Links 12/13/10

Tigers evolved with snow leopards, gene study reveals BBC

Distinguishing Climate “Deniers” From “Skeptics” David Brin (hat tip reader Tim C)

Working week should be 21 hours, says New Economic Foundation Guaridan

Detroit schools offer class in how to to work at Walmart Raw Story (hat tip reader John D)

How Much Does a Grecian Urn? Simon Johnson, Wall Street Journal

Worries for eurozone as Greek plight worsens Times Online

Silicon Valley enters ‘new phase of uncertainty,’ groups warn Mercury News

Top five health insurers posted 56 percent profit gains in 2009 Raw Story (hat tip reader John D)

Superhero Registration Act Mike Konczai

So That’s What ‘Too Big to Fail’ Means Economix (hat tip reader Don B). Some interesting charts, but the last one appears to have a lot of double counting (as in showing mutual funds and ABS issures, when mutual funds are often held by pension funds (401 (k)s) and ABS are held buy mutual funds, insurers, and banks….).

Michael Tomasky: Obama and populism Guardian (hat tip Ed Harrison)

New Economics at the NY Dean Baker

Greece’s Woes May Give Pause to Euro Zone Candidates New York Times. Not exactly news, but a good recap.

Lehman Justice Isn’t Blind, It’s Unconscious Jonathan Weil, Bloomberg. Weil takes up one of our pet themes: the near certainty of accounting fraud at Lehman, and the refusal to look into it.

Lehman liquidators challenge bank claims Financial Times

Revenge of the Wall Street Traders: The Fat Cats Strike Back Moe Tkacik, Daily Finance. In the truth is more awful than fiction category, with the eye opening part at the end.

Obama vs. Obama Michael Brenner, Huffington Post (hat tip Marshall Auerback). Today’s must read, both in and of itself, and for being, from what I can tell, the first time that HuffPo has turned openly critical of Obama.

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Richard Kline

    Regarding the Moe Tkacik piece . . . John Thomas Financial? It only _should_ be a joke. But no: they really ARE all dicks in there. And they expect to be stroke and remunerated for their ‘contributions’ to society.

  2. owning_to_rent

    The people I know in the Czech Republic and in Hungary have been very unhappy that their respective nations have not joined the eurozone, though in the case of Hungary, there was no way, even with Greek style bookkeeping creaativity, they would be joining any time soon. In the case of Slovakia, the Czechs have a concrete example of what happens to a nation that joined the eurozone, compared to their own experience to date. Strangely, the English language press doesn’t seem interested in looking at the results of an Eastern European nation having joined the eurozone a year ago, compared to a roughly comparable (well, very roughly, but still in the ballpark) nation which didn’t..

    1. Richard Kline

      I agree completely. And just where are those countries ‘having second thoughts’ going to go? Latvia as a proposed example: to the Russians, asking for funding? Not in ten life times. Portugal? Seriously, it might ‘leave the euro,’ for what, exactly. It was discussed yesterday that Sweden not being in the euro has in no way insulated it from the global financial crisis. If they run into serious trouble, who is it exactly they are supposed to turn to? The IMF?? That isn’t even funny, the idea.

      I just don’t get why the ‘tumbling euro’ meme gets any credibility at all. The biggest problem for the euro is that fiscal authorities and banking central banking authorities in the eurozone are presently at arms length, so that coordinated intervention is lacking. The obvious remedy for _that_ is a unified fiscal policy and financial regulator for eurozone members. —Oh wait!: THAT’S ‘the problem.’ You know, the PROBLEM that said Anglo-American press won’t talk about but instead prefers to talk about ‘the tumbling, unloved euro problem.’

      The problem with Europe’s political economy is political, not economic, and those who have a biggest problem with the politicas are those who contributed the most to the economic problems. I think we have identified a trend, here . . . .

        1. Nick

          Well put, I agree with that. The political problems begin with the fact that political figures in charge of monetary policy cannot coordinate fiscal policy. So, the EU is poorly designed to contain sovereign debt crises like that impacting Greece and the other PIIG countries.

        2. charcad

          Absolutely no problem. Dig into Germans’ pockets (71% opposed at last poll report) and remove whatever amounts necessary to make it all work.

          Easy. Right?

          Papandreou has found his explanation at the latest “EU Leaders’ Meeting”. It’s all the EU’s fault for moving too slowly to bail out Greece. He left Brussels publicly announcing this.

          Translation: Papandreou’s little polity and particularly his government doesn’t have to make any hard budget choices. “Rich Greeks” can continue to shift their money out of the country, the Greek public employee unions can even take another pay raise soon and the pigheaded Krauts can pay for it all.

          Search your souls, folks. Did this transaction a) bring the Greeks closer to intramural compromise on very hard choices or b) make them all more intransigent?

          This is how we lay the foundations for communal violence.

          I propose the EU project will move more smoothly if Europe simply dispenses with elections, parliaments and also what little freedom of speech remains. It already has the requirements for limiting internal movement ala the old USSR. I’m sure the Chinese will be happy to send advisors to show the EU how to reorganize everything.

          Eastern European dissidents of the Communist era already recognize a new USSR in the EU.

          To the instant case. Surely some recall countrywide riots in Greece just two months ago? Consider Greece’s post WWII history. It entered 1946 in a state of insurgency and civil war. This is easily the EU & euro member country where a new civil war is most easily started again.

          1. Swedish Lex

            Charcad – see my comments below about the necessity of introducing a new clause in the Treaty that would allow States to leave the euro but remain in the EU (a clause to leave the EU was introduced in the Lisbon Treaty, but none that distinguishes between the EU and euro membership exists). It would be an essential right for euro states swap back to their old currencies and take full charge of their fiscal policies. There obviously also has to be a clause about kicking countries out of the euro that do not respect the basic rules of the game.

            I saw that the Greek PM according to media blamed “Brussels” and the other euro states for Greece’s problems. That is hardly a smart tactic if he wants to convince e.g. hesitatnt Germans that the Greeks are adults that deserve to be bailed out. I commented on NC a few days back saying that if the Greeks engage in a game of “blaming Brussels”, then all bets are off and Greece may be turning itself into a persona non grata in the euro club.

  3. Richard Kline

    The long piece by David Brin picking apart climate change anti-deluvians is absolutely worth reading, both for its content and as an example of how to think through a complex issue where one cannot necessarily establish a true/false reading on every point of contention.

    But though I agree with almost all of what is there, I diverge in one respect. Brin repeated references the deep pockets and self-serving spincantators behind climate change denial as “foreign [i.e. Arab] princes, Russian oligarchs, and Exxon.” While it is true that said constituencies have very real interests in peventing any action on global warming, I think that that line up is misplaced, not to say rather chauvanistic in its emphasis, though that is in line with Brin’s emphasis throughout on ‘energy independence’ for the US.

    If one has really done the homework, the driving force behind climate change denial isn’t foreign: it’s nativist. The big money at the ultra-right end of the political spectrum comes from American oil, chemical, timber, and agribusiness billionaires and multi-millionaires of strongly libertarian persuasion and distinctly anti-foreigner and socially Neanderthal persuasion. Seriously, go do the home work. And there is a powerful thread behind the decision of that particular stripe of American nativist B-I-G money in backing ultra right spin tanks, fake grass roots, and buying faked and bogus ‘science’ to cloud, crowd, and buy off government action. Time was, 50s and 60s, such folks didn’t worry to much about Guvmint: they got plenty of money in government subsidies, government grants, and could buy politicians and get the thumb on line officials when they needed too. But a funny thing happened to them: it was called environmental legislation. Founded on credible science, environmental regulation and legislation was a plague on their interest. Worse, a lot of it was written so the polluters/despoilers/dumpers/fakers could and were challenged in court. And the American legal system was much, much harder to buy off and should down, not least because court proceeding are public, and publicity brought public ire for, well, MORE AND BETTER ENVIRONMENTAL LEGISLATION. Environmental legislation was, and is a serious threat to the _business interests_ of wealthy nativist despoilers. And to get rid of the legislation and the public ire behind it three things were necessary: contrary ‘science,’ faked or real outrate from ‘plain folks’ to counter popular backing of environmental law, and packed legislators to stop passing such laws and gut what was gotten on the books.

    The backbone of the ultra right in the US are super-wealthy nativist environmental despoilers. And it is they who underwrite and pass crib sheets to the right wing noise machine, and perpetually outraged ‘little folks’ and their bought and paid for legislators. And it is that assortment who disseminate the stinking core of anti-global warming verbal methane gas. Climate Denial: Made in Little America.

    1. owning_to_rent

      ‘…the driving force behind climate change denial….’

      Money, of course. Which is why Russia is adamant that global warming, to any extent it is occurring, is beneficial (though in the case of Russia, this may be somewhat understandable considering the vast reach of its northern territory). Or the Saudis and other OPEC nations doing their best to ensure that Copenhagen remained little more than more hot air.

      What makes the U.S. the focus of much of this discussion, apart from the dominance of English language media reflecting the concerns of English language nations (such as the world’s 3rd largest oil producer in 2006, the U.S.), is the simple fact the the U.S. is by far both the largest oil consumer (almost 3 times more consumption than second place China), and the world’s largest oil importer (more than twice as much as runner up Japan, which considering that Japan basically has no domestic oil production, is quite notable).

      That nativism works is beyond question, but to my very simplistic view of looking at what flows through the pipeline and to where it goes, nativist posturing is only a tactic in ensuring a strategy of maximum revenue for those who profit from producing petroleum remains as lucrative as it was back in the days of the Nobels and Rockefeller.

      1. Nick

        It is a short-term view for sure—the climate “denier” view. The climate science is solid, humans are causing climate change through emissions from industry and land clearing. Even before the Stern Report, however, many studies (I’m thinking of a 2002 report by the climate science expert Stephen Schneider of Stanford) indicated that climate change mitigation policies are actually compatible with long-term economic growth and improvement in overall human welfare. The difference is that today we have an economic system that fundamentally values short-term growth over long-term policies that critically evaluate how the global economy must look if it is to be politically legitimate and ecologically possible.

    2. i on the ball patriot

      Richard said — “And to get rid of the legislation and the public ire behind it three things were necessary: contrary ’science,’ faked or real outrate from ‘plain folks’ to counter popular backing of environmental law, and packed legislators to stop passing such laws and gut what was gotten on the books.”

      Richard, you might want to add a fourth ‘necessity’ to your above list and it should be right up front, i.e., first, the wealthy ruling elite set the terms for the battlefield of debate.

      Brin’s piece was diminished severely by using their terms, ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’.

      His title would have been more effective if it were, “Distinguishing Pollution “Deniers” From “Skeptics” , instead of; “Distinguishing Climate “Deniers” From “Skeptics”.

      By using their meme he aides and abets them by limiting the debate.

      ‘Climate change’ and ‘global warming’ are only two of the many EFFECTS of global POLLUTION. Using their terms shifts the focus away from the many forms of death dealing global pollution, easily identified in communities all over the globe, to remote glaciers, polar ice caps, etc. Yes I believe climate change and global warming are effects of pollution, but, so too are the thousands of other horrible effects of pollution that seem to get lost and downplayed by staying on the ruling elite furnished meme.

      Time spent reading Brin would be better spent reading here I believe …

      And rather than directing the public’s eye to glaciers and remote temperature measuring stations,etc., these are the images — the right here, right now effects of pollution — that need to be shown to the deniers …

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      1. i on the ball patriot

        And of course by framing the debate around pollution, where it belongs, you would be able to include this kind of AIR POLLUTION provided by the wealthy ruling elite …


        “Police forces all over the UK will soon be able to draw on unmanned aircraft from a national fleet, according to Home Office plans. Last month it was revealed that modified military aircraft drones will carry out surveillance on everyone from protesters and antisocial motorists to fly-tippers, and will be in place in time for the 2012 Olympics.

        Surveillance is only the start, however. Military drones quickly moved from reconnaissance to strike, and if the British police follow suit, their drones could be armed — but with non-lethal weapons rather than Hellfire missiles.

        The flying robot fleet will range from miniature tactical craft such as the miniature AirRobot being tested by Essex police, to BAE System’s new HERTI drone as flown in Afghanistan. The drones are cheaper than police helicopters — some of which will be retired — and are as wide as 12m in the case of HERTI.

        Watching events on the ground without being able to act is frustrating. Targets often got away before an unarmed drone could summon assistance. In fact, in 2000 it was reported that an airborne drone spotted Osama bin Laden but could do nothing but watch him escape. So the RAF has been carrying out missions in Afghanistan with missile-armed Reapers since 2007. From the ground these just look like regular aircraft.

        The police have already had a similar experience with CCTV. As well as observing, some of these are now equipped with speakers. Pioneered in Middleborough, the talking CCTV allows an operator to tell off anyone engaging in vandalism, graffiti or littering.

        Unmanned aircraft can also be fitted with speakers, such as the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), which could not only warn fly tippers that they were breaking the law but also be loud enough to drive them away.

        The LRAD is a highly directional speaker made of a flat array of piezoelectric transducers, producing intense beam of sound in a 30-degree cone. It can be used as a loudhailer, or deafen the target with a jarring, discordant noise. Some ships now carry LRAD as an anti-pirate measure: It was used to drive off an attack on the Seabourn Spirit off Somalia in 2005.

        LRAD makers American Technology prefer to call its product a device rather than a weapon, and use terms such as “deterrent tones” and “influencing behaviour.” Police in the US have already adopted a vehicle-mounted LRAD for crowd control, breaking up protests at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh last year, although there have been warnings about the risk of hearing damage.

        The LRAD has been tested on the Austrian S-100 unmanned helicopter, and the technology is ready if there is a police requirement.”

        More here …

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      2. velobabe

        mr. patriot you are just spot on with that call. my teacher wants that word POLLUTION to COME BACK. he also said he wants to start using words like climate justice.

        1. i on the ball patriot

          Velobabe your teacher sounds perceptive. Tell him we need to bring back the word USURY also. Thanks for the comment.

    3. nowhereman

      The driving force for climate “skeptics” is the fact that AGW is a cult, were “science” is the new religion, and non-believers (or at least free thinkers) are heretics.
      We all get that pollution is a real problem, and something must be done about it. In fact it seems that that is what NAFTA appeared to do. It off shored most of the major polluters. (smelters, leather manufacturers and heavy industry). Wouldn’t we all want those jobs back now, right?
      The earth has been around for millions of years, the so called “climate” has been fluctuating with and without our presence.
      The notion that something as insignificant as the human race in the overall flow of the history of the universe has even the remotest impact on anything is pure hubris.
      It’s the lame proposition that CO2 is the problem that sticks in my craw, because I know I can’t live without it.
      The true destroyer of the human race is modern American agra-biz and Genetically Modified crops, pesticides and air and water pollutants.
      But it’s all, look over here, don’t pay any attention to the real problems.
      Wake-up people.
      It’s the same with “free markets” and “capitalism”, accepted on faith, worshiped as the truth, guess what folks, you’ve been had.
      Unfortunately, it all has to end badly for that reality to coalesce. Here’s hoping it’s survivable.

      1. gordon

        Yes, I too get irritated by the emphasis on AGW as the only environmental issue, in a world in which chemical pollution, soil loss, fisheries collapse and exhaustion of natural capital services are huge problems. Worse, the AGW campaigners are not producing any policy proposals likely to do any good. I have no faith in cap-and-trade or carbon tax as useful because they are likely to be so corruptly implemented (if implemented at all) as to be worse than useless. In a purely practical sense, I am becoming a “denier”.

        1. dlr

          Yes, it is unreasonable to expect that countries like China and India, with 100’s of millions of people living on the equivalent of $1 a day are going to turn away from the use of coal and oil. People WILL DIE if the third world countries are forced to use ‘sustainable agriculture’ and ‘eco-friendly’ ways of generating power.

          The United States, and Western Europe are rich enough to at least contemplate doing something like that, but it would be a disaster for the inhabitants of third world countries. Basic needs like clean water, getting enough to eat every day, and the most basic of medical care are serious, pressing problems for large parts of humanity. You can’t expect people who are living on 1,100 calories a day to not use modern technology – and the coal and oil that drive it – to try and get enough to eat – to try and get enough for their kids to eat.

          If the environmentalists want to do something practical to help the earth, they should use their energy to distribute free birth control pills and condoms to people who are so poor they can’t support themselves, let alone a couple of more kids.

      2. Richard Kline

        So nowhereman, it is evident by your remarks that you did not read Brin, or that if you did nothing he said registered. He addresses _extensively_ issues about science, scientists, and the issues of validity with scientific evidence in his piece. You do not, in any way. Your assertions that those convinced by evidence of AGW are ‘science cultists’ is simple polemical ignorance, which discredits otherwise useful perspectives you might have on the issue. That assertion of ‘cult believers’ is fundamentally false, and the determination of you and too many others to hammer it home notwithstanding its falseness is unedifying. There are, as you say, many problems with science, with scientific consensus, and especially with Big Science. Lumping them together under a generic screed says nothing about them and too much about the lumper. Try acquiring an education in philosophy of science and the history of actual scientific debates rather than simply shouting how much you don’t like scientists.

        Regarding those climate fluctuations over millions of years, yes, that is critical evidence in this debate—for AGW. ‘Skeptics’ and ‘deniers’ both don’t seem to get this, which is signature of their lack of command of the actual analysis, a lack of command they seem to blame on the ‘cultic scientists’ rather than their own ignorance, situational or wilfull. The thing about those fluctuations: there is strong evidence of stability in them. Especially over the last few 100k years; especially as pulled out by statistical analysis. The really evident finding from _actual competent research_ on the issue of palaeoclimatology is that we should be in an Ice Age _NOW_ by everything that is understood in the modeling of that palaeoclimatology. Yes, things aren’t precise. No, you don’t miss this kind of trend by 6000+ years. And indeed, we had the kind of deterioration typical of a stadial onset from c. 4000 BCE. Plenty of evidence, historical and in all kinds of convergent physical research. But . . . it didn’t happen. There was an amelioration of that by the last two millennia. That famed Medeival Warming Period: that is evidence FOR AGW. The clear trend of the last six thousand years is that we have broken the oscillation trends over the last several 100k years, broken those trends _upward_.

        AGW didn’t start with the Industrial Revolution. It was well under way before then. What has happened since the Industrial Revolution is a further and sharp _upward_ deflection of the trend of the last several millennia. Is that the result of increased atmospheric carbon together with increased atmospheric CO2. Well, it seems to have escaped the ‘skeptics’ and ‘deniers’ both that palaeoclimatoligists have debated this issue EXHAUSTIVELY amongst themselves for well over a generation, and no other explanation for the up-trends have, well, held water, while models built upon those two assumptions have been _by far_ the most consistent with present evidence. At this point, the burden of proof lies with those _who disagree with C + CO2_ as the explanation. Not that those disagreable disputants ever bother with anything that amounts to proof or even rational evidence-based arguments. Screaming about how scientists are such lousy intellectually corrupt people without any demonstrated understanding regarding who scientists are, how they do their science, of what the evidence is is simply bigoted; not even an argument. Brin covers this ground, but one seldom sees anyone fuming over AGW do the same, which in itself is telling. Those who accept the model criticize it; those who don’t accept it scream “It’s all worthless, and they’re all liars or dupes.” *hmmph*

        There’s a primer for you. Until you chose to engage with that fact set, your argument is . . . nowhere . . . .

  4. Swedish Lex

    On “Working week should be 21 hours, says New Economic Foundation”.

    Here is a link to the underlying report which I will spend a bit of time digging into:

    From a cursory look, it seems that the New Economics Report should be cross read with the Stiglitz, Sen, Fitoussi Report commissioned by Sarkozy of last year:

    Bonne lecture

  5. attempter

    Re a 21 hour week:

    This is just as true today as it’s been for over 50 years, ever since we first started hearing the Big Lie of all of this, that every kind of “efficiency”, including how technology was going was going to liberate us from work, would free up all of society for far more leisure time. We’d all be working just a few hours a week.

    That should in fact long since have been possible by now, and that’s what “capitalism” promised. That’s what was going to trickle down if we simply allowed a profit-based system to exist.

    But no, it was all a Big Lie. Nothing was ever meant to trickle down. The wealth, the benefits, the potential time saving, every aspect of efficiency, was never intended to be distributed among those whose work made it possible.

    Rather, it was all to be monopolized by rentiers who had set up toll booths at strategic points. And the efficiency space freed up was used to liquidate jobs completely instead of making it possible for them to pay a living wage for fewer hours worked, the way the original promise lied that it would.

    Re Obama’s treason, here’s another piece, this one on how he iced his grassroots movement as soon as the election was over.

    Unfortunately the piece, like Tomasky’s, still indulges the lie that Obama’s well-meaning but incompetent. But substitute calculated suppression for ineptitude as the source of Obama’s and Plouffe’s actions, and you have a good description of events.

    Of course, as the Huffington piece correctly points out, even by his treacherous corporatist lights Obama has still been politically stupid and incompetent. So it’s correct to say he’s malevolent but incompetent.

    He’s by ideology and nature a “moderate Republican”, the piece says – that’s right. And yet where those went extinct among Republicans, he thinks he can pull it off as a Democrat? Who exactly is going to vote for that in 2012? I don’t think there’s enough hacks and idiots among “progressives”, and Obama’s truly insane if he thinks all his appeasement is going to win him Republican votes.

    Thanks 100% to him, Republicans are feeling much, much better about themselves today than they were a year ago, while real progressives are feeling much worse.

    (As the Rolling Stone piece demonstrates, that latter effect was a calculated goal of Obama’s.)

    1. Charley

      Larry Summers was asked about the possibility of shorter working time several months ago and dismissed it. But looking at ten years of elevated unemployment, and six years between recessions will probably change minds.

      At least, I hope so – it will get ugly if it does not.

  6. DownSouth

    ► “How Much Does a Grecian Urn?”

    Even though Simon Johnson and Peter Boone are much more realistic than the Europhiles, they are still hopelessly idealistic.

    And by starting the clock after the crisis had already hit, they all too conveniently omit telling the part played by the international criminal banking cartel in creating the crisis.

    Johnson and Boone tell us: “Unsustainable debt dynamics can undermine us all.”

    Earth to Johnson and Boone! Isn’t it a little bit too late for this sort of admonishment?

    john bougearel hit the nail on the head yesterday when, in response to Schwarzman’s attempt to exculpate the international criminal banking cartel, he said:

    The economy is about to begin blowing up again in 2011-2012 regardless of public anger precisely because those delayed fuses are going to blow it up again. It won’t be because of public anger the economy blows up again, but the egregiousness of events that preceded the economy and capital markets blowing up in 2007-09. It is already baked in the cake that they spent so much time and energy on making. (They really ought to lament over a few bars of Macarther’s Park “I don’t think I can take it…cause it took so long to bake it, and I will never have that recipe again…” good lawd!)

    There will be no pointing back by revisionists by the Schwarzman’s of the world to say (post 2012) it was public anger in 2009–2011 which caused banks to make credit unavailable again. The next seizure in the credit markets is already sitting on the books, public anger or not!

    And Johnson and Boone touting the IMF exposes a parochialism that is nothing short of mind boggling. Nestor Kirchner pretty much told the IMF how the cow ate the cabbage in his inaugural speech to the IV Summit of the Americas in Mar de Plata back in 2005. The IMF, with its scorched earth tactics that come right out of the Libertarian-Austrian-Neoliberal playbook, serves as little more than the right hand of the international criminal banking cartel. After reading the IMF the riot act, Kirchner concludes:

    We hope that the IMF knows how to listen, and above all, to understand and to learn, to try to negotiate with sincerity and in good faith.ública%20Argentina.pdf

    Yea right. Fat chance. The only thing the neoliberal IMF knows how to do, for those who won’t kowtow to its slash and burn tactics, is to send in the CIA goons to install military dictatorships and start the “dirty wars” all over again, “disappearing” any dissidents bold enough to challenge the corporate fascism it upholds.

  7. Dan Duncan

    Brin’s piece and your post are perfect examples of the false dichotomy of environmental discourse.

    I’ll grant much of what you say in the post…that too much of the GW skepticism has, in fact, been hijacked by “the business interests of wealthy nativist despoilers”.

    OK, fine.

    But you’re blinded by your own ideology if you don’t believe that Environmental Consciousness has been hijacked by “the GOVERNING interests of WEALTHY INTERNATIONALIST despoilers”.

    And in the end, we all lose…because Climate Change is just another skirmish (and distraction) within the Framework of the Real Dilemma: As an individual, which do you detest more: Being controlled by Corporate Interests or Government Interests? [Note, the choice isn’t which do you prefer more, it’s which do you detest more…as they both suck.]

    To the issue at hand, however, it would be refreshing to see the Environmental Movement to regroup and focus on something besides CO2. Put the vice-grip on those evil corporations with respect to the Pangean Garbage Dump in the Pacific, the tragic slaughter of Great Apes for Palm Oil, the diminishing supplies of clean water, China (too much to list), etc., etc…

    Maybe there’s a large group of people who are sympathetic to these legitimate issues–even though they think the all-consuming focus on CO2 is a huge scam.

    Additionally, it would be refreshing to see the Environmentalists explore the idea of aligning with other interest groups.

    As a thought experiment— consider the implications of the following: On Monday, Environmentalists, through Green Peace, etc. come out and state –“We love life and the sanctity of ALL living things, therefore we are adamantly opposed to abortion. We support the Christian Right on Abortion and we appreciate their support on these pressing Environmental Issues”

    [It’s only a hypothetical, so chill the F*ck out; I write it as an Abortion Agnostic.]

    Why not move on then, and pick up some religious zealots?
    The science is “settled” after all…so you have no problem there. Certainly you’re not afraid that scientists might defect, find “new” data and switch sides. Additionally, you can appreciate the efficacy of Middle American Soccer Moms hammering home the message that “Jesus Loves Recylers”.

    What on Earth stops this from happening? Are you telling me that the Feminist Movement brings more to the Ecological Table than the Christian Right? [Remembering of course, that Feminism has devolved into Abortionism, and not so much with females.]

    Now, I know there are many thorny issues, like the Theory of Evolution and Pantheism vs Monotheism that would make such a proposition difficult. But I also know that many “Environmentalists” on the Left would spit in disgust and rather see the end of the world before EVER aligning themselves with the Sarah Palins of this world…and that this contempt runs deeper than the fact that there are fools who want Intelligent Design to be taught along with Evolution.

    So, go ahead and call me a Denier, Skeptic, Moron or worse….But in the Fight for Survival, humans do tend to be quite pragmatic. Yet, the Environmentalists are so “Principled”… and proud of it. I don’t buy it.

    And so are the anti-abortionsists, BTW. Why in the hell aren’t they considering a movement away from an alliance with the NRA to the Green Movement? “Babies are getting killed, yet we draw the line with at the NRA”???

    Too many False Dichotomies, False Divisions…and statically inappropriate bedfellows.

    1. LeeAnne

      In a Democracy, government interest is the public interest. But, at least for now, the right wing has ruthlessly destroyed representative government and shredded the constitution for anything other than their own control andfinancial interests.

      One of their favorite tactics in their war against against the people and representative government is encouraging and mobilizing compulsive pornographers who comment thus: “[Remembering of course, that Feminism has devolved into Abortionism, and not so much with females.] ”

      Au contraire! Women have been working for equal representation, power and pay.

      But the radical right, with an eagle eye on the bottom line, find sneaky porn irresistible, cheap and useful in every situation.

    2. craazyman

      yeah, I’m so tired of the global warming “debate”. I wonder if even 1% of the advocates — pro and con, left and right, or Tastes Great and Less Filling — or whatever the low-calorie-no-fat-thought-substitute dichotomy of choice is, has ever taken a single course in statistical analysis.

      If not, then they don’t know what the hell they are talking about. And if they don’t believe scientists are capable of career-climbing, tenure-chasing, doubt-erasing, mindless adherence to politically correct dogma, then they didn’t watch the financial crisis unfold in all it’s High Finance Derivatives Spread Risk Can’t Spot a Bubble Says the Princeton Professor Do-Do-Bird glory, apparently. Not to mention all the other manifestations of group think around the world today and throughout history.

      But that doesn’t stop them. Oh no. Let’s get out the white hoods and the rope and lynch anyone who pauses for thought and call them filthy names OR better yet even, let’s oil up their rears with the KY and set up a Cap and Trade scheme and loot whatever they have left, if anything, after our big meltdown loot.

      Yeah. Democracy in action. ROTFLMAO

  8. Swedish Lex

    Simon Johnson’s op-ed is pretty much on the mark although his pro-IMF bias, which much be deemed natural in a way, deludes him to a certain degree. By the way, it was Sarkozy who appointed Strauss-Kahn. Had he wanted to neutralise the latter, Sarkozy could easily have sent a crony to DC instead. Strauss-Kahn has no serious political platform in France so repeating that Sarkozy feels threatned by him does not make it more true.

    As I pointed out on NC yesterday, the EU lacks contingency plans for letting euro states abandon the euro. Johnson discusses this too. My point is that euro states that prefer not to undergo serious austerity programs, in return for support from the other euro states, should have the option to leave the euro, reintroduce their national currencies and manage themselves. This would be desireable from both an economic and political perspective.

    Another point concerns the EU States that are waiting to adopt the euro and in doing so are bound by the Treaty provisions on economic entry criteria. he states that do follow these criteria are currently experiencing very painful domestic economic consequences in part, but they are obliged to respect the criteria under the Treaty. The Treaty thus needs to be modified so that a new category of EU States is introduced; EU States wanting to introduce the euro over time but not yet prepared to do so. Sweden has de facto carved out such a category for itself by not introducing the euro as a matter of national policy. Sweden in thus technically breating the EU rules by maintaining the Krona (only the UK and Dk have formal exemptions).

    In view of the fact that the euro states seem to be moving towards a situation with increased common economic governance, or federalism, it thus makes sense to allow states to 1) leave the euro and 2) wait to adopt the euro until that is the wish of the countries in question.

  9. Francine McKenna

    Again we see PwC at the center of derivatives valuation disputes, such as we saw in the AIG/Goldman Sachs debacle. This, is in spite of the fact PwC is both AIG and Goldman Sachs auditor. PwC is running the Lehman liquidation in UK, with Alvarez and Marsal in a prominent role. However, it is certainly true that it is PwC that is scrutinizing the claims by other banks regarding the valuation of their counterparty claims from a standards basis. I’d like to see a chart comparing all the counterparties marks/valuations of the common instruments. With PwC being the one singing off on many of these marks as auditors, how can there be so many disputes?

    1. MichaelC

      Excellent point. I’d ask the same question to each of the Acct firms, Actually, I’d like the Crisis committe to ask them that question.

      Beginning in early 2007, and in HSBCs case YE2006 it was clear every major player had different marks for the same trades, yet the auditors signed off on the varying marks for clients on both sides of the trades.

      How was that possible?

  10. Namazu

    The piece at HuffPo is weak and undeserving of the link. Obama is in full intellectual capture mode at the hands of the financial industry, which is now the lens through which politicians of both parties see the economy–Democrats probably a little worse at this point due to political geography and the place of Bill Clinton’s in the boom phase of the cycle. Perhaps a bit of the arriviste in Obama craves the approval of these rich, powerful, and oh-so-socially responsible plutocrats, but that would be idle speculation–just like any alleged “conservative” influence from his Kansas relatives. The left/right framework is no longer just an intellectual crutch, it’s a noose. I’m sure Arianna understands this.

  11. plschwartz

    Simon Johnson seems to have nailed it. As far as the economic realities go. But there are cultural problems as well.Greek culture in particular seems not to believe in pay-as-you-go. I do not remember where I read that comparisons of tax avoidance is a common dinner party topic. Phony receipts are the rule not the exception etc.
    Cultural Darwinism for all the vilification it brings, flows as naturally as the more biological version.
    {DH Fisher (Albion’s seed) details how four cultures imported from the UK to the US in the 1600’s remained just barely under the radar, but one has now (Tea Party) has strongly reemerged}
    Cultures it would seem can not be changed but only superseded. We see some of this now as some parts of European society have accepted a pan-european identity.
    Having heavy taxation etc.imposed on them will not I trust go down well with the Greeks. To have it imposed by the Germans would not go down well at all. I suggest that the German desire not to have the IMF involved seems to involve a righteous vendictiveness by certain Germans. Not good at all.
    The IMF has the aura of a non-personal, non-national identity. They are a perfect “THEY” before which all needs bow.

    1. DownSouth

      Well I’m sure glad I’m from Texas, where the culture is dominated by rugged individualists like George Bush and Phil Gramm, and not some place like Greece, California, Nevada, Arizona or Florida where they “seem not to believe in pay-as-you-go.”

      Of course the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act had nothing to do with the fact that so many people in California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida got so deeply indebted.

      After retiring from the Senate in 2003, Graham found a nice cultural fit with the European banking behemoth UBS, whom he went to work for lobbying congress, the Fed and the Treasury Department. Congress passed the Responsible Lending Act–called the “Loan Shark Protection Act” by consumer advocates, as it was designed to preempt stronger state laws against anti-predatory lending. The Fed largely ignored the underlying and growing problems within the subprime mortgage/housing markets. Henry Paulson became the Treasury Secretary in July, 2007, when, “In 2005, [at] Goldman [he] securitized $68 billion in residential mortgages and $23 billion in ‘other assets’ primarily related to CDOs,” (Mother Jones, August, 2008).

      So Phil Graham has a message for the people of Greece, California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida who are so deeply indebted: Suck it up! Pick yourselves up by your bootstraps! He and his northern European banking buddies are tired of hearing “this constant whining, complaining.”

      1. Doug Terpstra

        In July of 08, just before emergency bailouts, McCain’s econ advisor Phil Gramm called Bush’s “little rough patch” a “mental recession” and Americans “a nation of whiners.”

        Texas water quality is highly suspect.

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Regarding Detroit class on how to work at Walmart, I suggest that they also teach all classes, not just the one about working for Walmart, inside Walmart.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    By the way, what happened to all the Pythagoreans in Greece? They used to be very good with numbers…at least whole numbers. Now, no one trusts Greek numbers. Mabye the 4th Qtr GDP is not -0.8% but +0.5%. Who can tell?

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


    I think I have found firm evidence why the government can behave fundamentally different from an ordinary citizen, e.g. why public debt is different than private debt or the trillion dollar deficit doesn’t matter.

    The federal government deals in trillions of dollars (10 to 12th power), while we peons deal simply in dollars or often pennies.

    An electron is about 10 to the minus 15th power meter wide; while as we are about 2 meters long.

    It’s obvious we are looking at some kind of reverse quantum effect here so that rules that apply to little things like us do not apply to a gigantic entity like the federal government.

    When the government gets to deal in hundred trillions or thousand trillions of dollars range, I think we will see even stranger ‘quantum’ phenomenons.

  15. sam hampster

    Really, what would we do with ourselves if the fundamentals of national economies were sound and our politicians were effective and efficient? Personally, I like a good train wreck, so I am an especially happy person these days.

    I was once an idealist, but no more and I feel so much better, now. Society is corrupt from top to bottom, of course! Despite what your parents, teachers and preachers told you, that is the way the world really is. After all, when you look closely, didn’t they all choose the selfish path, too.

    As we walk, we all crush the skulls upon whom our comfortable lifestyles depend on. We really can’t complain then when, suddenly, we realize that our skull is being crushed, too.

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