unless it comes out of
    your soul like a rocket,
    unless being still would
    drive you to madness or
    suicide or murder,
    don’t do it.”

    I always assumed (naively) that being a great reporter was somewhat similar to being a great writer.

    Perhaps I was mistaken.

  4. Pavel

    Hey Lambert, I know you’ve been following the Hillary email saga. According to Drudge and a link on his site, there may be a “smoking gun” that HRC advised a staff member to strip the confidential headers off a document so it could be sent by an insecure fax machine (the secure one was broken). If true, get ready for the Fox News/Republican uproar.

    Whoa: Hillary e-mail instructs aide to transmit classified data without markings:

    Has the State Department released a smoking gun in the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal? In a thread from June 2011, Hillary exchanges e-mails with Jake Sullivan, then her deputy chief of staff and now her campaign foreign-policy adviser, in which she impatiently waits for a set of talking points. When Sullivan tells her that the source is having trouble with the secure fax, Hillary then orders Sullivan to have the data stripped of its markings and sent through a non-secure channel.

    We’ll see if this gains traction. I can predict Hillary’s defence: I said I never EMAILED any confidential information. I didn’t say I never FAXED it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, I don’t see a reason to read either Drudge or Hot Air (and you don’t see me linking to, say, Think Progress very much for the same set or reasons).

      That said, I think this comment shows how lucky the Clintons are in their enemies. Everybody wants to focus on the email to find “the smoking gun,” when the smoking howitzer — so large that nobody can see it, apparently — is Clinton’s privatized email server itself, and Clinton’s privatized process of doling mail out from it. She’s held back some very large percentage of messages, after all. So:

      1) Surely the real smoking guns are in the mail that Clinton held back (and it’s not exactly a fool’s errand to look for smoking guns in mail that Clinton’s expensive lawyers and operatives already redacted, but surely it’s not the first place to look?)

      2) If officials get to privatize all their communications, then I don’t see how anybody can ever hold them accountable; even insiders couldn’t. Surely that raises Constitutional, checks-and-balances questions?

      3) In the case of an egregiously corrupt political dynasty like the Clintons, which doesn’t merely cross the line between public and private, but erases it, the two points above have even more force.

      1. different clue

        You may well miss things by being too snobbish to read a website like Drudge because it is somehow beneath you. If Drudge is the same today as what it was when I looked at it a few times several years ago, it has vast tables of links to all kinds of newspapers and etc., and all kinds of collumnists like Georgie Ann Geyer, Richard Reeves, and other names I don’t recall just now. . . .
        in fact, I just went over there to see if it still has that and it still does. Ranks and ranks of sources, columnists, etc. it has links right straight to Joe Conason, David Corn, Stanley Crouch, Ellen Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, Nat Hentoff, right up in there with all the Right Wing ones. Richard Reeves and Georgie Ann Guyer appear to have no links anymore, but the point still stands. And one doesn’t have to read the Drudge itself to get to the links. But if one doesn’t even look at the Drudge Site in general, one would never even know those links were there.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I don’t read right wing disinformation sites, in the same way that I don’t read left wing disinformation sites. It’s not a matter of snobbery. There’s not one link you mention that I can’t get somewhere else.

          Do consider not calling your host a snob, OK?

  5. Jim Haygood

    From our Broken Record department: crude oil closed at another multi-year low of $33.02.

    Among the effects of low energy prices were record auto sales in 2015, eclipsing the old Bubble I record set in 2000.

    Almost one-fourth of U.S. sales were pickups and SUVs, which have gotten pretty porky. Full-size pickups, if equipped with crew cab and 4WD, are in the 5,000 to 6,000 lb range now.

    This is the modern equivalent of the 1969 Chrysler “land yacht” station wagon, with its billowing yards of sheet metal.

    1. hunkerdown

      Yeah, sub-$2 gasoline will do that to the bourgeois mind. (Help the automotive industry and their financiers, while kicking the frackers before they cause water riots… I suppose that’s a good move for the position They’re in.) As for me, I collapsed before the rush and got me a plastic Saturn. I’m good as long as motor oil stays cheap.

      1. JerryDenim

        Wow, I’ve seen some of these exaggerated smokestacks installed on pickups, but I thought they were for aesthetic overcompensation only like the novelty rubber ‘truck testicles’ that some people find comedic. The thing that strikes me the most about “rolling coal’ is the degree at which the idiots engaging in this incredibly uncivil and antisocial behavior, somehow still consider themselves victims even though they are very deliberately making themselves aggressors. Even stranger is their perception of people who drive less-environmentally toxic cars as being antagonists or enemies of some sort by mere token of driving vehicles which kill all lifeforms on earth a bit more slowly than a Ford Raptor specially engineered for maximum pollution. What a strange little social phenomena. “Rolling Coal” I had no idea! I am getting a bit more frightened of how dangerous some of these Trump supporters might be if their anger was marshaled by the right/wrong demagogue. There’s a certain faction of America that is becoming more unhinged, detached from both society and reality, and more explosive by the day.

    2. Barmitt O'Bamney

      It often seemed to me that my small, fuel efficient car attracted conspicuous amounts of aggression from owners of over sized pickups, but I thought it was probably just my imagination. I knew each one of them was a flaming asshole, sure; but I never imagined that they were acting in concert and that a political message was being sent. That was before reading this article.

      Now I want a bumper sticker that says, “The closer you follow, the slower I will drive.”

      1. LightPickupDriver

        Well, as a personal aside, you might get some pleasure from this: Me, driving my small reasonably-fuel-efficient pickup, just right for the kinds of work I need to do (tools, moving, and equipment fits OK in the bed) was dealing with an icy morning.

        Going up a twisty 4-lane road, around a corner and up a hill…with the inevitable aggressive huge-diesel-fueled-pickup-driver just behind – clearly frothing at their mouth that I wasn’t going 5-10mph over the limit. (30mph) and was instead delicately measuring my acceleration to smoothly insure no slips on the ice, nor losses of control. (The huge-pickup driver appeared to be a young woman, FWIW.)

        Then, like a bolt from the blue they decided that rather then wait for me…they would punch the accelerator, jerk steering to the right, and pass me on the right…into a lane that was going to end in just a few yards.

        Of course, the jackrabbit nature of their maneuvers caused them to completely lose control…spin around at least once and careen left and right as they crazily/in-panic over-corrected on the ice in several directions, before they finally smashed into, and then came to rest on/in/against…a big metal street light.

        The street light itself was broken off and fell to the pavement just to the right of me, its power cable whipping across my hood and windshield. But, I calmly kept my forward progress at just enough of a level to insure I made it around the curve and up the hill, with no slips on the ice, such that i was able to continue with the business of my day.

        Don’t worry – no damage to my small pickup at all.

    3. polecat

      I own a mid 90’s truck (which I use and don’t baby at all…a “work” truck w/ a lot of scratched paint, moss growing due to infrequent washings, etc.) Had a young buck living down the street, drove a big shiny truck (nice paint, elevated chassis you but HAD to notice in your review mirror, BIG tires….well..you get the idea—-LOOK AT MEEEE!!! whenever he left home or returned, he would wind it upon approach from the corner,roaring down the street (and if at night, waking the dead,as well as all the neighbors within about a 2 block radius), and then hit his brakes and slide to a stop, before entering his driveway…. Every-F#*kin-Time….. Was conversing w/ the next-door neighbor recently, who had casually mentioned said truck owner had fallen on hard times, and had moved away. So,……..Much Quieter in the hood now, thank Odin !

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      I saw the “porky” auto sales stats, but just read past them with a sigh, since it just seemed like business as usual. I should have been more vigilant!

  6. JohnnyGL

    Trump Rulz!!! China Droolz!!!


    Tariffs?!?! OMG?!?!?! Pearl clutching in 3….2…..1…..


    I love the reference, late in the 2nd link about how 100% of economists LOVE trade with China, according to U Chicago. Of course they do! Outsource the econ profession to China and watch those opinions start changing in a hurry.

    I have a feeling if you asked most Americans if they’d pay more for toys, TV, phones, etc if they could put their fellow citizens back to work, you’d be surprised how many would spring for it.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If one shops local and is satisfied with simple things in life, it doesn’t matter that much if one’s currency is not wanted in the world, especially if medicine and health care is available domestically.

    2. different clue

      If domestic thingmakers sold domestic things, part of the higher prices on those things would go to higher wages to domestic thingmakers. Those thingmakers, having more media-bits of economic exchange ( “money”) would be able to buy more goods and services from other domestic thingmakers and thingdoers, who would be able to do the same in repeat-of-the-cycle. The same “amount” of money would keep circulating among thingmakers and thingdoers for longer before being sucked up the moneypump to the money-accumulators at the top. That’s how it was during Protectionism.

      The “lower China prices” are good for those consumers who haven’t yet lost their jobs and pay. But when those “always the lowest price always” consumers shift their buying away from higher priced domestic thingmakers, they disemployed enough of those thingmakers to where the disemployed thingmakers declined to China wages or no wages at all. To a tiny income, the “lower prices” are still high. That’s why some of Walmarts customers have been dropping further down the scale to Dollar General and Dollar Tree and The Dollar Store where the Cheap Chinese Crap is even Cheaper Chineser Crappier. Call it “The Walmart Effect” of Free Trade.

      Shitheel scumbag economists and other Free Trade Hazbarists count on keeping their American-standard jobs with American-standard salaries regardless. So for THEM . . . the lower prices really ARE lower. The answer to that would be to make all the Free Trade Hasbarists as poor as the shoppers at Dollar Tree. There must be a way to do that.

      1. different clue

        And of course I mean shit heel scumbag moral ethical filth trash garbage Free Trade Hasbarists like Steven “Cock” Roach.

  7. Jim Haygood

    For U.S. stocks, this was the worst first week of the year in the past century. The S&P face-planted 101 points, or 5.0%.

    The rate hikes will continue until stocks improve (or stop trading entirely).

    Go, go, Janet B. Goode!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We’re a monetary sovereign, but I think we have to take China and many rich people invested in the stock market into consideration.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t own any stocks and such assets as I have are mostly physical things. Why do I care? Do I care when people lose their shirts playing the ponies? (In other words, does this matter, in a phrase that is increasingly coming to see ironic to me, to “the real economy”?)

      1. Jim Haygood

        Pensions are the reason to care. The average pension plan holds about 60% of its assets in stocks, which over time have delivered higher returns than bonds.

        Underfunded plans are desperately trying to “catch up” with stocks. But it doesn’t work when stocks are already expensive.

        As exemplified by NC’s coverage of the one of the big dogs, Calpers, this is a slow-motion tragedy which will make big headlines in the next bear market, as the hopelessness of the pensions’ funding status becomes undeniable.

        1. flora

          A lot of state pensions are trying to “catch up” with stocks, and borrowing big to buy. Stock purchases with borrowed money. What could go wrong?

      2. different clue

        I was going to say what Jim Haygood said, but he already said it. People with part of their pay future-reserved into a pension were not playing the ponies. Maybe their fund MANagers were playing the ponies, but that is not the fault of the pensioners.

  8. hunkerdown

    From Derek Low’s original Amtrak travelogue: “Amtrak actually offers a writers’ residency program where they provide free train rides just for you to sit and write.” Is that some kind of non-disclosure disclosure?

    Not that Mr. Fadden, “Content developer and copywriter with a passion for bringing the power of search and content marketing to small and medium sized businesses”, doesn’t make some very valid points — on Amtrak, you will indeed pay exorbitant amounts of money for snack food that came from a microwave, and people do acquire a flavor with time that might offend the noses of obsessive-compulsive bathers, members of the “creative class”, regular Acela riders, or other sensitive individuals.

    As an aside, Greyhound is just $209 for a Brooklyn-SF one-way trip over 3 or 4 days, and better dining options, such as a proper McDonald’s (live those dreams!), are often available along highwaysides.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      But the seats are bigger and better in Amtrak. And the power plugs!

      * * *

      I should have flagged “passion” in McFadden’s bio; that’s another one of those words that signals bullshit to come.

      And I probably should have done a little picador work on the dude, too: First, for his discovery that the Great Plains are, indeed, flat, with not much variation in scenery (unless you’re at ground level, perhaps). Apparently, one should only travel where the views are picturesque, like the Vineyard or Provence. Second, for his remarks on his fellows, who he doesn’t seem to like very much: Apparently, when people haven’t showered every day*, they cause McFadden’s sensitive nostrils to twitch. Oh, the humanity!

      * If a Mainer retreats to their heated kitchen in the winter months, showers become optional until late March…..

      Also, pack food. This is not hard.

    2. Eclair

      Ohhhhh, Eric Fadden comes off as a whiney, white boy with a sense of entitlement. In return for spending $213 to travel 3,000 miles, I want me breath-taking scenery all the way, polite, quiet and scrupulously clean fellow-travelers, and gourmet food. I would have strangled him before crossing the Missouri River if we were traveling by wagon train! Try eating beans and biscuits cooked in lard, over a campfire of buffalo chips, for 3 months.

      I have been taking Amtrak cross country for 20 years. First from Los Angeles to New York City (3 nights) and for the past 8 years, from Denver to NYC (2 nights). We have taken our 2 grandchildren from NYC to Seattle on Amtrak’s northern route. Mostly I have travelled coach, because I am cheap, but, occasionally, mostly ‘off season’ because the rates are lower, I have sprung for a sleeper.

      Here are a few of the things I have learned: The Amtrak schedule is merely a suggestion. You may arrive at your destination ‘on time’ but that is a rarity. To be relaxed, keep repeating that the journey is more important than the time at which you arrive. Bring food: fruit, cheese, crackers, chocolate. And drink lots of water. Bring books. Buy one of those neck pillows, one that inflates. And take along comfortable, loose clothing, that you can layer.

      I have met truly interesting people with whom I have had 24-hour conversations. And, slept next to a few surly, very large men who snored. And, yeah, the bathrooms tend to get a bit ripe, but this seems to be a bigger problem on the lines east of Chicago. And, if I’m not taking a shower for 2 or 3 days, why should I complain about my traveling companions.

      One of my favorite Amtrak experiences: sitting in the quiet second level observation car, coffee (not great, but it’s hot) in hand, watching the sun rise over the plains as we approach Denver. Eric, you need an attitude adjustment!

    3. Aaron

      I traveled on the northern route last summer. He’s not far off the mark. I was mostly shocked by the prices for food and drink and decided to just go hungry for the whole trip. He left out the fact that Amtrak never briefs passengers on why they can’t just spread out–people are boarding and departing all along the route, and every single time conductors had to sort out the already occupied assigned seats and figure out who needs to be where.

    4. different clue

      The AmTrak seats are indeed bigger and better. And one can see way more interesting things from the train than from a bus. And one can take longer stretchout walks up and down the cars.

  9. Oregoncharles

    “Which States Rely the Most on Federal Aid?”

    They aren’t all “red” states: Oregon, close to the top at 33%, is very “blue” indeed.

    The Western states often receive a lot of federal money because so much of the state is federal owned. Oregon is a good example.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Very true, I should have thought of that. My mental focus was on the states in the deep south.

      (Interestingly, there’s also a correlation between big gummit spending and the states Obama won in 2008. Not sure why that would be.)

    2. Ronbert

      I would like to see the correlation of federal money received vs medicaid money in the various states.
      In my resident state a good part of the state budget is medicaid which the federal govt. matches 2:1.

  10. JerryDenim

    fivethirtyeight.com story- Misinformation as an ego balm and policy tool; This is the most succinct explanation for the utter stupidity of cable news programing I have ever read.

  11. Propertius

    “Seems that the hatred of big gummit and the ready acceptance of big gummit subsides are directly, rather than inversely, correlated.”

    As a big-L Libertarian acquaintance of mine once observed when I remarked that every single Libertarian I knew (including him) either worked for the government or a Federal contractor:

    Dude, familiarity breeds contempt.

    In all fairness, overlaying that map with the one here is thought-provoking:


    When the Feds own most of your state, surely some impact funds are justified – if only to make up for loss of revenue from property taxes, etc.?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Hmm. Not sure about the loss of property taxes. Property taxes pay for local services. But one presumes local services are not being performed on federal land. So the revenues are not in any sense “lost.” It’s like saying taxes in a neighboring state are “lost.”

      On the map overlay, I’m seeing solid color for the publicly owned land in the West, but I’m not seeing solid color in the map I published above. What do you think accounts for the discrepancy?

    2. different clue

      The FedGov does not OWWWWWNNNN that land. The FedGov manages that land on behalf of all of us, the citizen co-owners of all that land. And the FedGov aquired all that land beFORE there were American settlers and post-settlers living on it. FedGov control over that land was a condition of American citizens even being able to go there to begin with. So in what sense did the FedGove “take” that land “away” from anyone except the Indian Nations? And when the Wise Users say “give it BACK!”, they certainly do NOT mean . . . “give it BACK to the Indian Nations”.

  12. Wade Riddick

    The problem of quality control isn’t limited to surgery; it spans the entire medical field. In general, there isn’t much, if any, third party auditing particularly in care for chronic diseases (especially the preventative aspect). Doctors routinely skip guidelines, like measuring b.p. in diabetics or like trying physical therapy for pain long before opiates. This is often due to large institutions like insurers practicing medicine without a license.

    The people who wind up evaluating treatment never meet the independence requirements for genuine auditors. You can’t even get any supervision of your original diagnosis. In the event there’s an error in diagnosis or treatment, the person who has to catch it is usually the doctor who made it. How does that conflict of interest standard work for bankers catching their own bad loans?

    Lawyers send their mistakes to prison but doctors bury theirs.

    What would happen if medicine was redesigned from the ground up by certified fraud examiners?

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