2:00PM Water Cooler 2/10/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

UK Labour votes for CETA (86-68) [Hansards].

“Despite high-profile jabs over shifting jobs to Mexico, many U.S. companies appear to be moving ahead with plans to move operations across the border. The word is trickling out in conference calls and interviews that include companies such as Rexnord Corp., Caterpillar Inc. and steelmaker Nucor Corp. that have been enmeshed in debates prompted by President Donald Trump’s barbs at manufacturers and talk in Washington about an import tax” [Wall Street Journal].

Politics

Trump Transition

“H-1B visas do mainly go to Indian outsourcing firms” [The Economist]. ” Indian outsourcing firms like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), which provides low-cost back-office services, are now the biggest employers of H-1B workers. Analysing data compiled by Théo Négri of jobsintech.io, The Economist found that between 2012 and 2015 the three biggest Indian outsourcing firms—TCS, Wipro and Infosys—submitted over 150,000 visa applications for positions that paid a median salary of $69,500. In contrast, America’s five biggest tech firms—Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft—submitted just 31,000 applications, and proposed to pay their workers a median salary of $117,000.”

“Price confirmed as HHS Secretary” [Modern Healthcare]. “Following the pattern of strictly party-line votes on two previous nominees — Attorney General-designate Sen. Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos for Education secretary — the former congressman from Georgia was approved early Friday on a 52-47 vote.”

UPDATE “Authorization of Use of Force Against Iran Resolution, H.J. Res. 10, was introduced by Representative Alcee Hastings on January 3, just over two weeks before Trump’s inauguration. The open-ended bill would permit Trump ‘to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines necessary and appropriate in order to achieve the goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons'” [Alternet]. Black Agenda Report grades Hastings as a “Shameful and Defective” member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

2016 Post Mortem

“The (dis)information mercenaries now controlling Trump’s databases” [Paul-Olivier Dehaye, Medium]. On psychographic vs. demographic profiling (see also here by the same author). Interesting if true.

“More Americans joining socialist groups under Trump” [Al Jazeera]. “Just days after Trump’s electoral victory, nearly every mainstream US media outlet ran segments and feature stories about a conference by the National Policy Institute, in which around 100 people celebrated Trump’s win. During that conference, infamous white supremacist Richard Spencer led chants of “Hail Trump!” as the audience rose to its feet, making Nazi-like salutes. That same night, around 450 people crowded into a small hall in Brooklyn to attend a talk about labour struggles hosted by Jacobin.” Gee, that’s odd.

Agenda of Democrat caucus Baltimore retreat [Document Cloud].

Realignment and Legitimacy

Must-watch, all the way to the end:

Tennesseean voter fights their way through to Medicaid for All. But never change, Democrats. Economics don’t have anything to do with anything. And make sure you keep calling voters stupid.

“Americans Now Evenly Divided on Impeaching Trump” [Public Policy Polling]. From a Democratic shop.

“Trump lost the na­tion­al pop­u­lar vote by 2 per­cent­age points, 48 to 46 per­cent. Polling last week sug­gests there has been a little de­teri­or­a­tion for him, but not that much” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “[A]t least as far as the Amer­ic­an people are con­cerned, very little has changed since the weeks lead­ing in­to the elec­tion. Those who liked him then still do, and those who didn’t still don’t.”

“[Trump’s] all-base-all-the-time strategy has the potential to drive non-traditional mid-term voters (read: Democratic leaning) to hit the polls in 2018. The greatest motivator when it comes to voting isn’t love, but hate. Trump had that on his side in 2016. Will Democrats have it in 2018? The early data suggests that the opposition is more motivated than those supportive of Trump. The most recent polls from CNN and Quinnipiac found 33 percent of all adults ‘strongly’ approve of the job Trump is doing as president. Yet, a larger 45 percent ‘strongly’ disapprove of the job he’s doing. That strong approve/disapprove number is one I will be watching as we get closer to 2018” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report].

“Anti-Trump crowds rule at Republicans’ town halls” [MarketWatch]. “Five-term Rep. Jason Chaffetz won his most recent race by nearly 50 points, but returned to his home district to find himself confronted by a sign-waving, heckling and booing chorus.”

“Pelosi denies Democrats are divided on strategy for 2018” [Yahoo News]. “Asked by a reporter why some of her progressive colleagues had reportedly walked out of a meeting hosted by the centrist think tank Third Way at the retreat Wednesday, Pelosi answered, ‘I didn’t notice that.’ … “President Trump is a better recruitment tool for us than a central campaign issue,’ said Washington Rep. Denny Heck, who is leading recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).” Well, that certainly worked for Clinton.

UPDATE “‘Indivisible’ Guide Teaches Progressives How to Play Defense Against Trump” [Truthdig]. “[A] group of progressives—including former Democratic congressional staff members and those who have worked on Capitol Hill—created ‘Indivisible,’ a guide to effective resistance that has been downloaded by more than half a million people in one month.” A careful look at the Indivisible Guide’s About page) discloses no mention of the Democrat Party at all; it’s presented as a volunteer organization. (It’s almost like the Democrat brand is so poisoned it’s a bad idea to mention it, rather like the Clinton branding implicitly disavowed by organizers of the Women’s March.) Now, if we assume that Democrats would like to harness the energy of activitists for institutional reasons, that doesn’t mean they’ll succeed at it! And it’s a form of synecdoche to treat leaders or organizers as proxies for movements, which have their own life. But be aware!

Interesting tweetstorm:

UPDATE “Women Worldwide Will Strike Against Trump on March 8” [Truthdig]. But that headline seriously misrepresents the call by the organizers: “As a first step, we propose to help build an international strike against male violence and in defense of reproductive rights on 8 March. In this, we join with feminist groups from around 30 countries who have called for such a strike. … In embracing a feminism for the 99%, we take inspiration from the Argentinian coalition Ni Una Menos. Violence against women, as they define it, has many facets: it is domestic violence, but also the violence of the market, of debt, of capitalist property relations, and of the state; the violence of discriminatory policies against lesbian, trans and queer women; the violence of state criminalization of migratory movements; the violence of mass incarceration; and the institutional violence against women’s bodies through abortion bans and lack of access to free healthcare and free abortion” [Guardian]. However, the “10 actions” (including the huddles) listed on the Women’s March page say nothing of the strike. Here is their tweet, which is pinned:

So the strike on March 8 called for by the Women’s March organizers (Angela Davis among them) isn’t the same as a strike to be called by the Women’s March, as an institution? Readers?

Sorry I didn’t get to this; the announcement came on my travel day, and then the news flow buried it…

Stats Watch

Import and Export Prices, January 2017: “Overall year-on-year rates are improving but cross-border inflation is fundamentally flat right now. Yet recent weakness in the dollar, which makes foreign products more expensive, will work together with oil to support gains for import prices in the months ahead” [Econoday].

Consumer Sentiment, February 2017 (preliminary): “easing back but still remains very strong” [Econoday]. “February’s easing is centered in expectations where the index fell nearly 5 points to 85.7. This is still sizably higher than the high 70s and low 80s trend going into the election. The good news in the report is stability in current conditions which came in nearly unchanged at 111.2 in a positive signal for February consumer spending.” And: “The Michigan average since its inception is 85.5. During non-recessionary years the average is 87.7. The average during the five recessions is 69.3. So the latest sentiment number puts us 26.4 points above the average recession mindset and 8.0 points below the non-recession average” [Econintersect]. And: “In February, roughly six in 10 consumers polled made either positive or negative references to some government action by the new Trump administration, an unusually high level. About the half the responses were favorable and half were unfavorable” [MarketWatch]. “Expectations for the next six months among Democrats were near a historic low while expectations among Republicans was near a record high.”

Commodities: “In New York on Monday copper for delivery in March declined 1% at $2.6410 per pound or $5,822 a tonne despite news of strikes at three mines responsible for some 10% of total global output” [Mining.com].

Retail: “Whole Foods Market Inc. will close nine stores and scale back on expansion plans in what it says is a fast-changing food-retail market” [Wall Street Journal].

Rail: “If coal and grain are removed from the analysis, rail over the last 6 months been declining around 5% – but this week shows -0.1 % (meaning that the predicitive economic elements did not grow year-over-year). The rolling averages improved – but that was due to coal and grain” [Econintersect]. “The overall improving trend continues.”

Shipping: “Driven by booming e-commerce sales volumes, developers are building an increasing number of mega-warehouses spanning 1 million square feet and above, with the Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania area leading the way” [DC Velocity]. “After Philadelphia and eastern Pennsylvania, most big-box construction between 2010 and 2016 occurred in California’s Inland Empire, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, Chicago, Memphis, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Phoenix…. E-commerce users typically need two to three times the amount of warehouse and distribution space that traditional users do, because online fulfillment requires more inventory, labor, and automation, according to the study, ‘Thanks a million, mega industrial warehouses!'”

Shipping: “The U.S. Postal Service warned today that the multi-year growth of its shipping and package operations could be jeopardized if the three customers responsible for most of the business [Amazon, FedEx, UPS] continue to expand their shipping capabilities and divert business from USPS” [DC Velocity]. “The three are big users of a USPS service known as ‘Parcel Select,’ where companies induct packages deep into the postal system for last-mile deliveries to residences.”

Shipping: “One in 50 of the transits through the expanded Panama Canal between June and January have resulted in damage to either ships or the waterway” [Splash 247].

Shipping: Re, automating shipping deals: “[H]ow much of the dry cargo market could be described as having ‘vanilla’ type [i.e., automatable] trades?” [Splash 247]. “The simple answer to this is that the larger the vessel the more it deals in ‘vanilla’ type trades. In dry this covers the vast majority of the capesize market and a fair proportion of the panamax market.” And one consequence of industry consolidation has been larger vessels….

The Bezzle: “Online retail giant Amazon will start collecting sales tax from Oklahoma customers in March – a move that will send tens of millions of dollars to state and local governments” [Oklahoma Watch]. “[Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum] also emphasized that ‘this is not a new tax, but rather means Amazon will collect what Oklahoma customers should have been paying as a use tax every year but too often were not.'” Primitive accumulation by Jeff Bezos.

Co-ops: “How Worker Co-Ops Are Creating Economic Stability In Uncertain Times” [Fast Coexist (DB)]. “[A] handful of city governments are developing policies to directly support the development of worker-owned cooperatives. Though programs in some cities are still in the implementation phase, the three cities whose government-sponsored programs have been underway for a while—Cleveland; New York; Richmond, California—added a total of 25 new co-ops employing 261 people since 2009.” Not big numbers, but the co-op idea should scale, no?

Co-ops: “Two hundred and fifteen cooperatives and two guild unions were registered during the Iranian month ending January 19” [Financial Tribune (DB)]. “These newly-founded cooperatives, most of which are active in the fields of agriculture and industries, have over 4,400 members and created jobs for more than 3,200 people, Mehr News Agency reported.”

The Bezzle: “At any given moment, millions of people around the globe are using Twitter to share news and opinions, gossip and jokes. At least some are also debating Twitter’s fate. It’s the social media giant that nobody wants to buy and the favored communication tool of U.S. President Donald Trump. How can a company be such a success and failure at the same time?” [Bloomberg]. In many ways, and very much not like FaceBook, Twitter feels like a commons. Hard to make a profit that way. Too bad Twitter can’t be sold to a co-op for a dollar.

Political Risk: “The president’s unprecedented communication style [i.e., tweeting] has introduced a new dynamic to markets and affected the implied credit risk for individual companies, for better or worse, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence” [MarketWatch].

Fodder for the Bulls: “Long ago, I learned that lumber futures were not for trading but for watching. Wood is a critical commodity when it comes to the real estate market when it comes to new home construction. Lumber is also an important raw material for infrastructure building around the world. Over past decades, China has been a massive consumer of lumber as the nation was consistently building. However, the recent election in the United States has lit a fuse under the price of lumber and the price has been rising sharply over recent trading sessions” [Seeking Alpha]. “The recent move in lumber is telling us that we should be bullish on the U.S. economy as well as commodity prices. Do not attempt to trade lumber but watch that wood market like a hawk for clues. Lumber could be setting the stage for a move to all-time highs as all of the demand components seem to be falling in line.” I like stuff, but I dunno about technical analysis, which this guy does when he’s not talking his book. Readers?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 65 Greed (previous close: 66, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Feb 10 at 11:39am. I got nuthin.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“DHS mulls password collection at borders” [FCW]. “‘We want to say, for instance, which websites do you visit, and give us your passwords, so we can see what they do on the internet,’ [John Kelly, the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security] said at a Feb. 7 House Homeland Security hearing, his first congressional hearing since his Senate confirmation. ‘If they don’t want to give us that information, they don’t come in.'” Well, that’s demented.

“Cellphone Spy Tools Have Flooded Local Police Departments” [City Lab].

Dear Old Blighty

“Fears of ‘two-tier NHS’ as GPs allow fee-paying patients to jump the queue” [Guardian]. “Dr Tim Alder, the main GP behind the scheme, defended the setting-up of the service and warned that NHS general practice was on “the brink of collapse” and heading for privatisation because it was underfunded, facing a serious staff shortage and unable to cope with demand.” Classic neoliberal strategy at work. Watching the Tories slowly saw through the NHS’s windpipe, with Labour seemingly unable to prevent it, is extremely disquieting.

Gaia

“How New York City Gets Its Electricity” [New York Times].

“Whale communication remains one of the planet’s most spectacular mysteries. Almost all whale species use a collection of low-frequency moans, grunts, and knocks or higher-frequency cries and whistles to navigate, find food, and chat with each other across hundreds of miles of ocean” [Quartz].

“Arctic 2.0: What Happens after All the Ice Goes?” [Scientific American]. “Unlike land-based ice sheets, which wax and wane over millennia and lag behind climate changes by similar spans, sea ice will regrow as soon as summer temperatures get cold enough. But identifying the exact threshold at which sea ice will return is tricky….”

Class Warfare

“Trust is in crisis globally, with 19 of the 28 countries we poll annually now distrusting states. Trust in the four institutions of business, government, media and NGOs have all declined this year with media witnessing the biggest falls” [Edelman]. “Equally concerning is a six-point increase in the ‘trust gap’ (from 9 percent to 15 percent) from 2012 and 2017 between the informed public (top 13 percent of global population) and the mass population (remaining 87 percent). That gap is now widely credited as a leading cause of the rise of populism in a number of countries — accepted wisdom now, but not so much last year when we published these figures.” Edelman is, ironically enough, a global marketing communications firm.

“I’d driven 107 miles from my home in Bangor, Maine to the BPL Plasma Center in Lewiston to collect $50 for having my arm punctured and a liter of my plasma sucked out. The actual donation takes about 35 minutes, but the drive and its attendant wait makes for an eight-hour day. I clocked in for that trip five times this summer” [Long Reads]. “I’m a professor at the University of Maine. My salary is $52,000, and I am a year away from tenure. But like everyone else in that room, I was desperate for money.”

“That is, our situation is much like that of colonized peoples: we can vote for our rulers, but cannot control them; our voices, at times, can be expressed, but can almost always be dismissed or over-ruled; our tax revenues mainly fund military interventions and corporate interests, leaving us to battle with each other over tiny trickle-downs. We are, in effect, walking in the dreams and demands of our captors, doomed to sit like docile passengers, who can only watch as the USA train goes wherever the MIC takes it. Despite the incessant rhetoric of “freedom”, we as a people are unwilling and indeed, unknowing, captives” [Grassroots Economic Organizing].

“Time for Tesla to Listen” [Medium]. Sounds like another Silicon Valley hellhole for workers:

Most of my 5,000-plus coworkers work well over 40 hours a week, including excessive mandatory overtime. The hard, manual labor we put in to make Tesla successful is done at great risk to our bodies.

Preventable injuries happen often. In addition to long working hours, machinery is often not ergonomically compatible with our bodies. There is too much twisting and turning and extra physical movement to do jobs that could be simplified if workers’ input were welcomed. Add a shortage of manpower and a constant push to work faster to meet production goals, and injuries are bound to happen.

A few months ago, six out of eight people in my work team were out on medical leave at the same time due to various work-related injuries. I hear that ergonomics concerns in other departments are even more severe. Worst of all, I hear coworkers quietly say that they are hurting but they are too afraid to report it for fear of being labeled as a complainer or bad worker by management.

“The UAW apparently has not assigned an organizing team to the [Tesla] plant, according to Automotive News, which called the international union and was referred to year-old remarks from UAW president Dennis Williams. In remarks made in May of last year, Williams said the union was “very interested in Tesla,” but that the union is not approaching the company in an ‘adversarial way'” [24 Wall Street]. “The union has delayed organizing Tesla’s workers because the company was a startup, according to Williams.” What next? No organizing because a company is “innovative”? “Disruptive”?

“The United Automobile Workers on Friday rejected Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk’s claims it had planted an agitator at the company’s only auto plant and confirmed that Tesla employees have reached out to form a union” [MarketWatch].

UPDATE “With nod to Trump, AT&T union votes to strike” [Dallas News]. “It seems someone should be pointing out that [AT&T] are selling service in the U.S. and shifting work to places like India,” [Commmunications Workers of America Candice] Johnson said. “President Trump made a lot of promises on the campaign trail, and we are going to hold him to it.”

“The main reason for the gender gaps at work — why women are paid less, why they’re less likely to reach the top levels of companies, and why they’re more likely to stop working after having children — is employers’ expectation that people spend long hours at their desks, research has shown. It’s especially difficult for women because they have disproportionate responsibility for caregiving” [New York Times]. “Flexibility regarding the time and place that work gets done would go a long way toward closing the gaps, economists say.”

News of the Wired

“Long-awaited mathematics proof could help scan Earth’s innards” [Nature]. “Mathematicians say that they have solved a major, decades-old problem in geometry: how to reconstruct the inner structure of a mystery object ‘X’ from knowing only how fast waves travel between any two points on its boundary. The work has implications in real-world situations, such as for geophysicists who use seismic waves to analyse the structure of Earth’s interior.”

* * *

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

Macbridea alba, Sumatra, FL.

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.

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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.

131 comments

    1. WJ

      So here’s a serious question to which I have no good answer. Right now, we have at least three groups claiming to carry the banner of Sanders’ policy positions: (1) Justice Democrats; (2) Democratic Socialists; (3) People’s Party.

      It strikes me (perhaps wrongly), that the best chance for achieving real power still involves trying to overcome the Democratic Party from the inside–hence in my view the Democratic Socialists and the People’s Party should basically unite with the Justice Democrat movement.

      But I am aware that others might think differently, and might be correct in doing so. So what do others think?

      1. UserFriendly

        If the democrats continue to show that they want to be the party of suburbia and the 1% while bailing on the poor, which they have given every indication they intend on doing, don’t you think he might be persuaded to jump ship? If he does I bet he brings 13 million or so voters along with him. That is more than enough to cripple the dems, and they will no longer be able to fake caring about poor people. They would go the way of the wigs within a cycle. There is a reason he keeps the I-VT.

        1. nippersmom

          Agreed. The Democratic Party leadership has proven that its primary “resistance” is to reform of any kind. The Pelosis have made it clear they intend to continue on the same path. Any members of the left still clinging to the rotting corpse of the Democratic Party need to break away now and start establishing a foothold on the local and state level before the next election cycle.

          1. WJ

            Ok. So hard would it be to run a successful primary against somebody like Pelosi or Schumer? Impossible? Possible but barely so? Quite possible?

            I am thinking that taking over three or four key senate seats would in fact position the Justice Democrats as equal or near equal in power as the Dem establishment. I mean, taking down Pelosi would have a much more significant effect than the single seat she represents.

            The advantage to this approach is that you wouldn’t have to build up an entirely new infrastructure across all fifty states, fight for debate inclusion and ballot representation, etc. There are definite downsides of course.

              1. cwaltz

                Based on past results I would say that it’s pretty hard to run a successful primary against establishment Democrats since at present time they control the purse strings.

                Zephyr Teachout was an activist favorite and she lost her primary because establishment Democrats chose not to fund her.

                So even if you manage to get someone other than Pelosi you still risk losing because the DNC establishment would pushback by not funding your primary winner.

                1. different clue

                  But #NotMyResistance Berniecrats have shown they can reverse-pushback against the pushback by holding a rolling Bernie-style small donor fundathon. They did it for Sanders. They could do it for Teachout if she wants to challenge the Catfood Clintonites a second time.

                  1. aab

                    They tried to. But the establishment Ds actually then help the Republican, as they did in Florida.

                    However, if only a corporate D is available in 2018 against the R, vote for the R. Just don’t vote for any corporate Democrat. They’re not getting power back in the federal level in 2018 anyway, so we might as well take out as many of them as possible, to make things clearer for 2020.

                    1. different clue

                      Well, support the Teachouts with Bernie-style fundathons and force the Establishment Dems to help the Republicans in open view, over and over and over again.
                      Each time the EstabliDems help the Repub against yet another Teachout figure, the level of counter-EstabliDem hatred will grow and grow and grow. It might grow enough to lead all the serial-Teachout backers to organize a movement or party based on exterminating the EstabliDem presence in jurisdiction after jurisdiction after jurisdiction.

                      There really should be room made for weaponised and disseminatable hatred in the “political decontamination” movement.

          2. PH

            I think you are correct about Dem leaders, but mistaken about prospects for ousting some Dems and putting fear of God into the rest.

            Dem leaders mainly have control by having reputation of having control. In fact, they do not control much except money. Some hogging of traditional press.

            But Bernie showed what can be done with a lot of small donations. And social media is another way to get a message out.

            Laws for collecting signatures to get on primary ballot are not that daunting .

            The real hurdle is finding good and willing candidates.

            Then organize around them.

            This will be viewed as traditional and legitimate approach. Not much asked of voter except to vote for primary challenger.

            Third party organizing will face stiff cultural headwinds. Too weird for many voters. You may be able to fracture Dems and cement 20 years of Repub rule, but I doubt you can achieve much else by the third party route.

            1. Katharine

              The real hurdle is finding good and willing candidates.

              Brand New Congress seems to be working on that. I’m not so sure they can fulfill their mission in one cycle, which was the original premise, but even making strong inroads could do a lot of good.

              1. homeroid

                Katherine. I supported the greens for years. I don’t feel bad about that but years of nothing has led me to suggesting perhaps we could have a Real party.
                Real party could be started and funded by the grass roots. They would then all be Realists.And Realists don’t need much more than really really honest folks. I know that is in short supply. Realists it just rolls off my tongue.

          3. Darius

            State laws make third parties have to spend most of their time gathering signatures. If that appeals to you or strikes you as an effective organizing strategy knock yourself out. For now, storming the Democrats or undermining their corrupt joke of a leadership is by far the most practical strategy.

            1. witters

              You sure? Its been 40 years of neoliberalism and ‘third waying’ and ‘radical centering’. There is nothing left there that isn’t neoliberal. I say your ‘practical’ is defeatist impracticality.

            2. cwaltz

              And party laws(that allow the party to be private while raking in bucks from the public) allow corrupt party leadership to ignore good candidates in favor of ones that will rake in the cashola for the DNC. They even told you last cycle they’ve set up the system to ignore you.

              How IS that practical strategy going by the way? I predict, at this rate, you should be able to wrest control from the DNC establishment right around the time they’ve lost everything from Congress to the WH and governorships.

        2. LT

          The 13 million or so need to jump ship from the Democratic Party and invite Sanders to join them.
          It won’t be happening the other way around.
          In the minds of the DNC, that’s 13 million or so voters being held at bay.

      2. David Carl Grimes

        What are the differences between the Justice Democrats, Democratic Socialists, and the People’s Party. Which one is Sanders affiliated with?

        1. WJ

          The first is a movement within the existing Democratic Party (cf Young Turks, etc). The second is an existent but powerless third party; the third is I think a new party, but I could be wrong about that…

          1. nick

            Want to correct this description about the Democratic Socialists. DSA is not a political party, and the bulk of its work (that I’ve seen and been involved in) has been education and activism toward specific policies at local/state level such as ICE cooperation, mandated sick leave, and universal healthcare. Very little about electoral work – and though it’s early yet, most of the ideas I’ve heard there have centered around Dem primaries.

      3. different clue

        I think that all the people involved should join whichever group they personally believe has the best approach. After all, people work best and hardest at the thing they believe in the most.

        Let the three different approach-defined grouploads of people each pursue their own chosen pathways to Decromatic Party conquest and correction or defeat and removal. Let the three groups compare notes from time to time to see which approach is working how.

        The Big Parties may well be like the dinosaurs in mid-extinction. All the Justice Democrats and Democratic Socialists and Peoples’ Partiers could think of themselves as little rat-like mammal-things, all competing to inherit the earth. Let them compete. Let Darwin sort them out.

  1. fresno dan

    “The (dis)information mercenaries now controlling Trump’s databases” [Paul-Olivier Dehaye, Medium]. On psychographic vs. demographic profiling (see also here by the same author). Interesting if true.

    http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/amendI_speechs29.html
    Thomas Jefferson: …..”I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors.” ….

    =============================================================
    As best as I can determine, the site that gave me the letter the quote taken from Jeffersnon above is true. If one reads the entire letter, I think Jefferson is correct that papers tell us about Bonaparte, etc. just as today there is a “war” in Syria, but other than those broad facts, one has to be extremely skeptical as to motivation and agendas…..
    So….is the voter who never heard about Putin hacking the election more or less informed that those who did??? Is it an ALLEGATION of hacking, or is it an ASSERTION of hacking???

    are we suppose to be in BOLD?

  2. Altandmain

    You know what the sad part about this whole mess is?

    Trump is actually trying to keep some of his promises, whether you like him or hate him. I don’t like the man at all and think that he will not be a success to his base.

    – That wall? There plans in place to build it.
    – Muslim Ban? Appears in action.
    – There is some evidence that he will indeed spend more effort to reshore manufacturing
    – Some indication that he might invest in US infrastructure

    That’s a hell of a lot more than Hillary Clinton could ever say. If she had won, we’d see neoliberals and neoconservatives in office, along with rationalizations as to how the TPP now meets her standard.

    Where Trump does stick a knife in the back of his base is people like Steve Munchin. Many of those regulations will be very bad for his base. Some of the proposals to Obamacare could be too.

    I suspect that Trump has too big an ego to simply rubber stamp what Paul Ryan or the Mitch McConnell gives him. With any luck, there will be a civil war.

    This has pretty big implications. “Those who liked him then still do, and those who didn’t still don’t.” The thing is, those who like him might still like him in 2020. The far right base will probably like him.

    That’s especially true if there’s even a modest re-shoring of manufacturing jobs. The truth is, most people don’t care that much about politics. But they sure as hell care about having good jobs and bringing healthcare under control. The left has to be very careful not to alienate Trump’s working class base for that reason.

    This article captures it beautifully:
    https://consortiumnews.com/2017/01/21/selectivity-in-trashing-trump/

    The real battle will not be fought over identity politics or social issues. It will be fought on whether or not people have hope for the future and over the economic issues. Like it or not, we need manufacturing jobs here in North America. We need investment in infrastructure. We need increases in R&D spending. We need good quality public services. If Trump doesn’t deliver, or worse, works with the plutocrats to sabotage the people, that’s where he will be very weak. He sold himself on his business acumen to solve the US’ problems.

    1. RUKidding

      I agree with all you say. I’m not a Trump fan, but I confess to being somewhat impressed with how quickly out of the gate he is making efforts to keep many of his big campaign promises. Surely some, like the Muslim ban, may fall through, but at least he tried. Note: I don’t agree with the Muslim bad at all, but I know that Trump promised he’d do something like this. And he’s tried to do it. Ditto with the Wall, which I think is a very bad idea (as do most people/businesses/farms along the border, itself) and shouldn’t happen. But Trump’s pushing for it.

      Compare that to Obama, who, imo, frankly didn’t even try to do something like 98% of what he promised during his campaign. Didn’t even try. In fact, if anything, he did a 180 degree turn and went full-bore Republican and used the excuse that he needed to “make nice” to get anything done. And we all witnessed how “making nice” turned out for us hapless proles.

      I’m on the fence as to whether Trump will be successful enough – in his constituents eyes – in order to win in 2020. Jury’s out; stay tuned.

      IF Trump is successful at some of his campaign promises – esp in terms of keeping/bringing back jobs, cutting down on H1b visas (which should result in more jobs for US citizens), improving infrastructure, for example – then he stands a good chance of winning in 2020. Albeit I shudder at some of the not great things that’ll probably happen during is Admin.

      time will tell

      Please close the bolding!

      1. dcblogger

        Trump pretended to support Social Security and Medicare, his cabinet selections indicate that he plans to destroy both. Also he has made a regulatory change that enables a hedge fund to drain your 401k. So no, not keeping his promises.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          He’s not going to destroy SS or Medicare. His cabinet members will “serve at the pleasure of the prez”, or hit the road. Too big a deal is made about his cabinet selections, IMHO. He’s the prez, and he became famous by uttering the immortal words: “You’re fired.” And he’s not a lazy prez. From all reports he works long hours, and he keeps track of what’s going on. The cabinet will be an extension of his will, IMHO. He won’t let the SecState run away with foreign policy, for example, like Obama apparently did.

          If he destroys SS or Medicare, he will lose in 2020.

        2. jrs

          I’m not sure either of those were really central to his campaign and his platform the way the wall was or the threat of Muslim immigrants. They were more peripheral issues, though they are important to many people. I don’t think many people voted for Trump in order to preserve Social Security (although they may have assumed it was safe). Let’s not pretend he’s Bernie Sanders.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            I agree anything is possible with Trump. Not a good move politically to alienate the old people, however, since “old people vote.”

        3. different clue

          They may indicate that or they may indicate that the Repuglans he went to for personnel have nothing else to send him. If he means to Mnuchinize banking and Catfood Clintonize Social Security, hopefully a coalition of Berniecrats and Tea Trumpers can stop Trump on those particular items.

      2. cwaltz

        Obama’s strategy was to attempt to appease his opposition. Trump’s position is to roll over and malign his.

    2. PKMKII

      – That wall? There plans in place to build it.
      – Muslim Ban? Appears in action.
      – There is some evidence that he will indeed spend more effort to reshore manufacturing
      – Some indication that he might invest in US infrastructure

      My political cynicism tells me that most of these are about optics or ulterior motives than actually following through on anything. The fact that the Muslim ban (which may or may not be aimed at Muslims or even be a ban, depending on how they’re spinning it at the moment) leaves out most of the actual countries responsible for the majority of terror attacks, that Trump happens to do business in, shows that it’s nothing more than red meat for the neoreactionary base. The other three, look to be happening in the most inefficient ways, designed around maximizing corporate profits. The infrastructure spending program he proposes is all about private-public partnerships and making sure the private end turns a handsome profit. Reshoring, okay there’s an effort there with the preference towards bilateral agreements, but we’re still firmly in the neoliberal approach; I can play a Gibson with humbuckers instead of a Fender with single coils, it’s still a guitar. And the wall, even before Trump was elected, I was hearing government contractors salivating at the opportunity to make a quick buck off it. We’ll get enough for Trump to have his photo op, and then they’ll fall into disrepair like the rest of our infrastructure.

      Yeah, we definitely need better investment in infrastructure, R&D, services, the commons. And we do need to revive the spirit of America doing big things, instead of the incremental neoliberal tweaking that the Democrats have become so fond of. But cut the private middle man fat out.

      1. Altandmain

        That may very well be the case.

        The question is, what will Trump do next? Even Trump himself may not know about that part entirely.

        I think though that he knows why people supported him, so he will at least have to partially deliver or be seen trying like a tiger to do so (like in the Muslim ban – even if does get overturned in the courts). Of course, Trump may try to concentrate more executive power.

        Two dangers are:
        1. He might do something that appears his cronies like the Private-Partnerships or the doing away of important worker/consumer/environmental protections.
        2. His ego might cause him to do something truly irrational.

        If he betrays his base, then he is vulnerable because he got into power with the implied promise that he would address their economic grievances and work to rebuild US manufacturing.

      2. PH

        You are correct. Keeping promises so far have either been real for the business interests (knock out regs) and traditional Repub, or fake press hits for the racist mob.

        Where are the billions for the wall?

        Obama had annual fake plans for billions for infrastructure. Just press and nod to public private for Wall Street donors. Trump will be same.

    3. LT

      Healthcare prices won’t be under control by 2018 or 2020. Just more cost shifting labeled as reform, but the root of the problem is prices.
      The government and businesses have more ways of shifting costs, little will be done to provide relief from prices for the workers left holding that bag.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Fantastic. The report hints at but does not mention one reform with yuuge implications they took the creation of money away from commercial banks and gave it to the central bank. And their form of QE: The US did it to drive down long-term interest rates; not so in Ecuador, where the purpose is to provide more credit to the real sector.
      That and a 48% increase in the minimum wage. Viva Ecuador

  3. Jim Haygood

    The recent move in lumber is telling us that we should be bullish on the U.S. economy as well as commodity prices. Do not attempt to trade lumber.

    Lumber is a thinly-traded commodity. It’s not included in most commodity indexes for that reason. You might as well play poker with the old farmers in the barn, with a guy named Doc doing the dealing.

    Commodities generally are firming up. The Bloomberg commodity index, tracked by an ETN with symbol DJP, is close to busting out to a 12-month high. Here’s its chart:

    http://bigcharts.marketwatch.com/quickchart/quickchart.asp?symb=djp&insttype=&freq=&show=

    If DJP does break out, I’ll be just as snorting, pawing-the-ground bullish on commods as I am on stocks.

    Stocks are running wild to fresh records today as underweighted managers “panic in” to the market. Some them actually believed the MSM’s dire prediction that a Trump victory would knock stocks down 5 percent. Wrong-o! Do the opposite of what the MSM says, and you may have a chance. :-)

        1. Ed Miller

          I can’t believe you said that. The presentation is dated Feb 3, 2017, so the material must have been put together at least a week before. Lumber rally started at the beginning of February, so you must think they can read the future. Next quarter they might have some understanding of the impact on business.

      1. RTFMplease

        Disclosure: I don’t know jack about commodity trading. There is no mention of supply in the article,
        am I missing something that rules out a supply constraint for explaining an increase in lumber prices?

    1. EndOfTheWorld

      Jim Haygood, what’s your prognosis for PM’s? Pa, for example, is almost as high as Pt, at the present time.

        1. Katharine

          Protactinium. I had to look it up, and can’t actually recall ever having heard of it before, though I suppose in principle I saw it in a table. Somehow what I read in Wikipedia felt like an excuse for ignorance:

          The average concentrations of protactinium in the Earth’s crust is typically on the order of a few parts per trillion, but may reach up to a few parts per million in some uraninite ore deposits. Because of its scarcity, high radioactivity and high toxicity, there are currently no uses for protactinium outside of scientific research, and for this purpose, protactinium is mostly extracted from spent nuclear fuel.

          1. EndOfTheWorld

            It’s hard for a layman like me to figure out the precious metals market, which is why I’m hoping to pick the brain of Jim Haywood, evidently the resident investment guru.

            One time a few years ago the price of palladium went stratospheric, reportedly due to an intentional shortage created by the Russians. (Russia is the #1 supplier.) Right now platinum is lower than gold, and palladium has almost caught up to platinum. Neither of these situations is right, if you go strictly by scarcity and cost of production.

            1. Katharine

              I don’t know any more than you, probably less, but wouldn’t price depend on what it was wanted for? If demand dropped….

              Jim, you still checking in? What drives demand for these things?

              1. EndOfTheWorld

                There’s a lot of speculation on the net that all PM’s are fixed one way or another. Pd and Pt are used in catalytic converters, as well as jewelry and fuel cells. Pd is a component of “white gold,” when combined with Au. Pd is the best thing available for H storage. Pt is a very beautiful metal in and of itself—also very rare.

                Basically, however, all PM’s go up when the dollar goes down, and vice versa. Sometimes there might be a labor strike in South Africa or something like that, creating a temporary bump.

            2. different clue

              The problem with relying on PMs as a “store of wealth” was revealed in this quote attributed to Wise Old Indian.

              “When the last salmon has been pulled from the last river the White Man will learn he can’t eat money.”

              Or paraphrasing for today . . . when the last can of catfood is gone from the last shelf in the last Walmart, then the Modern Man will learn he can’t eat Precious Metals.

              1. wilroncanada

                Proctologinium, on the other hand, is exclusive to Donald Trump.
                It is a major component of his Agent Orange hair.

    2. bob

      I travel lumber territory a lot. There’s been tons of supply coming out of the woods this year, from the fall into the winter. I’d be reluctant to go long. Lots of new equipment too. That has to be paid for, price be damned.

      In the North East, it’s been a very good year for access into the forests. Dry summer/fall, and a good early freeze.

      Lumber is harvested in the winter as much as possible here, Easier to get into the forest when the ground is frozen.

  4. JohnnyGL

    Page 20/25 of the paper….

    “But the most important policy that saved the economy from a deep recession was the government’s decision in March 2015 to adopt a temporary balance of payments safeguard, under WTO rules, in response to the collapse of oil prices and the appreciation of the US dollar. This move enabled Ecuador to impose tariffs on a range of imports, including a 45 percent tariff on final consumer goods, which was reduced to 40 percent in January 2016; a 25 percent tariff on ceramics, tires, motorbikes and TVs; and a 5 percent tariff on primary capital goods.”

    How about that? Import tariffs….they work!

    For all your MMTers out there, the balance-of-payment constraint is a real one, remember. Ecuador has to pay attention to it, budget deficits, too, because they are a currency user, not an issuer. Here’s more….

    “The experience of Ecuador over the past decade is also relevant because it indicates that a government of a relatively small, lower-middle income developing country is less restricted by the global economy, or “globalization,” than is commonly believed. The government was able to take advantage of a much wider range of policy choices than those generally thought to be available to developing countries of its size and income level, or even to developing countries generally.”

    1. ChrisAtRU

      “For all your MMTers out there, the balance-of-payment constraint is a real one, remember. Ecuador has to pay attention to it, budget deficits, too, because they are a currency user, not an issuer.”

      Oh to be sure, that’s understood, but see also how they allowed expansion of the deficit when needed because the external sector was in bigger deficit (no IMF balanced budget or movement toward surplus bullshit); and yes, big that they were willing to use capital controls and tariffs to restrict the movement of capital and imports. Everything Correa has done goes against neoliberalism (see Lessons From Iceland). So, invariably, Correa is seen as a leftist agitator unfriendly to the US and Western interests. Bill Black has written extensively on Ecuador and Correa at NEP.

  5. Milton

    That Medium story re: Tesla workers is actually a feature story from the San Jose Mercury News.
    Link

    Also – what’s with the text bolding?

  6. dcrane

    Re: Cook Political Report
    “The most recent polls from CNN and Quinnipiac found 33 percent of all adults ‘strongly’ approve of the job Trump is doing as president. Yet, a larger 45 percent ‘strongly’ disapprove of the job he’s doing.”

    Drudge has been pushing Rasmussen polls that show much better numbers for Trump, including about equal fractions in the strongly approve/disapprove categories. Unlike the polls cited above, they are based on likely voter samples (not all voters). Likely voter samples tend to lean to the right. Given that the elections are determined by the voters, though, and not by the public at large, I have to wonder about the wisdom of following general electorate polls at all, even “out of election season”.

    Here is Rasmussen today – Trump 52/48:
    http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/prez_track_feb10

  7. gonzomarx

    Pimlico Plumbers loses appeal against self-employed status
    Court rejection of workers’ status has knock-on effects for gig economy operators such as Uber and Deliveroo
    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/10/pimlico-loses-appeal-against-plumbers-worker-status-in-gig-economy-case

    Rio’s Olympic venues, six months on – in pictures
    https://www.theguardian.com/sport/gallery/2017/feb/10/rios-olympic-venues-six-months-on-in-pictures

    Hundreds of whales die in mass stranding on New Zealand beach
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/10/hundreds-whales-die-mass-stranding-new-zealand-beach

    1. Clive

      The Pimlico Plumbers ruling has huge implications for U.K. gig economy overlords. A similar case for Uber is heading for the same conclusion I think. A pox on all their houses, the sooner Uber, AirBnB, Deliveroo and all the other parasitical exploiters have to — shock, horror — obey the law, the sooner the race to the bottom actually has a bottom.

  8. JTMcPhee

    Math proofs and probing the earth with seismic waves: fracking-generated quakes suddenly ?a good thing, helps those petro- geologists spot oil&gas formations? Maybe dig some deep holes and detonate a bunch of those hard-to-get-rid-of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons, each “shot” producing teams of lootable-resource data?

    Recent efforts to apply sounding and GIS technology to the “uncharted oceans” are all about reducing the whole water space and sea bottom to “ownership,” again to facilitate extraction, rents and looting.

    It just gets better and better… I see the Smithsonian Channel is airing, in between tales of great military battles and combat events, heavy on the Exceptional Narrative, a series on the inevitable end of the “human” world– bombs, bugs and wait! There’s much more!

  9. Stephen Tynan

    a-shot-in-the-arm/

    Inflation. The price was $2 in 1980 in Ann Arbor, MI.
    Bone marrow is more lucrative.

  10. robnume

    Thanks for that link, Milton. FWIW, Tesla Model S is high on Consumer Reports “Do Not Buy This Car Used,” list. Good to know our tax dollars, via subsidies to the “tech” industry, are being put to such spectacular use.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Little stuff, like not being able to get into the $127,000 car. But one can update the vehicle’s software over the InterntofThings, so no worries, mate?

        1. JTMcPhee

          PS: I sucked it up and bought a Kia Soul even though some of its production had this flaw in the electrical system that would start with a short that started a fire that locked the doors and windows while you potentially sat inside “doing a slow burn.” There’s one of those hammer-and-cutter tools in our our Soul, in case some other flaw defaults the computer to “close the pod bay doors” on us.

      2. bob

        I’ll take one guess-

        Replacement cost of battery

        Electric cars are dead simple compared to gasoline engines. There’s still a price premium, though. It doesn’t seem to make sense, until you take into account the HUGE cost of a battery, which someone buying the car used would probably have to deal with, if they can find a dealer.

        I’m also assuming that wheel and suspension parts are not off the shelf, and yes, in a used car you’re going to have to deal with this. Another huge cost, IF YOU CAN FIND A DEALER, or the parts (less likely).

        1. John k

          Growing pains.
          Do we agree this is the future?
          That gov has a role in boosting needed tech? And that some companies will go under, meaning gov investment is lost, even with subsidies?
          That if private companies are to be involved in this needed tech they need a profit motive?

          Should we expect first of a kind to be perfectly reliable?
          Isn’t it normal for first of a kind to be expensive, therefore appealing to 10%, and therefore subsidies will benefit the wealthy?

          Carping here re Tessa makes little sense to me.

        2. different clue

          This seems a good reason why a hybrid engine-electric concept is still worth developing further. The battery in a hybrid might not have to be so fancy and expensive and short-lasting, therfore being cheaper to replace when needing replaced.

  11. JimTan

    “The U.S. Postal Service warned today that the multi-year growth of its shipping and package operations could be jeopardized if the three customers responsible for most of the business [Amazon, FedEx, UPS] continue to expand their shipping capabilities and divert business from USPS”

    There’s been a lot written about Amazon’s ‘confidential’ service agreement with this U.S. Post Office that suggests ( but no one knows because the agreement is redacted ) the USPS is providing below market priced services to Amazon at a a loss. The USPS has actually created a new class of lower paid postal worker to help facilitate this Amazon deal. According to Bloomberg “David Vernon, an analyst at Bernstein Research who tracks the shipping industry, estimates the USPS handled 40 percent of Amazon’s volume last year—or almost 150 million items—more than either United Parcel Service or FedEx. He figures that Amazon pays the USPS $2 per package, which is about half what it would pay UPS and FedEx.”:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-30/it-s-amazon-s-world-the-usps-just-delivers-in-it

    I’m sure Amazon would love to do better on their own, but I’m not sure it is likely to replace USPS below market pricing and existing infrastructure. My guess is that contract renewals are coming up and USPS management or politicians needs fear to justify another ‘redacted’ service agreement which benefits Amazon ( and possibly these other firms ).

    1. Dan

      I agree. There’s no point in Amazon (or UPS) trimming use of USPS. The reason USPS can get away with the lower pricing is carriers aren’t hourly employees for most of the year and USPS trucks rarely run full. So the incremental cost of adding another package (or 100) to any given Post Office or route is virtually nil.

      That changes at Xmas when volume skyrockets and costs actually increase radically. Not only is USPS running more trucks and employees to keep pace, its carriers get paid actual hours worked during the holiday rush. It was a management gamble on the part of the USPS that it could make enough off the shipping 11 months of the year to offset the cost increase at Xmas.

      The scuttlebutt around work is that it may have worked this year (though no one has actually analyzed it). But I can attest the non-holiday volume of Walmart-Jet and Target shipping have gone through the roof (along with Amazon) but I can’t see how you run a delivery service so cheap you can undercut the USPS. I would guess you’re right. This is Amazon/USPS posturing so no one balks at a new deal

      1. RMO

        In my experience USPS and Canada Post (I’m Canadian) are by FAR the best choice for shipping if the option is available. The same goes if you’re getting something shipped from Europe – use the national postal system as the initial means of shipping if possible. FedEx and UPS are both absolutely awful (I’ve had both of them outright lie about having attempted a delivery and leave a sensitive parcel on the doorstep even though it was clearly marked as having a signature required) and when they ship across borders you frequently get hit with an extremely large brokerage fee. Neither of them seem to have their act together when it comes to collecting fees either. Both of them have threatened to send a collection agency after me for fees which I have already paid! DHL and Purolator have been pretty good when I’ve been able to use them but not as trouble free as the post. Unfortunately quit a few businesses don’t give you any other option than FedEx or UPS which is kind of like being offered a choice between having your toe smashed by a hammer with a purple handle or one with a brown handle…

  12. Baby Gerald

    Re Tesla worker safety:

    “The United Automobile Workers on Friday rejected Tesla Inc. Chief Executive Elon Musk’s claims it had planted an agitator at the company’s only auto plant and confirmed that Tesla employees have reached out to form a union”

    The UAW ‘planted an agitator,’ Musk claims. Funny how these ‘new economy’ CEOs sound a whole lot like old economy CEOs.

    1. bob

      The ever present outside agitators. When do they come inside? Is that a polite way of calling people feral?

      “Funny how these ‘new economy’ CEOs sound a whole lot like old economy CEOs.”

      They act JUST like them too. Wasn’t Elon sucking up to Trump?

    2. JustAnObserver

      An “agitator”. Oh how endearingly quaint!

      Or maybe its memories of a South African childhood. IIRC Botha used to talk about “agitators” (aka the ANC) a lot.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      agitator (noun): someone who wants their life to get better, to the great distaste of his betters

  13. Clive

    Re: “Fears of ‘two-tier NHS’ as GPs allow fee-paying patients to jump the queue”

    Fears, says the headline. Fears? Realities, says Clive. I just had to fork out £500 to see an optometrist and an ophthalmologist because the specialist NHS unit demonstrated over several painful months it patently did not have the skill set to manage my (admittedly rare) condition. Bloody Tories. Lucky for me I have insurance in case it had been a huge hit in the wallet but it wasn’t worth the hassle of wrangling with my HMO and the co-pay. So this was rack rate I had to stump up. And I was doubly lucky too as I knew how to find the specialists I needed. Many in private practice are hucksters. But you can’t tell if you lack the necessary contacts and knowledge. Because information asymmetry. Because markets.

    1. steelhead

      I’ve got a scheduled Ophthalmologist Appt for April. For the privilege of being evaluated, I have to pay a $500.00 deductible and pay $600.00 for lenses. I do have unused frames that I purchased five years ago so I do not have to incur additional costs. UHC for all…

  14. fresno dan

    “That is, our situation is much like that of colonized peoples: we can vote for our rulers, but cannot CONTROL them; our voices, at times, can be expressed, but can almost {(I would take “almost” out)} always be dismissed or over-ruled; our tax revenues mainly fund military interventions and corporate interests, leaving us to battle with each other over tiny trickle-downs. We are, in effect, walking in the dreams and demands of our captors, doomed to sit like docile passengers, who can only watch as the USA train goes wherever the MIC takes it. Despite the incessant rhetoric of “freedom”, we as a people are unwilling and indeed, unknowing, captives” [Grassroots Economic Organizing].

    ==========================================================
    I can’t think of anything I have read since reading Goering’s interview at Nuremberg that I think has expressed a more profound truth.

    1. RUKidding

      I heard something on this NPR series called “Indivisible” last night about how US citizens are being forced into fighting each other for ever dwindling resources. I wanted to toss my radio out the window because, of course, no one mentioned the million pound elephant in the room: the MIC and all the senseless WAR, Inc they engage in across the globe, not to mention senseless hardware that costs zillions, never gets built on time and then doesn’t work. Nor did they bother to mention the trifling factoid that CEOs make like, what?, 350% higher than all of their companies’ workers combined? That’s leaving out Hedge Funds, Wall ST and the Banksters, I might add.

      Yeah, we’re fighting over crumbs out here, but it certainly doesn’t have to be that way, although whomever was mouthing the propaganda last night certainly didn’t bother to continue the discussion into meaningful ways to make changes. Nay, verily, it was all just: try to get all now, children, and eat your mushy peas and STFU.

      1. Tom

        Careful … try to leave a buffer of at least a few hours before switching from the NC comment section to NPR. I’ve cut it too close a few times and found myself writing scathing emails to Terry Gross.

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          The two types of statistics are not strictly comparable. RUKidding compared CEO pay with the corresponding sum of salaries of workers (but I’m not sure if there is a source there or if it is just meant as a number thrown into the air); you are comparing with the average worker’s salary. The relationship between the two depends on the average number of workers per firm (within the group of companies sampled).

        2. WheresOurTeddy

          I was gonna say, if the average CEO only made 3.5x the average worker, I’d be pretty thrilled.

          We can dream, comrade.

      2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I’d suggest another massive elephant is the $34 trillion squirreled away by millionaires and billionaires in Panama, Delaware, the Caymans, and London. (Good thing Hilary Antoinette made sure to push through a “free-trade” agreement for Panama, LOL). We had a brief flurry with the Panama Papers, which named names and gave everything for any country still claiming to be based on the rule of law to pursue. Crickets. Then there’s the Amazon/Google/Lockheed/Microsoft tax grifters, just one country made one company pony up and they got a check for $500M (Italy and Google)

        1. Vatch

          I was curious about that big number, and yes indeed, there is corroboration on the web. Of course, nobody knows what the exact amount is, but it is definitely in the multi-trillions of dollars. The root source seems to be the same for all the estimates, the Tax Justice Network:

          http://www.taxjustice.net/cms/upload/pdf/Price_of_Offshore_Revisited_120722.pdf

          Some articles:

          $32 trillion in 2013

          $21 trillion in 2012

          Here it’s a range from $21 trillion to $32 trillion

          4 years later, I suppose it would be a range of $23 trillion to $34 trillion.

    1. cocomaan

      I’d probably go with the press release and the twitter. Websites aren’t updated these days, they are too boring for netizens. So it doesn’t surprise me that they just haven’t gotten around to it.

      It does tell you that it’s probably a handful of individuals directing the entire thing. Some poor sod administrative assistant probably forgot to log into the editor.

    2. Martin Oline

      All it means to me is I won’t have to fix supper for her. She’ll be out and I’ll be sleeping!

  15. oho

    >>I’d driven 107 miles from my home in Bangor, Maine to the BPL Plasma Center in Lewiston to collect $50

    Team Dem. should have a focus group at a plasma donation center.

    Then they’ll see—if they bothered to pound the pavement—how hollow identity politics plays in the real world, even if the room is full of non-white people.

    it’s the economy, stupid.

    i’ve donated at a plasma center and could write an armchair anthropological/sociological study on the experience.

    1. steelhead

      Here in a western red state (the last time the voters went D for President was LBJ), I have noticed a ten fold increase in pawn shops and plasma donation centers over the past 12 months. Twenty miles away there is a construction boom funded by “private/public partnerships”. Chicago, under the D party, is imploding and Rahm is demanding the the loser D’s “Chill out”. Where are the guillotines? Snark…

    2. Tom

      Donating blood is so 90’s.

      I’m working on an App that matches up people needing organ transplants with potential donors — sort of like a Tinder for the organ transplant market. In this case, the buyers bid for rights to a donor’s organ and the highest bid wins.

      Got some very interested VC types who say we could make a killing. Thinking of calling it Meetz.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Hair on my arm stood up because my first thought is “Tom is joking, but…”

        “You SteveWithTheKidney1982?”

        1. Gaianne

          Reminds me of the liver-donor sketch:

          “Hi! We’re here for your liver!

          “What!?”

          “We’re here for your liver. You have a liver donor card, right?”

          “Well, yes, but . . . uh . . . I’m not dead yet!”

          “That won’t matter! Nobody has survived this yet!”

          (Screaming sounds. Camera pans upward as blood spatters on ceiling.)

          –Gaianne

    3. crittermom

      oho–
      “Team Dem. should have a focus group at a plasma donation center.
      Then they’ll see—…”

      The problem, as so blatantly seen during the primaries & further confirmed during the DNC when they put that cherry on top of the coronation cake without seeing the crumbling layers beneath, is that they refuse to see.
      They have no ‘focus’. Anything beyond their self-appointed ideals is but a blur in the distance.

    4. Dead Dog

      Just a sad tale about how he got duped into borrowing a huge sum, when the financial returns for most phds is not there.

      Yes, he should have been more cautious, seen the future, been less ambitious.

      But, he’s in a real pickle when he has pennies left at end of month and a debt that can’t be repaid will never… He will be a debt slave until he dies.

      If I were him, I’d find a bolt hole overseas and f off for good.

      BTW, Australians with student debt can also not discharge it in bankruptcy. Same with taxes.

      We allow corporations bankruptcy protection. We allow corporations to buy our property. We forgive tax debts.

      If only I could make myself a corporation and get that there limited liability

  16. bigorangecat

    that maine blood money story doesn’t make sense. first how does one live in poverty on a $55k salary in bangor, maine? second, how does one break even driving 200 miles round trip for $50? seems to me that the author refuses to live within their means or they are full of it.

    1. oho

      > first how does one live in poverty on a $55k salary in bangor, maine? second, how does one break even driving 200 miles round trip for $50?

      from the story: student debt.

      + I get the impression that the author is truly awful w/financial literacy/numeracy—as evidenced by adding 200 miles to his odometer for $50, not even counting time-opportunity cost.

      —-i have empathy for the author’s plight as he states it—-but author also is reaping what he sowed.

      the system is awful too for allowing people like the author to make the decisions that they make.

      i hope i don’t sound like a preachy tsk-tsk-ing troll—but ya, blame goes around all around.

    2. Katharine

      1) It’s $52,000, not $55,000.

      2) He explained how he could need the money:

      Here are my vitals: I have more than $200,000 in student loans and $46,000 in credit card debt—all accumulated during my B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., and then search for a tenure-track job. My annual salary translates to a little more than $3,000 in monthly take-home pay. I pay $800 a month in rent, $1,100 in credit card bills (paying only the monthly minimums), $350 in student loans, and have $285 a month car payment. I also pay the usual insurances, utilities, groceries, gas, et al. I don’t have cable. Or a kitchen table. Or blinds on any of my windows. I’ve cancelled all magazine and newspaper subscriptions—an actual dilemma for a journalism professor. For my first year in Bangor I didn’t even have a bed. Instead I slept on a Target air mattress until it lost its breath; then I moved to the couch (which I had purchased on credit), until my back finally demanded I buy a bed (credit, again).

      The things he lists come to $2,535 of his $3,000. That’s before utilities, groceries, gas, and insurance, which would quickly use up most of the remaining $465, and cars have been known to need other maintenance as well as gas. If you’re on that tight a budget, even an extra $30 net, which would be reasonable to expect with many cars and less than you might get with some, may look worth the effort.

      This information and the ability to use it were available. Why sneer at him instead of thinking about what he wrote?

      1. Tom

        Nice breakdown of the numbers.

        When I was a starving college student I donated blood and picked up roadside returnables (Michigan has a 10-cent deposit on returnable cans and bottles) for extra cash. I can verify that an extra $30-40 was enough to buy food for a week. Having truly empty cupboards and fridge are excellent motivators.

      2. Nakatomi Plaza

        The guy let himself accrue almost $250K in debt while pursuing his Ph.D in Journalism. That was really dumb and was almost inevitably going to lead to bankruptcy. His essay should be required reading for anybody thinking about going into academics and mortgaging their financial future to do so. There are some games you just aren’t going to win.

        1. mk

          What’s dumb is that it costs $250K to get his education. How can it lead to bankruptcy if he can’t write off student debt with his bankruptcy?

          The system is predatory, please don’t blame the prey.

      3. Lynne

        But, but…… He says he’s paying only the monthly minimum on his credit cards, and then blithely fluffs off the overage charges from intentionally going over his limit every time he fills up his car? Those overage charges aren’t cheap, and they probably use up close to half of the 100 he gets for blood (given 2 trips), all on their own. And that’s not counting the cost of gas and maintenance. It just doesn’t make any sense. There’s short-term thinking and then there is just not thinking at all.

  17. Synoia

    This say it all:

    Team Trump-Pence

    P.S. NEW ITEMS were added to the “Last Chance” section of our store, check it out before we are completely out – click here to go to the store!

    StoreButton.jpg

  18. Foppe

    Lambert: “Primitive accumulation by Jeff Bezos.”

    D. Harvey has suggested the term “accumulation by dispossession” as both being more general and more accurate (with the added benefit that you won’t get quite as many raised eyebrows when you talk about how this affects marginalized groups).

    1. Foppe

      (As well as simply being less obscure / far easier to understand by most of the people who are affected by the behavior.)

  19. Benedict@Large

    The Ellison for DNC video has been pulled. (Don’t they understand that pulling YouTubes makes them look just as guilty as leaving them up?)

  20. LT

    Re: ATT strike…

    All those labor cost saving moves and their gauging customers.
    I tried to download a 15 gig file using ATT DSL. 18 hrs later….still not 50% complete.
    I live in the LA area.

    I went to work and downloaded using actual high speed service and was done in about half an hour.

    1. aab

      You may have a last mile wiring problem. We do.

      We can’t use ATT for Internet, because while our neighborhood has supposedly been rewired to deliver ultra-fast speed, the wire from whatever that is to our actual building is some old piece of crud that can barely transmit a land line phone call.

      For ages, ATT kept trying to get us as customers. We tried them out more than once, because I was running my Internet-usage heavy business out of the house. But it never worked. Finally one nice worker explained the problem (even showed us the readings on the data coming across the wire) and said ATT was aware of the problem but did not intend to fix it. It worked fine for their profit to churn people in and out by offering vaporous deals.

      1. LT

        Yes, but the funny thing about that slow download is that it actually got slower.
        Even during hours ( overnight) when there is less activity happening on the web overall.

  21. LT

    Re: ATT strike…

    All those labor cost saving moves and they’re gauging customers.
    I tried to download a 15 gig file using ATT DSL. 18 hrs later….still not 50% complete.
    I live in the LA area.

    I went to work and downloaded using actual high speed service and was done in about half an hour.

  22. John k

    Dem caucus Baltimore.
    Fighting for our principals!

    What’s the prob? They didn’t say your principals, they said theirs. They’re neo libs, and richly proud of it.
    Course they’re fighting tooth and nail against your’s… and they don’t want your vote, don’t want you in their party, even better if you just disappear.

  23. WheresOurTeddy

    “DHS mulls password collection at borders” [FCW]. “‘We want to say, for instance, which websites do you visit, and give us your passwords, so we can see what they do on the internet,’ [John Kelly, the new secretary of the Department of Homeland Security] said at a Feb. 7 House Homeland Security hearing, his first congressional hearing since his Senate confirmation. ‘If they don’t want to give us that information, they don’t come in.’” Well, that’s demented.

    Amendment IV
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

    Any special provisions on the way OUT, Big Brother?

  24. WheresOurTeddy

    Meet the Teacher Whose Powerful, Christian Defense of Obamacare Made a GOP Town Hall Go Viral

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2017/02/10/meet_jessi_bohon_whose_christian_defense_of_obamacare_made_a_gop_town_hall.html

    Um, no Slate, she’s not “defending Obamacare”, she’s advocating for Medicare For All.

    Sounds like a damn dirty hippie, too. Where’d she get this idea of Christianity? From the penniless Jew who said “that which you do to the least among you, you do unto me?”

    UnAmerican.

  25. Altandmain

    Truthdig has an important reminder:

    In Trump Times, the Enemies of Our Enemies Are Not Necessarily Our Friends
    http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/through_the_looking_glass_20170210

    The neocons and the neoliberals don’t agree with what Trump is doing entirely. That doesn’t make them our friends, even if they oppose Trump.

    People need to keep their eyes open. They are trying to restore what amounts to the Ancien Regime. We need real change, not what these decievers have to offer.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      “They” being both liberals and conservatives. The whole mess is like a ginormous conflict between two branches of the Bourbon family (who also agree on an awful lot of things).

    2. Ruben

      What about the enemies of our enemies’ friends? Are they our friends? BO seemed to have thought so part of the time.

  26. VietnamVet

    Americans are a “colonized peoples” is about as close as one can get to explaining why four heartland states switched from Obama to Trump. The “Best and Brightest” could never grasp that once the Communists labeled the Americans as foreign invaders fighting to restore colonization, the Vietnam War was lost. The Democrats are likewise in denial today. Nancy Pelosi in her old hometown of Baltimore said “We just didn’t have the emotional connection”. No. Americans are being looted by Globalists with the aid of the Cosmopolitans. There are only two parties now; Populist/Nationalist Republicans and Corporate Republicans. The Nationalists have tagged the Globalists as aliens. If Republicans fight only over who controls the looting, America will splinter apart. Perhaps a revolutionary party will arise out of the ashes of the Democratic Party that places the best interests of American people above swindling them.

    1. different clue

      Till then, it appears that one place where genuine “politics” are taking place is within the Republican Party itself, between Nationalist Uplifters and . . . (dare I say it?) . . . Globalist “.Clintonite” Republicans.

  27. Oregoncharles

    ” but also the violence of the market, of debt, of capitalist property relations, and of the state; the violence of discriminatory policies against lesbian, trans and queer women; the violence of state criminalization of migratory movements;”
    Seriously dilutes the meaning of “violence.” Most of that is not violent in the normal sense. I would argue that diluting terms like that is immoral.

  28. bob k

    march 8 is international women’s day worldwide. it has a rich tradition and is celebrated by many, including international communist and socialist parties. in the ’70s, when i was a communist, my party always had marches and celebrations where we tried to unite with all women and progressives (called them fellow travelers) and democratic persons and sought to show how the oppression of women was part of the struggle of the international working class. while supporting all sprouts of resistance – ALL OF THEM – we didn’t sugarcoat the reality that only the working class could end all oppression, including that of women.

    now it’s a different time. i’m no longer a communist. i am a progressive person. as such, i still support women in their struggle for equality. after all, women still hold up half the sky, no?

    but i’m troubled by what i see as a trend here and in other places to throw out the baby with the bathwater. can’t progressives warn about the misleadership of the dems without lecturing those coming in to political activity for the first time? it is indeed troubling that there is no genuine left party in the US that can lead the women’s struggle and the many other struggles. so let’s concentrate on building that party, for 2018 and beyond. and let’s make support for the march 8 action a part of that effort. you can’t build something from nothing.

  29. akaPaul LaFargue

    For what it is worth . . . (my tardiness is due in part to my left coast habitation, but mainly to limiting my intake of reality to once in the morning) Re Co-ops:
    Len Krimerman’s (who has decades of alt. econ. experience) comment was excellently pulled… but on the whole his effusions, while well-intended and somewhat justified given the lack of imagination (not to mention coherence!) flies off on a tangent of speculation based on faulty assumptions…. eg (mainly) that we have not moved into a situation of contestation that he seems unaware of.

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