Links 12/30/11

EU warns wasting environmental resources could spark new recession Guardian (hat tip Joe Costello)

Classical music’s ethically compromised funders Overgrown Path (hat tip Michael Thomas). Intriguing. Funding from banks is now seen to be as tainted as funding from Big Tobacco.

An Uproar on the Web Over $2 Fee by Verizon New York Times. This is pretty outrageous.

Should the World of Toys Be Gender-Free? New York Times. I should never read articles like this. I’m still not convinced the purported differences between girl and boy play styles are not influenced by social signaling (mind you, I hated dolls and my favorite toddler toy was a crash car. It was SO much fun making it fly into pieces).

China reveals its space plans up to 2016 Associated Press

Deepening Crisis Over Euro Pits Leader Against Leader Wall Street Journal

Egypt’s Forces Raid Offices of Nonprofits, 3 Backed by U.S. New York Times

Gold Bubble Seen by Soros on Brink of Bear Market Bloomberg

Mitt Romney’s flip-flop-flip on abortion Salon

Marginalizing Ron Paul Truthdig (hat tip reader 1SK)

Cost Cutting Leaves Residents in the Dark New York Times

Five Charts Useful for Framing the Economic Debate in 2012 Jesse (hat tip reader Scott)

Charities get more donated homes USA Today

Short Sales of Homes Increasing Dave Dayen, Firedoglake

Rakoff accuses SEC of misleading federal court Financial Times (hat tip reader Paul S)

Fannie and Freddie Fantasies Bill Black

The Miracle of Solvency Golem IV (hat tip reader Foppe)

‘Money Needs Laws’ Der Speigel (hat tip Joe Costello). Don’t get excited, this is a big time rationalization (as in he seems to believe his PR). Contrast with: Moral Bankruptcy, the Bankers’ Edition Abigail Field

The Dumbest Idea In The World: Maximizing Shareholder Value Forbes. Is this the bookend to the Michael Jensen HBR article that argued that corporate executives needed to be paid like entrepreneurs (which would actually, on the whole, mean badly) and set of the vogue of equity-related compensation?

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Fraud Guy

    Seems like Citibank and the SEC just barely avoided a contempt ruling from Rakoff…that would be an interesting way to start seeing the perp walks on Wall Street. Could that be the only way to get the SEC to do something, to have the threat of jail time hanging over their heads for failing to enforce their consent orders?

    1. Francois T

      Why do you write they’ve avoided contempt of court? Is there any reason Judge Rakoff could not impose one for this incredible duplicity?

      I mean, fucking Khuzami at the SEC literally conspired to deceive judge Rakoff in order to protect Citi from legal troubles. WHy the hell should Rakoff accept such bald faced arrogance?

      1. Fraud Guy

        Just working off what was reported.

        Rakoff has been fairly unrestrained on his opinion of the settlement and the actions of the SEC and Citibank. When he found out what they did, he told them to inform him in the future before appearing before him, so apparently what they did did not cross a line, maybe because he didn’t think that he had to set it, but by warning them against future recurrences, he moved that line back a few steps in their direction.

    2. Richard Kline

      Rakoff for the Supreme Court would be refreshing indeed. Someone who believes in the law more than in the system; that would be a change.

    3. barrisj

      Judge Rakoff is setting himself up to find a severed horse’s head in his bed in the next few evenings. I admire his courage, but the entire apparat of the Executive Dept. is working against him, and look for some juicy leaks appearing in the usual places calling his conduct and/or impartiality into question. Maybe even some “wide-stance” suggestions…Obama’s people play for keeps, when it involves cover-ups for the criminal classes.

  2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Someone mentioned cafeteria naming rights yesterday.

    I don’t suppose the Fed would ever need money to see itself renamed Morgan Stanley Reserve System.

    On the other hand, is it possible our government might need to raise money in the future that the White House might be renamed Goldman Sachs House?

  3. vlade

    For the execs to be paid as entrepreneurs, they would have to carry significant downside in the first place. Significant part of entrepreneurs who still run their own businesses (i.e. not investors, but hands on managers) have most of their wealth tied in it.

    Another problem is the ego. See Dick Fuld/Fred Goodwin for a good examples on how to ruin something even if a significant part of your wealth is there.

  4. psychohistorian

    I like Jesse’s 5 charts.

    Are there charts like that for the “world”?

    I wonder how much of the same folks at the top are the same 1 tenth of 1% all around the “Western” world?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      US is a low tax country…

      It depends.

      If 20% or 30% of every tax dollar is wasted in corruption nad/or inefficiency domestically (the percentages are for illustration only), you might pay 10% less in taxes and you’d still be overtaxed.

      If another 20% or 30% is efficiently used for wars you don’t believe necessary, you become even more overtaxed.

      Just because you pay less taxes it doens’t mean you are not overtaxed. The question of over/under taxation should include consideration for what the citizens (hopefully the 99% – so how the tax money is spent is important as well) get back for every tax dollar they put in.

      I don’t think they do that at Jesses’ American Cafe or elsewhere.

      1. Anonymous Jones

        How much of those tax dollars will it to take to analyze where all the tax dollars are going?

        And then we’re going to, obviously, have to create a new office to supervise the new Office of Tax Dollar Analysis. And then who is paying those supervisors? We need an Office of Recursive Analysis to just analyze how we’re going to afford all this analysis.

  5. rjs

    my read on short sales is the banks are getting the homeowners to do the work a real estate agent would otherwise have to do; saves the banks a lot of expense & at the end of the day the homeowner is still out on the street, not much different than had he walked away & mailed the keys to the bank…

    1. Wendy

      a realtor is involved in a short sale, so they are still doing whatever work a realtor does for a sale listing (YMMV). for non-recourse loans, you are right, there is no incentive for the borrower to pursue short sale, but for recourse loans, the incentive is high – they will actually be able to walk away from the house without deficiency debt continuing to follow them.

    2. Fraud Guy

      A short sale, from my brief attempt to make one succeed, requires a realtor, as one of the main documents the lender required was a brief from the realtor on the market value of the home and attempts to sell it at higher price points.

      Also, I think that it could work with either recourse or non-recourse. My house was non-recourse (i.e., once foreclosed the lender got the house, and that was it), but I still wanted to sell to avoid the foreclosure that is currently clogging my credit rating. With a recourse loan, part of the negotiation is to get the lender to accept the short sale with forgiveness as part of the deal (if possible) as better than the price fail of foreclosure and possible bankruptcy by the borrower.

      The biggest problem with short sales is the amount of work required by all parties, and in our case, the lender did not have the staff to actually review any offer.

  6. Richard Kline

    “It was SO much fun making it fly into pieces.” That sounds so . . . so YOU. Should a thing have a flaw, you tap in the chisel and survey the fragmentation pattern. : ) And thereby we’re all the wiser . . .

    1. lambert strether

      Reminds me of Gomez Addams making the trains crash!

      (Also, and here I am showing my age, of Mr. Moose when the ping pong balls come down from the ceiling. Every episode I hoped that would happen, but it did so very rarely…..)

  7. Foppe

    Handelsblatt Interviews Schäuble:

    Bundesfinanzminister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) ist zuversichtlich, dass die Europäer 2012 die Schuldenkrise in den Griff bekommen. „Ich glaube, dass wir in den nächsten zwölf Monaten soweit sind, dass wir die Ansteckungsgefahren gebannt und die Eurozone stabilisiert haben werden“ …Er sei „zuversichtlich, dass alle Euro-Staaten große Fortschritte bei der Bewältigung der jeweiligen Probleme gemacht haben werden“.

    Ein Auseinanderbrechen der Euro-Zone schloss der Minister aus: „Eine Währungsgemeinschaft schweißt das Schicksal von Staaten zusammen“, sagte Schäuble. „Die politisch Verantwortlichen der Euro-Zone tun deshalb alles, um ein Auseinanderfallen zu verhindern.

    1. Susan the other

      My pigeon German translates this Schauble statement to mean that Germany and the other 25 nations in the recent EU Pact are a band of brothers dedicated to resolving the financial crisis in a spirit of self defense. Please clarify for me what all I missed.

      1. Foppe

        Not much. There’s some more blather about how the crisis was caused by effects (high debt levels+”competitiveness issues of the South”), which imply that he’s still hell-bent on more austerity. And he’s very confident that the ESM will save the world.

  8. Richard Kline

    The love for Ron Paul floating around amongst those who really, really should know better is something that I just don’t truly get. Let Kucinich, or Sanders, or Nader say all the same things _only better, longer, and far more constructively_ and they’re remarks are dismissed by one and all, including many of those oozing approbation for a highly polished wingnut carrying serious baggage about his valuations of other human beings. “Oh they’re just ‘fringy leftists,’ they always say those things. *yawn* They’re so . . . passe.” But let a white-right distant fringer say it and suddenly it sounds, why, golden! To some ears.

    Look, being against imperialism, and against the assault on the poor rebranded as a ‘war on druggies,’ and being against the Fed, and being against corporate exploitation is nothing new. Many of us have always been against those things; have actively worked, campaigned for, voted for, and spoken up for our beliefs to those ends. And gotten seriously no interest from the media or Congressional stafferes past or future on furthering those critiques, and the proposals for a different world some have advanced. It is, to me, a symptom of how severely bizarre, not to say destructive, or current two-for-one(%) party system has become that a magnificently unconstructive fussbudget from the outer fringers of libertarianism is seem as some harbinger of righteousness for saying some (if hardly all) of the same critiques. He believes them? Well and good–he believes plenty of other things that don’t add up to that mix. Oh and btw, he’s unelectable nationally, and couldn’t govern if he was. Protest vote is the point then? Lemme tell yah, the 1% LOOOVVVVVVVVVVES self-defeating ‘protest’ of that kind.

    ‘Voting’ isn’t the answer folks. And continuing to believe that voting is going to get any near term change as things stand gets you lose-lose bigger choices like ‘voting’ for Ron Paul. As far as ‘activism that can’t be harnessed in any constructive form,’ that’s a feature not a bug. We’re not here ‘to get somebody elected,’ we’re here to get whatever droog’s elected off the public’s dime and on the hurry-up toward reform and transformation. The function of such activism is to scale noncompliance horizontally and to raise the temperature : pressure vectors in ‘the system.’ Because _that_ is how you get change, not by voting for hopeless cranks.

    Mike Check’s the only one running in this thing who’s worth the five minutes it takes to vote: that’s not a protest, it’s a statement. And that’s all the difference, to me.

    1. EconCCX

      Paul’s dead wrong in his money solution, and I will always say so. But he’s the only candidate on this year’s ballots who shows any understanding of where the problem lives, i.e. in the creation of money and debt without reciprocity. The only one who, when learning about our fractional-reserve money system, didn’t leave his brains at the doorstep.

      He’s brought to the debate essential insights the left and right have yet to get, and is credible to both. Tea partiers and Occupiers both know that economic advance requires honest money. I’d fight both gold and MMT greenbacks at every turn, but would never deny Paul his props.

    2. seenohearno

      Many on the Left, particularly on college campuses, have been familiar with Ron Paul for years. And I think Matt Stoller’s column the other day hit the nail on the head: Liberals are incapable of developing a solid critique of Paul’s candidacy because mainstream American liberalism is so entrenched with the establishment that it lost its anti-establishment edge (despite paying lip service to it with the likes of Messrs. Dean, Obama, Kerry, etc). Now, the only response that liberals from the Democratic Party can summon, aside from utter disbelief, is: How dare Ron Paul criticize the establishment from the establishment’s Republican Party?!? Pot meet kettle.

      1. Lidia

        “incapable of developing a solid critique”???

        uhm, how about that Paul is a nutty theocrat who signed that bizarre embryonic personhood pledge? He doesn’t think we should have government, just patriarchal religious tribunals:

        “We have deferred to.. to the federal government. We have weighed too much government. We should go in other directions. Before you know it the next step — what if the next step is, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the United Nations defined marriage?” I don’t want to go that way, I want to go back down… all the way to the family and the Church — believe me it would be a happier and more peaceful world if we went in that direction, rather than asking the government and asking the King to solve all these problems… we need the family to deal with it.

        “And we can take our message and learn something from the Old Testament, how there was such a strong emphasis on the Patriarchal society and the disputes settled by judges rather than looking for Big Government.”

        Step right up, ladies! The Ron Paul welcome mat is out!

    3. Ignim Brites

      There is the sense that RP and the libertarians in general (especially the younger ones) are willing to let the 50% of the 99% who are invested in the power and valuation structure of the 1% go down the drain. You don’t really get that sense from Nader, Kucinich, Sanders, etc. Who among the readers of NC, for example, is willing to let the Dow follow the path blazed by the Nikkei? Also, there is the sense too that RP really means it when he talks about dismantling the American military enterprise whereas the Dems just talk abstractly about cutting defense spending. Obama took troops out of Iraq, but they are still in Kuwait and we maintain a naval base in Bahrain.

      1. IP_2

        I’d vote for those other ones too.

        Trouble is, as far as I know, they’re not running.

        I was a lifelong Democrat. Never again. Never. I say anybody but Obama.

        Ron Paul for President!

      2. IP_2

        Forgot to say, too: I wanted the Dow down. I _bet_ on the Dow to crash, and I was right.

        But never in my wildest dreams did I think the whole might of the U.S. dollar would be used to prop up the banks and the Dow and manipulate markets.

        Boy was I naive.

        1. Ignim Brites

          If you are not a trader, I bet you are under 40. Often unremarked upon is the way the Fed policy of propping up asset (aka collateral) values makes it more expensive for younger people to invest in their future. This is just another example of boomer greed for life. In the end though the Nietzchean revaluation of all values cannot be contained.

    4. BDBlue

      If Ron Paul were a threat to Obama, you can bet a lot of the love from the “left” would disappear. He will never get the Nader treatment because he isn’t nearly as much a threat to the Democratic Party, to which so many “progressives” have tied themselves, as Nader was and, in some ways, is. Relatedly, I suspect, is also the “coolness” factor. It’s not that Paul is cool, but that guys like Kucinich aren’t cool with the media popular kids and who wants to be associated with a short, uncool guy.

      Some of this is an exaggeration, but I really do think tribalism is one of the better ways of looking at politics. Nobody likes the guy who tells you your party is full of shit (Nader), it’s so much better to like the guy who tells you the other party is full of shit (Paul), which you already believe anyway. So Ron Paul isn’t a threat to the liberal “tribe”, he’s seen as a threat to the other side and so it’s okay to support him, but guys who may actually threaten or at least embarrass the liberal tribe must be shunned. This is the same reason why, IMO, you don’t find the same amount of admiration for Gary Johnson, who has all of Paul’s “good” beliefs, without all the women hating and racism. But, he, too, is a “fringe” candidate and therefore a “loser” and so it wouldn’t be pragmatic to vote for him or apparently even mention him.

      And I don’t think any of it is really about principles (at least for a lot of people, there are exceptions, obviously). Most of the folks I know who have suddenly found a love of Paul – 1) don’t expect him to be the nominee; 2) if somehow he were the nominee, would find a reason not to vote for him in favor of Obama (all the stuff they ignore now, would suddenly matter). Or rather, it’s about finding a cheap way to express those principles – in a GOP primary. I doubt you’ll see many of the “lefty” Paulites telling people to vote Green or vote for Rocky Anderson or some other third party. No doubt because that would be a “waste” of a vote. A vote that you should apparently waste on the Donk party even as it pursues all of the policies the Paulites claim to hate – war and big finance – instead.

    5. PQS

      Agreed. Recently I went to RP’s website to see his ideas for myself. Surprise! No surprise. TYpical RW Republicanism with a dash of extremism thrown in.

      His “solutions” for Health Care, for example, would be laughable if they weren’t so shortsighted and narrow (rather like Mr. P himself.) From his bullet points, he apparently thinks the shortcomings of HC can be solved by, wait for it, “Selling insurance across state lines” and providing people with various tax credits. (Yet he favors lowering everyone’s taxes, so how, exactly, will this work?) I currently pay almost as much for health insurance as I do in taxes, with zero expectation that that situation will change anytime soon – I’m sure insurance will keep going up and up as it always has. So I should zero out my tax bill (including SS and Medicare, of course!), live in a country with almost no tax receipts to keep it going, and this is “freedom”? Sounds more like “Deadwood.”

      I find nothing in RP’s brilliance that is very much different from the standard RW stuff, and, as you say, plenty of other people have been saying “End the Wars” and “End the WOD” for decades, to no effect.

      1. Jeff

        Stopping militarism, the financial fraud of the fed and the drug war are three issues that outweigh all of your somewhat valid critiques.

        Do you like the idea of gay rights, mandated payments to insurance corporations and and civil rights window dressing as more important than WW III and nuclear war?

        Remember, you can always vote for Obama in the general election after you vote for Paul in the primary.

        He’s the only antiwar candidate, the only anti Wall Street parasitism candidate and the only candidate willing to veto the Patriot Act and uphold the Bill of Rights. That to me
        is more important than anything else.

        1. PQS

          RP’s desire to “uphold the Bill of Rights” seems pretty thin gruel to me, since he apparently thinks it doesn’t apply to minorities or to women. Control over my person is pretty fundamental to me, and anyone who endorses “fetal personhood” (who is a medical doctor, no less, and which RP does on his campaign page), seems either dangerously deluded or just trying to garner fundie money.

          No thanks.

          Ever notice how lots of “fringe” candidates are anti war, anti WOD, anti establishment, then when they get into office they have all these life-changing revelations?

          Voting for RP isn’t going to change The System, no matter how much RP’s peeps think it will.

          1. Richard Kline

            So PQS, agreed. Anyone who ringfences to whom they believe rights apply isn’t really about _any_ kind of liberty, only a different distribution of inequality. The fact that there are nice organic vegetables and plenty of healthy fiber piled on the plate doesn’t make the shit sandwich dead and center any healthier to consume. “Mr. Paul, that’s your cue . . . .”

    6. wunsacon

      Richard, ancient Vulcan proverb says “Only Nixon could go to China.” Many left-wingers like Ron Paul because his popularity depends on Republicans finally waking up to some ideas that left-wingers (not establishment Democrats) have been preaching for years. It’s a hopeful sign.

  9. 80on40

    Regarding …$2 Fee by Verizon.
    My credit union placed its letterhead on a form letter to members announcing
    new identity theft protection. The service and fees, $2/Mo, is automatically
    added to accounts and must be opted out of. The procedure, via email or 3rd
    party phone, is designed to thwart denial, or opt out, requiring members talk
    to a branch CU employee. Get this, they have all been sent to Seminar to sell
    the gimmick leaning heavily on ‘members in household protected’. Junior, Sis
    and the Whiff together with their collective financial and identity docs are all
    protected to the tune of $10,000 against loss and theft. Are yellow stars next?

    1. Gareth

      So if you don’t pay the fee they don’t protect your identity and even if you do pay the fee you are only covered up to $10,000? Nice, it’s time to move the money.
      Eschew online banking.

    2. Fraud Guy

      Part of the requirements for banks in various Fed Regulations is that the bank is supposed to verify and validate access and use of your accounts at the institution, either pro-actively or after a complaint. Should they find that your accounts were improperly used/drained/accessed, they are required to make the account holder whole (less amounts that depend on how long it took you to find the error/fraud).

      So either they are selling you a service that they are already supposed to provide you, or this is an add-on for your general “ID” beyond their accounts.

      But, as already stated, requiring opt-out is the worst way to go about the process, and it’s time to look elsewhere for service, or organize other members to protest this.

      1. Wendy

        Even naming financial fraud as “identity theft” is a misnomer designed to, I think, scare people into taking action to impede an activity that doesn’t really hurt them nearly so much as it hurts banks. That is, it gives them skin in the game that legally they don’t have. Also, as this anecdote illustrates, it enables banks to sell you shit you don’t need.

        So-called identity theft is just fraud and theft. But it sounds so much more invidious if someone stole your very IDENTITY. It’s a scare tactic but seems to me a pretty low-level one, yet the term has really taken hold.

        (You may have some administrative headaches if you are a victim of so-called identity theft, or you may suffer delayed access to funds held in accounts – this may be devastating depending on your situation. But ultimately the stolen funds are returned to you, assuming you act promptly to notify victims of the financial fraud. The only ones who actually bear the resulting losses are the financial institutions that were defrauded or stolen from.)

  10. scraping_by

    Re: Solvency

    One of the changes most people didn’t catch was when American lawyers went from being officers of the court to paid advocates. While the power to file a few papers and change people’s lives forever remains, their only duty is to advance the interests of their paid client. And, if a better paying client is on the other side…

    So now auditors are nothing but paid advocates. The sophisticated pose is a claim thus it’s always been, but indeed, it’s newsworthy because it’s a change. Still have a place in regulatory structures, private and public, but now it’s advancing the buyer’s interests. A lot simpler than lawyers, because the money all comes from the client.

    Pity they’re not working class. Then you could cheer them on cranking up the fees for dumbing down the audit.

  11. craazyman

    @ Forbes Nonsense yada yada — There should be a global ban on books about the “theory of the firm”. There is no theory of the firm that isn’t total nonsense spouted by some delusional crank moving greasy bits of mind food around on the plate. Or if not an outright ban, perhaps a govermint warning label: “This book may contain ideas that sound superficially persuasive but that are actually woefully incomplete, ultimately incoherent, silly and stupid if you think about them for more than 5 minutes.” This will refocus people’s attention on the reality they create in their own minds instead of on imported reality. It is true that importing reality is sometimes easier, but the cost is the exporting of self-possession. We will not apply this ban to blog comments though, I mean we already know life’s not fair. haaha hahahahah ahahagh.

    1. Anonymous Jones

      Of all your great contributions to this site, that warning label might be the best.

      “This book may contain ideas that sound superficially persuasive but that are actually woefully incomplete, ultimately incoherent, silly and stupid if you think about them for more than 5 minutes.”

      I plan on plagiarizing this liberally.

  12. Susan the other

    Janez Potocnik, EU Minister for Environmental Issues. A detailed statement making clear points about scarcity and how a lack of natural resources will lead to less competitiveness and then on to an EU recession. It is a policy statement! Cool. Where is our own policy statement about conservation and Efficient use?

    Also another late night BBC report on auto manufacturing. That the domestic car industry in China is losing out to foreign cars. The Chinese don’t like this. The reporter implied that “things were going to change.” I thought he was saying that China isn’t going to buy any more cars from Germany and the US. There was no mention of Japan. So I associated the last thing I knew about Japan and China and came to this conclusion: Japan’s state visit last week to China was to solidify a mutual automobile industry. Because if Japan can’t sell to China, Japan’s export economy is probably done for and because if China can’t start selling its own products (cars in this case) domestically, it too is done for. This certainly sounds like nationalism and protectionism by any other name.

  13. Abelenkpe

    “I’m still not convinced the purported differences between girl and boy play styles are not influenced by social signaling (mind you, I hated dolls and my favorite toddler toy was a crash car. It was SO much fun making it fly into pieces).”

    I used to feel the same way. As a child I never played with dolls, mostly hung out with boys and preferred to spend my time drawing. However I recently had a son and daughter and while going out of my way to present only gender neutral toys noticed some very big differences. My son is obsessed with how things work while my daughter concentrates on how relationships work. My sons drawings are all robots, battles and ships, my daughters all people displaying different emotions. My sons Lego creations are all ships and robots, my daughters are houses where people live. Still dislike the way marketing tries to amplify these differences though.

      1. Valissa

        Yes, very cute! I have always disliked pink… ugh! I think the genderism in toys today is much more pronounced than when I grew up. Though that could just be becuase toy departments and the toy industry and grown hugely since then. Kids today have so many more toys, and are consequently more easily bored by each.

        When I was a kid I alternated between playing outside with the boys (mostly sports, pretend army games – often I was the only girl) and playing dolls/house inside with girlfriends (typically on rainy days). When we played “outer space” (we pretended to be a variation on the Space family Robinson theme) out in the back field, however, that tended to have more of a mix of both genders. Also when I was young I ended up wearing boy’s pants/jeans to play in because I didn’t have the hips for the girl’s clothes of the day.

        I still dislike pink and when we moved into our house some years ago I had to make major changes in the garden becuase about 70% of the flowers were some shade or another of pink. Now it’s down to a more manageable 5% or less. A little pink is OK for variety.

        For Christmas I remember getting plastic guns and sports equipment.

        My nieces (ages 10, 11.5) are much more girly than I ever was. Have never seen either of them get a boy’s toy (although some gender neutral ones). They both like pink too. My sister was always the more girly one in our family, so her girls are too.

        1. Maximilien

          Many years ago, my 5-year-old brother asked for a doll for Christmas. My Old-Europe father was adamantly opposed; my Canadian mother saw no problem with it. She gave my brother his doll.

          He played with it for about a week, lost interest, and quickly went on to “boy” toys. As a developing child, his desire for a doll was just a phase he was going through.

          Today he is married, has three kids, and has worked for thirty-five years as a heavy-duty mechanic. And he never asked for a doll this Christmas!

        2. PQS

          Yes – I hated Barbie as a kid, and baby dolls, too. I liked all manner of stuffed animals and toys that did things.

          My daughter is the same.

          The Princess Industrial Complex is HUGE.

  14. Valissa

    Samoa skips Friday in leap across international dateline – The time jump means that Samoa’s 186,000 citizens will now be the first in the world to ring in the new year, rather than the last.

    Love the walrus antidote! It reminds of a classic Beatles song from The Magical Mystery Tour…

    I Am The Walrus (2009 Stereo Remaster)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Regardig the International Date line, when it’s 11:59PM in Somoa, that brief moment is the only time (in any 24 hour period) that 99%+ of the world’s people experience the same date.

      Most of the time, we live in three different worlds – some of us live in tomorrow, some today and some yesterday.

          1. Valissa

            What, you don’t remember the lyrics? ;)

            The chorus goes like this:

            “I love you more today, than yesterday… but not as much as tomorrow”

            classic ’60s corny happy love song stuff… so unlike today’s lyrics… don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy today’s song lyrics, but for different reasons. Songs are great repositories of the memes of their time.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks for that reminder!

            What about the day after tomorrow?

            Just wanna make sure. My last love said she would love me for eternity but not one day over.

  15. mk

    Heartbreaking news from Alaska, walrus and seals may be getting sick from radiation,, the gift of death to the world from TEPCO, FUKUSHIMA, THE NUCLEAR INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX:

    Unusual Mortality Event Declared

    * National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared the recent deaths of ringed seals in […] Alaska an unusual mortality event
    * Since mid-July, more than 60 dead and 75 diseased seals, most of them ringed seals, have been reported in Alaska
    * Reports continuing to come in
    * U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also identified diseased and dead walruses
    * A decision by the Service on making an an unusual mortality declaration for Pacific walrus in Alaska is pending
    * Tests indicate a virus is not the cause
    * Walruses and ringed seals in Russia, and ringed seals in Canada, have reportedly suffered similar symptoms
    * While it is not clear if the disease events are related, the timing and location of the disease suggests the possibility of transmission between the populations, or shared exposure to an environmental cause

    1. psychohistorian

      I am sorry to say that this is just the beginning of the damage that Fukushima is causing our world.

      Its too bad we don’t react as strongly to this event as we were/are manipulated to respond to 911.

      Will it become an extinction event for us as a species or for the nuclear industry as an energy producer?

      1. mk

        why can’t we humans get our act together? I wish we cold learn to communicate re: common interests, unite, develop and implement a global collective action and force these corps/gov’ts/etc. to negotiate for sustainability and conservation of life and resources of our planet… very sad.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We’re not called Homo Not-So-Sapiens Not-So-Sapiens for nothing.

          One day, we will be replaced by a wiser species. I think they will be called Hetero Wiseguysrus – Hetero because they know they are different from us and Wiseguysrus, while, it’s obvious even to us not-so-sapiens people.

      2. Anon

        @ scraping_by If it’s radiation, damn that was quick!

        Strontium 89, with a half-life of around 50 days, has immediate effects on human and animal health, known since Pecher’s experiments in the 1940s.

        An Australian blogger has information, connected with British atomic tests in Australia during the Cold War, and the Strontium 89 contained in the fallout therefrom:

        “Strontiium [sic] 89 in contact with skin causes beta radiation burns.”

        Gram for for gram Sr89 is much more radioactive than Sr90 … It is an immediate rather than long term hazard. … The most vulnerable mammals are the fetus, the nursing infant and the mother.

        [M]ost rats injected with small amounts of Sr89 developed bone cancer within a nine-month window.

        US EPA apparently not keen on testing for either Strontium 89 or Strontium 90, though, even though presence of Cesium suggests Strontium will be around, too:

        Berings Strait area, north-east of Japan and home to seal populations, likely also got hit by many other short-lived radioactive isotopes by air and sea eg Xenon, Iodine, Tellurium within first weeks of Fukushima meltdowns (that is, when these were super-hazardous):

        Some of the early modelling of radioactive fallout from Fukushima assumed 1 Bq/hr.

        More recent estimates suggests quantities were somewhat higher, such as Plutonium 238/239/240/241 1.2trn Bq in first 100 hours, Neptunium 239 76trn Bq in first 100 hours.

        Not good for seals, whales, walruses, fishes or any of us.

  16. Don Levit

    One viable solution for health care is to form not-for-profit insurers, such as 501(C)(4)s.
    Blue Cross and Blue Shield had federal tax-exempt status until 1986, which it lost when 501(m) was passed.
    They had evolved into their for-profit competitors.
    To fully earn tax-exempt status, a 501(C)(4) health insurer must benefit the community in unique ways, such as through products not available commercially.
    The possibilities are many and the timing is right.
    Don Levit

    1. PQS

      Yes. In my state we have a co-op (one of two in the nation.)

      Here’s a stat that will blow you away:

      Non Profit Insurer Costs for Family of Three, per Mo: around $1000

      For Profit Insurer Costs, similar coverage and deductible:
      around $1800

      Sure buys a lot of CEO time, I guess.

    2. Rex

      Blue Cross and Blue Shield is definitely not a nonprofit now. I have been paying for my own individual health plan through BC since 1998. I looked back at my payments for the plan I chose. From 1999 to 2009 my premium costs increased 237% over the 10 years, an average increase of 9% a year (not counting increased out-of-pocket payments for basics). Then it jumped 26% in one year followed by an additional increase of almost 13%. I have no major health problems.

      I just turned age 65. I’m so happy to step away and leave those thieves in the rear view mirror.

  17. Eureka Springs

    Oh for pete sakes. What is this liberals “love” Paul meme? People are talking, maybe even voting, not loving. Thank goodness, because the Hope Love was disgusting.. same as some American Idol love is disgusting. At long last some D’s are waking up and saying out loud – no matter what I cannot justify a vote for the neOliberal and his party who is promising no debate, no alternative, not even a Gravel or Kucinich for the purpose of kabuki. So why not help the crazy GOP out or shake them up, whatever?

    Has anyone noticed the rest of primary lineup these days? As a certainthird party Nov. voter, which means I have no need or ability to check a Green or Socialist box this Spring, my primary vote for Paul will be nothing more than smug comfort that at least I can check a box somewhere that says I am anti drug and blood wars, anti patriot act with all those lost civil liberty trimmings, and I vote. If I can agitate anywhere anyhow these days, I will. And if I can say no just one time (in the primary) to both Obama and the rest of the R lineup, I must. So shoot me, but don’t call it love of all things Paul. That just makes you sound dumber than Robert Reich who ‘loves’ Obama and Hillary’s foreign policy.

    I met a lot of backwoods Paul peeps over the last few months in Occupy North West Arkansas.. I’ll vote with them because I have no better alternative, and I will also march with them and they with me. Much as we disagree on many areas, I can say with surprise these folk are not the neo-nazi rabid bigot types the liberal blogos would have you believe. I know those types too… but I have not had to fret over the concern I may be marching or occupying with that lot yet. I have had to fight off co-option efforts from idiotic MoveOn Dems. Contrary to a lot of words on the internet… my experience leaves sincere belief these Libertarian Republican folk would welcome more democracy, less corruption, and be fine with improved social services… which progressives hold dear. We all want more community, more sense of tangible purpose. And they/we all want to have a productive work life for a decent days pay. But you have to meet face to face in order to “get” this. And yes, you have to work through their talking points to get to the substance of what really matters in all our day to day lives.. not the scary points D party web sites, or Fox, CNN, and in this case, perhaps especially howling pearl-clutching pseudo progressives on Current and MSNBC.

    If you don’t want the real crazy to raise it’s head in a few years (assuming continued collapsed economy) you better go talk to these folk, talk them down off the Fox points where you can, align with them where you can instead of neO-liberals whom you will never meet and debate or align with for long, because they live in a centrist vacuum of denial, which is far more dangerous in these times, imo. Try something different now while it could possibly, just possibly, remain civil. (If authorities allow it).

    Finally, I do sincerely hope the saner side of the electorate, blogosphere, citizenry, does not waste their time on the bad reality show called American election season like they/we did last time. Whether it’s via occupy or some other way… we have got to continue changing the conversation… and much, much more than that. We need to spend far less time on a decision worthy of no more than few minutes time, considering the choices available… especially the choices not available.

    1. Valissa

      Very well stated. I think part of the appeal of Ron Paul is that the elites don’t support him, and voting for him is kind of an FU to the elites and the whole establishment. After all, no matter how strange some of his policy positions are, in the extremely unlikely event he got elected even Ron Paul would be forced to submit to the many institutional powers that surround and limit every president.

      As it states quite clearly in this article, it is a known known that the elites are running the show and only barely listening (I have bolded the relevant bit).

      Three big questions for the eurozone

      What’s sure is that the politicians and central bankers have immense power of agency to make things go either right or wrong. What’s also clear is how much pressure they do actually feel from electorates – not directly, because most party machines and political systems are sewn up by elites – but indirectly through the various protest movements that have sprung up, and through social media and mass media participation in general. When I was at Cannes in November, what impressed me was the contrast between how sequestered the world leaders are from reality – the nearest shops are always Gucci and Swarovski themed – but how aware of the minutiae of what the occupy movement has just done, or what Ron Paul or Paul Krugman has just said.

      OK, so the elites are feeling some pressure… so far they seem to be ignoring it or whining about it, but no real signs of concern.

      Hard to get motivated about elections when it has become so clear how useless they are right now. My own fantasy is that the public as a whole either yawns or laughs at the 2012 electoral process, and otherwise ignores it.

      1. Valissa

        ooops, bad tags… the whole paragraph quoted should have been italicized. It would be really great to have a preview function for the comments.

      1. Max424

        Agree. Extraordinary post. So good I’m thinking about voting for Paul, too.

        Why not? Shake things up. He will bring the change, that’s for sure. Crazy change. Revolutionary change.

        One thing for certain, this old New Deal liberal knows he is not voting for Obama. The question is; should I waste my vote writin’ in Schnickelpants down in Florida –what’s his name, Grayson?– or should I vote for a Republican, something I swore on an oath I would never do?”

        Whadda ya say Yves, should we all say fuck it, and form a voting block? The Smith Block, faced with two pathetic choices, votes unanimously in favor of the lesser of the two pathetics …and for change.

  18. Whatidocy

    What idiotic nonsense. The only people that object to this are nit-wit Marxists such as the readers hereabouts and elsewhere. Everyone else knows that this is just another bit of Marxist propaganda meant to obscure the real truth.

    One last time: This moving force behind these crises are the the elitist socialist Nomenklaturi of the USA and the EU who have repeatedly distorted and perverted the system to carry out their Marist goals. The mob of OWS, and that is all they are, a mob, are merely their useful idiots. This is no different that direct action p[political front of Mao, Lenin or Stalin, and it is deeply evil and immoral to misrepresent for even one second the reality of this and the monstrous forces behind it. it is not only evil, it is treasonous. You would do well to cease being their patsies.

    In America, the proximate cause was government meddling in real estate markets for socialist ends (and, of course, buying votes). In the EU, the immediate cause was the reckless spending of the tyrannical and Socialist EU, (but, of course, the real cause is decades of socialist pillaging of the economies of the member states. Bankers merely played the role assigned to them by the powers that be. To allow the monstrers inside the Democrat party or the corridors of Brussels to escape their responsibility by scapegoating “Bankers’ or “capitalism” Is immoral and dishonest, not to mention wildly immature.

    You have completely avoided this issue and instead parrot this hideous and immoral (not to mentioned shopworn) Marxist agit-prop, agit-prop, bTW, that could have come right out of the professional propagandists COMINTERN in te 1920 or the 1930’s.

    What Marist lunatics and loons you are to hold to this collectives nonsense after all of the devastations that collectivism has cause in the last 100 years. Stop blaming “the Banksters” for your own prospects, shortcomings and mediocrity. Stop trying to destroy what is great in the West just so you can avoid adulthood.
    Go out and get a real job, start a family and get areal life. This will grow you up pronto. But then, you are really incapable of real accomplishment anyway, aren’t you?

    Get it straight: It is the supplus wealth of capitalism that allows you your bizarrely effete and parasitic existence. It is the great work of the productive of generations, including those who funded it, that allow you to have your inane and silly whiing and sloganeering. Take that away and you folks will be marched of to the work camps straightaway. How foolish you are not to see this.

    It would serve both you and the orchestras of the world to have capitalism turn there backs on the lot of you.

    Suzie-q should be ashamed of the Marxist bilge she allows here. I sure “Daddy’ is, which one knows is the real issue.

    1. craazyman

      If they opened a work camp today, you’d probably need an advanced degree to even apply for a job there.

      And we’d only have more out-of-control government spending employing the liberal elite.

      Work camps are a waste of taxpayer money. Haven’t we already wasted enough by now?

    2. F. Beard

      Yes, good rant!

      Banker much?

      Remember “3-6-3”? The banker’s motto? “Borrow at 3%, lend at 6% and be on the gold course by 3PM”?

      That’s a real job?

      BTW, I have had real jobs from paper boy, to loading 18-wheelers, to working at a brick kiln, to working my way through college to software engineer. It’s now that I am retired (involuntarily but gratefully) that I can think about things such as how the bankers loot and destroy the entire population.

      So is your banker plan to keep the population so busy with survival that they ignore your pillage?

    3. Hugh

      This is a great example of how the class war waged by the rich against us divides and distracts to such an extent that turns many of its victims into its most ardent defenders. This is an absolutely necessary aspect of the enterprise because how else are the 1% going to keep the wealth they have stolen unless they set large parts of the 99% against each other and at each others’ throats?

      If you analyze this diatribe from a factual or historical viewpoint, it makes no sense, but that is not the point. Getting someone to think like this is because if you can, fact and experience will have no effect on them whatsoever. They will defend those who are raping them with their dying breath. It’s not a nice image, but then there is nothing nice about class war.

      1. bob

        Even before looking at it from a factual or historic standpoint…

        What the fuck is he talking about? What is nonsense?

        “The only people that object to this”

        What is “this?”

        Before anything, you need a SUBJECT.

        To your (hugh’s) point…I bet at least 3 out of 10 would “strongly agree” with that statement, it seems spiteful enough for mass consumption.

        “It would serve both you and the orchestras of the world to have capitalism turn there backs on the lot of you.”

        Orchestras? He must have been harassed by Marxist piccolos, flutes and clarinets while at band camp…

        1. James

          I wonder if the whole thing isn’t just a tongue-in-cheek attempt to get a rise out of us. It smells a little bit too far over the top, although I always get that same feeling after talking to my midwestern relatives as well. A little bit of information – most of it actually propaganda – is apparently too much for many if not most modern Americans to handle. “A Republic – IF you can keep it,” indeed! If there was a futures market speculating on the future of American democracy I think the short sellers would be in the money.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            My experience, sadly, is that people who use “Marxist” as a term of denigration that repetitively are deadly serious.

  19. Max424

    Thanks to hard work, the internet and the processing power of my Gateway 2000 supercomputer, I was recently able to breach the unfathomably complex Republican Fox/Noise cryptogram!

    I reveal here, for the first time, the concrete results of my in-depth, high-tech code breaking:

    Fanny and Freddy are cryptic words representing …SHOCK!… nigger and spic.

  20. James

    “It would serve both you and the orchestras of the world to have capitalism turn there backs on the lot of you.”

    You mean if we were just really, really mean to them they might just take their capitalism and go home? Could it possibly be that easy? And to think, we’ve been playing nice with these criminal parasites all these years when the solution was right there before our eyes. By the way, we still want our “surplus wealth” back. Turns out, it wasn’t “surplus” at all, it was just “skimmed,” aka “stolen” in real speak.

  21. H Sniffles

    Regarding gender in children. I have a very close friend who has two sons and a daughter. When the kids were little the family went on a camping trip, and they had to pee in a five gallon bucket in the back of dad’s truck. His sons were elated. But, he told me, when he explained this new concept to his daughter, Cassidy, “The look of shock and horror on her face made me suddenly realize that the differences between how boys and girls act is part of their being.”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, please. I’ve used squat toilets in Asia.

      Peeing standing up is a completely different than squatting (a more involved and plenty uncomfortable process) over a barrel of urine. Not comparable data points at all.

      And men really get off watching themselves urinate. Go figure.

  22. barrisj

    By the way, anyone interested in privacy issues, the 9th Circuit ruled yesterday that the 2008 FISA rewrite that specifically “immunised” the telecoms retrospectively from legal action by customers or other interested parties because they played along with Cheney/Bush/NSA illegal (warrantless) evesdropping
    “meets constitutional requirements”. There were several other parts to two decisions that addressed plaintiff claims about invasion of privacy as a result of NSA dragnet data collection, and a full discussion of this vitally important issue can be found at Marcy Wheeler’s Emptywheel blog here:

    The Appeals Court decision on telecom immunity was curious, as some of the reasoning for affirming a lower court decision – aside from the spectacle of allowing immunity for performing what well may be an illegal act by government – was obtained from a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report:“…[I]t emphasized that electronic intelligence gathering depends in great part on cooperation from private companies … and that if litigation were allowed to proceed against persons allegedly assisting in such activities, ‘the private sector might be unwilling to cooperate with lawful government requests in the future,’” Judge M. Margaret McKeown said.. But, the “lawfulness” of the request is what is disputed, for God’s sake…in other words, any request by government agencies for telecom “cooperation” is deemed “lawful” until it isn’t, but not to worry, AT&T, you’ll get immunity anyway! However, other aspects of the decision(s) does allow individuals to sue government on constitutionally-protected privacy issues. But, as usual, the DOJ can – and probably will – argue to have suits thrown out by invoking the infamous “state secrets privilege”, one that constitutional lawyer Obama has had his minions use several times already in Federal courts.
    La lotta continua.

  23. SH

    The verizon story is outrageously stupid. If you don’t want to pay the two bucks pay your bill on time or pay by one of the other twelve methods.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, it is NOT about paying on time. Did you read it?

      I pay on time, in fact usually a week early, and I use a credit card online. I don’t trust Verizon to retain my credit card info and charge me every month (I’m sure their security sucks and they are the sort of place hackers would love to annoy). They are proposing to charge ANYONE who pays on line every month $2.

      Their excuse about late payment is rubbish. They charge a handsome late fee, I think 1 1/2%, if you are late. This is just a way to nickel and dime customers.

      1. SH

        I guess I related a one time fee with a last minute fee. My fault.

        The $2 fee, which takes effect Jan. 15, will apply to people who make a one-time credit or debit card payment of their monthly bill on the phone or online.

        Still, jump ship if it’s an issue. I hope cell phones are not a monoply but I may be incorrect. We don’t have a Carlos Slim in America yet.

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