Antidote du Jour Posted on January 21, 2010 by Yves Smith Apologies, too under the gun for Links! Post navigation ← So Why is the Fed So Desperate to Keep Maiden Lane III Details Secret? Links 1/22/10 → Subscribe to Post Comments 29 comments chasd00 January 21, 2010 at 12:42 pm when is the book going to be over? kevinearick January 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm Fortune 500 Standard Practice: So, there I was, up in Canada, working on the line as a temporary, for an outsourcer, for a subsidiary, of a big domestic tool manufacturing front, with actual operations in Asia, placing these cute stickers on the tool lines, ostensibly headed to the big box store. Once those stickers are placed, the corporate incestral family – all the corporate layers, the shippers, and the middlemen, get paid, courtesy of the taxpayers, pension funds, and unprotected labor. Funny thing; I palletize those boxes and place them in a queue for shipment, in a very large warehouse, right next to the same stickered product, with a year’s worth of dust cover. Then another guy comes along, and takes the product to another, bigger warehouse, leased to hold similar, but older product On one particular run, the other two “permanent” temporary forklift drivers are watching me set up a sticker assembly line, for a batch. When I go to set up another line, they take product out of each sub-assembly, so the final tally is not correct when the batch is completed. Afterwards, the manager calls me in front of the crew, and gives me a lesson on how they do math. And on to the destination big box store … So, there I was, stocking for the store with the greatest Revenue per square foot, with a NATIONAL WAGE POLICY of $10/hr, pulling 60,000 pounds of freight across the floor on hand jacks, because management did not want to provide me with an in-store certification for a rider jack, stocking by hand. The receiving area is just big enough to be a cluster-you-know-what. About halfway through the shift, a corporate vice president comes over – he’s on one of those learn-the-work tours, and instructs me to stop what I am doing, and throw a bathtub up on the shelf. He actually wants me to follow him to the back, so he can supervise. I already know the bathtub store shelves are fully stocked, and the bathtubs in receiving are stored up on a shelf, behind everything else. I put them there. He wants me to tear apart receiving, pull down the largest unnecessary item, put receiving back together, and leave half the night’s load out on the floor for the morning sales crew, in an exercise of authority. The store manager had just proudly pronounced a $3 million store renovation, earlier in the week, to increase the number of isles and completely eliminate forklifts as a tool to stock the upper shelves. That’s about all I needed to see. Next, we talk about miscellaneous consultants and the reorg-in-a-box, best-business-practice industry. If they change course, as we all suspect, and start pushing the healthcare bill again, I’ll use a hospital example, to remind everyone how that gear fits into the debt manufacturing machine as well. It’s quite a machine; workers subsidize their own specialized obsolescence and replacement with computers, in a consumption economy that eliminates consumers, so capital can re-boot the same tired old industries,with the least resistance. MyLessThanPrimeBeef January 21, 2010 at 3:53 pm Nice picture of Bambi fawning. Here is proof positive of what the world will be like without Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens – peace on Earth. rob January 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm hmm interesting regarding spending: Bush Vs Obama? rob January 21, 2010 at 5:03 pm http://economixx.100webspace.net/ Bush Vs Obama? Cynthia January 21, 2010 at 9:26 pm NEWS ALERT: “A 63-year-old law limiting political spending by labor and big business was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court today in a landmark decision that called any ban a restraint of free speech.” http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/01/us_supreme_court_ruling_on_cam.html This news wouldn’t be so bad if there were such a thing as Big Labor to counterbalance Big Business. But since only small labor exists today and is getting smaller and smaller with each passing day — thanks to both sides of the aisle working hand in glove with Big Business to drive labor unions into extinction, thereby driving workers into servitude — this court decision is bad news for all workers across the nation! kevinearick January 21, 2010 at 10:47 pm An economy is the grand total of all choices made, most of which cancel each other out. Small labor is much more powerful than you assume. No economy can exist without it, which is why the economy, as presented on tv, is discharging. Small labor went its own way decades ago. You will see the point of departure at the end of the current economic devolution. What does not cancel out, that which evolution distills in over time, is unique talent. Evolution rewards maladaptive behavior to collect and efficiently remove it, once it has reached the point of no return. Step out of the way, and Goliath will fall of his own weight. Small labor has no need of a government certified union, or government for that matter. Nor may big business survive without a constant injection of talent from small labor. Small labor is the articulating economic mechanism, which connects humanity to planetary evolution. The Supreme Court, rigged with capitalists several decades ago, is bad news for everyone that is dependent on government. Government is supposed to work for the people, not the other way around. The AFL-CIO is the stepchild of Capital and Government. It represents that part of the middle class that takes passive profits at the expense of its own children. All that paper is worthless. Now that the Grim Reaper stalks those that consumed their children’s future, the participants are looking for an out. When property values plunge, the pensions go broke, and the efficiency technology fails, the children will be made whole at the expense of the robber baron parents. Ultimately, economics, like its parent, evolution, is self-adjusting. The Fed is running out of fuel, and that jet is still a very great distance from the asphalt below. Cynthia January 21, 2010 at 11:31 pm Kevinearick, I think I understand what you’re saying. But I still think that because only a very small percentage of the American workforce belongs to unions, the court decision won’t help out most American workers. And since corporations have a lot more money than unions do to buy off politicians, this court decision will help out corporations far more than it will unions, including the all-powerful AFL-CIO. kevinearick January 22, 2010 at 12:38 am small labor is the counter-vailing power to big capital. unfortunately, many deluded themselves into believing that big government was the counter-balance. big government is an extension of big capital, as is becoming increasingly evident, to everyone. small labor is already on the other side of the financial chasm, leaving big capital stranded. if the American worker wants to go along for the ride, the American worker will have to ignore big business and big government, to build out the bridge, beginning with self-sustaining communities. The nation/state empire system is toast, with the exception of any thread that the new middle class cares to carry across that bridge. The computer age left many behind. Unfortunately, it is probable that the next system will leave an order of magnitude more behind, but that outcome is not etched in stone. Humanity has been a long shot since inception. Big capital is currently predicated on big debt, which more and more people are walking away from everyday. Just a few months ago, everyone thought Mr. Buffet was all powerful, and he carried Goldman Sachs. The American worker that drives looking through the windshield will do much better than the American worker that drives looking in the rear-view mirror. Every so often, the slate is cleaned, and everyone has to start over. Those that cling to non-performing assets, associated with the latest divide and conquer economy, are lost. Like the USSR before her, the American Enterprise System is bankrupt. No use crying over spilt milk; many hands make light work; and all that good stuff. Cynthia January 22, 2010 at 6:54 am I agree with you that unions are knuckle draggers, but corporations are knuckle draggers, too. But this still shouldn’t stop us from over looking the fact that this court decision will give corporations an unfair advantage over their workers. kevinearick January 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm The American worker has been given all the tools required to checkmate the corporation. As Vinny provided, the problem is the psychology of addiction, social cohesion gone astray. The first part of the wave was blue layoffs; the next part will be pink layoffs. Once everyone is in the same boat, maybe they will see things differently, and move forward more productively. The enemy of the American worker is accepting the assumptions underlying the divide and conquer method. Corporations only have the power they are willingly given. The corporate structure, as currently designed, cannot exist without debt. Jonathan January 22, 2010 at 12:28 am “An economy is the grand total of all choices made – most of which cancel each other out” I’m sorry what? An economy is the value of the benefits we transact with each other and is usually measured in money. They don’t cancel each other out. In a free market, a transaction is made by two willing parties who each perceive a benefit to the exchange. “What does not cancel out, that which evolution distills in over time, is unique talent. Evolution rewards maladaptive behavior to collect and efficiently remove it, once it has reached the point of no return. Step out of the way, and Goliath will fall of his own weight.” I’m sorry what? Were you going somewhere with this point? I’ll repeat back what you just said in other words. Your point is that unique talent is maladaptive, that evolutions rewards it so it gains momentum, and once it gets moving real fast it realizes its unique talents are useless, that it has no legs and crashes (and I assume dies?). I couldn’t disagree more. Evolution does not reward maladaptive behaviour nor unique talents nor common characteristics. Evolution is the process, not a god. Characteristics of an organism, common or unique, are only ‘rewarded’ if it allows the creature to reproduce in greater numbers than competitors within its own species, which is usually dictated by its ability to take advantage of its surrounding environment and other organisms that it interacts with. But there is no destiny. The rewards of today can be the faults of tomorrow if the environment changes. There is no over arching plan that evolution has to destroy maladaptive behavior by rewarding it. kevinearick January 22, 2010 at 12:45 am money is nothing more than a communication tool, an archaic one at that; evolution favors the virus for all kinds of reasons; emotional responses tend to negate their own credibility; and no, I did not say that unique talent was maladaptive. Finally, evolution favored the dinosaurs, right up until it eliminated them entirely. They were efficient too. kevinearick January 22, 2010 at 2:59 am Well, it’s nighty nighty time for me. I waited for a response. We are watching you surf into the rocks, and are attempting to be of assistance. Let me put it this way: All kinds of people are getting caught under the rubble of collapsing economies, which are collapsing due to adherence to the status quo, at a time of rapid environmental change. I am throwing out picks, shovels, and everything else needed to get people out, repaired, and on with their lives. Now, if you are one of those people profiting by selling gas for $8, $12, or $20 / gallon to the Haitians, I can see your point. If not, I can only assume you are one of those people inextricably tied to the economy going over the cliff, by psychology. If that is not the case, you need to provide more information. My record spans decades, since the Arpanet days. Maybe you are mad and just want to throw rocks from your board, and I’m a convenient target. Use the tools; don’t use the tools. Everyone has a choice, but talking isn’t going to get dinner on the table. Take that $500 Trillion in unfundable global liabilities, go back in history to deduct it from stated global GDP growth, and see where you are. Knowledge is just a temporary bridge. Capitalizing it dooms the proprietor, along with the renters when they fail to move forward when the flood comes, and the flood always comes. That’s History. Skippy January 22, 2010 at 7:54 am Tis funny to think psychological non adaptive evolutionary pressure will be the next big event in our short HOMO history instead of psychological. Skippy…H1N1 naw, the virus is bad code in da head. Skippy January 22, 2010 at 7:59 am Amends its late and helping wife with paramedic studies has degraded my ability’s. should read: the next big event in our short HOMO history instead of Human physiology. Skippy….re: degraded ability’s, thats my story and I’m sticking to it lol. kevinearick January 22, 2010 at 11:56 am skippy … are you keeping the kids busy, or are they keeping you busy? you must be quite the multi-tasker. eye in the middle of the tornado? kevin de bruxelles January 22, 2010 at 7:32 am Cynthia, Admittedly living in Belgium with an excellent healthcare and education system may play a factor in my lack of panic over this issue, but I seriously see this move by the Supreme Court as a potentially positive development. Positive, that is, if the Democrats realize that by simply reframing the nature of the conflict from a conventional battle between two equals (think WW1 Western Front with two relatively equally matched sides battling it out) to a non-conventional insurgency (think Indochine, Vietnam, Algeria, Lebanon, Afghanistan (twice) and Iraq 2003-)that they stand a better chance of winning. The new framework would be one where weakness paradoxically equals power and their strongest weapon will actually be the overwhelming corporate support for Republicans. But in order to pull this off they will have take the correct approach and abandon all efforts to match Republicans for corporate (or labour) financing and instead wage a morally cohesive political insurgency against corporate America. And obviously my use of a war analogy is not meant as a suggestion that they use actual violence. To understand this strategy one needs to be familiar with Fourth Generational Warfare http://antiwar.com/lind/index.php?articleid=1702 and Martin Van Creveld’s related ideas of the “power of weakness” illustrated in the quote below: In private life, an adult who keeps beating down on a five year old – even such a one as originally attacked him with a knife – will be perceived as committing a crime; therefore he will lose the support of bystanders and end up by being arrested, tried and convicted. In international life, an armed force that keeps beating down on a weaker opponent will be seen as committing a series of crimes; therefore it will end up by losing the support of its allies, its own people, and its own troops. Substitute the despised adult for the Republicans with their flood of corporate financing and the sympathetic child for the Democrats with their self imposed ban on taking corporate money. A clearer demonstration of the differences between conventional and unconventional war are the two Iraq wars. In 1991, Saddam Hussein made the most foolish choice ever in deciding to fight the US in a conventional war. Toppling such a fool in 2003 only empowered the wiser Sunni leadership and freed them up to fight an unconventional war in which they succeeded quite well. In a similar way, previous campaign finance rules gave the corporations just enough cover and restraint to make the system seem acceptable. It kept the Democrats fighting a “conventional war” in that with the restrictions on corporate finance they actually had a chance to compete with the Republicans for corporate dollars. But for the Democrats to fight this type of war was to lose it. By taking the corporate donations they had to in return modify their policies in order to get corporate financing. The resulting mess we see in the current Obama Administration and in the Clinton Administration in the 90’s. But if the Democrats were to now stop trying to match the Republicans for corporate dollars they would free themselves up to actually propose and pass policies that might actually make them popular with the American people. Their lack of ability to compete with the Republicans for corporate money would become their strongest asset. They could then point out over and over again that the resulting mass of pro-Republican and anti-Democratic corporate propaganda was evidence of their worthiness. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The elites are not stupid and they will see this potential danger. americangoy January 21, 2010 at 10:44 pm Catch the supreme court decision? My god, that makes it official. It’s over. Yves Smith Post authorJanuary 21, 2010 at 10:46 pm I saw this earlier. America RIP. Even my 82 year old mother now wants to move to Canada. Ray Duray January 22, 2010 at 6:45 am Dear Yves, Re: America RIP My dad is 86. I think he’s interested in Canada as well. Do you fashion Vancouver as a buyer’s market after all the money everyone is losing on the Olympics? I suspect the VANOC crowd are golden, but I wonder about the real Canadians being bankrupted by their all-seeing “betters”. From NBC to the Vancouver taxpayer, it seems everyone is a-boot to be a loser here, except the special people. Just kidding, Ray Yves Smith Post authorJanuary 22, 2010 at 6:50 am I have not done due diligence, but I hear Vancouver is still pretty overpriced, but that’s the purchase market, can always rent and wait for the expected post-Olympics crash. kevinearick January 22, 2010 at 8:27 am Osoyoos BC is nice, the hills on the east side have some nice lots that are going for quite the discount, and everything, country and city, is within a reasonable drive. For the city dwellers, the hills across the water from Halifax have a great view, and excellent prices can be found. Zenophobia January 21, 2010 at 10:58 pm http://huffpostfund.org/stories/2010/01/fdic-chief-got-bank-america-loans-while-working-its-rescue This is one hell of a deep rabbit hole. Pat Donnelly January 22, 2010 at 12:16 am YVES!!!! I STILL GET THE POSTS FROM 4th JAN WHEN I CLICK OLDER POSTS! THE FT STILL DOES NOT ALLOW ACCESS TO THE GILLIAN TETT ARTICLE! HELLO? Yves Smith Post authorJanuary 22, 2010 at 12:20 am I have told you three times now, and you do not want to follow instructions. You go to the Archives. Click on January. When you get to the bottom, click on “Older Entries”. That’s on the left. They are all there. I am not responsible for the FT, and i did not provide that pointer, so you are out of line for yelling at me. ComparedToWhat? January 22, 2010 at 3:40 am The BBC’s Robert Peston posted a comment on Obama’s bank plan, and later tacked on a significant addendum. ///quote George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, has just told me that Obama’s plan to break up the banks is consistent with the views he expressed in his recent bank reform paper. His condition for implementing such a radical plan was that it needed international agreement. Well, he has got that now. So he has told me – explicitly – that a Tory government would impose an identical dismantling of British banks to those suggested by President Obama. ///end http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2010/01/obama_to_break_up_banks.html It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to learn that Volker has been working his international contacts behind the scenes during the past year. There might be some interesting news out of Davos next week. Ray Duray January 22, 2010 at 7:14 am Hi ComparedToWhat?, You said: “There might be some interesting news out of Davos next week.” I’ve been closely watching the WEF for half a decade now. News is about the last thing ever generated there. Essentially all we ever get is after-reports about the zeitgeist of the richest enclave on snow once a year. The patten has recently been that the WEF is two steps behind the curve. In January, 2008 was there the remotest hint of the chaos to grip the planet when LEH became DEAD on Sept. 15 that year? Absolutely not (as reported in the media) Of course everyone there was privately placing bets or buying CDS on the outcome. The rich attendees were spinning sugar plum fairies for the public’s amusement. If there is any interesting news at Davos, you can rest assured you won’t find it in the media. Why give a sucker an even chance? Far more relevant to the other 99% of humanity is the World Social Forum, an annual event that features… us. http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/index.php?cd_language=2&id_menu= Jim VB January 22, 2010 at 1:23 pm @ kevinearick. Yours are the best freaking posts I will read all day. Anywhere. Raoul Vaneigem observed that,”Daily life is governed by an economic system in which the production and consumption of insults tends to balance out.” Your situation made me recall that. Comments are closed. Tip Jar Please Donate or Subscribe!