Links 5/11/11

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Apologies for thin links. Already up later than I should be, flying to British Columbia in a few hours.

Daring dog busts out of vet’s office Mail Tribune (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Granny Snatching: Death in British Columbia; Heart Attack Fells Elderly Icon ctwatchdog (hat tip reader Michael T)

Drinking water in thousands of homes ‘contaminated with harmful levels of methane’ Daily Mail (hat tip reader May S)

No Pro Football? No Problem. Robert Lipsyte, TomGram

WSJ Caught BLATANTLY Scrubbing….. Karl Denninger (hat tip John M). This is pretty wild.

The eurozone’s journey to defaults Martin Wolf, Financial Times (hat tip Swedish Lex)

Why Greece Should Reject the Euro Mark Weisbrot, New York Times. From a couple of days ago but still interesting.

Mirror image MacroBusiness

The only real solution for budget deficits: growth Dean Baker, Guardian (hat tip reader John M)

Global Fund rethinks transparency Associated Press (hat tip reader UN Staffer)

AIG Stock Offering Smaller Than Expected Wall Street Journal. Quelle surprise!

Brokerage rip-off datapoint of the day Felix Salmon (hat tip reader John M)

Banks Float $5 Billion Deal to End Foreclosure Probe Wall Street Journal. As Marshall Auerback said, “Aren’t there a few zeros missing?”

In RE Phillips | They May Have a Problem – Was the Loan Duel Pledged? ForeclosureFraud

Antidote du jour:

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  1. rjs

    FYI: your link to WSJ’s Banks Float $5 Billion Deal to End Foreclosure Probe gave me a “free pass”…whereas to read AIG Stock Offering Smaller Than Expected i had to use google…

  2. Philip Pilkington

    Mervyn King ratchets down growth forecasts for AusterityLand:

    The growth forecasts themselves are probably cooked for political reasons (i.e. they’re probably overly optimistic) — I think King is right about inflation though.

    On Wolf’s FT piece. Wolf writes:

    “In short, Greece is in a Catch 22: creditors know it lacks the credibility to borrow at rates of interest it can afford. It will remain dependent on ever greater quantities of official financing. However that creates an even deeper trap.”

    The deeper trap is, of course, pro-cyclical austerity.

    So, what about Ireland and the others? Hmmm… Wolf tells the story of the condemned man that says he’ll teach the king’s horse to talk within a year if his life is spared — he justifies this move by saying that anything can happen within a year (he also gets an extra year to live). Is Wolf not essentially doing the same thing with the rest of the periphery?

    I don’t blame him. I’m sure he doesn’t want to catch the blame for any negative press for the already beleaguered periphery. Instead he has to wait to hear it around the water-cooler before he — a ‘serious commentator’, after all — can run it in print. Still… I dunno… is ‘press lag’ really that healthy? Or does it merely insulate a tired and rotten European political class together with their equally tired and rotten ideology and discourse?

  3. Philip Pilkington

    Good God! Did everyone hear about this? The evil Koch twins are now using their filthy exploito-dollars to buy academic positions in Florida University:

    “A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch has pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University’s economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting ‘political economy and free enterprise.'”

    Unlike, say, INET, this is direct attempt to manipulate the opinions of people with academic posts.

    Between this and the Tory’s announcement that public institutions have to gear research to David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ bath-time fantasy, you’d really have to wonder… How long is academia going to take this? (Link:

    JK Galbraith once pointed out the dangers of direct interference — public or private — on academic freedom. He said that such attempts would fail miserably, because academics tend to be ‘free spirit’ types who cannot stand ‘the Man’ treading on them.

    It’s a dangerous game that the gruesome twosome are playing here…

    1. Ed Kotch

      Then the solution is simple. Replace actual academics with partisan hacks.

      Excuse me, incoming phone call. “What’s that you say? Krugman? Bernanke? Princeton? MIT? Summers? Harvard?”

      Sorry, it looks like they already did that.

      1. KFritz

        Are you implying that Krugman is a shill for the corporate kleptocracy? Are you grouping him with Bernanke and Summers?
        I don’t worship at the First Church of Krugman, and it’s been pointed out (at this blog?) that he hasn’t been quite the same since his White House dinner, unlike his co-diner, Joseph Stiglitz. Nevertheless this attempt to tar him with an erroneous brush looks like a plant to discredit Prof K dishonestly.

        1. Foppe

          While I agree that it is unfair to Krugman to suggest that he’s comparable to Bernanke/Summers, I would like to note that I generally find his (Column/Op/Ed) writing rather bland and uninteresting. Sure, his posts are generally insightful, but only when comparing him to other Equilibrium thinkers. If I’d have to pick any (former) policy maker to listen to, I’d pick Robert Reich..

    2. Valissa

      Once upon a time we talked about the military-industrial complex. That has now become the military-industrial-academic-financial complex. I cans ee how some would get upset about the Koch brothers funding, but this is nothing new. Let’s not forget that many liberals fund positions to represent their point of view as well, and have for many years, so I’m not sure why this is any different. Oh that’s right… the Koch brothers are the current iconic boogeymen because they have become visible and Libertarians are the current scapegoat for the left (note: I’m not pro or against libertarians).

      A female friend of ours recently got tenure at a smallish state college in my area (she has a PhD in Nutrition). She has told us stories about all the high level administrators that have been brought in the past couple of years (friends of the college president), get paid high salaries, and do relatively little for the school which has pissed off many of the professors. This is a trend I’ve read about in many universities, although generally there is a better excuse for that.

      This article is from 2 years ago and is unfortunately no longer available online at the news site (nor could I find it anywhere else on the web), but here is some info from it that I saved in my notes:

      UNC Chapel Hill study outlines millions in savings

      One of North Carolina’s top public universities spends more of its budget on administrators than teaching and the bureaucracy gets in the way of basic functions, a consultant said. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill commissioned the 107-page report, which was paid for by an anonymous donor, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported Wednesday. … Thorp said the university has increased administrative costs over the last 10 or more years because it has attracted private research funding that requires staff and construction financed by higher education bonds. The university has spent $500 million on new and renovated buildings in the past nine years.

      The report said supervision is 10 layers deep for some jobs and more than half of the supervisors on campus oversee three or less workers. The report said cutting management layers could save $12 million a year. Another example in the report is that the university has more than 100 academic centers and institutes with their own structure. It said $6 million could be saved if the organization of the centers was streamlined and staff functions combined.

      Note where it says above “attracted private research funding” and use your suspicious imagination from there. More and more Universities are getting private research funding from corporations and individuals, as well as the gov’t. I’m more concerned about all those folks we don’t know about than the Koch brothers.

      1. Valissa

        Hey Yves, I noticed the word “fund” in my comment links to an ad. What’s with that? Haven’t noticed that at this site before. Guess I will have to avoid using that word in the future or purposefully misspell it.

      2. Philip Pilkington

        “Let’s not forget that many liberals fund positions to represent their point of view as well, and have for many years, so I’m not sure why this is any different. Oh that’s right… the Koch brothers are the current iconic boogeymen because they have become visible and Libertarians are the current scapegoat for the left (note: I’m not pro or against libertarians).”

        Did you bother reading what I wrote? Have another look. I compared the Koch’s policy — which is not just simple funding, their representatives have hiring (and, presumably, firing) power — to an organisation like INET (which some on here are loosely connected with).

        This isn’t simple left vs. right. The Kochs are insidious in the way they do things — as has been pointed out a million times before.

        I’ll give you an example taken from the right — compare this to what the Kochs are doing.

        A friend of mine is doing a Phd on Ayn Rand for an Irish college. He’s not a big fan of Rand or the perspective she comes from, but he’s doing it because she’s so big at the moment. My guess is that the paper won’t paint Rand or her ideas in a very positive light.

        Now, my friend is getting funding from the Ayn Rand Institute. They’re going to pay for the research to be done without looking into my friend’s background or demanding to dictate the contents of the paper prior to it being written.

        The assumption here is that, provided the university makes sure that the academic standards of the essay are up to scratch, Ayn Rand’s ideas can stand up to criticism. (I don’t think they will hold up very well, but this is down to the quality of the ideas).

        Ditto for INET. If George Soros’ ideas don’t stand up to scrutiny, that’s his tough luck because his institution doesn’t have censorship powers.

        The Kochs are doing something completely different — what they’re doing (and what the Tories are doing in Britain) is more like propaganda or censorship.

        So, no… this is not just me or the newspaper raising a ‘right-wing bogeyman’ — for that we could just point to any institute that funds research. This is a different kettle-of-fish.

        1. Ed Kotch

          What you’re saying is indeed true, but on a deeper level there is ideological buy-in in nearly every economics and political science department, starting from the first course an aspiring academic takes.

          Michael Hudson writes on this extensively. Ask yourself why economic history is rarely taught, or why thinkers like Marx who wrote one of the best summaries of Capitalism ever written, or even Adam Smith who coined the term “invisible hand” are routinely ignored.

          Instead, you have a lot of groupthink that rewards obeisance to the current economic powers, and a methodology so flawed that it could prove that gravity is a repulsive force. People who don’t go along won’t get very far, whereas those who do are richly rewarded. You end up with a lot of economists like Bernanke and Krugman, who are technically proficient in the lingo, but actually just tools.

          Against this background, what the Koches are doing seems like a natural thing to do for a couple of evil billionaires.

          1. Philip Pilkington

            Well, I absolutely agree with that. I consider Philip Mirowski (who?… exactly!) as being one of the most important philosophers of science of the last generation and I hear that he doesn’t even run Phd programs!

            There’s a lot rotten in academia at the moment — especially in economics. Certain tribes have formed that are more than a little inclined to informal censorship.

            However, what the Kochs are doing is far more insidious than simple informal censorship. They’d like to turn universities into a propaganda arm for Koch Industries — just as the Tories would like to turn the Arts Depts in Britain into a government propaganda arm for Cameron’s ill-defined ‘Big Society’ (the idea of which is so vague that it wouldn’t even be suitable for an undergraduate thesis).

          2. Ed Kotch

            Do you mean Philip Mirowski, the “Charles Koch Professor of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Notre Dame, 1990-“? That Philip Mirowski?

          3. Philip Pilkington

            HAHAHA!!! Brilliant!!! I had no idea. The tentacles… they’re everywhere.

            Trust me, though. If the Kochs had their way and they were allowed hiring and firing power, Mirowski wouldn’t just not be supervising Phd programs, he’d be out on his ass.

          4. Philip Pilkington

            I was looking for where I heard that Mirowski didn’t run PHd programs — you know when you get that horrible feeling, “did I dream that?” — anyway, I tracked it and it’s actually quite interesting and relevant to this discussion.

            Jamie Galbraith on the politics and sociology of the economics profession:

          5. FatCat II

            It is soooo troublin that the real world facts have a liberal bias.

            People like the Kochs just can’t stand it.

            Economics as practiced (no matter the “brand”, ideology, shade whatever) are nothing more that political mathematical masturbation and will continue to be so until the real world (HINT “externalities” HINT) is included.

        2. Valissa

          Yes, I carefully read and reread your post before I commented. I don’t think this is a case of left vs. right because I don’t necessarily think of Libertarians as ‘right’ but off on their own tangent (the left-right-center paradigm is terrible for expressing reality, but good for propaganda). I just happend to have a different point of view based on my own realizatiosn about how deep and pervasive propaganda of all sorts are in our society today.

          When Liberal beliefs are being pushed onto others that’s propaganda too… propaganda is not just something the “other side” does. I remember when I first started studying propaganda I had a terribly hard time seeing my then-liberal beliefs as having been influenced by propaganda and was sure that only republicans and conservatives did that. Just because something is propaganda doesn’t mean it’s a lie either, or that it’s wrong. There is a reason the education system has been historically liberal and I do think that’s a good thing overall. Suggest refreshing your understanding of the word.

          Have you read the original book “Propaganda” by Edward Bernays published in 1928? He proudly lays it all out in there as an asset to society and gov’t. It’s a short book.

          1. Philip Pilkington

            Academia is historically inclined toward liberalism because intellectuals — defined in Chris Lasch’s sense of those who tend to earn their way through critically reflecting on social issues — tend to be liberal.

            Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Neither. It’s neutral. This ‘class’ in our society tends to be predominantly liberal — just as the ‘class’ of Big Businessmen are probably predominantly conservative.

            If conservatives wish to become intellectuals rather than businessmen there’s no one stopping them — and you can be more than certain they’ll easily pick up research grants as their ideas will look very appealing to a variety of research funding institutions.

            But I stress once more: what the Kochs are doing is DIRECTLY buying propagandists in a university.

            Compare this to a newspaper and it should be more clear. Say I’m an advertiser for Pepsi and I ring up a newspaper and tell them that I’ll withdraw my ad if the paper runs a story on Coca-Cola killing workers in Latin America for striking (as this would reflect badly on Cola companies generally). Now, I’m no fan of this practice, but it happens all the time.

            Now, let’s say I’m the same advertising company and I pay the salary for the Consumer Affairs correspondent of the same newspaper… well… do you see the difference?

            What the Kochs are doing is similar to the latter example. It’s PURE propaganda, rather than ‘soft’ propaganda.

          2. Valissa

            You know Philip, I DO UNDERSTAND what you are saying. I just happen to see it as business as usual (trend already in place) and you see it as an omenous new trend. I don’t think there is a right or wrong here. I like coming to this blog because you don’t have to agree with people as much as other places I’ve hung out. Many perspectives and perceptions to appreciate whether I agree, disagree or am unsure (those are the best).

            Intellectual diversity is a good thing :)

      3. Antipodeus

        It used to be called simply “the Establishment”. It saves constantly adding new accomplices while unfairly denigrating any ‘good guys (and girls)’ through collateral damage. But then, that’s so 60’s! Still think we didn’t know something back then? We NEVER trusted ‘them’!

    3. F. Beard

      “A foundation bankrolled by Libertarian businessman Charles G. Koch Philip Pilkington

      Excuse me but from what I understand the Koch brothers support the Fed which makes them fascists not libertarians.

      1. Valissa

        Labeling others correctly can be such a challenge in today’s world ;) (that’s snark, btw)

        1. F. Beard

          I pick my words carefully. “Fascist” refers to government privilege for private interests. The Federal Reserve is government privilege for banks. Hence the Federal Reserve is fascist and the Koch brothers are fascists if they support it.

          1. Valissa

            I wasn’t disagreeing, your point seems valid enough. Not much of a sense of humor on this blog lately, which is too bad. I sense it has greater potential in that area.

          2. del

            Technically I think Falangist would be more accurate in this case. Admittedly, nobody heard of falangism these days, so we usually opt for the inaccurate but better-known “fascist”.

          3. Valissa

            Thanks for new word del! Will add to my notes.

            At the link you provided it says this:
            “The most decisive feature of falangism is that it rules through decentralization; rather than a single true regime, the falangist regime is a cluster of power centers.”

            I’m having a bit of a problem with the phrase “rules through decentralization” and was wondering if you could give a cogent example in our current situation.

            Then there is the issue that academics tend to hyperdefine and overargue those definitions. I tend to go with the simple definition of fascism as some variation of:

            collusion between Big Government and Big Business to “manage” our society in the interests of the elite

            fyi, I tend to be a lumper, not a splitter.

    4. Cynthia

      It was only a matter of time before one or both of the billionaire Koch brothers would get their tentacles wrapped around academics. And as you point out, that time has come.

      Economics has always been a fairly soft science, but thanks to Charles Koch, it will soon be so soft that it can no longer be regarded as a science. And it should be no surprise to any of us that economics would be his first victim in the rather insulated world of academics.

      No one needs any sort of degree in economics to realize that Koch’s goal is to take economics as an academic discipline and turn it into a propaganda tool to control and suppress the masses. That way it’ll be far easier for Koch and his team of economists-turned-propagandists to brainwash the masses into believing that if our rich don’t remain far richer than the rest of us, then our GDP will flat line and our jobless rate will rocket up to the moon.

      About the only thing we can do to prevent this from happening is to throw economics out of science departments across America. And since most, if not all, art departments won’t be foolish enough to add economics to their list of studies, those who are seeking a degree in economics will have no other choice but to settle for a degree in propaganda.

      Still, it’s my hope that we will have a truth-teller like Matt Taibbi around to expose the truth about how our undergraduate and graduate programs in economics are being taken over by a bunch of Koch-paid propagandists, thereby enabling our major banks to get away with being run by a bunch of sociopath criminals. As the good folks over at Zero Hedge have pointed out, Matt Taibbi does a masterful job of first translating the 650-page Levin report “Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse” into simple English, and then weaving together an open-and-shut criminal case against Goldman Sachs for everyone to read, comprehend, and wonder why no one from the bankster world has been thrown in jail yet:

  4. Francois T

    Re: Growth as solution to budget deficits

    No! It is not a solution; not by a long shot.

    The best a civilization can hope for is that constant injections of intelligence (innovation) per mass unit of natural resources will provide accrued benefits for us, humans, and all the living beings on this planet. After all, Earth is the only home we got, so, better be good with it.

    The plain, stark and harsh reality is this; the growth = prosperity paradigm is obsolete. It was acceptable when we were few on Earth. Not anymore.

    The reason should be obvious to anyone who accept to think: Constant growth is an exponential function. In biology, constant growth is called cancer. It kill the growth…and the host too.

    You can’t have exponential growth in a world of finite resources; this is Logic 001.

    What I’m trying to say is this: Budgets are entries in a book. Scarcity, long-term unemployment, hunger, social upheaval, extreme wealth inequality, climate destabilization are real…and dangerous.

    Hence, our most basic ideas about economics must change and adapt to the new reality that is already confronting us.

    Otherwise, get ready to throw your descendants into Hell on Earth.

    1. Ed Kotch

      Your analysis is 100% correct. However, I’m not optimistic that the growth focus will be abandoned until there is absolutely overwhelming evidence that it is causing our species to become extinct.

    2. F. Beard

      Growth is certainly good. However the exponential growth required by usury is not. If we abolish all government privilege for usury then usury and the need for exponential growth should diminish.

      Let’s attack the root of the problem not the branches.

      1. Toby

        Any percentage growth is exponential; look up “doubling time” on Google sometime.

        What ecology says is that mature ‘growth’ is steady state growth, which snakes up and down around some dynamic equilibrium.

        There is linear growth, say a deer population growing by 20 per year producing a straight line on a graph; exponential growth, that same population growing by 3% a year which produces a J shaped curve over time; then steady state, which isn’t really growth at all, but the “bumping along the bottom” or “anemic” growth the MSM love to bemoan. I like to call it snaking around the top. It sounds more positive. Spin is everything you know.

        Because usury forces growth on the system, steady state has devastating consequences for real people across the planet. We have a very out of date economics clashing with reality and causing untold damage. Time for change. (Duh!)

        Of interest re exponential growth is the modern ‘parable’ of Joseph’s Penny. See here:

        There are other versions out there, but this was the first I found with a quick search.

        1. F. Beard

          Any percentage growth is exponential; look up “doubling time” on Google sometime. Toby

          True but usury sets the exponent needed. If the interest rate is 5%/yr then the real economy must grow at least 5%/yr to pay that interest.

          But what if it were not necessary to borrow money? What if corporations simply issued and spent their own private money? Now interest rates are irrelevant and the corporation can grow organically.

        2. skippy

          Toby…growth inures their apocalypse, although it is sad that they don’t take a page out of the Aztecs book. The end was *their time* on this world, not the planets, hence laying down when they had the numbers to defeat the enemy.

          Skippy…cults are unresponsive to any thing not residing with in ITS opines.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The squirrels gather enough acorns for the winter, but because some parasitic squirrels confiscate most of it, there is a famine.

      So, the fox comes along and says to the peon squirrels, ‘Why, the solution is to gather more acorns! Growth!’

      1. Antipodeus

        But I thought the foxes’ solution to the problem was to gather more squirrels.

    4. Jim Haygood

      In the GDP accounting context, ‘growth’ comes from two sources: (1) population increase; (2) productivity increase.

      Constant growth in population may well outstrip resources. But productivity growth need not have any exponential limits, particularly when it’s devoted to reducing the energy input per unit of GDP.

      1. slittOf theTongue

        need not have any exponential limits, particularly when it’s devoted to reducing the energy input per unit of GDP.

        need not have any exponential limits, particularly when it’s devoted to reducing the energy input per unit of GOP.

        Don’t you just love editors

  5. KnotRP

    > WSJ Caught BLATANTLY Scrubbing….. Karl Denninger (hat tip John M). This is pretty wild.

    Yeah, it’s pretty wild Yves…most of the time, they don’t…..get *caught*.

    If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you’re misinformed. (Mark Twain)

    1. Valissa

      Great Denninger post! I first started noticing the MSM scrubbing articles during the 2008 election in articles about Obama. Went from thinking “it must have been an editorial mistake” to “OMG the’re taking out unflattering content”. They were all much more minor than this one at the WSJ, though it was still very creepy. This trend is one of the things that concerns me about the growth of e-books. I guess as long as there are printed books I won’t worry too much.

      1. Antipodeus

        Did I mention that us Aussies are reallly, troooly and sincerely sorry about Rupert ‘You-Know-Who’?

        1. Valissa

          The giveaway that even many of the Republican elites, such as Murdoch, were in the bag for Obama in 2008 was when Bill O’Reilly totally softballed Obama in his interview. Never saw Bill as friendly and agreeable with a Dem before or since. Of course Fox has been pounding Obama since the election, but that’s how the game goes. Lots of Kabuki interspersed with earnest political beliefs.

      2. BondsOfSteel

        Are you seeing scrubbing in other places than the WSJ?

        I used to respect the WSJ, but they seem intent on following the path of FOX.

      1. Valissa

        If you read the comments over at Denninger’s site, you will find some interesting discussion about that, and an answer. Basically the official excuse is that the longer version went out in their European paper and they edited it for the US version.

    2. Philip Pilkington

      A little late, but can I say: this is the ‘water-cooler’ talk I was talking about. It’s stalled in polite conversation — but give it a month or two and it will flow.

      The question: why is the media so goddamn obsequious? Well, obviously because they tend to censor… sorry ‘edit’… elite opinion. Let a few ‘radicals’ through — like Weisbrot (“The big crazy lefty,” they’ll think…) — but no way will they kill their editorial line.

      It’s dying though, isn’t it? That line of thinking and of argument. The water coolers are hearing more than NYT readers. Things are changing — and I, personally, can’t wait!

  6. Adam Levitin

    Why is that capybara tolerating those free-riding squirrel monkeys? Do they provide delousing or some other quid pro quo? Bizarre.

  7. Hugh

    There are lots of myths about academia. One is that academics are liberal. Some are but in a mostly meaningless, ineffectual way. I mean who really cares if you are “liberal” and teach Balzac, or study apoptosis cascades in microbiology for that matter? When was the last time you heard of a great social movement arising out of the nation’s academics? Universities are, in fact, great engines of the status quo. They don’t challenge old ideas. They propagate them. They don’t question the power of corporations. They seek to ally themselves as closely as possible to them and get the maximum in funding from them. Ditto government, which is why they challenge neither.

    As Ed Kotch notes, just look at political science and economics programs, the two departments that have the most to do with public policy. Economics in academia is little more than an enabling mouthpiece for the kleptocrats. How many liberal academic economists can you name beyond Galbraith, Black, and Baker? If you are reduced to naming an Establishment apologist like Krugman, you are only proving my point. And as I have written repeatedly, even among liberal economists, inside and outside of academia, there isn’t one that will call our kleptocracy for what it is and revise their theories, and policy prescriptions, accordingly. Ed Kotch is right, the same could be said for political science departments. Kleptocracy is both an economic and a political phenomenon. Yet where are the great critiques of it in political science departments?

    Academia is set up not to rock any boats. Look at the funding. Look at the bureaucratic structure. The myth of academic freedom is exactly that, a myth. It is a system that selects and promotes those who are never going to shake things up and by doing so put at risk either dollars or the well-being of their superiors.

      1. Hugh

        Your allergies aside, what is your point? Lasch probably got his first teaching gig back in the 1950s. The second book you cite looks more promising since it is apparently about American elites abandoning fundamental principles.

        Academia is a big enterprise. There are going to always be a few oddballs and honest people in it at the margins. You cite one academic who died 17 years ago. So where does that leave us with the other 99.99% of academics then and now?

        1. Philip Pilkington

          Belligerent, aren’t we? And that’s coming from ME!

          I wasn’t giving a counterexample.

          Lasch’s work — particularly these two books (and out of them particularly the first) — deal with the evolution of the intellectual-as-armchair whiner.

          In ‘The New Radicalism’ Lasch tracks the evolution of this new social type and how it led intellectuals away from public engagement and toward ‘politicising’ private issues.

          His work is interesting with regards understanding the role educated elites play in our society — since writing the points he makes have only become more salient.

          1. Valissa

            “the evolution of the intellectual-as-armchair whiner”

            Now THAT’s something we can agree on!

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I expect Ph.D. dissertations on armchair-whiner genes.

            By the way, is there a gene or some combination of genes that would make a graduate student prone to writing useless reseach papers?

          3. Philip Pilkington

            “By the way, is there a gene or some combination of genes that would make a graduate student prone to writing useless reseach papers?”

            Sorry dude… I think Lasch is a social constructivist. I think him and Pierre Bourdieu would argue that it’s a class-thing.

            Write your useless research paper about ‘Robot Feminism in 14th Century Jesuit Theological Literature’ and you’ll get a piece of paper that guarantees you’ll get a half decent income working in a bank or something…

          4. Valissa

            I’m to go out on a limb here and say that LTPbeef was being snarky. All such snark is much appreciated, thanks!

          5. Hugh

            I think that another great myth about academia is that there are intellectuals in it. Getting back to a point I made above, intellectuals challenge the status quo. Academics reinforce it.

            From the little I can tell about Lasch is that he was something of a social conservative. So when he says that liberals were abandoning their principles, it’s worth asking what principles exactly, in light of his social positions, they were abandoning. I am sympathetic to the view of the dehumanized nature of large social structures but do not think the idea is to abandon them but rather to find ways to make them more accessible and human.

          6. Philip Pilkington

            “From the little I can tell about Lasch is that he was something of a social conservative. So when he says that liberals were abandoning their principles, it’s worth asking what principles exactly, in light of his social positions, they were abandoning.”

            Good question… I know one way to find the answer… read the book. Then pose questions.

          7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Peace to all…except those researchers (I don’t mean Lasch) who think there is a gene for everything, including thinking there is a gene for publishing useless research papers.

            Thanks, Valissa.

          8. Hugh

            Sorry, Philip, I don’t have the time to read every second rate thinker who ever committed pen to paper, although that is a very academic line of argument that an idea can not be thought or discussed until you have read someone, an academic no doubt, and their book on it.

          9. Philip Pilkington

            I was actually kidding with the whole Lasch vs. genetics thing, I know PrimeBeef was joking and I was ‘counter-joking’ — damn, keyboards should have a sarcasm button or something… I think people take me too seriously around here when I’m kidding… and they think I’m kidding when I’m trying to be serious.

            And Irish pathology, I should think…

          10. Philip Pilkington

            @ Hugh

            “…I don’t have the time to read every second rate thinker who ever committed pen to paper…”

            Neither do I, nor does anyone else — although the idea that Lasch is a ‘second-rate thinker’ is offensive, not to me, but to your country (he’s one of your leading social historians) — but I tend not to pose definitive questions to ‘second-rate thinkers’ that I haven’t read.

            Why? Because if I did so, and I didn’t properly understand their ideas I might… just might… come across as… well… a second or third-rate thinker.

            (P.S. I’m not an academic, cheers…)

    1. Valissa

      “And as I have written repeatedly, even among liberal economists, inside and outside of academia, there isn’t one that will call our kleptocracy for what it is and revise their theories, and policy prescriptions, accordingly.”

      Hear! Hear! This is the crux of the matter as far as I can tell! I stopped coming here for a while because I would read these great “lectures” on how economic policy should be handled if only the evil elites in charge would listen things would much better, but I wanted more than that. Armchair quarterbacking is always tricky, no matter how well intentioned. I want to know how the kleptocracy works, with strategic and procedural detail (flow charts, etc). It would be very useful and constructive to discuss the actual policy decisions made and see some “theories of looting” explored and applied (in addition to the very fine analysis done here already).

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if there are books on the history of kleptocracy or hitstory of corruption?

      Something like, The Rise and Rise (not Fall) of Kleptocracy…

  8. Valissa

    Just got my latest fundraising propaganda from John Kerry.

    The most pathetic lie in there is this one:

    “Remember, more than 90 percent of donations to the DSCC come from grassroots supporters – so you know your gift will be put to good use.”

    I wonder what the actual ratio of truly grassroots donations is to lobbyist and other corporate or elite sources. In case anyone missed this excellent post of Yves’ last month…

    Our Polarized and Money-Driven Congress: Created Over 25 Years By Republicans (and Quickly Imitated by Democrats)

    The other hilarious thing about the DSCC letter is where it says “The Republican Party’s primary mission is to seize control of the Senate.” Of course that is exactly the same goal the Dems have, hence the purpose of this letter. It’s merely a sporting competition with no real choices… who gives a shit about the little people who ultimately pay for the looting? Ummm, neither party as far as I can tell.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Speaking of grassroots and grass, how can we make grass greener, as we make cars greener?

      One way is to make grass more environmental friendly and conserve water is to water it less often.

      Thus you make the grass ‘greener’ but it also makes it browner.

      So, you make grass greener by making it browner.

      1. Valissa

        LOL… I find it fascinating that “green” has become such a propaganda/brand word. Then there’s all those CIA-inspired color revolutions… like the Green Revolution in Iran. Interesting times indeed.

        In the summer I have to chose between conserving water or letting my garden suffer. The plants look so terribly sad and oppressed when they are dry and parched. Sorry, I have NO guilt for watering my garden or very small lawn as needed. We have plenty of water in MA.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Still, it’s the thought that counts.

            My suggestion is for all Humvee owners to paint theirs green.

            ‘My car is green,’ they can proudly and honestly proclaim.

        1. bob

          If you are in the MWRA area, yes. If you are outside of that, MA is very, very dry.

          Andover, MA, outside of the MWRA, takes their drinking water from the Merrimack River, a few miles downstream from where Lowell dumps their “used” water.

          High class indeed.

          MA is the driest state in the NE, and already there are battles over who gets what.

          1. Valissa

            Yes, I’m in the MWRA area. Have also lived out in the Northampton area. Husband grew up north of Pittsfield. Those 2 non-MWRA areas are not considered dry by anyone I know, so curious as to the source of your info.

            To me a “dry town” in MA is one that doesn’t allow liquor ;)

          2. bob

            Not the best sources, but does back me up. Too much development in the ‘burbs.



            Pay attention to how many towns are asking for MWRA water, and how many get it.

            The geology of the eastern part of the state does not lend itself to water collection. There is plenty in the west, but a lot of ground to cover in between. There are also the downstream concerns of the Connecticut River constituencies. There have already been federal fights between states over that.

            What are the odds of another Quabbin being done today?

            And then look at the budget for the MWRA. Very big business, and a bonding authority.

    2. Jimbo

      I lost much respect for Senator Kerry when he bought his yacht in New Zealand, and moored her in RI so as to avoid MA taxes. Then he has the gall to ask for a National Sales Tax.

  9. bmeisen

    Helpful link to Lipsyte’s article at TomDispatch, also the link in link to Lipsyte’s 1993 piece in the NYT on the increase in domestic violence around the Super Bowl.

  10. Valissa

    Mike Huckabee’s new education (propaganda) company…

    Learn Our History

    Perhaps this is the next trend? I noticed that there is a libertarian lecture series on YouTube that’s pretty well done.

    OK, all you armchair intellectuals, your mission is clear. Get your version of history out there ASAP. You can do this at home right at your laptop. A Jon Stewart-like approach to history from the liberal point of view would probably appeal to the young.

    Memetic warfare!

  11. Peter T

    “Drinking water in thousands of homes ‘contaminated with harmful levels of methane’ Daily Mail”

    I think this is sensationalism as drinking water with methane is not harmful, because methane is hardly water soluble and chemically inactive at body temperatures. High concentrations of methane can be ignited, as shown in the picture, and the gas producers should study how to prevent explosive mixtures, but as long as the cracking chemicals don’t turn up in the water, which they haven’t yet, the water is safe to drink.

    1. Lyle

      On methane in water. It also happens naturally, see pictures of flares coming up thru springs in various places. The real question is was it there before and just looked for after the publicity?

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