Links 1/8/11

Silencing is a new illusion that shows it’s hard to notice when moving objects change Visionlab

Is something wrong with the sexual development of human males? Hals Report (hat tip reader May S)

US ‘wants Twitter details of Wikileaks activist’ BBC

Julian Assange and the journalists Foreign Policy (hat tip reader May S)

Connecticut, Vermont Move Forward on Their Own Health Care Options Dave Dayen, FireDogLake

Still a U, not a V Free Exchange

More of the Same Tim Duy

“Greenspan Challenges Critics to Prove Him Wrong” Mark Thoma. This ought to be a joke but it isn’t.

Bernanke Rejects Bailouts Wall Street Journal. Only banks need apply.

European Default Concern Will Spread to U.S., Japan, Buiter Says Bloomberg (hat tip Joe Costello)

PM told risk of new GFC significant Canberra Times (hat tip reader Glen)

The Shameful Attack on Public Employees Robert Reich, Truthout

Top Court in Massachusetts Voids Foreclosures by 2 Banks Gretchen Morgenson, New York Times, US foreclosure ruling to reverberate Financial Times

Vegas home prices: On the skid until 2032 CNN (hat tip reader Mary S)

UK banks defiant on bonuses for chiefs Financial Times

The Pew’s Tax Expenditure Database on Housing Subsidies MIke Konczal

Money market freezes and central banks Max Bruche and Javier Suarez. This is consistent with an issue yours truly discussed on a panel at the ASSA today, namely, that central banks are acting in an anti-democratic matter by acting in a quasi-fiscal role.

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-01-08 at 2.04.27 AM

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  1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How about nudibranchs as antidote?

    Nudibranchs are very appropriate for Naked Capitalism, I would think.

      1. Ignim Brites

        I have to second the brilliant suggestion for nudibranchs to be considered for antidotes. They bring to mind Chesterton’s magnificent exposition of the fact-miracle continuum.

        “The only words that ever satisfied me as describing Nature are the terms used in the fairy books, “charm,” “spell,” “enchantment.” They express the arbitrariness of the fact and its mystery. A tree grows fruit because it is a magic tree. Water runs downhill because it is bewitched. The sun shines because it is bewitched.”

  2. skippy

    RE: PM told risk of new GFC significant Canberra Times h/t Glen.

    Julia is now facing her own Waterloo…it could have been Kevin’s…the irony of the Universe is delicious in its absurdity.

    Skippy…thanks glen you brightened my day, OT just drove to Rocky and back on Thursday, left the area at 1:30PM and just made it through 400K of flood waters lapping at the low bridges between Gladstone and Gympie. The Bruce Highway between these two points is a series of interconnected pot holes w/ road crews throwing shovel fulls of bitumen between traffic at the problem. If there is enough sun they can lay 20M to 50M sections with road plants.

    PS. only 3 more months of rain to go…eh. Last 30 day forecast has 6 days with out rain…ha!

  3. Help offered

    Because there was a link about low sperm count, I am offering my help. Since making the below change, I have fathered three children without any problems. Before that, I was given no hope of ever being a father. Even exotic treatments like ICS were failing for us.

    What did I do? Dropped everything containing fluoride. It is a halogen that does whack up various things, including the sperm count. Few people know that it is so toxic that a tube of toothpaste would kill a small child. That is a fact. Now the government is slowly coming to its senses also, belatedly. I guarantee that, if you have low sperm count, drop everything with fluoride and make sure you get 2000mcg of folic acid daily…and enough zinc…and your DNA replication intense activities, such as sperm production, will be back to normal:

    1. Dirk77

      So General Jack Ripper was right? :) I read articles like this and I think I understand better how the average Joe’s opinion of science and technology is now not as high as it once was.

      Perhaps Isaac Asimov was correct that the maximum number of people this planet can support long term is only one billion (i.e., 1G). (I can’t find the original source of this at the moment, but here are simile quotes: Alter the evironment with great caution because human beings themselves may not be able to adapt (and that may not be immediately apparent).

      As an aside, does anyone know why efforts to limit the world’s population are out of fashion, as compared with, say 30 years ago? I would really like to know.

      1. Leviathan

        Good question. It likely has much to do with the draconian tactics adopted by those who took it most seriously: the Chinese one child policy (which has more or less doomed China to premature aging and dangerous levels of male sexual frustration), and the less well known experience in India in the 1970s when, under cover of his mother Indira Gandhi’s martial law, son Sanjay forced thousands of poor men to undergo vasectomies without their consent. Fortunately, Sanjay died before he was able to ascend the throne.

      2. another

        As an aside, does anyone know why efforts to limit the world’s population are out of fashion, as compared with, say 30 years ago? I would really like to know.

        Perhaps it’s because TPTB realize that overpopulation is a problem that solves itself and resources are better spent on ensuring that they and theirs survive the ‘solution’.

      3. attempter

        Here’s Dale Allen Pfeiffer’s classic study, “Eating Fossil Fuels”, which pegs the planet’s carrying capacity, sans fossil fuels, at c. 2 billion.

        I add, however, that it seems to implicitly assume capitalism, “property” in land, and the rest of the things that artificially destroy productivity. We know that diversified organic agriculture is more productive per acre than corporate monoculture. This would imply that if we dismantled commodity agriculture and replaced it with relocalized usufruct food production, far more people than that minimum could be fed using far less, or no, fossil fuels.

        As always, I add that this would also provide full employment, and for the first time all people would be self-proprietors.

        As for why population control is no longer an issue, that’s because the whole thing was a feint by the system to justify the neoliberal corporatist “Green Revolution” and to sidetrack gullible elements of the environmental movement. Needless to say, murderous neoliberalism never cared how many people existed and starved, since death is their business, and overpopulation helps keeps people in depoliticized misery, as well as depresses wages.

        Meanwhile they still get to tell the Big Lie that those who call for dismantling corporate agriculture are somehow proprosing to cause people to starve.

        The truth is the opposite, as I said above. Cooperative and self-managed organic agriculture feeds greater numbers of people than corporate commodity agriculture. Anyone who wants to maximize food production post-oil must want to end food corporatism right now.

        Of course the corporations and governments will resist this, and as a result many will die. But however many die, they will all be further murder victims of this murderous system. We who oppose corporate agriculture and land monopoly are proposing the solution that would maximize life.

        1. Dirk77

          Interesting fromthewilderness article. I will need to check their numbers, as the averge calorie intake quoted seems about two times too high. On the other hand, their limit of two billion on the gobal population for “sustainable” existence is larger than Asimov’s (I don’t know how he got his number). Time to subscribe to Survivalist magazine.

          1. Michael Cain

            Asimov almost certainly assumed a reasonably high level of technology, which is energy-intense. While people talk about building globe-spanning power grids to distribute massive amounts of renewable electricity, such are IMO unlikely to ever be built. My own back-of-the-envelope guess on population limit is about 1.2B, most likely in largely self-sufficient regions with 80-100M people each, and quite a lot of very empty space between them.

            If you want to start some lovely arguments, suggest to people that the US Great Plains and its continuing depopulation is an example of such an empty space, and will eventually lead to an East US and a West US that want to go in different directions.

        2. craazyman

          2 billion seems low. Consider there’s a billion in China alone, and I don’t believe there’s a lot of petro-factory farming going on, but maybe I’m mistaken. India has nearly a billion, and I think it’s mostly small-scale farms.

          Africa has about a billion alone. Although there’s a lot of turnover there. (darkly ironic LOL).

          Also strange to think that Ancient Athens produced Pericles, Plato, Aristotle, the tragedians, the sculptors, the painters, the mathematicians, the architects, etc. — from about 10,000 citizens.

          What is man, that thou art mindful of him and the son of man, that thou visitist him. Thou hast crowned him a little lower than the angels . . . etc. etc. I guess the Ancient Jews produced the Bible from a few thousand people. All the rest of us billions are just inert “containers” as the alienists say, carrying our inner flame for some unseen destiny out of space and out of time. Ouch. And I thawt I wuz special! bowahahahahahah

        3. emca

          An article of numbers and ratios, all damning.

          I would though questioned one point, that passive solar and biomass projects would or could remove land that could otherwise be used in agriculture. Land with little or no access or availability to water (desert) has and would not support agricultural ventures, nor can they be expected forthcoming. The land would not be taken away.

          Unfortunately water availability is also the limiting factor for the above alternate technologies, as both currently require water in their processes. Maybe stop growing food in arid lands and divert the water to other energy uses?

      4. Dirk77

        @Leviathan: I can see that, but I would have thought non-police state means would then have been employed, such as just removing the income tax credit for having children or encouraging the use of birth control? The effects of overpopulation are not decreasing…

        @another. I can see that because that would work into the goal of making it part of the Ponzi scheme on which our economy is now constructed.. But why silence from people who used to classified as “liberal”? For example, the Sierra Club for over a hundred years had a policy favoring restricting immigration because they knew, rightly, that more people means less open space for other creatures. That however was reversed in the mid ’90’s. Oh well. Thanks for both of your responses.

        1. Jim Haygood

          ‘I would have thought non-police state means would then have been employed, such as just removing the income tax credit for having children or encouraging the use of birth control?”

          The various dependent deductions and child-related tax credits are small potatoes compared to the vast subsidy of ‘free’ public schooling.

          Think about it — how many parents do you know who have started saving for college, even when the little tyke was still in the cradle? (I know I did.) But never is the cost of K-12 education considered in the decision to have kids, since it’s a free good.

          Even with (preferably means-tested) public educational subsidies, making the cost transparent would greatly change the personal calculus. If K-12 tuition ran $10,000 a year, people would take the $130,000 cost into account, even if most of it were borne by the public purse.

          What’s amazing is that even with this vastly mispriced subsidy of children in place in most countries, in much of Europe, Japan and Russia the population is STILL declining. What should this phenomenon be called — massive cultural rejection of a bankrupt future? Do people boycott breeding under fascist governments?

          1. Dirk77

            I call myself a libertarian, so you would think I would be against tax supported public schools, but I have no answer right now. To me the danger of having a large, ignorant segment of society may be too great. Not that public schooling is very good anymore (so I’ve heard).

          2. Paul Repstock

            I think you have part of the answer extention to you education susidy, I offer Europe where many countries offer even post secondary education for free and birth rates are still low. Educational opportunities may however be as much a symptom as a cause of low birth rates. Regions with a high population burden will be less able to afford universal education.

          3. Externality

            It is erroneous to assume that total “population burden” will be allowed to fall in the US. As birth rates dropped, elites wanting to maintain a “reserve army of labor,” (i.e., people needing work) began pushing for mass immigration to the West. By increasing the supply of people willing to do construction, meat packing, farm work, and other physically-demanding tasks, wealthy capitalists were able to undermine or destroy unions who had successfully used the stable or shrinking workforce to negotiate better pay and benefits. Now employers are free to exploit an endless supply of poorly-paid, poorly-treated workers who can often be removed from the plant with one call to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (or its foreign equivalent).

            As the drop in birth rates accelerated, so did cries for even more immigration to help grow the economy and protect social welfare programs. (Of course, many of these same elites now insist that it is “racist” to expect these immigrants to support retirement programs for (often much Whiter) retirees, and that these programs should be cut.) If Western birth rates dropped to zero, we would see calls for even more immigration, resulting in a stable or larger population.

            As long as the elites continue to increase immigration to offset falling Western birth rates, the problem of “population burden” in the West limiting access to resources will continue. (This assumes that groups wanting to limit immigration are unsuccessful.) The total population will not drop, only change its appearance, religion, etc.

      5. Externality

        dirk77 says:

        As an aside, does anyone know why efforts to limit the world’s population are out of fashion, as compared with, say 30 years ago? I would really like to know.

        Three reasons, in no particular order.

        1. As I posted elsewhere, a stable or shrinking workforce increases the bargaining power of workers at the expense of capital. By maintaining a large “reserve army of labor,” also known as the unemployed, employers are able undermine unions and the bargaining power of workers generally. Increasing the population through high birth rates and/or immigration from high birth rate countries faster than the rate of job creation ensures that there will always be unemployed desperate for work at less then current wages.

        2. All, or virtually all, of the countries with a total fertility rate greater than the 2.1 required to avoid population shrinkage are predominantly Black, Hispanic, or Hindu, or Muslim. Predominantly White or East Asian countries (e.g., Japan, S. Korea) have replacement or sub-replacement birth rates. (Israeli demographics are a contentious issue.) Since a the burden of a one- or two- child policy would fall predominantly on poorer, darker-skinned countries, the discussion inevitably dissolves into accusations of racism and eugenics.

        Even within the US (TFR=2.05), attempts to limit birth rates would pit high TFR groups (e.g., Hispanics) against groups with sub-replacement TFRs (Whites and Native Americans). (See in and around Table 5-1.)

        3. Population control advocates lost a great deal of credibility after claims, during the 1960s and 1970s, that the entire planet was on the verge of mass starvation, requiring coercive sterilization measures be applied over the objections of local populations.

        The following is from a Wikipedia article about President Obama’s science advisor:

        Overpopulation was an early concern and interest. In a 1969 article, Holdren and co-author Paul R. Ehrlich argued that, “if the population control measures are not initiated immediately, and effectively, all the technology man can bring to bear will not fend off the misery to come.”[20] In 1973 Holdren encouraged a decline in fertility to well below replacement in the United States, because “210 million now is too many and 280 million in 2040 is likely to be much too many.”[21] In 1977, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anne H. Ehrlich, and Holdren co-authored the textbook Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment; they discussed the possible role of a wide variety of solutions to overpopulation, from voluntary family planning to enforced population controls, including forced sterilization for women after they gave birth to a designated number of children, and recommended “the use of milder methods of influencing family size preferences” such as access to birth control and abortion.[11][22]

        His textbook _Ecoscience_ contains such quotes as:

        There exists ample authority under which population growth could be regulated. It has been concluded that compulsory population-control laws, even including laws requiring compulsory abortion, could be sustained under the existing Constitution if the population crisis became sufficiently severe …

        Needless to say, the US (population 307MM) survived having a population of both 210MM and 240MM.

        1. Dirk77

          1) would explain our friends at the US Chamber of Commerce. 2) might explain the leaders of the Sierra Club. Having observed them for many years they are very PC. I had not heard of 3); that is an interesting one. Be careful crying wolf. I wonder if the anthropogenic (sp?) global warming theory is having a hard time partly because of the fallout from 3).

          1. DownSouth

            The Monthly Review article is absolutely superb.

            The problem I have with these Marxist critiques is not that they are wrong, but that they are incomplete. Take the following, for instance:

            As industry grew in the North, a continuous stream of labor was attracted and actively recruited from abroad. Each new wave of immigrants entering the reserve army of labor—the Irish in the 1850s, the Chinese in the western states in the 1870s, the Italians and Eastern Europeans of the early 1900s, and the “undocumented” Latin Americans of the last half century—served simultaneously to put the fear of unemployment in existing workers and to distort consciousness and solidarity with the poison of racism.

            Marxist critiques put too optimistic a face on human nature. They imagine an ancient past where insular tribes lived in idyllic conditions of peace and egalitarianism. This of course is a horrible distortion. Ancient tribes had a hierarchy, and they warred and battled with each other constantly for territory. Physical (e.g. skin color) as well as symbolic (e.g. religion) markers were used to distinguish one tribe from another.

            This distortion leaves Marxists ill prepared to explain the moral paradox that labor always finds itself in. I agree with David Sloan Wilson when he writes in Darwin’s Cathedral that “evolutionary biology in general and multilevel selection theory in particular account for the facts better than any other intellectual and scientific framework.” As he goes on to explain:

            Within-group selection by itself creates a world without morality in which individuals merely use each other to maximize their relative fitness [this is the world Adam Smith championed in The Wealth of Nations]. Group selection creates a moral world within groups but doesn’t touch the world of between-group interactions, which remains exactly as instrumental as within-group interactions in the absence of group selection. Moral conduct among groups can evolve in principle, but only by extending the hierarchy to include groups of groups… Even so, we should expect far more naked exploitation among groups than within groups.


            Multilevel selection theory also fits hand-in-glove with social identity theory, which began as an effort to understand how the human mind can be capable of atrocities such as the Holocaust. Both theories force us to confront the uncomfortable truth that us/them thinking is a part of normal human psychology. Most of us, perhaps even all of us, are capable or restricting our moral conduct to a subset of the human race and of behaving instrumentally toward outsiders. This generalization applies to all human groups and should never be used as a tool of aggression against members of a give religion such as Judaism.

            The Marxist critiques are also vulnerable to the notion that workers are innately, immutably more moral than the capitalists. While this may have some compensatory and rhetorical value, it has no basis in fact. Perhaps it was Nietzsche who first took aim at this idea. George A. Morgan explains Nietzsche’s concept of “Slave Morality” in What Nietzsche Means:

            The slave begins by resenting oppression and envying the good fortune of his masters. These emotions, redoubled and poisoned by impotence, vent themselves in a distorted conception of the masters, whose qualities, thus conceived, are then called “evil.” “Good” is likewise compensatory: it glorifies what slaves have and masters have not—-humility, obedience, patience, forgiveness. What arouses fear is thus called good by the masters, evil by the slaves; and as the masters feel contempt for what is “worthless,” so there is a tinge of contempt in the slaves’ idea of a “good” man—-harmless, good-natured, a little stupid. Further characteristics which contrast with Master Morality are: hedonism, prudence, utilitarianism; the doctrine of “the dignity of labor” and the sinfulness of being idle; a passive conception of happiness as rest or peace; vituperation of enemies. Also the slave is dishonest, with himself and others; “his soul squints.” What he parades as a demand for “justice” is really his own will to power; and when a slave class has attained power, it changes to the principles of Master Morality.

          2. attempter

            Marxist critiques put too optimistic a face on human nature. They imagine an ancient past where insular tribes lived in idyllic conditions of peace and egalitarianism.

            I don’t recall ever reading a Marxist critique which sounded like that, and I don’t follow how this one does either. (They also don’t claim the worker is more “moral”, except in the implicit rhetorical sense you mentioned.)

            The quote about Nietzsche is accurate, except for this howler:

            ….when a slave class has attained power, it changes to the principles of Master Morality.

            For a refutation, just look anywhere at today’s capitalist rulling class.

            A few months ago I wrote a post on this same subject:


          3. DownSouth

            ► Attempter said: “I don’t recall ever reading a Marxist critique which sounded like that…”

            Ancient sculptural figures from West Mexican tombs attracted curiosity during the cultural renaissance taking place in Mexico City after the revolution of 1910-20. Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and other painters with a profound interest in the archaeological past began collecting works of art from many early indigenous cultures, among which the earthenware figures of people, animals, and plants from Nayarit, Jalisco, and Colima were especially appreciated… [T]he figures are never inert mannequins, but are invested with a strong sense of motion, immediacy, and emotion.

            It was this warm, expressive appeal that made these earthenware figures so attractive to the artists and intellectuals of the Left who found them to be ideologically significant because they seemed to speak of an ideal, communal way of life, far from the regimented coercion and economic exploitation of warlike or fascist or imperialistic states.


            Even Miguel Covarrubias, ordinarily one of the most astute students of pre-Columbian art, fell into the trap, insisting, in 1957, that there were simply no sacred or “supernatural” themes in West Mexican mortuary art at all…

            Covarrubias’ opinion was widely shared at the time among art historians, museum curators, archaeologists, and those who, like the great twentieth-century artist Diego Rivera, collected West Mexican ceramics on a grand scale. The idea that the mortuary art of Colima, Jalisco, and Nayarit was purely “anecdotal,” nonsacred, and nonsymbolic was to endure, almost to the point of dogma, for about another decade… Not surprisingly, that was at least part what had attracted Rivera to it in the first place. Free from domination by priests and the demands of complex rituals, according to another authority, the ancient West Mexicans had had time to concentrate on “the little things in life.”


            By the 1960s West Mexico seemed to be securely defined as a kind of frontier Eden, a place that had avoided the authoritarian states and empires of Mesoamerica proper. The romanticized rural way of life imagined for West Mexico may have appealed to urban intellectuals, especially leftists like Diego Rivera…

            But in the mid-1960s, this tranquil image of ancient West Mexico was disturbed by events in Los Angeles, at the University of California, where anthropology faculty such as Clement Meighan and H.B. Nicholson and graduate students such as Peter Furst and Stanley Long were actually excavating West Mexican sites pertaining to the “shaft-tomb cultures” and their hoards of ceramic figures.
            –Richard F. Townsend, <i<Ancient West Mexico: Art and Archaeology of the Unknown Past

            The communist dogma is more specific. Men are corrupted by a particular social institution: the institution of property. The abolition of this institution guarantees the return of mankind to the state of original innocency which existed before the institution of property arose, a state which Engels describes as one of idyllic harmony with “no soldiers, no gendarmes, no policemen, prefects or judges, no prisons, laws or lawsuits.”
            –Reinhold Niebuhr,
            The Irony of American History

            ► Attempter said: “The quote about Nietzsche is accurate, except for this howler:

            ….when a slave class has attained power, it changes to the principles of Master Morality.

            For a refutation, just look anywhere at today’s capitalist rulling class.”

            The position of most Anglo workers, if one judges from the statements and actions of organized labor, was completely unsympathetic to Mexicans. Not only were more Mexicans coming every year, reported one worried labor official to the AFL Executive Council in 1919, but they also were now moving out of agriculture and accepting employment in “different lines of efforts” to the detriment of labor standards and the best interests of the country. In Texas, the state chapter of the AFL refused to recognize the existence of a wage-earning class in agriculture, and its various affiliates made it clear that they would not work alongside Mexicans and that they opposed the hiring of unskilled Mexican workers. Texas oil workers, many of them ex-cowboys and ex-tenants, were likewise quite upset about the “immigrant increase” in the industry. At the convention of the International Oil Workers in 1920, the oil unions passed a resolution asking for “an investigation of the situation, the sending back to Mexico of immigrants illegally in the United States, and the return to agricultural work of those remaining.” In some oil fields, the tense situation exploded into riots against Mexicans. In 1921, oil workers in the Ranger and Island Oil fields in Mexia (North Central Texas) clubbed and threatened Mexican workers and their families with death unless they left within twelve hours. Governor Neff imposed martial law in Mexia and sent eighty state troopers to end the brutalities. The Rangers arrived too late, however, to save sever women and children from dying of exposure. This was no isolated incident; similar episodes occurred in mines and manufacturing plants through the 1940s.

            The overwhelming sentiment among nonfarm workers, organized and unorganized, was for the expulsion or regulation of Mexican workers. Already in the early 1920s, many unions in the Southwest had formulated “gentlemen’s agreements” to blackball all Mexican workers. Texas unions handled Mexican workers in much the same way that they dealt with blacks: through outright exclusion, through segregated locals, and through racial quotas in employment. As the decade wore on, these exclusionary proposals became more strident as organized labor joined eugenicist associations in decrying the “alien” danger that Mexicans posed for the nation. The political direction provided by the American labor movement pointed clearly toward maintaining skilled work as a preserve for Anglo workers. Especially in Texas, Anglo workers saw the “color bar” as an important concession to be won from employers.

            And so on went the regional and national debates on Mexican immigration through the 1920s. The progrower interests, with their considerable influence in Congress, were able to defeat the restrictionist efforts repeatedly. By the end of the decade, however, the restrictionists had built a strong national movement and had found an unexpected ally in President Herbert Hoover. In 1928 executive orders to enforce existing immigration law effectively closed the border, and the president and Congress appeared stalemated, at least momentarily, on the Mexican issue.

            It was perhaps fitting that a compromise solution to this stalemate should come from Texas in the form of a proposal to “restrain” the movement of its Mexican workers to state boundaries. This proposal, embodied in the Emigrant Labor Agency Laws of 1929, received the endorsement of both the AFL and the chambers of commerce of the state. Such significant consensus was not difficult to understand; the labor agency laws represented the first step to deal with the mutual interests of Anglo workers and growers. Organized labor in the state was ready to concede agriculture to Mexicans—-an already accomplished fact by this time—-if it could work out some arrangement that would protect the status of nonfarm workers.
            –David Montejano, Anglos and Mexicans in the Making of Texas, 1836-1986

          4. attempter

            None of those are Marxist critiques.

            And I don’t see what standard divide-and-conquer tactics have to do with either Master or Slave morality. Either sort could engage in them. But it’s moot, since those workers never “attained power” anyway, which was our criterion.

  4. attempter

    Re housing subsidies:

    Everything in that piece goes to the core of how insane and rotten this way of doing things is.

    It demonstrates how insane it is to enshrine idle “property” in land in the first place. And then, even given the premises of “capitalism”, this directly contradicts all sane policy, which would still heavily tax rents and idleness and be lighter on work. Of course this program isn’t the only such feudal vestige/precursor in our tax system; on the contrary, it’s typical. But it’s the broadest-based in principle, even though the vast quantity of it goes to the rich.

    As the piece lays out, it’s the biggest corporate welfare gravy train among such politicized tax policies. And that list didn’t directly link it with the even more malign and expensive social engineering around the personal car, although the two are intertwined.

    In addition to the general socioeconomic insanity of the car/suburban sprawl model, there’s the environmental destruction involved, and the absolute devastation of so much good farmland. (Kunstler called it the “greatest misallocation of resources in history”. That’s probably true, at least quantitatively.)

    And where will all this leave us now that oil will soon be too dear to run those cars or stock those big box stores and supermarkets or fuel industrial agriculture itself?

    And yet even as we have this insane housing glut, absurdly overbuilt by any reality-based measure, physical or economic, the system has to be zombified one way or another, since that’s the only way to zombify the banks themselves. Of course it can’t be; no tax exemption will matter when people have no jobs or income, and when any tax deduction is more than made up for by the new feudal tax mandates, starting with the health racket Stamp.

    And yet, according to the piece, this deduction is even more deeply rooted in pseudo-democratic faith than SS or Medicare themselves. Even though those latter would constitute the highest achievement possible for liberal democracy. According to its own premises, at this level of wealth of a society, programs like that would be the very measure of civilization itself.

    So the fact that all elites are agreed upon destroying them, while it looks like the people won’t fight at all, proves the final death of American liberal democracy. It has no “representatives” left, only gangsters, and it has no “citizens” left, only a passive, infighting mass.

    Such a collapse compels the question of whether the idea had any validity in the first place. Which brings us back to my opening statement, on how insane and depraved the whole thing was in its first premise, property in land.

  5. Parallel Foreclosure

    In regards to silencing, this is why I can’t stand HD. The compression is TOTALLY NOTICEABLE when the camera pans. I wonder if they are using the concept of silencing to think they can get away with it.

    1. Jim the Skeptic

      In the old NTSC standard, the signal had to fit into 6MHZ of spectrum. The only way to do that was limit the signals resolution to 4.2Mhz with filters. The first television sets using NTSC were very small. Increasing the size of the set exposed the limitation.

      In the new ATSC standard, the signal still has to fit into 6 MHZ. The high resolution signal is compressed using a variety of techniques. Some of these techniques depend on some assumptions about the visual perception of humans. But the dominant technique involves transmitting a frame and then only sending the changes in the scene for the next few frames. Over all, they made good compromises, but if you have a critical eye you will notice artifacts.

      One of the failures is the problem you point out. The compression depends on most of the scene not changing, most of the time. When large areas of the scene need to be transmitted very often, the system is overloaded, and some data is just thrown away!

      But this a great improvement for viewers of NFL football! :^)

  6. Ina Deaver

    The piece on endocrine disruption and male fertility could be entirely true, and I would still have difficulty believing something with that many grammatical errors. Sigh.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Doom-doom, doom-doom:

    “Despite the recent drama, we believe we have only seen the opening and second act, with the rest of the plot still evolving,” London-based [Willem] Buiter and [Citigroup] colleagues wrote in a research note published today. “There is absolutely no safe” sovereign.

    Greece’s government is “manifestly insolvent,” they said. Portugal is likely to be the next country to access the regional rescue fund soon, yet the almost $1 trillion system of support “looks insufficient” to prevent a speculative attack on Spain or to fund it completely for three years, the economists said.

    Waiting for the inevitable European restructurings is like waiting for Godot.

    But the chasm is likely to start yawning a little wider as soon as next week, as Portugal desperately grasps (as Irish drinking lore recommends) at the last little blades of grass at the edge of the precipice.

    1. Paul Repstock

      You may not have to wait as long as you think??

      Look at the Euro/dollar chart for friday. It closed at the low of the day and the lowest point since September 13. There was no bounce at EOD, nothing. Zip/ziltch/nada..nothing! This in spite of Chinese talking heads making noise about assistance and bond purchases!

      I have traded for a very long time. The strongest chart signal I know of is the lack of a retrace. I suggest nothing about the reasons. I know nothing except the price.

  8. Guest

    Willem Buiter is out to lunch. Japan and the United States are both completely sovereign in their own currencies and cannot default unless they deliberately choose to do so. Until he understands this fact his opinion on such subjects should be taken with a grain of salt.

    1. Jim Haygood

      ‘Monetary sovereignty’ just means soft default via inflation and currency devaluation, rather than the embarrassment and social disgrace of hard default (cessation of coupon payments). But in practice, sovereign hard default tends to bring on a currency crisis anyway. So the distinction is not as great as it would appear.

      Monetary sovereignty cannot restore solvency to an insolvent entity. It cannot even maintain liquidity when abused, except domestically. As previous examples such as Yugoslavia and Zimbabwe have illustrated, in such cases foreign currencies will be used, legally or illegally, as price references and stores of value when a government of bloody-minded MMTers is exercising its ‘monetary sovereignty.’

      Tampering with the monetary numéraire — fiddling with the veil of price illusion — is an empty, unrewarding and ultimately dishonest exercise in popular deception.

  9. DownSouth

    Re: “The Shameful Attack on Public Employees Robert Reich, Truthout”

    Re: “UK banks defiant on bonuses for chiefs Financial Times”

    The full court press by the champions of corporate greed and selfishness has been spectacularly successful. The public has, once again, been duped.

    Reich sets out the propaganda strategy as follows:

    But isn’t it curious that when it comes to sacrifice, Republicans don’t include the richest people in America? To the contrary, they insist the rich should sacrifice even less, enjoying even larger tax cuts that expand public-sector deficits. That means fewer public services, and even more pressure on the wages and benefits of public employees.
    It’s only average workers – both in the public and the private sectors – who are being called upon to sacrifice.

    This is what the current Republican attack on public-sector workers is really all about. Their version of class warfare is to pit private-sector workers against public servants. They’d rather set average working people against one another – comparing one group’s modest incomes and benefits with another group’s modest incomes and benefits – than have Americans see that the top 1 percent is now raking in a bigger share of national income than at any time since 1928, and paying at a lower tax rate. And Republicans would rather you didn’t know they want to cut taxes on the rich even more.

    And the right-wing propaganda machine has worked like a charm. At the same time policy makers throughout the West are preparing austerity packages for their rank and file constituents, the corporate overlords are making out like bandits. The Financial Times reports this is being done with hardly a whimper of protest. Public opinion has shifted very much in favor of the corporate elite:

    Bankers have been emboldened by the apparently fading influence of the Liberal Democrats.


    “There has been generational change,” said one asset management executive.

    “Now is a good time to ensure that top executives are appropriately remunerated so that they are not lured abroad or into hedge funds.”

    The likelihood that the broader bonus round for City investment bankers will be curbed by political pressure also appears to have faded.

    So all you apologists for corporate greed and selfishness who played your small but important roles in demonizing public secotr workers on this thread, give yourselves a warm round of applause. Justice and fairness are definitely on the run.

  10. Leviathan

    This is a false dichotomy. I can be opposed to the overstuffing of public sector workers over the past decade AND detest the overstuffed, self-righteous banker-thieves of Wall Street and Washington, DC. They are all vampires on the American body politic.

    On the former see the latest issue of The Economist, which offers a comprehensive and international perspective; on the latter see every entry in this and related blogs over the past 3 years.

    1. leroguetradeur

      Well said! The problem is looting, and people working for government agencies and nationalized industries can loot just as well, maybe better, than bankers or chief executives of large companies.

      What we need to do is to stop the looting. The fundamental problem we have to deal with is that a given interest group will impose huge costs on society as a whole, as long as it benefits just a bit. The costs it imposes may, for all it cares, be several hundred or thousand times its benefits, as long as it benefits at all, its in its interests to do it.

      This is the basis of all sweetheart deals for particular industries, its the basis of having unions and management collude in protectionism and price fixing, and its what has happened on a grand scale in the public sector over the last 10 years in the US, the UK and Europe.

      We need some fundamental restructuring, like the anti trust and trust busting legislation, to take care of this.

      1. ScottS

        Hahah, firemen are better at looting the public than traders on Wall Street?

        Okay, sure. Let the race to the bottom commence!

    2. Jim the Skeptic

      Leviathan says: “This is a false dichotomy. I can be opposed to the overstuffing of public sector workers over the past decade AND detest the overstuffed, self-righteous banker-thieves of Wall Street and Washington, DC. They are all vampires on the American body politic.”

      And if you openly opposed both, you might retain some credibility.

      All too often the attacks on public sector workers choose to deny any such problem exists in the private sector. Or that the problem in the private sector predated the one in the public sector. Their biases are showing.

      But I would go further than that. Roasting all American employees has become a popular sport in this country. It is as though management produces products in spite of their employees. Kicking public employees is just the latest sequel in these tales. Of course the Japanese have proved that American workers are an integral part of producing a quality product.

      And when they propose to reduce benefits promised and earned years before, they go beyond the standards of common decency. They destroy trust in the systems, whether corporations or government.

      Years ago, I read an interview of a cannibal. He described a scenario where they reassured an adversary that their conflict with him was over, even inviting him to dinner. And just when he was completely at ease they killed him. I was shocked, how can anyone ever trust anyone in that society! Agreements are impossible, because they can not be negotiated in the environment.

      1. Jim the Skeptic

        Oops, incomplete.

        What was so shocking about the cannibal was he was bragging about he deed. This was totally acceptable in his society.

    3. DownSouth

      Well actually it’s not a dichotomy at all. It’s a continuum.

      At what point does a public employee who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, or even millions of dollars a year (as in the case with coaches at public universities), cease to be a member of the working- or middle-class and become a member of the elite upper-class?

      Of course those who seek to demonize public sector workers promote this idea of a dichotomy. As Richard C. Friedman points out in Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspective: “Stigmatization and scapegoating involve labeling some individuals as members of an outcast group; they therefore thrive on discrete categories, not on continua.”

      Here’s how it works. This Barron’s article provides an excellent example.

      “LIKE A CALIFORNIA WILDFIRE,” it begins, “populist rage burns over bloated executive compensation and unrepentant avarice on Wall Street.” Then it deftly shifts the attention to public sector workers when it continues:

      Deserving as these targets may or may not be, most Americans have ignored at their own peril a far bigger pocket of privilege — the lush pensions that the 23 million active and retired state and local public employees, from cops and garbage collectors to city managers and teachers, have wangled from taxpayers.

      It then goes on to talk about how 15,000 retired California public sector workers draw pensions in excess of $100,000 per year. “[S]ome 200, mostly police and fire chiefs and school administrators, are members of the $200,000-a-year-and-up club,” it continues. But it doesn’t even stop with that. In order to drive home the point, it cites egregious anecdotal examples such as this one:

      Stories are rife around the country of various pension hijinks by public employees. A Contra Costa Times article bemoaned the artistry of a retired local fire chief in San Ramon, Calif., who boosted his annual pension from $221,000 a year to $284,000 by getting credit in his final earnings for unused vacation and sick leave.

      Of course missing from this narrative is what Reich points out, and that is that “the typical newly-retired public employee receives a pension of $19,000 a year.” In California, the average CalPERS member recives slightly more, $1,881 per month, or $22,572 per year. Approximately 41 percent of CalPERS retirees receive $12,000 per year or less in benefits. About 81 percent of retirees receive $36,000 per year or less, with 91 percent of CalPERS retirees receiving $54,000 or less per year. So out of 674,000 retirees, 200 make in excess of $200,000 per year and 15,000 make in excess of $100,000 per year. To put that another way, less than .03 of one percent make more than $200,000 per year. Slightly over 2% make more than $100,000 per year. And yet, if one listens to the champions of corporate greed and selfishness, one would come away with the impression that every retired public sector worker is in fat city.

      As a member of a frequently scapegoated minority, I certainly know how these schemes to stigmatize and scapegoat an outcast group work. With the gay community, the bigots always trundle out NAMBLA, the North American Man Boy Love Association. Even though numerous studies have shown that the incidence of pedophilia amongst those living a predominately gay life is no greater than those living a predominately heterosexual life, the bigots would have you believe that every man living a predominately gay life is a pedophile. This works to the benefit of the majority of pedophiles, because the canard holds that the incidence of pedophilia amongst those living a heterosexual is miniscule.

      With public sector workers I see the same ploy being used that is used against the gay community, and that is to take a small percentage of the community and use that small percentage to brand an entire community with the face of evil.

      1. Ming

        First of all kudos to you Downsouth; your posts are almost always very intelligent, nuanced, and balanced, and I the right- wing Christian always enjoy your contributions.

        Before I write my comment, let me first acknowledge that the gay communiy has been unfairly scapgoated for many evils that it is not related too, and that second, we all have much bigger fish to fry and cockaroaches to expose to sunlight, then the issue I will mention. But on the issue of sexual orientation clarity…. Any male who has sexual activity (includes sexual fantasy )with males is homosexual, any male who has sex with females is straight, any male who has sex with males and females ( age not withstanding) has bi- sexual tendencies. This categorization excludes situations of one- time experimentation by the individual or coercision or violence toward the individual, but does include situaton of sadism(I.e. The perpetrator of prison rape). I believe this categorization has much more clarity as the individual’s sexual Orientation is based on actions and outcome, not on subjective interpretation of the researcher or the subject

        1. craazyman

          thank you Ming, that clarifies everything.

          what about a dude who has astral sex with succubi?

          An “astrosexual”? booowahahahahah

          Why do certain cultures worry about this stuff so much? Somehow the Europeans don’t give a sh—t what folks do with their privy parts. I never understood why anyone would care (pedophilia aside). I still don’t understand. I think if people treat each other well and with respect and kindness, it really doesn’t matter. Having said all that, I’m a hetero dude on eHarmony trying to hook up with a hot woman with a good brain and who’s not too crazy and who will tolerate my eccentricities. I’m 6 feet 1 inch, 180 lbs. and I have the body of an NFL wide receiver. So if any of you are out there, let’s do some business. hahahaha.

    1. bob

      They wait until Junior year for this?

      I guess it is good to see something, but does anyone find this the pot calling the kettle black? Colleges teaching “teaching financial literacy?

      I believe this would be akin to a hospital teaching budget literacy to an uninsured 50 something.

      Sometimes people just don’t want to know how screwed they really are.

    2. Lidia


      If they actually taught people the truth about money, the system would dissolve even faster than it’s doing now!

  11. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Another problem Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens males seem to have, besides the sexual development, is the inability to cry any more…except perhaps Speaker Boehner.

    There is nothing with crying. We should do it more often.

  12. Paul Repstock

    My good freinds. Please skim this entire page at high speed with your eyes almost closed so you can only grasp the main points made by everyone. I believe you will see a patern.

    This diversity/division is all obfuscation.

    What does your ‘sperm count’ really matter? Who cares whether you have a great/free education? Your choice of ‘Antidotes’,,,Well?? Your sexual orientation,,ditto?? Your level of income,,,? The things least discussed are morality, creativity, happiness…

    1. William

      Are you a superstitious person Paul? I’m not sure there is such a thing as creativity – I only see degrees of awareness. A good education engenders awareness. It’s good to be aware that humans are poisoning themselves. A society that splits itself into the haves and have-nots is an immoral one. I don’t understand why you would ask those questions.

      As for the ferrets, they are damn cute and they make me happy!

      1. Paul Repstock

        Neither supersticious or religious.??

        I’ll cede you the ferets..:) As you say “damn cute”…I guess I questioned the need for “Antidotes”, and any substantive differnces between their values.

        As to ‘creativity’, I feel it does exist, but is generally repressed by a conservative social structure which fears any changes. The reason for my ‘questions’, was to point out that we tend to focus on irrelevant ‘quantifiable’ differences…

        I mean really “sperm count”, as important in a world with 7-8 billion people. Sadly, I can almost imagine this becoming a social status symbol. Kind of like bragging “My car can go 200 MPH”, even if there is no place to drive it. LOL…I overlook the potential benifits if one were seeking employment working for a sperm bank..:)Wheee!

    2. DownSouth

      The distribution of resources between labor and capital doesn’t entail morality? Happiness?

      Only a true believer in classical economic theory could make such an assertion.

  13. ChrisTiburon

    Re: Silencing. This is exactly how pickpockets and con artists work. They create a distraction, either visual or tactile that serves as the white dot of distraction.
    They then can do things that would be noticed visually or tactily, is that a word?, that are not noticed.

  14. Sundog

    I feel absolutely gut-shot regarding the news from Tucson, not least because I lived there for several years and retain an enormous affinity for southern Arizona.

    Apparently Christina Greene, a nine-year-old girl, born on September 11, 2001 and recently elected to serve on her school council, was among several others shot to death at a come-one, come-all opportunity provided outside a supermarket by the only member of Congress who has a spouse currently serving in the US armed forces. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot through the head and is in intensive care at U of A Medical Center.

    Dan Gibson of the Tucson Weekly took it upon himself to transcribe videos posted posted by the apparent shooter who bystanders captured at the scene and delivered alive to law enforcement officers.

    Dan Gibson, “The Crazed Internet Rantings of Jared Loughner”

    Maybe I’m partial to old farts, but James Fallows seems to have one of the best immediate takes on this.

    James Fallows, “The Cloudy Logic of ‘Political’ Shootings”

    I guess some of what’s gnawing at me is that Giffords was going about her job in such a commendable manner… and her two kids and Navy pilot astronaut husband… and just last night having finished my first reading of Cormac McCarthy’s “Suttree”….

    1. Paul Repstock

      This is truly horrid. When I read the story first on Yahoo many hours ago what hit me even harder was the vicious and revolting posts by commenters on the story message board. These insane and antisocial posts follow every news story now. I wonder, are these people real? Or is this some devious plot to prevent internet users from posting or enquiring further on whatever news is posted?

      If the “souless posters” are for real, this must be a symptom of a very sick people.

  15. eric anderson

    Re money market freezes and central banks — I did not read the link yet. But Yves comments that CBs are taking a quasi-fiscal role.

    Where did I read (among the blogs) that Bernanke gave a speech to the Japanese about ten years ago, explaining how a central bank could buy stocks, buy assets, and do an “end run” around the government’s fiscal policies — doing the fiscal thing themselves. At that time it was “purely theoretical.” Yeah, right.

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