Links 9/18/16

100-Year-Old Tortoise Fathers 800 Offspring in Fight to Save Species EcoWatch

1.5 billion birds missing from North American skies, ‘alarming’ report finds The Star (Lulu).

8 wonderfully weird facts about burrowing owls TreeHugger (J-LS).

Dendrology: The community of trees Nature. “Trees are networkers. Far from the solitary splendour of the ancient old stager, it turns out that trees communicate with one another through their roots. Underground fungi — mycorrhizae associated with the root network — form a sort of subterranean internet that connects trees, passing messages and even nourishment between neighbours.”

Prolonged California aridity linked to climate warming and Pacific sea surface temperature Nature. Do xeriscaping products dominate California home and garden stores yet?

Degraded and Disheveled, Arctic Sea Ice Ties for Second-Lowest Extent on Record Wunderground

Approaching the First Climate Tipping Point — On Track to Hit 1.5 C Before 2035 Robert Scribbler (Lulu).

AFL-CIO Bucks Progressive Allies, Backs Dakota Access Pipeline HuffPo

Trump’s “Dumpster Fire” of an Energy Policy a Roadmap to Climate Calamity Common Dreams

Banking Group Finds Fed Stress Tests Likely Illegal WSJ. Lobbying groups issue findings, now?

We are still groping for truth about the financial crisis FT. Oh?

5 things that keep bankers up at night Politico (JL-S).

CEOs Can Now Be Prosecuted Like War Criminals at the Hague Telesur (SS).

Explosion in New York’s Chelsea Neighborhood Injures Dozens WSJ and Powerful Blast Injures at Least 29 in Manhattan; Second Device Found NYT. (For concerned readers, Yves is uptown. Chelsea is downtown.)

Syraqistan

U.S.-led forces strike Syrian troops, prompting emergency U.N. meeting Reuters. This is fine.

“Pigs! Crusaders!”: US-Backed Fundamentalist Militias drive US Commandos out of al-Ray, Syria Informed Comment. Everything is fine.

Dirty Diesel: How Swiss Traders Flood Africa with Toxic Fuels (PDF) Public Eye (guurst).

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

A Cosmopolitan Defense of Snowden Emptywheel

Secret government electronic surveillance documents must be released, judge says Jason Leopold, Vice

Amateur Radio Parity Act Passes in the US House of Representatives! AARL (DK). Now for the Senate…

Trade Traitors

Blow for Obama’s TPP as Vietnam parliament defers ratification Reuters. Prime TPP beneficiaries not going out on a limb for Obama…

Over 300,000 Germans Protest EU Trade Deals With US and Canada MishTalk (EM).

A History of Violence Jacobin. Venezuela.

Imperial Collapse Watch

Empire’s Religion: Arundhati Roy Confronts the Tyranny of the Free Market CommonDreams

The Myth of American Retreat The American Conservative. I wish this didn’t make more sense to me than liberal interventionism. What a year we’re having.

The Ghosts of Empires Past Cliodynamica

Could Ancient Remedies Hold the Answer to the Looming Antibiotics Crisis? NYT

Drugmakers fought domino effect of Washington opioid limits Center for Public Integrity

EpiPen Maker Lobbies to Shift High Costs to Others NYT. Note that two organizations (American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, and the Food Allergy Research and Education group) refused to participate. Absolutely everything isn’t corrupt, no matter how it may seem.

2016

Stop Whining About ‘False Balance’ Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

Will This Be a Four-Party Election? NYT

US election: Still the economy, stupid? FT

As Trump rises in battleground states, Clinton moves to block his path to 270 WaPo

Millennials Have Cooled on Hillary Clinton, Forcing a Campaign Reset WSJ. Maybe they “did their own research”?

New Morning Call/Muhlenberg College poll shows Clinton ahead in Pennsylvania The Morning Call

The Electorate: America Divided Bloomberg. Despite a plethora of hideous swipe-and-tap-friendly design cruft, there’s some good stuff here; the portrait of Ohio, for example.

Clinton’s Economic Agenda Is More Popular Than Trump’s. Maybe She Should Campaign on That. New York Magazine. If the Democrats hadn’t gone all-in for identity politics, maybe she could do that. But where we are now, programs that benefit all citizens would also benefit “irredeemable” citizens, correct? Making universal programs immoral by definition, yes?

Make the Public Option a Central Focus of the 2016 Campaign The Nation. Doubtful this will happen, but I’m extremely disappointed that Sanders is supporting a proposal that has never been made in good faith, has always been used to head off single payer, reinforces the neoliberal fantasy that markets are always the solution, and sets a rotten precedent for how retirement should be handled. (How would you like a “Retirement Marketplace” where Social Security is the “public option” in a sea of 401(k) scamming?)

Bruce Franks Jr. Beats Penny Hubbard in Special Election Landslide RiverFront Times. In a court-ordered revote after serious absentee ballot irregularities had elected a Democrat regular. Ferguson activist Franks was a Sanders supporter.

Innovator-In-Chief The Baffler. Help me.

Class Warfare

Census report of big jump in income is a little too good to be true Brookings. Film at 11. But from Brookings?!

The South Is Organizing — and There’s No One to Cover It Pacific Standard

What happens when a history professor at Yale opposes a grad union but doesn’t know her history? Corey Robin

Apple Is Still Ignoring One of the Biggest iPhone Engineering Flaws of All Time Vice

You can already buy a $10 wire for Apple’s wireless AirPods CNN. So the aftermarket comes up with a solution for the problem when the AirPods fall out of your ears…

Retrotopia: The Cloud that Hides the Future The Archdruid Report

The Beginning of the End of the World Umair Haque (!), Medium (CL).

Antidote du jour (via):

musk_ox

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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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.

267 comments

  1. EndOfTheWorld

    “Pigs-Crusaders”–US commandos run out of Syria. This incident, along with Duterte Harry running the US out of the Philippines, along with the US being rudely dissed in China at the tarmac, indicates the Empire is well past its welcome.

    1. JTMcPhee

      …but it’s never too late for REEVENGE! Now is it, and our jackals and sneaky-Petes have all the necessary tools and talents to really eff up anyone who disses them… And of course the Bezzle and other grand corruptions like drug and weapons badness and the “free flow of international capital” go on and on and on…

    2. Andrew Watts

      The Syrian incident is Exhibit A that the US doesn’t have any influence over most of the CIA-vetted rebels it’s been supplying with armaments. The failure to detach the Islamist rebels of Aleppo / Idlib from Al Qaeda in Syria as a part of the terms of the latest cease fire is Exhibit B.

      Normally I’d say that the CIA exists to make everybody look competent at their jobs but this policy is the result of delusional people or outright imbeciles residing in Versailles on the Potomac.

      …the Empire is well past its welcome.

      It’s in a state of collapse. As such our economy over-inflated with the proceeds of imperial control will likely decline alongside it. Especially as it deteriorates at an accelerating rate.

      1. fresno dan

        Andrew Watts
        September 18, 2016 at 12:46 pm

        “…but this policy is the result of delusional people or outright imbeciles residing in Versailles on the Potomac.”
        Why not delusional imbeciles….

        You know, having worked at NSA and knowing the paperwork and busywork these guys enmesh themselves in, some poor factotum has to come up with an assessment to how many probable estimated potential allies rated on a scale of 1 to 10 of “allyness” there are and actually has to pretend that there is “data” (or “somthin'”) that there may be UP TO 100 or so Syrians who are on our side….provided no other middle easterner is within earshot when they profess a willingness to work with the US.

      2. Plenue

        It isn’t a ‘failure’ that the ‘moderates’ haven’t been separated out. That’s entirely intentional; their purpose is to shield the Jihadist groups from being targeted.

      3. VietnamVet

        “Delusional imbeciles” about sums it up America’s current leadership. Thousand-year-old hatreds are back in force. Russia is treated like an enemy. Cold War 2.0 is underway. There is no inkling of a plan for peace. The goals of removing Assad and defeating the Islamic State are contradictory. If the ISIS attack that captured the Syrian army position started 7 minutes after the American bombing ended, it was coordinated. The convoy of American forward air controllers, military contractors and armored tanks in Syria are reported to be the spearhead of the Turkish/American/Qatar attack to capture Raqqa by November and elect Hillary Clinton. The fundamental problem is that the Sunni rebel fighters yelling “pigs” at them are supposed to be the ground troops to defeat the Islamic State. Fat Chance. If they go to Raqqa, it will be to let their beards grow back.

  2. Jim Haygood

    “How would you like a “Retirement Marketplace” where Social Security is the “public option” in a sea of 401(k) scamming?”

    Legitimate question. Essentially, Social Security’s trust fund is an all US Treasury fund. Its portfolio is presented here (poorly, without duration or current yield):

    https://www.ssa.gov/cgi-bin/investheld.cgi

    In market terms, an investment in iShares Core Treasury Bond ETF (symbol GOVT), probably would track the Soc Sec Trust Fund pretty closely.

    Because equities have outperformed bonds for a couple of centuries, standard evidence-based advice for retirement saving is to hold a mix of stocks and bonds. With a 401(k) you can do that. With Soc Sec, it’s only possible if you do your own equity investing, treating your Soc Sec as a mandatory bond allocation.

    Soc Sec’s overly conservative allocation was conventional wisdom in 1935. Finance has moved on; research has been done; Nobel prizes have been awarded. But the jaunty shade of FDR still smiles down on a stubbornly unchanged Soc Sec portfolio, which helps keep benefits cruelly low.

    1. ambrit

      Being a government run enterprise, Social Security can be funded from ‘deficits,’ which, if MMT is “true,” can go on forever. Likewise, the ‘benefits’ that Social Security pays out are determined by a political process. Social Security is the manifestation in the physical world of a political ideation, ie. “policy.”
      I think the real ‘reason’ so many core capitalists fear Social Security being run for the ‘public good,’ is that it undermines the tenets of the Capitalist Dispensation.
      A ‘real’ conservative would absolutely hate the idea of the State dabbling in any “Free Market.” The distortions engendered by such a lopsided concentration of economic power would make a mockery of the ‘Free’ part of ‘Free Market,’ if such were possible. However much the status quo may wish it to be so, the State is not a Market, nor should it be one.

      1. paulmeli

        “…if MMT is “true,”

        MMT is true if and only if the laws of arithmetic are true. MMT is at its root a description of the Flow of Funds from an accounting perspective.

        Maybe because many of the myths about what MMT ‘is’, are based in misunderstanding what it is.

        1. TalkingCargo

          “MMT is true if and only if the laws of arithmetic are true.”

          When I read an unsupported assertion like this on Sunday morning, I feel like I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in church.

          Meaning no offense to the religious folk out there.

            1. TalkingCargo

              I admit I don’t understand MMT very well but here’s what Wikipedia has to say (I know – not an infallible source):

              According to MMT, “monetarily sovereign government is the monopoly supplier of its currency and can issue currency of any denomination in physical or non-physical forms. As such the government has an unlimited capacity to pay for the things it wishes to purchase and to fulfill promised future payments, and has an unlimited ability to provide funds to the other sectors. Thus, insolvency and bankruptcy of this government is not possible. It can always pay”.

              There’s a couple of “unlimited”s in there which makes it suspect. But money only has value if people believe it does. Try spending confederate currency at the super market if you don’t believe me. And if a nation keeps printing more and more money (an unlimited supply) eventually people will catch on that their currency is worthless. Also, haven’t countries defaulted on their debts in the past? Why would they do that if they could just print more money to pay them back?

              Reading further into the Wiki article, one finds that economists don’t seem to agree on the “truth” of MMT. So apparently it’s a bit more complicated than a simple matter of double entry bookkeeping.

              So, basing my understanding on the Wiki definition I’d say this is wishful thinking of the highest order. My guess is that governments can indeed go bankrupt.

              “MMT is true if and only if there exists a working perpetual motion machine.” There – fixed it for ya.

              1. Skippy

                Mainstream econnomists have been functioning for decades without a functioning model of both the monetary system and finance.

                Disheveled Marsupial…. they assume ideological preferences… see monetarists.

                  1. Skippy

                    Agree with your assessment Lambert, tho there has been movement and even with this look over their shoulders.

                    The dominance in the past is a bit rusted on….

              2. Cry Shop

                If the Confederate Government could still drawn down taxes and require their payment in said currency, at the penalty of jail or worse; then there would be a value for their currency. It’s the government’s ability to tax that gives rise to the currency’s value, and in turn that ability to tax is related to how that economy functions. Sherman’s damage to the Confederacy was greatest in his ability to destroy the economy, the tax base and the mechanisms for collecting taxes.

                Nations that got in debit to nontaxable (overseas/usa) bodies in currencies they could not control, backed by a military industrial complex like the Latin American nations vs. UK then USA several times, can’t play MMT.

              3. paulmeli

                ” …if a nation keeps printing more and more money (an unlimited supply) eventually people will catch on that their currency is worthless.”

                Several logical fallacies in your argument:

                1) MMT says that there is no mathematical constraint on money creation (spending). Rather, the constraint is available resources. Nowhere does MMT say that governments should create unlimited money. That would be fruitless, it isn’t possible to buy something that doesn’t exist.

                Quite the opposite, governments historically have let a lot of production go unsold, and a lot of resources (human) go unused.

                2.) Printing money means spending. Spending is the definition of ‘economy’, therefore the government spends when it ‘prints’ money (almost none of it is actually printed, it’s electronic, numbers on a balance sheet). The government marks up non-government bank accounts while buying stuff.

                Your statement implies that the quantity of money creates inflation. The quantity of money is savings, Savings, by definition, cannot create inflation. Savings is income not spent.

                It is the increase in the money supply, or the anticipation of it, that drives spending, not the quantity of money, (the ‘money we already have’). Virtually the only savings that is ever net spent is business investment (I). So much for money ‘circulating’.

                Only those who spend more than their income can spend their savings. The truth of this statement should be obvious by inspection. Most in this group will do so by borrowing rather than running down their cash reserves.

                “haven’t countries defaulted on their debts in the past?”

                It is impossible for a country that holds debt only in it’s own currency to default unintentionally. The countries you refer to had to default on debt held in a foreign currency.

                ““MMT is true if and only if there exists a working perpetual motion machine.””

                You obviously don’t know anything about perpetual motion, other than how to spell it.

          1. Plenue

            It’s accounting, not magic. MMT is a description of how our government’s system of funding has operated for decades. There’s no more faith or belief involved in it than there is in stating ‘the Post Office delivers mail’.

          2. paulmeli

            Religion. Really? Here’s some non-religious support which, if you actually knew anything about MMT you would already know:

            Equation for GDP (the definition):

            Y= G + I + C + NX where

            G=Government spending
            I= Business Investment (in plant, equipment and labor, not financial investment)
            C=Consumption
            NX= Net Exports or (X-M) (simplified for clarity).

            From a uses perspective GDP can be expressed as:

            Y= C + S +T (these are the only possible uses for Income) where:

            S = Savings and T = Taxes (Income taxes)

            Combining the equations we get:

            G + I + C + NX = C + S +T. Simplifying we get:

            G + I + NX – S -T = 0. Rearranging terms we end up with:

            (G-T) + (I-S) + NX = 0, formally known as the Sectoral Balances Identity…true by definition…which demonstrates that:

            The domestic sector (us) cannot run a surplus (our aggregate income can’t increase) unless at least one of the other sectors runs a deficit…either the government must run a deficit G>T), or the external sector must run a deficit (X>M) (which it doesn’t) or both.

            That means that in nominal terms the domestic sector cannot grow (realize a gain) without a the other sectors running a net deficit (combined).

            That simple construct is the basis of MMT. Anything else that may be promoted by MMT academics will be a logical construction based on that relationship, and of course the Laws of Arithmetic. There is no complicated math in MMT, only addition and subtraction.

            As Professor Bill Mitchell likes to say, “the tyranny of the arithmetic”.

            Unsure why so many have so little understanding of something so simple. Overthinking it would be my guess.

            1. paulmeli

              (X-M) should be (M-X). An external deficit would be a surplus for the domestic sector, as would a federal deficit. Since both are occurring simultaneously, the algebraic sum of those sectors must be a net deficit in order for the domestic sector to run a surplus.

              1. Procopius

                No, (X-M) is correct. We’re talking about the flow of money here. X (exports) mean money coming in. M (imports) means money going out. If (X-M) is positive, exports are greater than imports, then money is coming in. I don’t understand your sentence, “An external deficit would be a surplus for the domestic sector, …” but then I am not an economist.

                1. paulmeli

                  My mistake, compounded. I meant to write M>X and X>M, not M-X and X-M

                  I was referring to the external sector in the part I was correcting, so the external sector balance condition would be the reverse of ours.

                  For them the condition would be M>X (external sector running a deficit), for us X-M would be positive (X>M) and we would be running a surplus for that account.

                  Which we aren’t, but that is immaterial wrt the discussion.

                  Can be confusing.

                  1. paulmeli

                    “I don’t understand your sentence, “An external deficit would be a surplus for the domestic sector, …””

                    What I was attempting to say was that if the external sector (the rest of the World) is in deficit, then the US has to be running a surplus in it’s external account, and vice-versa.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          With MMT, it is not difficult to understand that Social Security is a special case of Basic Income, which is a special case of The People’s Ownership of New Money.

          In that case, new money doesn’t belong to the government to spend, AND the People will never run out of money to spend, to get health care, to survive, etc.

          Let the government struggle to balance its budget. The People will always have enough to help out the government, if needed and justified (i.e not for imperial adventures).

        3. Oregoncharles

          The accounting perspective is impressive only to those who took accounting.

          In lay terms: if the government creates money which has value because the government says so, then the government cannot run out of money. It can, however, distort the economy by creating too much (inflation) or too little (deflation). Worse yet, it can ruin its ability to “order” (that’s what “fiat” means) the value of its currency.

          There is an odor of a long con to the whole thing, but it does reflect our reality.

          1. Plenue

            A con how? This is literally how money has always operated, stretching straight back to the Lycians.

            The only reason something seems wrong about it (“It’s ‘fake’ money.”) is because we’ve all been conditioned to think that money is actually something of worth in and of itself (gold or similar). It isn’t, it’s a credit marker, nothing more.

            1. Oregoncharles

              No, it is not. Money was gold or silver, with inherent value. Coins were just a guaranteed weight of one or the other. “Debasing the coinage” meant cheating on the weight or the alloy.

              Fiat currency is paper or electrons with no inherent value. It has value because the government says it does, requiring people to take it in payment and taking it in payment of taxes itself.

              That makes it fragile, literally dependent on confidence, so people are very reluctant to admit the reality, just as they’re reluctant to admit that Social Security is really an income transfer. It does seem to work, so far, but it depends on proper management by the government.

              Haygood, I gather, is a gold bug – he doesn’t really believe in the value of fiat currency.

                1. Oregoncharles

                  Correction: Gold and silver have value independent of their use as currency. In fact, they are no longer used as currency, and still have extremely high value. (Besides jewelry, both are industrial metals of some importance.)

                  This would not be true of paper bills, aside from the minimal value of paper scrap. Nor of electronic “money,” aside from the value of the electrons that carry it. In each case, there is no connection between the face value and the minimal value of the material.

                  That’s what I meant by “inherent,” admittedly a poor word choice.

              1. Plenue

                Money is desirable because a government accepts it as payment for taxes. Again, literally stretches back to the Lycians. I’m sure the Conquistadors would be surprised to hear that gold and silver have inherent value, since they discovered in the Americas an entire continent filled with both, and yet the millions of people who lived there only valued them as a shiny trinket (currency was cocoa beans and scraps of linen).

                Haygood is historically and anthropologically illiterate.

                1. Oregoncharles

                  Gold and silver are no longer used as currency, but still have great value. As they did in the pre-Columbian New World, presumably denominated in cocoa beans and linen (an old world plant, I think.)

                  However, it’s awkward to use consumables for currency, which is why the Old World settled on noble metals. “Scraps of linen” would have functioned like paper currency, I imagine.

          2. John Zelnicker

            @Oregoncharles – It’s not the creation of money that can cause inflation, it’s the spending of that money. That’s why stuffing the banks with more reserves than they need has not raised the inflation rate as the Fed expected. That money is not being spent.

        4. Adam Eran

          Think of it this way: We use “debt-based” money. If you pay me with an IOU, and I use that IOU to pay someone else, it becomes a “money thing.” Common experience of this is with a bank account. It’s your asset, but the bank’s liability. You assign the bank’s IOU to the payee on your check. Currency is simply “checks” made out to “cash.” (and Treasuries are the government equivalent of savings accounts).

          The national “debt” is therefore the Fed’s accounting entry for those IOUs out in circulation. Reduce the “debt,” and you’ll reduce the money. The seven times we’ve done that historically haven’t turned out so well. (See this for the footnotes)

          Government is (obviously) not provisioned by tax revenues. Where would people get dollars to pay taxes with if government didn’t spend them out into the economy first?

          And if all that’s just too difficult to understand, ask yourself where all the “Fiscal Responsibility [tm]” was when orders-of-magnitude larger multi-trillion-dollar bank bailouts and Middle Eastern wars were the topics of discussion.

      2. Jim Haygood

        ‘Likewise, the ‘benefits’ that Social Security pays out are determined by a political process.’

        Quite so. In 1935, early on in the “American century,” the political mood was expansive and benefits were generous.

        By 1983, the Greenspan commission was hiking payroll taxes and cutting benefits (e.g., by raising full retirement age), as it had already become painfully evident that Soc Sec was not sustainably funded.

        Today, Soc Sec’s Trust Fund is only about 20% of what it should be for full funding, and is projected to be gone by 2034.

        Given the incentives of short-term election horizons, a democratic political process predictably enacts front-loaded benefits and back-loaded costs. Trusting one’s retirement to the kindness of well-coiffed Depublicrat strangers, who have already bankrupted companies such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which they “sponsored,” is the ultimate insecurity.

        1. a different chris

          Be careful of the financial version of Einstein’s laws — really big objects change the rules. If you start moving the SS dollars into the “market” it very well may change the way the market works, and as usual not for our best interests.

          >With a 401(k) you can do that. With Soc Sec, it’s only possible if you do your own equity investing, treating your Soc Sec as a mandatory bond allocation.

          That’s what I do. Admittedly, this may be harder for people lower on the income scale. But, consider: if I was lower on the income scale I would have less risk-tolerance, so doesn’t it sortof (as best as anything humans try to do across time) work out>

        2. lyman alpha blob

          I hope you aren’t implying that trusting Wall Street is somehow the better option because it sure sounds that way.

          I’m fairly well versed financially but not everyone is. I’m still waiting for someone to explain to me why everyone in our society must possess a strong financial acumen if they don’t want to be eating cat food in their retirement. Why those who happened to believe some hype and invested in the wrong company somewhere along the way deserve to have the savings they worked hard for wiped out and be forced to live with a severely reduced income when they can least afford it, even though they worked just as hard or harder than their neighbor who was lucky enough not to park their savings with a bunch of bad actors.

          Sure life isn’t fair, but shouldn’t we as a society be striving to make it more so rather than doing exactly the opposite which is exactly what has been happening in recent decades as all of us are more and more at the mercy or predatory corporations?

          I believe that we should.

          1. TalkingCargo

            Thanks, I really liked your post.

            My boss told me once that his kid was complaining about unfairness and that his reply was “Life isn’t always fair.” My first thought was “Yes, and that means we should try to make it more fair.” But of course I said something like “good comeback.”

            1. Michael

              Life is neither fair, nor kind, nor sensible.

              Part of this is that those three values may be in opposition when finding ways to make life more fair, kind, or sensible.

        3. Alejandro

          Lest we forget, the effects of the “Great Depression”, caused by “free and unfettered” banksters, made “painfully apparent” the need for SS, which FDR proposed as “The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment”, in a “second bill of rights”. The notion that this economic security, should be “trusted” to NOMINAL private profiteers, would be laughable if not so malicious, especially given the history.

          Adding that the Greenspan commission was this Randian acolyte’s incubator, where the only skill gestated was “greenspeak”, which proved devastatingly effective in his ideological onslaught on progressive taxation…the only real threat to social SECURITY “funding” would seem to be the continued weakening of “our” productive capacity, which the so-called “free-trade” deals seem intent on continuing.

        4. Katharine

          >Today, Soc Sec’s Trust Fund is only about 20% of what it should be for full funding, and is projected to be gone by 2034.

          For the purely political reason that Congress refuses to raise the cap on taxable earnings.

          1. marym

            Isn’t the trust fund just a bunch of IOUs?

            No, unless you consider U.S. savings bonds mere “IOUs” or the green stuff in your wallet worthless because it, too, only has value because it is backed by the full faith and credit of the United States of America. The Social Security trust fund is fully invested in U.S.
            treasury bonds.

            Is Social Security going bankrupt?

            Social Security can never go bankrupt. Nearly all (97 percent) of its income comes from the contributions of workers and employers, or interest on these contributions. Hence as long as there are workers in America, Social Security will have income. Even if Congress were to take no action, Social Security could pay 100% of promised benefits for the next two decades, and more than three-quarters of benefits after that. Around 2033 there will be a modest funding gap requiring modest increases in revenues to guarantee everyone 100% of promised benefits.

            http://www.socialsecurityworks.org/faq/

            1. Katharine

              You’re really addressing the wrong person here. Haygood is the one flapping his hands this morning, for reasons not entirely clear to me.

              1. bob

                Jim woke up on the wrong side the the Atlantic, again. His soul for a queen. How is a tory supposed to make sense of this all?

            2. Jim Haygood

              ‘Social Security could pay 100% of promised benefits for the next two decades, and more than three-quarters of benefits after that.’

              Meeting three-fourths of its commitment … impressive!

              Thanks, I’m reassured now. /s

              1. Katharine

                Well, that is without lifting the cap, which has not been lifted in quite some time and very easily could be if the political will were there. Are you advocating for the elites that you don’t address this option?

              2. timbers

                If the income cap where eliminated, I’ve read SS would be “funded fully” for the next 75 yrs or something. Is that good enough or do want a 300 yr surplus? 400 yr surplus? What would make you comfortable with these unreliable funding estimates? Or maybe the post office retirement model should be applied to SS? The point being any “underfunding” is by design to gut the program per standard neoliberal methods. How “fully funded is the US military? Do you worry abt that?

                1. MikeNY

                  Since there are no income limits for who can collect SS, it seems to me reasonable that there should be no income limit on who pays into it. I.e., no cap. Good point.

                  1. Tim

                    That logic is wrong. The reason there are payment caps is because there are limits on how much you can receive. Anything you pay in above the limitis guaranteed that you will not get any of it back. It’s just wealth re-distribution at that point, which is where the argument should lie.

              3. JonboinAR

                Hasn’t a future funding gap for SS appeared before, like in the ’80’s, or something? And didn’t Congress address it then by modestly raising the SS tax rate? And didn’t they accomplish that without all of this running-around-in-circles-shrieking-at-the-tops-of-their-lungs, “See, this proves government can’t be trusted! This proves government can’t be trusted!” dog crap? All this hand wringing is a bunch of neo-lib con man schtick, I think. No, Virginia. If we raise the taxable limit slightly today, the “Gubmnt!” won’t be taxing you at a 99% rate tomorrow.

              4. Adam Eran

                Sorry, you’re assuming Social Security is provisioned or funded by tax revenues. It’s a program of the Federal government, the monopoly creator of dollars. No Federal program need be funded by tax revenues …*ever*!! That self-imposed limitation, like the “deficit ceiling” is simply self-sabotage.

                If you believe something else, well, you’re entitled to an opinion, just as you’re entitled to believe the earth is flat.

                If you want to assert the contrary is factual, however, all you have to do is answer this question: Where do tax payers get the dollars to pay taxes if the government doesn’t spend them out into the economy first?

                Taxes make the money valuable; they do not (and obviously do not) provision the Federal government.

                1. Carla

                  It takes people a long time to get this. And since almost no one is trying to make us get it, it takes us even longer.

                  Lies are SO much easier. That’s what most of my friends and relatives basically tell me when I try to talk with them about this stuff. Of course, the politicos figured this out a very long time ago…

              5. Higgs Boson

                The FICA payroll tax doesn’t actually fund Social Security. Like all taxes, it serves any of these four functions:

                1. As an instrument of fiscal policy to help stabilize the purchasing power of the dollar;

                2. To express public policy in the distribution of wealth and of income, as in the case of the progressive income and estate taxes;

                3. To express public policy in subsidizing or in penalizing various industries and economic groups;

                4. To isolate and assess directly the costs of certain national benefits, such as highways and social security.

                (Ruml, “Taxes For Revenue Are Obsolete”)

                But for the sake of argument let’s pretend the Social Security trust fund is “paid for” with payroll taxes. From the Social Security web site (Trust Fund FAQs):

                Money flowing into the trust funds is invested in U. S. Government securities.

                and

                The government has always repaid Social Security, with interest. The special-issue securities are, therefore, just as safe as U.S. Savings Bonds or other financial instruments of the Federal government.

                and

                The rate of interest on special issues is determined by a formula enacted in 1960. The rate is determined at the end of each month and applies to new investments in the following month.

                The numeric average of the 12 monthly interest rates for 2015 was 2.021 percent. The annual effective interest rate (the average rate of return on all investments over a one-year period) for the OASI and DI Trust Funds, combined, was 3.37 percent in 2015. This higher effective rate resulted because the funds hold special-issue bonds acquired in past years when interest rates were higher.

                It seems to me that in addition to, or instead of, lifting the cap on income subject to the Social security tax, another option is to revise the formula used to calculate the interest rate paid on these special issue treasury bonds. A higher effective yield would close “the gap” over time, would it not?

        5. Alex morfesis

          Social security is now and has always been fully funded…what greenspan and his fellow mammonite priests forget to mention is social security was based on an exporting economy…

          once the brilliant fools running this speakeasy decided to move production offshore to be able to hide revenue and cheat on taxes, the social security revenues contributed by manufacturing would need to be replaced by an offset against corporations which chose to leave the country to produce, but then strip mine the economy by importing back into the us of a….

        6. divadab

          @Haygood – you say “Today, Soc Sec’s Trust Fund is only about 20% of what it should be for full funding, and is projected to be gone by 2034.”

          This is utter BS, totally false, the trust fund extends into the 40’s where, even with no change, it will still pay out 2/3 benefits in perpetuity.

          You are part of the problem with your BS. DIsgraceful.

      3. Benedict@Large

        “funded from deficits”

        Given that a fiat currency is infinite, the very idea of deficits is absurd. No matter how much the government (currency issuer) spends, there is always an infinite amount left to spend, and no matter how much the government receives (in taxes and rents), there is never more or less than an infinite amount as the balance.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          I always get stuck here, when MMT’ers explain that fiat issuance is “infinite”, I try and think of something that is “infinite” and also “valuable” and I can’t seem to think of any examples. Things there are only one of (like Mark Rothko’s “Four Darks in Red”) are often extremely valuable. Things that there are only a very few of (like Bugatti Veyrons) are very valuable. Other things in limited supply like houses and stocks also tend to retain values > 0. So how is a scrip that is issued in infinite quantities (like grains of sand on a beach) supposed to maintain any value? Yes I know, by governments saying you must use it to extinguish your tax liabilities, but that’s a small portion of economic activity.
          And on market-based Social Security I’d just point to the example of Australia, in the 1980’s they put in a law that said employers must contribute cash (currently 9% of salary) to a fund the employee owns and invests. (Of course corporations insisted it would kill the economy, which is currently in its 25th year without recession). The program is a major reason why Australia is fourth in the world in wealth per capita (after Monaco, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland).

          1. Adam Eran

            This is the inflation objection. “B..but if you just mint money without limit, you’ll make [gasp!][hyper-]inflation!”

            So…let’s admit there’s a theoretical possibility that the government could bid up prices, competing with the private sector for finite goods and services. First of all, it would have to spend the money. Un-spending money (i.e. paying off debts) does nothing to bid up prices. Private debt is what’s constraining the economy now.

            But history limits our anxieties about this possibility. The Cato institute recently released a study of 56 hyperinflationary episodes throughout human history. How many stem from a “central bank run amok” [MMT’s Stephanie Kelton’s words]?

            Zero.

            The typical situation is a shortage of goods, or a balance of payments problem (or both). So Rhodesian farmers left, and a country that previously fed itself had to import food. Presto! Zimbabwe inflation!

            In Weimar Germany, the French took over one of the most productive parts of Germany–the Ruhr. A shortage of goods (and having to pay war reparations in gold) led to the wheelbarrow-of-money for a loaf of bread.

            So…the worry is about something that is unlikely. In fact government could offer a job guarantee now for all those unemployed people without causing inflation. Who else is bidding for their labor?

            …or something that’s never happened.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              I don’t think it’s the hyperinflationary episodes that bother me, it’s the regular old run-of-the-mill-day-by-day inflation that is the killer. It’s running at about 10% annually out in the real world:
              http://www.chapwoodindex.com

            2. John k

              BOP problem is like Weimar trying to buy gold on world markets when there was no demand for their exports. Countries are well advised to avoid debts in a currency of which they have no control, eg Southern Europe and their euro debts.

              Gov can’t deficit spend sufficient to create high inflation while what they are spending for, eg labor, is in low demand, such as now. There is of course some effect on price with an increase in demand, but it may be in reducing deflation, or helping to bring inflation up to the fed target, currently 2%.

              1. John Zelnicker

                @John k – The Weimar problem wasn’t exactly that no one wanted their exports. The problem was that France occupied the Ruhr Valley and confiscated 80% of Germany’s production capacity. They had no goods to export.

          2. Jeotsu

            I admit financial speak can sometimes leave my head spinning. Thus I try to simplify economics into something that a ecologist or chemist would understand. The three fundamentals of an economy are:

            (1) Energy (to make, to do, to transport, to stave off entropy, to collect and transform materials)
            (2) Stuff (food, raw materials)
            (3) Skill (education, training, knowledge – the people who make societies function)

            “Money” is just a way to assist trade and exchange during the use of the above resources.

            Talking about MMT and other theories is fascinating, but does not address what to my find are the core underlying economic issues.

            (1) Net energy decline – it is getting harder and harder to find high-density transportable and storable energy. EREOI plummets. And the energy we are using is breaking the planet
            (2) Stuff is getting worse – we’ve mined the easy stuff. More energy gets less stuff. Topsoils are being depleted around the world, without fertilizers (energy + stuff) we could not feed ourselves, and many of the fertilizer resources (eg phosphates) are in steep decline
            (3) People – We’re not doing a very good job at using skills, or valuing them. See, among seemingly infinite examples, the precariate.

            So discussions of social security trust funds and MMT and are interesting intellectual exercises, but they very pointedly avoid the very real physical (thermodynamic) catastrophes looming.

            1. Steve H.

              Jeotsu, it’s in the timing. Population collapse is (probably) decades off, as is actual drops in energy usage. But the social instability and misery imposed by our political economy are immediate and in some cases life-threatening now, not later.

              There are (as least) two problems making a straight connection between ecology and economics. Economics is uncoupled from energetic consequences through the creation of money and cui bono, so the system is gamed by those with insider information and access. Also, while emergy accumulates, it’s path dependent, and price is local. So a piece of silk can travel across the world and be sold for a pittance, far under the embodied energy, if the holder needs to eat now.

              1. Jeotsu

                I partly agree. Yes, on an individual scale people need to eat and will act in their own short-term self interest. But as a society I like to think (though I know I’m fooling myself) that we have the capacity to understand what future our actions might bring about, and take actions to guide us toward a better future.

                However, I think that very few people recognize that the problems I outlined above will need corrective actions that both start now and which will require a large reorganization of our political economy. To make a deliberately absurd example; it would be rather pointless to declare we’ve “fixed” retirement funding for our society the same day the lights go out and we revert to cannibalism! :)

                The inter-relatedness of so many factors (money, human psychology/society, political power, geology-thermodynamics-climate change, etc, etc) is indeed extremely messy, but the failure to at least try to address this problem in a cohesive manner pretty much ensures a much worse future for the generations to come.

                The way economics too often explicitly ignores “energetic consequences” has turned into a self-destructive ideology where externalization of the losses onto the future (climate change) is now perceived as the fiduciary duty of too many a CEO/board.

                What’s worse is we’ve created a societal belief in magic. We just call it ‘technology’. As in some technological unicorn will overthrow the laws of physics and miraculously all save us before the end credits roll. e.g. “If there is enough demand, the market will always produce a product.” To which I’d simply like to ask, where’s your cure for cancer? Symbol manipulators won’t keep the crops growing or the electrons flowing. But we love our iJunk because we can pretend the future isn’t coming. Like winter. With wolves.

            2. Foy

              Good comments Jeotsu

              MMT just describes how the current money system works, not what the economic policies should be, that is a separate question. Remember MMT says that a sovereign government that issues its own currency is not financially constrained but it is resource constrained. If the resources exist then MMT works, but if the resources don’t exist or are constrained then all the money in the world can’t bring them into existence. So in effect it implicitly acknowledges your comments regarding net energy decline and mining the easy stuff.

              So MMT works until the resources are not available. I think that the limits to growth you mention are real and we are starting to see them in a number of places eg crashing ocean fishery stocks and dead oceans, 1.5 billion missing birds (one of today’s link), anaemic economic growth since 2008.

              The current economic system expects and requires exponential growth, all banking and debt systems are predicated on that fact. GDP growth is now nearly 100% correlated with energy use. And we now have diminishing returns from oil exploration. Even if this oil energy use was able to be replaced by renewable energy (doubtful in my view) all other resources still need to be found and used at an exponential rate to keep the system alive.

              I think that at some point the strain on the financial system from a lack of exponential growth (due to finite resources) will become too great. Some trigger event will then cause international commerce to freeze up and once that happens it wont come back. Cascading collapse. The question is how far away is this…

    2. paulmeli

      Social Security is the only true retirement fund (at least until they take it away).

      I seriously doubt most people invested in 401k’s will ever realize more than a fraction the money, and adjusted for inflation, I doubt they have outperformed non-risky fixed-rate investment funds over the long term.

      The mistake we make is comparing the ‘value’ of our fund (vapor) to cash. Until you realize the gain (take the money) it may as well not exist.

      1. John Wright

        per http://www.epi.org/files/2016/state-of-american-retirement-final.pdf, the median retirement savings for American families in the 56 to 61 age bracket is 17K.

        Median = half the population in the group has more than 17K, half has less than 17K.

        If someone invested their 17k and somehow achieved a steady yearly return of 10% in excess of inflation, this represents a retirement income of $141/month at the median level for the median family.

        This indicates the retirement of most Americans depends heavily on Social Security and perhaps part time employment (if available).

        Now if the Social Security money were heavily invested in the equity market and SS forced to be solvent, then SS administrators would have a strong incentive to increase profits flowing to equity, perhaps by decreasing American wages, moving manufacturing, sourcing white collar service jobs overseas.

        In essence, the old SS recipients would have an incentive to pay lower wages to American workers.

        With the current arrangement, if the trust fund disappeared, the USA would simply have a transfer tax from young worker wages to old retiree expenses. The old have an incentive to make sure well-paying jobs are created for the young as the young-old are connected via family ties.

        The family connections explain why the neoliberal claim of needing to reform SS, by cutting benefits, rings hollow with me.

        Current social security benefits flow to many families who depend on them, with any excess probably flowing to younger family members, so cutting benefits to the elderly will require younger family workers to help out financially, if they can.

        The current median retirement savings amounts show that many families are truly on the financial edge.

        The retirement wealth of the median American family is fairly much captured in the present value of their social security benefits and medical insurance provided by Medicare.

        Cutting social security benefits is truly a hit to the only wealth many families have.

        1. a different chris

          Good post.

          >The old have an incentive to make sure well-paying jobs are created for the young

          Yeah and many of those “well-paying jobs” could be taking care of said olds. I’m not sure, in any case, how any market-based idea doesn’t wind up with all but a select few of the olds just being pushed off on an ice floe as the youngs try to make ends meet.

        2. Steve H.

          – Now if the Social Security money were heavily invested in the equity market and SS forced to be solvent, then SS administrators would have a strong incentive to increase profits flowing to equity, perhaps by decreasing American wages, moving manufacturing, sourcing white collar service jobs overseas.

          Sounds like a plan.

          1. JTMcPhee

            It pays to remember that Haygood is apparently from his posts and positions a fella with the skills and luck to be a “successful investor.” Just think of the opportunities that following his notion would open up for him, in the wonderful world of FIRE!

            Self-interest is the only interest there is, for so many of us…

            1. Jim Haygood

              Quite the contrary. Every defined benefit pension fund except Social Security invests in equities, to meet its obligations to beneficiaries.

              Social Security’s outmoded portfolio gives its beneficiaries low returns. It also exposes them to the near certainty of an unfavorable change in the rules, sometime before 2034, owing to its gross underfunding.

              Blaming the messenger doesn’t fix Social Security. You won’t be happy when it is “fixed.”

              1. JTMcPhee

                Not if it is “fixed” by people with that notion you promote.

                Bleeding and blistering were popular prescriptions in the Middle Ages and late into the 19th century. Killed a lot of patients, but the practitioners collected their fees without regard to outcomes…

              2. Alejandro

                It’s not about “[b]laming the messenger”, it’s about recognizing the dogma in the message…AND recognizing that “finance is not the economy”, the nominal is not a reflection of the real, and gold has not, because it cannot reconcile the contradictions no matter how “objectivist” you may purport to be.

              3. SoCal Rhino

                And life insurers have traditionally invested heavily in fixed income, to ensure the money is there when needed by survivors. Measures like risk-based capital and the interest maintenance and asset maintenance reserves to maintain focus on long-lived liabilities not short term market variation. Issue there of late, I believe, has been actions taken to depress bond yields. Given the focus on SS as a safety net rather than a means for accumulating wealth, seems to line up with life insurance.

                Don’t DB plans notoriously invest in equiti s to allow underfunding future liabilities based on “optimistic” return assumptions?

              4. timbers

                Jim Haygood
                September 18, 2016 at 12:57 pm

                Social Security’s outmoded portfolio gives its beneficiaries low returns.

                Could be wrong, but SS was never intended to have “returns” from “portfolios.”

                The alternate “portfolios” you are comparing to what SS has have been amped up with a decade of Fed ZIRP, which by the way also depresses SS “portfolio” – and SS was never intended to have a “portfolio” with “returns” in the first place.

                So what you are comparing is a deliberately FED depressed SS “portfolio” to an artificially FED inflated portfolio – inflated in a way that is unlikely to continue.

          2. cwaltz

            – Now if the Social Security money were heavily invested in the equity market and SS forced to be solvent, then SS administrators would have a strong incentive to increase profits flowing to equity, perhaps by decreasing American wages, moving manufacturing, sourcing white collar service jobs overseas.

            This +1000

            I have no intentions of cheering for that dollar in profits if it comes from these companies cutting labor costs by decreasing benefits, lowering wages by shipping jobs overseas, or exploiting the environment. I also don’t want the gains associated if it means we lower the quality of components or the quality of the actual products.

            No thank you, I believe Americans should have a comfortable retirement without the game playing Wall Street has a record of engaging in to obtain profits.

    3. Robert Hahl

      “Nobel prizes have been awarded.” Make that, Sveriges Riksbank Prizes in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel have been awarded.

      I hereby move that we all chip in and establish the “Naked Capitalism Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.”

        1. Benedict@Large

          A good nomination, except Graeber at the time was only beginning to grasp the concept of fiat money and its implications. He’s come a good way since, and a rewrite with the new knowledge would certainly be a most valuable contribution.

      1. bob

        “Naked Capitalism Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.”

        Show a hole in the ground. The joke about the one handed economist also comes to mind.

        Nobel “invented” TNT, high explosive. The weirdest bit about his history is that he had any. Any reading of the history of this highlights how many people got killed doing it. How did he survive?

        He let the little people deal with the details?

      2. dcblogger

        “Nobel prizes have been awarded.” Make that, Sveriges Riksbank Prizes in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel have been awarded.

        I hereby move that we all chip in and establish the “Naked Capitalism Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.”

        so good, it had to be repeated.

    4. johnnygl

      You are using a lens of “defined contribution” plans to look at a plan that is “defined benefit”, so it’s an apples and oranges thing.

      A better comparison would be if you tried to shop around the annuity marketplace and find one that 1) adjusts for the cpi and for the median wage 2) that offers spousal and survivor benefits and death benefits, and disability, too!

      You will not find such a product because wall street HATES taking risks.

      This is why defined contribution plans get pushed so hard. Life’s risks are to be born by the ‘customer’ while asset mgrs get to skim nice, safe, regular streams of fees, no matter the performance!

    5. Paul Tioxon

      Social Security can be funded by the US Treasury depositing $1 into the Social Security Trust Fund, for every $1 in value of annual stock buy backs from corporate America. Corporations regularly unload cash hordes from the their balance sheets to “unlock shareholder value” by giving shareholder cash in the form of a premium price above the average price of their stock at the time, usually. When they aren’t borrowing ZIRP funding to do the deal.

      The stocks are not held on the balance sheet of the corporation, are destroyed and equity that was funded ultimately by reducing wages, benefits, under funding or eliminating pensions, reducing or eliminating taxes paid to governments through loopholes and lies about profits or squeezing the suppliers of inputs who also participate the previous 2 cost reducing strategies to horde cash resulting in the complete disappearance of wealth in the form of money.

      This can be balanced by the US government depositing that disappeared money into the Social Security Trust Fund. Problem solved, you’re welcome!

    6. cwaltz

      Finance has moved on……yeah just ask all those lucky ducks living on their depleted 401ks after the banks broke the economy in 2008.

      The reason that Social Security is conventional wisdom is because our government is a safe investment. It isn’t going to go belly up and our government has the means to pay for the retirement for citizens always. There aren’t any other entities on the “market” that can say that.

    7. Oregoncharles

      Not sure whether this is your point, but the Trust Fund is a scam. It’s the government holding its own bonds (Rather like the Fed), and exists to forward the pretense that Social Security is NOT an outright income transfer (I’m a beneficiary, so I think that’s a good thing.)

      Just consider what happens when current collections fall short and SSA draws on the Fund: where does that money come from? It comes from the general fund, so the Treasury either raises some other tax, or cuts another program, or prints the money – good if the economy is slow, not so good if it’s fast.

      And the Fund has no effect on benefits, except as a political excuse. Those are set by law, because it’s a transfer program.

      As I suspect you know, the problem with putting it in equities is, first, that the government doesn’t control those; and second, that they go down right when the need is greatest. Hence, if the Fund were taken seriously, they really would limit benefits at the worst time. As it stands, SS is mildly anti-cyclical; if it were invested in equities, to any degree, it would be pro-cyclical.

      1. Paul Tioxon

        When outgo exceeds income, the Social Security SURPLUS is tapped. You do know what a surplus is, don’t you? It is not the general fund that is paying anything, but the redemption of the SS special bonds. I mean, if you are a real Wall St person and that’s why you come to this site or you are not a finance professional but have been here long enough to read the material you should have some idea of what is going on with govt finance in respect to Social Security.

        It is one of the simpler financial mechanisms that I have seen. It operates as a social insurance program, with payroll deductions paid into it by employer and employee alike. Self employed do likewise, playing both roles and making the full contribution. The money comes in, it spends what it needs and it saves the remainder in the form on special bonds, so that money is just not sitting idle doing nothing. As Mr Haywood has correctly linked, the return on these bonds are pitiful, but that is the age of ZIRP such as it is.

        It is not a scam, the general fund takes Social Security Cash from the fund and uses it, the credit is in the form of the bonds. When they are redeemed, the general fund gives back to Social Security the very same money it took from Social Security. This is the exact transaction. The Social Security Surplus is now about $2.8 TRILLION$. That is where the monthly shortfall is funded from, not the general fund from income taxes, corporate taxes, import duties, fees, fines, interest etc etc etc.

        I don’t know why people on this site that have more education than me in finance can not understand the simple system, other than their personal reactionary political views and dim take on government in general. Mr Haywood has provided the site you can go to inspect on a monthly basis the ingo and outgo of funds, the surplus, and as you can see, the ROI for the surplus. The fact millions get this payment every month, including you it seems, still does NOT present enough substance foR accepting the whole truth about Social Security as it is presented by the government, and the BS that it is not what it is, but a Ponzi Scheme or some other nonsense.

        1. John Zelnicker

          @Paul Tioxon – You are correct as far as you go. However, when the SS Surplus is exhausted, maintaining the benefit levels will require the transfer of “funds” from the government’s general account to Social Security.

          1. cwaltz

            And?

            We certainly don’t run screaming at the top of our lungs that we don’t have money when it comes to funding things like F 35s or anything else the DoD wants. Why should funding retirees be any different if need be?

            The program has been self funded for years and could be longer if the government had the will to lift the cap. If they lack that will though it won’t be because the government ran out of money to fund retirees, it’ll be because the government conned people into believing we have the responsibility to fund destruction elsewhere and no responsibility to fund taking care of the elderly(which it can certainly be argued falls under general welfare.)

          2. cwaltz

            Oh and for the record, since we’re talking about the Fund, this is from the trustee report for 2015

            The Social Security program provides workers and their families with retirement, disability, and survivors insurance benefits. Workers earn these benefits by paying into the system during their working years. Over the program’s 80-year history, it has collected roughly $19.0 trillion and paid out $16.1 trillion, leaving asset reserves of more than $2.8 trillion at the end of 2015 in its two trust funds.

            This is from wiki which has last years numbers-

            The Social Security Administration collects payroll taxes and uses the money collected to pay Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance benefits by way of trust funds. When the program runs a surplus, the excess funds increase the value of the Trust Fund. At the end of 2014, the Trust Fund contained (or alternatively, was owed) $2.79 trillion, up $25 billion from 2013.[4] The Trust Fund is required by law to be invested in non-marketable securities issued and guaranteed by the “full faith and credit” of the federal government. These securities earn a market rate of interest.[5]

            So essentially, not only has the fund not been exhausted in the past 2 years but it’s actually gone up.

        2. Oregoncharles

          Maybe I wasn’t clear. So the SSA cashes in those bonds to pay my Social Security. WHO pays off on the bonds? You do – as do I, if I pay taxes at that point. Where would the government get that money, if not from the general fund? Remember, it’s the general fund that borrowed the money in the first place, and spent it.

          Yes, the government can always pay its debts, so in that sense the money is secure. But where does it come from? Yves is participating, but didn’t correct my claims. You yourself say it went to the general fund, so that’s where it will come from

          If the fund were just to smooth out the bumps, it would make sense. But it happened, or at least it swelled, because Greenspan and others insisted on raising the SS tax pro-actively. They were pretending it’s insurance, but it isn’t. It transfers money from young, working people to older, retired people. As such, it makes sense for everybody: it provides the elderly with a necessary cushion while spreading out the burden. (It also pays people to leave the work force, leaving jobs for the young – this was, in part, the original purpose.)

          -The proactive increase was a scam, and makes the system politically vulnerable because it transfers the costs from the payroll tax, which is dedicated, to the general fund, where it competes with everything else. If the payroll tax comes up short, it should be raised then, preferably by extending it: raising the cap, and taxing unearned income.

          I’m raising this now because I think it’s going to be a political issue when they start calling on that fund, and I think we should be prepared.

          1. cwaltz

            The economy itself is built on the movement of money.

            Is it your argument that when the Fed or China invests in bonds that it’s participating in a “transfer” program?

            Essentially those bonds are not put in a “lockbox” either and are used to fund things like food stamps or any other program the government needs to fund for years until the bonds mature.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Not quite sure I understand your question, but I think the answer is no. The Fed or China buying bonds doesn’t transfer money from one citizen to another (SS, without the “fund”, is just a tax and a system of payouts. They’re supposed to match up), at least not so directly.

              There is a similarity with the Fed holding federal bonds (and paying the interest back to the Treasury) – there’s some pretense going on there. The Fed does it to inject funds into the economy (unless I’ve lost track); Social Security does it to pretend that it’s really insurance or a traditional pension fund. That seems to be a politically necessary (?) fiction, which Haygood is making hay from.

              Face it: proactively raising the tax and storing the surplus in a “fund” was Greenspan’s idea. What do you expect?

        3. cwaltz

          I think some of the problem may be that there is no “lockbox” and essentially people think that the surplus, invested in special treasuries, is part of the general fund. It doesn’t help that Congress has done it’s best to treat that surplus, that by law is required to be rolled back into government treasuries, as its own slush fund and as a result is now hollering at the top of its lungs that we’re running out of money as more and more of that “surplus” comes due to be used for what it was intended- the Boomer and Gen X retirements that precipitated the slush fund to begin with. The result is now they’d need to either cut programs or raise taxes since less and less is rolled(hence the need for them to make the argument that we need to delay retirements.)

          The Ponzi scheme argument does annoy me too though.

          I don’t hear any other “investor” buying bonds or treasuries being told they participate in a Ponzi scheme(even though their money is being spent to fund government as well.) For the longest time people have invested in the government of the United States(who controls world reserve currency at present time) because it has been considered the safest and most stable investment one can make. Yet somehow we’re to believe retirees are being forced to participate in the equivalent of some pyramid scheme. It’s ridiculous.

    8. Yves Smith

      Oh come on.

      1. Equities are an ambiguous promise (we’ll pay you dividends if we make enough money, and then only when we fee like it), which has never been suitable to be traded anonymously prior to the era of securities regulations. And in case you missed it, those protections are being eroded. The apparent superior performance of equities is also due to 35 years of disinflation staring from when Volcker killed the 1970s inflation, with the sell-by date of that trend ending in 2008 being extended unnaturally by central bank ZIRP policies.

      Public equities also create inherent governance problems. Transient shareholders cannot be told enough to make informed decisions (critical information must be kept secret for competitive reasons) and they cannot interact enough with management to assess them, and even when they can, they lack the ability to oust them. Boards don’t rock the boat with the CEO save in cases of serious scandals.

      2. Retail pensions are an excuse for Wall Street to get rich. The fees for trading retail and for 401 (k) charges are ridiculous. You are basically advocating for a transfer from ordinary citizens to the financial sector, when tons of studies have shown that oversized financial sectors are a drag on growth.

      3. The government of a fiat currency issuer can always meet its obligations, including pensions; the only constraint is inflation. It gives government an excuse to run ongoing deficits, which are desirable due to the chronic propensity of businesses to underinvest.

      4. If you want to take the conceptually incorrect approach that SS tax funded (as opposed to taxes drain spending), that makes SS the ultimate equity. It is a claim on the future GDP, which is the most diversified income stream there is.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘The apparent superior performance of equities is also due to 35 years of disinflation staring from when Volcker killed the 1970s inflation.’

        Although we are the most important generation that ever lived [/sarc], the evidence does not rely merely on Boomers’ brief post-Woodstock adulthoods.

        Based on over a century of evidence from two dozen countries, Dimson Marsh and Staunton disagree. And so do I [click ‘free download’ link under subhead ‘Obtaining copies’]:

        https://www.credit-suisse.com/us/en/about-us/media/news/articles/media-releases/2016/02/en/credit-suisse-global-investment-returns-yearbook-2016.html

        Equities beat bonds with a lickin’ stick in every jurisdiction on the planet.

        1. Jim Haygood

          And the punchline from the link:

          Mike Staunton, Director of the London Share Price Database at London Business School said:

          “Although world equity returns since 2000 have been somewhat disappointing, over the 116 years since 1900, equities beat bonds and bills in every country.

          For the world as a whole, equities outperformed bills by 4.2% per year and bonds by 3.2% per year.

          Empirical evidence, yes … but there is no counterfactual anywhere. :-0

      2. John Zelnicker

        @Yves Smith – “…due to the chronic propensity of businesses to underinvest…”

        In addition, demand leakages such as the savings desires of the non-government sector and net exports need to be counter-balanced by deficits.

        1. José

          In fact, the accounting identity is: Public Deficit = Net Saving of the Private Sector + Net Foreign Saving.

          Where Net Saving of the Private Sector = Saving minus Investment
          and
          Net Foreign Saving = Current Account Deficit.

  3. allan

    The airstrikes on Syrian troops in the NYT:

    …Aaron David Miller, a Middle East analyst at the Wilson Center, said the episode was certain to make “an already complex situation more byzantine.”

    He said the strikes would “feed conspiracy theories that Washington is in league with ISIS,” as well as create a pretext for Mr. Assad to avoid his commitments under the cease-fire deal. Mr. Miller added that the episode would create opportunities for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia “to blast the U.S. on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly,” the global meeting in New York starting this week. …

    `… create a pretext … create opportunities …’

    Who could possibly have anticipated that expending enormous amounts of ordnance on a complex battleground might have unintended consequences and might give our frenemies a propaganda boost?

    1. Jim Haygood

      “an already complex situation more byzantine”

      Standard retreat of the policy twonk [a neologism combining ‘twat’ and ‘wonk’] when things go pear-shaped: it’s too complex for lowly citizens to understand. Let the anointed experts battle the byzantinity.

      1. Bruce Onion

        BREAKING: Everything is the weather. The world past your doorstep is brute indifference and inscrutability; sense and narrative have expired. Keep eating.

    2. ambrit

      Is this, “..an already complex situation more byzantine.” an unintended joke? Byzantium was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, and is now known as Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey. With the entrance of the Turkish army ‘officially’ into the Syrian War recently, this pullulating mass of corruption is already Byzantine.
      Next, can we expect to start hearing the Turkish envoy described as being from the ‘Sublime Porte?’

      1. Steve H.

        A friend who is now a sophomore who has shifted his focus from Big10 football to astrophysics to history and consciousness altering told me they still called themselves Romans until around 1500.

        I shall be leading him to cliodynamics, and this map of the migration of Y-DNA Haplogroups gave me great amusement last evening. What a time, to be alive.

        1. Steve H.

          had to look up ‘pullulating’ btw. pullulate (v.) 1610s, from Latin pullulatus, past participle of pullulare “put forth, grow, sprout, shoot up, come forth,” from pullulus, diminutive of pullus “young animal” (see foal (n.))

          i agree with your usage, that despite its vital meaning, its alliteration lends better to that which one would not wish to grow. Rather like ‘cthonic’ to ‘cthulic’.

          1. ambrit

            “…’cthonic’ to ‘cthulic'”
            Lovecraft was erudite enough to have made that connection. Until you pointed it out, I hadn’t considered it. I rather like ‘cthonic’ to ‘cthulic’ too.
            I’m not sure how ‘pullulate’ acquired a negative connotation, but there it is. Ain’t language grand!

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Moscow was called the Third Rome.

          Maybe that’s where all the Romans have gone…at least one Byzantine princess was married off to the Russian royal house to propagate the ancient imperial DNA.

        3. Plenue

          Byzantine is a modern term created by historians to easily distinguish the later Greek speaking Eastern Roman Empire from the Western. The ‘Byzantines’ considered themselves fully Roman and referred to themselves as such (Romanoi).

      2. optimader

        an already complex situation more byzantine”

        …(of a system or situation) excessively complicated, typically involving a great deal of administrative detail:

        In this case,, the “situation” is straightforward. It’s the motivations of the bureaucracy perpetuating their spinning dishs on sticks that are intentionally Byzantine and obfuscated for the average Incurious George that internalizes sentiments delivered in HD by Organs of Media. Again the “situation” is obvious for even the trivially critical viewer.

        Wash repeat for the underlying inertia that perpetuates The War on Drugs

      3. Plenue

        To be anally technical, Constantinople was the capital of the Eastern Empire. Before that it was a fishing town called Byzantium. Historians adopted Byzantine as term because it’s easier to say than, I dunno, Constantinopltine or something.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        Weren’t there a couple leaks from the Pentagon just yesterday saying that they disagreed with the Kerry-Lavrov agreement?

        A political round table on French radio was discussing the attack today and one of the (very erudite) commentators said “this was obviously a mistake, Washington can’t possibly be _that_ cynical.” (!)

        They also noted that the French foreign minister had to make a formal request to the US for a copy of the text of the cease fire agreement and that he hasn’t yet received a reply!

          1. Bugs Bunny

            Thanks – saw that in The Local the other day. I’d rather a map to GOOD BEER than cheap beer but hey, I live in a wine country alors c’est la vie.

            If only they made carrot beer, doc!

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Apparently Carter is following Kerry around the world, trying to undo each of his attempts at “peace-i-ness”…at least State is no longer just the advance party for the Permanent War types that it was under Hilary.
          And note to France, yes, they are that cynical, even before this we had one al-Qaeda group funded by the CIA killing another al-Qaeda group funded by the Pentagon.
          But most remarkable is to realize this is all just another phase of Cold Warrior thinking, it’s like 1989 never happened. We’re against Russia therefore Assad must go. So instead of a few disgruntled protesters in Deraa who would have dissolved away like the rest of Arab Spring, we got the wholesale slaughter of a nation because the Deraa dissidents were armed, paid, and incited by the CIA.

          1. tgs

            But just when I start to feel some sympathy for Kerry and his efforts, I actually get to hear him talk. He is a d*ck. I caught him on CNN or somewhere place similar saying the the Russians are cynical in making a big deal over an incident that was clearly a mistake. He then went on to spout one lie after another – gas attacks, preventing humanitarian aid – the usual.

            Of course compared to the truly despicable Samantha Power, Kerry lies and all seems the voice of reason.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              Please don’t assume that I think Lurch is anything but a lying unprosecuted war criminal, but at least he’s trying to maintain the fiction that America makes passing efforts at diplomacy on their way to Always War policies.
              As Obama famously said “being president is about much more than just figuring out who to bomb next”.

            2. cwaltz

              How is it “clearly a mistake” when you have idiots like Carter running around attempting to make Putin into some comic book super villain?

              Meanwhile, Carter is on the record as being very, very upset that Congress won’t give him a blank check to handle Syria the way he wants even though results like his train and equip plan for the Syrian rebels that cost $500 million have not exactly been considered successful in actually stopping ISIL.

              I thought Kerry was smarter than that.

        2. jsn

          Ever since the MIC sabotaged Carter’s rescue attempt, successive administrations have competed to indulge it or distance themselves from its activity. As Bush2 fluffed it with legislation for endless war and Congress agreed to perpetual dereliction, the various fiefdoms that compose the MIC appear to have all built their own self financing self licking ice cream cones (thanks L) which now appear to be dripping all over one another.

          Obama appears to just want distance, to get out of office before the next major debacle, but in the vacuum of leadership these fiefs appear to be trying to create “facts on the ground” to lock in sinecures in the next administration. Its the Keystone Cops bumbling around armageddon.

      2. timbers

        Carolinian you turned me onto MoonofAlabama. Found this in his comments section of the article you link. It links to article on Churkin’s comments at the U.N. It struck a cord:

        “who is in charge in Washington? Is it the White House or the Pentagon?” – Russia’s U.N. delegate Churkin at U.N.

        Interesting comment for those convinced U.S. Presidents are not in control of the Deep State or Military Industrial Complex, just figure heads. Will Obama hear this and dent his often mentioned ego?

        And responding to U.S. excuse that it “accidentally” bombed Syrian troops while trying to fight ISIS:

        “why the United States suddenly wants to “help” the Syrian Army with airstrikes against ISIS after years of doing nothing.”

        P.S. IMO we will see a lot more “accidents” like this if Clinton wins.

      3. Oregoncharles

        Doesn’t it make more sense to just conclude that airstrikes are inherently imprecise and prone to blunders, as well as that the US military is, likewise? Arguably, at this point, that’s Mr. Carter’s fault, but I suspect it’s an inherent characteristic.

        This is not the first such “blunder,” though most of the others raise similar questions about hidden agendas.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Imprecise air strikes, like the ones on that Medicins Sans Froniers hospital in Notagainistan, or from another source, the attempts sinking of the USS Liberty…?

          Fog of war = Bulls!t eyewash. Ask Pat Tillman!

          Oh, you can’t, because he’s dead…

          Not all “mistakes” are mistakes, but then we mopes never know, do we…?

    3. timbers

      He said the strikes would “feed conspiracy theories that Washington is in league with ISIS,”

      There’s that word again – “conspiracy theory.” Guess I’m a walking conspirator.

      To borrow and modify a phrase someone said early, the only conspiracy theory is that America if fighting terrorism.

    4. Ignim Brites

      The article indicates the Australian air force was also involved. Why?

      The situation is less byzantine than absurd.

      “The contradictory US policies in Syria, of backing leftist Kurds when convenient and of supporting local fundamentalists on the other hand. Both are theoretically opposed to Daesh, but neither has exhibited either fear or loathing of Daesh sufficient to make them fight the hard line organization systematically in al-Raqqa province, its base.” (emphasis added)

      We should get out altogether and leave it to the Aussies.

    5. John Wright

      see https://techcrunch.com/event-info/disrupt-sf-2016/

      Maybe Ash Carter is distracted by speaking at events such as this last week event (September 12-14) in SF.

      He was scheduled to be one of the speakers.

      I didn’t manage to go to this as the $3000 ticket price was $3000 more than I usually spend for trade show admission.

      It seems bad karma to have a Defense Secretary with the nickname “Ash”, but that must be ok with the TPTB.

      1. JSM

        For those looking for more insight into the question of ‘Who’s in charge?’, Guardian’s piece on the behind the scenes wrangling over the torture report is recommended.

        https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/09/cia-insider-daniel-jones-senate-torture-investigation

        Don’t know if this has been linked here.

        “To Reid’s surprise, the president defended the CIA’s actions. Obama rattled off the CIA’s side of the story: the Senate staff had taken CIA documents and the agency had no choice but to handle the matter as it did.

        “Mr President,” Reid said, “I wish you could hear yourself.”

        Not only that, parts of the White House were apparently relieved to lose the Senate since it changed the leadership of the investigating committee.

        Nothing to see here though as the President who campaigned against Saudi Arabian human rights abuses prepares to veto the 9/11 bill…

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          With Obama off the scene, I expect a tsunami of “but for Obama” stories. This won’t play well after the Roger Clemens trial, but Obama will be public enemy number one in short order.

      2. Carla

        I disagree. There can be no better name than “Ash” for a “Defense” Secretary. For TPTB, only the little people, wherever they may be, are turned into ashes. I find the name uniquely fitting.

      1. nippersdad

        Unfortunately, I did. I really don’t get why he is so popular….It reminds me a lot of how Clinton was defended during his last term.

        1. ambrit

          There are a lot of people who cannot admit to themselves that they have been fooled by a charlatan. In the Black population, at least the ones who self identify as “Upwardly Mobile,” or “Aspirational,” or whatever the phrase of the moment is, I suspect more than a bit of Stockholm Syndrome applies.
          With B Clinton, I suspect the ‘self deluded’ population was heavily, for want of a better term, “redneck.” Being bombarded constantly with images of ones’ demographic as ‘slackers,’ ‘Cameron style deviants,’ and just plain uncouth, is it any wonder that “rednecks,” incidentally, an honourable term from the Class Wars of a century ago, embraced a politico who ‘redeemed’ them?
          In both cases, an underclass has sworn fealty to someone who ’embodies’ an aspiration.
          As to why both are betrayers of the public’s trust; that’s another story.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Not fooled. People projected onto Obama, an empty suit. Read his great speeches or his books. They then failed to hold Obama accountable when he even dared them to do it.

        1. Steve C

          With Obama, it’s always about who he is, not what he does. He’s the First Black President. He’s a good family man. So what that black people and the working class in general is worse off? Its about the Obama brand. Obama subscribes to the Booker T. Washington philosophy that it’s important for black people to see a successful black man, ie., himself, not the WEB DuBois philosophy of the powerless seizing power. That is anathema to him.

  4. allan

    The 50 state strategy lives! From the AP’s version of the anti-anti-opioid lobbying story:

    The makers of prescription painkillers have adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help kill or weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids, the drugs at the heart of a crisis that has cost 165,000 Americans their lives and pushed countless more to crippling addiction. …

      1. jgordon

        If the makers and users of kratom pooled their money, they might be able to bribe enough politicians to stave off the ones pharma bought.

        1. EGrise

          I smell an opportunity for a mobile app, sort of like KickStarter or GoFundMe but for groups to pool their money in order to purchase politicians.

          What to call it? KickbackStarter? GraftOn? OhF***Me?

          The biggest danger, of course, is that Google or Amazon will swoop in and take over the marketplace, offering Gold Box deals on, say, the junior Senator from Texas for 50% off.

          1. MtnLife

            Great news! Pocan (D-WIS) and Salmon (R-AZ) have drafted a letter to the DEA asking them to halt the rescheduling until they have a proper public comment period and hear from all stakeholders. They are handing it in on the 20th. Call your Congresscritter tomorrow and tell them to sign it!

            Maybe there is some hope that the “basket of deplorables” that is Congress will do something right for the people. Fingers crossed.

  5. Tinky

    “So the aftermarket comes up with a solution for the problem when the AirPods fall out of your ears…”

    Actually, this is par for the course. Third-party mouses (e.g. Logitech) have long been superior to those designed and manufactured by Apple.

    I’ve been a devotee since the original Mac, but the company has suffered from more than a few blind spots over the years.

  6. Steve H.

    – nurtured on the mycelial teat. It’s a kind of utopia for Ents.

    Never thought I’d see that sentence in an article of Nature.

    Poems should be writ with the new words we use to paint the forest in our minds. A mother tree need not fall for its minerals to feed its children through the mycorrhizal network. As rain falls, we smell the petrichor, the freshness of water with the earthiness of geosmin, which gives the flavor to the deep-rooted beets. The mycorrhizal fungi are not only transport paths, but soak up the water as a great sponge, holding it for times of less rain, and even providing protection to delicate roots from passing waves of toxicants. This sponge is composed of glomalin, a substance unknown until 1996, and yet we (or should I say they) still think to reduce the world to deterministic simplifications when most of the universe is unknowable, writ large in the null set of our minds.

    1. Synapsid

      Steve H.,

      “Never thought I’d see that sentence in an article of Nature.”

      Noted, you’re surprised. Why?

      Perhaps this is a clue: “…they) still think to reduce the world to deterministic simplifications…” Is that what you think the ecologists, mycologists, microbiologists, soil scientists, geochemists, and others who are learning about the mycorrhizal network, are trying to do? I’d say they’re working to find out about this marvelous part of the living world–learning, as I said before. What’s behind the effort is curiosity; scratch a research scientist and you’ll find a kid, and kids are curiosity personified.

      Richard Fortey, who wrote the review (a book review not an article) is a palaeontologist; his principal focus throughout his career has been on trilobites. Trilobites are critters whose fossil record is more than a quarter of a billion years long and who lived in and adapted to countless environments during that time, a time which saw the Earth change from an alien world to something visibly the parent of the one we inhabit now. Fortey has always found trilobites fascinating and a delight to study (even when the fieldwork to find and collect the fossils ranged from uncomfortable to life-threatening.) Anyone who’s seen one or pictures of trilobites can feel the attraction. Curiosity, delight–what better motivators for one’s life? Curiosity about plants and how they live together, curiosity about animals who once lived but left no survivors…let Fortey tell you about that. He’s written a number of books for a wide audience; look into Life: An Unauthorised Biography.

      “…when most of the universe is unknowable…” How can we know that? If you’re referring to the cosmos, the physical Universe which is all that the natural sciences apply to, it would be accurate to say that we’ll never finish learning about it, which is not the same statement at all.

  7. temporal

    iPhone 6 and 6 plus problems

    Being a OS X guy, starting with NeXTSTEP for Intel, the policy of ignoring hardware defects has a long and storied past that gets nearly everyone sooner or later. For me it was one of the white 20 inch iMacs. Mine went because heat caused the graphics chip, that was soldered to the motherboard, to fail. I then learned, via the inner tubes, this was very common and that Apple’s genius bar folks were instructed to convince each person that brought in a broken machine that their problem was unique. They would then present a high cost motherboard replacement and push replacing the defect with a new Apple product.

    My solution at the time was building some hackentosh replacements and later buying a Mac Pro for cheap from a guy that wanted one of those generally unfixable trashcans when they first came out.

    Unfortunately building a hackenphone will always be out of the question. Just like the iMac problems of the past there will soon be a lot of iPhone 6 pluses on eBay. Apple didn’t get rich by fixing their design mistakes.

    More recently, the newest version of the OS can’t be upgraded for a lot of older machines that have more CPU power than many of the newer ones. Not being able to run the upgrade on a standard 2009 Mac Pro while being allowed to do it on a 2010 and above is classic Apple. The machines are physically identical with some unique identifiers in the ROM that can be easily replaced being the only difference. Since most of us are happy to throw away nearly everything that as a few scuffs on it Apple is there to fill the gaps. This is not a bug.

    1. Yves Smith

      A fellow NeXT fan!!!! I had a real NeXT and used it for 10 1/2 years! Nuthin’ has come close.

      My solution to the “Apple refuses to let you upgrade” is to keep running the old OS and apps. I got nearly 6 years out of a MacBook Air that way. But you have to put up with some nuisances.

  8. schultzzz

    That Taibbi article is a stone bummer. He’s lumping in ‘people who only want the MSM to criticize the other candidate’ with ‘people who think the media should, in 2016, say evolution and climate change are established facts’ as both being examples of ‘false equivalency whiners’.

    Which in itself is a classic example of guess what? false equivalency.

    Talking about people’s crappy taste in media without addressing the huge amount of money and influence pushing the media to take the corporations’ side of things.

    Talking about how “if people want better coverage they have to stop reading crap”, in rolling stone, the magazine that put Russel Brand on the cover with his trousers falling off.

    For his own sake, I hope people don’t take his advice, or RS would be the first to go.

    1. DarkMatters

      “Talking about people’s crappy taste in media without addressing the huge amount of money and influence pushing the media to take the corporations’ side of things.”

      Not to nitpick (ok, I’m nitpicking, sort of), this should read:
      Talking about people’s crappy taste in media without addressing the huge amount of money and influence pushing the media to convince the people to take the corporations’ side of things.

      We know from the 1975 Church hearings that back in the day, the CIA was paying surprisingly famous journalists and book writers to promote its views. The program, called Project Mockingbird, was shut down. Right. Of course, from Water Lippmann’s Public Opinion, we know that advertising techniques were used to convince Americans to enter WWI.

      One might argue that these activities were illegal at their time, but now it’s ok:
      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130715/11210223804/anti-propaganda-ban-repealed-freeing-state-dept-to-direct-its-broadcasting-arm-american-citizens.shtml

      1. Norb

        Modern day propaganda and messaging is truly amazing. The subtile and not so subtile messaging is embedded into most popular cultural vehicles. The subliminal messaging is ubiquitous. Planting messaging chips directly into peoples brains is the next logical step down the efficiency road.

        We truly are back in Plato’s cave, watching shadows dance across the walls of our prison. Finding the strength and understanding to face “reality” is the core of the human condition. You find that clarity of vision or you don’t.

        We need to walk out of the cave and not look back.

        1. skeeter

          outside the cave is the inside of another. Matryoshka caves going on forever like the mirrors in the department store dressing rooms. In the far distance the image degrades by the contribution of light scattered irregularly off of what appears, in one iteration, as a perfect reflection.

          The allegory of the cave fits perfectly, whatever your ideology. It’s a big cave! It fits all the others. No B.S.

    2. jrs

      I don’t see the references to evolution and climate change in the article.

      But yea you can make an argument that it’s still the people’s fault despite YUGE structural issues, like media consolidation, it’s just that it’s not an EASY case to make, and he doesn’t.

      “1) The people complaining about “false balance” usually seem confident in having discovered the truth of things for themselves, despite the media’s supposed incompetence. They’re quite sure of whom to vote for and why. Their complaints are really about the impact that “false balance” coverage might have on other, lesser humans, with weaker minds than theirs. Which is not just snobbish, but laughably snobbish. So, shut up.”

      Actually no it’s not snobbish. I think I know somewhat more about politics than many people because a) I was equipped with somewhat decent analytical tools by my almost academic parents to understand the world that I realize not everyone gets and even then it was so lacking. b) I have been following politics somewhat obsessively since I was a teenager pretty much, and it took me over a decade to even start to see through the facade. I MORE THAN realize that not everyone wants to do this. I feel I have put in Malcolm Gladwells 10,000 hours, what a sad thing really.

      “Under the rules of this reality series which media consumers turn into a gigantic hit every four years, collapsing in front of a cell-phone camera at a 9/11 memorial service is more important than a dozen position papers.”

      Are we talking about positions the candidates take? Well if we can’t even trust Hillary to not lie about her health how can we trust their positions? Ok I don’t know if Hillary lies about her health, seems so but anyway, the general lack of trust for politicians, not just Hillary, explains why noone takes their positions seriously except in rare cases when they think they might have someone they can trust (Sanders for instance). This is not sophisticated, it’s just cynicism, which of course this system produces.

      “There’s not much to say about this debate apart from the fact that it’s phony and absurd and that the people shrieking for “balance” are almost always at heart censors who are really concerned with keeping a view of the world with which they disagree out of the news. ”

      I don’t know, didn’t we used to actually have laws requiring balance like the Fairness Doctrine. Now I’m not sure how much the decline of these laws were a factor in things getting worse as media consolidation seems a more likely cause. But it’s not an unheard of idea to desire to implement balance. It’s been done.

    3. flora

      And nowhere does Taibbi mention the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine* and the subsequent rise of Fox-style “news” reporting. And how 25 years of gossip and editorial masquerading as fact and news have affected voters’ views.

      *”The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was — in the Commission’s view — honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987, and in August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.[1]” -Wikipedia

      1. hunkerdown

        flora, the news media as a whole has never been impartial, but there was a period in living memory in which it broadly promoted bourgeois liberalism, a point of view which people are commonly encouraged in our un-self-aware culture to mistake for impartiality. Also, Jann Wenner, RS publisher who is also With Her, could have nixed anything about the Fairness Doctrine as it passed his desk. Unfortunately, it is not permissible to force people to use our media to speak against their own interest.

    4. Oregoncharles

      Unfortunately, “false equivalency” is ENTIRELY a matter of opinion, unless you’ve pre-specified credentialed arbiters (I’m going to start using “credentialed” a lot). I agree with you, mind, but that’s just my opinion. Those who don’t believe in evolution or climate change, and there are far too many, would not.

      There’s also a fundamental level where all equivalencies, short of math, are false. Different things may be similar, but they aren’t the same, so it’s always possible to quibble.

      I guess I agree with Taibbi here: it’s a treacherous concept, usually used in a highly partisan manner. Like “conspiracy theory,” it’s often used to dodge the need to support your opinion with facts by pretending that it’s self-evident. Sometimes, but there’s always someone who disagrees.

    1. cnchal

      A policy of disengagement is a difficult option to contemplate, and goes entirely against the grain of almost all mainstream discourse on the subject. I understand why this is so: everybody wants evil to be defeated. But we must consider the consequences of our actions, no matter how well-intentioned they are. In the long run, a complete withdrawal will result in much less human misery inflicted on this unfortunate region than continual attempts by the West to solve its problems by military means.

      Turkin is too kind. Lots of carbon fiber and aluminum rice bowls would go empty with a policy of disengagement. It’s why what makes the most sense won’t be done.

      Thanks for the link.

    1. cnchal

      Thanks for the link. The first five star review I came accross, by “I want to live” and it’s a doozie.

      Nothing new here. The book is full of lies, just like Hillary. I’m leaving a five star review so I don’t get straight up murdered.

      1. nippersdad

        Is “Please don’t kill me” something that has gone viral? I saw a lot of that in those reviews. I liked the one that said he went to an alternate universe to post a single starred review so that it would cancel out the single star he was forced to give her in this one….

        1. cnchal

          Is “Please don’t kill me” something that has gone viral?

          I would say yes. Some reviewers ask Amazon to make a book of the reviews., which says a lot.
          —–
          I originally gave this book 2 stars but am revising downward because I just found my cat dead and nailed to my front door. For the record, I am not suicidal, I have a perfect driving record, and my recent lab tests are better than Trump’s. If I am found dead, assume that I was done in by one or more of Illary’s minions.
          —–
          This is a great book has multiple purposes. It kills trees, can be used for toilet paper or, teach you butt to read and, great for starting a fire. Please don’t have me killed, I was just kidding.
          —–
          This book changed my life! It was perfect! Couldn’t have been better!! Our kitchen table had one of the four legs a little shorter than the others. It constantly wobbled. ‘Stronger Together’ was the exact thickness needed to end the wobble when placed under the short leg. Thank you to Hillary and Tim’s ghost writer for producing the correct number of pages that ended my misery with the damn kitchen table. No more spilled coffee!

          The stinking mass of corruption and criminality is out in the open for everyone to see, hear, touch, smell and taste, and it’s not being swallowed. Some reviews liken Kaine’s cover posture as giving a Hitler salute. It’s as bad as you can get, and for these politicians to show not one iota of shame and embarrassment at this ghostwritten book is a revelation itself.

          The grim and grimmer election marches on. Most likely outcome? President Trump.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            Stronger Together is the literal metaphor of the fasci (as in what’s that bundle of sticks?), ain’t it?

    2. HBE

      Thanks for sharing, they are hillaryous. Great Sunday morning entertainment (sorry I know I’m making the media more stupider by reading those).

    3. Steve H.

      The cover is awful. Draw a line down the center, it goes through Kaine. Who is taller in the photo? Kaine. They diminutized the presidential candidate on the cover of their own book.

      Simple stage directions, you put the lead Down-Center, and they are literally larger in the eyes of the audience. Up-Center can still be a superior position, so you put the deuteragonist to the side, in such a way that their head is not higher than the protagonist.

      I: They f*cked up the cover of their book!
      Janet: Are you surprised?
      I: Why, no, no I’m not.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I do think it’s a mistake. The Democrats have believed identity politics wins elections for so long they are trying to put a bald white guy front and center to capture the “feel the Bern” sentiment. Team Blue elites are so arrogant and stupid they have no concept of why Hillary isn’t popular. Right now, the DNC probably has a Crack team studying film of Bernie’s stump speech on mute to find his secret, maybe checking for phrases or “positive” words they can use.

        They simply can’t fathom voters aren’t as shallow as they are and don’t love them anymore. Kaine even comes from a state that starts with a “V”. Back in 2008, every article about the VP search revolved around how Obama and Kaine became BFFs. Has Kaine’s friendship with Obama even been mentioned?

        Look at Kaine. He’s so cool because he doesn’t need plugs and can accept he’s bald just like Bernie. The boy crazy girls will go wild. I wish I was kidding.

      2. diptherio

        I think they should also have chosen an image where Kaine isn’t giving an obvious “seig hiel” salute…but maybe that’s just me…

    4. jgordon

      I’m amazed that Hillary’s fans aren’t even buying. They’re willing to donate to Hillary and risk getting ripped off via unauthorized credit card charges, but won’t buy her book risk free? Something weird going on here.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        She’s been on the national stage for 25 years and a public record in Arkansas for another 10 or 12. Despite her biweekly reintroduction to America, there is nothing more to be said.

        How many people have played the definitive Hillary on SNL? Three anyway (Hooks, Poehler, and McKinnon) and Ana Gasteyer probably played Hill too although she didn’t stand out, maybe even Cheri O’Terri.

        Hillary is either a paranoid, corrupt, warmonger, or one simply doesn’t care because she is the “dear leader.”

    5. Buttinsky

      That link is really a treasure trove of laughs. Thank you!

      It’s worth noting that someone at least purporting to be Amy Sterling Casil, presumably the one who has written extensively on the fraud that is the Clinton Foundation, offered a review:

      This book begins well. The first sentence says, “America is great because America is good.” It goes downhill from there. My experience has been that people want to know the inside truth about their role models. I read page after page looking for tips on how to ask for big payments from rich foreign money launderers, military dictators or junk food manufacturers. It was just a bunch of malarkey even more boring than a 6th grade Common Core history book. I wanted to find out how to delete hundreds of thousands of voter registrations and emails, but no such luck. This book talks about how every vote counts. As long as it’s for Hillary Clinton! [seriously: I did skim it and it is sooooooo boring and these are two boring people with very little to say except “vote for me!”]

    1. Steve H.

      – median household income calculated by using the redesigned questions was 3.2 percent higher than the median income found using the traditional questions.

      Brucie A., thank you, and again! I could Not figure out the disparity and this answers it.

      This quote is direct from the Census page.

      1. Bullwinkle

        And the Census Bureau comes through just in time for the Presidential election! For those who may not know, the Census Bureau is part of the Commerce Department, the secretary of which is Penny Pritzker, a major Obama fundraiser. O, the legacy…..

  9. MikeNY

    Re: Burrowing owls.

    Love them. I love it when Nature messes with our categories: tree kangaroos, penguins, flying fish, pitcher plants and such. Or even the lowly halibut.

    1. fresno dan

      MikeNY
      September 18, 2016 at 9:51 am

      So I am reading about the burrowing owls, and in the sidebar there is a link to a tortoise lost in a house SINCE 1982!
      http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/family-cleans-house-and-finds-pet-tortoise-went-missing-30-years-earlier.html

      Now how could a tortoise survive that long? My hypothesis is the same as the link to the tortoise with 800 babies.** Obviously, Male tortoises make a living as gigolos – you would have thought somebody would have noticed all the cars stopping in front of the house and letting female tortoises out….We got a bawdy tortoise house here!

      **100-Year-Old Tortoise Fathers 800 Offspring in Fight to Save Species
      I’d say he’s a lover, not a fighter….

      1. MikeNY

        I love halibut. I love how they look and I love how they taste.

        I meant “lowly” as in where they dwell in relation to other ocean creatures.

  10. Joseph Hill

    NYT, Will This Be a Four-Party Election?
    ” This year, we won’t know the impact of the Libertarian or Green parties until the day after the election. But for good or ill, we can safely predict that these quixotic candidates are not going away soon.”

    My head just blew up with the stoopid

  11. timbers

    Syraqistan

    “who is in charge in Washington? Is it the White House or the Pentagon?” – Russia’s U.N. delegate Churkin at U.N.

    Interesting comment for those convinced U.S. Presidents are not in control of the Deep State or Military Industrial Complex, just figure heads. Will Obama hear this and dent his often mentioned ego?

    And responding to U.S. excuse that it “accidentally” bombed Syrian troops while trying to fight ISIS:

    “why the United States suddenly wants to “help” the Syrian Army with airstrikes against ISIS after years of doing nothing.”

    P.S. IMO we will see a lot more “accidents” like this if Clinton wins.

    1. Steve H.

      iirc, it was Seymor Hersh who first brought the split to my attention, between the MIC and the CIA/FIRE/Whitehouse factions. That was several years ago. Looks like that seed has come to bloom.

      1. Jim Haygood

        That the CIA and JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command, part of Defense Dept) run separate drone assassination programs speaks for itself.

        Letting spooks “do their own thing” outside of Defense Dept control in conflict zones where US troops are deployed is obviously unsound and dangerous. Evidently the spooks have both the independent funding and the usurped authority to tell DoD, Congress and the “president” to eff off.

        Heard of that pretty boy JFK? It’d be a shame if something like that were to happen again.

    2. armchair

      Juan Cole went with the “massive intelligence failure,” line when he published. (I’m sure his views will evolve as more facts are discovered.) I think this is the best distillation of Cole’s position when he posted.

      Russia immediately took propaganda advantage of the error, suggesting archly that the United States must covertly be supporting Daesh. That’s pretty low. In fact, Russia had done very little against Daesh itself, while the US has expended a good deal of effort against it.

      The comments that follow are harsh. There is a lot of push-back against Prof. Cole. There are a lot of juicy angles in the comments. It is one of those strange, fascinating and awful moments in the imperial realm. It is impossible not to speculate right now, given that there was an open conflict between State and Defense that was all over the press before this attack. Also, there is an open conflict between Russia and the US over disclosing the ceasefire agreement.

      Its a guaranteed certainty that the American populace is completely under-informed about the realities of Syria. You know it’s a war when the BS starts piling up this fast.

      Perhaps the best thing is if the goddamn convoys can get into Aleppo. It will be so upsetting if it turns out that the US was the one to take a dump on the ceasefire. My strategy is to stupidly sit here and hope the US can get a motherf*@#%#$ passing grade for a change.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      And it will die surrounded by its tree-friends, comforted by them through their roots.

      “If you cut one tree, does it not bleed? Does it not hurt other trees in its network? No tree is an island.”

  12. efschumacher

    Re:Innovator-in-Chief

    He’s going to need the hyperloop to the San Andreas Axis if he is also going to be a helicopter parent over a DC private school for the next 2 years. After that, the daughters-in-chief can be packed off to Stanford and the family can be re-united.

    One suspects Stanford is much more acceptable than Berkeley, which has dangerously radical antecedents.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It used to be that Stanford was cleaner, more ‘aesthetically pleasing’ than Berkeley.

      That was decades ago. Not sure about now (have not been there for a while). I imagine money has conquered Telegraph avenue.

  13. Jane

    Taibbi in Stop Whining About ‘False Balance’ says America is now “a nation of idiots” because the elites in one group are bad mouthing the elites in another group and just like all the elites in any age or time, the source of all theirs, and hence the world’s, problems is, as always, the population at large. Poor elites, so difficult being little more than slaves to the masses.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    History professor at Yale doesn’t know her history.

    One word: specialization.

    It’s too often only 5 or 10 people in the entire world know much, or anything, about your specialization.

    If not, ‘you are not smart enough.’

    ‘Only 2 guys know what I am doing. Only 5 guys know the theory of this or that. That’s how hard or difficult it is, and I am the expert in that.’

    Thank you very much. No need to applaud.

  15. timbers

    Former Haitian President of Senate at Trump rally says Clinton’s stole money meant for Haiti. He’s angry in the video. Says only 2% of money meant for Haiti given to Clinton Foundation went to Haiti and his visa was revoked within a week after he declined Clinton’s innovations to join them in the grift. Worth watching the youtube link.

    You’d think some MSM reporters would be on this (kidding).

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-09-17/haitian-president-exposes-clinton-foundation-hillary-clinton-tried-bribe-me

      1. Skippy

        Mother Teresa – ????? – Hillary is going for sainthood – ????? – only way to fit through the needle after a life time of good works – ???? – IQMWLTK

  16. MtnLife

    Re: NYT ethnobotany/antibiotics article

    I’ve been a huge fan of ethnobotany ( and more recently ethnomycology) since finding my father’s copy of The Ethnobotany of Native Americans and since then I’ve been steadily persuing a more natural way of medicine. In addition to the Kratom I’ve previously posted about, I take the sweet wormwood mentioned in the article to treat Lyme (and my comorbid babesia) as well as a whole host of other supplements. I prefer whole plant/mushroom supplements to standardized extracts. They always seem to work better. My wife and I recently started a culinary and medicinal mushroom business (both wild harvesting and cultivating) in order to keep a decent supply of antibiotics and antivirals on hand.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Ancient wisdoms.

      Despise the brainwashing and propaganda, we’re not necessarily smarter than people before us.

      Ego, greed, combined with the partial knowledge of science (tomorrow’s explanation will be better, trust me) give us a false sense of omnipotence.

      Go forth and be all you can be…bungee jumping in the most exotic eco-resorts…etc.

      As we go deeper in the jungle, enjoying our inheritance of ancient wisdoms, will the day come when even they will not save us? Perhaps we should leave the jungle alone…for a while.

      1. Janie

        “Not necessarily smarter than people before us”. But way less knowledgeable or observant about the natural world and older ways of doing things. Example: we buy pasturized, non-homogenized milk in glass bottles. You would be astounded at the percent of those under 40 who have no idea that cream rises to the top.

    2. Stormcrow

      I tried an online search for “culinary and medicinal mushroom business,” but little came up. Please recommend something. Thank you.

      1. MtnLife

        Most mushroom growers (and/or harvesters) are very small operations and many don’t have a web presence (we don’t). In southern Vermont, there are at least 4 of us that I know of that operate outside the large commercial distribution networks. We survive because our products are that much fresher and higher quality than those large distributors and we have chefs who care about that. Your best bet for finding the best connection is to ask the chef at your favorite farm-to-table (or similar minded) restaurant where they get theirs. If you are looking more for a supplement – Aloha Medicinals is really good. They also have a culture bank and spawn if you want to grow your own. Field & Forest as well as Lambert Spawn are also good resources for growing your own.
        There are a lot of mushrooms that are both medicinal and culinary such as shiitakes, maitake (hen of the woods), oysters, olive oysterling, enoki, and lions mane whereas others are just medicinal like Chaga (some people enjoy Chaga tea so maybe that should be above), tinder conks, artist conks, umbrella polypore, reishi, cordyceps, and turkey tail. Everything in the first category is able to be cultivated now as well as reishi and cordyceps (mycelium only, the route to a fruiting body is creepy as hell if you ever care to look it up – think zombie caterpillars). Everything else in the second category is wild harvested.
        Not sure how much of your question I answered but hopefully I’m leaving you with more knowledge than you started with.

        1. clarky90

          Anybody interested in fungi should look for a local Fungal Network. This is what we have in NZ

          http://www.funnz.org.nz/

          About FUNNZ

          The Fungal Network of New Zealand (FUNNZ) is an independent non-profit incorporated mycological society open to anybody. FUNNZ organises an annual national fungal foray. The main objects of the Society are:

          To share knowledge about, and to publicise the fungi of New Zealand and their roles in all ecosystems

          To stimulate research on fungi

          To educate about fungi at primary to tertiary levels

          To provide a cohesive group of amateur and professional people who share common interests in fungi

          To assist in cataloging New Zealand’s fungi and to promote their conservation

          To organise at minimum an annual national fungal foray

          To attract funding for mycological research

          To promote such other activities that may advance the aims of this Society

          Annual National Fungal Forays

          FUNNZ organises an annual national fungal foray where we visit a different part of the country each year for about a week, normally this week is in autumn at the height of the mushroom season. During this week we foray in beech forests and other areas where fungi might be found

  17. optimader

    RE:Airpod
    A solution for under $10.00 w/a ~$150.00 cost avoidance
    Unless you feel compelled to be styl’in w/ an AirPod, in which case you deserve to be ripped off.

    (With my old iPhone 5, I have an adapter from the base plug that allows signal “line out” allowing it tobe used as a digital tuner/ music file server to a stereo preamp or reciever, as opposed to using the shitty headphone jack that uses the internal “volume” switch preamp that destroys the signal fidelity.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Lightning-to-3-5mm-Headphone-Jack-Adapter-Cable-For-Apple-iPhone-7-7-Plus-/172336198923?hash=item282009b50b:g:aXIAAOSwCGVX2VQZ

  18. Waldenpond

    Regarding yesterday’s explosions… I have been waiting for 2-3 years for the marketing to switch to ‘post (islamic/muslim) (extremism/terrorism). If any of the persons involved were other than muslim, this seems like the opportunity. Vast spying is in place, military reserves are armed, police militarized, drones in place.

    So what else needs to be in place so that the gwot can be applied domestically on a greater level?

    I have clearly been reading scifi with endgame strategies of negligent population reduction (actual action would have been required in the 70s, adapting by the 90s, cheapest route is to market it as unfortunate but acts of nature) and have noticed that current strategy isn’t just negligent but proactive in weakening the 90% so the contraction on behalf of the 10% can happen sooner.

  19. Jeremy Grimm

    The first comment to the Archdruid Retrotopia contained the following:

    “Also, on a military note…the Navy has scrapped its modularly outfitted littoral combat ship and the f-35 won’t be ready for combat until at least 2020. For all those counting at home…those two projects will cost over 1 trillion(with a t) over the next 10 years.”

  20. Vatch

    Obama is the first Innovator-in-Chief? Give me a break. What about James Madison, one of the primary authors of the Constitution? Or Thomas Jefferson, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence? Or Abraham Lincoln, who “innovated” the quaint notion of no slavery? Actually, John Adams and John Quincy Adams preceded him in this, but they couldn’t enforce their innovation. If we move beyond Presidents, the list of candidates for Innovator-in-Chief grows exponentially. Thomas Edison is just one example.

          1. polecat

            the above is in reference to the comment of “sometimes you have eat your peas” or some such … from our glorious presidential …… combined with the usual SciFy alien utterance to humans on first contact …..

  21. thump

    re: Secret Government documents must be released, judge says

    As I quickly read it, it seems like it will disclose only those applications for a pen trap which resulted in a court case, but it also be interesting to see those that did not result in a case. On the surface, there would seem to be even less justification for keeping those secret, at least those not part of an ongoing investigation.

  22. afisher

    I marvel at the news that America is divided. That isn’t news, it has been that way for a very long time. The idea that the election is “close” is also not news. Look at the results of all elections in the past 16 years.
    The GOP may win the House in a landslide because to redrawing voting districts – but the overall election difference has not been huge in a very long time.

    Posting that headline is a massive overreach from reality

  23. petal

    Town Plans Address NewVista’s Impact: “Strafford — With their individual town plans scheduled to come up for revision over the next few years, land-use officials in the four Vermont towns where a Utah developer envisions a settlement of thousands are considering changes that could protect their communities.

    The discussion comes into swing as David Hall, a multimillionaire who is buying up land in Royalton, Sharon, Strafford and Tunbridge, is scheduled to make his case next month before the Royalton Planning Commission.

    Since last fall, Hall has acquired at least 1,200 acres of a planned 5,000 in hopes of building an intentional “NewVista” community based on the writings of Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet who was born in Sharon.”

    1. Jim Haygood

      Sounds like a North American version of zionism — “a land without people for a people without land.”

      They’ll make those desolate deserts forests bloom.

  24. optimader

    I’ll just put this here for fun…

    “…The people of England have been led in Mesopotamia into a trap from which it will be hard to escape with dignity and honor. They have been tricked into it by a steady withholding of information. The Baghdad communiques are belated, insincere, incomplete. Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We are today not far from a disaster. How long will we permit millions of pounds, thousands of Imperial troops, and tens of thousands of Arabs to be sacrificed on behalf of colonial administration which can benefit nobody but its administrators?”
    ~ August 22, 1920, written by former Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence (AKA Lawrence of Arabia)

    Byron’s “History, with all her volumes vast, Hath but one page” should be watermarked on all governmental stationary

  25. diptherio

    The words of John Trudell, who walked on late last year, ring out in this video by filmmakers Heather Rae, Cody Lucich and Ben Dupris, who recently spent time with the water protectors near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation who are trying to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline’s proposed route under the Missouri River. His words, delivered in the 1980 speech We Are Power, are even more prophetic in the wake of the destruction of sacred burial grounds and the use of dogs and pepper spray against those who tried to stop it.

    “The brutality of the American corporate state way of life is nothing more than violence and repression, and it has nothing to do with power,” Trudell’s voice says. “It is brutality. It’s a lack of a sane balance.”

    Rae, who produced and directed the 2005 Sundance Film Festival documentary selection Trudell, teamed up with Lucich and Dupris and posted this on the Sundance Institute’s website. They graciously shared this, their footage of the movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline, with Indian Country Today Media Network.

    Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/09/16/we-are-power-native-filmmakers-invoke-john-trudells-words-stirring-dapl-video-165807

    And here’s the video. Bookmark it. Listen to it when you need some inspiration.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Phre0bArD0M

  26. diptherio

    Chase Iron Eyes on the current situation at Standing Rock:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ad-zdNNCnU

    The Feds have turned the camp into a police state. Everybody going in is subjected to facial recognition scanning and photographing of license plates. Leaving the protest, you have to prove that you live between the Res and Bismark. WTF? By what possible right?

  27. Skippy

    Crisis looms as Australians look to ditch private health insurance

    Almost 70 per cent of Australians with private health insurance have considered ditching or downgrading their cover in the last year in the face of relentless price rises and diminishing value for money, polling has found.

    Close to 80 per cent of people believe health insurance companies put profits before patients and more than 90 per cent are concerned they’re trying to “Americanise” the health system to boost their bottom line.

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/crisis-looms-as-australians-look-to-ditch-private-health-insurance-20160916-grichb.html

    Disheveled Marsupial… value for money… meets bottleneck extraction point for critical services [a neoliberal highlight]….

  28. ekstase

    I’m just throwing this out there, but can we conclude that this tortoise might have been faking his own death, à la the article we read about the other day: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/so-you-think-can-fake-your-own-death-elizabeth-greenwood?”:
    “While most of Diego’s history remains a mystery, scientists do know he was discovered at the San Diego Zoo in the 1950s. After being located at the zoo, Diego was brought back to the Galapagos in 1976 and put in the captive breeding program, ”

    I mean, this is just a sad story. He shows up living at the San Diego zoo in the ’50’s? And everything before that is just a blur.

  29. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

    Ms. Arundhati Roy like so many takes a false premise as her starting point: that we have anything like “free market capitalism”. Would that we did, Citi would have been declared insolvent in 2008 and wound up, and customers would have gone to other banks, helping their bottom lines. We would have market-based discovery of the price of money and my guess is your bank CDs would be paying a few percentage points as a result, just a couple hundred billion in income for savers who are starved for it today. We’d save a few hundred billion in tax subsidies for oil and gas and could get on with renewables. The list is pretty endless but Roy stating that free market capitalism even exists is kind of like Keynes dreaming up the concept of “aggregate demand” as though an economy is just one big bathtub.

  30. ekstase

    “Burrowing owls live in open habitats with sparse vegetation such as prairie, pastures, desert, and shrubsteppe … or airports.”

    Attention! Security!

  31. ewmayer

    o 100-Year-Old Tortoise Fathers 800 Offspring in Fight to Save Species EcoWatch — First thing that flashed into mind on reading the headline was “I guess I’m not so old after all” scene in The Outlaw Josey Wales. Chief Dan George was so great in that film, a real scene-stealer, that guy was.

    Back to the tortoise theme – it seems the most reliable way to sex (not sext :) a turtle is to look for concavity of the bottom “chest protector” shell segment. Female turtles are flat-chested, and males have concave shells there as an aid to mating – think “proximity of the naughty bits”.

  32. Keith

    “Bruce Franks Jr. Beats Penny Hubbard in Special Election Landslide RiverFront Times.”

    I live in this Missouri state legislative district and voted for Franks in both the original election and the re-vote. The Hubbard family are longtime voter fraud and political chicanery perpetrators who have been making me sick to my stomach for the last eight or so years. Before this election, nothing had been done about their obvious frauds. I have no idea what broke the log-jam. They did this exact same thing in an aldermanic election four years ago for the daughter, Tammika in St Louis City’s 5th ward. The absentee ballot counts in that election were just as obviously fraudulent as in this one. However, no one in the local press, or in local politics, did or said anything about it other than report the vote tallies.

    Take a look at the St Louis City 5th ward map. They somehow managed to get the ward boundaries gerrymandered in their favor in 2011. They’re horribly corrupt and are tied in with a large real-estate development project that essentially covers the entire 5th ward of the City of St Louis.

    Penny’s son, Rodney Hubbard, Jr. was the state senator who co-sponsored legislation in 2008 that gave that developer, Paul McKee, Jr., a $98 million tax credit for this development. That legislation required him to do nothing more that acquire property and incur expenses in a certain qualifying area (coincidentally exactly fitting the description of the development area he was already buying property in) to get the tax credit. Missouri has something called saleable tax credits which means that if the recipient doesn’t have a state tax liability he/she sell such credits for cash to someone who does. The usual buyers are banks and high net-worth individuals. The going rate for those is about 90-95 cents on the dollar. That turns any project the state subsidizes in this manner into an instant 5-10% return for a corporation or person who has enough income to have large state tax liabilities.

    Regarding the sudden surge in anti-fraud efforts, I have no idea what the machinations are behind the scenes, but what I do know is that the lawyer working on Franks’ behalf is a longtime Libertarian activist whose legal fees are being paid by an anonymous benefactor. Also, a former mayor from the 80’s (Democratic) has been regularly out pressing the flesh and politicking in this part of the city. The current mayor announced he was running for a fifth term about four months ago and then a month later suddenly announced he wasn’t. The rumor is that someone has evidence of a mistress and used that to torpedo his run for re-election before it began. The current mayor was a big supporter of the developer the Hubbards had partnered with.

    My take is that someone very powerful decided to pull a knot of corruption apart and enlisted a lot of people to help. I don’t know why, but I’m betting it’s not for the strict benefit of the public. Just make sure that when you read about this story, you keep that in mind. Nothing got done until some wealthy individual got involved and pushed to put these people behind the 8-ball. The story of Franks’ victory isn’t just about Sanders supporters rallying to beat corrupt incumbent Dems.

  33. allan

    This morning Krugman devotes an entire column about the perils of voting third-party, and then includes

    But don’t vote for a minor-party candidate to make a statement. Nobody cares.

    Self-awareness is not strong among the Clinton surrogates.

    Also too, rips the Libertarian platform in detail but says nothing about the Green platform. Strange.

    Dumped late at the bottom of yesterday’s links, where it belongs.

Comments are closed.