Links 3/24/10

Last supper ‘has been super-sized’, say obesity experts BBC

Nathan “Flutebox” Lee and Beardyman @ Google, London YouTube (hat tip reader Skippy)

Chinese consumed millions of gallons of toxic sewage oil: study Raw Story (hat tip reader John D). Eeew!

Israel, Obama and the Doomsday Weapon Uri Avnery, Counterpunch (hat tip Marshall)

Could SCOTUS Be The Death Panel For Health-Care Reform? Zackary Roth

Anticipating Eurozone collapse Ed Harrison

Tim on the Hill – Ho Hum or Ahem? Bruce Krasting

Europe: Defiant in Berlin Financial Times

Recovery depends on Main Street Robert Reich (hat tip Swedish Lex). My strongest “crisis is a’coming soon” indicator: the FT hasn’t been this good since early 2007.

Berlusconi: Euro ‘screwed everyone’ Independent (hat tip Swedish Lex)

Wall Street Despised in Poll Showing Majority Want Regulation Bloomberg

Antidote du jour:


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  1. Swedish Lex

    Note that the Berlusconi article is from 2005. The point is that the sentiment of the Italian leadership – business and politics – hardly can have improved since then.

    1. renting_is_like_owning

      ‘Silvio Berlusconi launched an astonishing attack on the euro’ – from 2005? Wow – I thought that was the sort of thing that got him elected back in the 90s, along with his not exactly neo-fascist and his northern separatist (and not exactly creatively racist) coalition partners. Most Italians have hated the eruo ever since its introduction, which led to a near doubling of many prices – from lawyers to dentists to food. All blamed on the euro, of course, even as everyone knew that it was just typical gouging. We must be really reaching when we are discussing the 5 year old opinions of a billionaire owner of essentially all major Italian TV outlets when talking about the euro.

      Which is just confirmed when reading something like this – ‘Greek politicians threatening to go cap in hand to the IMF, involving the Americans and humiliating the EU.’ I don’t think anyone in the rest of the EU/eurozone will feel any humiliation that someone else will be paying part of the Greek bill, based as it is to a major extent on accounting fraud.

      Oh wait – I just read to the end – ‘when I say ‘collapse’ I mean economic collapse rather than break up.’ Oh, well – global economic collapse is something I certainly believe in, so this is not out of line at all. A bit misleading, but then, so much of the writing about the euro in the English language press tends in that direction anyways.

    2. Claire

      “The point is that the sentiment of the Italian leadership – business and politics – hardly can have improved since then.”

      That’s an understatement…

      However, if I remember correctly, the North is the industrial part of Italy that actually produces something (and cheats on taxes). Southern Italy, where the bulk of the population resides, produces nothing (and also cheats like hell on taxes). The south has the political votes, and given its dependence on tourism, I imagine that the South is pretty happy with the Euro.

      I find it interesting that the Euro was a political punching bag even before problems got to be all that big. Going forward, every politician (and most citizens) will want to blame the Euro for his country’s problems. It’s strange to see people hate their own currency (especially while it’s relatively stable)

  2. attempter

    Re health racketeering:

    It’s always been obvious that this mandate was unconstitutional. The government cannot compel a citizen, merely as the head tax for his being allowed to exist, to purchase a private product. (The comparison to auto insurance is moronic on its face, since no one is compelled to own a car. Anyone who made this comparison is an idiot or a hack liar.)

    “Simply being an American would trigger it.”

    That’s why I’ve long referred to it as a poll tax. I’ve also called it a kind of bill of attainder. It’s exactly as if the government gave you a list of Mafia gangs and said “you can choose one of these to pay protection money to, but you have to pay one of them”.

    If this stands, there would then be no theoretical restriction to the government forcing you to buy any “product” from any connected racket. Maybe they can force you to buy life insurance, or locust insurance, or asteroid insurance. How about forcing you to buy a TV? Or some gadget? Or a particular type of software? No doubt “do-gooder” arguments could be mustered on behalf of any kind of mandate to buy anything, no matter how worthless. (It doesn’t get any more worthless than this toxic paper, “health insurance” with zero regulation or cost control; the other post about Lehman and its “regulators” really puts in perspective the level of intelligence of those who think this “regulation” is going to be any different.)

    Of course, however unconstitutional this clearly is, the corporatist rogue court may embrace it anyway. Just look at the very similar Kelo case, where again it was government as hired thug, stealing property from the weak to hand it over to the strong and connected.

    And there too, we warned how all the alleged benefits were lies, and there we were proven correct. Just as we will be here.

    Re Geithner in Congress and the GSEs:

    Everything he said is clear. The banks are insolvent, the government is insolvent, but the looting and therefore the accounting fraud must continue. This is ground zero for the Bailout.

    “The GAO has agreed that it is not necessary to consolidate the debts on the government’s books.”

    BK Enough said.

    Et tu, GAO? Oh well, everybody has to become a traitor sooner or later. Just ask Kucinich.

    This morning I wrote a post on Geithner’s “testimony”, on the GSEs and mortgages in general:

    1. Claire

      I agree with the general tone of your post (and the dubious constitutionality of the health care law), but if I remember, the Kelo case was really decided by the left-wing of the court. I remember being somewhat astonished to have been in rare agreement with the Justices whom I normally ridicule…

      1. attempter

        The rogue court is the rogue court. Just because they may differ on some of the details doesn’t change the fundamental corporatist capture.

        The Citizens United case was in substance unanimous. They all agree on the “corporate personhood” obscenity. Four only disagreed on a process detail, that’s all.

  3. Bates

    RE ‘Recovery depends on Main Street’

    A very rare focus on why 90+ % of America is headed for Bananaville while the remaining small percentile of Americans is weathering the economic storm…So far.

    Of course the same opinion piece by Robert Reich could have been written and seen as relevant in many countries, not merely the US.

    The Main Streets of most of the world were thrown under the bus long ago…Main Street America is simply the latest to join the list. There will be more tossed under the bus as time passes if nothing significant is done by TPTB to improve the lot of Main Streeters. The ‘privatized profits, socialized losses’ game continues. Will TPTB throw Main Streeters a bone? The ‘big question’ is, what will Main Streeters do, if anything, to change the game?

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Should the government apologize to and compensate victims for his near zero interest rate policy?

    (It’s ‘his’ and not ‘its’ as the government is too yang these days; ‘he’ can bring out his ying side by being more passivie.)

    By the way, when we say we need more ‘women’ in, say, government, we shouldn’t mean more anatomically correct women, but more feminine energy. In that sense, it’s better to have feminine men (or girlie men, as the benighted Arnold put it) than musculine women. Alas, we live in a superficial world and the latter is what we get.

    In any case, back to government victims and the dismal science. Here are two mathematical identities:

    Total credit = total debt

    Total interest income from total credit = total interest expense from total debt.

    As you lower the interest burden on irresponsible debtors, by lowering rates artificially, you also rob the responsible savers, many of them are, contrary to some comments yesterday, not interested in starting a revolutionary, but are passionate members of N.A.P. (Napping Anonymously Persons). I know these people quite well and they are not violent people but as victims of today’s near zero interest rate policy, do need compensation from the government.

    PS: N.A.P. has many local chapters where members go to nap together and also holds many intenstive napping workshops throughtout the year. If you are interested, check them out.

  5. charcad

    r.e. “Recovery depends on Main Street”

    Reich is simply not credible here. One year ago his primary anxiety, in public testimony before Charles Rangel’s committee, was to make sure as little stimulus as possible was received by skilled workers or white males.

    And now this long discredited jackass snivels:

    “They are not investing it in new plant or jobs.”

    The F-T at least is an appropriate venue for this sort of two-faced nonsense. It was founded by conman and demagogue Horatio Bottomley.

    “…financier, swindler, journalist, newspaper proprietor, populist politician and Member of Parliament (MP).”

    A character type that has since become very familiar to us.

  6. kevinearick

    OK, so small capital, those with millions in property, one I know that has a couple billion in Florida, are starting to get the picture:

    In boom times, the sharks build all kinds of chokeholds in the economy, while other investors are enjoying steady income streams and increasing asset prices, on the theory that they will earn exponential profits scooping up depressed assets on the downturn, while holding the economy under water, for sale on the next upturn. In this iteration, however, that last part was a bad assumption for small capital (and for big capital later). Now, just maintaining those assets is pulling them under.

    Also during boom times, vertical organizations employ government to create all kinds of rules to direct economic activity their way, barriers to future competition, as detailed previously, in the positive feedback cycle.

    As the nexus recedes, local small capital can no longer afford all those market limiting rules (certificates, licenses, whatever), but neither can it publish deviation from practice. This process is working its way up, from small jobs to much bigger jobs. The law follows behavior, first informally, then formally.

    Those capable of operating in and around the looking glass are beginning to do very, very well.

    For the sake of clarity (it’s hard enough to clearly identify the thread from local company to vertical cartels) we’ll stick with elevators:

    The typical vertical organization in place has to charge $250/hr per 2-man team, plus do all kinds of extra work, plus charge 100x mark-ups on boards just to cover all their political overhead, to feed the economic activity/nexus machine, and they still have to replace entire product lines, because of faulty proprietary designs (it’s not just elevators; it’s technology everywhere in the system).

    So, where the nexus is receding, small capital is quietly replacing all those old contracts, now that they are not politically forced to comply. All the basic requirements are in the hopper, and the flux is flowing, to begin replacing the technology infrastructure, from the bottom up.

    Don’t get me wrong, the people that do not understand the looking glass, computers, and motor control stand no chance. Technology is a lot like a gun. Without responsible stewardship, very bad things happen. And guns, technology, and cartels are not going to go away any time soon.


    how long can they buy tax receipts with several times electronic monetary expansion / QE, swap out companies on the DOW, pin everything on a few big banks getting free money, borrow $2.5 T a year, and have the ratings companies incrementally throw other nations under the bus in round-robin order? how long can an irrational, globally integrated market prevail? until the real economy is restored, or social disorder reaches the level of crony capatilism order, whichever happens first. it was sure ugly today, and they can’t broadcast real economic news.

    1. kevinearick

      I was up in Nova Scotia pushing a broom for $10/hr and emptying trash, watching 20 guys swarm over the printing press 4 hours a night, because of the integral feedback loop. It got so bad one night, they sent me out to sweep the parking lot.

      1. kevinearick

        It was supposed to be a rising star company, with all kinds of growth potential on paper. My opinion “diverged”.

  7. Ray Duray

    Link suggestion:

    In brief:

    Truth Has Fallen and Taken Liberty With It


    There was a time when the pen was mightier than the sword. That was a time when people believed in truth and regarded truth as an independent power and not as an auxiliary for government, class, race, ideological, personal, or financial interest.

    Today Americans are ruled by propaganda. Americans have little regard for truth, little access to it, and little ability to recognize it….

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