Links Labor Day

Happy Feet the penguin released into Southern Ocean after New Zealand trip Guardian (hat tip Buzz Potamkin)

Rhinos set for stem cell ‘rescue’ BBC

In Classroom of Future, Stagnant Scores New York Times

Ex-News Corp. Execs Will Seek to Shift Blame Bloomberg (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). A good summary of the state of play, which is about to get ugly.

Big oil tanker groups vulnerable, warn bosses Financial Times

Unsecured bond sales to test Europe’s banks Financial Times

Self-Important Approach Worries Berlin’s Allies Der Spiegel

US money market blow for eurozone Financial Times

The worst of the euro crisis is yet to come Wolfgang Munchau, Financial Times

College students living in the lap of luxury Los Angeles Times (hat tip Buzz Potamkin). I have amazingly had readers argue against the proposition that much of the increased cost of higher education has gone to upgrading student amenities that do nothing to add to the quality of education. This is an extreme example. but the quotes in the story make my case.

The DOJ’s escalating criminalization of speech Glenn Greenwald, Salon

For A Better Model on Jobs, Look to Argentina, Not Europe Dave Dayen, FireDogLake (hat tip reader Carol B)

What the Left Doesn’t Understand About Obama Jon Chait, New York Times. I won’t dignify this by shredding it, save to note that I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen so much straw manning in such a compressed space. If nothing else, it signifies that the left has moved to the “then they [attempt to] ridicule you” stage. The piece actually struck me as a tad desperate. For an excellent rebuttal, see What Jonathan Chait Doesn’t Understand About Obama Scarecrow, FireDogLake

Rich look set to escape higher tax burden Financial Times

Oval Office Appeaser Newsweek. Note we think this is way too kind to Obama. Your truly is of the view that Obama has use the Republicans as cover to do exactly what he wants to do.

Supercommittee Pits Lobbying Firms’ Clients Against One Another Bloomberg (hat tip reader Arthur)

In the Eye of the Storm: Sunny Skies with a Chance of Chaotic, Violent Outbreaks Balkinization

What Democrats can do about Obama Matt Stoller, Salon

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  1. attempter

    “Big oil tanker groups vulnerable.”

    We need the empire to guard the oil, we need the oil to fuel the empire.

    I’ve never seen any logic beyond that circle.

      1. attempter

        Nope. Unlike the high rollers around here, I don’t have an FT subscription.

        But I figured the headline was clear enough. You did read the whole thing (I assume), and you’re not saying I was wrong. The corporate media is so predictable by now, I almost never am.

        1. Rex

          I don’t pay for FT. But because there are so many FT links here, I filled out their form which allows me about an article a day, I think. I haven’t seen any negative results (like spam) and I haven’t been turned off for exceeding the limit. No complaints from me.

          The article basically said the tanker companies have too many ships for current demand. Personally, I think that’s a good thing.

          Your comment didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but I’m getting used to that. We seem to have a rather different world view and some of the things you think should be obvious to everyone leave me puzzled.

          The world is a mess, I won’t argue that. Trying to get some kind of grip on what is really happening is why I like this blog. You have a lot to say on the various themes, but so far I’m not really a disciple. Often, I can’t even decipher the memes.

          1. Rex

            Oh, I forgot to mention, on the tanker article, if you Google the title, CNN has a copy of the article with a pretty picture added. So you can get to this one without venturing to FT.

          2. aet

            I personally like the ambiguity of the headline – oil tankers “vulnerable”, yes, but in respect to what contingency? A terrorist attack? An economic slowdown? Seizure by creditors? To breaching in heavy seas?

            Business uses the language of war and threat far too easily, and it serves to make things sound/appear far more ‘dramatic’ and fraught than they need to.

            Or should I say “journalists”, rather than accuse the businesspeople, as the former are the ones trying to “spice up” their stories to get people to click on the link, or to pay the dime and turn the page.

            I guess I’m saying is don’t fall for the hype, and not to get so excited by the language being used so as to lose the essential thread.

            I take it ( as I am not going to read the piece, seeing that FT does not wish me to ) that the article linked is saying that there are or may be too many oil tankers in being, and that that makes them “vulnerable” – to being decommissioned, or to simply becoming unprofitable to operate.

            Ah yes, as to the language used, some say that business has ever been naught but war , and that war too is naught but business.
            Personally, I see a problem with that.

            Especially as the business of America is business, like the President who took the USA into WW 1 said.

          3. attempter

            Your comment didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but I’m getting used to that. We seem to have a rather different world view and some of the things you think should be obvious to everyone leave me puzzled.

            Well, I admit I’m puzzled as to why you’re puzzled at this one. The military and imperial bloat is supposed to protect globalization, but all globalization does is intensify the bloat. The circularity of the argument is obvious.

            Often, I can’t even decipher the memes.

            Like what? (But it’s encouraging that you think they can be memes. I’d love for that to happen, if memes really exist.)

            Just google the title of the piece and click the first link that comes up.

            I’ve heard that over and over, but anytime I try it (at least with the FT) it doesn’t work.

            I was never even able to get those alleged 2 free articles a month. So I gave up clicking on FT things a long time ago.

        2. propertius

          Especially as the business of America is business, like the President who took the USA into WW 1 said.

          In my timeline, Calvin Coolidge did not lead the USA into WWI. Things may be different in your universe, of course.

  2. Foppe

    the proposition that much of the increased cost of higher education has gone to upgrading student amenities

    Isn’t it the other way around? They upgrade the amenities in order to “justify” insane per-year cost increases? Anyway, while it may be that the increases haven’t resulted in education improvements, it seems only fair to note that part of the reason they were/are being raised is because state and federal governments have been cutting back on their education budgets, leaving the Unis to cover the shortfall. (The problem with this, of course, is that legislators then say ‘hey, you can manage without state support, so we’ll cut back even further.’) A nice book from a few years ago that discusses that logic is Slaughter’s Academic Capitalism (1999). It focuses primarily on the Australian case, but it notes that something similar had been going on for longer in the USA.

    1. attempter

      Isn’t it the other way around? They upgrade the amenities in order to “justify” insane per-year cost increases?

      I’m sure that’s true. No one sick enough to provide such “amenities” in such a time of hardship in the first place is going to do so without skimming something off the top for himself.

      We can always assume rent-added (i.e. taking one’s cut) at every point of every process until the whole cost is dumped onto the non-rich customer and taxpayer.

      1. Lyle

        Note that the facilities discussed are charged in addition to tuition. Its the room and board component. Dorms and apartments are self supporting parts of the campus business, not payed for by tuition. Of course what the upgrading reflects is the greater life styles expected by todays students. As noted in the article the old brick/cinder block walled dorm (designed to minimize repair costs) is out. Also the old cafeteria is out in favor of multiple choices. It seems that the reputation for dorm food (I did not experience this in the late 60s at Michigan State however) being bad caught up with students expecting more. Back then there was 1 tv in a tv lounge for a building with 600 residents, but then there were 3 channels available also. Now providing built in large screen tvs does seem an extravagance to me but I am of the older generation so have a different point of view (I don’t have a flat screen tv at all anyway). Tuition and fees however cover the health club that is included with registration at most colleges its called the intramural facilities. IMHO that should be optional and priced separately .

        1. Kevin Murphy

          I was always under the impression that USC was a school for rich kids (and poor ones who can play football).

        2. craazyman

          I went to college in late 70s/early 80s.

          Cinderblock dorms were the norm. We put posters up for decoration, or hung tapestries. It was folk art. If you wanted to work out, there was the gymnasium with a wooden floor and free weights with chalk for your hands. Or you could run around on the streets.

          TV? Who cared. Nobody watched TV, that I remember. Either you were listening to music on the stereo or in a bar or the library (I won’t mention the bong hits et al.). Now you need to internet, I admit that. But that’s not expensive.

          We had one TV in the frat house. We’d watch football or televangelists after we’d gotten stoned. Earnest Angely was the best, I still remember “OUT, E-VUL Spirits! and he’d wack somebody on the head, then they’d get up and dance.” That was education for the real world. ha ha.

          Why the f— does college cost so much? There’s no reasonable explanation for it other than the usual instinct for looting, stuffing and pradation that seems to run everything now and finds ever more involuted ways to rationalize itself. The sophistry of our time, but without even the respect for the innate rhythms of language and expression.

    2. DF

      Before people start hating on Millennials as being too spoiled, a large part of the justification for building these luxury dorms is to attract rich students who will completely pay their way (or are from out of state), as opposed to needing financial aid.

      Also, keep in mind that USC is regarded to stand for the “University of Spoiled Children”, so luxury housing for them is not surprising.

      1. tyaresun

        The cheapest room at USC costs $3700 per semester and houses two students in a 100 sqft space. Hardly a luxury. My D is junior now and moved into Gateway (mentioned in the article) and will be paying $10500 for 11 months. Older places cost about the same at $950 a month. Gateway does have a lot of amenities not available in older places but they are offering this cheap !!!! rate to attract students.

        I do agree that education costs are insane and the students do not learn useful skills.

    3. Matthew G. Saroff

      Actually, what has happened is classic monopoly theory.

      The top colleges, the Ivys have been colluding on tuition and financial aid awards for years, so they no longer compete on price.

      What happens then is that you get non-price competition, aka bloat.

  3. Diego Méndez

    I can’t understand why people are so obsessed about the economic miracles of Argentina and Iceland. Both have basically thrashed their currency, are suffering from hyperinflation and will need austerity and a monetary anchor in the end.

    Of course you should stimulate your economy in some circumstances. Of course Latin America should spend massively in infrastructure and education, and of course 14% public spending (as Argentina reportedly had in 2001) sends you nowhere.

    However, you should finance your public spending with taxes, not with either deficit or inflation (barring liquidity traps). Serious economists should not take example from countries with over 20% inflation.

    In the case of the EU periphery, it is obvious governments should have levied more taxes on imports (VAT rise), encouraged exports with all policy tools available, and have risen taxes on the rich and the middle classes to create jobs for the unemployed.

    So self-evident as it was, it is very difficult politically. Our governments have failed to do it. If we get out of the euro and have over 20% inflation, the situation will get better, but that would always be the second-best option, not the one we should focus on.

    1. aet

      Excessive (that is to say, imprudent and un-necessary) borrowing from eager-to-lend banks – in fact, insistent-to-lend banks ( banks now being ‘bailed-out” by big country taxpayers , or interest rate policies) – was IMHO the problem with both countries.

      It could be argued that the public officials who put those loans in place were in cahoots with the banks and bankers involved, if they directly or indirectly personally benefited from their placement…as trustees cannot do so: and public officials ARE the trustees of the public wealth.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘Argentina and Iceland … have basically thrashed their currency, are suffering from hyperinflation and will need austerity and a monetary anchor in the end.’

      In contrast to Brazil, which has experienced extreme currency appreciation, Argentina has attempted to moderate the upward pressure on the peso by constantly purchasing dollars with newly-minted pesos. This balloons the peso money supply by 30 percent annually, and inflation naturally follows.

      Inflation could be brought down, at least to the mid single-digit levels of its Lat Am peers, by stopping the intervention. But in a sagging global economy, heaping the fresh burden of an overvalued currency onto exporters probably is not in the cards.

      Argentina is a more extreme case of a global dilemma for developing country exporters: keeping their currencies competitive usually means pumping up the domestic money supply and stoking inflation. After all, that’s how adjustment is classically supposed to work: seize a temporary advantage with a cheap currency, and in a couple of years, rising domestic inflation nullifies it.

      Fiat currencies condemn us for life to running as fast as we can in order to stand still. It’s rather like paddling up the Hudson River when the tide’s going out, and noticing that in relation to a fixed point on the shore, you’re not moving. ¡Qué lástima!

    3. john c. halasz

      Umm… Argentina’s current inflation rate is 9.7%. From 1944-2010 it averaged 215% (sic!). Besides one time import price rises from devaluation don’t amount to the long-run meaning of inflation, but rahter are part of the necessary adjustment process of rebalancing imports and exports. (Iceland’s current inflation rate is 5%).

      1. Jim Haygood

        The figure you cite, 9.7%, is the official rate from Indec. People who actually live and shop in Buenos Aires are seeing more like 25% inflation … not ‘hyperinflation,’ but very excessive and costly to adapt to.

        1. john c. halasz

          Well, I’m no expert on Argentina, and I just did a quick and dirty google to see what was up there. Though “people who live and work in Buenos Aires” is a pretty anecdotal criterion. The currency board under Menem was an attempt to quash the tradition of hyper-inflation, but it too ended in a reciprocal disaster, (and a steady erosion of the industrial base in favor of the traditional class of commodity exporters had long been occurring under IMF tutelage). So relatively speaking, Argentina has done fairly well post-crash and even now, despite the fact that it’s an unfathomably crazy country.

          Though I do agree that the specific circumstances of each country’s economy and the conditions of the global economic setting need to be taken into account in formulating any prescriptive response to its problems. So Argentina or Iceland are not directly relevant to Euro country problems. And Diego is probably right that using VAT, if counter-balanced by a mostly negative income tax, to correct trade imbalances might have been the right way to go.

  4. bob

    “upgrading student amenities”, haha, that is a good one.

    Colleges and universities are being run as highly leveraged hedge funds, usually by guys who couldn’t make it running a real hedge fund. How’s that working out? Larry?

    And on facilities- The head manager of construction/buildings (can’t rememeber his title) of a major state university system (top 3) told a crowd “We don’t build buildings for students anymore, we have more than enough of them, we build buildings to put people’s names on now.”

    It’s all for the students…HAHAHA

    1. Parent of 4

      Our first child went to a very good private college that cost a fair amount. However, college inflation kept going up as the dorms and buildings got fancier.

      So, our second one went to a mid-price Catholic college – good bang for the buck. Meanwhile, college inflation kept going up.

      Our third one is going to a Canadian university where they are not building Taj mahals for students. One of us is Canadian, so citizen rates apply – good deal – similar to US state schools. This child may want to stay in Canada to work.

      US college inflation is going up. The fourth one is going to the very good local community college while she figures out what she wants to major in. Living at home while working on a fairly expensive hobby. Her total costs are less than sending her off to school to “find out who she is.”

      From what I am seeing of these various college experiences, it is a total myth that you need to spend $50k a year to get a good education. I also think that it is a good experience to live in dorms that they can clean with a fire hose at the end of the year because they are simply concrete shells. So far we have been able to get the kids through without racking up large debt, but you really do have to go shpping to accomplish that.

      The US has a major problem is large, unnecessary costs in both the health care and education systems. We have a lot to learn from other countries.

      1. bmeisen

        Thanks for your comment. The year-to-find-out-who-you-are scam!! It’s part of the education-as-a-personal-choice deceit. In a profound sense there is no personal choice – we’re all culturally determined. Individualism is a very dominant feature of American culture. It’s the group hiding in the alley and whispering to kids walking by, “Psst, check this out! You’re free, independent, a tabla rasa, do whatever you want, it’s cool.” And it’s a lie. After the year-to-find-out-who-you-are you’re going to find out that you’re trapped in this thing like all the rest of us.

    1. hello

      the only remotely viable (that is they have an established infrastructure, leadership, agreed-upon coherent platform, etc) third-party is the Green Party.

      1. ellen Anderson

        Yes, the Greens are the only option. I don’t know whether they have decided to run a presidential candidate and I doubt that Ralph Nader will change his mind and decide to run. Ditto Dennis K.

        I think that they should get behind some very cool farmer – how about Pete Kennedy from the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund? The name is a good one! They are fighting the FBI raids on small farmers. The issue of food freedom crosses normal political and class lines.

        1. attempter

          That would be an excellent thing to build an entire campaign around, morally and politically.

          But these days no one seems to have the hang of that, which may indicate the lack of desire on anyone’s part to do it.

          I think a real campaign based on a critical issue like food freedom along with a general populism would generate enough grassroots support to be viable without the support of corporate media.

          (Of course, the most important goal would be building the movement organization itself on a permanent and independent basis, even more than electing the candidate.)

  5. M.InTheCity

    Re: What democrats can do about Obama

    Not sure what planet Mr. Stoller inhabits, but to have quite a bit of your argument hinging on the AFL-CIO doing anything pro-worker is pure fantasyland. He seems to think that the AFL-CIO only recently became pro-business. Oy. This goes back to before WWII! They’ve been sublicants forever.

    And to think that Harkin would stand up to the big O? There is no evidence that Harkin doesn’t have a highly developed survival instinct. He hasn’t been a Senator since 1985 for nothing.

    He also seems to think that it is only recently that the Dems are all right-wing. From what I can tell, the last left-wing president was Richard Nixon (the fact that he was pure concentrated evil doesn’t detract from his moderate center-left stances domestically).

    I guess I just can’t understand putting some suggestion out there like that knowing that the underlying assumptions could never ever pan out. Then again I don’t think the Dem party is reformable…

  6. ambrit

    My Dear Mz Smith;
    Sorry to impinge on your vacation but…
    Some time ago I complained about the ads on websites, and recieved a reply from your estimable person to the effect that the sidebar ads were tolerable whilst the centre of the page ads were ‘somewhat discommoding.’ So, we all settled in and learned to live with thw banner ads. “Oh fell and evil day!” Today I experienced the first centre of the page ad on your life enhancing blog! You were right, such ads do indeed degrade ones quality of life. (Snark ends here.)
    I full well know you have better things to do, but.. Perhaps it’s time to have a litle talk with your web page server? Or am I just hoplessly out of touch with the ‘new normal?’ I don’t have my own blog, so I don’t know what ‘goes with the territory.’ Apologies if I’ve ruffled some feathers.
    Obsequiously and Toadyingly Yours Ambrit

    1. LeeAnne

      Many thanks to fyreflye. This works beautifully.


      fyreflye says:
      August 29, 2011 at 10:17 am

      Firefox for Mac is up to version 7.0 now, though I’d advise you
      to just upgrade to v. 3.6.20 unless you have high speed
      internet and lots of RAM. All the standard extensions work
      on it. You can find all the Firefox versions here:
      fyreflye says:
      August 29, 2011 at 10:28 am

      Oh, and for those memory hogging flash videos you need Flashblock:

    1. ambrit

      My Dear Mr Strether;
      I can see it now. Obama returns to D.C. and waives a piece of paper in the air. “Financial stability for out time.” Unfortunately, the comparison is invidious for Mr Chamberlain.

    2. LeeAnne

      Lambert -if I listen at all to the Big Zero I’ll be listening for the big hustle in the works, the public/private infrastructure bank – latest scam for the status quo, leaving the same guys in charge of infrastructure central planning in the name of ‘jobs’ who brought us the biggest swindle in the history of the world.

      They should be hung for what they’ve done to our military troops alone. I remember the first time I saw a photo of troops in Iraq sitting in a circle of about 10 in a hole in the sand in full battle gear in insufferable heat that we were later informed included sand in every crevice and sand fleas. But there’s so much more.

      We would be better off letting this whole deal collapse. Left to their devices, these folks are never going to produce anything other than more misery for humanity.

    3. LeeAnne

      Attempter does an outstanding job of articulating the problems we are living with while he maintains a hold on his vision and ideas for the future after the collapse we are most certainly headed for. He invites comments on his own blog.

      While others like myself can only curse the criminal system we’re forced to live with, Attempter has the talent and patience to articulate the issues and root causes with specificity on this blog and in other places, while confronting the issues, and at the same time confronting the trolls seeking to do their evil with words on this blog. That’s important.

      Its important because this war has been fought and largely won with leveraged counterfeit money that has been used to support institutions for propaganda, the total corruption of the language beyond our ability to imagine could happen.

      There are very few of us who have become aware of the criminal nature of political economics today capable of seeing a different future upon which to build when this comes crashing down -as it most certain is doing.

      Even the potential for developing new sources of energy has no chance of happening under the heel of these criminals. Clearly they’ll nuke us first before that can happen.

      I look for Attempter’s focus every day first thing after I’ve scanned links and posts.

      In celebration of Labor Day, Thank you, Yves and all who work to produce this blog, and Thank you, Attempter.

      1. craazyman

        Here here. I’ll drink to that. Attempter is like wheat grass juice. I can’t quite manage to drink it straight, but I know at an intellectual level it’s a healthy tonic of truthtelling at a foundation of spirit so fundamental that it is, to most people, utterly invisible.

      2. attempter

        He invites comments on his own blog.

        Yes, and you haven’t commented in a while. I didn’t know if you were still reading. :)

        Thanks, and you’re welcome.

        Craazyman, I’ve never drank wheat grass juice so I don’t know how awful it is, but thank you too.

        1. MichaelC

          And there it is:
          Till you’ve drunk (their) wheat grass you can’t understand the counter arguments you dismiss.

          Drink and learn,then argue. Earnestness is only step one. You’re a bright fellow. Listen and learm.

        2. LeeAnne

          I’ve been reading very little -computer woes for months with a failed attempt at saving the old mac PowerPc ca 1999 transitioning to a slick (sliding all over the place) new Samsung laptop as we speak -not a friendly relationship yet, but we’re getting there – as soon as I learn not to lean on the touch pad while typing. Best keyboard and great Samsung support.

          I did read your article on farmers markets. They’re one of the perks of Manhattan living and summer in the city -one or two convenient to me just about every day of the week. This is the week we’re reminded of where our food comes from, the farmers’ hard work and risks. Many were absent on Friday and Saturday, and produce sparse -fish, too.

          What’s happened to Down South?

          and craazyman, was that you? exiting the 79th st. crosstown bus a couple of nights ago -at the height of the storm -a big yellow cape … I missed you for awhile. thought you’d left -its great to see your longer comments. Maybe we can get i on the ball back? All he has to do is go easy on the Nz word. We are being watched.

          1. attempter

            This is the week we’re reminded of where our food comes from, the farmers’ hard work and risks. Many were absent on Friday and Saturday, and produce sparse -fish, too.

            Although all of our vendors were present at the last market, several were among the walking wounded, having been hit hard by flooding. It’s going to be rough going forward for a few of them who lost basically their whole projected fall harvest. They had to scramble to replant and hope for good weather going forward.

        1. LeeAnne

          I had to look that up -Overton window -notice they’re not located in Detroit -Milton Friedman and all that.

  7. G Marks

    Sunny with a Chance of Chaotic, Violent Outbursts

    I keep thumping about the similarities between present day headlines and the French Revolution. There are few takers, and much scorn.

    Harcourt speaks of being coffin ready in our cemetery clothes – able bodies ready to implement quick decisions with the necessary harshness. I dunno… sounds a lot like Frederick Douglass… he outlined what would have to be done.

    Again I am reminded of the Eris Society speech in Aspen wherein the speaker said it won’t be the local hairdresser or doughnut shop owner who firebombs Bank of America… it will be the dispossessed, those with nothing left to lose.

    the Middle class GIVES THE THUMBS UP.

    In 1789 France, the 3rd Estate, or 24 million people, were seething at the excesses of the 1st and 2nd Estates -[clergy and nobility]

    Merchants, lawyers, Farmers, craftsmen, joined forces with the sans culottes [peasantry] to overthrow the monarchy and the church. It was a deadly coalition.

    Although the sans culottes hauled the guillotines through the streets and sacked the McMansions – IT WAS THE MERCHANTS AND PROFESSIONALS WHO GAVE THE THUMBS UP!

    This is what we are seeing today with increasingly violent rhetoric from the former middle class. We aren’t violent people, and most have no criminal records. But there is a yearning for justice, a comeuppance, if you will, for the gangsters and crony capitalists who moan big government, even as they use that government to enrich themselves, stifle competition, and increase market share.

    Wall St day traders manipulate stock prices, making money on the way up and the way down – selling long or short, while the traditional investor gets the shaft.

    Banks us our treasury to enrich themselves and pay off their bad debts and blame the Community Reinvestment Act – saying [and I quote Rush here] GOVERNMENT MADE THEM DO IT.

    Of the 14 trillion in toxic loans, according to Paul Harvey, in one of his last broadcasts – 11 trillion was the result of speculation and condo flipping in places like Las Vegas and South Florida. The music stopped, and there were too few chairs.

    by this time Norwegian fishermen had their retirement accounts tied to these worthless bundles of Paper. THAT is why the first TARP was approved BETWEEN ADMINISTRATIONS, with no questions asked. The money went overseas. And Bernanke knew it… Paulson knew it… Bush and Obama probably knew it, or they were kept in the dark for their own protection.

    The FED gave our money to American and European banks and retirement accounts, while our retirees lost what? – 40% of their worth? — THAT is why Obama is working so hard to assuage Wall St… and lift stock prices.

    Who cares if the Middle Class was sacked for this higher good? Obama as Solomon, became an accessory rather than a reformer. But he doesn’t deserve our pity. He chose Geithner, Summers, and the crooks and liars of Wall st. finance. He got HAD, as they say on Chicago’s south side.

    So when I see flash mobs in convenience stores, I am disappointed. If we are going to give the thumbs UP to revolt – WE NEED TO AIM HIGHER.

    You know what I want to see in flames [with the BRASS locked in the top floors] — and it’s not the mini mart.

    1. aletheia33

      last i’ve seen, people with BAs and higher degrees (over age 25) are suffering an unemployment rate below 5 percent (and it’s gone down since a year ago):

      “Employment status of the civilian population 25 years and over by educational attainment”

      until that changes, i don’t think we’ll see any middle-class revolt. still en masse employed, my guess is they are hunkered down, working harder with less to show for it than ever, but still getting by, in denial about what’s coming, hoping against hope they’ll somehow “get through” the “downturn,” still dutifully paying off their pile of debt, haven’t lost their homes, have no sense of a need for collective action on their own behalf beyond politics “as usual.”

      the middle class almost by definition does not identify its benefits and losses with those of the classes below them, but will do anything they can to preserve their sense of separateness from the latter, a status they believe they have “earned” exclusively through their own efforts.

      what would it realistically take to get a “thumbs up” to a violence-based revolution from the american middle class? it’s beyond my puny imagination i confess.

      i continue to find gar alperovitz’s take on our possible future (next 30 years or so) the most useful:

      “Gar Alperovitz: The Prehistory of the Next Possible Progressive Era”

      i haven’t yet seen any prognostications that strike me as more likely (or inspiring of constructive action) than those in this interview.

      1. G Marks

        You are operating under the wrong paradigm.

        Middle Class Americans have never identified nor sympathized with the poor – because they thought the playing field was level.

        If you are/were poor, it was because of an accident of birth or a defect in your character.

        In either case, the Middle Class was not the place to find sympathy or support.

        That’s changed. And if you don’t see how – you’ve been isolated from the disaffected entrepreneurial class and professionals.

        The playing field is not and has not been level.

        Day traders and insiders have been manipulating stock pricing… making money long or short – while institutional investors took a bath.

        That’s grandma’s retirement they’ve been playing with.

        Tax cuts, access to capital, and regulatory loopholes are/were available to K Street clients – but not Main St.

        The game has been rigged – the cards marked – with the super rich [connected] taking every pot.

        Bill Kristol and the Republican National committee chairman agreed on Fox News Sunday – that Sarah Palin’s call to end CRONY CAPITALISM – was the new mantra for the GOP.

        Not that they believe it for a minute… but they know their hold on the Tea Party types is tenuous… and in order for a ‘mainstream’ Republican to have any chance in the 2012 contest – he/she will have to tap into the RAGE on the right… not just the left.

        CRONY CAPITALISM is now the mantra of the new, improved, GOP –

        Kristol even went to far as to blame Obama AND George Bush for such insider trading – with a clean slate, necessary to win back angry conservatives, who know they’ve been cheated.

        the GOP must be seen as the protector of Main st… not Wall st.

        The biggest fear of the GOP, is an alliance of the Tea Party with Blue Dog Democrats and angry Main St merchants, and retirees who see their lives gone…

        It’s the 3rd Estate of Modern America.

        Sure, Levi’s can be persuaded to make Jeans in America again… if we allow them to pay slave wages – and poison our rivers blue.

        The GOP cannot serve two masters. And they know it.

        They can hawk reform of government that shuts down lemonade stands and shutters raw milk farms.

        We are beginning to see a new alliance of interests. I know mine aren’t aligned with Wall St and Multi National corporations. I have much more in common with my employee who’s mother was fired after 15 years – so Conoco could hire minimum wage help to replace her.

        Schadenfreude for the misfortunes of the rich is an early symptom. America is yearning for a good hanging judge.

        And if we don’t get one… we’ll start taunting the sans culottes to burn down a few McMansions in Connecticut.

        Watch and learn.

        1. alex

          “the Middle Class was not the place to find sympathy or support. That’s changed. And if you don’t see how – you’ve been isolated from the disaffected entrepreneurial class and professionals.”

          Agreed. I think many in the middle class has become more sympathetic to the poor as they see how close they are to slipping into poverty themselves. FDR got elected with the help of lots of middle class votes.

          1. aletheia33

            electing an FDR is a far cry from giving “thumbs up” to the “sans culottes.”

            and the “disaffected entrepreneurial class and professionals” don’t appear to this observer to be anywhere near doing either.

            but as i am isolated from them, maybe when they as a group do decide that the 30-years-and-counting decimation of the well-being of those less fortunate than themselves has gone on long enough, i won’t be able to tell.

            they do seem to be beginning to wake up, but i maintain that on the whole, they will hold on to their pleasant dream as long as they can–until their own unemployment makes political and social action a more promising choice for their own well-being than the fear, conformity, and passivity that’s been their preferred option so far.

            what action they might then take as a group, and who they might collaborate with, seems more worrying than heartening at the moment, of course. the american middle class leans more than ever to the right now, and the building racial dynamic is a powder keg ready to blow.

        2. JTFaraday

          “The biggest fear of the GOP, is an alliance of the Tea Party with Blue Dog Democrats.

          Watch and learn.”

          pffft. Yeah, I want to get the full blown fascist fusion over with already myself.

          The dead wood pantywaists in the Grand Old Party will just drag it out forever so they can keep milking their base– seriously, who needs it?

      2. alex

        aletheia33: “what would it realistically take to get a ‘thumbs up’ to a violence-based revolution from the american middle class?”

        Who cares? A better question is what would it take for them to support a peaceful revolution. We had one in the 1930’s, and it worked quite well for many years. Time for another one.

        1. G Marks

          we HAD a peaceful revolution when we voted for YES WE CAN!

          And he was promptly fitted for a red coat and boots – to better meet and greet the Players who visit the White House.

          Listen to the GOP field in today’s debates. they are all talking about freedom and the constitution… unless you want an abortion, or take issue with the TSA violating your 4th amendment rights.

          Both sides LIE to get the votes… then serve the entrenched interests.

          And by the way FDR conducted one of the most flagrant false flag operations against his own citizenry… with the oil embargo of Japan that taunted them to a response.

          When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor… FDR had the military stand down… he let those boys die… to garner support for a war we didn’t want to join.

          So our peaceful revolution in the 30/s was as much a scam as what’s being run on us now.

          Believers only need to google James Bamford’s Body of Secrets… he pours over declassified original documents at the National Archives.. and he’s the one who uncovered the plot by FDR and his military advisers.

          WE have been being skunked by our masters since the beginning… believing Lincoln was against slavery…lies and more lies.

          Conditions are ripe for a revolt… and without the necessary roughness – nothing will change.

          Remember Frederick Douglass

          1. Jeff

            And don’t forget non-interventionist Charles Lindbergh who had his baby kidnapped and killed allegedly by a
            German carpenter…

          2. Skippy

            @Jeff, His father was a bit of a gadfly in Germany…a kid to every sister of the original mistress.

            Skippy…Drank long and hard of the Lamarckian inheritance, he did…eh.

  8. MacStukuls

    If learning Power Point will improve kids test scores we are all doomed.


    Also who puts together a Facebook page on Shakespeare’s characters? How does that help one understand a play? Maybe reading aloud and discussing it would help.


    As you can tellI prefer pencils to Power Point.

  9. El Snarko

    I graduated from the University of Dayton in 1977. It shoulda been 74, but I did the professional student deal for a bit there. I had not been on campus for any reason for 24 years when I did and HOLY COW!!!!!While not replicating what this article is speaking about, the trend is clear: This has aboslutely NOTHING to do with the school I went to, which was basically true middle class to a bit above on average. It is indistingusihable to Miami of Ohio (which is a so called Public Ivy and deserves the title). Nor do the majority of the improvements have a thing to do with education.

    1. propertius

      My local state university just finished spending a considerable sum to install a lounge with video games.

      In the library.

  10. Paul Tioxon

    Here is link that I hope some people take the time to view and try to support if you are financially able to. It is a movie about the cost of building construction paid in human life. Not many occupations have regular accidents resulting in hospitalizations and death. Construction, the last resort of average people for something approaching a living wage, is not safe and getting worse in the deregulated, go go pace, especially during the real estate bubble.

    1. colinc

      Thank you, Mr. Tioxon. The trailer looks “interesting” and I, for one, say it’s about time someone addressed the issue of “construction safety.” However, having worked as a carpenter/sub-contractor (primarily residential) in a half-dozen states over the course of a decade I can assure you that “the problems” in construction go far beyond lax worker-safety. Perhaps the CaveLight film will get to these “other” aspects, I’ll have to peruse the site further as there was no indication of that intent in the trailer. Suffice it to say, here, that I exited that industry 25+ yrs ago because the bulk of what was being built was, is and will only ever be, abject crap that isn’t worth the paper on which the plans were drawn! In other words, anyone who has bought a home built in the past 30 yrs (or more) has been defrauded (especially if it was in TX). But don’t take my word for it, get out your level (a 4 footer is sufficient, be sure it’s “true”) and tape measure (learn the “meaning” and relevance of a 3-4-5 triangle) and check for yourself using a “critical” eye. If you, personally, would like to know more, perhaps we can find a way to discuss this “privately.” Otherwise, “happy labor day” back at ya’.

    2. Lidia

      Who builds edifices that take such a human toll, and why? is what I would ask. What’s the ecology of it?

      I plan to invest in pre-industrial-era building technology.

  11. Tony

    It looks like the Rick Perry ‘Texas jobs miracle’ was due to government hiring:

    ‘Perry sticks to the script as if it were Scripture. “The fact is, government doesn’t create jobs,” he said. “Government can only create the environment that allows the private sector to create jobs.” Thing is, reality has Keynesian bias even in Perry’s Texas. During Perry’s decade-plus tenure as governor, public sector jobs have increased at twice the pace of those in the private sector. For the past three years, jobs in Texas’ private sector have actually fallen by 0.6 percent, while in the public sector they have increased by 6.4 percent.’

    Combine the above with the fact that Texas state debt grew 281 percent during Perry’s term (as compared to a 234 percent increase in federal debt during the same time frame) and I don’t see him winning the Republican primary.

    Could we end up with Bachman v. Obummer?

    1. G Marks

      That government largess is what has the Tea Party seething… and CRONY CAPITALISM is what Palin is echoing in her bus tour.

      the GOP knows Palin is guiding the race… taunting them with concerns on Main st.

      I know readers at Naked Capitalism probably think Palin tears off her face and swallows rats whole at home each night…

      but the TEA PARTY is not the Koch brothers… they’ve gone rogue on the GOP. I suspect the siblings are shaking their heads – wondering what they can do to stem this populist tide of TEA.

      Tea Party types are renegades – disaffected former middle class. they know their interests aren’t aligned with Perry or Romney.

      1. wunsacon

        Dude, puh-lease…

        Palin is anti-peace, anti-science, anti-middle-class. How “rogue” is that from the pro-war, pro-religion, pro-rich policies advanced by seemingly every other Republican the pro-establishment MSM sticks in our faces?

        The only “rogue” GOP agent is Ron Paul. And, since the Palinites crashed the Tea Party, the Tea Party bears insufficient resemblance to Ron Paul’s platform for me to describe it as “rogue”.

        More importantly, the Tea Party is simply a Republican/plutocrat marketing campaign — a start-up brand created to recapture disillusioned rank-and-file voters. George W. Bush so trashed the Republican brand by 2008 that the Republican rank-and-file were too ashamed to identify themselves as “Republican”. I mean, what an embarrassment! So, if you were a right-wing leader then, what would you do? You’d create a startup with a new name for your old faithful to reconnect with you. “Under new management!” Yeaaah… But, what happens to startups? Our political duopoly crowds out competitors. At this point, by pushing neocons like Palin to headline the very first TP convention, the GOP has already “acquired” its upstart and brought it back into the fold.

        You’ll convince me otherwise when the TP pushes (less)non-plutocratic, non-religious, non-violent leaders like Ron Paul. Until then, I have to McEnroe you with: “You can’t be serious!?”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Which do you think science, as it is practiced today, favors – the rich and the powerful or the middle class?

        2. lambert strether

          I don’t imagine for a moment that Palin believes in doing anything about her charge of “crony capitalism,” but she’s smart to take advantage of the opening.

          To put this another way: Is it possible for a woman, highly skilled at retail politics, and bearing a populist message, to run and win the popular vote in a primary campaign, even if our famously free press, the party establishment, and the access bloggers are vehemently opposed to her?

        3. observer

          Hear-hear, wunsacon. Beware the candidate who claims to be “rogue” – they actually will be the LEAST “rogue” in the group. And “crony capitalism” is just another empty sound-bite buzz-phrase that means nothing. It has nothing to do with any policy, it’s not a suggestion about how to fix anything, it’s not a plan. It’s just more BS from Sarah Palin to promote – what else? – Sarah Palin.

      2. wunsacon

        G Marks, I read your other comments. I only wish your view of the Tea Party were correct. I’ve seen enough evidence for me to say “the jury already came in and rendered their verdict”. But, maybe we can call a mistrial and start over, huh?? ;-)

        1. G Marks

          I know the Tea Party types very well. And they have been defined wrongly by both sides.

          I call them former Perotistas… and Ron Paul Republicans.

          I know because I am one.

          1. wunsacon

            G, I strongly suspect you are *projecting* the motivations/ideas/wishes of your rank-and-file TP supporters onto Palin. If she were elected, you will likely rue the day.

            Hope I’m wrong.

          2. MIchaelC

            Please. Tea partiers are NOT rouges, by any stretch.

            They’re frustrated folks who swooned over Santelli’s rant and called themselves a party while friending each other on Facebook.

            Today his rallying rant is an embarrassing inconvenience to any who attempt to sell the Tea’s to anyone with a working brain cell as a party that posesses something resembling a governing platform. (I won’t go into the moron Palin’s picking up Santelli’s mantle, or the Palin/Hitler idiocy risks)

            WTF is the Gov’t Largese that sets your teeth on edge? Is it programs aimed at helping ‘deadbeat’ borrowers who had the temerity to tell the bond market to f(*& off, which originally set the party’s founder into such a rage back in those halcyon days? It seems like those ‘deadbeats’ are proving to be more victim than villian, not to mention serving as pawns in the 20/21 century finance version of the 19 century political “Big Game”, which bond market savants like Santelli are paid to encourage.

            So where TF does that leave the ‘party’ now? They demanded rule of law to reposess when Santelli was so irate, but today that enforcement cost seems to fall into the gov’t largess pool that must be eliminated at all costs??!!.

            Or is it Welfare cheats, 99erss trying to feed their families, war spending, the 1%ers perks that are funding the party, the paltry sums allocated to upholding the rule of law (SEC/DOJ), Homeland Security boondoggles, that piss your party off the most?

            Based on the founding rant, I think it’s the social rather than the military or regulatory largesses that the self identified Tea Partiers want to cut. That seems inconsistent with the Tea Party myth,since those programs are funded by the majority (>40k.<200k) taxpayers, so I'm confounded by your comment.

            There is no Tea Party, no matter how much you identify with it. You're as stranded as the rest of us who are disgusted with various bits of govt largesse. The Party whose existence you fantasize is a faction that should be heard and challenged like the rest of us.

            You flatter yourself to think the 'party' is anything more, and shame on the rest of us for fearing that their bullying nonsense deserves a respectful hearing. The Tea party is a blight and a fraud. It doesn't exist.( It's at best a caucus, (and that's too generous), fluid, ephemeral and mean spirited (sociopathic?).

            The irony is they (TPs) are their own (and reasonable people's) worst enemy. As it ever was. Godspeed to their demise.

    2. wunsacon

      I doubt I would vote for Obama even in the infinitesimally unlikely scenario where I knew my single vote meant the difference between Bachmann or Obama winning the White House. I will not knowingly vote for the lesser of two evils…no matter how Diebold tallies my vote. ;-)

  12. bookit

    The root problem with higher education is that we treat the workforce as the customer.

    Traditionally, liberal education was about training men and women to be citizens in a self-governed society (though unfortunately it took a while to include women). Students were citizen trainees, and as in business, trainees are part of the workforce, not part of the customer base.

    Now, education is defined as the personal property of the student, and its value, or “return,” is measured in future earning power. Colleges compete not on the basis of quality of education, but on the basis of attracting students, hence the outrageous and unproductive investments described in the L. A. Times article.

    If you own a business, ask yourself this: if your employees were your customers, would you require the same level of productivity from them? Would you manage them the same? How would your product be affected? The education-as-property model will not work in the long run because it produces more corruption than excellence. Countries that invest in making education free to those who qualify (which means it’s only free in currency terms, but not free at all in work ethic and academic accomplishment terms) have a brighter future than the U.S.

  13. Z

    Ah, the reemergence of the congenitally well-intentioned obama premise from newswEAk. I can’t believe that this nonsense is still being trotted out as if someone of any intelligence … and obama has plenty of that … would keep using the same tactics if they weren’t getting exactly what they wanted. And I suppose it’s just a coincidence that his biggest sponsors … and the folks that will undoubtedly fund his plush post-presidency life … always seem to get their way when he uses these “unsuccessful” tactics.

    Well, the call for obama to walk away in 2012 is starting to begin and he can’t be happier becoz this is exactly what he wants: an out. Hell, he wants it so bad that he may even forgo the 6 figure post-presidency speeches for a while to posture as our most ethical ex-president ever. Ha ha ha … what a joke. But at this point in his life money isn’t anywhere near as important to this political performer as the adoration of the masses. He’s got plenty of money … and plenty of ways to make more of it without hitting the speech circuit … and he’s likely more concerned with protecting the obama brand and being able to rub elbows with the beautiful crowd without suffering any uncomfortable moments. He’ll have a lot of time to cash in anyway … and a lot of favors to the plutocracy to cash in on.


  14. barrisj

    Re: Stoller article…As long as OBama can still pull in tens of millions in 2012 campaign contributions from the usual suspects, he remains untouchable. If HRC(who, btw, received major props from the evil Mr Cheney this weekend) can be persuaded to challenge Obama and force a LBJ scenario, it will have been because the money people see him as a loser and her as a winner, just simple electoral politics, nothing to do with being a “true Democrat” or any of that bollocks. Regardless of how “loyal” Hillary has been to the Obama agenda as SecState, that she still has presidential aspirations is a given. It could well be that Joe Biden will be asked to spend more time with the family, and HRC coopted as VP nominee to forestall any real challenge to the head of the ticket next year, with the explicit promise by the money people that she will be drowned in dollars for the 2016 elections. Now, that’s cynicism we all can believe in!

    1. alex

      “As long as OBama can still pull in tens of millions in 2012 campaign contributions from the usual suspects, he remains untouchable.”

      While Obama’s policies reflect the bribes (oops, I meant campaign contributions) he receives, his best insurance for re-election is that his opponent will be a lunatic.

      1. wunsacon

        >> his best insurance for re-election is that his opponent will be a lunatic.

        Doesn’t it seem like the GOP is working on that?

  15. Hugh

    I read through the links and kleptocracy, class war, and wealth inequality keep running through my head. Higher education has less and less to do with education or future earning power and more to do with a class divide, an outgrowth of wealth inequality. A university education is becoming a luxury. Those who can afford it are already assured of future success. It is the being born on third base effect. A university education simply puts a societally approved stamp on their entitlement. For those who go to university and can’t afford it, welcome to a life of serfdom and indebtedness.

    The 2012 campaign has already begun. We are already being subjected to a spate of articles explaining why we should prefer one empty vessel of our corporatist, kleptocratic elites over another, how this party messed everything up and this other party will fix everything up by doing much the same. “It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing,” nothing, that is, good for us.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If you plot the cost of a slave versus time, from say 5,000 yrs ago to the present, do you get a declining curve?

      I think the advantage of owing a slave today is that you can finance it…by the slave him/herself. Rather than paying all cash or even with a downpayment (in most cases), you simply pay him or her a monthly allowance.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I expect to see one day, on the bestsellers list, a book called ‘The Joy Of Serfdom.’

    3. Typing Monkey

      Those who can afford [university education] are already assured of future success.

      Where did you get this from??? This is incredibly far from the truth–society has far too many university-educated grads to begin with!!

      For those who go to university and can’t afford it, welcome to a life of serfdom and indebtedness.

      Perhaps those who go to university on student loans should:

      1. Work hard enough to get scholarships
      2. Go to affordable universities
      3. Pick courses/majors with which they can increase their likelihood of being employed.

      People are welcome, of course, to go major in Middle English non-metered poetry if they like. But to borrow money to do so and then complain about being unemployable is a little stupid, I think.

      1. Hugh

        So education has no intrinsic value except in so far as it is validated by, and serves the purposes of, our corporatist overlords? Way to think like a serf.

        1. Typing Monkey

          So education has no intrinsic value except in so far as it is validated by, and serves the purposes of, our corporatist overlords? Way to think like a serf

          Education has an enormous intrinsic value (at least it does to me). This is why I have spent so much time learning by reading, thinking, traveling, and trying new things that have absolutely nothing to do with my career choices. I don’t see how education is related to a university degree, though–in fact, I learned less from going to uni than just about anything else I did in life.

          Moreover, even if there is an *intrinsic* value to formal education, that doesn’t mean that I should expect to be *extrinsically* rewarded for pursuing it. I don’t see how this view reflects serfdom in any way.

  16. Valissa

    Great article on corporate tax avoidance!

    Africa: Trade Based Money Laundering – A Shady Side of Globalisation

    Contemporary international trade involves the movement of huge volumes of exports and imports, supported by high-value financial transactions, generally attracting significant levels and forms of taxation.

    The volumes and value involved also create opportunities for tax evasion by one or more of the trading parties. There has been a growing body of literature, particularly in the last five years, showing the multiple methods used to evade trade-based tax. It has become conventional to divide these methods into two broad categories, depending on whether the transactions involve related or unrelated parties.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    If you messing around with the number of holidays, for example, if you make people work on Saturdays again, you get one of these 3 possible outcomes:

    1) a higher GDP
    2) a lower GDP
    3) no change

    My hunch is you get a higher GDP.

    I think this is one way to avoid the coming recession.

    But if it is the other way around, I don’t mind we take Fridays off in order to increase our GDP.

    The least likely outcome, I think, is no change to the GDP.

    In any case, I look forward to the correct answer from our economist friends.

    1. Typing Monkey

      If the only effect of people working on Saturday is to increase number days shopping, then the same amount of money will be spent over an additional day. There’s no change in imports, exports, or government spending. If more money is spent but less money saved, then consumption goes up but savings declines–again, a wash (unless people are buying more imported goods, which causes a GDP decline).

      If people use that extra day to produce something that provides wealth in the future, GDP will go up (eventually). If they produce something that is immediately exportable, GDP increases fairly quickly.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Are you saing it could go any one of the three ways?

        I say this calls for some experimenting.

        Let’s all take the first Friday of each month off and see what happens.

    2. JimS

      Higher Gross Domestic Product and tireder workers, but richer company shareholders and landlords. That’s why increasing GDP is great for owners, and not so great for workers.

      The only way for workers to benefit from GDP is for their wages minus their rents to be high enough to let them accumulate capital after they’ve paid for the cost of living. If that’s not happening for you or the people around you, you might belong to a class that shouldn’t care whether the GDP is doing well.

  18. liberal

    Yves wrote,

    I have amazingly had readers argue against the proposition that much of the increased cost of higher education has gone…

    I’m not sure where it’s gone, but I would assume that the reason cost has increased is because a college education is largely, if not entirely, the purchasing of a credential. If we assume the supply of “good” college credentials is fixed or only slowly increasing, then that market begins to look like a collectibles market, i.e. one beset by issues of economic rents.

  19. MichaelC

    Re college students…

    FWIW I just dropped my daughter off for her soph year at UMASS Amherst (Mass State school).

    The dorms are standard cinder block construction.

    The amenities (dining halls, (no tanning booths) are a nice, not extravagent, improvement over my 80’s NYS school experience.

    The curriculum is first rate. (Perhaps Yves can opine given she’s conducted some seminars there).

    So FWIW. you can always find a ‘Jersey Shore’ campus for your wayward child, but some state University systmes are still not doing not so bad. I want to think LA is an outlier till proven wrong.

  20. Olaf

    Re Chait,

    “Obama to the left–So what are you going to do–vote for Rick Perry?”

    Nope, we’re going to vote for Ron Paul. If Paul selected Kucinich or even Jessie Ventura as his V.P., that would
    be something to behold and to vote for.

  21. Sundog

    Just finished “Western Finance, SOE Reform and China’s Stock Markets” Ch6 in Walter & Howie’s “Red Capitalism.” BTW I recommend this book for NC readers who like to get down in the weeds but it’s poorly edited and the graphs are frequently illegible.

    (Carl Walter was recently featured by NC along with Victor Shih in an excellent conversation about China’s financial system

    And then I come across this, about America’s version of what Walters & Howie call the “National Team”.

    Marjorie Censer, “Defense companies target health care”

    Defense firms #1 capacity is extracting profits from the GOPDEMs and operate inside an impenetrable bubble, so it makes perfect sense for them to colonize another vast sector of the economy which depends largely on decisions made by public servants who must raise up to a billion ($1,000,000,000) dollars for their election campaigns.

    And then I come across this bit, in which a worldly and long-time observer of DC is willing to hint at the obvious: that Romney’s bald assertion that “corporations are people” reflects nothing less than a worldview in which the only legitimate form of collective action for ordinary working people is to send a big chunk of their paycheck to Wall Street wizards every month — forget about government let alone labor unions or NGOs that aren’t based on certain absolutist interpretations of a particular Middle Eastern death cult.

    James Fallows, ‘People Don’t Realize How Fragile Democracy Really Is’

    (If you haven’t already read it, I recommend the Lofgren piece Fallows links to.)

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