Links 2/21/11

Gulf spill ‘devastated sea life’ BBC

Should Employers Be Allowed to Ask for Your Facebook Login? Atlantic (hat tip reader Crocodile Chuck)

The Death of BCC? NeoSmart. Tell me this isn’t true.

Scientists warn of $2,000bn solar ‘Katrina’ Financial Times. So when will your local theater carry a disaster movie on this theme?

Gaddafi son warns of danger of civil war Financial Times and Qaddafi’s Son Warns of Civil War as Libyan Protests Widen New York Times

Middle East uprising will put oil giant Saudi Arabia in peril, claims historian Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

China Is Said to Tell Banks to Prepare Contingency Plans for Credit Crisis Bloomberg

Germany must choose EMU fusion or fission Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph

A misguided German narrative of the crisis Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times

Bad News For The PIIGS: Angela Merkel’s Party Gets Crushed In Regional Elections Clusterstock

Portuguese bond yields back to full crisis levels as ECB intervenes Eurointelligence. As many people have been diverted by demonstrations in the Middle East (and to a much lesser degree, in the US), the Eurozone is starting to look at tad wobbly and the Germans are looking less and less inclined to play ball.

RomneyWorld vs. ObamaWorld Brad DeLong

Sunday Late Night: Questions for Senator Jeff Merkley? Teddy Partridge, FireDogLake

US economics: One big Ponzi scheme Danny Schechter, Aljazeera (hat tip Richard Kine). NC gets a mention! Admittedly this piece is by a US writer, but this was still a nice surprise

Right time for the Big Japan Short John Dizard, Financial Times

Nations to Expand Food Stockpiles, Boost Subsidies, Traders Say Bloomberg

The “Curse of Negative Equity” Calculated Risk (hat tip Joe Costello)

Problem: Paying off mortgage results in default Chicago Tribune. And remember, the OCC is giving these servicers a largely clean bill of health.

Moderate Wisconsin Republicans Offer Compromise Wall Street Journal. Notice that it is now undeniable that this struggle is all about union busting. The unions have already agreed to the money parts of the Walker plan (in fact, they had already offered concessions, so I am not certain how much additional movement, if any, there was).

Wisconsin Power Play Paul Krugman, New York Times. A particularly good piece.

What If the Egyptian Protestors Were Democrats? Jadaliyya (hat tip Matt Stoller). OMG, you MUST read this. Key sentence:

In short, if the Egyptian protesters were Democrats, they would have undertaken no revolution.

Antidote du jour:

Screen shot 2011-02-21 at 3.11.29 AM

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  1. attempter

    Re: What if the Egyptian were Democrats?

    I’ll add one point about the antitheses. Even if US liberals took to the streets, the first time Mubarak said “No” they’d shrug, cave in, and go home. The Egyptian democracy, on the contrary, escalated its demands every time Mubarak said No.

    That’s the mark of a real fighter.

    (All credit to the Wisconsin protestors who are hanging on far longer than I would have expected. But they too responded to this thug’s assault with “concessions” instead of escalations.)

    I actually agree with the person who said we need long, hard infrastructural work. But that means real movement-building work, while a liberal elitist means the phony, useless “work” of pretending to try to reform the Democratic Party.

    For those who might respond to this hypothetical exercise by pointing out that the United States is not Egypt, I would agree. Egypt under Mubarak was more equitable than the United States under Barack Obama. Egypt has far less income inequality than the United States, and all of Mubarak’s brutality was at least indirectly underwritten by the American government.

    And the main reason the US is not Egypt is precisely because people in the US won’t go to the streets like this, escalate their demands, and refuse to disband.

    One more caveat, and lesson from Egypt – even going to the streets for a real protest isn’t sufficient if one does it under the “leadership” of existing parties, unions, etc. As we saw in France, that treacherous leadership is always plotting to sell out the rank and file, and the people as a whole.

    I hope Wisconsin will end up breaking this pattern, but it’s been unbroken so far.

    1. DownSouth


      I find the juxtaposition of the two articles, “What If the Egyptian Protestors Were Democrats?” and “US economics: One big Ponzi scheme,” next to “Middle East uprising will put oil giant Saudi Arabia in peril, claims historian” to be of utmost interest.

      The first two articles deal with how the people of the United States have become the victims of the curse of liberalism, or what Nietzsche called passive nihilism. “Many activists say they want to emulate the Egyptians, but who will organise anything as effective – even in a land that used to be known for people’s movements – to raise hell?” bemoans Schechter. And then he continues:

      The passivity of the public is one result of the inundation by middle-of-the-road media and effective information deprivation.

      As Noam Chomsky puts it: “The population in the United States is angry, frustrated and full of fear and irrational hatreds. And the folks not far from you on Wall Street are just doing fine. They’re the ones who created the current crisis. They’re the ones who were called upon to deal with it. They’re coming out stronger and richer than ever. But everything’s fine – as long as the population is passive.”

      But I think the last article cited above—-“Middle East uprising will put giant Saudi Arabia in peril”—- puts the lie to Schechter’s conclusion. It’s not enough to keep the U.S. population lobotomized. The very un-passive behavior of people on the other side of the globe threatens to upset the elite’s apple cart here at home. If something happens to America’s energy lifeline, the U.S. economy, along with the U.S. polity, is toast. Or as Almond put it: “The oil-rich autocracies on which we depend are now facing full-throated revolution.” “Even people who hope to see the end of the Saudis’ hand-chopping, wife-beating Wahhabi fundamentalist regime,” he continues, “must realise that its downfall will create a global economic earthquake.”

      Then Almond goes on to conclude: “The fact that Lebanese democracy can produce an anti-Western majority should remind romantics that people power in the Arab world doesn’t necessarily produce what we want.”

      But I just wonder: Who’s the true “romantic” here? Isn’t it rather “romantic” of our elites, even though they have been successful at lobotomizing the U.S. population, to cling to the belief that they can likewise, and with equal success, lobotomize the population of the entire world? And isn’t it rather romantic for Almond to claim to know “what we want”? After all, what Almond wants is not at all what I want.

      1. attempter

        The wave of protest is spreading. I just read a piece speculating on the possibility that Qadaffi may have already fled. I’m so thrilled to be proven wrong in having assumed that where the modern instruments of state violence fire upon the people, the people have to be defeated. They’ve faced savage violence in Bahrain and Libya and keep coming.

        So now we know even that doesn’t have to be true.

        And “Saudi” Arabia, the ultimate prize, may be next. How wonderful if it became just Arabia!

        Yes indeed, that would be a jolt to US passivity. Peak Oil with a vengeance. According to the Carter Doctrine, the US would have a “right” to invade and destroy such a revolution. Would they actually have the guts to do it?

        One new realization of the last few months is how the globalization regime, which looked so confident and self-assured, perhaps suffers from the same psychological rot and lack of self-confidence which characterized all ancien regimes.

        The main difference has been the way the Western kleptocracies deal with unrest among their own people. So far they’ve absolutely refused to negotiate with democracy. They’ve become more and more openly tyrannical. In France they had great help from treason on the part of the leadership of the unions themselves. We’ll see how it plays out in Wisconsin.

        Your last point is similar to something I said to somebody just yesterday. I said that it isn’t the socialist ideal which is some altruistic utopia. On the contrary, socialism asserts that our best altruistic values go hand in hand with our rational interests.

        But it’s capitalism, ironically, which expects a suicidal level of altruism from the people who actually do all the work, since it expects them to submit in perpetuity to having much of the produce of their labor stolen by worthless parasites.

        Now that’s what I call a romantic expectation of altruism.


          Wake up! Its aljazz fomenting revolution in — get this–
          the USA! Instead of the US exporting revolutions and creating puppet goverments elsewhere. We have almost come full circle.

    2. Dave of Maryland

      The end result in Wisconsin is preordained.

      The protesters will end their party & go home peaceably, one way or another, or,

      The governor will call out goons who will forcibly break up the protesters. With loss of life, limb and property.

      In the entire history of this country, all protests have ended by one of those two means.

      I note with sadness that nobody’s calling for Walker’s resignation. The legislature’s resignation en mass. New elections free of the curse of the two existing parties. No one dares to dream.

      1. Chris M

        The essence of unionism is the implied threat of violence. The “goons” are all on the union side. This post will probably make you want to break my kneecaps.

        1. CHRSB

          It is all violence. Capitalism breeds violence by breeding unneeded competition. Note that I said unneeded competition.

          So, you make a choice of violence, the side of Walker and fascism, or the side of people and libertarian socialism.

          I choose a free people, libertarian socialism, anarchism. A life not dominated by any authority, be it corporate or state.

      2. Ron

        “New elections free of the curse of the two existing parties. No one dares to dream.”

        The major parties are the modern crime families!

    3. Externality

      Liberals behave this way on most issues.

      Any attempt to peacefully upset the status quo, other than meekly petitioning the elites through the appropriate lobbying group, is “bad” in the eyes of the elite and liberal classes. As is any protest that can be spun, however transparently, as being in any way “divisive.” The protests in Wisconsin were able to happen because the state is considered such a backwater and is largely ignored by the national media and in DC. Now that the protests are on the national radar, we will see the usual media spin, talking heads, faux-concern about homeland security issues arising from the protests, etc.

      This phenomenon is not limited to labor disputes.

      In the aftermath of California passing Proposition 8 (banning same-sex marriage), LGBTs in California flooded the streets in peaceful protest, organized meetings, named and shamed Prop. 8 supporters, and helped organize a major march in DC.

      Were the liberal or LGBT elites or “professional” LGBT activists happy to see this? No!

      They objected to popular protests for a variety of reasons, focused on side-issues, and defended the process-oriented, highly-centralized and elitist campaign against Prop. 8. (The fact that the “No” campaign ignored almost the entire LGBT community, rejected its advice, and failed miserably was largely irrelevant to our purported betters.) Average LGBTs, the chattering classes seemed to agree, had no role other than sending checks to professional campaign consultants and LGBT groups.

      The marches in Los Angeles were denounced by the elites and “professional” LGBTs on the grounds that they disrupted traffic, increased greenhouse gas emissions (idling cars), were insulting to communities that backed Prop. 8, made others uncomfortable, were a drain on city budgets, etc. Within hours, the media and elites shifted the debate away from the homophobia behind Prop. 8 to how it was “racist” for White and Hispanic LGBTs to protest a ballot measure that was supported by over 70% of Black voters. This shift in media and elite emphasis helped undermine the protest movement.,0,3295255.story

      The 2009 National Equality March in DC, while popular with rank-and-file LGBT activists, was condescendingly criticized by very well paid pro-LGBT lobbying groups and openly gay Congressman Barney Frank. Frank called the protests “useless” and told the protestors to stay home and write letters to Congress. Groups such as the Human Rights Campaign, OTOH, fretted that DC elites would associate the protests with them.

      This pattern continued with LGBT elites and professional activists denouncing LGBT protesters who heckled President Obama for not honoring his promises to the LGBT community, boycotted openly pro-Proposition 8 businesses, etc.

      In short, our liberal classes would likely join the elites in denouncing any major (but peaceful) protest movement that was not officially sanctioned and reliant solely on pre-approved lobbyists, spin doctors, etc. Concern for their roles and social positions would take precedence over the communities they purportedly represent or sympathize with.

      1. attempter

        It’s the same pattern everywhere, ain’t it? The same was true among environmentalists as of a few years ago, and although I don’t follow it as closely now, I bet it still is.

    4. kevin

      Wow! There was an election in November 2010. Republicans dominated the vote in Wisconsin. As a result, change we can believe in is beginning to happen. Are you for democracy or mob rule?

      And for all the public unions, riddle me this: I pay for healthcare, why can’t you? I have a 401k, why can’t you fund your own pension? And because of your greed, Johnny can’t read.

      If state-funded schools were private companies; they would be downsized when revenues decline, with poor performers laid off first. They also would be out of business by now because of sustained crappy performance. Instead, state-funded schools continue to increase their expenditures with little to show for it and nobody ever gets fired.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        Spoken like someone who has never experienced the sustained incompetence and compensation unfairness that dominates private business. How you missed all this I have no idea. You can believe what you want, but it does not reflect reality. I rarely deal with government employees outside of permitting issues. There is no way, not even close, that they are incompetent as the people I deal with in souring materials from the private sector.


        Soooo glad you raised these subjects, Kevin. Talk about cutting government spending starting with Social Security, home heating assistance, pension plans, how about putting Congress on Social Security? No more private pension program. Take 1/3 of what they have already contributed thru out their policical career and use it for enhanced funding for S.S. Then, thats it. No more pension plan. Your now in the same boat with the rest of us. Oh, and lets not forget to let Goldman Sucks privatize and securitize what ever is left in their pension plans. In other words, bye-bye. Oh, and lets not forget healthcare. Put Congress on the same pitiful plans we have, Oh, and theyre not FREE. Congress has to pay for them, same as the little people. We will then have the greatest Healthcare and Social Security system on the planet! Why? Because those who have skin in the game will be making the decisions, not those soooooooo far removed from us that we foolishly believe we elect. WHEW! I’ve never written so much on NC.

    5. Mighty Booosh

      Maybe you missed all those times when protests at economic conferences and conservative political functions were interdicted by state and federal police and narratives were emplaced by paid agitators. Probably because you weren’t participating at all. The people who did participate did eventually get out of jail and won their lawsuits and were ignored by corporate owned media from beginning to end, except for the part where pampered media personalities complained about how inconvenienced they were by the protests and how violent those anarchists are towards McDonalds’ property.

  2. dearieme

    The unions in Wisconsin are the equivalent of the corrupt croney capitalists and thugs in Egypt; the elected Governor is the equivalent of the Egyptian protestors.

    1. DownSouth

      Yes dearieme,

      And the climate scientists are one huge conspiracy, all employed by some nefarious dark force that is so mysterious and so omnipotent that all the cash it is funneling into the coffers of the scientists remains invisible to the human eye.

      Meanwhile, the climate change deniers, whose money pipeline to the IOCs and Saudi oil sheiks is palpable, demonstrable and measurable, are only moved by the spirit. They are doing God’s work. Their quest is for the truth, and they are not swayed one iota by the millions they receive from their oil baron patrons.

      And amongst the ranks of these saints, moved wholly by the spirit and doing God’s work, we can count Governor Walker. All that money from big corporations that bankrolled his campaign means nothing. He is truly a man of the people.

      1. Darwin Loves Walker

        (Walker) He is truly a man of the people.

        Yes, the Lord is on the job doing mysterious things that are mind-boggling and what seems to be supernatural. Not to speak for God, but I assume that there is some causation in play in Wisconsin, and hence why not place a neo-nazi-like “leader” in place to stir up the best in people?

    2. skippy

      Proclamation[!] with out the benefit of century’s of historical precedent.

      Dearie what are we really talking about, what side of the fence does one reside when we opine, what are our pasts, what do we fantasize about…um. Seems to me_to be_the age old question of division of labor and to whom the lions share falls, personally I would like to hear more of your thought on this engaging matter.

      Do you not find it a bit disturbing that in this age of human greatness that we squabble over equitable division of basics alone and might I add that considering the quasi scientific nature of economics/monetary/finance *theory* that any one can lay claim to said lions share by proxy ie I was here first, I/we have better connections, god gave it too me, I’m better than the rest etc.

      Skippy…the Prince of England said not to long ago “Not everyone can be me” and their you go, affirmation by position in name only, would such be with out all the others playing along with this little fantasy…methinks not. We are elbow to elbow these days…

        1. Cedric Regula

          Messrs. craazyman,

          I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to your “DNA Is A Radio” Theory. I’ve been finding it seems to apply in many situations, and this may be another!

          In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if it may be as fundamental to the social sciences as “The General Theory of Relativity” is to physics.

          I think your theory has great promise as a lens thru which to view our Global Happy Village.

          Cedric Regula

          1. craazyman

            LOL Cedric. There’s only one of me and barely that. I get my information by red red wine and Zanax. That and channeling. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

            Funny how everyone thought all these people in Egpyt were extras in a Cecil B. DeMille movie. And now we see the scientists are warning us that the sun as about to deliver a kill shot. I am rather of the opinion that there is an underlying correlation, if not causation. Consider Akhenaten. This is the final revenge of his priests who were put down by the Pilot Wave. And consider that the sun and Apollo are harbingers of true sight. Like Oedipus.

          2. Cedric Regula

            Yes, it is disturbing that if the Sun is our creator, and has decided to wipe out our silicon based life forms, we are in for some deep doodoo. Math quants or not.

            I think.

          3. Cedric Regula

            Tho we should realize that if our leaders were struck in such a sensitive area, they would instinctively finger the Land of the Sphinx, and retaliate with whatever resources they could still employ. Apollo can’t be everywhere at once.

        2. skippy

          Would your “DNA Radio” by any chance be broadcast from some offshore mobile location, free from all the foundation rules…ha.

    3. kingoffrance

      The unions in Wisconsin are the equivalent of the corrupt croney capitalists and thugs in Egypt;

      capitalists without capital, hahaha.

    4. Richard Kline

      So derieme, that is the most bizarre statement I’ve heard this month past month, a month in which Mubarack went on his national TV and told those calling for his removal he was staying to lead them. Your statement is a complete inversion as an analogy; you simply cannot pose your views structurally in this manner and make sense, period. Factually on the basis of what they are doing, your remarks are gibberish. I’m worried about dementia here, friend.

      If you want to take an anti-union stand, that is up to you. You are in the minority in any country in the Western world, and on this issue 20% of the population or less is with you. The rest oppose you because your views are, in fact, wrong, and are inimical to a healthy civil society. Argue your position if you wish, and the large majority of us will mark you down as a partisan crank who either coddles fascists or joins them. But please, bizarrely failed analogies show you as incompetent to have a view that entitles you to a vote.

    5. TW

      We just need to tax the 2.8 million Americans that are making 30 million dollars in stock options 10% and that would be 3 million dollars mulitiplied by 2.8 million.

  3. Richard Kline

    I found the Krugman piece quite interesting when I’d read it earlier, and moreso when juxtaposed with the Jadaliyya commentary. Krugman manages at last to utter the word ‘oligarchs,’ and with a discomfort that obviously pains him endorse unions as an essential bulwark of the citizenry against malfeasant billionaire power, a manifestly true position. Krug is a card carrying liberal who has spent fifteen years telling the world that if we’d just vote in more educated, liberal Democrats it would all bet better. But the corporatist fascist powergrab in Wisconsin, New Jersey, and elsewhere funded by anti-citizen oligarchs has finally scared him into supporting citizen power it would seem. And it should.

    I’ve said before, and I will reiterate, unions are the sea wall protecting citizen rights against oligarchical tyrrany. Without unions, the corrupt rich will always find a Scott Walker, a Hosni Mubarak, a Benito Mussolini to set up over you and enforce ‘prosperity’ (for a few). Because unions are made of people, and people are imperfect, unions are often imperfect. Their structural role is more important for their societies than their immediate actions. Anyone with a political education knows this, though patently that hasn’t included a large number of Americans until the last month. But they’re learning.

    I’m hesitant to make predictions on anything, but I will advance one statement here on domestic American politics: I think we have just had our contemporary equivalent of the Army vs. McCarthy hearings. We have unionists and democrats with a small ‘d’ acting in the Near East and the Middle West; 80% of the population supports the former and 65% and more _in Wisconsin_ support the latter. On the other side we have sell-out Tea Potters screaming that their fellow citizens have too many rights, and thuggish torturers and crony billionaires saying that their citizenry isn’t ready or capable of democracy. Which side are you on? We have Fox’s Favorites screaming how we should have backed Mubarak harder while we watch and read as his strikebreakers and secret police shoot, maim, and abduct. The citizens are in large majority on one side here and the corrupt, hyperhypocritical money is on the other. We have it in living color streaming live.

  4. Keenan

    RE: “Solar Katrina”:

    William Forstschen’s novel “One Second After”, concerning the aftermath of a similar event, an electromagnetic pulse(EMP)attack, is compelling reading on this topic. We’ve built a technological society which looks to be rather brittle.

  5. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

    Having surveyed the comments on the WSJ regarding Wisconsin, the governor, and collective bargaining, what disturbs me the most is how much animosity is vented against public employees because individuals in the private sector are now worse off. This “politics of envy” by one segment of the working class against another is precisely how employees in both the public and private sectors alike have been hammered for the past 30 years.

    It reminds me of the “white cracker” who knew he was being screwed by the “big boss” but who also knew that there was someone else – usually black – worse off than him. The fact that both he and the latter were both being SCREWED by the former didn’t matter! This “mind of the south” has migrated northwards in all directions and infected the populace at large.

    So long as we’re all miserable and living in squalor in this race to the bottom it’s OK! Reduced to serfdom and debt peonage, at least we’ll be equal now.

    This politics of envy that pits one segment of working/middle class Americans against another is the key to this whole debacle. Begrudging your neighbor a decent living because your standard of living is decreasing is a guarantee that both of you will meet at the bottom. This divide and conquer strategy is so old… if not ethnicity, then race, now socioeconomic status, but one faction played off against another. It fits Madison’s Federalist Paper #10 to a tee. Keep the majority divided and the minority – the RICH – will continue to CONTROL the big picture.

    1. DownSouth

      It was Booker T. Washington who had warned that it is impossible to keep another man in a ditch without remaining there with him; unfortunately this advice came from a powerful Southern leader who was also an ex-slave.

      More and more, through depression and war, America lived up to its claim of being the land of opportunity whose rewards were available to the individual through the assertion of a second self. But for many poor and unambitious Southern whites the challenge of such an assertion was far less inviting than clinging to the conviction that they, by the mere fact of race, color, and tradition alone, were superior to the black masses below them. Yet in their own way they were proud idealists to whom the South’s racial arrangement was sacred beyond most benefits made possible by social change. Therefore they continued to wrestle with the stereotype of Negro inferiority much as Brer Rabbit kept clinging to Tar Baby’s stickiness. They were so eager to maintain their grip on the status quo and to ignore its costs and contradictions that they willingly used anything, including physical violence, to do so. In rationalizing their condition, they required victims, real or symbolic, and in the daily rituals which gave support to their cherished myth of white supremacy, anti-Negro stereotypes and epithets served as symbolic substitutes for that primitive blood rite of human sacrifice to which they resorted in times of racial tension—-but which, for a complexity of reasons, political, economic and humane, were rejected by their more responsible leaders.


      In the South of that day the bottom run of the social ladder was reserved for that class of whites who were looked down upon as “poor white trash,” and the area immediately beneath them and below the threshold of upward social mobility was assigned to Negroes, whether educated or ignorant, prosperous or poor. But although they were barely below the poor whites in economic status (and were sometimes better off), it was the Negroes who were designated the South’s untouchable caste. As such, they were perceived as barely controllable creatures of untamed instincts, and a group against whom all whites were obligated to join in the effort required for keeping them within their assigned place. This mindless but widely held perception was given doctrinal credibility through oppressive laws and an endless rhetorical reiteration of anti-Negro stereotypes….

      Being uncomfortably close to Negroes in economic status, the poor whites clung to the stereotypes as to a life raft in turbulent waters, and politicians were able to use their fear and antipathy toward blacks as a surefire source of power.
      –Ralph Ellison, “An Extravagance of Laughter”

    2. DownSouth

      Along these same lines, Martin Luther King’s speech delivered in Bal Harbour, Florida, on 11 December 1961 to the AFL-CIO is also germane. Here are some excerpts:

      •American industry organized misery into sweatshops and proclaimed the right of capital to act without restraints and without conscience.

      • But we know that if we are not simultaneously organizing our strength we will have no means to move forward. If we do not advance, the crushing burden of centuries of neglect and economic deprivation will destroy our will, our spirits and our hopes. In this way labor’s historic tradition of moving forward to create vital people as consumers and citizens has become our own tradition, and for the same reasons.

      This unity of purpose is not an historical coincidence. Negroes are almost entirely a working people. There are pitifully few Negro millionaires and few Negro employers. Our needs are identical with labor’s needs, decent wages, fair working conditions, livable housing, old age security, health and welfare measures, conditions in which families can grow, have education for their children and respect in the community. That is why Negroes support labor’s demands and fight laws which curb labor. That is why the labor-hater and labor-baiter is virtually always a twin headed creature spewing anti-Negro epithets from one mouth and anti-labor propaganda from the other mouth.

      • Labor today faces a grave crisis, perhaps the most calamitous since it began its march from the shadows of want and insecurity. In the next ten to twenty years automation will grind jobs into dust as it grinds out unbelievable volumes of production. This period is made to order for those who would seek to drive labor into impotency by viciously attacking it at every point of weakness. Hard core unemployment is now an ugly and unavoidable fact of life. Like malignant cancer, it has grown year by year and continues its spread. But automation can be used to generate an abundance of wealth for people or an abundance of poverty for millions as its human-like machines turn out human scrap along with the machine scrap as a by-product of production. Our society, with its ability to perform miracles with machinery has the capacity to make some miracles for men–if it values men as highly as it values machines.

      To find a great design to solve a grave problem labor will have to intervene in the political life of the nation to chart a course which distributes the abundance to all instead of concentrating it among a few. The strength to carry through such a program requires that labor know its friends and collaborate as a friend. If all that I have said is sound, labor has no firmer friend than the 20 million Negroes whose lives will be deeply affected by the new patterns of production.

      To say that we are friends would be an empty platitude if we fail to behave as friends and honestly look to weaknesses in our relationship. Unfortunately there are weaknesses. Labor has not adequately used its great power, its vision and resources to advance Negro rights. Undeniably it has done more than other forces in American society to this end. Aid from real friends in labor has often come when the flames of struggle heighten. But Negroes are a solid component within the labor movement and a reliable bulwark for labor’s whole program, and should expect more from it exactly as a member of a family expects more from his relatives than he expects from his neighbors.

  6. LeeAnne

    As an undergraduate student at 60 + years of age, a lot of my free time was spent in the computer lab where IT instructors were always available.

    I marveled at their teaching skills: unfailingly patient, respectful, competent. Professional. They were also free and open. We had conversations often, sometimes involving the school itself. When some of its murkier history came up, they had information and opinions and spoke about them in detail freely -no agenda. I thought it unusual.

    And then I learned to my surprise they belonged to a union. They’re an example of how unions give dignity to the work of their members. These men were neither sheep nor slaves. They were skilled professionals doing their job competently with dignity and self respect.

    My stepfather was a newspaper trades’ union member who raised 7 children. He fought in the streets for unionization in the 1930s, so didn’t suffer the unemployment during the depression by so many in those days. Thankfully, he retired before computers threatened to take over.

    He wasn’t thrilled with his job, but he was a proud man who retired with a modest income to a home in Florida after working at something with very little personal satisfaction for about 40 years. That ‘very little personal satisfaction’ is important. For most people that’s what work is unless you’re in a real meritocracy where everyone has an opportunity for his/her own small business or advancement through the ranks of the organization.

    This transition from the industrial age is not one of those times. These are times that called for on-the-job training to keep up with technology 40 or 50 years ago when the transition was known to be coming long before Jack Welch famously discovered cheap labor while on a trip to India like he thought he was Ben Franklin discovering electricity.

    Let’s call these guys ‘the bosses.’ The word ‘elites’ does not begin to describe the real status of these people that include the likes of the Koch brothers, Pete Peterson, Cheney, Bush 1&2, the CIA, Obama, Hillary-Suleiman, Mubarak, Hank Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner, Greenspan, etcetera, etcetera.

    Their money isn’t any more the problem now than were the jewels of Indian Maharajas of another time; their possessions merely a matter for curiosity. Their importance now is that they have chosen the role of ‘boss.’ Pete Peterson decided, rather than enjoy a peaceful retirement in his opulent style, to fight against a secure peaceful retirement for everyone else -as a ‘boss.’

    He decided to be ‘a boss.’ Just as Bush, Rumsefeld, Cheney, Obama, Hillary, Muburak, Suleiman, Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Walker, Greenspan, each and all decided to be a ‘boss’ over the people they’ve assisted in ripping off and living off of.

    When I started working in Wall Street, a secretary to the partner in charge of the trading department of a large firm; and I said to my father “why can’t you just get along with management,” [I had become management in my own mind], he started to answer me, but turned away with a look I’ll never forget that said, ‘it would be a waste of time to try to explain.’ He was right.

    I understand now, Daddy. Unless you fought them tooth and nail, they wouldn’t care if you lived or died or how your children were surviving -starving? health care? schooling? As long as you melded into the machinery and produced for their fun, ego and profit, they’d drive you like a Chinese coolie until you dropped, and spit on your grave for taking up the space.

  7. Francois T

    Re: Should Employers Be Allowed to Ask for Your Facebook Login?

    Isn’t the obvious answer a resounding “Nyet?” Can we request from our employer their private pages? If not, why not? After all, we’d like to know what kind of persons they are, no?

    Why should they be allowed to invade our privacy but keep theirs? Oh! Because they pay me? Hmmm! I give something in return, so, this argument is totally bogus, isn’t it?

    Lots of people asked these very questions and advanced the very arguments I just summarized since the Facebook case was published by the ACLU.

    Strangely enough, almost nobody displays the same attitude when federal court judges decide the government can do worse with total impunity.

    Cognitive dissonance much?

  8. Dirk77

    As an addendum to Krugman’s piece, everyone’s comments above, and previous related posts on NC, there was a letter last week by a group of Green Bay Packer football players in support of the unions:
    The main sentence to me is this:
    “When workers join together it serves as a check on corporate power and helps ALL workers by raising community standards.” As a lifelong libertarian I finally understand what unions are about.

  9. rd

    Is this a great world or what!?

    Apparently Egyptian protestors have bought pizza for Wisconsin unions that are protesting.

    I am pretty disgusted with the Wisconsin governor at this point. It is clear that we are dealing with a union-busting theology at this point in time.

    I have no great love for unions, but they have performed valuable roles in the past. At this point, they have done a poor job in positioning their membership for the coming decades. However, this is an issue of incomeptence, poor metrics, and poor incentives for union leadership more than the existence of the union itself.

    While the unions have done a poor job, they have been matched step-for-step by the governments and business in this country. The collapse of GM was a combined feat of arms of GM management and UAW leadership. We are seeing the same with public budgets across the country. It takes two to tango and make deals. The agreements were between governments and union leadership that appear to be focused on ignoring long-term, multi-decade realities.

    We are seeing a continuation of extreme right-wing idealology that has led us into excessive deregulation and dysfunctional government. “Government is the problem, not the solution” is nice in a speech but actual implementation across the board is anarchy.

    How are we going to get a civil discourse going where we can trim back bloated government structures and spending while still preserving the basic functions of government in an efficient manner?

    1. attempter

      How are we going to get a civil discourse going where we can trim back bloated government structures and spending while still preserving the basic functions of government in an efficient manner?

      I try to contribute to that by pushing awareness of the fact that corporations are in effect government entities and should be seen and dealt with as such.

      They’re purely artificial creations of big government, are inextricably bound up with government in a corporatist command economy structure, all government policy has the main priority of further empowering and enriching them, and all corporate action has the supplementary effect of extending aggressive government power, in its guise as corporate goon.

      Almost all government taxation is handed over to big corporations. Almost all government regulation is intended to benefit big corporations.

      All corporate extractions and impositions are enforceable only through government power. Given this nexus, we should experience all corporate extractions as identical to government taxes and all impositions and policies as government regulation.

  10. Francois T

    Re: What if protesters were Democrats?


    What if Spartacus had a Piper Cub? (It was a SNL gig ~20 years ago)

    Democrats are well under way to lose their main raison d’être. Their noticeable veering toward the Right has been steadfast, yet covered in preachy-not-so-dandy pious exhortations for social justice and all that jazz. However, when the rubber hit the road (ACORN is a prime example, so is the Look Forward Not Backward “doctrine”) where are they? Ready to work “within the existing institutions” a.k.a. in perfect disposition to compromise pretty much everything except…except what exactly save the trappings of power and wealth?

    Just take the example of organized labor: After years of continuous erosion of their rights, (it’s easy to undermine rights when the processes are totally broken) unions’ rank and file must ask themselves a very uncomfortable question: What have we got for our decades-long unconditional support of the Democratic Party?

    Which beings to the fore, another nasty question:”What is our leadership doing for us?”

    Guess what? They’re busy marveling at the trappings of wealth and power.

    1. PQS

      Or, to repeat a comment from this blog from a few months ago….

      “What is our leadership doing for us?”

      “Nothing – They’re busy working on their resumes.”

  11. Crooked fish

    Re: “”I think it’s going to be 2012 before we begin to really see the fisheries implications and repercussions from this.””

    The sad part in this, beyond the destruction of the Gulf, is the fact that people will continue eating toxic seafood that in the long run will cause cancer for people. The mutated DNA in the foodchain as a result of the BP oil spill does have long term impacts that our government is failing to address. IMHO, the Fed should buy every pound of seafood caught by fisherman and reimburse them for the catch — then destroy what comes out of the Gulf. The only alternative to burning the fish, would be to have food fests, where congress, NOAA, NASA and all the fisheries employees could gorge themselves like pigs and eat massive amounts of this fish/shrimp and then allow those of us at home to study the results of a long-term health study. I would also like to see the neo-republican teabaggers at the fest, as well as the majority of crooked democrats.

    1. Externality

      Since no one else wants to eat it, the Obama administration has decided to feed Gulf seafood to military personnel and their families.

      NEW ORLEANS — Sales of Gulf of Mexico seafood are getting a boost from the military after being hammered by last year’s BP oil spill, which left consumers fearing the water’s bounty had been tainted.

      Ten products including fish, shrimp, oysters, crab cakes, and packaged Cajun dishes such as jambalaya and shrimp etouffee are being promoted at 72 base commissaries along the East Coast, said Milt Ackerman, president of Military Solutions Inc., which is supplying seafood to the businesses.


      Bobby Barnett, a shrimper in Pass Christian, Miss., said he was glad the U.S. government was embracing domestic and not imported seafood.

      “Every sale helps us out, and we need some help to come back,” Barnett said. “You would have thought they would have been buying U.S. seafood all along.”

      The Defense Department-run Defense Commissary Agency – known as DeCa – sells groceries to military personnel, reservists, retirees and their families at cost plus a 5 percent surcharge. The stores have emphasized healthy diets as part of first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” fitness and health campaign.

      “What fits in with that better than seafood?” Ackerman said.

      Gulf of Mexico seafood businesses have been greatly suffering since the BP oil spill caused fear that the shrimp and fish that come from the area wouldn’t be safe to eat. Well, these companies in the Gulf have gotten a boost from a deal that was made between an organization that has been helping out the area since Hurricane Katrina, Ready 4 Takeoff, and The Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. The contract has brought the fish and shrimp to 72 military bases across the country, where it will be sold under such names as Emeril Lagasse, the famous TV chef. This deal is a good idea to help out the failing Gulf businesses, but my one question is; why isn’t the whole entire government promoting the Gulf food as well?

      1. same

        The contract has brought the fish and shrimp to 72 military bases across the country, where it will be sold under such names as Emeril Lagasse, the famous TV chef.

        ==> Why do I smell mafia?

    2. svaha

      I have been very skeptical of the shrimp at our university cafeteria.

      My guess is, if you could find data for the amount of shrimp served at school cafeterias across the country it has gone up significantly in the past year.

  12. Boycott

    What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin — and eventually, America — less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that’s why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators’ side.

    There’s a bitter irony here. The fiscal crisis in Wisconsin, as in other states, was largely caused by the increasing power of America’s oligarchy. After all, it was superwealthy players, not the general public, who pushed for financial deregulation and thereby set the stage for the economic crisis of 2008-9, a crisis whose aftermath is the main reason for the current budget crunch. And now the political right is trying to exploit that very crisis, using it to remove one of the few remaining checks on oligarchic influence.

  13. Boycott

    What’s up with Wisco DOA??????

    DOA supports other state agencies and programs with services like centralized purchasing and financial management. The department also helps the governor develop and implement the state budget. The ultimate goal of all our programs is to offer Wisconsin residents the most efficient, highest-quality state government services possible.

    Re: Walker Bill: This bill permits DOA to sell or contract
    for the operation of any such plant. The bill exempts such sales and contracts from
    the requirement for approval of the Public Service Commission (PSC) that may
    otherwise apply under current law.

    ??? Any ideas????

  14. same


    A consultant for the School Board has estimated that reinstating the drug benefit would cost $786,000 per year – the cost to keep perhaps a dozen first-year teachers employed.

    Rep. Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee) argues that the money could be better spent any number of ways – including saving jobs.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” Fields said. “The fact that is the point of contention is kind of frightening. What are our priorities? I’m all for love and peace. But almost $1 million? And you go to court over this issue?”

    1. Chris M

      And nothing gets me madder than being asked for an ID before I vote. Who do they think they are? The TSA?

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Regarding the solar Katrina, I already got freaked out a month ago about another huge Corona Mass Ejection.

  16. Michael H

    Chris Hedges on “Huffington’s Plunder”:

    “Any business owner who uses largely unpaid labor, with a handful of underpaid, nonunion employees, to build a company that is sold for a few hundred million dollars, no matter how he or she is introduced to you on the television screen, is not a liberal or a progressive. Those who take advantage of workers, whatever their outward ideological veneer, to make profits of that magnitude are charter members of the exploitative class. Dust off your Karl Marx. They are the enemies of working men and women.”

  17. Jugend dient dem Führer

    On October 22, 1968, the day of Nixon’s stop in Deshler, Cole attended class as usual. During the morning session, one of her teachers announced that any girls interested in being “Nixonettes” (girls asked to cheer and provide atmosphere at the rally) should report to the fire station after school. Cole did so, along with her friend, Rita Bowman, and the girls were provided with paper red, white, and blue dresses (to be worn over other clothing) and signs. Cole’s said, “L.B.J. Convinced Us—Vote Republican”.

    Also see: Jugend dient dem Führer. Alle zehn-Jährigen in der Walker Jugend

  18. Paul Repstock

    I know that none of you are personally responsible for this, so please ezcuse me; but I’m going to vomit!

    February 22

    1:42 In a statement released by the UN, Ban Ki-moon is said to be “outraged” at reports that Libyan authorities shot at demonstrators from war planes and helicopters.

    Such attacks would constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law,_2007_Baghdad_airstrike

    Plus incidental hundreds who were dumb enough to stand in the way of predator strikes

    Plus a small matter of 110,000 Iraqi (collateral damages)

    Plus a fe thousand exterminations in the World’s biggest concentration camp )Gaza)

    I guess ol’ bangki’ knows which side of his bread is buttered.

    btw. there are unconfirmed reports that Libia is paying $2000/day for mercenaries. Good paying jobs for all if you aren’t too squemish??

  19. Michael H

    Re: Wisconsin Power Play

    Krugman: “Why bust the unions? …it’s not about the budget; it’s about the power.”

    In 1953 in East Germany, a strike by East Berlin construction workers turned into a widespread uprising against the Stalinist German government.

    At the time Bertholt Brecht wrote a famous poem in which he
    quoted a contemporary who said the people had lost the trust of the government. And so, his poem asked, deviously:

    “Would it not be easier In that case for the government To dissolve the people And elect another?”

    Isn’t this precisely what Walker must dream of: to dissolve the people and elect another?

  20. Recall Senators

    Qualified electors
    are U.S citizens, age 18 or older, have lived in Wisconsin for at least 10 days,
    and have not been disqualified to vote in Wisconsin.

    SECTION 12. [Recall of elective officers.] The qualified electors of the state of any congressional, judicial or legislative district or of a county may petition for the recall of any incumbent elective officer after the first year of the term for which the incumbent was elected, by filing a petition with the filing officer with whom the nomination petition to the office in the primary is filed, demanding the recall of the incumbent.
    (1) The recall petition shall be signed by electors equalling at least twenty-five percent of the vote cast for the office of governor at the last preceding election, in the state, county or district which the incumbent represents.

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